OK boys and girls, Boxer 1.0 beta is finally here. This is the big one: Boxer 1.0 is now feature-complete and does everything Boxer 0.8x did and more. It’s also purest awesome.
I’ll be writing a series of blog posts over the next few days going into detail about the new tentpole features. In brief though:
Game Importing is back. Boxer once again imports games painlessly from CDs or folders into new gameboxes. Besides looking awesome, this feature now gives you more control over how games are installed, guides you gently through the installation process, and lets you customise the gamebox at the end. No mess, no fuss.
The Games Folder is back. Boxer once again creates a folder to keep your games in – dressing it up with sample games and a new-and-improved game shelf appearance, if you like (or leaving it plain if you don’t.) Naturally, Boxer will recognise and use any game folder you have from a previous version of Boxer.
Boxer now introduces itself with a classy Welcome panel. This lets you jump to your games folder, import new games or fire up a plain old DOSBox session without faffing around in menus. If you prefer, you can turn this off in the preferences, or make Boxer open your games folder at startup instead (like it did in older versions.)
You know how back in July, I said all that remained was reimplementing game importing and the games folder? Well, it turned out that those two things were 80% of Boxer. These features are core to the Boxer experience, and reimplementing them properly — awesomely — ended up being a whole heaping bowlful of work.
Along the way of course, I got burned out on coding and fought off a crippling Minecraft addiction. But hey, that’s all behind us now.
That's right boys and girls, the sourcecode for Boxer 1.0 alpha is now available on Bitbucket. There's also a ready-to-roll universal binary too, if you're squeamish about building stuff yourself. Check out the previous blog post for an idea of what's new in Boxer 1.0.
BGHUDAppKitPlugin.ibplugin. This is only needed once, and registers this plugin with Interface Builder so it can compile XIB files that use it.
As always, give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments!
As further proof that I have absolutely no idea what ‘beta’ is supposed to mean, recent Boxer 0.86 betas include some fairly fundamental internal changes. Of these, two will actually be visible and relevant to you:
Boxer’s “built-in” DOS utilities and Gravis Ultrasound drivers are now actually built-in: they are kept inside Boxer itself, instead of being copied into your DOS Utilities folder. This saves you about a dozen megabytes, and me a lot of heartache when the utilities need updating.
The DOS Utilities folder still works, but is now solely for your own personal programs and not Boxer’s. You can safely delete the REQUIRED and ULTRASND folders from your existing DOS Utilities, as these are leftovers and unused by Boxer.
Boxer's default DOSBox settings are now also built-in, instead of being mixed up with your own settings in
~/Library/Preferences/Boxer/DOSBox Preferences.conf. In fact, that preferences file is no longer used by the latest betas: if you have customised any settings, you should now put them in
~/Library/Preferences/Boxer/Shared Preferences.conf. This new file is solely for your own personal settings, and not Boxer’s.
The rationale behind these changes is to minimise Boxer’s reliance on files that are out there in Userland. This makes it harder for you to break Boxer’s intended behaviour (not that you would ever do such a thing) and much easier for me to push updates that don’t trample all over your personal stuff.
At the other end of the feature spectrum, the latest Boxer beta applies an ostentatious game-shelf appearance to the icon view for new DOS Games folders. Here’s how it looks:
Out of courtesy, Boxer will not apply this appearance to your existing DOS Games folder: only to new games folders it makes. If you want this appearance for your existing DOS Games folder, then the simplest way is:
There are other ways, but they’re complicated and hard to explain. If you don’t want to trash files, send me an email and I’ll walk you through it.
Cover Flow is still the default view for the DOS Games folder in OS X 10.5, but you can switch to the shelf appearance by choosing icon view from the Finder View menu. You will also need to adjust the folder’s View Options panel if you want it to always use this view mode.
Boxer 0.86 20090718-1 has been released, which fixes a couple of bugs and tweaks some interface strings. This version is also up on the Boxer betacast and will appear as an automatic update for previous betas.
At the same time, I figured some users might be interested in a peek at the iterative rewriting process that Boxer’s interfaces go through.
In the newest 0.86 betas, Boxer will ask you after game installation if you’d like to import the original installation files into your new gamebox. These files then become available to the game as a fake CD-ROM drive. This is necessary for games that still need access to those files after installation: usually, CD-based games that only install part of their total files. Boxer 0.8 and up would already offer to do this after installing from a physical CD: but now Boxer offers to after installing from any installation source, such as a regular folder of files copied from a CD.
The first released version of the interface for that choice looked like this:
This is unsatisfactory: the window tells you broadly what would happen (the installation files would be imported), but not why you would need to do so, nor what effect this would have on the game.
After a few iterations, it became this:
This is better: the window now specifies why you would choose to import the files (because games that check for a CD will need them), and what effect it would have (the files would become a new CD for the game).
However, the wording is clunky and ambiguous: users could mistakenly think that Boxer would burn a physical CD from those files. The buttons also refer to two separate concepts: “importing” and “making a CD.”
A few more iterations later, and we have this:
Clearer still: the text flows better and does away with the distracting “importing” verb, instead focusing on the more familiar notion of “making a CD.” It also clarifies that the CD will be “fake”, as opposed to a real, physical CD. (This is a sufficient description, as the user doesn’t need to know how Boxer handles fake CDs: just that they won’t need to burn a real one.)
However in the quest for brevity, the text no longer indicates a connection between the fake CD and the game itself. The brevity is also deceptive, since the folder label (“DFCD”) could be much longer and would then wrap to a third line anyway. So we can spend a few more words to clear this up:
This is the final window used by the new 20090718-1 beta. We’ll see how long it lasts before being rewritten again.
You can play Daggerfall with Boxer thusly:
Download Boxer and put it wherever you like on your Mac (replace any older copy with it). If this is your first time using Boxer, start it up once to let it set up its stuff.
Download Daggerfall from Bethesda’s website. Once it finishes, doubleclick on the downloaded archive (
DFInstall.zip) to extract it, if Safari hasn’t already done so.
(It may take you several tries to download–it kept getting cut off halfway for me, leaving me with a broken archive. The final filesize should be 148.7 MB.)
DFCD folder from the extracted archive onto Boxer’s “Drop games here to install them” droplet. Daggerfall’s installer will now start up.
Tell the installer to install the game to your hard drive, and agree to all the default options. Once the sound-card selection screen comes up, tell it to auto-detect your digital soundcard and then choose ‘MPU-401’ (with the default port) as your MIDI card so that you’ll get music.
Once the game has finished installing, close the DOS window. We could start playing the game already, but we really should patch it first. We’ll get there, I promise.
Boxer will now tidy up the installation, and ask if you’d like it to make the game’s installation files into a fake CD for the game:
Choose to “Make a fake CD”: this will keep the game happy when it checks for a Daggerfall CD at startup.
Daggerfall is now fully installed into a nice tidy Daggerfall gamebox in your DOS Games folder. It’s named
DFCD right now, but you could rename it to
Daggerfall or whatever you like.
That was easy, I hear you thinking. It’s already done, and I still have time to watch TV or do some sewing.
You see, when it was first released, Daggerfall was just a collection of monstrous game-ruining bugs, and it needs updating to be worth playing. Fortunately though, Bethesda have included the latest Daggerfall patch in with the stuff you downloaded. So to update the game:
Right-click on your Daggerfall gamebox and choose "Show package contents": a Finder window will come up, showing you what’s inside the gamebox. Open up the
DAGGER folder that you’ll see inside.
In the original Bethesda stuff you downloaded (in the
DFInstall/DAGGER folder) you’ll find a program called
DAG213.EXE: this is the patch we need. Drag
DAG213.EXE into the
DAGGER folder inside the gamebox.
DAG213.EXE: the patch program will now start up in DOS. Answer yes whenever the patch asks you something.
Once the patch finishes, you can type DAGGER to play the game (or just close the DOS window.)
Daggerfall is now as up-to-date as it will ever be, and is ready for you to play in earnest. From now on, you can just doubleclick on your Daggerfall gamebox to play the game. The first time you do, Boxer will ask which of the game’s programs you want to run: choose
DAGGER.EXE, and Boxer will never bother you again.
Feel free to trash the files you downloaded from Bethesda, as they’re no longer needed. If you like, give the gamebox to your Mac-loving Boxer-having friends so they’ll be able to play Daggerfall too, without needing to install or patch the damn thing themselves.
Have fun assigning those skill points!
Read Bethesda’s 21-step instructions for running Daggerfall in DOSBox. Marvel at all the things you didn’t have to do.
Design by 40watt.