Rediscovering Betrayal at Krondor Using DOSBox
While I was in high school a game I really enjoyed was Betrayal at Krondor. It's based on a fantastic series of novels by Raymond E. Feist. I've been re-reading them this summer and it made me nostalgic for the game as well. In looking for my copy of the game I came to discover that it has since been released as freeware and can be played on Linux using DOSBox.
Before I get into the specifics of how to run it, lets talk about the game itself. Betrayal at Krondor is designed to be like a book, in fact, Feist later wrote Krondor the Betrayal which follows the same story. In the game you control a party of characters through nine chapters, each with a specific goal. And just like a book, different chapters sometimes follow different characters.
Even within the main plotline, you are free to explore the world during each chapter. One of the interesting facets my brother and I used to enjoy were the Moredhel puzzle boxes that could be found sprinkled throughout the wilderness. Each one has a word lock and you need to answer a riddle correctly to unlock the box.
Outside of the puzzles, there is also a significant tactical combat element. Combat is turn based and offers a variety or weapons and spells. It is based on a grid system using a 3rd person view. Most of the exploration in the game is first person. Overall I found the system to work well.
For more information please check the Wikipedia entry.
Downloading the Game
1. Download the game from http://www.alt-tab.net/games/betrayal-at-krondor/download. If you need a refresher on the gameplay I suggest downloading the zip file with the manual included.
2. Unzip it and place the exe file in a directory called games.
Installing and Running the Game
1. Install DOSBox. Most distributions should have this easily available.
2. Select Dosbox Emulator from the Utilities menu.
3. Mount the appropriate folder by typing "mount c /home/user/games". I placed my executable in a directory called games. You can use whatever folder you like.
4. Type "C:" to switch to the C drive.
5. Type "krondorz" to run the self extracting executable. Press "Y" to continue. It may take a while for the extraction to complete.
6. Type "krondor" to launch the game.
After the initial install, steps 3 through 6 can be combined in a single command the next time you want to run the game:
dosbox -fullscreen -c "mount c /home/chad/Games" -c c: -c krondor
You could also create a menu entry with that command so it can be launched like any native Linux game. The -fullscreen switch is optional depending upon your preference.
I won't go into a comprehensive DOSBox howto, but here are a few key combinations that may be useful.
To switch between a window and full screen press Alt+Enter. This worked great on my CRT, but my laptops LCD just used part of the screen.
To slow down emulation press Ctrl+F11. To speed up emulation press Ctrl+F12.
If you are having issues getting DOSBox to release the mouse you can press Ctrl+F10 return control to the OS.
I've known about DOSBox for a while, but had never gotten around to trying it out. Now that I have I'm impressed with how simple it is to use and I've been inspired to try out more of my old games.
Graphically these old games definitely show their age, but the gameplay is still fun. It's nice to know that the great games I enjoyed as a kid aren't lost to ever advancing technologies.
Regarding Betrayal at Krondor, there is a project called xBaK that is creating a native Linux version of the game using SDL. I'm not entirely sure what the benefit is vs. the DOSBox method, but it could be interesting if it can improve the game in some way.