Updated: April 23, 2008
Praised be the Gods of the Internet! I did it! Direct serial connection in DOSBox! My F-16 Combat Pilot simulator from 1989 works! Remember the first part of the DOSBox multiplayer saga - Enjoying multiplayer games on LAN in DOSBox - IPX - posted only a few days ago? Well, this is the second part, explaining how to setup a direct serial multiplayer game.
First, we must enable serial modem networking emulation. Find and open the dosbox.conf file (the configuration file for DOSBox); it should be located in the DOSBox directory.
On the "server" machine:
Inside the file, search for an entry labeled [serial]. Below the explanation comment (marked with #), change the configuration line for serial1 to serial1=nullmodem as shown in the screenshot below.
On the "client" machine:
Inside the file, search for an entry labeled [serial]. Below the explanation comment (marked with #), change the configuration line from serial1 to serial1=nullmodem server: IP as shown in the screenshot below.
That's it! Power up your favorite game! Set them both to run on the same port (COM1), choose the same baud rate and you're good to go!
Serial connection in action
If you setup everything correctly, once you power DOSBox, you should see a message in the program console telling you that the modem is waiting / listening on port 23 (the default port). This is the Telnet port, so if it's disabled for some reason, you can switch to any other port you like. Here's how the console message looks in Windows:
Now, it's time to play! F-16 Combat Pilot
The moment I've been waiting for 19 years ... Once both players connect, they'll receive a message: "ENEMY LOCATED!" Time to take off and fight!
Check all those lamps to make sure everything is OK ...
Tracking the enemy in the Single Target Track mode. The reticle & diamond means the AMRAAM is locked on the target (a growling noise in the headphones). But 18 miles to the bogey head-on is too far to risk the precious round.
The 1989 graphics might not be much today, but the close flypast is still as thrilling as any.
I'm on the tail of my enemy; I've spent all the M61 rounds and it's time to switch to Sidewinders.
Ka-boom! Kill confirmed.
DOSBox is probably the best toy any DOS fan can have. It allows you to recapture the special spirit of the old times that the invention of modern operating systems brought to a crushing end. DOSBox brings back those time in full glory. It's been almost two decade since I've set my eyes on this game. Twenty years! Can you fully comprehend the scope of that? Never again shall a DOS fan be left wanting for his childhood pleasures. They can be enjoyed as if not a moment passed.