As I mentioned last month, I was thinking of hooking up my laptop to the TV so I could play System Shock on it. That idea didn’t go away; so I ordered a mini-DVI-to-HDMI converter and a lap desk. It took me a little while to get around to setting things up—I was playing the new XBLA Magic game to get ready for a VGHVI session—but eventually I had an evening free, so I went to plug things in.

That actually took longer than expected: I hadn’t looked closely at my receiver, so I didn’t realize that I didn’t have ports available that would let me combine HDMI video with RCA audio jacks. Eventually I gave up on that, and plugged stuff straight into the TV; that worked fine. Or at least mostly fine: when I turned it on, I was missing the sides of the screen, but I’d been through that drill before, so I knew how to turn off the TV’s overscan settings, I just apparently had to do that separately on the TV’s different inputs.


So: I fired up DOSbox, and set it to full screen mode! And: the sides of the screen were cut off again, and this time there weren’t any options on the TV to help me.

I of course googled the problem; I found nobody else describing those specific symptoms. There were some general recommendations for which values in the configuration file to fiddle with; I tried various ones of those. Most of them had no effect; then I tried appending the “no, I mean it” option to one of them, and the screen looked right! So I started up System Shock; the dimensions were still good, but the framerate was glacial.

I spent an hour and a half fiddling with config files, and then I eventually gave up and played on the laptop screen. (Actually, that’s not quite right: I tried on the full screen, and there wasn’t too much cut off. So I’m actually thinking that I’ll give it a try again on the TV soon: now that I understand the game’s HUD, I should be able to play with parts of the sides and bottom cut off.) At least I feel like I got an authentic PC experience out of the evening.

Still, it was the right choice. Mainly for one reason: System Shock is a wonderful game, and is the game that I’m in the mood to play now. (And I will continue on to System Shock 2; hopefully the Good Old Games packaging will help that work better, or maybe being in a higher resolution will help something in the display chain behave better.)

But also: it’s not the only PC game that I want to play. Especially not right now, with the recent release of Gone Home; I’d also like to play Analogue and The Yawhg. Admittedly, I’d rather play those games on the 360 or the iPad, depending, and I’m probably still going to wait a while to see if any ports appear, but I may have to take what I can get.

Good times? Well, it’s far better to have a way to play a 1994 game than not to.

Edit: Thanks to Praveen’s comment below, I tried out Boxer; it’s working great in fullscreen mode. So yay, I’m actually pretty happy with the setup now.

Post Revisions: