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Initially, Master of Orion II was developed for MS-DOS, followed by a Windows 95 and a Mac OS version.[1] No Unix / Linux version was produced, but Linux users can play the MS-DOS version by using the emulator DOSBox (see below).

Regarding the Mac OS version, the latest release is Patch v1.6; however, incompatibilities with Mac OS X were reported.[2][3]

In theory the Windows 95 version can run under all common 32-bit Windows operating systems. However, it hardly ever runs properly under Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista without some adjustments. In Windows 2000 / XP, selecting "Windows 95" in either the Compatibility tab of the program's / shortcut's Properties dialog or in the Program Compatibility Wizard and possibly applying specifically developed mouse patches may make MOO II run satisfactorily as a normal Windows application.[4][5][6] Various forums suggest that similar techniques work in Windows Vista. Additionally, Vista users have to adjust the latest Direct X upgrade, which removed the dplay.dll file.[7] But there is no guarantee that these techniques will work on every system. On some systems graphics and / or mouse driver incompatibilities may make the game crash or freeze immediately. On others the results can be even more frustrating as problems appear only after you are well into a game, for example the screen colors may go horribly wrong and restarting the game or even the operating system may not cure it.

The simplest way to avoid all these compatibility issues is to install and run the MS-DOS version of MOO II under the control of the emulator DOSBox, which is available for recent versions of Windows and for Linux and Mac OS.[8] Using the MS-DOS version also allows player to use the user-developed enhancements and mods to MOO II, which are available only for the the MS-DOS version;[9][10] and DOSBox is now the preferred way to set up multiplayer games over the Internet (see below).[8]

DOSBox requires a text configuration file for each game, and instructions for configuring MOO2 are available on the Web. There are also free DOSBox "front-ends" such as DBGL,[11][12] which enable users to create and edit configuration files via forms rather than by typing text commands, and provide other convenient features such as creating a shortcut to run each game.

Multiplayer[edit]

Master of Orion II supports multi-player contests between human players as well as single-player contests against AI opponents on the user's computer. Multi-player games are possible via hot seat, modem, serial link, and LAN. Users of the Windows version could play multi-player games via TEN (Total Entertainment Network), [13], but TEN was discontinued in 1999. For some years after that, most online players used the MS-DOS version in combination with Kali.[14][15] New operating systems (e.g. Windows 2000, XP and Vista) and improved hardware (e.g. more than 512MB RAM) made further adjustments necessary in order to use the MS-DOS version.[16]

The emulator DOSBox, in combination with the #MOO2 IRC channel on Quakenet is now the most popular solution for MOO II online games, because it supports IPX (since DOSBox version 0.65) and also allows Windows users to play against users of other operating systems (e.g. Linux, Mac OS).[8]

Installing[edit]

It is now hard to find CDs of the game, but the PC version is still sold as a download.[17]

Mac users simply install the game from the CD or download file.

Users of Unix or Linux must install the MS-DOS version and run it under the DOSBox emulator.

If you use Windows, you may wish to install the MS-DOS version anyway and run it under DOSBox, as this:[8][18][10]

  • Avoids the technical issues described below.
  • Allows you to use the "version 1.4" patch and mods.
  • Is the preferred option for multi-player games (see above).

Whatever operating system you use, it's best to copy all of the game files from the CD (if you have one) before running the installer, as loading artwork and sounds from the CD makes the game a lot slower. The game files are only about 350MB, which is about 0.1% of the size of modern disk drives. After running the installer, edit file orioncd.ini to point to your MOO2 folder / directory rather than to the CD drive (use an absolute path, not a relative path; for example d:games\moo2 with no final \). Copying the files before installing avoids the risk that the copy process will over-write any patches you apply (see below).

If you install the the Windows or MS-DOS version, look for the version 1.31 patch in your CD or download and, if present, run it to fix some bugs (including a few crashes).

Then, if you installed the the MS-DOS version (not the Windows version), install the "version 1.4x" patch, which you can download from masteroforion2.blogspot.com. This fixes a few more bugs, and provides some new game set-up options without changing the gameplay.

If you plan to install any mods, it may be a good idea to copy your installation to a separate directory for each mod. Most mods create additional .exe and other files without overwriting the patched "standard" version or its files,[19] but it's better to be safe than sorry. And having each mod in a separate directory avoids the risk that you may try to resume a saved game (especially the single auto-save file) using the wrong mod.

Configuring DOSBox to run MOO II[edit]

There are two easy ways to deal with this: copy a configuration file from a Web site;[8] or use a "front-end" such as DBGL.[11] Many front-ends can create shortcuts to configurations for specific games - usually to the Desktop, but you can then move them to your Start Menu.

MOO II under DOSBox behaves like a normal Windows program - for example you can task-switch (ALT-TAB) out of and into it.

Widescreen issues[edit]

MOO II was written to run on the traditional monitors with a 4:3 aspect ratio, i.e. the screen's width is 1.33 times its height. Wider screens with an aspect ratio of 16:10 (width = 1.6 times height) are now becoming more popular, but it's not so easy to get MOO II to display nicely on these.

The following assumes you're running MOO II via DOSBox.

Ideally one would like a full-screen display (no Windows chrome such as title bar) but with the active area having the correct, i.e. old, 4:3 aspect ratio. Unfortunately this does not seem possible at the moment, and the main options appear to be:

  • Fullscreen. This usually stretches each MOO II screen to a 16:10 aspect ratio. Besides looking ugly because everything looks coarse, it can be misleading as it distorts the Galaxy map so that distances which the game regards as equal look longer in the East-West direction thna in the North-South direction (in other words X pixels running North-South represents a greater distance than the same number of pixels running East-West). Some wide screen monitors have can maintain correct aspect ratio for 4:3 signal, such as Dell 2408WFP.
  • Run MOO II in a DOSBox window. In this case you must specify a window resolution where the vertical size is less than the vertical size of your monitor's resolution, otherwise part of the game's main screen may not be visible. For example if your monitor is the popular 1440x900 size, the largest usable window size may be 1024x786. The result is that the MOO II main screen occupies slightly less screen area than it would have done in fullscreen mode on a 4:3 monitor, although the clearer image presented by the newer monitors compensates for this. This option can be implemented by the following settings: output overlay (only "overlay" obeys the "aspect ratio" setting), scaler none, fullscreen no, window resolution 1024x768 (or whatever 4:3 setting just fits within your monitor's screen height), aspect correction on.

Technical support[edit]

The support for the MS-DOS/Win95 release (these are bundled together) as well as the support for the Mac OS release is now provided by Atari.[20]

References[edit]