GOG and Steam "versions" for running King's Quest VII FAQ
3 years ago
Redding, CA, USA

New players may find it convenient, and legal, to buy the Steam or GOG "versions" of the games and use them to speedrun. However, after a few runs they may wonder why their times are not competitive with the other runs on the board. This is because the Steam and GOG "versions" use emulators named "ScummVM" and "DosBox" as a means to play the game on a modern computer. If you were to download the files for the game and run the sierra.exe executable in the folder you will get a prompt from Windows stating "This app can't run on your PC" meaning that dos based applications do not run on a 64-bit PC natively. Unless you have an old 32-bit PC knocking about, then an emulator is necessary. So why are these distributions not suitable for running King's Quest VII? Here are a few points of interest: First of all I would like to address something: you may notice that I am putting "version" in quotation marks when I refer to GOG and Steam. This is because GOG and Steam are distribution platforms selling digital "distributions" of these games. These distributions come bundled with an emulator that has been configured to work on modern PCs, as according to them. These are not "versions". Versions of Dos games refer to revisions of the engine, game's code, and localizations done by Sierra. Here is a link to a wiki page listing all the different SCI (or Sierra Creative Interpreter) engine games and their respective versions: https://wiki.scummvm.org/index.php/Sierra_Game_Versions#SCI_Games

A: These distributions are meant for a casual experience. They were configured as such by individuals (or even an individual for the DosBox distribution) to cater to the casual audience. The configurations were not mandated by any Sierra employees, but Our goal in speedrunning is to complete the games as fast as possible, and as such we have researched the best emulator and configurations to meet that end.

The following two points will be focused on the GOG distribution as Steam comes packed with DosBox 0.74, but is still pertinent as the version and configuration conflicts with what is used for runs.

B: ScummVM artifically throttles, or sets the cpu it is emulating to a certain mHz, which makes it fine for a casual experience, but not for speedrunning. Why is that? Certain tricks, such as the mashing movement tech, does not work quite as well in ScummVM due to a longer pause when getting the "X" cursor.

C: ScummVM is an old emulator with many MANY patches thrown into it over the years that have make subtle changes in the games. These are not readily apparent upon a casual playthrough, but they will once you spend a good enough amount of time speedrunning. As well as patches fixing old glitches there is also the possibility of bugs that were inadverdently left in the code that were never fixed. For example: the spots where the out of bounds glitches were routed in the speedrun cannot be performed as the paths that Rosella takes were patched to not be traversed; however, as a result there are other out of bounds areas that she CAN access, but they do not save as much time as those patched. That was just one example of both a patch and bug in ScummVM, and could be many others in there, but we currently do not have anyone in the community who could go through it's code with a fine toothed comb to pick them all out.

For these reasons, and more, we in the KQ7 speedrunning community prefer to use DosBox ECE (Enhanced Community Edition) for running the game. We have specific configurations to the .conf file to maximize speed and ensure as much stability as possible during speedruns(KQ7 is still a buggy mess). If you wish to buy the game legally and use it for speedrunning, then a little setup is required. Fortunately, there is a guide posted under "Guides" on this page to help get you setup doing so.

In conclusion, the GOG and Steam "versions" confusion is something that is always going to be present when talking about these games, but hopefully this post helped mitigate it. Speedrunning these old dos games is not quite as "plug-n-play" as console games, but with a little knowledge and light education it can be done easily and without many problems. Personally, I wish that we could have one emulator that was PnP to run every King's Quest game, and ScummVM would be my choice for that as it is open sourced to anyone wanting to make their own version, but we currently do not have someone in the community with the knowledge and experience to do so. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Edited by the author 3 years ago
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