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Custom Build PC > This is an extensive article on how to build a computer yourself from scratch, suitable for playing the Space Quest games.

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Building the Ultimate Space Quest Computer
You must understand the Space Quest games simply aren't designed to work with your Pentium 4 3Ghz Windows XP machine (or whatever they're selling now). You can try any slow down utility to help you through the timer bugs, but it won't prevent most of the bugs from happening anyway. You can try any DOS emulator there is, but it still won't get the job done right. You'll get a game in return that doesn't act like it should. Not to mention using slow down utilities make the animations rusty and degrade game play. And who wants to use stupid utilities anyway? You just want to play the games, without any hassle. Without timer problems, without memory shortages, without that frustrating "out of hunk" message. Your best solution is simply to play Space Quest on a fast 486 computer or early Pentium. Most people don't know DOS about old computers, so this article is here to guide you a little bit. More importantly, I hope to encourage you to buy an old computer. It'll make the games shine like you've never seen before. If you're a die-hard fan of the Series, other old Sierra games, or any old game for that matter (that doesn't run 100% on today's computer), than the little bit of trouble is worth it! And it's also a lot of fun to build your own Space Quest Computer! So let's get going!

The hardware

Buying the right computer
Processor, CD-Rom drive, disk drive and outer casing
Hard drive, RAM
Video card and screen
Sound card: the Creative Labs SoundBlaster CT4170


The Disk Operating System - DOS

Installing Disk Operating System 5.0 English and make the keyboard work
Mouse driver
CD-Rom driver
Sound card driver


Installing the SQ games

Space Quest 1 EGA
Space Quest 1 VGA
Space Quest 2
Space Quest 3
Space Quest 4 CD-Rom talkie version, as supplied with the collection
Space Quest 5 English
Space Quest 6 DOS
Space Quest 6 DEMO
Crazy Nick's Picks
Before playing the games: installing the Sierra Boot Disk


Fine tuning your system

Additional reading
Some simple trouble shooting
I've still got Timer Problems! - Install the Timer Fixes
I've still got Timer Problems! - Disable your processor cache
Installing patches to improve the games
Installing saved games
Installing mini games
Optimizing the mouse


Before reading any further
Now, I know what you think. DOS: Isn't that the old typewriter my father used to work with in the old days? But don't get discouraged! I've made my own custom build Space Quest computer with just a little bit of outside help. Blimey, if I can do it, you can too. Not to mention I didn't had such a neat article to read. The only thing I ask from you is a little bit of computer knowledge. I assume you can open a computer and don't run screaming to your mom because the wires look like they haven't been dusted in ages. Seriously though, this is what I expect from you:

A little bit of DOS knowledge, just the primitive basics like: changing directories, listing directories, using the DOS editor (opening, saving and editing some simple text files), know how about software drivers and stuff like that. No major hacker crap required.

A little bit of hardware knowledge: I expect you can open a computer and be able to locate its major components. I'll provide pictures of those in the article where ever possible. Being able to locate the processor, the internal memory, the hard drive, the CD-ROM drive, the IDE cables, the sound card and the video card is considered to be enough.

If this talk makes you dizzy, there's no use in reading any further. You simply needed to have at least some basic computer knowledge when you had a computer back in the 1980-1995 era. And since we're going to make such a computer, you can do the math. I don't consider myself as a major computer nerd, but I think I do know the basics. If you don't, please buy a booklet that explains things about DOS and old computer hardware. These booklets should be easy be find in your local bookshop for a buck or two. Make sure you find a book with lots of illustrations and that doesn't go into too much hardware and software details.

Enough already! Let's DOS!


The hardware
A tower designBuying the right computer
Before you can play Space Quest you'll need a computer. Try your local garage sales, dumb shops or whatever. Maybe you can get an old computer from your school or buy one at your computer shop for a few bucks? What about the good old attic? What about grandma and/or other near-dead relatives and/or friends who might have an old computer laying around? Check out the ads in your local newspaper. There are lots of suckers who want to sell their "useless" computer. You might even want to check online auction sites like Ebay. I'm sure you'll be able to buy a 80486, Pentium 90 or Pentium 120 for under 25 bucks or so. A complete system that includes a keyboard, mouse, screen and software (the one thing we won't need to have included, mind you) might cost about 50 bucks. I don't think you should go any higher than that. After all, it's antique we're talking about.

Processor, CD-Rom drive, disk drive and outer casing
I recommend buying a computer which isn't faster as 150 Mhz, preferably a Pentium 1 90Mhz. I think the 486 is just a little bit too slow for Space Quest 6. However, running Space Quest when using a Pentium 200Mhz will already be enough to trigger the timer issues. And that, my friends, we don't want. I myself own a specially Space Quest build Pentium 1 120Mhz which had some timer issues at first. However, these were solved when I installed the cool timer fixes! Anyway, let's not get into too much of that kind of detail already.

I recommend buying a tower casing, and not a desktop-build. Desktops are much more closed systems and don't allow you to explore, build and expand that easily. Buy a nice tower with a cd-rom player (24 speed is more than enough), a 3,5" disk drive and one 5,25" slot empty (you might want to install a 5,25" disk drive later on for the ultimate experience). Before you run out of your home to buy the computer, you'll need to consider a few other things.

A dinosaus laying on his backAt first, I had a 486 Compaq computer which used a rather weird CD-Rom bay system. I wanted to install a CD-Rom drive (it didn't come with any) which I bought in a local computer shop. Installing the drive was possible, but I needed some kind of metal guiders which didn't come with the pc. So, recalling that experience, I don't recommend buying a brand pc like Compaq, Dell, HP or something like that (those guys always have their own system and hardware). Try finding a brand-less computer (or a brand nobody has ever heard about). You might want to take a look inside the computer and see if there's any weird railing system that suspends the CD-Rom or other internal components before you decide to buy it. As you can see in the image here to the right, the spot marked with the number 1 confirms that this system locks the cd-rom drive and 3,5 disk drive into place with simple screws. However, you might want to look at the other side to be sure there aren't any railings or stuff like that.

Number 2 points to an empty 5,25" bay. Perfect for that old 5,25" disk drive. If the computer doesn't come with a CD-Rom drive (which is quite possible with these oldies) buy one at your local computer shop. Don't buy anything fancy. Those 52 speeds cd-rom drives only make a lot of noise. I recommend a 12, 24 or 36 speed (not higher, it's useless) ATAPI IDE cd-rom drive which shouldn't cost you more than 20 bucks. It'll come with an instruction manual but I know for sure you guys out there who are going to buy a second hand oldy don't have such documents. You might want to download this standard ATAPI IDE CD-Rom manual (188 KB, PDF file). And this document (140 KB, PDF file) explains more about IDE, jumper settings and MASTER/SLAVE related stuff. Highly recommend reading, straight from this site's fast server. If you're already worrying about installing DOS drivers, don't. I'll explain all that later on. For now, we just need to get you some serious hardware to get the job done. Anyway, we're drifting off. Maybe your computer already comes with CD-Rom drive and you don't need to install one.

Let's sum up what we've gotten so far: I recommend the Pentium 1 90Mhz system as ultimate Space Quest computer, constructed inside a (mini)tower with 3,5" disk drive and CD-Rom drive. Now we've decided with what kind of basic configuration we're going to work with, we can talk about more important things like RAM and sound cards.

Hard drive, RAM
A hard driveI don't think the hard drive is all that important. You might want to ask the former owner if it was extensively used. A hard drive of 250MB is already more than enough for your Space Quest games, even when choosing the full installation option for all of the games, demo's, save games and patches. If you want to install more than just Space Quest on your computer, you might need a larger drive. I recommend a drive of 250 to 800MB. I think it's possibly to use hard drives in excess of 2GB with DOS (the OS we're going to use) but I don't recommend it. Please note that hard drives any larger than 800MB's are considered to be extremely huge for the DOS OS. They won't come with your second hand computer anyway. So, whatever hard drive comes with your computer, it'll be large enough for the Space Quest games. For once, we won't have to deal with any available disk space!

8MB RAMMake sure you've got "lots of RAM" in it. The last 3 SQ's run more smoothly if you have, let's say, 8MB to 32MB RAM (32MB is quite a large amount, mind you) in your computer. Buying RAM that is suited for your 486, P90 or P120 motherboard shouldn't be all that hard to find. If you don't know what kind of RAM module you need to buy, locate your RAM module and see if there's any space for another one. Most of the time you'll have 2 empty slots left. If all of them are full than you're out of luck. On the other side, if all of them are full you might not need any more RAM. Boot your computer and see how far your memory counter... Uhhhm... counts (32MB equals 32768KB). To buy more RAM, remove the current module from your computer and bring it along to the computer shop and ask if they have any of those RAM modules for your computer. You might want to search Google for "buy 16 MB EDO RAM" or something like that. A 8MB RAM module shouldn't cost more than 5 bucks. Don't worry about it too much, though. Space Quest 6 will run fine when using as little as 8MB.

Video card and Screen
AGP, PCI and ISA slotsThe first Space Quest is happy when it can run using a CGA card, but you'll need a SVGA video card to play Space Quest 6 in full glory. I recommend using an ISA or PCI card. You can recognize an ISA card by the typical size of the golden connector at the bottom of the card. Also, an ISA card fits into a large black socket (or slot) in the motherboard. If your video card is connected to a white socket than you have a newer card: a PCI card. I don't recommend a AGP video card for your Space Quest computer (they are installed in the brown slot). DOS wasn't designed to work with AGP.

It's possible your video card is integrated into your motherboard. If this is the case, you don't need to worry all that much, unless it's a P1 120Mhz + motherboard (note the plus). But as I said earlier, I don't recommend using such "fast" systems anyway. The amount of RAM on your card is totally irrelevant. As long as your card is VGA compatible than you're fine. And I guess all cards that comes with a 486, P1 90Mhz or P1 120Mhz are.

An ISA video cardThe screen is not really important either. I recommend using a 14" or larger screen. It'll be pretty cool playing Space Quest 1 EGA on a 21" screen, but that's overdoing the whole thing. Not to mention your second hand computer will probably come with a 15" max, which is more than perfect for the job. I use a 12" IBM color screen, the same one supplied with the Junior PC. It might as well be one of the first color computer screens ever produced. It plays SQ6 just nicely. I personally think a small screen adds more "nostalgia" to the whole thing, but that's just me. For that reason, I would personally choose a small screen in favor of a larger one. So whatever comes with your computer will be fine. If you want any hard figures from me, find an ISA or PCI video card with at least 1 or 2 MB RAM and a screen that runs SVGA at 640 x 480 pixels @ 85hz.

I can draw a quick and simple conclusion. If you buy a 486, P1 90Mhz or P1 120Mhz computer, the video card will be good enough to play Space Quest 6. So all this whining I just told you is really not all that important. However, you might want to check if your computer DOES NOT come with an AGI video card. We might have trouble with DOS later on.

Sound card: the Creative Labs SoundBlaster CT4170
The things we've talked about so far are really the most basic things we need for our Space Quest computer. Basically, whatever comes with your 486, P1 90Mhz or P1 120Mhz is perfect for all your Space Quest needs... Except the sound card, which is a nasty exception to this rule. It's important to know what kind of sound card you have as your ultimate Space Quest computer might not come with any manuals and drivers.

Before we'll talk about the sound characteristics of sound cards I want to talk about the hardware part. Locating the sound card is probably the most important thing of the entire hardware chapter. It's also quite easy. Please take a look at the image below. That's a standard sound card. It doesn't matter how the four in- and outputs are arranged but you'll almost always find: a microphone input, a line out or speaker output (you'll connect your speakers to this one), a line in and the so-called "game port". You can connect a joystick or a musical instrument, like a keyboard, to this input.

The  back of a soundcard

So far so good. We've located the sound card. If you can't locate it, you're either incredibly stupid or you simply don't have one. If you don't have a card, tough luck, but don't give up hope. A simple ISA sound card is easy to get and is dirty cheap.

Locating the card is one thing, identifying it is another. First of all, if you have a PCI sound card (you've read in the video card part how you can identify PCI) you're out of luck. These card are fine when using Windows, but we're going to use DOS. And DOS has a problem with PCI cards because they are too complex (modern). Some of you nerds out there can probably make some PCI sound cards work in DOS, but I'm not going to try nor am I going to explain it in this article. And that's besides the point that SQ1 VGA, SQ3, SQ4 and SQ5 are not designed for PCI sound cards so we're not going to work with those. As I said earlier, your sound card might be integrated into the motherboard. This means the sound in- and outputs are connected to your motherboard instead of a separate card. I don't think 486, P1 90Mhz and P1 120Mhz already came with integrated sound cards, but this might as well be the case. If so, all should be compatible with the Sound Blaster standard (we'll talk about that later) and fine for Space Quest. The downside is you can't switch cards that easily. If your integrated card sucks, than you're out of luck. I'm not going to talk about turning off the integrated card and using another one in this article. Switching a sucky ISA sound card for a better one, at the other hand, is as easy as pie.

A Creative Labs SoundBlasterGathering more information about your card is required to successfully run the games. You might want to take the card out of the computer and examine it. Maybe you can find the brand and type (188 KB)? If you succeed in doing so, downloading the right driver (or: software package to make your card work) for your card will be much easier. Most companies offer drivers at their website.

Now, the quality of sound you will have for your Space Quest games depends whether or not your sound card has a nice quality MIDI table. You see, all the Space Quest games rely heavily on your sound card's MIDI WAVE table. And you can't see that from the outside whether or not your card has a good one. It's embedded, so to speak, in the chipset of your card. If it sucks, the games will sound like crap too. You've probably heard a few of this site's songs, located in the soundtrack pages. These songs are recorded using the MT-32 and other mind blowers. These sound cards or sound modules were considered the best of their time, and as far as MIDI playback goes, this still stands. If you want the ultimate Space Quest sound experience, I recommend you to get a Roland MT-32 sound module along with a Creative SoundBlaster to make it work. Be prepared to cough up some bucks.

Simply put, 95% of the cards out there won't come even close to that kind of quality. However, when using a standard ISA 16bit SoundBlaster card (or an ADLIB, Roland or compatible card) your Space Quest games will sound nice, but probably rather unimpressive. Discussing whether or not a card is good is simply your personal taste. Of course, I'll be the first to agree with you if you've decided to get another sound card because the one supplied with your Space Quest computer simply isn't cutting it. First, we need to make the sound card work, so we won't have any quality debates soon.

To sum it up: I recommend an ISA 16bit sound card. SoundBlaster, ADLIB, Roland or compatible. If your computer doesn't come with any, it's back to a computer store that still sells old parts. Or, brows Ebay for one. 10 bucks will be enough to make yourself owner of such fine cards. If you want more information about which card you should choose, please visit the Sierra Music Central and mail the webmaster, Alistair Gillett. I myself use a Creative Labs model number CT4170 Sound Blaster card. Which is fine, but not really impressive. Still, it beats the hell out of today's cheaply integrated sound cards. Try playing a decent midi using a Pentium 3 or higher. It's pathetic. If you want something better than the CT4170, try the AWE32. That card is completely General MIDI compatible and thus ultra suitable for the Space Quest games. Quite a bit better than the AWE32 is the Roland SC-55. But it's also a lot more expensive. In my opinion, the ultimate sound machine for the Space Quest Series still is the Roland MT-32 (or the internal version of the MT-32, the LAPC-1). However, please note that the MT-32 isn't the best choice for SQ5 and 6 (whereas it is for SQ1, 3 and 4).

Just to illustrate the differences between soundcards and soundsetting, please hear the following four soundclips. The last one (Roland LAPC-1) sounds the way SQ3 is meant to sound. As you can hear, it's vitally important which music system you use. The SoundBlaster card in our computer is a mixture of the Adlib and the Roland card so to speak. A pretty acceptable outcome, but far from perfect.
PC JR (160 KB)

IBM Music Feature Card (160 KB)
Adlib card (160 KB)
Roland LAPC-1 (160 KB)

That leaves use with unimportant things like keyboards, mouse, joystick, speakers and other crap. It's really unimportant what you have. Using a three buttoned mouse is fine, but two or one will work too. If you happen to need an adaptor plug for your keyboard or mouse, they are widely available at your computer store. I have personally never used joysticks for the Space Quest games. And of course, the better your speakers, the better the sound.

Well, that's about it for the hardware. I wish you good luck in finding a suited system. Let me give you a list of my Space Quest computer:

Processor: Pentium-S 120 Mhz
Motherboard: Intel PT-2006 with 82430 VX PCIset chipset
Harddisk: Maxtor 81630A4 1.6GB hard disk (this size is NOT recommended for your computer)
RAM: 32 MB EDO RAM (this is a HUGE amount for this configuration)
Phoenix SVGA video card, 2 MB (chipset S3 trio64v+ 86c765 PCI)
Creative Labs model number CT4170 Sound Blaster card (16 bit)
12" IBM Junior PC color monitor, capable of running 640 x 480 @ 85 HZ
3.5" 1.44 MB disk drive (A:\ Double Side High Density)
5.25" 1.2 MB disk drive (B:\ Double Side High Density)
Hitachi CDR-7930 8 speed CD-Rom drive
3 buttoned Logitech mouse
Standard QWERTY US Keyboard
DOS 6.22 English


The Disk Operating System - DOS

Before reading any further

This article assumes you have 8 empty HD disks ready and have a basic knowledge about the Disk Operating System or DOS for short. If you don't know anything about DOS, learn the basics here. Further more, the computer you're using now to browse my site must have a 3,5" disk drive and WINZIP installed (or Drop Zip if you're using a Macintosh). Both programs are free and are needed to unpack the ZIP archives that are offered in this article. You'll have to know how to unpack the ZIP archives and put them onto a disk or you won't be able to follow the instructions of the article below.

Installing Disk Operating System 5.0 English and make the keyboard work

After a lot of searching you've finally found the right computer for the job. I assume you have bought a second hand computer from some place which still has the Operating System (and possibly the previous owner's files) on the hard drive. We're going to empty your hard drive by using the format command. Turn on the computer and wait until the Operating System loads. This is probably DOS or Windows 95. If it's Windows 95, please click on the START menu, click SHUT DOWN and than select the option REBOOT THE COMPUTER IN DOS (or something that looks like that). The computer will load in DOS. If your computer came with DOS installed, you don't need to do anything and are ready for the job. If your computer doesn't boot at all, the hard drive will probably already be empty. Insert disk 1 of DOS 5.0 and turn on your computer.

To format your hard drive type: "FORMAT C:" to start the formatting sequence. The computer will give you a warning that all the information, files and data on the hard drive will be erased and after having pressed the "Y" key on your keyboard, the formatting will start. After a few seconds you've got a perfectly clean hard drive for our little project. DOS 5.0 comes with three disks and installing it should be easy as pie. I assume you already have DOS 5.0 or have downloaded it (1.3 MB) from my site. If you've downloaded it please unpack the ZIP files and copy the files from the folders dos5d1, dos5d2 and dos5d3 onto three empty disks. You might want to label the disks.

If you're having problems with installing the DOS 5.0 package, I can also offer you DOS 6.22. As the readme file says, you should use WinImage or Rawrite to make the floppy disks (I suggest Rawrite for Windows 2000 and XP (237 KB)). DOS 6.22 offers some excellent features like scandisk and a defragmentation program. Needless to say, I've tested the Series on both OS myself.

Put disk 1 into the computer and press CTRL ALT DELETE to reboot, or hit your computer's reset button. The installation should begin momentarily. When the installation loads, follow the onscreen instructions. Please disable the option to boot the computer in DOS SHELL. We won't need such crap for you Space Quest computer. Be sure to select the right keyboard. This is almost certainly the US keyboard. If the installation gives you any errors regarding the keyboard, don't worry, we can fix that. Just go with the flow, and let DOS decide which keyboard it wants to use. Make sure DOS is properly installed in the DOS folder (which is the default folder). After the third disk completed the installation procedure, remove it and reboot the computer as instructed.

The computer will load your clean DOS 5.0 and it's ready to rock and roll. Try testing if DOS selected the right keyboard for you. You can easily test this by hitting the semi colon ";" key. If it shows indeed the ";" and when using the SHIFT key the ":" than you're all set. If it doesn't than DOS thinks you have a foreign non-standard keyboard. This will probably only happen if you use a different language version of DOS, like German, French or Dutch. To fix this enter the command:


This will set your keyboard to the standard US ones. To make sure DOS will boot with this setting every time, you need to edit the AUTOEXEC.BAT files. This is done by typing the command:

"EDIT AUTOEXEC.BAT" (assuming you are in the root directory, which is "C:\>")

The DOS editor will load, and will open the AUTOXEC.BAT file (make sure you don't make any typo's or nothing will load). You'll probably see a few lines of text, which will look something like:

prompt $p$g

Simply enter the text: "KEYB US" underneath it. Make sure you save the file before exiting the editor. Reboot and test the ":" key. You'll see if it works. So, this solves any keyboard issues you might have. I highly recommend using a standard US QWERTY layout keyboard for your computer and not some weird foreign thing.

Make sure you've got a working mouse and that it has been correctly connected to your computer. Before we can use a mouse, we need to install a standard mouse driver for your computer. You can download one here (76 KB). Unzip the files and put them onto an empty disk. Put your mouse driver disk into the disk drive of your Space Quest computer and type "A:". DOS will try to access the disk. Now type "INSTALL" to begin the mouse driver installation. The installation program will put the mouse files into a new directory on your hard drive called "TRMOUSE". Confirm this by hitting the enter key. The Boeder Mouse Driver Setup will copy the necessary files to that folder and after the setup has been completed hit CNTR ALT DELETE like the program asks you to. You can now use your mouse. To test this type:


You might want to change the speed of the mouse. But we'll do that later on in the fine tune section of this article.

CD-Rom drive
Now we need to set up your CD-Rom drive. First, you'll need a CD-Rom driver (248 KB) which can tell DOS what do to. Download the file, extract the zip archive and put the files onto a blank disk. Now, put this disk into your Space Quest computer. Once again, you must type "A:" and than "INSTALL" to start the setup procedure. A window will appear which tells you the program is about to copy the CD-Rom files to the "CDROM" directory on your hard drive. This is okay, so press enter or use your newly installed mouse to click on "OK". After the installation procedure you must once again reboot. When DOS is loaded once more, try testing the CD-Rom drive by loading your Space Quest Collection cd into the drive and type "D:". DOS should try to access the drive. Type "DIR" to ask DOS to open the cd for you. You'll see a list of all the files on the cd. You've just successfully installed your CD-Rom drive!

Sound card
Now the most "delicate" part of the installation procedure: making the sound card work. This article assumes you have a Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 bit model CT4170. The driver supplied on this page will probably work with any ISA 16 bit Creative Sound Blaster card, but I cannot guarantee this.

You'll need the Creative Manager (672 KB) for any Creative Labs SoundBlaster card. The ZIP archive itself contains a file archive which needs to be copied onto an empty disk. Take the floppy that contains the Creative Manager file and copy it to your Space Quest computer's hard drive. I recommend creating the directory MANAGER first. In the "C:\>" type "MD MANAGER". Now type "COPY A:\ C:\MANAGER\". DOS will copy the floppy to your newly created directory. When DOS is finished, go the the MANAGER directory and type: "CTCMSSB", which is the name of the file you just copied. The file will run and expand itself, extracting a lot of files. Once the extraction is completed, type: "INSTALL" and the installation procedure will begin. The Configuration Manager will install itself into the CTCM directory, which will be created during installation. Follow the onscreen instructions and complete the setup. Once the installation procedure has been competed you can remove the MANAGER directory and all its files from your hard drive. In the "C:\>" type DEL MANAGER. Press the "Y" key to confirm. Next type "RD MANAGER" which will delete the now empty directory MANAGER.

If all went well, you've just successfully installed the configuration manager for your SoundBlaster sound card. To successfully use your card, you need to download the driver here (1.1 MB). This driver is suitable for any 16bit Creative Lab SoundBlaster card and should not be installed if you have some other card. Now you must once again extract the zip file onto an empty disk and put this disk into your Space Quest computer. And, as before with the CTCMSBB file, you need to copy the file from the floppy to your hard drive. First create a directory called SOUND. In C:\> type: "MD SOUND". Now you can copy the floppy to the hard drive. Type: "COPY A:\ C:\SOUND\". Go to your newly made SOUND directory and type: "SBBASIC". The file will run and expand itself, extracting a lot of files. now type "INSTALL" to start the audio software setup. After you've started the setup, you'll soon read about the PnP Configuration Manager. This is the program we've installed minutes ago so you can continue the installation. Press ENTER and it'll ask for the Configuration Manager Installation Disk. We don't have that disk because we've made a complete directory on the hard drive instead of a floppy. The program needs your help to locate the Configuration Manager Installation Disk which is installed in the CTCM directory. You can see "C:\SOUND" at the bottom. Change this into: "C:\CTCM" and continue the installation. If all goes well your sound card will be correctly installed and configured. You can delete the SOUND directory. In the "C:\>" type "DEL SOUND". Press the "Y" key to confirm. Next type "RD SOUND" which will delete the now empty directory SOUND.

This entire section might be useless to you if you have another sound card. In that case, try to find the driver of your card by searching the internet. Let's say you've got a Yamaha model X card. Try searching for "Yamaha model X DOS driver" in Google. Whatever driver you'll need, it will always come with installation instructions. Follow them to successfully install the driver so that your card will work with the Space Quest games.

If all went well, your computer is ALMOST ultimately configured to play Space Quest. We'll only need to make DOS to load in HIGHMEM, which is done by creating the Sierra Boot Disk and copying the files to the hard drive. I'll come back about that in full detail in the section below.


Installing the SQ games

The Space Quest CollectionPhew! Now we finally get to the part where we're actually going to install the games. This article assumes you have the latest Space Quest Collection. If you don't have this particular collection, don't worry. Installing the games is easy. Just go to your cd (type "D:\" in DOS and type "DIR/w" and locate the "INSTALL" file and run it. Or locate and run/edit any "README" file to find information how to install your Space Quest. Use the manual that came with the CD if you need any more guidance. The installation program provided with the game is easy and understandable for all, though. Anyway, we're going to install the following games to your computer using the latest SQ collection:

Space Quest 1 EGA
Space Quest 2 VGA
Space Quest 3
Space Quest 4 (the cd-rom version with speech as supplied with the collection)
Space Quest 5 English
Space Quest 6 CD
Space Quest 6 Demo
Crazy Nick's Budget Picks (or Nick's Picks for short)

To install the games put your Space Quest cd labeled: "SQI, SQII, SQIII, SQIV &SQV" into your CD-Rom drive and type "D:" in DOS. Then type "INSTALL". What you need to do next is pretty obvious. Please follow the instructions provided in this article.

Space Quest 1 EGA
In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. Press the "A" key to install SQ1EGA. It'll ask you to enter your hard disk letter, which is "C". So, press "C" and then the "ENTER" key to begin installation. To play Space Quest 1 EGA type "SQ" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ\" directory.

Space Quest 1 VGA
Here we go. Once again, like you did when installing SQ1EGA, go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". Now press the "B" key to install SQ1VGA. The installation program will load. Make sure you've got the right options selected. For my computer, for instance, it's:
Graphics -> VGA or IBM PS/2 - 256 colors. You want to play SQ1VGA in color and not in black and white, so make sure the right option is selected.
Music -> You can see from the list which option you can use. If you have a SoundBlaster card use that option, and not the "SoundBlaster / Adlib (or compatible)" one. If you don't have a sound card use the "internal speaker" option.
Joystick -> Use only if you have a joystick. I recommend using a mouse for this game (and all the other SQ's for that matter).
Mouse -> "Use a Microsoft compatible mouse" if you want to use a mouse.
Memory -> "Use your machine's extra memory" to give game performance a boost.
Select the "ACCEPT THESE CHOICES AND BEGIN INSTALLATION" option to start installation. To play Space Quest 1 VGA type "SQ1VGA" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ1VGA\" directory.

Space Quest 2
This game installs like SQ1 did. So once again, in DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. This time press the "C" key to install SQ2. It'll ask you to enter your hard disk letter, which is "C". So, press "C" and than the ENTER key to begin installation. To play Space Quest 2 type "SQ2" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ2\" directory.

Space Quest 3
Just like SQ1VGA, SQ3 will load a special installation program. In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. This time press the "D" key to install SQ3. Make sure you've got the right options selected. You don't really have to use the mouse in SQ3. Now that I think about it, I recommend only using the keyboard. What ever you want to use is up to you. I highly recommend playing SQ3 with the right sound option as the music of the game rocks big time. If you don't have a sound card select the "internal speaker" option and when playing keep in mind that you're missing a whole lot. Select the "ACCEPT THESE CHOICES AND BEGIN INSTALLATION" option to start installation. To play Space Quest 3 type "SQ3" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ3\" directory.

Space Quest 4
This gets rather monotonous as SQ4 installs just like SQ3 and SQ1VGA. In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. This time press the "E" key to install SQ3. Make sure you've got the right options selected. Select the "ACCEPT THESE CHOICES AND BEGIN INSTALLATION" option to start installation. To play Space Quest 4 type "SQ4" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ4\" directory.

Space Quest 5
Same as SQ4. If you're either German or French than you're in luck. You can install SQ5 in your language. We're going to install SQ5 English, so in DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. Press the "F" key to install SQ5 English. Make sure you've got the right options selected. Select the "ACCEPT THESE CHOICES AND BEGIN INSTALLATION" option to start installation. To play Space Quest 5 type "SQ5" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ5\" directory. This is almost too easy.

Space Quest 6
In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. Press the "I" key to install SQ6 DOS. You can't play SQ6 without a sound card so be sure you have one correctly installed. I recommend selecting option 3 (if I recall correctly) for a full installation. The game will run much faster. To play SQ6 you must first load the other cd that came with your Space Quest collection labeled SQVI, SQVII Demo. Type "SQ6DOS" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ6DOS\" directory and it's time to party. Failing to insert the correct cd will result in an error message.

Space Quest 6 Demo
Installation is almost the same as with SQ6. In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. Press the "J" key to install the SQ6 Demo. Run through the installation procedure as you can now easily do. To play the demo type "SQ6DEMO" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQ6DEMO\" directory. A sound card is required to play this demo.

Crazy Nick's Budget Picks
In DOS go to "D:" and run "INSTALL". The collection installation menu will load. Press the "K" key to install Nick's Picks. Follow the usual procedure and complete installation. The installations told me to type "PLAY" in the "C:\SIERRA\SQARCADE\" directory. However, I found this didn't work for my system. I recommend typing "SCIDHUV" instead. If you can't get the sound card to work with Nick's Picks, edit the "C:\SIERRA\SQARCADES\RESOURCE.CFG" file on your hard drive. Change the line "soundDrv = STD.DRV" to "soundDrv = ADL.DRV".

Before playing the games: installing the Sierra Boot Disk
To be sure the games will run properly, we'll have to make one more adjustment to DOS. This one is quite easy. We're going to make a Sierra Boot Disk and copy the files from that disk to your hard drive. We're going to use the SQ1VGA installation menu to create the Boot Disk. In DOS type "D:" and then "INSTALL". Be sure you have CD 1 of your Space Quest Collection ready in the CD-Rom drive (which is labeled with SQI, SQII, SQIII, SQIV & SQV). The Space Quest Collection installation menu will load, like it did all the other times. Select the Space Quest 1 VGA option, which is the "B" key, and NOT the "Make Boot Disk" option. I personally had troubles using that option so I'm showing you a small detour to prevent it. Anyway, once the Space Quest 1 VGA installation menu has loaded, select the "MAKE BOOTABLE FLOPPY" option from the menu. Be sure you have an empty disk ready. The program will format the disk and when it asks to format another disk press "N" to tell DOS you don't. The program will now create the boot disk. When it has finished and you've returned to the installation menu, select "CANCEL INSTALLATION AND RETURN TO DOS". We've only came to the installation menu to create a boot disk, remember?

What we're going to do now must not fail or all your hard work could be in vain. Therefore we're going to back up the files we're going to overwrite with the files from the boot disk. In the root directory (which is "C:\>") create the folder named "BACKUP" by typing "MD BACKUP". Now copy the files named "AUTOEXEC.BAT and "CONFIG.SYS" to the "BACKUP" directory. This is done by entering the following commands: "COPY C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT C:\BACKUP" and "COPY C:\CONFIG.SYS C:\BACKUP". In case anything goes wrong we can copy the backed up files to the root directory again to reset any damage we might have done.

With the Sierra Boot Disk still in your floppy drive enter the following command: "COPY A:\ C:\". When you'll reboot DOS, it'll run DOS in "Turbo Mode" :). This will make it possible to run SQ1VGA, SQ4 and SQ5 without any memory problems.

Now, we're going to fine tune the "AUTOEXEC.BAT file from your hard disk (which still is located in the root directory "C:\>"). Type "EDIT AUTOEXEC.BAT" and the DOS editor will open the file. If the screen is blank then you've made a typo. Close the editor and try again. You'll find the following line in the file: "PROMPT Sierra Boot Disk $_$p$g". Replace the entire line with: "PROMPT $p$g". You can also find a line which says: "CD \Sierra\SQ1VGA" (the SQ1VGA part might be some other SQ if you've created the boot disk using a different installation menu). Remove the "SQ1VGA" part if you want DOS to start in the "SIERRA" directory or delete the entire line if you want DOS to start in the root directory ("C:\>"). I personally prefer the last option. Put the command "CLS" on a new line below the rest (!!!) of the lines if you want DOS to clean the screen right after start up. Your file will look something like this (IT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT, SO DON'T WORRY IF IT DOES):

LOADHIGH c:\trmouse\trmouse /a8
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H1 P330 T6

You've successfully installed the Space Quest games! You might want to run to your nearest Space Quest download page to install any patches, demo's and other neat extra's.


Fine tuning your system

Aditional reading

Of course, this entire article is pretty much centered around one computer system. If you need more help with your soundcard and/or the Sierra Boot Disk please read this article. It came with the Space Quest Collection and includes a lot of information and settings for YOUR particular sound card.

Some simple trouble shooting

Let's say there isn't any sound when you play a certain Space Quest game. Then you must have selected the wrong sound option from the installation menu! You can change this by running the INSTALL file of that particular SQ game but this time from the folder on your hard drive. Let's say you want to change the sound options for SQ1VGA than go to: "C:\SIERRA\SQ1VGA\" and run "INSTALL". Select some other option and when finished "ACCEPT THESE CHOICES AND SAVE CONFIGURATION". Run the game again and see if this resolved your (sound) problem.

I've still got Timer Problems! - Install the Timer Fixes

Imagine that! You just went through all this trouble creating the ultimate Space Quest computer and you still have timer problems! Well, before you're going to sue me you might want to install the "script code fixes against SCI timer bugs". Sounds awefully difficult, but it's easier than stealing candy from a child. Go to this webpage, follow the instructions and install the patches. There! I used to tweak my computer's processor cache (read below), because I still had timer problems with my Pentium 120 MHZ. But not anymore! These fixes are highly recommended, even if you don't notice any timer problems.

I've still got Timer Problems! - Disable your processor cache

If the timer patches don't work for you for some reason, you might want to try disabling your processor cache. Pentium 1 and 2 motherboards allow you to do this and it will help stop any abnormal timer behavior. Cache is simply put processor memory, like RAM, only much faster. It greatly improves your processor efficiency. Disabling your processor cache is done by accessing the BIOS setup (56KB). Your computer always says something like: "hit DEL to enter setup" when starting up. Locate the CACHE options (76 KB) and DISABLE it. Please be sure you know what it is you're doing in the BIOS setup. Consulting the manual that came with your motherboard can help you through all this safely. Try searching the internet for your motherboard's manual if it didn't come with your computer. It isn't all that hard though, even I got it to work. You might want to ENABLE the external and/or internal cache when you're going to play Space Quest 6. It'll run much smoother this way (animation, the speech and text loading time, etc.). Please note that these screen shots from the BIOS might differ from your own BIOS. A friendly notice: disabling your processor cache doesn't work as good as the patches described above. If the patches work for you then be sure to ENABLE the external and internal cache for the best possible animation.

Installing patches to improve the games

At the "patches and fixes" page in every SQ chapter, you'll find a few patches. You don't need all of them for your system, so I would like to talk them through with you. If you encounter the problems as desrcibed in the patch section of the download page then download that particular patch and install it. Additionally, I recommend installing the following patch anyway:

The Space Quest 1 VGA enhanced sound and graphic drivers. The graphic driver enables you to see the original dissolve transitions: the effect you see at the beginning of the game when the Sierra screen "pixelates" away and the SQ1 title screen "pixelates" in. The original file that comes with the game doesn't show this effect on fast computers. Also included are two improved sound drivers. You'll need these sound drivers if you, for instance, can't hear the computer saying: "destruct sequence has engaged" at the beginning of the game. There are actually quite a few more digitalized sound in SQ1VGA, but this one is the most apparent.

The Space Quest 3 Soundblaster patch: This patch includes a more suitable sound driver for Space Quest 3, which enables you to listen to special sound effects (like Roger saying "Where am I"). The ZIP file also included GoSierra3 for an alternative installation. Sierra designed SQ3 to sound like this: a must have fix!

The Space Quest 4 Improved Graphics Driver: A better graphics driver. This patch fixes several graphics problems. One of which is the mouse pointer. The mouse pointer starts to flicker madly if you put it over animation. With the patch, this is greatly reduced.

Space Quest 4 and 5 Sound Patch: This patch can fix problems with the Sound Blaster 16 ASP sound card involving hearing only the first digitized effect. Of course, only install it if you have a Sound Blaster card. For instance, this patch fixes problems with Space Quest 5, where you normally wouldn't hear special found effects (like the farting captain's chair). This patch fixes this problem.

Timer Problem Fix: Check out my very complete Timer Issue article. The article contains links to programs, utilities, fixes, patches and tips you can use to fix the timer problems! For starters, check out this webpage. New Rising Sun has developed some awesome fixes that COMPLETELY ELIMINATE the timer problems. The website includes enough information how to install the patches correctly. These patched are HIGHLY recommended and preferred in favour of slow down utilities and emulators.

Installing saved games

This is optional, but I really like this one. You can download "Jeysie's saved games", which are saved games for SQ1 to 5. They are offered on this website at any of the "Game Help sections". These saved games can take you to EVERY part of the game. To install them, follow the instructions supplied with the ZIP files and put each set of saved games directly into the directory of the right game. If you've extracted the ZIP file correctly, you will now have a number of new sub-directories for your SQ game called SAVE1, SAVE2 etc. You can now access these files by changing the directory path in the RESTORE menu. For instance: "C:\SIERRA\SQ1\SAVE1\". As a last suggestion: print out the readme files that came with the ZIP files. This is handy because you now have a reference guide. You can easily find the saved game you want, without looking your ass off in all those different sub-directories first.

Installing mini games

For the extreme die-hard, I suggest installing the Space Quest Mini Games, which are offered at my download page. Install Astro Chicken, Ms. Astro Chicken. Nick's Picks are already installed if you've followed my instruction in the "installing the SQ games" section.

Optimizing the mouse

You can change the speed of your mouse by altering your mouse's resolution. In the directory of your mouse driver which is "C:\TRMOUSE" type "TRMOUSE /a8" and try your new settings with the "TRTEST" program or a Space Quest game that uses the mouse (like SQ1VGA). If you think your mouse is too fast or too slow try a higher or lower number behind the "/a" text. If you want DOS to load these settings every time it boots up, edit the autoexec.bat file by typing "EDIT AUTOEXEC.BAT" in the root directory ("C:\>"). Locate the line that looks something like this: "LOADHIGH c:\trmouse\trmouse" or "c:\trmouse\trmouse" and change that line by adding the "/a8" part (or some other number you'd like to use). After you've changed it, it should look like this: "LOADHIGH c:\trmouse\trmouse /a8" (with or without the LOADHIGH text).


The finish line!

This is it! You've reached the end of this article which means you now know how to make the ultimate Space Quest computer. It should look a bit like this. And that's worth the trouble, right! Hell, you can also play your other Sierra games on your beauty. If you need any further assistance, I'd be more than happy to help you out. Post a message at The Janitorial Times!


All original content (c) 2018 Brandon Blume & Troels Pleimert. All Space Quest related material (c) by Sierra Entertainment.