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Old 07-04-2021, 08:03 PM   #1
MrFlibble
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Default Games created with Domark/Simis Flight Sim Toolkit (FST)

I wonder if anyone here ever came across DOS flight sims made with the Flight Sim Toolkit (FST) - a create-your-own-game set developed by Simis Limited and published by Domark Software?

I first learned about it some ten years ago when I found a shareware WWII themed flight sim called Great Air Battles on a CD at cd.textfiles.com. Back then I could not find much more info on other sims but took note of it. It turns out that back in the early to mid-90s, there was a thriving flight sim community that actively built various simulations based on FST. Just like with The Bard's Tale Construction Set, users could not only distribute complete games made with FST, but also sell them as shareware if they so wanted.

More recently, I chanced upon a different FST title, Wings of Thunder, at MobyGames. Using Hallfiry's magazine coverdisk catalogue I was soon able to find a copy, and from here, I decided to seriously dig the topic using the Wayback Machine -- as any other traces of the games have almost completely vanished. And just about the same time a different user posted a topic at VOGONS asking about FST games. That conversation was soon joined by an FST scene veteran going by the username ragefury32.

The big site about FST was this one: http://www.mcnett.org/fst/

Unfortunately, Wayback Machine has only piecemeal preservation of the site's contents (which also mirrored several FTPs), exacerbated by the 1,024 KiB limit for files stored from 2000-2001 or so. There are numerous partially preserved, broken ZIP files.

The interesting part is that Simis apparently provided long-term support for the product with several updates and improvement both to the binary executable and to the tools. What's more, at some point they released the source code, and a community-made updated Windows version was in the works, currently available here.

Separately, Bryan McNett who ran the largest FST site I mentioned above created an open source clone of FLY.EXE called OpenFly:
http://ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au/~gjo/

However, it looks that this project had not got a lot of traction.

So here are the games that have been found so far. They all work in DOSBox with no apparent issues.

a. Complete games by Ron Walker/Ground Zero Simulations (all free, all Wayback Machine links work):
  • Skyhawk Attack
  • Tornado Squadron
  • Harrier Strike
  • Jaguar GR1: Strike Force Delta Zulu
  • Eurofigher 2010
b. Shareware games by Raymond Purvis/Viper Software (mostly original ZIP archives from various sources):
  • Aces of World War One: acesww1.zip
  • Battle of Britain: bob.zip (this is a repack, not the original ZIP)
  • Battle of the Midway - not found, file name MIDWAY.ZIP
  • Berlin 1955: berlin10.zip
  • Cyborg Invasion - not found, file name CYBORG.ZIP
  • Eurofighter 2005: ef2005.zip
  • F-16 Operation Black Diamond: bdiamon1.zip
  • F-86 MiG Mayhem Pacific Ocean - not found, file name MAHEM.ZIP
  • Falklands Air War 1982 - not found, file name unknown
  • Korean Air War - not found, file name KOREA.ZIP
  • Private Pilot: ppilt145.zip
  • Reno Racing 2000 - not found, file name RENO.ZIP
  • Vietnam Flight Simulator: vietnam.zip
c. Simulations by Luca Oleastri (D.U.O.):d. Simulations by Jose Sanchez:e. Simulations by Daniel Berlin:f. Simulations by Kevin Kwan/Minerva Interactive:g. Great Air Battles by Charles B. Law:
  • shareware v2.1 (1994/12/16): GAB_V21.ZIP [archive incomplete, missing files may be supplied from v2.5]
  • shareware/demo v2.5 (?) (1995/02/04): GAB_V25.ZIP
  • demo v1.3 (1995/03/54): attached here
  • demo v1.5a (1995/06/03): gab-d15a.arj [damaged ARJ archive]
  • demo v3.0 (199?/??/??): gab-v30.arj (655 KiB) [not found; mentioned here]
h. Simulations by various authors:i. Simulations for RISC OS:There are possibly several more small projects indexed by the Wayback Machine from mcnett.org website (annoyingly, several broken ZIPs with original size of over 1,024 KiB, such as listed here, are within the 1.2-1.5 MiB size limit, meaning that about 75-90pc of content is intact, but they're still unplayable due to the missing WORLD.FST and other data files). A few more have been identified via Hallfiry's catalogue, these ended up on magazine coverdisks as "reader submissions".

A few more sims are available from Mic Healey's archives.

A certain Adrian Brown maintained pages that listed several dozens FST projects. Here's an archived version of his catalogue in mostly intact condition:
http://www.adrianebrown.co.uk/flightsimtoolkit/frc/simulations.html

The download links there all point to Kuju's FTP (Kuju was the successor of Simis), which apparently hosted user-created FST games.

FST was also available for non-PC platforms, including RISC OS. So far I only found this page with two sims.

If anyone has any further info on the subject, or any ideas how to repair the broken archives (e.g. the ARJ with Great Air Battles demo), please don't hesitate to share!
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Last edited by MrFlibble; 27-04-2021 at 09:20 PM. Reason: added more download links
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:38 PM   #2
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Fascinating stuff!
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Old 12-04-2021, 05:12 PM   #3
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User cyclone3d from VOGONS forums found and shared a complete ZIP of Daniel Berlin's GRiPEN simulator v0.96 (previously found in broken state), as well as an earlier version of Jose Sanchez' Spanish Civil War. I updated the download links in the first post.

I also thought it's be a good idea to sum up the archived pages that had no or almost no complete sims to download but still add to the entire picture:
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Old 13-04-2021, 03:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble View Post
If anyone has any further info on the subject, or any ideas how to repair the broken archives (e.g. the ARJ with Great Air Battles demo), please don't hesitate to share!
Well, it's impossible to fix what isn't here. So there are only two possible solutions: find intact archive, or find the files that are missing from the archive. Both looks... not very promising, but I'll keep my eye on that during my roaming on the Net in search of DOS games for the eXoDOS.

(You are welcome to join eXoDOS discord, BTW. Maybe you will help us too?
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Old 13-04-2021, 03:31 PM   #5
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P.S. Do you seek something like this?
Attached Files
File Type: zip GAB_V21.ZIP (709.1 KB, 1 views)
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Old 14-04-2021, 12:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
Well, it's impossible to fix what isn't here. So there are only two possible solutions: find intact archive, or find the files that are missing from the archive. Both looks... not very promising
We have found the intact Gripen demo 0.96. The complete archive was preserved by the flightsim.com website.

As for the ARJ of the Great Air Battles demo 1.5, it's a different case compared to the incomplete ZIPs that the Wayback Machine did not record above the first 1,024 KiB or so. This ARJ is smaller than 1 MiB and the files are there, but it looks like the header is broken or something:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
7-Zip shows only one file inside, GAB-DEMO.ARJ which is 751,792 bytes in size, and gives an error while testing. When I use the test file command in ARJ for DOS it gives the "Bad file data, CRC error!" message, followed by "Bad header". Using the -jr suffix I can extract everything from gab-d15a.arj, which also includes the files ORDER.FRM, README.NOW and FILE_ID.DIZ (they are stored after GAB-DEMO.ARJ so 7-Zip does not see them). ARJ also gives the message "Can't read file or unexpected end of file" after extracting. The recovered GAB-DEMO.ARJ is only 53 248 bytes in size. The rest of it is still inside gab-d15a.arj, but somehow it does not come out, possibly due to "bad header" mentioned above. Any ideas? [source]
Later versions of the ARJ archiver included a "repair record" option similar to the one in RAR, but this particular file does not have it.
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Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
I'll keep my eye on that during my roaming on the Net in search of DOS games for the eXoDOS.
Thanks! I guess it then makes sense to give a rough list of what is missing:
  • Viper Software shareware sims that I listed in the first post
  • missing Great Air Battles versions that I listed in the first post
  • missing sims by Minerva Interactive (almost nothing preserved at that site)
  • CF-105 Avro Arrow Beta 1, possible file names: arrow.zip OR cf105.exe
  • Hog Heaven 0.18 alpha, file names: hoghv018.zip, hogwav.zip, music.zip
  • International Security Forces: Battle of France, file name: Isf.zip
  • Gyroplane 2000 and Cruz by Ferg Monaghan (see first post)
  • F-117A Stealth Fighter: Night Flight to Baghdad front end, file name: f117_fe.zip; and possibly a newer version of the sim itself (f117.exe)
  • tons of stuff catalogued by Adrian E. Brown and at some point available from ftp://ftp.kuju.com/fst/
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
P.S. Do you seek something like this?
That's the same archive as the one I linked to in the first post Actually this one is broken too, and I have not found a complete version. Thankfully we at least have two later complete releases (2.5 and 1.3). Note that the version numbering for this game is confusing, since the first 1994 releases are somehow 2.x, then there are 1.x in 1995 and the final was 3.0.
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Old 14-04-2021, 10:41 PM   #7
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That's the same archive as the one I linked to in the first post Actually this one is broken too, and I have not found a complete version. Thankfully we at least have two later complete releases (2.5 and 1.3). Note that the version numbering for this game is confusing, since the first 1994 releases are somehow 2.x, then there are 1.x in 1995 and the final was 3.0.
Ah. Now I see. We are treating word "broken" differently. I mean "it's unplayable or damaged", while you mean simply "not full". Sorry. Also, the list with working and non-working links interlacing was confusing somewhat, so your last post helped.

Also, I see that you made quite a work: I cannot find even traces of the games that you didn't scraped. So no work-free solutions it seems.

Again: I'll keep an eye on this, but task seems even harder than I thought initially.
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Old 15-04-2021, 11:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
Ah. Now I see. We are treating word "broken" differently. I mean "it's unplayable or damaged", while you mean simply "not full".
I supplied the missing files from alleged v2.5 (note that the version number is only shown in FILE_ID.DIZ, which I cannot verify if it's by the original author or not), but this version 2.1 still did not work as intended. Some missions play but others don't and/or there's a corrupted cockpit PCX. So I'm not sure if this version can be treated as a working one. Honestly I can't be bothered to dig further into this particular release because there are two more updated versions. (It looks like originally the author, Charles B. Law, intended to release the game on the anniversary date of the Pearl Harbour attack; maybe some development was rushed to meet that deadline.)

Versions 1.5 and 3.0 apparently took advantage of the high-res SVGA/VESA mode, which requires hi-res PCX cockpit art. It also looks like the number of available missions was reduced because I was able to extract the SHELL.EXE and look at the mission list.

If you want to check out some of these FST sims, Ron Walker's freeware games are of very high quality and show a lot of effort put into them. And they're complete games with 10+ missions. FST sims work seamlessly in DOSBox and run well at 640x480 at relatively low CPU cycles (I usually cap protected mode games at 26800 cycles).

Here are some shots from Ron Walker's Jaguar GR1 sim:
https://imgur.com/a/COPqCCB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
Also, the list with working and non-working links interlacing was confusing somewhat, so your last post helped.
Initially I wanted to organise the list by type (full freeware vs. shareware vs. demo/WIP games) but it turned out better to group by authors since a lot of stuff came from the same people. Sadly, some pages were incompletely archived so inevitably we have some files missing while others are intact.

It's amazing to think how many sims were made with FST; and even stranger that these were not widely known, somehow. Apart from some German shovelware disks by ARI GmBH which included a few of Ray Purvis' shareware sims, and a mention of Ron Walker's Skyhawk Attack at GameHippo, I have not found any references to these games outside the FST community proper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Spectre View Post
I see that you made quite a work: I cannot find even traces of the games that you didn't scraped. So no work-free solutions it seems.
Thanks! I quite enjoy these forays into digital archaeology, but sometimes it's so frustrating when nice games or demos/shareware were not archived and apparently not preserved otherwise. I have a topic at VOGONS about such lost files (mostly not related to FST stuff), you might want to take a peek at those too.
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Old 20-04-2021, 07:30 AM   #9
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Well, my grand task right now is to include TDC into eXoDOS (it must make eXoDOS the most complete DOS collection in existance). But it will take a long time, as it seems 8000 games need to be checked.

After that I plan to start to dig into shareware heaps. I see no use for such task _before_ so much games are missing anyway.

So, not very soon, it seems...
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Old 22-04-2021, 05:49 PM   #10
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TDC
If TDC is TotalDOS Collection then I found some of the shareware stuff there among the files available at archive.org. Mostly these are Viper Software shareware sims.

I have no idea where the TotalDOS collection originates in the first place so I'd be grateful for some info on that.
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