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Guide: Installing the Exile Trilogy in the 21st Century


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In the middle of a massive nostalgia high, I rediscovered the Exile series of my childhood. The games that introduced me not just to RPGs in general, but to my favorite category of game altogether: the party based RPG. Imagine my joy at finding the full versions released as shareware! And imagine my pain when my modern OS refused to run these 16-bit treasures.


But all was not lost, for there were forums! Surely they held the answers to this soul-threatening conundrum. Well... kind of? They used to? There are plenty of threads about the topic, but the passage of time has not been kind to the links or the information within. The text-only answers that survived were, to those of us inexperienced with legacy gaming, a bit vague. (For example, I tried to use DOSbox to open Exile 3 directly, before realizing that I needed to install an OS nearly as old as I am, THEN install the game. Seemed like a big pain. After looking up how to do it: confirmed big pain.)


Enough with the self-pity and justifications, here are my solutions, in order of [my perception of] easiness:


1. Wine (Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac OS X)

I don't have Linux or Mac so I can't speak to this firsthand, but it looks very easy. It is also less resource hungry than using VirtualBox to run an entire 2nd OS. I thought I saw somebody in these forums mention that sounds may not work correctly in Exile? Perhaps somebody will clarify in the comments.


2. Windows 7 Pro only: google Windows XP Mode. Your OS comes with virtualized Windows XP support. You just have to download it from Microsoft. How easy is that?


3. VirtualBox with FREE copy of Windows XP.*** (OS X, Linux, Windows, Solaris)

This should be the most robust solution, viable across any platform compatible with VirtualBox (or any other VM software. I used VirtualBox because it looked like the most common) and for as long as Microsoft provides access to free virtual copies of XP. This setup takes maybe 30 mins. Super easy.

Note: the linked guide is targeted at website testers, who obviously need internet access within the virtual environment. You don't, and it is generally a bad idea to give old, unsecure OSs a front door to the internet. So skip that part. You only need the first 1/3 of this guide.

After you get the virtual XP machine running, use the 'Shared folder' feature of Virtual Box (google for instructions) to transfer in your Exile installs and you're in business. Enjoy!


4. VirtualBox with Windows XP Mode*** (I think this should work for anyone with VirtualBox, but I think only Windows 7/8/8.1 and probably 10 users will care)

This is cool for Windows users because it lets you run Windows XP applications on the same desktop as your normal system, whereas the VirtualBox solution above will confine your entire Windows XP system and its applications to a window. Not a game changer, just a little perk. I'm mostly including this option for diversity, and because it is actually what I have (I found this solution first). Easy to install, takes maybe 45 mins.

Again, after you get the virtual XP machine running, use the 'Shared folder' feature of Virtual Box (google for instructions) to transfer in your Exile installs. Voila!


5. DOSbox with Windows 3.1 (BeOS, Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2, and Windows)

If you are just as nostalgic for MS DOS and Windows 3.1 as you are for Exile, this is the solution for you. This is the most cited solution on these forums. I believe this is only because nobody bothered to update the solution somebody first found a decade ago: it looks like a royal pain in the ass to configure. You have to first find a copy of an ancient OS, then install it using ancient DOS commands, then install drivers to get it to work, then blah blah blah just read the linked guide. I didn't bother doing this, but I presume it works in the end.


*** These XP copies are not activated and will, presumably, not work after 30 days. Or maybe there is a system clock workaround? I'm still looking for a way to avoid this, but haven't found anything other than simple piracy so far. But with a virtual machine it is trivial to export your save files and reinstall the OS/games in a few minutes. I'm only on day 2, so it's not a pressing issue.



So don't lose heart! Exile is just around the corner, and the first loading sounds will send shivers of nostalgia down your spine.


Good luck and happy gaming!

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