Starflights of the Past

I got the classic 80’s space exploration RPG Starflight working on my iPad!

Starflight on the IPad!

While taking care of my Mom up in D/FW after another foot surgery, I got Dosbox setup again, because I wanted to try playing Starflight. Starflight, released in 1987, was the first completely open-ended space exploration game. It had over 800 planets, yet fit on two floppy disks. It was the first game that ever really felt like being a captain in Starfleet.

After managing to get it working on my Mac, I wondered again if Doxbox had a version that worked on iOS. If you’re jailbroken, there is!

Here’s a not-very-detailed explanation of how to set this up.

1) Use these directions to get DOSPad. I’m using the beta version, the earlier one’s gave me a checksum error.

2) Get Starflight here.

3) Get DOSBox for your main computer first, and figure out all the installation details until you can get the game running, learn how to save and restore using the various batch files, etc.

4) Once you have a working directory setup with your saves, etc., it’s time to put them on the iPad. I used iFunBox to copy the files.

5) Once the files were in place, though, I was getting an error “Insert the disk containing”. I then found this reference.

The problem is that the files have to be writable once they’re on the iPad. First I tried changing the permissions on my Mac. However, I discovered that after I copied the files onto the iPad, the write permissions had been turned off again. IFunBox doesn’t seem to have a way to change permissions, so I proceeded to the next step.

6) I installed MobileTerminal through Cydia on my iPad. Once I did that, I used it to set the permissions on the ‘starflt’ directory to all access.


chmod -R a+rwx *

After this, I was able to change to the ‘play’ directory and run ‘starflt’ and it worked!

Keep in mind that if the game crashes or DOSPad get’s reset while you’re playing, your gamestate will be completely fucked up and you’ll have to restore from your previous save using the batch files or by manually copying the SAVE directory over the PLAY directory. I haven’t tried sleeping the iPad while playing, but if that doesn’t work, it basically means you have to save every time you want to the iPad to sleep.

Not for the faint of heart, or the impatient.

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