Tag Archives: Mac Games

Running classic PC games on a Mac with Wineskin

I’m in love with Good Old Games. They distribute classic PC titles, getting them running on modern operating systems, bundled with extras, and all without DRM.

What I like most about it, though, is that GOG is up there with Valve in its efforts to make Mac gaming less of a wasteland. When it comes to retro computer games, DOS isn’t too much of a hurdle because the hardware requirements are trivial and apps like Boxer make emulation simple, but the Windows ultra-dominance of the late 90s through late 2000s are a dark spot. If you have fond memories of a PC game of that era and it’s not from Blizzard or id, odds are it didn’t get a Mac release.

I recently noticed that GOG was offering Mac versions of PC-only Black Isle RPGs like Planescape: Torment. My curiosity over what witchcraft was enabling this led me to Wineskin, which now has me running stuff like RollerCoaster Tycoon natively in OS X. And it works with basically anything short of the latest and greatest. Here’s how it’s done.

You will need…
  • Your PC game
  • Wineskin Winery (download)
  • Enough hard drive space for the install plus about 150MB
A little background

I’m going to be doing this with the GOG version of RollerCoaster Tycoon. GOG makes it easier because the games are mostly a single installer and have no DRM to worry about, but disc-based games can be done too by copying the contents of the disc to a folder on your computer, so do that first. As long as the game doesn’t require anything newer than DirectX 9.0 or host particularly invasive DRM (e.g. StarForce), chances are it’ll work.

This all works using Wine, with Wineskin bundling the installed game and a Wine compatibility layer in one Mac app. It’s not emulation, strictly speaking, so what you’re getting is a Windows game running at native speed on OS X.

Wineskin WineryGetting started

Fire up Wineskin Winery. You’ll first need to download an appropriate engine for the game you’re running, but thankfully people will have done the legwork for you. The Wine Application Database is where users document their experiences of running software with different Wine engines, and its entry on Rollercoaster Tycoon notes that the GOG version runs with platinum compatibility (“flawlessly”) on 1.6.2. Therefore that’s the version I’m going to download.

With that downloaded and the latest wrapper downloaded, hit the ‘Create New Blank Wrapper’ button and give your new app a name. In this case, I creatively opt for ‘Rollercoaster Tycoon’.

Let the process run. It may ask you to download a version of Mono and/or the Gecko engine. Old games will almost certainly not need Mono but may use Gecko; use your own judgement, or just go ahead and install them since it’ll ensure a trouble-free conversion.

When it’s finished, click ‘Show Wrapper in Finder’ and you’ll be presented with a generic Wineskin app, ready to be turned into your chosen game.


Run this new app to be presented with the following window.


Click ‘Install Software’, then ‘Choose Setup Executable’, and point it at the installer from GOG. This is where things start to look interesting.

Wineskin installation

That looks suspiciously like a Windows installer on a Mac, doesn’t it?

Once the installation process is complete, resist the temptation to play the game for now and click ‘Exit’. You’ll see the following window, which lets you tell your Wineskin which executable it should run on launch. In this case it’s correct and I’ve never seen it need changing, so go ahead and click OK.

Wineskin executable

Wineskin iconThe Advanced menu that you can see mentioned can be accessed by right-clicking the newly created app in the Finder, clicking ‘Show Package Contents’, and then double-clicking the Wineskin icon in the resulting folder. Among other things, this allows you to change the app icon; find an appropriate ICNS file from a site like VeryIcon and select it in there to get things looking more official (see right).

Rollercoaster Tycoon on a Mac

Isn’t that a beautiful sight? You end up with a self-contained OS X app (by default located at ~/Applications/Wineskin), created through a process that works on basically any game. No fiddling with Boot Camp or Parallels to run an old favourite that hasn’t been ported, and none of the performance penalty that comes from emulation. Lovely.

Diablo III’s Brave New World

Diablo III is my first experience with the series, and I like it a lot. Or rather I like it when it’s not doing something like this…

Diablo III Error 33

Bearing in mind that I’m going through it solo for my initial run, this is a single-player game with lag, server queues and no offline play. Goodbye flipping open the laptop on the train for a quick go and, for the moment, good luck playing at peak times.

This has been written on at great length and much more authoritatively than I could manage, so I’m going to point you in the direction of Eurogamer’s arguments for and against this new approach, because what surprised me about these discordant articles is that I agree with both of them.

When you’re online, the connection’s reliable, Battle.net is running properly and you have no urge to venture outside somewhere without a good wi-fi signal, Diablo III’s infrastructure is magnificent. Log in on any computer, PC or Mac, and your characters are there. Make some progress or just throw a couple of things into the auction house and it’ll all be reflected on your computer at home when you fire the game up later. That’s how ‘the cloud’ is going to change gaming, and we’re starting to see it with cloud saving in Steam, Xbox Live and PSN. Throw in how always being online makes playing alone, playing with randoms and playing with friends one and the same and never more than a couple of clicks away and it’s a good advert for the natural progression of what we’ll see in the next-generation versions of our current online services, only available right now.

It’s for these reasons that I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Blizzard is forging a new path here, and although it does a lot that needs to be done better, it’s a very respectable first attempt. When you can get on, that is.

World of Goo

World of GooI’m kind of late to this one given that it was a pretty big cult hit late last year, but the game that kept me from finishing Resident Evil 5 over the long Easter weekend wasn’t some big budget AAA title but World of Goo: a physics-based puzzle game developed by a team of two guys. Having been a darling of the independent gaming community for a while, it got released for WiiWare and has subsequently come out for various operating systems, and it was its inclusion in this year’s MacHeist that finally got me to play it.

At the time of writing my profile reckons I’ve been playing for around seven and a half hours, and that’s almost entirely been over the long weekend, a quick dabble with the demo when it was getting a lot of positive buzz aside. To my shame I brushed it off then, so consider this post my atonement.

I absolutely adore this game. It’s typical of the best indie games in the way that it’s built fun gameplay around a simple, strong central concept, and everything else from the sharp, detailed graphics with bags of personality to the jaunty, Elfman-esque soundtrack (free download here) has a couple of really great pieces. Even the writing, largely coming through the unseen ‘Sign Writer’, is often clever and loaded with in-jokes.

One moment that stuck with me was the beginning of the fourth world, the Information Superhighway. Whereas all previous levels had been similarly themed, here things are thrown into the green and black digital world, and even the gameplay changes to match the new design. New mechanics like the ability to ‘infect’ pieces to give them different properties and the use of gravity to curve shots around a planetoid are a complete switch from the basic bridge and tower building that made up the previous three worlds. That’s not to say the rest of it isn’t inventive, because it certainly is, but I think it speaks volumes about how much invention is in here that it can be so suddenly switched around.

Now I know how long this has been out so it’s quite likely that people have played it, but I also know what proportion of the players actually paid for it – so much for the ‘we only pirate because of DRM’ story, eh? Trust me: it’s more than worth the $20.