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Crossing Over: A GOG Update And Eador - Genesis
August 6, 2013 | Justin Ancheta

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The “Bigger, Fresher, Newer”
Game: Eador: Genesis
Release Date (Windows): December 4, 2012 (Worldwide English)
Release Date (Mac OS): n/a
CrossOver Profile: Read Here
WineHQ AppDB entry: Read Here
IMG Review: n/a
Test Platform: MacBook (Mid-2007/Late-2006; GMA 950, 10.6.8, CX 12.1.1)
Price: $5.99

There goes the neighbourhood...

A lot's happened with the GOG scene since my last post discussing a GOG title on Mac OS X; the catalog has gone through a few changes, apart from the obvious ones that I'll be tackling below. As part of the vagaries of dealing with outdated and obscure IP from seemingly long-dead or ambivalent companies, titles sometimes get pulled from the GOG library due to legal-related issues. In some cases, the rights that may have belonged to a given publisher may have lapsed, or reverted back to another party. What this means is that in situations such as this, where a game is based off of IP owned by another company (a movie/film franchise, a book, etc.) the publisher may lose their rights to a given game, and consequently, their rights to let other people sell the game. This seems to have been what happened with XIII, which got pulled from GOG quite suddenly towards the end of last year. I can only speculate that this is because the rights to use the XIII IP may have been lost from Ubisoft. Thankfully, if you bought XIII earlier, it still remains on your GOG accounts, available for you to download.

GOG has also started to deploy an all-new installer across many of its games, one that looks much nicer and more polished than their earlier installer. However, apart from cosmetic differences I can't think of any clear advantage of the new installer over the old installer. It does however, introduce a new wrinkle into the installation process: on CrossOver 11, and versions of WINE below approximately 1.5.15 or so, the new GOG installer wouldn't work, instead flashing a cryptic "gdi plus error". The easiest solution is to install the .NET Framework 1.0 GDIPLUS.DLL Security Update in your Bottle/Wineskin wrapper. An alternate solution is to engage a hidden debug option in the new installer app; to do this, use the "Run Command" within CrossOver to launch it by navigating to the installer; at the end of the line entered into the text field in the "Run Command" window, add "/nogui" (without the quotation marks). If a game has the new installer, you'll likely know it if the installer has a 2.0.x.x version number attached to it.

Secondly, in a semi-unexpected move, GOG moved forward with its announcement on adding Mac compatibility to its titles, with the initial Mac launch lineup looking very impressive indeed. The decision, which came after about a year's worth of effort, saw the release of many DOSBox-based games on the GOG catalog coming to the Mac, thanks in part to the efforts by Alun Bestor of Boxer fame. In a later blog post, he revealed that he created a radically different version of Boxer for GOG, intended to work more like Wineskin, providing self-contained standalone DOS-compatibility wrappers for games. Indie games also joined in on the fun too, with other indie Mac releases to follow soon afterward.

The move hasn't been without some hiccups, though. Part of the original Mac launch lineup was the Mac OS X port of Imperial Glory, brought to us by Feral Interactive. In what some have inferred as being the result of legal issues surrounding the question of who owns the rights to Feral's port, the game was later pulled (Imperial Glory does work quite well in CrossOver, however). The release of Screamer 2 was marred by a buggy release (that in all fairness was quickly fixed); and in a case which still continues to baffle me, half of the GOG release of the Avernum Saga bundle is incompatible with 32-bit Core Duo Intel Macs, yet the same versions of Avernum 4-6 all work perfectly on those same machines. For equally mysterious reasons, the Windows release of the Geneforge saga didn't see an equivalent Mac version until much later.

However, despite these rocky bumps in the road to friendship with Cupertino, there are still good things to come. With the release of the Mac OS X port of GOG's version of Fallout 2, GOG has now started to use WINE in porting their games to the Mac. This means that the door has been blown wide open to a whole range of previously Windows-only games that may get official Mac support from GOG. It also shows that Linux compatibility may be attainable in the near future too.

"Support? We don't need no STEEENKING support!"

So where does this leave self-professed hackers like us, who have little to no regard for such phrases as "officially supported"? A lot of Windows-only releases on GOG still haven't had official Mac releases, including many games which require DOSBox or SCUMMVM - compatibility solutions that have been working on the Mac for years. In GOG's recent round of Mac releases, they've pragmatically listed more "modern" Macs (e.g. 2009 and newer) as the minimum supported threshold, even though they may very well be able to work perfectly on much older hardware. That leaves plenty of room for people to still do all sorts of unsavoury and unprofessional things to the games they buy on GOG, to get them to run on computers they were never intended to see. That being said, this installment in Crossing Over features a game that was once rarely beheld by human eyes outside of its native homeland of Russia. Thanks to its release on GOG - which was its debut release in English - its started to gain a significant amount of visibility among gamers for its uniqueness and sheer scope. Given what its one-man developer attempted to do with it, it's a reputation that's well deserved.


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