Saturday, February 11, 2012

Playing Dungeon Master on Mac

I have fond memories of playing Dungeon Master in the late 80's on my trusty Apple IIGS. The game interface was so different than the cRPG's that preceded it like Ultima, Wizardry, and Bard's Tale. It was the first to fully utilized the mouse to grab things, throw things, cast spells, open doors, solve puzzles, eat food, drink potions, and fight beasties. And unlike those earlier games the monsters would follow you down hallways if you tried to run away, giving the combat a far more realistic and threatening feel. The dungeon levels were also immense; far larger than I anticipated. I distinctly remember around level 4 thinking that I had played for so many hours that I must be near the end of the game, but there were in fact several levels and many more hours of adventuring to go.

Dungeon Master was a huge hit for FTL/Software Heaven on several platforms: first the Atari ST,followed by the Commodore Amiga, IBM PC, Apple IIGS and others (not Mac though). It was followed by the sequels Chaos Strikes Back! and Dungeon Master 2 (which was released for Mac but not IIGS). I never purchased or played CSB, but by the time Dungeon Master 2 came out I had a Macintosh and so I bought the Mac version, there being no IIGS version. The Mac version of DM2 is a Power PC application and cannot run on Mac OS X unless you use the Classic OS 9 mode. Since Apple dropped Classic with Mac OS X 10.5 the only Mac I have that can play DM2 natively now is in a box in my garage.

When I started experimenting with Wineskin a couple of weeks ago, my intent was to use it to allow me to play the Windows versions of games since the Mac versions now no longer work because of Classic and Rosetta being dropped by Apple in OS X 10.5 and 10.7 respectively. It didn't take long to get Wineskins working with the Windows versions of DM and CSB, but I was unable to get a working Wineskin for DM2. My attempts only resulted in the Wineskin log reporting that I should try DOSBox.

So, today I downloaded DOSBox and set that up to work with Dungeon Master 2 as well as a couple of older AD&D based cRPGs: Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder 2.

This got me thinking though about all of the emulation technologies I have set up now, each with their own pros and cons.

My Apple IIGS desktop  using Sweet 16
Dungeon Master IIGS using Sweet 16
There is of course Apple's Mac OS X facility Boot Camp, where I have Windows XP installed. I can use that to run almost any Windows compatible game. I haven't tried to run the Windows versions of Dungeon Master and its sequels on Windows XP, but I suspect they would work fine.  I also have Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion and the games are likely to work in those as well. Of course there is a significant amount of overhead and inconvenience running a full blown Windows environment just to run an old game and you have to own a copy of Windows to do it. Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion are also products that have to be bought. There are several free options though.

Dungeon Master 2 using DOSBox

Dungeon Master 2 Mac using Sheepshaver

Using Wineskin Winery, which is free, to create Wineskins worked well with Windows versions of Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back!, but did not work at all with Dungeon Master 2. DOSBox, also free, can run Dungeon Master 2 but not Dungeon Master or Chaos Strikes Back! (at least not the versions I have) and DOSBox requires far less disk storage than Wineskin ports do.

My Mac OS 9 desktop using Sheepshaver
Alternatively I could give up on the Windows versions and leverage the IIGS and Mac versions I have. I can run Dungeon Master using the free IIGS emulator Sweet 16 by Eric Shepherd. And I can use Sheepshaver, also free, to create an emulated Mac OS 9 environment similar to Classic and run the Mac version of Dungeon Master 2 in that environment.

And there is also a free Java version of Dungeon Master that should work on any system that supports Java. At this time anyway that includes Mac OS X 10.7 but I suspect future versions of Mac OS X may not include Java.

Frankly I find the range of options to be a little staggering. But it is nice to know that so many people have developed free technologies that allow abandoned software like Dungeon Master to continue to be used many years after its development.

Emulation... because a program is a terrible thing to waste.


  1. Hey there. I was wondering if you knew a way to run NWN original on a Retina MacBook Pro? Should I fire up Parallels and install Snow Leopard?

  2. I don't have a Retina MacBook Pro to test on, but I was able to play NWN using Wineskin on Lion and posted about it here: . I haven't tested it on Mountain Lion or Mavericks though.

  3. Trying the URL again: []