Playing Audio Games on the Mac Without Using Windows

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Intro

Are you a Mac user, and a fan of audio games? Does it make you angry that there are only a few audio games for the Mac, and that you need Windows just to kill some zombies or play cards? Do you not have access to Windows, and find yourself suffering from game withdrawal? Well, my friends, I have great news: your suffering may be at an end! That's right, I'v been playing my favorite audio game, Swamp for a week now, and I've done it using only my Mac. No Bootcamp, no Windows virtualization, just me, my Mac, and some good wine.

Notes and Warnings

First of all, this won't work with all audio games out there. I have no way of testing them all, but the two I have tried worked just fine. Still, don't be surprised if the below steps don't work for your game, or if you can't get your game to run at all. That said, it's definitely worth a try, right?

Second, your game must not rely on a screen reader. Self-voicing games will work fine, and those that can use Sapi speech will work as well, with an extra step. The only limitation to Sapi speech is that, if your game won't let you choose your preferred Sapi voice, you can't select anything other than the default voice Microsoft Speech SDK comes with. You can install others, but not use them.

I'm no expert on this, and only just started playing with it. If you know more about Wine, and can offer any tips or suggestions, please do so in the comments and I will update this guide. For example, if you know how to install the speech preferences CPL, or you know of a DLL that will make some games run better, or you have any other ideas, please feel free to correct and enlighten me.

If your Mac runs reasonably well already, chances are it will handle audio games just fine. I have tested this on my own machine, a 2012 Macbook Air with 4GB of ram and a 1.4GhZ dual core Core I5 processor. I know two other people who have gotten this to work, but I am not certain of their Macs' configurations. This should work in any OS X version supported by the program we'll be using, and the website currently lists 10.6 Snow Leopard up through 10.10 Yosemite as being supported.

What You'll Need

First, of course, you need a Mac running Snow Leopard or newer. You'll then have to download Wineskin, a free app that will let you create a container for your Windows game. Part of this process will require sighted help, as you cannot install a screen reader in a wrapper, so have a sighted person handy who can click through a few installers for you. Finally, you will have to have the game installer or folder of game files handy. If the game is installed using a single .exe file, you will just need that file; if it comes in a folder, as Swamp does, you have to have that folder stored on your Mac somewhere, and not in a compressed format. Got all that? Okay, let's get started.

Install and Set Up Wineskin

Installation of Wineskin is pretty easy. The file you download will be a Zip file; just open it with cmd-o, and it will spit out a file called Wineskin Winery.app. You could run the app from anywhere, but for the sake of organization, I recommend putting it in your Applications folder along with all the other apps on your Mac. Should you ever want to remove it, simply delete the file. This will not remove any wrappers (see below) you make.

Once the app is where you want it, open it. It will display a dialog with an empty "installed engines" table and a few buttons. Activate the "Update" button and accept the version with which you will be presented. Let the update do its thing; you will land back on the main Wineskin window after everything is done. You'll only have to do this once.

Finally, activate the "add" button to the right of the "engines" table. Accept whatever version it offers (mine was 1.7.29, but you may get a newer one). Once done, the table will no longer be empty. Should a game ever require an older engine, you can add that engine here.

Creating the Wrapper

Now, let's get to the fun part: making your game run, or at least trying to. You'll need to make a "wrapper", which is essentially a simulated Windows environment. Each wrapper is meant to contain one Windows application and any supporting files that application needs to function. That is, your goal is not to create a single wrapper for all your games, but rather one wrapper per game.

From the main Wineskin Winery window, activate the "Create a New Blank Wrapper" button. You will land on a text field where you enter the name for the wrapper. It's easiest to name the wrapper the same as the name of the game this wrapper will be running; once you're done, you'll have an app with this name that you can run, so naming it after your game makes it easy to know which app is which. That said, the name you enter doesn't matter in the slightest, and you can even rename the app later should you wish to.

Once you've typed the name, hit enter or activate the OK button. Sit back and relax - the wrapper will take a few minutes to be created, and during the process focus will jump to a few different apps as things launch, close, and go busy. At one point, you might be placed in an app with the title you gave your wrapper, and VoiceOver will report that there are no windows. Don't panic, the process just isn't done yet. If this is your first wrapper, you will get two installers, one for Mono and one for Gecko. Neither is accessible, so have your sighted person finish those as they appear. Once everything is done, you will either be returned to the Wineskin Winery app, or to the app you were using just before Wineskin. If the latter happens, just command-tab back to Wineskin.

You will see a window saying that the file was created and telling you where it was placed (/Users/yourUserName/library/applications/wineskin is the default, but you can move the file later if you want to). Pressing enter will activate the "Show in Finder" button, which is exactly what you want. A Finder window will open to the afore mentioned folder, and you will see an app named with whatever you called your wrapper. Open this app to reveal the main window for your wrapper; from here you'll manage the Windows executable to be run, the version, manage the registry, and many more options and tools. If the app gives you an error instead, press enter to close it, then open the app again. This should only happen once, if it happens at all.

Setting Up Your Game

Now that the wrapper has been created, it's time to install the right tools and tell it to run your game. Once we're done, assuming everything works correctly, you'll just open this app to launch your game.

The first thing to do is install speech, if your game is not self-voicing. Please note that you can't change the Sapi voice unless your game allows you to choose a different voice, but default speech is better than no speech. To install Sapi:

  • From the wrapper's main window, choose the Advanced button, then the Tools button on the resulting screen, and finally the Winetricks button.
  • Locate the search field, and type this: speechsdk
  • Move to the table (just to the right of the search field) and find the DLLs row. Press right arrow to expand it, down arrow to "Speechsdk", and check the box next to it. (Note: you don't need to interact with the table, just find the proper row and hit space to check the box).
  • Now find and activate the "Run" button. You may need sighted help to complete this installer, as it will run within Wine's simulated Windows environment and thus VoiceOver will not be able to see that anything is happening.
  • Once the installation is complete, you should be returned to the Winetricks window. We're done with it for now, so locate the "Close" button at the bottom of the window and activate it. You will be back on the Tools screen.

Next, we need to tell the wrapper which game to run when it's opened. This is a simpler process, and does not require sighted assistance.

  • Assuming you are still on the Tools screen, find the Configuration tab and activate it.
  • You'll see a Browse button next to a text field containing "nothing.exe". Ignore this button, even though it looks like what you want. Instead, go to the "Install Software" button near the bottom of the window and activate that.
  • If your game is installed using a single .exe file, use the "Choose Setup Executable" button and locate your installer.
  • If your game, like Swamp, is instead a folder from which you select the primary .exe file when you want to play, choose "Copy Folder", locate the folder containing the game files, and then select the .exe file to be used from the popup button. Note that you may need to command-tab away from, then back to, this window for VoiceOver to see it properly.
  • Once the executable is chosen, you will be back in the configuration window and you can command-q to close it, unless you want to set any other options.

Finally, it's time to attempt running your game. Once you've closed the configuration you were just using and are back in Finder, open your wrapper app file again. If all goes well, you will now be able to do this whenever you want to play, and your game will start up. All keystrokes and mouse movements/buttons will be caught by the game window, except those used for VoiceOver, so I suggest turning VoiceOver off while playing.

If you ever need to go back and change anything about your wrapper, such as to change the executable file or version, install more Winetricks packages, change keyboard settings, etc, you can. You may also need to update the files your game uses (replace sounds, update maps, and so on). To do either:

  • Find the .app file in Finder and right/control-click it (control-option-shift-m).
  • Choose "Show Package Contents" from the resulting menu.
  • The wine.app file is what you want to run to get back to the configuration options.
  • Use the drive_c item to open the folder Wine uses to simulate a Windows hard drive if you need to update files stored in your game. For instance, Swamp players can place updated Swamp files in the Swamp folder this way, or add new campaigns, maps, or sound files.

It Didn't Work

The first thing to do is install .net in your wrapper. Use the method described above to get back to Winetricks, then search for ".net40" and install the .net 4.0 package. If that fails, try also installing DirectX7, or any other packages the game might require. Please understand that I cannot offer advice on individual games, so you'll need to use forums (such as those on audiogames.net or contact the game's developer to get suggestions if your game won't run.

The error you see when running the wrapper for the first time should only happen once. As stated earlier, just hit enter to dismiss it, and run the wrapper again.

If your game runs on a central server, such as Swamp or The Road to Rage, your firewall settings may at first prevent Wineskin and/or your wrapper from connecting properly. Once your game is running, press control-option-f1, then quickly tap f1 again (remember to add the function key if your Mac is set up that way). This will open the Application Chooser menu; see if there are any system dialogs in there about an application wanting to accept incoming connections. If there are, and you know that the app requesting the connections is your game, allow it. You should only have to do this once for every game wrapper you create.

If you get an error during the installation of a Winetricks package, the only thing I've found to work is to scrap the wrapper (by deleting it) and start over. Wrappers are easy and pretty fast to create, so doing this is annoying but not bad.

A Note to Swamp Players

Swamp won't work at first. After you copy the Swamp folder into the wrapper, be sure that checkup.exe is the executable chosen to run, NOT swamp.exe. Get sighted help to run the checkup program once you launch the wrapper; once it runs, close the wrapper, go back to the configuration settings as described above, and only then set the executable to swamp.exe.

The following are the problems I've found so far playing Swamp. I can easily live with all of them, but you should know what to expect.

  • Sapi can cut off the ends of messages if set to speak quickly. I don't know if this is Wine or just the voice Sapi uses by default.
  • There is a delay between firing a weapon and hearing the projectile's impact. This lag seems worse with the shotguns, but is certainly noticeable for all weapons. Oddly, no such lag occurs in Practice mode, only during online play.
  • Be sure that you clear text from edit fields, or things might not work right. This is especially true when sending items to other players or assigning skill points. Since there is no screen reader, you will have to arrow to the end of the text and delete a bunch of times, then hope you got all the text.

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Disclaimer

The guide on this page has generously been submitted by a member of the AppleVis community. As AppleVis is a community-powered website, we make no guarantee, either express or implied, of the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this guide.

39 Comments

rappers and sapi

when you've installed SAPI for one rapper, do yu have to install it for additional rappers you create for additional games?

I believe so

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

My understanding is that every wrapper is self-contained. There may be a way to share components between them, but I don't know how that would work.

Not sure about Bootcamp

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I'm not sure why it wouldn't work in Bootcamp. I usually hook a wireless mouse to my Mac, so I have multiple buttons and can turn more easily. My only idea is to be sure you have the latest Bootcamp drivers installed, from the Bootcamp Control Panel if memory serves.

not worth it

In my opinion, the complexity of the process of getting this set up is a deal breaker not to mention that not everyone is going to have access to sighted assistance. I believe this whole whine business to be impractical. If there was a way to do it with out sighted assistance, maybe I'd try it. As of now, I don't have access to any sighted help for a little while longer.

Just in case you have no

Just in case you have no access to sighted help at your place but does have access to itn through the internet you can use team viewer which is accessible ion mac to klet people do the stuff for you.

Sighted help may not always be needed

Generally, installers are very similar in how they work and most of them can be followed through by hitting alt+n (substitute alt for command). If you don't hear anything then you probably clicked the next button and you should probably press alt n again, if you hear your default system beep then it may be asking you to do something else, like say yes (alt+Y), hit install (alt+I) or accept the license (alt+I or alt+A). So, basically, keep hitting alt n, alt I, alt Y, etc, then wait, and at the end hit alt+F. If the installer closes then you did it and the game was most likely installed.
There is a very good post on stormdragon's blog that deals with audio games under wine, but in Linux. It does talk about dealing with installers though and it may be worth a read.
http://stormdragon.tk/more-audio-games-in-wine/

To whoever said it's not practical, I disagree. Virtualising windows just to play games does work but causes considerably more overhead because you're really running Windows, complete with random services, the desktop, etc, that you may not even be using. On a desktop or a powerful system this may be fine, but if you're running off battery power you want to save as many CPu cycles as you can and this is one way to do this.

interested in trying this out

Setting things up looks a little complex, but I'm more than willing to give it a go. However, the page linked with the "Swamp" label in this guide didn't actually give any mention of Swamp. Am I missing something? I really want to play this game!

It's a heading

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Swamp is under its own heading on the linked page. There's a heading, graphic, description, then a couple download links.

This is terribly awesome.

This is terribly awesome. Will give it a try. The problem is I don't have sighted assistance, I'll try randomly pressing as Piotr Machaz suggests.

Question:

Question:

Is it possible to transfer a wrapper to another computer? Will it work? and Will I be able to edit it if necessary?
I'm talking of a Swamp wrapper.

I believe so

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes, I'm pretty sure you can. To my knowledge, and keep in mind I'm no expert by any means, each wrapper is self-contained. Make it once, and you *should* (again, not certain) be able to distribute it, back it up, whatever you want.

Install problem

When I create the wrapper, and run the mono and geco installers with some help they won't download the required stuff. I allow them to accep incoming connections but it keeps giving errors. When I accept the error messages it says the wrapper is finished, but obviously it is not.

Suggestions?

Start Over?

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

You might try starting over. Delete the wrapper in the usual way, then make a band new one. I can't offer more without knowing what errors are appearing, and where exactly they are doing so.

The errors refer to the mono

The errors refer to the mono and geco downloads. I found a "how to create a rapper" without mono and geco, do you think it could work? Does Swamp need .net? I think I will try and see what happens.

Worth a try

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

It's worth trying. Swamp probably does need .net, but even that I can't be certain of. You'll be experimenting just as I would be. Let us know how it goes, as this could help someone else.

Apparently It Works!

I installed it without mono nor geco, just the speech sdk. I also attempted to install .net, but I think I didn't, I was doing it by myself. Then I set the folder and the checkup.exe, ran it and changed it to swamp.exe
When I opened the app it said welcome to swamp 3.4, so I accepted the agreement and closed it to modify the keyconfig.ini. I ran it again and messed around the map, and killed couple of zombies. The problem is that when I touch the trackpad it freezes, no idea why. The game apparently works but the character doesn't move, and the menu options don't work no matter how many times I press on them. This only happens when I touch the trackpad...
Any idea?

Will try online and see what happens.

Login Info?

I am trying this out, and got past the Mono and Gecko installation with some sighted assistance... However, upon trying to install speechsdk, my wife told me that it's prompting me for a user name and password. I don't think it means my computer login, as this is still in the simulated Windows environment. Any ideas?

Um…

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

That's really odd. Have you tried simply ignoring it, and trying to click the Next button without entering anything? Are you certain you selected the correct package to install?

Umm, indeed...

There's no option for ignoring - you can only cancel. Actually turns out it wants "customer information" and is asking for username and organization. Very odd. Nobody else ever encounter this, I take it?

Entombed

Hi.

Has anyone tried to run Entombed in Wine? I spent about half an hour trying to get it to run with help from my mom and sister. They told me that Direct X gave some kind of internal error while trying to install. I then tried to install some other stuff like direct x 9 and the sql server stuff but the game refuses to run. Is it possible to run Entombed under Wine or should I just stick to Fusion? I'm really liking the idea of Wine and have gotten several games like Q9 and Psycho Strike to work. Speaking of Psycho Strike, it frezes after the party scene when I emulate it in Wine.

I also tried Psicho Strike,

I also tried Psicho Strike, but it freezes at the very same moment. Maybe there is something missing.
I tried something but failed. I created a wrapper and launched the NVDA installer to see what happens. It simply didn't let me install it, and the installer didn't launch the voice guide. I then tried with a portable version but nothing.

Well, if anyone has any idea on psicho Strike please let us know.

Question about swamp

So I've installed everything and the game starts up but as soon as I launch a map or choose a campaign it freezes and just the music plays. No zombies, can't move but it talks if I press w for example. Has anyone else had this problem? Or does anyone know how to fix it?

Firewall?

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Sounds kind of like the Mac is waiting for you to give Swamp--or probably Wine--permission to access the internet. Do vo-f1 twice and see if there are any system dialogs or other windows. Swamp will appear as a system dialog, but you're looking for a different one. If you find anything about allowing Swamp or Wine to access the internet, give it permission.

No not that :(

Tried what you said and no, only thing I can think of is it says something about c monkey. Otherwise it works fine till I start a map or campaign

Campaigns don't work?

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

No, you can ignore the See Munkey if you don't have one. Campaigns don't work either? What about locally stored maps, using Practice Mode? If those don't, it sounds like you haven't installed the necessary packages in the wrapper.

You might be right.

Installed the speechsdk and that's the only extra thing I installed. was there others needed?

Yes; try .net4.0

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

As the guide mentions, you might need to install .net4.0 or other packages. Swamp probably needs .net, but if it still doesn't work, give it DirectX as well.

Installed direct x9

Now the game won't even start at all. Is there a way you could post your rapper to download?

Keyboard and log in issues

I'm trying to play swamp on a 2015 12 inch Macbook. I'm having some strange keyboard issues. The voices work fine, but movement i very inconsistent. Firing is as well.
Also, Swamp doesn't want to allow me to log in to multiplayer.

wine doesn't work with mac os10.10.11.

Wen I open an app it brings up An error occurred while starting the X11 server: "Failed to activate core devices."

Click Quit to quit X11. Click Report to see more details or send a report to Apple. Thanks fore any help.

a wrapper to borrow?

If anybody has a Swamp wrapper already made that I could possibly get, that would be most appreciated. I really want to play, and see no reason why wrappers couldn't be shared between computers, and I have no access to sighted help for the installs at present. Thanks in advance!

Mush Z

With this, can you download the Mush Z MUD client?

Unable to get it to work

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi all,
I didn't use my Swamp wrapper for a while. When I want to use it again, it wouldn't work. I tried to re-create it a few times, but was never successful. I'm leaving this guide up in case people are able to get other games working, and/or in case the process starts working again after some update or other, but as of right now I'm not having much luck. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Not responding

, When I run the game pressing enter on any option does nothing, I can just scroll up or down the menu. Is that what's happening to you?

Yes

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes, as I recall, that's what happened to me. I also had a hard time just getting speech. I'm running Bootcamp now, since I brought an older Mac Mini back to life, so have no wrappers around to test at the moment. If anyone gets this working, let us know!

Top Speed 3 and Sonic Invaders wrappers Created successfully

Excellent post Alex! :) I only just found this after having figured some of this out on my own this weekend. Wish I'd seen your post a little earlier. I was lucky on my first two wrappers. Top Speed 3 and Sonic Invaders both work fine. However, I cannot seem to get Super Liam running at all. I first needed to install VB6Run through Winetricks and that did make a difference but I am still getting errors about classes not being able to be registered. So am not quite sure what to try next. Have you or anyone else gotten Super Liam to run this way? (via WineSkin)