How to run Alpha Centauri in Windowed Mode

A map with Lal's building to the nord-west and Gaia's daughters to the south east

Sid Meyer’s Alpha Centauri is probably my favourite turn based strategy game: the mechanics are quite close to Civilisation II, but the factions and the fact that you can shape the map with terraforming actions makes it more interesting. Thanks to Good Old Games, it is possible to run that game on a Modern OS X machine. Problem is, the game runs within Wine which emulates the Win32 Api using Xlib (X11). This is probably as inefficient as it sounds, but we are talking about a game designed to run on a 133 MHz Pentium and 16 Megabytes of RAM.

wine_skin

There are two problems with the good old game version: first the keypad is not properly emulated, so even if I attach a keyboard which has a keypad, I can’t use it for controlling the units, this is annoying, but you can use the mouse to move units in diagonals, and the arrow keys for direct moves.

wine_skin_screen
wine_skin_advanced_x11

The other annoyance for me is the fact that the application runs full-screen and does not take well to be switched away. I found how to go around this the following way:

  • Navigate with the Finder to the icon of the game (Alpha Centauri Alien Crossfire)
  • Right-click and select Show Package Content.
  • You should now see an application icon named Wineskin, double-click on it.
  • Click on the Set Screen Options button.
  • Select Rootless (Windowed).
  • Close the (screen option) window.
  • Click on the Advanced button.
  • Select Force use of wrappers quartz-wm for window decorations and not what is on the system
  • Select Force use of system installed XQuartz of using built-in WineskinX11

Of course for this to work, you need to have X11 installed on your Mac.

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