robotspacer’s adventure corner


Playing “Windows-only” GOG games on Mac or Linux

Posted January 16, 2024

Game listings on GOG often indicate that Windows is required, even though they include the files you need to run them on other platforms, like Mac or Linux. Look for a message that says “This game is powered by ScummVM” or “This game is powered by DOSBox” below the system requirements. In most cases you can get these games to run in ScummVM, DOSBox, or DOSBox-X on any platform they support. However, due to the way the games are packaged for download, you may need access to a Window computer to get the files you need from GOG.

One example of this is The Colonel’s Bequest. I’ll use this as an example in the steps below. This game works in either ScummVM or DOSBox.

Get the files you need

You will need a Windows computer for this step. See below for alternatives if you don’t have access to a Windows computer.

  • Install GOG Galaxy on a Windows computer and sign in to your GOG account. If you don’t want to install GOG Galaxy, you can go to your game library on the GOG web site, select a game, then download the offline installer. Look for the section labeled “Download offline backup game installers”.
  • Install the game. If you’re using GOG Galaxy, select “Owned games” on the left side, and select your game in the list. Then click the “Install” button at the top.
  • Once the installation is complete, find the folder where the game was installed. If you’re using GOG Galaxy, click the “More” icon next to the “Play” button at the top. Go to “Manage installation” and select “Show folder”. Windows Explorer will open. Click the up arrow in the toolbar to show the folder that contains it. If you’re using the offline installer, you can click the “Options” button to see where the game will be installed. The path you’re looking for is most likely either C:\Program Files (x86)\GOG Galaxy\Games\ or C:\GOG Games\.
  • You should see all your game folders now, for example The Colonel's Bequest. Right-click the folder and choose “Compress to ZIP file”.
  • Optional: If you want to keep things tidy, you can open up the zip file and delete things you don’t need. For example, you don’t need the __support folder, and there’s usually a DOSBox or scummvm folder you won’t be using.
  • Copy the zip file to your Mac or Linux computer, and expand it.
  • Optional: You may want to keep a backup of the zip file somewhere. That way you can skip these steps if you ever need to reinstall the game.

Other ways to get the files

If you don’t have access to a Windows computer, you may be able to use innoextract to extract the files for the installer. This is a more advanced option—if you’re on a Mac, you’ll probably want to install Homebrew and use that to install innoextract. Thanks to anhinton for pointing out this option.

Another option is to use a virtualization app like UTM for Mac. For example, if you have a Mac with an Apple Silicon processor, you can install Windows 11 for ARM64 from their gallery, install GOG there, then move the files around using a shared folder. Again, this is an advanced option, and a bit overcomplicated, but if it saves you the hassle of borrowing a Windows computer it may be worthwhile.

Play the game in ScummVM

ScummVM works with many adventure games and some role playing games. It’s easier to use than DOSBox, and often includes fixes for problems you might encounter if you’re playing games directly in DOS. If you’re not sure whether a game is supported, try the steps below. ScummVM will tell you if the game is not supported.

  • Open ScummVM.
  • Click the “Add Game…” button.
  • Select the game folder that you copied over from Windows, for example The Colonel's Bequest.
  • Click “OK” to add the game.
  • One the game is added, select it the in the list and click the “Start” button.

Play the game in DOSBox

DOSBox is a bit more advanced. The steps below assume you already have it set up. If you’re on a Mac, I recommend DOSBox-X. It has a lot of useful menu commands, built-in MT-32 support, and more.

  • Move the game to a location DOSBox has access to. This depends on your setup.
  • Rename the game folder so it’s eight characters or less. For example, COLONEL.
  • Open DOSBox.
  • Open the game directory in DOS. For example, type CD COLONEL and press return.
  • Run the game. For example, type SCIV.EXE and press return. If you’re not sure what to run, look for an EXE or BAT file.

Extra files

You will often need some other files in the game folder. For example, with The Colonlel’s Bequest you’ll need fingerprints.jpg, Manual.pdf, and Map.pdf. Usually these files can be downloaded separately from GOG if you’re having trouble finding them among the other files. If you’re using GOG Galaxy, open the page for the game and then select “Extras” at the top. Or on the web site, open your game library, select a game, and look for the “Extras” section on the right side.