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Thread: Mac OS X, Apple

Author Image Gerry Patterson. The world's most humble blogger
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Age of Empires II Macbugs

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Date: Fri, 06 Nov 2009 21:57:44 +1100

Recently I installed Age Of Empires II in Mac OS X. I chose the "Mac Pro" as the destination for the install. This means that the application is installed in /Applications in its own folder. However there were a couple of problems. My solutions are listed below.

I had installed the game using an Administrator account. Of course our kids were eagerly waiting to play the game. However, when they logged in and ran the game it crashed. After the introductory screen, a small window popped up with the crashdump. The first few lines were as below:
Date/Time:       2009-11-04 19:31:48.041 +1100
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.6.1 (10B504)
Report Version:  6
Sleep/Wake UUID: 61F465B4-D394-4EAC-8110-C6237451358A

Interval Since Last Report:          4876 sec
Crashes Since Last Report:           4
Per-App Crashes Since Last Report:   4
Anonymous UUID:                      E85421B5-04AD-4DF4-9B7C-CC7948B37E22

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGBUS)
Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x0000000000000000
Crashed Thread:  0  Dispatch queue:

Thread 0 Crashed:  Dispatch queue:

As is often the case with games, this was a problem with permissions. There are a couple of ways to solve this. You can have a "games user", a pseudo user account which everyone shares. However that is not a good solution". Often such an account ends up being an administrator account, and often it is used by visitors. The optimal method is to make the Application folder writeable by other users. I recommend that you use the approach of making the folder writeable by selected users. It is better in fact to do so by managing group permissions rather than individual user permissions

In order to give a group write permission, I opened a command window (using my own Administrator account) and entered these commands:
cd /Applications
chgrp -R family 'Age of Empires II'

Note: This will only work if you have already created a group called family and included all the members of your family in the group. Also it depends on the fact that "Age of Empires II" has installed in the same way that it did on my system, by giving write access to my own personal group (assigned by default when I setup the accounts).

If you don't want to go through the rigmarole of setting up a group called "family" you can use your own personal group. If you have created your own user id with the Account management tool, it usually assigns you a group with the same name as your login name. For example if your login name is "fred" you will have a group of "fred". You can just give the other members of your family access to that group.

Using groups is the preferred method of managing permissions. However if you just want to give everyone permission to write to the folder, you can do so with the "chmod" command. While not as elegant (or secure) as the "group approach" it is better than the "Games User approach". Use the following commands:
cd /Applications
chmod -R a+w 'Age of Empires II'

The Main Menu in "Age Of Empires" has an "Options" menu which allows for the creation of new "Players"

Now after each individual user starts the game, they should click on the options menu and choose a player. Unfortunately these are all put in the same /Applications folder and it is possible for each user to select any other player. More proof that the authors of "Age of Empires II" do not grok the multi-user concept ... Which is interesting since it is written by Microsoft.

The other problem I encountered was described as a potential bug in the "Read me.rtf" file that shipped with the disk. If you have a large high resolution screen the application will crash when the mouse pointer is moved to a corner of the screen. This brings up a crash dump, which on my system, looked something like the following:
Process:         translate [215]
Path:            /Applications/Age of Empires II/Age of Empires II
Identifier:      translate
Version:         ??? (17203202)
Code Type:       PPC (Translated)
Parent Process:  launchd [114]

Date/Time:       2009-11-06 18:43:13.373 +1100
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.6.1 (10B504)
Report Version:  6

Interval Since Last Report:          4984 sec
Crashes Since Last Report:           6
Per-App Crashes Since Last Report:   1
Anonymous UUID:                      7CD6710F-FA2B-42C7-97B9-0EA8C6135262

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGBUS)
Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x0000000004190000
Crashed Thread:  0  Dispatch queue:

Thread 0 Crashed:  Dispatch queue:

The solution is described in the "Read me.rtf". This file will be in the "Age of Empires II" folder in /Applications. According to the Read Me file, if you hold the Mac key while starting the application a menu will appear. I found that the menu appeared every time I started the application. It looked like the following:

Age of Empires II Options
Age Of Empires II Options.

Uncheck the option Display In-Game Cursor and the mouse in the corner bug goes away.

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Copyright     2009, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.