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Details on the Civilization III Macintosh port - versions and OS compatibility table inside

livinginaz

Seven Ages of Man
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Jan 27, 2020
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Land of the Yinzers, PA
This thread will focus on the two main versions of Civilization III released for Macintosh computers, discussing their differences and caveats as well as providing the OSes they are compatible with.

Compatibility Table + Notes
Vanilla and GOTY versions of Civilization III support the following OSes: Mac OS 8.6, Mac OS 9.2, Mac OS X 10.0 - 10.6.8. On Intel Macintosh computers, the game only works in 10.4 - 10.6 under Rosetta emulation.

Civilization III Complete with 1.22 Rev A patch supports the following OSes: Mac OS X 10.3.9 - 10.14.6. The game must be patched to work on versions 10.7 -10.14, the original release was a PowerPC application.
Note that when running the game in macOS 10.12 - 10.14, you must play in windowed mode or the game never starts.

Installing mods into the Mac version can be hit or miss, some work out of the box and others do not. See this thread for details: Mac Mod Installation Solutions
Fully up to date copies of Civilization III Complete (1.22 Rev A) are valid for playing in GOTM games.

The game does not work on macOS 10.15 Catalina or any newer version, and there is no way to play it on Apple Silicon Macs. It was a 32-bit application, which have been deprecated. The Windows version can still be played using virtualization programs like CrossOver or VirtualBox. This may result in reduced performance, but even on my 2006 iMac it ran acceptably in VirtualBox running Windows XP.
For Apple Silicon Macs see this thread: Installing, Playing and Modding C3C on Apple Silicon
I do not have the resources to see whether the Mac version can be run in a VM of 10.14 or older using a newer macOS, if someone can test this I will update the thread accordingly.

History of the Mac Port
This is a breakdown of the main two editions of the Mac port of Civ III.
Vanilla Civilization III released for Mac in January 2002:
f12aa60849b0b6492f33de30f820.jpg
This version of the game ran under both classic Mac OS as well as the recently released OS X. It was never patched to run natively on Intel Macs. In terms of gameplay, it is identical to the PC version. Sound effects and music are identical. The most notable difference in features is that the Mac port allows for resolution options as well as disabling startup movies and a few other things.
When starting the game you are presented with this box:
Picture 2.png
This does have multi-monitor support but I did not have a second connected. The resolution options are limited to the following:
Picture 3.png
It did not come with an editor at launch; instead releasing in February 2003, only supporting OS X. This editor is very similar to the PC vanilla editor, meaning it is very barebones. The latest patch for vanilla Civ III on Mac is 1.29b2.
Here is the editor:
Picture 1.png

A Game of the Year edition was released for Mac in April 2003:
IMG_0938.jpg
This version is identical to Vanilla, only that it has been updated to version 1.21g and includes the Mac editor. It also has the same bonus goodies as the Windows version (3 new maps, making of Civ III video, Prima excerpts) however unlike the Windows version the goodies are included on the game disc instead of a second CD.
IMG_0940.jpg
Notice that the GOTY disc is much darker in its details, and has a copyright date of 2003. Otherwise they are very similar and easily mistaken.
Play the World, Gold, and Conquests were not released for Mac.

Civilization III Complete was released for Mac in January 2006:
IMG_0807.jpg
This version was completely rebuilt and published under Aspyr as opposed to Westlake/MacSoft. The game comes on a single DVD as opposed to 3 CDs for the Windows release, the manual is truncated. It only ran on OS X versions 10.3 and later, with much higher system requirements listed. This version was patched shortly after release to a Universal binary, meaning it runs natively on Intel Mac computers. Again there are no differences in gameplay, but for this release the game options box has been altered:
Picture 4.png
Yes, the game has full support for windowed mode, a major advantage over the Windows release. It also now supports any resolution, no matter how high. the "Display as "Conquests" instead of Complete" option changes the menu graphics/background to that of the original Conquests release.
Here is the game running in windowed mode:
Picture 6.png
Widescreen window even. It works perfectly in this configuration. Yes, my copy has been modded as the game does not like external disc drives :lol:

The Mac version of Complete does not provide the option to play vanilla Civ III, but it does come with a Play the World application. This version of PTW is identical to a patched Windows copy.
Here you can see the PTW preferences, which gives the option of displaying as either PTW or Gold on the menu screen:
Picture 5.png

There was never an editor released for Complete on Mac. The Windows editor can be used to create scenarios, and Windows saves are compatible with the Mac version. This means that a fully up to date copy of Mac Complete is valid in GOTM games, including PTW GOTM. The latest version of Civilization III Complete for Mac is 1.22 Rev A, the latest version of Play the World for Mac is 1.27 Rev A.
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As a result of the deprecation of 32-bit apps, the status of the Macintosh version of Civilization III is final, and the information in this thread should remain valid forever. I did not detail bugs as it is a great task to keep track of them; the most notable bug in both vanilla and Complete versions is that sound and music are very glitchy. Combat sounds rarely play, music stutters, and sometimes when exiting diplomacy before the main music has faded out completely you will lose your music. If anyone has info they would like to contribute to this thread please post. Hopefully this thread can be a useful repository for this forgotten port.
 
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Do you know what the "Use less CPU power if possible" option does? It is possible to skip the intro movies in the Windows version (although you have to edit the civilization.ini/conquests.ini file manually rather than checking a box), but I'd never heard of a "use less CPU power" option. I'm particularly curious if the AI tries to use less CPU power, or something else. I could see the benefit of faster AI turn times at the cost of less advanced AI algorithms on the computers that were in use at the time of Civ III's release, especially on large maps with lots of civs.

If I may make a couple suggestions: Having large headers for the history/compatibility sections would make it easier to find them at a glance, e.g.:

Compatibility Section

This can be done with the tT button on the toolbar (sixth one, counting from the left).

It might also make sense to put the compatibility section first, and then the history one. As much as I find the history interesting, I recognize that I'm a history minor, and the most common question is likely to be, "Can my Mac version of Civ run on this Mac I'm thinking of buying?"

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I suppose one other question that may come up that you may or may not know the answer to, is it feasible to play the Mac version using a virtualized version of macOS 10.14, within a newer version of macOS, such as 13 (Ventura)? I'd rather expect it would be, at least on an Intel processor, but I know graphics support in virtual machines can be variable so that's probably something that needs to be tested rather than assumed.

I think making the compatibility information easier (quicker) to find, and a commitment to update the post when a 10.14-VM-on-Ventura test is conducted (whether by you or someone else) would be the main things I'd look for in "sticky evaluation". We do need to have a "how does it run on current systems?" thread that is easy to find, but that's also why that part of the thread should be front and center. It's not solely of historical interest yet :).
 
This is great, thanks for writing it! That options menu is an enhanced version of the windows ini file, but as you say the window handling is better than any windows version.

The sound is dodgy on modern windows too, we have to use a third party tool Indirect Sound, to work around issues.
 
For the record (and I know I'm talking to the experts who know all this, but just in case someone is visiting! :D), windows allows a more restricted set of resolutions to be specifically chosen as per this thread.

VideoMode=
Can be 1024, 1152, 1280, 1600, 1792. Changes the game's resolution to the value specified (instead of the default 1024x768).
Only the following resolutions are supported with this command:
1024x768
1152x864
1280x1024
1600x1200
1792x1344

But you can also tell it to use your desktop resolution as well.
 
Do you know what the "Use less CPU power if possible" option does? It is possible to skip the intro movies in the Windows version (although you have to edit the civilization.ini/conquests.ini file manually rather than checking a box), but I'd never heard of a "use less CPU power" option. I'm particularly curious if the AI tries to use less CPU power, or something else. I could see the benefit of faster AI turn times at the cost of less advanced AI algorithms on the computers that were in use at the time of Civ III's release, especially on large maps with lots of civs.
I wish I knew, this has always been a curiosity of mine as well. I have not observed any differences in AI performance, but I also do not know the nuances of Civ III's AI enough to notice when things are not quite the same. What I can observe is that without that option checked, the game pegs 80% CPU, without it that drops to around 60%.

I suppose one other question that may come up that you may or may not know the answer to, is it feasible to play the Mac version using a virtualized version of macOS 10.14, within a newer version of macOS, such as 13 (Ventura)? I'd rather expect it would be, at least on an Intel processor, but I know graphics support in virtual machines can be variable so that's probably something that needs to be tested rather than assumed.

I think making the compatibility information easier (quicker) to find, and a commitment to update the post when a 10.14-VM-on-Ventura test is conducted (whether by you or someone else) would be the main things I'd look for in "sticky evaluation". We do need to have a "how does it run on current systems?" thread that is easy to find, but that's also why that part of the thread should be front and center. It's not solely of historical interest yet :).
Unfortunately I don't have the ability to test this as all of my Macs are in the more vintage category (writing this on a 2012 iMac) and even if I could get a VM running the performance may not be indicative of what a 2020 Mac is capable of. macOS has always been a bit harder to get running propery in VMs. If I ever do acquire a newer Mac I will test this, but for now it would be up to someone else. I have updated the original post with new formatting and put in a note/request for testing on this VM issue; let me know if there is anything else I can change.
 
But you can also tell it to use your desktop resolution as well.
This has always been a bit difficult for me to get working with widescreen resolutions; though I am running the Windows version in a VM which is likely to be more cranky. I have to play at 1920x1440 instead of my monitor res of 2560x1440. I have heard of people playing the game on 4K monitors, so I do assume it's the VM. Definitely better to have the game with black bars on the sides versus a tiny box in the middle of the screen which is what the VM does.

As for the sound mentioned, I was unaware it was troublesome in newer Windows versions. One thing I always remember back when I used to play the game in Win2k or XP, when loading a save the music would be warbly and distorted for a few minutes, almost every time.
 
Indeed there are plenty of reports on the tech support forum saying that the windows version starts to struggle with ultra widescreen, multi monitor and particularly high resolutions. Disabling the intro movie from the ini file often seems to help. I'm still running this stuff on a 1920x1080 monitor so I'm insulated from it, but eventually I'll have to upgrade to a bigger one.

I see the download centre has a copy of the patch for Complete that turns it into a universal binary, but not the final patch for the original macsoft version. Any interesting patch history or did it just follow the windows version? It's a shame Firaxis weren't interested in supporting Mac with the editor, a single bare bones version just seems mean! :)
 
I see the download centre has a copy of the patch for Complete that turns it into a universal binary, but not the final patch for the original macsoft version. Any interesting patch history or did it just follow the windows version? It's a shame Firaxis weren't interested in supporting Mac with the editor, a single bare bones version just seems mean! :)
The patches were separate from the Windows version I believe, but the only way to really know would be to read some of the old threads in this forum. If I recall that options screen at startup was added in a very early patch and did not launch with the original copy. Both vanilla and Complete ports were done mostly by a single person, Brad Oliver. He used to be active on these forums as tech support.

As for the MacSoft patch, I know that @AlanH has the download in his signature, which is hosted here; strange that it was never added to the download center. Perhaps this can finally be addressed. I know when I looked for it on Google I found nothing.
 
I keep forgetting this site was fully active during civ iii's release. I'll trawl through when I have some free time and see what everyone was talking about!
 
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