Playing Neverwinter Nights on Mac

After finishing Divinity: Original Sin and Borderlands 2, Cecilee and I were looking for a new co-op game to play together and, after poking around at a lot of different options, we seem to have settled on Neverwinter Nights.

I first played Neverwinter Nights back in ’03 or ’04 when I used some of my summer camp income to buy either the gold or platinum edition. I’d played a little D&D at camp, really liked Dungeon Siege, and was eager to try a new game. At the time it didn’t quite click with me. I was coming off a long string of playing only shareware, demos, and Age of Empires, so the long campaign and many character choices were a little overwhelming. That, and Focus on the Family didn’t approve of role playing games, so as much as they spoke to me I was a little intimidated to jump in with both feet.

(Though, on reflection, those darker episodes of Adventures in Odyssey were always among my favorites.)

Back to the troubles of running a game from 2003 on a year old MacBook Pro…
(If you haven’t noticed yet, this is more of a journal entry than a tutorial, but if you were capable of installing applications on MS-DOS or Windows 95 you’ll have no trouble replicating my results.)

There was a Mac edition of Neverwinter Nights, but I didn’t even consider trying that. Since then Mac has switched from PowerPC to Intel and gone through at least three OS versions which caused significant numbers of old programs to break. I love MacOS for a number of reasons, but support for legacy software and hardware is nowhere on that list.

So we’re going to need to get the Windows edition working.

Enter two fantastic resources: GOG.com and Crossover for Mac.

The entirety of Neverwinter Nights Diamond (which includes all of the official expansions for the game) is available for Windows on GOG.com with minimal DRM. I say minimal because the game was built to require CD keys and check in with a central server. That server has long since gone offline but the game fails the authentication check gracefully and plays just fine.

The problem is that the GOG edition has been wired up with a dummy CD key. It’s legit in the sense that the game acknowledges that the key is real and GOG actually does pay the developers for game, but to simplify their business of selling old games, at dirt cheep prices, ready to play out of the box, GOG registers every copy of Neverwinter Nights with the same CD  key.

The good news is that you can contact— Actually, it looks like in the couple of months since I got all of this working GOG has streamlined the process. According to this help page the downloaded game has the default key, but custom keys are automatically added to your account. That’s a lot better than the tedious process of finding the correct forum, e-mailing support, and waiting 3 business days for a response that I had to go through.

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