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The Slacker's Guide - Dope Wars and Battlefield Pirates

by Chris Barylick
October 28th, 2005

Fun Without Apologies: Dope Wars
Some games become classics over the years. Some take only hours within their release over the Internet. At the dawn of the PDA (not the Newton, as Apple had intended, but the Palm Pilot after Palm had seen where Apple had gone wrong and worked like maniacs to get it right), Matt Lee released a small game for the fledgling platform called "Drug Wars."

Almost overnight, this became the game to download, install on your Palm Pilot and while the hours away building a drug empire by dealing drugs on the streets of New York, all the while traveling to different districts to get better purchase and sale prices.

Players could outfit themselves with a small arsenal with which to fight the police, or upgrade their clothing to be able to hold a larger drug cache. They were also affected by real-world elements such as the high-interest loan they began the game with that had to be paid off before the debt grew too unwieldy, and a torrent of news posts that declared what was happening to the prices of various drugs (for example, a heroin bust might make the street price soar).

When a month of drug trading has been completed, players could then upload their final score to a server where they could compare their results to the often staggering results of others, which almost functioned as pure proofs for exponential number theory.

Over the years, this game has been ported over to almost every operating system, and has become a staple of the game community. Simple, fun, yet possessing enough strategy to both keep things interesting as well as provide several ways to win, Dope Wars has been through several incarnations on the Mac. Two of the best versions of the title have been John R. Chang's native OS X version as well as Dope Wars Widget, a small Widget-structured applet of the game by a programmer going by the handle of "Durvivor".


Dope Wars for Mac OS X.

Dope Wars Widget for Mac OS X.

Basic and holding true to its roots, Chang's version of Dope Wars is a completely free version of the title with forthcoming source code once the author believes it's ready to be distributed. Centered around a single control screen, players choose their location via a pull-down menu and can visit the Brooklyn location to access the bank and loan shark options.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the title is the fact that the game isn't as combat-focused as other versions, which might have you encountering the police more frequently, but centers around banking and finance a bit more. Here, it actually pays to deposit money into the bank before the end of the game, as interest will accumulate and help the player in the long run. The more you add, the faster the total will build and if the player needs a quick infusion of cash for the purchase, it's fun to see what's accumulated since their last deposit.

Dope Wars is a 168 KB download and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run.

It's becoming an unspoken rule in the Mac universe that everything can be made into a cool Widget application and Dope Wars Widget helps prove this. Perhaps the simplest version of Dope Wars on any platform, Dope Wars Widget uses a mouse-only interface that allows the player to select the amounts they wish to buy and sell via arrows as well as move throughout New York using the same method.

Dope Wars Widget is available as a free 258 KB download and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. Still in the beta stages, this should be one to watch as it nears version 1.0.

Grog-Addled Amusement: Battlefield Pirates
Sometimes it's right in front of your face and you never quite realize it. The perfect thing, or combination, whatever you're looking for, may be about to pass you by. And for some, this means true love, the person of your dreams.

In this case, I'm referring to pirates after first person shooters.

Completely unexpected but entirely fun, Battlefield Pirates by Scurvy Cove Productions is a pirate-themed total conversion for Battlefield 1942. Currently in version 3.1, this is a top to bottom home-brewed revision of one of the best first-person shooter/strategy games ever created for the Mac.

A 291 MB download by way of the good folks at macologist.org, the mod features entirely new vehicles, weapons, maps, scenery, items and revised physics designed to fit into a pirate-themed world. Spawn in as one of two rival pirate clans and you'll find yourself contending with an entirely new arsenal. Gone are machine guns and grenades, in their place you'll find cutlasses, muskets, bombs and cannons which can be deployed at will. Tanks and planes have given over to light galleons and hot air balloons while the role of heavy artillery has been supplanted by groups of cannons that have been lashed together to create a machine gun firing effect.


A ship cruises by a fallen opponent in Battlefield Pirates.

While the pirate theme only applies to loose icons, progress bars, revised dialog boxes and certain sound effects in Battlefield 1942's single player mode, join a server running the Pirates mod (these are easily distinguished via a small skull symbol by the server name in the multiplayer browser) and the mod begins to show its true worth.


An undead captain sails his crew into battle.

In the multiplayer mode, literally everything is wrapped around the pirate theme and clever touches like distinctive pirate voices ("Arrr, they've stolen our booty!"), health refill stations identified by flagons of rum, Caribbean maps, wooden legs and cannon icons to represent the remaining armor on a vehicle complete the motif.

Battlefield Pirates installs easily into Mac OS X and includes a file called "Pirates Launcher", which can be searched for and placed into the Dock for easy access. In a pinch, the mod can be launched by joining a server running the modification (these are marked by skull icons in the multiplayer browser, as mentioned before) and the computer will proceed to load the mod.

Battlefield Pirates is completely free and while not as well-hyped as other mods (such as Desert Combat), amazingly fun, especially in that it refuses to take itself seriously yet demonstrates a level of technical excellence that can't help but be noticed. The mod requires any Mac capable of running Battlefield 1942, which demands Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, an 867 MHz G4 processor, 256 MB of RAM, a video card with 32 MB of VRAM and a DVD-ROM drive to run. Battlefield 1942 is currently sold by Aspyr and retails for $39.99 by way of their amazon.com Web store.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new or cool in the Mac world, please let me know.

Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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