Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Workaround for Lego Star Wars install bug

I really dislike buying desktop computer games. The software quality is poor, and the vendor support is lousy.

Unfortunately my 9yo prefers Mac games to Wii games, so when he's earned a big incentive for overcoming a real challenge, we end up with another OS X game.

It's just as well there are so few of them.

The latest problem came with Aspyr's Lego Star Wars (DVD) (Mac) (2005). After I'd installed it my son couldn't play. It started up oddly, with a long video loop. A key press produced a gray screen, then the loop resumed. Finally it crashed.

So what was the problem? There's nothing like this on the Aspyr site and the only update patch is a long delayed and apparently troublesome fix supporting native execution on Intel Macs.

I suspected a security/privileges bug. Game vendors, who usually outsource development to very junior engineers in international markets, rarely bother with security models. They build to the usual XP assumption (everyone runs as admin) then port the game to OS X.

Sure enough, from my admin account the game worked. I suspect the game tries to write to the Application folder. That's a no-no. Non-admin users on my system, including my usual account, don't have write privileges in the global Application folder.

I could have reinstalled to the user-specific application folder, but then the other kid accounts on the family machine would need their own installs. Since Leopard gives more control over permissions, I could have installed in a folder that everyone could write to.

In our case though I have an external drive with open space. OS X doesn't enforce permissions on external drives, so after installing there everyone could use it.

Shame on Aspyr for building a crummy application, and double-shame for not documenting the problem and a workaround.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I got it to install and it ran. BUT (big BUT): when I then quit the game and went back to using my computer for normal things, the displays and controls were MESSED UP. Examples: heavy-lined box around active screen areas, volume up key on keyboard makes dashboard appear (no effect on volume), volume down minimizes the active window (no effect on volume), Apple pull down has TWO "Shutdowns" and TWO "Restarts" (seems like there's two computers running?). That's what I've found so far. I trashed all the software that I installed (I think). No help. No help on the ASPYR website (they clearly have a LOT of impression is that they write poor, unverified software--I'll never buy again). Apple says "call ASPYR" (even though I bought the darn game at an Apple Store.

HELP!!! I've reinstalled MAC OS X 10.5, no joy. So, now I don't have a game or a working computer. Yeesh. If you can help, please respond directly to