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Building a Retro Linux Gaming Computer Part 30: Imperial Purple

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Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

Continued from Part 29: The Odyssey

War! Age of Imperialism was in the first instance a board game, designed by Glenn Drover of Eagle Games. Players assume the role of a colonial empire intent on subjugating the rest of the world. Having an established ruleset left a solid foundation for one-man band Donohoe Digital to work with, not to mention a wealth of graphics assets in the form of a game board drawn by prolific illustrator Paul E. Niemeyer, as well as the indvidual game pieces themselves.

The Linux version of the game was sold directly by Donohoe Digital from their website starting in December 2003 up until the bankruptcy of Eagle Games, with Donohoe Digital themselves ceasing operations in 2015. That website does remain online today, and it even still hosts both the war-demo.bin.gz trial installer, as well as the war-aoi-1-3.bin.gz installer for those who had previously purchased the game. This is not kept behind a paywall, but a valid activation key is required.

Thankfully second hand boxed copies of War! Age of Imperialism for Windows and Mac can still be found, and the activation keys included therein are compatible with the Linux version of the game. Or at least they would be, if not for the fact that the activation key server seems to have been taken down. I thought this might be another dead end like Marble Blast Gold proved to be, but I eventually discovered a way to get around the key check.

Simply blank the "settings.online.server" line found in the client.properties configuration file, and then try to activate your key. The window will stop responding, but upon killing the process and launching the game again, the key will be accepted. This of course is a violation of the license agreement, but I am not going to lose any sleep over it. Donohoe Digital's other DD Poker title was made freeware before the studio's closure, so I doubt Doug Donohoe himself wants to see his games dead.

The setup uses the Java based InstallAnywhere package by Zero G Software, an alternative graphical installer to the traditional Loki Setup tool which is rather spiffy and is still being sold to this day. War! Age of Imperialism is also written in Java, much like the Risk inspired Aevum Obscurum and the Lux series of games which were its contemporaries. Coverage at the time directed much praise to the game's artificial intelligence, which does make for a canny computer opponent.

 

In fact, the first game I managed to win was only accomplished by my expanding outwards from Central Asia, holding Persia up to the Urals. This meant that I could concentrate all of my military forces at one of the narrowest points on the map, split among just the three provinces, while also ensuring that my rival would become bottled up in the Far East. I was then able to send forth Explorers to entice all of Europe and Africa to my empire, while my rival floundered taking the rest of the Steppe.

I had selected the house rule that dissuades the computer from investing in a navy in the early game, so we both had ships in the water by the time we had our sights set on the islands of Southeast Asia and Australia. They met in the Timor Sea, with the ship carrying my brave Explorers being sent to the bottom of the ocean in a sneak attack. Of course you know, this means war! The sound actually cut out then after several hours of play, muffling the climatic battles that followed.

My second successful attempt had me take a similar strategy by holding Palestine, with my navy blockading the computer to hold them to just their African heartland. The artificial intelligence still managed to impress, as after starting my invasion the computer executed a successful feigned retreat, baiting me to keep advancing forward and creating the conditions ripe for a potential encirclement. Only by not taking the bait and pulling back did I ward off heavy losses.

The game still has a much greater degree of complexity on offer, as so far I have just been playing with weak natives who do not revolt or need westernization, and with technological discoveries and purchases disabled. One rule that I will insist on using going forward is "Empty Region Worth 5 PP", as otherwise you can end up paralyzed despite holding territory. It is also odd that by default the game asks you to roll the dice for computer players, but this can be changed with the "Quick AI" settings.

My Pentium III 500 Mhz just barely meets the minimum system requirements for War! Age of Imperialism, and the game does indeed chug on the hardware, but being turn based this never proved to be much of an issue. It also spontaneously quit on me at one point, although I did not mind too much as the only thing distancing me from my last save was a number of unfortunate dice rolls. War! Age of Imperialism is well worth taking a punt on, if you can get past the key check.

Carrying on in Part 31: The Fear of Loss

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving 

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial, Misc, Retro
12 Likes
About the author -
author picture
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, cattle rancher, shepherd, and beekeeper living in rural Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free native Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and further information can be found at his icculus.org homepage where he lists everything he is currently involved in: http://icculus.org/~hamish
See more from me
11 comments
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Hamish Jul 11, 2023
Again, the usual bevy of links can now be found at the dedicated Building a Retro Linux Gaming Computer website:
https://icculus.org/~hamish/retro/part30.html

In fact, I have been going on a bit of a spree finding old Linux gaming coverage on the Wayback Machine and then adding additional links to the previous parts, so be sure to check those out if interested. Lots of period reviews and articles to be found there.

You can now also browse by featured games or topics from the index:
https://icculus.org/~hamish/retro/index.html
gbudny Jul 11, 2023
Thank you for the article.

I have never played it. I'm not even sure if I read about it. The title of the game sounds vaguely familiar, which is weird.

Where did you find it?

I don't see it on happypenguin.org, but it's a game from 2003.

It looks interesting, and we can still run it because you found this hack.
Hamish Jul 11, 2023
Quoting: gbudnyWhere did you find it?
It was actually stumbling across an eBay listing for Tournament Poker 2005: No Limit Texas Hold 'Em which was a retail variant of DD Poker that led me to Donohoe Digital that led me to War! Age of Imperialism.

Pretty sure only the Windows and Mac versions were actually included on that poker disc, not that it matters since DD Poker is a freeware game now.
gbudny Jul 12, 2023
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: gbudnyWhere did you find it?
It was actually stumbling across an eBay listing for Tournament Poker 2005: No Limit Texas Hold 'Em which was a retail variant of DD Poker that led me to Donohoe Digital that led me to War! Age of Imperialism.

Pretty sure only the Windows and Mac versions were actually included on that poker disc, not that it matters since DD Poker is a freeware game now.

Thank you for the answer.

MobyGames mentions the Linux version of this game. I don't know if this information is correct:

https://www.mobygames.com/game/172494/dd-tournament-poker-2005-no-limit-texas-holdem-collectors-editio/

I see it on their website, but it's hard to say if it was included on the CD with the game.
Hamish Jul 12, 2023
Quoting: gbudnyI see it on their website, but it's hard to say if it was included on the CD with the game.
Looking at more eBay listings it seems that the boxes that were published by Eagle Games (including the Annie Duke endorsed "Collector’s Edition") just have the Windows and Mac version on the disc, although I suspect the activation keys would also work on Linux, but a later "Tournament Edition" distributed by Encore (and endorsed this time by Phil Gordon) does actually mention Linux directly on the box.

Does this mean I have to learn how to play poker now?
gbudny Jul 12, 2023
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: gbudnyI see it on their website, but it's hard to say if it was included on the CD with the game.
Looking at more eBay listings it seems that the boxes that were published by Eagle Games (including the Annie Duke endorsed "Collector’s Edition") just have the Windows and Mac version on the disc, although I suspect the activation keys would also work on Linux, but a later "Tournament Edition" distributed by Encore (and endorsed this time by Phil Gordon) does actually mention Linux directly on the box.

I don't like when companies remove the Linux version from the disk.

Quoting: HamishDoes this mean I have to learn how to play poker now?

Maybe.

Reel Deal Slots contains so many games that you can find in a casino. I think it will be more challenging than this Poker game.

It was so weird when I started Reel Deal Slots for the first time, and I had so many games to play.


Last edited by gbudny on 12 July 2023 at 1:18 am UTC
StoneColdSpider Jul 12, 2023
Awesome article as always Hamish.....
gbudny Jul 14, 2023
These activation keys that require a server connection are annoying and make some games useless. On the other hand, it probably won't be an issue if you have a backup of the hidden folder from the activated game.

I hate when companies abandon games and don't sort these out issues with the activation.

Developers of Tribal Trouble had done it properly when they decided to release a file with a key for their game. Unfortunately, they didn't do anything with Tribal trouble 2, which you could play only in a web browser, which is a shame.
Hamish Jul 15, 2023
Quoting: gbudnyThese activation keys that require a server connection are annoying and make some games useless. On the other hand, it probably won't be an issue if you have a backup of the hidden folder from the activated game.
Sadly in the case of the Ignition DRM that was included with Marble Blast Gold not even that may be an option, as it also ties itself to your specific hardware configuration.
gbudny Jul 15, 2023
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: gbudnyThese activation keys that require a server connection are annoying and make some games useless. On the other hand, it probably won't be an issue if you have a backup of the hidden folder from the activated game.
Sadly in the case of the Ignition DRM that was included with Marble Blast Gold not even that may be an option, as it also ties itself to your specific hardware configuration.

That is terrible. I hope that would work with Marble Blast Gold if you could use the hidden folder with the exact PC configuration (not the same computer).

Does it check only your motherboard or more hardware in your PC?
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