Author Topic: Instructions for manually installing FreeSpace Open and mods (Mac OS X)  (Read 176521 times)

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Offline jg18

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Instructions for manually installing FreeSpace Open and mods (Mac OS X)
This installation method is the one where you download everything yourself and then put things where they should go. It may sound scary, but it really isn't.

These instructions are for Mac OS X only.

If you use Windows or Linux, please see the other installation methods:


If you don't have FreeSpace 2, get it from Good Old Games (GOG).

The instructions in orange are required. Everything else is optional.

Step 1) Install FS2
Since FreeSpace 2 is a Windows game, you'll need to install it in a Windows or Windows-like environment. If you have access to a Windows machine or to a virtual machine (VM) running Windows, you can use that.
Otherwise, you can install FS2 using a free trial version of CrossOver Games, a program that allows you to run Windows games on Mac OS X. See the notes at the end for more about using CrossOver Games.

In all cases, I recommend installing FS2 to the directory C:\Games\FreeSpace2\.
After you've installed FS2, copy the entire FreeSpace2 folder to your location of choice.
I strongly recommend copying it to your Applications folder, resulting in the path Macintosh HD/Applications/FreeSpace2/ (or /Applications/FreeSpace2/ for short).
Be sure to uninstall FS2 from Windows (or delete the FS2 bottle if you're using CrossOver Games) after you've copied the folder.

Step 2) Get OpenAL
Mac OS X includes OpenAL, so you can skip this step. Yay.

Step 3) Get the latest official FSO build and a launcher
Get the 3.7.4 Final build from the release thread.
Copy the .app files inside the .dmg download to your FreeSpace2 folder.

If you want to try a more recent but possibly unstable build called a "nightly build," see the notes at the end.

For a launcher, get wxLauncher, unless you're running OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or using a PowerPC Mac, in which case you should first follow Step 4 below and then see the FreeSpace Wiki for setup instructions using Soulstorm's launcher.

In general, the FSO builds are the only things that should ever be added to the "root" FS2 folder unless otherwise mentioned, although you can also put the launcher there if you want.

Step 4) Move the cutscenes to /FreeSpace2/data/movies/
If you have the GOG version of FS2, move the .mve files (which are the cutscenes) from /FreeSpace2/data2/ and /FreeSpace2/data3/ to /FreeSpace2/data/movies/ .
After doing that, delete the /FreeSpace2/data2/ and /FreeSpace2/data3/ folders and any files left in them.

The non-.mve files in those two folders are unnecessary and can even cause problems.
Want to save a little disk space with the cutscenes? See the notes at the end.

Step 5) Set things up
1. Open the wxLauncher .dmg file and put the launcher .app wherever you want, then open it.
2. Open the Basic Settings page and select the location of your FreeSpace2 folder (/Applications/FreeSpace2/).
3. Select your FSO executable (or build), which you downloaded in Step 3.
Choose an executable that doesn't have the word "Debug" in the name, such as "FreeSpace 2 Open 3.6.18".

If you got a nightly build (see the notes at the end for a description), select the build that doesn't have "Debug" in the name, such as "FreeSpace 2 Open Build 7611".
Want to know what "Debug" means? See the notes at the end.
4. Change any settings on the Basic Settings page if you like.
If you want to use the checkboxes (list of flags) on the Advanced Settings page, this page describes what they mean.

If you don't want to download another 500 MB for the graphical enhancements right now, then just go and play using the retail assets and effects. Otherwise, continue to Step 6.

Step 6) Get the MediaVPs (recommended)
If you want FS2 to look its prettiest, download the MediaVPs, which are a compilation of graphical enhancements, including high-poly models, improved textures, and new effects.
Most mods require the 2014 MediaVPs, but some older mods might only work with the 3.6.12 MediaVPs.
The launcher flags (or features) mentioned in the MediaVPs' instructions can be found on the launcher's Advanced Settings page.
After you're done following the MediaVPs' instructions, you might want to look at some sample lighting settings.

Hurray! You have now successfully installed FreeSpace Open.
NOW GO AND PLAY! :) You can read the rest later if you want.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 02:57:11 pm by Mongoose »


Offline jg18

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Re: Instructions for manually installing FreeSpace Open and mods (Mac OS X)

To update FSO, the launcher, or the MediaVPs:
  • To install new FSO builds, just put the new builds in /FreeSpace2/ and use the launcher to select the build you want to use. You can remove old builds, but leaving them won't cause any problems, since you can only run one build at a time. The other builds won't do anything during that time.
  • To install a new launcher, simply replace the existing launcher with the new one. Fun 'n easy.
  • To install new MediaVPs, find the latest MediaVPs' release thread (which should be stickied in the FreeSpace Upgrade forum) and follow the instructions there.

Installing mods
Note: Before installing mods, download Keka, which is a free program that will allow you to open the .7z and .rar file types that many mods use for their downloads.

Installing mods is very much like installing the MediaVPs. Any recent mod should have accurate installation instructions in its release thread, but if this is not the case, or if you run into problems, you can always follow the instructions below.
  • Create a subfolder /FreeSpace2/<mod name>/ for the mod. For example, if you want to install the excellent Wings of Dawn, create the folder "/FreeSpace2/Wings of Dawn/".
  • Download the mod files from the release thread, which in this example is here.
  • If the downloaded files are .zip, .rar, or .7z files, then open them with Keka: after you move to your Applications folder, right-click (or Ctrl-Click) each downloaded file, then select Open With and then Open the folder that Keka creates and copy the files in it to the mod subfolder you made.
  • If the downloaded files are any other kind of file, then just move them to the mod subfolder you made.
  • Put the mod in /FreeSpace2/<mod name>/ , or in this example, /FreeSpace2/Wings of Dawn/ .
  • Open the launcher and select the mod on the Mods page, in the same way you did with the MediaVPs in step 6.

Important: To keep your pilot files from getting corrupted, create a new pilot for every mod that you play. At the first menu that appears when you start FSO, either create a new pilot or clone an existing one. Cloning a pilot copies the pilot's settings (including key bindings) but not its stats.

Also important: When you start the game, go to the campaign room and select the mod's campaign (in this example, the Wings of Dawn campaign), because the main FS2 campaign is selected by default.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 08:12:21 pm by jg18 »


Offline jg18

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Re: Instructions for manually installing FreeSpace Open and mods (Mac OS X)

Everything in this section is optional.

If you need to install FreeSpace 2 using CrossOver Games
[Tested using CrossOver Games version 10.2.1]
  • After downloading a free trial of CrossOver Games, open CrossOver, click on "Try Now" and then select "Install Windows Software", which will bring up the CrossOver Software Installer.
  • Under "Select an application to install", type "other application" (without the quotes) into the search box at the top of the window, and then select "Other Application" from the list.
  • Under "Select an installer", click on "Choose Installer File..." and then find the FreeSpace 2 installer on your system.
  • Under "Will install into a new winxp bottle", make sure that "New winxp Bottle..." is selected, then under "New Bottle Name:" type FS2 , then finally click on the Install button on the lower-right.
  • Once the FS2 installer starts, change the installer options to install to C:\Games\FreeSpace2 , then start the installation.
  • After the FS2 installer finishes, exit the installer and quit CrossOver Games.
  • Now copy the entire FreeSpace2 folder to your Applications folder. You can find the FreeSpace2 folder at
    Macintosh HD/Users/<Your Username>/Library/Application Support/CrossOver Games/Bottles/FS2/drive_c/Games/FreeSpace2

    Lion users: To find the Library folder in Finder, hold down the Option key while clicking on the Go menu at the top of the screen and then selecting the Library folder option in the dropdown menu.
  • Finally, open CrossOver Games again, click on "Manage Bottles..." under the Configure menu at the top of the screen, and then delete the FS2 bottle by clicking on the - button on the lower-left.

Nightly builds
If you want to try the Source Code Project's latest version of FreeSpace Open, grab the latest nightly build from the nightly builds board. Copy the .app files inside the .dmg download to your FreeSpace2 folder. The most recent versions of FSO might have new features, bug fixes, or even improved performance, but they might also have new bugs.

Saving a little space with the cutscenes
Download the cutscenes in .ogg format, put them in /FreeSpace2/data/movies/, and either delete the .mve files or move them to somewhere else. Note that the .ogg cutscenes only work with FSO; retail FS2 requires the .mve files.

FSO build differences (or what "Debug" means)
When viewing the builds in your /FreeSpace2/ folder, you'll notice that there always seems to be a pair of builds, with maybe a difference of a few characters between them. If the file name contains the word "Debug", it means that that build is a "debug" build (for example, "FreeSpace 2 Open 3.6.18 Debug"). Debug builds are used for generating debug logs (called fs2_open.log) when you run into problems using FSO. They are NOT meant for casual playing. Also, contrary to popular belief, debug builds do NOT magically solve whatever problem you're facing.

The builds that are not debug builds are "release" builds. Release builds don't have "debug" in their names (for example, "FreeSpace 2 Open 3.6.18"). Release builds are the ones that you should be using if all you want to do is play the game. So unless you need to generate a debug log, go for a "release" build, NOT a debug build.

Thanks to Fineus and Jeff Vader for writing an earlier version of these instructions.
Special thanks to swashmebuckle for his help with writing this version.
Thanks also to jg18's brother for testing the CrossOver Games method for installing FS2.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 03:05:20 pm by jg18 »