Easy on bandwidth computer games
January 21, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions requested for computer games that will keep me engaged. Infrastructural limitations and preferences in more detail after the jump.

I like playing Age of Empires (or Civilization 3) against the computer at the easy to moderate levels for a couple of hours of relaxation. I don't have access to my desktop or a CD Rom drive while I am here in Kenya until April. While I have a cable internet connection at this service apartment I don't know what I can download or what speeds it might offer - its iffy. Hence I hesitate to consider purchase.

So, I'm seeking some suggestions for what I can play and where and how given these constraints. I have a netbook with about 500 MB Ram (half gig), no CD/DVD player and a reasonable amount of space with Windows XP Lite.

Something like the city building (not SIMs) and strategy aspects of Civ or AoE would be nice but I wouldn't mind suggestions to complex solitaire suites (KDE Patience is nice but I don't have my linux machine here either).

Also, found this old AskMe from 2008 and would appreciate knowing what might be relevant or still online since then.

I'm getting heartily sick of M$ Solitaire.

Please hope me.
posted by infini to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ahem, link to the old AskMe from 2008
posted by infini at 11:29 AM on January 21, 2012

Not having a CD/DVD player isn't a major problem as long as you have the game as a bin/iso file. Then it's just a matter of using Virtual CloneDrive to simulate a cd/dvd driver.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:36 AM on January 21, 2012

Are you familiar with FreeCiv? Open source / fan game and its age means it should work well on smaller hardware. Lots of varieties of Civilization games inside. 20 meg download.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is widely considered the best Civilization game ever made, despite its unusual space / terraforming theme. You can buy a legitimate copy for $6 on gog.com.

If you want something like Age of Empires, Rise of Nations is my favorite RTS game of all time. I'm not sure where to find a legitimate copy; it's not on gog.com.
posted by Nelson at 11:48 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

On gog.com for a small amount of money you can get Master of Magic and Master of Orion 1/2 too. Those have been always great fun for when I want to play some strategy on easy difficulty for a couple hours relaxation, and are pretty small in download size.
posted by Iosephus at 11:56 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I will check out FreeCiv, I did not know about it. Alpha Centauri - I have so many copies on different machines but the newer versions don't keep me engaged enough and you can never quite build the shuttle (at least I couldn't ;p) Thank you Nelson

I will check out gog.com as well - I did download 20MB yesterday so I think that should be doable.

Foci - could you please translate that into plain English for me, please? I'm curious to know more
posted by infini at 12:04 PM on January 21, 2012

Battle for Wesnoth is a fun. free turn-based tactics game. Looks like it would be a little less than 300MB download with all the maps and such.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:08 PM on January 21, 2012

w/r/t to Foci's suggestion, unfortunately, this usually only applies pirated games. You can download an exact copy of the CD/DVD in a file format (iso, bin, etc) that is capable of being "mounted." You need some software like Alcohol to do this, but in the end, you can trick your computer into thinking it's running a CD-ROM drive off of a file on your hard drive.

Again, probably only applies to pirated games (though maybe if you have a tech savvy friend, they can burn a copy of their fave game and email the file to you to run off your hard drive).
posted by jng at 12:35 PM on January 21, 2012

Go (semi) old-school: Settlers II Gold.

Also, I've never used it, but this MyAbandonware website looks like a treasure mine, especially for games that don't have massive file sizes. Beware of malware though (it seems legit enough though).
posted by jng at 12:39 PM on January 21, 2012

The learning curve is a bit steep, but Master of Magic is a superb game which has consumed all my spare time for at least a year since I got it again.

You can get it from Good Old Games for six bucks.

Basically, it's "Civilization" except with magic -- and the magic is awesome.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:19 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a number of us on MeFight club who are old XCom fans - Cortex even has a creative writing project based on a playthrough. It's mostly turn based squad level "defend the Earth from alien invaders" game with a smattering of R&D and strategic operations, so not exactly the genre you describe, but it's old enough that it should run on anything these days. It's available on steam for $5 and shouldn't be a very big download.

If this interests you, the one you want is "X-com: UFO Defence" and possibly "Terror from the Deep". The others seem more like their cashing in on the franchise.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just looked and the abandonware site has X-com as well. Pros - free. Cons - you have to screw with some level of emulation to deal with changes in a modern OS vs. Windows 95 (or was it 3.1?).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:38 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heroes of Might and Magic 3.
posted by Jacen at 6:38 PM on January 21, 2012

Kid Charlemagne, for X-COM you use DOSBox.

Master of Orion and Master of Magic also require it, but when you get those from GOG, the installer installs DOSBox along with the games.

X-COM Terror from the Deep was a waste of time. The original X-COM is the only one really worth playing.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:14 PM on January 21, 2012

Why not try Dwarf Fortress? Bwahahahahaha

posted by Bwithh at 10:27 PM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

OpenTTD should be up your alley. Don't let the old school graphics mislead you, it's worth trying.
posted by vanar sena at 10:41 PM on January 21, 2012

So, I did download the FreeCiv that Nelson suggested - just under 20MB and it came down without a hitch. Struggled with unlearning all the mouse commands and cramped map (did I mention 9" screen?) but it felt a bit like comfort food, just made with some unfamiliar ingredients. Old schoolish graphics there as well!

I will not risk the 300MB type downloads, particularly not if I have to pay for them - while it looks as though this internet connection is unlimited, my previous place had capped the size of downloads and also blocked bandwidth heavy sites like Tumblr, Flickr etc I'd hate to discover halfway through downloading that there's some arbitrary cap of 50MB or some such. But I'll play around with stuff and identify what I want to try then can go to a high speed cyber cafe for the downloads.


There's less room for experimentation than I imagined. Lets see what I find today - I have another few days to find things before I'm out with just the laptop for company after working hours in subsistence farmland.
posted by infini at 11:29 PM on January 21, 2012

Will Alpha Centauri (as seen on Gog) work on XP Lite and half a gig of ram? (tempted to go to cyber cafe today)
posted by infini at 11:32 PM on January 21, 2012

It will.
posted by vanar sena at 12:17 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I shall return only after successful implementation and then proceed to mark you all best answer :) Or I could just start drinking Tusker with the local farmers
posted by infini at 12:37 AM on January 22, 2012

Master of Magic is less than 20 MB, including all the manual downloads.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:45 PM on January 23, 2012

Ok will try that. - do you know if the Master of Magic needs an internet connection to be played once its been downloaded?

I have been enjoying figuring out freeCiv but realized today that its connected to a server of some sort and that may not make it viable once I'm away from this cable connection.

My colleagues have been cautious about downloading the 300MB stuff (especially if linked to payment first) as there is no recourse if the connection blips halfway through the download.
posted by infini at 1:57 AM on January 24, 2012

When Master of Magic originally came out, the Internet was new and not very many people were using it. Master of Magic has no online validation and doesn't have a network-play mode.

That's also true for Master of Orion, which is from the same development group.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:12 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I should mention that Master of Orion uses "look-up-the-space-ship" validation. It shows you a ship and you have to choose the name from a list of ten. Originally the pictures were in the manual, but GOG included a PDF file which contains most (but not all!) of the ones used.

Master of Magic has nothing like that. Simtex realized that it was pointless.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2012

mathowie's automated email reminded me to close this up - so here's how its been:

I downloaded FreeCiv and haven't really downloaded anything else

It works without internet, was easy to download and while I still haven't figured it out (I can't play peaceful as they keep trying to kill me all the time) at least it kept me from going crazy in small market towns in upcountry Kenya.

So yes, resolved the problem stated and a big thank you to you all. (For lots of stuff to try when I'm back home :)
posted by infini at 12:18 PM on February 20, 2012

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