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How to sync your Colonization save game on a Mac

I just got stuck into Civ IV: Colonization for Mac after it was on sale on Steam (although it’s also available on the Mac App Store if you prefer), and I’m rather enjoying it. However, I’d like to not necessarily be tied to my iMac in the study, lovely as it is. Sometimes you just want to grab a laptop and hunker down on the sofa next to your loved one who insists on spending the day watching guff on Netflix… 😉 Here’s how to roll your own syncing solution for free using Dropbox.

I just got stuck into Civ IV: Colonization for Mac after it was on sale on Steam (although it’s also available on the Mac App Store if you prefer), and I’m rather enjoying it. I’ve got Civ IV and V and they’re great games but I’m not very good at them and I’m really enjoying the smaller scale and more focussed victory conditions of Colonization. However, I’d like to not necessarily be tied to my iMac in the study, lovely as it is. Sometimes you just want to grab a laptop and hunker down on the sofa next to your loved one who insists on spending the day watching guff on Netflix… 😉

Unfortunately Colonization doesn’t support SteamCloud for savegame syncing. Dropbox to the rescue! If you’ve seen my guide to syncing XCOM save games using Dropbox this is pretty much the same deal, but if you’re new to this, read on.

(By the way if you’re trying to achieve this on a PC I’m not sure how symbolic links work on PC, but if you can work that out the principles are the same.)

Dropbox and symbolic links

First you’ll need a Dropbox account. It’s free and it’s awesome, and if you don’t already have an account use my links to sign up and we’ll both get some bonus space, which is nice!

Next up you’ll need to get ready to use symbolic links. In short, when you move a file from one place to another you can leave a little ‘map’ (a symbolic link, or symlink) in the original location that seamlessly redirects the operating system to the new location as if nothing had moved. You can read more about how symlinks work in my post here, and when you’re ready to set up the service you can get instructions from here. It’s also possible to leave a symlink behind using Terminal, but the symlink tool is sooo much easier!

Got those set up? Nice, here we go:

Move the Colonization saves to Dropbox

On a Mac you’ll find them in the User -> Documents -> Aspyr -> Colonization folder. Note that while all we really need is the Saves folder, it’s much easier to work with the entire Colonization folder.

sync colonization saves mac

Grab the folder and move it on your hard drive to your Dropbox folder. To keep things in some sense of order I have a ‘Documents’ folder in Dropbox, so I created an ‘Aspyr’ folder in there and moved my original ‘Colonization’ folder there, so it now resides in User -> Dropbox -> Documents -> Aspyr -> Colonization.

Create the symbolic link

Now we need to tell the computer (and the game) where to find the folder since we moved it. Select the ‘Colonization’ folder in it’s new location, right-click and select ‘Make symbolic link’. It will create a new file called ‘Colonization symlink’ – it’s actually an Alias, as depicted by the small curly arrow on the icon.

sync savesgames colonization mac

Now move that symlink back to the original location, so Users -> Documents -> Aspyr. Once there, edit the filename to remove the ‘symlink’ element. Now wait for Dropbox to update the folder to your other computer.

Tell your other Macs about the new location

Now you need to tell your other Mac about the synced savegames. Find the newly-synced Colonization folder in your Dropbox on the other Mac and create a new symlink to it as before, then move that symlink into that computer’s Documents -> Aspyr location described above, delete or rename the one that’s already there (assuming there are no saves in there you want to keep!), and rename the symlink to just ‘Colonization’ again.

All done!

Now you should now be able to save a game on one Mac, quit the game, launch it on another Mac a few moments later (after Dropbox syncs) and fire up that same save.

A couple of words of warning – don’t run Colonization on more than one synced Mac at the same time or when you come to save it will get very confused and not know which updates to sync, which to load, and it gets messy. Secondly, if you decide to move the ‘Colonization’ folder inside Dropbox for some reason, be sure to create new symlinks in the new location and replace the old ones so the game doesn’t get lost!

Hope this helps – happy colonising! (I’m British, we use an ‘s’…)

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By myglasseye

I'm a Glasgow-born stills photographer and camera operator living and working in London, UK. As well as cameras I'm into writing, gaming, general geekery and beers by Brew Dog.

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