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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Achieving Escape Velocity on macOS Sierra

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

A formative part of my youth was spent flying a spaceship between planets, buying and selling commodities at hopefully profitable margins, and avoiding the attention of space pirates.1

We’re talking the classic Mac game Escape Velocity, of course.

I’ve been thinking about re-installing the game for a few weeks now, in preparation for my lengthy plane trip. However, when I followed the advice of Simple Beep’s Ed Cormany for installing and running not only EV Nova, the last installment in the series, but its two predecessors, I discovered another problem: though EV Nova would launch, soon after the screen faded to black, it would simply quit. A couple of corroborating reports suggested that the issue was an incompatibility with El Capitan and Sierra.

A little digging through the Twitter feed of Escape Velocity developer Ambrosia Software–who has publicly said that there’s no plan to update the fourteen-year-old game–pointed me in the direction of the software company’s forums, where some intrepid folks had not only located the reason the game crashed, but also created a patch for it. After running the Apple Script provided by one of the posters, I can report that EV Nova is now once again fully armed and operational.

It’s probably too much to hope for an Escape Velocity 4 making its appearance on the Mac or iOS, preferably with some sort of multiplayer component, but I’m sharing these instructions on the off chance that some enthusiastic developer might find themselves immersed in the same nostalgia for interstellar commerce and combat. (There is, I will note, a spiritual successor in the form of the open-source Endless Sky if you’re looking to re-live those glory days.)

  1. I also spent a surprising amount of time in ResEdit creating hacks and expansions for the game, which, let’s be honest, mainly involved different versions of the same ships but with new colors. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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