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Thursday, June 29, 2000

NVIDIA and the Mac: The Real Scoop
10:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Over the past year, rumors that graphics card maker NVIDIA might enter the Mac market have been whispered around the community, often with a hopeful gleam in the eye. NVIDIA currently produces what are considered the best cards of the PC market. The GeForce (and its variants) has reigned supreme over the benchmark tests for some time now, unrivaled even by 3dfx's latest Voodoo5 5500 in raw rendering speed tests. Mac support for this chipset is hindered by several hardware issues, as well as the fact that only AGP cards with NVIDIA chips are commonly produced. Since only the most recent generations of G4 Macs have AGP slots, this a small segment of the Mac market right now, and perhaps not worth the investment; indeed, 3Dfx has chosen PCI as the configuration for their new Mac cards.

NVIDIA recently released the specs for a smaller, 'lightweight' version of their popular GeForce 2 3D cards, which is known as the GeForce 2MX. The 2MX will be much cheaper (under $150) and features several unique features, such as support for multiple video displays with a single card, making it a great candidate for Mac support. The recent press release for these chips notes the Mac is a designated platform:

"In addition to the mainstream PC market, the GeForce2 MX will also set the stage for our entry into the commercial workstation, Mac, and mobile markets. These markets have been demanding NVIDIA's brand of graphics and multimedia for some time. We are excited to expand the reach of GeForce into these exciting areas."

IMG's Editor-in-Chief, Tuncer Deniz recently visited the NVIDIA headquarters and confirms this good news for the Mac platform. NVIDIA will also be contracting out with a third-party manufacturer specifically for the Mac version of the cards, though we're not allowed to say whom at this point. The plan right now is to have both PCI and AGP versions of the cards available, so those with older systems can also participate in the excitement. While rumors have also noted NVIDIA might have a booth at this years MacWorld New York expo, we can confirm that they will not be exhibiting at the show.

A number of PC hardware sites have taken a close look at the 2MX chip, so check these previews out if you're looking to learn more. It seems this chip is easily able to keep up with 3dfx's latest offerings - and NVIDIA is known for shipping their cards on time. Stay tuned to IMG, as the revelations about NVIDIA's plans for the Mac continue. And be sure to visit our Forums and share your reaction to a future filled with next-generation video hardware finally making it to the Mac platform.

Sharky Extreme Preview
nVidia GeForce 2MX PR
IMG Forums: NVIDIA on Mac

Click to enlarge
MGF Hosts the Tomb Raider IV Demo!
5:45 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our sister site MacGameFiles has scored quite a find - The Mac demo of Eidos' Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation. This latest installment in the Tomb Raider series has been brought to the Mac OS by Aspyr Media and Westlake Interactive.

Here are details on this game and its demo, from MGF:

Enemies, old and new, lurk at every turn, as Lara must overcome ingenious puzzles, the most infernal traps ever devised, and evil from beyond the grave. Experience heart-stopping action in your quest to guide Lara through her dazzling Egyptian adventure.

• Epic Storyline: Follow Lara back to Egypt where she returns to her roots, both in gameplay and storyline.

• State of the art graphics: single skin technology allows a smoother character model with no split elbow and knees; bump-mapping brings 3D textures to life.

• Completely new puzzle types based on new moves and inventory development.

• Inventory based management system allows players to control and combine content of inventory without leaving the game world.



• MacOS 8.1 or later
• 233 MHz or faster
• 32 MB memory
• 4X CD-ROM Drive
• Hardware 3D acceleration required (ATi Rage Pro, VooDoo 1 or better)


Jump to MacGameFiles and grab this 9.4 MB demo right away! And for more information on this title, read our in-depth preview and watch for a full review very soon.

IMG's Tomb Raider: TLR Preview
Download Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation Demo at MGF
Aspyr Media Web Site
Aspyr Media
Core Design
Westlake Interactive
Tomb Raider: TLR
Buy Tomb Raider: TLR

NVIDIA GeForce 2 MX In-Depth
5:18 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Earlier today we brought you the news that NVIDIA is indeed entering the Mac market for 3D video hardware, with their GeForce 2 MX series of chips. But what exactly are these chips, and what will they do for Mac users? And when can you get them?

Well, we can't answer the 'when' question just yet - but the 'what' is interesting enough to hold you for a while, we think. In a nutshell the MX series is a low-power, low-cost version of NVIDIA's cutting-edge GeForce 2 chipset, a 3D "graphics processing unit" that blows even 3dfx's fastest available card right out of the water in almost all benchmarking tests. While the MX may not share this speed capability, it will have its own superset of amazing features which will more than make up for any deficit.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the MX chip is its ability to drive two monitors with a single card simultaneously, a fantastic feature for Mac G3 and G4 users who are limited to just three PCI slots and only one AGP slot. Not only can the chip drive two monitors, it can send independent video streams to each of them - say, DVD to one and 3D graphics to the other, at the same time. The chip supports both DVD and HDTV video streams in hardware, making them ideal for total multimedia machines. Ahem - which computing platform is most closely associated with the term 'multimedia?'

This chip also features some unique NVIDIA special effects which are only now being used in cutting-edge game titles - Hardware Transform and Lighting, which allows many operations which previously tied up your CPU to be handled by the graphics card, and the NVIDIA Shading Rasterizer, a fancy name for an on-chip special effects processor. The NSR allows such effects as bump-mapping (simulated textured surfaces) and cube environment mapping (simulated chrome/reflective surfaces) to be handled 'in hardware' rather than by your CPU, allowing you to add these effects to your game without a speed hit. Hardware Transform and Lighting allows such operations as dynamic color lighting, shape and character morphing/distortion, and 'clipping' (realistic intersection of 3D objects) to take place on the card rather than in software via your Mac's CPU.

It is important to note that these special features must be explicitly used by a game in order to provide a benefit; the number of games using these features is small right now, but is sure to grow. It is also possible that Apple might update their OpenGL drivers to use some of these features automatically, giving all OpenGL applications a boost.

Indeed, the GeForce2 MX is optimized to support OpenGL instructions specifically; as this is likely to remain the 3D API of choice on the Mac platform, all future games may benefit from this feature of the MX GPU.

Our EOC Tuncer Deniz learned several things on his trip to NVIDIA of specific interest to Mac users. First of all the MX chip is so small and uses so little power that it requires no fan or heat sink - a tremendous contrast to the Voodoo5 5500 card from 3dfx, which uses so much power that it must plug directly into your system's power supply.

Of course, the lack of a fan or heatsink would make these chips a perfect fit for Apple's fan-less iMac, iBook and Powerbook series, although we know of no firm plans in that department. We also learned that the chips meet Apple's specifications for low-power usage, making them a possible challenger to ATI's Rage Mobility 128 chipset.

What kind of speed can we expect from an MX chipset on a Mac? Well, it is currently impossible to say, exactly - after all, no one has seen them run on a Mac yet. However, the specs on this tiny, low-power and low-cost chip aren't the least bit humble; on paper, it easily rivals 3dfx's cards costing over twice as much. The dual rendering pipelines of this chip crank out over 20 million polygons per second, with a 700 megatextels (textured triangles) fill rate. Translation? Well, how does 101.5 frames per second in Quake 3 Arena at 640x480 grab you? Or 73 frames per second at 1024x768?

We thought that would get your attention. Thanks to Sharky Extreme for those numbers.

We can't tell you exactly when or how NVIDIA's GeForce 2 MX chip will be coming to the Mac platform, but we can definitely say that it will - and that it will be available as a card for AGP and PCI Macs, for a cost of less that $170. Speculations as to whom might be making the boards themselves are rampant, but we won't participate in that discussion - yet.

Despite earlier reports, NVIDIA will not be exhibiting at Macworld Expo New York, nor are they expected to make any announcements. However, with a possible appearance by ATI and their Radeon cards, and the definite presence of 3dfx and their Voodoo5 5500 cards, we're sure NVIDIA will send someone along to talk to the press.

Overall, it is shaping up to be the best damn year ever for Mac game graphics - and for general multimedia as well, as NVIDIA stresses repeatedly; after all, this card will be aimed at general and casual users, not hard-core gamers. From the specs and benchmarks we have seen this card should satisfy all but the most serious game players as well.

For more information and coverage of this exciting development, make sure you check out Peter Cohen's coverage at MacGaming and Gamers.com's coverage as well. We recommend the Sharky Extreme coverage as well, but only if you have a stomach for endless reams of totally arcane tech-speak. And don't forget to leave your thoughts on our Forum thread.

Gamers.com on the GeForce 2 MX
MacGaming on NVIDIA's Mac Plans
Sharky Extreme GeForce 2 MX Preview
NVIDIA on the Mac - Your Comments

Rune Quake 3 Arena Mod
1:32 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

Got runes? If not, be sure to check out Rune Quake, because it has forty of them! This mod for Quake 3 Arena adds a plethora of these power-ups as well as several new weapons to the more staid set that ships with the game, ensuring total chaos during deathmatches. Here are details:

"One of the most intense deathmatch mods in Quake history is about to make the leap into Quake 3.

Over 40 runes, each with its own unique powers.

Gib your enemies instantly with Berserk. Freeze them solid with Ice Traps. Watch them twitch and squirm in the grip of Weirdness. Knock them across the map with Impact.

and this is just the beginning...

New weapons including Flamethrowers, Timed bombs, Flash Grenades and wall penetrating Rail Guns.

Totally redesigned in-game HUD and client interface."

Mmmm, wall-penetrating rail guns. Be sure to check out this entertaining mod for Quake 3 Arena.

Oni to Save Game Films?
1:28 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

In a recent forum post to Onicentral, Matt Soell commented that while the feature isn't included yet, the ability to save films of gameplay is planned for Oni. Here's his exact quote,

" It's not in there yet. But I think it's on the To-Do list. :-)"


Without multiplayer support, it doesn't seem like that ability will be a priority. Oni is currently in production by Bungie software and will hopefully be released in late October. According to the recent deal between MS, Bungie, and Take Two interactive, Oni will be published under Take Two's Gathering Of Developers label this Fall.

Matt's Oni.Bungi.org post

CodeBook 4.0 Nears Release
1:14 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

While it has been nearly a year since the Codebook version 4.0 was announced, it is about to arrive. The updated version of this cheats compendium has been rebuilt from scratch, and include many cool features such as plug-ins, skins, images, URls and many more tricks. Robet Edgavardson from the CB team sent word:

Well, it's been nearly a year since the last upgrade, but now I can promise you a new release; version 4.0. The release will be sometime within the next two weeks, so keep your eyes open :)

Unfortunately, we received the news that all previous CB registrations will have to be renewed; no free lunch. The CodeBook is an essential utility for getting the most out of your games - or just getting past that annoying level you're sick of playing over and over again.

CodeBook Web Site

Click to enlarge
Q&A on Tribes 2
1:06 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

The Swedish PC site FragZone has scored a new Q & A with Dave Georgeson, the producer of Dynamix's soon-to-be-finished teamplay-based shooter, Tribes 2. Their questions the original Tribes, which was for PC only, to the sequel. Here is a sample:

FZ: You never saw any dogfights between scouts in Tribes1, as it was too hard to hit each other.Will it be possible to have dogfights in Tribes2 (not counting transports firing at each other).

DG: You bet. And they're fun. Our scout fliers are MUCH nimbler than they were in Tribes 1, allowing even loops and inverted flight. Special tailgunner seats are designed on the bomber and heavy transport simply because the scouts can get into the blind spots of those vehicles and devastate them if no one is protecting their "six".

The inclusion of combat aircraft sounds like a game within the game itself. Tribes 2 is due for Mac and PC this Fall.

Tribes 2
FragZone's Q&A

Shadowbane Movie Released
11:26 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot has scored Wolfpack's demo movie from E3 of their upcoming MMORPG Shadowbane. The movie shows off some impressive footage, for those of us that were unable to attend the expo this past May. The MPEG version of the movie is 12 MB, but still recommended if you have the bandwidth.

Shadowbane is an attempt to bring a whole new level of strategic and political elements to the world of MMORPGs. They also plan to create a Mac version of this game, something that none of the other biggies (Everquest, AC, Ultima Online) have yet to do. Unfortunately, the movie reiterates that Shadowbane won't be released until next year. As it nears completion, we'll be sure to keep you informed of the details.

Shadowbane E3 Movie at MGF

Q3A Easter Eggs
11:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Easter Eggs are a time-honored tradition in the software industry, a way for a programmer or artist to place their personal stamp on a product. Even Apple employees have been known to throw in a couple hidden goodies here and there - and have even been fired for this in the past. In this vein, PlanetQuake has assembled a fun little article comprising all of the known easter eggs found in Quake 3: Arena from id Software. They decided to wait for a while before publishing it, as it contains obvious spoilers for the game itself. Besides many hilarious (and disturbing) bot responses, they have also found some curious logos and other goodies. Be sure to head over and have a look. And if you know of any other secrets, send them in so the author can add them to the list. [Ed Note: Yes, the screen shot you see here is a joke.]

PlanetQuake Easter Eggs

Click to enlarge
GoD's Lineup for MWNY
10:55 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Gathering of Developers has announced their Macworld New York lineup, which will be composed of five very different games for the Mac platform. As we reported to you at this year's E3, GoD has moved into the Mac market in a major way, hitting almost every game genre in our market. At next month's MWNY They will show Rune, Tropico, 4x4 Evolution, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 and Take Two's latest acquisition, Oni. These games will be shown 3Dfx's booth #1455 in Hall #3. Most of the games they will show are due to be shipped by Fall this year, although Tropico is not due until 2001. Here are details from the official press release:

Developer-driven computer and video game publishing company Gathering of Developers is showing its support for the Macintosh platform with the upcoming release of five titles. This year, Gathering will publish Macintosh versions of Rune, a 3D game of intense action and adventure; 4x4 Evolution, a fast-paced, 4x4 off-road simulation; two third-person action/adventure titles, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 and Oni; and in early 2001, the company will release Tropico, a 3D building, strategy/simulation game. Gathering will showcase all five titles at the upcoming MacWorld Expo in New York, July 16-18, at 3dfx's booth, #1455 in Hall #3. Take-Two Interactive's Jack of All Games will distribute all five games in North America.

"The demand for top notch Mac titles has increased in response to the popularity of the iMac, said Harry Miller, president of Gathering of Developers. We are again embracing the Macintosh platform in 2000 with several of our triple-A titles including Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 and Rune and will continue our support throughout the next year with games like Tropico."

In related news, Westlake Interactive has begun work on Mac RUNE, although they are still in preliminary stages of development. We will be at MWNY of course to bring you details on all these great Mac games.

Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 Web Site
IMG's E3 2000 Coverage
Gathering Of Developers
Gathering of Developers
Ritual Entertainment
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2

Elite Force Info
10:41 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Raven Software's upcoming Star Trek game is generating a lot of hype around the web, even from those who might not normally be so trekkie-inclined... Voyager: Elite Force is based on the Quake 3 engine, one of the reasons people are impressed with it so far.

Our Gamecenter Alliance afilliate Stomped is currently celebrating an Elite Force week, featuring a number of interviews with members of the Raven team. Today is the third of four interviews, this time with programmer James Monroe. Here's a clip:

Stomped: How easy or hard has it been working with the Quake 3 Arena engine for Elite Force?

Monroe: It has been mixed. In some respects it is very easy working with Quake3 since we all have so much experience with the quake engines. However, this time around we had to add back in all the single player elements we needed to develop our storyline. The Quake3 engine had all the advancements in 3D acceleration and networking, but lacked simple features like level load and save. Other problems were quake's AI and navigation. It was fine for bots running around in deathmatch, but we needed much more precise control over where our NPCs went and what route they took. So we added our own waypoint navigation system. Overall, it has been a very good experience, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to use the latest cutting-edge engine.

Check out the rest of the chat for more on their modifications to the engine.

PC IGN has also posted the next in their series of Hazard Team bios. These are interesting tidbits about characters in the game. This week's update covers two of the female team members, and amazingly Seven of Nine isn't mentioned.

Lastly, VoyagerEliteForce.com has obtained two new screenshots of the game. Rather than in-game action, they show the menu screens, which remarkably look like your standard Star Trek computer interface. Here's a clip explaining some details:

The main multiplayer menu has information about the weapons in the game. Each weapon has a rotating graphic and a description to go along with it. From here you can choose to start a solo match against bots or a multi match over the Internet. You can configure your player and control settings, choosing from over 50 unique characters. There are menus for demo and mod support as well as the quit menu that you'll never use.
Voyager: Elite Force should be out later this year. A Mac version has been promised by Raven, though they haven't finalized contracts with a Mac publisher yet. We'll let you know when more information is available.

PC IGN Hazard Team Bios
Stomped Elite Force Interview

3dfx Q&A
10:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An interesting thread on the 3dfxGamers messageboards was recently spotted over at Accelerate Your Mac. In this thread, a reader has posed a dozen questions to 3dfx, which Bryan Speece was nice enough to answer in detail. Here's a relevant question regarding 3dfx's recent supply shortage with their Voodoo 4/5 product line:

Q: Why the lag in production runs of the V4 (should be easier to make with only 1 VSA-100 chip)? Is there more demand for the V5, or is the production an issue with interface type (AGP first, then PCI). The V4 on the Mac is targeted squarely at the pre-press aftermarket segment. Is it the same on the Wintel side?

A: Demand for the V5 had outstripped our supply of vital components. We issued a press release to this effect just last week. Things are getting back on track now. And, before you ask, NO. It won't effect the Mac launch target.

We Reported to you last week that the component shortfall would not affect the shipment of Mac cards. Bryan also notes that their 'target' is within a month of this posting. We're betting MWNY will be the time/place, and we'll be there to make sure. Check out the rest of thread for all of the responses from 3dfx staff.

Accelerate Your Mac
3dfxGamers' Forum Thread

New Oni Previews
10:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With all of the turmoil surrounding Bungie lately, it's good to see some "regular" news back on the radar. A couple of sites have posted new previews of Oni (or should we say Take-Two's Oni now?).

3DActionPlanet's look at the famous 'Full Contact Action' game is a worthwhile read, even though it seems to be based on action shown at this year's E3. Here's a quick clip:

Konoko is also skilled at shooting. And unlike most beat'em ups, guns aren't there as rare powerups with incredibly limited ammo. The E3 demonstration showed a number of different weapons, including an uzi, and energy grenade, and a plasma gun. The latter was the most impressive, with great looking visuals. There will be a good spread of projectile and energy weapons to choose from, plus Konoko's always got her feet to deliver a swift kick if she feels like adding insult to injury.
GameSurge has also taken a quick look at Oni. While it's not a long, it is still a worthy read. Neither of these previews reveals much that hasn't been known for some time, which either indicates that the Oni team has picked a specific goal and worked toward it, or that there was some stagnation in its development path.

Oni is set to be released for the Playstation 2 this October during Sony's North American debut of the console. Mac and PC versions should be completed around the same time, and published by Gathering of Developers (see related story.)

GameSurge Oni Preview
3D Action Planet Oni Preview

Click to enlarge
Mac Deus Ex Status
10:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Deus-Ex.org has received word from Westlake Interactive's president, Mark Adams, on the status of the Mac version of Deus Ex. Things are looking good right now, and Mark estimates it won't be too much longer. Here's what he had to say:

We are getting very close to final, we started testing the latest beta (which includes all of the data & code from the final PC version) last week, and are just fixing last minute bugs. If all goes well, we're hoping to go GM in a week or ten days.
This is great news, as the PC version went Gold last week, and is only available in stores as of today. We'll keep checking and let you know once the game has reached a Gold Master (ready for duplication) state.

Deus-Ex.org Web Site
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Red Faction Shots
10:06 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Computer and Video Game News (nice, unique name there...) has posted a
total of 20 screenshots of Volition's upcoming 3D shooter,
Red Faction. Apparently these are from the video of the game at E3,
though if you weren't there, then "they're new to you." Here's a clip
describing the game, in case you're wondering:

Based around the exploits of Parker, a worker toiling in mines run by the Ultor Corporation beneath the
surface of Mars, Red Faction sports the all-new feature of completely deformable terrain. To you and
me, that means you can blow holes in walls, doors; just about anything that stands in your way, really.
Check out the screenshots for a look at that "deformable terrain" they talk
about. Red Faction should be out early next year for the Mac and PC.

Red Faction Screenshots

New Bungie RTS In Development?
10:01 AM | Charles George | Comment on this story

It has been rumored for some time that Bungie has had a third title in the works; they were even prepapred to announce this title at E3, but couldn't get a version of it stable enough to show to the press. Most indications pointed towards a new Myth game based on the Halo engine; after all, the remaining members of the Myth development team weren't just twiddling their thumbs at Bungie. One online store even went so far as to list Myth III for preorder.

GameSpot managed to finagle some degree of confirmation from Alex Seropian about this issue. Basically they learned the codename of the game is "The Pheonix project" and that the game is indeed an RTS based on the Halo engine, set in a fantasy world. The game will not be based in the Myth world of course, because Take Two Interactive now owns the Myth franchise - and indeed may already have their own Myth game in development, for Sega Dreamcast. Of course, any future titles by Bungie are most likely going to debut on the X-box console before other platforms.

IMG Talks to Alex Seropian
GameSpot on Bungie's RTS
Computer and Video Games on Myth III

Mac Games News for Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Dark Sector FAQ Posted5:35 PM
Terminus Demo Fixed, Feedback Sought5:10 PM
Bungie Store to Close, Reopen2:10 PM
Marathon: Resurrection Returns1:55 PM
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 Preview12:54 PM
New 4x4 Evo Images12:21 PM
Diablo II Ships for PC12:15 PM
Follow up - Tread 3D for Mac11:46 AM
B&W Interview11:23 AM
3DRealms Chat Confirms Mac DNF11:07 AM
Marathon Arena Moves, Updates10:02 AM
Diabloholics Unite!9:50 AM
Elite Force Artist Interview9:38 AM
Halo Concept Art at Marathon's Story9:28 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, June 28, 2000 on one page

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