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Monday, July 10, 2000



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Elite Force Demo Released for PC
11:09 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Friday afternoon Raven Software released a playable demo of Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, their shooter based on the eponymous television series. While a publisher for the Mac OS version of this game is still in negotiation, this game is reportedly up and running on Mac systems already, thanks to the portability of the Quake 3 Arena engine.


Reactions to the PC demo have been positive overall, with lots of praise for Raven's detailed textures and player models. The weapons effects, which are impressive even in static screen shots, were also praised repeatedly, as was the enemy AI. It is also noted that the release of this demo does not mean the game is finished, by any means; it is still due this Fall.


Thresh's Firing Squad did their usual thorough job of picking their subject apart, releasing a multi-page review with forty-six screen shots. Overall they loved the single-player aspect of the game, but felt that multiplayer 'holomatch' (which, for the record, is NOT supposed to be the focus of this game) was too fast and had an unbalanced weapon set. Here is their description of the "atmosphere" of the game:

The Borg areas are oppressively dark, with a foreboding, almost threateningly technological feel. Raven did a great job at capturing the Borg atmosphere in this particular level. The Borg themselves are a scary sight, with a red laser sight pointing out of the side of their heads. In the very beginning before you find the I-Mod rifle, you'll be doing a lot of running - mostly away from the Borg that come to life out of the walls or warp in to attack you. At first it's very hard to navigate around the Borg ship because everything looks the same! It's also sometimes difficult to figure out where to go next - a lot of times you end up just shooting at different things hoping they'll blow up and expose a new area to explore.
TrekGamer also took a look at this game; while a fansite dedicated to Trek games may seem to be a biased source, fanatics can often be the most withering critics of subjects that they feel do not live up to expectations. They seemed quite happy with the demo, praising the Trek "feel" of the game as well:
The biggest, most important and exciting part of the demo, is that you feel like you are in the story. Not watching the story and playing along, or doing whatever is assigned to you. You are in the game, as a character. No game since Zelda has gotten me this excited, and I was just running through corridors trying to shut off a force field. And whenever the game paused, to load another mission, I prayed it wasn't the last.
And finally, Blues News' tipped us off to an article on Rivia3D which is also chock-full of screen shots; they give the demo a 5 out of 5, calling it a "richly detailed, fully immersive Star Trek experience."


If you are anticipating the Mac version of this game, these previews are a must-read for the eye candy alone. Various names have been mentioned to us regarding the search for a Mac publisher for this title; we can't name the specific publisher yet, but you can be sure we will soon.

Riva3D on Elite Force Demo
Raven's STV: Elite Force Web Site
TrekGamer on Elite Force Demo
Firing Squad on Elite Force Demo
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force


Update on Coldstone Engine
7:13 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Dee Brown of Beenox, Inc. has mailed us with an update on the Coldstone Game Engine, a flexible game creation toolkit for 2D RPG adventures. This flexible toolset will allow even non-programmers to create their own role-playing games, and more. Here is the update:

It's been a long time since the last version of the Coldstone Game Engine has been posted. It's because we decided not to release any more version of the Coldstone Game Engine until the final release so we could focus on the final delivery. The product is almost finished now. We are working on the final user manual as well as a complete step-by-step tutorial to create your first complete Macintosh game in one day! Some new cool addons and game editing tools made by Beenox will also be included in the final package. All these tools will also be available as stand-alone freeware applications from the Beenox web site. A cool new Macintosh role-playing game (made with the Coldstone Game Engine) should also ship at the same time featuring breath taking 3D rendered graphics and high quality music.


Also expect some great surprises for all Mac gamers out there with the final release...

Considering the amazing creations spawned by the editing tools of Realmz and the Exile series, we can't wait to see what creative Mac gamers come up with once they get their hands on this engine. For more information and examples, visit the Beenox web site.




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Baldur's Gate Giveaway Winner #2
7:05 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our Baldur's Gate Giveaway continues, with thousands of entries so far. From that rich harvest we have culled our second winner: Mike Schapiro of Evanston, IL is our next winner! We will announce another winner tomorrow. Members of this lucky group will receive free copies of this game as soon as it ships.

Baldur's Gate is a classic RPG that has won numerous awards and accolades. For more information on this title, read our Baldur's Gate preview; to get in on the action and have a chance to win your own free copy, sign up today!

Baldur's Gate Preview
Baldur's Gate Giveaway
GraphSim
BioWare
Baldur's Gate


3dfx Makes V5 Preorder Official
2:18 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Last week we brought you news that 3dfx has made their Voodoo5 5500 PCI gaming and graphics card for Mac OS available for preorder. Today, 3dfx issued an official press release to that effect, confirming that this card is indeed available for preorder, and should ship in volume by August. If you've been living in a cave the past several months, the Voodoo5 5500 is the first next-generation 3D card to come to the Mac OS in some time, putting us on par with PC gamers in performance and features. Here is 3dfx's press release:

3dfx Interactive Inc. (NASDAQ: TDFX) today announced a pre-order program for the highly-anticipated Voodoo5 5500 PCI graphics card for the Apple Macintosh. The new Voodoo5, powered by 3dfx Interactive's VSA-100 chipset, provides the world's fastest 2D and 3D performance for the Mac platform. Voodoo5 marks the Mac industry's first 3D hardware solution to feature full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA), a breakthrough feature that smoothes out "jagged edges" and eliminates "pixel popping," visual deficiencies prevalent on competitor product offerings. A DVI output is offered in addition to the standard VGA that enables support for all-digital flat panel displays.

"Voodoo 5 addresses the fill rate limitations the Mac has been living with in a dramatic fashion, delivering well over twice the pixel rate of existing Mac products, as well as the best anti-aliasing on the market," said John Carmack, lead programmer, id Software. "In my first test of the Voodoo5 5500, I was completely blown away by how far it raised the bar for high quality graphics performance on the Mac," said Mark Adams, President of Westlake Interactive. "It gives silky smooth frame rates even at very high resolutions and the FSAA increases the visual quality far beyond any card I have seen. Voodoo5 gives Mac gamers performance that is light-years ahead of any current Mac 3D accelerator."

"FSAA puts Voodoo5 in a class by itself clearly setting it apart as the ultimate product for users who demand high-quality graphics performance," said Scott Sellers, chief technology officer at 3dfx Interactive. "With FSAA enabled, gamers will immediately experience a new level of visual clarity and find, as I have, that they cannot live without this revolutionary feature."

"Graphics designers can expect smoother, cleaner, faster and better visual quality," said Bryan Speece, director of marketing, Macintosh business development. "Voodoo5 offers rock solid images at high resolution and refresh rates, the fastest 2D performance and the ability to drive digital flat panels."

Customers may pre-order their Voodoo5 5500 PCI graphics boards immediately from a variety of leading retailers and online stores including Amazon.com, Buy.com, Egghead, Electronics Boutique, Outpost.com and www.shop.3dfx.com. The product has been tested for 33Mhz or 66Mhz PCI operation, features 64 MBytes of memory, and is $329.99 MSRP.

We have also seen prices as low as $288.00 at some online retailers, although they are not on the priority list. For more information on this amazing card, be sure and read our feature, Voodoo4/5 In-Depth.

Voodoo5 Mac Screen Shots
Voodoo4/5 In-depth



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Halo Preview
1:29 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

A preview of Bungie's upcoming third-person action game Halo has been posted on GameSurge. The preview was based on an interview, and a demo they saw at this year's E3. They cover some of the features of this game that are there to stay, but there are other features that might or might not be implemented in the final version, which may be another year or more from completion. This preview includes new screen shots taken from the E3 movie, which are from from the DVD version and are fairly large in size. Here is an excerpt from GameSurge's preview:

With both the single and multiplayer game modes promised to be great, Halo will also feature spectacular realism and detail. Such things as gun discharges, cartridges being ejected from a gun or even the smoke coming from a launched missile. Not to mention the great detail that will be entailed on all the vehicles. Speaking of vehicles, Jones brags that Halo's vehicles will be ten times better than anyone else's vehicles. The vehicles of the games will be an important part of the game. A multiplayer battle could start or finish with key air battles. Some people might go for greater ground troops while others take for the air. The possibilities will be endless of multiplayer with so many vehicles and so many ways of supporting your cause.
With the recent news that Microsoft acquired Bungie Software, the Mac and PC versions of this game are 'up in the air,' so to speak. We'll have a chance to talk to Bungie staff at Macworld New York, and we'll bring you any new information we discover.

Bungie Software
Halo
GameSurge Halo Preview
Microsoft
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved


SWAT Changes to Tactical Ops
1:21 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

This popular Unreal Tournament known as S.W.A.T. has changed its name to Tactical Ops. In a recent interview, the project leader explains that their name change was due to some copyright issues, and is in fact a better description of their mod. They have also been working hard on their 1.2 version of Tactical Ops. They have posted various new screen shots of their re-modeled guns, items and maps. In their latest update they show four screen shots of their latest build of the their Cargo Ship map, a huge and impressive level. They have mentioned that they have added various new sniping hideouts, and also fixed some bugs found in that specific map. This is a great mod, with realistic weapons and voice acting, so be sure to check it out.

Tactical Ops
Download Tactcal Ops 1.1


Sim Theme Park in Beta
1:12 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The good folks at Feral Interactive have let us know that their port of Sim Theme Park (also known as Theme Park World) is now in the beta phase. This means it is currently undergoing bug testing and speed optimizing. The title was originally brought to the PC by Bullfrog , and is the sequel to the original title "Theme Park." The Mac port should be finished later this Summer. Here is their update:

Sim Theme Park is now Beta and looking good. We are planning that the game
will be gold by the end of the first week of August. There should be a
preview available at the Macworld show in NYC.
Sim Theme Park involves designing your own Theme Park, complete with rides, different themes, and much more. Check out Feral's site for more information, and watch IMG for a preview of this game, coming soon. Feral also has more Mac titles in store for the future, but details are being withheld at this point. Sim Theme Park will be published by Aspyr Media.

Feral Interactive on Sim Theme Park



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Deus Ex Demo Coming
11:36 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

With the recent news that Mac Deus Ex has gone 'gold' and may be available in stores this very week, curious folks not yet willing to slap down their credit card for this game are wondering when a demo might come out. Ken Cobb, one of the Westlake Interactive programmers behind the Mac port of this game, answered this question on Usenet:

Hey Ken, are you gentlemen going to be releasing a MacOS demo for Deus Ex? If yes, time frame?

Thanks very much!

Matt

Yes, we will. It will probably be about 3 weeks.

However, we don't want to get your hopes up too high - the PC version of this demo was over 100 megabytes, and a fearsome download for those with slow connections. Of course, you can be absolutely certain that when a Deus Ex demo is released, it will be on the next issue of IMG's CD-ROM publication - if you aren't a subscriber, now is a fine time to rectify that situation.

Official Deus Ex Site
IMG Subscription Page
Deus Ex Preview
Aspyr Media
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex



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B&W Preview, Diary
11:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The latest of GameSpy's Developer Diary updates for Black and White has been posted. This installment focuses on the villagers in the game, the cute little buggers you must seduce - or intimidate - into praising you, to increase your power. While the animal Titans make up a large part of the play (and it's pretty cool to see a giant cow ravaging the land, we must say), the villagers are also an important element. Creator Peter Molyneux wanted each one to be individual, so each has their own desires and needs. Here's a quote explaining more:

Peter explains the idea: "Although most people have broadly similar desires, everyone is an individual, and I wanted the characters in the game to reflect this. Not only does each person have a vast database of changing wants and needs, but when they have children, a percentage of this carries on to the next generation. So over time you'll see family traits, like laziness or physical strength, or even a genealogical bias for jobs, such as a family who have always worked as farmers through the generations.
If you are interesting in this ground-breaking god game, which won universal praise at E3, read the rest of this diary. The amount of thought that went into this game will astound you. There's even mention of a very interesting way to get yourself featured in the game...

If you're looking for more general information about the game, Daily Radar has posted a quick preview for your edification. Here's an excerpt talking about the amazing graphics:

There's a very simple demonstration that Peter Molyneux does to show the power of his B&W engine. With the camera zoomed out all the way, showing the entire game world - the view is then crash-zoomed in seconds to a worm sitting in an apple on the ground. Pete Molyneux explains, "The key to the engine's success is that it is entirely dynamic and runs independently to the game. Everything it needs, such as particular lighting or textures, will be constructed on the fly in response to the game." Once seen it is never forgotten.

Black and White is reportedly in the alpha stage now, with a PC release date of September 23 still attainable. Peter Molyneux has said many times he'd like to do a Mac version, and though no official announcement has been made yet, we are virtually certain that this will occur - in fact, it may already be in development.

GameSpy Developer Diary
Daily Radar B&W Preview
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White


Logicware Decodes DirectPlay for AvP
11:17 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In a post to Usenet, Contraband Entertainment's Andrew Meggs (formerly of Logicware, once known for the never-published game Sanctity) noted that progress on Logicware's port of Aliens versus Predator is still in development. Apparently the main programmer, Bill "Burger" Heineman, has actually reverse-engineered Microsoft's proprietary DirectPlay networking protocol, which is often a barrier to compatibility between many PC games and their Mac ports. Here's a clip from Meggs' post:

DirectPlay was an issue, but at this point...we've got an actual working version of DPlay for MacOS. Burger sat there with a packet sniffer for several days and figured out the protocols. We're finally past most of the grief from the collapse of Logicware and able to focus on making games, which is a Good Thing. The bug list on AvP grows shorter each day.
This is great news, not only for AvP, but also other games which use DirectPlay - if Logicware decides to offer their discovery to other developers. There is still no word as to whether Logicware will release their solution for other companies to use, or if it is even applicable to other games. Another problem could be that Microsoft might change their standard in the future, breaking Burger's code. For now, this is great news and hopefully we'll see more progress on AvP soon.

In related news, the second half of Meggs' post notes that progress on Contraband's port of Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 is also going well.

FAKK is coming along nicely too. The Mac version is now using QuickTime to play all the soundtrack MP3s, and I've got to say I'm very, very impressed with the audio quality from Apple's decoder.
It's great to hear that these two games are progressing so well. We'll be sure to bring you more information on the DirectPlay issue as it becomes available.

Aliens vs Predator Preview
Logicware
Contraband Entertainment


Mac Games News for Friday, July 7, 2000

More Tribes 2 Stuff5:32 PM
First Baldur's Gate Giveaway Winner5:00 PM
Monkey Farm Needs Testers4:53 PM
Mac Voodoo5 5500 Available for Preorder4:33 PM
Mac Deus Ex is Gold4:14 PM
Westlake Adds Secret Project3:57 PM
Bleeding Thumbs on BBC 23:12 PM
German F.A.K.K. 2 Preview3:05 PM
Strike Force Shifts to Tribes 212:28 PM
More on NVIDIA and Apple12:22 PM
Chapter 21 of Summoner Diary11:55 AM
Marathon: Resurection Updates10:42 AM
Baldur's Gate Expansion A Possibility?10:39 AM
Games Zone Elite Force Preview10:31 AM
Paul Steed's Future10:24 AM
Slight Deus Ex Delay10:10 AM
Rune Reaches First Playable10:04 AM
Tropico Preview9:55 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, July 7, 2000 on one page


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