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Tuesday, July 18, 2000

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Elite Force Overload
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The last several days have brought Trekkers and non-fans alike a ton of information regarding Raven's upcoming Star Trek game, Voyager: Elite Force. In an attempt to avoid many small articles, we've compiled them into one large piece for your reading pleasure.

CDMag has posted a great new designer diary from Raven's Brian Pelletier about the origins of this game. Did you know it was originally slated to be set around the Insurrection movie, which featured the Next Generation cast? Pelletier explains more:

The EF team started out with 4 guys (who consist of the other leads) that worked on the story and did research with creating Trek environments. The game originally started out as an Insurrection (the movie) game. Then it changed to be a game that takes place in the TNG universe with a new set of characters, and eventually after about 5 months of design work we got final word that it was going to be a Voyager game. Fortunately the story from the TNG game fit well with Voyager and only needed a few modifications.
Be sure to read the rest of the update, as it covers a lot of previously-unknown details about the game.

Other members of the Raven team have consented to interviews recently; there is a quick Q&A with Ken Hoekstra at VoyagerEliteForce.com about the game's progress. Here's a clip:

utopia: What is your favorite feature in the game?

Kenn: I really like the storyline and the ability to play the game as both a male and a female character. With a bit of ingenuity, we were able to make the transition from character to character seamless with the dialogue and story. It turned out very well.

Another interview with Kim Lathrop has been posted at Fandom, which covers the basics about this game. This is a good place to start if you are new to this title.

Jake Simpson, another team member working on this game, has updated his .plan with a tidbit on how they are dividing their resources right now. Here's an excerpt:

For Voyager, there are pretty much two teams working on it, split into single player and multiplayer. I'm helping out with the multiplayer stuff right now, since there is much to do. Many new game objects and effects to be played with :) For those that played the demo, I'd have to say that the demo is very much the 'tip of the iceberg' as far as Voyager Elite Force content is concerned. Perhaps 10% - 15% of the game experience is represented here.
As we have noted before, a Mac version of the demo is still considered to be a future project, as Raven is still working on finding a Mac publisher for the game. We have some very good clues as to who this might be, but we will keep that under our hats for now.

And lastly, what would pre-game hype be without more screenshots than you can shake a phaser at? PC IGN has 12 new images, and GA Source has scored no fewer than 20 brand-new screenshots of Elite Force. They reveal some new environments and characters, some of which look really organic, so definitely check them out.

Voyager: Elite Force is currently in beta testing and expected for the PC early this Fall. Since the Quake 3 engine is its base, Raven has said a Mac version is very possible, though no publisher has been announced as of yet. We expect developments in this area very soon.

PC IGN Elite Force Screenshots
Jake Simpson .plan Update
Fandom Elite Force Interview
VoyagerEliteForce.com Interview
GA Source Elite Force Screenshots
CDMag Elite Force Developer Diary
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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Mac Diablo II Shipping, Patch Out
9:21 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Many excited readers have written us about Blizzard's latest press release, which of course notes that the Mac version of Diablo II is now shipping! We noted yestrerday that this title was on its way to stores, but it is nice to have the official confimation from Blizzard. This launch just in time for MacWorld New York, as planned, and less than a month after the PC version shipped. Here is a clip from the release listing the Mac system requirements for Diablo II:

Diablo II's single-player minimum system requirements are G3 processor, Mac OS 8.1 or higher, 64 MB RAM plus Virtual Memory 650 MB available hard drive space, 4X CD-ROM drive and Video support for 256 color display at 800X600, Mouse and keyboard.

Additional multiplayer system requirements include 64 MB RAM plus Virtual Memory 950 MB available hard drive, 4X CD-ROM drive, Video support for 256 color display at 800X600, Mouse and keyboard. Battle.net connection requires a low-latency 28.8 Kbps Internet connection. Multiplayer games played over a LAN require a TCP/IP network. The game offers InputSprocket to support multiple mice. Enhanced graphic support includes optional 3D acceleration by supporting Glide, OpenGL (v.1.1.2 or higher), RAVE or 3dfx.

And, as happens with many games these days, a patch is already available to download (even though it's doubtful any Mac users have received their copies yet). This update brings the game to version 1.0.2 and includes many fixes and improvements, including these two which are Mac-specific:
- After playing an Open Battle.net game, you sometimes would not be able to create Nightmare or Hell Open Battle.net games. (Mac only)

- Speed optimizations when decompressing graphics data. (Mac only)
Start downloading while you wait for the Fed Ex man to arrive. The game will presumably take a few days to reach retailers, though if you order directly from Blizzard, it is possible to get it shipped sooner. Be sure to let us know when you see a copy appear in your area!

Blizzard Press Release
Diablo II v1.02 Patch (2.6MB)
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Macworld New York Warm Up Rally Recap
3:47 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The Warm Up Rally on the first day of Macworld consists of a panel of industry pundits who give a preview of things to come at this year's show. The panel consisted of a variety of Mac writers and luminaries, including Bob "Dr. Macintosh" LeVitus, Keith Hatounian from Apple's Digital Video Group, author Deborah Shadovitz, QuickTime expert Jim Bakerand and columnist and Mac personality Andy Ihnatko. The event was hosted by Macworld Conference and Expo chairperson Paul Kent.

While most of the Warm Up Rally was simply an overview of some things being offered at the User and Pro conference sessions, Bob LeVitus' presentation delivered some content relevant to Mac gamers. When LeVitus asked the audience who among them had purchased a game for their Macintosh in the past six month, about one-fourth of the small-but-enthusiastic crowd raised their hands. Surprised by the response, LeVitus responded by exclaiming "Why not?!" and proceeded to ask the audience if they liked "fragging."

Later, Bob LeVitus polled the crowd for an impromptu Users Choice Awards selection. With the help of the audience, he declared the best of all things Macintosh to be released in the past year. Highlights included the vote for Best Apple Product and Best Mac game. In the vote for the Best Apple Product, there was a tie between the Power Macintosh G4 and the AirPort wireless Ethernet system. There was no tie, however, in the selection of Best Mac Game. Unreal Tournament was overwhelmingly voted Game of the Year by the audience, easily beating out Quake 3 Arena, Rainbow 6, Madden 2000 and Myth II: Soulblighter.

Both the audience and the presenters were in good spirits and eager for the conference to get into high gear with Wednesday's Keynote Address by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. If the Warm Up Rally is any indication, this East Coast Macworld looks to be the best show in years.

Macworld Expo New York

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New Myst III: Exile Website
9:26 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Presto and Cyan have unveiled the official website dedicated to Myst III: Exile, a sequel to the popular adventure games Myst and Riven. Besides just looking spectacular, as expected, the site has a generous amount of good content to read through. There is a gallery with conceptual art and screenshots, several movie downloads, a FAQ and much more. The intro movie requires the Flash plugin, though it's easy to skip through that if you want to.

In case you're wondering, the list of Frequently Asked Questions also notes the system requirements for the Mac version of Exile:

MACINTOSH PowerPC or Compatibles:

200 MHz or faster

MacOS 8 or higher


150 MB Available Hard Disk Space

4X CD-ROM or faster

640x480 display, thousand

Will Support 3D Hardware Acceleration
It is interesting to see that 3D hardware will be supported; this will enable some special water and environmental effects. Unlike the first two 'static' 3D games in the series, Exile will allow you to turn a full 360 degrees. This should elimate the 'slide show' feel of the previous games and give you a bit more elbow room. It's also interesting to note that they plan on releasing two versions, one on four CDs and the other on one DVD, which will eliminate the dreaded CD swapping.

Be sure to sign up for the newsletter as well. Apparently, they have started filming the live actors for the game, and are still hoping to have Exile completed by the first quarter of next year. There is also a contest of some sort coming up soon, so we'll let you know when that begins.

Official Myst III: Exile Web Site
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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4x4 Evolution Previews
8:54 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Two previews of Terminal Reality's upcoming racing game 4x4 Evolution have been posted recently. Eurogamer's coverage of the offroad racing game is very good, as usual. They cover many aspects of 4x4 Evo, including this excerpt about the camera controls:

The proceedings can be viewed from various camera angles, and I often found myself adopting the view of in-front and above, unusable in driving terms, just to peer down on my Land Cruiser and admire its intricate replication. If you don't want to waste valuable race time, it is often fun to throw your vehicle around, over barriers and into the air off of ramps, and then admire yourself in your own time with the Replay mode at the end of the race.
Sounds like fun! Another preview of the game at GameRush gives even more perspective on how 4x4 will play. Be sure to head over and have a look at their nine new screenshots as well.

Terminal Reality has promised a Mac version of 4x4 Evolution will be released around the same time as the PC version. We will be sure to take a look at the game at Macworld New York and bring you details on when we might expect to see this one on shelves.

GameRush 4x4 Evolution Preview
Eurogamer 4x4 Evolution Preview
Terminal Reality
Gathering of Developers
4x4 Evolution

ATI Radeon Interview
8:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

PC Insight has scored a great new interview with ATI's technical marketing man, Rene Froeleke. In case you missed it, yesterday we brought you news of the Radeon being bundled in Apple's upcoming line of Power Macs. This new card is exciting for many reasons - while 3dfx/NVIDIA generate a huge anount of debate surrounding the Full Screen Anti-Aliasing vs. sheer power (fillrate) issue, the Radeon seems to have both! Here's a question straight from the Q&A:

High resolution graphics or low-res with FSAA enabled. Which is ATi's preference?

Rene: I think you are asking the wrong person, the customer decides what he/she prefers. FSAA can be achieved by supersampling a given scene, so all you need is rendering power and memory bandwidth. We will support FSAA in our driver, that means we give the customer the choice of both. If you ask me if I would prefer FSAA or high-polygon-count objects with life-like character animation and amazing special effects such as environmental or dot-product 3 bump-mapping, cube environment mapping and extensive lighting, then I think I (and probably the customer) will choose the second of both options. But again, we give the customer the choice of having both, our driver supports FSAA via supersampling as well.

If all that jargon confuses you, take it to mean your games will look good... FSAA has been the feature most talked about recently, because it removes the "jaggies" from edges in games. But the Radeon seems to have many other features besides, which make it rather impressive.

We have yet to see the Mac version of these cards in action, though many PC hardware sites have given it glowing reviews. As our reporters congregate at MacWorld today, they will be sure to track down the latest scoop on these impressive cards.

IMG Report on Radeon's FSAA
IMG Report on ATI at MacWorld
PC Insight ATI Interview

3d Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride Coming in August
7:23 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Sierra announced that its latest game in the popular 3-D Ultra Pinball series, 3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride, will be released in August.

3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride integrates the traditional 3-D Ultra Pinball arcade style with the thrilling, adrenaline pumping excitement of a theme park to deliver a fun-filled spree through a virtual amusement park. Thrill Ride offers 15 action-paced rides represented on the game's main and mini tables, complete with a special nighttime mode with fireworks display.

3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride will support Windows® 95/98 and Macintosh on CD-ROM with a suggested retail price of $29.95. A demo of 3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride is currently available at Macgamefiles.com.

Sierra web site
Download 3D Ultra Pinball Thrill Ride at MGF

Galactic Patrol 1.5 Released
6:00 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Monkey Byte Development recently announced that Galactic
has been updated to version 1.5. According to the developer, this 3D homage to the classic arcade games gets a significant speed improvement, a cleaner interface, and other cool additions. Here's a list of changes in 1.5:

  • Border is off by default, a 10-50 fps improvement!

  • Windows and MacOS versions are in sync, finally

  • Game levels have had many bugs fixed as well as being improved for
    better game play

  • Missing data files are now reported, instead of mystery missing font

  • Fatal errors are now reported, instead of the game just quitting

  • You can finally select which monitor to play on under MacOS

  • Added Audio CD message since some Windows CD drives take _forever_ to startup

  • NEW control - B ... toggles border display on/off

  • NEW control - C ... cycles text color

  • RENAMED control - K ... InputSprocket Konfigure (MacOS only)

  • Some code optimization

  • Reduced pricing reflected

  • Web site URL updated

To grab a copy of the Galactic Patrol demo, head to Macgamefiles.com.

Galactic Patrol at Monkey Byte
Download Galactic Patrol at MGF

Freeverse Releases Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab
6:00 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Freeverse Software has released Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab, an action-puzzle game that, according to Freeverse, features "killer graphics, a smoking soundtrack, and head-to-head internet play." Here's some typically wacky information from the official press release:

Color-reaction games, hex-bonding games, mission modes, lasers, super-bombs, virus', color-killers, chameleons, and more will wring your adrenal glands dry. (While the mellow-tones of the Zen Mode will keep you from going into toxic-shock).

Ian Lynch Smith, president of Freeverse has said, "Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab isn't really dangerous, but it is addictive. This is the wildest game we've ever released".

System requirements include:

  • OS 8.6 or later

  • 35 MB free hard drive space

  • NetSprocket 1.7.1 or later

  • Quicktime 4 or later
Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab is being released as shareware for $19.95. You can also purchase it for $29.95 on CD-ROM. Be sure to grab the demo of this addictive game at MacGameFiles.com.

Freeverse Software
Download Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab at MGF

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The Fallen Screen Shots
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

While Raven's Star Trek license-based title Voyager: Elite Force has been hogging the limelight lately, another Paramount-endorsed project is being quietly completed by The Collective. Deep Space Nine: The Fallen is a title based on the Unreal Tournament engine (contrasting Elite Force's use of Quake 3) which has been in development for nearly two years. The Fallen will be a 3rd-person shooter in which you can play one of three main characters.

Simon and Schuster, The Fallen's publisher, has been fairly quiet about the game's progress, though some recently-released screenshots show they are doing very well. GA Source managed to pick up three new shots of in-game action. Stomped also received five new screenshots, and they talked with The Collective's Ken Gordon as well. Here's an excerpt:

Much of the Deep Space Nine space station itself will be seen in the game, including places that were never seen in the show. The entire Defiant starship has also been rendered for the game, according to Gordon. Gordon stressed that The Fallen will not be a puzzle adventure game. "This is a third person game that plays like a first person shooter." One of the advantages of having a third person perspective is in the handling of the enemies. When one of The Fallen's many monsters chases the player character, Gordon says, "It kind of becomes the predator's point of view."

We are hoping to stop by the Simon and Schuster offices this week while attending MacWorld New York, so we'll have more to bring you on this title very soon. All indications are that they were looking to release the game for both Mac and PC later this year.

GA Source The Fallen Screenshots
Stomped The Fallen Screenshots
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

Mac Games News for Monday, July 17, 2000

Details on Radeon FSAA8:22 PM
Mac Driving Game Round-up6:43 PM
Third Deus Ex Winner3:43 PM
Mac Baldur's Gate Ships3:38 PM
ATI Has Surprise for Mac Expo3:26 PM
WaterRace at 3dfx's Booth2:15 PM
RUNE Ready for Macworld Expo2:01 PM
Tomb Raider IV 1.0.2 Released1:31 PM
Apple Features Deus Ex12:20 PM
MacSoft's Riding in Style12:08 PM
AustinSoft Announces HappyGear11:34 AM
Diablo II Officially Ships11:22 AM
ATI Radeon Ships for PC!10:19 AM
id Surprise at MacWorld?9:23 AM
IMG Heads To Macworld Expo9:20 AM
Summoner Fun9:19 AM
Another Voodoo5 Review9:16 AM
Cyan Expands, Myst News9:15 AM
Deus Ex Demo Date9:15 AM
Game Doctor July File Released8:32 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, July 17, 2000 on one page

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