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Monday, August 7, 2000

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Mac Shogo Status
9:42 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While researching a previous article on the LithTech engine, we contacted Hyperion Software to discover the status of Mac Shogo: Mobile Armored Division, a first-person shooter with some unique features. Hyperion began the port of this title in Winter of last year, and it has been delayed several times so far, but as they reassured us, Mac Shogo is still on track:

We are happy to report that things are looking very good right now with the hardware renderer almost fully working the way we want it (we are introducing dynamic lightmapping currently) and some remaining issues to be addressed like memory consumption as we want to reach out to the largest possible audience including people with only 64MB of memory.

We anticipate a release candidate by the end of August and are considering releasing a playable demo of Shogo at that time.

Excellent news! This Fall is shaping up nicely, don't you agree? Shogo is an interesting shooter with quite a following on the PC side; it features the ability to play as the pilot of a 30-foot armored mech, rather than just a puny human. For more information, visit the Shogo web site.

Shogo: Mobile Armored Division
Hyperion Entertainment
Shogo: MAD

Lieberman Anti-Game Politics?
5:52 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our CGA affiliate Gamecenter has posted an interesting article on Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the man Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore is expected to name as his VP tomorrow. You may have heard Lieberman's name before in relation with video games -- specifically, he is an opponent of video game violence and favors a strict ratings system which is enforceable by law; in fact, he was the inspiration behind the ESRB/IDSA voluntary rating system now in place.

Gamecenter's short report on the senator reveals he has also targeted Hollywood and television, crusading against the exposure of youth to violent content. On June 4, 1999 he introduced a bill "to create a uniform rating system for all entertainment media violence. The '21st Century Media Responsibility Act' amends the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act to apply that law's warning label requirements to violent media products."

Although his stance towards the industry is currently relaxed (last year he praised the software industry's self-regulation) he previously held a hard-line stance, as this quote from the Gamecenter report reveals:

In December of 1998, Lieberman said that companies marketing mature-rated games to teenagers suggested that "Joe Camel has gone digital," an allusion to cigarette manufacturers targeting teens. He also took aim at the violent content in games while praising family-friendly mainstream games. "But move away from the mainstream, and you'll find a different, more sinister face. Over the last few years, we have seen the rise of a small but significant core of ultraviolent games that are far more realistic and gruesome than the shooting games that first caught our eye six years ago. They are also far more perverse and antisocial in the way they reward death and depravity. Killing and carnage is not enough any more--to torture and maim is often the name of these games now."
For more on our possible future VP, check out the Gamecenter article and Sen. Lieberman's own web site.

Interactive Digital Software Association
Lieberman Statements on Media Violence
Lieberman on Games at Gamecenter

Speece on V5 Drivers, V4 Release
3:58 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

With the 3dfx Mac Voodoo5 5500 arriving on shelves, we contacted 3dfx's Bryan Speece for details on the drivers for these cards, and when we might expect the lower-cost single chip V4 4500 to be released. Speece replied with details about their driver release schedule, as well as a list of advantages the V4 card will offer over 3dfx's Voodoo3 PCI cards, which are still available:

We intend to post consistent updates to the V5 software. The first will probably be within the next couple of days - but it's mainly a bug fix release - nothing in there honing performance yet.

The 4500 PCI is on track. We stated at MWNY that it would follow about a month and a half after the V5 and things are pretty much on schedule for that. Some advantages of the V4 4500 over the V3 would be: 32-bit color, FXT1 texture compression, 333MPixels/sec fill rate (versus 166), support for 2Kx2K textures, 32 MB RAM (versus 16), QuickTime acceleration, Quickdraw acceleration (including font and pict caching), 2-sample FSAA, DVI + VGA output, dedicated Control Panel, true Mac install (works out of the box = no ROM flashing necessary) and full service/warranty.

Considering 3dfx's excellent driver support for the V3, an "unsupported" card, we expect rapid development of these drivers to address the concerns and feedback we have received so far from Mac users of the V5. For those currently uncertain about a purchase of the V5, the V4 may be worth waiting for, even for those who already have a Voodoo3.

3dfx Voodoo4/5 Mac Products

PC Reactions to PCI V5 5500
3:46 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As the Mac version of the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI begins to arrive in stores and on the doorsteps of eager Mac gamers, the PC version of this card has also made its debut. The usual round of PC hardware sites have already posted reviews of this card; as expected, the PCI version of the V5 exhibits similar but slightly-slower performance than the AGP version, due to the narrower bandwidth of that type of bus interface.

What this might mean for Mac gamers is unclear. As we discovered in our preview of the Voodoo5 5500, the discrepancy between Mac and PC benchmarks was very large, due to a variety of factors and unoptomized drivers. However, the fact that the card was PCI is clearly not as limiting a factor as we assumed, as the PC benchmarks reveal the PCI version of the V5 to be 80-90% as fast as the AGP version in many tests. In particular, the results posted at Firing Squad show that the PCI version of the V5 suffers no dramatic loss of speed when compared to its 4x AGP equivalent when compared with high detail and medium resolution settings.

GA-Hardware found similar results; their review is interesting because it includes a comparison with the ATI Radeon, which is due to ship for the Mac in both AGP and PCI this Fall. One question that appears over and over again in these reviews is, why make a PCI version of this card at all? On the PC side, PCI graphics cards are already a rarity, and many high-end cards are AGP only. Here's GA-Hardware's answer to this question:

So why did 3dfx make the V5 5500? Because there are VERY MANY users whose computers do not include an AGP slot. Many of the bargain PCs (which are common first computer purchases) are based on chipsets that have a built-in video card (such as Intel's i810). Although these machines perform well enough in common Windows tasks, they perform horribly in gaming. Also, another reason for PCI cards is Apple Macintoshes. As PCI is the primary bus used in Macs as well, this allows 3dfx to target two rather large groups, many of whom would like to get better gaming performance than they currently are able to.
Our CGA partner Stomped also has a review of the PCI V5 posted; in their analysis, the reason that the PCI card is so competitive with the AGP version is that the PCI configuration does not transfer any texture memory over the AGP bus, but instead uses the very large (64 MB) SDRAM buffer to store textures. Stomped's benchmarks are particularly interesting, as they are from a real-world system (450 MHz Pentium III) rather than the uber-tweaked 1.2 GHz machines used by many hardware reviewers. This provides results that are very similar to the ones we obtained in our own preview of the Voodoo5 5500 - in fact they almost match perfectly. This weakens 3dfx's argument that the Mac OS bus is limiting the performance of the V5 5500, and strengthens the idea that the card is both CPU limited (due to ported games and Apple's OpenGL drivers) and driver limited (due to unoptomized drivers from 3dfx.)

Definitely more food for thought. IMG will have a final review of the Mac Voodoo5 5500 PCI in several days; we have decided to wait for the next driver revision, due shortly. In the meantime check out these reviews for more details and IMG's own V5 preview for more information.

3dfx V5 5500 PCI Mac Preview
3dfx V5 5500 PCI Review at Stomped
3dfx V5 5500 PCI Review at GA-Hardware
3dfx V5 5500 PCI Review at Firing Squad

Where Is Oni?
2:23 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Since Bungie's disappointing showcase of Oni at this year's E3 -- just a simple deathmatch level running on a PlayStation 2 -- and the total lack of a playable version of this game at MWNY last month, the time has come to ask the question: whither Oni? This third-person action title has been in the works since 1997, in one form or another; recently it traded hands from Bungie to Take Two Interactive as part of the sale of Bungie to Microsoft. Since that time all we have heard is that Gathering of Developers will publish Oni for Mac and PC sometime after the PS2 launch at the end of October.

3D Action Planet has posted a short piece which asks the question at hand: Where the hell is Oni? While the article doesn't offer much in the way of new information or answers to that question, it does outline the history of this title's development and its current status. When they pressed Bungie for an answer as to when this game might be expected, all they received was mysterious silence:

When Oni was announced last year, the release date was loosely given for late 1999. Bungie's own Brent Pease stated in an interview on onicore that "we are covering a lot of new ground and Bungie will not ship this game until it is ready".

Late 1999 has since past, and while the delays are frustrating for Oni's many fans, even more so is Bungie's silence concerning the topic. Our requests for an interview from Bungie and Oni's new publisher, Gathering of Developers, were unsuccessful.

Curious, indeed. When last we spoke with Bungie staffers, the plan was for the Bungie West team to remain in San Jose finishing up Oni, then turn over what they had completed to Take Two Interactive and move to Redmond to join Bungie Studios. We'll contact our own sources at Bungie and see if we can obtain a clearer picture of Oni's status for you. In the meantime, the 3DAP article is an amusing read. If you are totally new to Oni and want to know more about this game, read our Oni preview from last Summer.

Bungie's Oni
Oni Preview
3D Action Planet on Oni

GeForce MX 2 vs Q3A
1:59 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

NVIDIA fansite nV News has posted an interesting look at the GeForce2 MX chipset, a low-cost single-chip design which was recently released by the PC graphics card manufacturer, and which was designed with the Mac platform in mind. Although there are no currently announced Mac products based on this chip, we do expect versions of this low-cost ($110) card to make it to the Mac eventually -- and the excellent numbers obtained in these benchmarks of Q3A may give the $300+ cards a run for your pocket money.

This article focuses directly upon benchmarking with Quake 3 Arena; this makes the article a valuable read for Quake 3 fans as well, as it is full of Q3A performance tips and tweaks. In fact, the article links to two Q3A "tweak" guides that are packed with useful, if a bit arcane, charts and tables that document the major slowdowns in Q3A and illustrate how to balance between visuals and speed to get the frame rates you want.

As for the GeForce 2 MX itself, it has the remarkable performance PC gamers have come to expect from this chip developer. As we learned with our preview of the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500, PC benchmarks do not translate directly into Mac equivalents. The actual source of the performance bottleneck is still up for debate, but it is clear that we cannot expect the same level of performance from the GeForce 2 MX on the Mac. However these benchmarks are still useful, as they illustrate the strengths (32-bit color) and weaknesses (very high resolutions, high-rez textures) of this chipset. It is also worth noting that the benchmarks for 1024x768/32-bit come very close to the benchmarks for the V5 5500 at the same settings on a G4/500.

This article is a worthy read for the Q3A tweaking tips alone, but it also makes it quite clear that NVIDIA's low-cost chip is a worthy contender with the high-end crowd, especially at low and medium resolutions. We are absolutely certain that you will see this chipset on a Mac-specific card in the future; the only question is when. You may get an answer before Macworld San Francisco this January.

3dfx Voodoo5 5500 Preview
Q3A Tune-up Guide Part II
Q3A Tune-up Guide Part I
GeForce2 MX Q3A Benchmarks at nV News

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IMG's Neverwinter Nights Preview
12:22 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a first look at Neverwinter Nights, the spectacular looking 3D RPG from Bioware.

Past versions of Dungeons and Dragons on the computer have been fun, truly told, but will likely pale in comparison to the rich otherworldly beauty of Neverwinter Nights, an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-based Role Playing Game from Bioware, the makers of Baldur’s Gate.

Be sure to also check out our interview with the producer of Neverwinter Nights, Trent Oster.

IMG's First Look at Neverwinter Nights
IMG's NWN Interview with Trent Oster
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

MacGameDesigner now iDevGames.com
11:10 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Mac games supporter Carlos Camacho has informed us that his site supporting Mac game development, previously entitled MacGameDesigner.com, has been re-launched as iDevGames.com. This site is a growing resource for those interested in Mac game programming, with an emphasis on Mac-first titles. Here's Camacho on his new site:

I had a site called MacGameDesigner.com. The traffic was slow, but we were
working hard towards building the site. It has been re-named,
www.idevgames.com. I have been trying to reach Mac game programmers like
crazy to help out and build up the new site. There is still much work to be
done. In a way, our platform has NEVER really had a site devoted solely to
making games for the Mac. I want to take all those scattered game
programmers and bring them in from the rain. (i.e. Give them a place they
can call home.) If you search for game programming sites, you will find
hundreds devoted to the PC. And one, (us) devoted to the Mac.
If you are interested in either becoming a Mac games programmer or contributing to iDevGames.com, be sure and stop by this site. We'd also like to remind potential programmers about Mac Demos HQ, another great resource of code and coding info. Remember, Mac-only games such as Pathways into Darkness and Marathon were the titles that inspired the initial growth of the Mac game market -- the time is ripe for the next Bungie to emerge, so get cracking!

Mac Demos HQ

Wolfenstien Sequel Preview
10:30 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

While the annual gathering of Quake fans known as Quakecon 00 is no E3, various game developers and publishers are using this expo to demonstrate their upcoming games; one of the titles on display was Grey Matter's upcoming Return to Castle Wolfenstein, a sequel to id Software's original Wolfenstein 3D. 3D Action planet got a chance to preview this title and post some screen shots. The obtained many details on this game, as well as a list of the weapons that will be available:

  • The Luger -- Standard pistol fallback
  • The Mauser Rifle -- A rifle with a bit more kick than the Luger
  • The MP40 Machine gun -- Another machine gun
  • The Tompson -- Another rifle
  • The SP5 Pistol -- An incredibly powerful pistol that can gib an opponent in one shot, but which has horrible accuracy, especially at longer ranges.
  • The Bazooka -- It's the rocket launcher of the 1940's. 'Nuff said.
  • Grenades -- Hand thrown explosives that enemies can throw back at you.
  • Venom Gun -- A massive chaingun that shreds enemies like a cheese grater.
  • The Flamethrower -- Easily the most impressive weapon I saw, the Flamethrower gushes with beautifully rendered flames that can catch opponents (and their gibs!) on fire. It even billows around the level geometry (rocks, walls, etc.), so that it looks real.
According to this preview, this game is close to completion, with only some small design issues and the requisite testing left to be done. There is currently no word of a Mac OS version, but the use of the Quake 3 Arena engine as the base of this game makes a port very likely; two other titles based on the Q3A engine are already bound for the Mac OS.

Return to Wolfenstein Preview at 3DAP

Carmack at QuakeCon
9:47 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

At the recent QuakeCon 2000 festival, many hovered near the man behind it all, id Software's John Carmack. Accordingly he dropped a few hints about their upcoming DOOM sequel, as well as other tidbits of information.

Our CGA partner Stomped pulled Carmack aside for a minute to ask him a few questions. As part of the interview, Carmack gave his opinion on two of the upcoming Quake3-licensed titles:

Stomped: The first Quake 3 engine based games are now beginning to appear. Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and F.A.K.K. 2 are already out in some form and others are coming out. What do you think about the quality of the games that are using your engine?

Carmack: Well, Star Trek has been nice in that they (Raven Software) actually got a reprieve on their deadline push. They were able to go in and put in that extra set of polish that game developers always wish they had, while F.A.K.K. was kind of in the opposite sense were they (Ritual Entertainment) were really kind of like right up to the wire to fix the last things before they get it out, which I hope works out OK for them. People seem to be really enjoying playing F.A.K.K. and it look gorgeous; they have wonderful stuff. There is definitely the danger, though, that they have maybe been a little bit to close to the wire and we will see how that plays out.

The ShugaShack has summed up a few points from the hints Carmack dropped about DOOM 3. Here's a few interesting points:
- Carmack feels the visual 'wow factor' of the new Doom will be a greater jump than it was from the recent jumps between Quake/Quake2/Quake3. (Lots of neeto new effects), but it will also focus on actual gameplay instead of just that 'wow factor'

- Single player is the absolute focus, and Carmack feels it will be their best single player experience to date.

- The game and editor/tools are now combined. You'll be able to simply type doom.exe -editor for example (Or maybe even an in-game toggle)

- Spending more time on the sound code / game code with the new programmers on the team.

- A port to XBox is likely, Linux is likely (although it will take some work) and Mac will be OSX only.
A public test will also be done, much like with Q3A. We have known that future id titles will be Mac OS X only for some time; the news that editing tools will be included was also expected. id is keeping details on this title very hush-hush, but we'll bring you any new information that becomes available.

If you want to Carmack's words for yourself, an MP3 version of his conference speech is available at Linux Games. While it's not a beautiful recording, you will get a chance to hear his thoughts on consoles, as well as id's future plans.

Carmack MP3 Speech (11MB)
Stomped Carmack Q&A
ShugaShack Doom 3 Info

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Myst III: Exile Preview
9:32 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot UK has previewed this third installment in the Myst series, entitled Myst III: Exile. While the game is actually being made by Presto Studios, the original makers Cyan are watching the game's development closely. Here's an excerpt from the preview describing the visual style of this sequel:

Visually, the game is very close to Myst and Riven in terms of style, with fabulous landscapes rendered in 3D Studio Max. However, Presto has gone one step further with the technology. While movement is still node based rather than free scrolling, you can now pan around each location and look up and down. To achieve this, the graphic artists rendered a large landscape and then mapped it onto the inside of a cube with you at its centre. This gives you the illusion of being completely surrounded by the Myst world and makes more interesting puzzles possible. This isn't an entirely new development, since Presto used the same system in the last Journeyman Project game. However, in that game, the graphics lost resolution when you panned around, whereas with Myst III, they remain crisp and clear.
It sounds like fans of both the Journeyman Project series and the Myst series certainly have a game to look forward to. Be sure to check out the preview for more details.

Presto has also recently released more information on this game in progress. Their August issue of Myst III: Behind the Scenes talks about working on the live-action footage for the game, featuring interviews with president Michel Kripaplani as well as some of the actors from the game. Myst III: Exile is set to be released this Spring for both Mac and PC.

Presto August Interviews
GameSpot Myst 3 Preview
Myst III: Exile
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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Marathon Resurrection Wants YOU
9:26 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

If you're a programmer, that is... In a recent update to their web page, the Marathon: Resurrection project has posted a call for additional programmers to assist in this monumental endeavor of remaking Bungie's shooter Marathon as an Unreal Tournament total conversion.

Coders, please!
Can ya' code? Marathon Resurrection wants you!

The mod would be greatly serviced by the presence
of another talented coder, working in UnrealScript to
help recreate the classic gameplay we all lust for...

Take a peek at our Join section for more information.

Marathon: Resurrection is a project that aims to bring Bungie Software's classic, Mac-only FPS into the modern world of gaming. By recreating the maps, textures, weapons, etc. with the Unreal Tournament Engine, they hope to make something that will allow the Macintosh fan to wallow in nostalgia, as well as introduce the PC gamer to this classic.

Marathon: Resurrection
Marathon: Resurrection

Bungie.net Fixes, Resets
9:23 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

BungieNet has released a small patch to hopefully clear up any problems you might be having when trying to play Myth II online since the recent move of the servers to Redmond, WA. If you've tried this patch and still cannot play, you may not be alone. Here are details from Bungie.net:

A number of users have reported still being unable to connect after applying this fix. There are a number of possible reasons for this. First, make sure you have a good net connection and you're not connecting from behind a firewall or a proxy server. Next, make sure your login and password are correct. If you get an error saying "Unable to connect to bungie.net" try opening the "bungienet" file inside the preferences folder using a text editor (PC users: rt click, select open, select WordPad; Mac users: drag the file on top of a text editing program). There should be a string in this file that reads "venus.bungie.net". If you have the IP address instead of this string you'll need to uninstall Myth II (Mac users: drag the Myth II folder to the trash; PC users: run the uninstaller, then manually delete the files left in the Myth II folder), reinstall Myth II, reapply the latest patch, and reapply this update.
In an effort to make things a little more exciting for Myth II fanatics, Bungie has also added a wildcard to the reset schedule. Previously, they had a set schedule of game types which had their scores reset each month, to prevent anyone from dominating a particular gametype. Now a random game will be reset that's not on the schedule, just for kicks. Here's the next reset schedule:
  • Last Man on the Hill
  • Assassin
  • WILD!


  • Body Count
  • King of the Hill
  • WILD!


  • Territories
  • Flag Rally
  • Capture the Flag
  • WILD!

  • Stop by Macgamefiles to grab the patch, and remember that The Mill is a alive and well, and chock full of great Myth/Myth II downloads.

    The Mill
    Myth II DNS Fix

    Risk 2 Gone Beta
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Westlake Interactive has updated their web site to note that Risk 2 is now in the beta testing phases. The game is ahead of schedule and will be published by MacSoft along with a number of other Hasbro titles. Here's a clip:

    Risk 2 has gone extremely smoothly, and is ahead of schedule. We have the full game up and running, include network play. Testing will look for any bugs or compatibility issues, and then it should be ready for final approval.
    Great news from the hard-working folks at Westlake. We'll keep you posted as Risk 2 nears release.

    Mac Games News for Friday, August 4, 2000

    Diablo II 1.0.3 Released2:55 PM
    Baldur's Gate Also Sells Out1:10 PM
    Diablo II vs Harry Potter?12:39 PM
    G4 Cube Spotted at QuakeCon12:18 PM
    On the LithTech Engine11:55 AM
    Deus Ex FAQ, Walkthrough Updated11:10 AM
    Terminus 1.62b Patch10:54 AM
    More DS9: The Fallen Impressions10:31 AM
    Star Conquest Seeks Testers9:56 AM
    Escape Velocity 3 & Ragnarok News9:10 AM
    Diablo II Patch Status8:29 AM
    Voodoo 5 Shipping! (Update)7:59 AM
    Tropico Interview7:50 AM
    3dfx Q&A7:48 AM
    Celestium Author Needs Help6:00 AM
    Rocket Arena 1.42 Released6:00 AM
    Rune Reaches Alpha, Mac Update6:00 AM
    Summoner Interview, Dev Diary6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 4, 2000 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Thursday, August 3, 2000
    Wednesday, August 2, 2000
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    Friday, July 28, 2000

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