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Friday, August 11, 2000



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Halo to be Simultaneous Mac, X-Box
11:27 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Although we mentioned the latest games information from Apple yesterday, there was one small note in the Apple eNews newsletter that seems to have been neglected. Specifically, the short wrap-up of games news from the recent Macworld Expo New York mentions in passing that Bungie Studios' long-awaited shooter Halo will be coming to Microsoft's X-box console and the Mac OS simultaneously.


Steve Jobs and Ed Fries of Microsoft went out of their way during the MWNY keynote speech to assure Mac users that Halo would indeed be coming to our platform; indeed this was always the plan, from Halo's conception, but the purchase of Bungie by Microsoft cast doubt upon that scenario. Now, this short little quote brings us both good news and bad:

During his keynote address, Steve Jobs welcomed Ed Fries onto the Macworld stage. Vice President of Games for Microsoft, Fries reassured the audience. Yes, Microsoft certainly will release Halo for the Mac. In fact, it will be released for the Mac at the same time it is released for X-Box, Microsoft’s new video game console.
Why bad? Well, Microsoft's console is at least a year away from production, perhaps more. This means a wait of at least that time period, perhaps more, before Halo will ship for any platform. After seeing Halo in action several times, IMG is of the opinion that late Mac Halo is better than no Halo at all, regardless of the waiting period, but it is tough to resign oneself to yet another long wait. In the meantime we will have Bungie's Oni to play with, courtesy of Take Two and Gathering of Developers.


In case you missed it yesterday, we've linked to the Apple Games wrap-up from the Expo; if you want to get industry news straight from Apple themselves, be sure and subscribe to Apple eNews.

Subscribe to Apple eNews
MWNY Games Round-Up
Microsoft
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved


Information on Mac FAKK2, Sin
5:47 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MacCentral has posted an article which confirms the news that the Mac OS port of Ritual's Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 is indeed in 'beta' -- the final stage of development before golden master. According to Bill Heineman of Contraband Entertainment, the company developing this port, they expect to ship this title to publisher Gathering of Developers within the next three weeks. Heineman also reveals that the shooter Sin is nearing release:

In related news, Contraband's Heineman also told MacCentral that their conversion of Sin, another title developed by Ritual Entertainment, is also nearing completion.


"Sin is now in beta as well," said Heineman. "We're expecting that to reach golden master status in the next four weeks, shortly after Heavy Metal: FAKK 2 is finished."

For more information, follow the link below.

Contraband Entertainment
MacCentral on FAKK2, Sin



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On Sims Objects and Add-Ons
3:45 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Recently Mac publisher Aspyr Media began to release Mac-friendly downloads of objects for their port of Maxis' The Sims, a unique 'life in a tank' title. Such conversions seemed necessary, as the objects on the official Sims web site are in a self-expanding PC format. Today they released two new downloads, a model of the White House (complete with intern!) and a slot machine -- the two seem to go together, do they not? Here are the details on these downloads:

Download Americas best known home, the White House (396K). It comes
complete with your own, CIA agent, INS agent, ATF agent, FBI agent
and...Intern agent (she looks familiar). The house replaces the big
house currently at 2 Sims Lane and the news agent family's income makes
buying a sport. The White House is the perfect addition for your
political Sims!


And last but not least, bringing a good old-fashioned vice into your
home, download your very own Viva PGT Home Casino (604K). Not only will
this goodie make you next party a hit, it might just get a slob Sim off
his butt and generating some income, the pay-off is 10-1 (better than Las
Vegas). The slot machine can only be used by adult Sims and please note
that Pine Gultcher Technologies (PGT) is not liable for loss of
friends, family, money, profits or opportunity, indirect, special,
inconsequential or incremental.

Unfortunately, these files are still not available on the Aspyr web site, and the FPT server hosting the released objects seems to have hit its hard transfer limit.


Several astute IMG readers have pointed out in our Forums that such Mac-specific downloads are not entirely necessary -- many PC sites have Sims downloads in the ".zip" format, which is easily expandible by several Mac utilities. Also, objects in the ".exe" format can be expanded by Stuffit Expander and Stuffit Deluxe, simply by changing the prefix on the end of the file to ".zip." However, .exe files must be downloaded correctly -- download them as Source, not as Text.


However, this is only the first step. Once your download is expanded, it is likely to be a collection of strangely-named files. Installing should be fairly simple, but it is not as simple as dragging the folder to the Downloads folder. After all, the reason the file was in .exe (executable) format in the first place is that it has a script-driven installer.


Inanimate objects such as furniture and decorative objects are a snap -- just drop the resulting ".iff" file in the Downloads folder inside your Sims folder, and it should show up in the appropriate category the next time you use Buy mode. The Moose Head and houseplants are examples of such objects.


Objects that require animation or sound, however, are more complex to install. Expanding the .exe file results in a folder and several files, one of them usually called "script.txt". If you are lucky, you should be able to install this object simply by dragging the folder into the Downloads folder and ignoring the extra files; however this does not work for more complex objects, such as the Slot Machine. You can attempt to decipher the script file and determine where the individual files need to be installed, if you are familiar with MS-DOS path descriptions. In general the more complex the object, the less likely it will work without being properly installed in this fashion. Such objects will require an actual conversion by Aspyr to work correctly.


Skins, as several of our readers discovered, are not a simple drag-and-drop either; some skins when downloaded and placed in the appropriate folder will end up on the wrong body -- for instance, a swimsuit skin on the female body which has a shape for wearing a skirt. Again, these have to be downloaded as "source"; they will end up as ".bmp" files. These are placed in the Textures folder inside the GameData folder, not in the Skins folder or Downloads folder.


Most skins should work just fine -- but a few will end up on the wrong body (or on the wrong head, which looks really odd!). Luckily a currently unknown author has created Simsformac.com, which has an excellent tutorial which explains the naming convention behind the skins. Although it is too complex to go into here, the sex and body model that a skin will go on is encoded in the name of the skin itself; if a skin shows up on the wrong body, you have to correct the name to fix this.


As for Houses, these are problematic and complex installations. Not only do they involve overwriting one of your existing houses, but they may contain references to objects that you don't have installed, resulting in errors. Until a complete tutorial for installing houses is created, we don't recommend downloading and installing third-party maps unless from Aspyr.

The Sims 00
Sims Skins for Mac Tutorial
Simsformac.com
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Maxis
Westlake Interactive
The Sims
Buy The Sims


A Curious Conversion
1:54 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

3DNews.Net pointed us towards a curious 'partial conversion' taking place in the Quake 3 Arena 'mod' community -- specifically a conversion based on competing deathmatch title Unreal Tournament. This experiment seems destined to anger zealots on both side of the 'best shooter' debate, as fans of each game tend to snarl derisively at those who deign to play the other title.


This project is close to first beta, and seventeen screen shots attest to the excellent accuracy of their conversion of three popular deathmatch maps from Unreal Tournament to the Q3A format. They have even transferred the original textures and lighting effects, as well as partially mimicking the HUD from UT. Even the weapons of Q3A will be altered to behave more like UT weapons; currently the UT plasma rifle and Fusion Rifle are implemented, replacing the Q3A plasma rifle and Railgun. No word is given on the use of "alt-fire" modes however.


Here is the latest status report on this mod:

Here are the latest batch of beta images for some of the maps in the UT to Q3 partial conversion mod. We're releasing the first beta of the mod here next Friday, August 18th. What we're going to do, is release a beta for public testing each area we put together. We would like to get some public feedback on any bugs that may arise. Things are pretty solid at this point in it's development, and we're still in need of another coder, and modeller. So if you're interested in contributing to this mod, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you.


We're releasing the beta's and the final mod with no music, but an optional download containing the music for each map we're including. Since .wav music files are much larger in size than .umx files, we don't wanna force people that don't want the music to have to download them.


Also at this time we're taking requests as to what maps you would like to see incorporated into the mod. There's no guarantee that we'll include yours if you send an email, and we can't put them all in, but we will be picking a few that you do suggest to include.

Fans of UT are sure to crow in triumph, considering this an admission that theirs is the superior deathmatch experience; Fans of Q3A will more likely retort that now UT is finally worth playing. There is no word on how many maps they plan to convert, or whether player models/skins will be included. As with all UT and Q3A mods, a properly-constructed one should be transparently cross-platform, so watch for that download on the 18th.

Unreal Tournament Review
Quake 3: Arena Review
3DNews
UT to Q3A Project


Avernum Review
12:16 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GamesDomain has posted a new review of Spiderweb Software's latest RPG, Avernum. It's good to see this cross-platform company get a little recognition on the PC side of the fence. GD takes a balanced look at the game, noting that while it may not have the most high-tech visuals, it more than makes up for this in depth and strength of storyline. Here's a clip from the review:

The game's author clearly has a good creative streak and a good
sense of humour; the mad talking spiders (all called "Spider") are testament
to that. The good part is that while you will crawl through many areas and
dungeons, you don't feel dragged by the nose through them. You'll have to
locate secret doors, find ways to dispel magic barriers, and experiment with
the odd wheel or lever, but nothing overly cryptic.
Check out the rest of the in-depth review for much more on Avernum. If you've never tried this remake of the classic Exile: Escape from the Pit, be sure to download the demo.

Avernum Demo
Spiderweb Software
Games Domain Avernum Review


Bungie Nixes Apple's Info, More
12:10 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

How would we stay informed without Matt Soell of Bungie Studios and his ubiquitous presence on the Web? Recently he posted numerous messages the Halo.bungie.org and Rampancy .net. forums. His messages provide new and provocative information about Halo and Bungie itself. Mac gamers may be most interested in his response to the latest Apple eNews update, which reads:

Yes, Microsoft certainly will release Halo for the Mac. In fact, it will be released for the Mac at the same time it is released for X-Box, Microsoft’s new videogame console.
Matt had this to say about the apple Enews report at Halo.bungie.org :
I think this "announcement" is the product of some overzealous copywriting over at Apple, or at least someone with only vague memories of what was said on stage at the Expo.


As far as I know, we can't guarantee a simultaneous release on all platforms right now. I wish it were otherwise. If it happens, you'll hear it from us, not from Apple eNews.


-Matt


On a lighter note he made some very interesting comments to the H.B.O forums about the lack of blood in the stunning E3 Halo movie. He divided his message between unoffical and professional answers. Here are both remarks:

Given America's current socio-political climate, where talking head pundits who've never played a computer game in their lives blather endlessly about their destructive qualities, and the negligent parents who never question anything the TV says snivel in unison that the government isn't doing enough to control the games they buy for their own kids, it would probably be a bad idea to show up at E3 with a movie emphasizing the realism of our virtual blood.


And now, the professional, non-hostile reason:


The primary goal of that E3 movie was to dramatize what gameplay would be like. All the slick technology was put in service of that "substance-over-style" goal. We'd already done one trailer that made people ooh and ahh, but people were wondering what gameplay would be like; we knew we wouldn't have a good, solid, playable build for E3 but we wanted to give people a taste of that. If we'd just wanted to do another engine demo the programmers and artists would have worked on other stuff and the whole thing would have been markedly different, with even more eye candy. My point being: things that were not as refined in that movie as they could have been will change for the better before release.


Last but not least Matt provided some explanations as to what Inverse Kinematics (IK) really is and what it does. He goes on to explain about some of the deaths in the previously mentioned Halo E3 trailer and how the can be improved:

IK is basically the process through which a character's body reacts appropriately to environmental constraints. The position of a player's hands on the jeep's steering wheel, for example, or the player's hands taking the appropriate position on a gun. Presently it's a subtle effect; you don't play Halo and shout "Dude, check out that IK!" Well, obviously YOU don't...but even those of us with access to builds don't. ;-)


Work has been done on applying IK to player deaths but none of it has made it into a build yet. So those of you who dissed the deaths in the E3 trailer can chill. ;-)


Forums are a valuable source of information on the long-delayed Oni as well; Chris Butcher, Bungie Fan turned Bungie employee, dropped some hints about Oni's artificial intelligence on the Oni.bungie.org forums. This ought to answer some of the questions about Oni's AI raised after its AI programmer, Quinn Dunki left:

one of the most important things about our AIs is that they don't cheat. unlike the majority of games out there, our characters move by actually simulating keypresses; so they run, jump, sidestep and execute shoulder rolls using exactly the same world-class animation system that we developed to model konoko. basically, there is no visual difference between the opponents you're fighting and another human. of course, I can't say the same for all of their behavior patterns, but they're pretty convincing most of the time.
Halo for Mac OS will probably be published by Peter Tamte's Microsoft new company some time after the X-box version ships . Oni is coming this October to Mac, PC and Playstation 2, if all goes as planned; the Mac version will be published by Gathering of Developers. Many thanks go out to the fine people at Bungie for taking the time to answer gamer's questions and those who dedicate their time to running those exellent fanpages.

Halo.bungie.org
Rampancy.net
Chris Butcher on Oni AI
Matt Soell on Halo Rumors



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Mac FAKK2 in Beta
11:44 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Contraband Entertainment's Andrew Meggs has made an interesting post to Usenet concerning his work on the Mac port of Ritual latest title, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2. In his post, he notes the game has reached the beta testing phase and is just getting up to speed with various 3D cards and mice. Here's his post:

GameCenter says: "9/10... Fantastic graphics; wonderful combat; good mix
of action and exploration... Quite possibly the best action-adventure
game you're going to play this year."


http://www.gamecenter.com/Reviews/Item/0,6,0-4569,00.html


Gamespy says: "FAKK2 is absolutely gorgeous. Ritual's crew of level
designers are well known in the industry, and with good reason. The
architecture is terrific, and the environments are varied and intricate."


http://www.gamespy.com/reviews/fakk2_a.shtm

Andrew says: "The Mac version is beta. Most of the remaining work is to
ensure compatibility across various 3D cards and third-party mice."

This is great news for Mac gamers, who could see this just-released PC game very soon now. We've talked with Meggs before, and he has notes the longest delays will likely come from the publishing end of things. We'll keep you posted as FAKK2 nears release.

Contraband Entertainment
Gathering of Developers
Ritual Entertainment
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2


ZD Reveals iBook Speed Bump
11:41 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

According to an article posted on ZDNet, Apple will be bumping the clock speeds upward on their consumer portable iBook very soon. Supposedly this information is confirmed by independent sources, and include the following details:

Independent sources told ZDNet News that Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple plans to announce the interim iBook revision within the next two months. The "P 1.5" or "Rev. B" line of iBooks will remain largely unchanged from the current model but will feature PowerPC G3 processors at speeds up to 466MHz, built-in DVD support, one FireWire port and 8MB of video RAM.
While Apple representatives remained mute concerning this approaching speed bump, they continued their curious suit against public leaks of their intellectual property:
As reported in a CNet article, Apple's suit, filed last week in California's Santa Clara County Superior Court, named "Worker Bee" as one of up to 25 John Does the company said has caused the company damage by posting pre-release details of Apple's latest mouse and multiprocessor Power Mac desktops.
As ATI discovered at the Macworld Expo New York, Apple does not take kindly to leaks of any sort.


This iBook speed bump is great news for Mac gamers -- in our own review of this impressive piece of Apple hardware, we found it to be a great system, but its lack of speed and graphics memory kept it from being the ideal portable gaming machine that it could be. With 8 MB of VRAM and a 466 MHz G3, it would certainly be an extremely capable game machine; add in Airport support, and you have one gorgeous portable game station. Check out the rest of the article for more details.

iBook Review
ZDNet on iBook, Apple Lawsuit



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Tropico Interview
11:15 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Corporation recently pulled aside one of PopTop Software's 3d artists, Brian Feldges. In the interview, actually conducted at Macworld NY last month, Feldges answers several questions about PopTop's upcoming sim-game, Tropico. In case you're wondering what the game is going to be about, he offers a good summary:

Tropico is a simulation game much like SimCity, only in this case you play the dictator of a small Caribbean island. Basically, your job is to keep people happy enough, so that they don’t overthrow you. There are many different ways to do that. You can choose to ally with either the Soviets or the Americans, [and] you can choose what kind of economy you want, capitalistic or communistic.
Tropico is looking to be a great new take on the sim genre and we're really looking forward to seeing what PopTop can do with the idea. The game is using their Railroad Tycoon II engine, so most of the programming is already in place and the team is filling in the artwork and play balancing. Tropico is set to be released simultaneously for Mac and PC next year.

Tropico Interview
Gathering of Developers
PopTop Software
MacSoft
Tropico
Buy Tropico



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Raven Speaks, Elite Force Screens
11:07 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our Gamecenter Alliance partner Stomped recently went to QuakeCon in Mesquite, Texas, and came back with a beta copy of Raven Software's upcoming Star Trek-themed shooter Voyager: Elite Force as well as an interview with programmer Jake Simpson. While the interview deals mainly with industry issues and Raven's other recent release, Solider of Fortune, it does contain one item of interest to Mac gamers. On the subject of ports of this title, Simpson had this to say:

I can confirm that there will be a Mac port for Voyager. We are committed to that. We have said we wanted to do it. At E3 we had Elite Force multiplayer working on a Power Book, although we didn't actually demonstrate it. Recently we added some new code that breaks the Macintosh compatibility but it's not hard for us to be able to do it. It would be stupid of us not to. The Quake 3 engine is designed to work on the Mac. A Playstation 2 port will be done purely on sales numbers. If (the PC version) sells well, then they will look into it.
As IMG recently confirmed, a Mac publisher has indeed been secured for the port of this title (Activision passed on publishing the Mac version themselves.) Simpson's comments are only more confirmation that we will be playing this title on our Macs, and soon!


Stomped has also posted a short preview of the game in question, based on a beta copy. More first impressions than an actual preview, this piece has four new screen shots. Here's an excerpt:

The game was developed by Raven Software and their reputation for quality and their experience with modifying id Software engines shines here. The Quake 3 Arena engine is used extremely well and Raven's own texture and lighting work give the engine a look that is perfect for the material.


Storywise, the game feels like something straight out of a TV episode, and that's a good thing. Voyager is sent to a Sargasso Sea in space where the ship's Hazard Team (the Elite Force of the title) is recruited to help Voyager get out of their situation. The ships vary from the Voyager itself to several different alien (and one other Federation) ships.

There isn't much new information here, but it is yet another perspective on this upcoming shooter. As soon as we can announce the publisher and a ship date, we will bring you more details on Mac Elite Force.

Raven Software
Jake Simpson Interview at Stomped
Voyager: Elite Force Preview at Stomped
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force


Mac Games News for Thursday, August 10, 2000

X Plane Update Available9:56 PM
SkyFighters 1945 Demo Available1:09 PM
Return To Dark Castle Teaser12:56 PM
Apple on The Sims, Will Wright12:07 PM
Blizzard Promises Better Battle.net12:01 PM
Apple Wraps Up MWNY Games11:54 AM
Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year11:34 AM
3dfx Voodoo5 Official Announcement10:42 AM
MacGamer Updates10:19 AM
Gray Matter Interview on Wolfenstein10:11 AM
Hands-on Elite Force Previews9:58 AM
Human Head Interviewed9:42 AM
27 New Tribes 2 Screenshots8:20 AM
Connectix on Piracy7:51 AM
Developers Seek Help for 3D Title6:00 AM
Gaming on a Low-End Mac6:00 AM
Sims Livin' Large Images6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, August 10, 2000 on one page


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Wednesday, August 9, 2000
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