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Monday, August 21, 2000



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Mac Deus Ex 2 Details
9:28 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Last week we brought you word that the shooter/RPG hybrid Deus Ex has been popular enough to have inspiredIon Storm to begin work on a sequel, tentatively entitled Deus Ex 2. More information on this project has begun to arrive, including an interview posted at GamesMania with Ricardo Bare, designer at Ion Storm. Here's a relevant clip:

GM: Will Deus Ex 2 be ported to the Mac platform as well?


RB: This will totally depend on the technology we license. If the engine we use is ported, then its more than likely that DX2 will also be ported.

So, while this is promising news, Mac users will have to wait and see what Ion Storm decides to use.


Mark Adams of Westlake Interactive, the company that ported Deus Ex to the Mac, recently made a post to Usenet regarding the chances of a Mac OS port of this sequel. Ion Storm is also working on Thief 3, and a reader had asked what might happen if Deus Ex 2 used that game's engine instead of the Unreal/Unreal Tournament engine. Here's Mark's post in full:

Unfortunately if Thief 3 uses the Thief 1/2 engine, developed by LookingGlass before they folded, AND Deus Ex 2 picks the Thief 3 engine, it wouldn't bode well for a Mac version.


Several Westlake programmers (myself included) worked with LookingGlass code for several years (we did the Mac versions of Flight Unlimited and System Shock).† And the scope of those projects was monumental.†


LookingGlass developed VERY Windows-specific code which used huge PC code libraries they spent years developing.† It was a quite a mess from a portability standpoint.


A lot of this is extrapolation from what some of us know of the code for the Thief engine way back when (before Thief, when the engine was only a codename).† Its possible that if the code is used for a current game (Thief 3/DX2) it might not be as bad as back then.† But in all the years of working with LookingGlass code, it kept getting less portable and more complex the longer they worked on it :(

So, let's hope Ion Storm decides to use a slightly more Mac-friendly 3D engine for their sequel. As the sequel is intended for the PlayStation 2 as well as PC, it is more likely that they will choose a variation of the Unreal Tournament engine once again, as this engine has already been ported to that console. We'll keep you posted as more information on the game becomes available. If you want information on what this sequel might be like from the man himself, make sure you check out the short piece by Warren Spector posted at GameSpy.

Westlake Interactive
GamesMania Deus Ex 2 Interview
Warren Spector on Deus Ex 2
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex


Peter Tamte Speaks
5:29 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MacEdition has posted an interview with Peter Tamte, conducted by 'Zmonk.' Tamte's name should be familiar to all Mac gamers; this founder of MacSoft and onetime Bungie exec announced at last month's Macworld Expo New York that he would be forming a company expressly to port Microsoft games to the Mac OS. With three titles slated for development and more due in the future, Tamte's currently unnamed company stands to make a huge impact on Mac gaming and perhaps narrow the gulf between Apple and Microsoft game technologies that have made past ports so difficult.


In this interview Tamte discusses the mission of this company, his goals and how it might be funded. He also hints at original development of titles in the future. Here's Tamte on the company's background and goals:

Could you give us a little background on how the idea to start this company came about?


Very few games makers right now are really taking advantage of the power of interactivity to deliver truly compelling entertainment that appeals to broad audiences of people. Most games now are only about the adrenaline rush. I want to create games that offer plenty of adrenaline, but also deliver an experience much deeper than this.


Will the new company be publishing the games, or will Microsoft remain the publisher? How will this work?


One very important component of the company's strategy is to bring Microsoft's key games to the Mac. Age of Empires II is an excellent example of a game that offers both an adrenaline rush, as well as a deeper experience. Microsoft is now releasing many of the industry's most important games, and they have an incredible lineup ahead.

The first three titles Tamte's company will port are Age of Empires II, Links LS 2002 and the forthcoming revision of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Future games will be evaluated on a per-game basis, but Tamte states several times that his goal is simultaneous development and release. Read the interview for more details, and set the wayback machine to our Macworld Expo coverage as well.

MW: More on Apple/Microsoft Games J
MW: Peter Tamte on DirectPlay
Peter Tamte Interview at MacEdition


Battledom In Beta
4:06 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

An alert IMG forum participant pointed us towards Battledom, a free web-based game that is currently in beta testing. While the game itself is entirely cross-plaftform, based on Javascript, the map editing tools are Mac-only -- a delicious twist on the norm.


The current public beta test allows 200 users at a time. You simply create an account, and then follow the tutorial to get on your way. This game is designed to be a long-term turn-based strategy game, with the eventual goal being domination of levels and kingdoms. In the classic build-and-conquer model, you must improve your kingdom, raise an army, and beat back your foes. Here is a description from the web site:

Battledom is a graphical strategy game, and is very slow paced. This means that you can not play it for an evening and forget about it. The idea is that you play it for a bit every day, becoming every more powerful - the longer you play it the better ! There are lots of other people like yourself to play with, and to interact with. The goal in Battledom is to become as powerful as possible in the world, but the game is also about the community. You have to correspond with your allies in order to do well, and help each other out in difficult situations.


Battledom is set in a fantasy-medieval world, populated by hundreds of players all with an army, of varying people, from poor Peasants to deadly Dragons and at least one fotification of some kind each, whether it be wooden spikes on a hill, or a huge, deadly fortress. When you join, you will get the most basic - a fortification, along with 20 peasants and 5 warriors to get you started. It will be your job to create your own empire, by building more buildings within your base, and training Warriors and Knights to send out over the huge world of forests, seas and grassy plains, capturing other peoples' bases to push them out of the game, and to earn a tactical advantage. You are never far away from an enemy, so it gets tough quickly !

This game is free, so be sure and give it a try if turn-based games are your cup of tea. Note that a fast Internet connection is a must, unless you are especially gifted in the patience department. And if you have an interest in building maps for this game, make sure you contact the team to receive the development tools.

Battledom Site


Quick Descent 3 Hosting
3:07 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Mac.Descent3.net has a cool new feature for those of you who would like to easily get a server for a Descent 3 game up and running with Shiva's Servers On Demand (SOD) service. A post in our forums from their webmaster explains more about how the link-throughs work:

For all who don't know, SOD is Shiva's great (free and anonymous) service that will start up a dedicated D3 server to run any game you want at any time: Servers On Demand. So you don't have to host to play the level you want to--and you aren't stuck with whatever happens to be open on PXO at the moment. See http://d3shiva.dhs.org for full SOD details.


The thing is, some people don't want to go through the Shiva's World site and fill out that long form to launch a game. (Many don't realize you can bookmark the response
to the form and bypass the form if you want the same game again.)


So http://Mac.Descent3.net now has a selection of games available for one-click launching. You need nothing special on your system--just make sure you have the mission in your Missions folder.


Just click the game you want, then quit your browser and launch D3 to find your game waiting for you on PXO. It's as simple as that. (The message that appears offering to
launch D3 automatically for you only works with the PC-only SOD utility.)

This is a very good idea, andmakes it handy to quickly get a game going. It is a free service, though, so don't go and overload their servers with a bunch of empty games, please. Head on over to Mac.Descent3.net for a lot of other Descent-related information as well.

Mac.Descent3.net Web Site
IMG Forum Thread


Are Games Art?
1:26 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

When Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel isn't crafting engrossing, gigantic RPGs such as Avernum for the Mac, he likes to write columns. His latest Grumpy Gamer column at CDMag deals with a question that is very dear to many game designers -- are the creations that they slave over for months, perhaps years, to be taken seriously as artistic endeavors? Or are these merely entertainments, to cast aside like a Frasier rerun?


Vogel remains objective about the subject matter, and believes that games are still in their early, crude stages as works of art. Just as the first scratchings on a cave wall led to the Mona Lisa, games are progressing similarly towards true expression and communication. Here is an excerpt:

In many ways, computer games are crude things, fairly simply constructs that donít hold up under close examination. That doesnít mean that they arenít art, just that they still have a way to go before they have the complexity and power of, say, a really good movie. However, that is clearly the direction they are heading.


I defy any reasonable person to look at the writing of Torment, the complex analysis of human interactions in The Sims, or the stunning visuals of Ultima IX, and tell me that computer games donít have the potential to be just as deep a form of communication as movies, or books, or anything else people study in college. I think that computer games are the real deal, and I wonít apologize for this medium in any way.

Read the rest of Jeff's column for more of his arguments as to why games should be taken seriously as an expressive and creative medium, then come back and share your thoughts in our Forum or in the comment thread of this article. What games would you consider to be works of art? What keeps games consigned to the back pages of newspapers and to their own magazines, when they have the potential to break through into popular culture? Why do games have so little presence in the media and film, when millions of users devote the majority of their time on PCs to this pursuit? Let us know what you think.

Grumpy Gamer: The Big "Computer Games Are Art" Rant


SkyFighters 1945 OpenGL Update
12:42 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The OpenGL version of Bullseye's SkyFighters 1945, a flight simulator of WWII-era aerial combat, has been updated. The small change fixes a problem with the appearance of the propeller on the 3D plane models.


If you have yet to try this zippy flight sim, which runs well even on an iMac, take it for a spin. Here is a description:

SkyFighters 1945 is a WWII era flight sim featuring both single user missions and multi-user Internet play. Highlights include: excellent computer AI for competitive dogfights, up to 8 players in the multi-player mode, ground targets, bombing, carrier operations, multiple worlds, realistic flight characteristics, create your own custom paint jobs, and many other features.


If you are looking for a WWII era flight sim for your Mac, SkyFighters 1945 is the one for you. Not super complex, like some other flight sims, but fully featured and a lot of fun.


SkyFighters 1945 is a great flight sim for experienced flight simers, AND beginning flight sim pilots as well.

Since its introduction, this flight sim has been accepted enthusiastically by fans of the genre -- the demo has been downloaded almost 2,000 times and 15 Macgamefiles users have rated it an average of 4.5 joysticks. Their comments range from "Absolutely fantastic, absolutely addicting" to "Say goodbye to your social life." Stop by and grab this one from Macgamefiles.com, and make sure you leave your own rating and comments -- other visitors to MGF definitely appreciate it.

Bullseye
Download SkyFighters 1945
SkyFighters 1945 User Reviews


Baldur's Gate II Images
11:10 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our partner Gamecenter has released a series of images from Baldur's Gate II, a BioWare RPG that is nearing completion on the PC side. While it may annoy Mac gamers that PC users may be playing the sequel soon, while Mac gamers just got their hands on the original Balder's Gate, it is worth noting that this sequel is based on the same core code and game engine as the first -- which increases the odds of a port, and also drastically increases the speed at which this might be achieved.


Here is an excerpt from Gamecenter's article which features thirteen exclusive screen shots:

Everything so far in the game looks bigger, better, stronger, more dangerous. The game truly is a sequel to the first Baldur's Gate: you'll start out the game as a pretty high-level character no matter which class you choose, picking up the story line where Baldur's Gate left off. Well, sort of--instead of resting on the laurels of your victory over the vicious Sarevok, you find yourself a prisoner in a dungeon in the city of Athkatla, along with your old friends Imoen, Jaheira, and Minsc (and Minsc's constant companion, Boo the hamster). You'll spend the first few hours of the game trying to escape this dungeon and figuring out why you're there in the first place. We won't spoil the plot for you any further--suffice it to say that you'll run into monsters, traps, twists, turns, spells, and subquests aplenty. And this is just the littlest slice; the developers have already informed us that if you went through every quest and subquest the final game has to offer, you could easily spend more than 200 hours in front of your computer.
That sounds like an adequate amount of time for your money. Gamecenter also has a preview of this game posted for your perusal.


As you know, GraphSim recently released the original Baldur's Gate for Mac OS -- a lot later than expected, we must note, but it is here nonetheless -- and mentioned upon this release that they were working on porting the expansion pack Tales of the Sword Coast. Since both BG II and a title developed in parallel called Icewind Dale are based on the same engine as the original Baldur's Gate, we are quite sure GraphSim will be looking to sign these titles as well; this may be taking place even as you read this. In any case we would expect those titles to reach the Mac much faster than the original BG did, as the majority of the code base has already been ported. We'll keep you appraised of any developments in that area. In the meantime, check out these gorgeous screen shots and dream of the future...

GraphSim
Baldur's Gate II Preview @ Gamecenter
Baldur's Gate II Screen Shots @ Gamecenter



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Combat Mission Updated to 1.04
10:38 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Big Time Software has updated their highly-acclaimed war game Combat Mission to version 1.04, making numerous changes and fixes to the game. You should be careful when updating your game, however, as the company recommends you finish any partially-completed scenarios before updating to the new version.


Combat Mission is a 3D war sim set in World War II that delivers an amazing amount of realism. It has won numerous awards from various PC and Mac sites for its accuracy and depth of realism. Version 1.4 brings a huge number of improvements to the game; here are just a few from the list:


  • Play-by-email format has changed. Both players must use v1.04 to be
    compatible. IMPORTANT: Upgrading to v1.04 part way through a scenario or
    play-by-email is NOT recommended, due to a change in the way artillery
    ammunition is tracked (see below).
  • AI bug fixed so it does a better job 'defending' against an enemy exit
    edge, even if the AI is the attacking force.
  • Vehicles with limited AP ammo were sometimes overly cautious about using
    it (e.g. SPW 250/9). This has been remedied.
  • Canadians have use of 40mm Bofors AA gun.
Glad to see the Canadians now have access to all the firepower they need... See the ReadMe that accompanies the patch for the complete list of changes. If you're a CM fan, be sure to head to Macgamefiles now and grab the update.

Combat Mission Web Site
Combat Mission 1.4 Update (1.6MB)
Battlefront.com
Combat Mission


Fifth Tomb Raider to Ship With Tools
10:07 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our partner Stomped directed us towards an article posted at fansite The Croft Times, a zine dedicated to all things Lara Croft, which mentions that map-making/editing tools for this third-person adventure game will be included in the next installment. Entitled Tomb Raider Chronicles, this variation will supposedly be the last in this extremely large and lucrative franchise; future titles will be based on a different engine and gameplay style.


According to The Croft Times, Core will engineer their in-house tool for release to the public, much as Bungie made Forge and Anvil usable by fans, and will release this editor with the next installment of the series. Here are details:

Designed by the original Tomb Raider team and modified for each Tomb Raider game, the editor software is unique to Core Design and Tomb Raider. Having received numerous requests from fans for the release of this tool, Core Design is now working on a modified version suitable for consumer use. The resulting system will allow users to create levels using the same tools that the Tomb Raider programmers use themselves.

The software includes a tutorial, allowing users to familiarise themselves with each tool before designing their own levels. Core Design and Eidos plan further support via dedicated webpages offering advice, troubleshooting and download updates such as new textures and enemies.

Before Mac fans of this game begin to drool, we must remind you of the extremely dismal record of editing tools making the leap to the Mac OS along with the game. From Heroes III to the recent port of The Sims, Mac versions almost never ship with editing tools, and they are rarely included as part of a porting contract, even when they are a large part of the game release on the PC side. Hopefully this trend will fade away, as many future games (from Neverwinter Nights to the Doom sequel) will include built-in tools for all platforms the games appear upon. In any case, there is no word of a Mac version of this fifth Tomb Raider game, although we are quite sure Aspyr Media is eyeing it -- if and when a Mac version is announced, we will find out if the tools will be included in the deal.

Stomped
Aspyr Media
Official Tomb Raider Site
Croft Times on Tomb Raider V



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Volition's Games In Progress
9:36 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Several new nuggets of information about both of Volition's upcoming games have been released recently. Those that have been following news on the 3D RPG Summoner should head to VoodooExtreme and have a look at the four new screen shots which are now available. They're looking very impressive, as Summoner progresses towards a release later this year. The official Summoner web page has a new feature called "Bug Fix of the Day" which highlights a particular bug the programming team must get around to fixing. The first shows a distinct problem with being invisible; it's hard to get people to talk to you... Head over to the site for more information on Summoner.


Volition's other title in development, Red Faction, is a first-person shooter with the amazing Geo-Mod engine that will allow players to destroy the surrounding environment as well as your enemies. Is that wall giving you a nasty look? Take it out -- in fact, take out the whole building!


Red Faction will not be just mindless destruction. The team is focused on story depth as well, so don't expect Red Faction to be a simple FPS. A new update to the official site includes a fictional bio about a character in the game named Gryphon. This is a worthwhile read which reveals the depth of story line this game is striving for.


Summoner should be out for Mac and PC late this Winter. The release of Red Faction should also be near-simultaneous early next year.

Summoner Bug Fix of the Day
VoodooExtreme Summoner Screen Shots
Red Faction Character Sketch
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction



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Shadowbane Interview
8:09 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The German zine Zocks.de has posted an English version of a recent interview with the makers of the upcoming massively-multiplayer online RPG Shadowbane. The game is being created by Wolfpack Studios and should be available next year for Mac and PC. The interview covers a variety of topics, including this question about the automatic fractal terrain generator:

How much of the worlds is generated via your Fractal World Generator and how much is Designed?


It's actually a very natural process. Each world is generated completely -- including mountains, hills, trees, rocks, etc and then the "built" objects are added - bridges, houses, castles, etc.

If you're looking for more information on this MMORPG after checking out the interview, visit the official Shadowbane website.

Shadowbane
Zocks Shadowbane Interview
Wolfpack Studios
Shadowbane


Mac Games News for Friday, August 18, 2000

MGL Wraps Up MWNY7:22 PM
Monkey Shines 2 Nears Beta7:10 PM
First Look at Unreal Fortress4:05 PM
Preview of Next Tomb Raider3:19 PM
MacCentral Interviews Marty O'Donnell2:27 PM
3dfx in the Red?2:21 PM
"Missed" Marathon Map Tutorials12:56 PM
Details on Epic's Titles11:32 AM
Dying Game Genres?10:30 AM
New Realms Added to Realmz10:25 AM
Unreal Tournament 4.25a Released10:00 AM
Unreal Arena Reaches Beta9:56 AM
Tribes 2 Shots, Interview9:46 AM
Diablo II Almanac8:44 AM
Shadowbane Preview8:39 AM
4x4 Evolution Preview6:00 AM
Deus Ex 2 Announced6:00 AM
YA Elite Force Preview6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 18, 2000 on one page


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