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Tuesday, August 22, 2000

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Myst III: Exile Updates
10:27 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The first newsletter from the official Myst III: Exile web site has been sent out, noting all of the recent happenings in the community. They talk about both the fanfest called Mysterium and the Macworld Expo in New York, with much to say about the reaction of Mac users to this title.

Here are details from Mysterium, the recent Cyan-sponsored fan event:

Recently a number of MYST fans attended MYSTERIUM, a conference in
Spokane, Washington organized for MYST fans. One of the big surprises
was an inside peek at the J'nanin Age in MYST III: Exile. Never before
seen views and panoramas were visible on high resolution screens. Here
are some comments we gathered from fans who had a chance to check out
the display:

"The graphical quality of the 360 panorama interface Presto has
developed for Exile reminded me much of the quality I experienced
in the static images of Riven. Great work!" P.H.

"Although I only had a few minutes to look around on the
MYST III: Exile demo, the lushness of texture, colour and
modeling detail was really impressive."

Another very interesting part of the newsletter was producer Daniel Achterman's report on the reaction of Mac users to Myst III: Exile at the Macworld Expo New York last month. Here's an excerpt which describes the game's introduction at the Expo:
Because of Myst's origins on the Macintosh and the large number
of Macintosh using fans, Mattel Interactive and Presto Studios
presented Myst III: Exile at Mac Expo this year in New York
City. I've now presented Myst III: Exile at two trade shows,
E3 and Mac Expo, and I must say that the two were very different
experiences. The goals for the two shows were very different,
of course. We announced the game at E3, so our priority was to
get people excited about it and inform the press that it was
coming. We went to Mac Expo primarily to emphasize our support
for the Mac platform and to explain what we are doing to support
it. Many people at E3 wanted to know about the story, and about
who was making it. People at Mac Expo were more intent on whether
it was coming out for the Mac, and when. I think I must have said
"Myst III: Exile will be releasing simultaneously on Mac and PC
in either February or March of 2001" hundreds of times in three days!
It would be very tough to imagine this game not coming to the Mac OS, as that is where the Myst series originated. Note that February or March is the most precise date we've seen so far; it was previously "first half of 2001."

The Myst III site itself has also had a number of updates to its content recently. A new contest at Myst3.com asks you for your most interesting Myst-related experience (in 100 words or less) for the chance to pick up some stylish Myst-wear. A new survey on the site is also up and will give you the chance to score a Myst III T-shirt or mouse pad. So enter both, and increase your chances of winning something cool.

Myst III: Exile
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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Tomb Raider Chronicles Details
2:57 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Yesterday we brought you the news that the next installment in this ultra-successful franchise would ship with its own editing tools. Today, Eidos has filled in the rest of the picture by officially announcing Tomb Raider Chronicles for PC, Dreamcast, and PlayStation. Due in Q4 2000, this fifth installment in the third-person adventure series will be yet another slight evolution in gameplay and engine, rather than a complete revolution. This is actually quite good news for Mac gamers, as the use of the same engine virtually guarantees that Aspyr Media and Westlake Interactive will port this game to the Mac OS.

No longer confined to pyramids and caves, Lara will explore high-tech environments and use the tools of stealth and assassination. With the addition of a sniper rifle and grappling hook, she will be prepared to conquer urban environments and even the inside of a German U-boat.

Blue's News was quick to publish the press release from Eidos which details this upcoming title. Here is an excerpt with more information:

Eidos Interactive, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of interactive software products announced today Tomb Raider Chronicles is coming for the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation game console, and PC CD-ROM in November of this year.

Tomb Raider Chronicles features four of Lara Croft's previously untold exploits, each comprising a separate adventure and offering brand new insights into her past. The game takes place only a few days after The Last Revelation, beginning at a memorial service for Lara - her body has not been found.

After the service Jean Yves, Winston and the family Priest, Father Dunstan, retire to Croft Manor. As they collect their thoughts they reminisce about some of Lara's past adventures, each of which is introduced via FMV 'flashback' sequences.

The locations for Chronicles' four adventures feature the city of Rome, a German U-boat, a small Irish Island and a hi-tech tower block. Each episode has a unique focus and requires the player to adopt a different strategy.

The Irish levels (played as the 16-year-old Lara) depend on the use of cunning and guile rather than weaponry to deal with their many puzzles and traps. The U-boat has a 'X-files' feel, filled with action, whilst the Rome levels comprise classic Tomb Raiding adventuring. Finally, the Tower Block features hi-tech systems that require stealth, strategy and continual guidance from your companion, ZIP.

New features include additional moves and miscellaneous animations for Lara plus a wider variety of enemy animations. A 'search' option for Lara is included, enabling her to look through files, drawers etc. and take any items of use. New weapons include a sniper rifle and a grappling hook gun. New moves make use of tightropes, suspended bars (Lara may swing from bar to bar) and grappling ropes. The combination of bars and ropes requires the player to traverse areas in a wider variety of ways than previously seen.

While this series might be cited as the textbook example of how to milk a franchise for every last thin dime, we're sure fans of this series are eager to go globe-trotting with Lara once again. If and when Aspyr Media makes their move to publish this upcoming title for the Mac platform, we'll let you know.

In the meantime, The Adrenaline Vault has posted fifteen screen shots from Chronicles, which appear to be from the Rome levels of the game. We're sure more information about this title will be available in the near future.

Tomb Raider Chronicles Press Release
Tomb Raider Chronicles Screen Shots
Fifth Tomb Raider to Ship With Tools
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Core Design
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Buy Tomb Raider: Chronicles

Belated 3dfx Contest News
12:34 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

By some egregious oversight, we neglected to mention who won the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI card that was given away by 3dfx as part of their launch of this 3D card on the Mac platform. Of course they could have let us know the information has been posted, but we're willing to forgive and forget. In any case, the free card went to S. Jacobowitz of Vermont, USA; no other details are given. Congratulations from all of the IMG staff!

In related news, 3dfxgamers.com has posted an interview with Cian Riordan, a lucky fellow who spent the Summer as an intern in 3dfx's Mac department. While this interview doesn't have much in the way of technical information, it is am interesting look inside 3dfx and an excellent example of a way to make your friends absolutely sick with jealousy. Here is an excerpt:

The Mac is really starting to take off as a computer for gaming. What are your thoughts about this?

I think it's great! It's definitely what the Mac community needs. Especially with more and more developers porting their games to the Mac and the debut of high-performance graphics cards from big players like 3dfx. It's definitely a change for the better.

How do you feel about the Voodoo board that's just come out for the Mac?

I think its great. It's definitely a good thing. People have mixed reactions about it compared to how the PC V5 compares to it, but people don't realize that this is only the beginning. Things can only get better. With competition in the video cards, more and more high-performance products will come to the Mac.

We have to agree. Read the rest of the interview for more pithy comments from this fortunate and talented Mac fanatic.

Voodoo5 5500 PCI Preview
Voodoo5 5500 Giveaway Winners
Interview With Intern Cian Riordan

Humongous Releases Two Blue's Titles
12:20 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Humongous Entertainment, publishers of a seemingly endless stream of edutainment titles, has added two more games to the amazingly successful Blue's Clues series, based on the popular childrens' television show. Blue's Art Time Activities and Blue's Reading Time Activities are two more titles that seem guaranteed to inform and entertain your children age 3 to 6 -- now, if those kids would only let you have some time on your computer! Here are the details:

Providing the basic building blocks for art and reading mixed in with plenty of fun, Blue's Art Time Activities and Blue's Reading Time Activities are the latest titles in the best-selling Blue's Clues CD-ROM series from Humongous Entertainment, an Infogrames, Inc. company (Nasdaq: GTIS), and Nickelodeon, the worldwide entertainment brand that puts kids first. With these two new activity-based programs, preschoolers can learn fundamental skills in art and reading, and then build on that knowledge through creativity and exploration. Designed for kids ages 3 to 6, Blue's Art Time Activities and Blue's Reading Time Activities are available in stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $24.99 each.

In these curriculum-based games, preschoolers master their understanding of art and reading concepts by participating in various learning activities while interacting with Blue and her friends. Areas within the games also encourage children to create and discover on their own, providing opportunities to use what they have learned. As players progress, activities become more challenging, adjusting to the child's skill level.

Sounds like two more ways to give your child a head-start. Visit the Humongous web site for more details.

Humongous Entertainment

Gloomveil Content Updated
12:03 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While this is not exactly Mac gaming news, the unique multimedia creation Gloomveil -- inspired by the upcoming online RPG Neverwinter Nights -- is remarkable enough to warrant notice by any fan of the genre. A mix of fan fiction, FAQs, reader submissions and unique Flash-based 'widgets,' Gloomveil goes beyond the simple fansite and becomes a work of art in itself.

Recently the page has received several content updates. Here is a list of the new features, from the press release:

The fog-enshrouded region of Gloomveil is dangerous and mysterious, a
place most people only visit in their nightmares. But there is an oasis
of nourishment in this dark place! The Brothers Three Inn welcomes folk
from all realms to find room, board, and fellowship. Stop by for a
visit... if you are brave enough!

Travellers to the Gloomveil region have the valiant Peacekeepers to look
to in times of need. Small in numbers, but strong in spirit, these brave
men and women risk their lives for the good people of Gloomveil. The
Peacekeepers' Hold is now open, serving justice to all those who deserve it.

The Library of Lore has been gifted with 8 new texts from Gloomveil and
realms beyond. A variety of races and cultures are discussed in these
works, bound to be of interest to students, sages or scholars. The
Library comes in Flash and non-Flash flavors.

A new interactive widget has been added to the Leisure Den. Made of
wood, bone, and scrap bits of metal, the musical Bloatophone is not easy
on the delicate ear. Elves and other frail creatures stay away!

Neverwinter Nights is a real-time 3D RPG being developed by BioWare for Mac and PC. While the game itself isn't due until Summer of next year, its ambitious attempt to mix cutting-edge technology with the personal interactivity of pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons has already drawn major interest from the gaming industry. While Gloomveil is inspired by, and not based on, this game, it is still an interesting visit for anyone who has ever thrown the dice to determine whether their Magic Missile has drilled a Creeping Sloth between the eyes or merely glanced off a shield. For more on Neverwinter Nights itself, check out our First Look at this game and visit the official web site.

Neverwinter Nights
First Look: Neverwinter Nights

Unreal II Update
11:44 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Legend Entertainment has been developing a sequel to the original Unreal for quite some time, having begun work on this title soon after their own Unreal-based game Wheel of Time was completed. However, very little information about this sequel has been released -- unlike many other games today, it seems to be veiled in silence. Although Legend promised that a web site based on the game would be posted this Summer, it has never appeared. All that is known at this point is that the game will be another solo adventure set in the Unreal universe, based upon a variant of the Unreal Tournament engine, and will likely feature the superb level design and intense interactivity of Legend's under-appreciated Wheel of Time.

Recently, James Parkman, senior level designer for Legend, chose to break the silence with an update to his .plan file. The news is mostly personal remarks and has few details on the game, but we'll take any scrap we can get on a sequel to the amazing Unreal. Here's his .plan update in full:

Life goes on and Unreal 2 continues to progress... I'm currently working on a set of levels based upon an alien species new to the Unreal universe, but that's all I'm saying at this point :P I will say that we're developing a unique style for these guys that I think will be appreciated when the game is played. As for what I'm up to, Vampire and FAKK2 are the games I'm playing. I've travelled quite a bit in the last several months, to Texas for a week (yes I'm a Texan and I must admit I've grown to appreciate the state after being absent for two years or so). I drove down there, which is always a fun trek across the country. After U2 ships, I'm going to get in my car and just drive around the continent for a month or so. It's always good to have productive goals :)
Of course it is too soon to say whether or not this game will come to the Mac OS, but the odds for this are quite good. Not only is the game based on already-ported engine technology, but the original Unreal sold well on our platform despite its high system requirements. We'll keep watching for more details on this sequel. For those who loved the original, and have recently invested in a 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 card, take this classic for a spin -- the speed is fantastic, and with 4x FSAA the game is just as gorgeous as it was always meant to be.

James Parkman's .plan at Webdog
Legend Entertainment

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GameSpy Talks to Diablo II Composers
10:44 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

GameSpy.com has posted an interview with Blizzard music directors Jason, Matt and Glenn as part of their Masters of the Craft series. The audio engineers and composers discuss their musical craft and origins at Blizzard with GameSpy's Ryan Kelly. Here is an excerpt:

Matt: Preparation and inspiration are important, but if you don't "get" the concept behind a game within the first few moments of playing it, no amount of homework or self-motivation is likely to make the game fun or the creation of it very pleasant. Fortunately, all of the projects I have dealt with here at Blizzard North have been strong, focused ideas which were play-centered from the beginning. The music business definitely has parallels in the games industry in that survival largely depends on keeping the process fun and creative despite the distractions that both success and disappointment can throw at you.
The interview is very compelling, giving a window into the creation of the soundtracks that make the gaming experience that much more enjoyable. If you haven't yet bought this game, but want to hear the work of these musical artists, visit the MP3 of the Week Archive at the Battle.net web site.

Diablo II MP3 of the Week
GameSpy Interviews Blizzard Musicians
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

SixtyForce Updated
10:34 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After a long time without news, the impressive Nintendo 64 emulator SixtyForce has been updated to version 0.5.6b1 after a rewrite of the codebase. The author Gerrit Goossen explains his long absence and changes to the program here:

What can I say -- it's been a busy summer... I took a theater class. Then ended up with a part in a community theater production and spent long nights rehearsing and performing. This is in addition to coding a shiny new project that is unlike anything I've ever done before.

And in between I found time to rewrite sixtyforce's emulation from the ground up to be a true dynamic recompiler.

i'm tired.

So instead of making you wait while I catch my breath, today I'm releasing a 'mostly complete' beta version of sixtyforce 0.5.6 featuring the new dynamic recompiling core. I believe this the first dynamic recompiling emulator that has ever been made available for free on the Macintosh.

i'm too good to you.

Along with the new version, today i'm proud to announce that, i'm giving one of sixtyforce's biggest fans, Dave [aka. wackyracer], space on the official sixtyforce website for his sixtyforce compatibility list. This is the list to check to find out what does and doesn't work with sixtyforce. Many thanks to Dave all the time he's spent working on it.

This is truly an impressive feat, so be sure to download SixtyForce and give it a whirl. Also take a peek at the compatibility page for more info on which ROMs work well with the program. Remeber, you can only use ROMs for N64 cartridges that you actuall own, and do not expect 100% compatibility with any commercial title.

SixtyForce 0.5.6b1 (170k)
SixtyForce Web Site
SixtyForce Compatibility Page

New Oni Screen Shots
10:20 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After months of nothing but silence from the Oni PR department, it looks like they might be kicking it into gear for the game's release later this Fall. GameSpot Australia has scored ten new screen shots of this long-awaited shooter/combat title in action.

These shots appear to be from the PlayStation 2 version of this title, and are at least four months old. This is deduced from the fact that there are no shadows under the characters or blood splatters from combat; both of these features were missing in the PS2 version of Oni shown at E3 in May. It is also important to note that you will not be able to ride a motorcycle, despite GameSpot AU's description. The images of Konoko on her bike are from an in-engine cutscene.

In a related note of interest, the new poll at Oni Central asks the very legitimate question of whether Oni would be a good game to make into a coin-operated arcade game. A stand-up Oni cabinet would surely be a sight to see! And the action-oriented nature of the game seems to make it a good candidate. Head to their site and let your voice be heard.

Oni's status was in flux for a bit, but due to Bungie's deal with Microsoft, the game is now owned by Take Two and will be published by Gathering of Developers. The game should be out for the Mac, PC and PlayStation 2 this October, if all goes as planned, although a PlayStation 2 web site recently listed the game as being due in November.

GameSpot Oni Screen Shots
Oni Central Poll

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Elite Force Movies
10:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

PC IGN has posted five new QuickTime movies of Raven's upcoming Star Trek title Voyager: Elite Force. These QuickTime movies show the game in action, apparently from the demo version. File sizes range from 3-6MB, so none of them should be too stressing for those without fast connections. They have also updated their preview page with new details from playing this latest build of the game, and they seem very impressed. Here's a clip:

Raven's gaming clairvoyance starts the moment you begin playing by putting you off in the middle of the action, on a reconnaissance mission to rescue some of your fellow crew members who've been captured by the Borg. No giant expository sequences here -- you want the Borg, and you won't have to wait. You'll sneak around taking out nodes, disabling force fields, and quickly getting your hands on an Infinity Modulating weapon designed by Seven of Nine that turns Borg enemies into used car parts in a matter of seconds, while bending energy streams out in eye-popping fashion. The level design is impeccable, just as with other Raven shooters, and the puzzles are kept simple but fun. Once you've finished your mission and hopped out of Borg land, you'll see where the fun really begins.
Read the rest of the preview to see what other adventures you will get into with Elite Force. This title is looking to be quite impressive, and thanks to the portability of the Quake 3 engine it uses, Mac users should also see it shortly after the PC build has been released. We've learned a Mac publisher has been found, though no details have yet to be announced officially. We'll let you know once they are ready to go public.

PC IGN Elite Force Preview/Movies
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

IMG Talks to Ambrosia
10:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Just in case you missed this one on our home page, we thought we would mention it here.

Maelstrom. Escape Velocity. Cythera. Ferazel’s Wand. These are but a few of
the gems in game publisher Ambrosia Software’s crown. Since 1993 Ambrosia
has been churning out fantastic shareware titles for Mac gamers. IMG takes
an inside peek at Ambrosia. Here's an excerpt:

Ambrosia’s first release was Maelstrom, a remake of Asteroids that adds beautiful color graphics, new sound effects, power-ups and several other new elements to the classic arcade game. Maelstrom quickly became a favorite among Mac gamers; it won several awards, including MacUser’s 1993 Best Shareware Game award and taking first place in the 1994 Mac Home Journal Reader's Choice Awards. Eight years after its release, Maelstrom remains addictive, challenging and fun.
Read the rest of the article for more inside info on this Mac shareware powerhouse.

Inside Ambrosia

Mac Games News for Monday, August 21, 2000

Peter Tamte Speaks5:29 PM
Battledom In Beta4:06 PM
Quick Descent 3 Hosting3:07 PM
Are Games Art?1:26 PM
SkyFighters 1945 OpenGL Update12:42 PM
Baldur's Gate II Images11:10 AM
Combat Mission Updated to 1.0410:38 AM
Fifth Tomb Raider to Ship With Tools10:07 AM
Volition's Games In Progress9:36 AM
Mac Deus Ex 2 Details9:28 AM
Shadowbane Interview8:09 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, August 21, 2000 on one page

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