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Wednesday, August 23, 2000

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Shadowbane Update
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

After several months of little or no information, the web site for Shadowbane, a massively-multiplayer online RPG destined for Mac and PC, has received a very large update. With some gorgeous new screen shots, information on the clan-based structure of this online adventure and many more details, this update should satisfy those following the progress of this title and placate anyone worried this game would vanish before completion.

Wolfpack Studios recently moved to a new location, which explains the period of silence. Their News page has a detailed list of what was updated. Here is an excerpt:

If you're reading this, you have already realized that the Official Shadowbane website has had a major facelift.  It isn't just the look that has changed, though.  We have also included tons of new information.  Here is a quick run down of our new additions:


  • We added 9 new screenshots centering around Guild Crests, sieges, and fortifications.
  • A new section was added entitled Multimedia which contains theme music and in-game movie footage.  Our first two in-game movies are about an ogre and scorpion.
  • Seven new additions were made to the Conceptual Art section.


  • The Bestiary will serve as a repository for information on the creatures and monsters indicative to our realm.  Our first additions are: Grobolds, Ogres, Orcs, Scorpions, Skeletons, Skrell, Treants, Vampyres, and Zombies.


  • A list of the Classes you will find in Shadowbane has been added!  Complete descriptions have been done for the Fighter, Healer, Mage, and Rogue classes.  Need I say more?
  • You've heard the word before, but what are Disciplines?  Look inside to learn not only their uses but also their origins.  The complete back stories were done for the Black Mask, Rune Master, and Werewolf.  For the rest of the Disciplines, however, complete background stories will be only be revealed within the game as players gain mastery of each school of thought, although the introductions to each will be given over time.
Shadowbane will be a pay-per-month online RPG. Though it has relatively modest system requirements (it will run on any iMac and OS 8.1) the game's engine will allow dozens, perhaps hundreds of characters to be on screen at the same time. Emphasizing strategy over hack-and-slash, the game encourages players to band together into large clans, and there are a variety of roles to play including non-combat options. The object is to create a totally flexible, open-ended world into which Wolfpack will introduce plots, quests and challenges. Watch for this game late this year; it should ship for Mac and PC simultaneously. Check out the extensive web site for more details.

Shadowbane Web Site
Shadowbane FAQ
Wolfpack Studios

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The Sims: Livin' Large Preview
11:01 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Ever since E3 we have been bringing you news of an upcoming expansion pack for Maxis' neighborhood sim The Sims. Game-guru.net has posted an in-depth preview of The Sims: Livin' Large, which is due next month as an add-on pack to the original.

This expansion pack will add many new features and characters to this wildly successful game, as well as several new decor themes: antique, castle/dungeon, tropical, 'mod' and a style of decor which can only be described as 'Liberace meets Elvis' -- cow-print wainscotting, anyone? You'll see what we mean when you check out the numerous screen shots that accompany this preview.

Of course, Livin' Large isn't just about bovine wallpaper and bear rugs. Roles for your Sims have been greatly expanded as well, and new objects have been added to modify their behaviors. As the preview states, career opportunities for your Sims are wide open:

There are five new career tracks including 50 new jobs. As anticipated the new careers range from the mundane to the bizarre: paranormal, musician, slacker, hacker and journalist. Those who have a yen for the unusual will start off as a lowly physic phone friend in the Paranormal career before investigating such lofty pursuits as hypnotism and tarot reading on the fast track to cult leader. We game reviewers will find a niche for ourselves in the second rung of the Journalism ladder! It seems a pity we end up as a Talk Show host but everyone wants to be on television and your Sim is no exception. I'll admit I'm very interested in how the Slacker is going to pay them bills!
The introduction of many supernatural objects into the game -- a voodoo doll, a crystal ball, a mad-scientist lab -- is sure to keep things interesting as well. While there are no firm plans to bring this expansion pack to the Mac OS, we would be shocked -- nay, astonished -- if it was not among the titles that Aspyr Media is set to announce in October.

The Sims: Livin' Large Preview at Game-Guru
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

On Corrupted Deux Ex Saves
10:14 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We have seen reports by several IMG forum participants and in other locations around the web of players suffering corrupted saved games with Aspyr Media's recent port of Ion Storm's Deus Ex. The problem seems to stem from overwriting your saved game file as you progress through the game.

As each savegame can be nearly 2 megabytes in size, some have chosen to overwrite the previous game to save drive space. This can reveal a flaw in the game (which also exists on the PC side) and may leave your saved game unusable.

Ken Cobb of Westlake Interactive, the company which ported this title to the Mac OS, noted the following on Usenet:

I talked with Ion Storm today about the savegame files getting corrupted
in Deus Ex. The programmer I spoke with said the bug exists in the PC
version also and they are working to track down the problem. Whenever
they come up with a fix I'll update the Mac app as soon as possible.

In the mean time, I would suggest alternating savegames so you're not
saving to the same file over and over again. This way, if the savegame
does become corrupt, you always have a previous save. I know it's more
trouble to do it this way, but it beats replaying hours of the game.

Personally, we don't have a problem replaying hours of this engrossing game, but the strategy he suggests is a good interim fix if you are short on drive space. Of course, you could follow the advice of another Usenet poster and try to get through the entire game on Realistic difficulty without saving -- after all, that would be the most 'realistic' way to play...

Aspyr Media
Deus Ex 1.01 Patch

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DS9: The Fallen Q&A
9:53 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An interview with the team from The Collective has been posted at 3dActionPlanet regarding their game in progress, Deep Space Nine: The Fallen. Unlike that other Star Trek title you've been hearing about, The Fallen is using the Unreal Tournament engine, will be in 3rd person perspective, and will allow you to play as three of the television series' main characters. A total of five people from the development team contributed to the Q&A, so it is an interesting read with much new information. Here's a clip that does a great job of explaining the differences between their game and Raven Software's Elite Force:

3DActionPlanet: The Fallen has got some stiff competition out there with Raven's Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. But from what I've seen at E3 and what I've seen in the demo, they seem like pretty different games. Can you summarize how The Fallen is different from your standard first person shooter?

Tony: Well, the first thing that differentiates The Fallen from standard First Person Shooters is that it's Third Person. When you have access to strong characters such as the ones on Star Trek: DS9, it is best to utilize them. By placing the game in third person, we allow you to see the character you are controlling in more than just a cut-scene or options menu, and grant the player the opportunity to role-play as an established character in the Star Trek universe. Third person view provides the opportunity to feel something for your character, more than if you were a "nameless box" floating through corridors.

One of the things that separates us from other 3rd or 1st-person games is our Three Character System. In The Fallen, you choose one of characters and take that character through the entire game. Their storyline is intertwined with the overall story-arc, but is unique to their adventure. In addition to a different subset of the overall story-arc, each character's gameplay is tailored for a different play-style.

Worf's gameplay is more combat-oriented, Kira's gameplay is more exploration and Sisko's gameplay is a balance of both. This system heightens the replay value of the product immensely.

Both The Fallen and Elite Force are looking to be the first truly fun Star Trek titles, after years of miserable shovelware. The great news is that both are coming to the Mac OS! Simon & Schuster is bringing The Fallen to the Mac and PC later this Fall. And though no publishing deal has been announced for Elite Force, we've heard something is already in the works to provide a near-simultaneous release.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen
3dActionPlanet Q&A with The Fallen
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

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Tribes 2 Items
9:41 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Much new information regarding the team-based FPS from Dynamix known as Tribes 2 has been released recently. K2Games has posted a preview of the game which covers most of the topics surrounding the world of Tribes 2, including the armor classes, vehicles and weaponry. If you're wondering what this shooter will be like, this is a good introduction. Here's a clip:

One problem with Tribes was that it had a lot of players, but never any community tools for them to use besides an IRC chat server. In Tribes2 you will find many community building tools, including in game voice and/or text chatting, email, instant messaging service, message boards, news, a web browser and Tribes2 file downloads. You can also create new clans, and get hosting for them, as well as sharing those custom made mods mentioned above.
The preview also contains links to screen shots and movies to give you a better idea of how the game will look and play. In this vein, the official Sierra pages have also been updated with nine new screen shots of in-game action, which are excellent but very small. This game is looking more and more impressive which each build Dynamix makes, so if you haven't seen it in action for a while, have a look.

Lastly, a new movie of Tribes 2 has been released by Tribes 2 Players which shows a ton of fighting action. It also has some footage of vehicles in action, so if you have the bandwidth, be sure to grab the full 36 MB film.

Tribes 2 is set to be released this October. Originally, thanks to the team's use (and Apple's adoption of) OpenGL, a Mac version had been promised many times. Dynamix has wavered a bit recently as to their commitment to a Mac version, but Mac users have a good chance of playing this game soon after the PC build is released.

Tribes 2 Players Web Site
Sierra Studios Screen Shot Page
Download Tribes 2 Movie (36MB)
K2Games Tribes 2 Preview

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Release Dates from GoD
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameWeek has posted a list received from Gathering of Developers which details their schedule of upcoming game releases. These titles are set for release in the near future, and the list includes the mention of several Mac titles as well. Here's an excerpt from the list:

  • 4X4 Evolution--PC, Mac, DC--September 2000
  • Heavy Metal: FAKK 2--Mac--September 2000
  • Rune--PC--October 2000
  • Rune--Mac--November 2000
  • Bugdom--PC--September 2000

The Mac version of 4x4 Evolution is being made by Terminal Reality in-house and will be playable against both PC and Dreamcast opponents. A port of FAKK2 is now underway by Contraband Entertainment, and is well under way. Westlake Interactive is porting Rune as we speak, and should have the Unreal-based game finished soon after the PC version is complete, so we have every expectation that the targeted months above will be accurate release periods.

You might note the presence of Bugdom by Pangea Software in that list -- in a delicious twist of irony that is sadly all too rare, this Mac-only game is actually being ported to the PC! And the game itself is based on an Apple-only technology, Quickdraw 3D RAVE, so for once a foreign API has to be ported to the PC, and not vice versa. We're sure they will love that charming game as much as we do.

All three Mac games on the list are sure to be hits, and it is great to hear they're getting so close to being complete. There was, however, one title missing from that list: Take Two's Oni, the action/combat game that was formerly the property of Bungie. While we don't encourage anyone to read too much into that, it is puzzling, as this game was due for Mac, PC and PS2 in October.

GameWeek Web Site
Gathering of Developers
Terminal Reality
Gathering of Developers
4x4 Evolution

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Diablo II Vanishing Characters
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

While playing Blizzard's solo and online RPG Diablo II, IMG writer Jeff Wescott logged on to a Realm on Battle.net only to find his precious character missing. Unlike the previous incarnation of this real-time RPG, Diablo II stores multiplayer characters on a central server, rather than on the player's hard drive -- this prevents hacking of the character data files, which was a means for rampant cheating in the past. However, as Jeff experienced, there is a price to pay for this new cheat-proof realm -- a server bug has allowed more than a few characters stored online to be lost!

The Battle.net technical support pages have been updated with notes on this occurrence. Here is their FAQ about the problem:

his post pertains to those players who, when trying to connect
to battle.net with a Realm character, experience one of the
events below:

-You do not see your Realm character on the Character Selection


-You see your character, but when you try to connect to
Battle.net with him you receive a "Player not found"
error message.

We apologize to the players who are unable to access their Realm
characters due to the reasons above. In order to help us restore
your character, please send email to d2restore@blizzard.com with
the following information:

Your account name

Your character name

Your character's Realm

They also note that if a character is able to be restored, it will be in the state it was last saved, which most likely occurred when entering a game. If you have experienced this bug and are missing an online character, be sure and contact technical support immediately.

Battle.net on the Missing Character Bug
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Mac Games News for Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Tomb Raider Chronicles Details2:57 PM
Belated 3dfx Contest News12:34 PM
Humongous Releases Two Blue's Titles12:20 PM
Gloomveil Content Updated12:03 PM
Unreal II Update11:44 AM
GameSpy Talks to Diablo II Composers10:44 AM
SixtyForce Updated10:34 AM
Myst III: Exile Updates10:27 AM
New Oni Screen Shots10:20 AM
Elite Force Movies10:10 AM
IMG Talks to Ambrosia10:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, August 22, 2000 on one page

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