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Thursday, August 24, 2000

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WaterRace Trailer, Update
10:49 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

French Touch, the company working on the impressive Mac-only boat racing game WaterRace, has recently posted a new movie of the game in action to their web site. The video shows the latest build of this racing title, revealing many new features that haven't been seen in previous videos and preview releases. Here's a clip from the WaterRace site with details:

We know you've all been waiting anxiously for news from us! Well, we're working the whole August month on the game and it's getting really close to release now and we took some time to setup this trailer in order to show you our progression. Check out the strong behavior differences between the ships, notice new characters, locations and ships! And don't forget to turn the volume to the max!
Currently, the web site is very slow, so downloading the large movie is difficult. More mirrors for the trailer should be posted soon, so stay tuned.

WaterRace is obviously a boat-racing game, but it means much more than that for Mac gamers. French Touch has developed an entirely new 3D engine based on Apple's QuickDraw 3D RAVE which is not only blazingly fast, but quite flexible. The game architecture is completely "open," allowing room for modifications, 'skins,' and user-created race courses. They have also released free tools for building models and animations for this Infinity 3D engine, as they call it, and have another game in development based on the same engine: Lords of Steel, release date unknown. In a day and age when Mac-only development seems to be a shrinking field, French Touch seems wholly behind the Mac OS.

WaterRace is set to be released later this Fall for the Mac only. While this one has been a long time coming -- we did our first preview of this game in January -- this trailer reminds us that it will be worth the wait.

WaterRace Preview
French Touch
WaterRace Web Site
WaterRace Movie at MGF
French Touch

Lunar Pilot Source Code
6:30 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

A QuickDraw 3D game developed by what appears to be a satellite maker is becoming an open-source project for interested programmers. This simulator models the flight dynamics of launched rockets, and seems to be an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to develop a flight simulation. Here are the details:

Princeton Satellite Systems, Inc. is making the source code for its
spacecraft simulation, Lunar Pilot available to all interested parties.
Lunar Pilot is a complete Macintosh application that simulates the flight of
a spacecraft from earth orbit to the moon. It includes:

  • 3D graphics using QD3D
  • Basic Macintosh sound
  • Rigid body 6-degree-of-freedom dynamics
  • 4th order Runge Kutta integrator
  • Quaternion-based kinematics
  • Rocket engine models
  • Ephemeris models
  • Graphical user interface
  • Developer's manual

A CodeWarrior 5.3 project is included.

Lunar Pilot was developed in the summer of 1996 by two MIT summer interns
working at Princeton Satellite Systems.

Interested parties can get the project by sending an email to

If you are an experienced programmer, or one just starting out, be sure and contact PSP and grab this project.

Princeton Satellite Systems

Westlake Adds New Projects
6:21 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our colleagues at Mac Gamer's Ledge noted that Westlake Interactive has updated the Projects page on their web site with three new additions. This comes as no big surprise, as several of Westlake's current projects are very near completion (such as Risk 2) and this ambitious company always likes to have a full plate, so to speak.

All three projects are "contract pending," which means that they have either contacted a developer or have been contacted by one which expressed interest in the port of a game, or have been contracted by a publisher but haven't finalized the paperwork. These additions to the list go by the intriguing titles "Hot" project, "Cool" project, and "Unimaginable" project.

We couldn't allow the opportunity for a little rampant speculation to slip by, of course. The "Stealth" project is still under wraps as well, so this means four mystery titles in development. As Westlake ported The Sims to the Mac OS for Aspyr Media, it seems likely that the expansion pack Sims: Livin' Large would be handed to them as well. We also know that both Aspyr Media and MacSoft, companies that Westlake has worked for numerous times, hinted that they have more titles to announce this Fall, so some of these mysteries may be revealed in the near future. In any case, post your best guesses in our forums or on the comment thread of this article.

Mac Gamer's Ledge
Westlake Interactive Projects Page

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New Red Faction Images
5:55 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

GameSpot UK has posted nine screen shots from Volition and THQ's upcoming first-person shooter Red Faction. While not all of them are new, they showcase the most unique feature of this upcoming shooter from the makers of the Descent series -- its Geo-Mod engine which allows you to destroy walls, ceilings, and just about everything else. Don't like the look of that guardhouse? Just blow it to smithereens. Is your enemy in the room above you? Just blow a hole in the ceiling and watch them come tumbling down. Obviously, the implications are tremendous, although we're sure this engine is giving level designers nightmares -- why spend an hour texturing a wall when players are just going to shoot huge holes in it?

In any case, be sure and check out these screen shots, and for some even better ones of much higher quality, visit the Red Faction web site itself. This shooter is due for Mac and PC simultaneously at the end of this year.

Red Faction Screen Shots at GameSpot UK
Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction

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Neverwinter Nights Q&A
3:33 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An interview posted at Neverwinter Vault talks with BioWare's producer Trent Oster about his latest project, Neverwinter Nights. Specifically, the Q&A deals with their use of the brand-new Third Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules as the basis of this online RPG. BioWare has been working closely with Wizards of the Coast from the beginning, to assure that NWN would stay compliant with the AD&D standards; in fact they were able to introduce some new aspects to the rules themselves. Here's a clip from the interview:

Jonric: In terms of using them as the basis for a computer game, what are the major differences in the 3rd Edition rules compared to the AD&D version it replaces?

Trent Oster: The major changes are the simplification of the rules as a whole and the introduction of Skills and Feats. The 3rd Edition rules are easier to implement on the computer than the second edition rules were due to a number of simplifications in the basic rules. A wonderful simplification is the standardisation of skill attempts and the whole idea of a Difficulty Class (DC). In 2nd edition AD&D it seemed almost every action you attempted had a different set of rules and a different method of resolution. That was why so few non-weapon proficiencies ever made it onto the computer. With the new 3rd Edition, all actions you attempt are resolved in a similar manner, with a similar resolution mechanic and, as a result, you’ll have a wider range to choose from in Neverwinter.

The tight integration of the Third Edition rules is just one reason gamers are excited about Neverwinter Nights. The game will also feature amazing graphics, a powerful and easy-to-use dungeon editor, and portals to connect an infinite number of servers together on the internet. The game still far from release, but hopefully it may be completed early next year. A Mac version should be released simultaneously with the PC version, and cross-platform networking will be supported. Check out our First Look at this title for more details.

First Look: Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Vault Interview with Trent Oster
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Play as JC Denton in UT
3:26 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Ion Storm has released the model file for the main character in their much-acclaimed game, Deus Ex. This allows players to play Unreal Tournament wearing a J.C. Denton skin, thanks to Deus Ex's use of UT as its base engine. This is a neat side effect of companies using Epic's engine for their game, and perhaps more models form other UT-based games might be released in the future.

On a related note, if you haven't already, be sure to check out our new interview with the main man behind Deus Ex, Warren Spector. We've asked him some questions about the Mac side of things, and it's definitely worth a look -- especially for those already looking forward to Deus Ex 2.

J.C. Denton Model for Unreal Tournament (120k)
IMG Interview with Warren Spector

On Diablo II CD Keys
1:36 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In addition to the challenges players of Diablo II might face on mentioned in our earlier article, there is also the problem of piracy. Specifically, Blizzard's RPG uses a CD-key verification system which is designed to allow only those who have actually purchased the game to play online. However, as is often the case, hackers have already figured out how to generate false CD keys in order to get online with pirated copies of the game, and this can cause serious problems for completely legitimate players.

Usenet participant 'Beheader' did an excellent job of summarizing the issues involved with CD keys and Diablo II. After having trouble connecting to, he contacted Blizzard technical support and was informed of several possible reasons for this difficulty. He shared his information in the following Usenet post:

After about 2 hours on hold, I was able to get in touch with a Blizzard support rep named Doug. Doug informed me that they were having problems with the servers on the BattleNet network communicating, and that the net result would be that I might get the message "Your CD key is in use".

Doug did say that there have been cases of CD-Key generators duping "legitimate" CD-Keys. We went through the triage of determining if I had been hacked (or hijacked as it were), and he promised me a phone call or e-mail in a few minutes to resolve the problem. I got a call back in about 5 minutes. Here is some useful information for those of you playing Diablo2:

1. If you get a message that your CD-key is "in use" , note what name is associated with the CD-Key in the dialog box. If it appears as the same name you entered during installation of the game, then most likely your CD-Key is valid and the problem is on BattleNet.

2. If it appears the problem is on BattleNet, you can use the server selector available from the BattleNet web site. By switching servers (for some reason) the problem is fixed.

3. One of the most common reasons for this error is an interrupted connection. In this case the problem resolves itself in about 5 minutes. However, if you are like me and have had the problem last for 8 hours, switching servers will do the trick.

Some additional information:

1. The CD Key is NEVER sent over the internet- therefor there is no way for someone to "snoop your key" and hijack your license.

2. If in fact it is determined that there has been a duplication of your key by a hacker (or by outright theft), Blizzard remedies the situation by giving you a temporary CD-Key, you then have to send them the EMPTY CD jewel case from your legitimately purchased software. They then issue you a permanent key.

Thought maybe some of you might need this information!

Thanks again to Beheader for an excellent summary of the issues involved. Once again, ample proof that piracy and attempts at cheating 'the system' can affect and hurt legitimate users as well as the companies creating the games we play.

Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II Realms Selector 1.0

Backyard Soccer Due in October
1:09 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Humongous Entertainment has announced yet another edutainment title due this Fall: Backyard Soccer MLS Edition. Based on Major League Soccer and the actual U.S. Women's national teams, this game spices up the normal soccer match with a few power-ups and lots of customizations. Here are details on this title, aimed at both children and adults:

Humongous Entertainment, an Infogrames, Inc. company (Nasdaq: GTIS), scores again with the upcoming release of Backyard Soccer MLS Edition, the latest entry in the best-selling and award-winning Humongous Sports CD-ROM series for kids. Backyard Soccer MLS Edition is the first title in the Humongous Sports series to feature both professional men and women athletes. Soccer fans of all ages will soon be able to dribble, pass and kick with junior versions of Major League Soccer (MLS) and U.S. Women's National Team superstars such as Cobi Jones and Brandi Chastain. Designed for kids ages 5 to 10, Backyard Soccer MLS Edition is scheduled for release in October.

"Just as with young boys, it's important that young girls have sports role models they can identify with on their own level," said Andy Hieke, general manager and senior vice president, Humongous Entertainment. "In Backyard Soccer MLS Edition, young girls will be thrilled to discover that some of their favorite professional soccer heroines from the U.S. Women's National Team will be playing right alongside the superstars from MLS, as kids of course."

Backyard Soccer MLS Edition marks the first time ever that children can interact and play alongside junior versions of their favorite professional soccer heroes as kids. Young coaches can choose from all 12 MLS team names and logos, and pick from the familiar cast of 30 neighborhood kids and 15 pint-size versions of Major League Soccer (MLS) and U.S. Women's National Team players to fill a team. Before hitting the field, kids can obtain pre-game training to perfect penalty kicks or goalkeeping skills in Practice Mode. Junior coaches can also customize their team name and uniform colors before they select from eight regular season playing fields, each with its own quirky characteristics and surface-specific physics. Outrageous "Power Ups" such as the Undergrounder, which dives underground and pops up somewhere else, enable players to execute unbelievable plays.

Watch for this title for Mac and PC at the end of October. Click through to the Humongous web site for more information on this and other titles.

Humongous Entertainment

Avernum Reviewed
11:23 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Mac RPG fans have been enjoying Avernum by Spiderweb Software for quite some time, but it seems PC sites are only now discovering this turn-based adventure for Mac and PC. The Adrenaline Vault has posted an extremely enthusiastic review of this title, praising its open-ended quests, depth of storyline and writing, and downplaying the aspects of the game that might be more disappointing to those jaded by Diablo II-quality visuals and sound effects. Here is an excerpt:

With so many hopes and dreams riddled with strife, Avernum presents considerable opportunities for the would-be do-gooder. In fact, nearly every town that your band comes across will contain at least two or three different quests to be completed, as the citizens will wearily inform you. Due to the war-torn nature of daily existence beneath the stone sky, most of the issues that you'll be asked to deal with will involve combat in some way: recapture a fort overrun by brigands, destroy a Slithzerikai encampment, assassinate an enemy general, and so on. Occasionally, however, you'll be presented with a chance to pursue a somewhat less hostile goal, like tracking down a hot spring, a lost ring, or even an old friend. Your reputation will affect future chances for attracting high-profile jobs, so be mindful of your actions; getting caught stealing will guarantee that people will avoid approaching you with their problems, while being a renown hero will have the opposite effect. With well over 100 quests to pursue, it's a good thing that Avernum gives players a completely non-linear path with which to follow their goals.
Make sure you read our own review of this title for a Mac-centric perspective on this great shareware title. And if you still aren't convinced, download the demo and give that a try -- creator Jeff Vogel left plenty to do for unregistered users, so you can get a true sense of what the full game will be like.

Download Avernum Demo (7.1 MB)
Avernum Review
Avernum Review at The Adrenaline Vault

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Diablo II Warnings
10:48 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story, the site for everything related to this amazing game, has updated their list of warnings for the game. While the cheating with hacked characters which plagued the original Diablo has been stopped in the sequel, there are many sneaky people still discovering ways to ruin your fun. If you're a junkie, be sure to read through the whole article so you aren't the next victim. Here's one incident that may be semi-amusing for Mac users:

This one is absurdly simple, but apparently it's working.  Hitting Alt F4 will close just about any program in Windows instantly.  People use this as a quick escape in Diablo II many times, but some people who don't know that hitting Alt+F4 will exit the game instantly.  So the scam is to tell someone to go to another act, or by a shrine or whatever, (somewhere that another person in the game can't get to immediately, so you think you're safe to drop the stuff) drop what they want duped, and hit Alt + F1-5 or some other odd combination of keys, that will always include Alt F4, or perhaps Alt+Ctrl+Delete.  Anything to get you out of the game for long enough for them to run and grab your loot.
Obviously, if anyone tells you to drop your loot and hit command-Q, don't do it. It's amazing what people will do to cheat in a game, so give the article a read for some other tricks that are not quite so obvious. Warnings Page
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

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Summoner Screen Shots
10:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Volition has released a number of new screen shots for their upcoming 3D RPG game Summoner to various sites. While many of these sites mention the PlayStation 2 version of the game, rest assured, Mac users will get to play this RPG as well later this year. In Summoner, you play a young man named Joseph who is just starting to control his demon-summoning powers. He meets up with three other comrades, and they set out on an adventure with a deep story and impressive graphics.

PS2.IGN has three new screen shots of the game in action, and they have updated their preview with a few impressions from a recent unveiling of the game. Here's a clip:

Summoner's graphics are still quite striking when you first have a look at the game, as we did today. The current revision is very incomplete, and it's still awaiting substantial improvements in the draw distance, and character animation, but the effects, models, and especially the textures are amazing. We had a look at three different environments: a small city, a hilly grassland, and an underground sewer maze. In every one, walls, floors, trees, rooves, green fields and waterfalls of sewage are all covered in sharp, smooth, detailed artwork.
Read on for more on how Summoner in progressing right now. Also be sure to check out the new screen shots from the game, as they're looking superb.

If those new images aren't enough for you, several other sites have also posted some new Summoner eye candy. Computer and Video Game News has five new shots, and Summoner Watch has four more images. All are well worth a look.

Summoner should be out later this Winter for Mac and PC, following the PlayStation 2 release in late October.

Summoner Watch Screen Shots
PS2.IGN Summoner Preview
Computer and Video Game News Screen Shots
Buy Summoner

Blizzard Musicians, Part Two
7:35 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

Yesterday we brought you an excerpt from an interview with the team behind the sound and music of Diablo II. In the second day of their interview with Blizzard's music wizards Jason Hayes, Glenn Stafford and Matt Uelman, GameSpy delves deeper into the creative process that spawns a sound track. Here is an excerpt about the future direction of game music:

GameSpy: Where would you guys like to see the game music industry head in the coming years?

Matt: There has been a definite trend towards licensing of tracks by bands in the past few years, and I would imagine that this will only continue. Though there are some positive elements to this approach, I personally believe it is very easy to do more harm than good in a licensing deal for what seems like a quick promotional payoff. A game should be cool enough without attaching a celebrity name to it, and if celebrity X only serves to distract a player from the fundamental lameness of a game, you really are not doing anyone any favors.

Also in the discussion is several mentions of their current projects, including one or two unannounced -- but purportedly really excellent -- projects. Here's an excerpt:
GameSpy: The future does indeed look bright! What projects are each of you currently working on?

Glenn: Warcraft 3 is the big one for me right now. And it is a BIG one--five races means five distinct styles of music, in comparison to only two for Warcraft and three for Starcraft. It also means that many more Sound FX and voices, so it kind of explodes exponentially. But I'm sure it will be our best game ever, so I'm really looking forward to the challenges it will present to us.

Jason: I am now functioning as the sound team lead of a very exciting new project at Blizzard! I wish I could tell you more, but it's unannounced.

Curse you, Blizzard, always torturing us with the promise of future games, each better than the last! Read on for more details on Blizzard's audio, present and future.

Blizzard's Audio Team Interview at GameSpy

Mac Games News for Wednesday, August 23, 2000

The Sims: Livin' Large Preview11:01 AM
On Corrupted Deux Ex Saves10:14 AM
DS9: The Fallen Q&A9:53 AM
Tribes 2 Items9:41 AM
Diablo II Vanishing Characters6:00 AM
Release Dates from GoD6:00 AM
Shadowbane Update6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, August 23, 2000 on one page

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