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Tuesday, September 5, 2000



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Diablo II Expansion Details
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Following the announcement on Friday of the upcoming Diablo II Expansion Set, Blizzard has updated their web site with details on this addition to their incredibly popular real-time RPG. Featuring two new character classes, new monsters and 'bosses,' thousands of new items and an entire new Act to explore, this title will be a must-have for fans of the game. No release date for this expansion is given, as is Blizzard's way, but the careful timing of this announcement may indicate a release for the all-important holiday buying season.


Similar in application to the Brood War expansion to StarCraft, only those who buy this expansion will be able to participate in or host games which feature Expansion Set features. Here are some excerpts from the FAQ:

What exactly is new about the Diablo II Expansion?

Two new character classes each with 30 unique skills/spells, the ability to play the new character classes through the original four acts of Diablo II, new monster types (including Bosses, Uniques and Subordinates), interactive environments (such as Siege Towers, Town Walls and Fortified Battlements), thousands of new weapons, armor and magical items (including class-specific Quest items), new recipes for the Horadric Cube, and increased storage space in your Stash.


Will players who do not have the Expansion set be able to see those new classes in their games?

People who only have Diablo II will be able to see the two new character classes represented in their basic armor, much as the basic Warrior is used to represent the original Diablo in the chat room. Expansion and standard characters will not be able to play in the same game, however, which is similar to the restrictions between Starcraft and Brood War games.

The expansion set will be simultaneously released on Mac and PC platforms, further cementing Blizzard's already firm commitment to our platform. Visit the web site for more details and screen shots.

Blizzard's Diablo II Expansion Set
Diablo II Expansion Coming to Mac
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction



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Neverwinter Nights Interview
5:51 PM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

In a brief interview posted at Crossroads, the folks at BioWare offer more insight into their upcoming real-time RPG Neverwinter Nights. Featuring gorgeous 3D graphics, an involved solo game, online play in dynamic dungeons and most importantly Mac OS support, NWN is definitely a title to watch. The interview includes some details about tool set you can use to build your own dungeons:

Xroads: Will you be supporting the import of new textures and sounds? If so, what formats will you support and will there be any texture editing tools shipped with the final? What kind of ongoing support do you anticipate providing? If there is a continued following of the game, will we see more than the initial 'scenarios' discussed at E3? Will we see tech support for the editor(s)?


Bioware: We'd like to support people's talents and imaginations as much as possible and are discussing making a number of our file formats public and readily accessible at some point closer to our release. As we create all of our textures in Photoshop, however, it won't be necessary or even possible to include any NWN-specific texture tools with the final product.


The Neverwinter Toolset is an important part of what we consider our final product and, as such, it will receive full technical support. For obvious legal reasons, however, we cannot provide technical support for third-party software. In terms of new content and improved functionality, we certainly want to expand the game and the capabilities of the toolset subsequent to our release. There are plenty of forms that this could take and the precise details won't be determined until we start getting some solid estimates on the success of our initial release.

The trend of including editing tools with a title is certainly here to stay, and this is no surprise, as the games that include them spawn large, loyal fan bases that greatly increase the shelf-life and popularity of a game. For more details on this game read the rest of the interview and check out IMG's First Look at this title.

BioWare Interviewed at Crossroads
First Look: Neverwinter Nights
BioWare
MacPlay
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights



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New Warcraft III Images, Interview
11:25 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The official site for the 'role-playing strategy' game Warcraft III has been updated with four new images from this work in progress. This 3D-accelerated real-time strategy title has gone through many permutations since its announcement late last year but it still looks quite amazing, and has all the polish and flair we have come to expect from Blizzard Entertainment. Last month at Macworld New York, Blizzard confirmed that this game would be coming to the Mac OS as well as PC, and will most likely be a simultaneous release.


In related news, GameSpy (boo! hiss) has posted an interview with project leader Rob Pardo which is a general overview of the game itself and how it might play. Here is an excerpt:

GameSpy: The game is billed as an RPS, or role-playing strategy game. How does that work?

Rob Pardo: It was important for us to prepare people for the differences in the game from what is now traditionally viewed as a RTS. Many people will instantly be familiar with the resource collecting, and tech-tree building aspects of the game, however, the interaction with the environment and the addition of Heroic units that gain levels and powers is very different. Players will need to make decisions every game upon which heroes to use and what skills to choose for them. This takes the emphasis away from town management decisions and adds many role-playing choices like character advancement, quest completion and item collecting.

There is currently no projected release date for this title, which is Blizzard's usual method of development, but hopefully this title will be complete by next Summer. Check out the high-resolution uncompressed versions of the WC3 shots for a look at this game in all of its graphical glory.

MW: Warcraft III Coming to the Mac
Warcraft III Screen Shot Gallery
Rob Pardo Interview at GameSpy
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III


Strike Force 1.40 for Mac
10:17 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

IMG and the Strike Force web site have received many e-mails asking for a Mac-compatible version of the Strike Force 1.40 Unreal Tournament modification, which adds 'realistic' elements to multiplayer games. Strike Force's team has just received the Mac version from their programers, and Macgamefiles has this 99.8mb modification available for download.


Here are some of the features in this latest version:

  • Pulse rate - this revolutionary feature adds a whole new dimension to 3d action gaming. Your pulse changes depending on
    your character's levels of activity and damage taken, effecting not only your speed, but your accuracy and endurance.
  • Blood trails - Players now bleed when hit depending on wound and severity, without lagging servers. Hunt your prey and
    finish what you started!
  • New Bot AI - Our incredible new AI features the most realistic bots of any mod out there. Bots take cover, provide
    supporting fire and hide, allowing players a exciting gaming experience on- or offline.
  • New Skins - Skins for player's faces have been updated, making characters more threatening.
  • Improved Loadout Time - 15 seconds are allowed for loadout in the first round, 10 in the subsquent rounds, and teams
    can now confirm by hitting Escape to get on with the game.
  • New Strike Force Voices - Send voice commands out to your team and auto-taunt your opponents with our new voice
    system.
  • Death Messages - Get the credit you deserve with new kill notices and messages!
Strike Force is a very popular mod, despite its huge size, and is a radical departure from typical UT deathmatches. If you are looking for a little realism in your combat, download this mod and give it a try -- and don't forget to drop the Strike Force team a note thanking them for making a Mac OS version.

Strike Force Web Site
Download Strike Force 1.40 (99.8mb)


NVIDIA, Epic Form Partnership
10:02 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Epic Games, creators of Unreal and Unreal tournament, have created a partnership with graphics chip maker NVIDIA to optimize their future titles to take advantage of the special features of the GeForce 2 and forthcoming chipsets. Why does this matter to Mac gamers? NVIDIA has planned for some time to enter the Macintosh market with their GeForce 2 MX chipset, and Epic's graphics engines have already been ported to the Mac OS -- in fact, the Unreal engine is the primary stepping stone for third-party titles to come to the Mac OS this year.


This is a shift in strategy for Epic, which has previously debuted titles on the 3dfx web site. The Unreal and Unreal Tournament engines are closely aligned to Glide, 3dfx's proprietary graphics API, and are widely acknowledged to work better with that API than with the Direct 3D drivers for NVIDIA cards. It seems that Epic has decided to aggressively remedy this situation, which is good news for Mac and PC users alike.


Here is the official press release:

NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq:NVDA - news) and Epic Games Inc.
today announced a strategic partnership aimed at producing next generation applications that take full advantage of
NVIDIA's latest 3D technology, including the new features of the GeForce 256(TM) and GeForce2 graphics processing
units (GPUs).

``Epic's latest game, Unreal Tournament, is one of the most popular games in the world,'' says Sanford Russell, senior
director of partner management at NVIDIA. ``We see this as an opportunity to work more closely with Epic Games to ensure current and future Unreal Engine
products run their absolute best on NVIDIA hardware.''

NVIDIA has been working with Epic Games and other leading game developers worldwide to help them leverage the high-impact visual features of the GeForce
family of GPUs including geometry processing power and radical per-pixel shading features.

``NVIDIA's dominant position in the PC market and their selection as the graphics platform provider for Xbox, clearly make them the most important graphics vendor
from a business standpoint. But even more importantly, they're first in bringing to market the kind of advanced technology we intend to build our future products
around, and that's what really drives us from a design standpoint,'' says Tim Sweeney, founder and lead programmer for Epic Games Inc.

Prior to this announcement, Epic Games had already begun targeting major new Unreal Engine features for NVIDIA's GeForce 256 and GeForce2 GTS(TM). One
such example is the engine's new high-polygon, large-scale terrain system. This feature specifically exploits the hardware transform and lighting features of the
NVIDIA GeForce family of GPUs. Several additional features are planned that line up strategically with current and future NVIDIA 3D graphics processors.

As part of their efforts to work more closely together, NVIDIA will provide Epic with early versions of new hardware and drivers, as well as extensive testing of those
drivers with existing Unreal Engine products and new unreleased versions of the engine. To facilitate this, the agreement calls for regular technical reviews and
exchanges between the two companies, so that each one has a clear understanding of the inner workings of the other's software and hardware technology.

This partnership will not bear fruit for Mac or PC gamers until Epic's future titles (which are currently under wraps) begin to arrive, and by that time NVIDIA's GeForce 2 MX series of chips will have debuted on the Mac platform. If Epic's attitude towards cross-platform deployment of their engines and titles continues, we will likely enjoy the benefits of this partnership along with PC and console gamers.

Epic games
NDIVIA web site
The Press Release


Shadows of Reality Preview, Mac Info
9:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

RPG Planet has taken a preliminary look at a new tile called Shadows of Reality, in development by Nevolution. There are two reasons Mac users might want to get excited over this little-known game: It utilizes the Unreal Tournament engine, and it will eventually become a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. With other UT-based titles like Deus Ex and Rune being ported to the Mac OS with clockwork regularity, it seems likely that Shadows of Reality might be a good way for Mac users to get in on the MMORPG action that PC gamers have been enjoying for years.


It should be noted that Nevolution have yet to secure a publishing deal, but the preview at RPG Planet makes it sound like they shouldn't have too much trouble. Shadows of Reality will be a futuristic RPG and seems to have many similarities to Deus Ex, which can only be a good thing. Here's a quick breakdown of the game from the preview:

Nevolution has a grand project on their hands: a Massively Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), from a first-person perspective, which combines role-playing, character advancement, a live world, and lots of action, all in a futuristic, cyberpunk backdrop rich with story. Ambitious? Definitely. Possible? Maybe. That is why they are skipping the multiplayer part first, and creating a single-player game with the same backdrop. The single-player will be a stepping stone to build the MMORPG, and it's name: Shadows of Reality.
The Nevolution web site has a list of features for the upcoming solo game:

  • An epic RPG storyline: with branching plots, intricate conversation systems and a large and varied cast of characters.
  • Go anywhere in the fully realized and detailed city of North Cal; from the elaborate penthouses for the richest CEOs at the top of the world to the sludge filled sewers beneath the crumbling ruins of old San Francisco.
  • Use an amazing array of cyberpunk technology and gadgets, including bioelectric implants, advanced weapons, cybernetic enhancements, working communication and information systems and even a set of expandable glider wings to move from rooftop to rooftop.
  • The first truly realistic depiction of cyberspace in a game, where you truly can do and be anything you want, as long as you have the right code.
  • Create any kind of character you like using a unique and powerful skill based system. If you want to be a doctor, jack into the medical simulators and learn 4 years of knowledge in 10 minutes.

Check out both the preview and the Shadows of Reality web site for more information. We've contacted Nevolution about the possibility of a Mac version of Shadows of Reality and lead designer David Gallay was nice enough to give us a quick reply:
There really isn't a reason why SoR, in it's single player form at least, shouldn't get at least a strong consideration for a Mac port. That is one strength of using the UT engine, that it's relatively easy to move content from one platform to the other (as already seen in cases like Rune and Deus Ex). Now, as for the MORPG I agree that the Mac users desperately need one -- I remember last year me and my wife fighting over the PC to play Everquest and wishing we could use the Mac for it as well and considering trying VirtualPC hehe. Probably we would have to wait to see if 1. We still use an Unreal-based engine for the MMORPG version of SoR and 2. if massive-online Unreal based games like Dark Sector are ported over to the Mac successfully with network code and everything intact. I imagine it might be a better chance when OSX is released, and making a MMORPG port native to that ...
While not a solid confirmation of a future Mac version of this game, it is good to see there is at least one Mac user on the Nevolution team. Dark Sector is another UT-based MMORPG in production by Digital Extremes (half of the team that developed Unreal and Unreal Tournament).

Nevolution Web Site
Shadows of Reality Preview at RPG Planet



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Terminus Tips, Take Two
9:09 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Last week we brought you word of the first segment of gameplay tips for Vicarious Visions' space sim Terminus posted at CGO. While this first piece focused on the controls of your ship, the second installment discusses the missions, ships and the PVG's (portable vortex generators, for those not in the know). Here's an excerpt about your first ship, the good ol' Talon:

In both the pirate and mercenary campaigns, your initial ship is a very serviceable Talon fighter. The Talon has three weapons bays, one torpedo bay, and, with the right equipment it can be quick and agile. Immediately replace the starting weapons (the awful short-ranged rupture cannon) with three mass drivers, and upgrade all of its armor slots from standard to Abcon-I (the best initial choice).
If you're getting started with Terminus, be sure to read through the helpful guide at CGO. Also look through IMG's own preview and guide to the demo of this cross-platform title.

CGO Terminus Tips, Part 2
Terminus Preview
Terminus Demo In-Depth
IMG News: Terminus Tips


Emulator Updates
7:56 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

It's always good to see another update by John Stiles at his web site Emulation.net. While there are a dozen new updates on the status of various emulators, the most interesting developments to report are to the Super Nintendo emulator SNES9X which Stiles himself is working on. A number of improvements are listed for version 1.3.0, including compatibility with a future operating system:

This version includes many new features, such as Mode 7 Smoothing, as well as several compatibility fixes. The most important change to the emulator, however, is that SNES9X has been fully Carbonized, so it is ready to run natively on Mac OS X! Native Mac OS X applications can take advantage of seamless multitasking, and have increased stability. (Mac OS 8.1 and the CarbonLib extension are now required to run SNES9X.)
Great to hear those partaking in the OS X beta due out a week from tomorrow will have some games to play. Another of Stiles' porting projects, a Gameboy Color emulator called Virtual Gameboy, has also been updated. Version 1.7 adds compatibility improvements and now supports the Gameboy real-time clock for Freeze and Defrost features. As always, head on over to Emulation.net for tons of other emulation-related information and downloads.

Download Virtual Gameboy (395k)
Download SNES9X (373k)
SNES9X Web Site
Emulation.net Web Site



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Marathon: Resurrection News
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Recently we received an update from Damien Sorresso, the project coordinator for Marathon : Resurrection, the forthcoming Unreal Tournament total conversion based on Bungie's classic shooter Marathon. This project is still in the very early stages of development, and not much is known at this time about its status or purpose, so Sorresso filled us in on some of the details. Here's a status report:


  • First tidbit is that we have 2 new music composers who are going to do a collaboration on the Marathon: Resurrection soundtrack. As soon as Josh is back, I'll give him the "P'fhor Voyage" track, composed by one of our music guys, to post on the MP3 section of the site.
  • We have a variety of new sections planned. These include and MP3 Section and a Fan Art Section. The MP3 Section will contain music releases from our composers. The Fan Art Section will contain any sort of artwork done by you, the fans, that you may wish to submit. It will also house desktop pictures created by members of the team.
  • The sections "What is Resurrection," "What is Marathon," and "What is UT" will be up as soon as Josh gets his computer back.
  • The Music Composer position is closed. Please do not contact us about helping with music. We have 2 excellent composers, now. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed with their work.
  • The Sound Engineer position is still open. We lost both of our original Sound Effects Engineers, so we need lots of help in this area.
He also mentioned that the Marathon : Resurrection project is not intended to be identical to the original Marathon, and an exact conversion should not be expected; for example the original Marathon did not have the ability to jump and crouch, but they have no intention of forbidding that in M:R, as these abilities are present in the Unreal Tournament engine.


If you are new to the Marathon: Resurrection project, follow the links below. The web site does not work with Netscape browsers, so links to several other pages of the site are also listed for those who use that browser.

M:R Levels Page
M:R Weapons Page
Marathon: Resurrection
Marathon: Resurrection



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Preview of Myst III : Exile
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

CNET's Gamecenter has just posted a preview of the next installment in the Myst series of adventure games, Myst III : Exile. There is not much information provided, other than a brief description of the plot, an integral element to this series from Cyan. However, there are thirteen new images to whet your appetite, including completed images and concept art. Here's an excerpt from the preview:

Atrus and Catherine, the husband and wife whom players rescued in the first two games, are now living quietly in their new home, Tomahna, with a baby daughter named Yeesha. Their hope is to live a life of peace and quiet, but of course this is not to be. A new villain--played by Academy Award nominee Brad Dourif--enters the scene, a man whose homeworld was destroyed by Atrus's sons Sirrus and Achenar and who now seeks revenge. The player must explore five completely new ages and solve all-new puzzles to uncover the truth behind this villain's evil scheme.
Myst III: Exile is being developed by Presto Studios, and will be published by Mattel Interactive for Mac and PC early next year.

Preview at Gamecentre
Presto Studios
Ubisoft
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile



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Red Faction Preview from ECTS
6:00 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

While attending the ECTS show in London, PC.IGN had a chance to view Volition's upcoming game of wanton destruction, Red Faction. They describe the status of the game as it is now, compared to four months ago when previously seen at E3. This preview gives you quite a lot of details about the game, backed up with some new screen shots of the amazing Geo-Mod engine in action. For those unfamiliar with ECTS, it is an expo in which games and computing technologies are demonstrated to the public. Here is more on Red Faction:

The game will be comprised of 20 action-heavy levels, but
they wonít be as detached from one another as Quake III
or Unreal Tournament. Instead, Red Faction favors a
much more story-driven plot and a continuous flow like
Half-Life. In Red Faction, youíll assume the role of a
miner for the Ultor Corporation on Mars. While youíre
stationed on the red planet, a mysterious plague breaks out
in the mining camp and itís up to you and a few other
rebellious miners to rise up against Ultor security and find
out exactly whatís happening.
MGON has also posted a preview from ECTS, which describes the 'glass house' demonstration that all the previewers rant and rave about. The preview also features forty screen shots, although many are similar to each other.


Red Faction is being developed with the Mac platform in mind, and will appear on PC and PlayStation 2 as well in the first quarter of 2001.

Volition
Red Faction Preview at MGON
Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction Preview at PCIGN
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction



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Molyneux Interviewed at ECTS
6:00 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

GameSpot UK has posted a new interview with the mastermind behind the curious 'god-game' Black and White. As they interviewed Peter Molyneux at ECTS, they managed to actually play this unique title, which has been in development for quite some time but is still difficult for even the game's creator to properly describe. The game has also attracted a great deal of fan and media interest, based on the gorgeous screen shots and video footage alone. Here is an excerpt in which Molyneux addresses the level of hype surrounding the game:

GameSpot UK: Black & White has created huge
interest throughout its development cycle - are you
surprised by the fanaticism of the fans?

Peter Molyneux: I'm absolutely amazed by the level of
interest that Black & White has created. George, an
Austrian programmer who is involved with the web
side of Black & White, was in the middle of designing
some pages about three weeks ago when he had to
go away for a couple of days. On his return he looked
at the page that he had been working on - which
simply had on it the word "believe" and a page
counter - and he noticed that the page counter had
gone up from two to over 1,000. Someone had
managed to find the page even though it was hidden
and then passed the information on to the fan sites.
To make sure this wasn't a fluke I told him to
construct another page with the word "justice" on and an icon which was the
IP address to a secret location that enabled people to watch the team
playing Black & White. To my utter astonishment, the page was decoded and
to date we have had over 10,000 visitors to the "secret site" which is at
www.bwgame.com/window.

Black and White is a game of complex moral choices where your behavior and the actions of your Titan, a creature you raise to be your actor within the world, change the very landscape and behavior of the inhabitants. Read the interview for more details. Black and White is under development for the PC; a Mac OS port is believed to be in progress, although nothing official has been announced.

Black and White
Black and White Video Footage
Peter Molyneux Interview at GameSpot
Black and White 'Window"
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White



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Simon 3D Shots
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has scored a few new screen shots of Simon the Sorcerer 3D, the upcoming adventure/puzzle game from Headfirst. A Mac version of Simon 3D is in the works from the German company, Epic Interactive, though they are working on getting the previous game in the series, Simon the Sorcerer II, completed first.

The new shots from Simon 3D show some previously-unseen areas of the game and are looking very nice. The game is decidedly less violent than many 3D titles, instead concentrating on adventure and puzzle-solving elements. Visit Headfirst's web site for more information on the game itself. The Mac version of Simon the Sorcerer II should be out later this Fall, and Simon 3D should be released the middle of next year.

Simon 3D Web Site
Epic Interactive Web Site
Adrenaline Vault Simon 3D Screen Shots
Runesoft


Mac Games News for Friday, September 1, 2000

Diablo II Expansion Coming to Mac8:14 PM
Red Faction Gallery Update5:01 PM
Baldur's Gate Patch Due Soon4:11 PM
Tomb Raider Chronicles Images12:52 PM
German MMORPG In Development12:30 PM
Mac Gamer's Ledge Sold to MacGamer12:10 PM
Parsec Update10:14 AM
Official Rune Site Launched10:02 AM
Marathon Moving to OS X9:43 AM
4x4 Public Test , Patch Released9:37 AM
Terminus Tips8:43 AM
3dfx and RAVE Support8:06 AM
Myst III: Exile Preview6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, September 1, 2000 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, August 31, 2000
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Monday, August 28, 2000
Friday, August 25, 2000


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