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Tuesday, September 12, 2000

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Aliens vs Predator Due Oct 20th
11:07 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Few PC ports have been as highly anticipated -- and so delayed -- as Logicware's port of Aliens vs Predator to the Mac OS. However, this shooter may actually be ready to ship before the end of October. Recently we spoke to Logicware's and Contraband Entertainment's Bill Heineman about their port of Fox Interactive's terrifying title. We have learned that he has finished porting Microsoft's DirectPlay networking protocol, allowing PC and Mac players of this game to battle each other over a online or LAN game seamlessly. As the DirectPlay API is a closed, proprietary network protocol, it had to be 'reverse engineered' -- in other words, it had to be ported by educated guesswork, as the actual 'guts' of the API are Microsoft property.

According to Heineman, the actual solo game of AvP has been complete for some time, including a software renderer (a graphics engine that does not require a 3D card) and OpenGL support, but Fox insisted that they game be playable between Mac and PC. As the game's networking is based on DirectPlay, this caused the major delay in the development and release of this title.

Aliens vs Predator is Fox's first-person shooter based on a combination of several successful media franchises: the creatures and humans from the Aliens movie trilogy and the intergalactic hunters from the Predator series. With a long solo game that is often cited by reviewers as the most terrifying gaming experience ever, you creep through the corridors as a lowly marine trying to avoid being skewered on a spear or torn to shreds by alien claws. However, in multiplayer the game really begins to shine -- you can assume the viewpoint of a marine, an Alien, or a Predator, each with their own special abilities, enhanced vision and tactics. For more about this game, be sure and read IMG's preview, which we did over a year ago. For those who are interested, the port of AvP to the Mac was announced in January of 1999, with a due date of that Summer.

Now AvP is in final testing at Fox, and Heineman estimated that the game will be released around October 20th. Currently Fox is testing DirectPlay on Mac for incompatability issues with online games.

In related news, Heineman has also confirmed that Contraband's port of Ritual's first-person shooter Sin is finally complete and is in testing at United Developers pending 'gold master' status.

Aliens vs Predator Preview
Contraband Entertainment
Fox Interactive
Aliens vs. Predator: Gold

Freeverse Interviewed
7:00 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Mac Gamer's Ledge has posted a very humorous interview with Freeverse, creators of such freeware and shareware gems as SimStapler and Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab. A company formed by two brothers, Freeverse is known for a quirky sense of humor -- quite evident in their interview responses -- as well as some really snazzy graphics and illustrations in their numerous titles.

One of their earliest creations, Jared: Butcher of Song, has achieved an astounding amount of media attention totally out of proportion to its simple design and (lack of) function. The interview delves into the origin of this software 'toy' and who Jared might be, exactly:

What's the real story behind Jared? I mean the REAL story... not that bilge you try to get people to believe...

Okay, maybe its time that Jared's secret identity was finally revealed...

Jared is the third Freeverse brother. He is a therapist with two masters degrees and he really did learn that famous song of his while working in a Guatemalan orphanage. The genius of Jared, (other than the fact that everything he sings sounds a little bit like "Blue Moon"), is that he is, sincerely and earnestly, trying to sing his best. For years the canyon sized gap between Jared's vocal aspirations and abilities was an endless source of brotherly amusement for Ian and I.

For more details about the origin of Freeverse and their future ninja-based titles, check out the rest of the interview.

Interview with Freeverse

More Sims, Less Shooters?
6:16 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A recent editorial posted at The Adrenaline Vault examines the mentality behind video game playing itself, and the reasons why so many games are centered around competition and the conquest of foes, rather than cooperative or non-combative activities. Citing Maxis' The Sims as an example of a non-competitive game that has enjoyed much success, the author asks the question, must games be violent and competitive to be fun?

In the wake of the recent FTC report blasting the entertainment industry for marketing violent material to minors, this seems a relevant question to ask. Must someone else lose in order for a gamer to feel satisfaction while playing? How did combat become the pervasive metaphor for gaming across so many genres? And why do publishers and developers continue to crank out violent and competition-oriented titles when totally nonviolent titles such as The Sims, MYST and Rollercoaster Tycoon (a sim only available on the PC) are tremendous sellers with broad market appeal?

Here is an excerpt from the essay, discussing an alternative to violent games:

The truth is, in my opinion, we are not sadistic or insecure dysfunctional people who need to see someone lose in a virtual setting in order to feel any sense of self-worth. Since I admit that I myself love titles where I can pulverize opponents, I certainly do not see myself as this kind of monster. We are capable of deriving fulfillment without seeing suffering or misery on the part of others. But what we need is more computer games that give us the opportunity to experience that special kind of deep noncompetitive satisfaction. That requires companies to be a lot more creative than they have been in developing new and different kinds of releases.
Arguments such as these face an uphill battle, even in an atmosphere of increased sensitivity to violence in every medium; the game industry itself continues to crank out large numbers of titles centered around combat, each more realistic than the last. However, as the game market shifts from adolescent males to a broader spectrum of the computer-user market, developers may find that titles such as The Sims are every bit in demand as Tribes 2 and Rune.

What are your thoughts on this? If you indeed love games that could be interpreted as violent, what draws you to these games and keeps you coming back? Is the success of The Sims and games like Tetris the sign of an untapped market, or just part of the overall picture? Leave your comments here and in our forums.

Does Someone Have to Lose for Computer Games to be Fun?

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New Rune Movies
5:21 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Swedish site GameReactor has recently posted four new movies of Rune taken at the recent ECTS expo. They were recorded with a video camera, so don't expect the highest quality, but they still show some very cool in-game action. The movies range in size from 9 to 19 MB, so you should probably only grab them if you have the bandwidth.

In case you're wondering what Rune is all about, imagine a third-person action/adventure game set in the fantastic world of Norse mythology. The HumanHead team has embellished the Viking mythology quite a bit, though only when it would increase the gameplay and fun. Rune uses the Unreal Tournament engine and is looking quite amazing, as many have noted. Westlake interactive is porting the game, which should be released on the Mac shortly after the PC version is complete this October or early November.

Rune ECTS Video #3 (16MB)
Rune ECTS Video #4 (19MB)
Rune Web Site
Rune ECTS Video #2 (12MB)
Rune ECTS Video #1 (9MB)
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

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Tomb Raider 5 Q&A
3:25 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot UK has posted the first part of an interview with Core Design's Adrian Smith. In the Q&A, Smith discusses the upcoming final installment in their current series of Lara Croft-based games, Tomb Raider: Chronicles. Essentially, Chronicles continues where The Last Revelation left off. The game consists of four unrelated main stories which you get to play out, which cover previously unrevealed episodes from Lara's unusually exciting life. Here's more of a description from Smith:

The four levels are very independent and stand up on their own. Chronicles is also about combining all the elements we had in all the earlier TR games. I am pleased to say this will be the last one on the current technology. The reason being that, for the PC people, we will actually include all the level editors and all the tools we used to use to create the Tomb Raider series so far. So the consumers will be able to create, share and even pass around the internet the levels that they have created. We'll also be able to give out some of our favourite levels on the website that have never been seen and some of the old levels from previous games.

It is going to be the last game and is the focus of all the games combined together. This is not a new game - the new game is Next Generation. It's an evolution of TR4 into Chronicles.

Not too much is known about the Next Generation games, though many will welcome a revolutionary change to the TR series. Chronicles will have a few new moves for Lara and more inventory combinations, so the die-hard fans shouldn't be disappointed.

No official announcement has been made about a Mac version, though it's likely Aspyr and Westlake will bring Chronicles to the Mac. It's also unknown at this time if the level editor for the series might make it to the Mac as well. Read the rest of the interview for more information.

GameSpot UK Tomb Raider Q&A
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Core Design
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Buy Tomb Raider: Chronicles

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Clarification on Rune Multiplayer
11:27 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Recently, various web sites have posted new information obtained at ECTS about HumanHead's upcoming third-person melee combat game, Rune. Tim Gerritsen, HumanHead's business development director, has made a long .plan file update with some clarifications about the multiplayer modes of Rune.

The initial information released about the multiplayer aspect of this title was slightly confusing, as many people thought that co-op mode (multiplayer teamplay) would be part of the solo game itself. Gerritsen explains that a co-op mode will only be available in team-based games. While wanting to include the co-op mode in the story, this requires far more time than they have. Here is a short excerpt from his .plan file:

One thing I need to clarify that I've been seeing around on several sites is the question of co-op multiplay. The shipping version
of Rune will include three basic modes- Single Player Story, Multi-Player DeathMatch, and Multi-Player Cooperative/Team
DeathMatch. There will be no co-op story mode. We are big fans of this mode, but it requires enormous extra effort and we
simply don't have the time and due to our schedule which never included this feature as a focus for development.
Co-operative story mode requires considerably more effort than just adding extra spawn points and letting players have at it.
Rune is a 'third-person slasher' based in Viking mythology, and is due as early as next month for Mac and PC from Gathering of Developers.

Tim Gerritsen's .plan file
Human Head web site
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Bungie Reworking Web Support
11:20 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Bungie.net has been updated recently with word on their future strategy for the World Wide Web. We noted last week that they are looking to hire two new web developers, and it looks like they might even try to get the Bungie Store back online. Here's a clip from the page:

We're working on two major projects right now: one is hiring for our two job openings, and the second is implementing a permanent support solution, something Bungie should have had way back. When this is complete we'll have a little more time to address a number of pressing topics: web-side script issues, the Bungie Store's possible resurrection, and, of course, a myriad of ideas for better community support. It's a slow process, but it'll be worth it.
In somewhat related news, the Bungie.net page made a reference to a new Myth II project from the capable hands of the Creation group. Their latest undertaking is called The Seventh God and looks very impressive. Here's a snippet explaining more:
The Seventh God will be a solo and multi player project with over ten solo levels, new net maps, and at least 18 new units. Creation currently has been working on this project for over two months & reportedly has more than 6 of the new units playable & in beta on a new net map as well as an entire unique novel upon which the project is based.
A web site is available with many new screen shots, so check it out.

The Seventh God

Mac Games News for Monday, September 11, 2000

United Developers Status, Staff Update6:07 PM
FTC Blasts Media for Marketing to Youth2:52 PM
SegaNet to be Mac Compatible?1:31 PM
Rune Details, Site Update12:41 PM
Hasbro Settlement in Content Lawsuit11:54 AM
Myst III: Exile Preview11:46 AM
Mac FAKK2 Icon Contest11:13 AM
No Oni Until March 2001?9:45 AM
id's Graeme Devine Stumps for Mac6:00 AM
Konoko Voice Actress Chosen6:00 AM
Unreal Engine Adds New Abilities6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, September 11, 2000 on one page

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Friday, September 8, 2000
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