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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Escape Velocity 3 In Action
9:38 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

Andrew Welch of Ambrosia Software has posted a forum topic at the Ambrosia web site which has links to 5 brand new movies of Escape Velocity 3 in action, the-much anticipated sequel to Escape Velocity : Override.

The message explains that the movies detail new features of the graphics engine, which now supports 16-bit color, translucency, oversize sprites and many other innovations. In particular this set of movies focuses on a special effect known as "ship glows" which allow an artist to specify parts of a model that 'glow in the dark' such (as running lights and windows) and even animate the effect over time. Here is Welch's post:

We've been talking about "ship glows" in EV3 for some time; I figured it was about time I put together a few movies to show you what we're talking about.

Each ship can (optionally) have translucent overlay "glow" sprite for engines, weapons, and running lights (which can blink/throb in various patterns).

Here are a few movies that show this off -- please note that the beam weapons currently aren't firing from where they should be (so they look a bit off), and we're still tweaking various other things, but this should give you a decent idea. All of the movies are under 1mb in size.

The movies are all small, between 200K and 1.2 MB, and they show ships firing at one another, running away, and being hit by enemy fire. Aside from the pretty glows, the ships sprites look considerably smoother and more detailed than those from EV: Override due to the larger color palette and more animations per turn.

Escape Velocity 3 is currently in development, and it is unknown when it will be released. The Mac community holds its collective breath in anticipation. And no, there will not be network play this time around.

Escape Velocity 3 Update
Ambrosia Software
EV3 Ship Glows Examples

Myst III: Exile Designer Interview
2:00 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Checkout.com has posted an interview with Francis Tsai, a designer for Presto Studios who is working on the adventure game Myst III: Exile. This much-anticipated threequel to the adventure game series from Cyan is still largely incomplete, but is already generating tremendous interest among Cyan's many fans.

This long interview covers many aspects of the game, from its technology and plot to the characters involved in this continuation of the Myst saga. Along the way Checkout takes a rather pedestrian and tired swipe at the Mac gaming platform, but we suppose that is par for the course. Here is an excerpt about a thorny issue among adventure fans -- the slow dwindling of the genre itself:

Gamers have been bemoaning the end of adventure games for years, but ever since
The Journeyman Project, Presto has been firmly committed to the genre. How do
you see adventure changing to keep up with the audience?

Adventure games are more about thinking -- observing the environment, thinking about the
storyline, the characters and their interactions, and making decisions based on those
factors. Because adventure games tend to be slower paced and more deliberate, and
because so much of the gameplay relies on what you observe in the environment, there is a
higher expectation in terms of the game's visual quality. It's less about reaction time and
technical expertise. At the same time, people's expectations of computer technology in
general are always increasing. Pre-rendered adventure games like Myst have placed a
higher premium on the quality of the graphic images, and as a result some technological
aspects like real-time 3D have been relegated to a somewhat secondary role. I believe
Exile, with its capability of offering a 360 degree field of view, is a step in the direction of
complete freedom of exploration in an environment. I think as computer technology and
games continue to evolve, adventure games will become as immersive and interactive as any
real-time 3D game, while keeping story, characters and aesthetic design at the forefront.

Doomsayers also predict the end of the Macintosh as a gaming platform. With the
obvious exception of Star Trek: Hidden Evil, Presto has always been primarily a
Mac developer. Will Presto remain committed to the Macintosh?

I don't think the Macintosh is going anywhere just yet, and as long as that's the case,
Presto will continue to develop for the Mac whenever it's feasible. We just finished work
on the Macintosh version of Myst Masterpiece, and Exile will be available on the Mac
platform as well.

The other Myst title in development by Cyan, known as Myst3D or RealMyst, is also coming to the Mac platform. Read the rest of the interview for more details behind this engrossing adventure; the concept art included does not appear to be new. Myst III is due in the Spring of 2001, and is expected to be a simultaneous release published by Mattel Interactive.

Myst 3: Exile Official Site

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New Tropico Images
1:34 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Blue's News helpfully pointed out this collection of sixteen new screen shots from the dictator-sim Tropico posted on the Israeli gaming site VGames. This collection of large images shows off the lush textures and detailed models of this upcoming economic/political sim, which will allow you to become the dicator of your own third-world island nation.

Tropico is being developed by PopTop, creators of Railroad Tycoon II. The game will use the same engine as the RR2 series, but with signifigant enhancements to animation and several more levels of zoom, as shown in these screen shots.

Tropico is expected to appear on Mac and PC simultaneously early next year, published by Gathering of Developers. For more details and a charming gallery of characters, check out the official web site.

Tropico Web Site
Tropico Screen Shots at VGames
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Devine Update on Q3A Tools
12:26 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With all of the news this week surrounding the Mac OS X version of Quake 3: Arena, we thought we might inquire about a different aspect of the game and its community. Id's Graeme Devine has mentioned before that he was thinking of bringing the level-editing tools for Q3A to OS X. Currently, they're only available for Windows, so Mac users can't make their own levels for Quake 3. Also, many titles based on the engine (such as FAKK2 or Elite Force) have released their game-specific code for making modifications, which is another area creative Mac users are missing out on. We asked Graeme if he was still thinking of porting the tools, and he gave us his usual quick response. Here's his reply:

I've worked a bit on the tools. Not enough for them to work yet.. But
getting there.
We're sure he's got his plate full of projects with the Team Arena add-on, Doom 3, and other various side projects. A Mac version of the latest Point Release is on the way, and the OS X-native version of Q3A is supposedly soon to follow.

IMG News: Q3A on OS X Clarifications
Id Software

Gaming Mousepad Roundup
10:25 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has posted a review which puts three name-brand mousepads through their paces: fUnk Industry's sUrface1030, Logitech's Wingman Gaming Mousepad (based on the 3M Precision Mousing Surface), and Ratzpad (based on the Everglide surface). They are all advertised as "gaming" mousepads, but in this review, only one comes out on top. AVault explains why we need these fancy mousepads:

One thing that many of us have taken for granted while using our computers is the mousepad. We all complain when the ball gets jammed full of dust and lint, but beyond yelling and cleaning it out, we don't usually do much. But recent releases of first person shooters like Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament have made a smooth and precise mousing surface a much more essential item.
Those of you who are planning to buy, or own an optical mouse already, should take Apple's claims of never needing a mousepad again with a grain of salt. The pads (usually Teflon) on the bottom of the mouse may wear out quickly, and leave you with very little traction, if used on a regular table. Even though the infrared "eye" tracks the actual movement of the mouse, smooth movement is dependent on the mousepad. Keep in mind that dark-colored mousing surfaces work best with optical mice.

Be sure and mention your choice for the perfect gaming mousepad on the comments thread and in our forums.

Gamer's Mousepad Roundup at AVault

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New Black & White Gameplay Movie
8:54 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

The Citadel, a fansite for Lionhead's forthcoming 'god game' Black & White has posted a new movie taken at the ECTS press preview, detailing aspects of the gameplay. The movie showcases new spells, new terrain, lovely lighting effects and lots more.

The movie has been mirrored at two other sites as well, and download times for the 25 megabyte file are respectable, although they do (understandably) have a good deal of strain on the servers currently.

Black & White is in development by Peter Molyneux and his Lionhead Studios in England has recently been delayed, and is expected to be out on the PC early next year. It is unconfirmed, but suspected, that there is a Macintosh port either planned or in progress.

ECTS Gameplay movie - FilePlanet
ECTS Gameplay movie - Square Eight
Lionhead Studios
ECTS Gameplay movie - The Citadel
The Citadel
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

Gameboy Emulator Reaches Beta
8:48 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Derek Smith has released Victoly Boy, an emulator that allows your Macintosh to play the original black-and-white Gameboy games. Victoly Boy comes with several freeware Gameboy games and demos. Other Gamboy cartridge ROMs can be found at various places around the net, but to use them legally you must own a physical copy of the game itself. Now you can turn your $2800 Powerbook into a $45 Gameboy! We're just kidding of course.

Although the emulator is still in beta, it is quite stable thanks to extensive testing. To download Victoly Boy, head over to Macgamefiles.com.

Victoly Boy Beta 1

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Summoner Updates
8:43 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

As Volition's anticipated 3D RPG Summoner heads towards release next month for the Playstation 2, it is receiving much attention from the gaming press. Though it will first appear on the PS2, the game should also be out this Winter for the Mac and PC; these versions will contain a multiplayer mode not found in the Playstation 2 release.

In a new interview with the game's project lead Anoop Shekar, Daily Radar has learned the PC version has quite a bit of work left (they remark it is only 40% done), but will still be out very early next year. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

DR: How is Summoner unique in the fantasy role-playing genre?

AS: The first thing that is pretty unique is that the world is completely 3D and we have dynamic sound that is relative to your view from any angle. Secondly, the Oriental and European feel definitely gives it a new flavor. It's a different style of RPG.

Check out the rest of the interview for a bit more on the game. Another interview with a Volition member is now up at PS2 IGN. They talk in-depth with Jason Scott, a writer for the game. It's interesting how much background story Volition is working into the game; this should make it a compelling experience for fans of games such as the Final Fantasy series. IGN should be posting more of these 'looks' at the story behind Summoner later this week.

In other Summoner news, GameSpot will be unveiling a new character from the game each week day until it is released next month. The main character Joseph is already featured, so take a look.

PS2 IGN: The Story Behind Summoner
Daily Radar Summoner Quick Look
GameSpot Summoner Character Bios
Buy Summoner

Strike Force 1.50 for UT Released
8:31 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Strike Force, the team-based tactical total conversion for Unreal Tournament, has been updated to version 1.50. The 11 MB patch contains various bug fixes including:

  • Bot playerstarts. We had some problems with players spawning (starting) on the wrong team. This portion of the code was totally written over to fix the problem.

  • Weapon tweaks. We have gone in and tweaked the weapons to work better. We took suggestions from the beta team and the public. So you will notice ROF and accuracy changes as well as damage changes on most weapons.

  • Sniper Zoom Removed the highest zoom factor. Only 9x and 6x left.

  • UTAdmins caused some accessed Nones in Server log. Fixed this.

  • Lag issue Reworked some parts of the "details" for wall hits, gun smoke, etc to decrease the lag on servers. Also had a bug that caused 1.40 servers to get a huge log to fast without dumping the file. A lot of work has been done to decrease lag and we will continue to work on this portion of gameplay.

  • Shotgun sound Remade for a louder "boom" and better pump action sound.
  • SF Garbage Collector During rounds in SF all guns and dead bodies are collected by the engi ne.
  • To download the 11 MB patch, head to Macgamefiles.com. Please note that you'll need to have Strike Force 1.40 installed in order to run this patch, which is also available at MGF.

    Download Strike Force 1.50 (11 MB)
    Strike Force

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    4x4 Evo Preview
    8:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Sharky Extreme has posted a new preview of Terminal Reality's off-road racer 4x4 Evolution. It's a quick look at the game, and seems based on the public beta release. Here's a clip describing the SUV action:

    But the tradition of free-form racing continues. You still have to hit the checkpoints but it's up to you where you want to drive and how much mud you want to kick up into the camera. And that's one of the most startling differences-- or, evolutions -- from the Monster Truck days. Now in the rain, mud or snow there is significant material kick-up from the tires. There is sliding, not fishtailing like a two-wheel drive vehicle, but the disconcerting four-wheel slide you get from an SUV. The graphics look great, particularly the headlight effects and the impressive sky and sunset textures. Best of all, I was impressed while looking at graphics that probably weren't finished yet.
    One of the most impressive feats of 4x4 will be the multiplayer between Macs, PCs, and those on the Dreamcast console. If you still haven't tried the beta, head over to Macgamefiles now and give it a download - over 22,000 people already have!

    IMG Preview of 4x4 Evolution
    4x4 Evolution Public Beta 2
    SharkyExtreme 4x4 Preview
    Terminal Reality
    Gathering of Developers
    4x4 Evolution

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    FAKK2 Multiplayer Q&A
    8:09 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Our CGA partner Stomped has just posted a quick chat with Ritual's Scott Alden discussing some of the details behind the upcoming multiplayer patch for Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2. This solo Quake3-engine-based game was released earlier this year for the PC, but is now getting a free update to play online against other FAKK2 fans. The Mac version, which is due out soon, should also be compatible with the multiplayer patch. Here's Alden explaining how the gameplay works so far:

    Stomped: What kinds of gameplay modes will ben included in FAKK Arena?

    Alden: So far we have Fakk2Arena mode which is basically a clone of RocketArena. You join an arena and battle it out with the weapons that the level designer wants you to have. The winner of a match stays on, loser goes to the end of the line. I'm not sure if any other modes will get implemented as there are a few mod teams out there chomping at the bit to get working on CTF and other stuff.

    It will be interesting to see how well-accepted the patch becomes. FAKK2 is set in the third-person POV, quite different from popular online first-person shooters. Last we heard, Contraband Entertainment, the company porting this game to the Mac for Gathering of Developers, has FAKK2 for the Mac in the compatibility testing stage. When it goes gold (i.e.: ready for duplication) we'll be sure to let you know.

    Contraband Entertainment
    Ritual Web Site
    Stomped FAKK2 Q&A
    Gathering of Developers
    Ritual Entertainment
    Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2

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    The Fallen Images and Impressions
    6:00 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

    GameSpot has posted a short article with a bundle of new screen shots of Simon and Schuster's upcoming Star Trek game, The Fallen. With the screen shots is a short preview and their first impressions of the beta version of the game they recently received. The Collective and The Fallen's new producer Mike Wallace are trying very hard to get the game complete in the near future, and we expect many more details about this title to be revealed soon.

    Here is an excerpt from the preview:

    The Fallen follows a number of gameplay conventions made popular
    by another third-person action-adventure game, Tomb Raider. Many
    doors require security passes or access codes, and you'll often need
    to traverse a number of obstacles to locate the passes and complete
    the level. However, The Collective has worked to design multiple
    paths to success in many of the levels and each of the three playable
    characters will approach the missions differently.

    When running and stealth aren't options you'll appreciate the game's
    array of beam weapons, including the classic Star Trek phaser. To
    aid in navigating the levels, your standard Federation equipment
    includes a tricorder that can scan the immediate area and a
    communicator that lets you contact other DS9 crewmembers for
    spoken advice during the missions.

    While the preview says the game is due for a November release, we expect the game to be completed for Mac and PC by mid-October. Watch for more details on the Mac version of this game very soon.

    DS9: The Fallen Web Site
    The Collective
    GameSpot on DS9: The Fallen Beta
    Simon & Schuster
    The Collective
    DS9: The Fallen
    Buy DS9: The Fallen

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    Myst 3: Exile Chat Transcript
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Recently a chat was held by RivenGuild, a fan site dedicated to the upcoming adventure game Myst III: Exile. A transcript is now available of their talk with Greg Uhler, Presto Studios' VP of operations/producer. Presto is taking over operations for this third in the Myst series, as Cyan has their hands full with a remake of the original Myst with a real-time 3D engine, as well as a game code named 'mudpie.'

    Many topics were covered in the chat, include the possibility of a DVD release of the game, the theatrical release of a movie trailer, and other behind-the-scenes questions about Exile. Here's a clip:

    Scott: When is the myst3 DVD Edition coming?

    As close to simultaneous as possible, depending on how much additional goodies we put on it (read cool making of stuff, storyboards, early renders of the Ages, costumes, behind the scenes). Right Irish?

    This leads me to another topic, that of foreign language translations. We're HOPING to ship one set of discs (or one DVD) that has English, French, German, and Japanese. Just like a DVD movie, you'll be able to experience the game in any of the four languages. We'll also include subtitles in all 4 languages as well.

    Be sure to check out the rest of the chat for lots of other good info on the game. Also head over to the Exile web site if you're interested. Myst 3: Exile should be released for the Mac and PC next Spring.

    Official Exile Web Site
    RivenGuild Web Site
    RivenGuild Chat Transcript
    Presto Studios
    Myst III: Exile
    Buy Myst III: Exile

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    Quick Rune Interview
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Fellow Gamecenter Alliance member Crossroads Gaming has posted a new interview with HumanHead's Tim Gerritson about their upcoming Viking adventure game Rune. As the title moves through testing and towards its release next month, this third-person melee combat title has been receiving much attention in the press (and justifiably so, from what we've seen). Rune will put you in control of a Viking warrior named Ragnar as you slash your way through hordes of monsters, undead and Dark Vikings.

    Here's a clip from the interview with Gerritson:

    Crossroads: Rune uses a 'visual inventory' where players can only carry certain types and amounts of weapons. Explain the concept. Why go with this design choice?

    Tim: Actually, the idea was to be able to see the weapons you have at a glance. This was from early in the design, and we've modified it somewhat. Originally, the design dynamic was a simple, 'weapons get bigger and do more
    damage as you go' concept. Therefore, there was no reason to carry more than one axe, as one was simply bigger and badder than the next, so you could throw the old one away. We've decided to change this, however, as we've added the new concept of RuneStones.

    RuneStones are like finding potions of Mana in other games. They give you magic power that you can trade in to power up your weapons. Each weapon has a unique power to it, so some weapons will start things on fire, while others will freeze an opponent, while another sucks the life out of opponents and into yourself. This changed the need to keep weapons, so now, while you still can see only
    three weapons at a time on your person, we have added a secondary inventory where you can access all of the weapons you currently possess. If you throw them away, however, you still lose them, so it is important to try and make sure you don't toss your weapons over a cliff when throwing them at opponents.

    There are also two new screen shots included, one which features a decapitation, if you are into that sort of thing. HumanHead is betting at least some of you are.

    Check out the rest of the Q&A for more information; the official Rune web site is also a good source of info, images and movies. The Mac OS version of Rune is very close behind the PC build and should be released soon after thanks to the hard work of the folks at Westlake Interactive. If the PC version hits the projected late October release date, we could potentially see the game on the Mac in early November.

    Xroads Rune Interview
    Rune Web Site
    Gathering of Developers
    Human Head Studios
    Westlake Interactive

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    Diablo 2 Expansion Previewed at CGO
    6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    Computer Games Online sat down with Blizzard Entertainment's Bill Roper and Jim Morrisey to talk about their upcoming expansion set for Diablo 2. Two new character classes, six new quests, new enemies, and loads of new rare, and unique items are planned for the add-on.

    This preview and interview covers all these areas and more. Here is an excerpt from Morrisey describing the new Assassin character class:

    The Assassin is a female character who has skill trees for martial arts, shadow disciplines (mental, as opposed to magical, abilities) and trap setting. "She's really a balanced character, with decent hand-to-hand with martial arts," explains Joe Morrissey, who's working on dialog and story for the expansion. "While she's not like the sorceress, she does have a certain type of ranged attack." In addition to using a lot of hand-to-hand attacks (like flying kicks, which was already in place in the demonstration version of the expansion) she tends to lure monsters into various traps with names like Spinning Sentinel (which, according to Morrissey, works really well in a hallway) and Fire Spikes.
    The currently unnamed expansion set is being developed in-house at Blizzard, with the first half of 2001 as the tentative release date. If the timely release of Mac Diablo 2 is any indication, we should see the Mac version soon after, if not at the same time as the PC version.

    Diablo 2 Expansion Homepage
    Diablo 2 Expansion Preview at CGO
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

    Mac Games News for Tuesday, September 26, 2000

    Shadowbane Testers Notified4:39 PM
    Legend on Mac Unreal 24:30 PM
    Deus Ex Walktrough at CGO12:56 PM
    Dark Light Studios to make Mac games12:30 PM
    Unreal Fortress Articles12:21 PM
    Rune Developer Update12:15 PM
    Halo/nVidia Movie, Take Two12:08 PM
    View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, September 26, 2000 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Monday, September 25, 2000
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