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Thursday, September 28, 2000

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Tomb Raider Level Editor FAQ, Mac Info
9:25 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

When the announcement came that there was to be yet another in the current series of Tomb Raider games (subtitled Chronicles), it was also revealed the TR level editor would be released to the public. For the first time since the series began, fans of Lara on the PC side will be able to make their own puzzle-filled creations.

PC IGN has just posted a new list of Frequently Asked Questions about the editor, including many screen shots. Mac users often get snubbed in this department, with no editors for Mac Unreal or Quake currently available although editors exist on the PC side. We decided to ask Westlake Interactive, the company which ported the previous Tomb Raider titles to the Mac, if this editor might be have possibility of being ported to the Mac or if any of it already existed on the Mac side today. Ken Cobb was nice enough to send us a quick reply:

The game hasn't been announced, and the details of the deal have not been
finalized, and I really don't know about Aspyr's plans for the editor, so I
can't comment on it.

[The editor] would be a whole new project. No part of the editor was needed to port the previous games.

So it looks like Mac users may get snubbed again, unless Aspyr can afford to pay to port the level editor as well as the game. As Ken said, Tomb Raider: Chronicles has yet to be announced for the Mac, but it seems likely we will hear something about this soon. Historically, Westlake/Aspyr have not begun to port each Tomb Raider title until after they were on the shelf for the PC crowd.

Westlake Interactive Web Site
PC IGN TR Level Editor FAQ
Aspyr Web Site
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Core Design
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Buy Tomb Raider: Chronicles

Status Update on Fantasoft Games
5:59 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Fantasoft, Macintosh shareware developer and publisher, dropped us an e-mail chock full of information on their current and future products.

According to their press release, Monkey Shines 2: Gorilla Warfare, is nearing completion and should be released by Christmas. All you fans of the original Monkey Shines, brace yourselves for some more classic side-scrolling action. Now with multiple-layer parallax scrolling, 16-bit color, and a new hero to boot, this is a sequel with definite appeal.

New Centurions is Fantasoft's upcoming role-playing game based in a science fiction world. A public beta release is scheduled for October 10 so that players can test out some of the key elements of the game, such as Character Creation, Combat, Item Upgrades and Character Upgrades. Development of this title has been conducted in total silence, so we are quite eager to see what they have come up with.

In Realmz-related news, Fantasoft has released version 7.1.2 of its role-playing fantasy game. The Realmz Character Editor has also been updated to 7.1. The new version fixes problems with item editing for the two newest scenarios. Speaking of which, two new Realmz scenarios, War in the Sword Lands and Half Truth, have been released. The require at least version 7.1.1 of Realmz to play.

New Centurions Homepage
Monkey Shines 2: Gorilla Warfare Homepage
Download Realmz 7.1.2 Full Install (23.8 MB)
Download Realmz 7.1.2 Updater (457 K)
Download Half Truth Scenario (2.4 MB)
Download War in the Sword Lands Scenario (2.8 MB)

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New Myst III : Exile preview
4:55 PM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

Clan MacGaming has posted a preview of Presto Studios' next installment in the Myst series, Myst III : Exile. There is little information on the actual content of the game, which is still months from release, but much about Presto Studios itself.

Presto Studios did not create the original Myst, or the sequel Riven. They are however the creators of the stunningly successful Journeyman Project series, which is of a very similar genre to the Myst series. The preview has this to say on Presto's vision of Myst III:

The Presto team feels that Myst III: Exile is a natural evolution of the series, not just a continuation. Unlike Riven, where puzzles and Ages seemed illogical and confusing, Myst EXILE returns to its roots. Puzzles, for example, are more focused and easier to understand. Structures have purpose. In addition, the game plays dynamically so players can move from age to age without feeling like they have to finish a particular puzzle before moving onto the next age.
Myst III is currently in production for both Mac and PC, and is expected to be a simultaneous release someone in the new year. Presto Studios also plan to release a multi-language DVD version of the game soon afterwards.

Presto Studios
Mattel Interactive
Clan Macgaming's preview of Myst III
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

More 3dfx Q&A
4:50 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Playmakers, a regular feature at MacCentral, features an interview with Stephane Huaulme, 3dfx's Lead Macintosh Software Engineer. He talks about her history with 3dfx, the driver development process, and what is planned in future revisions of the Voodoo drivers. Huaulme also mentions an interesting bit of history at 3dfx:

SH: There have almost always been drivers for the Mac at 3dfx, even if, at times, they were the result of underground work from an engineer in his spare time and could not be commercialized as such. And that, in my opinion is the highest form of dedication.
It is interesting that the Voodoo 4 is mention several times in the article but it's status is never addressed directly. We went straight to Brian Speece for more information:
There will be no pre-order campaign for the V4 product. No big reason - I
don't think we did one for the WinPC V4's either. We kind of reserve
pre-order promotions for the latest greatest.

There really wasn't any hold-up in the Mac V4 products. The board is
different than that used in the WinPC V4. So you can't run them both off the
production line at the same time. The Mac V4 boards are being produced now and, as I say, the product should be available by the first half of October. I've got the first off the line right here on my desk in front of me.
So there you have it folks. The Voodoo 4, which is targeted at casual gamers and graphics professional, will be priced at $179.

MacCentral's Interview With Stephane Huaulme

Stupid Invaders Preview
4:15 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Gaming industry pundits always seem eager to declare the adventure game genre dying or already dead, but ironically it seems that this tradition area of gaming is producing more titles than ever. While the name of Stupid Invaders by UbiSoft may make the game seem a tough sell, the charming graphics and somewhat ripe humor of this upcoming title won the heart of EuroGamer.

In the tradition of the LucasArts adventures such as Sam & Max, Stupid Invaders is an animated 2D adventure with a large cast of characters and over 2,000 lines of spoken dialog. The previewer seemed pretty taken with the title, and compared it (among other references) to American cartoon show Ren and Stimpy in humor and colorful look. Here is an excerpt:

But lets back track a little. What the heck is Stupid Invaders? Obviously it’s a point-and-click adventure game, but this is no ordinary adventure title. It involves the plight of four aliens whose spaceship has crash-landed on Earth. Sadly for them their options for escape are narrowed significantly when three of them are kidnapped, leaving just our hero, an orange alien who looks rather like a disproportionate jellybean.

Also rather unfortunately for them (and as the game’s name infers), they’re a teensy bit dim. Apparently the application process for space travel isn’t quite as rigorous elsewhere in the universe as it is here. Ho-hum. Because our friend is somewhat daunted by his surroundings (and of course the wrong side of smart) your guidance is very useful, and by making use of the objects and creatures around you, you must rescue your crew and flee the planet back to safety, avoiding the many bounty hunters on your trail as you do.

The preview is accompanied by many screen shots, and examples of actual gameplay. Stupid Invaders is due for Mac, PC and Dreamcast by this Christmas.

Stupid Invaders Preview at EuroGamer

FarSight for The Sims Released
3:20 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

FarSight 1.1, a MacOS utility that enables editing of the textures and other resources used in The Sims, has been released

FarSight lets you browse the contents of data in The Sims and extract any item into its own separate file. With FarSight you can also preview most BMP files and use your favorite editing tools to edit the files.

FarSight 1.1 requires a PowerPC running MacOS 7.6 or later and is available for download from

Download FarSight 1.1

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Tim Gerritsen on Rune Perspective
11:48 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Human Head's chief interview-Viking and business guy, Tim Gerritsen, spoke with The Daily Telefrag about their upcoming melee-based game Rune. The interview includes several questions about the mythology aspect of Rune, as Human Head has mentioned numerous times that they researched Viking history in order to add some authenticity and depth to their game.

Rune is a third-person perspective title, and this is a cause of concern for many gamers as games of this type are often more adventure and less action. Gerritsen provides a very satisfying explanation of the strengths of the third-person view and their justifications for using it:

Tolstiy: As I understand, third person view was chosen to show all the beauty of what is happening on the screen - especially
the combat scenes. But camera can’t stand alone in such a tough ‘fight’ - animation must help here. Could you cite some
movie-like examples where camera works together with animation and as the result we have something stunning?

Timothy Gerritsen: The camera is where it is so that you can actually fight. If you have a gun, all you need to see is where it is
pointing. Thus camera in FPS games is so easy to do. If you are fighting an enemy with an axe or sword, you need to see where
your blade is, where his blade is, and how you are positioned. A fencer keeps all of these things in mind while fighting because
he has depth perception and a wide field of view from his eyes, but in a first person view you have no depth perception, so
determining your exact position is almost impossible. In a third person view, you have a much more easy time of determining
position, which is the key to victory. If you just run up to an opponent in our game and hack away, you will probably die.
Proper position during combat keeps you alive. In the final analysis, in our game, it is possible, just like a fencer, to get 'into the
groove' where you are acting on instinct because you don't have to fight the camera, or the interface. You instantly can feel all the
things necessary for victory, and thus play the game instead of playing the interface.

The team working on this title has recently entered 'crunchmode', and are furiously stomping out bugs and adding speed optimizations to this title to prepare it for an October release. The Mac OS version is also in development by Westlake Interactive, and is expected quite soon after the PC debut.

The Daily Telefrag's Rune interview
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

New Rune, 4x4 Evo Shots
11:43 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Gamecenter has posted a massive 'Uber Preview' of the "Sleeper Hits" of Fall 2000, spotlighting the games they feel are destined to succeed. While only two of the ten games mentioned are guaranteed to come to the Mac OS, they soften the blow by offering five new screen shots with each mini-preview.

The previews of interest to Mac gamers focus on the third-person melee combat game Rune and the off-road SUV driving title 4x4 Evolution. Both games are due later this Fall, and both deliver eye candy by the bucketful.

Here is their take on 4x4 Evolution:

It's easy to be amazed by 4x4 Evolution's graphics. The landscapes are rendered in stunning detail, from the dust that kicks up behind trucks to the glorious trees that dot the landscape. Vehicles are rendered with meticulous care and lots of polygons, so you can see everything down to the wheel struts. Even better, the game isn't confined to the track like so many other racing games are, which means you're free to deviate from the proven path and blaze your own trail.

And since Terminal Reality is making it possible for the PC, Mac, and Dreamcast versions of 4x4 Evolution to network, we can finally figure out once and for all which platform has the best drivers. Let the smack talk commence.

If you haven't taken the test beta of that game for a spin yet, we highly recommend it. Make sure you check out the Rune screen shots in the Gamecenter feature as well -- another game that is sure to dazzle even jaded Mac gamers.

4x4 Evo Public Test 2 (21 MB)
Gamecenter Feature on Ten 'Sleeper' Games
4x4 Evolution Mini-Preview at Gamecenter
Rune Mini-Preview at Gamecenter

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DS9: The Fallen Preview
11:21 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Gamecenter has posted a short preview of Simon and Schuster's upcoming action/adventure game Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen. Their enthusiastic assessment of this title includes five new screen shots, and details on the gameplay and design.

As many previewers of this title have noted, it follows close on the heels of another Star Trek title, Voyager: Elite Force by Raven Software. This preview emphasizes the differences between the two games and the reasons both may satisfy Trek- and action-game fans for different reasons. The third-person perspective of DS9: The Fallen has also been a cause for concern among fans of first-person shooters, but Gamecenter seems to put those fears to rest:

We like the fact that the puzzles and situations change for each level depending on which character you choose to play. Only Captain Sisko, Worf, and Kira are playable, though Miles O'Brien, Julian Bashir, and Garak all make appearances, and you can communicate with them with your communicator during missions. Simon & Schuster brought in the entire cast for the voice acting, save for Avery Brooks (Sisko) and Colm Meany (O'Brien). But to make up for Brooks and Meany, the game has Terry Farrell reprising her role as Jadzia Dax, who is still alive during the action of the game.

We were pretty skeptical of the game's third-person perspective, mainly because so few third-person action games have ever gotten the control scheme right. But after playing around with the game for a while, we like what the Collective came up with. Controls are very much like what they would be in a first-person shooter; you can use the keyboard for movement and the mouse for aiming. This makes the control system very intuitive to the first-person crowd.

This game has recently reached a mature Beta status, and we expect a flood of information about it to be released in the next few weeks. Watch for details on the Mac version of this game from IMG in the near future. The final version should be published simultaneously for Mac and PC in late October.

DS9: The Fallen Preview at Gamecenter
Official DS9: The Fallen Web Site
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

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Terminus Patched Again
10:00 AM | Charles George | Comment on this story

The faithful team at Vicarious Visions has released another update to their massive space RPG Terminus, right on time. As their previous released have squashed the major bugs, this patch fixes just small quirks, perhaps indicating an end to the constant barrage of patches. Vicarious Visions lists these changes on their download page:

Changes in version 1.81

  • COMMON: Fixed bug when binding aux keys to multiple gadgets of same type
  • COMMON: Added self destruct timer to spy probes to prevent probe buildup
  • COMMON: Prevent players without careers from entering player storage on network disconnect
  • COMMON: Removed Sim2 from frame rate counter -- not used

  • WINDOWS: Added support for diagonal hat directions in joystick code
  • MAC: Force hide cursor after each screen mode change
As one can see these changes are far from the sweeping gameplay changes or major bug fixes some companies force upon gamers well after a game's release. These little fixes show a good deal of care by the people at Vicarious Visions.

Download Terminus 1.8.1 (992k)
Vicarious Visions

New Team Arena Images
9:55 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Quake3World has open the doors of it's Q3: Team Arena section, providing you with information, news, articles and more about this expansion pack to id Software's popular shooter. Their screen shot section features four new images of Team Arenain action.

id's expansion will address many of the perceived faults of Quake 3 Arena, such as too few Capture the Flag maps and a limited number of gameplay modes. Along with new maps and models, Q3:TA will also include new weapons, power-ups, 'runes' and rules for deathmatching and CTF.

If you are new to Team Arena, take a look around this site, as it contains great info. This expansion pack is expected in the near future, and will run on the Mac as well as PC.

Quake3World's Team Arena Site
Quake3World's Team Arena Images

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More Black and White Movies
9:49 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

Yesterday we posted news that The Citadel had some footage from the ECTS Press showing of Peter Molyneux's new game Black & White, from the ECTS show in London. Today PC IGN has posted the first 4 parts of 14 segments, which covers the first 10 of 30 minutes of the presentation.

The quality is dissappointing - it was filmed by someone with a camcorder at the back of a crowded room - and hence the lovely graphics of the game don't come cross at all. However, it is clear enough to see some gameplay issues of the game, and B&W seems complex and involving.

The movies are around 12meg each, so if you have a fast connection grab them now. If you're limited to a modem, there's no need to get them as most of the details will probably be revealed in forthcoming previews.

Black & White is in production by Lionhead Studios in England. The release date was recently pushed back to this coming February. It is unconfirmed but suspected that there is a Macintosh port either in the pipeline or in the works.

PC IGN - B&W Movies galore
Lionhead Studios
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

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Soldier of Fortune Post Mortem
9:46 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Gamasutra has posted another excellent article on the development side of the game industry, this one covering Raven's FPS hit Soldier of Fortune. Both Eric Biessman and Rick Johnson have contributed to the piece, which discusses how they began their first stand-alone game and the good and bad parts of development. Here's a clip noting how difficult it was to get the premise behind SoF pinned down:

One reason for this indecisiveness was that, at the time, our original marketing team was wondering what the "hook" would be for the game. This was a major roadblock in creating the game because we knew that if marketing wasn't behind the idea, SoF wouldn't get the marketing money that it deserved. On top of that, without the backing of the marketing division, the senior management at Activision wouldn't get behind the title, either. We had to constantly sell and resell the idea that a high-octane, action-movie-like, real-world combat game would be enough of a hook. At times, it went so far that we were making design decisions not for the fun or betterment of the game, but to find the hook that we felt we were missing. The last straw came when we found ourselves working on a tactical team-based shooter, a complete 180-degree shift from our original design. We then decided to return to the game's roots and started banging out a new story.
The rest of the article is a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes work on a major project like this. Soldier of Fortune is coming to the Mac thanks to the efforts of Hyperion Software and is projected to be out before the end of the year; their port of Shogo is nearing completion.

Hyperion Software Web Site
Soldier of Fortune Post Mortem

3dfx Q&A
9:42 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

VoodooExtreme has taken a little time to chat with 3dfx's Bubba Wolford. In this quick interview they discuss 3dfx's newly-acquired Gigapixel technology, their beastly Voodoo5 6000, and the competition from NVIDIA and ATI. In this clip, he discusses a bit about the Mac side and why the Voodoo5 will still beat out the Radeon:

Voodoo Extreme -- What are your thoughts on the Raedon's design?  Its numbers are looking sweet!

3dfx -- ATI put a great deal of work into Radeon. It has bandwidth issues and certainly has issues with its 16-bit rendering. ATI focused a great deal on their 32-bit color. The cold fact is that the majority of games out there are still 16-bit only although 32-bit is becoming more popular. It seems their FSAA was an after-thought. If I were a Radeon owner I would certainly be concerned about drivers too. I hearing a great deal about bad 32-bit textures.

On the Macintosh side, their board does not exist yet. They have already announced they have no support for FSAA on the Mac and I can tell you that finding 32-bit games on the Mac side is really difficult. So Macintosh owners that get Radeon will be stuck with 16-bit rendering for the vast majority of games with no FSAA. After seeing our Voodoo5 with our fabulous 16-bit (and 32-bit) rendering with FSAA running, seeing bad 16-bit quality coupled with no FSAA is a big tough pill to swallow.

A quick poll of an IMG gaming machine revealed absolutely no titles, besides Glide ones, that were restricted to 16 bits, so take all of this with the typical grain of salt. The allegation that ATI will not support FSAA on the Mac is also lacking secondary confirmation.

The flip side of the Radeon coin might be higher frame rates, which the Voodoo5 has been having trouble producing on the Mac. We're starting to receive preliminary reports from Cube owners receiving their Radeon machines, so much more details and benchmarks should be known soon.

3dfx Gamers Web Site
VoodooExtreme 3dfx Q&A

Oni Delayed Until January 2001?
9:36 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

GA-Source has confirmed with Gathering of Developers, publisher of Oni, that the release of this action game will be delayed until at least the second week of January 2001. The good news is that the game will still be released simultaneously for the Mac, PC, and PlayStation 2.

This is the first official confirmation we have had ever since the rumors of Oni reaching beta status several weeks ago. It is especially disappointing since Bungie's Max Hoberman seemed confident that Oni would be released "on time" in a post on the message boards. It has been expected for some time that Oni would appear with the October launch of the PlayStation 2 in North America, but other publications have placed the date as late as March 2001.

More Debate On Oni Publishing Date
IMG's Oni Preview

Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Myst III: Exile Designer Interview2:00 PM
New Tropico Images1:34 PM
Devine Update on Q3A Tools12:26 PM
Gaming Mousepad Roundup10:25 AM
Escape Velocity 3 In Action9:38 AM
New Black & White Gameplay Movie8:54 AM
Gameboy Emulator Reaches Beta8:48 AM
Summoner Updates8:43 AM
Strike Force 1.50 for UT Released8:31 AM
4x4 Evo Preview8:21 AM
FAKK2 Multiplayer Q&A8:09 AM
Diablo 2 Expansion Previewed at CGO6:00 AM
Myst 3: Exile Chat Transcript6:00 AM
Quick Rune Interview6:00 AM
The Fallen Images and Impressions6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 27, 2000 on one page

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