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Wednesday, October 4, 2000

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Epic Interactive's Fall Lineup
9:46 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

We recently contacted Epic Interactive, an overseas Mac/Amiga developer that is porting several titles to both platforms and producing one original game. No, this is not Epic, creators of Unreal Tournament; this German company is a new porting house for Mac and Amiga titles. They are currently working on various game, such as Earth 2140, Simon The Sorcerer 2, Dafel and Gorky17. These games have been in development for a while, but were only annouced for Mac several months ago. We managed to obtain some updates on the progress of their ports, and Mac gamers should find the news encouraging. Here is their progress report:

Simon The Sorcerer 2: There will be no demo. The Amiga version is almost
finished, the Mac version has enterd early beta stages.

Earth 2140: Amiga demo is about to be released (progress report at:
www.amigafire.com), the Mac demo will be 2-3 weeks until we can release it.
The facts given at amigafire.com are the same for both Amiga and Mac
version, only that the Mac version is about 2 weeks behind schedule.

Dafel: Bloodline: First level is complete for Mac, Amiga and Windows
versions. Now the other levels have to be inserted and tested before the
gold master CD. A demo is scheduled for early novembre release.

Gorky 17: development is on time, so that we are confident of a pre Xmas
release for this one.

Most will have demos and should be released in the next few months. This Fall is shaping up very nicely for Mac titles, don't you agree? Watch MacGameFiles for the upcoming demo downloads. Be sure and check out our past articles on Epic Interactive for more details on the titles they are porting.

Details on Epic's Titles
Epic Interactive Refocuses on Mac
Epic Interactive Brings New Titles to the Mac
Epic Interactive
Gorky 17

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Shadowbane Updates, Visit
3:27 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

For some time we've been bringing you news of Shadowbane, a massively-multiplayer online RPG in development by Wolfpack Studios for Mac and PC. This innovative title is no simple online dungeon crawl; in this digital fantasy-land you will be able to join clans, lead armies into battle and eventually -- if you are very, very good -- attempt to lead an empire. Individual players will not only participate in this alternate reality, they will have the chance to actually shape its future. And best of all, it will be totally cross-platform and a simultaneous release. The game is currently in the early stages of Beta testing.

Recently the Shadowbane web site has posted many updates, particularly in the area of character classes. Drawing from a mix of sources as well as common fantasy characters, they have posted profiles for such classes as Prelate, Ranger, Templar, and Warlock. Wolfpack is placing a heavy emphasis on background story and character, hoping to inspire players to 'act out' their roles and not simply use the game as a giant chat room for people in chain mail. Thus their class descriptions are quite involved, as this excerpt from the Templar class profile reveals:

Blessed by the touch of the Cleansing Flame, Templars are immune to fire, and their devotion to the All-Father makes them fearless in battle. Their duties to the Temple are many: Templars detain and hold suspected heretics, mete out punishment as the Confessors demand, and serve as shock troops in the Temple's ongoing war against those whose who stand outside the Light. Orcs, Elves, Irekei, pagans, and many others have felt the wrath of the Firebrands, wandering bands of Templars charged with seeking out and destroying evil wherever it may lie. Their devotion to the cause is unwavering, their commitment absolute, and their battle unending.
For more information on the character classes and the game itself, be sure and visit the Shadowbane web site.

In related news, members of the fansite Shadowbane Vault recently made a trip to their 'promised land' -- Wolfpack HQ in Round Rock, Texas, just outside of Austin. While these folks are quite excited about this game, to say the least, the report of their visit is an entertaining and informative read. They refer to Wolfpack staff by the online handles the artists and programmers use, so this one is for serious fans only. Along with some images of the Wolfpack offices and recreational facilities, the article also offers details on the motion-capture lab used for character animation data. Here's an excerpt which describes the Shadowbane Vaults's attempt to discover some inside information:

After talking with Dreadflame about the interface, we started pummeling him with the 52 questions we had about guilds and guild warfare. We quickly learned what the word Blackbox™ meant. It means they won't even acknowledge the question because its top secret and not safe for virgin ears. Not easily deterred, we started asking him about his move to Austin and how he was enjoying Texas - searching for a weakness to get the answers we wanted. Damn programmers - we needed to get back to the artists and squeeze it out of them. Sensing, Dreadflame's weakening shields, Warden, Varios, and Ashen Temper came back into the office where we started up a new discussion on the overall progress of the design. The question of the day was "Are you on schedule?" the answer was a resounding yes. And from what we saw of the game - things are looking very good.
That's what we like to hear. Read the rest of their report for more information than you are likely prepared to handle, and watch the pages of IMG for more Mac-specific details on this thrilling title in the near future. Currently Shadowbane is in early beta, with a final release due late this year/early next year.

Shadowbane 'Theurgy' Character Class Information
Shadowbane Web Site
Shadowbane Vault Visits Wolfpack HQ
Wolfpack Studios

Adams' Apple on Release Dates
1:46 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

With decades of experience providing consumers with software at this
point, shouldn't companies have a better idea of when a product is going to
be released? Not always, say Suellen and Mark Adams of Westlake
. Missed deadlines in software development are often
totally out of the developer and publisher's control -- there are
myriad logistical problems that can send the best-laid plans of
developers and publishers spinning out of control.

In Suellen and Mark Adams' most recent Adams' Apple column for
MacCentral, the business manager and president of Westlake try to
provide some understanding about what sort of issues they face when
they try to meet deadlines. Here is an excerpt:

Various publishing issues can also cause problems. A delay in
printing the manual, a problem at the duplication facility, problems
with delivery services and approvals of box and advertising artwork
can all lead to a project's delayed release. These are just things
that happen in the course of business.

Legal issues, aside from approvals, are usually contract-related.
Often times, in the case of ports, all the parties agree on the
general terms of a contract and work is begun. However, not until the
lawyers at all levels have reviewed things can all the signatures be
officially inked. It is not unusual for there to be contract
negotiations at as many levels as there are approvals in the approval

What all of this means is that sometimes we work for months on a
letter of intent alone. Occasionally, the contract process lags so
far behind the work that we have to wait for the lawyers to finish
before we can take the next step in developing the Mac version of the
If you've ever been frustrated by not being able to buy a game or a piece of software when you expected to, this MacCentral column is worth a read. While a dose of reality may be painful, it is always welcome.

Adams' Apple: Release dates are not an exact science

Fighter Squadron Preview at IMG
1:08 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

United Developers week continues at IMG with a preview of the long-awated Fighter Squadron. This storied flight combat game was released a little over a year ago on the PC by Activision. This past summer, United Developers announced that they would be bringing Fighter Squadron to the Mac.

Be sure to check out our preview of Fighter Squadron as well as our other UD previews of Majesty and Sin, both of which were posted in the last two days.

Fighter Squadron Preview
Sin Preview

Sin Demo in 2 Weeks
11:39 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

If you have read through our preview of Ritual's shooter Sin, being brought to the Mac by United Developers, then you know to expect a complex, involving shooter. Recently Sin was declared 'golden' and is expected in stores in the near future. But will there be a demo, so you can try before you buy? Bill Heineman of Contraband Entertainment, the company behind this port, has confirmed on Usenet that the demo will be released in about two weeks. He said to look for it on the United Developers web site, and of course Macgamefiles will mirror the demo for downloading.

For more information on this time-tested shooter, read our preview and check out the accompanying screen shots. The game itself is expected in stores at the same time or soon after the demo release.

Sin Preview
United Developers

King of Dragon Pass 1.5 Beta Available
10:07 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A-Sharp's David Dunham recently made a post to Usenet noting that the company has just released a beta update of their title King of Dragon Pass. The game has received much acclaim for its deep story line and great artwork, although it faces tough competition in a market dominated by big-name releases. This update fixes many problems they've encountered lately, but since it hasn't been tested thoroughly, it's still at beta stage. Here's his post explaining what's new:

  • Fixed problems relating to defeated clans offering tribute
  • Added explanatory text if we can't seize land
  • Fixed bug in one branch of seducing poet sequence
  • Orlanth worshippers don't lose abilities after sacrificing to wind
  • High population no longer shows "ghost temples" on Tula Screen
  • Joining Colymar tribe no longer prevents victory
  • Kallyr won't have a daughter
  • Heroquesters who return from being lost won't be considered dead

Please download the update and let us know your experiences by
e-mailing kodp@a-sharp.com. Thanks!
Grab the beta update at Macgamefiles. And if you haven't tried out the KoDP demo, give it a whirl and see what you think; it is truly a unique title worth spending some time on.

King of Dragon Pass Demo (33 MB)
King of Dragon Pass Review
King of Dragon Pass 1.5 Update (2 MB)
KoDP Web Site

The OS X Philes at MacGamer
9:33 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

MacGamer's Pat Miller takes a hard and critical look at the performance of the recently released Mac OS X Beta and a number of his favorite games including Quake III, Unreal Tournament, Deus Ex and more. Here is an excerpt:

RAVE acceleration seems to have been broken all throughough Mac OS X; Myth II and SNES9X simply wouldn't allow it, and Diablo II and Unreal Tournament ran it very slowly - in Diablo II's case, it was unplayable. Same with OpenGL. Switching to software mode seemed to alleviate this problem, but strangely, with SNES9X, which had apparently been carbonized, I got awful framerates - my highest was about 35, where I normally get 60.
He also includes an assessment of the new Aqua GUI, and concludes that hard-core gamers should avoid OS X like the plague, for now. Be sure and read the rest of the article for more on OS X and gaming.

The OSX Philes

PakRat Version 0.8
8:59 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Tom Naughton has released another version of his popular Quake 3 model viewer PakRat. This skin-making tool has made huge progress since its last version; it now allows you to edit 'shader' scripts and directly re-compile them. Another addition is the direct exporting of skin images and also skin meshes. Furthermore, it now supports all of the latest changes made to Elite Force, and you can view models and maps from Raven's game. Here is a list of additions:

New features:

- Compile button for .skin, .shader, and animation.cfg files.

- Supports more shader commands.

- Command drag textures off of models.

- Command option drag texture coordinate maps off of models.

- Command double click on a shader to open the shader editor.

- Command click on window title to get a directory popup.

- Weapon switching (use the number keys).

- Animations menu.

- Improved map rendering.

- Support for Voyager Elite Force.

- mdr models.

- mp3 player.

Elite Force support is often quite handy for Duane Johnson, as he continues to port that title to Mac OS. PakRat will continue to include support for most Quake 3 based games; Naughton is also thinking of adding support for Unreal Tournament maps and models, which might allow some editing of that game. Remember this utility is in 'alpha' status and may be very unstable -- use at your own risk.

PakRat's homepage
PakRat 0.8a (700k)

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Mac Volition Q&A
8:46 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With OS X Beta being all the rage lately, we decided to ask Volition's Mark Allender if their two main projects Summoner or Red Faction would be "carbonized." This would allow the games to run natively under Mac OS X. Here was his response:

There are currently no plans for OS X. When we started Summoner over two
years ago, we had considered it, but the timetable for OS X release has
changed. I don't think it makes a lot of financial sense to shift
direction of any development of Summoner (or RF) to OS X at this time.
Releasing any kind of software for a new OS always produces surprises.

Carbonizing the game isn't out of the question.

We also were wondering about how Red Faction was progressing on the Mac side. In past talks with Allender, he's noted that Summoner is moving very concurrently for all three versions (Mac, PC, and PS2). Here is his report on Mac Red Faction:
Unknown about the hardware requirements. The Macintosh version of RF isn't
as far along as the PC version right now. We are looking to get those in
sync quickly. The biggest thing to do is to plug the Macintosh specific
graphics layer from Summoner into RF and that will make up about 90% of the
missing ground.

This is not the case with Summoner. Both the PC and Macintosh versions of
Summoner are at the same stage.

This is very good news for Mac fans, who love to have simultaneous releases. Summoner is currently set to be released for the Playstation 2 later this month and this Winter for Mac and PC; the delay will be fruitful, as Volition will use the time to insert online multiplayer code. Red Faction should be out for all three platforms in the first half of next year. A big thanks to Mark for answering our questions, and doing such great work to keep these titles headed towards the Mac platform. Watch for Mark in our Forums, he shows up occasionally; he also can be reached on the Apple Mac Devlist.

Red Faction Web Site
Summoner Web Site
Red Faction

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Myst III Exile Interview at Adventure Collective
7:40 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

In an interview at Adventure Collective, Presto Studios' Conceptual Design Team member Francis Tsai talks about his inspiration and work on Myst III: Exile, the upcoming 'threequel' to the famous series of adventure games. While many adventure game fans have much respect for Presto, creators of the Journeyman Project series, there is still some concern that they will be able to create a real 'Myst' title outside of Cyan. Here are some excerpts from the interview dealing with that concern:

A.C.: How different will the look of EXILE be from MYST and its sequel RIVEN? Beyond playing the original MYST, how much research was spent on making the world of EXILE authentic? Is there a lot of correspondence between you and MYST's original production team at Cyan?

F.T.: Hopefully the quality of the graphics and attention to detail in EXILE will match the level of that in MYST and RIVEN. We studied the imagery from MYST and RIVEN quite a bit, trying to get a feel for what kinds of aesthetic, architectural, or cultural influences make the "MYST look-and-feel" so recognizable. We read the three MYST novels and got several copies of the "From Myst to Riven" art book to have on hand for reference for the different art teams.

Some insight into the world of Exile itself is also given. Tsai is one of the designers working on the Canyon Age area of Exile, and he details some of his inspiration for the graphics he's created:
A.C.: It is known EXILE is divided into five ages. Which age are you responsible? What is your design philosophy behind your particular age?

F.T.: I was the designer for the Age which is being referred to by fans as the "Canyon Age." In addition, I was one of three designers working on "Another" Age. I can't say too much about that particular Age just yet.

For the Canyon Age, aesthetically I wanted to create a hot, dry desert-like world, with an overall mood of isolation and abandonment. One reason for
that decision was to contrast with some of the other Ages, which represent
different climates or times of day; also, it was in keeping with the "Exile"
theme of the game.

The interview also features several new images from the game, and reveals that Macintosh computers are part of the production of the title, as Final Cut Pro is cited as one of their development tools.
For more information on this title in progress, be sure and check out the rest of the interview. Myst III: Exile is coming to Mac and PC simultaneously in the Spring of 2001.

Myst III Exile Interview with Francis Tsai
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Lieberman Interviewed on Games
7:27 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

In a candid interview held on the heels of last night's presidential debate, Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman sat down with Daily Radar for an interview on computer games and violence. Lieberman made some good points, including underlining his support for the industry, and expressed his desire not to ban games from the market or force a ratings system into existence. This runs counter to common gamer and editorial opinion on various game sites, where he is often portrayed as hostile to the game industry and a threat to the 'violent' games people love to play. Here is an excerpt:

DR: It is a common understanding among those who play videogames regularly that you think violent games should be regulated or banned. Is that an accurate assessment of your position? If not, what role should the federal government play in this issue?

JL: That is a common MISunderstanding. I have never proposed having the government ban games or regulate game content. I am a devout believer in the First Amendment, and have consistently opposed resorting to censorship to address the growing public concern about media violence and indecency -- for example I was one of just 16 senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act.

Lieberman even indulges Daily Radar on his favorite games:
DR: As the federal government's leading expert in videogames, what are some games you like?

JL: I doubt I would ever pass a test as a videogame expert. But I am aware that the computer and videogame publishers are producing a wide array of highly creative and engaging titles these days that are nonviolent but lots of fun, such as the Sims series of strategy games, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Madden 2000 for sports fans, and Tonka 2 Construction and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? for young children.

The prospect of having a vice president that can actually quote the names of top-selling video games is certainly interesting; at least no one can accuse Lieberman of making uninformed attacks. In any case, if you have a fixed opinion of Lieberman, pro or con, you should find this interview enlightening.

Be sure and post your reactions to Lieberman's position, as well as to the issue of game violence in general, on this article's comments thread or in our forums.

Daily Radar Interview

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Peter Molyneux Interview
6:00 AM | Charles George | Comment on this story

Womengamers.com recently published the first of two interviews with Lionhead Studios' founder Peter Molyneux. Some questions relate to his hugely-hyped god-game Black and White, while others, such as this one, relate to the industry in general:

As gaming has progressed, we seem to have moved into a phase of celebrity for well-known developers. John Romero and John Carmack are household names for many gamers, and Sid Meier and American McGee actually have their names as part of game titles. For you, is the cup of success half-full or half-empty, and why?

Celebrity status in this industry is an amazing feeling. At shows I find it an incredible honor when gamers come up to me to say that they have been inspired by games that I have worked on. But I have always tried to steer clear from taking too much credit for the games I have worked on. The development of a game needs a team of people to complete it and it is a team effort so much so that in Black & White we have fixed it so that the credits will come up randomly in recognition of the fact that this game is a team effort and that everyone has worked equally hard on it."

The PC and Dreamcast versions of Black and White are scheduled to ship in February 2001; there is no confirmation of a Mac OS version or port of this title, but we have reason to suspect such a project may be already underway.

Peter Molyneux Interview at Womengamers.com
Lionhead Studios
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

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Red Faction Interview, Screen Shots
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new interview has been recently posted by the German 'zine Zocks featuring Alan Lawrance of Volition. A leftover piece from the recent ECTS, this interview discusses Volition's demonstration of their upcoming multiplatform shooter Red Faction. Although it is somewhat 'broken' English, the answers are easy enough to understand. The screen shots included speak the universal language of eye candy. Here's a clip with Lawrance explaining how the glass shatters in the game:

This is just a test-level showing off the glass-breaking. You notice, that the glass is breaking apart from the impact point and each shard of glass has it's own physics applied to it - bounces realistically off the walls and fall to the ground [destroys some more glass: the first hit made a hole in the glass, looked like a smashed car window, the second hit made the complete glass falling onto the ground]
This is just one of the physics engine's features. The Geo-mod engine, as its called, will allow players to break windows, topple walls and even blow holes in the terrain. And this is just part of Red Faction's amazing list of features, along with amazing graphics and an in-depth story.

If you're looking for more screen shots of Red Faction, Fragland has received ten very-high-resolution pics from Volition. While they aren't all new, you've probably never seen more detailed shots of the game in action, so be sure to check them out. Red Faction is due for the Mac, PC and PS2 in the first half of next year.

Zocks Red Faction Interview
Fragland Red Faction Screen Shots
Red Faction

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'Elite' Interviews
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Several interviews with some of Raven's staff working on their just-released Star Trek title Voyager: Elite Force have appeared on the 'net. This title has just been launched for the PC, and is already receiving much acclaim. A Mac version is underway by Westlake Interactive and Aspyr Media, and should be released sooner rather than later this year.

Our CGA partner Stomped has asked a few quick questions of the game's project administrator Ken Hoekstra. He discusses the European release of the title, counters accusations that the single-player mode is too short, and offers this tidbit about their future plans for the title:

Stomped: Any plans for an Elite Force Gold package or perhaps a mission pack for the game and if so what would you like to see be included in them?

Hoekstra: We're considering all the options right now. Much of the Elite Force team is taking a well-deserved vacation and Raven and Activision would really like to track the sales of the game before deciding on future expansions. Initial sales look great, though, so there's a distinct possibility that some sort of expansion for the game could become a reality. As far as content goes, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Head to Stomped for the rest of the scoop from Hoekstra.

The other interview is posted at Digital Game Developer, and features a chat with programmers Brian Pelletier and Mike Gummelt. They discuss topics such as the Quake 3: Arena engine used for the game, the impressive scripting system they created, and what it was like working with Paramount (sometimes known for being overprotective of their intellectual property). Here's an excerpt:

GD: It's been stated in the press that Paramount would not allow an inordinate amount of gore -- what other restrictions in art or characterization did they place upon you?

Brian Pelletier: It was actually more our decision to not add so much gore. Our goal was to really capture the essence of Star Trek, and since the Star Trek TV shows and movies don't have a lot of "gore," our game didn't have it either. Our goal was to stay true to the Star Trek universe. Paramount was very supportive of the creative process. We made the game how we wanted to, and as long as what we designed stayed within the confines and context of the Star Trek image, we were fine. There was a case where one of our characters was a real loudmouth buffoon and Paramount said that a member of the Starfleet academy would never act like that. So we toned him down, but still kept a little of that loudmouth edge. When all was said and done I would say that they might have actually lifted some of their restrictions in order to make a better gaming experience.

The rest of the interview is full of great details on this title, so be sure to check it out. Also be sure and read through IMG's preview of this game if you're looking for more information, and check out the latest progress report on the Mac version as well.

Digital Game Developer Elite Force Q&A
Elite Force In Beta
IMG First Look at Voyager: Elite Force
Stomped Elite Force Q&A
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Mac Games News for Tuesday, October 3, 2000

4x4 Evolution for Mac OS X5:05 PM
Apple Releases Mac OS Classic, OS X Lists3:05 PM
Sin Preview Posted2:21 PM
Parsec LAN Test Released2:12 PM
New WaterRace Screenshots at IMG1:29 PM
Anvil Tutorials Available12:30 PM
Baldur's Gate Patch Due Out Soon11:22 AM
Warcraft III Update, Images11:17 AM
Return to Wolfenstein Interview11:09 AM
First 'Mudpie' Image Available10:42 AM
Clarification on Myth II Resets10:32 AM
New Tropico Characters6:00 AM
Stomped Unveils New Sites6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, October 3, 2000 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, October 2, 2000
Friday, September 29, 2000
Thursday, September 28, 2000
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Tuesday, September 26, 2000

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