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Wednesday, December 6, 2000

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Westlake on Deus Ex Patch
8:32 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Yesterday evening, Ion Storm released the multiplayer patch for their hybrid RPG/FPS game Deus Ex, adding Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes to the game. We contacted Westlake Interactive to see about the possibility of a Mac version of this update, and president Mark Adams was nice enough to give us his opinion. Since they have not seen the code, he isn't able to evaluate how complex or difficult the project of adding the patch to the Mac version of Deus Ex would be. In the past, Westlake has been unhappy with situations where they are forced to constantly crank out patches long after a port is complete, which was their experience with Unreal and Unreal Tournament. If adding the patch to Deus Ex proves to be too big a project for them to handle easily, the Mac publishers Aspyr will need to make the call to port it and pay Westlake to do it. Here's what Mark had to say:

We have not seen the code for the [Deus Ex] multiplayer patch and won't have any
idea when/if/how we might do a Mac version until we do see it.

Basically. At the time of the original DE contract (which was before DE
PC even shipped), there was no idea whether Ion Storm would do a
multiplayer patch or not. We signed to port the game as it shipped and
update it to fix Mac specific bugs.

We have to treat it like the Unreal/UT patches. If it turns out to be
really simple, and we have a programmer familiar with DE Mac who is
willing to do it just for fun between other projects, it could happen that
way. If it's a lot of work, or involves a lot of testing and bug fixing
before it can be released, we'd have to charge something for it, and then
it would be up to Aspyr to decide if it is worth it.

Sounds like a fair assessment of the situation. We've already contacted Aspyr in order to get their feelings on the matter, and we'll update you as soon as we receive any word. As evinced by the glowing reader reviews added to our Deus Ex review, there are certainly many eager fans who would love a chance to try out multiplayer. If you haven't yet picked up the game, you may want to check out our review to see if it suits your tastes.

IMG Review of Deus Ex
Mac Deus Ex Web Site
Westlake Interactive Web Site
Aspyr Media Web Site
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

MacDeusEx needs Beta Testers
5:15 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

MacDeusEx, a member of the Inside Mac Games Network, has recently posted a request for beta testers. The request is for a new version of the UC (Universal Constructor) mod, which recently went into final testing phase. Here is some more info from MacDeusEx webmaster Robert Baird:

    Today I would like to announce a semi-public beta of the "Universal Constructor 1.1" mod. This mod acts as a complete overhaul for the Deus Ex augmentation system and charged pickups. More information is contained within the readme of the file. If you would like to be a beta tester, e-mail DeusEx@mac.com with the subject line of "UC Beta 1.1"

This mod will be a nice addition to your game when it is completed, sometime around next week. Although this isn't a multiplayer patch, it will be a good diversion while everyone waits to see if Westlake will port the recent PC patch. If you are interested in becoming a tester send your e-mails in quickly, MacDeusEx will only accept the first 100 applications it receives.

Mac Deus Ex

Mac-made Discs of Quake
3:59 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our own Patrick Leyden pointed out that PlanetQuake's featured 'mod' for the day is Discs of Quake, which brings gameplay features based on the movie Tron to the original Quake. Ho hum, you say, is anyone still playing that ancient game? Well, perhaps there are a few diehards left -- however, this mod is significant for another reason.

Discs of Tron was created totally with Mac-specific tools. Quake 1 is one of the very few PC ports which inspired shareware and freeware editing tools for our platform. Using Quiver, Meshwork and other Mac-specific tools, author Rich Coughlan has created a unique modification and maps which seek to replicate the unique form of combat found in the movie Tron. While we are personally surprise that there haven't been more Tron-inspired video games over the years -- after all, the movie dealt directly with video games -- this one is a pleasant trip down memory lane. If you still have Q1 installed on a dark corner of your hard drive, this one is worth downloading. If you get inspired to create your own mod, the author also has a list of what tools he used and where to find them on the Downloads section of the site.

Discs of Quake Web Site

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Deux Ex Post-Mortem
3:30 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We never hesitate to link to Gamasutra's excellent developer articles, and this post-mortem by Deus Ex developer Warren Spector is well worth reading. A game industry veteran with as much name recognition as John Carmack, Spector developed the FPS/RPG classic System Shock, among other titles.

This article, penned by Spector himself, discusses the development of Deus Ex and provides his assessment of what his team did right -- and what they did wrong -- in developing this award-winning title. His perspective on the matter seems untainted by ego, and his descriptions of the development process are an insightful look into a complex, often frustrating process that is usually only visible in the end result, to average gamers.

Deus Ex was praised almost universally by reviewers -- and by IMG readers, who have rated the game an average of 9.46 in our user reviews -- but one area it does seem to lack quality is artificial intelligence, either in the simplistic combat behavior of enemies or the sometimes odd actions of allied characters. Here are Warren's comments on the matter:

Unfortunately, we missed one huge risk area -- artificial intelligence. I don't know how we missed it, but we did. It's not that we didn't spend time on AI. We started thinking about AI early in preproduction. Unfortunately, what that meant was that the AI was, to a great extent, designed in a vacuum, and as is often the case, we didn't really know what the game required with respect to AI until relatively late in development. And that meant implementing AI features early on that ended up being unnecessary later, once our design had evolved into its final form. In addition, building on the base of Unreal Tournament's pure shooter AI meant that, instead of designing a system specifically for our needs, we ended up adding stuff and tweaking until the bitter end, causing NPC behavior to change constantly, right up to the last day of development.

We ended up with some pretty compelling AI, but the problem of convincing people they're interacting with real people is immense, particularly when you're talking about characters whose reactions have to run the gamut from fear to friendliness to violent enmity. That's not a challenge many games take on (with good reason), but it was one we had to take on for Deus Ex. Our sin was, I think, giving people a hint of what human AI could be in games, but delivering the goods inconsistently.

For more of Warren's post-mortem, be sure and follow the link below. If you haven't tried the Deus Ex demo yet, be sure to grab it; read our review, if you're still not convinced.

Deus Ex Review
Mac Deus Ex Web Site
Deus Ex Demo
Postmortem: Ion Storm's Deus Ex at GamaSutra
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

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NWN Gets Novelized
1:32 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Fan site Planet Neverwinter is reporting that Wizards of the Coast plans to release Neverwinter Nights - An Anthology at the same time this online RPG hits shelves in mid-2001. Wizards is of course the owners of all of the AD&D properties, and the creators of the Forgotten Realms world and the Third Edition ruleset upon which Neverwinter Nights is based. Here is a description of the book from the Wizards web site:

A fantasy tie-in novel based on the upcoming computer game Neverwinter Nights . The Neverwinter Nights computer game is scheduled for release the same time as the novel--June 2001. Both are based on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and the novel uses the same characters as the game to produce the story.

The story revolves around the city of Neverwinter, which is being plagued by horrific monsters.

After some sleuthing by our heroes, it's discovered that a malicious cult may be the cause of all the trouble.

Steve Winter is the co-author of Wanderlust . For 16 years, he edited, developed, and designed several rulebooks, adventures, and supplements for the Dungeons & Dragons game. Recently he's been involved in computer game development, additional roleplaying and game development, and writing magazine articles. He resides in Wisconsin.

Planet Neverwinter has also posted a collection of quotes from the NWN forums from members of the development team. Many issued are discussed, from the level size limitation to how saved games will work. If you're interested in details about this upcoming RPG, check out the update; we have also posted a First Look regarding this game.

Planet Neverwinter
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Nights: The Anthology
First Look: Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Return to Dark Castle Preview
1:32 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Today we've posted a very cool preview of Return to Dark Castle, the upcoming return of this classic side-scroller for the 80's. Sporting a new graphics engine, revamped graphics, and some cool new levels, Return to Dark Castle hopes to ignite a fire under the forgotten side-scrolling genre while trying to re-sparking some of the magic from the original Dark Castle series. Here's a snippet from the preview:

First, let's examine this game from the point of view of the original. Return to Dark Castle is a similar game when it comes to gameplay, but with most of the code being rewritten to reflect the major changes in gaming in the past fifteen years. Alpha-transparencies are now supported, so the light-sprites look far more up to date than simple animations, not to mention additional effects like the green-glowing translucent shield effect. The engine for the game was completely revamped to reflect some differences in the code structures, since the original game was written back in the mid-80s for the original 512k Macintosh, you could say that there have been a few changes since then, and this new game reflects it.
Return to Dark Castle is currently scheduled to be released in early 2001. Be sure to check out the rest of the preview!

Return to Dark Castle Preview

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Shadowbane Character Details
1:18 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has pointed out that today is day two of the Shadowbane "Character Creation Week," a week of updates focusing on the characters and races of this massively-multiplayer online RPG. As this game is currently in beta testing, the time has come to crank up the hype machine; thus the Shadowbane web site has been updated with details on the Humans, Dwarves, Elves and the Irekei. Although the first three in the list are common RPG fare, you'll find that Wolfpack Studios has done their best not only to add depth and background to each race, but to give them a bit more focus than the generic D&D clichés we've all become familiar with.

The Irekei in particular are a unique addition to the fantasy realm. With ten specialization classes within that race and a Dragon as their patron, they will surely be strong allies -- or deadly enemies. Here are more details from the web site:

The "Devilmen," little is known of these strange, fierce, red-skinned raiders of the desert. Folktales claim they are the descendants of a long lost family of Elvish nobles who were banished to the Burning Lands for their ferocity and warlike nature. While Irekei and Elves are distinctly similar, the Devilmen deny any kinship, and respond to the suggestion with violence. Known primarily for their ferocity in battle and their ruthless treatment of all non-Irekei, raiding parties of Irekei are the terror of all settlements that border on the deserts. Renowned for their teachings in the mystic arts, Irekei also make cunning assassins. It is said that Irekei children are trained in the use of knives from birth, and learn to fight before they learn to speak. What outsiders see as cruelty, Irekei see as strength tempered by grim necessity. The crucible of the desert has turned the Devilmen into a grim, hard people for whom survival is the ultimate priority.
Shadowbane will be a cross-platform MMORPG with a focus on alliances between powerful clans and huge, strategic battles. Currently the game is due Q2 2001; more details on the actual gameplay should be available in the near future.

The Adrenaline Vault
IMG Visits Shadowbane Creators
Shadowbane Recent Updates
Shadowbane Web Site
Wolfpack Studios

Guide to Shareware, Part 2
10:37 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

games.macnn.com has posted a second installment of their Slacker's Guide to Shareware Gaming, which mentions four more noteworthy shareware titles worth checking out. These titles have the advantage not only of low cost, but of low system requirements, making them enjoyable to play even on low-end Mac systems. Here is "the slacker's" thoughts on one of our personal favorites:

One of the slacker's favorite new toys, this came across my desk a few weeks ago as an unexpected surprise and I haven't been able to put it down since. Another Tetris variant, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab uses multi-colored shapes that have to be dropped down the screen, players grouping like colors together in order to clear space in the game board. Excellently designed with beautiful graphics and terrific audio, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab allows you to choose colorful characters and play a variety of game combinations.

Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab is impressive thanks to its technical excellence and sense of humor. The program allows players to go solo or compete against computer or human opponents, even offering a Zen mode in which players must match the computer's suggested movements while listening to meditation music, highlighted by soft, relaxing colors. All this is pulled off with a sense of somewhat self-deprecating humor; Freeverse Software takes itself with a grain of salt.

We do feel compelled to note that the first game mentioned in this article is not actually a shareware title; the legal status of using a ROM image for MacMAME when you do not actually own the game in question is debatable, and many feel this is a violation of the author's original copyright. MacMAME is also a totally non-profit project. Peruse the rest of the article for more shareware gems worth checking out.

Slacker's Guide to Shareware Gaming Part 2

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Summoner Screen Shots
10:20 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Typically, we don't consider screen shots alone to be news-worthy, but this new series of images of Volitions RPG Summoner posted by GameSpot are so significantly improved from previous ones that we have seen that they merit attention. This RPG, which was just released for the PlayStation 2, is coming to the Mac OS and Windows the middle of next year after Volition finishes adding multiplayer support -- not present in the console version.

The screen shots appear to be from the PS2 version; the Mac and PC versions will have the advantage of increased resolution and support for advanced graphics hardware such as the ATI Radeon and 3dfx Voodoo5 5500. Previous screen shots have had a slightly muddy, washed-out look; the sharp, crisp colors and improved lighting and textures of these shots make us eager to see the final version.

Early reviews of this title based on the PS2 version have voiced praise for the depth of story line and amazing special effects. We'll contact THQ/Volition for an update on the Mac and PC versions, and see if we can dig up some details on what exactly multiplayer support might add to the gameplay of this title. In the meantime, be sure and give those screen shots a glance, and visit the official Summoner site for more information.

Summoner Screen Shots at GameSpot
Summoner Web Site
Buy Summoner

Wings of Mercury Adds 3D Engine
9:53 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

An update to the space flight simulator A-OK! The Wings of Mercury is on the way, and it adds a new 3D engine known as REALView 3D. This sim, which accurately represents the launch and orbit of the Mercury-era capsule spacecraft, will reach version 3.0 this February and will debut on the Windows platform as well a few months later. Here are details from the press release:

Today YOU ARE GO! unveiled screen shots of
external and through-the-window views generated with their new REALView 3D
engine. The screen shots feature launch, on-orbit and landing views of both
Mercury/Atlas and Mercury/Redstone vehicles, and can be viewed at the product web site.

"These early screens shots show how much we’ve progressed on the product
with only couple of months using the new software," remarked YOU ARE GO!’s
owner and lead developer, Joseph Nastasi. The REALView 3D engine is now
based on a REALbasic software plugin, RB3D (http://techwind.com/rb3d),
developed by Joseph Strout. "Despite some false starts with other software,
we’ve got a winning combination that will speed up development and provide
much flexibility."

Nastasi stated that the 3D engine will utilize basic 3D effects so that the
simulator will be usable with older computers. "There are so many systems
being simulated all at once that we need to strike a balance between visual
and technical complexity. A-OK! is intended for a wide audience, not all of
whom can afford 500Mhz G4 and 1000Mhz Pentium III’s."

The current version of A-OK is on sale for $20 for a limited time and can be ordered from the web site. Visit the site for more details, screen shots and ordering information.

YOU ARE GO! Web Site

AppleLinks Interviews MacSoft's Al Schilling
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

AppleLinks recently sat down for a lengthy chat with Al Schilling, the product manager for MacSoft. The interview covers topics ranging from MacSoft's relationships with PC developers and the process of negotiating a contract to their recent shift to family and "value" titles. The Mac community often demands that titles be released as quickly as possible after a PC title has been finished -- simultaneously, if at all possible. However, this is not as easy as it seems. Schilling explains the hidden details behind a simultaneous release:

Bill: How difficult would it be to go into a place where you know they're developing a game you want and do a concurrent release, or do you prefer to wait and see...

Al: If they don't want to do absolute concurrent development, then we need to wait until they're somewhere in a first playable, where they're locking in the features. Otherwise what we've found is that we'll get six months into a game that they're, say, eight months into, and they keep sending us the code once a month, and then all of a sudden they'll say "You know what, we don't like the way this is going, so we're going to start over from here." Then we've got three or four months of development that's been wasted, and we simply can't afford to do that. People have the idea, I think, that software companies are just raking in money hand over fist, and that's just not the case. And as much as I would like to just throw as much money as possible into a product and have it come out the week after the PC version, it's just not possible. Until they get to the point where they have the features pretty much locked, and then start looking at it, and porting the code, so in the few months when they go final candidate, we can be almost caught up. And that works more for us right now.

Recently, MacSoft has focused on bringing family-oriented games such as Risk 2, Monopoly, Jeopardy, Links LS2000, and Wheel of Fortune to the Macintosh in order to satisfy the gaming needs of some 4 million iMac owners. For the more involved gamer, MacSoft is currently working on Vampire: The Masquerade, as well as putting the finishing touches on the sequel to Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear. Be sure and read the rest of the interview for more details.

Al Schilling Interview at AppleLinks

Hidden Missions Discovered in Driver Demo
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

An astute reader of XLR8YourMac has posted information on how to enable hidden missions with the Driver demo that was released on Monday. Many IMG readers have voiced their disappointment regarding the demo in the forums and on MGF, claiming that the gameplay is far too short for such a lengthy download. A simple modification to the mission names allows you to drive around in the San Francisco Bay Area as much as you want, and in rainy conditions if you like. Another side effect is that the time limit is removed on the other maps, so you can drive around for an extremely long time -- as long as you don't run into the law. Here is the full scoop:

I did a little exploring and noticed that the Scripts folder contains a Missions folder with 5 missions in it. The file mission661.dms is the default getaway mission. By changing the name of any of the other 4 missions to mission661.dms, you can play them instead. They are all drive around the town missions that let you last a lot longer if you don't get the cops attention. One has Rain and is at night! You can play in SF or Miami.
This little "hack" just about triples the replay value in the demo. The reader goes on to explain how to alter the characteristics of the mission, such as the aggressiveness of the police cars and the damage they can inflict and receive (the police cars are usually invincible). If you haven't grabbed the demo yet, now you have more reason to do so.

Download Driver Demo (31.7 MB)
Driver Demo Hack Instructions at XLR8YourMac

Mac Games News for Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Driver to Ship December 12th2:57 PM
Duke Nukem Forever for Mac?2:32 PM
"Bunnies" Needs Beta Testers11:32 AM
Monkey Shines Update, MS2 Demo Soon11:24 AM
Wagram 1809 Released11:12 AM
Duke Nukem Forever Finds GoD11:04 AM
Island Four Update9:50 AM
Virtual PC 4.0 Released8:29 AM
No Mac Q3: Team Arena SKU?8:27 AM
Cro-Mag Rally Schools Giveaway8:26 AM
Volition Q&A, Summoner Shots8:23 AM
DS9: The Fallen Previewed at IMG8:20 AM
WaterRace Demo Released8:16 AM
Open-Source Site Updates6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, December 5, 2000 on one page

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