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Wednesday, December 13, 2000

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MacPlay Ships Sin Gold, Majesty
8:11 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

MacPlay has announced that they have shipped their first two titles: the first person shooter Sin Gold and Majesty, a fantasy kingdom simulation; in fact Sin has already been spotted on store shelves in CompUSA. This brings the number of titles that have been shipped by Mac publishers this path month to an unbelievable total of nine A-list games -- just in time for holiday shopping.

Here is an excerpt from their press release:

Sin Gold combines the action of Ritual Entertainment's Sin with the suspense
and drama of the Sin mission pack by 2015, Wages of Sin. In these two
adventures, Colonel John R. Blade must unravel two of the most devious plots
in the history of Freeport. Sin Gold runs on any iMac or equivalent
Macintosh with 64 MB of RAM, and Mac OS 8.6. Rated M for Mature by ESRB.

Majesty, the Ultimate Fantasy Kingdom Simulator, is also available in stores
across North America. Game Industry News recently nominated Majesty for the
Real-time Strategy Game of the Year in its 2000 Game of the Year Awards.
Majesty requires an iMac or equivalent with 64 MB of RAM and Mac OS 8.6.
Rated E for Everyone by ESRB.

As we noted Sin is already on shelves, and Majesty should join it soon. Sin can be found for less than $30 at several online stores. For more information on these games, be sure and read our detailed previews; watch for reviews and demos, coming soon! MacPlay's future titles include Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

Sin Gold Preview
Majesty Preview
Sin Gold
Buy Sin Gold

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Sim Theme Park Demo Available (Again)
4:23 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Feral Interactive has released a demo version of Sim Theme Park (also known as Theme Park World), a gorgeous full-3D sim game of theme park building and management. This title will be published by Aspyr Media in the very near future, but in the meantime you have this demo to play with. Here are the details:

What could be more fun than building and running your own Theme Park? Well how about getting to play in it and ride all the rides you created. After all YOU built it - YOU should be the first to test it!

In Sim Theme Park you get to create and operate the most exciting, attractive and feature-packed amusement parks your imagination can conjure. You and you alone are the boss, so you get to have all the wild ideas and make all the important decisions, from where and how the rides are built to who cleans the toilets!

Pretty soon, you'll realise that you're in charge of a living, breathing and ever growing world of your own. If you're proud of your creation, you don't have to stop there. Go online and publish your park on the Internet or explore other people's parks, make friends and chat. You can even vote for your favourite online parks.

It's all about having fun. It's about getting as many people into your park as possible - then fleecing them!

[Update: The demo is FINALLY mirrored on MGF.]

Sim Theme Park Preview
Aspyr Media
Sim Theme Park Demo (55 MB)
Feral Interactive
Bullfrog Productions
Sim Theme Park

Console Games Unhealthy for Women?
3:14 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Stomped pointed us to this article on CNN which cites a California study that purports that many console titles contain "unhealthy" images and concepts which may be harmful to the self-esteem of girls and women. Citing the "distorted" depiction of women in titles such as Tomb Raider and recent best-selling console titles, they said that women had a stronger response to such role models than male players.

Here's an excerpt:

Those games which feature female characters tend to display women in an exaggerated and stereotypical manner, with 38 percent displaying significant body exposure, including cleavage, thighs and midriffs.

"In addition, 38 percent of female game characters had large breasts and 46 percent had unusually small waists," the group said in a news release announcing its findings.

Altogether, 54 percent of the female characters were depicted as fighting or being violent, while many also exhibited stereotypical female behavior and characteristics.

"The unhealthy messages that both girls and boys absorb from these new media impact the way they think girls are supposed to look and act," Salisbury said.

This is of course not a new conclusion, and will no doubt elicit yawns rather than yells from many gamers. However, the study does seem to contain some sampling flaws and other leaps of logic that don't quite add up. Do you feel that sexual and violent images of women in video games have such a negative impact, and in fact do effect the women who play these games more strongly than the men that play them? Be sure and voice your opinion in our forums.

Study: Many video games 'unhealthy' for girls

ULTIZURK IV: Lord of the Cyclops
3:02 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A helpful reader brought to our attention the existence of ULTIZURK IV: Lord of the Cyclops, a shareware RPG in development by 'MadMan.' This ambitious project promises to 'close the book' on shareware RPGs, and is supposedly nearing completion. In a unique presentation, details about the game are introduced by character narrators, concentrating on specific details. Here are some of the features of this RPG:

-The land is greatly detailed. While we don't claim the layouts to be quite as fancy as a modern commercial game, yet it obviously isn't another U4/U5 clone either. :) So, graphically, not state-of-the-art, but pretty all the same.

-That detailed land is MORE interactive then Ultima 7! Yes, you can bake bread in Lord of the Cyclops, and much more indeed! All the bushes, plants, etc. seen in the first pic, for example, can be plucked, harvested, eaten, mixed into herbs, sold off, etc. The second pic displays a portion of "Agricultural Hall", where you can knit your own warm clothing to travel up north, make wine from scratch on a wine press, and even pop popcorn!

-The Castle pic - screenshot three - shows some nice cannons. But they not only actually fire, they RECOIL, and if you're behind it, you'll take a hit - stand aside it when shooting those legions of goblins. :) And yes, you can climb up top and walk all over the castle and many other buildings in this multi-layered game. One of our design points is listed as "no holds barred".

-The picture from inside the Inn shows how all containers are actual pop-up boxes, where you can easily simply pick up the object and add it to your pack! Unless, of course, you are attempting to STEAL something - one of the innumerable features involving the many skills and stats in the game.

The screen shots referred to can be found at the link below. While there is no release date for this game, it certainly looks like Mac RPG fans will have yet another classically-inspired title to try. Visit the web site for more details.

Lord of the Cyclops Web Site

On 'Warez' and Abandonware
2:55 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

A guide to Interactive Fiction on has posted a thoughtful editorial on software piracy (also known as 'warez') and the phenomenon of abandonware -- literally games and software that have no parent company and are no longer for sale.

Along with a discussion of software piracy, its effects upon the industry and the many justifications pirates use to explain or defend their actions, there is also a discussion of abandonware. This subdivision of the warez scene is often felt to be on higher moral ground than straight piracy; those who run abandonware sites feel they are preserving the software for users to enjoy who might otherwise never get to use a program that is no longer available through legal means. Here is an excerpt:

Abandonware is a new concept, having gained currency in 1997. In late
1997 the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) and the
Software Publishers Association (which merged with the
Information Industry Association in 1999 to form the SIIA) sent
cease-and-desist letters to a number of the nascent abandonware sites,
which promptly shut down. However, in 1998 a
number of notable sites such as Home of the Underdogs, The Ring of Ages, and TUOL were established; since then,
abandonware sites have spread like wildfire.

Despite the newness of the concept, abandonware is as illegal as warez. Copyright
lasts for 75 years if not renewed; no computer game has yet reached
that magic age. As Peter Beruk pointed out, "If an organization goes
out of business, and it was in the business of developing
commercially-available software, even though that organization may not
be in formal existence, that copyright may have been transferred to a
third party. If that third party wanted to bring infringement action
against an individual, an organization, or anything in between, for
infringing the rights of the copyright owner, they'd be able to do

The abandonware concept is particularly widespread among the emulation community, where many games (such as the arcade machines emulated by MAME) can no longer be played by ordinary means or on the hardware they were designed to run upon.

Read through this well-written article, and then return to share your thoughts on our forum: is abandonware a valid concept? Does preserving a game or program against loss outweigh the crime of breaking the licence agreement and copyright that bound this software to its creators? Will 'warez' and the many justifications behind it ever disappear, or the effect on the industry be minimized -- or will companies be forced into proprietary formats (such as the DVD format used in PS2 systems) to prevent theft of intellectual property?

Warez, Abandonware, and the Software Industry

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Mac Team Arena Demo Status Update
1:37 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

With only a couple more days until the PC version of Quake 3: Team Arena is released to stores, Graeme Devine gave an update on the status of the Macintosh demo is the Quake3World forums. He also put out a call for users to test Team Arena with the MacOS X Public Beta:

I'm about done with the Mac builds. Probably tomorrow (unless Dallas freezes over then it will not be tomorrow) I'll be looking for a few Mac people to bash on the TA demo for Classic and OS X.

If you've got the TA demo pak0.pk3 file from the PC build (or begged it off a PC friend) then you'll be set to test.

The QVM compiler for the Mac is superior to the PC QVM compiler in several respects (I optimized the heck out of both the x86 and PPC QVM compilers, giving almost DLL speed, but the PPC one proved to be much more elegant).

It is very encouraging to see that id Software is putting time and effort into optimizing the Mac version of Team Arena, instead of just giving us a straight port. You can be sure you'll see the Team Arena demo at when it is released.

Graeme Devine Speaks in the Quake3World Forums
id Software
Quake III Team Arena
Buy Quake III Team Arena

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Tropico Preview / How to Grow Digital Trees
12:12 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Although Pop Top's dictatorship-sim Tropico won't be released until this Spring, this intriguing title continues to inspire online articles. Thresh's Firing Squad recently posted a preview of this empire builder, calling it "a study in colonialism." The preview covers most aspects of the game, including character behavior, personality traits and other factors that determine your success. There are also some extremely nice screen shots to check out, so be sure and check this one out if you are curious.

In other Tropico-related news, Computer Games Online has posted an editorial of sorts by Pop Top's Phil Steinmyer on the vegetation in the game, and its critical role in your success (or failure). Not only did they go out of their way to give the trees, shrubs and crops in the game visual realism, but they also included realistic behavior: forests replenish logged areas over time; crops grow, wither and re-seed for the next season, and weather and rain effect them as expected. Here's an excerpt from the column:

We wanted our trees to be not only look realistic, but behave realistically. How can trees 'behave realistically'? They grow. Sometimes they die. In places where other plants have died, new plants sprout up. In most games, once you cut down a tree or plant, it never regrows. If this were the case in real life, none of us would have to mow the lawn more than once in our lifetime. Of course, our lifetimes would be pretty short, because we'd die of starvation after the crops had been harvested once, never to regrow again.

Tropico's crops grow through five or more stages, ultimately reaching a ripe, harvestable state. If your farmers don't harvest the crops (because, say they're too busy fighting a rebellion against El Presidente), then the crops die and your people go hungry, leading to more rebellion, and if Ethiopia is to be our guide, a famine relief effort leading to a reunion of all sorts of 70's bands. (Do we really need to witness an Abba reunion? Please, don't let this happen in your game!)

Included in this column are various opinions about the state of vegetation in games overall, as well as a selection of screen shots of Tropico's foliage. Watch for Tropico this March, published by Gathering of Developers.

Tropico Web Site
Tropico Preview at Firing Squad
On Tropico's Trees at CGOnline
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

GameRanger Adds Sin, Majesty
10:17 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Just in time for the release of these two titles, the free Mac-only game connection service GameRanger has been updated to support both Majesty and Sin. Users of GR just have to log-in and the new plug-ins will be downloaded and installed automatically.

This brings the total number of games supported by GameRanger to 51, offering something for everyone. For more information about Sin and Majesty, be sure to read IMG's previews of these titles. Visit the GameRanger site to download this utility.

MacPlay Ships Sin, Majesty

HMS Freeverse Update
8:57 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story has just posted the HMS Freeverse Updater, a patch for Freeverse's free online service that allows you to chat and play many of their shareware titles online.

These libraries add many new features and fix lots of small bugs in previous versions. All users should download this update and place it in their HMS compatible games.

The HMS Freeverse is an internet game server developed for use on MacOS. Freeverse, which is known for it's high quality products and exceptional interface design has worked hard to make the HMS Freeverse the easiest, prettiest and most full featured game server available.

Some of the games playable on this server include 3D Bridge Deluxe 1.0, Hearts Deluxe 6.1 and 3D Euchre Deluxe 1.1. Be sure and grab a few demos of Freeverse games while you are downloading this update.

Freeverse Web Site
HMS Freeverse Updater (698 K)

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Avernum 2 Due Thursday
8:33 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A helpful IMG reader alerted us to the fact that Spiderweb Software is now offering their next shareware RPG, Avernum 2, for pre-order on their web site. The final version of the game will be available on the 15th of this month.

Avernum 2 is a re-write of the classic Spiderweb title Exile II: Crystal Souls. This deep, storyline-driven title has been reborn with all-new graphics, an expanded storyline and a simplified interface. If you've played a Spiderweb RPG previously, you know what to expect: humor, plot twists and tons of adventure, with a lot of odd characters to meet along the way. While some might be turned off by the "retro"-style graphics and turn-based play, this is a surface judgement -- the true depth is only revealed over time. And of course low system requirements and a small download size (compared to many games) is a bonus.

For more information on this title, and to place a pre-order, visit the Spiderweb web site. There will also be a demo released on the 15th, which can be "unlocked" to become the full version.

Avernum 2
Spiderweb Software
Spiderweb Software
Avernum 2
Buy Avernum 2

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Heroes III: Complete is Gold
8:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Since going Gold seems to be all the rage with those crazy kids today, programmer John Morris sent us a note saying that Heroes III: Complete was now 'GM' and is set for a ship date of December 19. The 3DO store has this title available for pre-order right now, and if you hurry, you'll get priority shipping for free. It was also thought that the level editor might be ported for Complete (it was missing from Heroes III), so we contacted Morris for details about this issue. Here's what he had to say:

The editor did not make it again, but there is a random
scenario generator that is pretty cool.
This is somewhat disappointing, but understandable, as many PC-to-Mac titles don't include an editor.

We do know that Complete will have two included expansion packs, each as in-depth as the original title. Here are some details:

Heroes III: The Restoration of Erathia™
Control the actions of Heroes to complete mission objectives in a variety of
conflicts taking place in the mythical land of Erathia. As Heroes travel
across the land with their armies, they can explore, seek artifacts and find
treasure, as well as lead their armies into battle.

Heroes III: Armageddon's Blade™
In the demon kingdom of Ecofol, Lucifer Kreegan has a vision to set the
world on fire by constructing "Armageddon's Blade." Seeking to dethrone this
insane king, Catherine invades. As she contemplates her next move, she
wonders - will this battle lead to Erathia's victory....or the world's

Heroes III: The Shadow of Death™
Sandro, a power hungry lich, seeks two powerful combination artifacts which
will allow him to rule all of Antagarich. Four brave Heroes must find the
fabled Angelic Alliance sword to defeat the unstoppable forces of the undead
over the course of the seven exhilarating campaigns.

As you can see, there's a lot to love about this enhanced version of the original. If you're looking for more details on the original Heroes III, be sure to read through IMG's review. Be sure and visit the fan site run by Rocco 'rogue27' Carello. And be sure to pre-order for the free shipping, and maybe this title will arrive just in time to put under the Christmas tree. Be forewarned, you'd better clear your calendar for the new year, as this one is addictive.

IMG Heroes of Might and Magic III Review
3DO Heroes III Web Site
Mac Heroes Fan Site
3DO Store

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Chat With the Baldur's Gate II Design Team
8:15 AM | Jay Swartzfeger | Comment on this story

Mac Baldur is reporting that a chat with the Baldur's Gate II design team will be held at Ultimate Speedzone tonight at 8pm EST. Even though the chat will be PC-oriented, fans looking forward to the Mac version may want to attend to get the inside scoop on the creation of this epic title.

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn is an epic RPG based on official AD&D rules and featuring stunning graphics and sound. Just released for Windows, this title is winning accolades from the press and inspiring many fans of the first title to adventure into the dungeons yet again.

MacPlay plans to release Baldur's Gate II for the Mac sometime in 2001. Be sure and visit Mac Baldur for news and details on all things Baldur.

Mac Baldur
Baldur's Gate II
Buy Baldur's Gate II

Mac Games News for Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Sim Theme Park Shipping, Elite Force Demo Soon4:30 PM
Kawasaki Jet Ski Gold4:14 PM
Holiday Buyer's Guide3:45 PM
4x4 Evolution Garage Offers Add-Ons1:10 PM
The Fallen Q&A11:36 AM
On Oni Power Items10:41 AM
AvsP Source Code Release?10:29 AM
Halo Update10:14 AM
Maximum Pool Carbon Demo10:06 AM
MacMAME 0.37b1010:04 AM
OS X Versions of Quake Utilities9:30 AM
Myst 3: Exile Set for Simultaneous Release9:21 AM
Diablo II Expansion Q&A6:00 AM
Warren Spector Chat Log Posted6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, December 12, 2000 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, December 11, 2000
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Thursday, December 7, 2000
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