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Tuesday, January 23, 2001



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Unreal Engine Evolves
10:56 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

An article posted by FGN Online features details on the continuously-evolving 3D engine created by Epic for Unreal and Unreal Tournament. The next generation of this engine is known as the "Warfare" build, and is supposedly capable of handling levels with 150 to 200 times as much detail as the levels in UT -- a concept that is difficult to even imagine, and which will only be possible on next-generation hardware.

Amid rumors of Unreal 2 and an UT sequel code named Unreal Warfare, Mark Rein of Epic spoke to FGN about the modifications they are making to this engine to bring it up to speed with the tremendous pace of 3D hardware. It is a commonly-known fact in the industry that current and future graphics chipsets have actually outpaced the games designed to run on them, introducing dozens of new features and abilities (hardware transform, clipping and lighting, 3D textures, bump mapping, etc) that games have yet to take advantage of. Thus the Unreal engine is being retooled to exploit the power of these top-end chips, and the chips promised in the future, such as the fabled NVIDIA NV20 chip that will reside at the heart of Microsoft's X-box console.

Some of the new features being added to the Unreal engine include support for large-scale terrain maps (such as the ones seen in Tribes 2 and Q3 Team Arena), better AI behavior and support for absolutely colossal texture sizes (up to 2048x2048!). Here's an excerpt from the interview with Mark Rein:

FGN Online: Do you continually evolve the engine's technology and what is the Warfare engine?


Mark Rein: Yes, the Unreal Engine is a constantly evolving product. The technology you're seeing in this build of the engine is the basis of what will power future Epic games including Unreal 2 (being developed by Legend Entertainment), an unannounced Xbox title and then eventually a game codenamed Unreal Warfare way down the road.


This is why you'll occasionally hear us or licensees refer to the 'Warfare' version just as we referred to the 'Tournament' version of the engine to represent the feature set of the engine built between the releases of Unreal and Unreal Tournament. The name of the engine is still the Unreal Engine but internally we'll refer to Warfare build xxx where xxx is the latest actual version number.

The interview is followed by a detailed list of the new features in development by Epic. Included in this list is a very interesting claim that they can increase the number of polygons in a scene by 150 to 200 times and keep the same level of performance -- the very idea takes one's breath away. Supposedly this will be handled by "hardware brushes," a radical retooling of the way the engine renders that takes full advantage of 'hardware transform and lighting,' a special ability built into next-gen graphics cards such as the ATI Radeon and the NVIDIA GeForce 2 Ultra. The 3D geometry of a level is defined as thousands of "brushes" when a level is created, which are then converted to 3D polygons for actual rendering by the graphics card; currently this process takes place in software. Using hardware brushes would move this 'tesselation' step to the graphics card's Geometry Processing Unit, relieving the burden on your CPU and obviously processing the data tremendously faster than before, as the chip itself is specifically designed for the task. For more details and two very impressive screen shots, be sure and read the rest of this interview.


Not to be outdone, VoodooExtreme has published a report on the engine, as given by Mark Rein (again). This is just a more detailed version of the information given at the end of the FGN online interview, with the same screen shots.


Of course, for all of these changes to matter to Mac users, the 'evolved' version of this engine will have to be ported (again) to the Mac OS. Considering the popularity of Unreal-engine based titles on the Mac (including Unreal Tournament and Rune, and soon DS9: The Fallen), we consider this to be an inevitability rather than a possibility. In any case it will be quite some time before games based on this new version of the engine arrive; Unreal 2 itself isn't due until early 2002. By that time the next-generation chipset powering the X-box will have an equivalent on the home PC -- and on the Mac as well, if Apple and NVIDIA's relationship remains healthy and sound.

Unreal Engine Report at VoodooExtreme
Mark Rein Interview at FGN


ATI Radeon PCI Shipping
7:36 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG Reader Tim Gerrit today informed us that he had received his ATI Radeon PCI Edition via ClubMac. In addition to having the AGP version in stock, ClubMac also now has the PCI version of ATI's latest graphics board in stock.



ClubMac is selling both cards for $199. But a $30 mail in rebate for both cards is available for both cards (follow the link below to order the product and get the rebate) brings the price down to $169.

IMG's Radeon Mac Edition AGP Review


Alpha Centauri & Sim Theme Park Patches Released
5:58 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media today released patches for Alpha Centauri and the recently released SimTheme Park.



Alpha Centauri 1.5.2b1 is primarily a fix for MacOS 9.1. The beta patch fixes a problem where absolutely black pixels in Alpha Centauri are white. Please note that this is a beta and is not complete.



SimTheme Park 2.04b3 tries to fix the dreaded "Error: Engine Failed to Initialise" bug that crept up in the initial shipping version of the game. The patch also introduces a software renderer for those who don't have a video card capable of running OpenGL. The developer cautions that the software renderer is a bit slow and should only be used as a last resort.



Both files are now mirrored on Macgamefiles.com.

Alpha Centauri 1.5.2b1 Patch at MGF
Sim Theme Park 2.04b3 Patch at MGF


Myth Series Backstory
3:54 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

Over the weekend dedicated Myth fans Silicon Dream and David Bricker conducted a chat designed to provide info on the Myth backstory. While the universe in Bungie's Myth has been discussed for a long time by die-hard fans, those who just played through the game without researching missed a great deal. The upoming Myth III: The Wolf Age will be based off of this history. For those of you who haven't researched the Myth universet, his informal discussion will undoubtedly prove helpfull in your understanding of Myth 3. Thanks to Rampancy.net for pointing this out to us and Silicon Dream and David Bricker for holding the chat.

Myth Story chat transcript
IMG interviews Mumbo Jumbo
Rampancy.net


Rogue Spear for $29.90 Deal Ending Soon
2:38 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Last Friday we brought you news that online retailer Compuexpert is having a 48 hour madness sale for Rogue Spear. They have MacSoft's recently released Rogue Spear on sale for just $29.90. That's $10 off the regular price of $39.90. This deal ends tomorrow so if you want to get Rogue Spear at this fantastic price, be sure to order today.



Back in full force is Tom Clancy's hallmark realism and suspense in Rogue Spear, the sequel to PC Gamer's 1998 Action Game of the Year - Rainbow Six. Rogue Spear straddles the razor's edge separating justice from the dark forces of geopolitical turmoil. It blends spine-tingling tactics and explosive action into intense counter-terrorist warfare. Lead the RAINBOW team of elite multi-national special operatives against two deadly terrorist organizations. Life or death missions will take you to real world settings across the globe, including a Jumbo Jet airplane and the Museum of Art. Rogue Spear seems so real, you'll be yelling "Tango Down" in your sleep for weeks!



To place your order, be sure to head over to Compuexpert today.



Mac NVIDIA Interview
1:53 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Accelerate Your Mac has scored another interview with Brian Burke of
NVIDIA, regarding their plans for the Mac OS. Specifically, DVD playback, OS X
support, and future chip support (including NV 20 and GeForce2Go) are discussed.
Burke also tackles a couple of questions regarding their biggest competition
right now on the Mac, ATI's Radeon and Rage Mobility chipsets. Here's a
clip:

Mike: With DDR RAM vs SDR, my feeling is the Radeon should be faster at 32bit/higher resolutions in gaming. What has Nvidia seen?


Nvidia: When you say "in gaming" I assume you mean frame rates in Open GL accelerated games such as Quake3? The GeForce2 MX's performance in Quake3 is excellent in all modes and resolutions that are actually playable. (above 30 frames per second) While the DDR-based Radeon does offer slightly higher frame rates at the highest resolutions, these resolutions are beyond the range of many displays, and at unplayable frame rates anyway, and thus not particularly meaningful.

The rest of the interview is more open than the first round of Q&A's Burke gave,
so definitely give it a read. There is still no conclusive evidence on which
solution Mac gamers will want, though both the GeForce 2 MX and Radeon should
be great cards for gaming. An xlr8 reader also updated his personal review of
the machine with more DVD and gaming info, so have a look at that as well if you're interested.

XLR8 Interview with Nvidia's Brian Burke


Top CTF Maps
1:02 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpy has an interesting new article posted which discusses what they
consider to be the top 10 Capture the Flag maps of all time. This very popular
gametype, first made popular by Quake 1, has been included with many major
multiplayer titles the past few years. While the top 10 listed here aren't all
available on the Mac, you can try out most of them (including the maps for the Quake series,
UT, and SiN). Here's an excerpt from the article, showing just how difficult
it was to come up with the 10 best:

Choosing these ten, however, was not an easy feat. Calm discussions with other CTF diehards at GameSpy HQ quickly dissolved into rage-filled screaming matches. Eyes twitched. Veins bulged. Spittle flew.


"I really liked for Quake 2, that was a great one. You know, with the lava down in between and the secret route into the other base?" I'd say.


"WHAT!?! Are you insane?" was the reply. "That map was awful! The bases weren't symmetrical, red had MUCH easier access to rockets, there was that stupid quad up on the ledge near the elevator, the main corridor into base was so tight you couldn't fit two people in it and then there was….."

With such classics like 'Facing Worlds,' 'Forgotten Mines,' and 'McKinley
Revival' (one of my personal faves), this list is sure to bring back some great
CTF memories, if not a few debates...

GameSpy's Top 10 CTF Maps



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Matt Soell on Halo
11:01 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

In a post to the forums at halo.bungie.org, Matt Soell, community guy and keeper of the Bungie Way, made it quite clear that EBWorld.com's move to cancel pre-orders for Mac and PC versions of Halo is not indicative of a change at Microsoft/Bungie in terms of Halo. As the Mac gaming world breathes a collective sigh of relief, read Matt's post as quoted below:

First off: it's a load of bollocks. There WILL be a Mac/PC Halo.


As to why EB pulled it off their site: maybe they figured out that taking preorders so far in advance would only increase the number of irate "Where the hell is it?" calls to their phone centers. I can't speak for them or the motives for their actions. But I can tell you it's not a result of anything we or Microsoft told them. Nameless "higher-ups," my arse.


It just ain't true, folks. Don't believe it.


-Matt

As IMG never trusts the word of retailers, who are literally the last link in the supply chain, we never had a doubt. Are Mac gamers still looking forward to this long-promised yet still ephemeral title from Bungie (and Microsoft?) Be sure to voice your opinion in our forums.

halo.bungie.org
Matt Soell at HBO Forums
Microsoft
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved



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SimsForMac Adds Houses
10:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG's network affiliate SimsForMac has recently added a new 'Houses'
section to its site, with many details on how to get these instant maisons running on the Mac
version of The Sims. The lengthy explaination is very informative,
and should insure you don't corrupt your own Sims data, so be sure to read it thoroughly. Three houses are now available in a Mac-friendly format for downloading.


Along with houses, there have also been updates to nearly every other file section on the site,
including Women, Male, and Specialty skins and Objects. For more information on commercial add-ons to the game, read IMG's recent review of the first Sims add-on pack, Livin' Large.

IMG Review of Livin' Large
SimsForMac Houses Section
SimsForMac Main Web Site
Aspyr Media
Maxis
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large



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IMG Interviews Oni's Hardy LeBel
10:06 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG has just posted a new interiew with the lead designer for Oni,
Hardy LeBel. The Q&A covers how this long-delayed title finally made it to
completion. The removal of multiplayer features is also addressed, as well as the
decision to port this game to a next-generation console. Here's a clip:

IMG: The intro movie (anime) is quite amazing -- whom did Bungie work with to create this? How much input did you have over the look and pacing of the clip, i.e. did Bungie do actual storyboards?


Bungie (Alex Okita) worked with A.I.C. to create the intro (and the outro ;^>!) movies for the game. Marty O'Donnell scored them after they had been finished. And yes, Alex did do a number of storyboards for those sequences. It was very exciting to see the team at A.I.C. turn those stills into
dynamic sequence we have now.

Check out the rest of the interview now to get the inside scoop on Oni's
development. Be sure to get your pre-orders for the game in now, as this title is
set to be released next week for Mac, PC, and Playstation 2.

IMG Interview with Oni's Hardy LeBel
Bungie Studios
Gathering of Developers
Oni
Buy Oni


Mac Games News for Monday, January 22, 2001

Europa Universalis Preview4:07 PM
Another Cipher Q&A3:41 PM
iDevGames Interviews Westlake, MacSoft10:18 AM
Michael Evans on Oni9:55 AM
Mac Halo in Jeopardy... Again?9:39 AM
Red Faction First Look8:33 AM
Apple to Offer BTO Sound Blaster?6:00 AM
G4/533 Review at XLR8YourMac6:00 AM
IMG Reviews Livin' Large6:00 AM
Rune Art Interview6:00 AM
Westlake Adds Two New Projects6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, January 22, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Friday, January 19, 2001
Thursday, January 18, 2001
Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Tuesday, January 16, 2001
Monday, January 15, 2001


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