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Friday, January 26, 2001



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Mac Q3:A Status
8:48 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

id Software's Graeme Devine has been working very hard on a point release for Quake 3 Arena that should be optimized for general Mac use, and also take advantage of the Altivec/Velocity Engine ability of G4 chips -- a first for Mac games. Currently, the patch has been delayed yet again due to a bug inside Mac OS 9.1 which causes conflict with InputSprockets and the keyboard. Many developers have complained to Apple about this problem, and supposedly Apple is now trying to solve the bug. Here are the details, direct from Graeme:

[Mac Q3A 1.27g] is looking good. I've not actually been focusing on altivec so much
(waiting on Codewarrior patch), but just in general optimizing the Mac build
for everyone and yielding good results.


Right now, the one thing that's stopping me releasing a new build for the
Mac is some 9.1 input craziness with the keyboard I need to fix.


Graeme.

We assume these changes will also be rolled into the Mac version of Quake 3 Team Arena, as the app for this expansion pack is still in beta stage as well.


We don't have any hard numbers on what to expect in terms of speed increases with this point release, but it should be faster than the current patch for all users as it will be stripped of 'debugger' code that often slows down beta releases. If he is indeed waiting on Codewarrior to fix a bug in their compiler, however, we may have a substantial wait ahead of us before the G4 optimizations bear fruit. If you haven't tried the beta version of the patch, be sure and grab it below.

Quake 3 1.17 vs. 1.27g Benchmarks
Quake 3 Arena 1.27 at MacGameFiles
id Software
id Software
Activision
Quake III Team Arena
Buy Quake III Team Arena


Update on ATi Driver Status
4:02 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

ATi software enginee, Arshad Rahman, made a post to XLR8YourMac's Video Card forum informing all Radeon owners that the release of updated drivers is imminent. The bugs that cropped up in quality assurance have been fixed and they are now in the final stages of testing . The post came with the assurance that the new drivers would be out early next week. Here is the full scoop:

Just wanted to post an update on the driver situation. As I mentioned earlier, QA found some problems with last weeks drop which delayed the release by a few days. They have now signed off on it, and it's going to Customer Support for final testing over the weekend. I thought it was supposed to be posted today, but it looks like it'll be up on our website Monday or Tuesday once CS have done their final testing. Sorry, my fault for not understanding the process for web updates.
The driver update is supposed to fix several minor and annoying bugs that users have discovered. Rage 128 owners may benefit from the update as well, since ATi has a universal driver package where different video chipsets share similar components. Stay tuned to IMG for a report when the drivers are relased.

XLR8YourMac Forums


Blizzard Hosts 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes
1:21 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Stomped pointed out that famed RTS/RPG developer Blizzard Entertainment is hosting a sweepstakes in celebration of the company's tenth anniversary. This contest, which runs between now and February 25th, will award prizes at random to those who register for eligibility at their web site. Here are details on the contest:

Ten years ago, three UCLA graduates founded Blizzard Entertainment with a simple mission in mind: to make great games and to have fun while doing it. A decade later, Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and the company they founded are still going strong following that same basic tenet.


To celebrate 10 truly amazing years, Blizzard is sponsoring a 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes. From autographed posters and games to original game concept art and other archived materials never before available outside the company, we are giving away 28 days worth of prizes. Other prizes include a slot in Warcraft III's closed beta test, the chance to have your name in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction as a hireling or an item, and the grand prize -- a trip to Blizzard. It's Blizzard's way of saying thank you to everyone who has helped create our success.


For your chance to win, be sure to register early so that you are eligible for all of the available prizes.

We already can't thank Blizzard enough for sapping our free time and endangering our personal relationships with their amazing, addictive games. Sign up right away for your shot at a trip to Blizzard HQ. Be forewarned that some of the prizes are PC-only (such as the aforementioned Warcraft III beta test), however many are indeed "platform neutral" including lead figurines, action figures, T-shirts and music CDs.

Stomped
Blizzard 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes



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Week's Worth of Oni Moves
11:40 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Just in case you missed this week's daily updates on Gathering of Developers' official page for third-person action game Oni, this Flash-based site has been updated with yet more 'special moves' from the game. Five new movies were added this week, including the Jump Flip, the infamous Lariat neck-breaking move, and the Twister Kick.


To view these mini-movies you will need both Flash 5 and Quicktime plug-ins installed for your browser. Modem users are advised to be very patient with the site, as there is no progress bar informing you of how the download is progressing.


The game itself, perhaps one of the most-anticipated (and longest-awaited) titles in Mac gaming history, will actually ship for pre-order customers on Monday next week. IMG will have our detailed review of the title available at that time.

Oni Moves Preview (Flash Required)
Bungie Studios
Gathering of Developers
Oni
Buy Oni



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Aspyr Titles Patched for 9.1, Other Issues
10:44 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Amy Torres of Aspyr Media has provided details on the latest patches for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, its expansion pack Alien Crossfire, and the just-released Sim Theme Park. Both the SMAC and SMAX patches address various issues players have discovered after installing Mac OS 9.1, as well as address bugs and improve multiplayer support in low-bandwidth situations. Here are the details:

Just wanted to let you know that we have recently released patches for
SMAC (Alpha Centauri), SMAC X (Alien Crossfire) and an interim patch for
Sim Theme Park.


Our SMAC patch 1.5.2, released January 23:


-Adds higher manual refresh rate setting, needed for some of the newer
monitors.

-Improved timing characteristic for high-latency net games (quite an
improvement).

-You can now choose which monitor you'd like to play via the Options
dialog. Note that this only applies when you are running the game full
screen and not in a window.

-Added fix for black/white issues with MacOS 9.1

-You can now bring up the initial "Options" dialog by holding down the
command key at startup. The old method of holding down the option key is
still supported.

-1.5.2 also adds the fixes from patch 1.5.1, which was not widely
released (read Version history).


SMAC X patch 1.2.1, released today:


-Fixed problem where you could not load a play-by-email game created by
the windows version. Note that you will need to finish any games
currently in progress (read Version history).

-Adds higher manual refresh rate setting, needed for some of the newer
monitors.

-Improved timing characteristic for high-latency net games (quite an
improvement).

-You can now choose which monitor you'd like to play via the Options
dialog. Note that this only applies when you are running the game full
screen and not in a window.

-Added fix for black/white issues with MacOS 9.1

-You can now bring up the initial "Options" dialog by holding down the
command key at startup. The old method of holding down the option key is
still supported.

-Fixed issue where SMAC X would beep and not play movies on some monitors
that supported it previously.

-There are also PC specific gameplay fixes (read Version history).

Obviously as both games require the same core code, there are many fixes that overlap each other. Torres also provided information on a recent patch to Sim Theme Park:
Sim Theme Park 2.04b3


Please note that this is not the final version of the patch. However,
due to the large response from gamers, Feral has released this "beta"
patch as a fix for folks experiencing "Engine Failed to Initialize."


Please be sure to read the document clearly labeled "Read These
Instructions!" as there is detailed information on the game, workarounds
and patch instructions.

All three of these patches can be found at MacGameFiles. If you discover any issues with 9.1 and the games you play, be sure and present them on our Troubleshooting forum.

SimTheme Park 2.04b3
Aspyr Media
Alpha Centauri 1.5.2
Alpha Centauri: Alien Crossfire 1.2.1 (1.6 MB)
Feral Interactive
Bullfrog Productions
Sim Theme Park


Mac OS 9.1, iTunes and CVGS
10:31 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG Reader Michael Masella and Mac troubleshooting site MacFixit are both reporting that Apple's just-released operating system update Mac OS 9.1 and/or installing iTunes disables the ability of Connectix Virtual Game Station to read Playstation CDs.


Specifically, the new version of the Apple CD/DVD driver installed by iTunes or the 9.1 update, presumably modified to support that utilities' ability to burn music CDs, is the root of the problem. This problem is solved by installing the older version of the Apple CD/DVD driver from your Mac OS 9 CD-ROM; however it is not known as of yet if this disables iTunes' ability to burn CDs, as Apple systems with built-in CD-RW drives are still quite rare.


As soon as we can discover more detailed information on the possible negative effects of downgrading your CD/DVD driver, we'll pass them along; in the meantime this is a quick fix for getting CVGS up and running again. We've contacted Connectix about a possible update to their Playstation emulator, as well.

Connectix Virtual Game Station
MacFixIt



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Oni In-Store Display Video
10:26 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

With only three days left until the much-anticipated release of Oni from Bungie Studios, one of the Bungie community's premier fan sites, Rampancy.net, has posted the in-store video that is being supplied to stores that will be carrying the game.




The movie is 15:40 long, and is a 14.4 MB QuickTime movie complete with sound and some thrilling combat scenes. This movie is a must-see if you can't wait until the game is available to see Konoko in action.




Oni has been in production for the last couple of years, and is due to be released after this weekend. You can download the demo from MacGameFiles

Rampancy.net website
Download Oni demo (77 MB)
Rampancy.net : video news item
Bungie Studios
Gathering of Developers
Oni
Buy Oni


Geo-mod Details on Red Faction
9:33 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

At January's MacWorld San Francisco, GraphSim announced that they will be publishing both Summoner and Red Faction, two upcoming games from Volition. Red Faction will feature the Geo-mod engine, which allows player to deform environments in real-time and create a lot of debris. This has brought up some concern over the performance of the game, if the geo-mod function is used excessively.

Mike Breault explained how Volition is going to reduce the impact of the geo-mod characteristics of the engine on frame rate and overall performance. Here is Breault's post on Volition's own message board:

The upshot to all of this thread is that everyone needs to realize that every physical system, like a computer or a PS2, has limitations (we could be nice and call them "parameters"). The PS2 has different limitations than a computer, but they are still very definitely there. And we have to work within those limitations. Every extra face, object, poly, whatever, hurts your framerate a little bit. With enough of them, you'll begin to notice it. To prevent this and keep good framerate, we've made decisions about what sorts of things are the least important for gameplay purposes. Chunks of debris certainly fall into that category. Once there are enough of them, some of them are going to fade out. This was done for your benefit.


If you see stuff fade out, realize that a series of carefully thought-out decisions went into a system of code that decides what to remove from the world to keep your game zooming along. You're going to see plenty of geo-mod debris, geo-mod holes, bullet holes, shattered glass, etc. But with enough of it, the older stuff is going to fade away at some point.


Things aren't going to get repaired--holes you made will still be there, panes of glass you shattered will still be broken, and so on. But some of the little chunks of debris or shards of glass on the ground might have faded out.


Just realize that lots of extra work has gone into this system. It's not something that was done out of laziness. And it was done to work within the limitations of the physical system the game is playing on, to give you the best possible playing experience.

We can expect to see Summoner around summer and Red Faction later this year. Watch for more details on both games, as they are nearing beta stage and will certainly be on display at E3 this spring.

Graphsim
Volition
Volition's Geo-Mod discussion
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction



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New Mac/PC Summoner Details
9:26 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Volition has started up the PR machine once again to help promote the PC and Mac versions of Summoner which should be out in the near future. The Playstation 2 port was released at the console's launch, and was met with positive reviews from the PS2 crowd. The Mac and PC versions will be slightly different, in that they will contain a multiplayer mode, feature some interface changes, and sport graphical enhancements such as support for 3D hardware and higher resolutions. Two new articles have been posted recently, detailing these changes.


PC.IGN has started up their Summoner Thursday special again, this week with a lengthy update from Volition's Mark Allendar (who is also in charge of all the Mac-specific issues), discussing the many PC-specific aspect of the game. Here's an excerpt explaining some of the multiplayer features:

Combat. Combat is a pretty interesting part of multiplayer in the fact that the placement of characters doesn’t have to be exact. Unlike past games from Volition (namely FreeSpace and FreeSpace 2), exact location of characters isn’t crucial to scoring hits in combat or with spells. In fact, the old adage “close only counts in hand grenades and bombs” could easily be adapted to “close only counts in hand grenades, bombs, and Summoner”. One of the luxuries that we have with multiplayer Summoner is that character placement can be “close enough to look good”. That has allowed us to make some optimizations to the networking code to make it more playable on slower Internet connections. Of course, there are limits as to how far someone can be away from their position before it begins to look bad, but we also have those problems covered as well. Not having to worry about exact placement of creatures allows us to focus more on things that really matter for Summoner, such as getting good loot and killing creatures.


Party members. While not implemented yet, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about which players you will be able to use in multiplayer. We are certainly going to allow a party of 4 Joseph’s or 4 Flece’s to travel together, but this poses some very interesting and very hard questions and problems. First, with more than one Joseph, how do we deal with a Summon. With more than one Flece (or Rosalind, or Jekhar), how to we deal with all the animations that have to be loaded. Summoner was built to have specific sets of animations for the main players loaded at once – certainly not all of them. In the case of multiplayer, we might need to have them all loaded. Our focus on the coming week will be making this part of multiplayer work flawlessly.

The rest of the article is a must-read for any RPG fans looking forward to the Mac version of Summoner.


A similar article has been posted by RPG Vault, and it features many quotes from the Volition team taken from a recent press event held for the game. Here's the scoop:

The most significant change in the PC version of the game will be the inclusion of multiplayer capability for up to four players. Lead Programmer Mark Allender described multiplayer as being outside of the single-player story line, with the focus being on hack and slash action and on finding cool items. He indicated that there are some 500 items at the moment, with more on the way. However, the story line will be much looser, consisting of little more than beating level bosses to unlock further levels, and there won't be much conversation or interation with NPCs. All the single-player levels will be available; there are about 45 in total, including random encounter levels. Each of these will be re-scripted for multiplayer, and most will probably be re-populated as well. Three difficulty levels are planned, and games will be playable via LAN and PXO, the gaming network shared by Volition and Outrage, which were a single company, Parallax, until 1997. Multiplayer code is now functional.
Last word from GraphSim, who will be the publishers of the Mac version, was that Mac Summoner was doing well. A release is likely in the next month or two, though we'll hopefully get a more definite answer on that soon.

RGPVault Summoner Visit Report
PC.IGN Summoner Thursday
GraphSim
Volition
Summoner
Buy Summoner


AppleMaster Michael Phillips Joins IMG
9:17 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games is proud to announce the addition of AppleMaster Michael Phillips to the IMG staff. In addition to doing commentary, expect to see reviews and other great features from Michael in the coming months.



So what is an AppleMaster and who is Michael Phillips?



The AppleMaster program is by invitation only and its goal is to recognize people who, well, Think Different. These are creative individuals from a variety of fields who proudly use Apple technologies to simplify, improve their life work, and make an impact on the world.



Apple's most recent addition to the AppleMaster program is Michael Phillips. A young man who was robbed of his use of his arms and legs to a neuromuscular disease, Michael uses a PowerBook equipped with Discorvery: Kenx, a combination of hardware and software, to work, play, and explore. With the Kenx, Michael is able to play games including real-time strategy and adventure games.



Michael's first article for IMG is a piece entitled "My Macworld" and relates his experiences at the recent Macworld Expo San Francisco held earlier this month. Be sure to check out the article and send Michael a note after checking it out.

Michael Phillips' AppleMaster page
My Macworld by Michael Phillips



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Hands-on Red Faction Previews
9:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Two news sites were lucky enough to recently get a hands-on look at the latest build of Volition's impressive FPS Red Faction. Both PS2.IGN and Daily Radar have published reports on their experiences, and they both sound quite excited about the future title.


PS2.IGN posted a lengthy treatise on their experience with the game. In the preview, they discuss the Geo-Mod engine and its wall-shattering capabilities, the game's weapons and vehicles, and reveal details on the storyline. Obviously most of the artice is written from a Playstation 2-perspective, though the PC and Mac versions will be similar (though they will run in much higher resolutions, and support Internet multiplayer). Here's a clip:

Of the 14 weapons that players can use, the rocket launcher has a built-in screen that indicates infrared images. Human images. So, if an enemy is standing behind a wall, the HUD will show it, and you can take him out without ever having to see his ugly mug. A skeletal animation system means they move properly, and location-based damage produces the appropriate visual results. The beauty of this kind of innovative play naturally frees your mind of conventional play.
Be sure to check out the rest of the preview, as it is quite long and goes into much detail about many of the game's features.


The Daily Radar report is considerably shorter. To offset this lack of detail, they've posted ten new high-resolution screen shots of the game in action. While they make comparisons to Half Life, they also seem very impressed with the game as an original work. The screen shots show some very nice models and level designs as well.


The Playstation 2 version of Red Faction will likely be released about a month or so before the Mac and PC builds. The Mac OS port of the game will be done in-house at Volition, and published by GraphSim, hopefully around the beginning of the summer.

Daily Radar Red Faction Report
PS2.IGN Preview of Red Faction
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction



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Rune Chat Transcript, Sequel Info
8:59 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameVisions has posted a transcript from last night's chat with some of the HumanHead staff about their Viking action game Rune. Programmer Chris Reinhart, producer Tim Gerritsen, and level designer JeanPaul LeBreton were all on hand, answering various questions about the game and its development. They discussed the upcoming Rune patch, the difficulty in producing a co-op play version of the game, the multiplayer expansion to be released and even the possibility of Rune 2 (though it isn't on their "immediate radar"). Several Mac Rune-related questions were asked, including a request for the status of the Mac patch code, and whether the expansion pack would be simultaneous for Mac and PC:

Have you already supplied Westlake with some of the patch code to begin working on a patch for the Mac or will that wait until you're done?


They prefer we wait until we are ready with the next patch. The Mac version is already a rev higher than the PC version.


Do you expect a Mac version of the add-on pack to be released simultaneously with the PC version?


Mac Add-On- that is something to be negotiated out with GOD. From a map perspective, the maps work either for PC or Mac. It is the code support that needs to be supported, and that is what we need to work out with Westlake. We aren't ready to make the call just yet.

Check out the rest of the transcript, as it is filled with other Rune tidbits and details. We'll keep you apprised on the status of the Rune patch for the Mac version of this game. If you have yet to try the demo (12,500 downloads!) or read our review of the game (8.82 average reader review), those resources are linked below.

GameVisions Rune Transcript
Rune Demo (82 MB)
Rune Web Site
Rune Review
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive
Rune


Mac Games News for Thursday, January 25, 2001

MacSoft Reviews4:28 PM
Audio Overload 1.02:11 PM
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Details12:24 PM
ATI Patch Update, Q&A11:05 AM
Oberin: New Mac MORPG10:54 AM
Myst III Music10:11 AM
Earth 2140: How To Play9:48 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, January 25, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Wednesday, January 24, 2001
Tuesday, January 23, 2001
Monday, January 22, 2001
Friday, January 19, 2001
Thursday, January 18, 2001


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