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Thursday, February 8, 2001

Shadowbane Mac Beta, Details
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The log of a recent chat conducted by Crossroads of Shadowbane with two developers from Wolfpack Studios reveals that plans for an expanded Mac OS beta test of their MMORPG Shadowbane are afoot. It turns out that one of the core programmers for the project is a diehard Mac user, and the company is entirely behind the Mac version of their upcoming title.

Shadowbane is a massively multiplayer game with a difference -- rather than try to limit "player killing" or brand killers as outcasts, the game makes conquering your foes on a massive scale the primary goal. With the constant threat of attack all around, players will be forced to band into clans and guilds, creating the possibility of epic, pitched battles for territory rather than typical bounty-hunting or "PKing" for loot. There will also be plenty of monsters and NPCs to hack-and-slash for good old-fashioned party adventuring in a persistent online world. The all-new graphics engine will allow hundreds of characters to be onscreen at the same time, and can reduce the amount of detail to maintain a decent frame rate on your system.

The game recently reached the beta stage, with 50 lucky beta testers currently checking the game for bugs and gameplay balance issues. However, as the chat conducted with Wolfpack's VP of marketing Todd Coleman (known as Warden online) and another development team member reveals, Mac users aren't shut out of the party -- a limited number of Mac users are already among the 50, but Wolfpack wants to add more of them to the mix by expanding the beta pool. This information hasn't been 100% confirmed, and there is some suggestion that the Mac beta may be held until the PC and Mac versions have matured another phase, but we are hopeful this beta will be sooner than later -- Wolfpack is eager to get this title on store shelves.

Here are some excerpts from the chat; "Warden_WP" and "Ashen_Temper" are Wolfpack team members:

4:03 PM: Warden_WP: We'll be making another beta signup announcement for Mac players very soon.

4:03 PM: Ashen_Temper: In other words, go buy a Mac... hehe =-)

4:03 PM: slvrswrd: great go buy a way fast macintosh to play on

4:03 PM: Elghin: Doh!!! I thought Mac and PC were starting off at the same time? Same sign up!!!

4:03 PM: Ashen_Temper:

4:04 PM: slvrswrd: will my mac classic beable to play SB. =) JK

4:04 PM: Warden_WP: Pere : We'll be contacting people via email with download information, as we hit the different phases. Most people will be pulled in after Limited Beta.
The IRC chat contains much more information about the game (along with a fair amount of mild Mac bashing) and is a worthwhile read for interested parties.

While we are still waiting for confirmation on the particulars of the Mac beta test, we understand from our sources that the "CTO" (Chief Technology Officer?) of Wolfpack, Robert Marsa, is a Mac fan and programmer. The staff overall seem quite enthusiastic about a Mac version of this MMORPG, and find the Mac market to be a vital target often overlooked by other games of the genre. Watch this space for more details on Mac Shadowbane in the near future, and visit Crossroads of Shadowbane for detailed information about the game taken from discussions from developers and beta testers of this title.

Shadowbane Web Site
Crossroads of Shadowbane
IRC Chat at Crossroads of Shadowbane
Wolfpack Studios

Updated Cro-Mag Rally & Bugdom Bundle
12:45 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games and Pangea Software have teamed up to bring you a special bundle just for IMG readers. For a limited time you can order Pangea's recently release Cro-Mag Rally, the award-winning Bugdom, and a Cro-Mag Rally T-Shirt for just $49. That's a savings of over $40 off of regular prices.

And, while supplies last, we're throwing in a FREE IMG T-Shirt with every order. Be sure to order today!

Click to enlarge
Summoner Story, Cinematics
12:35 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

GameSpot has produced the first half of a two-part article dealing with the story line of Summoner, a PS2 title created by Volition which is in the process of being ported to PC and Mac OS. The article contains an interview with Jason Scott, author of the story behind the game, which cites his influences, inspiration and the challenges of designing a story for a non-linear game.

Here's an excerpt considering what sets Summoner's story apart from typical RPG fare:

GS: The hero, Joseph, is somewhat unique in that he's not only the hero, but also the catalyst for the plot. Can you tell us a little more about Joseph and what makes him stand out from the traditional role-playing game hero?

JS: At the risk of sounding facetious, the one thing that sets him apart from the crowd is that he doesn't have amnesia. Joseph knows who he is at the very beginning. The journey is about coming to terms with that knowledge, its consequences, and its potential.

GS: Most characters within a role-playing game evolve either physically or mentally. How do you think Joseph evolves as you progress through Summoner?

JS: Joseph begins in complete obscurity, a poor and landless farmer near the bottom rung of the feudal ladder. He has no confidence in his abilities, no faith in his prophecy, and the last thing he wants to do is use his summoning power. Only the Four Riders and the invading armies of Orenia can goad him into action.

By the end of the game when he confronts Murod and his other enemies, Joseph has embraced his destiny and will do all in his power to fulfill it, beyond what any summoner before him has been able to achieve. The characters do evolve visually as well. The armor and weapons they gain by the end of the game are very shiny. I think you'll be impressed.

Accompanying the article and interview are several quite impressive screen shots; Summoner will support OpenGL graphics acceleration on both PC and Mac. The game will also feature online network play, which the Playstation 2 version does not include.

In related news, RPGVault has posted a gallery of still images captured from the opening cinematic from the game. The cinematic seems to be a mix of pre-rendered footage, hand illustrations and in-engine cutscenes. The entire gallery is quite impressive, and sets the scene for this anticipated RPG. Summoner for Mac OS will be published by GraphSim, and is expected in early summer if all goes well.

Summoner Cinematics Gallery
Summoner Web Site
Summoner Preview/Interview
Buy Summoner

Where Are the Female Gamers?
10:41 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Stomped pointed us towards a thoughtful article published by the UK Guardian newspaper which considers one of the biggest mysteries of the gaming market: if women make up over 50% of the gaming audience, according to surveys, why do they seemingly have so little impact on the economics or content of the market itself?

The answer is as interesting and complex as any issue where gender and stereotypical behavior become factors. One reason the female gamer might be so "invisible" to the game makers and publishers, according to the article, is that they are playing "free" games -- web site games, free downloads, games that came with their computer or games purchased by another family member.

Many arguments are made that the reason female gamers aren't paying customers is due to the fact that the games fail to address their specific "needs" in the market, but the article also contradicts this notion:

Most studies report a gender divide in the kinds of PC and console games played. Males tend to like action, while women are more into role-playing adventures. Men like strategy, driving things and shooting things. Women like good stories, character development and solving problems. "They read the backstory in the manuals and really get into the entire gaming experience," says Martin Feeney, a software programmer who hosts a games site at the Irish portal

But women don't necessarily dislike shoot'em-ups, as many women gamers and the proliferation of all-female Quake clans will testify. Many would just prefer a good story to go with the gore. Often, games that cross gender barriers, such as Ultima and EverQuest, have action and adventure elements. "In they end," says Beal, "they all just want a good game to play."

Vangie Beal is the publisher of, a web site dedicated to not only supporting female gamers but erasing the gender stereotypes that continue to limit their participation in the industry. The article also includes quotes from the founders of, a similar site.

Another factor which the article doesn't directly address may be the extremely limited presence of women in the development and publishing fields of game creation. Read through the rest of the article for more sides of the issue, and be sure to present your thoughts on the matter in our Forums.

"Women on the Gaming Front" at the Guardian UK

Mac Oni for Europe Publisher Found
9:38 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

We have been informed by David Stephen of Feral Interactive that they have acquired the European publishing rights for Bungie's anime style game, Oni. Feral will be publishing a French, German, Spanish and Italian version of Oni.

Well, well, well - mad about the girl! Bungie's babe comes to our greedy arms via Rockstar and Take 2 - and very happy we are to welcome her to the Feral fold. We will be publishing the Mac version of Oni in Europe and Australia.

We like to think of Oni as Battle-Girl's big sister, same spirit, but in glorious 3D. It's amazing what a difference five years and a couple of million dollars make... We'll be putting up a full section of the site devoted to the Manga Minx on Valentine's Day - check it out with someone special.

Once the conversions are done, Oni will be released in Europe. If you can't wait to try out the game, make sure to give the demo a run. Check out our review of the full version for more details and images.

IMG Oni Review
Bungie Software
Gathering of Developers
Oni demo at MacGameFiles
Feral Interactive

Dark Horse Previews Oni Comics #0
9:10 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with Rockstar Games and Bungie to produce some limited edition Oni Comics. Samples of the #0 issue were packaged along with gaming magazines and now can't be found anywhere else; however Dark Horse was polite enough to scan these issues in and make them available through their website. Any Oni aficionado will want to check out these beautifully drawn pieces of comic art; watch for the future issues on store shelves beginning in April.

At the Dark Horse site you can also find desktop images, previews of future issues and an Oni Loot Contest to enter.

Oni Zone at Dark Horse Comics
IMG's Oni Review
Oni Comics #0

Westlake Project Updates
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Marks Adams, president of Westlake Interactive, dropped us a lengthy e-mail with status updates on most of their on-going projects. Here is the whole shebang from Mark:

We don't have any release dates, but all three projects are going very

EFMI4 just started beta testing, and early reports look good. The OpenGL
graphics and backgrounds look very slick (LucasArts has incredible
artists). If the testing continues to go smoothly, this will probably be
the first of the three games to ship.

Tony Hawk 2 just passed alpha, and we're doing a lot of clean up on it to
get it ready for beta testing. I think this will be a very hot game for
the Mac, its really something different than other sports games and fun
to play.

Centipede is also just at alpha. We'll be preparing it for beta over the
next month or so as well, mostly cleaning up obvious bugs (no pun
intended!). The game supports OpenGL and Glide, so it should look good
on most 3D cards.

You didn't ask, but here's some TR:Chronicles status:

Tomb Raider Chronicles is ahead of schedule and running well. We're past
first playable, and will probably skip straight to beta later in the
month or in early March. Its a nice change of scenery from TR4 (Last
Revelation), which was all set in Egypt, since Chronicles has several
very different locales (ruins in Rome, a German U-boat, the rooftops of a
high-tech city). Some new moves and special effects also give a bit of
new life. There is no news on the level editor, we're still working to
get the source code from Eidos. We definitely want to do the editor if
possible, but have to take a look at its code before we know if its

Westlake seems to have their hands full again with a strong lineup of A-list games. In related news, their project status page also includes the news that their port of Hasbro's Centipede has reached Alpha status. With Monopoly Casino out the door already, this is shaping up to be another banner year for them. For more information about Tony Hawk or Escape from Monkey Island, be sure and read our detailed previews.

Westlake Project Status Page
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 Preview
Escape from Monkey Island Preview

Space Travel and MOO3
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Quicksilver Software has updated their site with a lengthy description of how interstellar travel is going to function in their upcoming title Master of Orion III. The game's space transportation isn't going to be a simple "Warp 5, Mr. Sulu," as the new section explains. Star and system drives, amplifiers, star gates and worm holes are all described in detail. Here's a clip from the update:

For the purposes of interstellar travel, each solar system is a "point." Between most (but not all) nearby solar systems, determined by the computer during setup, connect-the-dot-style lines called "Star Lanes" will exist. Between a few (but not many) distant solar systems, determined by the computer during setup, lines called "Wormholes" will exist.

Movement is allowed between any two solar systems in Master of Orion III (possibly within some technologically defined limitations that is as yet to be determined). It is slowest where there are no Star Lanes or Wormholes to travel and fastest through Wormholes.

If you're a fan of the previous games in the series, you'll want to read through the rest of the description. Even if MOO3 is new to you, this will give you a good idea of what kind of detail to expect from the obsessive Quicksilver team and this massive project. Although this title isn't due until early 2002, considerable interest has already been generated; we understand that the 'hit' numbers on the M003 web site increased considerably when MacSoft announced they would be publishing the Mac version.

Master of Orion III Space Travel Details
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Click to enlarge
Neverwinter Nights Progress Update
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Bioware has updated their web site dedicated to Neverwinter Nights with details on the current status of this project. This ambitious online RPG, which will attempt to bring the Dungeon Master back to online D&D, is making slow but steady progress towards a projected end-of-2001 release.

As usual, Trent Oster's updates cover three areas of game design: Programming, Art and Design. An excerpt from the Design section of the update not only reveals the depth of this game, but also the wicked sense of humor possessed by the developers:

Armed with the increasingly functional scripting language, the designers have been experimenting and testing the limits of what can be accomplished in Neverwinter. Some advance dialog is being written for Chapter 1 and the final magic item planning for the official campaign is nearing completion. On the more technical side, NWScript has been showing signs of both the power and the flexibility that it had been originally designed for. As the old adage goes, if absolute power corrupts absolutely, then we are going to have some very demented scripters by the end of our development cycle. Some quick attempts at scripting have yielded a pack of insecure wererats who avoid players until they have enough members in the pack to assure victory. Once a critical number of wererats are present, they swarm the character from all sides, quickly overwhelming any opposition. While complete obliteration of the player characters is quite possible, it's not really going to endear us to our players, so the final scripts will have to be a little less fatal when we ship the game.
One would hope. In any case, if you want more details on how this game is progressing, be sure to read the rest of the update. NWN will be released for Mac and PC in 2001 if all goes well, and will be published by Black Isle.

Neverwinter Nights Progress Log
Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Click to enlarge
WWII Online Interview
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

With a game as ambitious as Cornered Rat Software's massively multiplayer roleplaying/simulation game, World War II Online, enthused gamers are bound to have many of questions and concerns. This incredible online sim will attempt to encompass the entire European theater of war from 1941 to 1945, on land, sea and air, in realtime. GameSpot spoke with WWII Online's producer, Chris "Mo" Sherland, about various aspects of the game, in order to clarify their understanding.

Here, Chris gives an idea of how huge this gaming world will be:

GameSpot: How many players will the game support simultaneously?

Chris Sherland: Right now we are shooting for 10,000 players in the Blitzkrieg theater of operations. And we currently have 10 or more theaters of operations planned to make up a seamless World War II Online "world." That's where we want to start, and take it higher from there. With the retail distribution plan we have with Strategy First we should be able to attract a lot of players. We're setting up our server technology to be flexible and growth oriented. 10,000 players per theater is a number we fully plan to exceed. We still may end up with shards but not if we can help it.

MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) such as Ultima Online and Everquest have become extremely popular on the PC, but availability on the Macintosh has been non-existant. Thanks to Cornered Rat, Mac gamers will no longer be left out of the massively multiplayer online community. WWII Online is set to enter beta testing soon with over 5,000 registered testers. The game is scheduled for release during the second quarter of this year for Mac and PC.

WWII Online Preview at GameSpot
WWII Online Website
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

Mac Games News for Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Elite Force Retrospective2:25 PM
Lance Demo Released12:10 PM
IMG Revamps Hardware Section10:55 AM
Game Over for Gamecenter?10:20 AM
All-new Marathon Conversion Rubicon10:16 AM
Myth III Details Surface10:09 AM
Core Q&A on Tomb Raider10:04 AM
Around the Web: Rune Review, MacGamer Videos9:42 AM
Monopoly Casino is Gold6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, February 7, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, February 6, 2001
Monday, February 5, 2001
Friday, February 2, 2001
Thursday, February 1, 2001
Wednesday, January 31, 2001

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