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Friday, February 9, 2001

Total Annihilation Beta Patch Released
10:14 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Yes, we rubbed our eyes when we saw this one, too! Westlake Interactive has taken time out of their packed schedule to release a beta patch for Total Annihilation, the RTS they ported for MacSoft in 1999. This patch addresses many long-standing issues with this classic (and addictive) title, and adds support for GameRanger, the free game connection service.

The TA patch seems to have been a code 'football' kicked around between projects at Westlake, and has undergone many internal revisions. This latest version is still beta, not a final patch; Westlake released it in hopes that a public beta would identify all the remaining issues with this game.

There are two minor pitfalls to watch out for with this updater. First, if you have many custom units installed and/or versions of the Uberhack patch, you may get unit identity conflicts with those included with the patch -- the game will crash during the loading Units phase while beginning a game. The only way to solve this is to remove all custom units and then add them back in one at a time until you identify which one has the ID conflict. We recommend updating a clean installation of the game.

The second pitfall has to do with the installer itself: currently it can only update the original version of the application, not the 3.1.1 update. We've notified Westlake of this problem and we're sure it will be addressed soon.

Here are excerpts from the Read Me with details on what was fixed:

Version 3.1.2b6 of Total Annihilation is a "Public Beta." This means that some of the known bugs have been fixed and features have been added, but we don't have the manpower to put the game through a full testing cycle. Therefore, we're asking for your help.

Post comments and bug reports concerning this software to the Internet Newsgroup "Comp.Sys.Mac.Games.Strategic". Bugs reports should be specific and include the type of Mac you have, the version of the Mac OS you're using, physical RAM size, and Virtual Memory settings. Please do not send e-mails directly to MacSoft, Varcon Systems, or Westlake Interactive; all e-mails to these parties will be ignored.

TA Version 3.1.2b6

  • GameRanger 2.1 support added.
  • DrawSprocket support is now more robust.
  • Mission load times have been decreased.
  • Some minor code optimizations have been added.
  • Out of memory alerts have been added.
  • Networking code has been tweaked.
  • Fixed numerous problems with music not working under MacOS 9 and later.
  • Fixed a problem with the music repeat system.
  • Music CDs may now be swapped in via "CMD-E" during missions (see below).
  • Fixed dialog palette problems and most of the white screen flashes under MacOS 9.1.
  • Transparent scoring overlay bug in Skirmish and Multiplayer modes corrected.
  • Minor cosmetic changes to some alerts and dialogs have been made.
  • Software now requires 20 MB of free hard disk space at startup for save games.
  • 6 downloadable units from have been added.
  • As an unsupported feature, MaxUnits may be increased up to 1000 for Skirmish and Multiplayer games. Do this by holding down "CMD" while launching the game.
Obviously adding GameRanger support will be a new lease on life for this classic RTS, as it is a fantastic multiplayer title with low bandwidth requirements. We're sure GR creator Scott Kevill is relieved as well, as "when will TA be supported" has to be one of the top ten frequently asked questions on GR. If you are a fan of this title, be sure and grab the update (and GameRanger as well, if you don't have it) and take it for a spin online. If you've never tried this game before, a demo is available online; you can also read our review for more details.

Download TA Patch 3.1.2b6 (1 MB)
Total Annihilation Demo (25 MB)
Total Annihilation Review

Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord Updated
2:52 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Big Time Software has updated their turn based tactical warfare game, Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, to version 1.12. The patch contains gameplay enhancements and bug fixes. Here are some of the gameplay tweaks that were made:

  • Tanks use better hull-rotation logic.

  • Gun accuracy is somewhat higher at long range.

  • Firing ordnance while moving is less accurate than before.

  • Quick Battles have a new "unrestricted" force type.

  • Pillboxes have slightly better 'reaction time' and are slightly less easier to spot at long range. It is also somewhat harder to hit their firing slits from longer ranges.

  • Smoke usage logic tweaked.

  • 20mm gun in Lynx cannot fire on aircraft.

  • If both sides have global morale below 25%, a battle will end immediately with an enforced cease-fire.
  • Be sure to follow the installation instruction in the readme file included with the patch. To learn more about this critically acclaimed World War II game, read our Combat Mission review.

    Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord Review
    Download Combat Mission 1.12 (5.8 MB)

    Surgeon General: Media Not Responsible for Violence
    1:17 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    AVault is reporting that the Office of the Surgeon General has concluded its studies on the causes of youth violence. The verdict? The exposure of children to violent media (e.g. computer games and movies) has little to no effect on them, although it may play a minor role on children who begin to exhibit violent behaviour towards others before the age of 11. In fact, exposure to media violence is just the tenth-most significant factor when determining the cause of violent outbursts by a teenager.

    This comes as a surprise to many people who have been condemning the media, especially the gaming industry, due to several violent attacks by teenagers. According to AVault, the Los Angeles Times published an article prior to the study which claimed that “repeated exposure to violent entertainment during early childhood causes more aggressive behaviour throughout the child’s life.” Nothing in the Surgeon General's report supported their claims.

    As a gamer, and more importantly, as a human being, you should realize that you are responsible for your actions. A very high percentage of gamers play many violent games, but do not try to duplicate the acts of violence contained therein.

    AVault: Media Violence Isn't the Real Problem

    Click to enlarge
    Tropico in Testing
    9:59 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    VoodooExtreme has received a new update and a few screen shots from PopTop on their upcoming sim Tropico. The game's lead, Phil Steinemeyer, reports the team is doing well, with the title just entering testing. The music is now in place, and game balancing is now one of their largest priorities.

    In case you're wondering what Tropico is about, imagine your standard sim game set on a tropical south american island with you as the dictator. You must learn to rule over your people, quelling coups and other uprisings while trying to make your island prosper. Being a dictator isn't easy, and tropico is looking to prove it.

    Here's a clip from the development update with more on the Tropico's status:

    The political model in the game is pretty much in now, and reasonably balanced. I started tinkering with it earlier this week - first it was too hard - 2 coups and 3 uprisings in 20 years, and I was actually doing a decent job running the island. I've got it toned down now and it's really cool.

    Finally, the game's entering regular testing. I got a bug report from Take 2 - London two days ago - 150 bugs - yikes! A lot of them were trivial (typos and stuff), and some others we had already fixed. Still, we've got our work cut out for us.

    Head over to VoodooExtreme for the rest of the update, as well as some new screen shots of the in-game action. Tropico is set to be released for Mac and PC later this spring.

    VoodooExtreme Tropico Dev Update
    Poptop Web Site
    PopTop Software
    Buy Tropico

    Q3 Eternal Arena Updated
    9:07 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Eternal Arena, the excellent modification for Quake 3: Arena has been updated to version 3.8, fixing many bugs and adding new features. This relatively small mod adds many GUI enhancements and game modes to the game, like Instagib Rails, Rocket Duel, LowGrav, and a new game type in 3.8 called Hunted. Here are a few of the things changed in this most recent update:

    • Flamethrower returns :)
    • Score plumes from target not attacker
    • Ability to set rate of fire for any weapon
    • Ability to set damage for any weapon
    • New gamemode: Hunted
    • New Map Rotation session
    • Ability to save/load individual configs returns

    For much more information on the game, including descriptions of all of the game types, check out the official Eternal Arena web site. And be sure to download this 1.6MB file and try it out now.

    Eternal Arena Web Site
    Download Eternal Arena 3.8 (1.6MB)

    Targetware Aims at the Mac
    8:48 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Targetware is a new company looking to bring multiplayer 3D flight-sims to a new level on the Mac and PC. Their first project due out this year, called Target Korea, will simulate the dogfights between the two primary planes of the Korean War, the MiG-15 and the F-86 Sabre. Targetware is looking to make their products much more "open" than the current standard, though, with all of the specs published so players can create and customize much of their content.

    The physics engine for the game is being developed by Sylvan "sick" Clebsch, most famous for his Roger Wilco game communication product.
    While the engine is flexible enough to handle a variety of games, Target Korea will its showcase title, showing of its power and expandability.
    Here's an excerpt from the game's description page:

    Targetware's initial product release is Target Korea, a flight simulator set during the Korean War. Target Korea has been designed to capture the essence of this conflict, using authentic terrains, air bases and ultra-realistic flight models for all of the antagonists' aircraft. Gameplay currently consists of aerial combat between the MiG-15bis and F-86F-30 Sabre jets, the preeminent airplanes flown during the war. More aircraft and more extensive gameplay will be available once the game is released.

    The initial beta of Target Korea will include two jets: the F-86F-30 Sabre and the MiG-15bis. After the game is released, Targetware will make available additional Korean War aircraft. Players will also be able to create and fly their own aircraft, as well as personalized skins, ground objects, 3-D models and terrains.

    The game will have a flat fee of $10 a month, which includes both client and server software. This means you will be able to either jump onto an official Targetware server, or start up one of your own capable of hosting up to 250 players. System requirements are expected to be a 300MHz system with OpenGL hardware acceleration.

    There are two very good interviews posted recently, which talk with the Targetware's Doug Peel about the project. SimHQ and Dogfighter have both talked with the Marketing and Business Development Manager about many of the specifics surrounding the title. The Targetware site also has more details on the game and engine itself. Target Korea is currently in closed beta, with the open beta expected to be released in around three months.

    Targetware Web Site
    SimHQ Interview with Targetware's Doug Peel
    Dogfighter Interview with Targetware's Doug Peel
    Target Korea

    Mac Games News for Thursday, February 8, 2001

    Updated Cro-Mag Rally & Bugdom Bundle12:45 PM
    Summoner Story, Cinematics12:35 PM
    Where Are the Female Gamers?10:41 AM
    Mac Oni for Europe Publisher Found9:38 AM
    Dark Horse Previews Oni Comics #09:10 AM
    Neverwinter Nights Progress Update6:00 AM
    Shadowbane Mac Beta, Details6:00 AM
    Space Travel and MOO36:00 AM
    Westlake Project Updates6:00 AM
    WWII Online Interview6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, February 8, 2001 on one page

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