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Wednesday, February 21, 2001



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Trade Wars Remake Coming to the Mac
8:42 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Realm Interactive has announced they are remaking the classic Trade Wars license into a new massively-multiplayer online game called Trade Wars: Dark Millennium. A few of you old-school gamers may recall the hours spent on 2400 baud modems playing the original Trade Wars, as a turn-based game on BBSs (bulletin-board systems). They will be taking the depth of storyline and strategy from the original concept and turning it into a realtime online game with 3D hardware support, though the goal is to keep the gameplay fun and innovative. This title will initially be released for Windows, with Mac and Linux clients following soon after. Here's a clip from the press release on their site:

Realm Interactive, a massively multiplayer game developer, has announced the production of a modernized version of the classic BBS game - Trade Wars 2002.  Realm has recently purchased the rights to the Trade Wars name from Epic Interactive Strategy and its new title will be called Trade Wars: Dark Millennium™.  Even today, Trade Wars invokes nostalgia among thousands of game players who still play the original version.  Keeping the spirit of the original, Trade Wars: Dark Millennium will be a MMPOG real time strategy game (RTS) set in a vast universe composed of thousands of players.


 Key features in the game include the ability to:     


  • Command distinct cultures, each with their own technology and special abilities, towards a goal of domination and riches;
  • Travel through an enormous virtual 3D world comprised of both planetary and space environments;
  • Build empires with other players and work towards common goals; and
  • Establish trade routes, mine resources, pirate, hunt creatures, and wage war against opposing empires.


Trade Wars is expected to be released during the second half of 2001 running on Windows 95/98/2000/NT.  Realm’s technology is being built from the ground up with cross platform compatibility in mind.  Realm plans to release Trade Wars on Macintosh, Linux and the console systems soon thereafter. 


Realm Interactive is a startup game development studio based out of Phoenix, AZ.  Realm is focused on developing Trade Wars as its first title and is building a reusable cross platform MMPOG development infrastructure.  With the release of Internet enabled console systems and the penetration of Internet broadband access, Realm is working hard to position itself as one of the premiere MMPOG production houses.

This is great news for both new- and old-school Mac gamers, who have largely been left out of the next-gen 3D massively-multiplayer genre (as well as space-based games in general). It sounds like Trade Wars may be further away than the end of the year, but we will keep you posted on its status. The site promises a content update this Friday, with the addition of a FAQ, more screen shots and a forum.

Play Trade Wars 2002 (list of free servers)
Trade Wars: Dark Millennium Web Site


IMG Server Issues
6:12 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

In the past few days our main IMG server has been having problems which we believe was due to a faulty network card. We replaced the network card with a new one, so hopefully things will be a bit more stable now.



We also took this downtime opportunity to install a spiffy new and speedy hard drive into our server.



Many thanks for your patience during this short downtime.




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Design Q&A with Harvey Smith
5:50 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Tolstiy's Place has recently chatted with Harvey "Witchboy" Smith, lead designer of the very popular FPS/RPG Deus Ex. The interview is different from most in that it deals with the design phases of making a game (which in Smith's case was Deus Ex for Ion Storm). If you're planning on pitching your latest game idea to id Software or Epic, you might consider giving this a read to learn how it's done in the biz. Here's an excerpt:

Tolstiy: Sometimes in games we come across such trivial ideas, that we can be struck dumb by the questions: "Why nobody thought of implementing such a feature long ago??!!". We may suppose that the implementation of such ideas is very important - the feature itself may be out of interest in its primeval form. It's the way developers embody those ideas. Could you name some DX features, which are primitive from one hand, but helped to rise the level of gameplay seriously?


Harvey "Witchboy" Smith:: Everyone in RPG's and similar games allows players to gain new character powers as they advance. For DX, we decided to do this, of course, allowing the player to build a character that would be stronger and weaker at various approaches to the game (like combat, stealth, electronics/computers). While this approach has been taken before by a number of games, I liked the way we organized the augmentation powers specifically. Each time the player acquired a new one, he had to choose between two. When he chose one, he could never have the other one (in general). For instance, for the player to chose "cloak," he had to give up on the possibility of ever having "radar transparency." This was a simple idea that really made players stop and think.

Have a read through the rest of the interview if you're interested in hearing more from Smith. Ion Storm is currently planning on a sequel to the popular Deus Ex, though no Mac version has yet been promised. Once the game's base engine is announced, we'll have a much better idea of the likelihood of it being ported.

Tolstiy Q&A with Harvey Smith
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex


Crazy Car Championship Diary
1:01 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Voodoo Extreme has posted the second developer's diary on Synaptic Soup's upcoming cross-platform engine and racer, Crazy Car Championship. The diary contains new screenshots, which show off some very impressive and original work. According to author Rik Heywood the game is about 10% complete, and they are still talking to a few publisher to determine how they will publish the game. We would like to point out that a Mac OS version is possible, but it definitely depends on the publishers to determine if a Mac OS version is created, even though the Cipher engine has already been demonstrated running on the Mac OS. Here's an excerpt from the diary:

The most significant new feature this month, in Cipher, is the particle system. In keeping with our philosophy of giving power to the content creators and artists, the particle system is based on simple scripts in a similar fashion to shader language. The artists now have full control over every aspect of a particle system, from which shader each particle will use to draw itself, to the size, growth rate, spin rate, birth rate, life expectancy, colour, acceleration, velocity, style and the birth rate to name but a few. It is possible to make large changes to the look and feel of a particle system without even having to reload the game, which means the artists are able to tweak things until they have it just how they want it. CCC has made use of these particle systems to create smoke from the tires when the car is skidding and a snazzy vortex trail when the cars have one of the power-ups. Look out for the screenshots and see you next month…
The latest screenshots are very impressive. Read the rest for more details, and watch for a decision on the Mac version as soon as they decide on a publisher.

Synaptic Soup
IMG Synaptic Soup team interview
CCC Developer's Diary # 2


Tranquility 4.0 Offers Offline Play
10:04 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

MacGameFiles has posted an update to Tranquility, a curious 3D game with subscription-based play. This new version includes several requested features, including the ability to play without being connected to the Internet. Here are details:

Fixes/Changes


Version 4.0 includes:

BY POPULAR DEMAND - LOCAL PLAY!! Snapshot up to 7 of your favorite Game Levels so you can play them anytime and anywhere - even without the Internet!

• Initial startup menu - avoids having to go to the Internet at startup!

• Channel 4, Relaxation Station - lets players replay their favorite levels just for fun and relaxation.

• Channel 5, TQradio - Lets you listen to tranquility music in the background while you work. Even includes a 'sleep to tranquility music' option.

• Channel 6, TQworld Builder - Watch us develop the TQworld Builder. This module will let you create your own games and levels!

• New keyboard keys for head movement and pause (see the website for more info), better resource handling for easier upgrades... and lots of other cool changes and features!

Tranquility is certainly a unique gaming experience; be sure to grab the demo and give it a try if you haven't already.


In related news, MacGamer has posted a review of Tranquility, awarding it five out of a possible five. While the review neglects to mention that the game is $24 a year for unlimited online play, it is a good overview of the style of play and features this game has to offer. The system requirements for Tranquility are MacOS 9.0.4, a G3 or G4 processor 300 Mhz or faster, an Internet connection and an OpenGL-capable 3D graphics card.

Tranquility 4.0 (10 MB)
Tranquility Review at MacGamer


Myth III Team Interview, Part 2
9:10 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

MythWolfAge.com has published the second half of their interview with Mumbo Jumbo's fisj, Santa's Head and iggy popped (better known as Paul Callender, Craig Goodman and Richard Cowgill). Included in the answers to various questions are some more details about the upcoming prequel to the Myth series of games. It seems the MythWolfAge folks are not only ardent fans, they are already looking forward to a sequel of a sequel:

MWA: Is there any possibility that you guys could do a Myth IV? As we all know, there are a few other ages that haven't been explored yet :cough, Wind Age, cough:, with some very important story details.


iggy popped: There is always that sort of possibility. And yes, there's a lot of myth that has never been touched. It would also be an opportunity for us to take myth in new directions, but based on this same universe. =)

There was also discussion of system requirements (looks like a good 3D card will be a requirement), the possible future use of the Halo engine, and other great topics. Be sure to head over to MythWolfAge.com to see more.

MythWolfAge.com Interview



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WWII Online Site Redesign, Forums
9:05 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Playnet has redesigned the web presence for Cornered Rat's upcoming massively-multiplayer online game World War II Online, an ambitious attempt to simulate the entire European (and North African) theater of war during that period. Along with a slick new web site, there is also the addition of new forums for developers of the game to post in (and for fans of the game to speculate wildly about said posts.)


WWII Online's producer Chris "Mo" Sherland christened the new forums with a detailed post on what he calls Phase V of the game's development -- the merging of the disparate parts the team was working on into a coherent whole. While his description is a bit arcane for those who have not been following the development of this title, it is clear that the game is becoming much more playable all the time; the attention to detail hinted at in his description will boggle the mind of sim gamers. Here's an excerpt:

Phase V is a huge departure from the previous testing. The dynamic spawn points are working and we are learning a lot about how long it takes to drive tanks and trucks into action. The terrain we got together was made as a test bed to see just how to use this dynamic system. It’s turning out to be a lot of fun, and we are tweaking it for the next release (0.0.5.1). Distances are tricky for ground vehicles. What may work great for the German tanks is a bit long for the French, and what might be a great compromise between the two is a bit too close for trucks. All told the system is turning out to be exactly what we had hoped, decreased times to combat without spawning right under the gun. This solves one of the VB biggies with combined arms: getting time to combat evened out for ground vehicles and aircraft as well.


We are towing AT guns, and troops are riding in trucks, Stukas are dropping 250kg’ers and we have disabled the 3rd person view. The strat system is complete now except for auto-guns and defensive positions. The infrastructure works great, and the flow of resources can be interrupted by placing tactical choke points under contention. It’s a blast to rise up over a ridge and see a city burning below and tracer fire arching all around, while planes dogfight overhead.

WWII Online seeks to combine the interests of those who like flight, sea and land war sims into one giant arena of war, and frankly we can't wait to see it in action. The game is currently in early Beta testing; there are rumors that the Beta pool will be expanded soon, and we will investigate and find out if there are any slots for Mac testers are being made available. WWIIOnline will be a simultaneous release for Mac and Windows, and is due at the end of the summer.

Chris Sherland's Forum Post
World War II Online Web Site
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online


Dark Tide 1: Special Edition Complete
8:32 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A post to our forums informed us a new mod for Dark Forces, the very popular 2.5D shooter from LucasArts, is completed and about to be released. Yes, people are still playing and making content for this classic shooter, which has cried out in vain for a sequel since 1998. Called Dark Tide 1: Special Edition, it is actually an enhancement of a mod completed nearly a year ago. This special edition includes many new features such as bug fixes, better graphics, and an impressive cut scene. It was also made on a Mac, with Brad Oliver's level editor (one of his first PC-to-Mac ports). Here's more information:

The Dark Tide is a planned series of five third-party missions for LucasArts' first-person shooter, Star Wars: Dark Forces . The first episode was released in January 2000 and set in the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine, including battles in and around a full-size Jawa Sandcrawler. The Dark Tide is a collaboration between PC user Matt Hallaron and Macintosh user Patrick Haslow. Haslow created the map for episode I, as well as its original textures, scenery, enemies, and a new weapon: the Mark IV Goobgun. It was the first quality Dark Forces mission created on a Macintosh (using Dark Forge 1.2 by Brad Oliver), and received a review of 95% on CommandChamber.net.


In addition to bug fixes and new graphics, sounds, puzzles, and special effects, the Special Edition of Dark Tide I includes a spectacular closing cutscene by Matt Hallaron to set the stage for episode II. Unlike other third-party DF cutscenes, which usually show rendered ships flying on a static background, it contains up-close-and-personal ground scenes with fully animated characters. Dark Tide I SE is currently being prepared for release, and is expected to be available for download between February 20-23. After the release of the SE, the Dark Tide team will resume working on the second episode, which is already near completion.

Since the second episode should be following the SE version of the original soon, we'll keep you updated on its status. Check out both the Dark Tide home page and the excellent fan resource DF-21.net for more information. In case you haven't tried Dark Forces, the LucasArts site does have a demo available and even copies still in stock for under $20. The game can also be found as part of several game bundles.

LucasArts Dark Forces Page
Official Dark Tide Web Site
DF-21 Dark Tide Web Site


Mac Games News for Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Monkey Byte Revamps Site3:44 PM
SiN 1.1.2 Patch Released3:17 PM
Simon the Sorcerer II Available2:50 PM
MacNN Previews Alice12:52 PM
Party on the HMS Freeverse, Win Scanner12:26 PM
Red Faction Interview, Preview10:43 AM
Heroes III Complete Review, Giveaway10:33 AM
DS9: The Fallen Gold Soon10:12 AM
Update on Mac Q3A 127g10:01 AM
The Sims House Party Q&A9:46 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, February 20, 2001 on one page


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Monday, February 19, 2001
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