|Thursday, February 22, 2001|
GeForce 3, DOOM Engine Demoed in Tokyo
8:58 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story
Another MacWorld has passed and another round of exciting announcements has come from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Perhaps the most exciting gaming news coming from MacWorld Tokyo was the debut of the NVIDIA GeForce 3 GPU (graphics processing unit). Codenamed NV20, it was previously speculated that the GeForce 3 would be announced for the PC near the end of February. No one, except for industry insiders, expected it to debut first on the Macintosh, let alone demo at MacWorld Tokyo. An NVIDIA engineer showed off the power of the GeForce 3 by rendering one of Pixar's first movies in real time. Here is the description of this chip's capabilites, taken from the Apple Store:
The NVIDIA GeForce3 graphics chip is the personal computer industry's most advanced graphics processing unit ever. With more than 57 million transistors its able to perform 800 million operations per second including 76 billion floating point operations per second (GigaFLOPS). Powered by the new NVIDIA nfiniteFX engine and the LightSpeed Memory Architecture, the GeForce3 GPU enables user to experience a much richer 3D graphics environment than they ever have before. Featuring a large 64MB DDR SDRAM frame buffer it can handle a new generation of games and professional applications that use large texture maps. Naturally the GeForce3 supports very high resolutions with full color support (up to 2048 x 1536 at 32 bits per pixel).Detailed specifications, such as core clock and memory speed, fillrate, and features, were not available at press time, but you can be sure that IMG will bring you the complete scoop once they are available.
The GeForce 3 demo was concluded when John Carmack of id Software took the stage and gave the first public demonstration of the new DOOM engine under MacOS X. The engine will be powering id's next game, and as is expected of Carmack it will bring yet another revolution in graphics engines and gamers' expectations of what is possible. As mentioned several times in the past, all of id's future Mac games will support MacOS X only.
The GeForce 3 will be available seperately and as BTO for $600 and $350, respectively, beginning in late-March or early-April. Because of this chip's high rate of heat dissapation, don't expect to see it in anything but G4 towers for now.
Steve Jobs also announced an update to the iMacs, paring down the number of offerings to three. In addition to the standard bevy of ports, all models now include two Firewire ports, VGA video out, and an Airport slot. More importantly, Apple has increased the speeds of the iMacs to 400, 500, and 600 MHz. The top two models use IBM's PowerPC 750cx (G3) processor, which has 256 K of on-die L2 cache running at full processor speed. Also included in those models are slot-loading CD-RW drives and ATi's Rage 128 Ultra graphics chip. Apple has eliminated the Ruby and Sage colors, while adding Blue Dalmation and Flower Power to the lineup, and retaining Indigo and Graphite. You'll have to visit Apple's website for pictures of the new colors schemes. They are quite shocking, to say the least.
The long rumored "headless iMac" also made its debut in the form of the $1299 G4 Cube. A new model featuring more RAM, a larger hard drive, and a CD-RW drive was added at the $1599 price point There are a couple of descrepancies between the Apple Store and Apple's G4 Cube page though. The specifications page lists the $1599 G4 Cube as having a 40 GB hard drive and a Radeon AGP, but the Apple Store only includes a 20 GB hard drive and a Rage 128 Pro. Hopefully, the former is the correct configuration, otherwise, you would essentially be paying $300 for 64 MB more RAM and a CD-RW drive.
Steve Jobs also cut the price of the 22" Apple Cinema Display to $2999 and announced iTunes 1.1, which now supports over 25 third party CD-RW drives.
MacNN Keynote Coverage
If you'd like a more detailed recap of all the happenings at the MacWorld Tokyo keynote, jump to MacNN and MacCentral for their keynote coverage.
MacCentral Keynote Coverage
Buy DOOM 3
Fighter Squadron Update
3:38 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story
Between the releases of Majesty and Sin and the announcements of future ports such as Giants: Citizen Kabuto, United Developers/MacPlay has been a little quiet about a title that has been a long time coming: Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons Over Europe. A classic WWII flight sim, this long-promised title is sure to thrill fans of those early days of dogfighting. MacPlay's Jason Whong has released an update on the status of this title, with word that is expected on shelves this April:
I just wanted to let you know that MacPlay is throttling up the productionIf you have a particular favorite controller that you want support for in FS, be sure and mail Jason right away. We apologize for linking yet again to the MacPlay press release, but they have yet to produce a web site to link to.
Fighter Squadron Preview
of Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons Over Europe, with an ETA on store
shelves of April 16. We are anticipating the arrival of the first alpha
This date is very important to us, and I promise to keep you all posted of
the game's progress. For those who don't know (and there's no reason to be
ashamed - we've admittedly been a bit stealthy about the game) Fighter
Squadron is an ultra-realistic World War II flight combat simulator set in
the European theatre of operations.
I'd like all of you to do me a favor. Most of you already have flight
joysticks for your Macs; I'll admit to you that I've always used a mouse to
play flight sims. That being said, we're entering alpha Real Soon Now, and
it would probably be a Very Good Idea (tm) for us to be testing the game
with YOUR joysticks. Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me
know what joystick/throttle controls you prefer to use on your Macintosh.
I'll do my part to let our internal testers know what joysticks we should
pay particular attention to.
Heroes III Complete Giveaway Continues
1:02 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story
Fans of this adventure series were thrilled by the news that 3DO had decided to create Heroes III Complete, a special Mac-only compilation of the original Heroes III: The Restoration of Erathia combined with two previously PC-only expansion packs. Now IMG has published a review of this title, and to celebrate its release we are conducting a giveaway as well! While there are over 400 entries so far, you still have until Monday to sign up for this giveaway -- it only takes a few seconds, so do it today!
Download Heroes III Complete Demo at MGF
Winners will be picked February 26th, 2001, so enter as soon as possible. Read the review for more information, our original Heroes III review for details on what this game is all about, and be sure to enter the giveaway as well. Or if you can't wait until Monday or would rather have a sure thing, you can also purchase the game for a mere $35.90 from CompuExpert. Download the demo if you want to try before you buy.
IMG Heroes III Complete Giveaway
Heroes III Complete Review
Deus Ex Multiplayer Patch in Beta Testing
12:21 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story
Westlake Interactive's Mark Adams is making quick work of the multiplayer patch for Deus Ex, which is currently only available for the PC. Only a week after making the announcement that he would port the patch to the Macintosh, Mark has informed us that it has entered beta testing. Here is the press release we received:
The Deus Ex Mac multiplayer patch is now in beta testing, and we're hoping for a fairly quick test period. All of the latest PC multiplayer code isThe holdup may be due to the fact that the final version of the patch has not been released for the PC version yet. If anything, the release of the PC and Mac patches will be nearly simultaneous. Watch IMG for more updates on the Deus Ex multiplayer patch.
Deus Ex Multiplayer Patch in Development
running the Mac, and we've played several test games between Macs & PC's, with both Macs and PCs as servers.
The Mac multiplayer patch is estimated to be ready in a couple weeks,
although there may be some approvals from Ion Storm/Eidos to go through as well.
PR: Deus Ex Multiplayer Patch Enters Beta Testing
GeoMAME, CPSMame Updated
11:55 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story
IMG Network member MacEmuScene is reporting that Andrew Blum has updated both the GeoMAME and CPSMAME projects recently. These are specialized, slimmed-down versions of the MAME emulator that are designed to run Neo Geo and Capcom games, respectively. In addition to a smaller download size and streamlined interface, they also offer additional abilities such as CPU over/underclocking and extended compatibility.
GeoMAME has been updated to 0.37b10c; this version updates the compatibility list to include all the games added in the latest version of MacMAME, including Metal Slug X and King of Fighters 99. CPSMAME adds support for Super Street Figher Turbo, as well as some bugfixes.
For details and downloads, visit the respective pages below.
CPSMAME Web Site
GeoMAME Web Site
GeForce 3: What Does It Mean?
10:29 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story
Well, so far this morning, you have been astounded by the news that NVIDIA's new high-end chip will debut on the Mac platform before any other platform. Then you have been assaulted by an avalanche of tech-speak and buzzwords from the NVIDIA press release, as well as a dose of Apple's hype. Makes your head spin, eh?
But what does this NVIDIA chip mean to Mac gamers? And what does it mean for our games that we play right now, every day? It is important to take a step back and examine what impact a $600 card ($350 when ordered with a new Mac) will have on the Macintosh as a gaming platform.
So, what does the GeForce 3 mean for Mac gamers? For those of you with PCI-only machines, nothing; this card will be AGP-only. For those with CPUs at and under 500 MHz, it also means little. Why? Because in our own in-house tests of Mac video cards over the years, it is quite obvious that games on the Mac OS are CPU-bound -- the processor runs out of steam long before the graphics card feels any stress. The ATI Radeon available for AGP Macs currently doesn't even break a sweat until you reach 1280x1024 resolution, even in games with a small CPU burden such as Quake 2. The GeForce 3-based card, with its ostentatious price tag, is a card of the future, not of the now.
As it will take Mac hardware some time to catch up with this powerful GPU, so will it take quite some time for games to take advantage of its power. Games that are deep in the development cycle right now will run full speed on the GeForce 3, but they won't take advantage of the more amazing features such as per-pixel shading, vertex skinning and the like -- these have to be specifically addressed in the game's ground-up design. There is no surprise in all of this, as the exact same was true when 3D cards first appeared on the market. Games with true-3D engines that really took advantage of those first cards lagged almost a year behind their debut.
And what about those buzzwords? Per-pixel shading means that a game designer/programmer will have control over the appearance of every single pixel on the screen, not just polygons and surfaces. Effects such as wood with actual grain, water ripples with real height and depth, dust-size particles and layered textures will become commonplace. Imagine a marble slab that reflects your character's face, the sky and the scene behind you, and which features veins of non-reflective material and bumps and pits in the surface -- this will become standard.
Vertex skinning will allow for realistic portrayals of flapping fabric, skin stretched over muscle and bone and objects that deform and take damage. When a character runs, you might see their clothes bunch up behind their knees and inside their elbows; when their joints flex you won't see the 'collision' effects of one shape intersecting another, but a smooth reshaping of the surface to accommodate the movement. Of course all of this will require a tremendous increase in the workload for the actual model designers for the game itself.
Effects such as these will only happen when there is a large enough installed base of systems that can run them to justify the tremendous development time it will take to achieve these details. As with technologies such as digital cable TV and HDTV, there will be a large 'lag' between the early adopters/pioneers with fat wallets and the 'masses' in terms of technology adoption. The eagerness of those who create content to actually employ the new technology will follow this curve as well; the majority of them will wait until the pioneers prove that there is money to be made.
After all, many of the top-selling PC games don't even require a 3D card at all: The Sims, Livin' Large, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and other such consumer titles dominate the market.
What about today's games -- what if you slap a GeForce 3 in your G4/500 the second they are available from Apple's store? At this point it is tough to say. The impact of NVIDIA's new "Quincunx" anti-aliasing technology has yet to be demonstrated or benchmarked. Judging from our own benchmarking experiences, the advantage you would gain from a faster GPU would be an ability to play at higher resolutions and texture settings, not necessarily an increase in base frame rate. Graphics cards aren't magic -- you can't make a Mac that plays at 50 fps at 640x480 suddenly play at 80 or 120 fps. But of course nothing is stopping you from taking that graphics card investment and moving it to a faster machine in the future...
The most important impact of this announcement may not be game performance at all, but rather the tremendous morale boost it will give Mac gamers to see a PC industry leader such as NVIDIA back the Macintosh as a gaming platform. Game developers and publishers will also be forced to take notice, as the excuse for not developing on the Mac due to substandard hardware will slowly vanish.
Official GeForce 3 PR
In any case, we want to know your thoughts -- are games important enough to you to entice you to spend $600 (or $2800+, if you need a new Mac as well) to make them run faster and look better? Will you upgrade your CPU or your GPU first, in the future? And will games with an exponential increase in the amount of graphic detail really be better games, or just better-looking ones? Share your thoughts with us in our Forums.
Official GeForce 3 PR
8:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story
While the hype surrounding the Apple/Nvidia presentation continues, the official press release announcing the GeForce 3 to the world is now available. It covers the card's features, noting many times the Mac-specific enhancements being made. A new page on Nvidia's site has also been posted with a little more information. Here's the PR in full:
NVIDIA Introduces GeForce3 -- Breaks New Ground in the Quest for Real-Time Cinematic Graphics; Industry's Most Advanced GPU to be Flagship Graphics for Apple's Power Mac G4 LineAs you're likely heard, the card comes with a $600 price tag if ordered seperately from the Apple Store's Accessories page. When bundled with a high-end G4, it's only $350 more than a GeForce 2 MX or Radeon. We'll keep you updated as the cards actually begin to ship in the next month or two, and any benchmarks that might come to light.
Nvidia GeForce3 Web Site
Providing the catalyst for a new graphics revolution, NVIDIA(R) Corporation (Nasdaq:NVDA) today introduced the world's most advanced graphics processor, the GeForce3TM GPU for the Macintosh(R) platform at Macworld Expo Tokyo 2001.
Powered by the new NVIDIA nfiniteFX(TM) engine the new GeForce3 GPU enables users to experience a rich, interactive environment. 3D scenes have ambiance with GeForce3 because objects appear photo realistic and custom lighting heightens drama and emotion. Characters and living creatures have organic behavior and unique expressions -- their personality emerges. Programmability and performance are the catalysts for this graphics revolution.
"This announcement comes just one month after the first NVIDIA-based Macintosh launch," stated Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "We are excited to have the first public showing of GeForce3 at MacWorld Tokyo in Steve Jobs' keynote address. The combination of our new leading-edge technology with Apple's is going to send shock waves throughout the Macintosh community."
In addition, GeForce3 is:
The first fully programmable GPU -- the nfiniteFX(TM) Pixel Shader processor and Vertex Shader processor give developers the ability to program a virtually infinite number of special effects and custom looks.
The first high-resolution antialiasing (HRAA) GPU, featuring NVIDIA's patented Quincunx AA mode, for high-resolution, high-quality, high-performance multisampling capabilities.
A platform for advanced transform and lighting features, enabling more complex, visually exciting objects and scenes.
OpenGL(R) 1.2 compatible.
Available in 64MB DDR SDRAM configuration that supports both the innovative Apple(R) Display Connector and the industry standard VGA connection.
Sophisticated Processing Technology
The GeForce3 is the world's most advanced GPU with more than 57 million transistors and the ability to perform more than 800 billion operations per second and 76 billion floating point operations per second (FLOPS). The GeForce3 GPU achieves an astounding 3.2 billion antialiased samples per second fill rate -- more than four times theperformance of the award-winning GeForce2 Ultra and more than seven times the processing power of any competitive consumer graphics product. As do all of the GeForce family products, GeForce3 drives the most extreme resolutions and color depths of up to 2048x1536x32.
Geforce3 graphics on the Power MacTM G4 will be available next month as a configure-to-order (CTO) option at the Apple Store (www.apple.com) and through Apple resellers.
Jamagic 3D Engine Coming to OS X
8:29 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story
You will simply choose which platform you use to develop on, then program your application on that platform. Jamagic will allow cross development. For example, press RUN on the PC and see the program run on your MAC, connected through the network. Or maybe debug your Window application from your Linux based editor.Pricing has not yet been set for Jamagic, though interested developers should probably contact Clickteam directly. Once a OS X version is available, we'll announce it here as well, so stay tuned.
Jamagic Web Site
As all communication between the machines are TCP/IP based, you will even be able to debug though the Internet - press RUN on a MAC in Miami and see the program run on a PC in London! Or if you are good at debugging, sell your debugging time through the Internet...
King of Dragon Pass Postmortem
8:17 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story
iDevGames has posted an interesting new article from independent game maker David Dunham, giving a postmortem on the award-winning King of Dragon Pass. The piece looks at the process of making the title, making sure it was cross platform, and the things that went right and wrong during it's development. In case you haven't tried it, King of Dragon Pass is a turn-based strategy with beautiful still art and a deep gameplay model. Here's a clip from the postmortem to give you an idea of how the game was put together:
Our artists all use traditional media: ink, paint, scratchboard. They used our old HP scanner, then did post work inside Photoshop. Another artist just gave me the originals and I scanned them (and did almost no touchup). And then everything got "DeBabelized" before going into the project. The artists were mostly local, so we'd meet and go over sketches (or occasionally deal with faxes). We began by establishing the basic look of the world (the Osprey books were a great help for historical costumes). The artists came up with additional details that fit in well. Since they were contractors, most of them worked in their own facilities. We worked out of our house to save costs. Towards the end, we hired a QA guy, and he also worked out of a spare room (since it's vital to be able to see just what happened after a crash). We relied heavily on TestTrack, a bug-tracking database to keep the project running smoothly. We used Filemaker to check off our milestones.Pretty impressive that a title as complex as this came together with such a seperated group. Check out the rest of the postmortem for more info on its creation. And be sure to grab the demo from Macgamefiles if you haven't already done so.
Download King of Dragon Pass Demo
King of Dragon Pass Web Site
iDevGames King of Dragon Pass Postmortem
DOOM Demo Video [Updated]
8:07 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story
CNET has archived the portion of the MacWorld Tokyo keynote where Steve Jobs invites John Carmack on stage to demonstrate the DOOM engine id Software has been working on for the past several months. The footage that is shown is being rendered in real time on a Macintosh equipped with a GeForce 3. To describe it in a word: Amazing. Did you expect anything less?
Clicking on the link below will download a small RealPlayer file to your hard drive and load RealPlayer. The video is eight minutes long, but the DOOM demo starts about five minutes in. Don't expect to get it on your first try, as the servers are extremely overloaded. There is also a version of the video available in Windows Media Player format, but we have been unable to verify if this will run on the Mac version of the WMP, which doesn't have a full set of PC decoders.
DOOM Footage in Windows Media Player Format (13.8 MB)
If you're having issues seeing the video, screen shots of the footage are also now appearing around the web. Eurogamer has posted a dozen which will give you an idea of what the video is like. Unfortunately they all appear to be simple stills from the video, so don't expect any high-resolution shots to come out until they are released by Apple or id.
Eurogamer DOOM Screen Shots
MacWorld Tokyo DOOM Footage (RealPlayer Required)
Buy DOOM 3
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