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Friday, February 23, 2001


Target Korea Mac Update, Screen Shots
8:42 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Targetware has released a statement announcing the Mac and PC versions of its closed beta for their upcoming flight sim Target Korea are now playing nicely together. The reaction from the Mac testers seems to be one of great approval, and there are even new screen shots of the game taken on a Mac available. Here's an update:

Today, Targetware announced that it had released earlier this week to its
closed beta test team, the first parallel development version of the
software, that permits users on both the Windows and Macintosh systems to
play together, acting as either servers or log-in clients. Immediate
reaction from the Macintosh closed beta community was extremely positive,
demonstrated by a sampling of quotes from Macintosh play testers.


"Yup.. I am kinda in shock, hehehe. 3D on a Mac in this Quality is amazing"

"Online connects work pretty good (pings in the 110s 120s from europe)... "

"BOOOAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! between 40 and 50 fps at 1600x1200.... suuuuper smooth
and excelent image quality!!!! NOW... I am really impressed!!!"


All screen shots were snapped in-game and are un-retouched. They were taken
on a G4 MAC 533 Mhz - 512 MB RAM - NVIDIA Gforce 2MX 32MB.

The links to the two new screen shots are below. If you're wondering exactly what Target Korea is, they have also provided a concise paragraph explaining the game:
The Targetware engine blends an exceptionally secure and unique development
architecture together with direct "hands-on" community participation, in
order to create a 250+ player on-line environment, which essentially has
been designed by the customer base itself. With an open architecture
approach to graphics, flight models, terrains and even servers, Targetware
combines extensibility and customization with a high-fidelity flight
simulator, that insures that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Targetware is the "branding" identifier for the engine and the series of
products that are being built under it. For example, the first of the
series will be titled Target Korea and will feature the Mig 15bis versus the
F86f-30 Sabre. Target Korea is currently undergoing closed beta testing and
is expected to be simultaneously available in open beta for both Windows and
Macintosh systems within 90 days.
We can expect that beta to open up to the rest of the flight sim community later this year. Target Korea sounds like an impressive title to watch, so we'll keep bringing you any new information on its status.

Targetware Web Site
Target Korea Mac Screen Shot 2
Target Korea Mac Screen Shot 1
Targetware
Target Korea



Click to enlarge
NWN Multiplatform Chat Transcripts
2:53 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Linux.com recently hosted an IRC chat with many members of the Bioware team working on the upcoming 3D RPG Neverwinter Nights. As you can guess from the hosts of the chat, many of the topics covered had to do with the Linux version of the game, though there were a few Mac questions thrown in as well. Bioware plans to go entirely cross-platform with NWN, supporting Mac, Windows, Linux, and even BeOS right out of the box. A few of the Mac-related matters discussed include the packaging of the game for all platforms, and whether there may be OS X support. While the hybrid CD question really depends on the publisher's whims, Linux programmer Howard Chung did quickly remark on OS X:

We're working on carbonizing NWN to get it to run under OS X.
This is great news, considering the game will likely be released late this year and OS X should have a decent installed base among gamers by then. Check out the rest of the transcript for many other NWN goodies.

Linux.com Neverwinter Nights Chat
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
BioWare
MacPlay
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights



Click to enlarge
SiN Patch Pulled
2:34 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After a brief life, the recent 1.1.2 patch for SiN has been pulled by the tech support people at MacPlay. Apparently the update was causing issues for some users, and they want to give it another round of bug-fixing before more people update their copy of the game. Here's the scoop from MacPlay's Jason Whong:

We have determined that some people are experiencing problems with the Sin
1.1.2 patch on some configurations. We have temporarily removed the Sin
patch until we have corrected these issues. If you are experiencing a
problem, please send an email to support@macplay.com with a description of
your problem and an Apple System Profiler report.
So if you have had issues with the update, please send MacPlay your info to expedite the release of a new patch. The problems aren't affecting all users of the patch, as many reported the patch helping them out. We'll be sure to let you know once a new version is released.

MacPlay Web Site
MacPlay
Sin Gold
Buy Sin Gold


GeForce 3 Conference Call Notes -- HOT!
1:57 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our own Tuncer Deniz participated in a conference call with Tony Tamasi, director of product management for NVIDIA, yesterday afternoon. The subject in question? The Geforce 3 chipset, of course, set to appear on the Mac platform this March as a BTO option and as an add-in for G4 Macs in April. Questions were submitted by many Mac webmasters/authors, but we have condensed the extremely long conversation down to highlights for you. It is split in two parts, due to limitations of our news display system.


We're sure you can understand that longtime Mac users are a tad suspicious about such a powerful, high-end chipset debuting on the Mac platform -- after all, Macintosh systems have lagged behind in 3D hardware for nearly their entire history. Thus the question was asked, will the Mac version of this card be identical to the PC versions that will be released? Here is Tamasi's reply:

Tomasi: Yes, the clock speeds are exactly the same vs the clock speeds for
the PC product which was exactly the same case for the GeForce 2 MX product
we delivered for Apple. We don’t deliver a sub-standard, below speed version
for the Macintosh. It’s exactly the same product: same speeds, same memory,
same everything.
Another vital question for Mac gamers and game developers has to do with the new programmable vertex and pixel engines of the card -- Microsoft's DirectX 8 has been widely praised by PC developers for how easy that API makes it to address a card's advanced features. But of course DirectX does not exist for the Mac platform, and won't in the future; our API of choice is OpenGL. So, the question is -- will developers be able to address all of the features of the card through OpenGL?
Tomasi: One of the great things that we think about the Macintosh in terms of
graphics and their strategy is that they’ve embraced OpenGL. OpenGL is
really the industry’s only completely cross-platform graphics API. And in
fact developers that have embraced Open GL typically develop cross-platform.
A great example of that is Doom III with id Software. I think they’ve
shipped concurrently or near concurrently on the Macintosh. Every version of
their game in recent memory, and I know that John and id intends to do a
similar thing with Doom III, and that is, every feature that GeForce 3
enables he will enable on the PC platform as well as the Macintosh platform.
And because we fully embrace OpenGL, and every extension we implement on the
Macintosh side, Windows side, and actually even Linux side, developers can
develop for the GeForce 3 platform and get to every platform.


Now, content developed for the X-Box, because it is basically GeForce 3
content should port transparently. The only thing they really have to do is
the OS specific functionality that supports the Macintosh. The Macintosh
sound manager would be different, for example, than the X-Box sound
manager. The Macintosh device input would be slightly different than the Windows
input. But that is much simpler code to port as opposed to the core
engine code and the core graphics code.

That is fantastic news, especially for fans of Bungie's upcoming title Halo and future X-box titles in development.


Another issue that is specifically important to Mac gamers and developers is the issue of bus speed and AGP throughput. As Mac systems tend to have far fewer motherboard revisions (and no possible motherboard upgrades for existing systems) they have lagged far behind in memory bus speed and AGP/PCI speeds. Now that Apple's high-end systems have 4x AGP this is less of a factor, but with the PC world already discussing 8x and 12x AGP, will this continue to be a bottleneck to performance?

Tomasi: We view our job as solving the graphics problem. And to the extent possible,
we will try to put in all the graphics functionality for the graphics
problems into our processors. So that means that things like the vertex
programming and pixel programming and continuing to improve that
functionality and make it ever more powerful and flexible, so that maybe one
day we can truly run all of Renderman [ed note: Pixar's plug-in scripting language for shading 3D surfaces] on our graphics processor. That would
leave things for the CPU such as artificial intelligence, game code,
networking, game logic, running the operating system…all the things that are
general.


Fundamentally, we don’t want there to be a bottleneck to the creativity of a
game developer. If AGP or LDT or Hyperstransport or anything is getting in
the way, then we view that as a problem we need to solve. As in the same way
as memory…memory bandwidth is one of the key factors in determining graphics
performance. So we have to be increasingly clever in the way that we use it.
So in the case of GeForce 3, the lightspeed memory architecture is all about
that. We are using the same exactly the same speed memory that we were using
in GeForce 2 Ultra product. And yet we’ve achieved two times [greater]
in terms of performance because we’ve been increasingly clever with the way
we use memory bandwidth and I expect that trend to continue as well.


The problems that the graphics industry, and in particular NVIDIA, have been
improving performance at a rate far beyond the memory industry’s ability to
improve the speed of their memory sub-systems. And so the options you have
are to either be more clever or go much, much wider on your memory
interface.

A rough translation of Tomasi's response is that they want to move all of the vital graphics processing taking place in a game or application onto the card itself, so that less information must be traded back and forth between the card and CPU. Anything that takes the load off the CPU will indeed improve game performance in areas of AI, network traffic and collision detection as well as sound.


Be sure to read on for part two!

GeForce 3 Conference Call, Part 2
GeForce 3, DOOM Engine Demoed in Tokyo


GeForce 3 Conference Call, Part 2
1:55 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

If you haven't read part one of this transcript, be sure to do so first!


Of course another subject weighing heavily on the mind of Mac gamers is the availability of this product to the masses: currently only Apple will be manufacturing and distributing the card, and perhaps charging a heavy premium for that service. On the PC side, price wars between several competing manufacturers can cause graphics card prices to drop extremely quickly, as happened with the V5 and GeForce 2 cards on the market. So, will there be another source for the GeForce 3 for the Mac?

We’ve actually been working with a number of traditional add-on card
manufacturers and some of them have expressed interest in developing a
product for the retail shelf for the Macintosh. And as soon as one of those
makes sense and productizes it, we’re happy to sell the chips.


Again, NVIDIA has no plans as a company to sell a board directly to the end
user. But if a Formac or a Macintosh-centric [company] wants to productize a Mac
version we’d love to work with them.

Although the idea of a return to Mac-only graphics cards made by Mac manufacturers seems a remote possibility, considering how many of those companies went belly-up in the past, even a hint of a third-party GeForce card is splendid news. We have also heard Formac's name dropped before, but their line is currently based on the Permedia series of chips.


Although we're sure all of you are extremely excited about the GeForce 3, we're doubly sure that the $600.00 price tag gave you pause. On the PC side, NVIDIA tends to hit all price points; for instance the GeForce 2 line ranges from the GeForce 2 MX ($100) up to the GeForce 2 Ultra ($400+). Will such a diversification of the product line happen with the GeForce 3?

Well, I can’t announce future products, but if you look at our history, you
can draw your own conclusions.
And finally, a sticky issue for all Mac lovers: will the PC still beat our brains in when it comes to game performance, as historically has been the case? While those with older and current Mac systems can't expect a quantum leap in performance with the GeForce 3, due to processor speed and memory bandwidth issues, those who buy future Apple models might expect that performance gap to close. Here are Tomasi's thoughts on the matter:
We have done some comparisons cross-platform and the Macintosh does very,
very well. In fact, for a lot of applications, particularly applications
that we tend to like at NVIDIA, which we call graphics limited applications,
the Macintosh is equal in performance related to the PC platform for a lot
of those applications.


So typically those would be applications that are running at medium to
higher resolutions and have anti-aliasing turned on and/or are making
extensive use of our graphics processors. To the extent that applications do
that, in other words, the load of the graphics processor, then it puts less
of the load on the host CPU and therefore less pressure on pure CPU Mhz.


I’m sure there’s going to be cases that come up where the PC might be
faster…a 1.5 gigahertz PC might be faster than a Macintosh. But I know there
are cases where the Macintosh is actually faster than the PC as well. It’s
just one of those things that your mileage varies based on the application.
But there’s no major performance delta between the two, particularly for
graphics-centric types of applications.

A diplomatic answer, to be sure, but a satisfying one nonetheless.


We'll be sure to bring you more details (including exact specifications, for the tech-heads) as soon as they are available. In the meantime, be sure and check out the results posted on other web sites of their conference call with NVIDIA as well.

MacCentral's NVIDIA Conference Call Report
xlr8yourmac's NVIDIA Conference Call Report


New iMacs and Gaming
11:51 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Many a heated comment, pro or con, has been made about the new appearance of the iMac line following the recent revision of this line announced at Macworld Expo Tokyo. However, looks are only outer casing deep -- the real question is, are they better gaming machines than previous models?


Various articles around the web and our own research seem to indicate that these flower-power iMacs will indeed be great gaming systems. With 500 and 600 MHz G3 processors and Rage 128 Ultra graphics chips, the Faster and Fastest models will most definitely have the power and speed to play current titles such as Rune, Oni and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force (though they will need a RAM upgrade to do so.) The addition of a 256k backside cache running at full processor speed should give these machines equivalent to and/or better performance than any Blue and White G3 system, and perhaps even better than Apple's short-lived PCI G4 tower. And the addition of an Apple Pro keyboard and the new 'buttonless wonder' optical mouse will make all games easier to control.


MacCentral has produced a report on the Rage 128 Ultra found in these new systems; the chip is identical to the Rage 128 Pro series of cards, but it includes 16 MB of SDRAM rather than the 8 MB available in previous systems. The low-end iMac model (now known as the Fast configuration) keeps the 8 MB Rage 128 configuration.


Unfortunately, according to several reports the extra graphics horsepower is only available in US and Canada configurations; iMac models shipped to the UK for review do not have the 16 MB cards or the processor-speed backside cache. However, the review of these systems posted by Macworld UK is still an excellent introduction to the series.


And finally, we failed to mention this in our initial report, but the Apple page as well as several other sources proclaim that Pangea Software's Cro-Mag Rally is now being bundled across the entire iMac line, in addition to Pangea's other classics Bugdom and Nanosaur. Right out of the box, new users will have three 3D titles to enjoy and show off to their friends.


It has been three years since the introduction of the iMac line; though some developers we talk to still claim that they haven't seen a corresponding surge in the gaming market as millions of the self-contained systems were sold, it does seem that the iMac's time as a midrange gaming system has come. It will certainly be a viable solution for those who don't intend to spend $3,499.00 + $350 for a GeForce 3 monster gaming rig. While there is some disappointment that the GeForce 2 MX chipset didn't make it into the iMac line, it seems obvious that this was due not only to cost but to the issue of driver maturity -- Apple wasn't going to ship a driver still under development to the type of users that typically buy iMacs. Follow the links below for more details and information.

Report on Rage 128 Ultra at MacCentral
Review of New iMacs at Macworld UK



Click to enlarge
WWII Online Trailer
9:31 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Cornered Rat Software have released a new trailer in Bink format showing off their upcoming massively-multiplayer war sim WWII Online. This available for Mac and PC (either will work), though you'll might need to choose "Download Link to Disk" so it doesn't try and open the file in your browser. At nearly 40MB, this not a small download, but worthwhile if you're on a high-bandwidth connection.


The trailer shows both the persistent individual characters in the game, as well as the first-person views you will experience when driving one of the game's planes, tanks or other vehicles. For more info on WWII Online, be sure to check out their newly-revamped web site. There are many cool screen shots and other tidbits about this "first true virtual battlefield." You can expect to see WWII Online later this year; currently it is in closed beta testing, with a public beta expected to test server bandwidth near the end of the beta cycle.

WWII Online Images and Media Page
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online


X-plane Updated to 5.60b8
9:06 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Laminar Research has released yet another update to their complex flight simulator X-plane. This latest version has new features such as the "autogyro" (a very early form of fixed-wing helicopter), support for multiple cloud layers and random planes that fly around the skies. The update remains centered around "behind the scene" engine upgrades rather than visual upgrades. Here are some of the fixes and features:

1 word: Autogyro. These things are fun and BIZARRE to fly... the overhead rotor is free-wheeling, being driven only by the wind rushing through it... You have to pull BACK on the stick to get the rotor disc aimed UP so plenty of wind CATCHES UNDERNEATH IT and drivers the rotor, keeping you in the air. Approach at low speed with the disc way back and you can touch down almost at a stop!


3 words: Multiple Cloud Layers. Set the clouds to 2 overcast layers far apart, max thunderstorms, in the late afternoon. Now fly between the layers and watch the cloud-to-cloud lightning. Not too shabby! The overcast clouds are drawn much nicer now! Cirrus clouds are also available! So there are now scattered, broken, overcast, and cirrus textures... some of the textures are the same or could be improved... I leave it to you to put cool new textures in their place and send the improved textures to me! See the "X-System Resources/textures/overlay" folder for the current textures.

Remember, this update is still a beta. For more information on this sim, visit the Laminar web site. You can grab the patch or a demo of the simulator at MacGameFiles.

X-Plane
Download X-plane 5.60b8 at MacGameFiles


Championship Manager 00/01 Update
8:51 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Feral Interactive has released an update to soccer/football club management sim Championship Manager 00/01. This update addresses several issues, the major fix being the 'Match Freeze' bug users have reported. Here are the details:

• Tuned player ratings for tired creative players

• Fixed 'match freeze' bug

• Tuned 'wants new contract' unhappiness

• Increased the media name occurrences back up to pre 3.86 levels

• Stopped National team managers from taking coaching positions

• Ensured that big-name clubs won't take 'coaches' as managers, unless they come from within the club.

• Increased the wage budget for big-name clubs slightly

• Increase 'television' money in England in accordance with new deal (as from 2001).
For the update or a demo of this title, jump to MacGameFiles. As you might expect, more information on the game can be found at the Feral web site.

CM 00/01 update at MacGameFiles
Feral Interactive



Click to enlarge
Baldur's Gate Multiplayer Status Check
8:24 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GraphSim has updated their site with new word on the multiplayer patch for the popular RPG Baldur's Gate. They note testing is going well, and it should be completed soon. The expansion pack for the game, Tales of the Sword Coast, is also doing well, ready to enter testing once the multiplayer patch is finished. Here's the full scoop from GraphSim:

We are presently testing a new version of the Baldur's Gate Multiplayer update. Game play seems stable but testing will continue a few more days to be sure. If all goes well, beta testing will begin soon.


Tales of the Sword Coast is coming along nicely. As soon as the multiplayer update for Baldur's Gate is finished, beta testing for Tales of the Sword Coast will begin.

Good news for fans of this very deep role-playing game. Once it's completed, the multiplayer patch will be a free download for owners of Baldur's Gate. Also be sure to check out IMG's affiliate site, MacBaldur, which is an excellent resource if you're having any issues with the title.

GraphSim Web Site
Mac Baldur Web Site
GraphSim
BioWare
Baldur's Gate


Carmack on Geforce 3
8:17 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Just back from MacWorld Tokyo, id Software's lead programmer, John Carmack has updated his .plan file with a long analysis of the newly announced Geforce 3 from NVIDIA:

Here is a dump on the GeForce 3 that I have been seriously working
with for a few weeks now:


The short answer is that the GeForce 3 is fantastic. I haven't had such an
impression of raising the performance bar since the Voodoo 2 came out, and
there are a ton of new features for programmers to play with.


Graphics programmers should run out and get one at the earliest possible
time. For consumers, it will be a tougher call. There aren't any
applications our right now that take proper advantage of it, but you should
still be quite a bit faster at everything than GF2, especially with
anti-aliasing. Balance that against whatever the price turns out to be.


While the Radeon is a good effort in many ways, it has enough shortfalls
that I still generally call the GeForce 2 ultra the best card you can buy
right now, so Nvidia is basically dethroning their own product.


It is somewhat unfortunate that it is labeled GeForce 3, because GeForce
2 was just a speed bump of GeForce, while GF3 is a major architectural
change. I wish they had called the GF2 something else.

Carmack has also made a couple of posts in the comments of a related story on Slashdot.org. In the two posts he both notes they are now using C++ as their language of choice for the new engine and refutes any claims the Mac version is faster than the x86 for the game. Here's the first:
We moved to C++ for the current game (which does not have an official full name yet).


I will probably do a .plan update about it, because it has definately had its pros and cons.


Jim Dose had inadvertantly used a few MS specific idioms that we had to weed out over the past couple weeks of the bring up on OS-X.

And the second:
We did a ton of testing the last two weeks while we were putting the demo together.


The 733 G4 was not as fast as my 1 ghz PIII in any of the trouble areas.


Apple is doing a lot of good work, but the CPU's just aren't as fast as the x86 ones.


AltiVec can compensate in some cases, because it is way, way easier to program for than SSE, but it takes a very simple batched, computation intensive task for it to pay off in any noticable way. Amdahls law and all that.


We did a couple functions with AltiVec, but they didn't make much difference.


Video encoding and large image processing are two areas that it can pay off, because you may be spending 90%+ of your time in one page of code.


Even then, it takes a special balance to let a G4 come out ahead, because it has less memory bandwidthd than a high end x86 system.

Harsh truth, but it isn't anything new to say that Apple needs to jump-start Motorola and IBM to help increase CPU speeds. We're just happy they've finally moved out of the 500's and are making some decent progress.

Carmack's Slashdot.org Posts
NVIDIA
id software
Carmack's Geforce 3 .plan file
Buy DOOM 3


Mac Games News for Thursday, February 22, 2001

Fighter Squadron Update3:38 PM
Heroes III Complete Giveaway Continues1:02 PM
Deus Ex Multiplayer Patch in Beta Testing12:21 PM
GeoMAME, CPSMame Updated11:55 AM
GeForce 3: What Does It Mean?10:29 AM
GeForce 3, DOOM Engine Demoed in Tokyo8:58 AM
Official GeForce 3 PR8:45 AM
Jamagic 3D Engine Coming to OS X8:29 AM
King of Dragon Pass Postmortem8:17 AM
DOOM Demo Video [Updated]8:07 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, February 22, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Tuesday, February 20, 2001
Monday, February 19, 2001
Friday, February 16, 2001
Thursday, February 15, 2001


Search for other Mac games news stories or browse our Mac Games News Archive.



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