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Monday, February 26, 2001


Exclusive: Pangea Announces Otto Matic
9:57 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Pangea Software, the authors of such hit titles as Bugdom, Cro-Mag Rally, and Nanosaur have announced their next project in the works, action/adventure game Otto Matic. Scheduled for release by December of this year, this title will feature all of the 3D flash and fun gameplay that Pangea is known for, and will of course be designed, developed and published on the Mac OS.


Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software gave us a brief interview to talk about his latest game:

IMG: Can you describe your new game for us and how you came up with the idea?



BG: Otto Matic is a character based action adventure game where you play a robot named Otto Matic. You travel from planet to planet battling aliens and other creatures while trying to prevent the humans from being abducted. We had known for a long time that we wanted to make the next game a space-based game, but it took a long time before this design got solidified. Originally, we were thinking about doing Bugdom 2 which was going to be bugs in space, but since I really hate the idea of doing sequels, we got to work coming up with a different and unique space game concept. The idea of doing a space game that was something of an homage to 1950's B-movies came up, and that's what sparked the genesis of the game as it is today. Otto Matic is no longer an homage to b-movies, but it does take many gameplay and stylistic cues from them. I don't want to give too much away at this point, but suffice to say that if you can think of a 1950's sci-fi b-movie, we've probably incorporated some element of it into our design.



IMG: Will Otto Matic use the same graphics engine you used for Cro-Mag Rally? If so, what enhancements have you made to the engine?



BG: This game uses a mix of Bugdom and Cro-Mag Rally's engines, but it also has some massive enhancements for many of the special effects. For example, we've added a terrain deformation engine which is used to do all sorts of effects on the terrain. We use this when a meteor hits the planet - it sends out a shockwave across the terrain which actually ripples it. There is also a new lighting and texturing engine so the models now have multi-texturing for really cool reflection and specular maps. This gives the game a very surreal look - hard to explain without seeing it.



IMG: What's your time frame for shipping Otto Matic?



BG: We expect to be done in December. It should ship shortly after that. This game is pretty complex in terms of the art and the gameplay, so we're spending more time with it than we did with the last three games. And since we knew there was no way to get it done in time for Christmas, we decided not to rush it. This game should be the crown jewel of the Pangea Software lineup, so we want to really tune it.



IMG: Will Otto Matic have OS X support?



BG: Absolutely! All of our games from here-on out will be OS X native. They will also run on OS 9 as well.



IMG: What will the system requirements be like? Similar to Cro-Mag Rally?



BG: Since Otto Matic is totally loaded with cutting edge special effects, it requires at least a Rage 128 3D card, since none of the earlier ones support all of the effects that we are doing. The machine speed will probably require 333mhz, and 96MB of RAM.



IMG: Are you going to have network/Internet play?



BG: Nope, we decided it made more sense to spend all of our time focusing on making the main game as cool as we could, and we didn't want to get distracted by network modes like we did with Cro-Mag Rally.
Although there are no screen shots of Otto Matic yet, Greenstone promises to reveal more of Otto Matic in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Pangea let us have a QuickTime movie of the main character, Otto, for your viewing enjoyment. [ed note: the movie is actually a Quickdraw 3D 3DMF model, and will require QD3D to display properly.]



Stay tuned to IMG for more news on Otto Matic!

Cro-Mag Rally Review
Bugdom Review
Otto Matic web site
Otto Matic Movie (132k)
Pangea Software
Otto Matic


Spiderweb Releases New Geneforge Details
10:39 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Early in January IMG reported that Spiderweb Software was working on Geneforge, an original fantasy RPG which will take a different approach than their traditional, classic RPGs of the past. Now Spiderweb has updated their web site with details and a few early-alpha screen shots from this title, which is due late this year. With a completely open storyline and the ability to literally "forge" your own army, this one is sure to be another Spiderweb hit. Here is an excerpt:

You are a Shaper. You are a member of the most powerful and secretive of the magical guilds, with the power to create life and mold it to serve your own needs. For millenia, everyone feared and respected the Shapers above all others. Their creations could go everywhere, do anything, all according to the wishes of the Shapers, and no others.


If you need a servant, you have but to create it, and it will gladly die for you.


But now your secrets are at risk. Someone dares to try to steal the power of the Shapers and take them for his own. He has committed the ultimate crime. He has captured you, and he will do anything to get you to surrender their secrets.


He would use the power of the Shapers to remake the world. The question is a simple one. Will you fight him? Or join him?


Geneforge is an upcoming fantasy role-playing game for Macintosh and Windows. It features beautiful 16-bit graphics, fully animated characters, a fascinating and unusual game system, and the ability to create your own army of lethal, totally obedient creatures. Geneforge will also have a fascinating and open storyline, in which you have the freedom to choose your path and decide how the story will turn out.

Another title to look forward to. Visit the Spiderweb web site for more details and images, and be sure to check out their fine selection of RPGs if you haven't already done so.

Geneforge Details at Spiderweb
Spiderweb Software
Interview With Geneforge Details
First News on Geneforge
Spiderweb Software
Geneforge



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Mac Baldur's Gate 2 Update, Beta Testers Wanted
9:43 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Mike Donges of developer Mumbo Jumbo has dropped us a line noting MacPlay's progress with their port of Bioware's award-winning RPG Baldur's Gate II to the Mac OS. Included in the note is the news that they are seeking Beta testers for this much-anticipated title; however don't get too excited -- you have to live in the Irvine, California area and this doesn't mean the game has actually reached Beta status. Here is Mike's note:

The Macintosh version of Baldur's Gate 2 is coming along nicely. Chris
Jacobson, the lead porting engineer, has been making great progress and we
have already started functionality testing. I'm playing it today on my
PowerBook G3 (no Titanium yet. grrr!), and it runs great. We are currently
looking for a few hardy souls in the Irvine, California area to help us out
with testing. If you have a few hundred hours of free time on your hands
and you live in this area please contact me at donges@mumbojumbogames.com.
MacPlay, Mumbo Jumbo, United Developers -- who can keep track? We are sure that the addition of Duane Johnson to the MacPlay team is helping this port along; after all, he was working on Tales of the Sword Coast for GraphSim at one time, and likely knows BG's inner workings well.


In any case, IF -- and ONLY IF -- you are deadly serious about being a beta tester AND you live in the Irvine area should you e-mail Mr. Donges with your information. Any unrelated mail/begging for betas/other such garbage will only annoy him and slow the progress of this most-wanted game.

Duane Johnson Joins MacPlay/Mumbo Jumbo
Preview: Baldur's Gate II
MacPlay
BioWare
Baldur's Gate II
Buy Baldur's Gate II


Geforce 3 Guide, Images
9:01 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Tweak3d has posted an extensive guide to NVIDIA's next-generation graphic card chipset, the GeForce 3. While the guide gives a very good explanation of the chip design itself, it also delves into some technical areas (such as per-pixel shading, vertex shaders, etc.) as well. While they show some impressive screen shots of Giants taken with a Geforce 2 Ultra, the Geforce 3 should look even better -- as difficult as that is to imagine! Check out this article if you are interested in learning what the Geforce 3 is capable of, and don't mind a little arcane tech-speak along the way. Here is an excerpt:

What is per-pixel shading? It's a method of applying special rendering effects... per pixel. It allows material and real world effects to be applied individually to a pixel for more accuracy and intensity. Per-pixel shading will redefine the visual look and feel of imagery for PC graphics. Per-pixel shading has long been used in film production to create a more realistic and lifelike appearance for computer generated imagery. If you've seen Toy Story, you'll definitely remember Buzz Light-year. Remember the translucent reflection on Buzz's helmet? How the environment and light streaks reflected off the glass but also let the image underneath show through? That was done with per-pixel shading. Until now, it wasn't practical to use per-pixel shading on a PC because of the intense power and processing requirements needed. Sure, you could have done that in 3D Studio but could you have done it in real-time? Could the effect be applied to an entire frame at high resolution in 1/60th of a second? Not until now.
Astounding, is it not? As John Carmack noted, this new card may be the biggest revolution in 3D graphics since the Voodoo2 card. Read on for more fawning descriptions of this chip's inner workings.


In related news, GA-Source has posted what are claimed to be nine screen shots of a GeForce 3-based card in action. The shots, which are of the PC-only game Everglade Rush, reveal astounding detail, crisp scene anti-aliasing and water reflections that will dazzle you. If these are indeed GeForce 3 images, it seems Steve Jobs' hopes that these cards will be Mac-first may be shattered, as developers obviously already have them in their hands on the PC side. In any case, even though this game isn't coming to the Mac OS it is certainly an excellent title to showcase the power of the GeForce 3, and the images are well worth checking out. And if you missed the transcripts of our conference call with NVIDIA on Friday, be sure to check those out as well -- there are some very nice details on this chipset and its future on the Mac platform.

GeForce 3 Conference Call, Part 2
GeForce 3 Conference Call Notes
GeForce 3 Screen Shots at GA-Source
Geforce III guide at Tweak3d


SoundBlaster Live Ship Date
8:37 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Creative Labs has posted in Accelerate Your Mac!'s forum the news that the Mac version of the SoundBlaster Live sound card should be shipping next week, after months and months of delays. This ship date is due to a very small and last-minute disaster that forced CL to push the date back yet another week from their projected March release. Here's an excerpt from the statement:

Good news folks! You heard it here first.


It appears that, BARRING ANY UNFORSEEN, LAST MINUTE DISASTERS, we'll be packing boxes late next week and shipping shortly thereafter!


It's sounding *really* good, and I'm quite pleased with its audio enhancements on both my G4-350 and my old PM9600. This thing with a set of Cambridge FPS2000 digital speakers sounds awesome.


Thanks for all of your support. I still think this is the best thing to happen to Macintosh audio in a long time. Certainly at the price point. Enjoy, and TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Check out the specs for more information about this sound card. These are considered standard equipment on the PC side, but now Mac users will be able to experience true positional sound, support for digital SPDIF, 4:1 sound and other benefits that come with a dedicated sound card.

Preview: SoundBlaster Live
Accelerate Your Mac! Forum Post by Creative Labs
SoundBlaster Live! Specs



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More on Mac realMYST Delays
8:33 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Cyan released their full-3D remake of the classic Myst, known as realMYST, for the PC last fall; understandably many Mac users are wondering where our version is after all this time. More than just a remake, realMYST uses a photorealistic 3D engine to render the scenes of this classic game in realtime, instead of the prerendered static images of the original. The Mac version of realMYST was originally planned to be completed by the end of the year, then the first quarter of 2001 -- but now the release date may slip even further into the future. The excellent fan site Riven Unofficial Home Page has confirmed Cyan is still trying to get performance on G3's to an acceptable level (thus allowing the iMac using crowd to play this title). Here's the scoop from site operator Jim Stephenson:

This week I checked with Cyan and here's what they said: "Since several of us here at Cyan are Mac people, having only Macs at home and at work, we're anxious to see realMYST released on the Mac too. We don't have a set date for when the Mac version will be ready, just as soon as we can get the performance at an acceptable level (at the moment it is not performing acceptably on the G3s, we're doing our best to change that.) As soon as it's ready, playable, stable, fast, wonderful, etc. we'll get it out the door."
This may be such an issue because the 3D engine Cyan bought to use in realMYST was originally PC-only, which means they've had to simultaneously port this engine to the Mac OS while developing the game itself. As Mac users will note, real-time 3D engines such as those used in games like Quake and Unreal often need a lot of optimization to run well on lower-end G3's. realMYST's engine adds another level of detail beyond those engines, and isn't a speed champ even on high-end PCs. But it is good to hear Cyan hasn't forgotten us, and we'll keep you posted as progress updates concerning realMYST are announced.

Cyan Web Site
Riven Unofficial Home Page
Ubisoft
realMYST



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Quake 3 Map Editing on a Mac?
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A helpful forum post pointed us to an update on the Mac Map Editor Project site, hosted by PlanetQuake. In their post, they excitedly note Q3Map on MacOS has been given an initial release. This is a port of the open-sourced Q3Map for Windows, and it works together with Scott Kevill's Quake 1 editor, Quiver, to create maps for Quake 3.


Mac users have long cried out for any utility to allow them to get in on the creative process of making maps and mods for Quake 3 Arena, but this is the first tool that will allow Mac users to convert Quiver creations to Q3A maps. Graeme Devine of id Software has said in the past that he's working on an official version of Q3Radient (the official Q3A map editor for the PC) for Mac OS X, however nothing has yet been released.


Though Quiver does not allow certain types of geometry that the Q3A engine can support, such as curved surfaces, this user-friendly tool will give Mac Q3A authors a healthy start. A simplified version of this process follows:

  • Export your Quiver level as a .map file.
  • Use the included mapTextureEdit program to substitute with new Quake 3 textures
  • Use Q3Map to convert your map
  • Compress it into a ZIP file and run from within Quake 3
  • A later post at MMEP notes that there are problems running the program on some machines right now. But the Mac Q3Map authors do say this is a very early version, and they hope to keep improving it in the future. If you're feeling brave and wanting to convert your Q1 maps, download this tool and then head to MMEP for tips and tricks.

    Download Mac Q3Map Initial Release
    Quiver Web Site
    Official Q3Map for MacOS Web Site
    Macintosh Map Editor Project
    Activision
    id Software
    Quake III Arena


    Mac CrystalSpace In-Depth
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    A new article at iDevGames has been posted which discusses the Mac port(s) of the open-source 3D engine Crystal Space, a general-use software engine which can be adapted for 3D games of any type. If you have an idea for a 3D game or application, this engine may be a great place to start.


    Eric Sunshine is the author of the article, and also the person maintaining the Mac OS X version of the engine (along with Rhapsody, Open Step, Next Step, and BeOS ports). In the piece he notes there are two distinct versions of the Mac port: one for OS 9, and his version, which is written in Cocoa for OS X. The former is a problem because this Mac OS 9 version has fallen out of date, and is not currently compatible with the later versions of CodeWarrior. However the article author has found someone to take over the project:

    One of the pre-Carbon MacOS/9 port maintainers, K. Robert Bate, has just returned from a prolonged absence and has once again started updating on the MacOS/9 port of Crystal Space. His most recent work involves updating the CodeWarrior project files (which were extremely outdated) and ensuring that the project can be built with the most recent version of CodeWarrior. Mr. Bate has also stated his intention of Carbonizing the MacOS/9 port, however it is unknown as to when this task will be completed.
    Those looking to try out the engine now on OS 9 should refer to Bate's home page, which lists a new release as of the 22nd.


    And be sure to check out the rest of the article for more information on the CrystalSpace engine and what it takes to get started developing with it. The CrystalSpace web site has screen shots, code examples and test binaries to download.

    Official CrystalSpace Web Site
    iDevGames Article on CrystalSpace
    Mac CrystalSpace for OS 9 Web Site


    Shadowbane History
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Wolfpack has updated the site for their upcoming 3D MMORPG Shadowbane with part one of four history segments featuring different "Ages" that form the backstory for the game. This first update features the Age of Kings, the most recent period of history in the mythos surrounding this title. It's an impressive piece of work, and worthwhile reading if you're a fantasy buff looking forward to Shadowbane. Here's a clip:

    We shall begin with Shadowbane’s third coming, in the Age of Kings that so recently and darkly ended. This was the Age of Men, when the Ten Kingdoms of old stood as the pinnacle of young Mankind’s achievements. It was the age of the High King, the Fire of Virtue, who fought not for power but for Justice. His great Code and the deeds of his shining Champions united the Sons of Men. Glorious as this age was, it was also an age of war. Cambruin won his crown on the field of battle, and fought long, bloody fights with Orcs, Northmen, and even Giants. Yet all these wars pale beside the War of Tears, which in the end was the undoing of both the High King and his dire enemies, the Elvish Host.
    Check out the rest of the article for much more. It's good to know Shadowbane will have such an in-depth story to back up this Mac-friendly massively-multiplayer title. For new media of the game, check out the new background image and screen shots available at the official web site. Other new images are also available at GA-Source, so have a look there as well. Shadowbane is currently in closed beta, and it is hoped the title will be available later this year.

    Shadowbane Gallery
    GA-Source Shadowbane Shots
    Shadowbane Age of Kings Article
    Wolfpack Studios
    Shadowbane



    Click to enlarge
    Trade Wars: Dark Millennium FAQ, Images
    6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    As promised, Realm Interactive has updated their recently-launched web site for Trade Wars: The Dark Millennium with a forum, a FAQ and details on the story line behind the game. This project, inspired by the classic BBS (text-only) game Trade Wars, will create a 3D massively-multiplayer 3D universe with a persistent world for trading, empire building and galactic conquest. Details on gameplay itself have been revealed, as well as the team's hopes for the online world they are creating. As we noted when we broke the news of this title, it will be released for PC first but is cross-platform in nature, and Mac and Linux versions will quickly follow.


    Here are selected excerpts from the FAQ:

    1.2    What are your expectations for the size of the game?


     Realm hopes to have hundreds of thousands of people in the persistent game world. The universe will be partitioned into shards of several thousand people. 


     In addition, Trade Wars will have the ability to create timed competition worlds. Realm plans to use these dynamic games to host special tournaments where players can win prizes, improve in rank and gain prestige.


    1.4    How is the game visually represented?


     Dark Millennium will be represented using a 3D-rendering engine, which employs the latest in graphics technology. The game will be presented to the player in a top down, ¾ isometric view similar to that used in traditional 2D RTS games.


    2.1    What will empire building be like?


     Empire building in the game will consist of controlling world, ports, and building within the universe.  By controlling these things the players will gain both monetary and strategic benefits.  As is the goal with any empire building game, players will be striving to build the biggest and most impressive empire in the entire universe.  They will battle over territories, and property, and make deals and alliances with other players.


     One of our key design goals is to allow a player to play the game at their own pace.  A problem with an online competitive world, is the amount of commitment required by a player to maintain an empire of any decent size.  The style of empire building that we are incorporating into the game will appeal to both the casual and hardcore gamer, allowing each of them to play the game as they like.

    While there are no new screen shots at the web site, many have been released to online news sources. GA-Source has posted five new shots from the game, but the accompanying information is just taken from the official FAQ. When we track down the other sites we will add the links to this article.


    In the meantime, we are curious if any of our readers have played the original Trade Wars 2002, a BBS-based game which is still played and maintained today. If you have, be sure and share your experiences here or in our forums.

    Trade Wars Remake Coming to Mac OS
    TW: Dark Millennium Screen Shots at GA-Source
    Trade Wars: Dark Millennium Web Site


    Mac Games News for Friday, February 23, 2001

    NWN Multiplatform Chat Transcripts2:53 PM
    SiN Patch Pulled2:34 PM
    GeForce 3 Conference Call Notes -- HOT!1:57 PM
    GeForce 3 Conference Call, Part 21:55 PM
    New iMacs and Gaming11:51 AM
    WWII Online Trailer9:31 AM
    X-plane Updated to 5.60b89:06 AM
    Championship Manager 00/01 Update8:51 AM
    Target Korea Mac Update, Screen Shots8:42 AM
    Baldur's Gate Multiplayer Status Check8:24 AM
    Carmack on Geforce 38:17 AM
     
    View all of the Mac games news for Friday, February 23, 2001 on one page


    Recent Mac Games News

    Thursday, February 22, 2001
    Wednesday, February 21, 2001
    Tuesday, February 20, 2001
    Monday, February 19, 2001
    Friday, February 16, 2001


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



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