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Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Dragon's Lair 3D Screen Shots, Update
9:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new pair of Dragon's Lair 3D screen shots posted at the Russian site GamePort, prompted us to do a little digging since we haven't heard much about this remake of the cartoon classic in some time. The title is being developed by Dragonstone Software and was originally set for a release in the first quarter of this year. Dragon's Lair 3D uses a realtime 3D engine, though the characters are still drawn in a cartoon-like to stay true to the original. The game will also feature different modes of play to cater to both hardcore FPS gamers as well as those wanting the traditional Dragon's Lair experience. For the latter, Dragonstone will enable the same pre-scripted style of play found in the original.

A post to the Blue Byte (publisher for the game) forums notes that development is progressing well, though it might be delayed for a few months. Here's a reply from Dragonstone's Steven Parsons which indicates the Mac version is still very much in production:

At this point in time, we would like Dragon's Lair 3D to be released on a single CD (Hybrid CD - PC/Mac). We are still examining the movie / music / and game data content to see if we can release the game on a single CD. Our sound guy (Orpheus) is composing a boatload of music to put unique feeling into each area of the game. If he gets his way we will need more than one CD.
In a second post, Parsons gives a larger update on the general status of the title:
Right now the Dragonstone team is frantically working this week on completing all of the level architecture for the adventure mode of the game. With the level architecture complete Dirk will be able to run through the game from start to finish and see the entire game, and we as the designers can then start the final process of making sure the textures, lighting, and play balance are correct. This game must look and feel like the original so we need the time to make sure this will be correct.

With the levels completing, we can now fully test the artificial intelligence (AI) for some of the creatures running around in it. We are currently breathing life into the Singe the Dragon, the Smithies, the Eyeball Tentacle King (donít ask, it looks like it sounds), and the evil Wizard. The process is running at a fast pace with the Alpha version of the game to be completed later this month. The characters initially do not perform as planned (Singe keeps getting stuck on level geometry while chasing Dirk and the like), but the fine tuning of the AI will be resolved hopefully by the programmers next week to make these creatures act correctly. We are putting Daphne in the game as I type, and she looks "great" (we are using our polys wisely) fully animated in 3D in her bubble. The initial tests show 4 out of 5 gamers fully approve of her costume, dialog, and movements (probably because 4 out of 5 gamers are men).

We already have most of the levels complete and playable, and each additional level we add to the game brings back more of the original look and feel we remember. Since everyone here is a Dragon's Lair fanatic, the look and feel are always important. I do not want to say too much in this initial update, that would give away a lot of the special features and areas we are putting in the game. You do not want me to spoil the surprises before you buy it, do you?

All this work means the game will likely be pushed to a late spring/early summer release. We'll keep you posted as more info becomes available. Also be sure to have a look at the two new screen shots at GamePort.

Dragon's Lair 3D Web Site at Blue Byte
IMG News: Dragon's Lair 3D Details
Dragon's Lair 3D Images at GamePort
Blue Byte

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Mac Tribes 2 Update
11:42 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Recent developments with Dynamix's upcoming team FPS Tribes 2 and another company called GarageGames provide some encouraging information about a possible Mac version of the title. It was recently announced that GarageGames (made up of many former Dynamix employees), would be licensing the Tribes 2 engine and then providing it to developers for an amazingly-inexpensive price of $100. In the days where modern 3D engines can cost upwards of $100-250 thousand dollars per license, this is pretty astounding. GarageGames is hoping this will spur a lot of smaller developers to use the engine, which they will then have the rights to publish or hand off to Sierra for an even bigger deal.

Dynamix slowly backed away from talking about a Mac port of Tribes 2 when it became apparent the PC version would be delayed. Getting the bulk of the source out in the open, though, could enable some aspiring programmers to port it to the Mac. We asked GarageGames' president Jeff Tunnell about such a possibility, and he seemed fairly optimistic about the chances:

Much of the ground work for a Mac has been completed. As stated on our
site, we are willing to trade off back end royalty points and give
additional support to developers that can get strategic coding done for us.
One of our priorities will be to get somebody to do the Mac version. We
have some interested parties now. If we do a deal, it will be announced.
We certianly hope these "interested parties" of Mac programmers might be able to work with GarageGames on getting a Mac version of this engine ported soon. And while this provides no definite 'yes' for Mac gamers, it is certainly the most encouraging development in this Tribes 2 saga that we have heard in some time. For more information on how GarageGames will work with both Dynamix and smaller developers, check out a very informative new Q&A at Stomped. And you can be sure we'll keep on this and let you know of any new infomation that becomes available.

GarageGames Licensing Press Release
GarageGames Licensing Q&A at Stomped

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New Red Faction Movies
10:58 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpot has recently presented two new movies of the upcoming FPS Red Faction in action.
For those unfamiliar with the details, Red Faction is a self-styled "Half-Life-killer" that is
aiming to revitalize the currently worn-out FPS genre.

The new movies bring to light some interesting aspects regarding the gameplay. Movie 11
displays the player using a flamethrower, a machine gun, a sniper rifle, and what looks like
a laser of sorts. The sound effects are noticeably detailed, with enemies screaming as they die, vehicles blowing
up, and weapons chattering. One shorts segment appears to show an enemy saying "I surrender!" just before he gets
blown away.

Movie 10 shows the player piloting some sort of flying craft (1st person cockpit view) and engaging other craft in battle.
It also shows off
varied environments such as a tunnel of sorts and what appears to be an underground base.
Grenades were in evidence as well, though the ensuing explosions didn't seem to display
Red Faction's much-touted ability to deform terrain hit by explosives.

For those with the bandwidth, head over to GameSpot's feature and download the movies. Red Faction is scheduled
for release in the late 3rd quarter/early 4th quarter.

GameSpot - Red Faction Movies
Red Faction Official Site
Red Faction

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Myst IV in the Works?
10:23 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Jim Stephenson's fan site the Riven Unofficial Home Page has done a little investigating into a press release from last week which hinted at another Myst title beyond the upcoming release of Myst III: Exile. The PR concerned Ubi Soft's purchase of the Learning Company's games -- another in the long line of publisher changes for Myst series. A clip from the release shows they intend to move the series to a fourth:

Thanks to this acquisition, Ubi Soft, one of the world leaders in interactive entertainment, becomes the publisher of the next two episodes of the Mystģ series
Stephenson found confirmation from Ubi Soft that this press release was referring to a fourth Myst and not Cyan's other title, realMYST.

Richard Watson from Cyan later toned down the enthusiasm by saying he would hope "Myst IV would be a safe bet," but that it's not a "sure thing" at this point. With the sheer number of preorders supposedly already made for Myst III: Exile, the likelyhood of a fourth title greatly increases. We'll keep you posted as any new information becomes available. Exile is set for a simultaneous Mac/PC release on May 7, so be sure to get your preorders in now.

Riven Unofficial Home Page
Ubi Soft Press Release
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Volition Focused on Mac Summoner
10:16 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Recently Volition announced that Summoner, their online role-playing game has gone gold for PC. We spoke with the publisher of the Mac version of this title, Graphsim, in order to determine the status of the Mac OS version of the game. Graphsim's Jeff Morgan told us that Volition is now concentrating on the Mac OS version. Graphsim still need to perfom some tests in order to determine the system requirments for the game, but it should be ready to ship quite soon. Here are the details:

Right now we know that Volition is concentrating on the Mac version.
We should be receiving a test version next week. As soon as we get it we
will be able to lock down the exact system requirements. Right now it looks
like 64MB Ram with 333Mhz processor or better running OS8.5 or later. We
need to run some tests to determine what level of 3D graphics acceleration
is required.
Expect more information on Summoner soon!

IMG Summoner's Mark Allender Interview
Graphsim Entertainment
Summoner Web Site
Buy Summoner

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Interview with Spiderweb Software
10:11 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

RPGDot recently took the chance to interview Jeff Vogel, the president of
Spiderweb Software. Spiderweb is a maker of shareware RPGs, with
the Exile and Avernum series being some of their more successful releases.

One of the signature elements of Spiderweb's RPGs is that they tend to incorporate a lot of
"old-school" ideas and design elements. Anyone who's played Ultima or Legacy of the Ancients
would feel right at home playing a Spiderweb RPG. Vogel himself reveals his old-school mentality when
answering one question:

[RPGDot] Although you use a very neat top-down engine in your games, I criticized in my reviews that all npcs are not
animated and donít walk around. Are you going to improve this lack of animations?

[Vogel] Not in this engine. There will be animated motion in the next engine I'm developing.
However, this is a matter of personal taste, and, just because most games use animated movement doesn't
mean that it's better. I find that animated movement makes it take a lot longer to move around than the
instant movement style I use. I want to spend time playing the game, not clicking on one side of town and
waiting for my people to stroll there.

Vogel also brings some insights into future projects, such as Avernum 3 and the upcoming

The working title is Geneforge. It will use a whole new engine. It will have real-time movement normally and
use a turn-based combat system (very much like Fallout). More than that, I don't want to say yet.

Vogel's ideas about gamemaking seem to be very different from the norm. Anyone interested in finding more
about his personal views, as well as Spiderweb's plans in general, should check out the interview.

Spiderweb Software
RPGDot - Interview with Jeff Vogel
Spiderweb Software
Avernum 2
Buy Avernum 2

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Applelinks Previews Escape From Monkey Island
10:08 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Applelinks' Kirk Hiner recently posted a preview of the upcoming port of LucasArts
title Escape From Monkey Island. EFMI is the 4th installment in the Monkey Island series of popular graphic adventures that lean heavily on puzzle solving, high adventure and low comedy. This sequel is being ported to the Mac OS by Westlake Interactive and will be published by Aspyr Media.

Besides detailing the background story, Hiner points out a couple of lesser-known features for this title. One
of the more interesting features (particularly for a graphic adventure) is that the game has game pad support for those
that prefer it. The game interface itself also seems to be character-based, rather than cursor-based:

Rather than by moving a cursor around the screen,
gamers explore the environment by spinning Guybrush around. When he's facing something that can
be used or examined, text appears at the bottom of the screen saying so. The gamer then choses to
look at, take, or use the object of interest.

For more first impressions on the game, be sure to read Hiner's full preview. The Mac version
of Escape From Monkey Island is scheduled to be released sometime this month, courtesy of Aspyr Media.

Aspyr Media
Escape From Monkey Island - Official Site
Applelinks Preview - Escape From Monkey Island
Aspyr Media
Escape From Monkey Island
Buy Escape From Monkey Island

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New WWII Online Preview, Images
9:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

As Cornered Rat Software progresses through the closed beta test of their massively-muliplayer online battlefield simulator World War II Online, more information is slowly becoming available about the title. Their project is justifiably causing quite a stir, as the company is attempting to recreate the battle over France, with you being able to play as a French, British or German soldier in the war. PC.IGN's latest preview of the game goes into detail about the game's realistic physics, numerous vehicles, and basic strategies. They also note how WWII Online will attempt to organize massive numbers of online players (never an easy task):

Most games this ambitious fail at this stage. The simple fact is that thousands of gamers logging onto a server aren't likely to cooperate on a strategic level. Except for long-standing clans or prearranged scenarios, the online world has always suffered from a lack of player organization. WWII Online solves many of these problems in some very interesting ways. Mission creation will be handled by players of very advanced rank. They'll draw up a list of required equipment and outline some general strategies and timetables. Then, when you log on as a lowly Sergeant, you can search through the available missions by type, location or the role you'd like to play. The game will find the mission that most closely matches your preferences and give you the opportunity to jump in.

To prevent abuse and discourage incompetence, the WWII Online game masters will be responsible for promoting players to positions of high command. Another way to ensure that the best commanders are followed is by increasing the reward level for missions created by commanders who have organized successful actions in the past. Good commanders receive additional promotion points if their missions are completed. Al supposes that we may even see some sort of political game develop at the very highest levels, as the individual theater and branch commanders jockey resources and prestige.

It all sounds very interesting, and we're excited that a Mac version of the game will be available as well. The beta is expected to open to the general public later this year, so stay tuned for more info. If you're looking for new screen shots of the game in action, both GameSpot and World War II Online HQ have posted new images on their sites.

World War II Online Images at World War II Online HQ
World War II Online Images at GameSpot
World War II Online Preview at PC.IGN
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

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Gamespot Halo Demo Report
8:48 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

GameSpot have just released a new review of what they saw of Bungie's forthcoming epic Halo at Gamestock yesterday.

The article talks about playing through the level which was available for visitors to Gamestock to play - here is a rather interesting excerpt.

The levels start a player off in a flying scout vehicle that's skimming over the alien sea above cresting waves. After circling the beach below a few times, the scout vehicle touches down and unloads the player's character, as well as a jeep with a mounted gattling gun. Manning this gun is a computer-controlled member of the player's military unit, and he does a great job of tracking enemies and providing cover fire, even while the player's jeep bounces across the uneven terrain
Two new movies have also been released, along with the set of new screenshots mentioned in yesterday's news. They both show lots of nice features of Halo - driving the jeep, using the assault rifle indoors, with the lovely attached light, and a never before seen feature of the Halo engine - waves.

While very short (90 seconds between them), not a lot of sound, and not of the highest quality, the movies certainly leave your eyes watering, and wanting more. They can be found at the end of the Gamespot article in various formats.

Halo is currently in development by Bungie Studios, and is expected to be released for the XBox this autumn. The Mac and PC versions will follow the XBox release by at least several months.

X-Box Halo Web Site
New Halo Info and Screen Shots
Gamespot Halo review
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

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Halo Becoming First-Person Shooter?
8:47 AM | Charles George | Comment on this story

Today Bungie Software confirmed that their hotly-anticipated squad based shooter had moved from the third-person perspective to the first person shooter style when outside vehicles. This information came via the new video shown at Microsofts Gamestock show yesterday. The Video displayed a combination of vehicular combat from the third-person perspective and shooting sequences in the first person. After years of shots showing a game played from the third person, as well as movies and live demos with this perspective, few seemed to believe that the game had undergone this transition. When asked about whether this change was permanent Bungie representative Matt Soell had this to say:

"That's probably the way it will be in the final game, though as always we reserve the right to change our minds."
First Person fans often cried out for Halo to be viewed from the first person; it looks like they'll get their wish. If you feel you need to cry out, be sure to visit the IMG forums and yell away! Halo will be released in the fall for the X-Box and then shortly after for the Mac and PC.

Halo Site
Discussion topic: How do you feel about Halo's move to FPS?
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

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Rubicon Release this Weekend
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The team behind Rubicon, the detailed scenario for Marathon four years in the making, sent us a note announcing its upcoming release at 12:01AM on Saturday, March 17. In case you haven't heard much about it, Rubicon will feature a non-linear storyline with multiple endings, as well as new textures, characters, and weapons. The official web site has lots of good info if you're interested. They also explain how Rubicon will be available for free in three different formats:

  1. Rubicon Standard: This version of Rubicon requires that you have a copy of Marathon Infinity handy for it to install. Rubicon Standard uses the tried and true Infinity engine, and requires you to be a valid owner of Marathon Infinity to play.

  2. Rubicon AO: Don't own Marathon? No problem! Want to be able to run Rubicon at high resolutions or on a 3d accelerator card? You've come to the right place! Rubicon AO is the stand alone version of Rubicon; it utilizes the Aleph One engine to bring you the Marathon you know and love with oodles of new features.

  3. Mix 'n Match: For the slow modem users who can't handle big downloads. Download each file individually, and create your own installation. We really, really, really recommend that you stick with #1 or #2, but this option is offered because we're such nice people.

It's great to hear they've worked with the Aleph One team to get Rubicon working on its own and 3D enhanced. You can be sure we'll have this huge scenario listed on Macgamefiles as well. For more information, also check out our interview with the Rubicon creators.

IMG Interview: Marathon Rubicon
Marathon Rubicon Web Site
Marathon: Rubicon

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 13, 2001

New Halo Info and Screen Shots2:40 PM
Summoner Previews10:13 AM
MacMAME 0.37b13 Released9:39 AM
Major Insights into Neverwinter Nights9:38 AM
Avernum 2 Update on MacGameFiles.com9:08 AM
The Legend of Shadowbane - Part 29:07 AM
Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey for Mac9:04 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 13, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, March 12, 2001
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