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Monday, March 19, 2001

New Game Company "Sphidia" Emerges
8:42 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

It's not often that new game companies emerge, and it's even less often that they emerge from the fan community of another games company. The Bungie fan community has to be one of the largest in the Mac (and indeed PC) games world, and it is from this group of talented inividuals that Sphidia has grown.

Rumours have been appearing all over Bungie fan hotline servers and web sites about the exact nature of Sphidia and their work, with various members of the community disappearing for months with no word. However the Sphidia website has finally gone live, for all to see what they're working on.

Their first project is named Dynasty, a "3D real-time tactical simulation set approximately 100 years in the future, featuring a civil war in struggling China" -- not your ordinary run-of-the-mill first game! The FAQ on Dynasty certainly makes your mouth water, offering a "fully 3D camera with intuitive controls," and "full-motion video cutscenes." The scene is set for an epic battle. Here is a sample:

The year is 2104 A.D. The past half century has been filled with sweeping changes for mankind, but one ancient nation still stands unchanged: China. The People's Republic maintains much the same stature, but a communist economy has brought the nation to its knees. Citizens riot out of malnourished insanity. Military police guard the streets day and night. The sparse bubbles of capitalism have grown into rich conglomerates. The only citizens outside these bubbles who managed to stay in modest comfort are thieves and criminals, making their way off the suffering of others. The people are dying for a revolution.
The engine doesn't sound tame either, boasting multi-layered meshes, a scripting system called SANScript and fully 3D unit models:
Our current engine will allows for multiple 'layers' of mesh to be used.Truly 3d environments including overhangs, multiple-story buildings, and even tunnels are possible while leaving the ground level itself fully playable.
The site offers up quick bios of the members of Sphidia, a selection of pictures of untextured models for use in the game, and a brief description of what the game is aiming for. There is also a contact section, where Sphidia are calling for Texture Artists, Sketch Artists and a Low-polygon Organic Modeler.

So, if you've got the skills, or if you just want to check out what's coming next for your computer, go and check out the website now. IMG will be bringing you interviews and exclusives from the Sphidia team in the not too distant future - so stay tuned!

Dynasty is currently being developed for the Mac OS, with Carbon support from the start (so it'll run under OS X!), and there are plans to port it to Windows and Linux, aiming for a dual- or multi-platform release.

Sphidia Web Site

Confuware Reveals "Horrific Resolution"
4:02 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Mac-only game creators Confuware Technologies have revealed their next project: Horrific Resolution: Locke's Journey , an RPG which ostensibly picks up where SquareSoft's famous Final Fantasy 3 left off. Team member "MacDuff" dropped off the following information:

Confuware Technologies unveiled their
latest project, Horrific Resolution: Locke's Journey. The game is an
upcoming RPG which follows the life of Final Fantasy 3's Locke, after the
fall of the Empire. As always, the game will be exclusive to the Mac. A
little preview pic is available at Confuware's homepage, with information to
come in the following days and a teaser movie to be released in about a
Visit the Confuware web site for more details and the teaser image. If the name Confuware sounds a bit familiar, you might remember they were involved in a scandal a while back when their game Harvest Moon Gold was shut down due to a supposed copyright conflict with Japanese developer Natsume.

Confuware Technologies

Clan Lord Goes Carbon
3:55 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

A helpful reader pointed out that Delta Tao has updated the downloads page for their MMORPG Clan Lord with a small "binary" that allows you to run the game natively under Mac OS X, Apple's next-generation OS that is due to be released this Friday. The advantage of running this Carbon version of Clan Lord under OS X is of course being able to play the game without launching the Classic environment, and taking advantage of protected memory spaces et al. The actual operation of the game should be nearly identical to the Classic/Mac OS 9 versions.

Clan Lord recently reached version 171; an update to v173 is due this Wednesday, which will also presumably include a Carbon build. CL players who are also early adopters of Mac OS X will get to reap the benefit of that OS immediately -- that is, if they can get Saturday FedEx delivery in their area.

Delta Tao's Clan Lord Web Site

"April Fewlz" Myth II FFA Tourney
10:10 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Fan-driven site Clan MacGaming is organizing yet another tournament for their game of choice: Bungie's RTS Myth II. Registration opens today for this festival of carnage, and winners will be awarded some very nice prices including an ATI Radeon card, free games and even 128 MB RAM. Here are the details:

Clan MacGaming is pleased to announce: The April Fewlz FFA Tournament, or
the April Showers of Blood!

Yes, a Myth II Free-For-All Tourney to take place during the month of April
on Bungie.net! Registration opens on March 19th, and will be open to the
first 150 entrants, with 30 alternate spots available for the first round of
the tournament, making for an intial participant count of 120. Registration
closes on April 6th, or when the 150th player has registered.

Round 1 will kick off on Saturday, April 7th, with each successive round
played on the following three weekends. The tournament's rounds consist of a
series of three 6-player free-for-all, elimination games, with the exception
of the final round. Round 1's games and maps will be Steal the Bacon on
Gimble in the Wabe, Territories on Proving Grounds, and Capture the Flag on
Dead Man's Float. Following rounds' maps will be announced later. See the
Official Rules for more details.

Prizes to be awarded are as follows: 1st Prize - An ATI Radeon video card
and a game of choice, 2nd Prize - 128 MB RAM and the game of choice, 3rd
Prize - A game of choice, 4th Prize - A copy of Risk II; 5th and 6th Prizes
- Everglide Mousepads.

Stop by the April Fewlz web site for more details.

April Fewlz Web Site at Clan MacGaming

Click to enlarge
Marathon: Rubicon Released
9:26 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As promised, the long-awaited Marathon Infinity "total conversion" Marathon: Rubicon was posted for downloading over the weekend. Featuring all-new textures and sprites, redesigned weapons and the longest solo game of any Marathon scenario, this is a must-grab for fans of the now-retro shooter. As many of the gameplay details have been discussed in our interview with the Rubicon team and in previous articles, we will just summarize the features:

Four years in the making, Rubicon is the is the largest Marathon scenario project ever created. To give some sense of the magnitude of this scenario, Rubicon features:

-360+ new textures

-Over a dozen new characters

-Tons of new scenery

-8 new weapons

-More solo levels than any other Marathon scenario to date

...all wrapped into a nonlinear plotline that can be traversed in any number of ways, featuring different endings based upon a player's choices over the course of the game. Randy Reddig, the texture artist and a mapmaker for Bungie's original Marathon Infinity, called Rubicon's visuals "...the nicest I've ever seen come out of Marathon." If you've ever played any Marathon game, Rubicon will reignite your love for the series.

There is some degree of confusion about the install options, so we'll try to clear things up: The Aleph One download is indeed a stand-alone game which requires no previous Marathon Infinity files on your hard drive; while this version doesn't yet take advantage some of the Aleph One open-source project's enhancements to Infinity, such as transparent water and animated cutscenes, it will do so in a future revision. The Infinity download of Rubicon does require that you have Marathon Infinity 1.5 installed. Grab either one and prepare for alternating waves of nostalgia and surprise. Be patient with the downloads, however; the FTP mirrors are under a degree of strain. We'll let you know when more mirrors are brought online.

Download Marathon: Rubicon 1.0
Marathon: Rubicon Web Site
Marathon: Rubicon

Click to enlarge
Preview of Tropico
9:10 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The crew at FiringSquad recently got their hands on an advance copy of Tropico,
GoD games' upcoming tropical island nation management sim, and were kind enough to
put up a preview.

Despite being described by them as "Sim City: The Banana Republic," the preview is quick to note that
Tropico is actually a fairly serious game that requires the player to
maintain a delicate balance of power and control on their own island, to say nothing
of maintaining good relations with both the U.S. and Russia.

Another interesting aspect of gameplay is the fact that the people, down to the individual citizen,
will carry a high degree of detail and individuality. Players can zoom in on individuals and see their thoughts, vital statistics, and
their possible involvement with various factions, such as the Capitalists and Environmentalists.

Not just content with categories, the designers seem to have gone into detail concerning
actual degrees of belief:

Not only do people support factions, they have varying
degrees of support. Some are extreme die-hards, others simply
regular supporters or maybe strong supporters. When
someone belongs to more than one faction, and you commit an
act that pleases one of those factions but annoys the other, the
degree to which the factions feel about this act, and the level of
support this person gives the factions, decide how this person
feels about the act itself. Of course, if he is personally affected
- such as a wage hike or executing a family member of his -
then his personal feelings take precedence.
The player's own traits will also come into consideration, as each player must first
create a profile of their chosen leader type before playing the game. These decisions will affect such elements as diplomacy, treaty negotiation and how your populace reacts to your decrees.

For more impressions on the game, head over to FiringSquad's preview. Tropico is scheduled
for release for the Mac approximately a month after the PC release, which is set for late April of this year. Both versions will be published by Gathering of Developers.

FiringSquad - Preivew of Tropico
Tropico Official Site
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Austerlitz 1805 Available
8:57 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

...By Design has announced that their next game of historical tactical warfare, Austerlitz 1805 is now "gold," and their are accepting orders for this title. Austerlitz is a game based on the Waterloo Campaign Engine. This time around you play as Napoleon versus the Austrian and Russian Alliance. Here are more details:

By Design, Inc. proudly announces that we have completed a new Napoleonic
wargame only for the Apple Macintosh.

This new game is based on the Waterloo Campaign engine but covers the battle
between Napoleon and the Austrian/Russian alliance.

The game has the following exciting features:

o Battalion level conflict, command hundreds of units!

o Great new graphics, see hedge rows, streams, chateaux, and smoke clouds
hang over the battlefield.

o Skirmishers!

o All the commanders down to the Division level are present.

o Command your units as groups. You can move hundreds of units with a click
of the mouse.

o Capture enemies flags. Increase the pride of your troops when they carry
back enemy flags from a mélee.

o Move units in formation by simply clicking where you want them to move to.

o Multiple units per square.

o Play either side and even switch sides in the middle of a battle.

o The units are fully editable. Add or remove any unit from any battle.

Change the characteristics of any unit.

o Elegant, effortless interface. Lots of new interface features to help you
understand your army and how to win.

o Rich historical content.

o Outstanding sound, hear the charge, cannons roar, and cavalry pound past
your position.

System Requirements:

Mac OS 7.0 or better

68040 or PPC

8 MB memory

8 MB hard disk space

If you are interested in turn-based tactical warfare, be sure and stop by the web site to check out Austerlitz and By Design's other titles in this vein.

..By Design

Rune: Halls of Valhalla Details
8:53 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Rumors of an expansion pack for Human Head's Viking "hack and sack" Rune have finally come to an end -- Gathering of Developers' Askin' Haskins column has revealed that Human Head's next project will be making an expansion pack named Rune: Halls of Valhalla. This expansion seems focused on the multiplayer aspect of Rune, and features some innovative game types. While we still await Human Head's official press release, Askin' Haskins has given some information about the content of the expansion pack. Two new game type will be included: Arena Pits, similar to Quake's Clan Arena, and Headball, a grisly version of capture the flag. Here are the details:

Arena pits players against one another in 1-on-1 combat, and some maps and servers will allow for larger teams. You equip yourself with weapons and shields, then take you place in a queue until it’s your turn to get it on. A number floating above your head indicates your place in the queue and, after a countdown, you’ll be transported into the arena. Survive your battle and you’ll walk away with full health and all your weapons for the next bloodbath.

HeadBall could best be described as ‘basketball for Vikings’. Once an opponent’s head has been severed, any player on your team can pick it up and make a mad dash for goals strategically placed around the maps. Some goals are open to any player; others are team-specific. Variant maps contain multiple goals where each scores a different number of points per head, with tricky or distant goals worth more.

“But Haskins,” you ask, “What about arms and legs?” Fear not. If you set up the server, you can elect to throw ‘limb scoring’ into the mix, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘taking your opponent apart’…

The expansion should also contain many requested elements to fill in the "holes" in Rune online play, such as more mutators, female player models, more balanced weapons and of course more fantastic maps.

As with most expansion packs, Halls of Valhalla will have to be ported to the Mac OS; whether or not this will happen is up to publisher Gathering of Developers and Mac porting team Westlake Interactive. This expansion pack is still in the early stages of development, and no projected release date has been given.

Askin' Haskins
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
IMG Rune Review
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Master of Orion 3 Developer Diary
8:53 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpy has recently posted a developer diary written by Constantine Hantzopoulos,
a Senior Producer for the upcoming Infogrames title Master of Orion 3 (MOO3). For those
unfamiliar with the game, MOO3 is a real-time strategy game that encompasses a huge field of play with elements
such as resource management, politics/religion/technology considerations and macromanagement of entire

Needless to say, this title is shaping up to be a fairly deep, complex game. This
developer diary, #6 in the series, gets into the details on spying and espionage. Unlike the preceding titles,
MOO3 allows a much greater degree of influence when utilizing spies. For example:

In MOO3, the basic concepts are the same (spy creation, insertion, skullduggery, extraction) but you'll set up spies with particular missions in mind, such as using
them to turn leaders into moles, create spy rings, assassinate diplomats,
emperors or a particularly annoying ship captain, blow up ships, intercept chat
messages in a multiplayer game, incite (or put down!) revolts, gather high level
intelligence and perform a host of other cool, subversive cloak and dagger type
Keep in mind that this is just a small shred of insight into the espionage aspect of
MOO3 - the actual product is shaping up to be even more detailed. A player will actually have to
create a spy from scratch, select its areas of expertise, put it through training, and mold it
to fit whatever role the player desires. The detail on the creation/usage of spies is even more amazing when one considers that this is just a
very small aspect of the entire MOO3 game itself.

For the rest of the diary, and for the proceeding five diaries before it, check out
the GameSpy postings. MOO3 is currently set for a simultaneous Mac/PC release sometime
this autumn; the Mac version will be published by MacSoft.

Gamespy - MOO3 Developer Diary #6
Master of Orion 3 Official Site
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Mac Games News for Friday, March 16, 2001

Connectix President Speaks on Sony Deal11:58 AM
Diablo II Expansion Q&A11:30 AM
New House Party Previews11:21 AM
Halo Notes from Bungie8:49 AM
Interview with Unreal II Lead8:41 AM
Deus Ex Multiplayer Maps8:26 AM
Planetside Mac a Possibility?8:21 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, March 16, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, March 15, 2001
Wednesday, March 14, 2001
Tuesday, March 13, 2001
Monday, March 12, 2001
Friday, March 9, 2001

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