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Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Target Korea 60 Days from Beta
8:52 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an extensive interview posted at SimHQ, the team behind the historically accurate combat flight sim Target Korea has revealed details on the terrain and mapping system used by this sim. They also reveal the projected system requirements, and confirm that this title should be public beta in 60 days. Those of you that dread the obsolescence of your computer system will be pleased to know that Target Korea's system requirements are quite reasonable -- a 300 MHz G3 with 64 MB of RAM and a Rage 128 3D card will be fine. These low requirements are even more surprising considering that Target Korea uses a ground-mapping and texturing system developed by NASA, which creates some truly arresting landscapes.

Here is an excerpt from the interview with details on the terrain system:

Community: Can you describe how detailed the terrain will be? A lot of the fighting was close to the ground and the terrain of Korea was pretty chewed up by 1952. Will the terrain look good from both the air and the ground?

Targetware: Well, how about we let you be the judge from the pics attached to this interview? The Target Korea terrain is 'real world' and is rendered in 1:1 scale, which is nice because you fly exactly where the real pilots flew, plus in the same time it actually took them to get someplace. This is of course, the goal of a true historical environment. The total terrain is based upon satellite obtained elevation data and it measures 1000 km x 1000 km including all of N & S Korea, plus parts of China & Japan. As far as we know, something else unique to Target Korea is the use of satellite-obtained ground cover data. What this does is ensure that we put forest textures where forests really are, cities textures where cities are, rice patty textures where rice patties really are, etc. A lot of work has been done researching the "look" of the terrain in Target Korea, in order to generate textures that match the terrain types. You will see many towns and villages represented in the terrain textures. We've identified 42 unique terrain textures so far and still counting (very large compared to most sims), which match the 42 unique land cover types identified for Korea by earth-observing infra-red viewing satellites...

he engine itself is based upon what is called a split-only ROAM queue, which is the same algorithm NASA uses for its simulators. The nice thing about a ROAM queue is that it means terrain builders never deal with anything "3D" at all. The split-only ROAM queue is basically the accepted "advanced" terrain system, currently used only by a few games. Most other games today fall back on quad trees or LOD's, since texturing a ROAM queue is pretty complicated. The Target Korea terrain texturing system is very different (having no border textures), so we can have a little more fun , plus it can handle objects down to the size of about 1e-38m (that's smaller than an atom, btw).

If anyone had doubts that Sickware/Targetware are deadly serious about this flight sim, these should now be removed. The extensive interview goes into detail about the physics, flight model and user-editable features of this sim, and features eight new screen shots of the terrain engine in action. Jump to SimHQ for the rest of the information, and visit the Targetware web site for the latest details. Watch for more information as the date for the public beta grows near.

Targetware Web Site
Targetware Interview at SimHQ
Target Korea

Gridz, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab Updates
5:46 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Two excellent shareware titles from different members of the Bunch Media group have been updated to add/fix networking issues. Gridz 1.4 is now available from Green Dragon and supports the popular Mac-only networking client, GameRanger. A few bugs were also fixed in this version, including a problem when exiting the game. Macgamefiles has this 1.4MB update available now for download.

Freeverse has also released an update to Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab; bringing the program to version 1.6.1 and fixing problems with the Appletalk networking in the game. Macgamefiles has both a small update for previous owners of the game as well as a new 1.6.1 demo for those that would like to try it out for the first time.

Download Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab 1.6.1 Demo
Download Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab 1.6.1 Updater
Download Gridz 1.4 Update

IMG Earns Macworld Web Award
1:30 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Macworld Magazine recently released their list of the Macworld Web Awards for 2000, and we were thrilled to learn that Inside Mac Games was a winner in the Games category, along with and, which won for their playable online games. Macworld's extensive list includes their "best of" awards in dozens of categories, from Apparel to Home Decor to Travel. Make sure to stop by their list and check out the categories that meet your interest. This list was recently published in the March issue of Macworld Magazine. Our thanks to Macworld for the recognition, and congratulations to all the other sites that made the cut.

Macworld Web Awards 2000

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Monkey Island Gold, Alice Update from Aspyr
12:54 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

It is Aspyr Media newsletter time again, and as usual PR propogandista Amy Torres filled this update with news, updates and information on all of Aspyr's various projects. The first item of interest is the news that LucasArts' 3D adventure title Escape From Monkey Island is now "golden master" and should be in stores in the next several weeks. Final system requirements for the game have also been released, and a demo of the game will be made available soon after release -- fantastic news for those of you who want to try before you buy. Here are the system requirements:

Westlake recently updated the final system requirements for EMI. Here
they are:

-Hardware 3D acceleration required (ATI Rage Pro, 128 or Radeon; 3dfx
Voodoo 3 or better)

-G3 processor at 233 MHz or faster (333 MHz recommended)

-64 MB of Memory (96 recommended)

-8x CD-ROM

-Hard Drive with 100 MB minimum free space (500 MB recommended)

-4 MB VRAM (8 MB VRAM recommended)

-Open GL 1.2.1

These sound reasonable enough. Watch for that demo on MacGameFiles soon.

In related news, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 has reached Beta 2. This title is still a while from completion, but seems to be progressing well.

The newsletter also includes a mini-interview with Westlake member Brad Oliver on his progress porting American McGee's Alice to the Mac OS. This surreal, gorgeous third-person adventure explores the dark side of Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in an all-new tale of strange encounters and terrible foes. Brad seems to have the Mac port of this title well in hand (no doubt assisted by the fact that the game is based on the portable Quake 3 Arena engine) and seems confident of a release in the near future. Here's an excerpt:

How is conversion looking?

BO: Rock solid. The game is up and running great, and it's very
playable right now.

What are you currently working on?

BO: At the moment, I'm fleshing out the InputSprocket support and
doing some tweaks to the in-game scripting.

Are there any unique features that you've noticed?

BO: Does super-trippy level design count as a feature? It should.

Any favorite characters or levels?

BO: To be honest, I'm not that good at it, so I've had trouble getting
past the first level. To compensate for my lack of mad skillz, I find
that most of the time I just wander around looking at stuff. The levels
are simply gorgeous.

From the screen shots we have seen, we have to concur. For the full text of the newsletter and information on all of these titles, visit the Aspyr Media web site.

Escape From Monkey Island Preview
American McGee's Alice Web Site
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Escape From Monkey Island
Buy Escape From Monkey Island

Click to enlarge
The Sims Creator Q&A, Online Details
10:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A couple of recent features have been posted in the more 'mainstream' media about Will Wright and his amazingly-popular creation, The Sims. An article at The Standard looks at the extreme popularity of this unique game and the incredible amount of user-made content available for The Sims on the web. Two interesting paragraphs at the end of the piece offer a glimpse of the Sims Online, a multiplayer version to be released next year. Here's an excerpt:

The Sims Online, a persistent virtual world scheduled to launch next year, leverages community interaction on an unprecedented level by allowing characters to sell each other SimGoods and SimServices for in-game money. In its early stage of development, the obvious professions seem to be architecture and exotic dancing. Naked skins are freely available on the Web; a jukebox animates them, and a turnstile allows you to charge admission. It's amazing how these simple elements combine.

More subtly, the Sims Online will allow players to bookmark retail objects. For instance, if you see a cool chair at someone's house, you bookmark it. If you buy the chair, a commission flows back to the person from whom you bookmarked it, and the person from whom they bookmarked it, as well as the creator of that object. This motivates people to buy expensive stuff and throw parties. It also makes it economically attractive to buy one of every chair in the Sim universe and open a Chairs "R" Us showroom. Imagine a world where you could earn an Amazon-style affiliate commission for every product on your homepage -- it makes retail into a massively multiplayer game.

You can images how the possibilities for such a title could be even more popular than the current incarnation of The Sims. It's too early to be speculating on a Mac port of future Sims titles, but we're hoping the success of the originals will help convince Aspyr Media to do so.

In other Sims news, CNET's has interviewed Will Wright, the creator of Maxis and the entire Sims empire of games. In the article, he discusses why the game is so popular, the gender breakdown of its players, and how they plan to harness the user-participation in future games. He also gives a quick explanation of how Sims 2 will differ from Sims Online:

Will the online version be "The Sims 2," or is there another product in the works?

"Sims 2" is a completely different thing. We're experimenting a lot with that right now. I mean, there are so many directions it could go. I can't really give you a comprehensive answer about what it will be, but I think it is going to focus much more on the story aspects.

We're going to try to find ways to make the game more open-ended but at the same time make the stories that we're coming out with much more dramatic.

Wright talks more about Sims topics in general, so be sure to read through the rest of the interview. For fans of the current title, we're still trying to pin down whether a Mac version of the second Sims add-on pack "House Party" will be released; we'll let you know what we discover.

Will Wright Interview at CNET
The Sims Article at The Standard
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

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Tribe 2 is Gold... For PC
10:06 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Perhaps no game publisher out there (with the exception of Microsoft) is more hated than Sierra, the company which killed Mac Half-Life near the end of completion, cancelled the Mac version of kingdom-sim Pharaoh and dangled Tribes 2 in our faces. When this Dynamix title was first introduced, a Mac OS version of the game was promised from the initial announcement -- and Mac gamers were understandably thrilled, though still stinging from Half-life's disappearance. Yet as the development time for Tribes 2 grew and grew and deadline after deadline was missed, the company backed away from the promised in-house Linux and Mac versions of this tactical shooter. By September of last year the Mac version had gone from a promised release to an "unknown at this time" uncertainty.

Now that this title has finally gone "golden master" for the PC, it is time to step back and take stock of this situation. Our recent conversations with the company GarageGames, which is licensing the Tribes 2 game engine to developers, have given us renewed hope that a third-party will be able to port Tribes 2 to the Mac OS. Furthermore the existence of a Linux port of the game makes a third-party port more likely, and opens the door to a possible Mac OS X port if standards such as OpenGL and OpenAL are used.

We have contacted Dynamix and Sierra to see if there is any shift in their positions now that this game has reached "gold" status. If you're curious about the Tribes 2 saga, be sure to browse our news archive for the many reports we have published on this game. In the meantime, there is one key question about Tribes 2 that must be asked: after all this time and broken promises, do you still want this gorgeous, action-packed teamplay shooter on your Mac? Let us know in the Forums.

Tribes 2 Is Gold PR at Blue's News
Past Tribes 2 Reports and Articles
More Details on GarageGames, Mac Tribes 2

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Tropico Preview, Interview
9:49 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Stomped has posted a new preview of the upcoming dictator-sim Tropico, which aslo includes a Q&A with Phil Steinmeyer of developer PopTop Software. Stomped has spent some time hands-on with a recent beta of the game, and they offer a short overview of the challenges facing you as Tropico's dictator-for-life. Here are details about the map generator which you will be able to use to customize your islands:

The game allows for both pre-generated scenarios (not found in our beta version) as well maps that you can generate yourself. You can alter how much vegetation, water and minerals are in your island kingdom as well as alter the elevations of mountains. The graphics in the game are first rate. Both software and hardware modes are available but both look very good, with resolutions up to 1600x1200. The animations of the island's native population are excellent. The game itself has a look and feel that is very humorous and this extends to the terrific music which has a light 1950's Cuban theme.
In the interview with Steinmeyer, he discusses the current status of the game, the reasons for no multiplayer modes, and the chances of a demo being released. Here's a clip:
Stomped: What do you plan to put in the demo of the game when it is released?

Steinmeyer: We haven't decided 100% for sure. It's one of the reasons we delayed doing a demo - with a game like Tropico, it's a very tricky balance between putting enough in the demo that players get a legitimate taste of the game, but not so much that we're essentially giving away the full game. The problem is that we're not scenario-based. With Railroad Tycoon 2, we just put out a couple scenarios, but we had 25 more in the box, and people who tried the demo wanted the full scenario set. If we don't cripple the random map generator or some other part of the game, they'll be no incentive for someone to buy it.

We'll probably time limit the demo, and disable a few other features, but I'm not 100% sure.

Head over to Stomped for the rest of the scoop from Steinmeyer. The PC version of this game is due in 19 days; stay tuned for more info on the Mac version of Tropico, which is now set for a release in about two months by Gathering of Developers.

Tropico Preview/Interview at Stomped
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Click to enlarge
GameSpy Previews World War II Online
9:43 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpy has posted a preview of the upcoming title World War II Online:
. Billed as a "Massive Multiplayer First-Person Shooter," this highly-anticipated
title is looking to do what no other title has even attempted -- create a
huge, persistent world in which staggering amounts of players can do battle simultaneously, simulating an entire theater of war.

The environment itself is reportedly huge, spanning Great Britain, France, Denmark,
Belgium and a good chunk of the rest of Europe all at one-half scale. Every major city and landmark,
including rivers and other geographical items, will be included as well. Of course to cross these
vast areas players will need vehicles, and WWII Online delivers in this area. There will be tanks,
planes, trucks and other such vehicles that one can drive (with the right crews, of course), or
a player can just run around on foot with a rifle, picking off enemies one at a time.

Curious as to how many people WWII Online theaters will be able to handle? Take a look:

Once you're been granted a uniform, you
begin your career at a spawn point, usually
near a fracas -- and there's bound to be
one nearby because each theater of war
can cope with 10,000 players
simultaneously. Yes. 10,000. And 64 of
those can be seen on the screen at once
between 15 and 25 frames per second.
Each player, with proper guidance, won't just be another faceless grunt either. Character name registration is
taking place right now at the official WWII Online site. If a player survives long enough to advance in the ranks,
other features will become available to that player, such as the ability to recruit others and
plan various attacks -- useful when coordinating a strike involving several tanks, each one
piloted by several players, or commanding entire battles.

Needless to say, this title sounds quite ambitious. A Mac version of this game is due soon after the final release, and is expected to have reasonable system and bandwidth requirements. Watch for more details coming soon.

World War II Online Official Site
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

To Doom... Or Not to Doom?
9:19 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

The Doom Center has posted an interesting article with quotes from over 20 game developers with their thoughts on id software's upcoming Doom sequel, their return to solo gaming. id software is planning on re-capturing Doom's essence with an advanced 3D engine, in order to give the game a new life and reward their longtime fans who got hooked on the first version of this shooter.

While you might expect everyone to be overly excited about this project, many developers don't feel that way. One example is Tim Gift from Garage Games' opinion:

Do you think it is a good idea to develop a new Doom title? Will expectations of gamers and developers a like be too high?

I think it's a great move for iD. They've had so much success with their Doom/Quake line of products, it only makes sense for them to pursue it to the end, (though I wish they'd do something different for a change). The relatively simple mechanics of the iD games make great showcases for Carmack's engines, and with some good art, I'm sure Doom III will do well. Expectations will certainly be high, but for me, I don't think any new game could re-capture that original Doom feeling. When Doom first came out, there was nothing else like it, it was a new experience. Today, with countless hours of FPS game play under my belt, I don't think Doom III could have the same impact.

However developers such as Mike Renner from Raven Software do think that adding a new 3D engine to an old (and very successful) game such as Doom would be an excellent idea. Here are Renner's comments:
Do you think it is a good idea to develop a new Doom title? Will expectations of gamers and developers alike be too high?

I think itís a great idea, for what they are doing. Doom was a huge success, why not put a new technology on an old game. The game idea is already set in stone, so you donít have to come up with anything new there. This way you can focus all your attention on the polishing off of the technology.

Of course the expectation will be high. If we didnít set our expectations too high then we would never be developing something better than before. We would all be satisfied and thatís not good enough. It can always be better, whatever ďitĒ is.

The article is certainly a good read even if you are only remotely interested in the game. The variety of developers offer many different points that show the pros and cons of developing a new version of an old game.

After reading this article, we encourage you to post your opinions, comments and views on what the developers have pointed out. The as-yet-unnamed Doom 3 is due at the end of 2001 for Windows and Mac OS X.

id software
Developers Discuss Doom at Doom Center
IMG Forum 'Developers Discuss Doom' comments?
Buy DOOM 3

New Downloads from Kid's Domain
9:13 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Kid's Domain has recently posted some new Mac freeware and shareware programs
for downloading. For those unfamiliar with the site, Kid's Domain is a site that hosts various
downloadables, both educational and recreational, that are specifically targeted
towards the younger generation of Mac and PC gamers.

New to the site are several titles for the Mac:

  • Space Place 2001 Calendar

    A calendar created by the California Institute of Technology that highlights facts and
    suggests various activities to try.
  • Kidspiration

    Helps inspire children in storybuilding by substituting visual aids to construct
    a story, then converting those aids into text.

  • The Wright Way: The Process of Invention

    A 2-sided color poster that lists various activities and facts about the Wright brothers.
  • Product Game

    A single or 2-player board game in which players guess which numbers are missing
    in a given sequence.
  • Fraction Puzzles

    Shade a blank square to match a given fraction.
  • Linear Systems Beams

    A see-saw type game where children learn to work with balanced mathematical

  • Mosquito

    Place deflectors on a graph by using coordinates to guide a mosquito to its goal.
  • Snake Quest

    A fast-paced game involving collecting jewels with a snake. Teleporters, various
    puzzle-style boards, and a level editor round out this title.
Most of these titles are free and are worth a look, especially if there's a wee
Mac gamer lurking around. Even if you're all grown up now, Snake Quest itself is worth
a look (remember Snake Byte from the Apple II days, anyone?). For more information on these titles
as well as download links, be sure to check out the website.

Kid's Domain - What's New downloads page

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Red Faction Movies Released
9:05 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Volition has released four more short movies of their first-person shooter Red Faction, focusing on in-game action and the famed "Geo-Mod" effect. This shooter's engine features real-time geometry modification which will allow you to blow holes in walls, bring down entire buildings and in general leave nothing but a pile of rubble in your wake. Presumably these movies are from the Playstation 2 version of the game, which will be first to market in the near future; the Mac and PC versions of Red Faction will be published later this Summer.

These movies are in .avi (video for Windows) format, but anyone with QuickTime 4.1 or 5 installed should have no trouble with them. We do have to warn you that they show scenes of extreme violence and carnage -- this is one game that is guaranteed a Mature rating when it ships. The movies can be found on the Volition web site, and range from 4 to 6 MB in size.

Volition Web Site
Red Faction

Geforce2 MX Drivers Updated
8:52 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Apple has released the first driver update for NVIDIA's GeForce 2 MX cards. The update does installs a new "firmware" update and provide a performance boost. While we don't have one of these cards on-hand for testing, we're sure benchmarks of the new drivers will appear on the 'net soon. Here are details on the update:

The GeForce2 MX Driver Update installs new graphics card firmware and Mac OS 9 system extensions which improve performance and applications compatibility. The new firmware also fixes a compatibility problem between the older firmware and newer versions of the NVIDIA system extensions.
Read our article on the GeForce 2 MX to find out more about this chipset. Download the latest drivers from MacGameFiles if your system shipped with one of these cards installed, and be sure and post your results in our Hardware forum.

NVIDIA GeForce2 MX In-Depth
Download the Geforce 2 MX 1.1.1 drivers (1.9mb) from MacGameFiles

Rune: Halls of Valhalla for Mac Confirmed!
8:33 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Tim Gerristen, Human Head's business director has made a post on the RuneGame forums revealing more details about the upcoming expansion pack Rune: Halls of Valhalla. The post contains a lot of information about the content of the expansion pack, however no screen shots available yet. Then Gerristen drops "the bomb" on us, so to speak -- he also confirms the Mac OS version of Rune:Halls of Valhalla will indeed ported by Westlake Interactive, porters of the original Rune! Seems like Gathering of Developers remains a staunch supporter of the Mac as a gaming platform. Here is an excerpt with the news:

Rune- Halls of Valhalla will hit shelves in April for the PC, with a Mac port coming a few weeks later via Westlake. The PC version will be in stores everywhere, while the Mac version will be available via online Mac outlets. No word yet on translated versions (we're still working out details with our publisher) but the US version WILL work with all foreign versions of the game.
In addition to that, he also give a few more details about the game. This $19 game will contain over 30 different levels and many more character models and features two new game types, Headball and Arena. Here are some details:
What's included?

Lots of new characters- all the original sark characters (including Conrack and Ragnar- but no worries- they will be non-cheater versions), the Dwarf, Swashbuckler, Mongol Warrior, Syrian Warrior, two Roman Gladiators, a Snake Beserker, and three new female warriors. That's 15 new characters if you're keeping score, plus all the old ones you could play in the original game.

Lots of new maps- 33 in all, including the 7 contest winners. There are new maps in all modes.

New modes-

Arena- Which is not just your basic honor match. We created all new code for this that makes arena a blast, even for hard core ffa players. First, you can play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 matches (4v4 rules!), there's a cue system so that you can explore around and play with the interactive gems we've placed around the arena edges, and you can spectate the matches themselves. If that isn't enough, a couple of the maps allow you to interact with the combatants from the cue zone.

The release of a patch before hand that will include all the latest bugs fixes and engine improvements is also mentioned. Check out our Rune review for more information in this title, or grab the demo if you haven't done so.

Rune: Halls of Valhalla details
Download the Rune demo (82mb) from MacGameFiles
IMG Rune Review
IMG Interview with Human Head's Tim Gerritsen
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Mac Games News for Monday, March 19, 2001

Confuware Reveals "Horrific Resolution"4:02 PM
Clan Lord Goes Carbon3:55 PM
"April Fewlz" Myth II FFA Tourney10:10 AM
Marathon: Rubicon Released9:26 AM
Preview of Tropico9:10 AM
Austerlitz 1805 Available8:57 AM
Master of Orion 3 Developer Diary8:53 AM
Rune: Halls of Valhalla Details8:53 AM
New Game Company "Sphidia" Emerges8:42 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, March 19, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, March 16, 2001
Thursday, March 15, 2001
Wednesday, March 14, 2001
Tuesday, March 13, 2001
Monday, March 12, 2001

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

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