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Monday, March 26, 2001

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OmniGroup To Port Alice, FAKK2, Oni to OS X
8:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In case you missed our story Friday, OmniGroup has revealed the rest of the games they will be porting to OS X. Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2 and Alice are now officially announced, though not big surprises given OmniGroup's experience with the Quake 3 engine. Elite Force is another Q3 title which was revealed back in January. We also expect they will release an update for Quake 3: Arena itself, since the current version only seems to run well under the Public Beta and not the final retail OS X build.

Oni, which is already Carbonized to run under OS X and Classic, will also be released as a Cocoa application. Keep in mind that OmniGroup works almost exclusively in the native Cocoa environment of OS X. This means that while their version of the program won't run in OS 9 (like a Carbonized application would), it will run fast and take advantage of all of OS X's benefits. OmniGroup's Ken Case tells us their preliminary tests of Oni show that it runs faster than even the OS 9 version on the same system.

While there are no specifics at this moment, OmniGroup is expected to start releasing versions of these titles this week (other than Alice, which isn't even available for OS 9 yet). We're trying to pin down more details on the games and will bring you any new word we receive. As for Alice, the unique third-person title being ported by Brad Oliver of Westlake, we expect this game to progress to "shippable" very quickly. All of the OmniGroup projects will be free downloads from their web site, which you simply install in your Applications folder under OS X and then set the location of the data files from the game when the application launches.

OmniGroup Web Site
IMG News: OmniGroup Ports Oni to OS X
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice

Mac OS X Forum Debuts!
2:36 PM | Jason Sims | Comment on this story

With the long-awaited release of Apple's brand new operating system over the weekend, Inside Mac Games has decided to launch a new forum specifically dedicated to gaming on Mac OS X.

The transition to Mac OS X is going to be rocky--use this new forum to identify problems and solutions for games in the new OS. In the immediate future, gamers will mostly be rebooting into Mac OS 9.1 to play games without problems. But as games are Carbonized or rewritten in Cocoa to become Mac OS X native, gamers will experience faster and more reliable performance.

We are still in the very early stages of Mac OS X adoption. Though the version released over the weekend is called "final", in reality it is anything but. It is just the first step. Stay tuned to IMG as the Mac platform evolves into its next phase of life.

IMG's Mac OS X Forum

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Marathon Aleph One Begins OS X Move
12:50 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new report at the Marathon Open Source web site notes that work has already begun on converting the Aleph One project to OS X. It looks like they're going the Carbonization route for now, as rewritting the application in Cocoa would be a major undertaking and create another unnecessary branch in the code that would need support. Here's a clip from author Steven Bytnar's update:

I've got Aleph One building under CodeWarrior Pro 6, targeting Carbon. It doesn't do networking and doesn't do save/open dialogs. It does build and produce a full binary... but I'm working through some initialization bugs. I'll be releasing source code tonight so people can help debug it.

Porting to Cocoa will take significantly more work... probably 2-4 weeks for someone doing it as their fulltime job. I don't think a Cocoa port would be advantagous since that means it's one more set of code that has to be maintained. Since the MacOS Classic APIs and Carbon APIs are so similar, I'd say that it doesn't make sense to use Cocoa unless Classic & Carbon were abandoned.

Porting to Carbon was reltively easy, since I did 90% of the work in the M2Resurrection Carbon port. All in all, the work I've done so far on the Aleph One port totalled probably 11 hours. The M2Resurrection Carbon port took
probably 30 days * average 6hrs/night = 180 hours. But, that was rebuilding the original marathon 2 source from scratch (without help from Aleph One or any other Marathon 2 project), and making it work on Classic 68K, Classic PPC, Carbon CFM and Carbon Mach-O, under MPW, CodeWarrior and Project Builder..

It looks like Cranberry, a popular MML (Marathon Markup Language) editor will be moving to OS X soon as well.

In other Aleph One news, the texture enhancement project is still going strong. If you haven't heard, it is the undertaking to replace Marathon's old 256-color textures with new, higher-resolution pics. The project now has a browsable online version so you aren't required to keep re-downloading the full version each time. Check out the Aleph One page for all the latest details and downloads.

Marathon Open Source Web Site

Rocket Arena 3 for Mac Released
12:38 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The new release of Rocket Arena 3, the popular game type for Quake 3: Arena, finally includes support for the Mac OS version of Q3A by removing all dependencies on "dll" files. You may have tried a similar version of the mod for Unreal Tournament; if so you know how this mod works. In Rocket Arena, two players face off with all of the available weapons, armor, and ammo. It's then up to the best player to use his arsenal to defeat the other without tactics such as powerup hogging, respawn camping or running patterns.

Version 1.5 brings a host of other changes and fixes to Rocket Arena 3. Unfortunately, it also breaks compatibility with the previous version of the mod, so you'll need to wait until the servers upgrade to 1.5 as well before being able to play. Here are a few of the differences in the game:

  • 5 new Multi-Arena maps (see them on the screenshots page)
  • Mac support for RA3 client
  • New "enemy_model" cvar to allow you to set the enemy team to a different model
  • Improved player spawning code
  • Callvote support for "map"
  • IP addresses/names of players logged for server admins
  • Vote spam protection
  • New stats commands for weapon accuracy
  • Major cheat-protection/bot prevention improvements
  • Integrated IRC chat client
  • MP3 player fixed under Q3 1.27
  • Demo recording fixed under Q3 1.27
  • Pure server support
  • At nearly 80MB, Rocket Arena 1.5 is a massive download for those on anything but a broadband connection. If you've got the time and interest, head over to MacGameFiles to grab it now.

    Rocket Arena 3 Web Site
    Download Rocket Arena 3 1.5 (78.3MB)

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    Diablo II Wins Game of the Year Award
    11:18 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences has recently awarded the title of
    Game of the Year to Blizzard's own Diablo II. For those unfamiliar with the title, Diablo II is an isometric RPG that offers
    a massive RPG world with online capabilities and potentially endless quests.
    Other finalists for this category included Age of Empires II, Baldur's Gate II, and Deus Ex.

    The AIAS, founded in 1996, is a non-profit organization which is dedicated to the recognition and
    advancement of the interactive arts. As quoted from their website, their mission goals are as follows:

    • Promote and advance common interests in the worldwide interactive community.
    • Recognize outstanding achievement in interactive content and the interactive
    • Conduct an annual awards show and enhance the image and awareness of the
      interactive arts and sciences.

    The Board of Directors includes people from prestigious companies such as Infogrames, Electronic Arts,
    and Microsoft.

    For the entire rundown of finalists and winners, be sure to check the AIAS site.

    Diablo II Offical Site
    The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II
    Buy Diablo II

    MacPlay Site Update Soon
    10:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    MacPlay's PR-man Jason Whong recently posted in IMG's forums, noting the company was tired of the press-release-for-a-web-site look and would be unveiling a new site "very soon." He also assures us that progress on their current games is coming along very nicely. Several IMG forum popsters in the past have been concerned at MacPlay's veil of silence since the release of Majesty and SIN, but Whong assures all that they will be more forthcoming with new information very soon. The company will be producing a newsletter with more detailed updates on titles like Baldur's Gate II and Giants soon after the web site is functional. Here's a clip:

    You could say I know something. :)

    Currently, we have 6 games waiting in the wings:

    Fighter Squadron, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Sacrifice, Icewind Dale, and Starfleet Command II.

    I can tell you that each of these projects is progressing, and that you can find out more about them in our upcoming newsletter.

    "MacPlay has an upcoming newsletter?" you ask? Where will the newsletter be?

    The answer, of course, is MacPlay.com, which also is coming very soon.

    You heard it here first in this forum posting!

    We'll let you know when the company's site is up for good as well as any new information on their many ports.

    MacPlay Web Site
    MacPlay Forum Thread

    Harpoon4 Cancelled, H3 Status Check
    10:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Recently it was announced that Ubi Soft was cancelling production of Harpoon4. Though the game was not slated for a Mac release, Jesse Spears -- author of Harpoon 3 for the Mac -- posted some thoughts on the subject to his Harpoon3 web site. It seems that plans for a Windows version of Harpoon 3 -- currently a Mac-only project -- will continue, and this may now become a boxed commercial project. Here's a clip from the update in which Spears tells how this might affect the Mac version of Harpoon3:

    In the short term, not at all.

    In the long term, at worst, not at all. At best, the Windows version will provide enough income to make spending more time on new features possible...and since the code base is cross-platform, those new features will affect both platforms.

    Regardless of the effects of the Windows version, I'll still be looking into Carbonizing H3. I've been looking into Carbonizing a project for my day job, and it's turned out to not be as bad as I feared...so I'm a lot more hopeful about Carbonizing H3 now (for those that don't know, a Carbonized app will run natively under OSX, and also run under Classic MacOS, version 8.1 and later).

    Spears also asked for owners of Harpoon3 to help him with a poll at the game's discussion group. In other news, Spears' day job at Westlake seems to be progressing well, with Escape from Monkey Island expected out in a matter of weeks.

    Harpoon3 Update

    Gaming with OS X: Initial Reports
    9:30 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Our first experiences playing games under Apple's just-launched Mac OS X were a mixture of elation and deepest depression, as expected. As with Apple's transition from 68k machines to PPC chips, the bumps in the road were well-defined and expected long in advance. There were definitely a few surprises, however, in areas you might not expect. This reporter soon learned that Carbon doesn't mean "native" every time, and Classic is not the death sentence we assumed.

    One of the most painful initial shocks I experienced was with "Carbonized" games that I had played under Mac OS X Public Beta. With the exception of Oni, all of these games are now totally broken under OS X. While this is a testament to how much Apple has changed the OS X code base since Mac OS X PB was released, it is very disappointing. Even the Cocoa-ized version of Quake 3 Arena developed by OmniGroup no longer functions, quitting with an error of not being able to initialize OpenGL. 4x4 Evolution is by far the worst -- double-clicking the Carbon version of this game earned me my first dreaded Kernel Panic. Checking the date it seems to have been carbonized back in July of 2000, so the Carbon specs may have changed radically since then.

    The only Carbon game (besides one 2D tile game) I could get to function under OS X was Oni; sadly this game never really worked in the first place, as the same mouse control and mouse button issues apply. 3D speed was very nice on my Radeon/G4 setup, but was of course limited to 640x480 in a window, and the Dock was still present.

    Classic games were also a mixed bag, but overall much more playable than I expected. Many 2D games such as Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab, Heroes of Might and Magic III and even Diablo II ran full-speed as windowed apps running under Classic. Sound and keyboard/mouse controls work perfectly, even in the demanding Diablo II. However running Classic games full-screen often resulted in odd problems and buggy redraw.

    3D titles of course are far worse, as expected. Classic is running as an application, and of course under a Unix-like OS such as Mac OS X no one application is allowed to steal all of the processor cycles to run the game -- a feat which is allowed to happen regularly under Mac OS 9 and below. Furthermore, RAVE is not one of the endorsed APIs for Mac OS X, and--as expected--several of my RAVE-based games failed to work. Unfortunately I was unable to get several OpenGL-based Classic games to run either, such as Quake 3 Arena or 4x4 Evolution in their OS 9 form. Some tweaking of INI files may solve this. However OpenGL-based screen savers and etc. run perfectly and at terrific speed, so the potential for fast 3D gaming with OpenGL does exist; Apple just hasn't tapped it yet.

    This is just an initial report, so we aren't going to make any recommendations on whether Mac OS X is a good gaming OS or not; frankly, we may not know until July, when Apple ships Mac OS X as a standard install on their machines and Carbon software becomes more widespread, whether OS X will ever be a gaming OS. It may all come down to one event: at the World Wide Developers Conference next month, Apple must convince developers that Cocoa and Carbon are the only way to go in the future, and that it is worth the time, effort and money to make their apps (and hopefully games) native for the next-generation OS. We've got a suspicion that many "hardcore" gamers will be dual-booting with 9.1 and OS X far into the future, to run their favorites at optimal speed. But we can't wait to see what Omni cooks up with Cocoa-ized versions of their games -- if Q3A for Public Beta was any indication, we're in for a wild ride.

    We'll bring you more detailed reports as they come in. Be sure to post your own gaming experiences with Mac OS X in our General forum, and your trouble reports in our Troubleshooting forum; many gamers already have creative solutions to some problems they have encountered. Visit the WWDC link below to learn more about what that conference has to offer.

    Gaming and Mac OS X Problems/Solutions
    Post Your Mac OS X Gaming Reports Here
    Apple's World Wide Developers' Conference

    Brickles3000 Update
    9:04 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Applelinks has recently posted a link to the updated version of
    Brickles 3000. Created by Ken's Shareware Games/Space-Time Associates,
    Brickles3000 is a reworking of the ancient ball-and-paddle game Breakout,
    in which players bounce a ball repeatedly towards a multi-tiled wall in an attempt to tear it down.
    Brickles takes the game several steps further, letting the user adjust almost every aspect of the game,
    including colors, window shapes and sizes, paddle and ball sizes and the overall gaming speed.

    The update optimizes Brickles for the PowerPC and includes smoother animation, a new toolbar,
    and other goodies. It is available for download at Ken's Shareware Games page.

    Applelinks - Gaming Highlights
    Ken's Shareware Games

    Apple on "Classic" Gaming
    8:50 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    One if the many Apple TIL's released in conjunction with Friday's launch of Mac OS X addresses some issues you might encounter while gaming on the next-gen operating system. While hardcore gamers will probably want to hold-off until more games are supported, Apple notes that many games are playable in the "Classic" mode right now. Classic is essentially a version of Mac OS 9.1 that runs as a Carbon application, allowing you to run OS 9.1 applications from within OS X. The TIL suggests that you should upgrade to the latest versions of Tomb Raider II, Star Wars: Episode One Racer, or Myth II if you want to play them in Classic. If you're running the following versions of these games, you should upgrade:

    • Tomb Raider II 1.0.1 and earlier
    • Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer 1.0
    • Myth II 1.2.x and earlier

    Of course, being the informed gamer you are, we're sure you're already up-to-date on all of these. If not, check out the links below to get the latest versions. Watch for game compatibility reports from IMG staff throughout the day.

    Apple TIL: Using Classic With Tomb Raider, Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, Myth II
    Download Star Wars: Episode One Racer 1.0.1 Updater
    Download Myth II: Soulblighter 1.3.1 Updater
    Download Tomb Raider 1.0.3 Updater (446k)

    New Downloads at Kid's Domain
    8:32 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Kid's Domain, a website that houses both shareware and freeware downloads specifically
    targeted towards the younger set, has recently posted several new Mac programs. Here are a few examples:

    • Snowball - 2 players throw snowballs at each other from across the road. Watch
      for the cars, though, as they'll ricochet your missiles back at you.

    • Little Mermaid II Pinball Frenzy Screen Saver - Not exactly the game itself,
      this is an animated screen saver featuring the Pinball Frenzy title screen.

    • Molecules-3D Test Drive - Build 3D atoms and molecules with this easy-to-use editor.

    • Factor Game - A 2-player game in which picking common factors and multiples is
      the objective.

    • Stargazer's Delight - A virtual planetarium on the desktop.

    • Numfun - Several different math-related games are included in this one, dealing with
      addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

    • Chase - Chase a moving dot across a graph by typing in coordinates.

    • Master Key - A game geared towards drilling and mastering typing skills.

    If you've got a small Mac gamer in your house, or you need help with your typing skills
    yourself, be sure to check out the website for full descriptions of each new download. There are a ton of archived files as well, so be sure to do some browsing; most of the titles are free or low-cost.

    Kid's Domain - New Downloads

    Pillars of Garendall at Beta 2
    8:28 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Ambrosia Software's progress log for the upcoming RPG Pillars of Garendall has been updated, and it notes that the game has just reached the second major milestone of its Beta test phase. They are using the Coldstone game engine from Beenox for development, and it sounds like the title has progressed well in the month since its public announcement. PoG will be a realtime isometric RPG in the tradition of Zelda and console-style titles, and if the example movie they offer is up to date, it will look and sound terrific as well. More importantly PoG is a technology demo of the amazing capabilities of the Coldstone engine, which will hopefully inspire many more who are passionate about RPG gaming to create their own games with the user-friendly tools.

    Here's an excerpt from the update which discusses some of the many changes:

    This version has hundred of fixes and enhancements over the first beta. The engine is almost the same - the focus of this second beta was to fix and improve gameplay issues.

    PoG B2 was built with a slightly improved version of Coldstone B3 so some things may not behave exactly like a game made with Coldstone B3. This doesn't mean that we will use a private version of Coldstone to make PoG, this only means that Coldstone B4 is not yet ready for release.

    B2 includes (among others) these modifications over B1:

  • All maps have been tweaked (access values, terrain, etc.)
  • More landmarks added as well
  • New caves, special encounters and areas added
  • New "travelling system"
  • Some quests added or slightly modified
  • A couple of interface graphics have been tweaked and improved
  • Inventory is now sorted by item type (for both the player and the shops)
  • The infamous mage bug fixed
  • A huge memory leak bug fixed
  • All quests now appear in the quest list
  • Some parts of maps have been removed to reduce the chance of getting lost at the beginning
  • Keyboard shortcuts added for the map buttons
  • You can't save while in encounter (i.e. hostile NPCs are nearby)
  • A couple of NPC animation cycles optimized
  • Plus a lot more...
  • Unfortunately, only those lucky enough to partake in the closed beta can try out the new version of the Pillars of Garendall. While there's no official released date set for the game, it's good to hear the beta testing is progressing well. Check out Ambrosia's site for screen shots and other media of the title in action.

    IMG News: Ambrosia's New RPG, Pillars of Garendall
    Ambrosia's Upcoming Games Page
    Ambrosia Software
    Pillars of Garendall

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    Myst III Preview, Interview and OS X Plans
    6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Stephen Granade's Interactive Fiction has published a detailed preview of the upcoming Myst III: Exile, an adventure game which continues the stories and mythology of the Myst series. The preview features an interview with Susan Weyer, the PR Manager for Presto Studios, which is creating this third installment in the classic series. She discusses the inspirations and motivations behind this sequel, how it will differ from the previous titles in technology and content and how the arresting visuals we have seen so far were created.

    Attempting to create the third piece of a legendary adventure series understandably put a great deal of pressure on Presto to create a game which lives up to -- and hopefully exceeds -- the expectations of Myst's vast fan base. Here's an excerpt on how they attempted to set this game apart without violating the core concepts of the Myst world:

    In your opinion, what's the most different thing about Myst III compared to the first two games? And how do you do something different without alienating the fans of the earlier games?

    The addition of the 360-degree panning feature will definitely stand out as a cool new addition to the gameplay. Being able to look all around you from any location, while movies and animations are playing, gives the player a tremendous amount of navigational freedom. More than they've ever had before.

    But at the same time, I think we are most proud of the quality and variety of environments that we've accomplished in just under two years. Each Age in the game is completely different from the others; its materials, time of day, construction, etc. Of course, we've taken great steps to ensure that we don't alienate any fans of the earlier games. After all, they are our target audience. I think each player will be drawn to a specific Age, one that suits their personality, style, or aesthetic, and that by the end of the game, they will look back and say, "Wow, that one Age was truly fantastic!" Hopefully we've provided enough variety for everyone to have a favorite.

    The interview also confirms that Myst III will be Carbonized for Mac OS X when it ships, which should delight the early adopters of this OS which may prove less than friendly for gaming in some respects. Here are the details:
    How hard has it been to create a version of the game for Mac OS X?

    Since Myst III: Exile was written with cross-platform issues in mind, the amount of code that is system specific was kept to a minimum. The Mac specific code was written to be "almost Carbon" friendly right from the start. There were some issues with mouse handling and full screen that required some non-Carbon coding but with the help of the engineers at Apple, it was really quite easy. It took just over a day to get everything working natively on OS X.

    All of the Mac-based custom utilities used in the development of Myst III: Exile are Carbon 1.0.4, meaning that they run natively on System 8.1 - X.

    The game itself is two apps, a non-Carbon System 8.1 - 9.1 version and a Carbon 1.2.5, Mac OS X app. (Will not run on < X) ... and a PC .exe, of course.

    Chalk up one more Carbon game for this Spring. Be sure and read the rest of the preview for details on many other aspects of this sequel. Myst III is due in early April and will be a simultaneous release for Mac and PC, published by Activision.

    Myst III: Exile Web Site
    Preview: Myst III Exile
    Myst III Preview, Interview at Interactive Fiction
    Presto Studios
    Myst III: Exile
    Buy Myst III: Exile

    Mythwarrior Released
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    As promised last week, John "Rohan MoR" Whitney released MythWarrior, the new Total Conversion for Myth II, over the weekend. This is the TC that replaces the game's fantasy units with powerful mechanized robots similar to MechWarrior. The download is nearly 13MB and includes five map variants with one solo level. Here a small explanation of how MythWarrior differs from other Myth II mods:

    The biggest difference from regular Myth II games/conversions is the trading concept. The idea behind MythWarrior is that you have a small number of units, but you can trade for different weapons for each unit. This is interesting when you run across an enemy unit and you do not know what it will do. Under the unit descriptions there will be numbered variants of each unit.
    For more information and screen shots, visit the MythWarrior web site. And head over to the Mill now to start your download.

    Download MythWarrior (12.9MB)
    MythWarrior Web Site
    IMG News: MythWarrior in the Works

    Mac Games News for Friday, March 23, 2001

    OmniGroup Ports Oni to OS X4:23 PM
    Westlake on SoundBlaster and Games [Updated]3:36 PM
    Cro-Mag Rally Music Released as MP3s10:59 AM
    Master of Orion 3 Interview10:02 AM
    Crazy Car Q&A9:47 AM
    Majesty Expansion Released for PC, Mac Hopes Alive9:46 AM
    Interview Reveals Tropico Details9:26 AM
    Diablo II Expansion to Support 800x6008:34 AM
    Deus Ex MP Strategy Guide6:00 AM
    Improved Unreal Engine Details, Movie6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Friday, March 23, 2001 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Thursday, March 22, 2001
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