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Thursday, March 29, 2001



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Unreal II Details Emerge
8:55 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As E3 approaches, details are finally beginning to emerge about Legend Entertainment and Epic's next project: the long-awaited Unreal II. The first images and movies of this game (and the updated Unreal engine) caused many an involuntary gasp of awe, and fans of the original are getting psyched up about going toe-to-toe with the Skarrj once again. There is only one detail missing from the previews posted by Gamespot UK and 3D Action Planet -- a confirmation that there will be a Mac OS version of this title. However, considering that this game is built on an engine core that has already been ported to the Mac OS and was quite popular as both Unreal and Unreal Tournament, we think that a Mac version of Unreal 2 -- perhaps even a simultaneous release -- is inevitable.


"Keeping it Unreal" is GameSpot UK's preview article, and while it features no new screen shots it does expand on the details released so far with new information about the storyline, multiplayer details and a preliminary list of weapons in your arsenal. They note that Unreal II "will attempt to bridge the gap between Half-Life and Quake 3 Arena" by including not only an amazing, complex and dynamic solo adventure but also top-notch multiplayer modes and arenas. The report also uncovers some amazing technical details behind the revamped game engine, that hint at what we can expect:

Unfortunately, for a full explanation of exactly why Unreal II could be one of the best games ever, it's necessary to crack the spine of that Glossary of Technobabble gathering dust on your bookshelf. Mike Verdu from Legend Entertainment, the studio responsible for Unreal II, explained exactly what the pumped-up engine has to offer. "We can now build stunning outdoor landscapes to go with the beautiful interior environments that have long been the strength of the Unreal engine. And we can build interior environments, characters and in-game objects that have ten times more polygons than the old engine could handle." If you caught the technical demo doing the rounds last year, you'll know exactly what Verdu is talking about, especially in terms of the outdoor environments which look rock-solid and seem to stretch out for miles and miles. The advanced particle system employed by the engine means that Unreal II will blow smoke, rage fire, shatter glass, rumple cloth, flap hair and spew-up weather effects with a degree of realism exceeding anything seen on any format over the last year. The engine also promises "improved mesh-rendering" (the creation of a layer of thousands of polygons into a layer of skin that can be drawn at differing levels of complexity depending upon your distance from it), and though this won't mean much to the majority of gamers in practical terms, once you've seen the improvements it makes to the facial animation of the characters, you'll understand why we're shouting about it. Finally, Legend has created a new skeletal system for animating characters, meaning that complex movements for each and every figure can be calculated with frightening speed.
Technobabble indeed. Legend Entertainment created a game known as Wheel of Time based on the Robert Jordan fantasy series; while it didn't exactly sail off the shelves, those who discovered it praised the unusual game for its complexity, stunning level design and overall atmosphere. With a powerful engine like this in their hands, we can't wait to see what Legend comes up with next.


3DActionPlanet's approach is slightly more direct, with quick summaries of what is known so far. Here is their quick synopsis of the plot:

In Unreal II, players will take on the role of a galactic law enforcer, traveling about a sector of space an aging but reliable decommissioned military escort vessel called the Atlantis. All is well until an interstellar war is kicked off, and you are forced to enact your duties as lawman by protecting the innocent inhabitants of nearby planets, while at the same time investigating the cause of the conflict.


Also onboard the ship will be your character's three-man (and woman) support staff: Ne'ban, the alien pilot; Isaak, the handyman engineer; and Aida, the tantalizing intelligence officer. Each of the three supporting characters will be interacting with your character throughout the game, but a great deal of emphasis will be placed on the relationship with Aida, who will be acting as the general go-to for mission briefings, story progression, and up to date information.


Since the single player game is mission driven (26 levels comprising 13 total missions), there will be frequent pit-stops back to the Atlantis to stock up, research any new equipment picked up, and receive your next mission goals. Players will be able to move freely about the vessel.

As you can see, Unreal II will not be a simple "solo" game with only human corpses lying about; many of the missions will requite coordinating with other characters, and some of them might even be (gasp!) non-combat objectives. The 3DAP report also includes the obligatory drooling about the new Unreal engine tech, as well as expanding the details about multiplayer combat. Taking a lesson from Team Fortress, players of Unreal II deathmatches will be able to choose from three player classes and participate in complex CTF and Assault-style battles.


While this game won't be complete until the end of this year, we have a suspicion that it will be worth waiting for. We'll continue to dig up details on a possible Mac OS version of the title; in the meantime check out both of these previews, especially the Unreal II wallpapers included at the end of the GameSpot UK report.

Unreal II Web Site
GameSpot UK's Keeping It Unreal
First Look at Unreal II at 3DActionPlanet


Marathon: Resurrection Updates
1:52 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Damien Sorresso dropped us a note to remind fans of Bungie's classic FPS Marathon that the Marathon: Resurrection project is still alive and kicking. This attempt to re-create the Marathon experience within the Unreal Tournament engine has been slow to progress, but seems to be making headway. The U:R site itself now features a Flash intro that should be quite a nostalgia trip for Marathon fans. In addition Damien passed along the following update:

The site’s been stagnant for 5 months, and now we’re back. So, yes, the flash intro IS the new part. We’ve made excellent progress. We have a kick-ass new HUD, have nearly all the weapons modeled and textured, have acquired an animator, a new webmaster, made leaps and bounds in terms of Unreal Script coding, and have been distributing playable builds for the past 4 months to each member of the team. Marathon: Resurrection is very fun, specifically the M.75 Assault Rifle...heheheh.
Hopefully they will have enough of this total conversion complete for a public beta test soon, as we are eager to see it in action. Visit the web site and the M:R forums for more details and discussion.

Marathon: Resurrection


Hitchhiker's Guide 3D Title In Development
1:01 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The always-excellent gaming site EuroGamer has released the news that there is a title in development based on Douglas Adams' famed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game and its source novels. The publisher Pan Interactive has teamed up with UK developer Digital Village to create "an incredibly amusing third person, real-time 3D arcade towel 'em up adventure in the mould of Tomb Raider, Mario 64 and Zelda." Digital Interactive also created the adventure game Starship Titanic.


While there is no mention of a Mac version (and in fact no specific platform is mentioned at all) Douglas Adams himself is an acknowledged Mac user and fan, and Digital Village did create a Mac OS version of Starship Titanic. We have contacted the appropriate personnel on both sides of the ocean, and we'll bring you the results.


EuroGamer's short article features a description and several renders of the 3D character models that will be used in the game. Here is an excerpt:

Those of our readers with a long memory (or a large number of grey hairs) may well remember Douglas Adams' classic text adventure game The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, loosely based on the novels, radio drama and TV series of the same name. Now Swedish publisher Pan Interactive have announced that they are teaming up with British developer Digital Village (the brains behind Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic) to create an all-new game of the Guide, which they describe as "an incredibly amusing third person, real-time 3D arcade towel 'em up adventure in the mould of Tomb Raider, Mario 64 and Zelda".


You take on the role of Arthur Dent, rescued by his friend Ford Prefect (who is in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and not, as Arthur had previously believed, Guildford) when the planet Earth is demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Along the way you will encounter such bizarre characters as Zaphod Beeblebrox (a man with two heads and an ego to match), the Bug Blatter Beast (the dumbest creature in the universe) and of course Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Those who's gaming experience dates back to the original text adventure will no doubt be delighted. This game won't be due until early next year, so that gives us plenty of time to lobby for a Mac version.

HGttG Character Renders
EuroGamers' Report on Hitchhiker's Guide ot the Galaxy Title


Majesty Expansion Units Previewed
10:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Majesty-Dragon has posted a detailed preview of the Majesty Northern Expansion add-on. They look at the new monsters, buildings, and other additions to the game, giving a short description and screen shot of each. Though there are no plans for a Mac OS port of this expansion, both MacPlay and Cyberlore have hinted that this is a possibility. Fans of the original Majesty will definitely want to head over and have a look through the many changes made in the expansion. Here are a couple excerpts about some the differences in the build tree and multiplayer freestyle modes:

The editor can be used to allow, disallow, or limit by type the number of specific buildings that players have access to in freestyle or multiplayer games. This is a powerful tool that can conform multi-player play to different players’ styles. For example, you could limit each player to only three Wizards Towers, no second level Wizards Guilds, and disallow Elves, Trading Posts and Temples of Agrela. These settings can be saved and then accessed when starting a freestyle game.


There are sixty new freestyle patterns. These include player patterns showcasing the new buildings, such as ones where you only have an Outpost - making your hold on the land much more tenuous. The new monster patterns take advantage of all the new opponents in the land.

Head over for the rest of the information on what will be new in the add-on. While there is no official announcement about a Mac version of the title, we're hopeful MacPlay and Cyberlore will put something together soon.

IMG News: Majesty Released for PC, Mac Hopes Alive
Majesty Web Site
Majesty Northern Expansion Preview at Majesty-Dragon
MacPlay
Majesty


Applelinks Reveals Fly II Instrument Details
10:06 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Applelinks has posted some new information on Gathering of Developer's
upcoming technically-oriented civillian flight simulation Fly! II. For those unfamiliar with the title,
Fly! II is an advanced flight sim that focuses on realistic flight and navigation. It features pre-configured single-user adventures, downloadable community
adventures, and extended multiplayer flight parties.


Among the navigational tools that Fly! II will offer are these:



  • VFR (Visual Flight Rules): VFR, the first step towards getting a flying
    license and used by most pilots, is for navigating in conjunction with
    instruments or in the event that instruments are lost. At night, pilots use
    stars to navigate; in daylight, they use visual points of reference, such as
    landmasses, roads, highways, or water.
  • IFR (Instrument Flight Rules): IFR is the second step in getting a flying
    license. IFR requires pilots to navigate using only the plane's
    instruments.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): Fly! II will ship with an advanced
    navigation feature, Global Positioning System (GPS), a customizable
    tool allowing pinpoint accuracy and navigation across the globe.
  • NOAA Sectional/Navigation Charts: Fly! II will ship with NOAA
    Sectional/Navigation Charts for true VFR flight planning, piloting, and
    dead reckoning. Fly! II will be the only flight sim to include scrolling,
    full-color moving maps. Fly! II includes VFR, IFR, and other
    aeronautical charts for the United States.
  • True Lat/Long Coordinate System: Fly! II will feature a True Lat/Long
    Coordinate.
  • System for accurate ground and terrain placement anywhere in the
    world.


Fly! II is currently scheduled for an April 27th release. Be sure to stay tuned, as GoDgames promises to deliver news updates
leading up to the release of this title.

GoDgames - Fly! II Info
Applelinks - Fly! II Instrument Details


New, High-Rez Red Faction Trailers
10:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Red Faction web site has been updated with two new trailers of the game in action. With the low and high resolution versions weighing in at 26 and 71 MB respectively, they're probably only for those with a decent internet connection. If you do have the bandwidth, these are worth the download just to see why the world is so excited about this upcoming shooter. A similar movie was released last week, but these two are much cleaner versions in the Bink format.


As the trailer explains, Red Faction puts you on the inhospitable world of Mars as a miner for the Ultor Corporation, a company who's bottom line is definitely one of greed -- not love for its employees. You begin to lead the resistance against the evils of the company, fighting with a multitude of weapons and vehicles to do it. The biggest draw to Red Faction over other FPS titles (as you will see in the trailer) is the game's Geo-Mod engine. This 3D platform has been built from the ground up to allow you to destroy walls, floors, even entire buildings in a realistic way. Other elements like gas or liquid will also move with real-world physics. The all-around quality of the game makes it look like the "Half-Life" of the next-generation 3D engines. Only time will tell, of course, but we're very hopeful this one will wipe past titles from our minds for good.


Red Faction is currently set for a Playstation 2 release later this spring. Mac and PC versions will follow (with other features) in the fall. GraphSim will be publishing the Mac version for Volition, the game's creators. Be sure you've got the Mac Bink player installed to view the movies.

Download Low Resolution Red Faction Trailer (25.8MB)
Bink Media Player for MacOS
Download High Resolution Red Faction Trailer (71.5MB)
Red Faction Web Site
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction


Update on ATI Technologies
9:39 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

With the emergence of NVIDIA on the Mac platform, and the news that this PC chipmaker would be bringing their next-generation GeForce 3 card to market, some in the Mac community have begun to doubt ATI's future on our platform. While the fact that the GeForce 2 MX and ATI Radeon AGP are the same price as BTO options seems to indicate that Apple is committed to having both companies play apart in Mac gamer's futures, a perceived lack of aggressive support from ATI still exists.


ATI spokesperson Chris Bentley sent out the following message to reassure gamers (and developers) that ATI is still actively involved in driver development, OpenGL engineering and bringing future technology to the Mac platform. Included in the statement is the first confirmation that ATI will bring their own next-generation card, with the now-requisite pixel and vertex shader technology, to the Mac platform. Here is Chris's statement:

I just wanted to respond to some of the misinformation that was posted on
www.macgamersledge.com:


1) ATI is actively working on the Mac OpenGL drivers. We will continue
improving the ATI Mac drivers for a long time to come. I think people
noticed that the Radeon 1.1.1 drivers included a roughly 15% speedup at high
resolutions. The drivers we are just finalizing with Apple should contain
an approximately 8% speedup at lower resolutions.


2) We work very closely with Apple's OpenGL team, as well as with numerous
Mac game developers to make sure that games run well on our hardware when
they ship. We will continue to build close relationships with these
developers. Of course we're never perfect in this regard, but we do take
this seriously. Most developers contact us to work on issues that they run
into. I suggest that if the Warbird III developers want to work with us,
all they need to do is send us mail.


3) regarding the Warbirds III beta, last I checked the posts on
www.xlr8yourmac.com, the only Mac hardware that was actually up and running
were all ATI cards. We downloaded the Warbirds III beta and it ran fine on
our machines with Radeon and Rage128 cards. I won't comment on what
happened when we ran it on our NV11 card.


4) regarding OpenGL extensions, the ATI Mac 3D drivers have supported
hardware TCL on the Radeon for the past 6 months. Vertex and pixel shader
extensions will be supported when our next hardware ships, and we are
currently working closely with Apple to make sure these extensions are
supported.

Obviously competition will be very good for the Mac platform, and we eagerly await the next-generation cards from both NVIDIA and ATI. It seems to us like gaming is set to take another quantum leap over the next year, one as significant as the first jump from 2D to 3D. With ATI aggressively moving forward with driver development, things should only get better from here on out. We expect ATI to launch their answer to the GeForce 3 card this summer.

ATI Technologies



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GameSpot Previews Neverwinter Nights
9:34 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The crew at GameSpot recently paid a visit to BioWare, creators of the upcoming
Neverwinter Nights, and came away with a king's share of information that they were kind
enough to share with the public in their recent preview. Neverwinter Nights is BioWare's upcoming
RPG, based of the 3rd edition rules for table-top Dungeons and Dragons, which offers the ability to create
and be dungeon master for potentially huge campaigns.


Though campaign creation and multiplayer options are probably the biggest draws to this title,
the single-player campaign has not been neglected, and is currently shaping up to be just as interesting
as any of BioWare's previous stand-alone titles such as Baldur's Gate. The backstory starts
the player off as an inexperienced guild member, located in the city of Neverwinter, who is charged with the task
of finding the cause and cure of a mysterious plague that is sweeping across the city. The overall campaign is said to clock
in at over 60 hours of total gameplay time.


Though the single-player campaign is designed to be finishable with just one character, the option to bring in up to five friends
for assistance will be included. To compensate for the shift in power, Neverwinter Nights comes with the ability
to compensate by adjusting the difficulty of encounters. For example, a single player might encounter but a few low-level monsters, while
a party of six would encounter a larger party of monsters, with perhaps a more dangerous mix of monster types. What makes this scaling more impressive
is the fact that Neverwinter will do all this on-the-fly, a feature that can be implemented in player-created
campaigns as well. This will assure that no campaign will ever get too boring or too unfair.


The scripting language that can be used to flesh out player-created campaigns is "very easy to use," according to Bioware. It can be used
to create character personalities, special events, and the like. Triggered events, which would occur when "triggered" by an action or
another event, can be strung together to create entire sequences. Ask a character a difficult question and a script could have that
character pace back and forth as they ponder the question. Speaking of conversations, the ability to create dialogue trees, like those found
in Baldur's Gate and the like, will also be included. Neverwinter will even include the ability
to add text and dialogue into multiple languages, for those that would like to localize their campaigns for worldwide play.


As Neverwinter does tout online multiplayer play, the question of customization inevitably arises. BioWare is making sure that
repeat characters are not too much of an issue:

Even though most 3D role-playing games do
give some flexibility in choosing your character's appearance,
there usually isn't much variety. But, in fact, the combination of
different possible player-character appearances in Neverwinter
Nights ends up somewhere in the trillions.
Needless to say, "in the trillions" is a fairly large number. This type of customization will be necessary, as Neverwinter
will support up to 60 players in a map, with up to 20 on-screen at any time.


For even more voluminous information on Neverwinter Nights, be sure to read the entire preview. Neverwinter is tentatively scheduled
for release sometime this year, but BioWare is quick to point out that their main commitment is to the game's quality, rather than its
shipping date. Given the huge scope and potential of this title, it'll be well worth the wait.

GameSpot - Neverwinter Nights Preview
Neverwinter Nights Official Site
BioWare
MacPlay
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights


e.p.i.c. To Port TopWare Title "Knights and Merchants"
9:20 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Following right on the heels of their release of Earth 2140, Mac, and Amiga porting house e.p.i.c. interactive entertainment gmbh has yet another TopWare title almost ready for publishing. This game of Medival warfare and empire-building is a classic combination of battle strategy, economics and politics. e.p.i.c. has been working on this one in stealth, and should have it ready to publish in May if all goes well. Here are the details:

Knights and Merchants recreates the era of the Middle Ages. Apart from the
purely fictitious geography of our world, all game elements and scenes are
based on the European, but more particularly, the Anglo-Saxon period, around
1200 A.D. We have not used imaginary elements like, for example, fabled
creatures. The player takes on the role of a ordinary captain in the Palace
Guard. A conspiracy against the king catapults the captain into a situation
where he finds himself responsible for the defense of the last royal
province. This is all that remains of the shattered kingdom, which has been
split into numerous small principalities and earldoms. And now even the king
himself, ensconced in his capital, is threatened by enemy armies. This is
the starting point of your Middle Ages adventure. Now you, the player, must
win back all those provinces which once belonged to your king.


Knights and Merchants can be described as a strategic economy simulation. In
the main, the economics play a major role in this real-time action game. The
player can manufacture different products, making use of numerous buildings
and producer goods of the Middle Ages period. He can use his serfs to
construct and maintain buildings and roads. The economical structuring is
very specific. You manufacture finished products using various raw materials
which go through your production processes. All these manufacturing systems
are highly detailed and visually understandable, enabling fast and
dependable control of your economy. One result of all your productive labors
is the manufacture of weapons and armor. But the logistics, too, are really
worth a mention. You decide where and how merchandise will be transported on
the network of streets which you yourself have planned and constructed. Your
serfs transport all wares between buildings, so your town planning plays a
major role in production time per building, and, resulting from that, just
how efficient your economy as a whole is going to be. Transported goods are
displayed graphically. Each figure in the game has his/her own mission area
and carries out individual tasks independently. They do not depend on your
commands or actions. You, the player, only give indirect commands for the
construction of buildings, streets, corn fields, etc. However, you do have
complete control of the military units.

As you can see from the screen shot, this is quite an attractive title and we are certain Mac gamers will be happy to have it. e.p.i.c. continues to work their way through the TopWare catalog; future releases should include the sci-fi adventure Gorky 17 and the 3D RTS Earth 2150. Visit the e.p.i.c. web site for more information.

Knights and Merchants Web Site
e.p.i.c. interactive
Runesoft
Knights and Merchants
Buy Knights and Merchants


Mac Games News for Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Mac Escape from Monkey Island is Gold4:50 PM
Rune Expansion Set Goes Gold3:37 PM
"Carbon" Games Abound on MGF1:04 PM
EuroGamer Previews Diablo II Expansion Set10:51 AM
Yet Another Tropico Interview10:26 AM
More Deux Ex Multiplayer Maps, Mods9:35 AM
Tony Hawk 2 Status, New Fan Site9:14 AM
Unreal Tournament: GotY On Shelves8:58 AM
Baldur's Gate Multiplayer Test, OS X Info8:07 AM
Aleph One OS X Release Available8:01 AM
Q3 Rocket Arena Issues6:00 AM
Vortex NG Status Update6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, March 28, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, March 27, 2001
Monday, March 26, 2001
Friday, March 23, 2001
Thursday, March 22, 2001
Wednesday, March 21, 2001


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