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Tuesday, May 1, 2001

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Status Check on pop-pop
9:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Andrew Campbell recently posted a lengthy new progress log to the official Ambrosia site for his stylized arcade game, pop-pop. This colorful take-off of the classic Arkanoid has been delayed numerous times in the past year. Campbell explains this was largely due to a tragic Diablo II addiction, as well as trying to refine pop-pop both artistically and for ease of use. pop-pop is now in its fourth major revision, and this is where Campbell sees it finishing.

He expects the game should actually be completed relatively soon, as there are only two major systems -- AI and help -- which remain to be developed. In the update, he explains the graphic changes he has recently made, as well as the user interface (UI). Here's an excerpt with more information:

another big change is the basic ui. in the begining i went with a user interface style derrived from the console gaming world - a mouseless world. i liked this. but then i went to mac world new york and saw that no one could figure out how to navigate my menu system. little children and old ladies and even geeky guys were all baffled. doh! thats yet another downside to working by yourself - you dont get to see how others see your product. so scrap that - now pop-pop has a super-simple mouse based system (though even this has temporarily confused at least one tester - oh well).

other stuff: a really nice net games lounge, a better chat system, special attacks for each pop, better paddle and ball physics, prettier graphics, 16 bit color support, it now runs in a window (in a mac friendly way so you can aim/irc/email while you wait for a game), and lots more.

Be sure to head over and read through the rest of the update for much more on the game's current status. Also check out Ambrosia's pop-pop page for screen shots and some very cool movies as well. We'll keep you posted with more info on pop-pop as it becomes available.

IMG News: pop-pop Pops Back Up
pop-pop Screen Shots and Movies
pop-pop Progress Log
Ambrosia Software

Feature on PC GeForce 2 MX... In a Mac
3:31 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG's hardware editor Lucian Fong has published a detailed report on his experiences with "flashing" a low-cost GeForce 2 MX-based 3D card for PC with Mac OS ROMs and using it in an AGP Mac. This article, which contains detailed instructions as well as benchmarks, is intended for educational purposes only; it is not a review, and any actions you take as a result of reading the article are at your own risk.

Along with details on installation procedures the article also has benchmarks with ThroughPut, Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. It is a highly recommended read for those of you not afraid to tinker around under the hood of your machine. As of now there are no third-party plans to produce Mac-compatible GeForce 2 MX cards, and Apple is the sole manufacturer.

Feature: Flashing a PC GeForce 2 MX

Apple on Omni, OS X Gaming
3:09 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Since before the launch of Mac OS X the name Omni Group has been integral to Mac gaming on that platform; they were the developers who ported Quake 3 Arena 117 to the native Cocoa environment of that new operating system, producing the first commercial-level game release for OS X Public Beta. Now that OS X final is here (updated to 10.0.2 as of today) Omni Group has another slew of releases planned for the near future: Cocoa versions of Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, American McGee's Alice, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and Oni.

Apple has just published an in-depth feature article on Omni and their current and future projects. This cutting-edge company which seems to be on the forefront of OS X technology is actually a group of "old-school" NeXT programmers who have been waiting a long time for a wide audience to appreciate their specialized skills. Of course NeXT is the programming environment upon which Mac OS X was partially based, and their flair for the Steve Jobsian mindset allows them to produce rapid Cocoa ports of the already-portable Quake 3 Arena engine. Soon Omni will also release a port of Oni, which was previously released as a partially-functional Carbonized version, and they have even more in store for the future.

While the number of developers out there producing Cocoa titles (which will only run on Mac OS X) is very small and will likely remain so for some time, Omni's role is quite valuable in one aspect -- they are proving by example that Mac OS X is a great OS for gaming and game development.

Omni Group's ambitious streak -- which has gotten them into minor trouble on occasion -- extends beyond mere ports; in fact the article reveals that they have their sights set on original game development for the platform, based of course on OS X core technologies. While it is too early to even hope that some PC development companies might look to OS X as a new basis for developing cross-platform games, Omni's work may be a proof-of-concept for other Mac developers. Here's an excerpt on their future plans:

While currently incredibly busy porting existing games to Mac OS X, what does Shipley think about original development in Cocoa, which is Mac OS X’s native programming language?

“Cocoa is an amazing environment for all kinds of programming,” he says, “and we’ll finally be writing our own games over the next couple years.

“What you’ll find is the games we write will be attempts to do something truly different,” he continues. “For instance, it’s always bothered me that there have been, at my rough count, about 200 different airplane flight simulators written over the years, but nobody has ever written even a single dragon flight simulator.

Well, there was a PC title known as Drakkan which featured dragon flight, but that faded to obscurity due to lack of fanfare. In any case, those who are interested in this slightly-rogue development house and their future products will find this article a fascinating read. We can't wait to take Omni's finished products for a spin.

Apple on Omni Group and Games

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Apple Unveils New iBooks
1:11 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Apple has unveiled a new version of their popular consumer portable iBook at a closed press conference earlier today. While not made of titanium like the PowerBook, the new model does take on a very similar shape and color thanks to silvery polycarbonate casing. It also features new video outputs, improved graphics, and the possibility of a CD-RW/DVD combo drive. Since most Mac news sites are overloaded at the moment, here is a quick rundown of its specs.

  • 500-MHz PowerPC G3 processor
  • Built-in 12.1-inch (diagonal) TFT XGA active-matrix display
  • Supports millions of colors at 1024-by-768-pixel resolution
  • RGB video output port
  • Composite video output to TV through AV port (requires optional Apple AV cable)
  • ATI RAGE Mobility 128 graphics accelerator with 8MB of SDRAM graphics memory and AGP 2X support
  • Width: 11.2 inches (28.5 cm)
  • Weight : 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg) (1)

Head over to Apple's site for much more information. Other improvements over older iBooks include the built-in microphone, second speaker, and higher (1024x768) resolution. The models start at $1,299 and go up to $1,799 if you want the combo drive. Educational purchases will receive a discount, as is standard with all Apple hardware.

How will this iBook deal with gaming? Well, Apple's site features Aspyr's port of Tony Hawk 2 predominantly as an example game. This should be a good indicator of how it will handle 3D titles. Tony Hawk 2 isn't actually released yet, though the title is currently moving through the beta process and should be out fairly soon. The iBooks will also have a full Pangea lineup of popular titles pre-installed including Bugdom and Cro-Mag Rally.

The Rage 128 Mobility with 8MB of VRAM looks to be the same chip used in the current line of Titanium PowerBooks. Games should run similarly, though the PowerBook's G4 processor will likely give it at least some edge in FPS over the iBook's G3 chip. Be sure to read IMG's review of the Titanium PowerBook G4 for more information. And check out Apple's iBook section for screen shots and lots of good info.

Tony Hawk 2 Web Site
IMG Review of Titanium PowerBook G4
iBook Web Site at Apple
iBook 2001

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Pangea Seeks Musician for Otto
12:02 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Pangea Software web site has received a minor update recently, noting that they are currently searching for a musician for their upcoming action/adventure Otto Matic. Last we heard, work was progessing well on this sci-fi title, with the second of ten levels just wrapping up. They're hoping to have Otto Matic completed by the end of the year, so if you think you're got the skills, drop Pangea a note now. Here's the scoop from their page:

Pangea Software is currently looking for a musician to help us with the music for Otto Matic. We are looking for someone who can do the quality of music that has been in all of our games from Nanosaur to Bugdom to Cro-Mag Rally. The theme of the music in Otto Matic will be 1950's Sci-Fi, so we're going for that "Mars Attacks" or "Day the Earth Stood Still" kind of sound. If you think you're cut out for the job, send samples of your work to:

Pangea Software, Inc.

12405 John Simpson Ct.

Austin, TX 78732


We're anxiously awaiting new material on the game, but for now be sure to check out our exclusive screen shots posted recently. We'll keep you posted on any new developments with this impressive Mac-only title.

IMG: Hot New Otto Matic Screen Shots
Otto Matic Web Site
Pangea Musician Wanted Page
Pangea Software
Otto Matic

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Aspyr Media Taking Alice Pre-orders
11:45 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media has begun taking pre-orders for the almost-complete Mac OS port of American McGee's Alice, a dark, slightly sinister journey behind the looking-glass of the classic Lewis Caroll tale. They have also debuted a mini-site dedicated to the game on the Aspyr web site, with details and screen shots on the title. Alice is currently in late beta, and is expected to reach "gold" status any time now.

Pre-orders are $49.95 and include a free copy of the Prima strategy guide for the title. If you want to be the first on your block to play through this imaginative, surreal adventure, be sure to place your order soon.

For those who have just discovered this title, here is a description from the Aspyr web site:

American McGee's Alice is a strangely familiar, yet utterly wicked adventure. Alice answers a distress summons and returns to Wonderland. Upon her return she barely recognizes the befouled setting. From the fungal rot of the Mushroom Forest to the infernal chemistry of the Mad Hatter's Domain and beyond, Wonderland is in chaos. Undaunted by the diseased ambiance, cavernous confusion, and mortal danger that surrounds her, Alice must undo the chaos. Equipped with courage, a keen appetite for the bizarre, and a lethal array of mischievous toys, she must penetrate the stronghold of her enemies, confront the forces of evil and put the wicked Queen of Hearts in her place.
Watch for more details on this much-praised game in the near future.

American McGee's Alice Mini-site at Aspyr
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice

Heroes of Might and Magic IV Screen Shots
11:16 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Russian gaming site Freelancer has managed to score six images from 3D0's upcoming sequel Heroes of Might and Magic IV, which is now in the late alpha development stage for PC. The images reveal a somewhat radical revision of this now-classic series, with a totally new GUI and a very different pseudo-3D representation of the landscape.

A Mac OS version of this game has not been announced at this point. However, when we last spoke to John Morris of Evolution Interactive, the man behind the Mac ports of Heroes of Might and Magic III and Heroes III Complete, he seemed quite enthusiastic about the possibility and stated he was in contact with the team developing the title. We will be sure to contact 3D0 at the upcoming gaming expo E3 and grill them on the possibility of a Mac version of this game, as the previous Mac ports have proven quite popular. See our related article on the subject for more details.

Very little is known about Heroes IV at this point, besides these alpha-stage screen shots and concept images. We expect previews of the title to begin popping up in June, as the finished version of the game is due in September; in the meantime, check out the screen shots (modem users might want to be aware that the Freelancer page has a painful load time) and form your own theories on what has changed and what will remain the same in this fourth title in the series.

Heroes of Might and Magic IV Screen Shots
Mac Heroes IV A Possibility?

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Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition Announced
10:50 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpot has noted an anouncement from Eidos Interactive regarding their highly popular FPS title Deus Ex. A Game of the Year edition will be released (for PC) early this month, perhaps as soon as May 9th.

This GotY edition will contain a ton of features, including an updated version of the single player game as well as the multiplayer patch that was released some time ago. It will also come with a software development kit and tools that will allow players to create and modify missions and maps; these tools are PC only. A music CD containing 30 remixed tracks from the game will also be included.

This title is currently scheduled to ship May 9th for the PC. There's no word yet on a Mac title, but the probability of this coming to the Mac is fairly high, considering that most everything is already finished in one form or another. The fact that Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year also game to the Mac OS might make this more likely as well, but it will be up to Deus Ex publisher Aspyr Media to make the final decision. We'll be sure to let readers know if we hear word of a Mac version in progress.

GameSpot - Deus Ex: GotY Edition Coming
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Hands-on WWII Online Preview
9:46 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Intelgamer has produced an in-depth preview of the upcoming massively-multiplayer combat game World War II Online in production at Cornered Rat Software. The preview, which recounts an actual trip to the Bedford, Texas HQ of Playnet and Cornered Rat, is handicapped by a somewhat folksy, personal style, but still manages to uncover some information about this quite ambitious project.

Among the many topics discussed are the impressive depth of the actual simulation itself, which contains an amazing amount of detail even down to the varying thicknesses of armor on a tank or the areas on a plane which would cause it to explode when hit (such as the fuel tanks). One impressive description of a tank model reveals that even though the outside armor is invulnerable to normal bullets, a skilled sniper could still kill the driver through an observation window the size of your average mail slot. Even the actual health of your virtual trooper is modeled with a degree of accuracy; unlike a typical shooter where you have full abilities until the moment your health counter reaches zero, troops in WWII Online will be subject to fatigue, will have trouble aiming if they were just running (due to their pounding heartbeat), and can suffer oxygen deprivation (in the case of pilots with shattered canopies).

Also included in the preview is a play-by-play description of an actual combat session, which will be quite revealing to those of you who are interested in this game but are having trouble visualizing what typical gameplay will be like. Here's a description of what it might be like to pilot a tank:

Now to the actual operation of the vehicle itself in the safe environment of the debugging program. First he showed us how the vehicle drove. Sitting in the driver’s seat, it was an interesting feeling to being able to only see out of the little driving slot as you bounced up and down on the European terrain. It’s not the only place you can look though; there is a 360-degree cockpit view for everyone no matter what position you are occupying. This will be useful for checking to see if your mates are still alive. Showing us the outside of the tank, you could see the lines (these lines are only used in the debugging program to show how things are working) in each single tread and wheel directing movement as the tank maneuvered over the small dips and hills in the terrain. Bringing the tank to a stop, we brought it back to an internal view. One of the personnel in the tank popped his head up to man the machine gun. This would leave him partially vulnerable to snipers, but the observational area there would be surrounded by bulletproof glass. Ambushes may be interesting as the point was made that a grenade could potentially be tossed in while that hatch was open.
Many other aspects of the game are discussed, including the difficult task of balancing realism vs. "fun" in a large-scale environment. Be sure to check this one out if you are anticipating this venture into the first full-scale online battle simulation. It will be released for Mac and PC by the end of this summer, if all goes well.

Playnet/WW II Online
WWII Online Preview at Intelgamer

Shadowbane Preview, Updates
9:14 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Shadowbane site has received its weekly update, revealing new information on this upcoming cross-platform Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. The update contains four new additions to the Bestiary, which is a growing list of the enemies you'll be encountering in the game. There is also a new piece of history available, this time giving a lengthy account of Dwarven Lore. Fantasy fans should definitely be impressed at the depth Wolfpack is working to achieve with the storyline and character development behind game -- it remains to be seen if participants will act out their "roles" or just hack and slash, however. Lastly, a new section has been added to the impressively long Shadowbane FAQ. These new questions (and appropriate answers) revolve around the topic of character development. So if you're interested in how your character will progress in the game, this is well worth a read-through.

The site also has a link to a new preview of the game available at This site is dedicated to the European fans of the game, and they've visited SWING!, the company in charge of publishing Shadowbane in Europe to see the game in action. In this exclusive preview, they go over the basics of the game and its interface, as well as chat with two of the SWING! employees. These lucky people will actually be "Feature Characters" in the game, meaning they will essentially be actors who will influence the actions of normal gameplay. Here's a clip from Michael "Tegatana" Wruck:

SHADOWBANE.EU : How will you behave as a Feature Character ?

TEGATANA : It depends on the role, feature Characters are like actors, they can improvise a little, but they have to act as their character was planed. FC will not be there for a very large time ingame, we won't see them very often, they are just here to give quests, to steer interactions, to settle up and down things, but they won't interfere with ingame politics, the quests they will give will always have something to do with guild interactions, it's not Player vs NPC, or NPC quests, it should be always about players.

There's some other interesting information available, so be sure to head over and give the rest of the preview/interview a read. Shadowbane is currently deep in beta testing, and Wolfpack is hoping to have Mac and PC versions completed later in the year.

Official Shadowbane Web Site Preview
Wolfpack Studios

Majesty Expansion Mac Info
9:12 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new thread in the Cyberlore forums has recently been started about the Majesty Northern Expansion which has yet to be announced for the Mac. Fans of the original Majesty (who have given the game an astounding 9.38 rating in our user reviews) are certainly anxious for some news on the possibility of the add-on also being ported to the Mac OS. In the thread, Cyberlore's Jay Adan notes that they can't really do anything without the support of MacPlay, the publisher. He recommends some polite email from fans might convince the publisher to move forward and allow a port of the expansion. Here's his post in full:

Cyberlore doesn't publish anything. We merely develop games. Yes, Majesty is our IP, but without a publisher it wouldn't be published.

MacPlay is the publisher of Majesty for the Mac. They have expressed an interest in doing the expansion set for the Mac, but as yet it hasn't really gone much further than that.

If you want to find out what the holdup is you should really be asking them.

If you ARE going to contact them, please be polite. I know that I've gotten my share of "irate Mac gamer" e-mails... I can only imagine that they get lots more.


- Jay Adan

- Cyberlore Studios

So if you do feel so inclined as to mail MacPlay, please keep it clean and short, so as not to make a poor impression. We'll see if we can get an official update from MacPlay on the situation as well. For more info on the expansion, check out the Cyberlore site. If you haven't yet tried Majesty, check out IMG's review to find out why you should; a demo of the title is available.

Majesty Web Site
Download Majesty Demo
Cyberlore Forum Thread
IMG Review of Majesty

Mac Games News for Monday, April 30, 2001

Myst III: Exile Box Shots [Update: Trailer Available]3:24 PM
IMG's Release Dates Page Updated, Automated1:35 PM
Centipede for Mac OS is Gold11:56 AM
IMG Reviews Sound Blaster Live!11:23 AM
Macally iShock/iShockII Drivers Updated11:08 AM
Interview With Joseph Staten on Halo10:26 AM
Dirt Bike 3D Updated to 1.610:08 AM
Interview With An id Programmer9:49 AM
Neverwinter Nights Info/OSX Notes9:26 AM
Ambrosia Updates on Deimos Rising, EV Nova6:00 AM
iMac SE/600 Review Updated With Benchmarks6:00 AM
Mac Summoner Status Update6:00 AM
realMYST Delay Confirmed, Feedback Sought6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, April 30, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, April 27, 2001
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