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Wednesday, May 2, 2001

OS X 10.0.2 Update More Than Just CD-R
8:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The new 10.0.2 update for Mac OS X includes an extra surprise for gamers: it now includes DrawSprocket support, which will allow both Classic and Carbon games much better control of screen "depth" and resolution switching. While the games will still have to be updated to take advantage of this, early results look good.

Alongside yesterday's amazing iBook announcement, Apple also released an update to OS X which brings the system up to version 10.0.2 and adds preliminary support for many internal and external CD-RW drives. A new version of iTunes was also made available which will allow you to burn music CDs under this advanced operating system; a carbon version of Disc Burn can't be far behind. The very quick ReadMe notes better FTP security is included, along with this seemingly innocuous line about compatibility, "This update delivers... a number of improvements for overall application stability."

While that statement may be rather vague, bits and pieces of information are starting to clear up the situation. A Tech Info Library (TIL) document explains some of what is new in this update. Here's a quick list of relevant things:

  • Improved compatibility with third-party USB and FireWire devices.
  • Classic environment refinements.
  • Enhanced optimization process.
  • Enriched recognition of display resolution choices.
  • Refined audio performance on certain computers.
  • Refined compatibility with displays that are connected to certain types of ATI display cards.

While these all sound important, a even bigger announcement comes from an Apple engineer on the company's game dev list. In his post, he notes 10.0.2 includes many improvements to DrawSprocket's handling of 2D and OpenGL. After game makers are able to play with this new version, we should most likely see many OS X games which can finally run in full-screen mod without a hitch. Here's a clip explaining more:
As of Software Update 2 (available today) DrawSprocket should be
working very well for both OpenGL and 2D graphics. The
implementation is in-sync with Carbon SDK headers for Mac OS X API
support. This should be a wonderful improvement in DrawSprocket
reliability and functionality.
This is great news for gamers anxious to move on to OS X, as many titles should now be running in full screen and with fewer bugs (once the game developers get a chance to update, that is). There also may be better compatibility with existing games that run in Classic which depend on DrawSprocket; many of these games (such as Total Annihilation) had trouble switching the screen depth and size under Classic. We haven't had time to run tests, but we will update later today with our results. Two problems that were not solved: the problem with your cursor vanishing while running Carbon apps that capture mouse input, and super-sensitive mouse response in Carbon apps (such as the OS X version of glTron).

There is also one casualty of the update: we have heard at least one report that Diablo II now no longer functions in Classic under OS X. Be sure and report your experiences with the new update in our OS X forum.

Lastly, there are rumors that 10.0.2 might contain updated NVIDIA drivers for GeForce 2 MX owners and perhaps even added rudimentary support for ATI's Rage Pro chipset. As always, we'll keep you posted when more concrete information is available. If you haven't yet updated your system under OS X, be sure to do so now to take advantage of all these new features.

Mac OS X Forum
Download OS X 10.0.2
Apple TIL on Installing OS X 10.0.2

Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed Put On Hold
1:57 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

For the past few months, many Mac gamers have been wondering about the status of the hit racing game Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. It has been listed as "Under Development" on Westlake Interactive's Project Status page ever since it was announced for the Macintosh. Amy Torres of Aspyr Media sent us a press release with details on the reasons NFS has been delayed for so long, and the disappointing news that this project is now on hold. Here is what she had to say:

We are releasing this statement in response to the email, calls, etc...that
we have received regarding the status of our Need for Speed: Porsche
Unleashed for Mac project.

Electronic Arts, Aspyr Media and Westlake Interactive have been doing
everything possible to bring Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed to the Mac. However, due to insurmountable circumstances the project has been postponed indefinitely.

Currently, the time and resources needed to release a high quality game,
within a timely manner, would place serious constraints on all parties.
At this time, we have exhausted all options and feel that it is more
important to move forward. Thanks for your understanding and continued

This is very sad news indeed, since Need For Speed was an extremely popular series on the PC and it was one of the only quality racing simulations planned to be ported to the Mac. By no means is this the fault of Westlake or Aspyr, as they have tried their hardest to make this game a reality on the Macintosh. Following the release of this statement, Need For Speed was removed from Westlake's Project Status page.

If and when the status of NFS changes, you can be sure that Inside Mac Games will be on top of the story. Read our preview of the title if you're interested in what might have been.

Westlake Project Status Page
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed Preview

Cro-Mag Rally Carbon Updated for OS X 10.0.2
10:49 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software has released both a patch and an updated demo for the kart-style racing game Cro-Mag Rally which should improve Mac OS X compatibility. This new version is Carbonized to run natively under OS X, and includes the following improvements (and limitations):

Now that OS X has shipped, we wanted to get you a version of Cro-Mag Rally which works on OS X as soon as possible. This version is very *beta* which means that not everything is working the way it should, but for the most part, the game runs on OS X and is playable, however **THIS UPDATE REQUIRES THE OS X 10.0.2 UPDATE** This Carbonized version of Cro-Mag Rally will run perfectly on OS 9 as well.
Here are the known issues with 2.0b3 running on the initial release of OS X:

1) There is no networking support in the game when running on OS X

2) You cannot reconfigure the controls, nor can you use any other input devices since the game does not support OS X's HID Manager yet. This means that there will be no way to play multi-player split-screen since a secondary input device is needed for that.

3) Due to a minor bug in the version of OpenGL that shipped with OS X, the menu screens, the terrain, and a few other objects in the game will have visible seams giving it a "tiled" look.

4) With the OS X update #2 installed, this version of Cro-Mag Rally will use Draw Sprocket to set the screen. However, you may see 640x480 as your only screen resolution choice in the game's Setup dialog because there are still some problems with one of OS X's Display Manager functions.

All of these problems will be addressed in the final version of Cro-Mag Rally 2.0 which we are continuing to work on. The final version of Cro-Mag Rally for OS X should be identical to the OS 9 version. We do not have an official release date for the final 2.0 as of yet.

So, if you have just updated your copy of OS X to 10.0.2, make sure you grab this Cro-Mag Rally update as well. Be sure and report your experiences with the patch in our OS X forums -- your input is useful for other gamers who may be tinkering with or trying to decide whether to purchase OS X for their gaming rig.

Pangea Software
Cro-Mag Rally Demo 2.0.3b (40 MB)
Cro-Mag Rally Update (for full version) (295k)

Click to enlarge
Myst III: Exile Contest
10:07 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Another contest centered around Presto Studio's upcoming first-person graphic adventure title Myst III has surfaced. The mode of entry couldn't be simpler -- just head on over to their contest page, fill out the entry form, and submit it.

This contest is running from May 1st to May 31st. It features several prizes:

  • Grand Prize (one only) - Collectors Edition of Exile game signed by Myst III: Exile Development Team, Official Myst III: Exile denim shirt, mousepad, and copy of Myst III: Exile Soundtrack.
  • 2nd Prize (3 winners) - Myst III: Exile denim shirt and mousepad.
  • 3rd Prize (5 winners) - Myst III: Exile Soundtrack.

The official Collector's Edition should be a hybrid release, as is the standard version. Click on the link below to enter this contest! Myst III: Exile should be released within the next two weeks, perhaps on May 9th.

Myst III - Contest
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Rune - Halls of Valhalla Review
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Games Domain has published a recent review of GodGames' expansion to their hack and slash game Rune, titled Halls of Valhalla. This expansion set, usable as both a stand-alone game and an add-on, focuses on the internet multiplayer combat of Rune, offering new levels and modes of play, among other things.

Fifteen new character models and skins have been added with this set. Also included are thirty-three new maps, several of which are player creations. This title also includes a map editor, so that other aspiring players can create their own maps if they so wish.

One of the new modes, Head Ball, has players attempt to lop off the heads of their opponents and throw them into goals to score points. Another mode, Arena, features one-on-one or team battles, with safe spectator zones where players can observe the action, practice weapon throwing on target dummies, or blow large horns to cheer their favored warriors onward.

The tone of the review indicates a mixed bag. On the one hand, it praises the variety of weapons:

Weapons are nicely designed and textured, too, with a variety of imposing, strangely curved blades. Fine gilding and embossing on the blades turns some of the weapons into little works of art.
On the other hand, ther reviewer was not too impressed with many of the visuals in the game, particularly in the maps:
On the whole, the maps in which you fight tend to be uninspiring. Many deathmatch maps, like "Sanctum", with its maze of metallic tunnels and passages set at right angles, offer little room to maneuver and very little visual interest.
For the full review, be sure to check out Games Domain's article using the link below. Westlake is handling the Mac port, which is currently listed as "Early Development" on their project status page.

Westlake Update on Rune: Halls of Valhalla
Games Domain - Rune: Halls of Valhalla Review
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Click to enlarge
More Red Faction Info
9:37 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The official Red Faction website has updated with a new screenshot and weapon on the week. This week's featured weapon is the flamethrower. Though it can be used in the normal way, setting things afire with a jet of fire, it has a rather unique method of alternate fire - the fuel canister can be removed and thrown as an incendiary bomb. This week's screenshot shows the flamethrower in action with a pic of a burning enemy falling to his knees.

Here's a clip from the description of the flamethrower:

This weapon is based on the Ultor Defoliator, used for clearing plant growth. It shoots a flaming stream of fuel that sticks on contact and burns for up to 30 seconds. This weapon has been modified to shoot a flame twice as far as the cost of faster fuel consumption.
For those unfamiliar with this title, Red Faction is an upcoming FPS, currently being developed by Volition, that is angling to reinvent the aging genre with new features, the most noted of which is the Geo-Mod engine. This engine will allow players to blow up, deform, and scatter almost everything in the game, including walls, floors, and other potentially troublesome obstacles.

Red Faction is currently scheduled for release in the late 3rd quarter/early 4th quarter. For those who wish to see the aforementioned flamethrower themselves, links are provided below.

Red Faction - Screenshots
Red Faction - Weapons
Red Faction

TopWare's Assets Purchased
9:34 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

TopWare is not a familiar name to Mac gamers, but it was set to become one, as developer e.p.i.c. Interactive has plans to bring almost the entire catalog of their games to the Mac OS, starting with Earth 2140 and moving to Gorky 17, Knights and Merchants, and Earth 2150. In early February we brought you the news that TopWare had shut down due to financial troubles. Now it seems another publisher has taken over the reins, with the odd name of Zuxxez Entertainment.

A report on The Adrenaline Vault confirms that Zuxxez Entertainment has purchased the rights to several of TopWare's games and a 51 percent interest in their Polish development team. They also took over various titles that have yet to be published, including World War III: BLACK GOLD, the fourth title in the series begun by Earth 2140.

At this time it is unclear how this might affect e.p.i.c.'s plans to bring older TopWare titles to the Mac OS; we have contacted both teams for more information. e.p.i.c had previously indicated that the shutdown of TopWare had caused problems for some of those ports, specifically the port of Gorky 17, so hopefully this purchase will allow them to negotiate the contracts previously put on hold. The article also reveals that TopWare was working on sequels to both Knights and Merchants and Earth 2150, so hopefully these will be added to the list of titles that e.p.i.c is working to port to the Mac OS. If you'd like to check out Earth 2140 for Mac, be sure to grab the demo from MacGameFiles.

Earth 2140 Demo
Zuxxez Entertainment Purchases Topware Assets on Avault
News: Earth 2140, How To Play
News: TopWare Troubles?

Sims Creator Will Wright Interviewed
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

If you are one of the many gamers sucked into the engrossing, involving world of The Sims and its expansion pack Livin' Large, then you will find this in-depth interview with the creator of the series a worthwhile read. Developer-oriented site Gamasutra did their usual excellent job of interviewing Will Wright at last month's Game Developers' Conference, and the result is a portrait of both the man and his creations. He discusses the motivations and inspirations behind the Sims, as well as some of the technical devices and strategies used to coax such uncanny behavior out of an otherwise simple simulation.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Sims is how the game extends beyond the boundaries of your computer, even though there is no true multiplayer aspect. With the ability to upload photo albums to the web and hundreds of fan sites dedicated to fan fiction, creations and downloads, The Sims is a growing organism, not a static game destined to gather dust. Here's an excerpt on this element of the game, and how Wright encouraged it:

How important is the online community?

Oh, it's vital! Absolutely vital. The Sims is not a multiplayer game, but the online community is probably half the experience of The Sims because we designed it around this heavy customization, storytelling tools, and all these things. So, really one of the most entertaining parts about The Sims is sharing what you've done. Either you've created these cools things, or this interesting family, or you've built a really neat house, or you've told a neat story and put it on The Sims website. A lot of people play the game, and for a while they really get into it, they enjoy it, but at some point they flip over into this community mode where they start talking to other people about strategies or they start creating stuff and putting it on the website. Other people download that and create something even more out of it.

Really, something like The Sims is much more like a hobby, like a train set, than it is like a movie. Most games are built under this movie metaphor, whereas The Sims is really under this hobby metaphor. It's really a shared experience, but each person can take their particular slant on it. If you look at people that are seriously into train sets, a lot of them are just into the train or the way the mountains are sculpted. Other people are into the switching logic or the little village. Yet, they all come together around this one activity, and they have different talents too. This is the type of thing where my talent can really leverage off your talent; if you're really good at making mountains and stuff, and I'm good at laying out the tracks, then we can work together make something better than either one of us could on our own. You see this a lot on our website where people upload these stories, and there are very good writers, and some of the stories are very interesting. A lot of times they're made out of a lot of custom content that other users made and put on their websites. It's kind of the users downloading the other users' stuff, and combining it in other ways to make new things.

Although Mac users do not have access to all of the tools and downloads that PC users enjoy, community sites such as SimsForMac fill that gap with converted downloads and Mac-tested add-ons. Be sure and drop by Gamasutra to read the rest of the article. The Sims and Livin' Large were brought to the Mac OS by Aspyr Media; a port of the second expansion pack, House Party, is due this summer.

Aspyr Media
An Interview with Will Wright on Gamasutra

Mac Games News for Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Feature on PC GeForce 2 MX... In a Mac3:31 PM
Apple on Omni, OS X Gaming3:09 PM
Apple Unveils New iBooks1:11 PM
Pangea Seeks Musician for Otto12:02 PM
Aspyr Media Taking Alice Pre-orders11:45 AM
Heroes of Might and Magic IV Screen Shots11:16 AM
Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition Announced10:50 AM
Hands-on WWII Online Preview9:46 AM
Shadowbane Preview, Updates9:14 AM
Majesty Expansion Mac Info9:12 AM
Status Check on pop-pop9:01 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, May 1, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, April 30, 2001
Friday, April 27, 2001
Thursday, April 26, 2001
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Tuesday, April 24, 2001

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