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Thursday, May 3, 2001

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PC Rune, Expansion Patched to 1.07
11:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The Human Head web site dedicated to the third-person hack 'n slash title Rune has been updated with a patch for the PC version of the game, as well as a corresponding patch for the PC version. Mark Adams of Westlake Interactive has confirmed that they will be receiving the 1.07 code update soon, and plan to incorporate the changes into the expansion pack (Rune: Halls of Valhalla, currently being ported) and a patch for the solo version in the future. This patch includes some quite major changes and fixes numerous bugs in gameplay, and will address many of the weaknesses that reviewers and players have spotted while playing the game.

Many of the "cheat" bugs have now been addressed, good news for those who play this title online. More importantly many inconsistencies in weapon and shield behavior (such as the total inability to block a thrown weapon) have also been fixed, further balancing gameplay in both solo and online play. And finally several visual bugs have been addressed, such as the one in which transparent fog became opaque at a distance, resulting in terrible "clipping" problems underwater and in large outdoor areas. Here is a shortened list of changes:


- Occasional server crash bug fixed

- TrialPit slowdown bug

- Loki2 script bug in zombie transform pit

- Don't hurt teammates when you land on them

- DarkDwarf didn't attack players using spirit powerup

- Taunt only once bug

- Swapping magic shield bug

- Avalanche shouldn't kill teammates

- Infinite spirit powerup cheat fixed

- Fixed some problems with severing limbs on certain models

- TownRagnar and ShipWreckRagnar now start with full health. New models to use while playing!

- Draw weapons while going underwater bug

- Infinite bloodlust after suiciding fixed

- Timeout/connection problem messages when starting up the game


- New player model: Jun

- Shields block thrown weapons

- Attacking blocks thrown weapons

- Defend faster

- ZTarget disabled in multiplayer

- Transparency w/fog

- Proper SarkRagnar (non-cheat)

- New system for importing models (using SubstituteMesh)
As you can see there are some quite major changes to gameplay, such as faster defending (many have complained that use of the shield was far too slow and delayed your next attack too much) and better support for mods and model packs. We've contacted Westlake Interactive of course, and we'll let you know their thoughts on the matter later today.

Rune 1.07 Patch Details
Review: Rune
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Apple Low-Key at E3?
4:29 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We've known for some time that Apple would be sending representatives to this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (coming up May 16-19th) but the actual manner of their presence there was in question. Now the E3 map of exhibitors has been updated, and Apple's booth in Petree Hall is clearly marked. Room 4021 is little more than a closet-sized meeting room in an underpopulated part of the overall show.

What is still unknown is Apple's role at the show -- will they have actual hardware and software to demonstrate (perhaps the OS X version of Maya, a pro-level 3D modeling and animation package) or are they there to observe the games themselves? A note posted on Stomped yesterday casts Apple's presence at the expo in a mysterious light -- it turns out that their little room in Petree hall is invitation only, and gaming press are not among those invited.

While that is sure to fuel some speculation, it may actually be a good thing -- it may indicate that Apple is there to actually meet with game developers and publishers. Apple has long been criticized in the past for not taking a more active role in bringing games to the platform; Microsoft not only publishes games for Windows but now actually purchases entire game development companies outright and puts them to work on Windows and X-Box only titles. While we don't think Apple would go nearly that far, they may be trying to tip the balance towards our platform so that some of the A-list titles coming out for the PC also make it to their new showpiece, Mac OS X.

All speculation, of course. But IMG will have four staff members at the Expo to scour the floor(s) for news, and we will bring you any signs we can uncover of Apple's activities at the expo. The fact that their booth is located right next to THQ, the publisher of two major games coming to the Mac OS (Summoner and Red Faction) should be fuel enough for the fires. Check out the maps of the E3 show floor for an advance preview, and thanks to Stomped for the heads-up.

Electronic Entertainment Expo
Map of E3 Floor, Concourse and Petree Halls

Pillars of Garendall Preview
12:08 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Although MacNN shut down their gaming site some time ago, they continue to integrate some elements of games content in their everyday news. One leftover from the previous site is a preview of Pillars of Garendall, the first game to be developed with Beenox's Coldstone Engine, a graphics engine and tool set for developing realtime RPGs. PoG is both a demonstration of this engine's capabilities and a full-length RPG adventure, viewed through a 3/4 perspective.

While the screen shots reveal plenty of 3D-rendered eye candy, it is the depth and flexibility allowed by the engine that sets this game apart. A realtime combat engine is mixed with more traditional RPG elements such as scripted conversations with multiple threads, deep character development and complex NPC behavior. Although the preview does tend to wax prosaic about such elements as "exciting cracks, fissures and pebbles" in the sidewalks, overall an impression of great depth and attention to detail is created.

The game also reveals the full power of the Coldstone engine, which will become an exciting tools set for anyone who has wanted to develop a game but saw learning abstract languages as C++ as an obstacle. Here's an excerpt:

Perhaps the most interesting idea to come from Pillars of Garendall is the ability to play a commercial quality game and realize that this kind of quality is now within the reach of the average computer user with an interest in creating their own RPG. The process of creating an RPG with Coldstone is that of designing a map, characters, buildings, quests, dialogue and rules via accessible libraries, templates and wizard programs built into Coldstone. With time, patience and an eye for detail, an interested novice can assemble a final product with all the features of commercial RPG games. Coldstone authors can then either retain full control of their products or allow any gaps in their games to eventually be filled in by plug-ins that will undoubtedly be offered by the Coldstone community.
Make sure you click through to the preview for more details and some very nice screen shots. Pillars of Garendall will be published by Ambrosia Software, and the game is currently in late Beta status.

Pillars of Garendell Progress Page
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendell Preview at MacNN
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall

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Fox Signs Publisher, Still No Mac Info
10:16 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

As you've probably heard, Fox Interactive has finally found a partner to publish their games. The company is called Vivendi Universal and is a monster publishing house with huge companies such as Sierra and Blizzard under its belt.

The press release mentions a number of new titles that Fox and Sierra will publish together, such as a sequel to No One Lives Forever, a new Die Hard series, and Aliens versus Predator 2. Many Mac gamers are probably wondering where this leaves the original Aliens versus Predator for Mac. It is believed the title is completed and just got lost in the shuffle as Fox looked for a publisher. Since no mention of Mac AvP is made in the PR, we've tried to make contact with Fox and get a statement.

While it looks fairly grim, the situation really hasn't changed much at all. At this point, there is still no announced publisher for the Mac version of the game. Reading through the fine print of the press release, previous titles developed by Fox are not mentioned, so the odds are good that any agreement regarding the Mac version of AvP may be totally unaffected by this change. We'll bring you any new information we might receive or be able to dig up.

Vivendi Universal Web Site
Fox/Vivendi Press Release
Fox Interactive
Aliens vs. Predator: Gold

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BioWare Discusses Baldur's Gate II Creation
9:52 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gamasutra, a website geared towards the art and science of making games, has recently posted an in-depth write-up by Dr. Ray Muzyka, joint CEO of BioWare, on the creation process of one of their more recent titles, Baldur's Gate II. The main challenge to them was to build a game, based off the success of Baldur's Gate, that would be a worthy sequel and improve upon the original in every way.

The exposition is quite detailed, with the creation team starting with a features list complied from player input as well as team input. Muzkya notes that one of the things his team did not do was prioritize the list of features, which proved detrimental later.

Muzkya also writes about how his team broke down the design process into various pieces, including: Basic Design Rules, Story Design, Environment Design, Game Systems Design, and Writing Design. He provides a list of rules and details they used for each category, which should be of use to anyone thinking about specializing in any of the above aspects of game design.

Muzkya goes on to document his team's morale during the project, the way communication was handled between the various teams, including the artists and the programmers, and discusses beta testing and post support. He ends it all with a list of what was done well and what was not.

Muzkya's article is long but relevant, and anyone even remotely interested in game design (particularly if you're looking to be employed in the industry) should use the provided link below to read it. He covers, in detail, his team's journey into the creation of a game that had to top a game that had already captured numerous awards and accolades, and it is well worth a look.

Gamasutra - Baldur's Gate II: The Anatomy of a Sequel
Baldur's Gate II
Buy Baldur's Gate II

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Diablo Movies; Expansion Pics, Preview
9:14 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Blizzard has released two television commercials from late last year promoting Diablo II. Interested fans of the game can now download them (at under 15MB each), though you'll need to the Mac Bink player in order to view the files. The first you may have seen, though the second movie is a live-action commercial which never aired. It's a rather humorous look at the game, so check it out if you have the bandwidth.

While these movies are interesting, Blizzard is also trying to keep pushing their big release for this summer, the Lord of Destruction add-on pack for Diablo II. New screen shots of the expansion are available at the official web site, and a new preview/interview with Bill Roper has been posted at PC.IGN. They cover all the basics of the game like the two new character classes and extra act. Here's an excerpt with Roper talking about the new environments and monsters:

"There are 6 new quests spread across a new act that takes place in the Barbarian Highlands. Snow capped mountains, fortresses, barricaded villages and ice caves will bring new challenges to even the most experienced player. We really took the opportunity in the expansion to make the world more active, dropping characters tight into the middle of a big war. From your first steps into the battlefield you are assaulted by catapult fire and fight side by side with Barbarians NPCs trying to defend their stronghold." Plus the addtition of 16 new monster types that are, "very interesting and challenging, doing some things that players are not going to expect."
Check out the rest of their preview for a nice overview of the expansion. Blizzard is hoping to have the PC release out this summer, with the Mac version following shortly after.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Preview at PC.IGN
Official Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Web Site
Diablo II Cinematics Page
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed Put On Hold1:57 PM
Cro-Mag Rally Carbon Updated for OS X 10.0.210:49 AM
Myst III: Exile Contest10:07 AM
Rune - Halls of Valhalla Review9:57 AM
More Red Faction Info9:37 AM
TopWare's Assets Purchased9:34 AM
OS X 10.0.2 Update More Than Just CD-R8:52 AM
Sims Creator Will Wright Interviewed6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 2, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Monday, April 30, 2001
Friday, April 27, 2001
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