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Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Vampire: tM Status Check
9:05 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

MacSoft's Nate Birkholz has been roaming our forums lately, answering a few questions here and there about upcoming titles from the company. With the end of May rapidly approaching, a few gamers were wondering about the status of Vampire: the Masquerade, the new 3D RPG. The game was set for a release this month, but it looks like it might get pushed back into early June. Here's the first post from Nate, which addresses a question about a magazine advertisement for the game which says "Now Available," spotted in Macworld:

It was supposed to be out by Mid-May, now sometime late May/early June. We have to place the ads about 5 months in advance, and it was ahead of schedule at that point.

There seem to be just a few small issues remaining.

Minor setbacks like these are not completely unexpected, and early June will certainly be an acceptable timeframe for this excellent title.

A little later in the thread, Nate also remarks on the graphics requirements for the game. He notes that a Rage 128 is what he is using to test the game, and this should be fine for the final version as well. The original PC release was marred by bugs which were later patched, and he also thinks the Mac version will have incorporated this changes already. Lastly, Nate promises new screen shots from the Mac build very soon, so stay tuned. If you want to find out more about this celebrated, unusual title, be sure and visit the official web site.

Activision Vampire: The Masquerade Web Site
Vampire: tM Forum Thread
MacSoft Web Site
Vampire: The Masquerade
Buy Vampire: The Masquerade

Vortex: Next Generation Ships for X, OS 9
3:50 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Feline Entertainment has announced that their title Vortex Next Generation has shipped for Mac OS 9 and OS X. This OpenGL-powered take on classic arcade titles should be a thrill for any Arkanoid fan, and demonstrates the awesome potential of OpenGL on OS X to boot. A demo is available for downloading. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

Feline Entertainment announces the release
of Vortex Next Generation, the latest thrill ride for lovers of the breakout
genre of computer games.

Vortex NG, winner of the 2001 Independent Games Festival's Student
Showcase, is now available for download from our website. Probably best
described as a cross between Arkanoid and Tempest, Vortex NG breaks the
"paddle and walls" barrier by allowing the paddle to rotate 360 degrees
around the "blocks." Along with a slew of other features, it also supports
both local and networked cooperative multiplay - something sorely lacking in
other breakout-styled games.

The game incorporates the latest Mac gaming technologies, including support for MacAlly's upcoming force feedback iShock II. It also supports cooperative netplay via GameRanger, and will run even on a first-generation iMac. Grab the demo to try this title for yourself; registering the download version is $20, while a CD-ROM version of the game is $30, but you get two other Feline software titles as a bonus.

Vortex: Next Generation Demo (10 MB)
Feline Games
Vortex Next Generation

BioWare Pair on D&D, Neverwinter Nights
3:36 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

BioWare has become a prominent name in Mac gaming, with their title Baldur's Gate already ported to the Mac, its expansion set Tales of the Sword Coast due in a week, Baldur's Gate 2 due soon after that and Neverwinter Nights due at the end of the Summer. Simultaneously defining and expanding the genre of computer-assisted role playing games, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka have created one award-winning title after another, with each eclipsing the previous entry in depth and technology. They know D&D like no one else, period. Their latest title in progress, Neverwinter Nights, is set to accomplish the next logical step in CRPGs -- bringing the live Dungeon Master back into the game, rather than a scripted, predictable AI to battle against as with previous adventures.

This extensive interview conducted by Computer Games Online is part of a series on the intertwined histories of RPGs and computing, and examines the history of BioWare and their various titles. NWN is discussed in detail, and the interview assumes the reader will at least have a cursory knowledge of the title and its goals. Along with user-friendly built-in tools for creating your own dungeon out of premade parts, the game will include many different features designed to encourage parties to band together and conquer online dungeons much the same way as they once sat around a table rolling many-sided dice. Here is an excerpt from the extremely long interview, touching on community-building and the role of the DM:

Are you going to have some sort of community web site to put people in touch with each other? Or will that be built right in the game interface?

Zeschuk: That's still kind of under debate. We'll try to tie everything together with character matching and the interface. At the same time we're sure there's going to be a parallel community. Who knows what the dominant message board will end up being? It could be some obscure one that just seems to be in the right place at the right time. We're going to make a lot of efforts to make sure that people have an easy time locating and downloading content, and we really want to help point out the best DMs to play with, and all those kinds of things.

You mentioned that the DM can let modules basically run themselves; what kinds of things can a DM do if he or she wants to be more involved during the game?

Muzyka: Well, you can take control of NPCs, and you can take over their dialog. If you want to adjust the difficulty of encounters up or down, you can drop in additional monsters, or you can add items to the monsters. You can increase or decrease their hit points, or actually take control of the monster and engage in combat with the party.

For a great deal more information on BioWare and NWN, read the rest of the interview. This cross-platform title is due to ship late this year.

Neverwinter Nights
BioWare Interview on CGOnline

Red Faction News Bits
3:11 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Much in the minds of FPS fans is the upcoming Red Faction. Coming very soon for the PS2 and currently in development by Volition for the Mac and PC, this unusual title sports several new features designed to shake up the aging FPS genre.

Currently up on Computer and Video Games is an interview with Jeff Farris, a programmer with Volition. The main focus of this interview is Red Faction's much-touted Geo-Mod engine. Short for Geometry Modification, this engine will allow for deformation of practically everything in the game, meaning players will be able to blow apart walls, windows, floors and other scenery at will, given the right firepower. Here's a clip from Farris:

Geo-Mod opens up a whole new way of thinking to the player. With the freedom it offers in manipulating their environment, I'm sure players will find ways to use Geo-Mods that we never even planned on.

They'll be able to blast around locked doors instead of hunting for keys, blow holes in walls that their enemies are using for cover, and collapse bridges to cut off their foes or send them plummeting to their doom.

A preview of the upcoming PS2 version can be found at PSX2.com. Though it's understandably PS2-centric, it does cover general details about the game, including the fact that there are over 60 levels of gameplay. Here's a clip about the detail level of the game:
When shooting at a pane of glass with a pistol (other weapons will have their own appropriate effect), the glass cracks outwards from the bullets point of contact until finally shattering. When blowing up a wall with a remote mine or rocket launcher, a realistically sized crater is formed, and if it is blown up again in the same spot, the crater gets larger and deeper.
Another console site, Console Domain, has also posted a preview of the PS2 version. They note that the player will have a communications man named Hendrix that will talk the player through missions as well as give briefings. The Geo--Mod engine is highly praised, and it is also noted that all the vehicles in the game capable of being controlled generally behave much the way they would in real life. The backstory is also discussed:
The game takes place amidst a revolution by the Red Faction against Ultor, a mining corporation that is both abusing the miners that work for it and conducting life-threatening experiments which culminate in a deadly plague. You, as Parker, a miner thrown into the middle of the revolt in the bowels of the mines, are the only one strong enough to stop your evil dictators and topple their oppressive regime. Your mission is to kill any enemy factions that get in your way, bring down some of the movement's key leaders, destroy their security systems, communications and power supplies and get out of there before the whole thing blows. Hey, it's all in a day's work.
For even more information on Red Faction, be sure to hit the links below. There's no definite release date yet, though the title is expected to be released this Fall for Mac and PC, with multiplayer support.

Computer and Video Games - Red Faction Interview
Red Faction Official Site
PSX2.com - Red Faction Preview
Console Domain - Red Faction Preview
Red Faction

'Myth Village' Debuts
10:15 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

One of the more remarkable aspects of Bungie's Myth series has been its inspiration of many dedicated fan, news and community sites. Now one of the classic fan sites, Myth Townhall, has undergone a transformation of sorts; it is becoming Myth Village, expanding to cover the next title in the series: Myth III - The Wolf Age.

The site author has also announced that they will have members attending the show to report on Take Two's contribution to the series, and we're sure the site will be a rich source of Myth information for all fans. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Myth Village is proud to announce it's grand opening. Myth
Village is a new site dedicated to the Myth series of games by Bungie /
Mumbo Jumbo.

This premier comes just one day before the before the start of E3. We
intend to cover it completely and have an article dedicated to the show.
Myth Village also has a complete collection of released images from Myth
III and a writeup of the development team.

With the new sites comes new forums, a new links section, and an expanded
updates page, with the addition of a list of map standards from various

With the launch of Myth Village comes the absence of Myth Townhall. Started
back in December of 1998 it covered the world of Myth well in the past two
and half years. It is now closing it's doors to make room for Myth Village.

All of the previous content is still available, for fans of the first two titles. Follow the link below to this fan site, and be sure to watch for Myth III coverage during and following E3.

Myth Village Web Site

EV Nova Progress Update
9:50 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Ambrosia Software has updated their EV Nova Progress Log with another significant update. According to the posting, EVN is now in its completed/compiled Alpha 3 build. For those unfamiliar with EVN, it is a space exploration/adventure game, set in Ambrosia's Escape Velocity universe, in which players can roam from one end of the galaxy to the other experiencing various adventures and senarios all the while.

The highlights listed for the current game engine are massively improved speed under both OS 9 and X, various bugfixes, and that the majority of the features are in place as well as frozen at revision zero.

The current graphics engine details indicate that landing scenes, stellar objects, outfit pictures, explosions, and weapon sprites are 100% complete. The graphics are currently frozen at revision two.

As far as the story goes, all of the storyline text is complete, 5 of the 7 storylines are "missionalised," and the storyline feature set is frozen at revision four.

For the full progress log, as well as more information on EVN in general, be sure to check out Ambrosia's web site. As the game is currently Alpha and has not reach Beta-testing status, it may be many months before it is released.

Ambrosia - Upcoming Titles
Ambrosia - EV Nova Progress Log

Details, Concerns on Sims Online
9:29 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MSNBC has posted an article on The Sims Online which ostensibly starts out as coverage of the game's features and details, but as with so much of the mainstream press coverage about video games, turns into a treatise concerned about the game's moral atmosphere. Apparently MSNBC is concerned the game will turn into an online porn-fest full of potty mouths -- wow, it's a good thing the Internet hasn't fallen that far already, isn't it?

Before MSNBC's article begins the hand-wringing, there are a few details offered about the game itself and how it will play. Beginning with the familiar structure and characters of the solo game, the Sims Online will put you more directly in control of your Sim so you can socialize, cooperate, and even romance your fellow avatars online. Here is an excerpt:

Taking The Sims online was without a doubt the next logical step for Electronic Arts’ popular simulation franchise. In 1989, Mr. Wright’s old company, Maxis, introduced SimCity, which gives players the chance to cope with urban challenges like taxes, zoning, toxic clouds and flaming space junk that drops from the sky. Electronic Arts bought Maxis in 1997 and last year released The Sims, which peeled back the rooftops in SimCity and permitted players to wield God-like control over their characters’ private lives.

 In the planned online version, players will be able to go even further and become the Sims characters. “Now, these things are more direct puppets,” Mr. Wright says. “We want you to puppeteer them.”

Navigating a single character through the Sims world, each player will be able to design a home or find other characters to interact with using a social map called the “Web of Friendships.” To talk to each other, players will type text that appears in dialogue bubbles above the characters’ heads. They can earn points, game rewards and virtual cash by competing for popularity, wealth, relationships and the number of visitors to their house or business.

While there is no Mac OS version of the game planned as of yet, we feel fairly confident that there will be a port by Aspyr Media, as they have brought all the previous Sims material to our platform in the past.

While apparently the reporter for the MSNBC story has mortal fears of the Internet decaying into a morass of moral turpitude, it appears the game itself will have many features designed to isolate and silence troublemakers -- perhaps 2002 will look a lot like 1984, from a Sims Online perspective. Read on for more.

Will life on the Web spoil the Sims? at MSNBC

Click to enlarge
UbiSoft Addresses Myst III: Exile Concerns
9:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

UbiSoft, in their continuing effort to fix issues with the recent release of Myst III: Exile, has just released a downloadable patch (PC only); in a drastic step, they even offer to replace your first CD of the game itself. A corresponding Mac update is still in development, so don't grab that patch or order a new CD just yet. They have posted a list of what is fixed by this update; here's a truncated list with the minor spoilers removed (head to the UbiSoft page to see those gameplay changes):

Major Bugs fixed in version 1.1:
  • Fixed bug that caused game to occasionally crash when the user skips out of the end credits by pressing the space bar.

    Minor Changes

  • Added sound effect subtitles in some areas of J'nanin.
  • Added "invert mouse Y-axis" option. Press CMD-I on a Macintosh and CTRL-I on a PC to toggle mouse inversion.
  • Fixed some small graphical glitches.
  • If you'd like an all-new CD #1, a form is also available from UbiSoft which you can fill out. They will then mail you a new CD with the new fixes, which is currently in production. While this will surely cost the company, Myst's appeal with many gamers who wouldn't be comfortable downloading and installing a patch for the game probably makes this a necessity.

    Look for IMG's review of Myst III: Exile in the near future, and we'll also be bringing you details on the Mac 1.1 Patch as soon as it's available.

    UbiSoft Myst III: Exile Disk 1 Replacement Order Form
    UbiSoft Myst III: Exile 1.1 Patch (PC ONLY)
    Presto Studios
    Myst III: Exile
    Buy Myst III: Exile

    Apple Shreds With Tony Hawk 2
    8:48 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

    Apple put their helmet on and went skateboarding with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. While the game isn't "gold" just yet, Westlake Interactive is finishing it up for release in the near future. This preview by Apple offers gamers an insight on what to expect from this game; it also confirms that there will be an OS X version available once the game is out. Here is an excerpt:

    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is an open-ended game in the tradition of the best free-roaming adventure titles, but the action also features the same white-knuckle intensity of any great sports game. Select one of 13 professional skaters (including Tony, of course), choose a park to skate in, and start flipping and grinding your way to high scores. As you successfully complete more complex tricks, you’ll earn more points; score enough points and you’ll unlock new levels, characters, and cheats for even more skating fun.
    The preview also contains screen shots and extensive quotes from the game's creators, the porting team and of course Tony Hawk himself, who turns out to be quite the Mac gamer.

    Apple's Tony Hawk's Pro Sklater 2 Preview
    IMG Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Preview
    Westlake Interactive
    Westlake Interactive
    Aspyr Media
    Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

    Click to enlarge
    Shadowbane Preview, Site Updates
    8:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Mor information on the upcoming massively multiplayer RPG Shadowbane has been posted recently in the form of a new preview at PC.IGN and updates to the game's official site. Wolfpack Studios is kicking off their E3 experience with a redesigned web site, which should be easier to navigate. They have also updated their massive FAQ with more about the party system in the game. And they list the members who will be attending this week's big event in Los Angeles.

    If you're wondering what all the excitement over Shadowbane is about, take a look at PC.IGN's preview. It gives a good overview of the guild system, the game's history, and this clip about the story:

    What you need to know as a gamer is that Wolfpack is planning on implementing the new, exciting trend in MMORPGs, namely the story arc. The full storyline of Shadowbane will take five years from the game's release, with player actions playing a large part in determining how the story unfolds. While the details aren't revealed at this point, obviously it's going to concern your part in helping the world rise out of the dark age into a new Age of Kings. You'll be able to work against or for that cause, working for or running mobs to control innocent cities, or trying to create a fair, good democratic town. The story will also take legs of its own, and guide you through new adventures and quests as well. What separates the game from competitors like Everquest, though, is its guild-specific emphasis. You'll be encouraged to pick sides and take park in sieges on competing towns, or work your way up through the ranks to be a world-renown (or infamous) leader.
    This is exciting, as it gives the player much more of a purpose (other than just getting that better piece of armor). Plus, since Shadowbane will be the first 3D MMORPG to make it to the Mac, you can bet we're excited. Many more goodies on the title will be released this week, so stay tuned to IMG for the latest.

    Official Shadowbane Site
    Shadowbane Preview at PC.IGN
    Wolfpack Studios

    Mac Games News for Monday, May 14, 2001

    'Arcane Arena' Seeks Beta Testers3:09 PM
    Quake 3 Team Arena Map Pack #2 Available2:43 PM
    New Custer's Desktop Goes Down the Rabbit Hole2:12 PM
    IMG Chats with GraphSim's Jeff Morgan1:57 PM
    Big Update from Feral Interactive10:57 AM
    GarageGames Intervew10:50 AM
    Mac GeForce 3 Coming Sooner?10:10 AM
    Bungie Fanfest Reminder9:58 AM
    Bannister Updates Emulator Progress9:55 AM
    Halo Develpoment Diary Published9:52 AM
    MacPlay Breaks The Silence [repost]9:43 AM
    MacSoft Site Update9:07 AM
    New Game FUEL'ing Its Way to the Mac8:55 AM
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Preview, Movies8:53 AM
    Douglas Adams Dies, Age 498:53 AM
    Deimos Rising Progress Report, Nears Testing8:48 AM
    Baldur's Gate Editor Revision Due Soon8:46 AM
    New Stronghold Pics, Info6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Monday, May 14, 2001 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Friday, May 11, 2001
    Thursday, May 10, 2001
    Wednesday, May 9, 2001
    Tuesday, May 8, 2001
    Monday, May 7, 2001

    Search for other Mac games news stories or browse our Mac Games News Archive.

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