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Friday, May 18, 2001


IMG at E3, Day Two
11:46 AM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

The first official day of IMG's coverage of the Electronic Entertainment
Expo was about as hectic as one could possibly imagine. Microsoft's Xbox,
Sony's PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo GameCube all competed for the
spotlight on the show floor. Bungie's Halo was at a place of prominence at
Microsoft's booth, showing the game's extensive split-screen multiplayer
capabilities. The PlayStation 2 was showing a number of second-generation
titles, with Drakan 2 and Final Fantasy X among the most impressive of the
lot. Nintendo's PowerPC-based GameCube also had a strong showing with
jaw-dropping playable version of Star Wars: Rogue Leader and the new Wave
Race Jet Ski game.


Even with this onslaught of next-generation gaming consoles, there were
still many things at the show of interest to Mac gamers. The first order of
the day was a visit to MacSoft's meeting space. The company was talking
about their recent partnership with Take 2 Interactive that will result in
eight new titles coming to the Mac, including Tropico and Fly! II. MacSoft
was also showing the latest build of Master of Orion III for the Mac as well
as an early version of Civilization III.


Master of Orion III was a very impressive title and has quickly climbed to
the top of my personal must-have list. This is due in part to its
impressive user interface and enhanced gameplay elements when compared to
the previous MOO titles. Civilization III is shaping up to be a worthy
successor to this wildly successful strategy gaming franchise. Although the
game does not yet exist on the Macintosh, it ran very well and easily
eclipsed the previous Civ titles with its new features and its enhanced
graphics.


Peripheral maker Belkin was showing its new line of USB game controllers,
Nostromo. Although these gamepads and gaming mice only offer Mac
compatibility via Mac OS 9's InputSprocket software, the innovative
design of these devices make them definitely worth checking out. The company
also pledged to investigate adding complete Mac support for these devices if
the market warrants it.


Bioware had a minor presence on the show floor, but their demonstration of
their multiplayer role-playing game Neverwinter Nights was anything but
small. The team behind this fantasy adventure game is trying to take
computer role-playing games to the next level with beautiful graphics,
engrossing team-based game play and an almost ridiculous level of
customization features. When Neverwinter Nights is finally released for Mac,
Windows and Linux sometime near the end of 2001, expect it to raise the bar
for all future RPGs.


In addition to these events, the Inside Mac Games team also spoke with
representatives from Aspyr Media who have promised us some exciting
information about their upcoming plans very soon. Meetings still to come
with Westlake Interactive, Gathering of Developers and MacPlay mean that
there is sure to be lots of exciting news yet to come.

IMG's E3 2001 Coverage
E3 2001


Omni to Show OS X Games at WWDC
3:53 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

OmniGroup has announced they will be showing a number of OS X titles at
the upcoming WWDC. Included in Apple's Gaming Pavilion will be a number
of machines running OS X versions of Oni, Elite Force, and Heavy
Metal F.A.K.K.2
. Here's the
press release with more on what attendees can expect:

The Omni Group will showcase their latest ported Mac OS X games at
Apple's World Wide Developers conference May 21-25 in San Jose, CA.
Apple wants to show the world that Mac OS X will be the best platform
for games and they have chosen The Omni Group to help back it up.


Take 733MHz G4s, Apple Cinema Displays, GeForce 3s, GeForce 2s, Radeons,
Logitech MouseMan Wheel optical mice, Harman Kardon Pro, SoundSticks
and iSubs, throw in Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, the public debuts of Oni and
Star Trek Voyager Elite Force on Mac OS X and what do you get? It's a
gamer's paradise! This is what visitors to this year's WWDC can expect
at the Apple Gaming Pavilion.


Since 1989, the founders of The Omni Group, Wil Shipley, Ken Case, and
Tim Wood, have been developing games and applications for NeXTstep, the
foundation for Mac OS X. This experience and expertise has brought The
Omni Group much attention from game developers eager to make the jump
into the growing market for OS X games. Wil Shipley, president of The
Omni Group states, "Mac OS X will be the best platform for games and
we've got the most talented and experienced engineers for porting games
to X." Successful projects for Omni include Doom II, Quake II, Oni,
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, and Quake III
Arena. "We're finding even with the tiny amount of time we have to port
games, we get better frame rates for every game we port on high-end
hardware. The sound latency is lower and the graphics are faster."


The entire Omni Engineering Staff (all 13) will be on hand at this years
WWDC, and you'll always be able to find one at the official Omni Group
booth to answer your questions about games, Cocoa, and porting
applications to Mac OS X.

It's great to hear all these titles will be displayed proudly by Apple. OmniGroup
is also working on a Cocoa version of American McGee's Alice, though
Aspyr hasn't announced exactly how it might be bundled with the retail version
of the game. We're also hoping to see public releases of these games in the near
future, so the rest of us can try them out.

Details on Apple's WWDC and Games
OmniGroup Web Site
Apple


E3: Firsthand Report on Myth III: The Wolf Age
3:40 PM | Michael Yanovich | Comment on this story

Across from the LA Convention Center is a parking lot, surrounded by a high fence and impenetrable by all but the most resolute spies (and gaming journalists). It is the Gathering of Developers Promised Lot, and if you like beer and burgers with your game, it's the place to be at E3. Sadly, we had to leave before the burgers were ready, but there was a much better treat instead, one that doesn't lead to clogged arteries. We got to see Myth III: The Wolf Age in action…


The build we saw today was after a mere five months of development, and let me say one thing right away. If you are a fan of the first two Myth games, do not hesitate to look forward to Myth III. This game looks great!


First, the 3D units are amazing (previous Myth games used 2D units on a 3D battlefield). They are significantly better than the still shots that have been released. The movement is fluid and realistic, and slight variations have been added to keep everyone from looking identical. For example, typical infantry might be right or left handed, and they may carry a sword or an axe. Their stats are the same, but these slight visual changes help keep the look fresh.


Trees and bushes are also fully 3D now, and wind has been added to the physics engine so that the trees sway in the breeze. And yes, the wind will affect the paths of arrows, how far you can throw a Molotov cocktail, etc. Even the force of an explosion can send nearby airborne projectiles off-kilter, though overall the physics engine has been left alone other than some minor tweaking.


There are many new units as well. Some are totally new, others variations on existing characters, such as axe-wielding dwarves, for example. Previous characters have also been tweaked here and there for additional game balancing issues. There will also be a few more spell-casting creatures added.


As in previous games, there will be a full single-player campaign, along with strong multiplayer components similar to what Bungie.net has to offer currently. And while there will be a few new game types as well, details were non-existent at this time. (We were told that one of the new games will be called "grinder" -- let your imagination run wild.)


Myth III is still on schedule for a release late this year; the team is shooting for October or November, in time for the holiday buying season.

Feature: Myth III: The Wolf Age Image Gallery
Myth III: The Wolf Age


E3: MacCentral on Apple at the Expo
2:30 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an interesting last-minute change that may have been a response to complaints by Mac fans, Apple Computer greatly expanded their presence at E3 from the small, closed meeting room they had initially planned. MacCentral's Peter Cohen is doing his usual excellent job of covering the Expo, and he has produced a report with images detailing Apple's booth and the hardware on display. Apple is showing off their latest and greatest, including the first hands-on demo of NVIDIA's GeForce3 chipset running on Apple hardware. Here's an excerpt from his report:

In its booth, Apple has set up a dozen Power Mac G4's equipped with dual 533 MHz processors. The Macs have 512MB of RAM and a fresh batch of Apple-made GeForce 3 cards driving 15-inch Studio Displays. In an interesting concession to gamers, each Mac is equipped with multi-button USB mice manufactured by Logitech, rather than the more customary one-button/no-button Apple Pro Mouse.


Apple is using its presence at E3 this week to show off a new, never before seen build of Quake 3 Team Arena -- a beta build that hasn't yet been released for the PC, version 1.28. The software is operating on these Power Macs running Mac OS X 10.0.3. Sources report that Id Software's Graeme Devine had been burning the midnight oil to get this build ready for Apple to display at the show.


Running at 1024x768 resolution and 32-bit color depth, the Macs running Quake 3 Team Arena are regularly turning in rock-solid frame rates of 60 fps or above in enclosed areas, with all options turned on in the game except for marks on walls and eject brass. The game is even quite playable in the immense outdoor expanses of the game's Overdose level, a notorious frame killer.

While this is an impressive description, hardcore fans might be a bit perturbed at the frame rate numbers reported on the dual 533/GeForce 3 systems; after all, a single-chip G4/500 with a Radeon can average 55 fps with those settings. These are just rough numbers, however -- we'll let you know if concrete benchmarks (such as timedemo tests) become available. In any case it is gratifying to know that Apple is visible at the Expo, and that the Mac OS and OS X versions of Quake 3 rev128 and Q3A: Team Arena are just around the corner.

Apple at the Expo at MacCentral


E3: Glimpse of Stronghold
2:10 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

One of the surprises Mac gamers received with MacSoft's recent acquisition of Gathering of Developer's Mac line-up was the news that the sim/RTS Stronghold -- which previously had no announced Mac OS version -- was on the list. We don't know much about this title besides what is stated on the web site, but from what we have seen so far this is just what Mac RTS fans (and fans of Majesty) are going to need for their next fix.


The Adrenaline Vault has posted nine new screen shots from the title, which look considerably better than the ones on Gathering of Developers' web site. The amazing detail of the background and units proves that there is still plenty of room in the market for pseudo-3D sprite-based games. Be sure and drop by Avault and check out these shots; The game is due for Mac and PC this fall. We'll bring you more details on the game from our meetings with MacSoft this afternoon.

MacSoft
Stronghold Web Site
Stronghold Screen Shots at Avault


E3: Hardware Roundup From the Show Floor
12:04 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Although the majority of exhibitors at E3 were showing off software, there were plenty of hardware vendors in the LA Convention Center to keep me busy.


The first company I bumped into while perusing the show floor was XGaming. While many of you may not have heard their name before, they actually designed the AirStick, which was then licensed and sold by MacAlly. XGaming was showing off the X-Arcade, a full size two-player joystick, very similar to the ones found in arcade cabinets.


The X-Arcade features nine buttons per player (including start), as well as a "flipper" button on each side for pinball games. Being contructed of wood, it felt solid and heavy enough to prevent sliding around during tense moments in a game. It was being demoed on Dreamcast and Playstation 2 systems, but the X-Gaming representatives assured us that it is fully functional on the Macintosh and PC.


The X-Arcade will connect to the Mac via USB adapter and will be recognized by Input Sprockets, but all of the keystroke assignments will be handled in hardware. Knowing that hardcore MAME (Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator) fans will be interested in this product, the folks at XGaming made the joystick highly customizable. There are four settings for the joystick: the first supports MAME 32 and the other three are user defined. Programming the buttons, which is essentially assigning a button to a keystroke, is very easy and flexible.


XGaming is currently trying to find a distributor for the X-Arcade, but they expect it to ship in early July. It will cost between $100 to $150. Stay tuned to IMG for a full review when the X-Arcade is released.


Next up was Essential Reality. Just prior to E3, they announced the P5 Glove, which promises to make games feel more interactive and realistic. Although I not able to try it myself, I was told by the representative that the P5 would ship with Mac-specific drivers later this month. We'll keep our eyes on this interesting peripheral. The Essential Reality website has some QuickTime movies which show the P5 in action, so check them out.


I dropped by the Logitech booth on the main show floor in hopes of making contacct with a representative. After months of unreturned e-mails, I was finally able to talk to a real, live person. The PR person, Brian, was very helpful and responsive in answering my Mac-related questions. In the future, we'll be looking at more Logitech gaming peripherals and audio equipment, like their high end SoundMan Xtrusio DSR-100 surround speakers.


My meeting with Saitek went also went well. I confirmed that they had been contacted by Fredrik Wallenberg of Playnet.com and have been working together to ensure their joysticks work with World War II Online. I was able to get play around with their new X45 Digital Stick and Trottle. While awkward at first, the joystick and throttle quickly grew comfortable. This HOTAS system will be perfect for flight sim enthusiasts. Not only does the X45 look good, but it has plenty of buttons.


One disappointing trend I noticed with game peripheral companies was the lack of Mac-specific drivers. I drilled the Saitek, Logitech, and Thrustmaster reps about it and they told me the market size and demand was simply not high enough. Kevin Hunter of Saitek said it would cost somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000 to write Mac drivers with functionality similar to the PC drivers. For the most part, joysticks and gamepads that are Input Sprocket compliant work well. Wheels and throttles, though, have weak support. I made it a point to tell the representatives that it is the responsibility of the game peripheral company and game developer to ensure that our gaming experience is as complete hassle-free as possible. Hopefully, they will take my words to heart.


Unstandably, they were all concerned about Mac OS X compatibility, but had no firm plans. Saitek was the only company that mentioned they had a working relationship with Apple.


Later in the day, look for a report in my meeting with Altec Lansing and their audio products. In the meantime, check out Saitek's and Logitech's new products below.

E3: Saitek, Logitech Launch New Controllers
EssentialReality
X-Gaming


E3: MOO3 Mac Dev Update, Promo Materials
11:25 AM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

This week at E3, one of the games MacSoft is previewing is their upcoming
space strategy title, Master of Orion III. The title is being developed
simultaneously for Windows and Macintosh. MOO 3 builds upon the strengths of
the previous Master of Orion game while adding exciting new features.


Among the game play innovations of Master of Orion III is the concept of
Imperial focus. As the player gains influence over more system and worlds,
it becomes possible to control these worlds from a higher level. This, in
part, involves computer-controlled players taking command of certain
repetitive responsibilities with the players still being able override these
decisions.


The experience of playing Master of Orion has also been significantly
enhanced. All the races in the game now have extensive back story timelines
that start before MOO and go beyond MOOIII. These alien creatures are also
fully animated with specialized dialogue and body language.


Quicksliver Software¹s Rantz Hosley describes the approach of designing
Master of Orion 3 as a ³layer of the onion approach² since ³how deep you
want to go [in playing the game] depends on you [the player].


Currently the game is a MacOS Classic application, but the developers are
monitoring the state of MacOS X development tools in an effort to make the
title a Carbon application. Master of Orion III is expect to be available in
the first quarter of 2002.


Also check out some new promotional materials at the offical Master of Orion III web site. Currently there is a poster available, though actual screen shots are promised sometime today.

'Cool Stuff' at Master of Orion III Web Site
MacSoft Web Site
MacSoft
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III



Click to enlarge
E3: New Unreal II Images, Previews
10:25 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While we don't have a first-hand report on this title from the show floor -- yet -- the reports on Unreal II from other news sources are just too amazing not to pass on to our readers. Again, there is no Mac OS version of this game announced as of yet, but almost every Unreal-engine game ever made has come to our platform, and UT is still a hot seller as the GOTY edition. We think Mac Unreal II is a shoe-in.


A firsthand account of the game in action has been posted at PCIGN, with three very nice screen shots (albeit ones from the press kit). Many who have seen the first images from this game in action have doubted that any game could look that good and still run in real-time; they look good enough to be ray-traced. Yet the article author swears to have seen the game in action, and says the target hardware upon completion will be a lowly 500 MHz PC with a GeForce2 card, easily eclipsed by a 450 MHz G4 Mac with a GeForce2 MX or Radeon card. Of course, the game will also be enhanced to take advantage of NVIDIA's just-released GeForce 3 chipset. Here's an excerpt from their account of the game in action:

The first world loaded up was a green planet with blue waters and plenty of tall hills. After the level started, he ran away from the drop ship and headed up a little slope where the some of the native life was feeding on some of the other native life. They got a little freaked when the player ran up and ran back to the water to hide. There were also some "birds" flying around bringing the world to life that little bit more. These aren't dinky little things either. There's a lot of detail in these guys, which can be seen by zooming the sniper gun in on them.


In fact, in all of the levels, the textures were all incredible. From the regular ground textures to the indoor alien textures, everything is highly detailed and really incredible. The second level we saw was what will be your ship where you will go in between missions. Here you'll run into your three crew mates, one of which is the beauty that you see in all those pictures named Aida (the Aida model out on the show floor was& yeah). She'll actually be linked to you to give you info during your missions as well. They also took the time during this section of the demo to zoom on into Aida's mouth while she was talking to see the facial deformation technology that makes it look like she's saying what she's saying. It was done really well.

As you can tell, this is a title worth getting excited about. Their article is part of a long series of impressions on the title, so if you are new to this game be sure and read from the bottom up.


UnrealCenter has posted their own impressions from the expo, along with some high-quality screen shots. While a little lacking in the grammar department -- we have typed articles at 2 AM at the Expo, we can sympathize -- this breathless account of a demo of the game in action is worth a read. Here is an excerpt:

Ok, so you know all this, now let's get to the good stuff bout that 100k polys. This engine is defintely what dreams are made of, Scott Dalton, lead level designer at Legend, was showing off the sniper rifle and zoomed in on one of them Big Dragon like things, their wings were flapping, their heads moving and the clouds moving behind them in a smooth sanguine motion, I almost cried. The whole enviroment is totally 3-d. Scott played a nifty lil trick and took away the textures and left the wire frame for us ingame and there's more stuff going on in those walls than there are in most games alone!


As far as the game play goes, we were shown mostly the single player aspect as that's the way Legend is trying to go with this, but we did get to check out one CTF map full of asteroids, and not like just one asteroid, a field FULL of asteroids, and a prototype of a grapple, not fully implemented yet but could make Low G maps a whole lot more fun. Included in the release they will have DM, TDM, LMS, CTF and a new gametype referred to once as XMP or Xtreme Multi Player.

When was the last time you heard of a game inspiring actual tears of joy? You can be sure we will bring you more details on this game from the show floor, so stay tuned!

Unreal II Web Site
Unreal II Preview at UnrealCenter
Unreal II Preview at PCIGN


Apple Lays Out WWDC Game Track
10:09 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Apple Computer is building steam for this year's World Wide Developer's Conference, and they have updated both the WWDC page and their Game Developers site with details on game-related events. With a full seventeen separate sessions dedicated to game-related topics, this WWDC will allow Mac game developers and porters to delve deeply into advanced technologies, performance optimization, and (of course) game development and optimization for Mac OS X.


The sessions themselves cover the gamut of topics from Quartz (the 2D imaging API for Mac OS X) to QuickTime to OpenGL, with four separate sessions dedicated to that cross-platform 3D graphics API. There will be a session on tuning performance for Carbon apps, one dedicated to the sound APIs available under OS X, and a much-anticipated session on device input that we're sure will be packed with game developers. In addition, two of the seventeen sessions are dedicated to soliciting developer feedback on OpenGL and games technologies in general.


If you happen to be a developer, or are curious about what is going to be discussed at the event, make sure you jump to the WWDC site and read more -- the lessons learned there and the feedback offered to Apple will literally shape the course of Mac gaming for the next year to come.

Details on Apple's WWDC and Games



Click to enlarge
Cro-Mag Rally Updates for OS X
9:49 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Pangea Software has released a minor update for their action racer Cro-Mag Rally which improves the function of the game under OS X. This patch fixes several Mac OS X-specific bugs and adds a new open and save interface.


As with the previous beta, there is still not netplay, no split-screen play and limited device/controller support; all of these limitations are due to the fact that the APIs for these services are still undefined under OS X. Pangea has promised that the full version 2.0 of the Carbon version of Cro-Mag will have the same functionality as the Classic version when it is complete.


So, if you are on the cutting edge, grab this new update to run under Mac OS X 10.0.2 or later. An updated version of the demo is available as well.

Pangea Software
IMG Cro-Mag Rally review
Cro-Mag Rally 2.0b4 Demo version update (40mb)
Cro-Mag Rally 2.0b4Full version update (295k)
Pangea Software
Cro-Mag Rally


E3: Saitek, Logitech Unleash Flood of Controllers
9:30 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

E3 isn't just about software and console games -- there is always tons of game hardware on display, from joysticks to gamepads to speakers and more. Of course, there are always some unique items on display, such as a pair of speakers built into a plastic seat designed to rumble your posterior when you get gibbed; yes, we did try that out last year, and no, it did not sell.


Thankfully there is plenty of useful gaming hardware as well. Peripheral makers Saitek and Logitech both launched new product lines, and due to the magic of USB and Apple's Input Sprockets, all of the devices they are about to ship will essentially be Mac-compatible.


Many of Saitek's peripherals are force-feedback, which of course does not exist on the Mac platform as of yet. However there are plenty of devices that still might aid your gaming. One interesting device is the SP550 USBStick and Pad Fusion, which is an all-new USB product that switches between controllers without disconnecting, perfect for first-time players and those who enjoy a wide range of games. ($30 retail).


They introduced two racing wheels, the R100 and R80; the first is a low-cost, no frills $30 model with separate gas/brake pedals and a space-saving design, while the second is an ultra-cheap $20 wheel with no pedals, gas and brake are on the wheel itself. That's low price point for those who are tired of racing with the keyboard.


They also have a new flight stick on display, which they summarize in a press release:

The X36, which has long been considered theworld’s most advanced flight controller, has been transformed into the mighty X45 Digital Stick and Throttle offering the most realistic flying experience.  This new model has a host of features to make it more like the real thing complete with covered missile launch button, backlit A and B buttons on the stick and D button on the throttle.  The X45 comes with the latest programming software, at the stunning price of only $79.95 retail.
Sound like a great product for flight sim fiends. Other products include a $15 gamepad designed for new gamers and the P8000 Command Pad, which is essentially a keyboard for games designed to provide programmed shortcuts for many games. As Saitek has introduced several Mac products in the past (such as the amazing Cyborg 3D Joystick) we'll be sure to quiz them on Mac-specific drivers for any of these devices.


Logitech has launched a triple attack at the expo, with three new controllers for three types of gaming. Here is an excerpt from their press release:

WingMan Formula GP – A precision-engineered wheel that takes the gamer closer to the experience of driving a racecar, Formula GP has been updated with a USB interface. It also includes a comfortable wheel, featuring rubber hand grips and precise steering control. Four programmable buttons provide convenient control of car functions and view changes, while two wheel-mounted shifters provide for easy gear changes. For accelerating and braking, realistic gas and brake pedals are mounted on a weighted base. Formula GP carries a suggested retail price of $49.95 (US) and 129 DM or local equivalent in Europe.


WingMan Attack 2 – An entry-level USB joystick with a new, modern design for increased performance, Attack 2 carries a suggested retail price of $19.95 (US) and 49 DM or local equivalent in Europe. A rapid-fire trigger, versatile grip handle and five programmable buttons make the stick versatile, while the buttons are positioned with the Logitech “Thumb Sweep” design for fast action. A high-precision throttle is mounted on the base and provides smooth and accurate power settings.


WingMan Precision USB – With its new USB functionality, Precision USB features six programmable buttons and carries a suggested retail price of $9.95 (US) and 29 DM or local equivalent in Europe. To help defeat any opponent, it also includes digital controls, fast-action triggers and a precise 8-way D-pad.

Mac OS compatibility through InputSprockets is mentioned in the PR. They have also launched a new WingMan Action Pad, which seems to be a direct response to the Saitek Command Pad mentioned above. A hybrid controller designed for many games (including RTS and FPS). Here is a description:
Designed for all levels of PC gamers and all types of games, WingMan Action Pad offers impressive functionality, including a highly responsive and ultra-accurate analog mini joystick, at an attractive price point,” said Ted Hoff, vice president and general manager of Logitech’s Interactive Entertainment Division. “For under $20, we are giving gamers the options they expect, plus a few options that will be nice surprises.”


Action Pad features seven standard programmable buttons and two triggers that can be programmed for up to 16 combined functions at a time, and an easy-to-reach throttle control. In addition, gamers are treated to a precise and comfortable 8-way digital D pad, an extremely responsive analog mini-joystick, and a convenient plug-and-play USB interface. It includes a dedicated Mode button which allows the user to quickly change the roles of the D-Pad and analog mini-joystick in mid-play a convenient feature in many games, including sports titles and the popular new cross-genre games.

We hope to bring you images from the show floor of all of the controllers mentioned, so be sure and check back with IMG throughout today and over the weekend.

Saitek
Logitech



Click to enlarge
E3: Bungie Fanfest Reports, Q&A
8:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Bungie.org has a new page set up to cover the recent Bungie Fanfest and subsequent E3 goodies. It sounds like fun was had by all at this now-regular event. The 100+ fans that showed up were treated to some Bungie trivia, and Halo play on the X-box. Here's a quick rundown:

Thanks to Miguel 'Freewill' Chavez, Bungie Fanfest V was a rollicking success. Over 100 Bungie fans showed up for a rambling reminiscence of Bungie's first 10 years in the software business (May 15 was Bungie's official 10th birthday), a trivia contest in which the top prize (unclaimed) was an Xbox and a copy of Halo, and some down-and-dirty 8-player Halo Capture the Flag. Other prizes during the trivia contest included signed Craig Mullins prints (Craig was on hand, a special bonus.) Over the next few days, we'll bring you the trivia questions (and answers), and the slideshow that Matt Soell presented to the crowd, as well as more Halo goodness
Some movies are available of the Halo action, with 8 players teaming up against eachother on 2 of the prototype units. There's also two movies of the solo action. They were taken with a camcorder, so prepare for a few jitters, but otherwise you can get a good feel for the game already. The movies range in size from 6 to 60MB, so they have also nicely posted some screen shots if you don't have that kind of bandwidth. Head over to Bungie.org now for movie mirrors, as well as continuing coverage of Halo and Myth III (almost a Bungie game) throughout the expo.


In related news, the folks at MacGamer recently chatted with Bungie about their feelings towards a Mac version of Halo. Since nothing has largely changed (they're completely focused on the X-box at this point), the Mac and PC versions are still expected sometime after its release. They do note that the porting work should be relatively easy, though. Here's a quick clip:

Although no time frame was given for the release of the Mac Halo, Bungie assured MacGamer that a simultaneous Mac/PC port is planned. David says,


"We're planning on a Mac/PC version. If you ask Mark Sellers or Alex Seropian (about the Mac Port), they'll tell you the same thing."

Check out the rest of the MacGamer Q&A now if you're interested. Unfortunately there are still no real specifics on a time frame for a Mac/PC release at this point. We'll keep you posted on any changes.

Bungie Fanfest Coverage
Bungie Q&A at MacGamer
Microsoft
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved



Click to enlarge
E3: Report on Blizzard Titles, Release Dates
8:47 AM | Michael Yanovich | Comment on this story

Prominently located in the South Hall of the LA Convention Center, Blizzard's buzz is incredibly strong at this year's E3 convention. And the crowds are gathering for good reason. Well, two good reasons: the Diablo II Expansion Lord of Destruction and Warcraft III.


Here's the dirt:


The Diablo II Expansion will be released (drum roll, please) at the end of June. And for those worried that the Mac release will lag behind the PC, worry no more. The expansion is being released as a hybrid CD!


Our inside man Beau also went on the record to adamantly assure us that only a planet-destroying earthquake or a global tidal wave would delay the timely release. So sharpen your slashing skills, the release is a mere 6-weeks away.


Some of the new features are incredibly cool. For instance, the size of your stash has doubled, giving you the much-needed room to store all the new magical items that are being added.


Also, your character can now have two sets of weapons at the ready. That means set one could consist of a sword in one hand and a shield in the other, and set two could be a bow. Switching between the two on the fly is as easy as pressing a single keystroke, giving you near-instant access to melee or ranged weapons, or any other combination your greedy little heart desires.


Rogues have also been beefed up. No longer are these mere bullet-magnets (arrow magnets?) to buy you a few hit points of life. Rogues can now be equipped (by you) with just about any weapon and armor you choose to give them, allowing them to live longer and become much more useful. The demo we saw had a level 40 rogue that did a solid 50-100 points of damage with every arrow she unleashed. These sidekicks are worth keeping around for a while now!


New magical items include runes and charms (similar to gems, but with more variations and powers), as well as class-specific weapons and armor. Blizzard is designing the game to encourage online cooperation. Trade your druid-only mask for a friend's necromancer wand, for example. All the races will have equipment useful only to them.


The new spells, creatures and attacks we were shown were all stunningly executed. And yes, we were able to watch the demo in the new 800x600 resolution. When the screen was switched back to the original 640x480, the difference was astounding. Be prepared for high system requirements in the new video mode, but if your system can handle it, you will be a very happy camper indeed.


And now on to WC III. Not much has changed since the preview IMG posted two months ago, but the game has obviously progressed tremendously. More of the graphics are complete, particle effects have been added to the water (though waterfalls haven't been implemented yet), and the mouse-scroll button now zooms the camera into the action.


The big news is a confirmation from the last meeting: If the Mac version does not ship on the same day as the PC version does, then we won't have to wait more than another week or two, tops. Yes, they are aiming for a near-simultaneous release, and so far they are right on schedule. I can attest to the fact that the Mac department is just down the hall from the PC area in their main building, so it seems Blizzard's exciting new policy of releasing the Mac and PC versions at almost the same time is here to stay. No more 6 month delays (as there was during Starcraft's release) if all goes well. Watch for more Blizzard updates and images from the show floor!

Blizzard Entertainment
Preview: Warcraft III
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction



Click to enlarge
E3: World War II Online Update, June 6 Release
8:35 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Yesterday afternoon, we had a chance to chat with Playnet.com's Fredrik "Cuda" Wallenberg about the status of the Mac version of World War II Online. As we discovered immediately, Fredrik is extremely animated and passionate about the Macintosh. It seems that he is partly responsible for pushing the Mac version forward and keeping it up to date with the PC code. Fredrik assured us that WWII Online is in simultaneous development and will not be a "port".


The Mac version has been in beta for about 3 weeks and should be in the final beta stages within a few weeks. Fredrik has been rigorously testing the beta on his own PowerMac G4/533 with GeForce2 MX. He told us that the developer, Cornered Rat Software, is shooting for playability an iMac, but no promises are being made. It's probably safe to assume that a Rage 128 graphics card will be the minimum.


Fredrik surprised us with the announcement that both Mac and PC versions of World War II Online will be released on June 6. The Blitzkrieg theater will be the first war zone available, along with a handful of tanks, aircraft, weapons, and other vehicles. Game peripherals, such as joysticks and throttles, will be supported through Apple's Input Sprocket technology. Fredrik's talks with Saitek have been very positive, though support from other companies (Thrustmaster, CH Products) has not been finalized.


Our conversation with Fredrik ended with a discussion about Mac OS X compatibility. Cornered Rat is definitely interested in making WWII Online OS X compatible, but they have their plate full right now with completing the game and providing full support when it is released. Also, the networking and input API's for OS X have not been made public to all developers yet, but that should be cleared up at the Worldwide Developers Conference next week. When asked about the possibility about showcasing the game at MacWorld New York to a Mac-centric crowd, Fredrik was very receptive and told us he would look into it.

World War II Online Web Site
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online



Click to enlarge
E3: Warcraft III Trailer, Movies
8:31 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Following our previous news on Blizzard's upcoming Role-Playing Strategy game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos we have some fresh eye-candy! Blizzard have been showing the title off to an eager crowd at E3 with new levels for attendees to play and some tasty movies to drool over. Combining strategical elements based around managing resources and building units for battle, along with missions and quests as found in RPG's, all encased in a gorgeous 3D environment, this is surely a game not to miss. Play will be in either of four races: Orcs, Humans, Undead and Night elves, with the usual multi-player battle.net features.


The fansite WarcraftIII.net recently scored a new cinematic trailer of the game. It's another Bink movie, so make sure you have the Mac Bink player to view the 29 MB file. Unfortunately the site is currently swamped (much like yesterday and the Max Payne/DNF videos). Stay tuned for more info on mirrors as they appear across the web.
IGN PC also has three relatively small (2.5-3.5 MB) Quicktime movies direct from the show floor. Although taken with a hand-held camera, the in-game views and handy size of these movies makes them a must-get for all fans of Blizzard's previous titles. Warcraft III is expected to be released for the Mac by the end of the year, for a near simultaneous release with the PC version. For more details check out our preview or visit the official Warcraft III site.

Blizzard's Warcraft III site
Cinematic Trailer at WarcraftIII.net
IMG Warcraft III Preview
PC IGN movies
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III


Mac Games News for Thursday, May 17, 2001

E3: Return to Castle Wolfenstein Site Launched4:19 PM
MacGamer Previews Civilization III4:19 PM
E3: New Myth III Images Revealed [Update]3:24 PM
E3: Images From The Expo, Part One3:06 PM
E3: Disney Unveils Mac-Friendly Lineup2:39 PM
E3: Tentative MacSoft Release Dates1:29 PM
Blizzard Patches Diablo, Warcraft II BNE1:07 PM
E3: Civilization III Sneak Preview, More From MacSoft12:54 PM
Vortex NG Updated to 1.0.3, Fixes Bugs12:24 PM
Classic Gaming Updates for OS X11:37 AM
Westlake To Port Deus Ex to PS210:58 AM
E3: Star Wars Jedi Outcast: Jedi Knight II10:33 AM
E3: More Max Payne Movies, Images10:13 AM
Shadowbane Reveals Guild Halls10:02 AM
E3: Unreal II Preview and Interview9:58 AM
IMG Heads to E39:44 AM
Sound Blaster Update on UT, Deus Ex9:31 AM
Rune Multiplayer/Patch News9:27 AM
Westlake Lines Up the Releases9:25 AM
MacCentral Visits MacPlay8:52 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, May 17, 2001 on one page


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