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Thursday, May 24, 2001

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Cyan CEO Speaks on Exile, Mudpie
9:19 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Two interesting new interviews with Rand Miller, CEO of Cyan Worlds, have recently been posted around the web. The recent success of Myst 3: Exile (#1 on the PC game charts) continues the tremendous success of the series, even though Cyan purposefully stayed away from game's development. Instead, they are now completely focused on their next 'broadband' title with the code name of Mudpie (and the internal name of Parable).

A quick Q&A with Miller at the Adrenaline Vault asks for more detail about the new game, as well as revealing only the second screen shot of Mudpie. While very few details are known about the game so far, it's expected to be a non-violent world open for exploration. Here's an excerpt explaining more:

What can you tell us about MudPie's design at this stage, so that our readers can be more informed about the game and the technologies we’re discussing?

MudPie is designed to provide a player with never-ending places to explore and experience. Exploration is the key. MudPie will provide many different kinds of "play," including, but not limited to, experiences similar to Myst, Riven and Exile. However, it is designed for the exploration to be shared, both in and out of the game. The adventures in-game will facilitate small groups of friends exploring together, discovering or even competing. The worlds themselves are wrapped around the rich D'ni history, making use of the incredible amount of information that has been translated from the numerous D'ni transcripts. The fact that the D'ni had been able to write books that could take them to an unlimited number of fantastic Ages is an amazing construct for MudPie. The story will unravel itself as the world is explored.

Head over now to check out the rest of the interview, and also stay tuned for another Q&A to be posted soon at Avault.

The Spokesman-Review has also talked with Miller. In their interview, they focus more on Exile and the history of the series for this Spokane-based company. He also notes there will probably be yet another game in the series beyond Exile, as well as his thoughts while playing through the game. Here's a quote from Miller about the slower pace of the series, and how that might change with Mudpie:

People love to explore, dig deeper, see what's around the corner. And it's satisfying to do that in ways that aren't so twitchy and frenetic. There's a wonderful sense of achievement when you do that in a deliberate, cerebral manner.

Having said that, we're putting stuff in our next project that involves riding creatures and grabbing things and team competitions. But it continues to be one of our goals to build exploration into every play experience.

Check out this interview as well, as there are many other topics covered. And stay tuned to IMG as more info on their next project is revealed. So far, every Cyan project has had a Mac version published (with the exception of RealMYST, which is indeed complete but has yet to be published) so we expect their future projects to also find their way to our platform.

Cyan Worlds Web Site
Avault Interview with Rand Miller
Spokesman-Review Interview with Rand Miller

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Mac WWII Online Features Stiff System Requirements
12:42 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Cornered Rat has updated the web site for the just-gold massively-multiplayer title World War II Online with some information that might come as an unpleasant shock to Mac gamers looking forward to this title. While the visuals for this game definitely hinted that the system requirements would be steep, some might balk at just how steep they are. The FAQ for this game was updated with these recommendations:

Macintosh OS 9.0 or higher (minimum system requirements)

G4/400, 256MB RAM, 16MB 3D Video Card, 8X CD ROM, 56K Modem w/Internet Access

Macintosh OS 9.0 or higher (recommended system requirements)

G4/400, 512MB RAM, 32MB 3D Video Card, 40X CD ROM, 56K Modem w/Internet Access

As you might expect, such a high bar to entry into this online world has caused some outcry in the Playnet forums. However, it is worth noting that the system requirements are fairly high on the PC side as well -- the reccommended hardware for PC gamers is a Pentium 3/600 MHz, 256 MB of RAM and a 32-MB video card.

Cornered Rat's Mac programmer, known as "Hoss," dropped by with a response to some forum posters who voiced their disappointment at the high system requirements. Here is his reply:

While the current macintosh version will *run* on lower end systems, I don't believe that it provides a pleasant gaming experience *at this time*.

I'm working on lowering those requirements. However, there's no gain in me under-reporting the truth of the matter.

Because of its continually-updated nature, you may indeed hear about the mac version requiring less horsepower within the first 30 minutes of "going live". But until that happens, it's my honor-bound duty to tell the truth about current system requirements.

The online, persistent nature of the game itself will allow it to be updated live as gameplay progresses, so future optimization is certainly in the cards. As the project itself is such an ambitious effort in its own right, fans should not be too shocked that the game demands serious hardware.

In related (and somewhat more pleasant) news, the Images and Media section of the web site has been updaed with new screen shots showing the view from a grunt-level perspective for the first time. If your ambition is to try out your FPS skills in the trenches, be sure and check out these shots from the gold version of the game.

World War II Online FAQ
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

Update on Target: Korea Progress
11:51 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Chuck "Vardr" Grimes of Targetware recently passed along a progress report on Target Korea, an upcoming flight sim set in the first days of jet-powered aircraft and sporting an extremely flexible engine and game structure. This flight sim is unusual in that it can be easily modified and extended, creating a flight simulation that is literally the product of its own community. In fact, several "mods" and community projects are already in progress even though the game is still in beta.

According to this report, the game is progressing well and is still in closed beta at this point. Here is the update:

0.32 continues in development. We are still tweaking the Mission System.
This has been interesting in that Sick is chiding me against 'arena think' .
This will be a fairly innovative shift in the MMP Flightsim paradigm.

The auto-download features are done.

Resource Checking is coming along quite nicely. This is, of course, a very
important piece in the business model.

No word yet on when 0.32 will be released to the closed beta group, but we
will take a big step toward open beta when it is.

We are discussing the next 'Skin the Bird' contest. No final decision on an
aircraft yet, but it will most likely be a jet.

We will be putting together some web pages containing comprehensive data on
the various aircraft: Performance specs, energy diagrams, and pilot's notes.
Watch for this on the Targetware website ( in the
next week or two.

Almost forgot: We are putting together some really great documentation for
Target Korea if the samples I've seen are any indication.

Visit the Targetware web site for more details. The screen shots section has recently been updated with some very nice cockpit images and shots of various camera views, so be sure and check them out. Supposedly they are panning on a public beta release of the game in the next 60 days.

Interview: Targetware's Wade Williams
Targetware Web Site
Target Korea

E3 Report Uncovers Mac Adventure Games
11:15 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

If there is any lesson to be learned from a trip to E3 -- besides the value of comfortable shoes -- it is that specialization is the key, just as in the natural world. Darcy Danielson of Just Adventure went to the show with a single subject in mind, and in the process uncovered several gems that slipped under the radar of everyone else (yes, including ourselves). Not only do they have news on upcoming titles from Dreamcatcher and LucasArts, the report also contains hints of future MYST sequels, and some previously undiscovered companies laboring to bring us Mac adventure games.

Perhaps their biggest find at the show was the discovery of Arxel Tribe and their upcoming titles Hitchcock and Casanova. As you might expect, the first of the two titles is based on the films of the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Little is known about the title, and the web site is no help, but the Just Adventure article contains this description:

The biggest Mac news at E3 is the upcoming release of Arxel Tribe's Hitchcock, which will be published by Universal. We were able to get a preview of the game, and it looks absolutely phenomenal. The developers are using sets from Hitchcock's movies as inspiration for the background game areas, and extracts from Hitchcock's films are used as flashbacks. JA was told that the biggest reference used in design if one were to look at others in the genre was Blade Runner. There's no difficulty level, but the player gets a "psychic flash" if he/she is stuck in a gameplay area for a certain amount of time, which looks as though it will be a very clever built-in hint system. The best news of all for Mac players is that the anticipated release date of the Mac port is only two weeks after the PC release (what a relief if this pans out--can anybody say Beyond Atlantis?). Arxel also plans a Mac port of their upcoming game Casanova.
The report also reveals that Dreamcatcher (publishers of Riddle of the Sphinx and Traitor's Gate) has two titles in progress for the Mac OS, Beyond Atlantis and Atlantis: The New World. Beyond Atlantis should be complete in about a month. Let's just cross our fingers and hope that more of Dreamcatcher's future games (including Dune and Necronomicon) follow this path.

Darcy also spoke to Pan Interactive about their upcoming game based on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and uncovered some gameplay details as well. According to the report the Mac version should ship very soon after the PC version is released; no word on a possible release date.

Be sure and read the rest of this report for details on the next MYST titles (IV and V are supposedly already in progress) and hints of future LucasArts adventure titles. Of particular interest is a quote from a LucasArts member who said the partnership with Aspyr to produce the Mac version of Escape from Monkey Island was a success, and they are looking into more arrangements of this type in the future.

Dreamcatcher Games
Just Adventure's E3 Report on Mac Games
Arxel Tribe

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Unreal II Details from E3 Wrap-Ups
10:42 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As the news from E3 slows from a flood to a trickle, more and more information regarding next-generation titles continues to hit the net as reporters recover from Expo trauma and have some time to sit down and mull over what they saw. One game we're sure you're interested in is Epic Games' and Legend Entertainment's eye-popping upcoming FPS Unreal II, which is shaping up to be one of the most impressive FPS titles to date.

First up on the roster is IGN's Action Vault's report on their E3 experience with the game, which features a "behind closed doors" look at this title (thanks to Stomped for this info). They note that Unreal II will feature both single and multiplayer versions, with more emphasis placed on interactivity in the first-person experience than in the original Unreal. Various multiplayer games including deathmatch, capture the flag, and some new modes will be available as well.

The storyline of this title bears almost no relation to the original. Players will now assume the role of a Terran Frontier Marshall that patrols space in a ship dubbed The Atlantis, a former military vehicle. As the game progresses, players will find themselves in the middle of a war over a set of ancient artifacts with various races and factions vying for possession. Along for the ride are three crew members: Aida the Intelligence Officer, Ne'Ban the alien Pilot, and Isaak the Engineer.

IGN also notes that a real-time conversation system will be in place for active crew communication. Dialogue choices will be displayed with corresponding numbers for quick picking. Voice-overs will also be in place, with Aida's voice being demoed at the time, with the voice-acting itself being convincing according to the report. Similar to Unreal Tournament, squad members can also be given various orders, such as patrolling an area or attacking, and will follow them out with intelligent behavior.

For those looking for any remnants from the first game, they'll be happy to know that the Skaarj are still intact:

We also had the chance to check out the Skaarj themselves, the only enemy type to return from the original Unreal. With a sniper rifle, Leiby zoomed in on a guard on duty. When a shot was fired at him, he grunted and scurried off to apparently gather help.
Several weapons have also been described so far, including a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, a MindClaw psi weapon, and an immensely powerful flamethrower.

In an interesting environmental twist, one of the settings demonstrated was an asteroid field set in space which was specifically designed for multiplay. The field itself had little to no gravity and presented an interesting set of options for players, including hiding between the asteroids themselves for stealth-based attacks.

Not to be outdone, Planet Unreal offers their own in-depth look at this upcoming title. One of the relevant things they make note of about the missions, both single and multiplayer, are their varied styles of play. Some will be straight action-fests while others may be much more strategy-based. For example, one mode features goals very similar to an RTS game, where the player must gather resources and components while defending against enemy attacks.

Also mentioned are several of the game's outstanding "technical flourishes." The particle system is currently extremely detailed, as shown by pieces of flaming gel falling, bouncing around, and finally going out as a flamethrower was used. An asteroid field, complete with convincing particle animation, was also demonstrated.

Another engineering triumph of the revamped Unreal engine is revealed in this description of what is labeled the Golem skeletal system:

To show us how it worked, Dalton walked the player up to Aida, the beautiful security officer. As he moved around her, her head and eyes followed the player as a human's would, turning to face you at all times. The effect was so much more natural than previously seen in many games. Dalton explained that this independent head movement was only one part of the skeletal system--Aida's breathing, leg, and arm movements were also all independent systems, which means that a modeler can specify what systems do what and when; i.e., the modeler can specify what the breathing animation looks like, and specify what an particular arm animation will look like, and these two systems will happen independent of each other but can happen at the same time. talking and gesturing are other independent parameters for the model.

Of course, both reports address one of the obvious attractions of Unreal II - its graphical splendor. Many objects have actually been modeled rather than just faked with textures, including outdoor grass and the ceiling pipework in The Atlantis. The polygon count is also extremely high, allowing for realistic curves in all surfaces including environments and character faces. To demonstrate this, the official Unreal II site has posted a number of screen shots, all in desktop picture sizes, that really show off the high-powered graphics of this title. Included in the shots are environments, weapons being fired, and a close-up shot of Aida that is extremely well-detailed.

There is, as of yet, no definite release date for this title. However, it is looking and sounding extremely sweet - the desktop pictures alone are worth more than a passing glance. Be sure to check out the featured articles as well as the screen shots for more information on this upcoming game. While we may have a year or more to wait, you can be sure we will track this title for any sign of an impending Mac OS version.

Action Vault - Unreal II Report
Planet Unreal - Unreal II Report
Unreal II - Official Site

Eidos Addresses Rumors on Deus Ex 2
9:31 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Readers who regularly surf the net for gaming news may have run across a recent rumor that Eidos planned on publishing console versions of two of their most anticipated titles, Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3, before the PC version(and presumably a Mac version as well for Deus Ex 2). As the Adrenaline Vault notes, these rumors caused substantial resentment towards Eidos in the PC community and flooded the forums with debates and disgruntled messages.

Eidos has a released an official statement, written by Warren Spector of Ion Storm, to counter these rumors and lay to rest any suspicions players may now have regarding the status of these titles:

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly rumors spread in this business and how willing people are to accept rumor as fact. Right now there are rumors circulating the Internet that Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3 will ship on console first with PC ports coming later. That is simply not true. Let me assure you that we have no plans to release a console version of DX2 or T3 before a PC version or to compromise one version to accommodate the needs of any other version we might develop. Both DX2 and T3 are a ways off ... and official announcements regarding these projects will be made in the future. Until then let me just say that the members of the DX2 and T3 teams ... are determined to meet and surpass your justifiably high expectations. Everyone in this studio is as committed to making games like ... Thief and Deus Ex as you are committed to playing them. The vehemence with which you have expressed your concern is ample evidence that you love these games as much as we do. All I ask is that you trust us now as you always have in the past. You will not be disappointed.
As Spector notes, it is amazing how quickly a rumor can spread across the net, and even more amazing how quickly people will respond to it. Hopefully the above statement will put to rest any similar rumors in circulation. As of now Ion Storm has not even decided what graphics engines they will use for the two titles, so their future on the Mac is unclear. However, considering the popularity of Deus Ex on the Mac platform, we're sure someone will try to bring the sequel to us regardless of which engine they choose.

The Adrenaline Vault - Eidos Puts Rumors to Rest

Gaming and the Apple Store
9:26 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

The Apple stores are finally here and by all accounts, they've been a tremendous success. Poshly adorned and stocked with generous amounts of hardware and software, the Apple store gives Mac users a place they can go to find practically anything Mac-related. But how are the Apple stores for Mac gamers? IMG's Chris Barylick (who incidentally showed up at 4 A.M for the McLean, Virginia opening) takes a look at one of the new Apple stores from a gaming perspective. Here's a snippet from the article:

Walk into the Apple Store looking for a choice game and you won't be let down. The first thing that catches the buyer's eye are two enormous black shelves which run most of the length of the store filled to the brim with software. For parents looking for software titles for their children, the shelves along the walls are laden with non-violent/educational programs, everything within easy reach. Customers can simply pluck out the titles of their choice (no need to wait for the title to be retrieved from a back room), walk to the register and take home what they came for. Everything's as convenient as it should be.

"I was kind of impressed that there are this many Mac games together," said a customer who identified himself as David, who eagerly snagged a copy of Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear from the shelves.

Overall the Apple stores should be a boon for Mac gaming. Be sure to check out the rest of the article. In related news, a recent discussion on the Mac Games Developer's list has revealed that Apple has appointed a contact person specifically to help small and independent publishers (such as shareware makers) find shelf space in Apple stores, which would be impossible in the larger corporate chains such as CompUSA.

Gaming and the Apple Store

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Neverwinter Nights and BG II: Throne of Bhaal E3 Movies
9:12 AM | Ben Boffey | Comment on this story

Interplay has just released all of the movies they had playing on their huge media wall last week for download from their ftp site -- converted to a much smaller format, of course. Of particular interest to Mac gamers are the trailers for upcoming RPG/adventure titles Baldurs Gate II: Throne of Bhaal and Neverwinter Nights. Both games are being developed by RPG experts Bioware and will be published by Interplay.

As announced yesterday BGII: Shadows of Amn has just entered beta-testing and should be released by Macplay in July. Throne of Bhaal is an expansion pack for that title, with 'Add-in' and 'Add-on' sections. The Add-in section is new content added into the BGII: SoA in the form a very large dungeon called Watcher's Keep. The add-on section takes place on a brand new map with many cool new areas to explore, and starts shortly after the events in Shadows of Amn with an exhilarating and immersive story. A Mac release has not yet been announced, but with the BG II engine already ported to the Mac OS, a successful sales run for the title should secure a Mac version of the expansion.

Neverwinter Nights will truly take RPG gaming to the next level, using new 3rd Edition AD&D rules and moving into a full-3D environment. For the first time the Dungeon Master will be brought over from pen-and-paper into a Computer RPG, this is a huge step which will bring not only a new element to RPGing but also to multiplayer gaming. The DM will have the power to create new adventures and then mold how the story unfolds, controlling everything through from initial dungeon set-up to real-time character dialogue and actions. The DM has long been an important and revered part of pen-and-paper role playing and we can't wait to see how this will be transferred to the computer world, and in what ways interaction will enhance the gaming experience.

NWN's graphics are a huge step forward as well; using the in-house Aurora engine BioWare has used their experience with 3D graphics gained when producing MDK2 to bring particle systems, environment mapping and dynamic lighting to a new 3rd-person engine similar - in concept at least - to that of the Baldur's Gate series. With support for all resolutions available, from 640x480 to whatever your graphics card can handle, this game is sure to look great on all machines. Bioware is planning simultaneous release for PC/MacOS and Linux at the end of the summer and have talked of their huge effort to Carbonize the title for OS X in the past. Make sure you grab both movies (the sizes are not outrageous, but will test modem users) and take a look at the Mac's gaming future.

BGII: Throne of Bhaal site
Neverwinter Nights trailer (26Mb)
Neverwinter Nights trailer (17Mb)
BGII: Throne of Bhaal trailer (21Mb)
IMG BGII: Shadows of Amn preview
Neverwinter Nights Official Site
BGII: Throne of Bhaal trailer (13Mb)
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Diablo II, Starcraft Updates Available
8:54 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Patches for two of Blizzard's titles are now available for download at MacGameFiles for both the isometric RPG Diablo II and the venerable RTS Starcraft.

The Diablo II patch, which updates the title to 1.06b, weighs in at around 4 MB and includes many fixes and improvements, including these Mac-specific ones:

  • Fixed a bug that allowed players to crash other players by spamming them.
  • Fixed a bug that was not saving Open Battle.Net characters.
  • Fixed issue with Samsung Drives and copy-protection.

The Starcraft patch updates the title to version 1.08b and weighs in at around 3.2 MB. It includes the following fixes:

  • Fixed a bug that caused the game to crash when a damaged morphing creep colony, changed into a sunken colony.
  • Mac ladder maps are now correct.
  • Corrected URLs for KBK:
  • Removed URL for replay FAQ.

For those that wish to download these patches, links have been provided below.

MGF - Starcraft 1.08b patch
MGF - Diablo II 1.06b patch

Summoner Previewed at Apple
8:44 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Apple has posted a new preview of Summoner, the upcoming 3D RPG from GraphSim set for release very soon. The game sports impressive graphics and a deep storyline combined with fast-paced combat action sure to please both RPG and FPS fans. The preview chats a little with GraphSim CEO Jeff Morgan about their plans for OS X. Apparently the game will be able to run in Classic mode initially (not something many 3D apps can claim), with full OS X compatibility coming later.

They also have a few quotes from Volition's Sandeep Shekar, lead designer for the game. Here's a clip where he describes Summoner's length:

Shekar estimates that there are about 50 side quests you can complete — or choose not to bother with — along the way to finishing the main story, which he figures should take you about 25 to 30 hours if you skip those mini quests (you’re looking at around 50 hours if you want to do everything).

And if you want to play with your friends, they can take the roles of the other members in your party — even if they’re playing on Windows — and help you defeat the bad guys over the Internet or a LAN.

Head over to Apple to check out the rest of the preview. Summoner for the Mac is expect to go Gold any day now, and should be available a few weeks after that.

Apple Preview of Summoner
Buy Summoner

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 23, 2001

FUEL's E3 Movie Trailer3:06 PM
Help Beta Test Baldur's Gate 21:17 PM
Rogue Spear Patch On The Way12:14 PM
Myst III Launcher Available10:38 AM
RF's Weapon of the Week10:17 AM
Mac Tropico Demo Confirmed10:07 AM
Huge Shadowbane Movie Released10:02 AM
Vortex NG Updated for OS X9:52 AM
New Blizzard Movies, Site Updates9:30 AM
World War II Online Goes Gold, Mac Info9:05 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 23, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, May 22, 2001
Monday, May 21, 2001
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Thursday, May 17, 2001

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