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Wednesday, May 30, 2001


Summoner Nears Gold, System Reqs Released
10:18 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Jeff Morgan of GraphSim has released two pieces of information regarding their impending release of the Mac OS version of Summoner, a 3D RPG much praised on the PS2 for its depth and elegance of design. According to Jeff they are reviewing a candidate for Gold Master status, but at the moment they aren't certain when the game will go gold. He also released a preliminary set of system requirements for the game.


As Summoner is a true-3D title rendered in real-time OpenGL, the system requirements will be slightly higher than for a traditional 2D isometric RPG. Even so, for the high-quality visuals of this game Volition has managed to squeeze a lot of mileage out of the Mac port, as you will see. Here are the system recommendations:


  • 300+ MHz G3 or G4
  • 3D acceleration w/ at least 6MB VRAM (ATI PRO/128/Radeon, GeForce 2 MX or other OpenGL compliant accelerator)
  • 8.6 or later
  • 800 MB HD space
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 8x CD
It is very nice to see that the game will scale all the way down to the level of Rev C iMac users and bronze-keyboard PowerBook users. Watch for Summoner to be declared "gold" in the near future, the start of a great summer of Mac game releases. For more information on this RPG and screen shots of the game in action, be sure and check out our Summoner preview.

Preview: Summoner
GraphSim
GraphSim
Volition
Summoner
Buy Summoner



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New FUEL Trailer, OS X Info
1:50 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Earlier this month, IMG brought you the first news of a new racing game called FUEL which is coming to the Mac OS. The title was one of the featured games during the GeForce 3 launch earlier this year, and it looks to be quite an impressive water racing game. While it was originally going to be using hovercraft only, a recent shift in the focus will enable you to race with many different vehicles over land and water.


Recently FragMac got more details from one of FUEL's developers about the Mac version. They're apparently focusing strictly on OS X at this point, and they hope to have it be a simultaneous Mac/PC release. The game is still a ways off, though, with plans to have it completed early next year.


For a great example of what FUEL will be like, check out a just-released video of the game. The high resolution version is quite a large download, but those with the bandwidth (and Windows Media Player) will want to give it a look. There is also a smaller (9MB) file available to ease the strain on your modem. [Note: FilePlanet looks to be down at the moment, watch for it to reappear later in the day.]

Official FUEL Web Site
FUEL OS X Report on FragMac
IMG News: New Game FUEL'ing Its Way to the Mac
Firetoad Software


Feature: Radeon vs GeForce MX 2
12:14 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

If you plan on ordering a new G4 Power Macintosh and you click through the BTO options on Apple's online Store, you are confronted by a dilemma -- NVIDIA GeForce2 MX (the default) or ATI Radeon? Both cards are the same price, but do they deliver the same performance and value for the money? IMG's hardware editor Lucian Fong has produced a detailed comparison of the two cards, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of both.


The article includes benchmarks and analysis of the results, as well as details on the differing driver models that each company is pursuing. Check it out if there is a Mac purchase in your future.

Feature: Radeon vs. GeForce2 MX


ATI to Allow Third-Party Board Manufacturers
12:08 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In a remarkable turnaround for this venerable 3D chipmaker, ATI Technologies has decided to follow NVIDIA's lead and licence their chips and board designs to third-party board makers (such as Creative Labs and Hercules) so these companies can produce their own products. This decision is a dual-edged sword, as while it will lower manufacturing costs and spread ATIs market share, it may erode sales of their own cards which they will continue to produce. This marks the move by all major 3D chipset makers to abandon the product model of 3dfx (one chip maker, one board maker) which may have resulted in that company's failure to return to profitability.


At this point it is not clear what this decision will mean for Macintosh users. Currently we have two sources of ATI chipsets -- ATI retail products (such as the Radeon Mac Edition AGP and PCI) and OEM cards supplied by Apple with current Cubes, G4 towers and portables. As the PC versions of ATI's graphics cards are not compatible with Mac systems, it seems to follow that ATI-based cards from a third party would also not be compatible. However, it is certainly possible for a card maker to create a Mac-specific or Mac/PC compatible card with ATI chips, which may mean lowered costs for Mac users.


Here's an excerpt from ATI's press release:

ATI Technologies Inc. (TSE: ATY, NASDAQ: ATYT), a world leader in graphics, video and multimedia solutions, today unveiled a new business strategy that will see the Company enter into manufacturing and distribution partnerships with leading original design manufacturers (ODMs) and add-in board manufacturers (AIBs) - a move that will significantly increase sales and distribution penetration of ATI chip technologies worldwide.


These partners will become the major suppliers of ATI technologies to system integrators (SIs) and distributors worldwide. ATI will continue to provide chips and board products to OEMs in the value, mainstream, high-end and workstation markets and will continue to support ATI branded products in the retail channel. The new strategy will be officially rolled out at Computex, one of the world's largest computer shows, held in Taipei from June 4 to 8, 2001.


``This is great news for our customers and partners worldwide, who now have multiple suppliers for ATI's industry-leading graphics acceleration technology,'' said David Orton, President & Chief Operating Officer, ATI Technologies Inc. ``The market has changed over the past year-and-a-half and it is now time for ATI to deepen its penetration into the system integrator and distribution markets through this new strategy.''


The new strategy will provide SIs, retailers and distributors with a wide choice of suppliers of ATI desktop graphics chips and a more competitive market, in general. Agreements have been reached with many ODM partners, with more partner announcements to be made at Computex.


``Our ODM partners are talented, agile and cost-effective companies, serving the most demanding high-volume customers you will find in the industry,'' said K.Y. Ho, Chairman and CEO, ATI Technologies Inc. ``ATI is the world's best-known brand of graphics processor and this is key to attracting top ODMs to incorporate our products and market them to PC vendors, system integrators and distributors.''


ATI will offer the full range of graphics technologies to its ODM and AIB partners, affording them a significant opportunity to increase sales, revenue and market share. Reaction from ODMs and AIBs has been positive, as they now have direct access to ATI products for their customers. ATI will enable them to get to market in a timely, high-quality fashion by providing a full range of reference designs, optimized software drivers on the web, and technical support.

As you can see there was no platform-specific information in the release, and no third-party board makers were mentioned specifically. It will most likely be some time before we can gauge the impact of this move on the Mac 3D card market, but at the least we can hope for lower cost or wider product availability in the future.

ATI Press Release on Third-Party Chip Licenses


Warbirds III Q&A
10:26 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpy has pulled aside Jay "Divine" Littman of IEntertainment to talk about their next-gen online combat simulation Warbirds III. Many Mac users are probably familiar with the Warbirds series, and some may already be involved in the open beta of Warbirds III currently underway. The interview discusses what has changed in this incarnation, the pricing plans for the game and comments on the status of the open beta. It seems they will soon be adding the first ground units to the World War II title. Here's an excerpt:

Gamespy: What are you looking to add to Warbirds III now and in the future?


Divine: Please remember that WarBirds III is an OPEN BETA and is far from being completed. Even thought the development of WarBirds III will continue for years it is not feature complete to WarBirds 2.77. For now WarBirds III is missing CV, Squads and Scoring; but not for long.


The OPEN BETA has been very stable and in the next few weeks you'll see major changes to WarBirds III as we add new features. The WarBirds III development team is working very closely with Apple, NVIDIA and ATI all of which are very impress with WarBirds III potential. In the next few weeks we'll be adding our first ground vehicle, a M3 Half Track with quad .50 turret. The ½ Track is a mobile anti aircraft vehicle. This will allow an avenue for new players who have not invested the time to learn how to fly to take part in the game. This will allow us to expand the appeal and market of WarBirds to a new audience. Also just like bombers the ½ Track is a chat room where players can drive around the terrain and shoot down passing aircraft while chatting and waiting for another victim. The ½ Track is a new feature and brings new game play and balance to WarBirds.


  • More 3D cockpits
  • CV (aircraft carriers), Squads and Scoring
  • Artillery
  • Villages and cultural ground icons with a limited ground war
  • WarBirds III will have Force Feedback joystick support just like WarBirds 2.77
  • For more information, check out the rest of the interview and also have a look at the official Warbirds site. We'll bring you more details as Warbirds III heads towards an official release.

    Official Warbirds III Web Site
    IMG News: Limited Open Beta of Warbirds III Available
    GameSpy Warbirds III Interview


    Apple Feature - Arcade Gaming on the Mac
    9:50 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Apple has posted a recent gaming feature on their website. Titled No Need for Quarters: Arcade Gaming Lives on the Mac, it focuses on MacSoft and its current string of revamped arcade classics such as Breakout, Centipede, Qbert, and even the old original Pong.


    The titles themselves are old, but the games themselves are quite new. Everything has been redone in 3D graphics, and a variety of new game modes has been applied to each to make them more appealing. Want an example? The paddle in Breakout, nothing more than a rectangle in the original game, now sports roving eyes and the ability to run around on its end when necessary.


    Included with the article are some thoughts by MacSoft's Al Shilling as well as some great screenshots of the featured titles. The article itself is well worth a look, and it's nice to see Apple supporting the gaming scene on the Mac as well.

    MacSoft
    Apple - No Need for Quarters



    Click to enlarge
    Unreal II Preview
    9:20 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Well-Rounded Entertainment has recently posted their own E3 impressions of Unreal II, the much anticipated sequel currently in development by Legend Entertainment. Though Unreal II has been covered extensively by many different websites that attended E3, WRE manages to scrounge up some significant details that may have gone previously unnoticed.


    First up, Mike Verdu of Legend firmly states that players will -not- need a GeForce3 in order to run the game. Due to the game's eye-popping visuals, many people began to speculate that top-of-the-line hardware would be needed to play this game. Thankfully, this will not be the case.


    Throughout the game, there will be six different races of enemies encountered, including the Skaarj from the original Unreal as well as a new AI-driven robotic race of some kind. Multiple mercenary and military groups will be encountered throughout the game as well, some hireable and some hostile.


    A total of fifteen weapons will be available for a player's fragging pleasure. WRE notes the flamethrower in particular as being extremely deadly. Another interesting aspect about weapons in Unreal II is the "unfamiliarity" factor. Simply put, just because you pick up an enemy's weapon doesn't mean you know how to use it. Players will have to bring scavenged weapons back to their ship and have them examined in order to determine how to use them.


    The interactivity between the player and the ship crew is also very detailed. Depending on their mood, crew members will greet players with smiles, scowls, or cold shoulders. Players can interrupt conversations between crew members, though there is the potential risk of upsetting them. Players having conversations with crew members can also be interrupted by other members, which no doubt will also affect crew emotions depending on how the player responds.


    The AI, already fearsome in Unreal Tournament, is being jacked up several more notches in Unreal II. Enemies will take cover when being fired upon, waiting for the pause that signifies a reload before mounting their own assault.


    As of yet, no official Mac version has been announced, though the PC version itself is a long way off. As all the previous Unreals have hit the Mac, there are high hopes that a Mac version of Unreal II will be in the works sometime in the future.

    Official Unreal II Site
    Well-Rounded Entertainment - Unreal II Preview



    Click to enlarge
    New Race Info on Shadowbane
    8:50 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    As Shadowbane, Wolfpack's upcoming MMORPG based on clan formation and warfare, continues to build momentum, the backstory and races themselves continue to become more and more richly developed. The latest update focuses on the Irekei, also known as the Devilmen due to their red skin and ferocious ways.


    The lore of the Irekei has been scripted out and recently posted at the official Shadowbane site, and offers insights into the so-called mysterious ways of the Irekei. Here's a sample:

    Let the Sun be your first teacher. Look into that fire, and feel its warmth, and always remember that you are born of that fire. That blaze, and the Terror that loosed it, brought Strength to our bodies and Wisdom to our souls. The Rain Bleeders, the fir’khanim, cannot look long upon the Sun, our Mother’s palace. Their eyes bleed water and are blinded, their skins redden and are burned, and their spirits wither and faint. But you are born of the Irekei, born to endure.
    Also added are two new Irekei Disciplines, the Blood Prophet and the Sun Dancer. The Blood Prophet is likened to a Channeler or a Wizard, wielding the mystical powers of his faith. The Sun Dancer is the martial artist of the Irekei, a being that bears no blades, yet is capable of instilling terror into those that do.


    Both of these disciplines have detailed stories, written in Shadowbane's typically artistic style, that portray each one's thoughts, actions, and motivations. For those that aren't quite convinced that Shadowbane has one of the richest backstories ever for any game or for those that simply enjoy a good fantasy tale, be sure to check out the website for the full write-ups. Shadowbane is currently scheduled for release sometime this year.

    Official Shadowbane Site
    Wolfpack Studios
    Shadowbane


    Wealth, Tune Helper Added to MGF
    8:31 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Two new files have been recently added to Mac Game Files for download. First up is a new freeware game by Harley Bradley. Titled Wealth 1.0, this game, suitable for children as well as adults, allows players to compete for wealth by making good decisions as well as leaning on luck a bit. Here's the official description:

    Choose to be male or female and pick a profession, which gives a regular salary, and see a summary of regular income and expenses. Then spin and make choices to buy a home, invest in the stock market or bank money, pay cash or buy on credit. Deal with unexpected opportunities and expenses.
    This file weighs in at 1.6 MB and requires a color Mac to run.


    Another recent addition is Michel Pollet's freeware tool Clan Lord Tune Helper 1.0, which was mentioned by IMG in a previous article as being a tool that allows implementation of original music in the popular MMORPG Clan Lord. Here's the description:

    This program allows you to compose music for the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) ClanLord. Using this tool, you will be able to test the tunes you will play live for your fellow players. You can even compose duets and trios and perform them in real-time in the game for the pleasure of all the fans of the Bard Guild.
    This file is sized at 217K and requires Mac OS 8.6 or higher. Links have been provided below for both files for convenience.

    MGF - Wealth 1.0
    MGF - Clan Lord Tune Helper 1.0



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    This Week's Weapon on Red Faction
    8:21 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    The Official Red Faction site has been updated once again with a weapon and related screenshot of the week. For those unfamiliar with the title, Red Faction is an upcoming FPS, currently in development by Volition, that promises to reinvent the genre with original controllable vehicles, realistic enemy animations, and the ability to blow up just about everything.


    This week's featured weapon is the URC-15 Ultor Remote Mining Charge. This weapon actually comes in two pieces - the detonating charge itself and its remote detonator. It specs list it as having a kill radius of 10 meters, though the range of the weapon itself is short, as it must be thrown. Charges can also be set off with gunfire or other explosions. No secondary fire is associated with this weapon.


    The charges themselves appear to be sticky, as the Screenshot of the Week shows a thrown charge firmly attached to the groin of an enemy soldier, who is running around and waving his arms frantically as he realizes his impending danger. The player's hand is shown holding the remote detonator, thumb poised over the trigger button. Doubtless, this weapon can also be used to destroy small vehicles as well as walls should the need arise.


    Both the Mac and PC versions of this title are expected to ship sometime this Fall; the Mac OS version is being developed in-house by Volition and will be published by GraphSim. Be sure to check out the Red Faction site for more details and screen shots.

    Official Red Faction Site
    GraphSim
    Volition
    Red Faction


    Mac Games News for Tuesday, May 29, 2001

    PC GeForce 3 Flashed to Work in a Mac4:36 PM
    Marathon: Resurrection Releases New Images1:04 PM
    Tales of the Sword Coast Ships11:42 AM
    Volition Confirms No Mac Red Faction Level Editor11:25 AM
    Mac Myst III: Exile Patch Coming "Soon"11:06 AM
    'Cipher' Cross-Platform Game Engine Complete10:35 AM
    Master of Orion III Down to 16 Races9:40 AM
    ATI Unveils TRUFORM Technology9:34 AM
    IMG Previews Summoner9:29 AM
    Civilization III Preview, Status9:26 AM
    New Mac Gaming Site - FragMac8:29 AM
    Custer's Latest - Max Payne Desktop8:15 AM
    More Max Payne Previews, Screen Shots8:09 AM
    Applelinks Moofie Winners Announced7:58 AM
    ClanLord Tune Helper 1.0 Released6:00 AM
    New Heroes of Might and Magic IV Images6:00 AM
    Red Faction Q&A6:00 AM
    Return to Dark Castle Beta 4 / Cow Catcher 1.6.16:00 AM
     
    View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, May 29, 2001 on one page


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