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Friday, July 27, 2001



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Mac Diablo II Patched; Sales Break Million
9:47 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Blizzard has released a very minor patch for the expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction to solve a very minor problem some are experiencing while playing on Battle.net. What may be more interesting to Blizzard fans is their announcement that sales of LoD have surpassed all previous records, and they have moved more that 1 million copies at retail in just over a month.


The patch, which brings LoD to 1.0.8b, fixes a Mac-specific crash caused by combining Rune words while playing online -- that's all it does. As of the writing of this article most of Battle.nets server problems (especially those with the East Realm) seem to have been solved and the characters "rolled back" successfully.


The news that Blizzard has sold this expansion even faster and in greater initial quantity than the game itself is beyond even their expectations, and it may be a strong indication of the continued growth of the game market in general. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Blizzard Entertainment® announced today that Diablo® II: Lord of Destruction™ has surpassed 1 million units sold worldwide, according to NPD INTELECT* and key retail accounts from around the world. Over two million units of the game have been shipped to retail to satisfy demand for the fastest selling expansion set in PC game history*.


Following in the tradition of other Blizzard titles, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction becomes not only the sixth Blizzard product to sell 1 million copies, but also to reach #1 in U.S. sales. The expansion, which shipped on June 29, is topping most PC sales charts in North America, Europe and Asia. In its first week alone, the game captured a record 17.7 % percent of total U.S. PC game market share, also according to NPD INTELECT*.


"We are very pleased by the worldwide demand for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction," stated Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment president and co-founder. "We worked very hard on increasing the gameplay and depth of Diablo II and the expansion's popularity is confirmation that our long hours and hard work have paid off."


"Diablo II: Lord of Destruction has enjoyed a stellar debut at retail," stated Bob McKenzie, Director of Merchandising for Babbages, Software Etc. & GameStop.com. "Sales of the expansion have rivaled those of the Diablo II and based on our experiences with the previous Diablo products, we expect Diablo II: Lord of Destruction to remain a top seller throughout the year," added McKenzie.

If you are one of those who have succumbed to the unstoppable force that is Blizzard, be sure and grab the patch for LoD. Watch for our review of this expansion pack on Monday.

Diablo II: LoD Press Release on Sales Record
Diablo II: LoD 1.0.8B Patch (4.3 MB)
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Support Page
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction


Quake 3 1.29g for Classic and Cocoa on Monday
5:19 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

It seems to have become tradition for id Software to produce Quake 3 point releases for the PC first, while Mac users must wait a bit longer. This time is no different, as id has released a 1.29f update for the Windows and Linux clients. We asked Graeme Devine, the Mac programmer at id, when the Mac update(s) would be complete. He surprised us with news that both Cocoa and Classic versions would be released on Monday, along with a dedicated server build for Mac OS X.


According to Devine, the advantage of using the dedicated server build over the in-game hosting options is that the dedicated server does not load OpenGL and has a small memory footprint. So those of you who have old iMacs laying around that are capable of running Mac OS X, get ready to start up those Quake 3 servers!


In the meantime, here is a list of fixes that are contained in 1.29g:

• Players joining (and apparently leaving) the game cause everyone to hitch

• fs_handleforfile: none free ERROR

• After last level of tier game doesn't stay on trophy screen, instead it takes you directly to next tier screen

• There is a shader bug in Pro-q3dm6

• developer cheats like R_Showtris have been disabled in the PR (they were never disabled, the user simply needs to run the game with “+set developer 1” minus quotes, at the command line.

• made /startOrbit cheatprotected

• Rcon issues now resolved.

• fs_basegame isn't published to clients

• fixedlegs command in the animation config is apparently not working

• + and - cvars fixed
Make sure to check IMG and MacGameFiles on Monday for news and download mirrors of the Quake 3 updates.

id Software


AirBurst News, Merchandise
11:49 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Aaron Fothergill of Strange Flavour dropped us a note with details on future developments regarding AirBurst, the just-released arcade-style title. While this game has been strongly applauded for its addictive gameplay and stylish graphics, it seems the fans want even more -- specifically, online multiplayer support. Aaron has also come up with a more convenient payment method than sending your $5 in the mail; now you can register online. And coming this weekend, AirBurst-related shirts, hats and mugs will be available to purchase. Here's Aaron's update:

While already planned for a future update of Airburst, there have been
so many requests for a network version that Strange Flavour
(http://www.strangeflavour.com ) have moved the development of Airburst
network play up the priority list so that it can be made available as
soon as possible.
The network game will be a new game type added to the 12 game types
already in Airburst and will allow full LAN or internet multi-player
games. All players will need their own registration key for Airburst. A
feature limited LAN only version of the game will be available to
non-registered versions of the game.
Game Ranger support is being looked into, and will hopefully be possible
too.


Strange Flavour now also has full online registration through
Fairtunes.com and for those of you addicted to internet shopping, we
will be opening CafePress merchandising shops at the weekend so that you
can buy shirts, hats, mugs and stuff of your favourite Airburst
characters.

He also mentions that his brother Adam is working on Airburst-themed desktop images, to be released this weekend. Watch the Strange Flavour web site for links to the CafePress merchandise and the desktop art. If you'd like to find out more about this title, be sure and check out our preview; a review will be posted shortly. The AirBurst demo is rapidly climbing the charts on MacGameFiles, and has rated an outstanding 4.5 joysticks in user reviews so far, with many of the ratings a perfect five; grab the download and add your own thoughts to the feedback page.

Strange Flavour Web Site
AirBurst 1.0 Demo (6.8 MB)
Preview: AirBurst


Hardware Review: Eliminator Gamepad Pro
11:08 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

With games such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and Centipede on the shelves, the need for a good gamepad controller is still strong for Mac gamers. Thus we have posted yet another controller review, this time focusing on the Gravis Eliminator Gamepad Pro. This contoured controller has several unique features worth considering if you fancy console-style games or gaming. Here's an excerpt:

The Precision button is an interesting feature. Pressing it toggles a mode where the gamepad’s sensitivity is doubled (the button lights up green to remind you that you are in this mode.) This lets you switch between less sensitive movement for rapid turning, and more sensitive for very precise aiming. The button is centered on the gamepad, reachable by either thumb. This is an intriguing feature, but I admit I found it more useful on Gravis’s joystick than on the gamepad. However, if you play any games that switch between some kind of tricky sniper mode and rapid movements, this feature might be useful.
The article also recounts the author's experiences testing the gamepad with various games from Tony Hawk 2 to Tomb Raider: Chronicles.

Hardware Review: Gravis Eliminator Gamepad Pro



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Interview with Sid Meier on Civ III
11:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Computer and Video Games recently had the chance to interview Sid Meier, a man they label as "the undisputed king of all things Sim." One of his current projects, Civilization III, has fans lined up waiting for this title to be released. CVG focuses the majority of its questions on this title, with Meier being more than generous with his information.


Meier describes Civ III as containing the "light-hearted" fun from the first two titles, refining and improving them, and adding a ton of ideas derived from player feedback. He feels that Civ III will re-affirm the genre of turn-based games, showing players that turn-based games can still be fun and exciting. By adding the culture feature to the game, updating the trade system, expanding the diplomancy factor, and improving the combat engine, Meier is confident that old-school Civ players will have plenty to be happy about. In addition, he boasts that Civ III will feature the best art, animations, and sounds ever found in the genre, thanks in part to an entirely new graphics engine.


Meier also discusses the new culture feature of Civ III at length:

Culture is a very important component of Civ III. It is the general social cohesion of your civilization, as well as the impact of your nation's philosophy and arts on the world. Culture is reflected in Civilization III by the great works created by your peoples, and when they were completed relative to other civilizations in the game.
He further adds that the culture system was designed to be a powerful alternative to war and conquest. A solid, desirable culture can greatly affect diplomatic sessions as well as dealings with conquered cities.


The trade system, common to all the Civ games, has received some interesting changes. While caravan units are no longer required, diplomacy now plays a larger factor, with trade advisors available to help players direct trading tasks. Trade goods are now comprised of luxuries, which make citizens happier, and resources, which are needed to construct things such as military units.


As far as multiplayer goes, Meier notes that while some "unique things" are under development, he's not ready to divulge any information yet. He adds that making a turn-based game fun in a multiplayer environment is a challenging task.


For the rest of the story, be sure to check out the full interview at CVG. Civilization III has been picked up by publishing house MacSoft, with Westlake being signed on as the porting house. They are currently hoping for a Q1 2002 ship date.

CVG - Sid Meier Interview
MacSoft
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III


IMG Feature: Beginner's Guide to Tony Hawk 2
10:52 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has just posted a feature which will be a must-read for wannabe shredders that just picked up Aspyr Media's recently-released skateboarding title Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. This console port requires some serious manual dexterity, but is a walk in the skatepark compared to the bleeding shins and seperated shoulder joints that usually accompany learning to skate. Here's an excerpt from the guide to get you started:

Click to enlarge
Ollie? Ollie? Where Are Kukla and Fran?
Gameplay is simple, fast, and exciting. The board never stops, and a soundtrack of angry-youth rap pumps up the blood as ramps, walls, and obstacles whiz at your face. Little tricks that would take weeks of practice in the flesh, like coasting vertically off the top of a half-pipe and returning to it safely, are completely automatic. Your valuable twitch time is saved for things more challenging. I limped along using the keyboard; things should be easier with a handheld controller.


Either way, there are a few things to master right away. First, a minimal glossary for the non-skater. The basic, no-hands jump is an “ollie”. Any surface you can skate uphill on is a “ramp”. A “quarter-pipe” is a ramp that curves up to the vertical, like one-fourth of a big pipe. A “half-pipe” is two quarter pipes facing each other, so you can roll back and forth. Any long, horizontal edge, like a stairway railing or the top of a ramp, is a "rail": an object you can slide down without using your wheels. The act of sliding down it is a “grind”.

For more vocabulary help and other tips and screen shots, check out the rest of the feature.

Feature: A Beginner's Guide to Tony Hawk 2


More Details on ATI's SMARTSHADER Tech
10:34 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

GameSpot and Gamer's Depot have both produced reports on ATI Technologies' contribution to the buzzword battle between graphics card giants, namely the all-caps SMARTSHADER. This technology, which will run on a yet-to-be-announced chipset, is ATIs answer to the pixel and vertex shading technologies that NVIDIA incorporated into the GeForce 3 chipset released last Spring.


Both articles seem to be based on hands-on demos of the SMARTSHADER tech in action, but unfortunately they share the same screen shots. While there isn't much in the way of new information released, if this is your first introduction to the technology either article should suffice. Included are various screen shots of the pixel and vertex shaders in action, accompanied by detailed flowcharts which depict the new pipeline structure.


Tucked away in both articles are sketchy details on ATI's next chipset, code-named R200. Here's an excerpt from the GameSpot article:

ATI indicated that its next-generation Radeon hardware, known internally as the R200, will launch in the late summer. The demos we saw of Smartshader were run on an early sample of the R200, and developers just got their first hands-on time with the hardware at the Meltdown event. Now that we've been introduced to both Truform and Smartshader, it won't be too long before we get a real look at ATI's new card. The R200's Truform and Smartshader features represent a major architectural change from the Radeon. Truform's hardware tessellation stage is quite complex, but pixel shaders are even more so, and this feature will necessarily add a huge number of transistors to the chip.
As we aren't too far from August, the time may be drawing near for ATI to launch their answer to the GeForce 3, and considering the history of ATI on the Mac platform (the majority of products still ship with ATI hardware) we're sure a Mac model of the chip/card will be in the works. Read up on both of these articles for more details, but remember -- the weak link in this equation is developer support. All these buzzwords will mean nothing if developers do not go out of their way to include the new card features in future games.

SMARTSHADER First Look at Gamer's Depot
SMARTSHADER First Look at GameSpot


Apple: Gaming at Macworld
9:56 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Well, no one can accuse Apple of ignoring the Mac gaming market any longer. Adding yet another feature article to their ever-growing store of gaming-related features, Apple has posted an overview of various gaming announcements made at Macworld titled "Mac OS X Gaming Explodes at Macworld."


The first company features in the article is the resurrected MacPlay. Apple is quick to point out the first major game release which will run exclusively on OS X: Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Giants will also be one of the first Mac games to be optimized for NVIDIA's GeForce 3 card. Other titles soon to be released by MacPlay are Baldur's Gate II, Sacrifice, and older titles Zork Grand Inquisitor and Heretic II, all of which will run on both Classic and OS X.


Aspyr is the next publishing house to be discussed, and their recently-released titles Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, The Sims: House Party, American McGee's Alice, and Tomb Raider: Chronicles are all mentioned. Aspyr's future titles includingFreeverse's iPuppet Classic Cards and Pangea's Otto Matic (not "Ottomatic") are also discussed.


MacSoft was also on the scene at Macworld selling copies of its island strategy sim Tropico. Future titles include Duke Nukem Forever and Beach head 2002, along with more family-friendly titles such as Wheel of Fortune 2 and Jeopardy 2.


Last but not least, Blizzard gets special mention regarding their highly-anticipated RTS title Warcraft III. Interestingly enough, Apple's article mentions that both OS 9 and OS X versions of Warcraft III will be available this Fall. This should be taken with a grain of salt, as the policy with Blizzard games has often been "It's ready when it's ready, and not before," and the game is not expected until 2002. Apple also mentions that the title will be supported on Gameranger, of which an OS X version was also announced at Macworld -- which is very strange, as all previous Blizzard titles depend on Battle.net for connection and game hosting [ed. note -- we find this assertion highly unlikely].


For yet more gaming news goodness from Apple, be sure to check out their spread. Hopefully, Apple's gaming news support will continue for quite some time; however, we also hope the fact-checking regarding their articles gets an update as well.

Apple: Mac OS X Gaming Explodes at Macworld



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Carbonization of Sims Expansions Underway
9:51 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Aspyr projects page has been updated with two new projects for fans
of The Sims. Yesterday they released a patch to bring OS
X support to the original Sims, along with some patches to fix some minor bugs.
Now it seems that Westlake Interactive is also working on Carbon
patches for both the Livin' Large and House Party expansion
packs. Both patches are considered in Early Development at this point, with the former
to be released next month, and the latter sometime in September.


House Party, the second major add-on for the game, is now duplication and
expected on shelves by early next week. It should also be noted that another of Aspyr's
publishing projects, Otto Matic is now listed as Early Development as
well, instead of the Beta status it was incorrectly listed as previously. We're assured from
Pangea's Brian Greenstone that they are making good progress with the game, but
it's still nowhere near beta stage. If you are a Sims fan and have tried the patched version under OS X, make sure and report your results and experience in our Forums.

Aspyr Media
IMG News: Sims Patches Posted
Aspyr Media
Maxis
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large


Mac Games News for Thursday, July 26, 2001

Red Faction Multplayer Details4:31 PM
Maverick Gets Jiggy With It3:37 PM
WW2Online OS X Plans2:48 PM
Sims Patches Posted12:10 PM
Apple Features Freeverse Software9:20 AM
Stupid AppleScript Games Updated9:01 AM
Hands-on Impression of Max Payne8:57 AM
Myst III, realMYST Mac Updates8:56 AM
American McGee Interview on Alice8:52 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, July 26, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Tuesday, July 24, 2001
Monday, July 23, 2001
Friday, July 20, 2001
Thursday, July 19, 2001


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