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Thursday, August 9, 2001


Status Report on Mac Giants
9:39 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG recently asked Tim Wood of Omni Group for an update on the status of Giants: Citizen Kabuto. In case you haven't heard, Omni has been tapped by MacPlay to make a Mac OS X-only version of the game. We asked Tim about the status of this port, and if they expect it to hit 'beta' soon. Here's some of his response:

I'm fixing up some sound issues and we're going to look at more languages soon. But, yeah, we'd like to be in beta pretty darn soon.
As of late July, Tim and Omni had already made remarkable progress with the game, so we expect them to have it move through testing relatively quickly. For much more information on the title, be sure to read through IMG's interview with Tim conducted after the Macworld announcment. For more information about this unique and fascinating game, we also have a preview with numerous screen shots for you to check out.

IMG Interview with Omni Group's Tim Wood
MacPlay
Preview: Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Omni Group
MacPlay
Planet Moon Studios
Omni Group
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Buy Giants: Citizen Kabuto


Game Over for Gathering of Developers?
12:28 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In a report which brings to mind some infamous words by Nietzsche, today at Blue's News it was revealed
that Gathering of Developers (affectionately known as 'GoD') is dead.
According to an unnamed source within the company, Take Two was looking
to incorporate GoD into their New York offices. While a few of the employees
may do so, the majority of the staff are starting a new venture in the multimedia
zine business called Substance TV.


Substance TV is a DVD sent out 10 times a year with
material not necessarily related to gaming. Here's a clip from its site with their vision:

SubstanceTV is a new interactive DVD-based videomagazine for adults that takes a compelling and intelligent look at contemporary culture, and its diverse subcultures, exclusively through digital video.


As part of a generation that grew up in the age of Digital Media, we want to use the innovations of technology to reveal the true essence of modern life- instead of appealing to the shallow and base instincts that have come to personify the era of mass media.

If this sounds like quite a departure from the company that prided itself with calendars
of girls in revealing schoolgirl outfits. Jeff "Smitty" Smith responded
in the Blues forum that this is a vision of their late friend Doug Myers and
they are looking to fulfill his vision of creating something meaningful.


For both Mac and PC gamers, this announcement changes little about the gaming
landscape. Take Two will still be publishing all of their PC games, with
MacSoft picking up the the corresponding Mac versions of titles such as
Duke Nukem Forever and Myth III: The Wolf Age. We wish the Gathering folks the
best in their new endeavors and hope Substance TV proves a sucessful venture.

Bluesnews Report
GoD Games Web Site
Substance TV Web Site


On Browser-Based Online Gaming
12:21 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

With all the online deathmatches, warfare and rampant fragging that takes place on the computers of hardcore games every day -- and the gaming journalism world's general focus on 'hardcore' gaming -- it's easy to forget that there's another very successful area of computer gaming. Every day, millions of gamers log on to various sites like Pogo.com, MSN Gaming Zone and Yahoo Games to play multiplayer matches of Hearts, Backgammon, and puzzle-based games. Though these contests are generally bloodless and free of "l337-speak," most of these browser gamers would contend that these games are every bit as cutthroat and intense as your average game of Quake III.


For those interested in more information on this phenomenon, Josh Horowitz of The Adrenaline Vault has posted an article titled "O'er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Games" that takes an in-depth look at this mainstream gaming world as well as the most popular gaming sites that support it.


Here's a clip from the intro:

Meanwhile, two time zones away, a middle-aged mother of two lovingly puts her children to bed before sneaking off to her husband's study, bag of microwave popcorn guiltily in tow. After checking to make sure her spouse is still busy watching the finance hour on TV, she flips on the five-year-old family computer, pops in an audio CD, and soon the sounds of Yanni hum through the monitor's small speakers. Within minutes, she's online, one of the many Net denizens puttering along at 33.6 thanks to the all-encompassing reach of AOL. After checking her e-mail and sending a few forwarded jokes to friends, she hears the fates calling from afar. One click of her favorites button, and she's back to her browser-based playground, chatting gleefully with faceless friends as she dutifully pops a series of colorful balloons in a java window....
For an interesting look at the not-so-secret online gaming world of Bingo, Puzzle Bobble, and other such games, be sure to peruse the entire read. After getting beat at these games by middle-aged housewives, some gamers may find that they're not as "l337" as they thought they were. This may be an interesting read for potential game developers as well; while these games might not be as challenging to design as a first-person shooter, they certainly do have a ready and waiting audience.

The Adrenaline Vault - O'er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Games


Aspyr's Michael Rogers Interviewed
10:43 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

MacHome.com managed to snag Michael Rogers for a short 5-question interview before turning him loose, and has posted their results online. For those unfamilar with the name, Michael "Mr." Rogers is also known as the president of Aspyr, known for their ability to publish excellent ports of various titles for the Mac.


Here's a short segment from the interview:

Q: How do you decide which games to develop for the Mac?

A: It comes down to the fun factor, some number crunching, relationships, and a technical analysis. We try to pick the games that are the most fun, and that we want to play. There are some technical decisions, like if a title is going to take too long to convert, and other issues like how retailers feel about the game, how easy it is to work with different studios. We're very conscious about bringing only high-quality titles out with an Aspyr logo on the box. .


Q: Which game has been the most successful to date for Aspyr?

A: The Sims has been a runaway hit. We're excited about The Sims series and hope to continue to bring more people into the experience. The Sims: House Party will ship in July, and we have high hopes for that title. The games seem to touch people in a unique way, and appeal to a broad cross-section of Mac users, not just traditional gamers. After The Sims, the Tomb Raider series has done very well, and we're continuing our commitment to that, having just shipped the fifth game in the series, Tomb Raider: Chronicles (with OSX support out of the box, and a level editor), and with the Tomb Raider Trilogy pack coming out soon.

The rest of the interview is available at MacHome.com for those that wish to know what kind of Mac Rogers uses, what he feels Apple's most innovative product is, and why he wants to film his 2 1/- year-old eating lunch.

MacHome.com - Michael Rogers Intervew



Click to enlarge
QuakeCon 2001 Kicks-Off
10:10 AM | Ben Boffey | Comment on this story

Today marks the begining of the annual QuakeCon event. While the Apple market and Mac users have often been sparse on the ground at QuakeCon, this year is sure to make a significant break from the usual. Apple has a large presence on the floor, with Q3: Team Arena being shown running under OS X on dual 800Mhz G4's with GeForce3 graphics cards. These machines will be available for attendees to use in open-play and official Team Tournament events, so expect a few Mac converts! iMacs are also making an appearence, being used to register people as they arrive.


Expect some interesting announcements later in the show, as id Software is holding a press conference tommorow and \ John Carmack will be making a keynote speech afterwards. This is when we will finally find out what the vaugue 'new games from id software' hype is all about.


For attendees there's also a chance to go head-to-head with some of the id team in special 2-on-2 CTF matches, as mentioned in Robert Duffy's .plan update posted today:

This year we will have two id teams, Tim and myself and Todd and Marty. We will take on any and all 2 person teams in 2 on 2 CTF. Matches will probably be to either 6 or 8 with a 5 minute time limit. This will happen Saturday afternoon and will take place in the nVIDIA booth. If you feel like getting your butt whipped in 2 on 2 CTF, grab a friend and get in line.


We have some cool prizes this year for everyone.


The first team that beats one of the id teams gets their choice of either Two GameBoy Advances ( and a game ) or Two GE-Force 3 cards. The 2nd team that wins gets whatever the first team did not choose. The next two winning teams will get framed and signed prints of Team Arena and we will also have T-Shirts and other gizmos and stuff on hand to reward great play and other winning teams.

We'll have more information as it happens; you can also tune it to QuakeCon Radio for a live stream direct from the show.

QuakeCon Radio
Official QuakeCon Website
Apple at QuakeCon
id Software
Activision
Quake III Team Arena
Buy Quake III Team Arena


Cheat Prevention in Warcraft III
10:06 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Cheating is probably one of the worst plagues affecting online multiplayer gaming today. It's such a rampant worry that cheating and cheat prevention debates often pop up long before an anticipated title is released. WarCraft III, Blizzard's upcoming highly-anticipated real-time strategy (RTS) title, is no exception to this.


In answer to these debates, WarCraftIII.net has recently posted an
excellent in-depth article
that focuses on the question posed by many an experienced RTS gamer: "What is Blizzard going to do to prevent all the hacks and cheats that plagued WarCraft, StarCraft, and the original Diablo?"


One of the main hurdles that WCIII faces is the fact that is a "hosted peer-to-peer" network model, rather than a client/server model. In a typical online game, clients (i.e. players) all log onto a common server, which can then be used to scan for all manner of cheats. However, WCIII can't afford to go through a server, as it will lose too much in speed. Therefore, the above cheat prevention method is impossible to enact, given the fact that a server will not exist.


Here's WarCraftIII.net's report from E3 concerning the network model:

The system will not be peer-to-peer, nor client-server.
It will be more of a "hosted peer-to-peer" where information is transmitted not directly between players, but from players to a central point and then to the other players. The advantage is that there will be no huge banks of servers, as there are for Diablo II's realms, but there will be some means to prevent cheating. Client-server is the only method that is truly effective at stopping all cheating, but for an RTS, client-server is not effective for speed reasons, as far too much information needs to be sent every second.
One of the ways Blizzard means to prevent cheats is through a system dubbed the "lock-step" system. In layman's terms, when a player inputs a command into the game, the game pauses until every other game on the network receives and executes that command. The pause is said to be so short as to be imperceptible. This system should act as a failsafe against certain cheats, particularly the speed cheats that plagued Starcraft, as the system forces players to wait for everyone to catch up before proceeding with play.


Also noted is the fact that WCIII should utterly disallow players involved in multiplayer ladder matches from modifying units, spells, items, and mana. In Blizzard's words, "the system precludes it." To doubly reinforce cheat prevention, several measures, including forced acceptance of the EULA (End Users License Agreement), which explicity forbids cheating and allows Blizzard to take action against cheaters. Blizzard will also randomly observe ladder games, undetected by players, and will have the right to delete accounts and wipe records if they so choose. Players will also have the ability to record their game sessions and submit them for review purposes, though Blizzard notes that only games of high significance will be reviewed.


Another step being taken towards cheat is that ladder matches will be entirely randomized. This alone should prevent players from using the infamous "win trading" tactic of Starcraft, where players would take turns winning/losing to each other, raising their status in the ladders.


Blizzard does acknowledge that, given the network system, the game itself cannot be entirely cheat-free. Minor cheats that don't affect gameplay in major ways and client-viewing hacks, such as ones that remove the fog of war from the map, will not be easily prevented. However, Blizzard appears confident that such cheats won't affect overall ladder rankings that much:

A hack such as a map-viewing hack is not likely to alter a game's outcome.  When used in a game between players of similar abilities, the map cheat simply does not help that much.  In fact, amusingly, Blizzard has observed that some of those using the view-map hacks become so enchanted by viewing what the other guy is doing that they forget to do anything themselves and end up defeated.
The rest of the write-up discusses the various methods of cheats and their prevention in great detail. For those that are interested in seeing Blizzard's tactics towards keeping WCIII cheat-free, be sure to check out the entire article. We're also curious about how you feel regarding these somewhat extreme measures Blizzard is taking -- is snooping on ladder matches going too far?

WarCraftIII.net - Cheat Prevention
How do you feel about online cheating, and countermeasures?


New Look at Red Faction's Multiplayer
10:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted a new preview of Red Faction recently, delving into the multiplayer aspects of the game which will only be found in the PC and Mac versions. Other major changes from the PS2 console version includes the ability to run it at much higher resolutions than a TV (though it of course depends on your machine's horsepower). The article goes into depth on the various multiplayer modes to be included in the title, as well as how your standard conceptions of online play will be changed by the game's Geo-Mod engine. Here's an excerpt that may make campers wary:

It seems that camping is a multiplayer convention of action gaming that Volition wants to do away with, because not only does Red Faction have a number of weapons that can devastate some walls, but it also contains weapons that can actually see through walls. The rocket launcher, for instance, has a side-mounted monitor that displays the outlines of people directly in its line of fire, even if they're behind a solid object or in another room, making it easy to blast your way to them.
The preview gives some good details on the multiplayer action in the game, so be sure to head over and give it a quick read; be sure and check out the large selection of gameplay movies listed in the far right column. Red Faction is due out for the Mac this Fall, with GraphSim shooting for a November release.

Red Faction Multiplayer Preview
GraphSim
Volition
Red Faction


Infogrames Releases More Unreal II Info
9:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A recent Infogrames press event has revealed new information on their upcoming sequel Unreal II. Both webzines IGN and GameSpot were there to cover the event, and their two write-ups are now available for your reading pleasure. The demo at the event showed off a gameplay video, as well as detailed information on a few of the game's enemy and NPC models. The weaponry was also discussed, revealing a total of 18 individual pieces of firepower on hand to help you in your missions. While the original Unreal was criticized for its lack of detailed storyline, Legend Entertainment is making sure the sequel won't be. Much effort is going into making the singleplayer experience a fulfilling one. Here's a clip from the IGN report:

The single player game will consist of objective-based missions taking place on a variety of different terrains and environments, including zero-G outer space. Apart from the gratuitous "kill them all" missions, you'll also be involved in more peaceful objectives such as rescuing hostages or defending friendly bases from alien attack. One of the goals in Unreal II is to make it more of a team-based game than the original, so there will be missions where you'll coordinate with friendly Marines to guard certain objectives, whether it be through your own brute force or through the use of stationary support cannons which you can place around some levels.
Check out both reports for complete coverage of this recent event.


While the game is set for release on PC in early 2002, we should mention that no Mac version has yet been announced. However we feel it is a very likely candidate for port, considering both the fact that the Unreal technology is already available on the Mac, and the huge popularity of previous games such as Unreal Tournament.

IGN Unreal II Report
GameSpot Unreal II Report


Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum Q&A
8:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new interview has been posted at GameAddicts, talking with PopTop Software about their just announced Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum. The game, which includes the expansion pack, strategy guide, soundtrack, and extra scenarious, is only shipping for the PC at this point, though IMG has talked with PopTop's Phil Steinmeyer and there is a possibility of a Mac version as well. The Q&A looks at the reason for the title, as well as a little about the game's fanatical following on the web:

[GA] RTII had an almost fanatical fan-following on the web, with more than 1,500 user-created scenarios available on a number of fan sites. What do you think prompted such a great response? What will the RTII Platinum's scenarios bring into the game that cannot be simply downloaded from the web?


[PopTop] Well, the music and 10 scenarios we created are the main thing but we also stiffed through most of those maps and even made corrections and such to many of the 40 we are using. The 40 are also some of the best of ALL those scenario's you mentioned. It's some new stuff, convenience, and low price.

Have a read through the rest of the interview if you're interested, and stay tuned for more info on a Mac possibility of the game in the near future.

IMG News: Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum, Mac Possibility?
Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum Interview at GameAddicts


Mac Games News for Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Blizzard Plans "Key Announcement" Sept. 2nd1:47 PM
Register Your Creative Labs Sound Blaster1:02 PM
Various QuakeCon 2001 Notes10:46 AM
Radeon 2 Sneak Peek10:22 AM
Harpoon 3 OS X (and DOS?) Update10:19 AM
Clan Lord Updated to v19310:17 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, August 8, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, August 7, 2001
Monday, August 6, 2001
Friday, August 3, 2001
Thursday, August 2, 2001
Wednesday, August 1, 2001


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