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Monday, August 13, 2001

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Mac WWII Online Update
9:07 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG recently contacted Strategy First to determine the status of the Mac OS version of the massively-multiplayer online combat game World War II Online. The PC version of this game had a rocky start, to say the least; with each round of PC bugfixes the Mac version seems to get pushed back. However we have been assured that it is on the way, perhaps by the end of this month.

Kelly Ekins of Strategy First had this to say:

[Cornered Rat Software] is still saying that the Mac version will be available by the end of the month. Our goal is to release the game bug-free so that Mac gamers will not have to experience all the same problems the PC players have. The best way to keep informed in the forums on www.wwiionline.com. They are constantly announcing stuff :)
The PC update to version 1.21 was recently released; according to earlier statements by Cornered Rat, this is the release version that the Mac OS release should reach as well. We'll keep an eye on the forums and let you know if any more details are available, but it looks very much like Mac WWII Online is on track for the late August release. For more information on this game, visit the official web site.

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

Maverick Releases Jiggy!
3:51 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Mark Adams of Maverick Software (his moonlight company when he's not swamped with work for Westlake Interactive) has posted the 1.0 version of Jiggy! to Macgamefiles. This new puzzle game with a Tetris twist weighs in at 3MB, a very managable download for most folks. The full version costs only $15 and will add 25 new puzzles, as well as allowing you to make puzzles out of your own pictures. Maverick will also make a donation to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation with each full registration. Here's a quick look at the system requirments for Jiggy!:

  • G3/G4 PowerMac, iMac/iBook or PowerBook (233 MHz or faster)
  • 32 megs of RAM
  • Display capable of 800x600 resolution (thousands of colors)
  • System 8.6 or later (runs native under OS X)
  • QuickTime 4 or later

Head over now to start downloading the game, and while you're waiting have a read through IMG's preview of Jiggy! for more info.

IMG Preview of Jiggy!
Jiggy! Home Page
Download Jiggy! 1.0 (3MB)

IMG Posts Neverwinter Nights Preview
3:31 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG had a fruitful trip to BioWare HQ to see the online RPG Neverwinter Nights in action, and we have returned with the spoils of war. Brimming with exclusive details, screen shots and actual video footage of the game in action, this detailed report is sure to entice even those who consider RPGs to be purely geek territory. Backed by the strong storylines of RPG masters BioWare and laid upon the foundation of the 3rd Edition D&D rule set, this game is sure to be one of the stunners of 2002. Here's an excerpt:

Interestingly, players will be able to use the same characters in both single- and multiplayer games. In the past this has been an issue, particularly in Blizzard's first Diablo title, wherein people used unofficial tools to edit the stats of their characters to cheat online, ruining the fun for those who wished to play the game legitimately (as cheating tends to do). But BioWare has developed a unique system to prevent cheating while still allowing players to play their characters both online and offline: characters are 'checked-out' when a multiplayer game session comes to an end, and are automatically 'checked-in' when you join another multiplayer game. If the stats have changed too much in the amount of game time that has been logged offline, the characters are rejected and you don't get to play. The exact details of this anti-cheating scheme are, of course, top secret. :)
Read on for more details, and be sure to check out the movie at the end of the preview.

Preview: Neverwinter Nights

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Remedy on Max Payne, Sequel
3:23 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The Spanish site GamesReview has posted a lengthy new interview with developer Remedy Entertainment about their stylish action game Max Payne. While it endured a long (4+ years!) development phase, the game has received rave reviews on the PC side since its recent release. The interview covers a lot of ground on the title, including details on it's impressive graphics and story, the much-hyped 'bullet time' effect, and a little about the decision to make the game automatically adjust skill levels. Here's an excerpt:

GR: We understand that you dropped the "Normal, Easy, Medium" skill levels and went for a self-adjusting skill level. Could you explain how it works?

RE: This is a first in action gaming, I think. One thing is that we are telling a story and it would be a shame to leave it half way if the enemies turned out to be too tough. On the other hand games should not be too easy - we all like a bit of challenge. The self adjusting skill level system keeps you in that sweet spot of difficulty that is challenging yet rewarding.

Mac users have been promised a port of Max Payne from the recent deal with MacSoft and Take Two Interactive. Unfortunately, details such as who might be porting the game or a possible schedule for its release have not been discussed so far. We'll keep you up to date on any new info from MacSoft on the game's status.

Max Payne Interview at GamesReview
Remedy Entertainment
Westlake Interactive
Max Payne
Buy Max Payne

Mac DS9 Mystery Deepens
3:15 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While IMG reported over two weeks ago that Mac OS Deep Space Nine: The Fallen had been declared finished and was shipping to retailers, many outlets (including CompuExpert and Amazon.com) have suddenly pushed the date for release of this game back almost an entire month. Those who had preorders scheduled to ship on 8/5 and suddenly found them shifted to 9/10 are understandably perturbed.

IMG contacted Simon and Schuster point man Peter Binazeski for details on this mystery; unfortunately his answer does not explain the extra month-long delay. According to Peter, Mac DS9: The Fallen did indeed ship from Simon and Schuster late last week:

Here’s the story… the Fallen for Mac has already shipped from our warehouse to retailers on August 8. I don’t know why retailers are putting a street date of 9/8…
Frankly, neither do we. If any of you out there have received your copy of DS9 or can find a retailer willing to ship before September, please jump to the forum thread below and report your findings. IMG has received our review copy of the game, so we are absolutely certain the game is complete and is ready to ship; hopefully we will discover the reason that retailers seem to be taking their time about delivering it.

Forum Thread on Mac DS9: The Fallen

Myth: TFL Server Solution Launched
3:07 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Myth Village sent us details on a very interesting new developement in the Myth: The Fallen Lords saga. As you may recall, the Bungie server for the original strategy game has been down for a number of months; despite Bungie's promises, this server has never been restored to active service after being shut down during the Bungie/Microsoft merger.

Now Marius.net has been launched in response. This server requires just a few easy downloads to be placed in your Myth: TFL directory in order to work. Once you're in, everything should behave in a manner similar to the Bungie.net servers. Here's a clip explaining more from their site:

As you know, Myth:TFL on bungie.net has been down for quite some time. As fans have tried with varying degrees of success to find alternatives for the bungie.net experience, it just cannot replace the look and feel of the actual server. With no definite word from Bungie on when we could expect the server back, Team marius.net was created.

With Myth:TFL on Bungie.net down, it wasn't as easy as it could have been. Many interesting issues came up, and a ton of guess work and mind-numbing sifting through session logs and assembly listings. Although Bungie was not able to help us directly by giving us the server and/or client code, for various reasons, they were able to clarify some items and eliminate some of the guesswork involved.

For much more information and to start downloading the necessary files, head over to the Marius web site now. There is also a good FAQ which should provide any help you might need.

Myth Village Report
Marius Web Site

Custer Depicts The Duke
3:03 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our master of Monkey-style Photoshop kung fu has pushed, punched and kicked another million or so pixels to form this week's gaming-themed desktop. While the Mac (and PC) release of this game is far in the future, Custer polished his crystal ball and visualized Duke Nukem Forever as the subject of his composition. The result is "Come Get Some," a desktop that is PG-rated and bursting with attitude.

This game will of course be coming to the Mac via MacSoft, but the details of how this will happen and when have yet to be released. Regardless gamers of all types can't wait for the next misadventures of the surly, smart-mouthed action hero, and this desktop is a great way to celebrate his second coming. Grab it today, along with any of Custer's other desktops you might have missed.

Custer's Desktops

Master of Orion III Interview with Alan Emrich
11:08 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Player.At has posted the results of a recent interview with Alan Emrich of Quicksliver, the development house currently working on the upcoming space empire strategy game Master of Orion III. The interview focuses entirely on MOO3 and is fairly lengthy, giving some interesting insight into the upcoming title.

Though much of the information covered in the interview has already been divulged in previous articles or is available straight from the MOO3 website, a couple of new details have managed to surface. Concerning the modeled map of the universe, it will be in 3D (as opposed to the 2D map of MOO2). However, when looked at from "above" or "below," the map will resemble a 2D map in that none of the stars will be stacked on top of each other. Planetary models will also be extremely detailed, with moons, dual planets, and asteroids being part of the equation, among other space phenomena.

The various species in MOO3 will each contain a subset of races, such as the Klackons being a subset race from the Insectoid species. The Harvesters, the troublemakers from previous MOO games, will be present. Emrich mentions that there is a sub-race from The Harvesters known as the Ithkul, and that "you don't want to meet these guys."

The ability to tweak races/species attributes will be available as well, though it will carry some restrictions:

There will be realistic restrictions for the various species in the game. Thus, the Geodic species will all be Lithavores (rock eaters). You can‘t turn it off, nor can any other species turn that on. It‘s intrensic to the Geodics. So, within a nominal but realistic framework of what makes a species a species, you‘ll be able to tweak racial characteristics to your heart‘s delight.
Emrich also stresses the deliberate pacing of MOO3, that will be more geared towards intelligent strategy than fast-twitch reflexes. Diplomany and government actions will be largely responsible for the outcome of the game. A text generator for the diplomacy aspect called the "Diplo-Matic" will create proper diplomatic responses on the fly and free the game from canned messages.

The technology tree from MOO2 has evolved from a tree to a wheel in MOO3, presenting players with more freedom and thus more difficult choices:

Our technology system is so huge we don‘t even call it a technology "tree." We call it a technology "wheel." Pure research has been separated from the development of research projects (that yield actual game goodies) and the research required to get a specific item (and even that item‘s presence in a particular playing session) can vary a bit from game to game. There will be no „perfect path“ for players to research in MOO3. We keep moving the street signs just a bit so you‘ll always have to work for what you‘re looking for.
As for the most significant news for Mac owners, Emrich notes that there is currently only "one version" of the game that runs both on the Mac and the PC. He is quoted as saying "That means Mac users won't have long to wait when the PC version comes out!" This is good news indeed for Mac users currently eager for this game.

For the rest of the interview, which takes a fairly in-depth look at the governmental aspects and space combat tactics of MOO3 as well as other things, be sure to check out the whole interview at Player.At.

Player.At - Master of Orion 3: The fifth 'X'
Official MOO3 Site
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Mike's Marbles Updated to v1.1
10:46 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

VersionTracker has noted the updated release of Mike's Marbles, bringing it up to version 1.1. This shareware title is a self-described "block-falling and marble-shooting puzzler with style" and features detailed graphics, great animation and multiplayer support.

The new features added to the update are as follows:

  • added new game "Rebound" (Tennis for one).
  • added new game "ClasSix" ("Classic" with hexagonal layout).
  • fixed glitches drawn by animation in OS X 10.0.4.
  • added and tweeked a few visuals to help first-time players.

This game has received some stellar reviews at VersionTracker, scoring a 4.6 rating out of 5. Players liken it to older killer titles such as Tetris, Columns, and Bust a Move. The download itself weighs in 1.9M and requires System 7 - OS X, which likely means it's Carbonized. Interested players can find download links at both Mike's own page and at VersionTracker.

Mike Sedore - Mike's Marbles
VersionTracker - Mike's Marbles 1.1

PopTop Chat Transcript
10:08 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Express World, a website devoted to the titles Tropico, Railroad Tycoon II, and Railroad Tycoon 3, has recently posted the transcript for an online chat held with two members of PopTop software (responsible for the above titles, among other things). It contains some interesting bits of information concerning the games themselves as well.

Concerning RT II: Platinum Edition, it is speculated that this title should be out (for PC) on September 1st. Though the game is supposed to include over 2 hours of music, the whole game will still fit on one CD, as mp3 compression is used for the music tracks.

The idea of a Tropico expansion pack is also kicked around, though nothing official is in evidence yet. If an expansion pack is announced, there is a possibility that it will use PopTop's S3D engine, though it's also mentioned that a new engine is currently being worked on. They also mentioned that future patches, if any, may be slow in coming.

When asked about various details for Railroad Tycoon 3, "PopFranz" simply says: 'As for RT3, my official stance is "I can not confirm nor discount any such possibilities at this time.'" However, later on in the chat, the PopTop representatives go on to discuss various additions which might make it into RT3.

The the rest of the transcript, like most online chats, eventually degenerates into talk about atomic-powered cats and such. But for those that wish to scan the whole thing, it's currently available at Express World.

Express World

Weekly Kids Domain Update
9:47 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

It is time once again for the weekly update on Kids Domain, the website that lists tons of shareware/freeware downloads targeted towards kids. Both recreational games and educational activities can be found here, among other things.

Newly listed for the Mac titles:

  • Geography: North America - This program concentrates on the continents of the world as well as the geography of North America. Kids can answer questions based on text presented during play.
  • Jack and the Beanstalk - A picture storybook presenting an old classic, this title also asks various questions during the course of the book.
  • Here's Looking at You, Kids! - A 10 page PDF that compares/contrasts the human eye to a mechanical camera as well as discussing the social impact of cameras used for surveillance.
  • Only a Teacher Screensaver - A screensaver featuring various schoolrooms throughout history. It also displays various quotes from famous educators such as Julia Richman and Henry Adams.
  • Robot Builder - A take on Mr. Potato Head that replaces the spud with a robot and various mechanical parts.

For links to download the above as well as a huge listing of other such titles, be sure to check out Kids Domain.

Kids Domain

More Free Game Authoring Tools Released
9:46 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

While Mac developers wait for their version of the V12 game engine from GarageGames, Mac developer resource iDevGames has uncovered two new development tools for Mac game authors -- and they are free. One is a cross-platform "hub" which can be used to link game resources and plug-ins to make a game that would cross-compile seamlessly to Mac OS and Windows. The other is an open-source 3D engine being developed with the goal of creating "the most dynamic game engine possible for the Mac platform."

Here is Eric Froemling's description of RiCore:

RiCore is a freeware 'Game Toolkit' targeted at freeware and shareware developers. Though the SDK is currently Mac-oriented, the entire system functions identically under MacOS and Windows. - Write your game once, and run on either platform. RiCore is not implemented as a static or dynamic library - rather, it exists as a small 'Hub' application and many interconnecting plug-ins, each providing its own functionality. A RiCore game could consist of a single 'RGM' container file encapsulating all the game's data and executable files - double clicking that file under either mac or windows will launch the correct version of the game (provided RiCore is installed) RiCore originated as the engine for a game I am currently working on, which I planned to make expandable through MOD plugins, but I realized RiCore had potential for creation of totally unrelated and unique content, so I'm releasing it independently.
Features for the SDK include a built-in sprite animation engine, software rendering engines, full-screen QuickTime movie playback and integration with OpenGL.

iDevGames has also launched Open Pickle Matrix, a project to create a dynamic 3D game engine which can be used for any genre of gaming. Here is a description:

The first beta of the Open Pickle Matrix (OPM) has been posted (Mac OS X required). The Open Pickle Matrix is an attempt to create the most dynamic game engine possible for the Mac platform. By using techniques that allow multiple games to be created by one game engine, authors with little coding experience can easily create great 3D games. OPM hopes to create tools which are simple enough for any artist to use to make fantastic and involving games, all which are unique and not weighted down by similarities. The included game (similar to Space Invaders) is a work in progress (i.e. beta) but provides some indication of what it is capable of.
Even if you have no intention of ever being a game author, the mere existence of these tools is good news for Mac gamers -- after all, it means more independent, original games could be on the way. Visit iDevGames or the two web sites for more details.

Open Pickle Matrix

Dim3 Adds Curves, Removes Royalties
9:12 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Brian Barnes of Klink! Software wrote in to offer an update on dimension3, the 3D engine available for would-be game makers. This tool has received a number of changes lately, including curved surfaces (made oh-so popular by Quake 3), a new XML map format, and improvements to scripting. The biggest news is that dim3 has also dropped any royalty fees previously announced, so you've be able to use the free tool in whatever manner you like. Here's the full update with many more details :

This update comes in good, better, even better, and great news!

Good: dim3 supports complex curved surfaces. Unlike other games, these
curved surfaces aren't just for decoration (like arches, or parts of a
ceiling.) They can be walked on, or used to construct whole rooms! You
can even have domes.

Better: To make it more open, dim3's map format is in XML. Not only is
it extremely portable, but it's in human readable format.

Even Better: Scripting is improved, you now have control over the most
minute attributes of any map segment, from it's position to it's alpha,
to it's texture, flow, and animation.

Great: dim3 is now completely free! You don't have to pay to download
it, you don't have to pay to use it in any way. There are no
restrictions. Any creation you make with dim3 you can sell, give away,
and/or publish anyway, with anyone.

The "real" release will ship sometime soon after 10.1 ships, hopefully
there will be at least one more preview before that time.

We'll keep you posted as dim3 moves towards a full release in September, and check out the Klink! web site for details and download information.

Klink! Software Web Site

More on Quake 4, QuakeCon Events
9:11 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The web was abuzz this weekend with id Software's huge announcements at QuakeCon which we reported on late Friday. Quake 4 (which will be created by Raven) was probably the biggest news, as the game will focus on singleplayer and use the new DOOM 3 engine. The other, unannounced title in development in conjunction with Nerve also seems an interesting foray into cooperative multiplayer, something few online games have successfully attained so far.

HomeFed pulled aside both Marty Stratton of id Software and Raven's Brian Raffel to talk about the news. In the impromptu chat with Stratton, they discuss their seeming expansion into a number of titles and how they plan to help out the other companies they are working with. The similarities Quake 4 will have with Quake 2, and even some info on their console plans. The Raven interview covers their history, close ties with id (currently working on three id engine games), and the fact that Quake 4 won't likely be out next year because of their grueling schedule. Both are quick, but informative, so be sure to head over and give them a read.

Another article at PlanetQuake gives a summary of a Raven presentation/Q&A session with Rick Johnson about the features of Quake 4. With the title in such an early phase of development, it sounded to be almost more of a brainstorming session from the fans than info provided from Raven. Details on the storyline were discussed, along with topics of gameplay and weaponry. Here's a clip:

As you may remember, at the end of Quake 2, your character escaped from Stroggos and crash lands his escape pod on another planet, his hand reaching out in victory ... sorta. There was some sentiment in the room to continue the story from this point, although not everyone thought it was a must.

Rick asked the group how they felt about the game's story -- how much it mattered to the gamer, and what kinds of devices would be preferred to advance the plot. General sentiment was to see more intricate stories than in the previous games, and that they'd prefer to keep the player in first-person mode during scripted sequences, as opposed to jumping out to 3rd person, which many people thought ruined the illusion of "being" the character.

Head over to PlanetQuake for the rest of the report. While Quake 4 is certainly quite a distance off, it's good to see Raven so open to fan input at this point.

Lastly, GameSpot has a nice write-up of the updated DOOM 3 demo given by id's John Carmack at the show. Some of the footage from Macworld was reused, with new gory scenes also added to showcase the power of the DOOM 3 engine. The higher system requirements were also discussed, along with this excerpt on lighting in the game:

The new lighting model represents a major shift. Instead of using pre-calculated light maps, much more is rendered in real time, and all objects are lit using the same methods. Carmack summed this change up with his comment, "lights are first class citizens," now on par with objects. Map designers can move lights around in the level editor in real time to be sure each one is casting light and shadows to maximum atmospheric effect. Carmack talked quite a bit about graphics hardware, emphasizing how the state of game graphics is intrinsically linked to evolving hardware capabilities.
GameSpot promises a video interview with Carmack will be posted soon, so stay tuned for that in the near future.

While none of these new game titles were specifically announced as coming to the Mac, remember that Carmack has promised DOOM 3 will run on OS X. This makes ports of Quake 4 and the unnamed multiplayer game well within the realm of possibility, assuming a publisher is willing to bring them towards the Mac. Other Quake 3-based titles like SoF2 and Jedi Knight II aren't out of the picture either, considering titles like FAKK2 and Alice which have already been brought to the platform. As always, we'll bring you any clarification on this speculation when possible, so stay tuned.

IMG News: id Software Announces Quake 4, New Title
Raven Interview at HomeFed
id Interview at HomeFed
DOOM 3 Tech Writeup at GameSpot
Quake 4 Q&A Session Report at PlanetQuake

Airburst Updated
8:53 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Brothers Aaron and Adam Fothergill of Strange Flavour have released the first update to the full version of AirBurst, their arcade-style game of stratospheric balloon combat -- no, really. This new version fixes several bugs, as well as adding a few features. Here's the update:

Version 1.01 adds the ability to change the speed of the players' bats
as well as a screen compatibility mode so that the game can still be
played on monitors that cannot select 800x600 mode.
We've also tuned up a few things internally and fixed a couple of minor
bugs in the game and the manual.
If you have yet to try this addictive (and inexpensive) shareware title, be sure to grab the full version and try the demo mode. A patch is also available for those who have already downloaded this title. For more information on the game itself, read our preview.

Download AirBurst 1.01 (6.8 MB)
Preview: AirBurst

Mac Games News for Friday, August 10, 2001

id Software Announces Quake 4, New Title3:51 PM
Monkey Island Demo Released11:06 AM
Red Faction Demo Released for PC [Updated]10:37 AM
Minigolf Maniacs a Dynamix Casualty?10:26 AM
GodGames' Mike Wilson Interviewed9:50 AM
New Screenshots of Simsville9:27 AM
QuakeCon's Got The Power....9:00 AM
Buy MGCD and Tropico, Get Myth II Free!8:57 AM
"V12" Game Engine Released6:00 AM
Civilization III Website Launches6:00 AM
Dynamix Shut Down6:00 AM
Interview with Wolfpack, Ubi Soft on Shadowbane6:00 AM
Radeon AGP Missing at Apple Store?6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 10, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, August 9, 2001
Wednesday, August 8, 2001
Tuesday, August 7, 2001
Monday, August 6, 2001
Friday, August 3, 2001

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