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Tuesday, August 28, 2001



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Alice Demo Available!
9:11 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A little past noon (Central time) today, Aspyr Media unveiled the demo for American McGee's Alice, a third-person action/adventure set in a surrealistic world inspired by the writings of Lewis Caraoll. While the demo download will not be for the timid (or lacking in bandwidth), we're sure it will show up on a future MacGames CD.


The demo is exactly 81.4 MB in size; it is of course Carbonized for Mac OS X, an excellent opportunity to try out a serious commercial release on Apple's next OS. As the game is based on the Quake 3 Arena engine (but with significantly higher polygon counts per level) the system requirements are similar:


  • MacOS 8.6 or later, or MacOS X 10.0.2 or later.
  • CarbonLib 1.0.x or later
  • A PowerPC Macintosh, 400MHz G3 or better.
  • A Rage 128 or better 3D video card with 8 megs VRAM or more.
  • 148 Megabytes of free memory (you may need to enable virtual memory).
  • DrawSprocket 1.7 or later.
  • QuickTime 4.0 or later.

Even if your system falls below the above listed requirements, you might want to consider grabbing the demo -- generally if you are able to "tweak" Quake 3 Arena to a playable state on your machine, you should be able to do the same with Alice (and frame rate is far less critical with this style of play).


If you would like more information about the game before comitting to a long download, read through our detailed review of the title. And remember, if 81 MB is beyond your bandwidth capability or patience, you could always subscribe to the MacGames CD; the Alice demo will be on the next issue.

Review: American McGee's Alice
Download American McGee's Alice Demo (81 MB)
MacGameFiles
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice



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Arcane Arena Beta 2 Released
2:50 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The second build of Freeverse Software's online combat title Arcane Arena has been released. Part MMORPG, part gladiatorial contest to the death, this unique (and Mac-first) game is still in the development stages -- in fact a new beta is expected every Tuesday until the game's completion. This version update includes the usual host of big fixes and also addresses problems with monitor resizing and connection loss.


Arcane Arena is a complex game to learn and play; often people just jump online with no clear idea of what they are doing and then experience frustration and disappointment. To help ease this situation we are re-posting the AA FAQ, which we suggest you read before downloading:

ARCANE ARENA FAQ


1) How do I move around?


Use the arrow keys, numeric keypad, or hit 'g' and click a location to
go to.


2) I can't leave the inventory screen, it just stays there. How do I exit it?


It's a bug I haven't fixed yet that shows up most frequently if you
play with the item filter buttons. Keep hitting 'esc', you'll leave it
eventually.


3) How do I pick up a chest?


Walk next to it and hit 'L' for look. Then click on it.


4) How do I leave the dungeon?


You need to find an exit orb. It's a glowing pinkish/purple orb. On
the first level, you just need to walk onto it. In deeper dungeon levels
you need to walk onto it and hit 'e' for enter/exit.


5) How do I use stairs in the dungeon?


Walk onto them and hit 'e' for enter/exit.

Grab the 40 MB demo and take it for a spin; the game will be completed later this Fall.

Arcane Arena
Arcane Arena Beta 2 (42 MB)
Freeverse
Arcane Arena


GamSutra Profiles Game Music Composer
2:32 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While gamers often rave (or rant) over the eye candy and performance of a particular game title, it is often the music and sound effects of a game that really complete its atmosphere and weld the best titles into a cohesive package. The name Alexander Brandon doesn't exactly leap off the screen; you will never find an audio or music composer in the title of a game. Yet you might as well call Deus Ex "Alexander Brandon's Deus Ex," as his deft mix of techno, rock and ambient sounds gave that game the compelling and unique atmosphere that made it such a hit.


GamaSutra has created a biography and discography of this sound artist, including MP3 samples of his past and present work. The titles he has composed for include Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Jazz Jackrabbit 1 and 2, Dark Vengeance and of course Deus Ex. Even if you've never heard of him, you have most likely heard his compositions.


We just thought we'd mention this for our readers to remind them of some of the unsung heroes of game development. In fact, why don't you travel to our Forums and share with other IMG readers the games that have had the "best" sound tracks in your opinion, and the ways well-done music can make a good game into one of the immortal greats.

Share Your Thoughts On Game Music and Sound
GamaSutra Profiles Composer Alex Brandon



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Cro-Mag Rally Updated to 2.0
2:17 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

In May of this year Pangea Software released a Beta version of 3D kart racer Cro-Mag Rally which offered preliminary support for Mac OS X. In the midst of developing Otto Matic, Brian Greenstone has taken some time to finish updating Cro-Mag to the full version 2.0.


The 2.0 version is available both as an update for the Demo and Full versions of the game; there is also a new version 2.0 demo of the game available.


The primary benefit of version 2.0 is the addition of Carbon support for OS X; the readme notes that you will have the best results with the latest build of OS X available (which is 10.0.4 currently). If you are a current Cro-Mag player or haven't tried the game yet under OS X, this is the update to grab.

Review: Cro-Mag Rally
Cro-Mag Rally 2.0 Demo (40 MB)
Cro-Mag Rally 2.0 Update (350k)
Pangea Software
Cro-Mag Rally


uDevGame Entries Released
1:23 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The fruits of the uDevGames contest held by Mac-centric development site iDevGames are already ripe to be picked; two titles have been released so far, with more due in the future. As they count down to the September 16th deadline, over 16 entries are expected, each a sample piece of code or complete game that demonstrates original Mac development.


After all the games are released, the voting will begin; so far five titles have been released in final or preliminary form. It is hoped the short window of time for development will both inspire and pressure Mac programmers to surpass expectations as to what is possible on the Mac platform -- or on Mac OS X, as this is the route many of the developers have taken.


The latest two entries are Skimmer 1.0, a 3D realtime beat-the-clock game, and Covalence Solitaire, which despite the name is not a card game but a puzzle based on atomic bonds. Both can be downloaded at MacGameFiles.


For more information on the contest and the entries, visit the uDevGames subsite.

Skimmer 1.0 (384k)
Covalence Solitaire 1.02 (132k)
iDevGames
uDevGames Contest


Game Demos - Helpful or Harmful?
10:12 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Once a staple of the computer game industry, game demos have become less and less frequent as companies decide not to release them for a variety of complex reasons. Lately, however, the industry has been experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, as developers once again start to release more demos of their upcoming products.


3D Action Planet has recently posted an editorial, titled "The Art Of The Good Demo," that takes a closer look at the benefits and detriments that the release of a demo, particularly if it is released before the final product, can have on a game's success. While we don't often post editorials as news, this one raises enough interesting and well-informed points to be a worthwhile read.


The main argument seems to center around gamer's perceptions of a particular demo, and how releasing one can be a risk rather than a bonus. From a gamer's viewpoint, a demo is a way to judge whether or not a game is worthy of purchasing. However, this is not entirely fair, particularly if the demo is released during a game's development period, as many features and tweaks have yet to be finished for the final product. A good example of this is the demo for No One Lives Forever, a game that won many awards yet sold poorly, possibly because of its lackluster demo:

Who is going to buy a game when their PC could barely run the demo? Releasing that technology test may have enabled Monolith to ensure the full game ran well on PC’s all across the system spectrum, but it may also be partly responsible for the surprisingly low sales of a game that won many a magazine and websites ‘action game of the year’ award.
This trend still continues even now. Players just naturally tend to judge a title based solely on a demo of an unfinished build. Top-flight titles Red Faction and Aliens vs Predator 2 have recently released demos, each with varying responses:
Red Faction and Alien Vs Predator 2 have both released widely publicized demos, to varying response. That they’ve released demos, first of all, is something that developers should be thanked for. However the two single player demos for these games, have drummed up enough talk of "I’m not going to buy this, it suxors" and ‘This game rocks! I’m going to buy it!’ when looking objectively, they show very little of the games.
When gamers start posting negative comments about a demo, it's no wonder that many developers choose not to release demos of their own works-in-development. A demo can just as easily kill a game's sales as it can help them, regardless of the quality of the final build.


The rest of the editorial raises yet more interesting points, including the growing sizes of demos, the need of some developers to cut things out of demos to "save the best parts," and why multiplayer demos seem to be more successful. For the full article, be sure to check it out at 3D Action Planet, and feel free to share your thoughts in our forums!

Game Demos, Yea or Nay?
3DAction Planet - The Art of a Good Demo



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American McGee Talks Alice Movie
9:50 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

MGON recently took some time to chat with former id member American McGee about his most recent work on a movie based upon his game Alice, as well as his general history in the gaming industry. The movie will be called Dark Wonderland and is being made by a new company Carbon Entertainment -- produced by horror legend Wes Craven. McGee hopes it will break the stigma many video game-inspired movies have attached to them. Here are excerpts from the interview with more on the matter:

This summer has been fairly important in terms of the relationship between film and videogames. What do you feel films like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy did well? Did poorly?


I think that both movies illustrated an extremely important point that Carbon6 is hoping to capitalize on in the future. That is that both came out by themselves and didn’t launch products in the game world to match with the films. It seems that Eidos missed out huge by not having a new version of Tomb Raider out to coincide with the release of the film. Even a slapped together remake of a previous version could have capitalized on the huge buzz created by the film. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of slapped together games, and Carbon isn’t going to be in the business of creating those types of properties. The point is that there’s an amazing synergy to be drawn on when games and movies are created in collaboration with one another.


How will Dark Wonderland, the big screen adaptation of Alice, avoid the many pitfalls videogames face when being translated to film?


Hopefully we’ll worry more about making a good movie than about trying to stay true to the game version. There’s an amazing story in the Alice idea and we’re just going to try hard to make sure that story is told as well as we know how to tell it.

We'll certainly be interested to see what comes of the Alice movie, especially after just getting the Alice port from Aspyr media recently. A demo for the game is expected out later today, as well, so stay tuned to IMG for the latest.

American McGee Interview at MGON
IMG Review of Alice
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice


More Details on Radeon 7500 Mobility
9:44 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

As expected, the PC hardware sites got an advanced preview of the new ATI Radeon 7500 Mobility chipset, and articles are beginning to appear with more details on this exciting product. While we must emphasize that there are no solid plans for including this chipset in future Macintosh portables -- after all, Steve keeps such things under wraps until the last second -- but this seems a likely candidate for a future chipset. Boasting the power and features of a Radeon 7500 yet drawing less than half a volt of power (in special low-power mode), the 7500 Mobility is the ultimate multimedia road warrior chip -- capable of all the amazing 2D features ATI is known for as well as hardcore-gamer-class 3D visuals.


Rage3D has produced a detailed preview of the chipset, complete with PC benchmarks. While the preview does contain a wealth of information about the new chipset, it is the benchmarks that catch your eye -- according to their tests, the Mobility 7500 is a whopping 95 percent faster than the NVIDIA GeForce 2Go in the 3D Mark benchmark test. And the performance does not stop there -- not only is the 7500 Mobility over twice as fast as the GeForce2Go in Quake 3 Arena benchmarks, it is also 20 percent faster than the original Radeon DDR -- even when the Radeon is a 64 MB configuration. When was the last time you saw a chipset for a portable system beat the stuffing out of cutting-edge desktop cards?


But what does it mean to Mac users? While this article at MacCentral doesn't fully answer that question, it provides a nice overview of the chipset and its possible applications on the Mac. In addition to an overview of the chipset and its features and configurations, the article does include a little informed speculation at the end:

o with ATI's marketing muscle in the mobile graphics space and the new innovations in the Mobility Radeon 7500, will this new chip come to Apple's portable line? Apple won't say a word prior to a formal product introduction. And as MacCentral went to press with this article, ATI hasn't announced any manufacturing partnerships involving the new graphics hardware on the PC end either, although such announcements are expected soon.


Like other Radeon hardware, ATI has certainly taken Apple into consideration for the new chip. Soraya confirmed that the Mobility Radeon 7500 could be integrated into the Mac architecture quite effectively if Apple wills it. When pressed for details about possible partnerships with Apple, Soraya diplomatically replied, "We have worked closely with key laptop OEMs to develop the new Mobility Radeon 7500."

After seeing those benchmarks, we have to agree that the Radeon 7500 chipset is one worth wishing for -- lets hope the team working on the next Powerbook revision takes this powerful, portable-friendly chip into consideration.

"An in-depth look at ATI's Mobility Radeon 7500" at MacCentral
Radeon Mobility 7500 Preview at Rage3D


Meggs on Myth III & Bungie.net
9:23 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Andrew Meggs of MumboJumbo updated his .plan recently with details on Myth III: The Wolf Age and the hosting service for the previous games in the series, Bungie.net -- which Myth III will not be using. While Myth III will have its own servers, completely independent of Bungie.net, Meggs is proud of the fact that even this late in the title's development they haven't broken compatibility with the old service. He explains more here:

Progress goes well. I have nothing more to say in that regard.


Bizarre fact of the day: Myth 3 as it exists at this moment could still speak to Bungie.net. Basically, it would look to the server as if you were running a copy of Myth 2 with a completely insane set of 3rd-party mods installed. You couldn't join an actual game of Myth 2, but if, just hyopthetically, we were suicidal enough to piss off Microsoft, everybody in the office could log on and we could play a game of "Myth 2 with lots of plugins" with each other on Bungie.net. We're not going to do anything that stupid, and I expect to have this "feature" entirely stripped out in the next 18 hours, but from a purely engineering perspective I find it interesting to note that we've managed to bang on this thing for nearly 10 months yet haven't broken that aspect of the code.

Myth III is currently progressing very well and is expected out in a near-simultaneous release for Mac and PC this October; there are no clear plans for a demo at this point, but we're sure they will cook up something to whet your appetites.

Andrew Meggs .plan Update


Interplay in Trouble?
9:16 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Interplay, the publisher of a number of top-rated PC titles (and once parent company of MacPlay) recently reported significant financial troubles, and two sites are now reporting a takeover by the French-owned Titus may be in the works. Titus apparently already owns nearly a half of the company's stock, so a complete buyout isn't unlikely, though the repercussions of such a move are not known yet.


Why would this affect Mac gamers? You may recall Macplay is in the process of publishing a number of Interplay's top titles, and this move could shake up any future dealings with the company. However MacPlay is not owned or supported by InterPlay, as was previously the case, so there is no danger of that company going down with the ship.


Eurogamer reports the deal is already done, and that Titus worked with the massive Vivendi Universal to take over Interplay's games. Here's a clip:

A statement from Titus said that "existing synergies with Vivendi Universal, which has very strong distribution in North America, provide Interplay with the best opportunity of improving profitability," and suggested the move will save them up to $10m a year. This means the end of Interplay as a publisher, with their entire marketing and distribution staff set to join the dozens of other employees who were laid off earlier in the summer as Interplay plunged ever deeper into debt.
A quick story at The Adrenaline Vault seems to confirm these findings, but certainly nothing is set in stone until Interplay says it is so. We're in the process of talking with MacPlay on how this might affect any current and future plans for game ports. Watch for further updates.

MacPlay
Interplay/Titus Deal at Eurogamer
Interplay Financial Troubles at Eurogamer
Avault Story on Interplay/Titus


Mac Games News for Monday, August 27, 2001

IMG Publishes Heroes III Complete Strat Guide11:59 AM
Custer's Desktops are "Undying"11:38 AM
ATI Radeon 7500 Mobility Announced10:41 AM
New Dragon's Lair 3D Images9:34 AM
New Myth III Details9:30 AM
FUEL Dev Update, Mac Status9:26 AM
battle.net Realm Expansion9:16 AM
Q3A Point Release News?9:14 AM
Civilization III First Look6:00 AM
Feral to Publish Champ. Manager 01/02, Euro Max Payne6:00 AM
Pillars of Garendall Released6:00 AM
V12 Needs Mac Tester/Developers6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, August 27, 2001 on one page


Recent Mac Games News

Friday, August 24, 2001
Thursday, August 23, 2001
Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Monday, August 20, 2001


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