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Monday, September 24, 2001

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MacPlay Newsletter on BG2, Giants, AvP
9:42 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The September MacPlay newsletter has been released, offering progress updates on all of their upcoming titles including Baldur's Gate II, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and Aliens versus Predator. There are two previews of AvP and Giants available, with early minimum system requirements for the latter being released as well. According to MacPlay, Giants will need at least a G3 with 128MB of RAM, OS 10.0.4, and a 3D card with 16MB VRAM. All three of the above-mentioned games are set to be released at various times in October.

After a quick Q&A sessions which answers questions from fans about the company, they also give an updated release schedule for all of their announced titles. One point of interest concerns the much-anticipated Fighter Squadron, which is now set for completion sometime this holiday season. Here's the full list:

  • Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn - Available October 2001.

  • Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons Over Europe - Holiday 2001.

  • Sacrifice - November 2001.

  • Icewind Dale - January 2002.

  • Giants: Citizen Kabuto - Available October 2001.

  • StarFleet Command Volume II: Empires at War - December 2001.

  • Aliens vs. Predator (Gold Edition) - Available October 2001.

  • Zork Grand Inquisitor - Available October 2001.

  • Heretic II - Available December 2001.

  • Hexen II - Available December 2001.

For the complete scoop, read through the rest of the newsletter. We'll keep you posted as their many titles get set for an impressive block of Fall releases.

Preview: Icewind Dale
Preview: Fighter Squadron
Preview: Baldur's Gate II
Preview: Giants: Citizen Kabuto
September MacPlay Newsletter
Baldur's Gate II
Buy Baldur's Gate II

Full Wolfenstein MP Test Install Released
3:24 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

As promised, Graeme Devine of id Software has posted a complete install of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein "MPtest" which allows players to get a sneak preview of this single and multiplayer title inspired by the original id classic shooter. This online-only test build, which is for Mac OS X only, has been the topic of very active conversations in our forum and seems to be an instant hit with fans of team-based multiplayer combat.

If you already have the data files and the b7 application installed, then you don't need this full install; this is for those of you who are just discovering the game and would like to grab it all in one shot. As you might imagine, both the id Software FTP site and a mirror at Blue's News are extremely overloaded; we'll try to mirror the file ourselves as soon as we can grab a copy. MacGameFiles will automatically connect you with the fastest available mirror site.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein MPtest Full Install (64.7 MB)

Apple and Bold release AOEII Trailer, Info
3:11 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Bold, the Mac "label" of Peter Tamte's company Destineer, has teamed up with Apple to release a movie trailer and detailed information about the upcoming title Age of Empires II Gold. This port of the Microsoft title is steaming towards completion, and we're sure Mac RTS and strategy fans are eager to see this one in action.

Here is the press release:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- Destineer's Macintosh label, Bold, announces today that a
video preview trailer of the highly anticipated Age of Empires II: Gold
Edition for Macintosh is now available from Apple Computer.

Apple Computer has also released additional information about the game at
its Apple.com/games website.

In Age of Empires II, you lead one of the most powerful civilizations of the
Middle Ages through an action-packed real-time strategy game. You raise its
armies, forge alliances, grow its economy, and build wonders to stand the
test of time. The Windows version is already one of the best selling and
most critically acclaimed games ever created. It will ship for MacOS 8,
MacOS 9, and MacOS X in late October.

Yet another OS X-native game to add to the ever-expanding catalog. Visit the Apple web site for the trailer and preview, and watch for Destineer/Bold to unveil their own web site in the near future.

Age of Empires II Preview at Apple.com
Age of Empires II Trailer at Apple.com

Devine on OS X Wolf, DOOM 3
1:04 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Graeme Devine has been a popular fellow the last week with Mac OS X gamers, releasing one build after another of the "MPtest" for Return to Castle Wolfenstein. His latest .plan file update contains not only his reaction to the tremendous flood of feedback he has received on this project, but a hint as to what comes next. Interestingly enough he may take a trip into the past, just for kicks, providing a native Cocoa client for the graphic adventure/puzzle game The 7th Guest -- a classic title by any measure. Here is the full text of his .plan update, provided by Blue's News:

Well, I've been getting a few hundred emails a day from people testing the OS X build of RTCW. Thanks for ALL the feedback, unbelievably positive. I've done my best to keep up with all of you in replying, but this morning, with 413 still unread, it's a wee bit daunting. Thanks also for all the icons, wallpapers, and so forth.

I'll be putting up a full public installer today. We've moved the network protocol on internally, which makes making a compatible builds from here on in much harder, but a bunch of the bugs found by the OS X testers helped greatly in tracking down general bugs for all platforms.

It's time for me to get back to DOOM stuff, I've been coding for it under OS X btw, using the builds of 10.1 that Apple has been dropping to me. 10.1 is an excellent OS. I can't wait for MS Office under X native as well.

Next up for my spare time I think I'm going to finish off this little side project.. it's a native Cocoa 7th Guest client that plays the game if you have the CDs. I get a lot of requests for that, and Trilobyte is still around kicking, owned by me and owns all the rights, so perhaps one day something will happen there.

Mac OS 10.1 should be available to the general population by the end of this week, if all goes well. Watch this space (and MacGameFiles) for links and mirrors to the full Wolfenstein MPtest when it is made available, and be sure to check our forums for the many threads on the subject which are full of informative discussion.

Graeme Devine's .plan File

Custer's Desktop Has Bite
12:02 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our resident Photoshop ninja Brad Custer has sunk his teeth into yet another gaming-themed desktop image, this time producing a haunting spectacle inspired by Vampire: The Masquerade -- Redemption. The port of this game is due in the near future from MacSoft, just in time for the Halloween season, and Brad has cooked up a creepy desktop to get you in the mood.

As usual, jump to Custer's Desktops to grab his latest creation and browse through his past releases. For more information on the game itself, be sure to read IMG's detailed preview.

Preview: Vampire: The Masquerade -- Redemption
Custer's Desktops

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IMG Previews Spider-Man
11:46 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The code-name for this project ("Stanley") was "cracked" early in the development cycle (Stan Lee, get it?) it was still a pleasant surprise to learn that this Playstation title -- recently released for the PC as well -- is coming to the Mac OS. The original developers of Spider Man were the same team that did Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, and as with that console-to-PC port the graphics and effects were greatly enhanced during the porting process so you can expect a game up to current Mac and PC visual standards. Here's an excerpt from the preview:

With all of the Spiderman paraphernalia and many different series merchandised over the years, it's probably fair to characterize the Spiderman license as a wee bit tired. After the comic originally brought its young creator Stan Lee --and largely Marvel Comics itself-- to fame in the 1960s, there have been many variants of the strip in both comic books and newspapers. TV has milked Spidey as well, with a series appearing at least once per decade (including a very popular cartoon version in the mid-Nineties). A large number of platform and fighting titles based on Spiderman have appeared in arcades and still do on many consoles. And with a corresponding movie coming out this spring, you might be tempted to write this off as just another license; that would be a mistake.
Read the rest of this in-depth preview for more details on this title, plus the requisite gallery of screen shots. This title is under development by Westlake Interactive, and is slated for an ambitious release date of November this year -- published by Aspyr Media, of course.

Preview: Spider-Man

Anatomy of a Mac Shareware Title
11:05 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

iDevGames.com has published yet another "postmortem," a post-release examination of a software title or project from the perspective of the actual team members. In this postmortem the developers comment on the experience of developing the game, the actual process they followed in creating the code and artwork and their feelings on how successful they were in creating the game they had envisioned.

In this installment the game in the spotlight is Bakudanjin, an acknowledged "Bomberman" clone. While the team (known collectively as Dream Dawn planned on a three-month development cycle, the game actually took over two years to finish -- a common occurrence in the world of software development, especially for those who must develop in their spare time. Here's an excerpt from the postmortem:

From the beginning, we had our sights set on our desired features and their estimated development time. Though Bakudanjin ended up taking almost two years to complete, this was mostly because of school and other interruptions. Looking back on the work we put into the project, I think we could have realistically finished in under six months if we had been able to devote more time to development. Our focus on design saved us several times from feature creep. We did add a few extra game modes and game play devices along the way, but we quickly discarded many ideas that seemed too difficult or time consuming.
Budding shareware authors or those interested in the programming process might find the rest of the postmortem an interesting read; the team lists the software tools they used to create the game and adds their assessment of what went "right" and "wrong" with the development of the game itself, with the intent of guiding potential game developers down the correct path.

Bakudanjin "Postmortem" at iDevGames.com

EBWorld Drops Mac Games?
10:31 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Several alert IMG readers have passed along the news that EBgames.com, the online retail site for Electronics Boutique, seems to have dropped the "Macintosh" tab from their tabbed-folder interface on the home page.

Update: after some suggestions from IMG readers and some exploring, it seems that Mac games are indeed still for sale, but require quite a bit more work to find. You can still find Mac titles via the search engine, but specific links to the Mac section seem to have been removed, though the page itself still exists. Interestingly enough, the link for Linux games remains. We've contacted EBgames for an explanation and will bring you their reply.

We're not sure of the significance of this development, as Mac gamers still have plenty of retail outlets to choose from when purchasing games. It may just be a symptom of the general contraction of the online retail industry as razor-thin profit margins and a slowing economy take their toll.

If you miss the EBgames site and are looking for a place to spend your sorrows, may we humbly recommend the IMG online store. Not only do we work directly with publishers to bring you amazing deals, every purchase helps to support IMG and allow us to bring you the latest and most in-depth information on the world of Mac gaming.

IMG Store
EBgames Macintosh Selections

V12 is now Torque
10:02 AM | IMG Staff | Comment on this story

After the legal troubles with using the name V12 for GarageGames' graphics engine became apparent, much discussion regarding what they could call it ensued. After some initial feedback about their first choice "Spank Dog" (actually the name of a micro-brewery close to GG's base) and the other suggestions, a final decision has been made. V12 is now known as the Torque Game Engine. Here's what Jeff Tunnell had to say:

After taking your comments into account about Spank Dog and our other suggestions, we have finally decided on a name. This one has been checked out by our attorneys and appears to be clean. If you don't like it now, just live with it a few days, and it will grow on you. Thank you for all the community participation in this process.
Jeff is also arranging a logo to go with the new engine name, and there may be a new GarageGames logo as well, as none of the team like the current one!

In related news, Tim Gift of Garage Games has recently updated his plan file with yet more information concerning the ongoing development of the Torque engine, a cross-platform engine derived from the same engine that powers Tribes 2. It seems that Gift has been working on the AI (artificial intelligence) scripts:

Spent a little time sorting out some AI code with Pat Wilson recently. He took a first pass at trimming it all down, then I went in and organized the base AIConnection class. The connection class has now been reduced to it's basic core, which is to allow script code to masquerade as a client connection. Using an AIConnection object, a script can connect to the game as a client and generate input moves. This AI connection is treated like any other client connection when it enters the game, and can be used to control whatever object is assigned to the client (player, vehicle, etc.). Though somewhat useful on it's own, the class is meant to be used as a starting point for more specific AI objects, such as the AIPlayer object that Pat is working on now. The AIPlayer object will add more player object control, such as basic targeting and navigation. Once Pat's done I think we'll have a nice set of tools for scripting AI, should be fun :)
Also worth noting is Rick Overman's integration of Open AL code into the V12. Apparently, he's finished with at least the basics of the integration, as noted by his single line: "Integrated new OpenAL code. :)"

For those interested in further information on the Torque's progress, there's also a listing of the CVS log file that notes random things such as the adding of an inventory system, various bug fixes, and various support additions.

V12 name change @ GG's

The Future of OpenGL
9:55 AM | Ben Boffey | Comment on this story

As some readers may be aware, the specifications for OpenGL are governed by a group known as the OpenGL ARB (Architectural Review Board). The ARB is an independent consortium, made up of a number of key figures in the industry from companies such as 3DLabs, ATI, Nvidia, Sun, SGI and of course Apple. These consortium members meet regularly to discuss OpenGL's features and future and then agree upon changes to the open specifications. The latest of these meetings took place on September 11th-12th. and was hosted by Apple in Cupertino.

Although most of the discussion is of little immediate significance to Mac gamers, a few interesting tid-bits came to light.

Initial discussion focussed on OpenGL's use and implementation of programmable shading, an area which is considered the future of computer graphics and early versions of which have been implemented by both ATI and Nvidia in their latest hardware. From what was said it is clear that there's a long way to go especially with different vendors working on different solutions. For any new features to be added to an API, changes need to be made; these are often initially made via OpenGL "extensions." Traditionally ATI have had a very open approach, working towards extensions to OpenGL which can be used by a variety of vendors, Nvidia seem to be showing signs of following suit after initial problems with their implementation and the constraints which they imposed on use of their extensions. Basically, ATI was open with their extension and NVIDIA has not been, which put card makers (and game developers) in the uncomfortable position of having to choose one over the other, but luckily this situation is on its way to being resolved.

Next up was a presentation by 3DLabs on the subject of a major revision to OpenGL, version 2.0. 3Dlabs has offered to devote a lot of resources to get a specification ready for SIGGRAPH next year; this may seem like a long time off, but it would be a major step forwards for OpenGL and is seen by the industry to be a long-term solution to solving the race with (or against) Microsoft's closed API DirectX 9. Any new specifications will of course need a lot of input from all companies involved, and there are more short-term changes (particularly relating to shader programmability) that some parties need implemented ASAP.

It was decided that Apple would lead the short-term unification work on implementing features that companies such as ATI and Nvidia need to support their hardware, while 3DLabs will continue working on the larger goal of an initial OpenGL 2.0 specification. It is fantastic to see Apple getting so involved in the future of OpenGL and working with graphics card companies so closely. OpenGL is after all key to the future of Apple's graphics strategy, as there is no chance of a Mac OS version of DirectX. While a 2.0 revision to OpenGL may be some time off, work to unify and standardize an interface to exploit features present in the latest hardware available to Mac users is sure to be a boon to game developers and gamers alike.

After some perceived stagnation within the OpenGL API and the ARB itself, things finally seem to be moving along; It is not going to be quick or simple, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. We'll have to wait for the next ARB meeting in December to see how things progress.

For detailed information on the latest version of OpenGL and how the changes may affect the graphics in the next generation of games and graphics cards, be sure to read our article ATI Radeon 8500: In the Flesh for a detailed explanation of the concepts and terms -- as well as still images and example movies.

Feature: ATI Radeon 8500 In the Flesh
ARB Meeting Notes - 11/09/01

Maxis Comments on SimsVille Cancellation
9:45 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

For those who still aren't clear on why Maxis decided to cancel their upcoming title SimsVille, GameSpot snagged a short interview with Patrick Buechner (Maxis' Director of Marketing) asking for clarification on the issue. Buechner cites several factors, though the main one seems to be that SimsVille simply did not live up to Maxis' high standards:

For the past three years, we've had an extremely high standard for our games, and our customers have come to expect a certain consistent quality of gameplay from us. And while SimsVille had certain fun elements to it, the game had other parts that simply weren't as fun. For me, specifically, the first 10 minutes of building up my town was always enjoyable, but once I got past that part, the game became less compelling. Similar issues also influenced our decision.
He also notes that the decision to axe the title did not come from publisher Electronic Arts, but rather from within Maxis, and included members on the SimsVille design team.

Another reason for its cancellation seems to center around the impending release of The Sims: Hot Date. The main reason SimsVille came into existence in the first place was due to player feedback asking for a way to see their Sims interact outside their houses. Hot Date allows players to see that kind of behavior, and Buechner adds that it's also more fun in Hot Date than in SimsVille, in his opinion.

For more on SimsVille's cancellation, including whether or not it will ever see release (or if it's technology will be used in future Maxis titles) be sure to check out the whole interview.

GameSpot - Maxis on SimsVille Cancellation

World of Warcraft Q&A Available
9:38 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Dstroy, a resident of Finland, was kind enough to translate into English a recent World of Warcraft Q&A session conducted by Gamesmania and has posted it at Infoceptor's WoW forum. The Q&A, which features Chris Metzen (the creative director of World Of Warcraft) contains quite a bit of new information, including notes on game interface features, the target audience and the process of character creation.

The interface for WoW currently sounds very promising, though of course no detail should be considered "final" until the game actually ships. Currently, players can choose between a 1st or 3rd person perspective when playing. Simplicity also seems to be the name of the game. For example, the mouse cursor will change into a symbol when mousing over something that can be interacted with, indicating when a player can fight, pick-up, etc.

This simplicity translates over into the battle system as well. Battles are described as being fast-paced, with many similarities to Diablo II's style of combat. Here's a clip from the Q&A:

One energy bar shows you how near death you are. If you kill a monster, the game changes into Loot mode where you can take stuff from the monster. In many ways the World of Warcraft battle system is a lot like the Diablo 2 system. Behind a simple outside there is a very complex system. Because of this you can jump in fairly quickly, but you will need some time before you know all the tricks and details. This is also the general design concept for World of Warcraft : Fast to jump in and a long but steady learning curve.
Other questions asked and answered reveal details about character creation, creating a balance between hardcore and casual players, and the storyline behind the whole world. For the rest of the details, be sure to check out the translated Q&A at Infoceptor's forums.

Infoceptor - World of Warcraft Q&A
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

New MumboJumbo Web Site, Myth III in Final Testing
9:34 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A newly-designed web site for MumboJumbo has been unveiled recently, which includes an update on their first major project Myth III: The Wolf Age. The site also offers quick bios for the many members of their team, as well as a listing of open job positions. There are opportunities for 3D modelers and game programmers so be sure to visit and read through these "want ads" if you're polling the job market.

Myth III is apparently in its final round of testing, and a demo should be out in the coming weeks. Here's the update:

We are currently testing and tweaking the third installment in the award
winning series created by Bungie. Expect to see more news and a playable
demo in the weeks ahead.
For more specific information on the day-to-day work for the game, programmer Andrew Meggs has updated his .plan with the specifics of many different builds. Check it out if you're interested.

Andrew Meggs .plan Update
MumboJumbo Web Site

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Wolfenstein b7, Strategy Guide Available
9:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

For those that missed it, the latest update to the multiplayer beta of Return to Castle Wolfenstein (version b7) was added to Id's ftp site last Friday afternoon. Though there were no bug fixes or added features listed, one of the highlights of b7 is that it seems to have fixed the "crash after every round change" problem that Mac players were experiencing.

For those that are enjoying RTCW MP but are having problems scoring points or staying alive, fansite Wolfenstein Xtreme has posted a short strategy that covers both the Axis and the Allies teams in terms of team strategy and general gameplay. Here's a short clip from the Allies strategy:

3 Lieutenants, 4 Medics and 1 Soldier which will be equipped with a flamethrower. They should split into 2 groups dividing the medics equally 2 per team and should attack the war room each team from a location , first giving the Axies some panic and distraction and second try to steal the Top secret documents as fast as you can , exiting the room with the nearest door or exit! Also have 1 or 2 soldiers in front of the carrier of the documents while backed up by a Medic to heal him in any case till you reach the radio room and win the map.
The rest of the strategy guide is available at the link below. Also don't forget to grab the latest version if you still haven't done so, as it is well worth the download. A complete installer with both data and application files is still MIA, but you can grab a Mac-friendly version of the data files at MacGameFiles.

Wolfenstein Xtreme - Beachtest Strategy Guide
Return to Castle Wolfenstein for OS X - b7
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Mac Games News for Friday, September 21, 2001

WolfMPTest B6, Now B6a12:44 PM
Warcraft III Chat Transcript Answers FAQ11:13 AM
Mac Links LS 2002 to Include Course Designer10:37 AM
MacGamez Publishes "Sizzling Preview"10:23 AM
Wolfenstein Multiplayer Test B5 Appears10:01 AM
uDevGames Downloads Mirrored, Voting Continue9:45 AM
SimsVille Axed9:43 AM
Nerve Q&A on Castle Wolfenstein9:29 AM
Master of Orion III Images, Status Update9:25 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, September 21, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, September 20, 2001
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
Monday, September 17, 2001
Friday, September 14, 2001

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