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Tuesday, September 25, 2001

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Stronghold Preview, PC Demo
10:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A PC demo for the city builder/RTS title Stronghold was released over the weekend; as you might suspect, this indicates the game's development is going well, and the developers hope to release the full version for the PC next month. While there are no specific details yet on how MacSoft will port this game being made by Firefly Studios, it is obvious that the Mac port can progress much faster with a "fixed" code base, so the release of the PC version is good news in that sense.

PCIGN has posted a preview which offers many details on Stronghold, reflecting the experience of playing through a late build of the game. Topics discussed include the basic strategy for getting "up and running" in the game, a rundown of the different elements and units, and how the game strikes a balance between economic and combat strategies. Here's an excerpt:

So after you've been briefed about what to expect and received your mission goals, you'll be plopped into the game screen and right into the middle of your mission. At this point you'll need to start preparing for the anticipated assault. That's right, in this game, it's all about defending your castle and its inhabitants. You'll have a bit of time before the enemy attacks you in most cases, but not long so you'll need to get food production rolling as soon as possible. There'll be several waves of the persistent little buggers coming at your walls with one final end all battle. You'll actually be able to see how far you've got left until the final surge from the enemy (which will entail the largest force) comes on the objectives screen. A bar will fill up green as time goes along and when it reaches the end, the final attack is launched. There are some times when you'll already have a castle that needs protection, but we'll go through the basics so you have a pretty good idea what to expect.
Check out the rest of the article if you're interested in Stronghold. We're attempting to get a status update from MacSoft on the state of the Mac version of this game, and we will bring you the details as soon as we have them.

Stronghold Preview at PC.IGN
Firefly Studios Web Site
Firefly Studios
Buy Stronghold

Interview with Westlake, Aspyr on Spider-Man
2:19 PM | IMG Staff | Comment on this story

Today IMG has published an interview with Mark Krenek of Westlake Interactive and Amy Torres of Aspyr Media concerning the Mac port of Spider-Man, a console and PC game now making its way to our platform. The interview deals with aspects of the porting process, the system requirements and OS X support. Here's an excerpt:

IMG: Like Tony Hawk 2, Spiderman has already been released on many consoles and also the PC. Is this considered a port from the PC version, and are there any significant differences between it and the previous console titles?

Mark Krenek: It is a port of the PC version. ( I'm not familiar with the console games so I can't comment on differences.)

Amy Torres: I have played Spiderman on the console. I particularly enjoyed the Spidey-moves/ mannerisms. The Mac version is similar, if not exact. However, the graphic quality does appear to be much better.

For more details on this upcoming port, read the rest of the interview. This game is currently at First Playable status, and Aspyr hopes to have it in stores by the end of this year.

Preview: Spider-Man
Feature: Spider-Man Interview

Hope for OS X Sound Blaster Drivers?
12:01 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

In the continuing quest to bolster support for the Mac version of Creative's Sound Blaster Live! sound card, Accelerate Your Mac recently posted a new bit of information regarding the SB and possible OS X drivers. While the info is hardly official, it does offer a bit of hope:

I had an occasion to talk to a Mac support rep at SB yesterday and the plan for OsX support is still alive. In fact they are planning to bring 5.1 ability to the OsX version. Though unofficial, this is indeed encouraging.

John Oswald
Also don't forget that the call for e-mails asking for more Mac SB support, both in 9.x and X, went out last week courtesy of Brian "CreativeOne" Sounder of Creative Labs. It's not too late to write in, and it is never too late to show your support for the continuing development of this Mac sound card and its drivers.

Accelerate Your Mac
Creative Call for Feedback
Sound Blaster Live!

On Baldur's Gate II AI
11:56 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

If there's one person who knows the strengths and limitations of the artificial intelligence of computer RPGs, it is Jeff Vogel. Head of Spiderweb Software and creator of such classic titles as the Exile series, Jeff knows RPGs, and his latest Grumpy Gamer column examines the AI (or lack therof) in Baldur's Gate II.

While this game has been justly praised for its epic scope and thrilling gameplay, the AI itself does have weaknesses, as Jeff reveals. However he is just using the game as an example of weak AI that can be found in all types of games, from first-person shooters to side-scrollers. Specifically, one of the most obvious weaknesses many games reveal has to do with how "enemy" creatures or characters do not seem to care a whit about their comrades and never even notice when you begin to pick them off one by one. Here's an excerpt:

Here is a tactic so common and powerful that I saw it in strategy guides on the first Baldur's Gate. When approaching a group of enemies, do so slowly, one tiny step at a time, until the first member of the group is visible but the others aren't. Then run back to an empty area. The lone enemy will follow, and you can trash it with ease. Repeat with every member of the group.

What, precisely, are the other members of the group doing after the first member, we'll call him Joe, was pulled away? "Hey! What happened to Joe?" "I dunno." "Did you hear screaming?" "Don't we always?" "Hey! What happened to Sue?"

Creatures should not be inactive just because the player can't see them. I wish some of those super-bands of foes in the dungeons of Diablo II were active inside their rooms. Just little things. Poke their heads out. Maybe send one of their members on patrol. Don't rely on me to give permission for a creature to move.

Jeff's comments are certainly well-deserved, but considering how difficult that particular game is currently, it would be terrifying if the creatures were actually that intelligent. Read on for more of Jeff's characteristically grumpy (and humorous) comments; we will have to take a close look at his next game Geneforge to see if he can heed his own advice.

Spiderweb Software
The Grumpy Gamer on Game AI at CGOnline

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Max Payne Interview
11:32 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While there is still no date for the promised Mac OS release of this title, the chart-topping success of Max Payne on the PC side is keeping this one in the spotlight long after its release. Player of Games has posted an interview with Petri Jarvilehto, project lead for this game developed by Remedy.

Besides a basic overview of the game and the team's design goals, the interview discusses the choice of third-person perspective, and the inspirations behind this this four-year project. Another aspect of the game which is discussed has to do with how the engine itself is highly modifiable and comes with editing tools; many interesting "mods" have already been created, and by the time the Mac version comes out we can expect some highly polished maps and mods will be ready to download.

Here's an excerpt dealing with one of the game's more controversial aspects, the lack of multiplayer support:

PoG: 12. Was a deathmatch/multiplayer mode ever considered?

Petri: Originally yes, but once we really got into the project we decided to focus
only on single player. This was probably the best decision through the
project, since that allowed us to focus 110% on the single player game and
we didn't have to make any compromises. Bullet Time for example wouldn't
really work in a multiplayer game, neither would the camera work that we
feel is integral in making the combat look like an action movie.

Be warned, the last page of the interview does contain a "spoiler" about the plot of the game which you might not want to read if you're looking forward to playing this title yourself. Max Payne will be published for Mac OS by MacSoft; details on the porting team and status of the Mac version have yet to be released.

Max Payne Team Lead Interview at Player of Games
Remedy Entertainment
Westlake Interactive
Max Payne
Buy Max Payne

Duke Nukem Forever Interview
10:07 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While the name Duke Nukem Forever is beginning to seem more and more like an ironic jest, the game itself is actually supposed to be nearing completion. As this title is due to be published for the Mac OS some of you might be interested in an interview posted by German site Player.at which features Scott Miller of 3DRealms. Scott is as evasive as ever, even refusing to confirm or deny that the nefarious Dr. Proton (an antagonist from Duke's past) will be appearing in DNF.

However, mixed in with his slippery non-answers are a few tidbits of interest. He claims that "most of the fundamental coding is done and all the gameplay is falling into place," good news indeed for a game over three years in development. He also confirms that this title will feature Duke's signature sense of humor, and claims once again that "There’s absolutely no FPS game that comes close to the experience DNF will deliver. Nothing out right now even comes close."

Here's an excerpt:

You surely have done a bit of market research. Is the Duke still known among the young generation of players, or, because of his long absence from the PC-arena, is he just an idol for old veterans from Build-engine times?

Scott Miller: We’ve done no research, although we watch polls that game sites like Voodoo Extreme hold. And in VE’s very recent poll about game characters, Duke Nukem ranked as the number one game character by a wide margin, followed by Max Payne in the number two slot.
But even if Duke was an unknown, much as he was when Duke 3D came out, I still believe DNF would sell very well because of its high quality, innovate gameplay.

Check out the rest of the four-page interview for more details. As always, this game will be released when it is finished, and Miller refuses to even speculate as to when that will be. The interview is also accompanied by 20 screen shots from circa 1999.

Scott Miller Interviewed at Player.at

uDevGame Voting Extends Through Tomorrow
9:49 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

iDevGames has announced that because of some server problems during the first day of their Mac game programming competition, uDevGame 2001, they will be extending the voting deadline through Wednesday. Once you have tried all 24 entries, you are allowed to vote for four favorites among this diverse range of games. Here's the scoop:

Due to the download problems encountered earlier we have extended the voting period for uDevGame 2001 by another two days (September 26). If you have yet to vote, please check out all games at the link below and then vote for your favorites. The top four games will advance to the second round with winners to be choosen by a select group of judges.
As of this morning, there have been about 230 votes totalled, so head over now and show your support for these startup developers.

Current uDevGames Entries
uDevGames Voting Page

Myth III Decal Details
9:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A short tutorial posted by fansite Myth Village offers details on making your own "decals" for the upcoming RTS title Myth III: The Wolf Age. Decals are 2D image bitmaps than can literally be "slapped on" 3D surfaces in the highly modified version of the Myth engine being used to power this prequel. This will allow players a certain level of customization in the game, by allowing you to have all of your units sport your individual logo or insignia. There are three very nice screen shots which offer an example of how this will work. Here's a clip from the page with more:

It has long been rumored that Myth III will allow players to create their own decals to place on their units. The screenshots above shot that in action. The method for creating an icon is quite simple, and should open up a lot of options to the community....

The icon is in 24-bit color, the mask is 256 greys. This allows for highly detailed transparencies. In a lot of ways it's like creating an icon for MacOS X. It should be noted that while you can put as much detail into the icon as you want, when zoomed out it can get quite small. So like the eye above, it is highly detailed, but the general design is simplistic.

Head over now to check out the decals, as well as pick up a sample Photoshop file if you want to start making your own today. Myth III is currently in late beta and expected out next month.

Myth III Decals at Myth Village

Mac Games News for Monday, September 24, 2001

Full Wolfenstein MP Test Install Released3:24 PM
Apple and Bold release AOEII Trailer, Info3:11 PM
Devine on OS X Wolf, DOOM 31:04 PM
Custer's Desktop Has Bite12:02 PM
IMG Previews Spider-Man11:46 AM
Anatomy of a Mac Shareware Title11:05 AM
EBWorld Drops Mac Games?10:31 AM
V12 is now Torque10:02 AM
The Future of OpenGL9:55 AM
Maxis Comments on SimsVille Cancellation9:45 AM
MacPlay Newsletter on BG2, Giants, AvP9:42 AM
World of Warcraft Q&A Available9:38 AM
New MumboJumbo Web Site, Myth III in Final Testing9:34 AM
Wolfenstein b7, Strategy Guide Available9:29 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, September 24, 2001 on one page

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