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Thursday, September 27, 2001

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Elite Force Expansion Pack at FC
9:56 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media has updated their project status page with the information that the Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Expansion Pack is in Final Candidate status, being evaluated for a possible release. This expansion isn't just a mere port of the PC version -- it also includes full Carbon support to allow this game to play natively on Mac OS X. A Carbon patch for the original Elite Force which will also give it network compatibility with the PC version should be available after the Expansion Pack release.

For those of you that need a "refresher" as to what the Expansion Pack entails, this series of enhancements adds a new solo adventure, the ability to freely explore a virtual version of the USS Voyager and additional multiplayer modes and maps. Here is a description from Aspyr's mini-site dedicated to the game:

n the Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force Expansion Pack, the U.S.S. Voyager comes alive with an interactive tour mode that takes you to places that make the ship tick. It also includes 21 New multiplayer maps that allow for more hardcore action, new characters (including Captain Janeway as Borg!) and new single-player missions with new alien creatures and a new "Borg Slayer" game. You've just been given an all-access pass to the Delta Quadrant's most desirable ship. Grab your exploration rifle, and let the exploration begin.

STV:EFX will also contain the carbon update for the original game.

The expansion will be accordingly priced ($19.95) and is still available for pre-order. If all goes well this title will be declared "Gold Master"; typically the time from gold status to shelves is two to three weeks.

Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Unreal Tournament Carbon Due Soon
2:51 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our European colleagues at MacGameZone have passed along the very exciting news that the Carbon version of Unreal Tournament, a project Mark Adams of Westlake Interactive has been working on in his "spare time," may be released in public beta form as soon as this coming weekend. While this is a thrill for UT fans everywhere, it is much more than a hobby for Adams -- the lessons he has learned in porting this game to Carbon will allow for easier carbonization of upcoming Unreal-engine based games such as Clive Barker's Undying, another Westlake project.

Here's the note from Adams:

We're planning to release a public beta soon, maybe even this weekend. Its based on UT 436, and runs under Carbon in OS X.
Francophones can check out the rest of the article at the MacGameZone web site. We certainly hope Mark is able to release this Carbon patch soon, as we can't think of a better way to put the 10.1 update through its paces.

Westake Interactive
Mark Adams' Note at MacGameZone

EB on Mac Game Sales
2:41 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

In response to the recent news about the Macintosh section of Electronic Boutique's website EBworld.com disappearing, a MacGamer forum user by the name of "awarlock" posted what appears to be a response from EB in regards to his inquiry about this topic:

Thank you for writing EBgames.com! We are experiencing problems getting shipments in for our mac games, that's why the tab's been taken off the website. We are still selling the mac games we have in stock though. The tab for the mac games will be back up after we start getting games in again.
MacGamer further adds that an "anonymous" phone call made to EB supposedly revealed that Mac games are still available by clicking on the "Advanced Search" tab at their website (as noted in our article on the issue posted Monday), as well as the fact that recent database changes have taken place, which may account for the disappearance of the Macintosh section. However the Macintosh tab for the site didn't just vanish -- it was actually replaced by one labeled Action Figures, and there is no room for it to return. Hopefully EB will get their database and shipment issues resolved shortly.

EB Games.com
EBWorld Drops Mac Games?
MacGamer Forums - EB games
MacGamer - EB rebuts disappearance

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Civilization III Pre-Order Bonus Video Available
11:44 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Blue's News has noted the recent posting of a video at the Civilization Fanatics Center. Fans who pre-ordered Civilization III at Best Buy received a CD that contained a special "making of Civ III" video, which was converted into Divx format by Cybershy and kindly posted for all to download and view.

If you weren't excited about Sid Meier's upcoming turn-based empire-building title before, this video is sure to spark the interest of more than a few gamers, as well as make already-salivating strategy fans rabid for more Civ III stuff. One of the cooler aspects of Civ III is the new Culture aspect of gameplay. Besides winning overall points for the player, a strong Culture can not only inspire neighboring empires to imitate your advancements, but can also overwhelm even the toughest militaries. Johnson notes that even if an army manages to sack a city, if the culture is strong enough, they won't be able to convince the people to change their ways. Not only that, but if the culture is really strong, the would-be conquerors might find themselves getting swallowed up by the culture they sought to conquer.

Other gameplay aspects include an interface that has been stripped down to the basics so that it will not confuse players and bog the game down unnecessarily. There's also a new "line of sight" feature that will affect map views for units. For example, a unit standing atop a mountain will be able to see much farther than a unit in the flatlands.

For audiophiles concerned about the sounds and music of Civ III, there will be plenty of features there as well. Sound effects are being timed to sync perfectly with on-screen happenings. Footstep sounds are timed to the animations of units. Swords and axes clang and swish as military units hack at each other. Tons of various musical tracks are also promised for the final build.

For those that enjoy negotiations, a whole new challenge awaits in Civ III. The facial expressions of various leaders are very well-animated and will change depending on how negotiations go, allowing players to read the thoughts and feelings of their peers. However, players must also beware, because those leaders can also hide or fake their true feelings, thus making the game of diplomacy a tricky one. Players will also have to throw out any preconceived notions about the historical caricatures used in the game. Abe Lincoln may have been an honest man in real life, but his Civ III incarnation could quickly turn into a two-faced liar if steered in that direction.

Another cool aspect of the game is the ability of a player's governors to learn the patterns of their leader. Build enough libraries rather than barracks, and even the most military-minded governor will start to suggest fountains instead of fortresses.

Perhaps the most glowing (and frightening) endorsement about Civ III comes from its programmers. Usually the first ones to become jaded about the title they're working on, programmers who have been working as much as a year on Civ III find themselves getting more and more intrigued rather than bored of it. One programmer notes that "Even after a year working on Civ III, I know this game. But I'm still getting sucked in. You're ruining my life!" They further warn: "If you buy this game, don't plan on doing anything for the next 6 months. Don't plan on helping around the house, don't plan on getting ahead at work." The Civ III development team fully expects to be receiving letters and emails that say "You've ruined my life!" once this game hits the market.

Westlake Interactive is currently handling the Mac version of this title. It's currently still listed as being in "Early Development," and IMG will be sure to keep readers informed as to its progress. In the meantime, for those that can manage a 35 MB download and run Divx movies, be sure to give the video a look as it's well worth the trouble.

Civilization Fanatics - Civ III Videos
Blue's News
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

BabelBloX Released
11:28 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Mac Observer has recently noted the release of a new OS X-only shareware title courtesy of illumineX. Titled BabelBloX, this arcade-style game has players attempting to "eliminate a mixed grid of different colored blocks by clicking on groups of two or more." Like most puzzle games, while the concept is simple, the actual gameplay can be surprisingly addictive. And if you get tired of the basic concept, there are several iterations of gameplay available:

  • Classic BabelBloX - Start with a three color grid, and work up to progressively more challenging levels.
  • Big Ben -Based on Classic BabelBloX, this game adds the challenge of a race against the clock for each level.
  • Bubbles -BloX are morphed into clear Delay BloX when you destroy a cluster. The delay BloX survive until you destroy another cluster, and then they "pop" out of existence.
  • Shockwave - A relaxing visual treat. This game is sorta like doodling -- you can play it while talking on the phone (don't play it while driving!)
  • Gravity Pong - Gravity changes directions each move.
  • Gravity Delay Pong - Delay BloX add to the challenge of this game.

For the more tech-minded out there, illumieX notes that they used a variety of OS X technologies in BabelBloX, including OpenGL, Quartz, Cocoa, Mac Help, Aqua Interface, an animated dock icon, Windowed & Full Screen displays and Threads. They also boast that "BabelBloX is the first fully-skinned Cocoa application to appear on Mac OS X."

Interested gamers that have OS X can download the free trial application, which lets gamers play the "X Free" game. For those that register by paying the $19.95 shareware fee, the other game modes will be unlocked and give players the rights to free updates for a year.

BabelBloX 1.7.42 (6.3 MB)
illumineX - Software
The Mac Observer - BabelBloX Overview

AvP 'Marine' Tips and Hints
11:25 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MacGamez has posted an in-depth guide to playing the Marine character in the soon-to-be-released shooter Aliens vs Predator, one of three playable "races" in the game. As the guide points out, the Marine is the most traditional role of the three, with many elements that are similar to previous shooters played from the human point of view. However the lowly Marine isn't just there to be lunch for an Alien or a trophy on the Predator's mantel -- he's equipped to do some damage, and isn't shy with that grenade launcher. This tip guide will help you get the most out of your selection of weapons and equipment and learn survival skills along the way.

Here's an excerpt:

During most of the single-player campaign you'll find yourself with the standard issue pulse rifle, which fires both bullets ("armor-piercing, explosive-tipped, caseless" bullets, if you'll recall) and grenades. The pulse rifle is most effective against the standard Alien and somewhat tougher foes like Predators and Praetorians. You'll find yourself using the PR in both close-quarters and long range combat.

The Alien's speed won't aid him against Marines sporting the smartgun. The smartgun is faster than the pulse rifle and allows players to carry more in a single clip. This weapon's true beauty isn't revealed until you use it in track mode. While in tracking mode, the crosshair will pursue any enemy that approaches from the front. Getting off a few early rounds against a group of surprise-happy Aliens can mean the different between life and death. The smartgun dishes out an amount of damage similar to the pulse rifle's.

Hopefully similar guides will be published for those who favor the Alien or Predator modes of play. Check MacGamez for the rest of the article, and watch for the release of Mac AvP in the first week of October.

Remember, you can still get this title free with a MacGames CD subscription, or MGCD subscribers can pre-order the title for just $15. Visit the IMG Web Store for details.

AvP Marine Strat Guide at MacGamez

OS X Now Offered at Online Compile Farm
11:17 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Source Forge, a site that hosts and discusses open-source code and applications, has recently announced that the Open Source Development Network (ODSN) has added PowerMac G4 servers with OS X 10.1 to the SourceForge.net Compile Farm. This will allow programmers to test any applications made for OS X through the development site.

Here's a clip from the article:

Mac OS X v10.1 has the performance and polish that developers can tap for next-generation applications," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "With SourceForge.net, the Open Source community has a world-class environment where developers can test their creativity and put Mac OS X through its paces. The Open Source community is very important to Apple, and SourceForge.net is key to helping that relationship grow.
While not specifically game related, this is great news, as open source code has often encouraged many past developers in making various programs, including games. It looks like OS X's UNIX base is starting to pay off.

For more information on OS X's open-sourcing, Source Forge, or the OSDN, be sure to check out the whole article.

Source Forge - SF.net Compile Farm Features Apple's Latest OS X (10.1)

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Blizzard Posts New Warcraft III Shot
10:55 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

For those that just can't get enough Warcraft III-related media, Blizzard has recently posted a new screen shot of their upcoming RTS title at their official WC3 site. For those who have been living in a hole somewhere, WC3 is the latest incarnation of Blizzard's highly successful RTS games, featuring several races battling for dominance in a war-torn world.

This latest screen shot features Andromath the Archmage, one of the Heroes from the Human race. Archmages are described as "crotchety old wizards are called upon to defend humanity with all the magical powers at their disposal." As the screen shot shows, Archmages travel atop steeds and wield magical staves.

Also shown in the screen shot is a Human army embattled with the enigmatic Undead race. Though Skeletons, Necromancers, and some kind of large bats make up the bulk of the Undead shown, the prize definitely goes to the very large, very frightening Undead Frost Wyrm that is shown attacking with a cone of frost breath.

This game just continues to look more and more impressive. The release date for this game is currently still set at around early 2002, with Blizzard shooting for a simultaneous PC/Mac release. Though this release date is subject to change, as is typical with all Blizzard titles, no one ever seems to mind when they see the quality and polish of the final product.

Blizzard - Warcraft III Screenshots
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

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Interview with Infogrames PR Rep
10:49 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

In an interesting twist to the usual Q&A bit, Unreal fansite Unreal Sector decided to interview Simon Callaghan, the UK PR manager for Infogrames' PC and Xbox titles. Rather than inquiring about Infogrames' titles, Unreal 2 in particular, US delves into the PR campaign aspect of this much-awaited sequel as well as games in general, giving a small insight into the typical workload of a PR rep.

Callaghan's workload typically spans multiple projects across multiple platforms that must be coordinated to a global release schedule. His current projects, around 10 in number, carry release dates from October of this year to October of next year, prioritized in terms of release dates and sizes.

As far as U2's campaign goes, Callaghan promises that it's going to be a massive one. Perhaps in a bit of early campaigning, he adds that he has seen it running, and to "Forget Doom 3 and Quake 4, this will be the new benchmark for first-person shooters."

Other topics touched on in the interview are how Callaghan gets a feel for the games he need to promote, advice on how one can break into the games industry and some of his earlier projects. He also notes that U2 is on schedule for its current projected release date of next summer. We have yet to hear news of a Mac version, but given the success of earlier Unreal titles on the Mac, we're pretty sure it's just a matter of time until a version for our platform is confirmed.

Unreal Sector - Unreal II PR Interview

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Interview with Max Payne Level Designer
10:15 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Finnish gaming web site Spelplayset recently interviewed Aki Määttä of Remedy Entertainment, a level and texture designer for the smash FPS hit Max Payne, and posted their results in Finnish and English versions for readers to enjoy. The interview goes a bit off the beaten path from standard game-related Q&As and gives a different perspective regarding Max Payne, particularly in regards to various comparisons and criticisms.

One criticism (as with most FPS titles) is that Max Payne is too violent a game. Määttä is quick to note that Max Payne is not "all_that_violent," and that it contains no more violence than the average action movie. He points to other titles like Soldier of Fortune, where there's plenty of gore and dismemberment, as being much more violent.

Määttä also addresses consumer criticism regarding Max Payne's long development time:

Sure, players always want games as soon as possible and to be as long as possible, without realising how much effort must be put into developing the game in order to achieve those goals. And also in our case, a lot of time was put into developing the technology behind Max Payne. Also from a developers standpoint it's nicer to make shorter projects - in a four-year-one the focus gets sometimes lost and people lose motivation.
Another good point Määttä makes is one regarding the lack of multiplayer in Max Payne. Though there's been plenty of buzz regarding the topic, he points out that "In a world of Counter-Strike there doesn't seem to be much room for any other highly successful multiplayer games." He cites excellent titles like Deus Ex and No One Lives Forever as examples of this. Both are excellent single-player titles, but most people tinkered with the multiplayer modes for a bit and then just went back to Counter-Strike and what-not (i.e. made specifically for multiplayer titles) after a while.

The rest of the interview covers Määttä's views on the notable achievements of Max Payne, its various graphics requirements, and decisions behind Max Payne's design philosophy. For those interested in the whole read, be sure to check it out at Spelplayset.

Spleplayset - Max Payne Q&A
Remedy Entertainment
Westlake Interactive
Max Payne
Buy Max Payne

Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Apple Expo Goes Online12:04 PM
Stronghold Screen Shots, Details11:57 AM
New Heroes of Might and Magic IV Shots10:50 AM
IMG Reviews Logitech Wheel Mouse Special Edition10:38 AM
Myth II: Worlds Coming Soon9:37 AM
Myth III On-Site Testers Needed9:18 AM
World War II Online Letter to Customers9:16 AM
Apple Posts Giants-Sized Preview9:07 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 26, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Monday, September 24, 2001
Friday, September 21, 2001
Thursday, September 20, 2001
Wednesday, September 19, 2001

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