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Thursday, February 14, 2002



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Harry Potter, 4x4 Evo 2 Ship This Week
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

The folks at Aspyr Media sent us word by carrier pigeon yesterday that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is in duplication and should be shipping by the end of the week.

The game, ported to the Mac by Westlake Interactive, is based on the first of J. K. Rowling's wildly popular Harry Potter books and follows in the wake of the recent movie:

Be Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, learning to master all things magical in a world filled with wizardry, fun, and danger. The adventure begins as Harry Potter arrives at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Aspyr also let us know that 4x4 Evolution 2, which was sent to duplication three weeks ago, should be shipping by the end of this week as well. The game is a sequel to the original off-road racing title published for the Mac by the late Gathering of Developers:
Off-road racing has reached the next stage in evolution! Choose from over 120 of the world's baddest trucks to go tearing into the wild!
For more information on these new games, follow the links below.

IMG News: 4x4 Evolution 2 Is Gold
IMG Preview: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
4x4 Evolution 2
Harry Potter
Buy 4x4 Evolution 2
Buy Harry Potter



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IMG Reviews the F-16 Combatstick
12:04 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Tim Morgan, our resident flight simulator guru, of the F-16 Combatstick by CH Products.

Here's a brief excerpt:

The Combatstick is designed more or less after the FLCS (flight control system) used by the F-16 Fighting Falcon. On its front surface are two four-way hats and two buttons. Along with the trigger, three other buttons pepper its column. On the base are two trim wheels and a small slider, which I tentatively assumed could be used as a throttle. All of this sat on a large, weighted base, keeping the joystick in place on my desk.

Although the layout of the stick may match the F-16ís, it feels nothing like its real-life counterpart. The F-16ís FLCS only moves about a half-inch in any direction; the pilot applies various amounts of pressure to alter the roll or pitch rate of the plane. Contrariwise, the Combatstick offers almost no resistance to movement, allowing the player to fling the column around easily. Whether users will find this enjoyable or awkward depends on personal taste.

You can read our full review at the link below.

IMG Review: F-16 Combatstick
CH Products



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More Shadowbane Mac News
10:41 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

In a lengthy post at fan site Shadowbane Warcry, Wolfpack Studios discussed the lack of a public call for Mac beta testers of their upcoming online role-playing game Shadowbane. The company makes it clear that while they haven't had a public signup, the company currently has Mac beta testers and a call for more beta testers may come in the future.

Here's the entire post from Shadowbane Warcry (we'd excerpt just a portion of the post, but we've had difficulty reaching their web site):

I wanted to be clear in my original post to you. There has not been any Mac Beta signups, and nor do I expect any for Closed Beta, because we have quite a few Mac users in our beta database and they currently are, or will be soon, in Phase 3.

Macs and PCs run simultaneously in Shadowbane, there isn't a separate Mac Shadowbane world. And in that context, there is no need to have a separate Mac Beta. And simply having a Mac, doesn't mean you get to skip the line or beta test sooner than anyone else.

- Are Macs testing Shadowbane at this very moment?

Yes.

- Why aren't their more Mac testers?

Probably because we don't need any additional Mac testers at this time, and that doesn't mean we are abandoning Mac (although I could see why a Mac user would always assume that first above all else), but maybe - just maybe, we don't need more testers because it runs extremely well right now.

-Will (some) Mac Users get an opportunity to test Shadowbane?

Yes, but whom and how many, when and where, are factors to be determined later on. I would say keep checking back with us for updates.

"Did a small army of Mac heads suddenly join the staff?"

Hehe, you could say that. Ubi Soft came on board. And we have a huge Q&A [sic] Staff that works for us. We have made and published Mac games before like Myst III: Exile and some others. So we have the capability to do extensive Mac based testing.

"Is it the nature of the software code that platform specific testers are not as important?"

*Dances Slightly* You could say that, to a degree. A think a majority of the bugs, exploits, and crashes have almost absolutely nothing to do with the client's operating system, or system specs. It's still about the game's design and implementation. There are differences, like a Windows 2000 and Windows 98 may experience slight variations on the same problem, but overall its the same problem.

The nature of the PC makes it much more difficult to test, because of several different operating systems, video cards, sound cards, hard drives, memory sizes, memory types, overall configurations, hard drives, CPUs, virus software, - you name it. All of these components don't work alike, and certain combinations produce a different set of results: A Compaq 1 GHz and a Dell 1 GHz with the same type of features will get two (possibly) different results. Maybe one has DDR RAM and the other doesn't. Maybe they both have DDR RAM, but one has 3DNow.

*Shrug*

You don't have the problem as much with an Apple user. A G4 is going to be pretty much a G4, an iMac the same as another iMac, well you get the picture. But please note that does not mean we won't need more external Mac testers, or that in future phases Mac users won't be called specifically. They probably will.
But as I said before, we don't need extra Mac testers today, and until we need more than we have in our testing facility, and those in our database, we won't have any signups for this Phase of Beta, although this could always change in 2 weeks or a month.

It's great to see some more attention being paid lately to the Mac version of Shadowbane. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any future developments.

Shadowbane
Shadowbane Warcry
Wolfpack Studios



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Civilization III Patch May Be Delayed; OS X Tips
9:52 AM | John Rousselle | Comment on this story

Players waiting for the forthcoming Civilization III patch may have to wait a little bit longer. Although MacSoft recently confirmed that a Mac patch was in "final testing," Brad Oliver of Westlake Interactive dropped by the IMG Forums last night and indicated that they just learned that a new version 1.17f for the PC will be coming out Friday. Because of this, Westlake may hold the Mac patch to roll in any bug fixes and changes from this new PC version.

In another forum thread, MacSoft's Nate Birkholz recently responded to Civ III users who are experiencing slowdowns in the game under Mac OS X. Birkholz had the following advice for OS X users who find that the game becomes sluggish when accessing the advisor screens:

This is the place in the game where Quartz slows down drastically. If it bogs down for you (and it seems to bog down more for some users than for others), disable Quartz to speed things up....

I'm afraid that this issue seems to be due to the way Quartz works.

Another possible slowdown is if you have the Civilopedia cursor on (although it is more noticeable in the City screen than anywhere else). Uncheck Show Civilopedia Book Cursor in the preferences to see if that improves cursor performance.

These tips may help players until the new patch arrives, which, according to Oliver, will "probably be another week or two."

IMG Review: Civilization III
Civilization III
IMG Forum: Civ III, patch...when?
IMG Forum: Civ3 - Advisor Screens... slow?
Buy Civilization III



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Undying Mac Reaches First Playable
9:47 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Clive Barker's Undying has been one of those titles that's been a pain in porting house Westlake Interactive's neck. The game has been in the porting process since June, but has been stuck in "early development" for months. Today, however, Westlake has news that they've made significant progress over the last few weeks:

Westlake has made great progress on Clive Barker's Undying over the last few weeks, and the game is now fully playable. The game is quickly approaching Beta, and promises to give Mac gamers a healthy dose of terror when it ships.
Your adventure in Undying begins in Ireland in 1920. Patrick Galloway is summoned to an ancestral estate by its lone descendent, Jeremiah. Death has claimed his four siblings, who have been reanimated and are now intent on slaying their living brother to free the Undying King. To save his friend and unravel the curse, Patrick must embark on five perilous quests before he can unearth the final horror of the estate. Each quest brings Patrick face to face with one the undead siblings and the strange and wicked creatures the curse has attracted. Patrick must also triumph over his reviled competitor Kiesinger in his quest to quell the Undying King.

When completed, Undying will be published for the Mac by Aspyr Media.

Clive Barker's Undying
Westlake Interactive
Buy Clive Barker's Undying



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First Tropico Expansion Review
9:22 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Gaming web site GameSpot has posted the first review of the expansion to last year's banana republic-building hit, Tropico, which was brought to the Mac by MacSoft. The expansion, titled Tropico: Paradise Island, will also be published by MacSoft and is due this summer.

In case you are unfamiliar with this game's unique spin on the traditional sim/builder genre, Tropico lets players take on the role of "El Presidente" in their own tropical island paradise. What players do with that role is entirely up to them: play the benevolent despot and shower your people with generosity, or give Castro a good name by being the ruthless dictator that you've always wanted to be. Either way, your job is to build up your little island, raise an army, feed your people, and fill your Swiss bank account.

The expansion brings many additional features to Tropico, such as the option to build an army base, which makes establishing a strong military much easier than before. As would be expected, there are also several bugs addressed in the expansion, which should improve the gameplay experience.

The GameSpot review is generally very positive, praising the expansion's gameplay tweaks and bug fixes, while lamenting a few much needed but still missing features. Here's an excerpt:

Tropico: Paradise Island adds a number of welcome new features to the original. There are more types of hotels and attractions and even more types of tourists. But Paradise Island also fills in some gaps from the original game by introducing new edicts, buildings, music (another hour of excellent songs from Daniel Indart and Latin Music Specialists), and Presidente backgrounds and traits. Moreover, it fixes some minor problems and includes a slew of new and improved scenarios.

Paradise Island is a worthwhile purchase simply for its surface improvements to the core game. Building construction is noticeably faster, and canceling buildings now refunds the full price. Plus, more buildings can be rotated, and support graphs are shown before you must decide whether or not to hold elections. It doesn't fix all of them — roads are still next to useless, and you'll still have people taking yearlong vacations from their jobs. But if nothing else, Paradise Island is a great patch.

The complete review contains much more of interest, all of which should be applicable to the forthcoming Mac version. Follow the links below to read the review and to find out more about this outstanding game.

IMG Review: Tropico
GameSpot: Tropico: Paradise Island Review
PopTop Software
Tropico
Buy Tropico



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BG2 Patch in Final Testing
9:19 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Fans of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, the sequel from MacPlay to the hit role-playing game Baldur's Gate, have long reported serious problems with BG2 in Mac OS X 10.1.x: slow gameplay, frequent crashes, and generally poor performance with certain graphics settings.

Contraband Entertainment's Chris Jacobson, who was responsible for bringing Baldur's Gate II to the Mac while at MumboJumbo, has been aware of these issues and recently completed work on a patch to address them. In a long IMG Forum thread on BG2's OS X performance, Jacobson yesterday added a very encouraging bit of news:

I finished the patch, with my own set of testers (about 28 in all), and it fixed the outstanding issues. It is now in the hands of MacPlay who is doing its own quality assurance testing.
This is excellent news for Baldur's Gate II fans who should soon be able to play the game in OS X with the same speed and stability as in Mac OS 9.

Follow the link below to go right to the IMG Forum thread and find out more.

IMG Review: Baldur's Gate II
Baldur's Gate II
IMG Forum: Baldur's Gate II Built for OS X?
Buy Baldur's Gate II



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Neverwinter Nights Build Updates
6:00 AM | David Finley | Comment on this story

To feed the ravenous appetite aroused by anticipation of Neverwinter Nights, BioWare's Jay Watamaniuk has posted a week's worth of build updates detailing the development of this innovative role-playing game:

I will be posting a run down of what changes have been made to the builds for NWN as they contain very specific information that may slake your thirst for new and interesting facts about how the game is coming along. [The notes] are posted here to give you an idea of the more day-to-day concerns on making NWN.
Neverwinter Nights is clearly still under construction, but gamers who read through the notes will be delighted by some nice surprises. Among the many new and improved game features:

  • Introduction of feats to game play and increased customization of character skills.
  • Improvements to game interface and design.
  • Extensive interaction between dungeon master and player characters.
  • Addition of parry and bash to combat technique palette.

Head over to the BioWare Forums for the complete build notes, and see our preview for more information about this upcoming role-playing game.

IMG Preview: Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
BioWare: NWN Build Update Specifics
Buy Neverwinter Nights



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Lineage Episode 10, Valentine's Day Special
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Lineage web site has been updated with new information about the free episode to be released later this month for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game now in public beta testing for Mac OS X.

Episode 10 will incorporate many new features into the game, as well as a new area for players to explore. This new land is set in the dwarven caves and includes an entire new siege system for the underground kingdom.

Other changes include language options, pet differences, and a greater number of monsters. For the full list of differences, be sure to head over and check out the Lineage web site before the changes take effect on February 26.

NCsoft also seems to have something special in store for Valentine's Day. It seems they are breaking the traditional fantasy RPG standard by including some special gifts for online players through tomorrow:

Valentine's Day calls for someone to cuddle — and you'll soon find cuddly bears all over the world of Lineage! Word is out that bears are heading toward Aden at this very moment, and among their grumbling numbers are the elusive and rare teddy bears — filled with special treats! Will you find one? Join us between Tuesday, February 12th and Friday, February 15th and find your own teddy bear!
In addition to the teddy bears, changes are also being made to the dog and slimes races for those that choose to gamble on them.

IMG Preview: Lineage: The Blood Pledge
Lineage
Lineage: Episode 10 Info


Mac Games News for Wednesday, February 13, 2002

IMG Readers Ask MacPlay12:01 PM
Airburst Update Adds Game Types11:34 AM
Candy Cruncher Released for OS X6:00 AM
Contraband's 'WarGames' at Alpha6:00 AM
Direct3D 8 Through OpenGL Open-Sourced6:00 AM
Elite Force HoloMatch 1.2.1 Update Released6:00 AM
Geneforge Updated to Version 1.0.26:00 AM
GraphSim Posts Red Faction Links6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, February 13, 2002 on one page


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Tuesday, February 12, 2002
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