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Monday, February 25, 2002

Feral Status Check; Sheep, CM Updates
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

UK-based Feral Interactive recently updated their web site with the latest news on their many projects. The company recently shipped Black & White, and the racing game F1 Championship is now working its way through beta testing.

The newly announced Worms Blast from Team 17 is under development now as well, with an expected release date in May, which is also when the company hopes to release Max Payne. And while they're still trying to get Fly! II to an acceptable level of performance, it should also be available in Europe soon.

Two Feral titles were recently updated. Sheep was patched to version 1.02, fixing a number of issues with the original version. A special cheat-enabled "Superstar Shepherd" patch will become available in the next week to help those having trouble with the title.

Players of Championship Manager 01/02 will also want to grab the latest 3.9.65 update to the database, which should fix an "eternal processing" problem some players have been having. For all the latest, be sure to check out the Feral web site for complete details.

Feral Interactive
Download CM 01/02 Updater
Download Sheep 1.0.2 Patch
Buy F1 Championship Season 2000

IMG Interview on Sony's Station.com
12:17 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

One of the more interesting announcements at this year's Macworld Expo was the news concerning Sony Online Entertainment's web games at The Station. The popular Java-based games are now compatible with both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Mac gamers are now able to play name-brand games like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune as well as many classic and casino games with only a web connection.

IMG's Chris Barylick recently conducted an interview with Dallas Dickinson, Producer of Sony Online Entertainment’s new Station.com web site. Here's a snippet from the article:

IMG: Why the sudden change to support the Mac?

Dickinson: This change has been in discussion for some time now. We felt that with the release and success of OS X, that the time was right. The Mac audience is a strong and fiercely loyal community, and we felt that they were being under-served in the realm of web-based gaming.

Be sure to check out the rest of the interview.

IMG Interview: Sony Station.com
Sony: Station.com

Custer's Return to Wolfenstein
10:05 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Brad Custer is back with another of his fantastic Mac gaming desktops. This week's desktop features Aspyr's hotly anticipated shooter, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which is in the final approval stages and should be shipping soon.

Custer explains his latest creation:

Return to Castle Wolfenstein was originally due this holiday season, but Santa Claus came and went with no such German treat. It seems that any day now we'll have the news from Aspyr Media that the game has gone Gold Master and shortly after that it will be arriving on our door steps. :)

I can't wait.

In anticipation of game's arrival I wanted to create a desktop that celebrated its arrival. I accessed the archives in my own grey matter to remember the vivid image of Nazi troops marching from history classes. Once I had this vision it was just a matter of using pixels to bring it to life. The desktop is titled, "March Madness," since I'm an optimist.

Custer also notes that Custer's Desktops won't be updated next week, so as to allow him time to move and unpack. Be sure to check out his latest creation at the link below.

IMG: Custer's Desktops
IMG Preview: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Click to enlarge
GameSpot Previews The Sims Online for PC
9:48 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted a lengthy article that outlines the shape and scope of the next evolutionary step for The Sims. The wildly popular title has been slated for online play for some time, and the piece answers some of the burning questions that die-hard Sims players might have about the game's next phase.

According to the article, The Sims Online will be an entirely new game, rather than just an expansion pack. Among the many changes, the online game will be a subscription-based service, and although gameplay will be similar in many respects to the older versions of The Sims, portions of it will be radically altered. Questions addressed include how money is made, how sims will interact with other human players' sims, buddy lists, and the introduction of top-10 and top-100 lists.

Sims will become much more house-proud, since holding an open house will be the primary income-generating activity in the new version. Neighborhoods will also gain increased importance as they determine property value. The Sims Online will also require a great deal of teamwork and interaction with other players. Forging alliances based on mutual interest will get a you a bigger house:

Over time, you'll be able to save up enough money to upgrade to a larger house, but if you want the quick and easy route to riches, you can partner up with several other players, become roommates, and buy a large house together.
But even with roommates, you will have the option to increase your privacy by designating areas as off-limits:
If you don't feel comfortable letting strangers be witness to all aspects of your private life, you can set private areas within your house that outsiders can't pass through. You can also set combinations or passwords on doors for your roommates and close friends, and you can even set a filter on your house that will limit who can and can't enter — think of this like the invite/ignore functionality of ICQ.
And what would a new Sims game be without new stuff? Well, rest assured, there are lots of new goodies and you can use all the old familiar ones, too:
As you'd expect, The Sims Online will have all of the objects from The Sims and its four expansion packs, as well as around 300 brand new objects, some of which can be used to build and initiate mini-games like human chess, croquet, soccer, and volleyball. Also included in the game will be several new design motifs like the Old West, European, and Moroccan. Additionally, a lot of the characteristics of several old objects are being changed in The Sims Online.
There's a lot more detail in the article itself, but for all its information, the article does not mention the likelihood of a Mac version. Keep your fingers crossed!

Aspyr Media
GameSpot: The Sims Online Preview

Click to enlarge
The Making of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
9:46 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

GalacticBattles.com has posted information about the first part of a documentary about the making of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. The downloadable video series will feature in-depth coverage and commentary on how the Star Wars-themed real-time strategy game was developed. The highlights of the initial chapter include:

...Behind the scenes activities that took place during the making of this recently released hit title. Part 1 specifically focuses on how concept art becomes rendered in-game art. Greg Knight, Lead Conceptual Artist for Battlegrounds is interviewed in this clip.
The Mac version of Galactic Battlegrounds is currently being developed Westlake Interactive for release by Aspyr. The QuickTime video of the documentary is available as a free download from the link below.

IMG News: Galactic Battles Mac System Requirements
Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
The Making of Galactic Battleground, Part 1 (4.8 MB)
Buy Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds

OpenGL 2.0 Details
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Tom's Hardware posted an article on Friday by Jon Peddie that describes features of 3Dlabs's proposals for the next generation of the OpenGL API, version 2.0.

As most readers are aware, OpenGL, Mac OS's 3D graphics API of choice, and Direct3D, one of Microsoft's proprietary DirectX APIs, have been competing for the attention of game and video hardware developers.

Though Peddie's article is heavily laden with technical jargon, the main gist is that 3Dlabs, a member of the OpenGL Architectural Review Board (ARB), is seeking to close OpenGL's gap with Direct3D by embracing programmability:

Up to now the attempts at bringing programmability into the API have happened through the extensions procedure. This has contributed to the bewildering number of extensions... (Over 230 OpenGL extensions have been defined. Nvidia's extension documentation is 500+ pages, while the OpenGL 1.3 specification itself is only 284 pages.) So, OpenGL faces a number of critical issues.

Although today OpenGL can be implemented on a chip, lately the ARB has been working backwards and discussing which features from existing chips to standardize, hardly a positive dynamic for a forward-looking industry standard. OpenGL does not provide hardware independent access to the new programmable processors, so the current direction is to expose multiple hardware architectures through vendor-specific extensions. However, IP (intellectual property) threats have been holding up broader adoption of these extensions. The question being asked is: are IP issues causing a lack of progress or are they a symptom of a deeper problem?

At the ARB meeting held in September 2001, 3DLabs presented its vision for OpenGL 2.0. In the past, SGI was the de facto leader of the ARB and a bellwether for the next generation of extensions. With SGI wisely spending its resources on reorganizing the company, 3DLabs has taken a more aggressive role in the committee...

In fact, one of the first orders of business addressed by the ARB was the need to move beyond the ATI and Nvidia vertex shader extension debate. This was efficiently done as both companies huddled and worked out a strategy to develop an interim vertex shader. The process was both facilitated and devoutly wished for by Apple, which uses graphics technology from both Nvidia and ATI. Suddenly, the ARB looks like a forward-moving body with vision and goals.

The group accepted 3DLabs' offer to develop an architecture for OpenGL 2.0, and they've plotted a clear course. As is probably already obvious, the primary and most immediate goal for OpenGL is to enable and exploit hardware programmability.

The article contains in-depth looks at various proposed OpenGL 2.0 features and issues. Those who wish to check out the whole article can find it at Tom's Hardware.

3Dlabs: OpenGL 2.0 White Papers
Tom's Hardware: OpenGL 2.0 - Out to Save Programmable Graphics

Major Harpoon3 for OS X Update
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Harpoon3, a naval warfare simulator authored by Jesse Spears, has recently been updated to version 3.4.2. This update includes a wealth of fixes and tweaks for the Mac OS X version, with Spears noting that over a dozen serious bugs, crash bugs, and various types of lockups have been fixed.

A switch has been turned on in the library code that allows that code to perform well in a multi-threaded application, and some crash bugs concerning the "Save As" option have been fixed, as have several so-called "cosmetic" bugs, including the clicking of the close button for windows in the background causing the front window to close, which could cause the loss of the game in progress.

Spears also remarks on a change to preemptive threading:

I switched from three preemptive threads to one preemptive thread (and still the Main cooperative thread that the GUI runs in). Instead of having the Arena, Navigator and Weather running in separate threads concurrently, they now run in one thread, in a more sequential manner. I ran into a lot of problems with the Navigator and Arena trying to use/change the same data at the same time, and it was too much work to try surround it all with "Critical" code sections (it would have required, literally, changes to hundreds of functions). So, it doesn't run quite as fast, but it also doesn't crash nearly as much (and that's a good trade in my book :-).
For those still running Harpoon3 in classic Mac OS, the "Save As" crash bug mentioned above has been fixed here as well.

Those wishing to download the update can find it at the Harpoon3 website. Both the Mac OS X and the Classic update weigh in at around 1 MB.


Click to enlarge
Lineage DNS Fix
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Changes are happening at NCsoft in anticipation of the Episode 10 update to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Lineage.

They have been patching the Mac OS X client recently so that beta testers won't have another long download upon the final version's release. Unfortunately it seems a few people are having trouble connecting to the Lineage servers because of a DNS problem.

If you are experiencing this issue, they already have a fix for you. It requires some tweaking of your Lineage application, so here are the few instructions to get it up and running:

    1. Download the file located at ftp://ftp2.lineage-us.com/Lineage.sit.
    2. Locate and expand the file.
    3. Press the "Control" key while clicking on the Lineage icon in your Applications folder.
    4. Select "Show Package Contents" from the drop-down menu.
    5. Double-click the "Contents" folder.
    6. Double-click the "Mac OS" folder.
    7. Copy the Lineage file directly into the Mac OS folder.
    8. Start Lineage as normal.

At only 79 KB it's a very quick download, so if you've been experiencing issues be sure to try it out.

IMG Preview: Lineage: The Blood Pledge
Lineage: DNS Fix for Macintosh Users
Download DNS Fix for Macintosh Users (79 KB)

Mac Games News for Friday, February 22, 2002

Civilization III Patched to Version 1.17f1:23 PM
Captain Bumper Updated to Version 1.1312:52 PM
IMG Reviews the ATI Radeon 700011:03 AM
GameSpy Interviews MOO3 Developers9:20 AM
Blizzard Strikes Back at Hackers8:32 AM
Return to Dark Castle Beta 8 Adds OS X Support6:00 AM
Trade Wars RPG Q&A6:00 AM
Updated Wolfenstein Requirements (Updated)6:00 AM
WWII Online Mac Update6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, February 22, 2002 on one page

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