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Wednesday, February 27, 2002

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Pop-pop Makes Progress
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

IMG readers with long memories may remember the title pop-pop, a current work-in-progress by Ambrosia Software. For those unfamiliar with the title, Ambrosia describes pop-pop as a fusion of Arkanoid and Street Fighter with characters reminiscent of the Powerpuff Girls.

A recent post by the game's developer indicates that pop-pop has now reached beta 8, with a final candidate build to follow. The progress log for pop-pop was also updated, and notes that the game is now in the final stages of production, with minor fixes taking the place of major implementations:

There is no glamour in the final stages of making a game. All the interesting decisions were made long ago. All the art is done. The task list is composed entirely of the little things you avoided along the way and hard to reproduce bugs. The enthusiasm with which I started the project is now years old and wearing thin. The only thing I really want now is to work on something else already!

There is a phase, that I'm coming out of now, where the task list never seems to shrink. This is very discouraging. But then I noticed that while the number of items stayed roughly constant the scope and complexity of those items decreased. Big items like "Implement an AI system" were replaced by things like, "remove extra white pixel from logo graphic". Then at some magic point the rate of bug fixes passed the rate of new bug discoveries. The list shrinks. It threatens to disappear!

Those looking for more information on this upcoming title can find it at Ambrosia's web site.

Ambrosia: pop-pop beta screenshots
Ambrosia: pop-pop progress log
Ambrosia: PopPop?!?!?!

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IMG Previews the ATI Radeon 8500
12:03 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a hands-on preview if the card from ATI Technologies by by Michael Eilers, our third look at this card but the first to document actual hands-on experience.

Here's an excerpt:

For those who haven't read the previous two previews, here's a quick refresher: The ATI 8500 (developed under the code name R200) is ATI's answer to nVidia's GeForce3 series of cards, which were the first to offer a programmable GPU. An all-new chip built with a .15-micron process, the R200 is a radical break from previous ATI chips, yet it builds on a strong legacy of card technologies and enhancements. Besides the obvious increases in clock speed, memory speed, internal bandwidth and fill rate, the new chip supports the programmable features of DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL 1.3 which allow game designers to literally add new effects and special features to a graphics card on-the-fly, without having to wait for a driver update.

While mainstream games that actually use programmable shaders may still be 8-12 months away (or more!), it is obvious that any forward-looking gamer will have to put a programmable GPU on the shopping list if they want to enjoy future titles to their fullest.

Follow the link below for our latest preview of the Radeon 8500.

IMG Preview: Radeon 8500
Radeon 8500

Aspyr Newsletter
11:21 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media published the February edition of their monthly Newsletter today, and it's chock full of information from this busy Mac game publisher. Here's a brief summary of its highlights.

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, being converted by Brad Oliver of Westlake Interactive, reached "first playable" last week.

As regular readers of IMG can hardly have failed to note, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, converted by Westlake's Glenda Adams, and 4x4 Evolution 2, developed for the Mac by Terminal Reality, have both shipped.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein, converted by Westlake's Duane Johnson, is a final candidate for release, awaiting review and approval (or — always a possibility at this stage, however remote — return for further changes) by those with sign-off authority.

Clive Barker's Undying is just that, having recently reached the first playable stage of conversion by Westlake's Glenda Adams.

The Sims: Hot Date has also reached first playable at the hands of Westlake's Mark Krenek and Phil Sulak.

The Newsletter offers descriptions of all these games as well as their system requirements (preliminary in the case of games still in development), and Aspyr is accepting orders and pre-orders for the games at their web site (some of which are also available to MacGames CD subscribers through the IMG Store).

As previously reported on IMG, four Aspyr games have been updated recently:

  • Otto Matic to version 1.1,
  • Spider Man to version 1.0.1,
  • Star Trek: Voyager — Elite Force to version 1.2,
  • and the HoloMatch component of both Elite Force and its Expansion Pack to version 1.2.1.

As usual, all updates are available from our sister site, MacGameFiles, as well as from Aspyr's web site.

Aspyr also has a deal going on Prima Strategy Guides:

We've got the best deals around on Official Prima Strategy Guides!

We have, once again, teamed up with Prima Games, the world's leading publisher of computer game guides, with more then twenty-five million strategy guides in print, to bring some great new strategy guides to Mac gamers. Check out our Product page for a complete list of available strategy guides. Two of our latest additions include Guides for Return to Castle Wolfenstein and The Sim's Hot Date.

RtCW — Pierce the heart of the Third Reich with detailed single-player mission walkthroughs, comprehensive stats for every weapon and item, and multiplayer tactics including special abilities for both Axis and Allies!

Hot Date — Enhance your Sims' dating scene with vital statistics for each new character from the Blonde Bombshell to the Lounge Lizard. Inside coverage of the all-new social system, plus all of the new interactions. Dating 101: everything you need to score a hot date!

Prima Strategy Guides are also available for:

  • Tomb Raider (1-5)
  • American McGee's Alice
  • Clive Barker's Undying
  • The Sims Livin' Large
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

Don't get stuck. Let Prima help you through.

The Newsletter also has word about this month's giveaway and last month's winner, Karen Kleinert, who scored a set of Harmon Kardon Sound Sticks and an iSub, and the notice that only two days remain to buy iPuppet presents: Colin's Classic Cards at the special price of $19.95.

Check out Aspyr's February Newsletter for all the details. If you're not a subscriber, you can find it on their web site at the link below.

Aspyr Media
Aspyr: Newsletter

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MacGamer Reviews the Power Mac G4 Dual 1 GHz
10:04 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Our friends at MacGamer posted a review this morning by Rufo Sanchez of the new dual 1 GHz processor Power Mac G4 from Apple Computer.

As befits a review by a Mac gaming web site, it contains benchmark scores for Quake III and Unreal Tournament in both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X using the stock nVidia GeForce4 MX AGP video card, as well as the older ATI Radeon PCI card.

Here's a brief excerpt discussing some of Sanchez's findings:

As you can see, we've got some interesting things going on with the move to Mac OS X. The GeForce4 MX's low-resolution scores are way off the chart, completely crushing Mac OS 9's scores and coming in just below 200 FPS. This is a first for the Mac, so enjoy it, folks. But at the higher resolutions, the game starts to slow down to below even Mac OS 9's speeds. Also, the Radeon clocks in at a very, very low 15 FPS — less then half the Mac OS 9 speeds. Now, I'm no expert at reading benchmarks, so I don't know exactly what should be done here. But it seems to me that something here needs to be optimized. Maybe it's the drivers, maybe it's Quake 3, maybe it's my system, I don't know, but something seems slightly awry here.
Of course, the test that power-hungry gamers still await is a face-off between the upcoming GeForce4 Ti and Radeon 8500 in this most powerful of Power Macs, but for more information about the performance available now, head over to MacGamer for the full text of their review.

Apple: Power Mac G4
MacGamer: Power Mac G4 1GHz Dual-Processor Review

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Shadowbane Twelve-Step Program
6:00 AM | David Finley | Comment on this story

Promising fans of massively multiplayer online role-playing games that Shadowbane, currently in development by Wolfpack Studios and scheduled to ship in mid-2002, will be an addictive experience, Ubi Soft has posted veteran beta tester Ransom's account in this week's Shadowbane beta journal:

Yes, I have tried all the 12-step programs, but I still can't shake it.

I am hooked on "The Bane." That's how I refer to my newest addiction....

Anyone who likes having options, having control, being able to do many things at once — anyone with the mental fortitude to chew gum and walk at the same time, will eventually love the way Shadowbane plays.

The rest of the interface is equally customizable. Hotkeys can be set, button shortcuts can be dragged onto the screen, transparencies can be adjusted, chat menus setup, map, group screen — what gamers have come to expect are all there.

The socials were a hilarious surprise to me, real quick. There are tons of them, and the character movement is extremely lifelike. Obviously somebody at Wolfpack was in the motion-capture suit creating these gestures. Attention to detail, even on something like the "roflmao" gesture, is evident within this game.

Ransom goes on to discuss in detail the scope of the game-playing environment and the intricacies of camera control, character development, and movement.

To read his journal entry, follow the link below. Future journal entries will discuss game features such as player vs player, city building, and sieges.

Shadowbane: Twelve Step Program
Wolfpack Studios

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Links Golf Tournament Opens
6:00 AM | David Finley | Comment on this story

Registration for the LGC Inaugural, the first tournament offered by the Links Golf Community, is now open. The Inaugural will be set on the very first major golf course in history, the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. Here are the tournament details:

Gentlemen, welcome to the birthplace of golf! Make sure you study the Principle's Nose and the Valley of Sin. And practice those low punched shots before you pack your windstopper and hop on the next flight to Scotland. The bagpipers are waiting for you.

The LGC Inaugural
2002-03-04 to 2002-03-11
The Old Course at St Andrews Links, Par: 72
Number of rounds: 4, Format: Regular Stroke Play

For more information, follow the "Links Golf Community" link below.

IMG Review: Links LS 2000
Links Golf Community
Links LS 2000
MGF: Links LS 2000 Demo 1.0.4 (53.4 MB)

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Replacement Myth II Server on the Way
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In response to yesterday's news about marius net, fan site Myth Wolf Age has announced they will be using the open-sourced code from Bungie to host a Myth II server of their own. The server will be hosted in conjunction with MythMaps and will also feature full ranking and order tabs. While marius net is still running, the administrators recently decided to stop tracking statistics about games and accepting new registrations (guest logins are available).

This is all in addition to Myth Wolf Age's previously stated plans to build a separate Myth III server solution. They are looking for willing volunteers to help with the coding:

And if you are a talented C++ programmer with some spare time, I would like to hear from you! Email me at: someloser@mythwa.com.

This matter does not affect development of a new Myth 3 server in any way.

In somewhat related news, it seems Myth community member David "Chia" Pindrys is now doing much better and actually made his first post to his site. Pindrys was recently in a very serious auto accident, and it's great to see his condition is improved.

IMG News: Marius net Turns on Autopilot
IMG Review: Myth: The Total Codex
Help Dave Pindrys
Myth Wolf Age: Myth 2 Server
Myth: The Total Codex

Mac Games News for Tuesday, February 26, 2002

IMG Previews realMyst12:45 PM
Marius net Turns on Autopilot11:40 AM
Beta Testers Sought for Galactic Patrol for OS X10:18 AM
Myst Trilogy Announced9:41 AM
Apple Opens WWDC Registration9:31 AM
MOO3 Interview Addresses Mac Development9:16 AM
Lineage Episode X Meets OS X8:59 AM
Mac Baldur Rises; New IMG Forum Opens8:59 AM
Shadowbane Status8:59 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, February 26, 2002 on one page

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Monday, February 25, 2002
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