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Wednesday, March 27, 2002

ATI Offers Entertain Your Mac Combo
9:57 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

ATI today announced the offering of the "Entertain Your Mac" Combo for Apple Macintosh computers. The "Entertain Your Mac" Combo consists of ATI's Radeon 7000 Mac Edition, a mainstream graphics solution for Apple users featuring dual display support, and ATI's Xclaim TV USB Edition, an external TV tuner offering a host of great TV features.

Here's more from the official press release:

"The 'Entertain Your Mac' Combo was designed to provide consumers with a great multimedia experience right on their desktops," said Stan Ossias, Product Manager, Mac Products, Desktop Marketing, ATI Technologies Inc. "This limited time offer will give Mac users the best of both worlds - the ability to view great TV programs and events while enjoying fun computer games and videos."

The RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION is ideally suited to users with older Power Mac systems wishing to increase their display real estate, update their graphics capability or increase their overall system performance. It also enables newer, AGP-based Power Mac owners to add one or more displays to their systems using one of the available PCI slots. The RADEON 7000 MAC EDITION is ideal for mainstream Mac users by delivering solid 3D performance, integrated TV-out and ATI's VIDEO IMMERSION technology for industry-leading DVD playback.

XCLAIM TV USB EDITION is ideal for Mac users to watch TV on Apple desktops or mobile systems through an easy, single cable installation into the computer's USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. Features include: Channel Preview for quick previews of "what's on"; Hot Words to identify key words and phrases in a desired TV program using the closed captioning stream; and parental control to allow parents to lock in or lock out selected channels and monitor or limit their children's exposure to adult programming. XCLAIM TV USB EDITION enables Mac users to easily multitask by watching TV while downloading from the Internet or keeping an eye on a favorite TV show while responding to e-mail messages. XCLAIM TV USB EDITION allows for analog video and audio recording which provides an alternate way for users without digital video cameras to create iMovies.

XCLAIM Video Player, ATI's capture application, includes support for software post-compression using standard QuickTime™ codecs (compressor/decompressor) therefore reducing the space required to store a captured movie.

XCLAIM TV USB EDITION adds TV capabilities to Apple systems that have a USB port, including the iMac™, PowerBook®, iBook™, or G3/G4 Macintosh®. No additional power supply is required. A cable TV signal or amplified antenna is also required. The OS support includes Mac OS 8.6 to 9.1 and QuickTime 4.0 or higher.

The "Entertain Your Mac" Combo begins shipping today to distributors and retailers and will be on shelves next week.

Radeon 7000

Rumors of GameRanger's Sale Unfounded
1:18 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Yesterday evening, MacNN reported that several of its readers (all unnamed) were claiming that GameRanger, the Macintosh multiplayer online gaming service, had been sold to Mac games publisher Aspyr Media.

Today, in response to inquiries from IMG and other Mac gaming journalists, Scott Kevill, the owner of GameRanger, laid those rumors to rest. In an interview granted to Peter Cohen of MacCentral, Kevill stated:

No, GameRanger isn't being acquired by Aspyr.
Cohen reports that Kevill has no explanation for the origin of the rumor.

Confirming Kevill's statement, Jeff Baietto, Aspyr's vice president of marketing, told Cohen:

We're excited to read about the rumor, and that would be big news indeed. The rumor is not true, though. We're very supportive of Scott Kevill's efforts with GameRanger, and we certainly look forward to working with him for future support of our games. Aspyr Media understands the importance of online gaming, and that's why we support efforts to make our games compatible with GameRanger and our own service, AspyrWorld.
The free GameRanger service currently supports 77 multiplayer Mac games (plus nine multiplayer demos) and boasts a community of 80,000 users.

Aspyr Media
MacCentral: GameRanger, Aspyr deny acquisition rumors

IMG Reviews the SideWinder Precision 2
12:10 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by flight sim guru Tim Morgan of the SideWinder Precision 2 USB joystick by Microsoft.

Here's an excerpt in which Morgan departs briefly from his focus on flight simulators to evaluate the effect of two of the joystick's notable features, a twist grip and a shortage of buttons, on first-person mech combat games:

Twist-grips have gained popularity on the PC side in mech games. Typically, the twisting action is used to control the mech's torso, which allows the player a very enviable amount of control in strafing (walking one direction while looking and firing in another). With that thought in mind, I decided to give the joystick a try in my one choice of mech game: Laminar Research's Young's Modulus. (Ambrosia Software's Avara does not have modern joystick support.)

Young's Modulus has very respectable support for InputSprocket, and I was able to configure the joystick to handle the game's most important commands. However, with a four-way weapons selection system, a three-way target selection system, and a four-way jump-jet system, this game calls out for more than one hat switch. Gamers' hands will be darting between the stick and keyboard in this game as well.

Alas, Young's Modulus does not support torso-twisting, but the twist-grip made an adequate turret control. Turret control is more obscure than torso-twisting, however, so one shouldn’t expect a phenomenal boost in one's kill ratio.

For the full text of our review, follow the link below.

IMG Review: SideWinder Precision 2
SideWinder Precision 2

GDC 2002 Discusses Future of MMORPGs
11:53 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Today, GameSpy has posted an interesting report on discussions that took place at the Game Developers Conference this month. At the conference, special attention was given to the rather nebulous future of on-line role playing games.

Much of the discussion was devoted to the issue of control: specifically how much control should be retained by the game developers, and how much should be doled out to gamers.

Here is an excerpt from GameSpy's report on that discussion:

A major part of establishing a controlled environment revolves around managing user expectations, a phrase that came up again and again in several sessions. Most designers agreed that to date many games have done a poor job of letting the user know up front what kind of world they were stepping into and how conflicts were to be handled. Laws, and the enforcement of them, would have to be clearly outlined in order to maintain strict control of the game without a bunch of upset or confused players.

While most developers seemed to agree that a theoretical "online Disneyland" was a good way to create a world enjoyable to most players, a tightly controlled world unfortunately comes in direct conflict with an even stronger sentiment shared among the next-gen game designers. They wanted more dynamic worlds, not less, and more power for the users to shape those worlds.

The dilemma of this issue is this: do you maintain a tightly controlled world, and risk turning off gamers who want a more flexible gaming system, or do you relinquish that control to players, thus giving them more input into the state of your world, but also giving them the freedom to make life miserable for other gamers? This has been the central issue for all MMORPGs to date, and the future of these games revolves around finding an equitable solution.

This is a fascinating report which should be of interest to many Mac gamers, even though our choices of MMORPGs is, at this time, rather slim. Follow the link to read on.

GameSpy: The Future of Massively Multiplayer Games

Click to enlarge
Myst Trilogy Released (for the PC)
9:57 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Ubi Soft has announced the release of the Myst Trilogy for the PC. The Myst Trilogy combines all three volumes of the mythical Myst saga — Myst Masterpiece, Riven, and Myst III: Exile — into one box.

A press release issued today reveals more details on the Trilogy:

With its more than 10 million units sold worldwide, the Myst franchise has become a benchmark for the adventure genre. Players will journey to the classic Myst Island, to the wonderful world of Riven and conclude with the beautifully surreal ages of Myst III: Exile. Intellect and intuition are required to learn the truth of the troubled Myst land, and gamers will begin to unravel the chilling tale of injustice and intrigue that defies all boundaries of space and time.
  • Myst Masterpiece - the acclaimed first adventure introduces gamers to Atrus and the secrets of the D'ni civilization

  • Riven - the sequel to Myst, plunges gamers deeper into the Myst world where gamers help Atrus free his wife, Catherine, and untangle the mysteries of Riven

  • Myst III: Exile - the award-winning game transports gamers a decade later to face a new enemy, Saavedro, who emerges to claim vengeance upon Atrus' two sons

The trilogy pack is available in retail stores nationwide for $39.99 (MSRP). Unfortunately, it looks like a Mac version is not available at this time.

Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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BioWare's Road to E3
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the largest video game convention around, looms ever closer, many companies have already started preparing their announcements and arrangements for the event. E3 is not only a chance to show off, it's also a chance for developers and gamers alike to see the various directions the industry will be taking.

BioWare, developers of the famed Baldur's Gate series as well as the upcoming Neverwinter Nights, have started a feature titled "Road to E3" that documents the various preparations they're making for the upcoming Expo.

Here's a clip from Part 1:

BioWare’s Road To E3 begins months in advance, as we plan our involvement in the event. This year looks to be bigger, and thus busier, than ever before. To give readers a bit of insight into what sort of preparation is required for such a huge event, we will be providing ongoing coverage of our Road To E3 right here, starting today. In this first update, we’ve got a few pictures of our System Administrators building the computers we’ll be taking down to E3 for our presentations. They locked themselves into a room and watched movies as they put together a grand total of 25 systems.
The feature is accompanied by several shots of the BioWare team in action, including a rather large stack of Asus motherboard boxes. Those interested in the full read can find it at BioWare's site.

BioWare: Road to E3

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Mac Lineage Updates, Server Downtime
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Lineage: The Blood Pledge web site recently posted notice of some updates for Mac clients, which were published March 26th at 10:00 am Central time. Listed in the updates are the following:

  • Added view menu for setting various sizes within windowed mode
  • Animations now update while Lineage is minimized into the "dock"
  • Fixed problem with using scrollbar in the inventory window after map window is opened

In other news, North American Lineage servers are being brought down at 10:00 am Central time on Wednesday, March 27th, for an unscheduled maintenance check. The downtime is expected to last approximately 30 minutes.

For more news on Lineage as well as general details regarding this massive multiplayer online role-playing game, the Lineage web site is available for perusal, as is IMG's preview.

IMG Preview: Lineage: The Blood Pledge
Lineage: News

Voice Comm for Mac OS X [Updated]
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

There's no question that voice communication is slowly but surely becoming a staple in multiplayer online gaming. Carrying voices over the net, voice comm allows gamers to communicate with each other more rapidly and naturally than through typing chat messages, making for a better overall experience.

Unfortunately, the Mac gaming scene's options for voice communication are limited. A recent forum post at alt.games.warbirds voiced concerns regarding the lack of options, to which a flurry of responses were posted. Prominently mentioned in most of these posts was a working beta version of Roger Wilco, arguably one of the more popular voice comm programs out there.

In response to the flurry, Wade Williams, developer of the Mac version of RW, posted this response regarding future development:

Here's the scoop guys:

Roger Wilco for the Mac has not been touched since shortly after the acquisition by HearMe (and it was then subsequently acquired by GameSpy).

My contract was cancelled by HearMe before all the bugs were worked out. There are definitely known bugs. (In fact, a complete rewrite was underway when the contract was cancelled).

I *definitely* have plans to do a cross-platform application/library in the future. In fact, I've already started the project, but currently it's still in the design phase.

I would hope to get that project completed within the next 12 months or so, but at this point, it's too early to make any promises. On the other hand, should I suddenly have the opportunity for a lot of uninterrupted time, there's a chance I might make significant progress, if no other projects are pressing.

(For those of you wondering why I have difficulty finding the time, I have a demanding day job, a current off-hours project, and 9-month old twins.)

The caveat is that this new application/library will be OS X only on the Mac. Such applications are extremely difficult to write on OS 9. It was a major pain with RW and it's simply not worth the effort these days as users are quickly transitioning to OS X and many games will soon start becoming OS X-only.

Wade also notes that he will have a progress log set up sometime in the near future, although he adds that updates will be sparse.

Williams's hopes to develop his own voice comm solution are longstanding; the developer first indicated them in the Roger Wilco forum posting announcing the end of his work on Roger Wilco in December of 2000.

The news that Williams is moving forward with his desire to bring voice communication to Mac OS X is sure to be welcome to Mac gamers. Those interested in his development log and forum postings can find them linked below.

alt.games.warbirds: Impending Doom for Mac Users?
Roger Wilco for Mac: End of my involvement
Mac Voice Development Log
Roger Wilco: Mac Support
MGF: Roger Wilco 1.0b4 (1.4 MB)

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 26, 2002

IMG Examines the Making of Deimos Rising1:19 PM
Icewind Dale Ships12:42 PM
New UT 2003 Screenshots at Games4Mac11:59 AM
How to Benchmark WarBirds III11:39 AM
Xavagus Prime Releases OIDS 2.09:05 AM
Bad Milk Wins IGF Grand Prize6:00 AM
Macworld Tokyo Report on iDevGames6:00 AM
Neverwinter Nights Opening Movie Available6:00 AM
Westlake Updates: MoH & Undying Alpha, SWGB Beta6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 26, 2002 on one page

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