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Friday, April 12, 2002

MacSoft Development Update
9:46 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games had the opportunity to talk to MacSoft's Al Schilling this morning to get an update on the development of such upcoming titles as Stronghold and Max Payne. We also inquired about Neverwinter Nights as well as Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament 2003.

First, we asked Schilling to give us an update on some of the current games on which MacSoft is working:

Both Stronghold and Beachhead 2002 are in beta and should ship in May. Max Payne recently went alpha and we're looking to ship that in June.

Master of Orion III got pushed back to October by the developer. It's being developed simultaneously for the Mac and PC.

A few months ago, MacSoft's parent company, Infogrames, announced their plans to publish Neverwinter Nights by BioWare. And although BioWare is working on a Mac version, details of who will be publishing the Mac version are not known yet. We asked Schilling about whether the game would be hybrid or not and the possibility of MacSoft publishing the Mac version:
Neverwinter Nights will probably not be hybrid. We are very interested in making a deal happen for the title.
We also asked Schilling about Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament 2003:
Again, we're very interested in making a deal happen.
Schilling went on to say that the company expects to announce a few new titles at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo in May. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any future developments.


Save Big on WWDC Registration!
4:27 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Fast approaching is Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), held this year from May 6 - 10, 2002 at San Jose's Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

WWDC pre-registration is well underway, and offers some very cool pre-registration incentive packages. For starters, Apple has extended the early bird discount registration period. Those registering through April 19, 2002 pay $1,295 for the conference, a savings of $300 off the normal price of $1,595.

Additionally, Apple is offering a special WWDC 2002 Getting Started bundle through April 19, 2002. Aimed at developers new to the Macintosh platform, the Getting Started bundle includes attendance at WWDC 2002, a full-year Apple Developer Connection Select membership, a discount on one Apple Macintosh system (including 1 CPU and 1 monitor), and more. And this goodie-packed bundle comes in at only $1,695.

Be sure to visit the WWDC web site for more information!

Apple: Worldwide Developers Conference 2002

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IMG Reviews OIDS 2.0
11:20 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Tony Belding of OIDS 2.0, the shareware remake from Xavagus Prime Software of the classic video game:

What is a classic? What makes a classic videogame? The word has been thrown around so much, some people now use classic as a synonym for old. I have to respectfully disagree. To me, a classic is something that has timeless quality, so much that it never entirely goes out of style. In the fast-changing, high-tech world of computer games, real classics are hard to come by. OIDS 2.0 purports to be such a game. Let's take a moment to look at where it came from!

OIDS was first published in 1988 by FTL Games, and it was made for both the Atari ST computers and Macintosh. In fact, the Atari version was better known at the time, while the Macintosh version mostly slipped under the radar. Macintosh simply was not the gaming platform that it is today. Even so, OIDS drew high marks in reviews from both the Atari and Apple press. If the game could be considered a failure at all, it would have been from being overshadowed by FTL's other game that was released around the same time: a genre-defining, smash success called Dungeon Master. For FTL Games, OIDS may have looked like small potatoes by the side of Dungeon Master.

In terms of gameplay, OIDS is straight, old-fashioned, arcade action. The player is put in control of a triangular spaceship just like the ones used in such great old games as Space War, Asteroids, Gravitar and even Escape Velocity. Turn, thrust and shoot! The scenario is similar to Gravitar: pilot your ship down to the surface of a planetoid and shoot it out with the various defenses there. The biggest twist is, you now are expected to land and rescue a bunch of tiny robotic men, the "oids" of the game's title, and carry them off the planetoids to safety. This is reminiscent of another ancient and well-loved computer game called Choplifter, and has sometimes led to OIDS being described as a cross between Gravitar and Choplifter. For those readers who are fuzzy on their history of computer games, don't worry about it: suffice to say that OIDS borrowed its ideas from some of the the best....

Follow the link below for the rest of our review. OIDS 2.0 can be downloaded from our sister site, MacGameFiles.

IMG Review: OIDS 2.0
OIDS 2.0
MGF: OIDS 2.0 (1.4 MB)

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IMG to Give Away realMYST
10:44 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games and MacPlay are giving away three copies of realMYST, the modern 3D retelling of the classic adventure, Myst.

The giveaway ends April 19, 2002, so head over to the IMG Giveaway page via the link below to enter.

For more information on realMYST, read IMG's preview, also linked below.

IMG Giveaway: realMYST
IMG Preview: realMYST

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realMYST Demo Coming Soon
10:11 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Jim Stephenson reported Wednesday at the Riven Unofficial Home Page that a demo of MacPlay's newly released realMYST will be available "in about a week."

A modern 3D retelling of the classic HyperCard-based adventure, Myst — which stood for eight years as the best-selling computer game of all time and was only recently unseated by The Sims — realMYST is billed as "the version of Myst that Cyan and the world-famous Miller brothers always wanted to make."

For more information on realMYST, read IMG's preview at the link below.

IMG Preview: realMYST
Riven Unofficial Home Page: Latest News

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Arcane Arena Beta 12 Released
9:52 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Freeverse Software has released another public beta version of their action-oriented online role-playing game, Arcane Arena. The game features an online, persistent world and bloodthirsty combat that bridges the gap between turn-based and real-time play.

In an e-mail to IMG, Freeverse's Colin Lynch Smith explains the place-holder movies in the current beta:

This beta has "place-holder" movies to keep the file size under 40 megs... so if a rotating helmet movie appears at odd times during the game there's no need to tinker with your medication, that's just the place-holder.
Grab the latest beta from the Arcane Arena web site and be sure to give the team feedback on your experience online.

Arcane Arena
Arcane Arena Beta Test Registration

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Yet Another Shadowbane Preview
9:46 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As Shadowbane, an upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) known mainly for its long development cycle, inches ever closer to completion, more and more reports on the current beta test are beginning to surface. Gaming web site Games Domain have added their own two cents and deliver a more critical preview than others posted before it.

Interestingly enough, a little tidbit that gamers may be unaware of is that the European and American versions of Shadowbane will be completely separate from each other. Though the content will be identical, the European servers, run by Swing! Entertainment, and the American servers, run by Ubi Soft, won't be mingling anytime in the foreseeable future.

The preview focuses mainly on character leveling and development. Though characters can start off only as fighters, healers, mages, or rogues, they'll be able to choose various professions once they hit level ten. For example, rogues may choose from such professions as barbarian, bard, huntress, or ranger. These professions further split up into disciplines, which allows for great customization regarding character development:

Take our feeble Irekei Mage. At level 10, we select to become a Mage Assassin for our profession — a lethal combination, but from there we can also select to become a Sun Dancer, a specialist in unarmed combat for the Irekei race. As we level up, we can also select to train in the discipline of summoner, and raise animals to fight alongside us. The possibilities are impressive, and the character permutations near endless. That's not even mentioning the restricted character classes — centaurs, flight-enabled classes and so on.
Also worth mentioning is the in-game camera, which reportedly allows players to pan around and zoom in and out. Zooming in close enough will allow players to view things from a first-person perspective. For those who wish to travel quickly, a mini-map will allow players to click and move directly to chosen locations.

Unlike most other MMORPGs, Shadowbane was designed specifically with player vs player (PvP) combat in mind. Games Domain questions the philosophy of such a feature:

What's to control widespread griefer killing? Wolfpack hopes that social control will prove to be the name of the game. The last ten players' names that killed you are stored on your character, and as in life, your friends define your influence. The idea is that a player spreads the word among their friends and allies to sort out the bad from the good, but this reflects a spot of worry in the upcoming title. It claims to be a game for both hardcore and casual gamers — it's very clear that hardcore gamers, willing to put hours of effort into the title are going to be handsomely rewarded, but for the casual gamer, what is there to reap?
The rest of the preview covers the guild organization of Shadowbane as well as city creation and alliance building. Those interested in the full read can find it at Games Domain.

Games Domain: Shadowbane Preview
Wolfpack Studios

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Simon 3D Back on Track
9:46 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

UK company HeadFirst have announced that their much-delayed 3D adventure game Simon the Sorcerer 3D is now back on track for a PC release April 19. The game is the third in their Simon series, but the first title to move into the realm of 3D.

This bodes well for work to move forward on the Mac version, being developed by the German e.p.i.c. interactive (who recently ported Simon the Sorcerer II).

From HeadFirst's announcement:

Finally!  After more than a year of frustration, cancellation and procrastination, Simon 3D finally has a confirmed release date and that is April 19th, 2002....

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the dedicated Simon fans who have sent us messages of sympathy and support over the last few turbulent years. We apologise profusely for messing you around so much, but it truly was out of our hands and beyond our control. Thanks for sticking with us.

While there is no news yet of a corresponding Mac release date, we'll be sure to keep an eye out for information on it.

Simon the Sorcerer 3D
Simon 3D News

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20,000 Diablo II Accounts Closed
9:46 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In a massive response to player cheating, Blizzard Entertainment has banned over 20,000 Diablo II accounts from the Battle.net Realms. The latest widely used exploit, the "chest hack," caused substantial disruption on the Realms before it was swiftly suppressed. Many players on the Realms, which were created to offer a secure and cheat-free alternative to Open Battle.net, have long urged such strong action to discourage future cheating.

Here's the full scoop from the Battle.net news page:

Over 8,000 players have been identified as having used the "Chest Hack." In response, Blizzard has deleted their accounts. Also, not only did the account identified as having used the hack get banned, but all accounts that had been created with that key were banned as well. This resulted in a total of over 20,000 accounts being banned from play on Battle.net. We hope this results in a better playing experience for everyone.
An upcoming version 1.10 patch is said to include changes to make it easier for Blizzard to guard against certain cheats on the Realms, as well as a host of tweaks to balance gameplay for all players.

In somewhat-related news, players should be aware of a scheduled outage on the USEast Realm next week:

The USEast Battle.net and Diablo II servers will be unavailable for up to 6 hours starting on Thursday, April 18th at 12:01 A.M. PST (UTC-8) or Thursday, April 18th 17:01 KST (UTC+9) due to ISP maintenance.
The Battle.net news page is the place to watch for such announcements of scheduled server downtime.

IMG Review: Diablo II
IMG Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Battle.net News
Diablo II
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Battle.net: Chest Hack Users Banned
Buy Diablo II

Ask MacPlay Returns, Round Four
9:46 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

In October 2000, the MacPlay brand was brought back from the dead, thanks to former Ritual Entertainment CEO Ron Dimant. The blockbuster deal gave Dimant the rights to use the MacPlay name as well as port five Interplay titles to the Mac. MacPlay was indeed back.

Since then the company has been busy releasing such highly anticipated titles as Baldur's Gate II, Giants, and Icewind Dale.

In cooperation with MacPlay, we're working on the fourth installment of a feature called "Ask MacPlay." The concept is easy: send us your questions, and we'll submit the best of the best to MacPlay. We'll then post the answers on IMG at a later date.

So, if you have a question for MacPlay, by all means, email your questions to tuncer@insidemacgames.com with the words Ask MacPlay in the Subject field. You can ask questions about their games, games you'd like to see from MacPlay, or even of specific persons at MacPlay.


Master of Orion III Changes Explained
9:46 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

It seems of late that some fans of the upcoming strategy game Master of Orion III have become distressed at the game's tardiness. While it was explained recently that both developer Quicksilver Software and publisher Infogrames wanted to delay release until Q3 to better balance the gameplay, more details have been released to quell fan fears.

First up is a very informative article at Orion Sector with information from Quicksilver's Bill Fisher and Rantz Hosely on the status of the game. It goes into detail on which features haven't survived play testing and generally provides reassurance that the game will be fun upon release.

A forum post from game producer Cory Nelson gives even more information on what they changed and why. Here's a clip:

As something to keep in mind; let me again stress why we're making these changes. The great majority of these are to systems that are already in place and working. We're making these changes not to save us time (because it won't) but to ensure that the game is fun. We've approached each of these items with a few things in mind: Does the feature add value to the product or is it just one more option for the sake of having an option? Does the feature enhance the core of the 5X strategy game that we’re trying to make? Is this feature forcing multiple steps where otherwise they would not be needed? Does this feature take away control from the player? Does it keep the player from having to micromanage? Is the feature confusing? Is the feature fun?
Read the post for a list of the many features changed. We're confident that the final Master of Orion III release will be both fun and addictive. Word is that the Mac version will be done in-house by Quicksilver and is set to be published by Infogrames Mac division MacSoft this fall.

Master of Orion III
Orion Sector MOO3 Explanation
Quicksilver Software
MOO3 Changes Forum Thread (login as guest)
Buy Master of Orion III

Mac Games News for Thursday, April 11, 2002

IMG Reviews the T3Hub11:46 AM
Screenshots at Official Elite Force II Page11:08 AM
Civilization III Editor Progress Update10:32 AM
Lineage Mac Resources10:30 AM
Black & White MP Patch Status10:01 AM
Lineage for Mac Goes Live8:18 AM
Aliens vs. Predator 2 Expansion Announced8:09 AM
Cro-Mag Rally Shareware Released8:09 AM
Harpoon 3.4.8 Update Released8:09 AM
Icewind Dale II Interview8:09 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, April 11, 2002 on one page

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