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Thursday, May 23, 2002

E3: Doom III Video, Interviews, More...
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

As E3 progresses, a torrent of information regarding id Software and their highly anticipated title, Doom III, continues to be released. Of particular interest to many gamers will be a new Doom III QuickTime movie and many more first-impressions and interviews.

Doom III: The Legacy Movie comes in high and low resolution versions (92MB and 8MB, respectively), and shows much new footage from the game. Nearly every id employee is interviewed in the movie, including lead programmer John Carmack. The video also gives a short recap of the Doom series in general, for those who might be unfamiliar with the games. Many mirrors are available, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find a location to download the files. Apple buffs will also surely be able to spot at least one Mac flat screen monitor being used at id.

Outside of the movie, both John Carmack and lead designer Tim Willits have given brief interviews. In Carmack's talk with Gamers.com, he specifically notes how the team is concentrating very hard on the singleplayer mode:

This has been one of the areas where I know we are going to get some negative feedback. Doom III will only have minimal multiplayer facilities when released, because we are concentrating all of our efforts on making it an outstanding single-player experience. We have our hands full just breaking in the new technology and creating our world, so there just aren't enough resources to go around for doing spectacular multiplayer. You will still be able to deathmatch, but don't expect anything revolutionary. We will certainly be doing follow-up titles that refocus on multiplayer. I strongly believe that it is better to do more games with a tighter focus, rather than trying to be all things to everyone in a single title.
Carmack also talks about rendering techniques, sound options, and the game will be "pushing the fear factor over the raw action." Definitely head over for more.

GameSpot has posted the result of a personal demo from Willits, especially noting the current status of the long-awaited project:

Willits said that the Doom III technology is completely done, and even though there are still some obvious optimization issues that need to be worked out, the design team is now fully engrossed in finishing the actual game itself. Interestingly, Willits said that id is creating Doom III backward--the team is designing the last levels first, and the first levels last. Even though this first section of the game is still incomplete, Willits said that players will start the game before the forces of hell are unleashed and will be able to roam around and interact with nonplayer characters freely.
Along with the Willits feature, GameSpot also has a preview available, and be sure to have a look at the high-resolution screen shots of the while you're waiting for the movie to download. You can be sure this is only the tip of the hype ice berg surrounding the game, but we'll do our best to get any Mac-specific information out of the expo.

Interview with John Carmack
Doom III Demo with Tim Willits
GameSpot Doom III First Impressions
id Software
Download Doom III: The Legacy Movie
Buy DOOM 3

E3: Mystonline.com Opens, New Screenshots
1:48 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Following the announcement this morning that Myst Online would be published by Ubi Soft, the company has launched a new web site dedicated to the online game. In addition to new screenshots, the Myst Online web site features the official press release, concept art, forum, and a newsletter.

Here's more about Myst Online from the official press release:

Los Angeles - May 23, 2002 - Ubi Soft® Entertainment, one of the world's leading videogame publishers, today announced an exclusive worldwide deal with Cyan Worlds, Inc., to publish and operate Myst Online (working title). The Myst franchise has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and is the most widely recognized game brand in the world. Known for their artistic beauty, immersive atmosphere and ease of use, the Myst games represent a high benchmark of the video game industry. Now, the visually stunning Myst universe will be featured in a persistent online world-based adventure featuring state-of-the-art technology, innovative design and a rich social experience. Myst Online is slated to launch in 2003.

Devotees of the Myst series, fans of traditional massively-multiplayer online games, and non-gamers alike are sure to be captivated by Myst Online. The game features visually stunning real-time 3D graphics, rich storylines, continually updated content and real voice communication, and traditional text chat. Myst Online will have an easy learning curve, enabling players of all skill levels and interests to experience the expansive Ages and history of Myst in a uniquely social environment.

"Taking Myst into the online medium represents a significant opportunity for Ubi Soft. We're excited to help expand one of the strongest and most influential brands of our catalog to the Internet." said Yves Guillemot, President and CEO of Ubi Soft Entertainment. "Games like Myst Online and Shadowbane™ are just the beginning of our commitment to the online games market through ubi.com. We believe that Ubi Soft's online games expertise coupled with the talented Cyan Worlds team will enable Myst Online to set a new benchmark for persistent world-based games."

"This is the culmination of years of world building. Everything we've learned from our earliest worlds we've poured into Myst Online, building a universe that is growing, breathing, and alive. The Myst Online universe will provide players with a journey that will never end." said Rand Miller, founder of Cyan Worlds, Inc. "Myst Online uses our proprietary technology to build a place that is so responsive and immersive, people will feel compelled to share their adventure, both in the game, and the next day at work or school. It's a massive undertaking, and we're excited about working with Ubi Soft to make it a reality. "

Myst Online will be played on ubi.com which is expanding its online infrastructure to serve customers anywhere in the world. One of the top ten worldwide online gaming portals, ubi.com supports all of Ubi Soft's multiplayer titles and is the only game portal to support both PC and console-based games. Ubi.com reaches millions of unique visitors each month and has over one million registered users since its launch in November 2001.

Be sure to visit the Myst Online web site for more information on this exciting new title from Cyan.

Myst Online: Uru Live

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Target Rabaul Development Update
11:33 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Micah "Yak" Bly, Project Director for the Target Rabaul Development Team has posted an extensive update on their progress on Target Rabaul, breaking a three-month silence. The progress report includes mention of Target Rabaul's unique strat engine, and details some other changes:

Target Rabaul Plane Updates

  • B5N2 Kate, H8K Emily, and A6M Zero now have correct bombloads
  • Added IJN 800kg AP bomb, 250kg land bomb
  • 2 new schemes for the A6M2: Zuikaku Hikokitai and Junyo Hikokitai
  • New scheme for the A6M3/32: 204th Kokutai
  • 2 New schemes for the A6M3/22: 582nd Kokutai and 251st Kokutai
  • New scheme for the A6M2-N Rufe: 14th Kokutai, Oct. 42
  • The above new schemes bring the A6M2-A6M3 Zero external schemes to completion
  • Ki45 3D cockpit added
  • 3 new schemes for the F4U-1A: VF-17 x 2, and USMC x 1 (pool plane)
  • B5N2 now has a 3D cockpit
  • G4M2 Betty made it's first appearance (3D external mesh added)
  • P40N, H8K2, J2M3, and Ki45 3D meshes upgraded

Target Rabaul Terrain Updates

  • Rabaul East oil drum revetments texture completed
  • Pagoda structure for henderson field completed
  • Japanese 20mm AA gun texture completed
  • Henderson Field template created, handed off to artist
  • Several forest overlay tests created
  • Test tweak of terrain around Rabaul to reproduce the volcanos more accurately
  • Japanese and Allied trucks overhauled, both 3D and 2D.
  • Japanese hangar model revised to reflect new information on interior
  • Work has started on a comprehensive project to create all-new terrain textures for TR
  • One of our newest team members has settled in, and is working on a variety of terrain objects
  • Work has started on a series of maps and player aides

Target Rabaul is a WWII-era flight sim being developed usng Sickware's Target Korea engine. The campaign under development, New Guinea & Solomons '43, will be the first of many expansions that will cover the entire war.

Target Rabaul
Target Rabaul
Target Rabaul Development Update

X-Plane Automotive Announced
11:32 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Today Laminar Research announced that the long-requested X-Plane Automotive is under development. X-Plane Automotive would use X-Plane's physics engine and flight model in a racing game. Creator Austin Meyer speaks on its progress:

No, I am not on vacation (I don't take vacations). I am getting pretty close to release X-PLANE AUTOMOTIVE, which is just exactly what the name implies. I am driving virtual Corvettes at 170 mph across X-Plane-style landscape now, with all the physics accuracy (and flexibility) that is found in X-Plane. (turbine motor on the 'Vette, anyone?)

Like X-Plane, X-Plane Automotive will feature total customization; however, unlike its parent, the customization tools will be integrated into the main program. Currently, X-Plane designers must use a suite of satellite programs to edit terrain and vehicles. Meyer states that it will be "a few weeks" before he releases X-Plane Automotive.

Laminar Research currently develops X-Plane, which uses a realistic physics model to accurately simulate aircraft dyanimcs, as well as Young's Modulus, a mech-combat game based off of the same engine. Both games have a modular design allowing for plenty of customization.

Laminar Research

E3: Ubi Soft Unveils Myst Online
11:28 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has news that Ubi Soft has signed an exclusive worldwide deal to publish and operate Cyan Worlds' Myst Online, scheduled to be released in 2003.

According to Avault, Myst Online will feature a persistent online world featuring impressive real-time 3D graphics, rich storylines, continually updated content, real voice communication, and traditional text chat.

When released, Myst Online will be played on ubi.com. Avault also mentions that Ubi Soft will be expanding its online infrastructure to serve customers worldwide.

Ubi Soft
Cyan Worlds
The Adrenaline Vault

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E3: WarBirds III for Mac OS X
11:08 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

The I Entertainment Network is at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo showing off a Mac OS X version of thier award-winning flight simulation game, <WarBirds III. The game is a massively multiplayer flight sim and ground vehicle combat game and features beautiful 3D graphics, realistic models, and terrain created by satellite data. WarBirds III also allows up to 1,000 players to play simultaneously around the world.

"WarBirds III leverages Mac OS X's advanced capabilities to deliver faster frame rate, smaller RAM footprint, and other special features," says JW Stealey, CEO of I Entertainment Network. "Developing WarBirds III for Mac OS X was so easy and exciting, all future versions of the game will be for Mac OS X only."

"Mac OS X has integrated the most robust graphics technologies available, making game development on the Mac easier and more powerful than ever," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "WarBirds III presents cutting-edge gameplay features, and we're delighted to have it available for Mac OS X."

WarBirds III for Mac OS X is available for download from the WarBirds web site. In order to play online, you'll need to sign up for a subscription.

iEntertainment Network
WarBirds III

E3: Carmack Talks Doom III, Video Hardware
9:26 AM | Vern Xiong | Comment on this story

Gamespy.com recently had an interview with John Carmack of id Software about their latest highly anticipated 3D FPS Doom III. The Q&A talks about the new game engine and how it will be used for single player and multi-player games, and also what video cards will work best with the game. Here's an excerpt about which 3D cards Carmack thinks will do more wonders with his latest shootem-up:

GameSpy: The world of video cards seems to change on a daily basis. What do you think of the current crop of cards on the market, and where do you see things heading? Are there any new cards that inetrest you? Where would you like to see things go?

Carmack: I still think that overall, the GeForce 4 Ti is the best card you can buy. It has high speed and excellent driver quality.

Based on the feature set, the Radeon 8500 should be a faster card for Doom than the GF4, because it can do the seven texture accesses that I need in a single pass, while it takes two or three passes (depending on details) on the GF4. However, in practice, the GF4 consistently runs faster due to a highly efficient implementation. For programmers, the 8500 has a much nicer fragment path than the GF4, with more general features and increased precision, but the driver quality is still quite a ways from Nvidia's, so I would be a little hesitant to use it as a primary research platform.

Head over to Gamespy if your interested in checking out more of what Carmack has to say about Doom III.

GameSpy Q&A with John Carmack
id Software
Buy DOOM 3

E3: Many New MOO3 Shots Available
9:20 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Apolyton, the strategy supersite has posted 24 new screenshots that showcase the user interface of Quicksilver's upcoming turn-based game, Master of Orion 3. In addition, there are many older screenshots which show off the incredible artwork that has gone into the game thus far.

MOO3 is the third installment in the legendary Master of Orion series of turn-based strategy, galactic empire building games that have often been dubbed "Civilization in Space." Both of the previous installments were extremely well-received, leaving MOO3 with some rather large shoes to fill.

Master of Orion 3 is set to be released later this year, and MacSoft will be publishing the Mac version. Follow the link below to view all of the screenshots.

MoO3 Screenshots Page at Apolyton
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

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Neverwinter Q&A with Greg Zeschuk
7:56 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Firingsquad recently scored a pre-E3 interview with Dr. Greg Zeschuk of Bioware about their long awaited 3D RPG Neverwinter Nights. The Q&A gives an overview of the game in general terms, as well as going into some detail about Neverwinter's character validation system, hardware requirements, and more. Here's an excerpt explaining how the 3rd edition AD&D ruleset affect the gameplay:

FS: For our readers who are not well versed in D&D, what are the niftiest features of the 3rd edition rules that you've incorporated into NWN? In other words, how does using the new ruleset make NWN a better, more fun game than it could have been with 2nd edition?

G: The D&D 3rd edition rules are a little more straightforward than the previous sets of rules. One of the coolest things about Neverwinter Nights is that it exposes you only to as much of the rules as you want because the game has the power to take care of the rule-based decisions for you. For example, if you don’t know what stats to give your character you can hit the Recommend button, and the stats appropriate to your race and class will be assigned. The same is true for skills, spells, feats and practically everything else in the game. If you want get down and dirty with the rules you can custom tune your character to your heart’s content – we don’t limit that at all either.

The coolest thing about the 3rd edition rules is they allow for extreme customization of characters using the skills and feats. No longer are all Wizards or Rangers the same – you can now totally customize everything about your character.

Check out the full interview for more on Neverwinter Nights, and be sure to stay tuned to IMG for any new word on the Mac version.

FiringSquad Neverwinter Nights Interview
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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Update on pop-pop Status
7:33 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new update to the pop-pop progress logs has been posted this morning by developer Andrew Campbell, giving a rundown on how this Ambrosia Software title is progressing. While the game has been in development for a number of years, the list of major fixes and things to-do is decreasing rapidly. Campbell expects beta 10 to be the last until they move on to the Final Candidate stage.

The gameplay for pop-pop's received polishing in this last update, with Campbell focusing efforts on both bettering the game's AI as well as adding levels for the multiplayer 'puzzle' mode. Here's a clip from the log:

The big news for b10 is a simple but very important tweak to gameplay. I changed one little rule one little bit and a fun game became very much more fun. You'll never know how improved the game is because you never had to suffer through magnet hell - but when you do play you'll hit the ball a little harder and feel just that much better for it.

I also directed some energy towards two parts of the game that often get overlooked because net play is so fun. Part One is the versus combat ai. Until this release it was rather pathetic and it didnt really know the rules. Now it provides a challenge for even the best testers (though they certainly wouldnt admit that).

Part Two is puzzle mode. You can play pop as a head to head battle game where you clear the bricks from your own board and stuff them down your opponents throat as fast as you can - or you can play puzzle mode, which requires great finesse and deftness of touch. Puzzle mode is simple and fun but it has suffered from having too few levels to play. This release I added 150 new levels and implemented a system so that I could release more puzzle packs in the future. Much better.

Head over to Ambrosia's web site now for the full update or to check out the pop-pop section. If you're more curious about this Anime-inspired Arkanoid title, also have a read through IMG's recent preview of the game.

IMG Preview of pop-pop
pop-pop Progress Logs
Ambrosia Software

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Shadowbane Q&A Feature
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpy has posted a pre-E3 look at Shadowbane after meeting with UbiSoft and Wolfpack about their MMORPG. Producer Mike Steele talks about the current status of the massive game, the types of gamers who are expected to enjoy Shadowbane, as well as more on the current closed beta.

Here's an excerpt discussing how they plan to avoid common pitfalls of other MMO titles:

GameSpy: How do you plan to avoid some of the pitfalls, mistakes, and blown opportunities of other MMORPGs? Unfairly or not, Anarchy Online and WWII Online both suffered for their server problems, bugs and incomplete features….

Mike Steele: One of the things we're doing, that Ubi Soft is doing, is we're constantly looking for mistakes, we're finding mistakes, and we're fixing them as we go. Look around, my team here are all pretty young, but they're all hardcore designers who've shipped titles before. All of them play other online games… look; it's what? 5:01? And how many people are still here playing games? [I counted three, one playing what looked like EverQuest, one playing Quake III, and the last still playing Shadowbane.]

(Mike continued) These are gamers and they look for things they like and don't like in other games. They make mistakes, we don't come down hard on them for it, but we fix them as soon as they're made. We have a full customer service organization here to support the games, we have flow charts, and we plan to listen to customers. We aren't perfect, but we don't dwell on mistakes. They happen. We fix them. We're in closed beta test now and on track. [An open beta is promised this summer, and I was told Ubi Soft traditionally employs "about a hundred…" off the street players to work as beta testers in house.] Dark Age of Camelot is a shining example of how to do it right. Finish the game, tighten it up, and then release it.

For the full scoop, head over and read through the feature now. Stay tuned for more about Shadowbane as E3 continues this week.

GameSpy Shadowbane Interview
Wolfpack Studios

E3: Deus Ex 2 Info, Official Site Opens
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming site GameSpy has recently posted a preview of Deus Ex 2: Invisible War, the sequel to Ion Storm's highly popular FPS adventure title Deus Ex. Though the preview is short, it contains some choice tidbits of information gleaned from the current E3 show, including the background story, game technology, and gameplay features.

Leaving JC Denton from the first game behind, players will now play as Alex Denton, brother of JC and Paul. Alex starts off, not as a warrior, but as a lab rat working for a faction trying to recreate the bio-modification technology that spawned the previous Dentons some 20 years ago.

Warren Spector of Ion Storm notes that DX2 focuses quite heavily on technology and graphics. The lighting effects in particular sound particularly impressive, as demonstrated by project lead Harvey Smith:

"Shadows are generated dynamically," Smith said. "Shadows are changing constantly, making it harder to use stealth and go undetected." To emphasize the point, there was a guard moving through a dark room with a flashlight attached to his pistol. As he moved, light reflect off various surfaces, from glossy leather chairs to canisters on the ground.
Further proof of this power comes from an example involving halogen lamps, which could be knocked over to change the lighting in a dark room.

Smith adds that the AI is also receiving a significant boost, and will be able to react to almost any environmental changes that occur. It will also be capable of dynamic speech patterns, making for more interesting and open-ended converstaions.

The rest of the interview covers topics such as the new augmentation system, AI one-liners, and the reasoning behind fewer missions than the original DX.

In related news, interested gamers can also check out the official Deus Ex 2: Invisible War site, which has screenshots, concept artwork, and a little slice of backstory that should sound quite familiar to fans of the original.

Deus Ex 2 - Official Site
GameSpy - Deus Ex 2 Preview
Ion Storm

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E3: Return to Castle Wolfenstein Add-on Announced
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Fans of the FPS title Return to Castle Wolfenstein should be happy to hear that an expansion pack, courtesy of Nerve Software and Splash Damange, is currently in the works. Though the pack has yet to be named, GameSpot recently got to take a crack at it at E3 and have posted their initial impressions online.

The pack includes 10 new single-player missions and 10 new multiplayer levels. New weapons, including grenade launchers and land mines, will also be available. The Engineer class is also receiving several boosts, including the ability to place/disarm the previously mentioned land mines as well as the ability to build structures, including watch towers, machine gun emplacements, and bridges.

A new character class, the Covert Ops Specialist, is also being introduced:

The covert ops class has the ability to pick uniforms off any dead soldiers and assume a new identity. However, other players will be able to discern a covert ops' identity by the player name above the character model's head. Likewise, an undercover covert ops player will lose his or her uniform permanently when opening fire. Additionally, the covert ops class gets the snooper rifle as the default weapon--this weapon was available in Return to Castle Wolfenstein's single-player campaign, but not in the multiplayer mode.
The expansion pack is currently slated for PC release later this year. There are no Mac details as of yet, but with Aspyr's recent release of the original, it seems likely the add-on pack will find its way to Mac gamers as well.

GameSpot - Return to Castle Wolfenstein Add-on Pack Preview
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

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Deimos Rising Updated to 1.0.1
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Ambrosia Software has recently updated their hit vertical shooter Deimos Rising to version 1.0.1. The update makes a number of significant changes to both classic and OS X versions of the game, as well the standard bug fixes.

Most important for many Deimos Rising players will be the addition of support for gamepads on either Apple operating system. This crucial feature will help many a cramped hand from having to resort to the keyboard anymore. Also changed was the support for cheat codes if you're having trouble making it through the game.

Registered users of Deimos Rising are free to download the update. Those that haven't tried the game yet should also head over and download the updated demo available now at Macgamefiles.com.

Ambrosia Software
Deimos Rising
Download Deimos Rising 1.0.1 Demo (34MB)

E3: Max Payne Sequel Announcement
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Although the original is still in beta for the Mac, many gamers may be interested to hear a sequel to Max Payne has already been announced by Take-Two Interactive. The company actually purchased all intellectual property rights associated with the game for a cool $10 Million plus stock options. The game is expected out for the PC next year, though no more specifics have been revealed about it.

The transaction sets an interesting standard for game makers, as the complete transfer of all rights and technology in a game doesn't happen all that often:

Kelly Sumner, Chief Executive Officer said, "A critical component of Take-Two's corporate strategy is to control the intellectual property rights to our key brands and as a result, build the most value for our company. Max Payne has been one of our most successful product franchises to date. The ownership of this top-selling brand allows us to broadly capitalize on the continued strength of the product on multiple platforms, and extend the brand with exciting sequels as well as providing opportunities for extending the brand to other forms of entertainment."

Scott Miller, Chief Executive Officer of 3D Realms commented, "This is a precedent-setting deal for Take-Two, Remedy and 3D Realms - the first time in our industry a highly successful IP alone has changed ownership hands. This deal validates our strategy for developing strong character-based games. Take-Two benefits tremendously by having full control of the Max Payne brand going forward and being able to properly leverage it to its full potential."

Stay tuned to IMG for more as the original Max Payne makes its way to the Mac over the coming weeks.

Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Announces Max Payne 2 Is In Development

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 22, 2002

IMG Reviews the CH Pro Throttle USB12:48 PM
GameSpy Checks Out DOOM III11:41 AM
Deus Ex Movie in the Works10:39 AM
Breakthrough in Cross-Platform Game Delivery9:20 AM
Details on WarCraft III Limited Packaging9:20 AM
Full Throttle Sequel Revealed9:20 AM
Kohan II Announced for PC9:20 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 22, 2002 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Monday, May 20, 2002
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Thursday, May 16, 2002
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

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