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Friday, May 24, 2002



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E3: IMG Talks with Blizzard [Updated]
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG's Michael Yanovich and Lucian Fong recently met with Beau Yarborough of Blizzard Entertainment at E3 to talk about WarCraft III as well as their upcoming MMORPG World of WarCraft. Here's their report:

Many thanks must go out to Beau Yarborough for sliding us into the busy Blizzard marketing machine today without a prior appointment. Lucian and I were in for a treat as we were walked through the near-final build of WarCraft III and the still-in-early-development showcase that is the birth of World of WarCraft.

WarCraft III
There’s not much left to be said that hasn’t been covered in countless articles both on IMG and the rest of the web. Basically the game is in final beta-testing, where the single-player campaign is being put through its paces by folks who are doing their best to break it in any place they can. That way all the bugs will get fixed before the game is shipped out.

Current deadline is the end of June, and if they miss that, they’re looking at the first day of July. We were informed that several members of the programming staff have literally not left the office in two weeks – they sleep on the couches and their wives bring them fresh clothing – and none of the programming staff was on hand that day, as they were still chained to their desks making the pretty pictures nice and sparkly.

The game looks great. In-engine cinematics are beautifully done (and everyone is already aware of Blizzard’s legendary pre-rendered cutscenes), the sounds are great.

The best news as far as I am concerned is that the things that make Starcraft a little less fun to play – like being able to build a massive army and just slay your opponent in one fell swoop, all while using the mini map – have been taken out. Upkeep of large armies just makes that sort of tactic unusable, and instead players will be forced to rely on strategy and careful use of their heroes and troops.

The game is definitely being released as a hybrid Mac/PC disk – yes, a true simultaneous release! – in five countries.


World of WarCraft
Let me paraphrase a conversation I had with the person who demo’d this game to Lucian and myself.

Me: “Has a Mac version been announced?”
DemoGuy: “We can’t answer that at this time.”

Anyway…. Once again, Blizzard has upped the ante. The game is gorgeous. It loads continuously in the background so you can walk for hours without noticing any load time, and the graphics are of a high-end third-person-action game (not the scaled down pixels we’re used to seeing in MMORPGs). We were informed that the game, while able to take advantage of next-generation hardware, will also run on more modest machines.

We were treated to views of a variety of characters traipsing through a plethora of landscapes, fighting monsters, using spells, and changing their equipment. Everything is simple and streamlined, easy enough for the person new to these games to jump right in, yet varied enough that veterans will have plenty to do.

The story elements are being kept under a very tight lid. Apparently, the game takes place about four years after Warcraft III’s storyline ends, and they made sure to keep the story intact.

Apparently, divulging too much of the plot will spoil the fun of Warcraft III’s “better than Episode II” story, which we have been assured will shock fans. Basically, the WarCraft world will undergo a massive World War II style upheaval in WC III – important characters will die, institutions will crumble while new ones spring to life, and the landscape will be forever altered.

[Update]: We have just uploaded four gameplay videos from World of Warcraft. The clips are about 10 seconds each and weigh in at 3.5 MB.

Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft Movie 1
World of Warcraft Movie 2
World of Warcraft Movie 3
World of Warcraft Movie 4
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III


E3: Hands-on with Deus Ex 2: The Invisible War
4:18 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Hidden away in the corner of Eidos' massive showcase was the Deus Ex 2 booth. Mike Yanovich and I were lucky enough to stumble upon it just as we were exiting South Hall. An Ion Storm representative was more than happy to give us a demo of the game in progress. Although an Xbox was used as the demo machine, the same game engine (Unreal), artwork, etc., will be used on the PC.

The Ion Storm team has heavily modified the Unreal engine (which is also the basis for UT2003 and Unreal II) to fit their needs. Advanced AI, physics, lighting, and shading, have been implemented. For lack of a better description, the game looks amazing, but none of the graphical features have been added "just for kicks". In fact, everything has a purpose. The AI of NPCs has been enhanced significantly from the original game so that they will react more realistically to your actions. A nice touch is that NPCs will have totally random, non-scripted conversations.

The physics and lighting in the demo were, again, amazing. We knocked over a lamp and as it rolled around on the ground, it cast realistic lights and shadows on objects in the room. In another demo, a small explosive was thrown into a corner with two couches and a lamp. When it detonated, the couches rocked back slightly (because of their weight) and the lamp was knocked off balance before rattling back into place.

The Invisible War takes place about 15 years after the events of the first game. Instead of continuing on as J.C. Denton, you'll start off as another cyborg, capable of using BioMods to enhance your abilities. The representative revealed that the player will be provided with three BioMods in the first level. This is to address to complaint that the game ended soon after an augmentation was fully powered up. Many characters from the previous game will also play an important role in DX2, including your brother, Paul Denton. (No doubt some of you incompassionate Mac gamers left him to die in the first game.)

Deus Ex 2 is still early in development and is scheduled to ship sometime in 2003. When asked about a Mac version, the Ion Storm employees didn't have a clue. So it looks like it will be up to the talents at Aspyr (presumably) to bring this game to the Mac.

E3 2002


Spaceward Ho! 5 Release Date Set
12:13 PM | Vern Xiong | Comment on this story

Delta Tao has recently announced that Spaceward Ho! 5 for Mac will have an artificial deadline as of July 5, 2002.

Joe Williams, President of Delta Tao says, "We've been chugging away on Ho! 5. After the initial burst of making everything work, we've quietly gone back to our day jobs, putting in 5-10 hours a week on the Ho!, besides testing (well, playing) the game."

Delta Tao will be using this little extra time to to have a few bugs worked out with the game, add a few features, and most importantly, making all the graphics and sounds look professional.

Williams adds, "This is no way to finish a game. No game is ever done to the author's satisfaction, so if you don't come up with some sort of artificial deadline, you'll never ship it."

Be sure to check here at IMG for updates on Delta Tao's latest, Spaceward Ho! 5.

Delta Tao
Spaceward Ho!
More news about Spaceward Ho! 5



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E3: WarCraft Media Gallery Posted
9:44 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a new media gallery with screen shots from both WarCraft III, its map editor, and Blizzard's other upcoming title World of WarCraft. While the pics of the WarCraft III editor were taken on a PC at the show, IMG has received assurance that the program will also be available with the Mac version.

In total, there are eight new pics from the singleplayer campaign of WarCraft III, seven from the map editor, and 10 from World of WarCraft. Also be sure to read through IMG's Blizzard report posted earlier in the morning for the full scoop on both titles.

E3: WarCraft III, WoW Media Gallery
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III


Deals: Max Payne $35, Red Faction $30, More..
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Daily Deals is a listing of great deals for Macintosh-related games, hardware, and more.

IMG is now offering the MacGames CD, an exciting CD-ROM subscription service featuring the best in Macintosh game demos, shareware, updates, add-ons, trailers, cheaters, and much more. Get eight issues per year (delivered every six weeks) and save big bucks! For a limited time, when you subscribe to MacGames CD, you can get a full version of Aliens vs Predator, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, Deus Ex, or Escape from Monkey Island; all you pay is the shipping ($5 USA, $7 Canada, $12 International). Each subscription or renewal also includes free registration of Game Doctor, plus great discounts from Mac game stores and Mac game publishers.

MacGames CD Subscribers can pre-order Max Payne for $35, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store. Please remember that this offer is only available to new and existing MGCD subscribers (including subscribers of the old IMG CD).

MacGames CD Subscribers can pre-order Stronghold for $34, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store.

MacGames CD Subscribers can now pre-order Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for $44, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store. Please remember that this offer is only available to new and existing MGCD subscribers (including subscribers of the old IMG CD).

Pre-order Warcraft III for $59.99, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store.

MacGames CD Subscribers can order Return to Castle Wolfenstein for $44, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store. Please remember that this offer is only available to new and existing MGCD subscribers (including subscribers of the old IMG CD).

MacGames CD Subscribers can order Icewind Dale for $39, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store.

MacGames CD Subscribers can order Giants: Citizen Kabuto for $38, plus shipping and handling, at our IMG Store.

GraphSim's Red Faction is available at our IMG web store for just $30, plus shipping and handling.

Aspyr's 4x4 Evolution 2 is available at our IMG web store for just $39, plus shipping and handling.

MacPlay's Baldur's Gate 2 is available at our IMG web store for just $35, plus shipping and handling.

MacSoft's Age of Empires II is available at our IMG web store for just $43, plus shipping and handling.

MacSoft's Civilization III is available at our IMG web store for just $39, plus shipping and handling.

IMG and Pangea has updated the amazing Pangea Bundle deal. Get Pangea's Bugdom, a Pangea CD (full of Pangea demos, shareware, updates and more), a registration to Nanosaur for just $29. Quantities are now limited, so be sure to order your bundle today.

Got a great deal to share with fellow Mac gamers? Please email us your tips!




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E3: WWIIOnline Mac, Open Beta Plans
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new update concerning the Mac version of World War II Online has been revealed in an E3 report at
UnknownPlayer.com. The report states that thanks to the efforts of Strategy First and Cornered Rat's Mac guru Rick B, Mac players will likely get to participate in the upcoming re-release of the game.

This event will coincide with the huge 1.60 update which is said to improve the title with better graphics, performance, and UI elements. Here's the scoop on the Mac client:

MAC WWII Online 1.60 and MAC BETA!
Also big news is that the MAC version of patch 1.60 is ”near completion”, and that a MAC OPEN BETA will be announced soon. You may all thank RickB for his efforts on the MAC version of WWII Online.
Stay tuned for more information on the WWIIOnline open beta and Mac client. Thanks to helpful reader Justin Barham for the tip on the report.

UnknownPlayer E3 2002 Report
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online



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Custer's Destiny
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Brad Custer has updated his section at IMG today with a great new desktop just in time for fans of Star Wars. This week's picture is of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, the real-time strategy title which should be shipping very soon from Aspyr Media. Here's an excerpt from Brad's update with more on the game itself:

In the soon to be released title from Aspyr Media the destiny of a galaxy hangs in the balance and you're in command. Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds lets you lead the armies of Star Wars to victory in intense, real-time strategy clashes. Enter the fray as Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance with a legion of Jedi, the greedy Trade Federation, the Royal Naboo and other civilizations in campaigns that will determine the final outcome of the Galactic Civil War. You are able to manage your resources and upgradeable technology into your strategy, such as Wookiee ingenuity, advanced Gungan biotechnology, and Jedi stamina. The action continues as you are able to command X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, Imperial Walkers, and other famed Star Wars vehicles.
Head over now and grab the desktop in your favorite resolution.

Custer's Desktops
Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Buy Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds



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E3: SimCity 4, Sims Online Info
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Excitement from the E3 expo has resulted in a plethora of information regarding two new franchise updates to Will Wright's Maxis empire, SimCity 4 and The Sims Online. Both games have yet to be announced for the Mac, but the sheer popularity of The Sims would seem to indicate Mac publishers will try very hard to bring both titles to the platform.

Both PC.IGN and GameSpy have previews of the games available, along with a number of impressive screen shots and even videos. SimCity fans will be very glad to see the strides taken in graphical quality of the game. SimCity 4 will feature completely 3D environments, three modes of gameplay, and even the ability to import your favorite Sims. Here's an excerpt from a preview at GameSpy discussing the three play styles:

Mayor mode is the traditional SimCity mode where you control the development of your city through public policy and zoning decisions. There are no goals other than to develop whatever kind of community that you want. Consider it your "sandbox mode."

My Sim mode is an interesting addition that will endear the game to many The Sims fans. SimCity 4 allows you to import your characters from The Sims and place them within your city. I got to transplant one of everyone's favorite sims, Bella Goth, into my city. You can then track the dispositions of your sim, viewing his/her thoughts and activities. It gives you an extra impetus for improving his/her livelihood.

God mode, perhaps better referred to as "vengeful god mode," allows you to rain fire and other disasters upon your unrepentant sims. In short, it lets you unleash controlled disasters just to see what happens. It's strangely therapeutic, and you can always restore your game once you've gotten it out of your system.

Check out PC.IGN's screen shots and videos of the game for a much better idea of how it will look.

Both zines have posted previews of The Sims Online as well. This massively multiplayer online title should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played The Sims. One of the most interesting elements of multiplayer interaction will be the in-game economy:

The economy in The Sims Online looks like it could be a complicated one. Almost everything you do can be tied to earning Simoleans. You can charge people to enter your house, play your games or almost anything else. Unlike The Sims, The Sims Online doesn't have careers. Instead, you develop certain skills and create your own jobs. Like the quartet of sims that created pizzas, you can access different work widgets to earn money. The catch is that this takes time and cooperation from other sims.
Check out both previews and the media files (the movie file is corrupt as of this posting) for a good idea of how The Sims Online will play. You can be sure IMG will bring you the latest on both titles as any new information about the status of possible Mac versions is revealed. Do remember that Aspyr's The Sims: Hot Date expansion should be in stores very soon for the Mac.

GameSpy Preview of SimCity 4
PC.IGN SimCity 4 Media
GameSpy Preview of The Sims Online
PC.IGN Preview of The Sims Online
PC.IGN The Sims Online Media
Maxis
The Sims Online
Buy SimCity 4


Mac Games News for Thursday, May 23, 2002

E3: Mystonline.com Opens, New Screenshots1:48 PM
Target Rabaul Development Update11:33 AM
X-Plane Automotive Announced11:32 AM
E3: Ubi Soft Unveils Myst Online11:28 AM
E3: WarBirds III for Mac OS X11:08 AM
E3: Carmack Talks Doom III, Video Hardware9:26 AM
E3: Many New MOO3 Shots Available9:20 AM
Neverwinter Q&A with Greg Zeschuk7:56 AM
Update on pop-pop Status7:33 AM
Deimos Rising Updated to 1.0.16:00 AM
E3: Deus Ex 2 Info, Official Site Opens6:00 AM
E3: Doom III Video, Interviews, More...6:00 AM
E3: Max Payne Sequel Announcement6:00 AM
E3: Return to Castle Wolfenstein Add-on Announced6:00 AM
Shadowbane Q&A Feature6:00 AM
 
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, May 23, 2002 on one page


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