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Thursday, October 26, 2000

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4x4 Evolution Rolls Into Stores
9:45 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Ah yes, the rush of Fall Mac releases has begun! Gathering of Developers has announced that their extreme off-road SUV driving sim 4x4 Evolution is now on its way to store shelves and should be available within the next few days. Developed by Terminal Reality, this racer is revolutionary in several ways, from the go-anywhere 'trackless" structure of the race to the ability to seamlessly play online with Mac, PC and Sega Dreamcast users as your opponents.

Over 31,500 of you downloaded the Public Test 2 of this game from, a totally unprecedented amount of demand which signals a strong untapped market for driving sims on the Mac OS. It should be emphasized that this test version was not a demo for the game, merely a rough test version to ferret out networking bugs. A genuine, polished demo of the game will be available in the next few days, and you may be surprised at how different it is in interface, physics and audio.

Here are excerpts from the press release:

Start your engines! Terminal Reality and Gathering of Developers today announced that 4x4 EVO is available in stores nationwide. Developed by Terminal Reality for the PC, Mac and Dreamcast, this groundbreaking, 4x4 off-road game puts virtual drivers behind the wheel of their favorite real world SUV and/or truck and challenges them to race through a variety of detailed off-road environments. Taking gamers for the off-road ride of their lives, 4x4 EVO sports the latest array of real 4x4 vehicles, unprecedented graphics, and real-world physics. In addition the game supports Internet multi-player options between Dreamcasts, Macs, and PCs. Published by developer-driven computer and video game publisher Gathering of Developers and distributed by Take Two Interactive, 4x4 EVO is available for a suggested retail price of $39.99 for the PC and Mac versions, and $49.99 for the Dreamcast version.

"Terminal Reality's 4x4 EVO takes advantage of today's latest technological advances and delivers amazingly realistic off-road action," said Mike Wilson, CEO of Gathering of Developers. "Gamers will be amazed by its cross platform playability and realistically detailed trucks and courses."

4x4 EVO takes gamers through a total of 15 courses, each with its own distinctive design, music score and difficulty level. In addition to contending with the other vehicles, players will be challenged by a collection of variables such as gates, trees, and tractors in junkyards or on-coming traffic in construction zones. Virtual drivers choose their own path as they begin with a base truck and compete in a series of off-road races to win cash. Drivers can stop and rewind the action through a playback feature and can view the whole race again from multiple camera angles, and even different racers' perspectives. Players can also use GameSpy's Buddy system for instant messaging and keeping track of their fellow drivers.

4x4 EVO Features:

  • 15 extreme environments ranging from painted deserts to treacherous mountaintops to tropical island chains.
  • Cross-platform multiplayer capabilities that allow up to eight PC/Mac players and up to four Dreamcast gamers to compete against each other in heated online play.
  • Over 100+ licensed vehicles from 8 different manufacturers, with each looking and driving exactly like their real-life counterparts.
  • Detailed off-road truck physics and moving objects.
  • Ability to tweak and adjust SUV/trucks to make them faster.
  • Downloadable new tracks for extended PC/Mac gameplay.
  • System requirements for the Mac OS version of this game were not given, but we expect them to be surprisingly mild; in our own in-house testing we found the game smooth and responsive on even a 300 MHz Powerbook G3 (Rage Pro graphics built-in), and it ran smoothly at 1280x1024 with all settings on high with a G4/500 and a Radeon card. It even ran well at 1600x1200 if we limited the race to four vehicles.

    Watch for this great racer in a store near you -- there will be a separate boxed Mac version, so don't grab the PC copy and assume it is a hybrid. Pick up a racing wheel while you are at it, almost any USB one will work seamlessly with the latest Apple GameSprockets.

    4x4 Evolution
    Gathering of Developers
    Terminal Reality
    Gathering of Developers
    4x4 Evolution

    Details on Oni Audio
    4:48 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

    With Bungie's long-awaited game of martial arts and gunplay Oni nearing a January release, details have begun to leak out about the game's content and features. Marty O'Donnel (Bungie's current sound and music guru) stopped by the Hotline server to deliver a few tidbits about the long-delayed Oni. In the course of the impromptu chat he confirmed that the game's main character, Konoko, will be voiced by anime star Amanda Winn-Lee. Amanda has done voice work for such 'anime' flicks as Gunsmith Cats and Neon Genesis Evangelion, to name a few. Marty also had this to say about Oni's progress:

    "martyod: oni is looking pretty good

    martyod: sounds good too

    martyod: i'm playing the near final oni right now

    If Rockstar can get the PS2 version finished in time, it looks like Oni will hit that January release date. Marty goes on to mention that both he and another Bungie employee, Joe Staten, provide some voices for the game. Gathering of Developers will publish the game when it is finally complete. Thanks to for information used in this story.

    Marty O'Donnel Chat Transcript

    New Centurions Public Test
    4:23 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    A helpful reader pointed out that Fantasoft has quietly posted a preview release (not a demo) of New Centurions, a sci-fi themed RPG with a classic look and interface. Not a Realmz sequel or expansion, Centurions is an all-new project by Tim Phillips, and will be a shareware release. No final date for release is given, and this preview is far from the complete game -- it has placeholder artwork and only three buildings. Here are the details from Fantasoft:

    Fantasoft has released a Public Test of New Centurions! This test lets you
    try out the character creation, upgrade and combat systems. Here
    is your chance to chime in with your views now and maybe get
    stuff changed before this game is finished.

    New Centurions is an upcomming role playing game set in a
    science fiction world. It will be similar to Realmz in style but
    will have many new surpises as well.

    This is a DEMO of several key systems in New Centurions. Keep in
    mind the following things:

  • Much of the graphics you see are not final art but place
    holder art used until we get the finished art done.
  • Some items may not work as you think they should. If you find
    an item that does not work like it seems it should, copy the
    name down and e-mail me the name so I can check into it.

    The main goal of this DEMO is to get input from gamers on what
    they like and dislike about the following aspects of the game:

    Character Creation

    Character Upgrades

    Item Upgrades

    Item Manipulation

    Combat in general

    This DEMO has only three buildings. One to repair your
    equipment, one to repair and heal warriors and a WELL stocked

    When you enter the open area to the South East you will see a
    number of small pylons. Each has been scripted to send you into
    a combat situation. Each battle is tougher as you progress to
    the right and each can be repeated as many times as you like.

    A real interest of mine is to try and balance the cost in
    upgrade points for various attributes of your warriors. As you
    gain Victory Points you also gain Upgrade Points which you can
    spend to upgrade your warrior. Various attributes cost different
    amounts of Upgrade Points to raise and I need to get a feel for
    that a bit more. Give me your comments on this.

    Other than that, have fun with the battles and send your
    comments to Here is your chance to chime
    in and get things changed.

  • Be sure and grab this preview release and send Fantasoft your feedback. We expect yet another engrossing RPG, and can't wait to see the final product.

    Download New Centurions Preview Release (3.8 MB)
    New Centurions Web Site

    RTS Quake 1.1 Released
    12:39 PM | Charles George | Comment on this story

    When id Software created Quake 3 Arena they created a fantastic first-person shooter and a whole new development platform. This platform inspires two types of development: full-fledged licensed commercial games such as Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, and detailed modifications made by hobbyists. Since these hobbyists expect no financial compensation for their modifications, they don't have to worry about time tables, market share, or target audience, all of which often contribute to the glut of "Me Too" games on the market.

    RTS Quake is a prime example of this phenomenon. It takes the basic game model of Quake and adds a slew of real-time-strategy elements. If this sounds confusing to you, Planet Quake 3 has a nice review of the mod which is worth checking out before downloading.

    The makers of RTS Quake recently updated this ambitious modification to version 1.1. This update adds more new graphics, more buildings and an all-new player class, just to name a few of the new features. Thankfully, since Quake 3 Arena is cross-platform, the modification should work on any Mac with a full version of the game installed.

    RTS Quake Web Site
    Download RTS Quake 1.1 (1.7 MB)
    RTS Quake Review at PlanetQuake

    Freeverse Carbonization Report
    11:56 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

    Colin Smith of shareware publisher Freeverse Software has sent us a short update on this company's progress in 'Carbonizing' their games for Mac OS X, which is currently available in public beta form. Carbonization allows a game to run 'native' under Mac OS X, gaining the features (multitasking, stability) and interface (Aqua) of that OS while removing the need to launch the Classic environment. Here is Colin's report:

    We've started carbonizing all of the 3D Card games, Burning Monkey Solitaire
    and the HMS Freeverse game server itself. They're all on track to be
    finished before Macworld San Francisco.

    Last night we also conducted a stress-test of the HMS Freeverse to see what
    would happen when we maxed out a room. Happily it worked like a charm,
    putting up a "full" notice and automatically shuttling players to a new
    room. Our thanks to all the players of Hearts, Spades, Puzzle Lab, and
    especially the Cribbage Mafia, for helping us test this.

    Finally, we have a working title for our new supersecret project...

    ARCANE ARENA is progressing well, (but apart from the title, its still
    supersecret ;-)

    If you haven't tried their challenging and charming card games and their free online server HMS Freeverse, be sure and take this opportunity to do so. We congratulate Freeverse on their progress, and hope the trend of Carbon and native games for Mac OS X continues!

    Freeverse Software

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    Mac Elite Force is Release Candidate 1
    10:30 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

    Programmer Duane Johnson, currently working on the Mac OS port of Raven Software's shooter Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, has graced us with yet another progress report. It seems this title is not yet "final candidate" as the Aspyr newsletter suggested; however he reveals the thrilling news that he just sent off the first Release Candidate version of the title to publisher Aspyr Media; if their playtesting reveals no 'show-stopper' bugs, that version will be declared Golden Master and duplication will begin. Here is Duane's update:

    Despite Aspyr's earlier Newsletter report, I've just sent the first
    release candidate CD off yesterday. I've been waiting for Raven to fix
    a few scripting bugs. Testers should get a new copy tomorrow.
    Previous versions have been pretty bug free so this should be a short
    test period. I believe Aspyr has the rest of the box stuff ready (or
    close to it). So we're getting close.
    Not quite 'golden' yet, but this title (based on the Quake 3 Arena engine, one reason for the extremely short delay between the PC release and the Mac port) should hit stores within the next few weeks. Here at IMG we've been blasting our way through our own beta copies, and can say without hesitation that this is truly a Trek title done right.

    First Look: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
    Aspyr Media
    Aspyr: Elite Force, Livin' Large Final Candidate
    Aspyr Media
    Raven Software
    Westlake Interactive
    Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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    New D2 X, Warcraft III Previews
    10:15 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Our partner Gamecenter certainly put the recent visit of Blizzard's Bill Roper to good use, taking the information that he revealed and turning it into two new previews of upcoming Blizzard releases. These updated previews of the Diablo II expansion pack (now known as Diablo II: Lord of Destruction) and the RPG/RTS Warcraft III not only contain exclusive details about these titles, but are also accompanied by several new screen shots of each game in action.

    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, due to arrive early next year, will further expand and refine this explosively popular title. Well on its way to being the best-selling title ever, Diablo II thrilled RPG fans with its depth, scope and attention to detail. The expansion obviously intends to take this proven formula further, adding 2 new character classes, hundreds of objects to discover and an entire new Act to conquer. Here is an excerpt from the preview:

    One of the most distinctive things about this approach is that, unlike previous offerings, the enemies won't be just standing around (or wandering around) waiting for players to show up. Rather, the environment will be more active, and there'll be a whole lot more going on that the player has to deal with. For instance, the area around Harrogath is in a constant state of warfare, and players will have to contend with human NPCs and monsters battling it out. Dodging catapult shots and marauding demons will only be half their problem, though; once they've gotten through those, players will have to deal with Baal. The expansion pack not only contains a new act--Act V--but it'll contain two new character classes, a ton of new items, some gameplay tweaks, and the long-awaited increased stash size.
    If they made this game any more addictive, we're sure the DEA would attempt to label it a controlled substance. Read on for more details on this expansion pack, and be sure and check out the new screen shots as well. The release of this title is expected to be simultaneous for Mac and PC.

    Gamecenter's Warcraft III preview is just as informative. While this game is still in active development and its details are somewhat in flux, the basics of the gameplay are clear: this RTS will be based around small parties, rather than huge generated armies, and will depend less on resource gathering and more on player ingenuity. With a long, complex solo game (of course) and online multiplayer combat, this sequel is sure to please fans of the previous two titles and take Warcraft to an entirely new level. Here's an excerpt with details on the role-playing aspects of the game:

    Blizzard will be emphasizing the role-playing aspects of the game in a number of ways. First and foremost will be the game's heroes--in addition to having the damage and defense rating every unit carries, they'll be endowed with three attributes: Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. Strength determines how much damage, and how much health, the hero has. Agility affects how fast the hero will be able to move, and Intelligence determines both the hero's total amount of mana and how fast it regenerates.

    The other role-playing aspect that will be heavily emphasized will be the story and task-oriented nature of the game. No longer will players receive a mission briefing, load a level, and then battle their way to that lone objective. Rather, players will receive a single, easily completed task at the outset of each mission, and clues will be presented to further both the mission and the game's back story. It'll be up to players to decide how they want to proceed and what exactly they want to do to complete the objectives.

    We've seen this title in action several times, and can attest to the fact that it certainly brings the 'look and feel' of the original 2D games into a gorgeous 3D world, with earth-shaking magic spells and many special effects. Be sure and check out the 6 new screen shots that accompany this article, as they are full of furious action. Watch for this title late in 2001, but don't set your hopes too high -- we all remember the wait for Diablo II. However, this time the Mac and PC releases should be simultaneous.

    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Preview at Gamecenter
    Warcraft III Preview at Gamecenter
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

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    Update on D2 Expansion and Warcraft III
    9:54 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Our affiliate site Gamecenter has been blessed with a recent visit from Blizzard's Bill Roper, who revealed both the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion pack and Warcraft III, the sequel still in early development.

    Due early next year, the expansion pack for popular real-time RPG Diablo II will feature two new character classes, an entire new act, many gameplay tweaks and hundreds of new objects and 'uniques' to discover. Here's a clip from the article with details:

    Blizzard wanted to make the expansion appeal to old-time Diablo II players, so it went back and rethought the item system. In the expansion, each of the game's seven character classes will have class-specific weapons. The Paladin will have special shields, the Amazon gloves and gauntlets, the Necromancer totems, the Sorceress magical orbs, the Barbarian helms, the Assassin katars or claws, and the Druid pelts. Blizzard also rethought item sets, or groups of specialized items that the character collects over the course of the game. One of the problems with the item sets in Diablo II was that the developers spread the items out too much, so by the time you finally managed to complete a set you'd be late in the game and would already have had better pieces of equipment. So Blizzard has trimmed down the number of items in a set, and will make it easier to assemble them. Also, each item in a set will have special bonuses, and if you complete a set you'll gain additional bonuses above and beyond what each individual piece carries.
    These all sound like excellent additions to the gameplay of a title which is already quite refined.

    Roper also discussed Warcraft III, the full-3D sequel to the still-popular Warcraft II. This third generation was originally designed to be more RPG than RTS, but to preserve the action that Warcraft fans love, they have scaled back the RPG elements. The result is an interesting mix of strategy and role-playing, which is surely still in a certain bit of flux considering the early stage of development. Here's an excerpt from Gamecenter's report on this title:

    At the heart of the game is the concept of the hero character, a powerful individual unit that gains experience points and becomes more powerful by learning new skills and abilities. As they level up, hero characters also gain improved stats, such as Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. Strength is related to hit points, health, and attack power; Agility measures movement speed; and Intelligence affects how much manna you have and how fast it regenerates. Higher-level hero characters can affect units in their sphere of influence, so a hero character with a command aura boosts the attack rating of friendly units near him.
    Both of these titles are sure to be exceptional hits, as Blizzard has the ultimate 'golden touch' in the gaming industry. The Mac version of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction should be released in the first half of next year, with Warcraft III following in late 2001, if all goes well.

    Blizzard Web Site
    Gamecenter D2, Warcraft III Update
    Blizzard Entertainment
    WarCraft III
    Buy WarCraft III

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    Diablo II Breakdown
    9:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Gamasutra has posted another thorough article, originally published in Game Developer magazine, detailing the making of Diablo II. This postmortem was written by Blizzard North VP Erich Schaefer and it covers what the team did right -- and wrong -- in the three years this game was in development. Here's an excerpt:

    Another gigantic reason for our success is our open development process. We strive to hire people who love games, and we make games that we want to play. Every member of the team has input into all aspects of the game. Discussions around the halls and at lunch become the big ideas that shape the game. A programmer suggested to a designer the concept of gem-socketed, upgradeable weapons, which turned out to be a huge crowd-pleaser. A musician's dislike for the old frog-demon's animation inspired us to redo it. As a team, we don't have to wonder what our audience wants, because we are our audience. If we like the game we are making - especially if, after two years of playing it, we are not bored to death - the game is clearly going to be a winner.
    Having the flexibility amd budget to take three years to finish a title also means it is sure to be polished to a bright shine. Read through the rest of the piece for a great look behind the scenes of this popular game.

    Gamasutra Diablo II Postmortem
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II
    Buy Diablo II

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    New Black and White Shots
    6:00 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

    The folks at GameSpy have posted eight new screen shots of Lionhead's forthcoming game Black and White. The shots are the usual high quality we have come to expect from this gorgeous god-game, and reveal fire, war and zebras (and some cute little butterflies).

    The shots do look better than any seen before, with a much higher detail level, and some stunning effects. This 'god-game' sim places you as a powerful sorcerer who derives power from the Eden-like world of the game through convincing villagers to worship you -- the more followers, the more powerful you become and the greater spells you can cast. Villagers will believe in you out of love and respect, or out of fear; you must decide by your own actions whether you are a loving or an angry god, or a bit of both. The screen shots feature several Creatures; each sorcerer gets one to nurture and train which becomes your interface between your spirit world and the domain of Eden.

    The PC and Dreamcast versions of Black and White are scheduled to ship in February 2001; there is no confirmation of a Mac OS version or port of this title, but we have reason to suspect such a project may be currently underway.

    Black and White Screen Shots at GameSpy
    Feral Interactive
    Lionhead Studios
    Black & White

    Mac Games News for Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    Elite Force Contest, Media Blitz4:16 PM
    Rogue Spear, Driver Status3:40 PM
    Dark Sector for Mac?3:06 PM
    MacDemos Launch2:33 PM
    MacCentral on SafeCracker2:22 PM
    Voodoo4 PCI Arrives, First Impressions2:18 PM
    Gloomveil Updates1:59 PM
    Super Bombad Screens at IHoM1:52 PM
    Tanks of Terror Update1:05 PM
    MBD Special on King of Dragon Pass12:55 PM
    GraphSim on Baldur's Gate Fix9:47 AM
    Potions Pack for Baldur's Gate9:35 AM
    Gathering of Developers Mac Update9:33 AM
    Quake 3 Fortress Update Soon7:52 AM
    Apple Releases New GameSprockets7:29 AM
    Roger Wilco 1.0b4 Released7:24 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, October 25, 2000 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Tuesday, October 24, 2000
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