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Tuesday, October 31, 2000

3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI Ships
9:09 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Early last week we reported that some pre-order customers were beginning to receive their 3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI cards; now 3dfx has broken their silence on the issue with an official confirmation that these 3D cards are now shipping. The single-chip, lower-cost partner to the V5 5500, the V4 is a high-speed 2D and 3D solution that will run in any G3 and G4 Mac. Along with typical 2D acceleration the card supports OpenGL, Glide and Rave 3D APIs, and does support 2x FSAA at lower resolutions.

Here are details from the press release:

3dfx Interactive Inc. (Nasdaq: TDFX - news) today announced the immediate availability of the Voodoo4(TM) 4500 PCI graphics board for Macintosh featuring fully integrated and accelerated 2D/3D rendering capability. Voodoo4 4500 PCI offers a superior design and publishing solution that delivers excellent image quality beyond any other available Mac solution today. Utilizing a 350MHz RAMDAC for optimum 2D imaging, the Voodoo4 4500 PCI delivers resolutions as high as 2048x1536x32 bit with unmatched color and clarity. In addition, Voodoo4 4500 PCI can go beyond analog CRTs to deliver the cleanest, edge-to-edge, creative workspace on ultra-clean, all-digital flat panels. Enhanced 2D acceleration yields unprecedented responsiveness and is further tuned with integrated font and picture caching. So whether users are running Adobe Photoshop, doing layout in QuarkXPress(TM), surfing the Web or taking a break fighting for survival on some alien world, on-screen images will look razor sharp at any resolution.

``Graphics designers can expect to take their artistry to a higher level with less hassle using the Voodoo4 4500 PCI,'' said Bryan Speece, director of Macintosh business development for 3dfx Interactive. ``The Voodoo architecture simultaneously delivers better visual quality and higher performance for users of professional Macintosh applications. This means graphics designers, publishers and content creators can expect smoother, cleaner, faster video performance with better visual quality -- it's just a better tool.''

For $179.99 MSRP, the Voodoo4 4500 PCI exploits the power of the VSA-100 2D/3D graphics processing chip to deliver unparalleled performance and rendering quality. Not to be outdone by its 2D capabilities, the Voodoo4 4500 PCI also delivers incredible levels of Macintosh 3D performance. Boasting an impressive fill rate of 333 Megapixels per second, the Voodoo4 4500 can render vivid, real-time 3D environments in true 32-bit color at amazing frame rates. Together with 32mb of high-speed graphics memory and QuickTime(TM) multimedia support, the Voodoo4 4500 is the perfect high-speed graphics solution for every Macintosh owner. Only 3dfx offers full support for Glide, QuickDraw 3D and Apple OpenGL, ensuring compatibility with the widest array of Macintosh 3D titles. Ziff-Davis MacBench version 5.0 shows Voodoo 4 4500 PCI delivering up to 30 percent faster performance than alternative accelerators running the standard Graphics test suite. Of more significance to design professionals is a score of over 3000 in the Publishing Graphics suite -- more than 300 percent faster than competitive offerings.

Watch for more details and a hands-on look at this card from IMG in the near future. If you have received your card, be sure and let us know what you think about 3dfx's product in our forums or on the comments thread of this article.

3dfx Inc.
3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI Mac Press Release

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Neverwinter Nights Interview
3:30 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Fan site Neverwinter Nexus has spoken with Rob Bartel of BioWare, currently developing the online RPG Neverwinter Nights. This ambitious title hopes to rekindle the spirit of the Dungeon Master, bringing the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set alive with a stunning 3D engine and unlimited, free online play. Players will be able to create a character and pursue a long solo adventure, or join other players online for cooperative or competitive ventures through huge indoor and outdoor areas. The game will also ship with a complete tool set for creating dungeons from pre-made parts, hosting them online and participating dynamically in the role of DM as parties attempt to conquer your creation.

This interview is fairly informal, and does presume the reader has some knowledge of the game itself, but many interesting issues are raised. NWN is a radically different approach to online RPGs in comparison to EverQuest or Ultima Online (two PC-only titles) and will be unique in its strict adherence to official D&D rules. More importantly, it will be cross-platform for Mac and PC right out of the box. Here's an excerpt from the interview concerning character creation:

We're all definitely excited about what you and your team have shared with us so far. What do you think is NWN's most intriguing feature that will make players go "Wow!" when we finally get it in our fat little fingers?

I canít speak for everyone but, for me, the big "Wow!" factor lies in the sheer variety of character and NPCs I can be and create. Some of this is the result of all the work Wizards of the Coast has put into the new 3rd Edition D&D rules. I can be any of D&Dís 7 distinct races and every one of those can be of either gender and any of D&Dís 11 distinct classes. I can further customize my character from there with a broad selection of skills and heroic feats and I get to continue that customization as my character grows and develops. Weíre taking the same approach to the art in Neverwinter, even allowing you to choose a body type for your character, such as fat, muscular or frail. You can also choose from a wide variety of heads for your character and alter the color of your skin, hair, and the numerous fabric, leather, and metal parts of your armor and clothing. The armor and clothing system, themselves, take advantage of our piece-based animation system to allow for literally billions of possible unique-looking sets of armor and clothing. Neverwinter is all about giving power to the player and we feel that the ability to customize your character and the various NPCs through which you tell your story is a vital part of that.

Read the rest of the interview for more details and a glimpse at the development process itself. The release of NWN is so far off in the future it is truly painful to contemplate, but perhaps we will be crawling through its dungeons in late Summer of next year. For more information, visit the Neverwinter Nights web site.

Interview With Rob Bartel at Neverwinter Nexus
Interview with Trent Oster of BioWare
Neverwinter Nights
First Look at Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Kawasaki JetSki PowerSports Announced
11:20 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Monkey Byte Development has announced their next original title in development, Kawasaki JetSki PowerSports. This 3D racing title from SquidSoft, makers of the previous title Kawasaki ATV PowerSports, will feature racing action on water courses from around the globe, and will support 3D hardware acceleration. Here are details from the press release:

Monkey Byte Development today announced the
development of Kawasaki JetSki PowerSports for MacOS and Windows.
Currently in beta testing, Monkey Byte anticipates that JetSki will ship
in time for Christmas. Encore Software will publish the title through
retail channels, and of course it will be conveniently available on the
Monkey Byte eCommerce web site.

Kawasaki JetSki PowerSports will feature:

  • 10 unique levels, like Venice, Bahamas, the Nile, Hong Kong docks, and
  • 50 courses to race
  • 6 different racing modes
  • 5 unique JetSkis to choose from
Members of the MyMonkey section of the Monkey Byte web site will have access to a beta of this game in the near future. The MyMonkey site also links to a preview of the upcoming JetSki web site, so become a member if you are interested in learning more details about this upcoming racer.

Monkey Byte Development

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Mac Rune Update, Demo Details
10:19 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With the recent release of a demo for the PC version of Rune, we decided to ask Westlake Interactive's Mark Adams about the status of the Mac port and the possibility of a Mac demo to accompany the release of this title on our platform. A patch was also just released for the PC version of the game, and we wanted to know if incorporating these bug fixes into the Mac version would create any delays in the game's release. Here's what Mark had to say:

The demo probably won't be ready until after the full version is done.

We are integrating the 101 code into the Mac version, it hopefully shouldn't affect the overall schedule. We are trying to get the Mac-specific bugs all resolved right now.

So, good news on all fronts. Rune is hopefully going to ship in late November, and Mac gamers will also get to take a demo for a spin (though you might need to warm up your modems, as the PC demo weighed in at nearly 90MB). From the versions of Rune we've played, the game feels extremely stable and we're confident Westlake will be able to complete this port in the very near future. Gathering of Developers will publish the Mac version of Rune. Watch the pages of IMG for a preview of this title in the near future.

Westlake Interactive Web Site
Gathering of Developers Web Site
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Unreal Tournament Mod Updates
10:04 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Rocket Arena site for Unreal Tournament has been updated with news that the latest version is available for download. RA 1.60 offers a number of fixes and includes five new 'arenas'. This mod requires at least version 4.13 of UT, so make sure you've updated that as well. The mod was also included in a repackaging of UT called the Game of the Year edition; this new release is PC-only. Here's an explanation of the difference between the download and retail versions of this mod:

As a side note, UT:GOTYE (Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition) was released with version 1.50 of RA:UT. This version is identical to 1.60, with the exception that 1.60 contains additional maps that did not make it into the 1.50 UT:GOTYE release. So if you see 1.50 servers, they are fully interoperable with 1.60 servers. Sorry for the confusion, but it was made necessary by the agreement made with Infogrames for UT:GOTYE.
Be sure to download the modification if you enjoy the fast-paced one-on-one style of Rocket Arena; the map designs are some of the best we have seen for this title.

In other UT mod news, the Unreal Fortress site has recently switched servers and received a facelift. Progress on this version of Team Fortress seems steady, with updates regarding new maps and other pieces of the massive modification released on a regular basis. Head on over to the new site now for much more information on UnF. Their sister-site MapFortress has also been updated with a preview of an upcoming map in development.

Map Fortress Web Site
Unreal Fortress Web Site
Download RA: UT 1.60 (22MB)
Rocket Arena UT Web Site

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Meggs on Mac FAKK2 Demo
9:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With yesterday's announcement that Ritual's Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 will be shipping for the Mac OS later this week, it seems that a pressing question went unanswered: will there be a demo version of this game for Mac players to take for a spin?

We decided to go straight to the source and ask Andrew Meggs, lead programmer behind this port by Contraband Entertainment. His reply was short and to the point:
"There will be a demo. There is a demo, in fact, but it's not released...yet."

Heavy Metal F.A.K.K 2 has been highly praised by PC reviewers for its gorgeous graphics, blazing action and variety of gameplay. It should be shipping to stores later this week, published by Gathering of Developers. For more details check out yesterday's news item or our preview of this title. When the demo arrives, you can be sure it will show up at

Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 Preview
FAKK2 Ships This Week
Gathering of Developers
Ritual Entertainment
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2

DOOM 3 Engine Details
9:46 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

id Software programmer Jim Dosť made a post to Stomped's message boards regarding their next-generation game engine that will be powering their future release DOOM 3. This was in response to speculation that the engine would be merely an evolution of the Quake 3 engine, an allegation he contests. Here is what he had to say:

The engine is being completely rewritten, just piece-by-piece. Currently, the renderer, shader system, and game code are completely new. The cgame and network code have been removed. The animation system is currently being written from the ground up. The sound system and UI are still in place, but will be rewritten by Graeme and Robert when they are finished with the mission pack. At some point along the way, John will probably write a new network system.

So, even though we are not starting out with a blank sheet of paper, the final result will be a full rewrite.

Mac users can be sure that id Software will be releasing a Mac OS X-native version of DOOM 3, as John Carmack has stated his commitment to the platform many times; however there will be no Mac OS 9 version if he makes good on his threats to no longer support that OS. Doom 3 is the working title of this project, which currently has no announced or projected release date, but is expected to be a return to the solo gorefests that propelled id to fame in the early 90s.

DOOM 3 Thread at Stomped

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Marathon: Resurrection Moves, Updates
9:45 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The web site for the Unreal Tournament modification Marathon: Resurrection has moved to its own domain, and they have celebrated their liberation with a large content update.

This total conversion, which purports to bring their interpretation of the ultimate Marathon experience to Unreal Tournament, is making steady progress. There are fourteen new shots of the weapons being developed, along with a movie of the Magnum being fired and four new shots of characters from the game.

Marathon: Resurrection will attempt to replicate the solo experience of Bungie's ground-breaking shooter Marathon as well as its unmatched netplay experience. This mod has no release date, but test releases of the weapons and levels are expected. Visit the site at its new URL for more details.

Marathon: Resurrection
Marathon: Resurrection

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Diablo II Expansion Preview
8:47 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A preview of Blizzard's expansion pack for the mega-hit Diablo II has been posted by ActionTrip. They have done a nice job of summarizing what will be included in the add-on for D2, so be sure to have a look if you're curious. Here's a clip about how the expansion will give the player a bigger sense of being part of the overall warfare against evil, allowing them to fight beside many of the game's NPCs:

It will include siege engines, catapults that toss poison and fire on the player and his allies; and many more NPC's that will fight on your (hero's) side: "One of the biggest things we're striving for, is a sense of warfare. We want players to feel like they're in the middle of a much larger conflict." The NPC's won't be encountered wandering the wilderness or the cities, instead they will already be engaged in combat, and the hero won't have to give them gold coins to join him. The designers wanted to present the clash between the Demons and the Barbarians in the best possible way, and the main character to be in the middle of that epic battle. The six quests in the game will have detailed stories, instead of simple objectives that you had in the previous chapters.
Along with this complex new Act, the expansion will also have two completely new character classes to play. However, you must play all new characters through the initial Acts of Diablo II before you can use them in the expansion levels, as they must have finished the first four acts before attempting Act Five. The expansion set is expected to be available for PC and Mac in the first half of next year.

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
ActionTrip D2 Expansion Pack Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

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ToSC and Baldur Multiplayer Status
8:42 AM | Jay Swartzfeger | Comment on this story

MacBaldur recently caught up with Duane Johnson, the programmer handling the Tales of the Sword Coast port and the Multiplayer patch for
Baldur's Gate. Here's an excerpt from Duane's update on the project:

Unfortunately I'm in a holding pattern. I'm waiting for BioWare & GraphSim to get me a buildable PC project so that I can step through some rather tricky DirectPlay code.

I've perused the [MacBaldur crash] database a few days ago. I think some of the crash issues have already been fixed in the TotSC code update.

Head over to MacBaldur to read the full project update.

Mac Baldur
Baldur's Gate

Saitek Announces Action Pad
8:38 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Saitek, makers of many fine game controllers including the Cyborg joystick, has announced the Action Pad, a left-hand controller designed to replace the keyboard when playing first-person shooters and real-time strategy titles. Rather than hunt-and-peck with one hand to find the dozens of keys these titles often require, this device lets you assign up to 38 commands to its buttons, and even has a scroll wheel. Here is the press release:

A surge in popularity of games requiring keyboard and mouse commands presents a dilemma for gamers: How to get an edge when using a keyboard (designed in 1885 to slow typists down). Very little has been available to help these gamers using the keyboard. Microsoft introduced the Strategic Commander, but that was only for strategy and role-playing games. But nobody offered a left-hand controller suitable for strategy and action games, until now. For the price of a mouse, Saitek has introduced the Action Pad, designed for use along side the keyboard, a controller that performs superbly with strategy and fast action games. Ultra-responsive, lightning fast, and featuring soft touch buttons that are as quiet as a mouse, the Action Pad does double duty for the extremely low suggested retail price of only $29.95. Based on extensive research, Saitek identified a high level of frustration about controllers among gamers who like to play many different types of games. With that in mind, Saitek developed the Action Pad, the first left-handed controller to offer gamers a total solution to controlling keyboard and mouse. The Action Pad works equally well for strategy games such as Age of Empires and action games that require fast response such as Quake 3, Unreal and Half-Life.

The new Action Pad lets strategists program moves, select units and scroll maps. In contrast, the action gamer needs the speed, a key feature of the Saitek pad. Also compatible with Macintosh OS9, the Action Pad features USB (Universal Serial Bus) for quick and easy setup. The Action Pad comes with powerful Saitek Gaming Extensions software that allows players to create new game maneuvers to outwit the enemy. Ergonomically designed, the Action Pad has an 8-way hat and six programmable buttons that work with the shift key to produce 38 commands. The thumb wheel adds even greater game control.

"For the price of a mouse, Saitek's Action Pad is a double duty, left-handed controller that works alongside your keyboard," said Nicolas Gibbons, managing director of Saitek. "Products like Strategic Commander work for strategy titles, but many gamers do not want to invest in a controller limited to a specific class of games." Gibbons added.

This product is tough to visualize without one right in front of you, but unfortunately their web site has yet to be updated with an illustration or other details. The most similar product on their site is the Action Pad and Mouse GM2, under the Mice section of their product list. We'll bring you more details when they are available.


3dfx Interview
8:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Reverend's 3D Pulpit has sat down with Gary Tarolli, co-founder of 3dfx and namesake behind the VSA-100's T-Buffer technology. While he's not allowed to comment on future products, the interview does cover a number of issues surrounding the company, including driver update, their slumping stock price and more. Here's a quick excerpt:

Can you explain the basic vision behind multi-chip... can it ever be cheaper than a single chip solution?

Sure - multi-chip can be cheaper than single chip whenever a single chip gets very large. Chip yields are such that they drop off very quickly after a certain die size, so two small chips can be cheaper than one large chip. And if you are starving for memory bandwidth, two chips allows you to have more memory bandwidth without increasing the pin count per chip, which can get very expensive after a certain point. That is why you don't see single chip 256-bit memory interfaces in the consumer market.

This 30+ question interview covers many issues, some of them highly technical; if you've got an urge to learn what makes 3dfx tick, it is well worth reading.

3D Pulpit Interview with 3dfx's Gary Tarolli

Mac Games News for Monday, October 30, 2000

MacGamer Grills ATI3:50 PM
Cro-Mag Rally Pre-order3:30 PM
Sim Theme Park Available for Pre-order3:19 PM
Official realMyst Site Launched3:08 PM
Sale on Titanic and Timelapse3:03 PM
Ernesto Delayed2:47 PM
SNES9X version 1.3.211:27 AM
FAKK2 Ships This Week10:10 AM
Oni Reaches Beta for Mac9:34 AM
SiN Gold... Again9:01 AM
Black & White Q&A8:31 AM
4x4 Evolution Demo Available6:00 AM
New Details on Halo6:00 AM
Quake 3 Fortress beta F6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, October 30, 2000 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, October 27, 2000
Thursday, October 26, 2000
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Monday, October 23, 2000

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