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Thursday, December 7, 2000

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Mac Rune Demo Released
7:55 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Following the announcement earlier this week that the Mac version of Rune was gold and set to ship, a demo of the game is now available at Macgamefiles. It's not for those without some mighty bandwidth, though, as the file weighs it at over 80MB. Since the game is based on the Unreal Tournament engine, you'll need roughly those same system requirements in order to play Rune. Here's a quick list:

  • PowerPC
  • 96 MB (185 MB total with Virtual Memory)
  • 3D video hardware
  • Supports cards that use the Glide and RAVE

As always, the more RAM you have, the better off you'll be with Rune (or any other UT-based game, for that matter). Luckily, with prices at an all-time low, an extra 128MB can be picked up for less than 50 cents/MB. If you're wondering what Rune is all about, here's a quick description:
In RUNE, players assume the role of Ragnar the Viking, mightiest warrior of a bygone age. In an age when might makes right, it is Ragnar who doles out justice on the blade of his massive battle-axe. Players will explore beautiful settings both above and below the mountains of the far north as Ragnar fights his way through several stunning and unique kingdoms to an ultimate confrontation with the Sark Amen, the shadowy warrior-masters of the netherworld.

RUNE is a third-person perspective game of intense action and adventure steeped in a blend of Norse mythology and high fantasy. Players will have to use their brains as well as their massive brawn to survive as they explore the fully 3D game world fighting off fantastic creatures from both Norse legend and the fertile minds of the Human Head staff with their array of swords, axes and magical devices.

For more on the game itself, check out IMG's preview of Rune. And we'll be sure to let you know once we hear reports of the game actually getting into the hands of lucky Mac gamers. Head on over to MGF now to start downloading the demo.

IMG Preview of Rune
Download Rune Demo
IMG News: Rune Ships for Mac
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

MacBaldur Celebrates Anniversary
11:54 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

MacBaldur, the popular Mac web site dedicated to all things Baldur's Gate, is celebrating its one year anniversary today. Webmaster Jay Swartzfeger had this to say on the occasion:

I never thought it would happen folks, but here we are -- Mac Baldur is celebrating its one year anniversary! On December 7, 1999 I posted my first news item concerning Baldur's Gate back on the old geocities site (the first news item can be read by going to our archives and reading the December 1999 news). Thanks go out to everybody for making this a great site!
Be sure to stop by MacBaldur and have a look around!

MacBaldur Web Site

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On Star Trek and Games
11:43 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our CGA partner Stomped has posted a lengthy interview with Harry Lang, the Director of Product Development for Paramount. Of course, Paramount owns and develops the Star Trek properties and products, so Lang oversees all Trek-inspired video games. If you've even glanced at our news page in the last six months, you know that 2000 has been the year of the Trek game, with Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force in stores, Deep Space Nine: The Fallen almost ready to ship, and Star Fleet Command II on the horizon.

Paramount is extremely protective of the Trek franchise, pursuing fan sites and products that use their properties without permission and working to maintain the positive, bloodless vision of the future that Gene Rodenberry envisioned. Lang reveals in this interview just how much influence Paramount exercises over companies making games based on Trek "universes." He also explains that there is a feedback loop between the teams that make the games and the actual cast and crew of the television shows, and he acts as the middle man:

Stomped: How much contact do you have with the producers of the Star Trek properties and do they suggest changes to games?

Lang: We work with them quite a bit. Especially when we are establishing something never before seen on the show such as a new ship, new technology or if we need to take some liberties for gameplay reasons. We run all of this by the producers for their input. We also work with some of the other people on the show. The art department helped us tremendously with Elite Force. Raven had to design numerous rooms never before seen on Voyager and the Sr. Illustrator on the show who also designed the ship, helped them connect the rooms together while maintaining the same look and feel from established sets. Star Trek's casting director helps cast the voice over roles for many of our games. The prop master may loan us a few props to photograph for reference, the wardrobe people may give us fabric swatches, and even the painters give us samples for color reference! The list goes on and on. They even help us "fill in the holes" within Star Trek's timeline when needed. They really enjoy participating and are amazed at what we can do in games these days. All of this is done to help maintain consistency with the show and provide fans with the most authentic recreation possible, while at the same time making sure the games are fun to play.

One thing all can agree on: this year's Trek games are light-years ahead of past offerings in terms of playability and immersiveness. We are keeping a very close eye on DS9: The Fallen, and we'll be sure to let you know as soon as it goes Gold. As for Elite Force, we continue to receive positive comments about this game in our forums; watch for our review in the near future. By the way, if you don't think Star Trek has a big influence on gaming, click the search link below -- we've posted 102 Trek-related articles just since June!

Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Preview
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Preview
IMG Search Results for "Star Trek"
Harry Lang Interview at Stomped
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

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Diablo II Expansion NPCs
10:25 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

VoodoExtreme pointed us towards this growing collection of details on the Non-Player Characters (NPCs) of the forthcoming Diablo II Expansion, which has the working title Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Many of the "previews" of this expansion have emphasized that NPCs will play a much larger role in the game, allowing the player to feel as if they are taking part in tremendous battles and epic struggles, rather than just questing alone against an endless horde.

Fan site PlanetDiablo is diligently collecting details from Blizzard North about these NPCs as information and images are released. As expected, the characters come with their own backstory and motivations, adding depth to the already intricate storyline of this title. As an example, here is the description of an NPC named Nihlathak:

He is the last clan elder of the Barbarian group, who has been driven near insanity because of guilt that he could not successfully protect the World Stone from evil. Nihlathak sounds like an interesting character, though a bit on the nutty side. He might be the Farnham of the Diablo II Expansion Set, but we'll have to wait and see. We can easily guess that he will either provide you with a quest or two, or will be a more pivotal character in the Expansion.

Blizzard North's summary:
"As the last surviving clan elder, he has been driven close to madness by his grief over the imminent failure of his clan to protect the World Stone. Constantly ruminating on the myriad alternate courses the elders could have taken, he lives with the guilt of not dying with his peers."

How do these fan pages manage to pry so much information out of these companies? In any case, if you are looking for a different sort of preview of the Diablo II expansion, this growing list is well worth checking out, as is the rest of the Planet Diablo web site.

Blizzard Web Site
Diablo II Expansion NPCs at Planet Diablo
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Kawasaki Jet Ski Screens
10:13 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In an interesting scoop, FGN Online has posted four screen shots of Kawasaki Jet Ski, a water racing game in development by Monkey Byte. There is also an interesting note in the article that alleges that Monkey Byte is eyeing console platforms:

The game is currently in development at Monkey Byte, a company that also creates content for online and PDA platforms. Looking into the company's future, it will almost certainly gear itself up for Xbox development, due to its previous work with Windows.
Kawasaki Jet Ski is the second game from SquidSoft, who created Kawasaki ATV. The game is due early next year, and will take advantage of hardware acceleration.

Be sure and visit the Monkey Byte web site as well and look in on their projects in development -- not only is Galactic Patrol 2 well on its way, but they have a virtual pet sim and several cool puzzle games 'in the pipe' as well.

Monkey Byte
Kawasaki Jet Ski Screens at FGN

More Driver Demo Tweaks
9:38 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Those that felt the demo for MacSoft's recent release Driver was too short to justify the long, long download will have even less to complain about. A post to Usenet last night reveals details on how to tweak the 'mission scripts' for the game to include different weather effects and also gives details on how to change the vehicle you are driving, although this does not have a major effect on gameplay.

Usenet posted 'Ludwig' presented the following:

I'm sure everyone's already read about changing the demo mission to one
of the others in Driver Demo:Scripts:Missions. The results of some
tinkering with the mission text files themselves follow.

Add any of these lines to turn on the expected effect:





Some of these might be exclusive of others (Foggy & Lightning, for
instance; haven't tried all combinations.

You can also drive any of the 18 cars from the full version by adding
(or changing) "PlayerCarType" followed by a number from 0-17. They're
mostly missing their own engine sounds, though. Notables are:
1 - pickup truck

10 - LAPD cruiser (use the horn)

13 - NY taxi

16 - 174 MPH Jaguar

to make these changes to the script files, just open them in your favorite text editor (SimpleText works well). If you use a word processor, make sure you save the altered file as a generic text file. Note that you make these changes at your own risk, and that changes to the demo might cause crashes or serious changes in its behavior that were not intended by the authors or porting team.

Download Driver Demo
Hidden Missions Discovered in Driver Demo
Reflections Interactive
Buy Driver

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More on Mac Team Arena
9:34 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Quake3World forums are still hopping with more posts by id Software members, answering questions about the upcoming release of Quake 3: Team Arena. We brought you word earlier this week that id mentioned there might not even be a boxed Mac retail version of the game; Mac users would just buy the PC version and download the Mac application from the id web site. Now it looks like this issue is still up in the air, with id's Todd Hollenshead mentioning the possibility of a Mac SKU in a forum post. The thread is actually concerning the lack of a Linux version, though it mentions a possible simultaneous Mac release as well. Here's the scoop:

Windows will be released first and might be simultaneous with Mac, although I honestly expect Mac to take a tad longer. At this point, we don't have any plans to have distribute a Linux verison on a CD. No offense, but it's a support nightmare due to the multiple flavors of popular versions and ever-changing kernel, retailers don't want it, and the Linux Q3A sales were disappointing. So the commercial reality is that the Windows version will go to retail and Linux will be available via a binary download pretty soon thereafter.
Not great new for Linux fans, but Mac users might be heartened by a possible retail version of the game. We've contacted id and will bring you any word we might hear from them on this subject.

Quake3World Forum Thread
IMG News: No Mac Q3: Team Arena SKU?
id Software
Quake III Team Arena
Buy Quake III Team Arena

Giant Cover Up
8:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Yesterday many PC sites reported that PlanetMoon and InterPlay had decided at the last minute to make some changes to their game Giants: Citizen Kabuto for ratings reasons. The changes mainly involved clothing some bare female creatures and changing the blood in the game from red to green. Our partner CGA site Stomped reports these were done in a effort to get a "Teen" ESRB rating, though they still ended up with a "Mature" game in the end. They talked a bit with creative director Tim Williams about the issue:

Williams said they would have changed the color of blood back to red had they known they would have received an "M" rating to begin with, and that it was too late to change the color back before the title was scheduled to hit store shelves.

Asked about comments made by Stomped readers that the game was no longer going to be as its creators intended, Williams said both changes were very minor and do not affect the gameplay in Giants at all. "Three years did not go into making (Delphi) topless," Williams told Stomped, "It went into making a great game." also points out this was in an effort to get into some chains which now won't carry "M" titles, or require proof of ID in order to purchase these games. A patch to re-color the blood will likely be released after the game is out. No word from MacPlay on how this might affect the Mac version, but it's doubtful there would be any major changes when it is released some time next year. Giants Article
Stomped Giants Article
Planet Moon Studios
Omni Group
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Buy Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Red Faction Interview
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameReactor has a new interview with James Tsai of Volition about their upcoming revolutionary FPS Red Faction. What will make Red Faction stand out from the crowd? Besides its amazing graphics and deep storyline, the Geo-Mod Physics engine is what really makes gamers drool. It's a powerful system that allows entire structures to be destroyed, bringing a whole new level of interactivity and realism to the genre. Here's an excerpt from the Q&A with more:

There are clear elements of Descent AND First Person Shooter in Red Faction. Explain a bit about the meeting between the vehicular and on-foot parts of the game, and any thoughts/conflicts you came across in making this meeting work satisfactory. Have you used any technology from the Descent games in Red Faction, or is this GEO-MOD engine built from scratch?

Developing the Geo-Mod engine has been a part of Volitionís plan from the very beginning. When the idea for Red Faction was initially conceived we knew that we wanted to provide a destructive environment, an advanced physics system, and vehicular combat, all of which would play a major role in shaping the gameplay experience. In order to do this, we knew we had to develop our own technology to drive development of the title.

The vehicles have been a lot of fun to implement in the game, and we are excited about all the opportunities they offer to the player. By specifically planning to incorporate them in certain situations and then tailoring the action to best suit their needs and capabilities, we have been able to provide seamless transitions between the on-foot and vehicular action.

Red Faction will be released first for the Playstation 2 next spring, followed by Mac and PC releases a month or so after that. We'll be bringing you much more on this title as it gets closer to completion.

GameReactor Red Faction Interview with James Tsai
Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction

Mac Games News for Wednesday, December 6, 2000

MacDeusEx needs Beta Testers5:15 PM
Mac-made Discs of Quake3:59 PM
Deux Ex Post-Mortem3:30 PM
NWN Gets Novelized1:32 PM
Return to Dark Castle Preview1:32 PM
Shadowbane Character Details1:18 PM
Guide to Shareware, Part 210:37 AM
Summoner Screen Shots10:20 AM
Wings of Mercury Adds 3D Engine9:53 AM
Westlake on Deus Ex Patch8:32 AM
AppleLinks Interviews MacSoft's Al Schilling6:00 AM
Hidden Missions Discovered in Driver Demo6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, December 6, 2000 on one page

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Tuesday, December 5, 2000
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