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Monday, January 29, 2001

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Tomb Raider: Chronicles at First Playable
8:19 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Westlake Interactive site has received an update recently, announcing their work on Tomb Raider: Chronicles. This game, which has just reached the "First Playable" mark, was actually announced for the Mac last Fall by Aspyr, though this is the first time Westlake has placed it on their project schedule. Chronicles is the "last" in the current generation of Tomb Raider titles, with the next series promised use a new graphics engine and to be 'episodic' in nature.

The big announcement with the PC version of Chronicles was that the game would include a level editor which would allow players to make new maps for all of the Tomb Raider games. We of course hassled Westlake and Aspyr about a Mac version of the editor immediately, and they even address the possibility of a port of the editing tools in the update (though nothing definite is known at this time). Here's the post in full:

Westlake is officially taking the wraps off development of the Mac version of the latest in the Tomb Raider series: Tomb Raider Chronicles. While this game was announced by Aspyr Media, at AspyrWorld a few months ago, we are now officially adding it to our project status page and posting development updates.

TR Chronicles Mac is at first playable, and has been a very smooth development, especially with Westlake's prior experience with the Tomb Raider series. There is no announced ship date yet.

To answer the burning question everyone has about TR Chronicles, the status of a Mac port of the TR editor is still undecided. We are waiting for source code for the PC editor from Eidos to review. Needless to say, Westlake & Aspyr understand how popular the editor would be, and we're planning to do everything possible to try to get it on the Mac.

If there was to be a Mac level editor for the game, it would surely be a huge hit with fans of the series. But don't think that Westlake gets the editor for "free" just because they ported the games -- often, editors are just as complex and challenging to port as the games they edit, and in some cases (such as when the editor was written in Visual Basic) a port is literally impossible. We'll keep you posted on the game and the editor's status.

In other Westlake news, their project releases page has also been updated with the status of all of their announced games. Here is a summary:

  • Monopoly Casino is in Final Candidate,
  • Escape from Monkey Island and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 have moved to Alpha
  • Chronicles and Centipede are at First Playable
  • Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed is still in Early Development.

    IMG has published previews of many of these titles, if you wish to learn more.

    Westlake Interactive's Project Status Page
    Westlake Interactive's Tomb Raider: Chronicles Announcement
    IMG News: Aspyr Adds Three Titles
    IMG Preview of Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed
    IMG Preview of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
    Aspyr Media
    Westlake Interactive
    Core Design
    Tomb Raider: Chronicles
    Buy Tomb Raider: Chronicles Making Mac Games
    4:18 PM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story has written a wonderful article on what it takes to write games for the Macintosh. As the world of Mac Gaming becomes more and more popular, and full of developers, the need for skilled Mac programmers will indeed grow. Want to get started on the next "The Sims?" Start Here.

    When reading Macintosh programming newsgroups I regularly see questions from people who are new to programming and want to learn how to program games on their Macintosh. They want to know things like what language to use, what compiler to use, what books to read and how they should start. I hope that this article will help answer some of those questions.
    While the article itself won't run you through the process of storyboarding or creating a plot, it will give all the resources necessary to get started with the programming aspects.

    "Making Mac Games" at iDevGames

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    Mac Star Trek: DS9 Due Soon
    10:42 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

    Simon and Schuster's third-person adventure game Star Trek: Deep Space 9 is nearly complete for Mac OS, after several delays. We spoke to The Collective's Doug Hare about the Mac version, which was initially intended to be a simultaneous release but ran into several technical roadblocks. He previously told us that they were waiting for the Miles Sound System to be updated for Mac, and it seems this is still the case. The PC version of this game used MP3 files for music playback, an option that did not exist in the Mac codebase for the Unreal Tournament engine (upon which the title was built). Thus they had to rely on a third party's music playback system to patch music playback into the port, and the Mac version of Miles is not yet complete.

    Hare has confirmed that the game is finished apart from the sound system. Here are Hare's latest details:

    Not much to report, we're still waiting. However I believe that it may be
    ready within a week or two.
    Read our preview of this title and our interview with The Collective, just to refresh your memory. We're sure Trek fans that enjoyed Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force will be eager to add yet another Trek-themed title to their game library.

    Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Web Site
    IMG Interviews The Collective
    IMG Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Preview
    Simon & Schuster
    The Collective
    DS9: The Fallen
    Buy DS9: The Fallen

    Simon the Sorcerer II Ships
    10:31 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Epic Interactive has updated their news page with a short comment that announces their Mac OS port of Simon the Sorcerer II, a classic 2D comic adventure, has shipped. As Epic is a European developer, presumably this means the title has only shipped on their side of "the pond"; we'll let you know when this title hits American soil.

    Simon II is a charming 2D graphic adventure with an emphasis on madcap humor. Originally created by UK developer Adventuresoft, this title was written during the days of DOS and 320x240 screen resolution. However history has proven that a good plot can rescue an outdated game. There is no word yet whether a demo will be released, but we think the odds of that are quite good.

    This announcement closely follows Epic's release of a demo for Earth 2140, a 2D RTS from 1997 that was a big hit at the time. While some in our forums have seemed a bit mystified as to why Epic is releasing such dated titles for the Mac OS, the company seems to feel that the best way to understand a title is to port all the versions of it. Thus Simon II and Earth 2140 are just precursors to upcoming ports of Simon the Sorcerer 3D and Earth 2150.

    Earth: 2140 Demo (12 MB)
    Simon the Sorcerer 2D Details
    Epic Interactive News Page

    Master of Orion 3 Backstory
    9:39 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

    The Master of Orion 3's web site has posted the backstory that explains the whole history of the Orion series. As we recently learned at Macworld San Francisco, Quicksilver will be developing the Mac OS version in-house and MacSoft will be publishing it, in early 2002. The backstory features all the info about this complex world, a must-read for fans of the series and those anticipating the sequel. Here is an excerpt:

    The Exiles

    Visitors wandering through the wormhole into Center One found returning home impossible due to incessant fluctuations in this portal. Many saw this random act of fate as their opportunity to settle down somewhere within the thriving Center One system and easily blended into its ever-growing cosmopolitan society. Others felt trapped there and eventually departed in hopes of finding their way home. Unfortunately for them, this meant they were effectively exiled to unexplored parts of space.

    While the wait for this title may seem intimidating, we're sure more details will be slowly revealed as the game reaches completion.

    Master of Orion 3's Backstory
    MWSF: MacSoft news, MOO3 coming
    Quicksilver Software
    Master of Orion III
    Buy Master of Orion III

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    Myst III: Behind the Screens
    8:53 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    The Cyan fan site Riven Unofficial Home Page was recently updated with a post about Presto's January installment of Myst III: Behind the Screens. This month's feature is dedicated to Exile's sound and music, speaking with Presto audio artists Jack Wall and Jamey Scott. They both discuss their part in this massive project, including details on their experience working with the designers and graphic artists to get the music and sounds just right. Presto has also recorded a full orchestral score for the game, not something many titles can claim to have. Here's more from Jack Wall:

    What has been your favorite part of this project, so far?

    I'd have to say the orchestral portion of the score. Working with Greg and Phil at Presto to make certain we eeked out every possible nuance of the backstory, working with my orchestrater, Steve Zuckerman and finally conducting the Northwest Sinfonia in Seattle were my favorite elements of that process. It's always been a goal of mine to bring the drama, quality and human-ness of orchestral music to video games.
    That being said, the portion of the process I'm in now is also pretty exciting. I'm composing the final elements of music and tweaking all of the music in the game. It's very satisfying to finally hear the music and see how it's affecting the gameplay. I'm looking forward to finishing that process in the next several weeks.

    Check out the rest of the interview with Wall and Scott for more on how they go about making the Exile ambiance live up to the previous titles Myst and Riven. At the end of the interview, there is also a downloadable sample of some of the game's sound effects in MP3 format, a must-download for those die-hard Myst fans. IMG has also posted a preview if you are interested in reading more about this title. Myst III: Exile is expected to be released for Mac and PC on April 9th.

    Presto Myst III: Exile Sound Effects
    IMG Preview of Myst III: Exile
    Presto Myst III: Behind the Screens
    Unofficial Riven Home Page
    Presto Studios
    Myst III: Exile
    Buy Myst III: Exile

    Tactical Ops Interview, Release Info
    8:38 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    Over the past several months, the Tactical Ops team has been working towards the next major release of their realistic teamplay modification for Unreal Tournament. Details about the beta 2.0 release have been kept very quiet, but as the release date nears, the team plans a slow leak of details to whet the appetite of Tactical Ops fanatics. Stomped puts the squeeze on the team in their recent interview with three members of the Tactical Ops team: Shag (lead programmer), Rojazz (graphic artist, designer), and Flux (lead level designer). Here, Shag and Rojazz comment on the release date:

    Stomped: What is the current status of the next version of the mod? When do you expect it to be released?

    Shag: It's really not that easy to estimate...hehehe.I learned, through releases, that it takes usually twice the time estimated to do the work properly. Currently I would say that the status is at 60%, and the release date is scheduled for late February. But it's subject to change of course.

    Rojazz: That means it could come out before or after that date.just depends on how much free time we have.

    The interview also features 13 exclusive screenshots. On a related note, the Tactical Ops website has also been updated with in-game screen shots.

    For the uninitiated, the Tactical Ops mod pits two teams (Special Forces versus Terrorists) armed with real-world weapons, against each other. Teamwork is emphasized as each team must complete a certain objective or eliminate the opposing team. If you've ever wanted to play CounterStrike for the PC on your Mac, look no further. Head over to MacGameFiles for the download of the development version of this 'mod.'

    Tactical Ops Homepage
    Download Tactical Ops 1.6 at MGF
    Tactical Ops Interview at Stomped

    Mac Game of the Year at Gamecenter
    8:30 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    Game of the Year awards are being "handed out" all over the web these days, and Gamecenter was one of the few (if not the only) web site to include their pick for Macintosh Game of the Year. The nominees for the award are Deus Ex, Quake III: Arena, The Sims, and Unreal Tournament. Here is what Gamecenter had to say about the past year in Mac gaming:

    The year 2000 was a great one for Mac gamers. An unprecedented number and variety of titles were released, many of them almost concurrently with the PC versions. It was great to have so many games to play, but we've managed to narrow the candidates for Macintosh Game of the Year to four titles. The best indication of the caliber of games released for the Mac are the titles that didn't make this list: Rune, Baldur's Gate, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2, and Diablo II are just a few. It was difficult to leave some of those out, but hey, we had to draw the line somewhere.
    You'll have to head to Gamecenter to learn who the winner is, of course. Though the Macintosh game market remains small in comparison to the PC game market, we had tons of great games to play due to the efforts of Aspyr Media, MacPlay and MacSoft, to name a few. Many of the games they brought to the Macintosh were winners of awards in their respective categories on the PC. So, what would you nominate as your Mac game of the year? Sound off in our forums!

    Macintosh Game of the Year at GameCenter

    Vortex NG Reaches Game Dev Finals
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    iDevGames ran a story over the weekend about Vortex Next Generation being selected as a finalist in the Independent Game Festival's Student Showcase. This is significant, since it is the only Mac game to do so (and a Mac-only game, to boot). The festival is a part of the Game Developers Conference being held late in March, which Apple will also be attending as an exhibitor.

    Vortex NG is a 3D action/puzzle game which seems very reminiscent of the 80's arcade classics. You control your hRider ship around a circle, bouncing your AGEB (Anti-Gravity Explosive Ball) against the enemy blocks. While the gameplay is somewhat akin to Araknoid or Brickles, Vortex NG has many powerups and special effects to set it apart. It also features a multiplayer split-screen with up to four people, and it will eventually have network and GameRanger support. A demo will be available when the full game is completed shortly after the GDC. The game requires some sort of OpenGL-compatible 3D hardware, though it should run well on any baseline iMac. Vortex NG will also contain a level editor so you can make your own levels if you beat the thirty included in the game.

    Vortex NG's developer, Rocco Bowling, of Feline Entertainment is looking to help show off his creation at the festival on something other than his beige G3. If you think you might be able to provide some more colorful hardware for the duration of the show, drop him an email at And check out the Vortex NG web site for more info and screen shots on the game.

    Independent Games Festival Web Site
    Vortex Next Generation Web Site
    iDevGames Web Site

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    The Wyrm Returns to Mac Baldur
    6:00 AM | Jay Swartzfeger | Comment on this story

    Webwyrm (aka Lee Merhige) has left his cave of hibernation to return with a brand new The Wyrm's Lair article published at Mac Baldur. The new installment is entitled Party of One and gives you all the details on how to play Baldur's Gate with only one chartacter in your party. Here's just a small excerpt from this massive guide on going solo:

    The best part of solo-play is the speed of game play. There is no waiting for your party to reform between moves when walking around. No watching your party do its best "Three Stooges" impersonation, as they all bump into each other to get to their places. You would think they could step around each other. Well, at least with solo play you can speedily romp through any board you wish. The game also takes into account the strength of your party in most cases and lessens the number of foes you fight. Those times that the fight remains the same regardless of your party strength can be a real test. Hmm... No spoilers but... All Iíll say is Ducal Palace was rough solo. That fight took me the longest of any to win.

    Solo play may sound like a daunting or even impossible task in Baldur's Gate. Once you read Webwyrm's guide, however, I guarantee you'll have the courage to tackle the dangers of the Sword Coast solo. And the Wyrm knows from experience-- he won Mac Baldur's first Ironman Solo contest!

    Mac Baldur
    Baldur's Gate

    Mac Games News for Friday, January 26, 2001

    Update on ATi Driver Status4:02 PM
    Blizzard Hosts 10th Anniversary Sweepstakes1:21 PM
    Week's Worth of Oni Moves11:40 AM
    Aspyr Titles Patched for 9.1, Other Issues10:44 AM
    Mac OS 9.1, iTunes and CVGS10:31 AM
    Oni In-Store Display Video10:26 AM
    Geo-mod Details on Red Faction9:33 AM
    New Mac/PC Summoner Details9:26 AM
    AppleMaster Michael Phillips Joins IMG9:17 AM
    Hands-on Red Faction Previews9:13 AM
    Rune Chat Transcript, Sequel Info8:59 AM
    Mac Q3:A Status8:48 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Friday, January 26, 2001 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Thursday, January 25, 2001
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    Friday, January 19, 2001

    Search for other Mac games news stories or browse our Mac Games News Archive.

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