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Tuesday, January 30, 2001

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ATi Releases Driver Update
9:15 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Delivering on promises made last week, ATI has released a new driver update for owners of their Radeon and Rage 128 cards. The update should work for both Mac OS 9.x and 8.6, though it's only been fully tested on Mac OS 9. It should address some of the issues PCI Radeon owners have been reporting, including an occasional black screen instead the main menu of Quake III: Arena.

The 1.11 update will also fix a problem with using the Radeon in a B&W machine and keeping the existing the Rage 128 in one of the 33MHz PCI slots at the same time. The download includes Apple's OpenGL 1.2.1, which is required for the 1.11 drivers to work correctly.

ATI has posted some Release Notes which never made it in the final Radeon packaging. They cover the minimum and recommended systems for running the Radeon (which notes OS 9 as a requirement), extensions which will be installed for the card, and other issues such as support for Mac clone systems. According to what ATI's Chris Bentley told IMG last week, look for a major driver update in the future which will support more advanced Radeon features such as FSAA and bump mapping. While ATI has been quite relaxed about their driver release schedule in the past (!) it seems the presence of first 3dfx and then NVIDIA on their turf has indeed inspired them to crank up Mac driver support; thus we don't expect another six-month wait before the next driver revision.

Head to Macgamefiles to grab the update, which only weighs in at about 4MB. And be sure to give your own rating/review on the MGF page for others to see, and discuss any issues (or fixes) you discover on the Troubleshooting and Hardware forums here at IMG.

Download 1.11 Radeon/Rage 128 Driver Update
ATI Radeon/Rage 128 Driver Page
ATI Radeon Release Notes
Radeon AGP

Lance Available for Order
4:10 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Earlier this month, we reported on a Mac-only MMORPG known as Lance that was looking for supporters. The developer was unable to work on the project full-time due to financial issues, and called on people to buy in a little early to get the game finished. Apparently enough people pledged to support the game, as they're now making the cash-call to everyone wanting in on the game. You can now order Lance for $30 (plus a $9 per month server fee) and get to play the beta software. Developer Ryan Joseph notes it will take 1-2 weeks between ordering and actually getting the client software, since he must still get the server up and running first. He promises early supporters will get a bonus when the game actually is finished.

The Lance site has been updated with details on the game and an order form. There is a small FAQ available to answer some of the questions you might have about Lance as well. The minimum system requirements for the game are relatively small; it only needs 18MB of RAM, a 160MHz processor and a 14.4k connection. Here are a few of features Lance will include:

  • Ambient Sounds (weather, background noise, rivers, etc...)
  • In Depth Players

    • 30+ stats to advance in, all of which effect game play
    • 14 classes, although only the fighter based classes will be usful until I finish some of the other features
    • 30+ races, but about 50% will be disabled

  • Fantasy Music
  • Player vs. Player combat

    • Real time combat engine
    • Combat sounds
    • Blood effects
  • For more information, or to sign up for the beta, head to the Lance site. Fanatasoft, makers of the famous Realmz, will eventually publish the game once it's complete.

    Lance Web Site
    IMG News: Lance Dev Update, Looking for Support

    Oni Storms the Web
    3:30 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    As one might expect for a title gamers have been awaiting for nearly three years, the release of Oni has generated an enormous amount of coverage around the web. Reviews, interviews and features have appeared all over the Internet, with many more Oni-related articles expected in the coming week.

    Both MacGamer and have posted reviews of the game, as have MPOG, GamePen, Thresh's Firing Squad and literally dozens of other sites. We should warn you that the GamePen review contains major spoilers in both the review and screen shots.

    Our colleagues at MacGamer have also posted an interview with Devin Winterbottom, the brand manager for Oni publisher Gathering of Developers. The interview discusses why Oni was an attractive project for GoD to acquire, and how the game was handled in the last few months of development.

    MacNN has posted an in-depth walkthrough for the first level of the game, accompanied by dozens of illustrative screen shots. This is part of a series which will eventually reveal the entire game, level by level.

    Finally, we are happy to report that IMG is receiving reports from readers both in the US and the UK reporting that the Mac version of Oni is indeed available on store shelves; so far we have sightings at CompUSA and several smaller stores. The game is also available from the Bungie Store (of course) as well as CompuExpert.

    Oni Strategy Guide - Level 1 at MacNN
    Oni Review on GamePen
    Oni Review at MacNN
    Oni Interview at MacGamer
    Oni Review at MacGamer
    Oni Review at Thresh's FiringSquad

    The Sims House Party Preview
    2:52 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    With over 3 million copies sold on the PC, and numerous Game of the Year Awards to their credit, The Sims team at Maxis just keeps plugging away. GameSpot sat down with Maxis producer Tim LeTourneau to talk about House Party, the newly-announced expansion pack for The Sims. Here, Tim explains what House Party is all about, and mentions that items that allow many Sims to interact will debut in the expansion pack:

    GameSpot: Livin' Large introduced household items--such as the telescope and the voodoo doll--that could cause events that affected Sims' lives in strange new ways. What kind of new, event-causing items will House Party have?

    Tim LeTourneau: House Party is really about parties and socializing, and the objects are intended to create new gameplay around group dynamics. The campfire, for example, allows for the first time up to eight sims to interact in a single activity. While there will definitely be unexpected and entertaining circumstances to your actions, they will mostly be centered on the social aspects of several sims interacting with one another.

    House Party hasn't been announced for the Mac yet, but if Aspyr Media is pleased with the sales of The Sims and Livin' Large, we may be seeing House Party shortly after the PC version. Check our other Sims news item today for details about the future of this series.

    House Party Preview at GameSpot

    SharkyExtreme Looks at Apple Innovation
    1:16 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    Many of us know that Apple has been the driving force of innovation over the history of personal computing, notably with the introduction of the iMac. Unfortunately PC users continue to boo, hiss, and litter Apple's stage with rotten tomatoes regardless of what Apple does. SharkyExtreme has taken on the unenviable task of preaching the fact of Apple innovation to their hardcore PC audience. The author, Jon Simon, examines many Mac-first features that have gradually made it to the PC, such as the windowed GUI and the wave of translucent computers and peripherals. Here is a clip:

    You may think that Apple makes nothing but cute toys, you may never touch a Mac, you may even think that Mac coverage has no place on a PC hardware site, but Apple has been bringing innovative products to market and pushing computer technology forward for over two decades. While Apple products have failed on the market many times, with the Newton handheld device as a prime example, others have picked up on Apple's ideas and turned them into PC standards, just as 3Com did when they made the PalmPilot.
    Simon puts a positive spin on many of the things Apple has done, like eliminating proprietary I/O ports and the inclusion of wireless networking on all Macs (oddly, he does not mention the omission of the floppy drive). Surf on over to SharkyExtreme to read the rest of the article. It is certainly a departure from the usual range of topics Sharky covers.

    From Mac to PC: Apple Ideas in the PC's Future?

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    Will Wright Talks of Sims Future
    12:02 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Will Wright, creator of The Sims has spoken with GameSpy about what has made The Sims such a popular title and where Maxis is looking to take the genre in the future. Besides the two announced add-on packs, there are also plans for The Sims 2 and a Sims Online, bringing your Sims even more into the realm of the internet. Here's a clip about where they hope to move the game:

    Wright said the next steps in the evolution of the game is two-fold: the development of The Sims Online and Sims 2.0. The online version will bring people together in virtual communities, allowing them to use all of the customized characters and fan created content that has made the game such a huge success already.

    The plan is to allow for up to 50,000 houses in the world (or shard, as it is know in MMORPG terms). The idea will be for players to create spots that other users will want to visit, such as amusement parks, sports arenas or nightclubs. He likened the idea to a "giant Disneyland, with users creating the rides."

    There are more details on the multiplayer aspects of Sims Online in the article, a fascinating read for Sims fans.

    The article notes how the development team's focus is consistently on the fans, who have created a huge amount of original content for the game and spawned many web sites devoted to their favorite game (such as According to details discussed in the interview, The Sims 2 will be focused on the amazing storylines users are creating with their Sims; they even discuss having the game recognize what sort of story could be created about your Sims, based on how you play the game. As with previous Sims titles, no Mac versions are promised -- however, we are certain Aspyr Media will step in and make sure we get our piece of the online Sims experience as well.

    GameSpy Interview with Will Wright
    Aspyr Media
    Westlake Interactive
    The Sims
    Buy The Sims

    On Deus Ex Music
    10:52 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Fansite DeusEx Machina has posted an extensive interview with Alex Brandon, the artist behind the music soundtrack of first person action/adventure Deus Ex as well as the upcoming sequel (known as DX2, currently) and Thief III. While he doesn't supply much information on the actual creation of or inspiration behind Deus Ex's low-key, atmospheric music, he does provide details on his equipment and advice on how to break into the video game music biz.

    Here's an excerpt about how much freedom he had as an artist during the creation of the Deus Ex soundtrack:

    DeusEx Machina: What kind of input do you get from the rest of the development team so that your music fits the theme of the game? Are you allowed to pretty much go with your gut instinct and be as creative as you want?

    Yep on the second question, but its all about knowing different game types and writing to suit them. UT, for instance, needs fast paced hardcore driving beats and heavy instrumentation. Deus Ex needed more dynamic music to match different situations. The team members definitely have individual ideas about what music they see… level designers are usually my more constant feedback supply because they're attached more closely to individual levels, and the lead designer will give overall approval based on his vision as well.

    For more details on the creation and creative process behind Alex's music, follow the link below. Deus Ex was of course published for the Mac OS by Aspyr Media last Summer. For Mac-specific Deus Ex information, be sure and visit Mac Deus Ex for mods, cheats and walkthroughs.

    DeusEx Machina Interviews Alex Brandon
    Mac Deus Ex

    Bungie Store Returns
    10:23 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    Long thought to be one of the 'casualties' of the Microsoft acquisition of Bungie Software, the Bungie Store has finally returned to suit all of your Bungie-product-purchasing needs.

    Unfortunately there is an unpleasant shock awaiting Mac users: Microsoft's store pages are not entirely compatible with Mac OS browsers, and thus Mac users are encouraged to order by phone rather than online. Supposedly this will be fixed in the near future:

    Before you order a quick word of warning. If you're on a Mac you may experience problems trying to input your personal information on Microsoft's pages. This is a newly discovered bug in their code that shows up sporadically. They assure us they're working on a fix, but for the time being if you're having problems you can place your order via this toll-free number.
    All the usual games, clothing and merchandise are available. Those who order Bungie's just-released Oni will get a free Oni door poster, which is a $15.00 value. However, the Myth series is indeed missing from the store's game area; these titles are now the property of Take Two Interactive and Gathering of Developers. The Myth sound track and strategy guides are still available. If the demo or reviews of Oni intrigued you, the Bungie Store is a great place to grab the game -- according to details mentioned on Oni Central, all proceeds from Oni sales will go to fund future Bungie Fanfests (usually held at Macworld Expo events).

    The Bungie Store
    Oni Central

    Myth III Q&A
    10:01 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    GA-Strategy has published an interview with Scott Campbell, former Ritual designer and now the Lead Design for Myth III: The Wolf Age, currently in production by the newly-formed Mumbo Jumbo. While the Q&A is very short and accompanied by the two concept-art images seen before, more details are revealed about the storyline and planned engine improvements. Here is an excerpt:

    With so many titles now mixing genres, just what type of game will Myth III: The Wolf Age be?

    I believe the official genre would be called "Squad Tactical RTS" or something like that. If you have played the first two games, you'll be familiar with the type of gameplay we're going for. What we are focusing on is cutting edge graphical enhancements. The previous games were far ahead of their time for physics modeling and addicting real-time gameplay.

    We are keeping all the things that made the original Myth series great while re-working the graphics engine to run in a completely 3D Open GL world. All the units will now be low-poly 3D models with hundreds of animations. Even the trees, bushes, and grass will be 3D models that can sway in the wind and bend when walked through. The titanic level terrain maps will be fully 16-bit textures with high-resolution detail maps that will keep the ground sharp to the pixel, even when zoomed into a warrior's boot.

    Campbell also mentions that they will have something to show at E3 this year, which is just four months away. By adding to the existing engine rather than building their own, Mumbo Jumbo hopes to keep an extremely aggressive development schedule, going from concept to final boxed product in less than twelve months. Myth III is due this Christmas for Mac and PC, and will be published by Gathering of Developers. If you missed our own Q&A with the Mumbo Jumbo team, follow the link below for more details on this anticipated sequel.

    IMG Interviews Mumbo Jumbo
    GA-Strategy Inteview with Scott Campbell

    Oni Editing Tools Emerge
    9:44 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    It seems the long lead time between the release of the demo of Bungie and Gathering of Developer's third-person action title Oni was a fruitful one for code hackers, as limited editing tools for this game are already appearing online. OniShots has published the Oni Saved Game Editor which does exactly what the name implies, while OniRes has updated OniTool, a utility for digging through Oni's resource files.

    The OSGE will allow you to edit your saved games to alter your health, weapon status and ammo level, and many other game characteristics including shield strength and cheats on/off. If you've just purchased this game and are already stuck, or want to have some fun with the demo while you are waiting for that FedEx truck to arrive, this utility will fulfill your wishes.

    OniTool has a more esoteric function; intended for those who are going after more advanced goals such as creating new level scripts or altering existing ones, this will help you plow through Oni's .raw files. There is also preliminary support for viewing Oni's 3D model files as well. It also supports exporting sound files from the resources, and even comes with its own source code, so would-be hackers can alter the program to fit their own needs.

    Though we doubt anyone is already bored with this game, these tools should evolve rapidly and become quite useful by the time you've conquered this title. If you haven't already, be sure to read our in-depth review of the game, or grab the demo for a first-hand look.

    Oni Demo (77 MM)
    IMG Oni Review
    Oni Saved Game Editor
    OniRes Utilities Page

    MacSlash Interview with Ambrosia's Welch
    9:27 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

    A few months back, MacSlash solicited questions from their readers in order to do a Slashdot-style interview with Ambrosia Software's El Presidente Andrew Welch. While the answers were delayed by several months, late is better than never. Included in Welch's answers are details on whether or not Ambrosia will carbonize their games for OS X, his take on the open-source debate, and Welch's outlook for the Mac as a gaming platform. Ambrosia has made some classic games for the Mac, and some of their upcoming releases (specifically Escape Velocity: Nova) are highly-anticipated to say the least. Here is an excerpt from the Q&A:

    Do you think Apple is on the right track now for attracting gamers and what changes would you like to see in the Apple hardware line to make Macs better gaming machines?

    Andrew: It's really very simple: numbers. If Apple has the sales numbers, developers will be eager to support their platform. Sure, there are things you can do to make it easier or less of a risk for Windows developers to offer their games for the Mac, but it really boils down to a numbers game.

    Read the rest of the interview over at MacSlash for more of Andrew's hard-won wisdom. Watch for a slew of Ambrosia releases the first half of this year, including Ragnarok and Pop Pop.

    Ambrosia Software
    MacSlash Interview

    Mac Games News for Monday, January 29, 2001 Making Mac Games4:18 PM
    Mac Star Trek: DS9 Due Soon10:42 AM
    Simon the Sorcerer II Ships10:31 AM
    Master of Orion 3 Backstory9:39 AM
    Myst III: Behind the Screens8:53 AM
    Tactical Ops Interview, Release Info8:38 AM
    Mac Game of the Year at Gamecenter8:30 AM
    Tomb Raider: Chronicles at First Playable8:19 AM
    The Wyrm Returns to Mac Baldur6:00 AM
    Vortex NG Reaches Game Dev Finals6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Monday, January 29, 2001 on one page

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