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Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Red Faction Screens, Sys Req's
9:02 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Volition's Mike Breault made an interesting post to the Red Faction forums earlier this month, discussing the systems used to develop the game. The good news is that, until recently, each of the designers only had a P2-400 and a Voodoo 2 -- the equivalent of an iMac DV SE! Furthermore the game performs well with this setup, and they have yet to optimize for speed. Here's more from Breault on the issue:

I am running the game on a PII-400 MHz with 256 MB RAM. Up until about two weeks ago, I had 128 MB RAM. I have a GeForce 2 card; I had a Voodoo2 up until 2-3 months ago. I normally have about 10 applications open while running the game, including the editor.

Almost everyone on the team had computers with similar stats as mine, up until about two weeks ago. At that time, we did a company-wide upgrade of computers. A lot of people are now running 800MhZ-1GHz CPUs. This is not because of RF. It was a planned company-wide upgrade that was actually put delayed so as not to disrupt the work of the RF team (about half the team members [me included] are holding off on their upgrades until we're done with RF, so we don't need it to run the game or editor). Some of the artists were having trouble with 3D Studio Max before the upgrade, which seems to be a real resource hog.

As far as how well the game performs on a PII-400, that's something that won't be determined until it's done and all optimizations are in. How well it runs on our minimum platform is very important to us. We're not going to list that as our minimum requirement if gameplay isn't acceptable on it.

To go a little further, with a real-life example, I've taken the unoptimized version of RF and played it on my PII-300 w/128 MB RAM and Voodoo2 card at home. It plays better than Rogue Spear, Giants, and No One Lives Forever on my home system. That's the unoptimized build.

While it's far too early in the development process to be citing final system requirements, it is good to see the developers using somewhat low-end equipment to create the game. When we get an idea of the Mac requirements likely later this year, we'll be sure to pass them along.

In related news, VoodooExtreme has scored two great new high-resolution screen shots of the upcoming FPS, Red Faction. Head over to have a look and see why you might be excited about this game. Unfortunately, the title was recently pushed back from a spring release for the Mac and PC to a completion date of later this summer or even early fall. GraphSim will still be doing the publishing for the Mac version of Red Faction once it's finished later this year.

Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction Forum Thread
VoodooExtreme Red Faction Screen Shots
Red Faction

Attack of the GeForce 3 Previews
5:16 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

With the expiration of the GeForce 3 NDA comes a slew of technology previews from many PC web sites. With the exception of Digit-Life, these preview do not contain any benchmarks, only explanations of the various features and specifications of NVIDIA's newest GPU. Granted, benchmarks are important because they provide everyone with hard numbers, but what excites game developers like id's John Carmack and Epic's Tim Sweeny, is not so much the raw performance (fillrate, core clock speed), but the feature set and flexibility of the GeForce 3. This was evident during John Carmack's DOOM engine demonstration at MacWorld Tokyo. He was very pleased with it's ability to render characters with an amazing amount of detail and the ability to project lights from many different sources, creating dynamic shadows.

Most of these previews contain the same, fairly in-depth analysis of the GeForce 3, but if you to get down and dirty with your hardware, check out the 35 page preview at Tom's Hardware. AnandTech and SharkyExtreme also have excellent articles, but FiringSquad's is short, concise, and to-the-point.

Looking for benchmarks? Then head on over to Digit-Life, where they pit the GeForce 3 against the GeForce 2 Ultra and Radeon DDR in an exhaustive benchmarking suite. Although this may seem a bit unfair, it shows the improvements that NVIDIA has made over the GeForce 2. Mac gamers might be interested in the MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing, similar to FSAA) comparisons since 3dfx was heavily touting this feature in their Voodoo5 cards. According to Digit-Life, NVIDIA's Quincunx AA method was able to produce a "jaggy-free" image at a very playable framerate. Beware, their preview is not sectioned, instead, it is one very long HTML page.

Also, NVIDIA has their own GeForce 3 webpage, of course, with movies and pictures showing off their GPU in action.

Unfortunately, IMG was unable to provide you with our own analysis of the GeForce 3 because neither us nor other Mac-centric web sites were given any details on these cards -- despite the fact that it is painfully obvious dozens of PC sites have had specs and actual cards to work with for weeks. Make sure you at least visit the GeForce web site and download the example movies -- it will totally change your ideas of what game graphics can (and will) be like in the near future.

NVIDIA GeForce 3 Website
GeForce 3, DOOM Engine Demoed in Tokyo
GeForce 3 Conference Call Notes
GeForce 3 Preview at Tom's Hardware Guide
GeForce 3 Preview at AnandTech
GeForce 3 Preview at FiringSquad
GeForce 3 Preview at SharkyExtreme
GeForce 3 Preview/Benchmarks at Digit-Life

Ambrosia's New RPG, Pillars of Garendall
4:13 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

An excited IMG reader informed us of an update that was made over the weekend to Ambrosia Software's "Upcoming" page -- Pillars of Garendall, a huge RPG developed with Beenox's cross-platform Coldstone game engine. With gorgeous graphics and a sprawling world to explore, this RPG will showcase the Coldstone engine as well as provide yet another great RPG for Mac (and Mac OS X) users to enjoy. According to the project page, this game is currently in closed Beta testing. Here is the description:

Pillars of Garendall is a huge (200mb+) epic fantasy role playing game created using the Coldstone game engine. You'll need a sharp-edged blade and a heart of steel to make it through this classic action-oriented role playing game.

Don your weather-worn adventuring boots, and gather up your courage as you journey into the kingdom of Garendall, where Gidolan Keep lays under seige. Huge monsters, all tooth, claw, and muscle are assaulting the capitol city, threatening to crush the very heart of the kingdom in their malignant grasp.

As the dark beasts scale the castle ramparts, their heads towering over even the tallest buildings in Garendall, the sound of steel being drawn against improbable odds and valiant battle cries fill the night air. As the brave Royal Guard attempts to fend off the invaders, or grimly to just delay them with the sacrifice of their lives, Queen Adriana beseeches you:

"My valiant friend, it is a time of crisis, and we have to do something! Our city seems to be lost, and our people doomed. We need all the help possible to resist this wave of destruction that has crashed against our city -- ride with all haste to Fantrima and Berglum to warn the people and rally our troops. Ride now!"

Your heart, moved by the queen's stoic resolve, causes you to blurt out "On my honor and your glory, I accept!" And with that, your life is forever changed...

The project page is accompanied by fifteen screen shots from the Beta version of the game, which feature prerendered graphics with a Final Fantasy/anime flair. Due to the size of the game we assume it will only be distributed on CD-ROM. The progress log has just begun, so no details on when we might expect this game to be completed are given; however as the version number is 1.0.0b1 it seems clear that only beta testing stands between this title and its release.

For more information on the game and the Coldstone engine, visit the Beenox web site.

Beenox Web Site
Ambrosia Software Upcoming Projects Page
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall

Crazy Car Championship on GeForce 3
3:09 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

English developers Synaptic Soup have released new screen shots of Crazy Car Championship running on NVIDIA's next generation 3D graphics chip, the GeForce 3. While these shots do not show off some of the card's features such as anti-aliasing or bump mapping, the great image quality and detailed textures are a great preview of what this card will be capable of.

While a Mac OS version of this title still not confirmed, the cross-platform nature of the engine makes it a likely possibility. The final decision will be up to the publisher, once one is chosen for this title. CCC is powered by the Cipher engine, which is cross-platform by nature and has already been demonstrated running on a Powerbook. Visit the Synaptic Soup web site for the screen shots, and read our interview with the team for more information on the Cipher engine.

IMG Synaptic Soup Interview
Synaptic Soup Web Site

Click to enlarge
More Tropico Details Released
2:58 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Seemingly since the beginning of time itself we have been bringing you news of Tropico, the third-world economic and political sim in development by PopTop Software. At long last the release of this game is on the horizon -- just a few months away, in fact. As part of the ramping-up process to launching the full media hype, PopTop and Gathering of Developers have released more information about this title, including details on resources, their use and the graphics engine. Here is a clip:

Game developer PopTop Software and developer-driven computer and video game publisher Gathering of Developers, both subsidiaries of Take-Two Interactive Software (NASDAQ: TTWO), today released information on Tropico's resources. Tropico is a 3D building, strategy/simulation game that gives virtual dictators the chance to oversee all resources necessary to develop a remote Caribbean island -- from money, labor and time to food, minerals and crops. Tropico will be released in April for the PC and in May for the Mac.

"Tropico's resource management component is actually a great tool for using important real-life skills," said Phil Steinmeyer, president and lead programmer of PopTop. "Just like in everyday life, money and other resources must be utilized intelligently for the island to prosper."
The main resource in Tropico is money, which is earned through successful businesses and trade. The player can choose to shape the islands economy through several industries, including manufacturing, mining, agriculture or tourism.

Money can be spent in three primary ways:

* Constructing New Buildings - Buildings cost money. If the player is broke, no new constructions can be erected.

* Worker Salaries - Salaries are the most important determinant of the populace's happiness. A thriving economy allows the player to raise salaries and keep the people happy. If the money dries up, trouble ensues.

* Edicts - If a dictator wants to pass a new law, a fee must be paid to cover the lawmakers' time.

Tropico also includes other resources such as:

* Labor - Players must have people to work or nothing will be produced.

* Time - Time is necessary for educating workers, constructing new buildings and operating farms and factories.

* Food - If the citizens don't get enough food, discontent and rebellious urges will grow quickly.

* Minerals, Crops, etc. - Mines, farms and ranches produce unique goods that can either be processed into refined goods or exported in raw form. Crops grow realistically. Players need to plant sugar in low-lying swampy areas that get plenty of rainfall while coffee must be planted high in the hillsides. If the player has lots of land and few people, cattle ranches can make profitable use of undeveloped land - players just shouldn't let the cows wander by any tourist luxury hotels.

Tropico is based on an improved version of PopTop's proprietary S3D engine allowing for highly detailed 3D graphics and renderings. The S3D engine was initially used in Railroad Tycoon II. The engine will support hardware acceleration, variable resolution support from 640 x 480 up to 1600 x 1200 and variable color depth support from 8-bit to 32-bit color.

All mockery aside, we are very much looking forward to this title, which looks to be both engrossing and quite attractive. For more information on Tropico, take a stroll through the IMG news database, or visit the Gathering and Pop Top web sites.

Tropico Resources PR at Gathering of Developers
Last 20 Articles on Tropico
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Pro Pinball: FJ on the Mac
1:48 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Back in September IMG reported that Empire Interactive's Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey, the fourth in their amazing pinball game series, was available as a Mac/PC hybrid in the UK; unfortunately the Mac version never reached US shores, and never received widespread distribution.
Yesterday a reader wrote in to MacGamer letting them know that the Mac application needed to run the game is now available for you to download and use with the PC boxed version, though Empire considers it an unsupported beta of the game. The included instructions clarify how to get started with the game:

The two files MacFantasticJourney.sit and both
contain the same thing so take your pick. If you unstuff it to a folder
on your mac and put the PC CD in it should just work.

If you want to speed up loading drag the DAT folder from the PC CD into the
folder with the game in it.

If you have any comments our questions about this patch, then you can
send an e-mail to

There are a few "graphical glitches" in the game, though they aren't said to affect the gameplay. The Empire Interactive site might feel a little slow to you, so we'll see about perhaps mirroring the files on MGF. Pinball fans should definitely give this one a look, as it's got some very nice features and great graphics. Check out the official site for more information.

Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey a Hybrid?
Pro Pinball Web Site
MacGamer Report on Pro Pinball: FJ
Download Mac Pro Pinball: FJ Application

Click to enlarge
Myst III: Exile Interview
9:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

JustAdventure has posted a lengthy interview with Dan Irish, Mattel's producer for everything Myst-related. In the Q&A he discusses the upcoming release of Myst III: Exile, including topics such as the use of Macintosh systems in the game's production, Cyan's passing of the development torch to Presto, and this interesting clip about navigation in the game:

The word is that Presto has developed its own proprietary engine to give the game Riven-style scenery with a greater freedom of movement. How will the navigation differ from previous games?

We've stayed consistent with Myst and Riven regarding the use of fade transitions. Animated transitions were implemented in Journeyman 3, but Presto noticed that players had a slightly negative reaction because the speed in which the animations were played determined how fast or slow they could move in the game. With Myst and Riven, the players determined their own speed by clicking faster or slower through several locations. We wanted to keep this method of navigation and let the players decide their own pace. Worlds in the game are prerendered, ensuring the highest quality graphics possible. But to immerse players more deeply into the experience, we're using real-time 3D technology to display those graphics. With the added feature of being able to look around a node in full, 360-degree pans, even with animations and movies playing in the background, the navigational freedom of Exile is unmatched.

Exile promises to both appeal to hardcore Myst and Riven fans, while also making itself enjoyable for those new to the series. The title will be released on May 7 simultaneously for both Mac and PC, with a DVD Collector's edition following in Q3 of this year.

JustAdventure Interview with Dan Irish
Myst III: Exile Web Site
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

More GeForce 3 Details, Screen Shots
9:07 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our thanks to Stomped, which pointed out this excellent article at Riva3D which not only provides detailed stats and analysis of the new NVIDIA GeForce 3 chipset but also a set of screen shots which are truly astounding to behold. Unfortunately the Riva3D site is a victim of its own success -- currently the server is under a brutal load and pages and images only load intermittently. Keep trying, this article and its images are worth it!

Although only select PC developers have their hands on GeForce 3-based cards at the moment, enough is known about the chipset to do a detailed analysis of what it might mean for games. High on the long list of new features is the chipset's support for "per-pixel shading" and "vertex shading," two technologies which will allow a new revolution in realistic surfaces and textures in future games. However the feature list doesn't stop there -- the GeForce 3 is designed from the ground-up with the philosophy that graphics should be handled by the GPU, not the CPU, and thus many features are designed to take jobs once done by your computer and move them to the video card itself. Here is one example from the article:

Surfaces are best described with examples, such as the surface of
rolling hills, the folds in clothing, or any sort of curved
surface. To create these types of surfaces, developers had to use
groups of triangles, each independently described as to itís
location, angle, and rotation in the scene. DX8 and the GeForce 3
allow the creation of these surfaces using splines, which are
basically control points that describe the curve between any set
of coordinates. Using splines makes creating and implementing
high-order surfaces much more efficient and much, much faster.
Sounds like flapping flags, endless terrain and wrinkled clothing will become standard content in the future, if the GeForce 3 spreads fast enough for developers to create content to match its abilities. Read the rest of the article for more details, and be sure and check out the screen shots at the end of the article.

GeForce 3 Specs, Images at Riva3D

No OS X or Carbon CVGS?
8:54 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

We contacted Connectix, maker of Connectix Virtual Game Station, the Playstation emulator for Mac OS, to inquire if they had any plans for Carbonizing or perhaps even rewriting this emulator for Cocoa. The reply wasn't what we expected, unfortunately; they do not have any plans to bring a carbonized or Cocoa version in the near future. This might of course change once OS X has shipped in sufficient quantities to justify the cost of Carbonizing VGS.

Here is Connectix's reply:

Connectix does not currently have any plans to bring Connectix Virtual Game
Station to OS X or to make a carbon version.
CVGS has had a notorious existence on the Mac platform, dogged by Sony lawyers and on-again, off-again availability. While their legal challenges are behind them, perhaps Connectix has seen fit to move on towards more promising projects, such as an Mac OS X native version of Virtual PC.

If you are an emulator fan then be sure to check out Mac EmuScene, a site dedicated to emulators of all kinds.

IMG Connectix Virtual Game Station review
CVGS 1.4.1 updater at MacGameFiles
Mac Emuscene
CVGS demo at MacGameFiles

Click to enlarge
Neverwinter Nights Preview
8:31 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A quick new look at Neverwinter Nights has been posted at GameLoft. If you're unfamiliar with this upcoming 3D RPG from Bioware, have a read through the preview to get some basics on its gameplay, included magic spells, and multiplayer aspects. Bioware promises to include support for Mac, Windows, Linux, and even BeOS in the game. Here's an excerpt:

More than 200 spells will be available to magic users, while new skills, weapons and features will be the icing on the cake for fighters. Neverwinter Nights single player campaign will contain some 60-100 hours of action and adventure, but where the game is set to shine will surely be its multiplayability. While Neverwinter Nights' was originally slated as an MMORPG game, developers are at this stage focusing their attentions on creating a
world of 64 player dungeons which can be linked to one another via 'portals'. Players will be able to adventure through a number of different dungeons, solving the dungeon masters' quests, as well as interacting with each other.
While the preview lists the game's release as Q4 of this year, Bioware has yet to actually give a firm release date. Reports indicate that while they have completed most of the game's engine, there is still much of the content to generate and then extensive testing to be done. We certianly hope to see Neverwinter Nights before the end of the year, though, and we will keep you posted on any new info.

GameLoft Preview of Neverwinter Nights
Official Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Mac Games News for Monday, February 26, 2001

Spiderweb Releases New Geneforge Details10:39 AM
Exclusive: Pangea Announces Otto Matic9:57 AM
Mac Baldur's Gate 2 Update, Beta Testers Wanted9:43 AM
Geforce 3 Guide, Images9:01 AM
SoundBlaster Live Ship Date8:37 AM
More on Mac realMYST Delays8:33 AM
Mac CrystalSpace In-Depth6:00 AM
Quake 3 Map Editing on a Mac?6:00 AM
Shadowbane History6:00 AM
Trade Wars: Dark Millennium FAQ, Images6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, February 26, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, February 23, 2001
Thursday, February 22, 2001
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Monday, February 19, 2001

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