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Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Clarifications on SB Live! Status
10:04 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Recently a post in on online forum by a member of Creative Labs' staff seemed to indicate that the Sound Blaster Live for Mac OS was about to ship. Unfortunately, that post was overly optimistic, and CL has since retreated from that position. While they will no longer mention a release date (and one of our major sources of information has "gone silent") the company wishes to emphasize their commitment to the Mac platform and to delivering the best product they can; at least that was the response we got from Hector Marinez, public relations manager.

As was the case at Macworld Expo San Francisco, it seems that compatibility with third-party applications is still the stumbling block between Mac users and this long-awaited card. There are dozens of pro audio applications and tools for the Mac OS, far more than most people imagine, and many have unconventional ways of using Apple's various sound managers and audio tools. Obviously there are a few that continue to give CL trouble, or this card would be shipping to those who preordered already. Here is part of Hector's reply:

When we first embarked on entering the Macintosh
market, we announced that we would be shipping a Sound Blaster Live!
product by the end of 2000. Fortunately, our dedicated development team
got our drivers to work with all of our bundled software -- which includes
music playback, music creation and gaming software -- but unfortunately, we
have decided to delay the product slightly because we have found that
various and popular 3rd party software needed some tweaking because of the
customer’s experience. These problems can be fixed, but a lot of the
Macintosh 3rd-party software treats sound manager and OMS drivers
differently, which means that the driver needs more work and more robustness
in order to provide the best customer experience.
As we noted, no new date for when to expect these cards to ship was given. For more details on what you are missing, read through our detailed SB Live preview; keep your browser tuned to IMG for news on when this card will actually arrive.

Creative Labs
Sound Blaster Live! Preview
Sound Blaster Live!

Quake 3 1.27h Released, AltiVec Version Due Soon
12:45 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

The man we've been watching for the past several weeks, Graeme Devine, updated his plan today with news that he is releasing a non-debug version of Quake 3 1.27h. This version incorporates all of the bug fixes and additions in the PC patch, as well as optimizations for the PowerPC chip. Graeme talks about the latest happenings in the offices of id Software and what has been keeping him busy. Here is his .plan update:


I've been a bit preoccupied with the Tokyo keynote demo this last month. But I have made a new Classic build today.

I love how iDisk is integrated into OS X!!

What's done. This is using the new Metrowerks compiler which seems excellent. It should run as well as or better than previous builds.

What's not done. The sound code is still taking up more CPU time than it should, this is a Quake code issue I'll resolve quickly.

What's not there. The altivec enhanced version and the OS X build. I've not had time yet to build those and update them. The OS X work done for the keynote address demo in Tokyo pulls directly across to the OS X Q3A build, so it should be very straightforward.

Given the beta hardware, daily builds of OS X, hourly patch dumps for the GF3 OpenGL driver, and content/code changes from id, the keynote build ran exceptionally well. We did not have time to completely optimize for PPC or OS X, as I understand more and more about PPC and Altivec programming, I'm seeing more and more opportunities.

This is very interesting news, as it seems that id, NVIDIA, and Apple are working closely together to insure compatibility between MacOS X, the new DOOM engine, and the GeForce 3. Also, it seems that Graeme was very busy preparing the DOOM demo for MacWorld Tokyo. IMG will have tests and analysis of this new version of Quake 3 shortly.

Download Q3A 1.27h Final
Graeme Devine's .plan Update

Click to enlarge
Radeon Mac Edition PCI Review Posted
12:31 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

For those of you that go directly to the news page or don't scroll down far enough on the IMG home page to see our revamped Hardware section, we though we'd mention that we just posted a review of the Radeon Mac Edition PCI. While this card was delayed numerous times and debuted with buggy drivers, ATI has since cleaned up their act and presented a stellar product. Here is an excerpt:

The ATI Radeon PCI debuts on the Mac platform in a curious position – one so unique that the only other card in a similar state was the Voodoo 1 when it was introduced on the Mac for the first time. Because of the recent demise of 3dfx (and the removal of their products from public sale and support), the Radeon PCI is literally the only high-end PCI gaming card on the market for Mac OS users, just as the Power3D was once the only gaming card for the Mac, period.

So who needs a PCI Radeon? Anyone with an AGP Mac will undoubtedly get the AGP version of the Radeon, after seeing the benchmarks in this article unless they are adding a second monitor. Those with a Rage 128 Pro or Voodoo3 card in a lower-speed G3 won’t see a outrageous boost in speed, because their games lag due to lack of CPU horsepower, not graphics card performance. However, they will see a tremendous increase in visual quality, as they will be able to play resolutions up to 1024x768 at very playable frame rates -- something a stock Rage 128 could never do.

Read the rest of the review for benchmarks and analysis.

Radeon Mac Edition PCI Review
Radeon AGP

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Elite Force Add-on Details
11:24 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Raven Software programmer Mike Gummelt has updated his .plan file with more details on their newly-announced expansion pack for Elite Force. The update offers more specific information on the different classes and features in one of their new game modes; it also contains more informatio about each new game mode, and there is mention that players will also have turrets and other items available to spice up online play. Here is an excerpt:

Okay, here are some details of some of the stuff that's been added to multiplayer:

Assimilation - Federation vs. Borg. The Borg have a Borg projectile weapon, a taser weapon and can assimilate Federation members. They also have a short personal transporter ability and adaptive shields. The I-Mod can get through these shields. The object for the Borg is to Assimilate the entire Federation team, the object for the Federation team is to kill the Borg Queen.

Elimination - Basically, the last man standing wins. In Team Holomatch mode, the first team to be wiped out loses.

There is still no information on a Mac OS version, but keep checking back for details.

Gummlet's Full .plan File
Raven Software
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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Elite Force Add-on Announced
10:32 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Raven Software has announced that they will release an add-on pack for their Star Trek-based shooter Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force for the PC version this spring. With two new solo adventures, new multiplayer game types, and a "tour" mode that will allow you to explore 15 decks of the Voyager, this is an add-on for serious Trek fans. There is currently no word on a Mac version of this add-on, but we have contacted Aspyr Media to determine if this is indeed a possibility. While we are awaiting their reply, here are some details:

Santa Monica, CA - February 28, 2001 -Activision, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) and Raven Software are offering players another tour of duty with the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager by announcing the official add-on pack for the highly acclaimed PC game, Star Trek: Voyager® Elite Force™. In the add-on pack, players will reprise their role as commander of the Hazard Team, a specially trained security detail designed to combat the perils of the Delta Quadrant.

"The original game set new standards for action games and is considered by many as the best translation to date of the Star Trek® license into a game," said, Larry Goldberg, executive vice president, Activision Worldwide Studios. "In the add-on pack Raven Software is bringing an array of compelling single and multiplayer experiences to the winning Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force mix that fans are sure to love."

The official Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force add-on pack will offer players a variety of diverse gameplay experiences. For the first time ever, trekkers will be able to explore an interactive 3D recreation of Voyager's interior in Tour Mode. Once aboard, players will have unrestricted access to 15 decks of the ship, including the bridge, officer quarters, holodecks, the transporter room, Hazard Team crew quarters, sickbay, astrometrics, the shuttlebay and engineering. Additionally, many of the ship's systems and all of the crew will be interactive. Players can perform complex tasks like initiating Voyager's self-destruct sequence or shutting down the warp core, along with finding secret items hidden objectives, and mini-games. Once players finish touring the ship, they can hone their Hazard Team skills in two new single player campaigns - a Captain Proton holo-novel and an assault on a Klingon compound.

Multiplayer also benefits from the new add-on pack with 17 additional multiplayer maps and 12 new models. The Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force add-on will also feature two new game mods. In a new class-based team game, players will be able to select a character class (i.e. security, medical, engineering…) with unique skill bonuses to complement their style of play. Additionally, in the assimilate mode, a group of players have to neutralize a lone Borg invader before they become assimilated.

Westlake Interactive originally ported Elite Force to Mac; Aspyr Media was the publisher. Make sure to come back later for an update. An Elite Force demo can be found over at MacGameFiles, and we have also published a review of this title.

Elite Force Web site
IMG Elite Force Review
Elite Force demo at MacGameFiles
Westlake Interactive
Raven Software
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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New WWII Online Shots, Pricing Info
10:06 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Stomped has scored three new screen shots of the upcoming massively-multiplayer online war sim, World War II Online. Two of them show your view while driving one of the many vehicles in the game, and the other shows some explosive damage. Stomped also did some digging in the newly-updated WWII Online list of Frequently Asked Questions. They found some new details on the game's tentative pricing levels. Here's some info from the official web site:

World War II Online™ 'Blitzkrieg' is the first retail release and will be through retail and online stores in Q2 2001. The suggested retail price will be $39.95 USD. Subscriptions for online play will be available exclusively at for a monthly fee of $9.99 USD. Signup for your FREE community membership today to reserve your game name and get access to the official World War II Online™ community services package.
This pricing structure is similar to many other massively multiplayer online titles, and it is usually justified because the company must host and upkeep servers to play the games. For much more info, check out the rest of the FAQ. Also be sure to have a look at Stomped's new screen shots. A Mac version of WWII Online is set to be released simultaneously with the Windows build later this summer.

Stomped WWII Online Screen Shots
Official WWII Online FAQ
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

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Red Faction Q&A
8:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

RF World has talked with writer Mike Breault about his work with Volition on the upcoming FPS Red Faction. Breault discusses his writing experiences and getting started in the buisness. Volition's Alan Lawrence also throws in a few answers when the interview turns to more of the technical aspects about the game itself. Here's an excerpt:

Defender: How long does it take to write a typical storyline?

MikeB: There's no real answer to that. Not only does it vary greatly from project to project, but a game's storyline isn't really done until it's shipped. You're always making little tweaks up until the very end. A lot of the major foundation work happens in the first month or so, as you get the first draft of the story outline written up and then the team goes over it and agrees upon the general outline of the game. That gets refined, the team goes over it again, and then you've got something pretty solid. Then you split the general outline up into sections—levels, missions, what have you. That's when much of the real story work starts—taking that general outline and writing up a design doc for each level, detailing what happens in the level, the environment, who's there, what parts of the story get told there, etc. The details start to appear and you get a glimpse at what's going to work and what isn't, what fits with the story and what doesn't. After that, the level designers begin to create the levels, starting from the design docs but adding tons of creativity and their own details. Then scripting (placing the characters the player meets, the events that occur, and the interactions the player has with the world) adds another layer of creativity to the design and story.

There are lots of people involved in all this throughout the life of the project. I think my best answer to "how long does the storyline take to write?" is "the whole time!"

Head over to RF World for more from Breault on putting the story into this first-person shooter. Red Faction is set to be released for the Mac and PC later this summer or early fall.

RF World Interview
Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction

Mac Games News for Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Attack of the GeForce 3 Previews5:16 PM
Ambrosia's New RPG, Pillars of Garendall4:13 PM
Crazy Car Championship on GeForce 33:09 PM
More Tropico Details Released2:58 PM
Pro Pinball: FJ on the Mac1:48 PM
Myst III: Exile Interview9:10 AM
More GeForce 3 Details, Screen Shots9:07 AM
Red Faction Screens, Sys Req's9:02 AM
No OS X or Carbon CVGS?8:54 AM
Neverwinter Nights Preview8:31 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, February 27, 2001 on one page

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Monday, February 26, 2001
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