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Monday, March 5, 2001

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First Otto Matic Screen Shots Released
8:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A week ago today, IMG brought you the first word on Pangea Software's upcoming Mac-only title, Otto Matic. Today Pangea's Brian Greenstone passed along two other treats in the form of the first released in-game screen shots of the title. Both of these shots have been trimmed down from a high resolution of 1600x1200 for ease of downloading. You can already see the distinct 'Pangea' look in the characters on the screen; Pangea of course is the publisher of such gems as Bugdom and Nanosaur. Other cool effects to look for include Otto's gun and the flying saucer's beam, just a sample of the amazing visuals to come -- remember, these shots are from an early alpha, and are only a taste of what the final product will be like.

In case you missed the announcement, the game is a third person action/adventure title which will put you in the controls of Otto, a robot who must travel across ten planets to stop the evil giant brain. The style of the game is based upon the B-movies of the 1950's, with many similar characters and cliches being put into the game. Here's a clip from our quick Q&A with Greenstone last week explaining more:

Otto Matic is a character based action adventure game where you play a robot named Otto Matic. You travel from planet to planet battling aliens and other creatures while trying to prevent the humans from being abducted. We had known for a long time that we wanted to make the next game a space-based game, but it took a long time before this design got solidified. Originally, we were thinking about doing Bugdom 2 which was going to be bugs in space, but since I really hate the idea of doing sequels, we got to work coming up with a different and unique space game concept. The idea of doing a space game that was something of an homage to 1950's B-movies came up, and that's what sparked the genesis of the game as it is today. Otto Matic is no longer an homage to b-movies, but it does take many gameplay and stylistic cues from them. I don't want to give too much away at this point, but suffice to say that if you can think of a 1950's sci-fi b-movie, we've probably incorporated some element of it into our design.
Be sure to check out the two shots linked to below for a better idea of what the game will be like.

In other Otto news, Games.MacNN has posted another interview with Greenstone talking about the game. The Q&A covers topics like the enhancements made to the engine, more on the stylistic origins of the game, and this nice little explanation of our two new screen shots:

The first level is a combination of many different things, but the main idea is that the aliens are coming down and abducting the humans off this farm. The aliens also irradiate the field and the vegetables come alive. So the first level is a little bit of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" mixed with any number of abduction movies also mixed with a movie called "Maximum Overdrive". So the tractor or farm equipment also comes to life.
Check out the rest of the interview for much more from Greenstone on Otto Matic. It is relatively early in the game's development, but Pangea hopes to finish the title by the end of the year. We'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Otto Matic Screen Shot #1
Otto Matic Screen Shot #2
IMG News: Exclusive: Pangea Announces Otto Matic
Games.MacNN Interview with Brian Greenstone
Pangea Software
Otto Matic

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HOMM III Complete Giveaway Winners
5:39 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our giveaway of Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete is over, and it was a big success. Without further ado, here are the winners of the three copies of this strategy title:

Anthony Clarke

Larry Fielder

Sandy LaRoche

Copies of the game will be mailed out to the lucky winners later this week. Watch for more giveaways in the near future! For more information on this title, read our review; to take the demo for a spin, grab it from MacGameFiles.

Heroes III Complete Demo
Heroes III Complete Review

Alien Nations in Beta Testing
5:16 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

In late July IMG brought you the news that Hyperion Interactive's partner/publisher Titan Computer would be bringing the RTS Alien Nations to the Mac OS. For some time, there has been little news from Titan, except for their release of the shooter Shogo, but now the web site has been updated with the news that Titan is seeking beta testers.

Alien Nations was published by Simon and Schuster for the PC in the US under the name Amazons and Aliens in late 2000; IMG actually got our first glimpse of this game at E3 back in 1999. Developed by Neo and published overseas by JoWood, this title has indeed had many handlers, so to speak. A 2D RTS title with many interesting innovations (such as diplomacy and trade/exports) this title should have modest system requirements, yet takes advantage of 3D hardware as well.

Here are some details culled from the official Alien Nations web site:

One of the main features of "Alien Nations" is the interaction and confrontation of three completely different nations. The Pimmons are cute little fantasy creatures with magic powers. The Amazons are pretty humanoids and the Sajikis are ravenous insects.

Building a Civilisation

ALIEN NATIONS is an exciting mixture of "God game" and real-time strategy game. The player selects one nation and begins with a small main building. Around this building, he constructs houses and specialist buildings. Gradually, a booming microcosm will develop, growing into a town. Raw materials have to be found. Newly-arrived inhabitants are trained in the schools as masons, wood-cutters, researchers, etc. They are then able to play their part in the growth and expansion of their nation.

Research is undertaken so that new knowledge and capabilities make life easier and more secure.

One decisive phase in the life of a new nation is its first contact to the other nations. Can they live in peace, allowing profitable trade to develop? Or will it come to war and have the right preparations been made? Diplomacy plays a decisive role in this.


- Enormous 3-D terrain

- Three different nations

- 75 different buildings and 85 different professions

- Unlimited zoom function

- Diplomacy

- Trade

- Research with 100 technologies to be discovered

- A living world - with wild animals and people that go about their daily work

- A school system to train the inhabitants

- Experience levels for military units

- First-class, highly detailed graphics with entertaining animations

- Lots of fun

- Easy to use interface

- Campaigns with 10 different missions per nation

- Multi-player option

- Supports 3D cards

For those of you with access to a PC, there is a downloadable demo of the game available from the official site. Watch for more details on this game in the near future.

Titan Computer
Amazons and Aliens Web Site (Simon and Schuster)
Alien Nations Web Site (JoWood)
Alien Nations Coming to Mac OS

Diablo II Mindless, Yet Addictive?
2:14 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

When shareware author Jeff Vogel isn't cranking out such RPG gems as the Exile series and Avernum 2 for Spiderweb Software, he writes an amusing and informative column for Computer Games Online titled "The Grumpy Gamer." Over the weekend the latest installment of this column was posted, this time examining the million-selling phenomenon Diablo II from Blizzard Entertainment. While Jeff is known for crafting engrossing, often lyrical RPGs, he winds up praising Diablo II for just the opposite, calling it "most brilliantly designed simple-minded game ever." For those of you who found yourselves in the grip of this clickfest of a game, Jeff's take on the reasons behind this addictive nature may be quite amusing. Here's a sample:

Why? Why is this game so addictive? Diablo II isn't a game. It's a habit, and a simple one at that. You see a monster. You click on the monster. And you don't even click on it repeatedly, like in the first Diablo. You just hold the mouse button down, thus robbing the game of even that bit of required sentience. And the story? Feh. Before long, I was clicking through everything anyone said to me about portentious events in the world, confident that the excellent Quest Log would spoon-feed me my instructions. It lacks any of the visceral, fast-paced, reflex-taxing combat of Quake or Unreal (Position cursor over foe. Hold mouse button down.). Playing Diablo II, is, simply, one of the least mentally or strategically taxing experiences I've ever had in front of a computer.
He means that in a good way. For the rest of the column, follow the link below; at the bottom you will find links to many of his past columns, all of which should be entertaining and informative for RPG fans.

Spiderweb Software
"Why Did Diablo 2 Eat My Brain?" by Jeff Vogel

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Mac Rune Patch Status
11:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new report from HumanHead's Chris Rhinehart has been recently posted to the official web site about the status and details of the upcoming patch for Rune. The update will have many changes such as new features, bug fixes, and gameplay balancing. Here's a list of some of the new things included in the PC patch:

- ModMenu (thanks to Rus 'Nurial' Clark for this)

- GameType list in Multiplayer Join Menu

- Shields block thrown weapons

- Attacking can block a thrown weapon

- Climbing out of water retrieves previously stowed weapon automatically

- SarkRagnar added back to the multiplayer select screen (cheating problems fixed)

- New female model, Jun.

- SubstituteMesh system which will make adding new meshes much easier (more on this later when the patch is released)

- Player can shield defend much faster

- Added functionality to allow head to operate like other weapons (in that you can pick them up after first bounce)

- Limb severing can now be enabled/disabled
Check out the RuneGame page for more details on what will change in the patch.

Be aware that Westlake Interactive will need to port the patch to the Mac OS, as it makes some fundamental changes to the game's code. President Mark Adams was nice enough to give us word on when this will happen:

We're waiting for their patch to be released before we look at it. At that
point we'll get the code and see how big a code change it is. Since this is
the only major Rune patch they've done, the odds are very good we'll do it
pretty quickly if they didn't radically rewrite the game.
We also asked Mark about a few of the Mac-specific bugs in the current version of the game. Here's what he had to say on them:
The only major Mac-specific bugs we plan to address right now are
compatibility with the GeForce cards and a rendering bug on Radeons.
We'll keep on this and let you know as soon as anything new is available from Westlake. If you still haven't tried Rune, be sure to download the demo from MacGameFiles and read through our review of the game.

IMG Review of Rune
RuneGame Patch Details
Download Rune Demo (82MB)
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

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Summoner PC Test/Demo, No Mac Version
11:09 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Over the weekend THQ and Volition released a playable demo of the console RPG Summoner; unfortunately this demo was for PC only, although a Mac OS version of the game is coming for certain via Graphsim. We contacted Mark Allender of Volition, always a ready source of information, for an explanation as to why Mac users were left out of the loop.

His response is a familiar one -- essentially, the PC 'demo' is actually a test release designed to ferret out video and sound card driver issues. As the Mac platform has a much smaller pool of hardware available in those categories, they didn't see a need for a Mac test version. Here is Mark's reply:

Unfortunately we will not be releasing a public demo (or beta) for the
Macintosh version. One of the primary reasons for the PC demo release is to
test card compatibility for the PC version. Since the Macintosh has much
less of this type of problem, there was little incentive to do the Macintosh
version in the sense that we don't need to gather the type of data for the
Macintosh that we do on the PC. I hope that makes sense.
It certainly does, but it also does little to assuage our disappointment. In any case we hope that Volition reconsiders their position once the game is complete and releases a Mac demo, as gamers do love to try before they buy. We expect the PC demo will generate many reviews and reports from PC news sites, so we'll be sure to bring you the details. For more information on Summoner, visit the official web site or take a trip through IMG's news archives for our many reports on this title.

Summoner Web Site
Last 20 Articles on Summoner
Buy Summoner

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Monkey Island 4 at Final Candidate, Q&A
10:37 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media was nice enough to pass along new information on the Mac port of Escape from Monkey Island, the fourth in this comedic adventure series from LucasArts. Westlake Interactive has been hard at work on the title, which has just reached Final Candidate, and the final system requirements are now available. Here's the scoop from Aspyr:

I just wanted to let you know that Escape from Monkey Island is in the Final
Candidate stage of conversion, thanks to Jesse Spears and Phil Sulak of
Westlake Interactive for their hard work. Barring any unforeseen issues,
Escape from Monkey Island should ship in less than two weeks.

The following are the recently updated and final system requirements for
Escape from Monkey Island:

-Hardware 3D acceleration required (ATI Rage Pro, 128 or Radeon; 3dfx Voodoo
3 or better)

-G3 processor at 233 MHz or faster (333 MHz recommended)

-64 MB of Memory (96 recommended)

-8x CD-ROM

-Hard Drive with 100 MB minimum free space (500 MB recommended)

-4 MB VRAM (8 MB VRAM recommended)

-Open GL 1.2.1

Aspyr also passed along a nice little interview with Phil and Jesse from Westlake, giving more information about working on this port:
You guys are very close to having a final candidate version of Escape
from Monkey Island. Looking back at conversion, what was the most time
consuming portion and why?

SPEARS: umm, if you mean which portion as in which Milestone, then getting
to First Playable.

If you mean which part of the code conversion itself took the most
time, I'd say that was a tossup between: doing the byte swapping,
getting scripts working (and all the mucking about with them to try
to figure out why they do the funky things they do), and getting all
the OpenGL/DrawSprocket setup code working properly on all possible

SULAK: The hardest part of the code I dealt with was sound, and
specifically the MP3 music. There's a ton of music in EFMI, and most of it

I initially used QuickTime to play the MP3 music, and that's what we
demo'd with at MacWorld San Francisco. I ended up switching to an MP3
system after MacWorld.

What was your first impression of the game?

SPEARS: Very pretty graphics. Extremely funny voice acting/dialog.

What feature(s) do you think gamers will appreciate and why?

SPEARS: The Humor. This is the first game I've found myself laughing out
loud at in a very long time :)

SULAK: The Monkey music is excellent (it's been nominated for a few
awards), so I feel all the extra work has been worth it:-)

Shiver me timbers! With all the Pirate slang, have you found yourselves
or any of the Mac beta testers started to sound like Captain Hook?


Yes, actually...quite a bit of Pirate noises from Phil, and most of
the testers seems to be getting into it too.

Oh, and Joyce (my wife) and I have adapted the phrase "That's the
second biggest monkey head I've ever seen" into many of our
conversations (insert whatever in place of "monkey head" works
in so many places ;).

A huge thanks go out to Aspyr's Amy Torres for the great information! If you're looking for even more on EMI, check out IMG's preview of the game. Escape from Monkey Island is available for preorder at Aspyr's site for $45, and should be ready in a matter of weeks.

Aspyr Escape from Monkey Island Web Site
IMG Preview of Escape from Monkey Island
Aspyr Media
Escape From Monkey Island
Buy Escape From Monkey Island

What if Doom was not Doom?
10:12 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Have you ever thought, "What if Doom was a strategy game?'" or "What if Deus Ex was a Massive Multiplayer Online Game?" Stomped went ahead and asked game developers if they had any thoughts about taking classic titles and stretching them across other genres and even mediums. Those who answered include such heavy-hitters as Harvey Smith, Mike Kulas, Noel Stephens and others. While not all the games discussed have come to the Mac OS, the imaginative answers offered by some of the developers are ample proof that there is much room in the future for gaming to expand, and many reasons why the games these developers create make the big bucks. Here is a sample:

Cliff Bleszinski, Jake Simpson - Lead Game Designer at Epic Games

I would kill for a Massively Multiplayer version of Deus Ex. Mix the stat and resource management of the existing game with higher levels that are seen in games like EverQuest. With the action-oriented first person elements you'd have to be careful where you allow combat. Balancing player ability with stats would be tricky as well; with the recent multiplayer add-on that the Ion guys released the start of that balancing game is already completed for you.

Allowing the player to ally with the Illuminati, Unatco, or any one of the forces that tugged at you in the SP game would add an extra cool dynamic to the game. Declare your allegiance and then act as a mole... Cool single player side quests with interesting NPC's would allow for additional character growth...the possibilities are limitless.

The article is quite interesting and certainly fun to read. Certainly makes you think... what if the Sims was a first person shooter? You'd have a tough time increasing that "Friends" counter, that's for certain. Read on for more imaginative answers from gaming's elite designers.

What If . . .? Game Developers Speak article

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Warcraft III Details
10:02 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Over the last few days two interviews with Blizzard's man Bill Roper were published, revealing numerous details about their upcoming RTS title Warcraft III. While it seems the interviewers still can't get over the fact that there will now only be four playable "races," they do delve into more interesting areas of the game such as resource collection and the solo game.

The interview posted by Land of Azeroth includes many good details, as well as a really curious over-use of capital letters. One of the controversial elements about WC3 since its inception has been Blizzard's desire to make a "role-playing strategy" title that combines elements of role-playing with traditional realtime strategy to give the combat a more personal, engrossing feel as well as integrated the epic storylines Blizzard is known for. However, RTS and RPG fans have battled for some time in forums over exactly how the game should be weighted, one way or the other. Roper attempts to clear up this issue once and for all:

How exactly is the concept of the RPS coming along and could you give us more information on how you are integrating RPS into Warcraft 3?

In our efforts to try and create something new and exciting we may have led people down the wrong path. Some people thought we were making an RPG game with RTS elements in fact that is not what we intended to do. Our goal was to make a strategy game with RPG elements integrated within it. That was our initial vision of how we would create the game. However when we moved the camera angle to it’s current position a lot of people thought that we were removing all the RPG elements and moving more to the RTS model. In Reality we didn’t remove that many elements and the game is still a Strategy Game with RPG elements like our Initial Vision. The way we achieve this is by Having Heroes with Inventories While there will be less town and resource management the Focus will become more on the combat. We also believe that Compared to the True strategy games Like Warcraft 2 and StarCraft There is a lot more character Development available. Take the Tauren Chieftains for example Because of the different ways you can develop the Heroes you will be able to have two of the same Hero types but yet have completely different Skills and Spells for each. This is all available when you level up your heroes. Which make tons of new possibilities for each Hero type.

Continuing the trend of Roper interviews conducted by overseas sites, Russian site Zone has published their own interview transcript. Although you get many of the same stock answers, there are some interesting gameplay details revealed. Here is an excerpt on resource collection in the game: What about resources? So far we heard about gold. Are you going to include anything else? Then What?

Bill Roper: Gold will be a key component for most of the units. But, some specific units and structures may require additional resources, for example timber, oil and some other. The problem we want to avoid is making it all confusing and complicated. We don’t want our players to collect 5,6 resources at the same time. So some resources would be available on some maps and missions, while completely different on others.

Warcraft III is expected late this year, although we all know better than to attempt to nail down a specific release date with a Blizzard title -- they tend to take as long as they want to. We expect a near-simultaneous Mac and PC release.

Bill Roper Interview at Land of Azeroth
Bill Roper Interview at
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

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Shadowbane Preview
9:11 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A preview of 3D MMORPG Shadowbane has been posted at Multiplayed. It covers the basics of how the game will (hopefully) play, and why PC gamers will want to switch from other titles such as Everquest or UO. Mac gamers don't have this luxury, of course, as Shadowbane is the first next-gen 3D MMORPG to make it to the Mac platform. Here's a very interesting excerpt about how the game world is created and sent to each player, to trim down bandwidth requirements:

"Basically we built a library of math equations that can generate an infinite number of worlds, and then we pass seed values from the server to the client to describe each World the player logs into," said Patrick Blanton, lead designer and the VP of Product Design for Wolfpack, in explaining the process. "We can download an entire Virtual World—hundreds of thousands of miles of mountains, plains, hills and rivers—in just a few bytes," … the size of a brief email. "The rest of the client is built to work like an Internet browser—objects are actually streamed to the players as they are encountered in the World. This makes the entire system completely dynamic and easily expandable, just like the Web."
Check out the rest of the preview for more. Shadowbane is currently in closed beta and set for a release late this year. We'll keep you posted as more details become available.

Multiplayed Preview of Shadowbane
Wolfpack Studios

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Return to Dark Castle Beta 1.1 Released
8:11 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Good to his word, Z Sculpt's Zachary Black released a public beta of Return to Dark Castle over the weekend. The colorized remake of the classic Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle has been in development for years, tantalizing fans of the original two games. DC3 Demo Beta 1.1 does contain a few caveats, according to the ReadMe:

1) You do not lose lives in the Beta versions.

2) Scoring is not implemented.

3) Some levels are missing certain items, monsters, etc. They will be added in the next release.
The game looks great, though, so head over to MacGameFiles to grab the 6MB file now. While you're downloading, check out IMG's preview of the title for more information. Return to Dark Castle will eventually be published and distributed by Delta Tao when it is completed.

Download Return to Dark Castle Demo Beta 1.1 (6MB)
Return to Dark Castle Web Site
IMG Preview of Return to Dark Castle
Delta Tao
Z Sculpt
Return to Dark Castle
Buy Return to Dark Castle

Shadowbane Beta Journal #2
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The upcoming massively-multiplayer RPG Shadowbane has a large community of fans eagerly anticipating the release of this game, and they are clamoring for any information they can get out of the developers, Wolfpack Interactive. Thus the release of a second installment of the Beta Journal, which describes one test player's experiences with the game, has been met with great excitement.

This installment tells the story of Gamil Zirak, Dwarven Warrior. Very little has been seen of the stone-skinned dwarves in the game until now, and this journal is sure to please fans who have been wanting to learn more about this short, tough race.

Gamil starts out fighting measly grobolds, but quickly advances in rank and skill, and recounts his experiences grouping as a party with a number of other players to tackle the much more impressive Orc Chieftain and Ogre monsters. The screen shots of the group battles are quite impressive, and reveal how far along this game is in development. Here is a sample:

The Ogre was quite a bit tougher than the Orc Chief.  Trying to solo him would be suicide for just about any of us in the group considering he hits ridiculously hard and surprisingly fast.  I was sure Hroethgrim was going to die but luckily, Doran was readily healing him.  Before long, our combined might overcame the Ogre.  By the end of the fight, we had to heal up a bit but we didn't lose anyone (although it was close).
Wolfpack Studios' Internet Relations Manager Ashen Temper makes several comments within the journal to explain game concepts and provide more information on what is seen in the screen shots. Watch the Shadowbane site for more details; we hope to bring you information on the Mac beta test of this title in the near future.

Shadowbane Website
Shadowbane Beta Journal #2 - Gamil Zirak
Wolfpack Studios

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Lord of Destruction Preview at GameSpot
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted an updated preview of Blizzard's upcoming Diablo 2 expansion set, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Instead of just rehashing old news, they detail the core gameplay changes that will be included with the expansion. Some of the changes discussed include the addition of eight more hotkeys (for those Necromancers who absolutely have to use every skill in the skill tree) and the ability to switch between two different sets of equipment with the push of a key. Among the changes that are sure to get some Diablo 2 fans up in arms are the modifications to certain skills of existing character classes. Here are some of the changes that will be made to the Paladin:

Blizzard North says that the paladin is getting many of his higher-end skills boosted. For instance, holy shock will now do more damage and apply it to each melee attack you make, rather than doing a little bit of damage in an area. Conviction, another skill being boosted, will give monsters negative resistances, making enemies more vulnerable to the paladin's follow-up elemental attacks.
Gamespot also has new information on the class-specific items and "elite" set items, as well as details on several of the new quests. The Macintosh and PC versions of the Diablo 2 expansion set is scheduled for release during the first half of this year.

Diablo 2 Review
Lord of Destruction Preview at GameSpot
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Mac Games News for Friday, March 2, 2001

FLY! 2 Chat, Mac Details3:23 PM
Tropico Preview3:21 PM
Monsoon iM-700 Speakers Reviewed12:27 PM
Deus Ex Skins for Your Sims12:24 PM
Summoner Dev Update, Media9:30 AM
Marathon: Rubicon Trailer Released9:00 AM
Sickware Demos Open Design of Target Korea8:58 AM
Mac Doom Legacy Programmer Q&A8:47 AM
Adventure at the Chateau d'Or Shipping Soon8:42 AM
Geneforge Officially Announced8:28 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, March 2, 2001 on one page

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Thursday, March 1, 2001
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