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Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Halo Web Site Gains Shots, New Movies
9:25 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Long time fan favorite Bungie Software was publicly unhappy with the press screen shots and photos provided by their parent Microsoft during the Gamestock event two weeks ago, so perhaps to remedy this situation they have updated their web site with two high resolution screen shots and movies of the upcoming shooter Halo. The official Halo web site as well as have been updated with information and details. The movie, available in both gigantic and large versions, is extremely difficult to obtain due to the massive strain on the server it is hosted on; mirrors are appearing, but slowly. The two screen shots are previously unseen images which display a variety of Halo's special effects, while the movies are of Jason Jones' demonstration and presentation of Halo during the Gamestock expo. No video or still cameras were allowed at the event, so Microsoft is presumably the source of the footage.

Bungie's Mat Soell discussed in an earlier interview with the fact that Microsoft assembled and released the screen shots and movie footage that was released during GameStock, and seemed to indicate that it was not up to Bungie's exacting standards. Similarly, another forum discussion on various Halo fan sites revealed that the "high resolution" 1600x1200 screen shots had simply been low-rez screens that had been "scaled up" in Photoshop, obviously not an ideal way of getting an accurate picture of what Halo will look like. Matt also revealed that the Xbox systems used to demo the game were only running at 640x480 and 50% of the speed and power they will run when released.

Currently the Bungie and Halo web sites themselves are difficult to reach, much less the screen shots and movies. Summaries of what can be found there have been posted on many Halo fan sites, however, so those diehard fans who can't wait can always visit their favorite. As more mirrors for the movies are created, we'll attach them to the end of this article.

Mat Soell Interviewed at
Mac Halo (fan site) (fan site)
Low-res Halo Movie Mirror at Blue's News
Halo Web Site
Bungie Web Site
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

Creative Labs Ships Soundblaster Live!
5:12 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

After announcing the SoundBlaster Live! for Macintosh over a year ago, and demonstrating the product at Macworld San Francisco this year, Creative Labs announced today that they are finally shipping their long awaited sound card. The SoundBlaster Live! allows Mac users to finally experience true surround sound. It will be bundled with a suite of audio applications, which includes SoundJam MP and an EAX enabled version of Deus Ex. Here is a clip from the press release:

Honored by the editors of Macworld Magazine as one of the 'Best of Show' products at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, CA, the Sound Blaster Live! incorporates the revolutionary EMU10K1™ digital signal processor (DSP) to provide the power needed to generate crystal-clear audio files. Because processing and playback remain entirely digital, audio files maintain the highest level of audio quality with settings optimized for headphones, two-channel or four-channel speaker systems. Taking full advantage of the digital output connector on the Sound Blaster Live! for Macintosh, users can experience precise clarity when connected to speaker systems such as the highly-acclaimed Cambridge SoundWorks® FourPointSurround™ FPS2000 Digital speakers to experience digital-audio nirvana.
The SoundBlaster Live! will retail for $149 US; we have spotted it online as low as $120. You can get more information about this card from Creative Labs' web site and our preview of this fantastic piece of audio hardware.

Creative Labs Macintosh Homepage
Press Release: Creative Labs Ships Soundblaster Live for Macintosh
Soundblaster Live! Preview

Mac Summoner Update, More Interviews
2:09 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The 3D RPG Summoner has gone "gold" for PC and is now arriving in stores, so this seemed like a good time to check in with developer Volition on how the Mac OS version of this title is coming along (which is being developed in-house). As the game uses the cross-platform OpenGL API and Volition's own network code, the development of the version for our platform should be relatively painless -- and Mark Allender of Volition definitely agrees with that assessment. Here is his status report on the Mac port:

Things are coming along great for the mac version of Summoner. We are
basically working on OpenGL issues, sound issues, and network items. There
are really no significant technology hurdles to overcome.

Multiplayer will use, same as the PC version of the game. is THQ and Volition's own multiplayer matching service, similar to the way functions for Blizzard's titles. This service will also connect players of Red Faction, a first-person shooter in development for PS2, Mac and PC which will ship late this summer. The Mac versions of Summoner and Red Faction will be published by GraphSim upon completion.

Several sites have noted that there is already a patch available for the PC version of Summoner, the first day it appears on store shelves. While Mac users may be disappointed that they have a few more weeks to wait than PC gamers, Volition will no doubt take that extra time to fix all the bugs found in the PC version so they never even appear in the Mac version. Just think of the PC gamers as guinea pigs.

In related news, Stomped has published an interview with three members of the Summoner development team. If you'd like to learn more about this title and the ideas behind it, this feature is a must-see.

Summoner Team Interview at Stomped
Buy Summoner

Atlas: The Gift of Aramai in Beta Testing
1:52 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We've received some exciting news from Freeverse Software and developer Digital Terra: the RPG Atlas: The Gift of Aramai is now ready for beta testing, and they are looking for qualified candidates. This RPG has been quite some time in development, but looks to be a splendid return to the tile-based days of yore.

Inside Mac Games published a preview of this RPG some time ago. This ambitious effort on the part of Digital Terra won't be the kind of game you can finish in a weekend, as this excerpt attests:

The Atlas engine sports its own complex scripting language, which gives the scenario authors very precise control over complicated situations, without involving the engine itself. Many plot elements can be triggered from one event, meaning the scenario can become very dynamic without a digging into the guts of the engine. A designer even used the scripting language to program a blackjack game for a tavern!

The developers are looking to make The Gift of Aramai one of the largest RPGs available on the Mac. To get an idea of how large this world is, realize that there are over 1,440,000 individual tiles that make up the map, with at least another 16,000 for the towns, caves, etc. This should give travelers in The Gift of Aramai a sense of scale they may not have experienced before.

Currently the Digital Terra site is accepting candidates for beta testing; this is a serious opportunity and not simply an excuse to play a game for free. Read through our Preview to find out if Atlas is the type of game you'd like to play, then visit the Digital Terra site to apply for beta testing. Freeverse's Atlas page also has more details and screen shots of this title, if you're interested.

Digital Terra Web Site
Atlas: The Gift of Aramai
First Look: Atlas The Gift of Aramai

"Stupid Invaders" Spotted in Europe
11:04 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Helpful IMG reader "Maz" has reported that the Mac OS version of Stupid Invaders, an UbiSoft adventure game featuring a rather twisted sense of humor, is on shelves in Denmark. Following the madcap adventures of four odd-looking aliens who have crash-landed on earth, this colorful game features 50 characters and 2,000+ lines of original dialog. While the existence of the Mac version in stores is significant, as UbiSoft rarely publishes Mac titles, it is currently unknown as to if or when this game will be available in the UK or US.

Previews of the game reveal a wicked sense of humor and more than a little use of the "base" comedy arts of slapstick and rude body noises; however "Maz" seemed to be having a great time with the game, and we're sure other Mac gamers are interested. For more information on this title, visit the UbiSoft web site (Flash required) or read the preview at EuroGamer. We'll investigate UbiSoft's plans for bringing this title to the US, and let you know what we find out.

Stupid Invaders Web Site
Stupid Invaders Preview at

Deimos Rising Update
9:54 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Although the progress on this scrolling shooter has been slow, anticipation is still very high for David Wareing's Deimos Rising, the sequel to his earlier Ambrosia title Mars Rising. Featuring an all-new graphics engine with sophisticated scripting, animation and effects features, this sequel is currently in closed beta and may be complete by this summer.

Recently Wareing updated his progress log on Ambrosia's projects page; among other things he notes that he has removed InputSprocket support ("from the MacOS version" -- could there be a Windows or Mac OS X version in the works?) and that the last level is currently being constructed. Here is the full update:

Work on Deimos proceeds at a steady pace. Almost all of the effort now is on putting the pieces together and building a fun game. This involves all day spent in Cog's editors, tweaking units and connecting them together, setting their characteristics and constantly replaying films to fine tune the resulting action. Along the way, new art and sounds are constantly added as units are created.

Sheryn is currently working on the final map, and after that she'll be polishing some of the interface artwork. Getting close now...

Other work:

- finally ditched InputSprocket from the Mac version. Hooray!! I will not miss this piece of rubbish. It was awkward to use and worse to develop for, and since it has been abandoned by Apple, it was time to abandon in my code as well. I've replaced it with a much more traditional, custom setup that is much more portable to Carbon. I lose mouse support, but that's ok because using a mouse with Deimos sucked rocks anyway.

- fixed a sneaky bug in the 16bpp alpha drawing routines. I was effectively halving the available greyscale color spectrum, giving myself only 16 color levels (as opposed to the 32 provided by ARGB). Monocolor graphics now suffer from much less banding, and light maps look smoother.

Watch for more details on this title as it nears completion. Deimos Rising will most likely ship on CD-ROM, and will be published by (of course) Ambrosia Software.

Deimos Rising Progress Log
Ambrosia's Projects Page

Applelinks Previews UT:GotY Edition
9:35 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The crew at Applelinks recently got their hands on an advance copy of Unreal Tournament:
Game of the Year
edition and were kind enough to put up a preview. The Game of the Year
edition includes UT itself, Epic's massively popular FPS, as well as several mods, maps, and other goodies
not to be found in the original edition.

Though the extra goodies are essentially free downloads that anyone who already owns UT could
acquire on their own, UT:GotY makes it convenient for those poor souls with low
bandwidth or those that still have yet to get UT to blast away with some of UT's most
popular mods. Chaos UT, for example, is a particularly nasty one:

Chaos UT's claim to notoriety is its weapons
which include crossbows that shoot normal, poisonous,
and rocket-propelled rounds; the Claw, a cross between
a grenade launcher and the jaws-of-life (in reverse); and
finally...proxy grenades. These smiling, bouncing
harbingers of death will chase down your foes, taunting them all the way with slogans like "I'm
catching up!" "I'm not going to hurt you," and "My mamma runs faster than that!"
This title is currently being ported by Westlake Interactive for release on the Mac. It should be out by
the end of March. Retailing for the low price of $20, one can't go wrong with this purchase. For those still not convinced,
be sure to check out the demo for the original UT, available for download at Mac Game Files.

Mac Game Files - Unreal Tournament Demo
Applelinks - UT: GotY Preview

Click to enlarge
RPG Planet Interviews Summoner Producer
9:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

RPG Planet recently had the chance to interview Anoop Shekar, the Assistant Producer
for the recently-"gold" RPG Summoner. Summoner, for those unfamiliar with it, is an RPG that centers
around a character named Joseph, who has the ability to summon various demons.

Though Summoner information already abounds, the interview does uncover some interesting details
regarding the concepts behind the game itself. When asked about the ideas and influences that brought
about Summoner, Shekar has this to offer:

There have been many influences for Summoner. Influences include books such as the Lord of the Rings and the Earthsea trilogy and
game like the Final Fantasy series and Planescape: Torment. We also
used quite a bit of Chinese and Japanese mythology.
Shekar also goes into detail about the combat system, noting that combat occurs in real-time, and that
players can switch between characters at will to direct their actions. The Multiplayer aspect of the game itself
will allow up to 4 players to adventure together through three levels of difficulty.

For those wondering when the Mac version is due, Shekar mentions that it will be
finised within a month or so. For more details, be sure to check out the rest of the interview.

RPG Planet - Summoner Interview
Summoner Official Site
Buy Summoner

Will Developers Support Mac GeForce3?
8:47 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Mac users everywhere rejoiced when the Mac GeForce 3, arguably the fastest video card currently available, was announced. However, all that power does little if developers don't utilize it. MacWorld recently took a closer look at the current and future prospects of the GeForce 3 from a developer's standpoint, comparing it to Apple's own AltiVec subprocessor.

For those unfamiliar with it, the AltiVec (or Velocity Engine) unit is basically a subprocessor that allows a G4 to process several data packets at once, effectively speeding up processing time -- a 128-bit data pipeline is supported, rather than the 64-bit or 32-bit chunks other processors use. The catch, however, is that programs have to be specifically written to take advantage of this extra pipeline. However, beyond a few notable exceptions, developers have yet to take any real advantage of it, mainly due to the fact that the returns (namely the size of the Mac market and the installed base of G4 users) wouldn't justify the extra work.

This is basically the case with the new GeForce 3. It has its own chipset that developers would have to write for. Again, the returns may not necessarily outweigh the costs.

What is heartening is that there are Mac-friendly companies willing to make a stand for the technology, which will hopefully cause others to follow. Aspyr plans on updating its titles to take advantage of the GeForce 3. Blizzard also notes that PC GeForce 3 titles would likely spill over to the Mac:

"Porting PC games that take advantage of the GeForce3 shouldn't be more difficult than any other port," says John Stiles, a Mac-gaming developer at Blizzard Entertainment. "Nvidia has written a handful of OpenGL extensions which allow developers to access the new proprietary GeForce3 feature set. Fortunately, these OpenGL extensions are supported equally on the Mac and the PC. This makes for a phenomenally simple port. In many cases, these OpenGL extensions could work on the Mac with no extra development effort at all."
For the rest of the details, including more comments by various developers, be sure to check out the entire article. The GeForce 3 card will debut on Mac systems later this Spring; however games that take full advantage of its abilities may be six months to a year away.

MacWorld - GeForce 3: Altivec II?

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Gridz, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab Updates5:46 PM
IMG Earns Macworld Web Award1:30 PM
Monkey Island Gold, Alice Update from Aspyr12:54 PM
The Sims Creator Q&A, Online Details10:18 AM
Tribe 2 is Gold... For PC10:06 AM
Tropico Preview, Interview9:49 AM
GameSpy Previews World War II Online9:43 AM
To Doom... Or Not to Doom?9:19 AM
New Downloads from Kid's Domain9:13 AM
Red Faction Movies Released9:05 AM
Geforce2 MX Drivers Updated8:52 AM
Target Korea 60 Days from Beta8:52 AM
Rune: Halls of Valhalla for Mac Confirmed!8:33 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 20, 2001 on one page

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Monday, March 19, 2001
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