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Thursday, April 5, 2001

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Shadowbane Mac Version Assured
10:51 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Yesterday we reported the alarming news that the tactics-focused online RPG Shadowbane was currently without a publisher after being allegedly dropped by Gathering of Developers. However our subsequent discussions with two Wolfpack team members has assured us that the Mac version of this game is completely inseparable from the PC version, and simultaneous development and publishing of both versions will continue.

While neither staff member would speak on the record, as they are most likely negotiating with other publishers at this time, both said repeatedly that they are 100% behind the Mac OS version of the title and wouldn't even consider separating its development or dropping it in favor of the Windows version. As we reported some time ago, Wolfpack's Chief Technology Officer is indeed a Mac user and will program on nothing else, so our future in this MMORPG is guaranteed.

In related news, several sources pointed us towards a thread on the official Shadowbane message boards in which Wolfpack team member 'Warden' (all of the team members go by their RPG character name) also voiced his support for the Mac OS version of the title. He explains how they have planned for a hybrid release of the title from the very beginning, which will be their strategy should they find a publisher less enthusiastic about the Mac OS version than Gathering of Developers was. Here is his post:

Our plan is to do joint packaging for both the PC and the Macintosh -- single CDrom that contains both versions of the client software, wrapped up nicely in a single box marked "Shadowbane for the PC or Macintosh Computers." This works nicely for a couple reasons; not only does it pushes both product versions out through a single distribution channel, but it also makes it hard to do anything BUT a joint release.
Although we were always confident of a Mac OS release of this title, the confirmation by three staff members that our platform is an inseparable part of their plans is certainly a relief. For more information about Shadowbane itself, visit the Shadowbane web site or read our many past articles on the subject.

'Warden' on Mac Shadowbane Plans
Past Articles on Shadowbane
Wolfpack Studios

IMG Launches New Features Section
11:58 AM | Jason Sims | Comment on this story

Today we are pleased to announce the debut of our new database-driven Features section. The major improvements to this section of the Inside Mac Games website include a new article list page with a cleaner layout that can be sorted by Date or by Title, and a new viewer page for reading the articles that includes new navigation controls and sidebar information throughout each article. Though it is not visible, the new Features section also includes an extensive related items system which will form the basis of our powerful new search engine--watch for that in the near future.

With the new Features section, IMG has now been completely rebuilt to run on our powerful database. Having cleared this final hurdle in this long project will allow us to begin to improve the site in significant ways. There are several miscellanous components of our site yet to be automated, such as our Release Dates page, and work on our new search engine will begin immediately, so there are plenty of improvements yet to come.

Please bear with us while we take the time to enter all our old articles into the new system. As always we welcome your feedback and suggestions for any part of our site--especially the new Features section.

IMG's Features Section

Monopoly Casino Support on GameRanger
11:16 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Scott Kevil sends word that his popular Mac-only game finder GameRanger now supports the recent release of Monopoly Casino. The game is published by MacSoft with Westlake Interactive doing the Mac port. It features many Monopoly-themed versions of games like blackjack, poker, keno, and much more. Here's an excerpt from the press release with more on the game:

In Monopoly Casino, get ready for a totally unique gaming experience
offering all the thrills and excitement of 'Vegas combined with the
classic fun of Monopoly. Win big in a fantastic 3-D world featuring all
the Monopoly icons you grew up with and all your favorite casino games,
including the hottest Monopoly slots available in 'Vegas today!

From poker and roulette to blackjack and slots, it's casino fun for
everyone. Play all the most popular casino games in a 3D Monopoly
casino. Choose a favorite token, pick a game on a deed card, and try
your luck on over 40 Monopoly themed games with over 200 variations.

Head over to the GameRanger site now to grab the free download if you haven't already. And be sure to look through IMG's preview of Monopoly Casino for more information.

IMG Preview of Monopoly Casino
Monopoly Casino Press Release
GameRanger Web Site

Star Conquest Launched
11:10 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Ron DuCros of Dark Shadow Software has announced the official launch of Star Conquest, a Mac-only game of strategic war in outer space. The $30 shareware title is currently in production, and should be available at the end of April. Here is the press release:

Dark Shadow Software Limited is pleased to announce the launch of Star

Star Conquest is a turn-based strategic war game. Designed exclusively
for the Apple Macintosh range of computers.

It may be played as a single player, multi-player or network game. Up
to ten human players can play, accompanied by up to ten computer
controlled players. GameRanger is supported for finding other players
on the Internet.

Your objective is to guide your species in its expansion to all corners
of the known universe. You start with two or more populated planets and
a small number of star ships. Using these star ships you have to
explore and colonise other star systems before attempting to conquer
your opponents.

Up to 20 Players.

Up to 1000 Star Systems (each with up to 10 Planets).

11 Star Ship types.

25 Planet Building Types.

Star Bases and Battle Platforms.

Star Ships can be grouped into Fleets for easy management.

Star Ship and Star Base Orders.

Much, much more!

Win one of 5 free copies of Star Conquest. Click the competition link
on our website. Closing date for entries 20th April 2001.

For more information on this title, visit the official web site or read the preview on GamesMania. A demo of the game is available from MacGameFiles as well. Pre-orders for the game are now being taken on the Dark Shadow Software web site.

Star Conquest Demo (72 MB)
Dark Shadow Software
Preview of Star Conquest at GamesMania

Quick Myth 3 Status Check
10:24 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Mumbo Jumbo's Andrew Meggs has updated his personal Antennahead web site with more info on the status of Myth III: The Wolf Age. In his last update, he noted he had demoted himself to a normal programmer in order to get work for E3 done. Now it seems this has worked so well, he's back in a management role, training others on the team with his new tools. He also notes Bill "Burger" Heineman might be brought on to work on the project as well. Here's the update:

My attempts at shirking project leadership to "just get the bloody code written
already" have failed by way of succeeding -- the suddenly rapid pace of engine
development has me back out from behind the keyboard to provide support and
training for the artists who've suddenly got a lot of new features and tools
to learn about and play with, which means that engine development isn't as
quick anymore. I really need two of me, one to write code and one to coordinate
the use of it, but failing a sudden advance in cloning I might try to borrow
some Burgertime after Fighter Squadron is gold. Can someone remind me again how
the Myth 3 team is different from the Contraband team? :)
As you probably remember, Bill "Burger" Heineman and Meggs have worked together on many projects before, both at Logicware and Contraband. We'll keep you posted on any new updates for this prequel to the series.

Antennahead Web Site

3 IMG Affiliates Nominated as Best Game Fan Site
10:20 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

We're proud to announce that three IMG Network Sites are nominees for the Second Annual Applelinks Moofie Awards, sponsored by MacSoft and Freeverse Software. MacBaldur, MacDeusEx, and SimsForMac have all been selected as 'Best Documentary' (game fan site) in Applelinks' Oscaresque nomination. The best part about this awards ceremony is that you play the role of the 'Academy,' in that you get to vote on all of the categories yourself. Head over to Applelinks page now to place your votes for best fan site, as well as for the many other categories. We wish all of the nominees the best and hope they continue to provide great fan coverage well into 2001!

SimsForMac Web Site
MacDeusEx Web Site
MacBaldur Web Site
Applelinks Moofie Awards

Earth 2140 Now Shipping
10:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The German-based e.p.i.c. Interactive sent us a note about Earth 2140 now shipping. This real-time strategy game
april 5th 2001: Realtime strategy game EARTH 2140 now shipping features 70 different vehicles and buildings, 50 missions, six-player multiplayer, and a CD-quality stereo soundtrack. It also has relatively low system requirements, only needing 32MB of RAM and a 180 Mhz PowerPC. Here's the update in full:

e.p.i.c. interactive entertainment today announces that its realtime
strategy game EARTH 2140 is now shipping for the Macintosh. EARTH 2140 lets
you go to war with either the forces of the Eurasian Dynasty or the United
Civilised States in a deadly struggle for the Earth´s last resources.

To take part in the last war on Earth you will need a Mac with OS 8.6 or
better, 32 Mbyte Ram and 180 Mhz PPC CPU.

You can find more information on EARTH 2140 in the projects section of our

Head over to the e.p.i.c site for info on the game's story, buildings, and other units. Check out the demo of the game at Macgamefiles now if you haven't already done so.

We also contacted the company about plans for distribution in North America. They note that while the Mac-only site Mac-O-Rama will likely have copies, they are also looking into other, larger distributors as well. We'll keep you posted as more info becomes available.

Download Demo of Earth 2140 (12.5 MB)
e.p.i.c. Interactive Web Site
Earth 2140
Buy Earth 2140

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ZSculpt releases Beta 2 of Return to Dark Castle
9:55 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

ZSculpt Entertainment, producers of the upcoming Return to Dark Castle has released Beta 2 of the Demo for the game. It includes some bug fixes and a couple changes to the level structure. No word yet on a final release date. It's worth a download if you've got the bandwidth to spare.

Return to Dark Castle Preview
Return to Dark Castle Beta 2
ZSculpt Entertainment
Delta Tao
Z Sculpt
Return to Dark Castle
Buy Return to Dark Castle

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Tim Gerritsen Speaks on Rune Expansion
9:33 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Stomped has a new interview with Tim Gerritsen of HumanHead talking more about their upcoming expansion pack, Rune: Halls of Valhalla. The add-on to Rune will contain many multiplayer enhancements, including new maps, models, skins, and modes of play. In the interview, Gerritsen also speak about the improved networking performace (read: less lag in your games), the improved defensive techniques, and how the game will be a stand-alone product. Here's more about how you won't need the original Rune to play:

Stomped: Why was the decision made to make Halls of Valhalla playable as a stand-alone game as well as an add-on for Rune?

Gerritsen: Quite simply, if the game was only an expansion, we would only possibly reach the original players of Rune. We felt it made more sense to expand our market than limit it. We hope that players who didn't want to play the single player game will be enticed by a multiplayer only game for $20. It's a way for us to reach beyond the original players of the game and expand the growing Rune MP community.

People who never played Rune before will get all the original multiplayer characters, and the new ones, which is over 35 characters to play. We also are including all the original mulitplayer maps as well as the new ones, so they will get over 40 maps to play on. With four separate play modes to choose from, that's pretty significant content for $20.

For people who own Rune, they get 16 new characters and 34 new maps to play on, as well as two new modes. That's a lot of content to add to the game, especially since the original game only had 7 multiplayer maps.

So those that aren't interesting in the singleplayer game can think of Halls of Valhalla as a sort of Q3A-like multiplayer version of Rune. The bargain price of $20 also definitely makes the game appealing.

Be sure to head over to Stomped and check out the rest of the interview, plus the new screen shots of the add-on in action. The Mac version of Halls of Valhalla is expected out mere weeks after the PC is released later this month.

Rune: Halls of Valhalla Interview with Tim Gerritsen at Stomped
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

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Tropico User Interface Report
9:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Computer Games Online has recently posted a column by Phil Steinmeyer, designer on the upcoming
island nation management sim Tropico, titled Into the Sausage Factory: Improving the Interface (thanks to
VoodooExtreme for the info). Steinmeyer discusses and gives advice on creating user interfaces (UI)
for computer games and uses the development of Tropico's own UI as an example, revealing some details about this upcoming

Tropico will have a one-screen interface as opposed to the multiple screens often found in other
management games, with no branching off to secondary screens. An interface bar located
at the bottom of the screen will contain all pertinent information. It will also be divided
into four main areas, titled as "messages, radar, a center tab area, and a round
thing-a-majig" by Steinmeyer.

The main controls will feature some interesting functionalities that should make play
more enjoyable. The message bar will feature mouseover help, displaying information about
each control if a player lets the cursor hover over a control for a few seconds.
The radar will rotate to match the playing field, eliminating the need for players to mentally line up a static
radar to a dynamic world. The "round thing-a-majig" is the catch-all animation window,
in which animations, graphical close-ups of people, and other eye-candies will be displayed.

The center tab is described as "the heart of the interface." When selected, it will
show one of several displays about people/places in gameplay, depending on what map object or button
has been selected.

For players interested in detailed stats, an almanac of sorts has been added. It details stats such as
crop yields over the past 5 years, number of acres planted, and the like. Information deemed important
is placed on the front pages, and clicking on any piece of info will give a full detailed report on it.

The art design of the interface itself seems to have gone through some interesting permutations, as narrated by

[Me]: That window sucks. Do something different.

[Paul]: I just spent a week on this! All right, what do you want it to look

[Me]: I don't know—you're the artist. Figure something out, something
cool and tropical-ly

For the rest of the details, as well as a fascinating read on UI design in general, be sure
to read the full article. Tropcio should be shipping for the Mac soon after the PC version, which is scheduled to ship
this late April.

Tropico Official Site
Computer Games Online - Improving the Interface
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Harpoon3 OS X Status
8:51 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Jesse Spears sent along word that his Harpoon3 site has been updated with news on how the game performs in OS X. While he notes the performace is better, in some cases, than normal OS 9.1, there are some glitches which need addressing. Spears also promises a fully OS X version, though he's waiting for updates from both Apple and Codewarrior before he moves forward. Here's a clip from the update with some tips:

First, the full screen intro movie doesn't play properly. I could hear the sound, but nothing showed up on the screen. The in-game videos worked fine.

Second, I encountered a crash bug in one of the Game Colors dialogs (I'm not sure which one). I can't reproduce it on OS9.1, so it will have to wait till I get OSX on my own machine.

Third, anyone that's playing on OSX will probably want to hide the dock. If you don't have your dock set to Auto-Hide already, try Command-Shift-D to toggle the dock on and off (I think that was it).

Performance wise, it was very impressive. H3 under classic on a 400MHz iMac DV seemed a lot faster than on my G4/450/450 under OS9.1. Most of the speed up seemed to be in areas where the hard drive is accessed (for instance, loading scenarios was nigh instanteous, and loading the Platform Display dialog was extremely fast). I think this is because under OS9.1 (and older), the file access routines have a great deal of 68k code in them, where as OSX has a native file system, and since Classic calls through OSX it gets the new file system for free.

So Harpoon3 fans should be able to get the game running in Classic, just be aware of the issues. We'll let you know when a native OS X version is ready. In other news, the Windows programmer -- mentioned earlier to be looking at the Harpoon3 code -- has been revealed to be his brother. Head over to the Harpoon3 site for more info.

IMG News: Harpoon4 Cancelled, H3 Status Check
Harpoon 3 Web Site

Mac Games News for Wednesday, April 4, 2001

IMG Reviews iMac SE6:34 PM
SixtyForce Update, Source Released6:14 PM
Myst III: Exile Survey/Contest12:12 PM
IGN PC Previews Red Faction10:05 AM
New Fly! II Screen Shots10:02 AM
Rune Expansion Interview9:21 AM
Marathon: Resurrection Site Returns6:00 AM
Shadowbane Loses Publisher6:00 AM
Warcraft III FAQ Update6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, April 4, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Monday, April 2, 2001
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