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Friday, April 6, 2001

Update on Baldur's Gate, Summoner Testing
9:25 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GraphSim has posted a quick note on their web site regarding testing for two of their role-playing games, Baldur's Gate and Summoner. As you probably know, the Baldur's Gate multiplayer patch is still in testing and should be ready for release "soon." GraphSim notes there will also be full GameRanger support for Scott Kevill's popular game browser service. Here's the first part of the update:

Scott Kevill is working on GameRanger support for Baldur'sGate. Scott is also looking into a connection problem occurring in Baldur's Gate Multiplayer that was discovered in the recent beta testing.
Good to hear everyone is chipping in to help get this patch out as soon as possible. When the multiplayer is ready, you can expect to see the game's expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast released as well. This add-on will give fans of the series many more hours of singleplayer (as well as multiplayer) fun.

In the second half of their update, GraphSim notes that Summoner is set to move into full beta testing soon. They already have a full complement of testers though, so don't pester them to try and get on board. Here's the excerpt:

Summoner is expected to go beta next week. Volition's involvement in the Mac version of Summoner has it on the fast track for completion. The GraphSim testers will begin testing as soon as the beta is ready. We currently have all the testers we need.
Thanks go out to Mark Allender and the rest of Volition for their help in getting the Mac version of this impressive 3D RPG underway. We'll bring you more info as the Mac build nears release.

GraphSim Web Site
Buy Summoner

Click to enlarge
Interview with Steve Polge of Epic on Unreal Tech
11:02 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

OzUnreal recently had the chance to interview Steve Polge from Epic, one of the designers
of Unreal Tournament, and posted their findings online. In this interview, Steve
addresses some UT questions as well as discussing development progress on the upcoming sequel Unreal 2.

First off, UT owners will be happy to hear that another patch is in
the works. It will reportedly address various bug fixes as well as integrate
a new OpenGL driver. Hopefully, this update will be ported over to the Mac version as well and allow those without
Glide to be able to run UT well in OpenGL mode (which is currently unsupported, though possible to
enable at a serious cost to performance). Our thanks to Blue's News for the link.

Polge also addresses cheats in UT (such as aimbots) and tips his hat to Dr. Sin and
CSHP, two online communities that have attempted to solve the cheat problem by creating anti-cheat
patches. Epic's official stance is that they will attempt to make basic structural changes
in future titles to make things more difficult, but that it's not feasible to implement any changes to UT
to address the problem for good.

UT's amazing bot AI has always been regarded as one of its highest points. Polge notes that the standard
is being raised even higher for future releases:

The navigation system is being substantially improved/re-written. The main thing I am focusing on currently is improving
the framework for the AI, and making it easier to implement cool behaviors. From that will follow more realistic and
interesting behavior in future games using the Unreal engine. There are a lot of things I would like to improve on the UT
AI - hopefully it will seem pretty primitive by comparison to what we do in our next game.
Speaking of bot AI, though Epic itself is not actually doing the programming for
the upcoming Unreal 2, Legend (the Unreal 2 dev team) will be using Epic's base engine, including
the AI and gameplay features, to code Unreal 2 while adding their own new features as well.

For more information on the inner workings of Unreal, be sure to read the whole article. A Mac version
of Unreal 2 has yet to be announced, but given the track record Epic's Unreal engine on the Mac OS in the past, this seems inevitable.

Blue's News
OzUnreal - Steve Polge Interview

Blizzard on Playing Games With Mac OS X
10:44 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

An IMG reader mailed Blizzard Entertainment with a question about playing StarCraft under Mac OS X, Apple's recently-released next-generation OS. As many of you have discovered, playing games in Classic (the Mac OS X compatibility layer for non-native applications) is hit-and-miss, and the more demanding a game is in terms of graphics and sound, the less likely it is to perform adequately. Here is Blizzard's position on playing their titles in Classic:

At this time we do not have an official statement prepared in regard to
support for Mac OS X. When an official statement is prepared, we will post
the appropriate announcements to our web site.

At the current time, the Classic environment is missing support for the
following essential technologies or only partial support is available: Game
Sprockets, PPP connections to the internet. As a result you may experience
a number of problem running our games in Classic Mode. We strongly
recommend you run our games in Mac OS 9.1

Collin Smith

Online Support Representative

Blizzard Entertainment

In September of last year, Blizzard suggested that several "current and future" titles would be Carbonized for Mac OS X, including Diablo II. At that time little was known about gaming technologies for Mac OS X, but we suspect that Blizzard will act quickly to support OS X with their projects in progress (Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and WarCraft III) and will update their past titles as well -- though perhaps not as far back as WarCraft II. In any case, be sure to report your own experiences with running Blizzard titles (and any other games) under Mac OS X in our related forum, so others can share thoughts and possible solutions.

Forum Thread on Blizzard Games and Mac OS X

Minor Updates on Coldstone Engine, EV 3
10:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Over the last few days the project logs for two of Ambrosia Software's most-anticipated releases have received minor updates. While the update for Escape Velocity 3 (the next installment in the popular space action/adventure game) merely notes that the game is almost 100% Carbonized for Mac OS X, the update for the Coldstone engine packs a lot of substance. The progress log for this cross-platform RPG engine and tools notes that the next release may very well be the final candidate.

The Coldstone engine by Beenox is a fascinating project. It will allow those with only rudimentary programming skills to create attractive, deep and interactive RPGs with high-tech features and lots of flexibility. Furthermore the engine is cross-platform, including Mac OS, OS X and Windows. With such features as powerful scripting tools, a 32-bit graphics rendering engine and a realtime battle engine, the Coldstone engine gives the artist and the dreamer the ability to create their own game from scratch without spending years learning C++.

Here are some excerpts from the extensive Coldstone log update:

Coldstone B4 has been released! Mainly bug fixes, documentation updates and small modifications. I finished patching the spell system yesterday but it didn't made it for this release. There still some work remaining to do on the plugin system and documentation/tutorial update. Then I will update the Coldstone editor for Windows and OSX. If all goes well, the next version should be the final candidate.
For the full list visit the progress log itself. The first game which will use the Coldstone Engine is also in development at Beenox, known as Pillars of Garendall, is currently at "Beta 2" and is expected to be released this summer.

Ambrosia Software's Upcoming Projects
Escape Velocity 3 Progress Log
Coldstone Engine Progress Log
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall

New DoomLegacy Soon
9:32 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Doom Legacy web site has been updated, noting a new version should soon be out for all platforms (including the Mac, of course). The Mac version of this updated Doom app is maintained by Calum Robinson, and his efforts to incorporate support for Heretic files will be rolled into the next version as well. In case you don't remember, Robinson posted some Heretic screen shots in one of his recent updates to the Mac Doom Legacy site. This means you will have full OpenGL support (along with the many other features) while playing Heretic. Here's a clip from the site with word on what else will be changed in this version:

We hope to release a new version of Doom Legacy soon. We will do a common release between all OS (currently Dos, Linux, Win32, OS/2 and MacOS). That version should fix most of the xmas release problems (master server,...), improve 3D-Floors (including in hardware mode), add volumetric fog in software mode, add Heretic support, fix most missing texture problems in hardware mode,... Some good stuff in perspective!
While 3D-floors may seem trivial, remember that Doom is originally a 2.5D game. This will allow map-makers (yes, there are still people making levels for Doom) to have structures you can move above and below, such as bridges. We'll keep an eye out for the official update from Robinson and let you know when it's available.

Mac Doom Legacy Web Site
Official Doom Legacy Web Site

Click to enlarge
Update on Tomb Raider Chronicles
9:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Applelinks was recently informed by Aspyr Media that the upcoming title,
Tomb Raider Chronicles, is currently still in beta stage, "kicking butt and taking names,"
according to the posting. For those unfamiliar with the title, Chronicles is the latest installment
in the famed jump/run/shoot 3D adventure series starring Lara Croft, in which her past little-known
exploits are revealed.

The big question for many is whether or not the level editor will make it into the Mac version. The PC version of this title shipped with a built-in level editor, but such tools rarely make the transition to the Mac version of a game due to their dependence upon certain Windows technologies.
According to Amy Tores of Aspyr Media, the answer is that "Westlake is confident it
will be available." That is fantastic news, and we can't wait to see the creative levels Mac fans of this game are able to create.

There's no solid release date on this title yet, but Aspyr's online store is currently
taking pre-orders for $39.95.

Aspyr Homepage
Applelinks - Tomb Raider Chronicles Update
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Core Design
Tomb Raider: Chronicles
Buy Tomb Raider: Chronicles

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Myst III: Exile Interview
9:28 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

eUniverseGames recently had the chance to interview Presto Studios,
developers of the upcoming title Myst III: Exile (thanks to Stomped for the info).
This game, known for its
graphic splendor, is a 1st person adventure game that concentrates heavily on puzzle-solving
elements to engage players.

The storyline of Myst III is shaping up to be just as rich as the previous titles.
In the previous titles, the player encounters two characters: Atrus and Catherine.
Their two sons, Sirrus and Achenar, destroy the homeworld of an unnamed character, embittering that
character and creating the villain for Myst III. When Atrus reestablishes contact with
the Dni, the race of people who wrote the special linking books found in the previous titles,
and tries to restore their civilization to its full potential, the villain sees his chance
for vengeance. The player must travel through several ages, track down the villain, and uncover
the truths behind him.

As stated earlier, one of the most striking things about the Myst series has been its graphics.
Richly detailed, often surreal, and always stunning in the previous titles, Myst III is shaping
up to be more of the same:

Weve calculated nearly 150,000 rendered
scenes for Myst III: Exile. Weve also estimated, just for the graphics alone, 20 graphic
artists and 90,000 man-hours. However, that total was calculated back in October
2000, and final touches are still being added until we go gold.
Though Myst III will be shipping on CD-ROM format, both regular and collector's editions,
apparently a DVD release is possible as well, though it will most likely be delayed
in favor of shipping the CD-ROMs.

For the rest of the details, be sure to check out the entire interview. Presto Studios notes
that the game is currently in "Beta, verging on the edge of Golden Master." It is currently
scheduled to ship on May 7th. Also, be sure to check out some new screenshots of this game at
Beta Bites by clicking on the below link.

Beta Bites - New Myst III Screenshots
eUniverseGames - Myst III Interview
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Click to enlarge
Will Wright Talks More Sims
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An interview with Will Wright, Maxis' founder and creator of The Sims, has been posted at PC Gameplay. In the Q&A Wright discusses a number of general topics about both the game and the genre of sims in general. He also notes House Party will likely be the last expansion released for The Sims, as they want to now concentrate on The Sims 2 and Sims Online. While not much is know about either of these games, here are a couple of quick quotes:

PCG: What can we expect from The Sims 2? How do you see the concept evolving and expanding?

WW: I see The Sims evolving in a more dramatic direction (but also becoming more open-ended). The reality of the people should be much higher also.

PCG: How will The Sims Online work? Will the game evolve purely by the actions of its participants, or will there be 'events' triggered by a 'game master' to drive things along?

WW: We're trying to make the world as player-driven as possible - no game-master events. One of the main design goals is to reward players for doing or building cool and interesting things in the world that other players can then enjoy.

The rest of the interview covers issues like console development, fan involvement, and more, so be sure to have a look. There is still no official word from Aspyr on the possibility of a Mac version of House Party, but we're hoping this is a likely project.

Will Wright Interview at PC Gameplay
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

Click to enlarge
New Warcraft III Preview, Info
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The FiringSquad has posted a hands-on preview of Blizzard's often-hyped sequel, Warcraft III. The article gives lots of good information about the game, so fans of the series will surely want to check it out. They discuss issues like a second resource (mana) being added, how the day/night will affect gameplay, and many specifcs about the game's units and heroes. Here's an excerpt:

Blizzard has confirmed the addition of a second collectable resource into the game - mana stones. Unlike gold, which is harvested from gold mines and is plentiful, mana stones can only be collected by killing NPC "creeps" on the map. There are a small, finite number of mana stones on any given map.

The primary use of these mana stones is to purchase and build new heroes. Blizzard's Rob Pardo mentioned that they might also be used to purchase high end upgrades for heroes and possibly all upgrades, but that detail has not yet been decided. Players will start with enough mana stones to build one hero. This basically forces players to go out and explore the map to find NPC characters to battle with so that more mana stones can be collected.

The addition of mana stones into the game design fits into Blizzard's plan that heroes should not be treated as merely super combat units. In early play testing, Pardo mentioned that it became a problem when testers would simply mass build a large unit like the Abomination to go out and fight. In response, Blizzard has weakened the fighting ability of low level heroes in order to encourage players to level them up. The mana stone requirement to buy heroes should also keep players from just substituting a lot of low end heroes for regular combat units. Resurrection of dead heroes will cost no mana stones, so recycling old heroes could be more cost effective than building a bunch of new ones.

The preview also notes that you will be able to chop down trees, even though lumber isn't a necessary resource. This will allow you to cut a path to your enemy, as well as give you an excuse to order peons around.

After you check out the preview, be sure to read through IMG's own article our recent visit to Blizzard HQ. Warcraft III is expected out around the end of the year for the PC, with the Mac version following 'soon' afterwards.

IMG Preview of Warcraft III
Preview of Warcraft III at the FiringSquad
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

Mac Games News for Thursday, April 5, 2001

IMG Launches New Features Section11:58 AM
Monopoly Casino Support on GameRanger11:16 AM
Star Conquest Launched11:10 AM
Shadowbane Mac Version Assured10:51 AM
Quick Myth 3 Status Check10:24 AM
3 IMG Affiliates Nominated as Best Game Fan Site10:20 AM
Earth 2140 Now Shipping10:01 AM
ZSculpt releases Beta 2 of Return to Dark Castle9:55 AM
Tim Gerritsen Speaks on Rune Expansion9:33 AM
Tropico User Interface Report9:29 AM
Harpoon3 OS X Status8:51 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, April 5, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Wednesday, April 4, 2001
Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Monday, April 2, 2001
Friday, March 30, 2001
Thursday, March 29, 2001

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