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Wednesday, April 11, 2001

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Myst III: Exile Goes Gold Master
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Presto Studios web site has been updated with word that Myst III: Exile has reached "Gold Master" and has been sent off for duplication. This is great news for both the hard-working team and fans of the game, who will now assuredly get their copies by the previously announced May 7 date. The Riven Unofficial Home Page has more on the announcement, along with word from the some of the people involved. Here's a clip:

Gordon Currie (webmaster of the official Exile site) said, "Presto Studios worked tirelessly for the past six weeks, pulling a super-human effort of final tweaks and polish in the last 72 hours. The final Gold Master was released to manufacturing on Tuesday [April 10] at 4:30 PM PDT."

Dan Irish (producer for the Myst/Riven Product line at Ubi Soft Entertainment) said, "Ubi Soft and Presto Studios are excited to announce the completion of this chapter of the Myst series. The dedication and attention to detail at the very end of the testing phase was intense, but the final product shows tremendous polish, refinement and an overall quality that parallels the previous chapters, Myst and Riven. Myst III: Exile is scheduled to ship to retailers nationwide on May 7th, 2001."

Head over now to check out the celebratory graphic they worked up to mark to occasion. And be sure to get in your preorders now for either the normal or Collector's Edition of the game. A DVD version of the game is also planned, but may not appear until the end of this year.

Presto Web Site
Riven Unofficial Home Page
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Apple Previews Escape from Monkey Island
3:29 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Apple has updated their Games page with yet another preview, this time focusing on the just-shipping adventure title Escape from Monkey Island. The two-page preview features a description of the game's goals and gameplay and even a mild "spoiler" or two. Here's an excerpt:

In a refreshing change of pace, “Escape from Monkey Island” is a game that’s completely devoid of blood and guts — you don’t dismember your opponents, you disarm them with wit.

The game’s well-written comedic storyline is loaded with visual humor, double meanings, puns and anachronistic popular culture references, and delivered with irreverence and absurdity reminiscent of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons, or even Monty Python skits.

A big part of the fun is uncovering the many visual and verbal gems in the game. You can’t help but grin when you find an island called Knuttin Atoll, or meet a character named Jumbeaux LaFeet, or try to figure out how to use loony items like a can of chicken fat, wood shavings, an old inner tube or a monogrammed pirate’s hanky.

Fans of adventure games should certainly be excited about this one. Read through Apple's preview for more details, and watch for this title on store shelves in the very near future, brought to you by Aspyr Media.

Aspyr Media
Apple Previews Escape from Monkey Island

Tropico Gold for PC, Mac Version in May
2:03 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As the IMG news page creaks and groans under the strain of multiple Tropico stories, PC news source Gone Gold has announced that the Windows version of this economic and political sim of island dictatorship has "gone gold" and is ready for duplication. The brief missive from Pop Top, written "in character" from the point of view of a government stooge, notes that the PC version will hit stores on April 24th and the Mac OS version will follow later in May. Here is an excerpt:

As you know we have been monitoring the political situation in the Caribbean. The tiny island known as Tropico is ready for leadership. We have intercepted a message to the American press from the factions known as Pop Top Software and God Games, subsidiaries of Take-Two Interactive Software (NASDAQ: TTWO). 

The message is calling for the Americans to send their best leaders for consideration of the dictatorship of this new island nation. It seems that "Project Tropico" has reached a mission status of "Gold" and the Americans will be ready to ship the PC faction leaders on April 24th followed by the Mac faction leaders in May.

If by some strange accident of fate or fortune you have never heard of Tropico before, please find your way to our detailed preview of this title. Thanks to Gone Gold for their uncanny ability to track PC game releases.

Gone Gold Declares Tropico "Gold"

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'Elegant Chaos' Tips Hand on Mac Black and White?
12:24 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Ah, the subject of Mac Black and White -- no topic has fixated our forums in the past few weeks more frequently than the debate over the existence and/or status of a supposed Mac OS port of this recently-released title by UK developer Lionhead. From the moment this game was announced for the PC, Mac gamers have demanded a port of this unusual, innovative title; Lionhead themselves have remained maddeningly coy about the existence of such a port.

Late last summer, a provocative post on the Feral Interactive web site seemed to drop the hint that one of their future projects may be Black and White; as they are also a UK company, this made them seem a likely candidate. At this time several news sources (including IMG) learned of the existence of plans for the port but were unfortunately asked to keep things quiet; thus Mac Black and White became one of the worst-kept secrets in Mac gaming history.

In December of last year, Feral's development partner Elegant Chaos tipped off observant readers with yet another clue that a "monochrome" title was in development. Yes, we know that monochrome could mean any single color, and that black and white are not technically colors, but the gist of their message was clear. At that time we again asked both Feral and EC if they were willing to officially announce the existence of a Mac port of Black and White; again they declined to do so. Elegant Chaos previously worked with Feral on the Mac ports of Championship Manager 00/01 and Sim Theme Park (published in the US by Aspyr Media).

Now it seems that Elegant Chaos has finally tipped their hand with a slyly-worded post to their news page. While (once again) they do not mention the title in question by name, you'd have to be pretty obtuse to miss this one. The author of the Mac Black and White Unofficial Homepage posted in our forums with news of this statement, just added to the EC news page:

In answer to all the questions I've been getting about you know what (and you know who you are)... yes it is happening. Once an official announcement has been made I will probably try to do some sort of development diary to keep people up to date with my progress.

One thing I would like to say at this stage - don't be unrealistic about time expectations, and don't read too much into the date of my original post - these deals often take a long time to get going! Although I have had the code for a while, and I have been doing quite a lot of preparatory work, I have also been waiting for the goalposts to stop moving. Probably more relevant is the fact that it's a big, complicated project - which will take time to do right.

It's gonna be a cracker...

From what we've been led to understand about the internal workings of Black and White, this one may indeed be a "cracker" of a port; the game depends heavily on Microsoft technologies for graphics and networking. The PC version will also most likely be patched several times in the future, so those goalposts may remain mobile for some time. At this point any estimate of a release date is pure speculation, and should be treated as such. As for a potential publisher for this title, it is painfully obvious that signs point towards a common partner of both Feral and Elegant Chaos in the past -- US Mac publisher Aspyr Media is a likely candidate. At this time none of the three companies seem to be commenting on these revelations, so all of this information is considered to be rumor or speculation at this point. For more information about the game itself, visit the Lionhead web site or the official game site.

Elegant Chaos News Page
Mac Black and White Unofficial Homepage
Mac B&W Forum Post
Black and White (Official Site)
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

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OS X Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 Solutions, Problems
10:23 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

We've been receiving a variety of reports from users attempting to run the Beta version of theCocoa port of Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 which was recently released by Omni Group. In our news item yesterday we missed a crucial detail that was needed for those trying to run the demo version of this game in OS X; in order for the console window to be brought down, you have to deliberately enable this ability in the advanced preferences. Our apologies to anyone confused by this issue. Here are complete instructions on how to run the demo version with the Omni OS X ported app:

Launch the FAKK2 Cocoa application. When a dialog box pops up asking you to locate the FAKK2 folder, you need to direct it to the folder that contains the original (Classic) demo app itself, not the fakk2 data folder inside that folder. Once the game loads, click on Video and Audio and then Advanced. On the far right side, put a check in the box next to "Console"; this will enable the drop-down console activated by the "tilde" (~) key on your keyboard. Make sure you hit Apply Changes and then go back to the main menu. You should now be able to drop the console window with the tilde key and type "map fakkhouse_demo" and hit return. You should be greeted by the intro cinematic for the game. One reader has reported excellent results and improved sound performance, but others (including several on the IMG staff) haven't been able to get past (or even to) the initial loading screen.

Other tips we have learned that may help in getting past the initial launch including launching another application first which initializes OpenGL (such as Omni's port of Quake 3 Arena) or switching your screen resolution down to a lower level before you launch the game. Yes, there is still a little "voodoo" in Mac OS X.

We've been in contact with Omni regarding the problems we have been having. Make sure you report your experiences with the beta version of this application in our OS X forums, so we can bring these issues up with Omni and help them to pinpoint trouble spots to work on. If you are having trouble and are curious about what is going on when OS X attempts to launch the application, open a Terminal window and type the following:

tail +0f /var/tmp/console.log

This will generate a log of all processes taking place, so launch the Heavy Metal app right away. It will take an experienced user (or programmer) to decipher these logs, but it may give advanced gamers a clue as to what aspect of their setup is presenting a problem. From what we have seen so far, we can't wait for Omni's versions of Alice and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, which are also in development. Presumably after these Quake 3-engine titles are complete, Omni will move on to a Cocoa port of Bungie's Oni.

Download FAKK2 OS X Beta (2.5 MB)
Mac OS X Forum
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.2 OS X Beta
Gathering of Developers
Ritual Entertainment
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2

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New Screenshots of Tropico
9:51 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

VoodooExtreme has posted some new screenshots of Tropico, PopTop's upcoming island nation management sim. The shots themselves reveal some interesting details regarding this highly-anticpated title.

In terms of eye-candy alone, this game definitely delivers. Even from a zoomed-out overhead persepctive, detail is highly evident on structures. Columns, various vegetation, and even the thought balloons of individual citizens are clearly visible even from a high bird's-eye-view. Zoom in closer, and cracked walls, rusty roofs, and hanging laundry come into focus.

Stats for each individual citizen are looking quite detailed as well. In one shot, the stats for Nassau, a laborer, are given. The screen lists his age, household size, household meals, hunger level, rest level, and his religion, healthcare, and entertainment needs.

Structure management also appears to be very detailed. The usual stats are present, such as income intake, quality of life and the like. Finer details, such as the dress code for a Cabaret (noted as "casual" in one of the screenshots) are also present. A powerplant screenshot shows "coal" as the fuel type being used.

VoodooExtreme promises to post a preview of Tropico later today. For now, be sure to check out the screenshots. The Mac version is currently set for a release "soon after the PC version," which ships at the end of this month.

Tropico - Official Site
VoodooExtreme - New Tropico Screenshots
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

Vampire: The Masquerade to Enter Testing Soon
9:32 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

While MacSoft's web site seems to have taken a little time warp back to 1999 or so, IMG has received word that development on Vampire: The Masquerade is still moving forward. This 3D role-playing game was highly acclaimed by many on the PC side last year, and Mac users should find it just as ghoulishly fun. Vampire: tM was originally a pen-and-paper RPG, and fans of that genre (or table-top games in general) will surely love this video game adaptation. According to MacSoft, the game is about to move into testing and is still on track for a release later next month. Here's the word:

Vampire is
still slated to be released mid- to late May and is due to go into testing
this week, I believe.
While this isn't exactly a flood of information, this is still great news for those looking forward to the game. You can be sure we'll be bringing you more on the title as it heads towards completion in the next few months. For more info on the title, check out the official web site hosted by PC publisher Activision.

Vampire: The Masquerade Web Site
IMG News: Vampire: TM Set for May Release
Vampire: The Masquerade
Buy Vampire: The Masquerade

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New Tropico Contest
8:51 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

PopTop has announced a new contest for their upcoming game Tropico. This dictator simulation is making a lot of news around the net as it prepares for release. The new contest requires a bit of artistic creativity, as it asks you to create a postcard from the sunny island of Tropico. You need to work quick, though. The contest deadline is April 18, just one week from today. We're sure Mac gamers (being the highly creative bunch they are) can come up with some great ideas. Three winners will receive a free, signed copy of the game when it's available. Here's an excerpt from the page with more details on the rules:

1) Make your own Tropican postcard using your computer, screenshots, crayons, paper, glue, paper mache, paprika, nudibranchs, whatever you want.  We've provided some examples to get your noodles going, though the examples are not intended to imply a preferred style or design.  Be creative!

2) If it isn't already, convert your postcard into a 800x500 .JPG. Submissions will only be accepted as 800x500 .JPG's.

3) Submit your .JPG creation to by email before the end of April 18th, 2001.

4) Include in the email your name, age, email address, mailing address, and phone number.

5) Wait until April 19, when we will announce the winners.  The winners will be judged by us, the employees of PopTop, and will be based on creativity and style.  

So get your thinking caps on and win a free copy of Tropico! The first place winner will also get a full verison of Railroad Tycoon II: Gold Edition.
If you're looking for more information on Tropico, be sure to read through IMG's just-posted preview.

Tropico Post Card Contest Page
IMG Preview of Tropico
PopTop Software
Buy Tropico

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New Movies/Impressions of Red Faction
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

IGN PC has recently updated their preview of the upcoming FPS Red Faction with new movies and details. Coming from the minds at Volition, this title promises to break new ground in the FPS genre by allowing a greater degree of flexibility and freedom in several aspects, chief among those being the ability to deform or destroy the environment itself.

The weapons you can use to perform random acts of destruction are many and varied. They will include a 12mm handgun, a satchel (with throwable sticky mines), an electrically charged riot stick, a shotgun, a regular sniper rifle, a heavy sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, a flame thrower, an assault rifle, a machine gun, a heavy machine gun, grenades, a riot shield and the "Big Gun," which is reported to take up half the screen when armed. Each weapon, except for the riot shield, will also have secondary fire abilities. Anyone who feels the need for more firepower than that should most likely seek professional help.

The new movies also reveal some interesting gameplay aspects. One of the movies features a jeep driver inviting the player to jump in the back and man the turret gun. Another movie shows the player cycling through weapons.

The general look and feel of the game is looking very impressive. The outdoor environments shown in the movies are huge and detailed. Enemies shot stagger, fall, and die in a realistic manner depending on what kills them and where. In a shown sniper tower battle, sparks from ricocheting bullets can actually be seen. Of course, the ultra-realistic violence being depicted by this game may make it the target of scorn or perhaps even legislation by those eager to regulate the content of the games industry. Be warned, these movies do contain quite realistic portrayals of extreme violence.

For the rest of the preview, be sure to check out the full preview at IGN PC. Mac and PC versions are currently scheduled for release sometime in the fall. Daily Radar has also posted a page of screen shots and movies from the PS2 version as well which are also worth a look for those anticipating this shooter.

Red Faction Media Explosion at Daily Radar
Red Faction Official Site
IGN PC - Red Faction Preview
Red Faction

Rune: Halls of Valhalla Interview, Preview
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

More information about the upcoming expansion pack Rune: Halls of Valhalla has been released recently by various sites around the Web. A fresh preview of the value-priced title is available at PC.IGN, while Human Head business director Tim Gerritson has been interviewed by Evil Avatar. In case you haven't heard, the add-on will also be a stand-alone product, so those without the original Rune will be able to join in on the multiplayer fun. Halls of Valhalla will include many new levels, models, and two new gametypes. In his Q&A, Gerritson covers a number of topics surrounding the expansion, as well as the Rune franchise itself and the constant PC-versus-console debate. Here's a clip with information on the new networking code:

What, if anything was done to improve the network code from the original release of Rune?

TG: Chris Rhinehart made two primary changes. First, he reduced the amount of data that was being sent back and forth from the server and the clients (such as by making movement speeds constant, and by eliminating useless data checks). Second he improved the way client-side prediction is handled so that it was better and faster (it was also easier since the movement is now constant). This reduced the amount of data that needed to be exchanged so that slower connections don't have to work as hard, and eliminated the biggest bugaboo we had in the original game- jitterying player movment on heavy traffic servers.

It still won't make your game sing when you are playing on a 16 player game server in Korea from your home in Iowa via a dial-up connection, but overall ping times will be better, and the game will still be playable even in high ping situations.

The interview has lots of other good information, so be sure to head over and read through the rest.

If you're looking for more details about the Halls of Valhalla, check out PC.IGN's preview. It offers coverage on many of the new features and gameplay modes, including details on Arena and Headball game types.

Look for the Mac version of Halls of Valhalla to appear in the next month or two. Westlake has promised to include the just-released 1.06 patch and EAX enhancements at the same time, so this next update should be a knockout for Mac Rune fans.

Halls of Valhalla Preview at PC.IGN
Tim Gerritsen Interview at Evil Avatar
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

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New Shadowbane Monsters
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Proving they can continue development while supposedly without a firm publishing deal at this point, the Shadowbane web site has received its weekly update. You may recall our news last week about issues this MMORPG was reportedly having with publisher Gathering of Developers. They have assured us a Mac version of this title is still in development, no matter who ends up publishing the game.

Their recent update concerns the Bestiary section of the site. They have added seven new foes to the page, ranging from Genies to Swamp Hags. Included in the listings are screen shots of each character, along with a short description. Stay tuned for more information on the game as it moves through beta testing and makes an appearance later this year.

IMG News: Shadowbane Mac Version Assured
Shadowbane Bestiary
Wolfpack Studios

Mac Games News for Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Mac Rune Patch, EAX Info2:58 PM
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.2 OS X Beta1:21 PM
Update on Simon 3D, Other e.p.i.c. Titles11:14 AM
Westlake on Deus Ex Soundblaster vs Multiplayer9:58 AM
GameSpy Previews Myst III: Exile9:19 AM
The Feeble Files Coming to the Mac9:06 AM
Baldur's Gate Multiplayer Beta 2 Now in Testing9:04 AM
Fly! II Release Date Confirmed8:41 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, April 10, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, April 9, 2001
Friday, April 6, 2001
Thursday, April 5, 2001
Wednesday, April 4, 2001
Tuesday, April 3, 2001

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