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Friday, April 13, 2001

Mac Summoner Questions Answered
9:24 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

We recently asked a pair of questions to Volition's Mark Allender about the Mac version of Summoner he is working to complete at this very minute. This 3D RPG is currently in the testing phases at GraphSim and is expected to be ready for release in the near future. We were curious about the auto-updating feature mentioned in the PC version. The Summoner page also mentions EAX support, which makes us wonder if the Mac version of this game might also be EAX-enabled for those owners of brand-new Soundblaster Live! cards. Here is his response:

1) Unfortunately, we do not have the auto-updating technology for the Mac
like we do for the PC. Our auto-updating code has been around since
FreeSpace and has been honed and refined during all the projects inbetween
then and now. Unfortunately, the code makes heavy use of Windows API calls.

2) We will not ship the Macintosh version of Summoner with EAX or OpenAL
support. It's really a matter of timing. It might be cool to do, but
without hardware, we are close enough to release that adding new technology
like this is potentially risky.

The updating feature is not tremendously important, as Mac users are used to downloading patches by themselves. The good news is that many bugs and feature problems are being discovered and fixed in the PC version as players get their hands on it, and fixes for these bugs are being incorporated in the Mac OS version as it is tested -- so the initial Mac release should be refined and polished. How nice of the PC crowd to beta-test our games for us, don't you agree?

The lack of EAX support is a little disappointing, but the sting is lessened because it also means Summoner is getting very close to release. And since Mark doesn't rule out the possibility, Soundblaster Live! owners might expect an EAX-enabled patch down the road. Stay tuned for more info on Mac Summoner from IMG very soon as this much-praised RPG nears completion.

Summoner Site at GraphSim
Official Summoner Web Site
Buy Summoner

Detailed GeForce 2 MX/Radeon Comparison
3:00 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Several sources led us to an article posted on InnerMac which features a comprehensive and detailed series of comparisons between the NVIDIA GeForce2 MX and the ATI Radeon Mac Edition, comparing the AGP OEM versions of these cards. For those of you who want to buy a new Mac in the near future and who don't want to gamble an extra $300 on the GeForce3, this point-for-point comparison is exhaustive as they get. We have read other comparisons before, but this one includes tests and details we've seen nowhere else.

In many of the comparisons (such as DVD playback, driver stability, QuickTime acceleration and 2D scrolling) the Radeon card seems to pull way ahead, but the comparisons were also made using the shipping drivers for the GeForce2 MX; they have since been updated to correct many of the problems this article notes.

While game speed comparisons are only a small part of the article, these are also quite curious -- as many gamers have noted in our forums, the big weakness of the GeForce2 MX drivers at this point is very slow RAVE speed, in some cases almost twice as slow as the Radeon's RAVE support. While we have no doubt that this will improve in the future, it may give those who play Unreal Tournament, Rune and Deus Ex pause. Players of Quake 3 Arena-engine based games will be quite enthused with the results at low resolutions.

Our hardware editor Lucian Fong is hard at work on his own comparison of the two cards from a gaming perspective, and will be using the latest versions of both sets of drivers. Watch for his detailed report next week, and pore through this comparison at InnerMac for a preview.

GeForce2 MX/Radeon Comparison at InnerMac

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Myst III Delayed Until Fall for Europe
12:54 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG writer Chris Morin discovered a press release yesterday that might bear quite disappointing news for those of you viewing this site from European soil. While Myst III: Exile has been declared "golden master" for PC and is expected in early May, those on the other side of the Big Pond will not see this much-lauded sequel until September of this year. The reason behind the delay is, interestingly enough, lingual -- they want to release the Euro version will the localization for major European languages all at once, rather than force non-English speakers to wait until later; and of course there is also the issue of testing compatibility with the many other-lanuage versions of Windows and Mac OS. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

Myst III: Exile is guaranteed to appeal to all. The vivid worlds are beautifully pre-rendered and—thanks to Presto’s revolutionary propriety engine, which makes full use of both pre-rendered backgrounds and real-time 3D technology—seamlessly blended together in real-time as players look around. The locations and story are fascinating but never alienating, and considerable time was spent thinking through the different directions of the game, so that no matter what order puzzles are solved, the game can always progress.

Ubi Soft Entertainment will ship Myst III: Exile at the beginning of May in the US and the beginning of September in Europe. The current three-month delay between the US and European versions is due to efforts to release a fully localized version in European countries at the same time. In September 2001, all the consumers in Europe will have the opportunity to play Myst III : Exile in their own language.

That is actually a four-month delay, but we will forgive their obsession with the number three. Also note that Ubi Soft is the European publisher, while Activision is the US publisher. For more information on this title, be sure to read our in-depth preview.

Many, Many Past Articles on Myst III: Exile
Myst III: Exile Goes Gold Master
Preview: Myst III: Exile
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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Neverwinter Nights Q&A
10:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story has posted an interview with Teresa Stevenson and Trent Oster of Bioware about their upcoming 3D RPG Neverwinter Nights. While the game won't be massively--multiplayer such as other titles, with thousands of people on a server at once, there will be the ability to link 20-30 player servers (each with a supposed max number of 64 players) together via portals. The Q&A covers many of the Dungeon Master aspects of the game, including this interesting part about the 'fudge factor':

Is there going to be any way to introduce the DM's favorite tool, the Fudge Factor, without making it blatantly obvious to the players? Kind of like allowing them to get through that door they really need to get through, but the Thief blew their picklock roll.

Ah, the Fudge Factor... While players rarely notice it, the so-called Fudge Factor is a vital tool for any DM. Within Neverwinter, we plan on giving the DM quick in-game access to an all-encompassing difficulty slider that manipulates all sorts of stats and rolls behind the scenes. Aside from this, the DM will also have a number of more specific powers at his or her disposal such as locking and unlocking doors, giving temporary skill or combat bonuses to a creature, temporarily protecting a creature from damage or death, and so forth. Additionally, the DM can always spawn and/or possess NPCs and manipulate the situation in that manner (the city guard arrives on the scene, providing the player with some extra backup). We’ll have more details on the DMs specific Fudge Factor powers closer to release.

Bioware seems to have quite an impressive system in place to take account of all the little things that made table-top Dungeons and Dragons so memorable and enjoyable. As it stands, the company seems to have the base engine complete (see related article) and is just working on completing the usual massive amount of gameplay content now. We hope to see the Mac version of Neverwinter Nights late this year, though no official release date has been set.

Neverwinter Nights Interview at
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Quick Red Faction Q&A
10:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

VoodooExtreme spotted a forum thread in which Volition answers some interesting questions about their upcoming FPS Red Faction. This game is shaping up to be an excellent action title with great graphics, strong story, and an impressive Geo-Mod graphics engine that will allow you to blow up walls, floors, and even entire buildings. Comparisons are already being made to the classic Half-Life in terms of depth and storyline, but we're confident Volition will raise the bar much futher. Here's the quick four-question post with answers from Volition's Mike Breault:

1) Will the Ultor Gards hold there own conversations, like when they are just standing around like the scientists, grunts, and Barneys in Half-Life. And of so will they be more complex not just

"Has anyone seem my glasses"


Yes and yes. If you listen to them, you'll often get hints/foreshadowing of things to come.

2) With the Geo-Mod will vehicles be Geo-modable
i.e if there is a APC driving down a road will i be able to fire a rocket at it and see the explosion tare a hole in the armor and then have a huge fireball rush out the hole and through the inside of the APC and then out the main hatch, and then willthe burning people jump out (forget about the burning people bit) because is other games they would just explode with pieces goin everywhere

No. Objects blow up when hit with a powerful enough geo-mod weapon. When you hit a wall with a geo-mod projectile, the code does a real-time calculation that takes into account the weapon used, your angle and distance to the wall, the hardness of the material, and other considerations to determine what the hole is going to look like. The objects in the game, however, are all individually created by artists and animators. To tear a chunk out of an object would currently require that a different model be instantaneously swapped in. How many models of an APC, for example, would the artists have to create to cover all the possible variations of weapon type, angle, distance, etc. to represent every attack a player could make on the APC with a geo-mod weapon? Multiply that by hundreds of different objects in the game, and you'll see why objects aren't currently geo-moddable.

3) Will bullets ricorshay

i.e can i fire my handgun into an APC and have they bullets bounce around the cabben hopfully but likley killing the inhabitence

Bullets will ricochet off walls, pipes, etc.

4) Will your suit be like the Half-Life HEV suit will you have to keep it charged up with some sort of power

You don't have to charge your suit, but you don't want it to reach zero integrity (zero armor rating) if you're outside.

Those were pretty good answers, for questions that seem to have been typed by a drunken chimpanzee. Red Faction will be released for for the Playstation 2 this summer, with Mac and PC versions (which will include Internet multiplayer support) due later in the fall. GraphSim is expected to published the Mac port, which will be completed by Volition in-house, much as Summoner is being ported right now.

Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction Forum Thread
Red Faction

Quake III Engine Used to Make Movie
9:38 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Stomped has recently posted an interview with Katherine Anna Kang, the founder and head of Fountainhead Entertainment (and the wife of id's
lead programmer John Carmack). Fountainhead is currently creating a completely computer-rendered movie
titled Sidral. Instead of using the usual powerhouse tools that are used in today's
CGI productions, Fountainhead is using id Software's Quake III Arena engine to render their upcoming movie. The technique is known as 'machinima,' and is expected to give rise to a new genre of low-budget CGI-rendered films.

The backstory of the movie involves the planet Sidral, where the native inhabitants have a history of less
than a hundred thousand years. They have been enduring persecution by an ancient and hostile race with several million
years of history behind them. This hostile race appears to be unbeatable.

The plot itself will center around some rebel leaders, whose adventures will lead them to a discovery that will "change everything." Apparently
the Earth itself will also be involved, as Kang notes that "Earth will find itself in the middle of the greatest war the Universe has ever seen."

Kang notes that her team chose to use the Quake III engine for various reasons:

Other than CGI, in terms of revolutionary ways of creating new forms of animation, the film/television industry has been
technologically stagnant for a long time. The strides in game engine technology make it an ideal candidate as the tool with which
to create animated worlds. Some of the things that will be possible in the next generation engine is just amazing so it makes a lot
of sense (both in business and creative). An animated series could be completed with a smaller team, less money, and less
equipment than a traditional CGI animated project.
Currently, Fountainhead is shooting for a television/video release with their project. Their hope is that
their project will be successful enough to further merge the industries of video games and tv/movies.

For the rest of the story, be sure to check out the entire interview. Kang goes further into why she chose
the Quake III engine, and screenshots of the title are also available. Be sure to read our past report on the subject, where it is hinted that a runtime (realtime-rendered, not videotaped) version of the movie for the Mac OS might be a possibility.

Inside Mac Games - Sidrial for Mac OS?
Fountainhead Entertainment
Sidrial Interview

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Blizzard Server Troubles
9:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Blizzard has released a status update on their servers, noting they have unfortunately been under attack as of late, once again. Both the web site server and the system appear to be targeted by the offenders. If your Diablo II net game seems to be lagging more than usual, keep nasty e-mail you were planning to fire off to tech support to yourself for now. Here's an update on the subject from Blizzard:

We have become aware of the fact that an individual or group has
initiated a server attack on both and Blizzard's web
site. As a result of this illegal activity, many of our customers
are having difficulty logging on to the game service
and accessing Blizzard's web pages. We are in the midst of
implementing a solution, but we wanted to let you know that the
situation is a direct result of external attacks on our servers,
and not a problem with's stability.

The FBI and certain European law enforcement agencies have been
notified, and we are working in conjunction with them to identify
the individual. Attacks on our servers will not be tolerated, and
Blizzard fully intends to prosecute those responsible to the
fullest extent of the law.

If you have any information about the above activity, please

It's really too bad that people feel the need to exercise their 'talents' in this way, as opposed to provide something productive to the online community. Look for updates soon as their status changes.

Blizzard and Web Server Update
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

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NWN Chat Transcripts, OS X Plans
8:12 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

NWN Stratics recently moderated a chat between staff members of Bioware and a group of fans, discussing their upcoming RPG Neverwinter Nights. The company was quite well-represented, with nine employees showing up to answer questions from fans about the game. A transcript of the chat is now available for your reading pleasure. Stratics did a good job of cleaning up the formatting, so this transcript is not in the ususal chaotic IRC style.

The chat discusses a number of topics surrounding this 3D RPG which is based on the AD&D 3rd Edition rules. Among them are camera modes, using OpenAL for sound (especially good news for new Soundblaster Live! owners), and a little note about the Mac version's status. Here's a clip about their OS X efforts:

Is the Mac/Linux versions of Neverwinter Nights on par with the Windows version at this point in development?

Response from Bio_Trent: Linux trails a few weeks behind and the Mac is in the process of getting "Carbonized"

Response from bio_marc: Like Han Solo?

Response from Bio_Trent: Carbonizing broke a number of things with the Mac, so it is a little further behind right now. Better than Solo, Way better.

Great news to see the Mac version undergoing Carbonization already. This should mean support for both OS 9 and OS X once the game is released.

Bioware also noted in the chat that the graphics engine is basically completed, and they're now focusing on the massive amount of artwork the solo and multiplayer game will require, which is about 60% complete. They also have achieved at least minimal functionality of the impressive toolset for the game. We'll keep you posted as Neverwinter Nights nears completion later in the year.

Neverwinter Nights Chat Transcripts at Stratics
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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Unreal II Preview
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Though the game is not expected until early 2002, previews of Unreal II continue to appear around the web. The latest glimpse into the future is a well-written piece at CGO which covers many of the known areas of information about this impressive shooter sequel. While anyone can see from the screen shots that Unreal II will be a stunning title, Legend Entertainment is working closely with Epic to ensure that it is more than just a prettier FPS. The preview covers topics such as weaponry, graphics, teamplay modes and this clip about interacting with NPCs:

It's within this simple plot framework that the game manages to branch out beyond the original title, and, indeed, most first person shooters. You'll be able to interact with your crew between missions while walking around the Atlantis, and occasionally you'll find NPCs who you can talk to planetside. The good thing about all this supposed chattiness is that it doesn't consist of non-interactive, boring cinematic sequences, but something you can actually control.

"We are trying to move the genre ahead a bit," Verdu explained. "We want the player to have conversations in real time—not the stilted, horrible 'choose-a-dialog-statement-off-a-menu-while-the-NPC-does-an-awkward-idle-animation' conversations that are common." To that effect, the team is trying to make dialog choices work more like the commands you would give to bots in Unreal Tournament. The AI responses are also aimed high to be more realistic, so if your response is delayed for example, then the character you're talking to might lose patience and wander off. In a rather Half-Life inspired manner, you'll be to do things like interrupt conversations, leave in the middle of a statement or response, or even draw a third party into the conversation.

Head over and check out the rest of the preview for more information on the game. While there haven't been any definite plans for a Mac version of Unreal II, we're confident Westlake Interactive (which ported four titles based on the Unreal engine) will be itching to take on this project -- as long as a publisher is willing to release it, of course.

Unreal II Preview at CGO

Mac Games News for Thursday, April 12, 2001

Titanium PowerBook G4 Reviewed at IMG1:39 PM
Warcraft III Creatures Featured11:40 AM
GeForce 3 Details, Benchmarks11:19 AM
Elegant Chaos Speaks Up on Black and White10:00 AM
FiringSquad's History of ATI9:58 AM
Ares Updated to Version 1.2.09:14 AM
Brad Oliver on Alice, Carbonized Games9:06 AM
MOO3 Forum Compilation, OS X Info9:03 AM
Myth: TFL Server Downtime8:43 AM
Mac Deus Ex Adds Tips, Clans, Chat8:40 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, April 12, 2001 on one page

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Wednesday, April 11, 2001
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