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Tuesday, April 17, 2001

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pop-pop Pops Back Up
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After nearly a year of silence, Ambrosia's web page has finally been updated with new information on the anime arcade spoof pop-pop. Apparently the developer for the project, Andrew Campbell, stopped by the company's offices recently. Pics of his visit have been posted, along with a host of new screen shots and even movies of pop-pop in action. The two QuickTime clips show both the single and multiplayer modes of the game, so definitely check them out to get an idea of how it will play.

In case you haven't heard about pop-pop (or are waiting for the movies to download), the game is a futuristic anime-style version of Araknoid with many colorful characters and different modes of play. Full GameRanger support will means you won't have trouble finding players for a quick match. Head over now to the Ambrosia site to have a look at the new media. We've contacted the company for a status update, though it's expected to still be in closed beta testing.

Also new to Ambrosia's site are more pics of the upcoming RPG Pillars of Garendall. A total of ten images of the game have been added to its page, showing much more of this very nice looking role-playing title. PoG is using the cross-platform Coldstone game engine, and seems to be realtime RPG heaven for the Zelda fan in you. The pics show some impressive new enemies, so be sure to pay Ambrosia's projects page a visit.

Pillars of Garendall Progress Log
Staff Pics of Ambrosia
pop-pop Progress Log
Ambrosia Software

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Fly! II Lands at GM Status
4:06 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

MacNN spotted a post at Sim Arena which announces the completion of Fly! II. This awaited flight sim sequel (which should not be confused with Fly2K) from Terminal Reality has reportedly just hit GM and is being sent off to duplication now. This is great news for fans of the genre, as the title aims to improve greatly upon the original. Here is a quote from producer Brendan Goss on the game's status:

The good news is it went gold today and we are just getting ready to send out the first of the press units...

We have sent off the gold master for is what will be in all the boxes that hit store shelves on the first of the month.

The game will be published by Gathering of Developers for both Mac and PC early next month. We've contacted TRI and GoDGames to make sure there aren't any issues with the Mac version. For those experimenting with Apple's next OS, the game will both be Carbonized and support OpenGL. We'll keep you posted with any details as the game nears release.

Terminal Reality Web Site
Sim Arena Forum Post
Fly! II Web Site at GoDGames
Terminal Reality
Fly! II
Buy Fly! II

IMG Reviews Driver
2:22 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Although this title was delayed numerous times and arrives on the Mac platform literally years after its debut on the Playstation and PC, Driver is still a noteworthy example among the incredibly few number of racing titles for the Mac OS. Part driving sim, part action game, part 70s car-chase movie maker, Driver has multiple elements for any fan of the squeal of tires on asphalt. IMG has posted a review of this title for your perusal, so that you can make an informed decision whether or not to purchase this MacSoft release. Here is an excerpt:

In Driver, you play the role of Tanner, a policeman who is given the assignment of infiltrating a criminal organization. Your mission is so clandestine that only you and the police chief know the nature of it. While undercover, you take on the tasks of transporting thieves, drug dealers, and murderers around town; stealing other cars; chasing down rival gang members; and more.

The story is revealed through a series of pre-rendered cutscenes presented in between missions. The quality of the movies is sub par, even by two-year-old Playstation standards. Admittedly, Driver's story isn't very compelling and not very cohesive. To keep things interesting, you are allowed to choose from several missions at certain points in the game. Unlike a game that truly branches out, you are forced to play some missions no matter which "branch" you select. What Driver lacks in story, though, is made up for in gameplay.

One of the benefits of Driver's apparent "age" are the low system requirements; nearly any Mac that shipped with 6 MB or more of VRAM and onboard 3D acceleration can play the game quite well. Read on for more details.

Review: Driver

WWDC Game Sessions
2:12 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Maccentral has recently posted an article detailing sessions occuring at the upcoming World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), hosted by Apple. Of course, OS X is most likely to be the primary topic of discussion, with one of the offshoots of this discussion being the development on and porting of games over to the new OS. To this end, Apple is implementing several sessions devoted to game development, listed by Maccentral as the following:

Session 109, which happens on Tuesday at 2 pm, is called "Graphics for Games." It'll focus on the high performance graphics capabilities of Mac OS X, concentrating specifically on screen control APIs and how to integrate available technology.

Session 400 kicks off the day on Wednesday. That's Apple's QuickTime Overview session, where the company will examine its foundation multimedia technology. Attendees will get a retrospective of what's been done with QuickTime this past year in Web publishing, interactive gaming and other venues, and will get a glimpse of what's to come.

Game developers should also keep 10:30 on Thursday open. That's the time for session 409. It's entitled "OpenGL: Advanced Rendering." Apple expects to give developers who attend this session a thorough understanding of OpenGL rendering techniques, vertex and texture programs and more.

Session 135, planned for 10:30 am on Friday, is called "Input for Games." That session will cover implementation details of Mac OS X's HID Manger and Carbon Events for Mac OS X. Issues like getting mouse deltas and finding devices are expected to be covered. This particular issue has been getting some play on developer mailing lists recently, so it's bound to be a lively and informative session.

Friday afternoon at 2 pm is when session 136 happens. It's called "Sound and Networking for Games." It's pretty self explanatory. The details of how to incorporate sound technologies and networking into your games will be covered.

At 5 pm on Friday, session FF120 should also be interesting. That session is the Feedback Forum on Games Technologies, where developer attendees get a chance to give Apple an earful about what they think of the technology they're supporting.

Be sure to check out Maccentral for details. The WWDC will be taking place May 21-25 of this year in San Jose, CA. For more details, be sure to visit Apple's site.

WWDC Info and Registration
Maccentral - WWDC to feature game sessions

GameSpot Previews Majesty: The Northern Expansion
9:45 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpot has recently posted a preview of The Northern Expansion, an add-on pack to the popular strategy title Majesty. For those unfamiliar with the title, Majesty is a kingdom building/management sim in which a player advances by completing various quests. The twist to the game is that none of the characters, including the fighting classes known as heroes, can be directly controlled. Instead, the player must post bounties, direct wizards to cast spells by paying them money, and otherwise give incentives for any actions to take place.

The backstory of the expansion is as its name says - it expands the land of Ardania northward, adding snowy plains that include new monsters and lairs. The overworld map is enlarged to encompass both the original quests and the new quests contained in the north, to allow players to access both games at will.

Tweaked hero classes and new buildings have also been added. The sorcerer's abode, one of the new buildings included, allows access to six new spells, including the "change of heart" spell. This spell allows a player to cause a charging hero to flee, or a fleeing hero to go berserk.

Another new feature, dubbed "special effects," can trigger the appearance of random heroes or induce waves of monster attacks. This feature is touted to make older quests more replayable, but the review notes that it really doesn't add all that much, other than a few more monster attacks.

The review also notes that it's probably a good idea to have completed the original Majesty before moving on to the expansion set, as its difficulty level is extremely high. A mission listed as a "beginner" on the expansion set was considerably more difficult than the beginner levels contained in the original. Also mentioned is the fact that several secret quests, each with a very high level of difficulty, are also contained within the expansion.

Multiplayer and freestyle play modes have also been tweaked a bit:

Multiplayer enhancements include a build-tree editor, which can be used to limit the number and types of buildings you can construct in a multiplayer game. There's also a map view mode that lets you combine your field of view with that of your allies. The freestyle (skirmish) mode is also customizable, so when added together, The Northern Expansion provides quite a bit of additional gameplay.

For the rest of the review, be sure to check out GameSpot's posted impressions. There has yet to be an official annoucement regarding a Mac version of this expansion set, but both Cyberlore and Macplay have hinted that a Mac version of the expansion may be forthcoming.

GameSpot - Majesty Review
Majesty Official Site

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Hands-On With Red Faction
9:27 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot was lucky enough to recently get some hands-on experience with Volition's impressive upcoming FPS Red Faction. A nice two-page summary has been posted (regarding the Playstation 2 version, which is due out first) with their thoughts on the game. Red Faction will boast beautiful graphics, deep storyline and characters, as well as the ever-hyped Geo-Mod physics engine. This will allow you to blow apart structures with your weaponry in realistic ways not before seen in an FPS title.

The preview looks at the Geo-Mod engine as well as other graphics features and comparisons to other now-classic shooters. Here's an excerpt:

While Red Faction's game design borrows heavily from Half-Life, its visual elements are more akin to those of GoldenEye. The futuristic underground mine setting provides plenty of docking bays, command centers, catwalk-strewn warehouses, and dingy caverns to blast through. The communistic propaganda that litters each area makes the resemblance all the more striking. When polygon counts are considered, Red Faction's got it going on. The sprawling outdoor areas and claustrophobic indoor regions are awash in detail. There are entire offices with dozens of cubicles that include their own desk, computer, chair, and potted plant.
Much more of their impressions are now available of this latest build of the game, so have a look. Red Faction is set to be released this summer for the Playstation 2. Mac and PC versions will be out later in the fall, and both will include multiplayer modes for Internet play.

Red Faction Hands On at GameSpot
Red Faction

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Warcraft III Info, Preview
9:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

More information has recently been posted about the third title in Blizzard's fantasy RTS series, Warcraft III. While the game is not likely to be released for the Mac until early next year, many fans of the Warcraft games can't wait for this new 3D version to appear. The fan(atical) site has posted a new spotlight, this time looking at the human race in the game. As usual their report is a comprehensive compilation of known and inferred information about both the units and buildings. If you plan on sticking with the "standard" race once the game is out, definitely give this report the once-over. Also take a walk through the rest of the site for detailed info on the title -- more, in fact, than even the most hardcore fan may want to know at this point.

A preview of Warcraft III has been posted by StrategyPlanet. In this first look they give a decent overview of the game. Some of the topics discussed include the overall narrative, the races, the buildings and of course the heroes. Here's a clip with more on these über-characters and how they function in the game:

[Heroes are] the only unit that has an inventory, and the only one that can actually advance in levels. As they gain levels, they will automatically distribute points among their abilities (Strength, Agility, and Intelligence) and will get to choose a new special skill. At current, the level cap will be level 10, however Blizzard states that it might change over the beta testing course. When your hero dies, you have two options, one; you can “purchase” a new hero from your town, or two; you can revive your old hero. You won’t be able to name your heroes in game, but you may be able to do it in the map editor, as their names will be randomly generated during the missions. Heroes have the ability to hold up to four items, which is also subject to change, including mana stones, and weapons/items that you find or purchase from shopkeepers.
If you're looking for a nice and brief summary of the game, definitely check out the rest of the preview.

Blizzard is definitely committed to a Mac version of Warcraft III, and they expect it out a little while after the PC version late this year or early 2002. OS X compatibility is also expected, though nothing official is known at this point.
Warcraft III Preview at StrategyPlanet
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

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New Deus Ex OESS, Tips
8:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Mac Deus Ex has posted new information on many new OESS (Outlook Express Sound Sets) which use voices from the action/RPG Deus Ex. Fans of the game may find them to be a fun way to spice up your computer (or at least your email-reading activities), so give them a listen. Five new sets are added to the original four listed on the MDE Features page. Here's a quick description of a few of them:

  • Phone - Features the computer/operator voice from inside the game, with lines such as "This line has been shut down by order of UNATCO."
  • Military Bot - The classic Military bot with phrases such as "scanning area" and the feared "target acquired."
  • Walton Simons - The feared, evil Walton Simons, set at destroying the world along with Bob Page. These are a few of his lighter comments.
  • As mentioned last week, a new section of user-generated tips and hints is also now up and running. There are already many good strategies and cheats available, though watch out as some may contain certain "spoilers" for those of you that you haven't yet finished the game. Check out the tips page if you're in need of some help, or you'd like to contribute some ideas of your own.

    Mac Deus Ex Tips Page
    Deus Ex OESS, Features Page
    Ion Storm
    Westlake Interactive
    Aspyr Media
    Deus Ex

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    First Shadowbane Test Phase Completed
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    The Shadowbane site has received a healthy update recently, proving that this impressive MMORPG (apparently currently lacking a publisher) is still very much in development. The biggest announcement of note is the news that the closed beta testing team of lucky players has just completed phase one of the process. Here's what J. Todd "Warden" Coleman had to say in their forums about where they're going from here:

    Over the next few weeks we'll be making the final changes necessary to begin Phase 2 testing. There are a handful of issues that need to be touched on before Phase 2 begins (NDAs, additional bug fixes, new adventuring areas, etc.) but we expect to close these out in short order.
    Great news to hear the successful completion of an important milestone. Don't bother asking to be added to the beta list, though, as it was closed long ago.

    In other Shadowbane news, many other updates have been posted around the site. If you're new to the game, check out the newly updated list of Frequently Asked Questions for some good information. New fiction has also been added in the form of lore of the Elven race. Fantasy buffs should enjoy the long piece on the history behind one of many races to be included in the game. Lastly, four new monsters have been posted in the Shadowbane Bestiary. Check out the new pics and descriptions of mammoths, sand trolls, timber wolves, and the Grondulkar to see the kind of beasties you will cross swords with in the final game.

    Shadowbane is still moving through testing, though we're hoping to see some sort of final product by the end of the year. No new publisher is yet officially announced to be working with Wolfpack on the cross-platform game, but we've received many assurances a Mac client will be released, regardless.

    Shadowbane Elven Lore
    Shadowbane Bestiary
    Shadowbane FAQ
    Phase 1 Completion Announcement
    Wolfpack Studios

    Dragon's Lair 3D Preview
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    A new preview posted by Apple in their Games section takes a look at Dragon's Lair 3D, a remake and sequel to the original Laserdisc-powered classic arcade game. While the game is using a real-time 3D engine such as Quake or Unreal, the characters still retain the classic "cartoon" look that fans of the original will remember. Dragon's Lair 3D will also have different modes of play. The adventure mode will give you full control over the hero Dirk just like many 3rd person games today, but Classic mode will be similar to the original, in that the action will be automated and only pause in certain situations where you have to make a decision. A third mode will provide an unfairly difficult play for those truly hard core gamers.

    The preview contains many quotes from Steve Parsons of Dragonstone Software about these aspects of the game. Parsons also notes they expect to have full OS X compatibility upon its release. Here's a quote with more from the team about working with the creators of the original game:

    “We noticed that there isn’t enough original material from the arcade game that will convert to a 3D realm to create a full videogame,” says Parsons. “So, with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s help, we created additional areas and creatures that have filled in the adventure quite nicely. The gameplay we selected was similar to the original arcade game, with fast-paced arcade action, but we also added some puzzles and mini-quests to balance it out.”  

    In fact, there are close to 20 levels in the game, with 10 to 25 rooms per level for players to explore, and there are plenty of hidden items to discover for tenacious players. (“Look closer at the torches in the library,” Parsons hints. “There are some good items hidden behind them.”)

    Head over now for a good look at Dragon's Lair 3D. The game has been delayed somewhat, but BlueByte expects to have it completed later this year. The news that this title will be Mac OS X compatible is excellent indeed.

    Official Dragon's Lair 3D Web Site
    Dragonstone Software Web Site
    Dragon's Lair 3D Preview at Apple
    Blue Byte

    Mac Games News for Monday, April 16, 2001

    IMG Hunts for Mac Game Easter Eggs1:56 PM
    Apple Revs Up For WWDC12:45 PM
    Neverwinter Nights Interview10:55 AM
    Creative Labs Starts Forum Thread10:49 AM
    Mac Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Still in Limbo10:35 AM
    Omni Group's Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 Notes9:57 AM
    Big Tropico Preview9:14 AM
    Tomb Raider 5 Nears Final; Level Editor Update9:08 AM
    Kids Domain's Easter Update9:04 AM
    Oberin Updated9:02 AM
    MacMAME Update8:59 AM
    Trade Wars: Dark Millennium Interview8:59 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Monday, April 16, 2001 on one page

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    Friday, April 13, 2001
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