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Thursday, April 19, 2001

MacSoft Update on Hasbro, Vampire, More
8:33 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official MacSoft site has received a generous update recently, with new word on their many Hasbro titles as well as Vampire: The Masquerade. 'Value' titles are now a large part of the company's lineup, with remakes of many arcade games like Centipede and even Pong coming soon. While hardcore players may scoff at the games, they're usually well done and receive much attention from the general public. Here's a clip from the site with more:

Pong and Centipede are nearly finished and should be in stores by mid-late May. While the arcade classics of the same names are familiar to many, you'll be blown away by these updates! Brought into the modern era with eye-candy graphics and updated gameplay, they still have all the challenge and fun of the originals. Soon to follow are equally-addictive updates of Q*Bert and Breakout. Don't waste your quarters down at the arcade - you'll have all the arcade action you need at home!
But MacSoft is a well-rounded company which publishes more than just arcade games. They also have an update on the impressive 3D RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. As we reminded you last week, this game is getting very close to completion and is still expected out next month. For more explanation, here's another excerpt from the site:
Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption is almost finished as well! This phenomenal role-playing game will grip you with its chilling tale of undying(!) love and ancient evil.

Explore an astounding 3D world as Christof, a fallen Crusader whose fate is in your hands and whose tale will span centuries in this game of triumph and betrayal. We expect to release Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption at some time in May, and we will soon have details, screenshots, and more!

The new update finishes up with promises of many surprises in the future for both 'value' gamers and the hard-core crowd. We're excited to see what they've got in store and will keep you posted on any new updates.

IMG News: Vampire: The Masquerade to Enter Testing Soon
MacSoft Web Site
Vampire: The Masquerade
Buy Vampire: The Masquerade

Sims: House Party for Mac OS
5:18 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The latest edition of the Aspyr Newsletter has just arrived, and it confirms what most Aspyr-watchers have expected for some time: House Party, the second expansion pack for the popular time-eater The Sims will indeed be ported and published for the Mac OS. This expansion, which as the name suggests is focused on the group dynamics of the Sims rather than solo careers, should add even more value to a game which already has the power to swallow players alive -- now, not only will your Sims have better jobs and a nicer house than you do, they will throw better parties as well.

Here's the excerpt from the newsletter:

Surprise, surprise! You guys have been dying for the official
announcement, well here it is:

Aspyr has begun work on The Sims House Party Expansion Pack (HPEX).
House Party is the latest expansion pack, for The Sims, recently
released by EA GAMES, developed by Maxis.

"The Mac gaming community has really expressed their desire for more
Sims games," says Jeff Baietto, VP of Marketing. "We've received so
many calls and emails, we even received an online petition. We're
happy to bring House Party to the Mac."

Westlake will be doing conversion of the game, with Phil "I should have
been a Sim" Sulak heading up the project. Currently House Party is in
early development. No official release date has been announced.
However, as noted on our PROJECT STATUS PAGE, everyone is shooting for
July, if not sooner.

We expect to begin taking preorders by early next month. Be sure to
check in with our web site and your favorite online Mac gaming site for
the latest updates on The Sims House Party.

Obviously this is excellent news for Sims fans, and we hope they can meet that expected July release date.

As always the newsletter is full of other details and updates. For instance, there is the news that Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is nearing final candidate status, and should be released in the near future. For more on this title be sure and check out our preview and interview. This title will be Carbonized for Mac OS X.

Also included is a confirmation that Tomb Raider Chronicles will indeed ship with the level editor, which is sure to be a thrill for longtime fans of the series. This title will also be Carbonized.

And one extra note for FPS fans out there -- Aspyr is offering Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force for the low, low price of $19.95 a copy for the next 72 hours at their online store. Remember, Elite Force is one of the titles scheduled to be ported to Cocoa (native for Mac OS X) by Omni Development, so if you want a first-class shooter for Mac OS X, here is your chance to get one cheap. Stop by Aspyr's web site for details on all of the above.

Review: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
Sims: House Party Web Site
The Sims
Preview: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2

Click to enlarge
Alice Moves Into Beta Status, New Project
2:22 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive, the porting house devoted to the Mac platform, has updated their projects status page with news regarding several titles.

The biggest news is that American McGee's Alice has reached beta testing status. For those unfamiliar with the title, Alice is an adventure/platform game similar to Tomb Raider. Running off the Quake III engine, one of Alice's main selling points is its warped, demented atmosphere based off the original Alice in Wonderland novel, guaranteed to freak out more than a few players. Here's Westlake's official statement:

Alice has begun beta testing and is looking great! The game runs well and Brad Oliver (Lead programmer on Alice Mac for Westlake) has Carbonized the game so it runs natively under OSX.
In other Westlake news, Centipede has reached Final Candidate status. Based off the arcade shooter of old, the Mac version of this title is promised to be even greater than the PC version before it. There's also an interestingly named "Trendy" Project that is currently in Contract Signing status.

IMG will be sure to bring readers any updates regarding these and any other Westlake projects as soon as we get them.

Westlake Interactive - Alice News
Westlake - Current Projects
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice

MMEP Updates, Q3Radiant on OS X
1:02 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

An alert reader tipped us off to several updates posted on the Macintosh Map Editor Project web site, a page dedicated to tracking the progress of bringing several 3D game editing tools to the Mac OS. The most recent update features a screen shot of GKTRadiant, a popular PC Quake 2/3 map editor, running on X-windows which is in turn running on Apple's UNIX-based Mac OS X. While installing and running X-windows on Mac OS X is not a trivial project, neither is creating and editing maps for Quake 3 Arena. According to the MMEP web site and various forum posts, a conversion of the mapmaking utility which will allow it to run under Aqua (the normal Mac OS X environment) is now in progress.

The MMEP forums also reveal another work in progress -- a Mac OS port of QuakeED is nearly complete, but the programmer wants to hand the project off to interested programmers for completion and polishing. This map editor can create levels for Quake 1, 2, Sin and Vampire: The Masquerade, as well as levels (without curved geometry) for Quake 3 Arena and titles which share its engine such as Elite Force and Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2. While this information was posted quite some time ago, the author is still offering the source code and compiled binaries of this port for anyone interested in taking over the project, and offers a gallery of screen shots as evidence as to the port's working state. We encourage any programmer looking for a challenging project to take the author up on his offer and investigate completing this editor.

We'll keep you up to date on both of these projects. Be sure to stop by the MMEP site for more details and screen shots. With any luck, by the summer Mac Quake fans may have several tools to choose from and can begin creating their own memorable third-party maps.

Macintosh Map Editor Project
QuakeED4Mac Discussion Thread
QuakeED4Mac WIP Screen Shots

3dfx Finalizes Sale of Assets
11:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Although this inevitable move has been a forgone conclusion for months, graphics chip maker 3dfx has formally announced the sale of their core assets to rival chipmaker NVIDIA for $55 million. Late last year 3dfx found itself unable to make headway in the cutthroat 3D card business, despite having one of the most recognizable brand names in the industry. While many industry insiders felt the company had ceased to innovate and was too late to market with their recent products, they will be missed by gamers -- especially Mac gamers who once had hopes of using their 3dfx card with Mac OS X, which is now a virtual impossibility. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

3dfx Interactive, Inc. (Nasdaq:TDFX - news) today announced that, as part of its effort to wind up its business, it has completed the sale of substantially all of its assets to NVIDIA US Investment Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq:NVDA - news), pursuant to an asset purchase agreement executed by the parties on December 15, 2000. At the closing, NVIDIA US Investment Company paid cash in the net amount of $55 million in accordance with the asset purchase agreement. Subject to 3dfx in the future satisfying certain additional conditions provided for in the asset purchase agreement, NVIDIA US Investment Company will also pay to 3dfx one million shares of Nvidia common stock or a combination of up to $25 million in cash and a lesser number of shares of Nvidia common stock. 3dfx is not yet in a position to announce if, or when, it will be able to satisfy these additional conditions.
It is unknown at this time what aspects, if any, of 3dfx's technology NVIDIA plans to use or incorporate into future projects. The two companies were heading in radically different directions in terms of technology (3dfx towards multi-chip solutions, NVIDIA towards single-chip programmable GPUs) at the time of the sale. One thing is for certain -- as the 3D card market shrinks to NVIDIA and ATI, the race for the "next big thing" will become even more intense. Those who spent large amounts of money on now-abandoned 3dfx products can console themselves with the thought that the next-generation cards from NVIDIA and ATI may triple or quadruple their power.

3dfx Completes Sale of Assets to NVIDIA

Soldier of Fortune 2 .plan Started
10:43 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

PlanetQuake has recently posted the start of Jake Simpson's .plan file for Soldier of Fortune 2. As we posted yesterday, SOF2 is the upcoming sequel to the highly popular FPS Soldier of Fortune, which allows players to target specific body areas on enemies to produce realistic effects, such as shooting someone in an arm to force an enemy to drop a weapon without actually killing them.

The .plan discusses the new Ghoul2 engine. The original Ghoul engine is what allowed for accurate target modeling in the first game, and the new engine sounds even better:

I've been working on building Ghoul2, which is our next generation
animation system. It's not actually based on Ghoul1 since that was mesh based, and Ghoul2 is all truely hirearchical
skeletal based. It still gives all the same sort of good stuff Ghoul1 one did, but it's got a host of new features
besides. Look for an interview on VoodooExtreme sometime soon that will give more details.
For the graphics techies out there, Simpson notes that the earlier announced ROAM engine isn't actually the Real-time Optimally Adapting Meshes approach, but is his team's own design.

Though there is no official word as of yet for a Mac version of this title, the odds are quite good, as the game is being built on the portable Quake III Engine. For more details regarding a possible Mac port, a link below leads to an earlier IMG story on the subject. Don't forget to check out Simpson's .plan as well for more information regarding SOF2's development.

Mac SOF2 Possibility?
PlanetQuake - SOF2 .plan

Alchera Project Comes To An End
10:20 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Last September we brought you news of Alchera, a German-language online RPG with a striking similarity to Delta Tao's Clan Lord. Recently the Alchera web site has been updated with the disappointing information that this project has come to an end, due to lack of funds and team commitments. According to the various postings left on the site by the team members, financial troubles and infighting between team and game members were some of the problems that brought the project to an end. Here is an excerpt:

Despite intensive tries to save Alchera, despite the priceless work of many volunteers for over a year and despite the incredibly strong player community, in the end we didn't make it.

Various reasons contributed to it coming this far. For some things we were too early, for others too late, especially in the last few days we've asked ourselves over and over again: "What would have been if... or if not..."

Looking back at a year of Alchera I have to say I would not want to miss one second of it. Never have I regretted to have brought this game to life with friends and colleagues, not even today, where we finally have to bury this dream.

Alchera has probably been more than "just a game" for most. Friendships have been made, tears of joy and sorrow have been shed and some might even say that Alchera has become part of their lives in one way or the other.

When Alchera started its way down the past few days, the community once again showed in its unique way that Alchera means something. Numberless help offers, be it collaboration, donations or moral support have been volunteered and for all this we are more than grateful. Even the sadder it is that it has to end anyway. Words cannot express what we feel right now.

An emotional end, to be sure, but fans of community-focused games such as Clan Lord will recognize how close-knit an online group of friends can become. The Alchera web site remains online for now, with updates in German and English on the demise of the project and a list of testers who participated in the project.

Alchera Web Site
German MMORPG In Development

Click to enlarge
Red Faction Complete for PS2, Site Updates
9:19 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The official Red Faction web site has posted some new screenshots and information in regards to this upcoming title. Currently in development by Volition, Red Faction promises to reinvent the FPS genre with features such as multi-vehicular usage and combat, highly developed AI, and implementation of the much-touted Geo-Mod engine, which will allow players to blow up practically everything in the game, including the walls, floors, and ceilings.

One of the new screenshots shows the Geo-Mod engine in action, with a shot of a rocket launcher blowing a sizeable hole in a nearby wall. There are doors visible on either side of the hole, perhaps to demonstrate that the player could've chosen to use one of those instead. The shot also shows some good use of lighting and fog effects, as the recently-created hole is still smoking.

Also featured is a new "weapon of the week." This week's weapon is the Riot Shield, or more formally, the UBS-4 Ultor Riot Body Shield. According to the description, this shield can withstand gunfire and blast damage for a limited duration. It can be swung as a weapon, but has no secondary fire attribute.

For more screenshots, previous weapons of the week, and data on Red Faction in general, be sure to follow the link below to the official site. The Mac version of this title is currently scheduled for a Fall release.

The Adrenaline Vault has reported that the PlayStation 2 version of Red Faction is now complete and will ship in the near future. This is excellent news for Mac gamers, as it means Volition can now get to work on the Mac and PC versions of the shooter -- which, as with their other title Summoner, will no doubt undergo refinements and tweaks as well as the addition of online play during the conversion process.

And finally, if you would like a lengthy video preview of what Red Faction has to offer, GameSpot has posted an in-depth look at the PS2 version. Although this is not for the bandwidth-challenged, the 67 MB video has many highlights from the game's action and plot.

Red Faction Video Preview at GameSpot
Red Faction PS2 Complete, at AVault
Red Faction - Official Site
Red Faction

Escape Velocity Nova Update
8:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Ambrosia Software has recently updated their Escape Velocity Nova progress log with some new information. For those unfamiliar with the title, EVN (also known as Escape Velocity 3) is the "threequel" to Ambrosia's space exploration game Escape Velocity, which starts players off with a single ship and hurls them into a vast universe full of various adventures. According to the web site description, EVN features "book-length background stories written about the scenarios," which should make for some rich plot-driven gameplay.

The updates listed are as follows:

  • IFF scrambler outfit
  • Reinforcement inhibitor outfit
  • Optional memory management at startup for low-memory conditions
  • Lots more stuff you'll have to wait for

For those who missed an update made earlier to the log, this game is being Carbonized for Mac OS X compatibility. There has yet to be a release date posted, but the game seems to be coming along nicely. A link to the progress log has been provided below for those that wish to scan it for more information.

Ambrosia - EVN Progress Log
Ambrosia Software - Upcoming Titles

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Diablo II Expansion Interview, Beta Starting
8:51 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

UGO's site dedicated to Diablo II has posted a new interview with Bill Roper of Blizzard, which is actually a transcript from the April 2001 Blizzard Entertainment Fansite Interview. The Q&A goes into many details about the upcoming expansion pack for the game, and even includes comments after Roper's answers when necessary. They discuss topics such as the new option for 800x600 resolution, the unknown powers of the chat-interface gem, and some recent upgrades. Here's an excerpt with more on the upcoming (PC-only) beta test:

DII: The LoD Beta is just around the corner and I'm sure you all are excited to see your latest baby off to public arms waiting to tear it to shreds. What sort of timeframe are you looking at for holding the Beta and, if you don't mind, why the change of plans from not having one to having a Closed Beta? (Will it extend past E3 per-chance?)

Bill: We have just closed our Beta sign-ups and, although we do not have a set date, we should be starting the Beta fairly soon. Our decision to have a closed Beta was to get as good a test as possible on our new code. Besides, Beta tests are a great way to get feedback from core players before the game hits the shelves and have always been a valuable source of information for our development teams.

While a answer is difficult to predict when it might be wrapped up, it's good news to fans of the game that the beta is about to begin. The Blizzard home page also has more word on this:
We will be sending out e-mails to chosen testers as soon we get closer to the beta's release. While we haven't set the beta launch date yet, we expect to do so very soon. We will make an announcement on our site when these e-mails have been sent. Thank you for your patience. Please do not contact us regarding the status of your application.
Check out the rest of the interview for more on Lord of Destruction. Stay tuned, as this expansion pack is set to be released sometime this summer for Mac and PC.

Bill Roper Interview on Lord of Destruction at UGO
Blizzard Web Site
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Click to enlarge
New Myst III:Exile Preview
8:45 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story got a chance to view Presto Studio's gone-gold adventure title, Myst III: Exile. The preview contains quite a lot of information on all the changes and improvements in this sequel, backed up by screenshots of certain scenes in the game. Here is an excerpt:

But perhaps the biggest change in this game is one of the big reasons that Presto was brought into the mix. They had a technology that allowed for high-resolution backgrounds to be viewed in 360 degrees. That means you will have the ability to look from each spot in any direction that you wish. So those times in Riven when you wished that you could have had a look at that building to the right but could only look at a bridge are gone. Now you can use the mouse to rotate around and check out all of the surroundings. The technology even works with the movies. While the live action characters are walking around in the environment, you can actually turn around and look the other direction while the movie is playing and it won't skip a beat. Don't worry too much about missing things though, because while really important things in puzzles are happening, the camera will lock on them to make sure you see what's going on. All of this is done by that nifty engine that renders the environments in real time hopefully without any significant load times or slowdown.
Exile went gold for Mac and PC a week ago and now is in duplication, although Europeans will have to wait until September to get their copies. Check out our preview of the game for more information.

Mattel Interactive
IMG Myst III: Exile Sneak Preview
Presto Sutdios
pc.ign's Myst III: Exile preview
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Status of 3D Cards, Makers
8:40 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Hardware and news analysis web site AnandTech has posted an editorial entitled "A Torrid Affair with Graphics: April 2001 3D Market Update," talking about the future prospect of companies such as ATI, Matrox and of course NVIDIA. While the editorial does contain some techspeak jargon, it does offer a good view on what cards are to come and how they will affect the world of gaming. Here is their prediction of what the future holds for ATI:

Another project that ATI has been working on is a response to the GeForce2 Ultra, a 64MB Radeon DDR running at a 250MHz core clock with a 250MHz DDR memory clock. We actually first found out about this card months ago when ATI accidentally used this 250/250MHz card in some benchmarks they sent us. We have seen pictures of this card, sometimes referred to as the Radeon SE, appear on the web already. It is still unclear if ATI will go ahead with this card, however if they do, it will definitely be very aggressively priced.
While there isn't much here for Mac users, it is an interesting look at the state of the market and what might trickle down to our platform in the future.

IMG ATI Radeon Mac Edition AGP Review
IMG nVidia GeForce2 MX In-Depth
IMG ATI Radeon Mac Edition PCI review
ATI technologies
AnandTech's editorial

Mac Games News for Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Minor MacMAME Update for OS X Gamers1:27 PM
Clan Lord Updated to v17712:54 PM
Applelinks Overview of Game Music Moofie Nominees12:37 PM
MacGamer's 10 Types of Gamers11:22 AM
The Future of Gaming?9:51 AM
Soldier of Fortune 2 Officially Announced (For PC)9:19 AM
Oberin Gains New Users, Forums9:01 AM
Steve Jobs Fireside Chat at WWDC8:35 AM
id Working on Quake 3 Point Release6:00 AM
Myst III: Exile Previews6:00 AM
StarCraft Cinematics DVD Available6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, April 18, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Monday, April 16, 2001
Friday, April 13, 2001
Thursday, April 12, 2001
Wednesday, April 11, 2001

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