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Monday, April 23, 2001

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Westlake on Alice Requirements, OS X, Demo
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Brad Oliver of Westlake Interactive has made a few Usenet posts recently regarding his work on the Carbonized version of American McGee's Alice. Last week, Aspyr Media released some preliminary system requirements for the game, though they could change before it's actually completed. The CPU demands (400 MHz G3 required, 500 MHz recommended) sparked some discussion on Usenet groups, and Oliver was there to calm gamer's fears of poor performance on their systems. He also notes they will likely be releasing a demo of the game once it is finished. Here is an excerpt from his statements:

I tried [Alice] yesterday on a
slot-loading strawberry iMac with 192M of RAM and built-in Rage128 and
it ran very well at the default settings for at least the first level (I
didn't try it much farther). I don't know what the CPU speed of that
particular machine is, but Mark A. thought it was a 400.

It might be a game where your personal preference will dictate what
framerate is acceptable. Since it's not a frame-intensive shooter like
Quake/Unreal, it may be that some people find playability on lower-end
machines acceptable for the majority of the time. The bulk of the game
involves puzzles and problem solving, with some melee combat every now
and then.

There should be a demo around the time it's released so you can make up
your mind about performance then.

Playing demo is probably the best way to find out if the game will be acceptable on your machine, though other Quake 3-based titles should be fairly good indicators of the performance of the game on your system.

Oliver also was able to offer some information on how his Carbonized app (not to be confused with the Cocoa version being worked on my OmniGroup) will run under OS X. He notes that, as he and many other programmers have discovered, running in full-screen mode can be problematic at this point:

It should work, but with reservations. Fullscreen OpenGL on OSX is
troublesome right now no matter how you cut it. It can be made to work,
but not easily or consistently. I added a great deal of code to
Centipede to get it to run fullscreen under 10, and even then there are
cases where it won't work exactly right. The same will likely be true
with other OpenGL games until some of issues with OSX are cleared up.

FWIW, you can run Alice in a window under 10 with no problems, aside
from some mouse issues.

It's still unknown at this point how Aspyr is going to package the Carbon and Cocoa versions of the application together. But it's great that Mac gamers will have the option of finally playing some A-list titles with this next-generation operating system. Stay tuned as Alice works through testing and should be ready for release in the next month or so. By then we hopefully will have solved the mystery as to why both a Carbon and a Cocoa version of Alice were developed simultaneously by different companies.

Westlake Interactive Web Site
Aspyr Media Web Site
American McGee's Alice Web Site
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice

GeForce 3 Arrives for PC, First Review
4:43 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While it is indeed true that NVIDIA's next big chip, the GeForce 3, was demonstrated first on the Macintosh platform, it appears the PC platform will be the first to actually be able to purchase a shipping version of the card. Earlier today the non-disclosure agreement for the GeForce 3 chipset expired, and the first of a forthcoming flood of reviews and articles on this next-generation GPU arrived. The cards themselves are expected to ship in several days, and are listed as preorders at several PC hardware outlets for as low as $341.00 for a 64-MB model.

The appears to have been first out the gate with their review, with a short but detailed look at the actual mechanics and features of the card. It isn't clear at this time how much of this is applicable to the Mac version of the card, which will most likely be manufactured by Apple themselves (as is the GeForce 2 MX for Mac); in fact it isn't even clear as of yet how much memory the Apple card will ship with. One important difference between the VisionTek card being reviewed and the promised Apple model is that the VisionTek GeForce 3 supports both 2x and 4x AGP, while the Apple card lists 4x AGP as a hardware requirement.

The Tech Zone was quite impressed with the card, and demonstrated the highest graphics benchmarks they had ever seen. One area singled out for praise was the card's high resolution anti-aliasing support, which allows anti-aliasing at high screen resolutions with a fraction of the performance penalty experienced by previous cards such as the GeForce 2 Ultra and the 3dfx Voodoo5. Their conclusion is likely to be echoed by many a reviewer over the next few weeks:

Yes, the VisionTek GeForce 3 is ultra fast and ultra expensive. Is it worth it? I think it really depends on the type of monitor you have. The GeForce 3 is not design to run your games at 1024x768. Leave that to lessor GeForce cards. No, the GeForce 3 is made for 1600x1200x32 bit gaming with antialiasing on and here's the problem. Most people don't have monitor that can do that. So unless you have a 19" or 21" monitor, you may be better off sticking with a lesser GeForce.
The launch of the PC version of this card is good news for Mac gamers, as it means Apple's release of these ultra-high-end cards cannot be far behind. Watch for more news on this gaming luxury item soon.

Mac GeForce 3 Backorder, Price Drop
VisionTek GeForce 3 Review at The Tech Zone

Marathon: Resurrection Gallery, Site Updates
4:17 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The team behind the Marathon: Resurrection project has graciously allowed IMG and its readers a sneak peek at the future. They are counting down the days until they release this ambitious total conversion, and have released seven screen shots of the mod in action to whet your appetites. This Unreal Tournament mod and map collection will attempt to replicate the thrill of the original Bungie shooter Marathon, while enhancing the gameplay and weapons arsenal with some much-needed updates.

These few shots are sure to inspire some nostalgia in those who played the original shooter, but those who are new to the series and are UT fans clearly have a lot to look forward to as well. For more information on the project, visit the web site.

In related news, the web site itself has been updated with new screen shots in the Characters and Levels sections of the web site.

Marathon: Resurrection Web Site
Marathon: Resurrection Screen Shot Gallery

New Mac Flight Sim Resource
11:31 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The folks over at Insanely Great Mac have recently announced the launch of a new feature devoted to news, reviews, and tutorial for Mac OS flight sims, titled The Mac Flight Sim Channel.

This new service will be for all flight sim users, from beginners to experts. It will host a mailing list as well as publish the aforementioned news, reviews, and tutorials on all things related to Mac flight sims.

To celebrate its release, the MFSC will be pushing out a series of articles all week long:

  • Sim Navigation #1- Charts and Maps
  • Fly! II Interview
  • Sim Navigation #2 - Perfect Landings with ILS
  • Austin Meyer of X-Plane Interview
  • X-Plane Review

A second and third week of feature articles are also planned if things go well.

This is great news for anyone interested in Mac flight sims. Be sure to check out the new site at the link below for more information as well as the first promised article on navigation techniques in flight sims.

Insanely Great Mac - Mac Flight Sim Channel

Bushfire Updated to 1.07
10:32 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Strange Flavour, the fine folks responsible for the popular shareware game Bushfire, have recently updated their work to version 1.07. For those unfamiliar with this title, Bushfire has players combating forest fires with a helicopter with a play scheme very similar to the Apple ][ classic Choplifter.

This update adds some minor tweaks as well as some new game features, including recording times for fastest level completions for those of you that must measure yourself against the exploits of others.

In other Strange Flavour news, apparently Bushfire has been so popular that they're currently looking to upgrade their current web host, particularly since they note that they have a new title on the way. Here's a clip from their homepage:

Bushfire has been a little too successful! The massive amount of downloads overwhelmed our hostís server last week, causing a meltdown of one of the routers (which is why we had the outages and slow download speeds).

This means weíre probably going to have to look at beefing up our hosting a little (especially with our new game on the way soon). Unfortunately, thatís likely to cost us money (which we donít have much of), so please (please, please, please) send in your registration fee for Bushfire if you havenít already (and of course, if you liked it), or use Fairtunes to send it to us.

They also note that "soon to come" is more music for Bushfire.

If you haven't tried Bushfire yet, be sure to give it a whirl. It runs great on both OS X and OS 8.6 and above with an updated CarbonLib. MacGameFiles currently has both the full version and the 1.07 update for download. If you do like it, be sure to consider sending in the measly $3 ($4 if paying through Fairtunes) that Strange Flavour asks for, so that they will continue to make great titles in the future for the Mac OS.

MacGameFiles - Bushfire 1.07 Full Version
MacGameFiles - Bushfire 1.07 Update
Strange Flavour - Homepage

Baldur's Gate II Beta Test Reports
10:05 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Our own Jay Swartzfeger, web master of the Mac Baldur web site dedicated to all things Baldur's Gate, is among the lucky few selected to be a member of the Baldur's Gate II beta testing team for MacPlay. Currently several members of Mumbo Jumbo are cranking out the Mac OS port of this award-winning RPG, and a variety of reports on the forums at Mac Baldur suggest that the game might even be less than six weeks from golden master.

Beta testers are usually not permitted to comment directly about the betas they are working with; however Jay and several others on the testing team have managed to drop many a hint in their forum discussions. MacPlay exec Mike Donges has been spotted patrolling the forums, so you can be sure any offending information about the BG II beta will be corrected or removed posthaste. That being said, take all the information posted there with the usual grain of salt, as the anonymity of online posting often leads to rash statements and behavior.

While we don't feel comfortable quoting some of the statements made in the forums, as they skirt the edges of a Beta tester's non-disclosure agreement, those who are interested should browse Mac Baldur for the hints and beta reports posted there. If you haven't read IMG's preview of Tales of the Sword Coast (an expansion pack for the original Baldur's Gate) or our previews of Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate II, now's your chance.

Mac Baldur
Preview: Icewind Dale
Preview: Baldur's Gate II
Preview: Tales of the Sword Coast

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Blizzard Reports Diablo II Bug
9:09 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has noted a recent posting by Blizzard regarding a bug in their RPG Diablo II that poses a possible threat to Hardcore characters. Here's their official statement:

We have been informed that people are using a message spamming
bug in Diablo II that can cause Hardcore characters to die. We
are implementing a fix soon, but in the interim, please password
protect your Hardcore games to prevent unwanted individuals from
entering your game and possibly getting your Hardcore character
For all those Hardcore players out there, make sure you follow Blizzard's advice and password protect your valuable characters. We all know just how many spoilers and troublemakers are out there that would love to take advantage of a security hole like this one.

In related news, the new version 1.0.6 for Mac OS has introduced a bug that may be a result of the increasingly strong copy protection techniques Blizzard seems to be employing. As of 1.0.6 the game will no longer detect the Diablo II Play Disk if it is mounted in an external FireWire drive, regardless of whether it is the original or a copy. We've passed this information along to Blizzard and hopefully it will be addressed in a future update.

The Adrenaline Vault - Blizzard Warns of Death Bug
Diablo II - Hardcore Bug Report
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

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New Fly! II Screens
9:01 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted some new screen shots of Gathering of Developers' upcoming civilian flight simulator Fly! II. In addition to having online multiplayer capabilities, Fly! II is being touted as one of the most realistic flight simulators ever, with photorealistic graphics and a full-featured control panel in each of the included aircraft models.

Some of the new screen shots show one of the new aircraft being included in Fly! II, the Pilatus PC-12 Turboprop. Though the shots aren't as clean as ones we've noted in the past, they still show off Fly! II's fantastic detail and effects. One shot shows the an aircraft soaring high above a highly-detailed landscape. Another shot shows a plane just barely off the ground, casting a shadow and showing off a detailed city in the distance. A third shot shows the ubiquitous "plane soaring as the sun peeks over the clouds" shot, which highlights the incredible cloud-rendering capabilities of the graphics engine.

This sequel also contains another new aircraft: The Bell 407 Helicopter. For those unfamiliar with aviation craft, both the PC-12 and the Bell 407 are both highly acclaimed aircraft that are noted for their ruggedness and multipurpose uses, and the helicopter will be a new thrill for those who are tired of fixed-wing aircraft.

Be sure to check GameSpot for the new shots. Fly! II recently went Gold for the PC, and we received word from GodGames a while back that Fly! II for the Mac is currently set for a middle-of-May release date.

GodGames - Fly! II
GameSpot - New Fly! II Screenshots
Terminal Reality
Fly! II
Buy Fly! II

Quake and Doom Released for OS X
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The OpenGL Mac DoomLegacy page has been updated recently with word on the release of Quake and Doom for OS X. Programmer Calum Robinson has Carbonized both applications, though neither are entirely full-featured as of yet. Because of some ongoing changes in how OS X deals with OpenGL, you might not be able to play either game full-screen. Here are more details:

OSX glQuake is only tested on my system (B&W G3 + PCI Radeon). It should probably work on most other configurations (except perhaps ones with more than one monitor). The reason why its not done yet is because fullscreen OpenGL is still awkward to do right on 100% of systems. For the moment, if fullscreen doesn't work, you will have to use windowed mode (see readme for details).

The new OSX DooM port has everything the OS9 port has (minus resolution switching), with a few new features. These include command-line options and environment variables. You can run DooMLegacy just by double-clicking on it, or if you like, you can run it from the command line to take advantage of the new features. You can specify which folder DooMLegacy should look for WAD files and music files. You can also open WAD files you have downloaded from the internet etc.

Be sure to have a look through the attached ReadMe files for more help on running the applications. The Doom application should also be able to play Heretic files now, as well. So if you can find a copy of the old PC version, it's now possible to play it with the same 3D enhancements.

Other various updates include a new Mac DoomLegacy forum hosted at iDevGames. If you've got Mac-specific questions about the port, head over there for help. There is also a new interview with Robinson (along with two programmers from other ports of the codebase) posted at DoomCenter. They discuss some various issues with this aging, yet popular, game series. Check it out if you're interested.

Mac DoomLegacy Forums
Download OS X DoomLegacy
DoomCenter Interview with Robinson
Mac OpenGL DoomLegacy Web Site
Download OS X Quake

OmniGroup Claims Alice Done, EF and FAKK2 Soon
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Over the weekend, Rick Roe, a programmer for the OMNI Group, made a very interesting post concerning the status of that company's Cocoa ports of American McGee's Alice, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force in the Quake3World forums. Omni is an unusual company in many respects, one of the very few companies willing to program in the Mac OS X-only Cocoa API and quite vocal in many areas in promoting this Apple-only technology. The news they reveal about American McGee's Alice in particular is quite shocking, as they claim to have been done with the Cocoa port of this game well before Westlake was able to complete their Carbon and Mac OS 9 ports of the same game.

Here is the juice:

We'll be finalizing FAKK2 (there's already a beta out) and releasing Elite Force soon. As for Alice -- we've had it done for many weeks now... the publisher is just waiting for Westlake to get done with the OS 9 version.
OMNI Group is building quite a reputation for themselves with the quick turnaround times for these ports. The release of these Mac OS X-native games should provide a solid foundation for the library of games that is sure to come in the future. The status of the Oni port, which is the other game Omni is working on which is not mentioned in his post, is unknown at this time. While the OS X version of FAKK2 may currently have some issues in its beta form, look for a new update soon. The final decision on when to release Elite Force and Alice will be up to Aspyr, the publisher for both titles. It is likely that these Carbon versions will be downloads from the Web rather than actual bundled applications for already-released titles.

Quake3World Forums
The Omni Group
Aspyr Media

Apple Looks at AirPort Gaming
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Apple has a posted a new feature article touting their AirPort wireless technology as the perfect gaming networking solution. They provide a detailed look at using the standard for both LAN (Local Area Network) and Internet play. More than just a fluff piece, the article details the specifics of setting up a LAN party, hosting games and using a software base station in the absence of a physical hardware UFO. If you've been a little intimidated by your AirPort card in the past, be sure read through this article for ideas. Here's a clip:

Can you play LAN-based games over a network that uses AirPort and Ethernet? Sure. Ethernet-based computers can easily be connected to an AirPort network by using the Ethernet port on the back of the base station.

Just plug an Ethernet hub into the base station and have the Ethernet-based players connect their cables to the hub. They wonít have the ability to sit in the far-flung reaches of the house while playing or move about at will, but at least theyíll be able to join the fun.

There are lots of other AirPort gaming tips in the article, so if you were considering adding a wireless network to your home and office this will give you an idea of your gaming options.

Fun and Games with AirPort

Dim3 Progress Update
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Klink! Software's Brian Barnes has updated the official dimension3 site with a progress report on this free 3D engine for OS X. We first reported on dim3 in January, as the engine was already being worked on for OS X Public Beta at the time. It takes advantage of a number of cross-platform open standards, including OpenGL, OpenAL (for sound) and Mozilla's Javascript implementation for scripting. dim3 is multipurpose and the author hopes it will be easy for nearly anyone interested to make a wide variety of titles with the 3D engine. Here's a clip from the current progress log:

One of the last remaining object models to create is the one for weapons, and this is the one that has given me the biggest headaches. I have two goals; to allow you to make any type of weapon you can imagine and to make the weapons global to a game instead of attached to a certain player and/or bot, but also independent of a game so they can be exchanged between projects. The first part is easy, the second part has not been.

The problem I have is that I have a single script for each weapon (independant of game, player, bots), that any player or bot can use, but everytime I trigger an event in the script (say, primary fire) I have to re-juryrig the javascript engine to understand that this script is now being executed for a specific object, and then the object auto-owns the models/sounds associated with the weapon. This isn't easy, but it's the way to go. All this will be hidden from the user.

In the end, you should just be able to drop a weapon script into a game, and all players/bots will have the ability to use the weapon. There will have to be some way for a bot to query for the weapons it can use, and categorize them so some sort of border-line AI can understand simplistic variations of weapons (long firing, explosive, melee, etc).

Check out the dim3 site for new screen shots of the both the game and its editor in action. And look for a full release this summer. The engine will be free for use by freeware authors, with a small royalty for shareware or other commercial games.

IMG News: New 3D Game Development Engine
Klink! Software Web Site

Mac Games News for Friday, April 20, 2001

"Tux Games" Ported to Mac OS X4:21 PM
Macgamefiles growing, looking for mirrors2:32 PM
Majesty Updated to 1.012:30 PM
Update on Mac realMYST1:03 PM
Hot New Otto Matic Screen Shots!12:03 PM
'Qube' Released11:15 AM
Deus Ex Multiplayer Guide for Mac10:36 AM
IMG Previews Tales of the Sword Coast10:22 AM
New Diablo II 1.0.6 Patch10:00 AM
CNET Reviews GeForce2 MX... for Mac9:48 AM
JewelToy Released for OS X9:44 AM
OS X DoomLegacy Help Needed9:42 AM
Elite Force Patch in the Works, Mac Info9:36 AM
Soldier of Fortune 2 Interview9:16 AM
IGN Previews Red Faction6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, April 20, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, April 19, 2001
Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Monday, April 16, 2001
Friday, April 13, 2001

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