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Friday, April 27, 2001

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Mac Info on Deus Ex Patch for PC
9:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Ion Storm recently released another patch for the PC version of Deus Ex, fixing a number of smaller bugs in the game, especially with the multiplayer mode. IMG asked Westlake Interactive if a they might be incorporated into the next Mac release as well. Currently, there is an issue between the EAX version of Deus Ex which came bundles with the Sound Blaster Live! cards and the recent mutiplayer patch for the game. The EAX version cannot be upgraded with the multiplayer patch without losing the special sound features that take advantage of 3D sound processing.

Now it appears that a fix for this problem plus any recent changes on the PC side will all be rolled into an upcoming patch. Here is Westlake's Mark Adams with more:

Yes, I'm supposed to pick up the code from Ion Storm any day now. Its
supposed to be a very small patch, so it shouldn't be a big deal for me to
do. I'll try to address the EAX/MP conflict then also.
If you're curious about what has changed on in the just-released PC patch, you can see a list at the file download page. Here's an excerpt with:
  • Doors opened by buttons in multiplayer work properly now.
  • Opening a door in multiplayer automatically unlocks it, whether opened by
    button or by lockpicking.
  • If a server is listed as full on the join game screen, you cannot join it.
    If you refresh the list and the server is no longer listed as full, you can
    then join.
  • Looting corpses while carrying no weapons no longer gives you increased ammo
  • Dropping a weapon and then picking it up caused its ammo count to get messed
    up, causing problems when you tried to restock it with an ammo crate. This
    has been fixed.
  • LAMs become disabled when the person who placed them leaves the game.
  • You can no longer lean on other players to kill them.
    Leaning occasionally caused people to rotate wierdly. This has been fixed.
  • Under certain circumstances, the vision augmentation could be broken until
    you died and respawned. This has been fixed.
  • We'll keep you updated as the Mac version of this patch gets closer to release. For now, Sound Blaster owners can install two versions of Deus Ex, as a temporary solution. Just upgrade one with multiplayer (which removes EAX effects) and play the single-player mode on the other copy with the sound enhancements in place.

    Westlake Interactive Web Site
    PC Patch Download Listing
    Deus Ex Site at Aspyr
    Ion Storm
    Westlake Interactive
    Aspyr Media
    Deus Ex

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    Westlake Talks OpenAL & Unreal Tournament
    11:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Westlake Interactive's Mark Adams recently made a Usenet post regarding the upgrade for Unreal Tournament to enable the special features of Sound Blaster Live! cards. They're working with Creative to incorporate full OpenAL support in the game -- a more complex process than even the EAX enhancements provided in the special copy of Deus Ex. It seems their efforts are paying off, and Mark is hopeful they might have something ready for public consumption soon. Here's his post with more:

    Creative has been working with me to get UT using full OpenAL, and
    they've been a huge help. I'm checking out the latest version in the
    next few days, if everything looks good I think it shouldn't be too long
    before we can release it (weeks not months).
    This is great news for owners of the Sound Blaster cards, as it will really provide more bang for their investment.

    You may be wondering what the difference is between an EAX version of Deus Ex and an OpenAL version of Unreal Tournament. Both take advantage of the Sound Blaster's abilities, so why not just go with the easier EAX? We asked Mark if he could provide more clarification on the two:

    EAX basically gives you room effects (cave, hallway, etc) so all sounds get
    extra reverb and processing. OpenAL lets you do the EAX stuff plus you are
    actually giving each sound to the card with its 3D location in the world, so
    the card can do true pan (left/right/front/back) between speakers and also
    things like doppler shift if something is moving fast. The full OpenAL
    implementation will make even better use of the cards.
    We also asked Mark if -- now that UT is getting full OpenAL support -- they would be able to move the code into other UT-based games like Rune or Deus Ex. He notes that Rune is a likely candidate, but Deus Ex will probably just stay EAX-enhanced:
    I'll probably try to move the OpenAL code into Rune during the HOV/1.06
    patch work. Deus Ex is a bit trickier, it has a more complicated sound
    system to handle voice/lip syncing (which is why we went with just EAX on it
    originally). Its hard to say if we'll have the time to go back in DX and
    add the full AL support.
    Great news and thanks to Mark for his continuing help and support. We're anxiously looking forward to the new version of Unreal Tournament, and we'll keep you posted once more information on the patch becomes available.

    IMG News: Westlake on Sound Blaster and Games
    Westlake Interactive Web Site
    Sound Blaster Live!

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    World War II Online Preview
    11:45 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Players who have been hungering for a truly reality-based FPS game need not despair anymore. World War II Online, a MMOFPS currently in development by Cornered Rat Software, is aiming to completely shatter the bar in terms of reality-based gaming. The boys at Xenofex recently put up a preview of this title that reveals many details. The focus of this game, as its title suggests, is World War II. Players can jump in, join a side, and attempt to win the day for their country.

    To give players as much freedom of movement as possible, most of Europe is being modeled and implemented in this title, albeit at half scale. This should give players just a little bit more freedom than, say, fighting it out in a warehouse. Populating this environment will be buildings, vehicles, and even national landmarks and geographical highlights such as rivers and lakes. Day and night cycles will occur, and key battles that happened during World War II will take place. The environment will be deformable, and changes made to it will be downloaded if a player was absent during the time of deformation.

    Buildings themselves will play an important part. Factories and hangars can be utilized for production, and can be either seized or destroyed from the enemy. Destroyed buildings can also be repaired if need be. Depending on the rank of a player (a system decided by the points a player acquires during gameplay), they can determine where buildings are built if they so choose.

    Sound effects are also sounding quite detailed. A good player will be able to estimate the distance of an incoming tank based on the level of noise. Full Doppler effects and time-delay over distance are being instituted, with bullets changing pitch as they zoom towards a player. This will all take place in 3D surround.

    Speaking of bullets, an accurate physics model will allow bullets to richochet accurately. Vehicles will also behave according to the model, being affected by terrain and other factors.

    Damage modeling is also looking to be highly detailed. A look at a screenshot of a modeled tank shows a huge number of damage points that are actually modeled to various shapes on the tank, rather than being made up of a series of boxes. Everything, down to each individual wheel on the tank treads, seems to have its own damage area. Xenofex notes some heavy detail regarding this:

    On the tanks, the armour will protect from some artillery, but other parts can be shot with a pistol. On a plane, if a bullet goes into your fuselage, it could easily hit you or the fuel tank, or it may hit the landing gear, or a wing, each event having very different outcomes. Also, start thinking "My vehicle has been hit" rather than "I've been hit". Should a bullet come through and hit you, you will either be dead or unable to control the vehicle, so getting hit in the legs would mean you can't control the rudder on your plane. There will be penetration, explosive, kinetic, and proximity damage on all the vehicles. Don't expect an easy mode for all this, it will be difficult to fly a plane but once you know how you'll be surprised at what you can do.
    Infantry gameplay is also shaping up to be just as detailed. Fatigue, as well as health, will play a factor. Bloodloss and shock can slow or incapacitate players. All damage taken will be localized depending on where the player gets hit and what they get hit with. A variety of weapons, such as mortar shells and gun emplacements will be availabe for use. A sniper will even be able to hold his breath while sniping. A variety of movements, including running, crawling, and crouching while running will be available. Players will also be able to employ various stealth tactics by hiding in shadows, climbing trees, and immersing themselves in bodies of water.

    The flight system itself is also going to be quite intricate. Here's a taste of flight jargon as applied to WWII Online:

    "Engine pressure fed into the engine (the airflow that goes to the throttle, not the airflow to the cylinders) has been completely revised. For naturally aspirated engines, this, of course, is based on atmospheric conditions. For supercharged engines, this is based on the RPM of the engine (for centrifugal, mechanically-driven superchargers), and the atmospheric pressure. The net effect is that even though at max RPM the engine will receive full pressure up to the critical altitude of the supercharger, at reduced RPM, this critical altitude also gets reduced. For example, a particular engine at sea level might pull 50 inches of mercury maximum for 3000rpm and 2200rpm, however at the critical altitude of 18,000ft, 3000rpm might still pull 50 inches, but 2200 rpm would pull considerably less. Inches of mercury, for those not familiar with various notations of pressure, is a way of describing pressure, in this case it's the manifold pressure into the cylinders, which combined with RPM helps determine the power output of the engine. Thus at both altitudes, you'll get the same power with this engine at 3000rpm, but less power for 2200rpm at 18,000ft compared with 2200rpm at sea level."
    Hopefully that'll be detailed enough for flight fanatics itching for some World War II action.

    Even the task of being a tank pilot will not be a simple one. Tanks make a lot of noise, so the pilot will periodically have to switch off the engine and open the hatch in order to listen for incoming aircraft. Tanks also work better with multiple crews. Pilot a tank by yourself, and you'll have to stop and switch stations in order to fire the guns. There will also be a variety of types of tanks, which should further affect gameplay.

    A full Navy will also be incorporated into this title, complete with subs, aircraft carriers, and AI crews when necessary, though full player crews will be able to do a much better job. Flooding and fires on ships can and will take place, forcing players onto lifeboats or a desperate swim for shore. To make things even more interesting, thermal layers and waves will be incorporated into the oceans.

    For more details on what is looking to be the most detailed MMOFPS ever, be sure to check out Xenofex's preview, as well as the official WWII Online site. There's currently not a release date set on this title, but it is running in Closed Beta at the moment. A Mac version of this title is currently slated as "to be announced." Let's hope that changes to a definite release date soon.

    World War II Online - Official Site
    Xenofex - World War II Online Preview
    Strategy First
    Cornered Rat Software
    World War II Online

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    GarageGames Interviewed
    11:35 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

    Jeff Tunnel, the president of GarageGames, has been interviewed by GameSpy about their strategy towards licensing V12, the engine powering Tribes 2. The interview contains questiosn about the V12 engine and how their whole management and licensing system will affect the market and mod deverlopers. For just $100, interested developers can get code for the V12 engine, which is due to be released at the end of the month.

    In the world of engines costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, this is an extremely bold concept. This kind of system may also make a Mac port of Tribes 2 possible. IMG has talked previously with Tunnell, who notes they already have a few interested Mac developers lined up. Here's a clip from the interview affirming this:

    GameSpy: Are there specific areas of the engine or tools development that you are looking for developers to help create/improve etc?

    Jeff Tunnell: We will be developing and publishing a list of potential improvements and additions once we ship the source code. In the meantime, some obvious additions are plug-ins for 3D animation tools other than 3DS Max (we've already had about 20 offers to create Milkshape plug-ins), pixel and vertex shaders, Mac support, etc…

    While nothing official has been announced about a Mac port, we'll be sure to keep you updated on any new developments. Check out the rest of the interview for much more from Tunnell.

    IMG News: More Details on GarageGames, Mac Tribes 2
    Jeff Tunnell Interview at GameSpy

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    Warcraft III Preview
    10:07 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    New details on Blizzard's upcoming medieval RTS title Warcraft III have surfaced, thanks to the guys at IGN PC, that focus on some new gameplay conventions as well as give more insight into some of the new races.

    One of the new elements Blizzard hopes will change the way their RTS games are played is the implementation of the Mana Stone. Mana Stones are a resource, like gold, that must be found in order to be able to purchase heroes and high-end upgrades for troops. However, unlike gold, Mana Stones will be extremely scarce on each map, with a finite number being available. In order to obtain them, the player will have to seek out Creeps, which are wandering universally-hostile monsters, and slay them. Blizzard notes that this should change the gameplay dynamic of their previous RTS titles, as players will likely have to spend the beginning portion of each game securing Mana Stones rather than quickly amassing troops for an early attack on other players.

    Details on the Night Elves are also starting to solifidy. As of now, only the females will have the automatic ability to cloak during nighttime. The cloak is also only applicable when the unit is standing still - they can be seen when in motion. The entire race is a fast-moving, long-range based race, with even the base attacking units being archers. Their buildings are Treants, living trees, which will have the ability to move as well as attack when necessary. One Night Elven hero, the Keeper of the Grove, will be able to grow and destroy trees, useful for creating or removing natural barricades. Another Night Elven hero, the Sentinel, will be able to use an owl to scout out enemy territory.

    The Undead are also shaping up to be an intriguing race. PC IGN describes the Abomination unit as a "smelly, fly-filled, noxious" amalgation that attacks with both its gas and its huge size. The Lich, which move on "a set of flippery, flowery legs," will be able to launch a variety of cold spells. The Necromancer will be able to reanimate skeletons found on the battefield, creating warriors and archers. Adding yet another level to this circle, bodies on the battlefield will decay, starting out as fleshy corpses, which Ghoul units can feed upon to regain health, cleaning off the bones for the Necromancer to reanimate. To stave of the process of decay, the Banshee unit can use a power called Dirge, which stops corpses from decaying as long as it's maintained.

    The camera has been pulled out considerably, allowing the player to view more of the battlefield. The abiltiy to zoom in is possible, the the angle of the camera will be computer controlled.

    As far as the numbers game goes, parties can currently consist of up to 9 members, though IGN PC notes that this is far from being final. There is a 75 food unit limit, with units consuming 1 unit and heroes consuming 5 units.

    For more tidbits of Warcraft III info, be sure to check out IGN PC's write-up. Blizzard is currently shooting for an end-of-year release on the Mac version of this game, but the final verdict on this is "it'll be ready when it's ready," as Blizzard wants to make sure that this title is balanced and solid when it finally comes out. It's definitely shaping up to be a title worth waiting for.

    Blizzard - Warcraft III
    IGN PC - Warcraft III Preview
    Blizzard Entertainment
    WarCraft III
    Buy WarCraft III

    Myth III Site Opens With New Images, Reqs
    9:56 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    The official site for Myth III: The Wolf Age has been unveiled by the publisher for the game, Take Two. While this is really just a quick information page, it does offer a rundown of this real-time strategy title's features and some preliminary system requirements. As you've probably heard, Myth III will move the series to full 3D, replacing the 2D sprites with animated 3D models and even implementing true deformable terrain. This will up the ante for those who were barely able to run Myth II, but they don't seem too unreasonable for today's standards. Here's a clip with the requirements for both Mac and PC versions:


    OpenGL compatible Rage Pro, Voodoo 2, TNT (or equivalent) with 6 MB of memory
    hardware acceleration card for the minimum game performance

    400 Mhz CPU

    96 Megs of ram


    OpenGL compatible Voodoo3, Rage 128, TNT2 Ultra, GeForce, S200 with 16 MB of memory

    600 Mhz CPU

    128 Megs of ram

    (System requirements subject to change).

    The 600 Mhz CPU is likely not a Mac statistic, so don't get too upset about that. G4 owners will also be glad to hear Andrew Meggs of Mumbo Jumbo is also optimizing the engine with AltiVec enhancements according to this clarifying post in the Myth3WolfAge forums:
    A K6-2 500 is fine -- the engine is heavily oriented towards vectorized optimizations, i.e. SSE2, AltiVec, and 3DNow!. 64 MB of RAM is too low, not just for Myth 3 but for most current 3D games (and even the latest version of Internet Explorer -- sigh). An 8 MB card will run the game, but you might be interested in upgrading because some of the higher-quality rendering effects don't get added unless there you have 16 MB or more on your video card.
    For a glimpse at what your video card will be producing, also scroll down the new Myth III web site for three new screen shots of the game. The title is currently scheduled for a release this fall, and we'll keep you posted on any new developments.

    Myth3WolfAge Forum Thread
    Official Myth III: The Wolf Age Web Site

    Mac OS X Migration Program at WWDC 2001
    9:53 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

    With well over 100 technical sessions on tap for WWDC 2001, you'll receive all the latest information you need to create killer products for Apple's revolutionary Mac OS X from Apple's top engineers. But to assist you further still, Apple has invited seven of the hi-tech industry's best engineering firms to attend WWDC 2001. These firms include Prosoft Engineering, Robosoft, Art & Logic, The Omni Group, ShadeTree, Recosoft, and Atimi Software. Each is well versed in Mac OS X development, and will be present to answer any questions you might have about creating or porting products to Mac OS X. Be sure to look for their booths on the main concourse of the San Jose Convention Center. They'll be available all week, beginning after the Monday morning Fireside Chat with Steve Jobs.

    Don't miss out on what's sure to be a block-buster event! For more information, visit the WWDC 2001 web site.

    WWDC 2001

    Power Macintosh G4/733 Review Sneak Peek
    6:00 AM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

    There is a rare breed of Mac gamers who need to push the envelope of their gaming experience. This means having the latest and greatest 3D software titles and pushing them to the edge of playability. Running a game in full 32-bit color, with the highest possible audio quality and using an insanely high monitor resolution is simply part of the fun. If you want to be that kind of gamer, you will need deep pockets in order to acquire the latest hardware. Why? Because your old 266 MHz Beige G3 equipped with a Voodoo3 card is simply not going to cut it.

    At the moment, the bleeding edge of Apple hardware is the Power Macintosh G4/733. This machine ships with 256 megabytes of RAM, a 60 gigabyte hard disk drive, an NVIDIA GeForce2 MX AGP video card and the latest PowerPC 7450 microprocessor. Clearly, this machine is a powerhouse on the strength of these specifications alone. How well this hardware will perform when blasting through a Borg cube in Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force or slashing through the bowls of Hell in Rune remains to be seen.

    Inside Mac Games is currently evaluating the G4/733 and will publish a comprehensive review in the near future. We are offering a sneak peek at this piece of monster hardware in the form of our first run of benchmarks taken with Quake 3: Arena.

    When compared to the former single-processor champ, the G4/500 AGP, the new G4/733 has clearly upped the performance bar to the next level. These initial test results, while not earth-shattering, show that the new G4 adds significant power to the top-end professional Macintosh.

    When the final review is ready, you can expect a variety of new benchmark results (including performance numbers with an ATi Radeon AGP), an evaluation of the PowerMac’s enhanced audio system and much more.

    Apple Power Macintosh G4

    Mac Games News for Thursday, April 26, 2001

    Feature on Gaming and Mac OS5:31 PM
    Interview with Planet Moon on Giants: Citizen Kabuto3:22 PM
    Quake 1 Tools for Mac OS X1:51 PM
    ATI "Reader Interview" On Present & Future1:24 PM
    Westlake Update on Rune: Halls of Valhalla11:13 AM
    "Survivor" Games Coming to Mac OS10:44 AM
    Interview with John Carmack8:51 AM
    Bungie Fanfest Details6:00 AM
    Elite Force Voice Add-on6:00 AM
    glTron Released for OS X6:00 AM
    New EV Nova Images6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, April 26, 2001 on one page

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