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Friday, May 25, 2001

First Images of Warcraft III on OS X
9:25 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

For those who have doubted that Blizzard Entertainment is fully behind the Mac as a gaming platform, or believed that they will continue to "drag their feet" regarding Mac products, the following collection of three images should wipe such thoughts from your mind. Close on the heels of E3 and during WWDC it seems the perfect time for Blizzard to release more Warcraft III screen shots -- and these were taken on a Mac, with the game running native in OS X.

The three images, each at a robust resolution of 1280x1024, show a Carbonized version of Warcraft III running in a window; we've decided to leave them at their original size, so expect some slight additional download time. Not only do the shots showcase the amazing graphics engine Blizzard has been concocting over the last two years, but also the revamped interface and even a 32-bit, 128-pixel icon in the Dock -- a sign that Blizzard has embraced OS X completely. Here is the note that accompanied the shots:

Warcraft III is being simultaneously developed for Windows and MacOS. Last
week the Windows version of Warcraft III was shown at E3. The Macintosh
versions (Classic and Carbon) are up-to-date and the carbonized version is
shown running under MacOS X in the accompanying screen shots.
Our thanks to Blizzard for providing Mac gamers with a glimpse of their future -- both as OS X gamers and potential players of Warcraft III. We can only hope other game companies follow Blizzard's lead and port their games to OS X so readily. By the end of the summer, all the gaps in OS X's gaming technologies should be filled (just sound and input device APIs need to be completed) and Carbon versions of games should be the rule, not the exception. We have also been informed several times that Carbon versions of Diablo II and its expansion Lord of Destruction are both expected to be released, most likely by the end of the summer.

Blizzard Entertainment
Hands-On Preview: Warcraft III
Warcraft III on OS X -- Invasion 2
Warcraft III on OS X -- Invasion 1
Warcraft III on OS X -- Title Image
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

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'MudPie' Technology Q&A
2:54 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Avault has posted the second half of their interviews with Cyan, this time talking with chief technical officer Brice Tebbs. The main focus of the discussion is MudPie, which is the codename for their next 'broadband'-based title. While not many details are known about the game as of yet, it is expected to be a massively multiplayer title of a non-violent, exploratory nature. Here's a clip from the interview:

Another important topic for us to discuss is Cyan's 3D real-time graphics engine. The first generation of this engine was seen in realMYST. What enhancements and changes can we anticipate for your next generation of games?

We’ve been working with this engine for several years now. After a couple years of MudPie development and our realMYST experience, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned and have re-built the engine from the ground up. We will be taking full advantage of the new DX8 features. With the vertex and pixel shaders, we will be able to create Cyan quality graphics without having to sacrifice performance. We will be pushing visual quality as far as possible. Our goal is not just to duplicate the traditional 3D pipeline that you might see in a typical FPS game. High-end, photo-realistic rendering is our standard, and we work to make that level of quality happen in real-time. Our standard is Riven, not QUAKE III Arena.

What are the engine's main features?

We have all the standard checklist features: multi-texturing; skinning; 3D sound; physics; real-time shadows; and so on. More important is having a system built from the ground up to do complex, networked persistent worlds. For example, our networking system threads a careful balance of loading between client and server so that we can provide very detailed and interesting world interaction without requiring huge, expensive servers.

Head over and have a read through the rest of the Q&A if you're curious. There's also another very impressive screen shot of the game available (only the third, by our count), so have a peek at that as well.

Avault Interview with Cyan, Part II
Cyan CEO Speaks on Exile, Mudpie

Myth III Interview, Demo Caught on Tape
11:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot has posted yet another excellent movie taken at E3, this time talking with Scott Campbell of Mumbo Jumbo Games about Myth III: The Wolf Age. The video, while taken with a camcorder, shows off some of the amazing changes made in the newly-revamped engine of the game, while Campbell demos the new features. The MPEG video is quite large at 70MB, but fans of the series not lucky enough to attend the E3 showing will definitely want to suffer the download. Myth III is set a thousand years before the first game in the series, allowing you to play as the "Fallen Lords" before they fell.

Topics included in the demonstration include the completely 3D characters and terrain, some very nice trees and plants, and a smooth camera which will allow you to zoom in to see precise detail. Other niceties also demonstrated, such as dynamic wind which blows through the trees and affects your archers arrows, will make this a definite must-have for Myth fans. Don't be afraid of the "Windows Media" version -- it is just a zipped MPEG. Myth III is in development now and is expected out around November. MacSoft will publish the Mac version for Take Two.

Myth III Movie at GameSpot

Expansion Pack for Rogue Spear Planned
9:35 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Blue's News has noted the posting of some recent information at Pie's Tactics regarding an upcoming expansion pack to Rogue Spear, the popular tactical FPS game. Announced by Ubi Soft at E3. This expansion, titled Black Thorn, will function both as a stand-alone package as well as a Rogue Spear expansion.

The title is currently being developed by Ubi Soft's Montreal office, with members of Red Storm helping with the design of the maps. A total of 16 maps will be available, including 10 single-player and 6 multiplayer maps. The names of 5 of the multiplayer maps are given as Alaska Depot, City Streets Small, Diamond Inclusion, Hidden Camp, and Office Building. Two of the single-player maps are named as Kirtmand Zoo and Diamond Edge.

The story line for Black Thorn will center around a group of copycat terrorists that are attempting to recreate terrorist actions from the past 50 years. Current weapons and day tactics will be used by the Rainbow Six team to complete each mission.

To aid in the missions, 14 new weapons are being made available, with two of the guns being terrorist-only models. They contain a wealth of popular modern guns (Counter-Strike players should be instantly familiar with the line-up), including the Sig P228, the FN P90, the M60, and the FAMAS G2.

The popular "Lone Wolf" multiplayer game will also be made official in this release. Lone Wolf pits one player, armed with his weapons of choice, against up to 8 enemies armed only with pistols.

The PC version of this game is scheduled to ship around October/November of 2001. A Mac version has yet to be announced, but as it can be run through the Urban Operations mod interface this will be quite feasible. We'll keep you updated with any new information we receive.

Blue's News
Pie's Tactics - Rogue Spear: Black Thorn

New Master of Orion III Details
9:10 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

IGN PC received the chance to sit with 3 of the producers of Master of Orion III at the recent E3 expo. For those unfamiliar with the title, MOO3, currently in development by Quicksilver, is about intergalactic conquest, where a player must explore, manage various resources, wage wars, and cut political deals in order to expand their empire. It is a fairly complex but rewarding gameplay system that has maintained popularity with many players over the years with the past MOO titles.

MOO3 is aiming to raise the bar that MOO2 set even higher. One of the new aspects of MOO3 will be the player's use of intermediaries. No longer will players have to spread their attention thinner and thinner as their empire grows, as players can simply appoint various intermediaries to represent them. Leaders will be populated randomly. Some of them will be of a generic variety, but many will have unique names, skills, and agendas that players will have to be aware of. Though each leader has a pool of action points by which players can give orders, those orders may not always be followed. For example, a leader interested in terraforming or scientific research may be a bad choice for leading a frontier world. It's also smart to put militaristic leaders near threatened borders. To keep leaders in check, a reward/punishment system will be in place for players to use.

The 3D system map is huge, and will contain 256 stars, each capable of supporting up to 8 planets and each planet capable of posessing 8 moons. These stars will be linked by a series of starlines, along which travel will be greatly speeded. As in previous titles, various races will be better suited for various planets. However, a new feature in MOO3 is that any terraforming done must be implemented by the race that is planning to inhabit the planet.

Battles in MOO3 will take place on a 2D plane. As with intermediaries, players will be able to give their captains various orders before combat actually begins, with each captain able to command a unified task force comprised of up to 64 ships. Ships can also be customized, including the ability to determine which systems are closer to the surface of the ship, which will determine which systems get knocked out first when the ship takes damage.

Here's a clip about the technology aspects of MOO3:

The team has divided the technologies into two fields -- theoretical and applied. Researching theoretical science will lead you to more practical applied sciences. No longer will you be able to use new technology as soon as you discover it. Instead you'll have to find ways to make it work in specific contexts. We haven't been given a list of the technologies in the game, but we did get a sample of the fields. In the social field for instance there are categories for education, military, political, psychology, criminal, cultural and philosophical advances.
IGN PC quotes Producer Bill Levay as describing MOO3 as "sex on wheels." The official release date is currently set as "3 months after Civilization III is finished," which means "not for a while," but this title is definitely shaping up to be one worth waiting for. Be sure to check out the full article for all the details.

IGN PC - Master of Orion III E3 Preview
Master of Orion III Official Site
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

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Max Payne Interview, Gameplay Details
8:39 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A nice new preview/interview posted at GameSpot talks with Petri Järvilehhto and Sam Lake of 3D Realms about their upcoming 3rd person shooter Max Payne. Already in development for nearly four years, the game contains an impressive list of features like photorealistic textures, deformable terrain, volumetric particle system, intelligent AI, and a little idea called 'Bullet Time.' The interview goes into all of these and more when talking about Max Payne. Bullet Time is a mode which basically let you slow down the action (ala Matrix) to get out of a sticky situation. If you saw the recent movie trailer for the game, you understand how that looks. You will actually be able to 'earn' Bullet Time, so you'll have to make use of it wisely.

The enviroments will also have some destructability by larger weapons, and you should be able to interact with many of the items on the screen as well. The team is also trying the impressive feat of variable skill levels. Read the clip for more:

Throughout the game the environments are filled with things you can interact use, things you can break. The game has fully self-adjusting skill levels. There's no longer anything like Easy, Medium or Hard to start with. You start the game, and we're constantly monitoring what the player is doing in the game. If you're a hardcore Quake gamer, you're doing really well, then we're cranking up the skill levels, giving you a more challenging gameplay experience than if you're playing shooters for the first time in your life. And we're trying to make sure that the player is constantly having fun and a challenge, but not too much of a challenge. Once you have completed the game, we're unlocking further modes of gameplay. We're unlocking skill levels, we're unlocking the timed mode, which we're calling "New York Minute". In this mode you have an arcade style timer counting down, there's something like sixty seconds to finish each map. If the timer gets to zero, you're dead. Every enemy you take out gives you fifteen seconds more time. So It's sort of like a Time Crisis variation. And we're shipping the tools with the game, so people can modify the content, do whatever they want to. And lots of other things.
Head over now and check out the rest of the article for a good idea of how the game will play. In our recent MacSoft interview, Al Schilling noted they were still working out the details of the Mac port. The PC version is expected to ship later this year.

Max Payne Preview/Interview at GameSpot
IMG Interview with MacSoft's Al Schilling
Remedy Entertainment
Westlake Interactive
Max Payne
Buy Max Payne

Mac Games News for Thursday, May 24, 2001

Mac WWII Online Features Stiff System Requirements12:42 PM
Update on Target: Korea Progress11:51 AM
E3 Report Uncovers Mac Adventure Games11:15 AM
Unreal II Details from E3 Wrap-Ups10:42 AM
Eidos Addresses Rumors on Deus Ex 29:31 AM
Gaming and the Apple Store9:26 AM
Cyan CEO Speaks on Exile, Mudpie9:19 AM
Neverwinter Nights and BG II: Throne of Bhaal E3 Movies9:12 AM
Diablo II, Starcraft Updates Available8:54 AM
Summoner Previewed at Apple8:44 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, May 24, 2001 on one page

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