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Tuesday, June 5, 2001

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No WWII Online Public Beta, New Mac Info
8:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Producer Al "Rafter" Corey broke the news last night to the World War II Online forums that they would not be hosting any public beta as expected. It seems they don't have the need anymore, as internal testing has cleared up what they believe are most of the game's issues. The big test will be tomorrow, when the PC version of the title hits store shelves, and owners go online to try it out. Here's a clip:

We come to a decision not to conduct an extended public test of WWII Online. Our intentions right up until this late hour was to provide some opportunity for more of our community to experience the game in a test environment but the timelines and resource costs of conducting such testing have made that impossible.

Both our internal and closed Beta tests have been satisfactory and we feel as well prepared as possible for the expected siege on us Wednesday. To all of you who have waited to test the game, we are sorry we weren't able to make that happen. To our closed Beta testers, again, thanks for your help and dedication.

We are at the very beginning of a journey that is the on-going development of WWII Online. We hope what glimpses our testers and outlets like the World@War Gazette have provided give you a hint of what kind of experience we're building. We hope you'll join us on June 6th.

As they have noted before, this release of the game is not truly 'final' because many more updates/fixes/additions will still be released after the retail game is out. A public beta would also cost them quite a bit of money to host a number of testers for free on the game servers, which are sure to be quite expensive to run and maintain.

A long thread in their forum is also answering player questions from both beta testers and employees of Cornered Rat. Head over and dig through it for many goodies on gameplay information and the like.

With tomorrow being the official PC release, the Mac version is still up in the air as far as when a retail version might be ready. An inquisitive reader recently sent us an update from the publisher Strategy First in regards to the Mac build. It seems that while the Mac is up-to-speed with the PC, the actual box will be a few weeks later. Here's a clip:

Thanks for expressing your interest and support in World War II Online.
In answer to your question, World War II Online will come as a separate
retail box for PC and Mac, it will not be shipped as a hybrid box..
There will definitely be a Mac version released, but most probably about
2 to 3 weeks after the PC version (June 5th).
So, while not exactly simultaneous, this is a fairly quick turnaround. We'll keep you posted with any new Mac-related information on shipping dates or preorders for the game.

IMG News: World War II Online Update, Mac Delay
No Public Beta Thread for World War II Online
Gameplay Info Thread for World War II Online
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

IMG Gets Tranquil
3:05 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review today of Tranquility, the interesting and non-violent game from TQWorld. This very colorful 3D experience is available as a demo, so if you haven't tried it out before be sure to grab the application from Macgamefiles. Here's a clip from the review to give you an idea what it's like:

Your ultimate goal is to find the “spinner” on each level that will transport you to the next level. After finding seven spinners, you move to the next “level”. You bounce in this virtual environment and use gravity to bounce higher yet in quest of the spinner. There are OpenGL rendered pulsing and moving platforms all around you which can be used to help (or hinder) your quest.

Controls are quite simple. Simply move your mouse/trackball in the direction that you want to go (ie forward or back, turn left or right). By holding down the spacebar, you engage a “brake” which slows your upward momentum. The harder you fall, the harder you bounce back up.

Tranquility definitely falls under Apple's slogan of 'think different,' so be sure to check it out after reading our review.

Tranquility Web Site
IMG Review of Tranquility

Custer Thrashes Out Another Desktop
11:19 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

After a last-minute switch, pixel wizard Brad Custer has once again graced IMG with a new gaming-related desktop image. Titled "Skate or Die," this creation celebrates the recent release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 by Aspyr Media. Here's more from Brad on the subject:

Well, today was a day of miscommuncation.

To make a long story short - I created a desktop that won't be used until later which meant I needed a new selection.
I decided to do one in honor of the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2.
Again I've teamed up with Aspyr Media to have 5 exclusive desktops included with the game.
I'm very excited about this opportunity and I have a feeling that we might be doing this again soon. ;D

I played THPS2 for the first time on an Xbox at E3 and it made me anxious for this release.
I'm glad I didn't have to wait too long. ;D

I actually completed my work on this project a few months ago so it was fun to come back and work with this title again.

I entitled this one, "Skate or Die" to pay homage to the old Electronic Arts games from the 80's.
Once you buy the game you'll see that I have a certain style for these desktops and worked mostly in blue and orange.
This one was no different.
Grab it here because this desktop isn't available with the game!

Visit Custer's Desktops to grab this image in sizes from 640x480 to 1600x1200. If you haven't read our review of the title yet, be sure to check that out as well -- so far the user reviews have awarded the game an astounding score of 9.75 (out of 10).

Custer's Desktops
Review: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2

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Rune Expansion On Track for Release
9:49 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG recently spoke with Westlake Interactive for the latest word on Rune: Halls of Valhalla. President Mark Adams was nice enough to give us a quick update on the status of this expansion pack for the Viking slasher, Rune. Halls of Valhalla will be both an add-on for Rune owners, bundling new multiplayer game types with many new maps and models, as well as a standalone game for those that haven't bought Rune yet. This is an innovative concept, but the HumanHead team thought this multi-product approach might be appealing to more than just current owners of the original game.

It seems that testing on the Mac version is going well, and they should be moving towards final for both HoV and the 1.07 Rune patch soon. Here's what Mark had to say:

Its in the final stages of testing, hopefully it (along with the Rune 1.07
patch) will be ready soon.
We were also curious about how the title might be published, now that Gathering of Developers has seemingly pulled out of the Mac market by passing the Mac versions of their game catalog to MacSoft. Mark assures us that, to his knowledge, Gathering will still be publishing Halls of Valhalla. He wasn't sure about shelf space in stores, though; the Mac version of this game may just be distributed via their web site. This isn't altogether unusual, as many Mac games have trouble finding shelf space in retail outlets. We'll keep you posted with any new details as Halls of Valhalla moves towards release; an update to Rune itself which will bring it to 1.07 should be released around the same time.

Westlake Interactive
RuneGame Web Site
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Myst III: Exile Interview
9:40 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Czech web site BonusWeb has conducted an in-depth interview with Greg Uhler, one of the founders of Presto Studios which recently released their latest title, Myst III: Exile. Delving into a variety of personal and professional topics, the interview covers the foundation of Presto, their acquisition of the Myst III project and Greg's thoughts on the final product. Here is an excerpt:

BonusWeb: Now let me move to our main topic – Myst III: Exile. Previous two titles (Myst and Riven) were developed by Cyan… But the third installment is your work. Tell me, why Cyan gave up the chance to do it by themselves and how did come to this opportunity to make it?

Greg Uhler: Cyan was embarking on another large project and wasn’t going to continue Atrus’ story in an interactive form. Knowing the Myst universe and Atrus’ role in it was too big to leave undeveloped forever, Cyan was more than happy to let us handle this small part of it for them.

In early 1999, we received a phone call from Mattel Interactive informing us that they were searching for top developers to develop games within the MYST universe. We quickly agreed to create a preliminary design document and technology prototype for Myst 3. But we only had five weeks, and we were competing with other developers. Five weeks later, we pitched our idea to a room full of people at Mattel. The guys remember waiting in the lobby after the meeting, thinking how quickly things can change in our industry. They were minutes away from a decision that would change the future of Presto.

Obviously, that decision was in Presto's favor; the game itself has already sold 75,000 copies in the first two weeks, and currently holds two positions in the top ten PC games list, the second held by the Collector's Edition version of the game. Read through the rest of the information for more information on the team behind this successful sequel, and watch IMG for a review of this game in the near future.

Greg Uhler Interview at BonusWeb

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Another DS9: The Fallen Update
9:21 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

An alert IMG reader directed us to this forum discussion on the official message boards for Simon and Schuster's Deep Space Nine: The Fallen, a third-person shooter based on the world of the eponymous television series. This game was originally due for the Mac OS in late October of 2000, but has obviously suffered serious delays since that time. During the interval, the developers (known as The Collective) have always assured us that the game will indeed come out, after some missing components -- in this case, the audio playback library -- were completed. A recent post by The Collective's Doug Hare reaffirms this position.

Hare's post was in response to another board member's accusation that The Collective has "abandoned" the game; this is a curious charge, as it is up to the publisher, not the developer, as to whether expansion packs or sequels for a game are created. Hare's response in turn shifts some of the blame to the game community itself, which didn't create the mods and maps that have extended the lives of other games based on the Unreal Tournament engine, such as Rune. Here is his reply:

The Collective has not abandoned The Fallen, but we are busy working on other games at the moment.

The Fallen (Mac) is finally close to shipping. Unfortunately, we had to wait until a 3rd party completed the Mac version of the game's audio system (Miles). In other words, it was out of our control!

Given that S&S do not intend to create a sequel/add-on for The Fallen, we (The Collective) have been focusing on other games and new opportunities. Without the publisher's support, we cannot support The Fallen community.

By contrast, Raven is still being funded/supported by Activision to create Elite Force products; hence, the reason that they continue to support the EF community.

There are obviously a large number of people who have enjoyed The Fallen and, from what we understand, it has done particularly well in Europe -- in fact, it was #1 in Spain!

Regrettably, however, there have been few (or no) mods or maps created by Fallen users. These help inject life into a game beyond its launch and maintain interest in the community. Considering the power of UnrealED and the systems we added to Unreal, we are surprised that there has been such little user support.

Regardless of when this game finally ships, we are certain their are Trek fans in the Mac community eager to play it. Several weeks ago we did receive confirmation from a member of the team developing the Miles sound system that this library has indeed been declared "gold" for Mac OS; obviously the ball is now in Simon and Schuster's court as to when Mac DS9 will finally ship.

DS9: The Fallen Forum Thread
Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Web Site
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

Cipher Engine Info
8:25 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The latest development diary update for Synaptic Soup has been posted at VoodooExtreme with Rik Heywood discussing their Cipher game engine. The update tries to pin down what an engine (a term frequently used, but often in different ways) actually consists of. Of course the company is marketing Cipher as an easy-to-use, but powerful game engine that will cross compile on a number of platforms (including the Mac). Here's an excerpt with more:

Cipher, our game engine, offers a pretty complete feature set in a similar way to the Quake and Unreal engines do, allowing the developers to get on with building the gameplay and the artists to concentrate on the environment and characters.

When I set about designing Cipher there were a number of problems that I wanted it to solve. Most of these problems are ones that I had encountered (sometimes painfully) in previous projects I had worked on. Above all, Cipher had to keep complexity under control and remain flexible so that artists and developers are not forced to use it in just one way. It had to be easy to extend and offer clear, simple, well-defined and robust APIs. It also had to provide a clear break between the game code and the engine so that it could be used for multiple projects.

Synaptic Soup recently announced Cipher is feature-complete, and the company still plans on releasing their first title from the engine, Crazy Car Championship early next year.

Synaptic Soup Web Site
Synaptic Soup Dev Diary #4

Mac Games News for Monday, June 4, 2001

Massive Look at Neverwinter Nights2:45 PM
Max Payne Interview2:05 PM
IMG Talks Summoner with Volition's Mark Allender9:56 AM
Deimos Rising in Beta, New Media9:18 AM
Diablo II Q&A with Blizzard's Bill Roper8:23 AM
NVIDIA Interview7:55 AM
World War II Online Update, Mac Delay6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, June 4, 2001 on one page

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Friday, June 1, 2001
Thursday, May 31, 2001
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