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Wednesday, June 20, 2001

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World War II Online Mac Q&A
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG contacted developer Cornered Rat Software about the upcoming Mac version of their massively multiplayer war sim, World War II Online. While the game is still in an initial "shakedown" period on the PC side, the Mac version is on track for a release on July 10. We recently had a chance to exchange a quick Q&A with Russell "Hoss" Mirabelli and Stephen W. Evans of Playnet about the release:

IMG: When the PC version was declared 'Gold' back in late May, a Mac GM was hinted at as well. Has the current Mac version been updated from the original 'Gold' copy pressed at the time of the PC release?

Russell: It is indeed an updated version.

IMG: Will Mac users have to download the same 70+MB patch the PC users needed?

Russell: There will definitely be a patch needed, size unknown.

Stephen: Hopefully not, but a change in the data file due to a bugfix between when they get the Mac master would result in a large download. The problem is that our datafile is compressed and encrypted, as a result
a change anywhere in the file changes the entire file, leaving normal "compare and patch" methods useless. Thus the large updates.

IMG: Will any of the performance-related patches released so far help the Mac version as well? Or has any Mac-related optimization work been done?

Russell: Virtually all of those have been common code. There's nothing big performance-wise that's mac-specific. There are
more than a few projects underway, though.

Stephen: Yes and yes, although Altivec support still is not complete and may
not be done in time for the golden master.

Thanks go out to both Russell and Stephen for their help. Stay tuned to IMG for more on World War II Online as this massively-multiplayer sim nears completion. If you would like, browse our news database for related articles on the subject.

World War II Online
Last 20 IMG News Articles on WWII Online
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

Mac Bombad Canned, Lucas Learning Exits Market
4:06 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

When IMG learned of Lucas Learning's upcoming "kart" title Super Bombad Racing at E3 last year, we were a little shocked at the ship date as the game seemed almost complete. Over a year later, a report on MacCentral confirms our suspicions -- the title has actually been cancelled, both for Mac and PC. Furthermore Lucas Learning itself is exiting the consumer market, and instead will refocus their efforts on edutainment sold directly to the educational market.

According to the report, the axing of the title may be due to the fact that the PS2 version of the game "bombed" when it debuted in April of this year. Read the report on MacCentral for more details.

Lucas Learning Axes Bombad, Exits Market at MacCentral
Super Bombad Racing Web Site

Diablo 1.0.8 Supports EAX, Creative Says
12:35 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

As if the extensive lists of changes made to Diablo II by the latest 1.0.8 update wasn't long enough, Kurt Heiden of Creative Labs dropped us a line to point out one detail that Blizzard left out: The Mac OS version of D2 1.0.8 now offers EAX audio support, using the full power of the Sound Blaster Live! card to create an immersive audio experience. Those early adopters of SB Live! cards are now beginning to reap the benefits of their foresight, as an increasing number of titles are being patched or ported with EAX support in mind.

Owners of Diablo II and an SB Live! card will find a new option under the sound settings: Environmental Audio. Those with four-speaker setups will receive the greatest benefit, but those with two-speaker (or two and a sub woofer) systems will still notice a difference.

Other games supporting EAX that were recently released include Tomb Raider Chronicles and Escape from Monkey Island; future patches for Unreal Tournament, Rune, American McGee's Alice and WWII Online will expand the list of EAX games.

Review: Sound Blaster Live!
Creative Labs
Diablo II 1.08 Released, Gameplay Changes

Destineer Announces Fall Release for AOE2, Links 2002
12:10 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Peter Tamte's recently-named company Destineer has announced that they expect both Age of Empires II and Links LS 2002 to ship by this Fall, under the Bold label. These are the first two of many promised Microsoft titles that this company will ship for the Mac OS and are both highly-anticipated releases.

Here is a sample from the press release:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—June 20, 2001 – Newly created games developer and publisher
Destineer™ announces today that its Macintosh label, Bold™, will ship two of
its highly anticipated games this fall. Microsoft® Age of Empires II: The
Age of Kings™ for Macintosh will ship in early October and Microsoft® Links™
2002 will ship in late October.

Age of Empires II is being converted for the Macintosh by Westlake
Interactive. Links 2002 is being converted by Green Dragon Creations. Both
Westlake and Green Dragon have been working on these conversions
confidentially for many months.

"We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm Mac people all over the world are
showing for these two games," said Peter Tamte, Destineer’s president. "We
chose Westlake and Green Dragon to do these conversions because we want to
ensure people in the Mac community will be even more excited by these games
once they actually get to play them on their Macs this fall."

One of the most anticipated computer games ever, Microsoft® "Age of Empires
II: The Age of Kings," spans 1,000 years, from the fall of Rome through the
Middle Ages, and challenges players to lead one of 13 civilizations into
greatness. Developed by Ensemble Studios of Dallas, "Age of Empires II: The
Age of Kings" retains the epic scope and accessibility of "Age of Empires"
while improving on the game's combat and economic trade features. Featuring
the design expertise of Bruce Shelley, co-creator of such game classics as
"Civilization" and "Railroad Tycoon," the game combines stunning graphics
with the drama and intrigue of the Middle Ages. The game’s Windows® version
has already sold over 3 million units.

Microsoft’s series of Links games are, by far, the best-selling golf games
ever created. Links 2002 for Macintosh will feature an entirely new graphics
engine that delivers unprecedented ball physics and graphics, new golfers,
new courses and many other exciting features to be announced later this

While October may seem quite some time away, we're sure this Summer will be full of enough games to while away your leisure hours until then.

Tamte Announces 'Destineer Studios' and 'Bold' Mac Label

Tomb Raider: Chronicles Ships
11:14 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media has announced that Tomb Raider: Chronicles, the fifth and last title in this 3D adventure game series, has shipped. The game is carbonized for Mac OS X, and includes a level editor which will allow gamers to create their own dungeons, ice caves and pyramids for Lara Croft to explore. Here is the press release:

(July 20, 2001-AUSTIN, TEXAS) -Aspyr Media, Inc., in a continuing
partnership with Eidos Interactive Inc., a leading developer and publisher
of interactive entertainment, today announced it has shipped Tomb Raider:
Chronicles for the Macintosh. The conversion was completed by Westlake
Interactive. Tomb Raider: Chronicles is one of the first Mac titles to ship
built for MacOS X.

"Tomb Raider: Chronicles is the missing link," says Ted Staloch, VP of Sales
for Aspyr Media, Inc. "The game not only gives insight into Lara’s past,
but it also provides gamers with the opportunity to create their own new

Chronicles takes place at a memorial service for Lara Croft – her body still
not found. It offers insight into Lara Croft's mysterious past, featuring
four untold adventures, which take our heroine to the city of Rome, a German
U-boat, a small Irish Island and a hi-tech tower block.

Chronicles combines the greatest elements of the Tomb Raider series with
some familiar faces. Graphical improvement provides the smoothest gameplay
yet, with increased detail, improved lighting, a greater number of
characters and objects plus greater levels of interaction with characters
and objects. Greater use is made of the inventory system, and more items may
be collected allowing more variations of the ‘combine’ option.

New features include tightrope walking, parallel bar swinging, and a
hand-to-hand stealth attack. The game also boasts new weapons including a
grappling hook gun, sniper rifle, and chloroform, as well as a new ‘search’
option enabling Lara to look through files, drawers etc. for useful items.

Chronicles includes the highly acclaimed Tomb Raider level editor as used to
create previous Tomb Raider adventures. The system allows the user to create
and play unique Tomb Raider levels of their own design - in the same manner
as the Tomb Raider team.

Tomb Raider Chronicles, for Macintosh, will be available wherever Mac games
are sold, with a Suggested Retail Price of $39.95.

Check out IMG's preview of this title for more details and screen shots.

Preview: Tomb Raider Chronicles
Aspyr Media

Quake 3 Arena Dreamcast Maps Released
9:52 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Console and game maker Sega has released a mammoth map pack for id Software's shooter Quake 3 Arena, which contains all 23 maps from the Dreamcast version of this game. The map pack contains a mix of both all-new maps and maps modified for the console version, and it is being released to allow PC players to play head-to-head against Dreamcast players online.

However, there is a catch. Because console titles are "frozen" at release and never receive patches or updates, PC (and Mac) Q3A players will have to downgrade to version 1.16 or below to be able to connect to DC servers (or to serve the maps for DC players). Mac users will not be able to find DC-hosted games in any case, as that console relies on the PC-only GameSpy service for game listings and chat. The map pack itself can be used with any version of Q3A, so if PC and Mac players want to try them out offline (or play them online, provided servers choose to host them) the pack might still be worth the 49 MB download.

The fact that console games never get patched, combined with the fact that many future games will be coming to multiple online-capable platforms, produces an interesting dilemma for game developers. An article and editorial on EuroGamer expands on this issue, warning that developers may be risking a split between console and PC gamers if they continue their current strategy of patching games for months (sometimes years) after the initial release.

EuroGamer on DC Maps, PC patches
Download Q3A Dreamcast Map Pack (50 MB, .zip)
Q3A DC Map Pack at Sega

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Neverwinter Nights Q&A on Scripting, Tools
8:59 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Neverwinter Nexus has posted a new Q&A with Mark Brockington of BioWare about the scripting and toolset in their upcoming 3D RPG Neverwinter Nights. The game will intentionally be very flexible, with its own tools and scripting language built-in to allow users create their own worlds. This will allow you to play as Dungeon Master for a set of friends (or strangers) over the Internet, in a live participatory experience much like "table-top" role-play gaming. Here's a clip about the scripting language basics:

What will the syntax and structure of NWScript be like?

The syntax of NWScript, in large part, resembles C with some of the extensions/restrictions imposed by Java. We allow for variables, user-defined functions and structures. There are some key features of C/Java that are missing: these include arrays, pointers, call-by-reference semantics and classes.

Each script, in a very similar way to a C program, starts with a "void main()" function, and can go to any user-defined functions within that script, or access any of the functions that we've exposed to the end-user.

At last count, there are over 700 constants in the NWScript language definition file, and over 250 functions for accessing variables and actions on objects in the game world.

Much more information is revealed in the rest of the interview, so be sure to head over and have a read through it if you're interested. Neverwinter Nights is expected out sometime this winter for Mac and PC.

Neverwinter Nights Scripting Q&A
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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GarageGames Mac V12 Update, First Screen Shot
8:50 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

VoodooExtreme has posted a quick new update from Jeff Tunnell of GarageGames on the status of the V12 engine. As IMG has reported in the past, a Mac version of this flexible engine (which powered the PC title Tribes 2) is already underway, which should allow Mac compatibility for any titles created with GG's unique licensing scheme.

GarageGames has just seeded a new beta of V12 to their 'Associate' developers, having removed all of the copyrighted material from the engine. Here's a clip from the update:

Tim [Gift] and Rick [Overman] have removed all of the Tribes 2 specific intellectual property such as skins, shapes, buildings, and art. In addition, they have removed the connection code and Miles sound driver. Lastly, they have reorganized the way scripts are handled and rearranged the networking bitstream code to prevent Tribes 2 hacking.

In other news, the MAC conversion of the V12 by David Chait is coming along really well. I have attached a screen shot. The Linux version, being worked on by Ryan J. Parker, is making amazing progress, considering he has only been working on it for three days.

Once Sierra gives the go-ahead, developers will be able to license the V12 engine for only $100, with GarageGames receiving part of the proceeds from any V12-based game that becomes a commercial title. Check out the screen shot to see a preliminary version of V12 running in a Mac OS window. We'll keep you posted as more info on the Mac version of the engine becomes available.

Past IMG News on V12 Engine
GarageGames Update at VoodooExtreme
V12 Mac Screen Shot

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Mac Tropico to Include Extra Levels
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A preview of Tropico posted by Apple reveals that the long-awaited Mac OS version of this dictator sim will not only be Carbonized for OS X but will also include at least two extra scenarios. PopTop's Phil Steinmeyer is quoted as saying these levels -- which were not found in the PC version -- will be accompanied by other unrevealed surprises. The rest of the article provides a decent overview of the unique features of this strategic simulation, its setting, music, and gameplay.

The Mac system requirements for Tropico are listed for the first time, and they seem very reasonable when compared to other recent games:

Minimum System Requirements:
  • 200MHz PowerPC G3
  • 64MB of RAM

    Recommended System Requirements:
  • 266 MHz PowerPC G3
  • 64MB of RAM
  • Read through the rest of Apple's preview for more general info on Tropico, and be sure to check out the brief but interesting movie of actual gameplay. Also be sure to look at IMG's quick report on a recent Mac beta of the game last week for a glimpse of what to expect from this game. Tropico is currently set for a release around Macworld New York next month.

    IMG Preview of Tropico
    IMG News: Hands On With Tropico Mac (beta)
    Apple Preview of Tropico
    PopTop Software
    Buy Tropico

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    Diablo II 1.08 Released, Gameplay Changes
    6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Blizzard has released a major new update to their very popular RPG Diablo II, bringing the game to version 1.08 and featuring a number of gameplay changes which compensate for some unwelcome additions in 1.06b. The patch weighs in at over 4MB, which is quite large for an update for Diablo II, and their servers are currently swamped by gamers trying to download it. Before you upgrade to the new version, take a minute to read through the gameplay changes listed at Blizzard's site. It seems the company has made some fairly heavy gameplay tweaks including adding casting delays to certain spells, increasing damage on many spells and weapons, and fixing a number of bugs.

    The spellcasting changes will affect nearly every character class, so here's a quick clip from their list of Frequently Asked Questions to clear things up:

    Why can't I cast some spells as frequently as before?

    We have introduced the concept of Casting Delays for certain spells. A Casting Delay is a period of time after a player has cast a spell during which the player cannot re-cast that spell. For example, after casting the Blizzard spell you must wait a few seconds before you're able to cast another one. These casting delays will provide the player with an increase in frame rate. Further, the spells modified by casting delays have been enhanced to make them much more powerful in order to compensate for the new delay between castings.

    What spells have been made more powerful by the implementation of casting delays?

    All of the spells associated with Casting Delays have been made more powerful to provide counterbalance. The Casting Delays vary from skill to skill. Most skills will continue to not have a Casting Delay. For a complete list of spells that now utilize casting delays, please see the URL below. Each of the spells, which are listed in this link, will include details as to how they were each modified.

    For much more information, be sure to check the Blizzard patch page or included ReadMe file. Be sure to report your experiences with this new patch in our Troubleshooting and General forums.

    Casting Delay Details Page
    Download Diablo II 1.08 Patch (4.1MB)
    Diablo II Patch Information
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

    Heroes IV Interview, Preview
    6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

    While we are often reluctant to cover a game that has not been announced for the Mac OS, such coverage does serve a purpose -- it increases the visibility of that game within the Mac community, and thus increases the chances of this game either being ported or succeeding once it finally arrives. One game we think stands a very good chance of doing both of those is 3D0's Heroes of Might and Magic IV. A radical departure from the previous titles in the series in both looks and function, we suspect that this title will nevertheless contain the deft mix of RPG and turn-based strategy that made it such a hit on both platforms. GameSpot has posted a preview of the title, which isn't due until late Fall of this year, featuring an interview with associate designer Jennifer Bullard. Topics covered by the interview include gameplay changes, additions to combat and level scripting, and what makes this title part of the Heroes series despite the visible changes. The first two questions outline some key issues:

    GameSpot: Heroes of Might and Magic IV will follow in the footsteps of its successful predecessors, but it looks to be significantly different in several key areas. What do you think is the biggest difference between Heroes IV and the previous installments?

    Jennifer Bullard: Heroes now actively fight on the battlefield. Previously, heroes lent their support from the sidelines and weren't all that different from each other, but now they are part of the army. You can also have more than one hero in an army, so you could very well have several heroes on a battlefield, working in unison. With this change, players are going to have the opportunity to see if their knights can really kill a black dragon or if their necromancer can take down an angel.

    GS: What's the premise of the game? How many single-player campaigns and scenarios will be included?

    JB: There are going to be seven campaigns and about two dozen single-scenario maps. Heroes IV will begin with the destruction of the old world and follow the exploration and construction of new kingdoms in the new world, Axeoth. Our main campaign follows Emilia Nighthaven as she rises from peasant to queen of the new nation Great Arcan and struggles against the immortal King Gavin Magnus as he tries to usurp her throne.

    We will continue to quiz 3D0 and previous porting company Evolution Interactive about the possibility of a Mac OS version of this title. Considering that the previous three releases were considered successful, we think our chances are quite good.

    News: Mac Heroes IV a Possibility?
    Heroes of Might and Magic IV Interview, Preview at GameSpot

    Mac Games News for Tuesday, June 19, 2001

    Mumbo Jumbo Seeks Beta Testers in TX, CA3:00 PM
    Monkey Byte Names New CEO, Offers Demo CD12:55 PM
    IMG Reviews Shogo: Mobile Armor Division12:37 PM
    Space Tripper Released for Mac8:24 AM
    Custer Eyes Tomb Raider6:00 AM
    Quake 3 Beta Released for OS X, Classic Soon6:00 AM
    Sims Online Q&A with Will Wright6:00 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, June 19, 2001 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

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