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Thursday, June 28, 2001

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D2: Lord of Destruction Patch Available
9:04 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Those anxious Diablo II players who have already made their purchase of the Lord of Destruction expansion pack may be perplexed after the initial install. It seems that if you have already installed the 1.08 patch, your previously created characters won't appear until you download a similar upgrade for Lord of Destruction. IMG's Greg Wilson explains the situation in detail here:

If a user upgraded Diablo 2 to version 1.08 within the past week (to try out the new stuff, play on, etc) and then purchased the Lord of Destruction Expansion, they will discover that their characters are missing after LoD is installed. All is not lost, however. Just connect to from LoD, and it will automatically download the latest patch. What happened was the LoD disks were pressed with version 1.07 of the expansion. Characters converted in Diablo 2 to version 1.08 are incompatible with LoD version 1.07. Upgrade to LoD version 1.08 and everything works great! The Mac version currently is not available for download through a web browser; only downloads are available.
So before you take your old characters through the new single player campaign, give a quick connect to to upgrade your application.

And remember, Blizzard will be releasing a patch soon for the original Diablo 2 which reverts some of the changes made in 1.08 back to their previous state. Check out our past news on the issue for more details. While we have the utmost respect and admiration for Blizzard as a game company, they do provide an excellent example of the headaches of supporting a game with patches long after its initial release.

IMG News: Blizzard Pulls Diablo II Patch Features
Blizzard Patch Information Page
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Mac V12 Status Update
12:55 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG recently talked with David Chait, developer working with GarageGames
on the Mac port of their Tribes 2-based 3D engein, V12. Early in the month
we brought you the first word on the subject, and it seems David has been making
good progress since then. While V12 will contain no copyrighted Tribes 2 content,
it will be a powerful engine for potential Mac game makers to get their hands on
for the amazingly low price of $100 per license. Here's where David's work
currently stands:

Mac has definitely continued to make milestones. The quick update (I'm sure
I'm forgetting some things):

- GUI system all seems to be drawing & working properly. all .gui screens
load and execute fine.

- event handling still needs tweaking, but is generally working well.

- in-game input handling still needs to be completely reworked... I'm
looking into OSX ramifications.

- scripting system seems fully functional.

- in-game console is fully functional.

- terrains, buildings/interiors, and models are all rendering properly, with
minor interior issues and model shadows still to fix.

- model animation now works properly

- basic network implementation written

-- we had a cross-platform and cross-continent session mid last week

-- master server registration & querying

-- mac client can find servers, and connect and play.

-- mac can act as game server, including for Win, etc., clients.

- some other general fixups, tweaks, etc.

Obviously, there is still a great deal of work left before I'd say it is
ready for developer-use, but we are continuing to make progress
week-by-week. The GarageGames guys are just >cranking< on the overall code
cleanup and revisions -- it's really impressive.
Sounds like the program is making awesome progress, and we thank David for his
info and hard work. We'll keep bringing you new info on Mac V12 as it moves towards
a release in the near future. We'll also keep pestering other sources to see if
it might turn into a Mac port of Tribes 2 at any point in the future.

GarageGames Web Site

Mac Quake III Production Halt
12:46 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Our cohorts over at MacGamer recently received word from a reader/retailer
that Activision would no longer be producing the Mac version of Quake
III: Arena
. While this is not entirely unusual, considering the game is a
year and a half old, it may be distressing for some Mac gamers still trying to
get their hands on a copy. The good news is that it should be no problem to buy
the PC box and just download the latest Mac application (which is necessary in any case to
play online with PC servers). This is exactly what the situation now for the Q3 expansion,
Team Arena, has been. Here's a clip from their report:

"We can no longer order the retail version of Quake 3
Arena for Macintosh.
Distribution says that it has
been discontinued by Activision, who publishes for id software, so the stores can't
stock it. You might still be able to buy it directly from the Activision website, though.
The PC version is still available, Team Arena is still available for Windows, but there
are no Mac skews anymore."
Keep in mind that while Activision isn't known as the most Mac-friendly publisher,
this has no direct bearing on future id titles. Both John Carmack and Graeme
Devine have noted their next-gen game will run on OS X. We'll keep you posted
on any changes in this situation, but for now grab a copy of Quake III while it's
still on store shelves.

Quake III Report at MacGamer

IMG Talks One on One with Mark Adams
12:27 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a new monthly feature with a chat between editor-in-chief Tuncer
Deniz and Westlake Interactive's president Mark Adams. This informal
discussion covers a wide variety of topics surrounding the gaming market,
Apple's latest hardware, and of course, Westlake's latest work on their many
titles. Here's an excerpt from the chat:

Tuncer: So, speaking of new publishers...let's talk Destineer. Peter Tamte is finally making some noise and I was pretty jazzed to see his announcements. How long have you guys been working on Age of Empires II and how is it coming along?

Mark: We've been working on it a few months, and itís coming along nicely. I'm anxious to see it at alpha/beta, because I never played the AOE series on Mac or PC. Itís definitely a large project, but we have two of our key programmers on it- Mark Krenek (who most recently did Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2) and Brad Oliver (just finished Alice).

Defintely head over and have a read through the rest of the one on one, as Mark
and Tuncer give some interesting insights on the Mac gaming scene. Also stay tuned
for another installment in a month.

One on One With Mark Adams

The Science of Game Design
10:35 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Mac RPG fans who have been enjoying that genre for quite some time might remember a fascinating little game known as Odyssey: The Legend of Nemesis, a shareware (and later commercial) RPG which featured an in-depth plot and some innovative (for the time) concepts. Richard Rouse, the designer of this game and many others, has now published an in-depth article on the science and semantics of game design, entitled "Game Design Theory and Practice: The Elements of Gameplay." This article will be a worthwhile read, in our opinion, for both potential game designers and those who enjoy peeking behind the curtain at the development and design process.

This article is up GamaSutra's high standards of quality original content, and discusses many aspects of game design without confining itself to a particular genre. From definitions of "non-linearity" to gamer's demands for more "reality" in the gameplay experience, this discussion dissects many of gaming's greatest hits along the way. Other issues Rouse discusses include game difficulty, the element of interactivity and how to shorten the learning curve for new players:

Attempting to model reality may be one way to give players an advantage going into your game-world; through their own life experiences, players will know to some extent what to expect of your game-world. However, even with the most realistic game, players need time to learn how to play your game, and this learning experience is often a crucial time in a player's overall experience with your game. The first few minutes a player spends with your game will often make the difference between whether she wants to continue playing it or not. Whenever a player tells a friend about your game, she will often remember those first few minutes and say, "Well, it was a little weird to get used to" or, preferably, "It was great. I jumped right into the game and found all this cool stuff."

In the past, many computer games relied on manuals to teach players how to play them. With some titles, players literally had almost no chance of success in the game without first reading a large chunk of the manual. Today many games try to get away from this reliance on the player's reading ability, realizing that often the last thing a player wants to do when he has just purchased a new game is to sit down and read an extensive instructional manual. Players definitely have a strong desire to just pick up the controller and start playing the game. Now that so many games allow the player to do just that, the importance of allowing the player to "jump right in" has increased. If your game is too difficult to get a handle on within the first minute, the player is likely to put it down and try something else.

Well, after paying $45+ for a game we don't think most give up quite that easy, but Rouse's point is well-taken. Read through this excellent (though quite long) article for more on the elements of game design, and see how many of your favorites adhere to (or violate) Rouse's "rules" on what makes a lasting, involving game.

Odyssey: The Legend of Nemesis
Game Design Theory and Practice: The Elements of Gameplay

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Black & White Add-on Interview
9:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

It was recently announced by Lionhead that they would be releasing a number of free add-ons for the PC version of their god-game Black & White. Last week it was officially revealed by a Lionhead staffer that a Mac version of the title is in progress and should be released by the end of the year, although no developer or publisher has confirmed for certain that they are in fact working on the title. Current odds-makers are betting on UK developer/publisher Feral Interactive as a likely candidate.

Black and White as a game is supposed to continually evolve; the creators have plans for a long series of changes that will create and encourage an online community with many unique features. If the Mac OS port of this game is a true success, all of these add-ons will also be compatible with our version of the game, so this list of additions may be a wish list for future Mac B&W players.
The add-ons listed at include:

  • June 26 Ė Three brand new multiplayer maps.
  • June 29 - Out-takes from the Black & White recording sessions available to download online. Hear the Advisors as never before!
  • July 2 - Black & White Music Interface available. Play MP3s and control WinAmp from within the game and enable your Creature to recognize and respond to your favorite tunes or sound-files. (Subject to official patch being released)
  • July 9 - Villager speech (banter) available. Hear the previously secret, innermost thoughts of your tribesí people.
  • July 20 - Black & White chat facility. This chat function will enable you to send and receive messages from within Black & White. (Subject to official patch being released)
  • August 6 - Soccer. Enable your villagers to play matches against other tribes. (Subject to official patch being released)

The interview at FGOnline talks with director Mark Webley about these freebies, why they decided to release them, and the release methods. Here's a quick clip:
FGN Online: Are these free features some of the options you couldn't squeeze into the game before deadline?

Mark Webley: Yes some of the free features are either things that needed a little bit more development time, others are new ideas that have either come from the team or the fan base.

Check out the rest of the interview and BWGame site for more information. It's likely most, if not all, of the features will work with a Mac version once it's available as well; currently there is no firm ship date for a port.

Lionhead Interview at FGOnline
BWGame Web Site
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

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New Shadowbane Screens, Info
8:38 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

VoodooExtreme recently posted four new screen shots of the MMORPG Shadowbane to their site. They include three in-game shots and one character image. A quick update is also available from the game's producer Todd "Warden" Coleman and VP Patrick "Varios" Blanton to explain the new features being shown off by the images. A quick update is also given on the status of their second beta phase now underway at Wolfpack. Here's a clip:

"Some of the key features you can see in these screenshots include new environmental and graphical effects (like the new sun and secondary cloud layer, and multitextured terrain.) The detail of the terrain has also been upped to four times what it was in the phase 2 beta client, and the new terrain shadowing is really starting to pay off." - Patrick "Varios" Blanton, VP of Product Design

(the "terrain" screen shot I included just for this reason.)

Phase 2 beta is progressing nicely, as well, and roughly half of the people involved are actually connecting internationally... which also means, of course, that the beta server is populated pretty much 24x7.

We're watching Shadowbane's progress very closely, as it will be the first of the next-gen 3D MMORPGs to make it to the Mac. It is hoped the game could be released towards the end of the year, but specifics are unavailable at this point. We'll keep you posted on any changes in the game's status.

Shadowbane Web Site
Shadowbane Report at VoodooExtreme
Wolfpack Studios

Mac Games News for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Diablo II: LOD In Stores3:46 PM
3dfx Owners Report Trouble With TR Editor12:13 PM
Altec Lansing ATP5 Speakers Reviewed10:50 AM
More Details on Deus Ex 2/Thief 3 Engine10:29 AM
Update on Myth: TFL Server10:23 AM
Red Faction Interview9:58 AM
Shadowbane Finds New Publisher?9:47 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, June 27, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, June 26, 2001
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