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Wednesday, July 11, 2001

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More Mac WWII Online Delays
8:53 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official World War II Online site now has a quick update on the Mac version (which was originally expected to ship yesterday). Faithful IMG readers will know that IMG already reported on this delay back on July 3rd, although now it seems it could be for longer than just a week. Yesterday we reported on some major changes they're looking to incorporate into the title, and it looks like the Mac version will be delayed until these changes can be incorporated before going to duplication. Here's the full update from Cornered Rat:

The Macintosh version of WWII Online will not be available on July 10th and has been delayed pending the addition of some of the major features and fixes as outlined in our recent Development Roadmap.

Our partners are all lined up waiting for the product. The publisher, distributor and retailers are prepared to make the title available for Macintosh players as soon as we feel we have done all we can to make the release as strong as possible.

We apologize for the delay and will be posting a retail shipping date as soon as possible.

While Mac users may initially annoyed by the news, keep in mind that these changes will save Mac users from potentially having to download a number of large (75+MB) patches. Mac users are sticklers for quality, and so getting this game initially in a more polished state is certainly welcome. This extra time might also give them a chance to optimize the game and hopefully release it with more forgiving memory and system requirements.

EB still has World War II Online for the Mac available for preorder, though don't put too much stock in their August 1st date. We're sure "it's done when it's done" applies in this case.

World War II Online Mac Delays
World War II Online Future Features
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

Civilization III Info, Screens
3:45 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We learned at E3 this year that one of the most-anticipated sequels of all time (and that's no hyperbole -- we are talking about a Sid Meier game here) will be coming to the Mac platform via MacSoft. While Civilization III isn't expected to ship until this Fall, a few early previews and screen shots have already begun to appear.

PC Zone has just posted a short preview of the game, accompanied by nine screen shots and a still from a game cinematic. While the preview's strengths are primarily in the visual aids, the text itself does contain some details for those of you anticipating this sequel. Here's a sample:

There have been countless semi-sequels and updates since the immortal Civ II, but none of the Alpha Centauris, Test of Times or Call of Powers really did enough to top the official series. Those who were afraid of revolutionary changes introduction of real-time elements and full 3D graphics needn't have worried though. Civ III sticks to the basic gameplay mechanics on the premise that "if it ain't broke and is a perfect example of true genius with millions of fans all over the world, don't fix it".

New animated advisors, more options and higher graphical detail are just some of the superficial improvements being made to the game. Expect to see a much better AI to give you a run for your money and a more realistic game environment where everything you do has a logical effect.

The screen shots certainly reveal that no special gimmicks have been added to the classic gamefield view, but they are preliminary images and should be regarded as such. The preview also links to seven small movies of the game including an official trailer. [Update: the movies do not appear to be Mac-compatible.]

Jump to the article for the screen shots and details. Hopefully MacSoft will divulge how far along the Mac port of this game is (if it has even begun) at Macworld New York next week.

Past Articles on Civilization III
Civilization III Preview at PC Zone

Omni on Porting Games to Mac OS X
12:33 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

From the moment Mac gamers first took Omni Development's Cocoa port of Quake 3 Arena for a spin under Mac OS X, they knew this was a team that could exploit Apple's new OS technology to the fullest. Although Omni's other Cocoa ports have yet to surface (they are working on ports of Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 and Oni at present) those of us that have experimented with betas of these projects are quite impressed with their speed, stability and flexible controls.

Omni also spends a lot of time preaching the gospel of Cocoa, Apple's native API for programming in Mac OS X. While it will be quite some time before creating titles exclusively for Mac OS X will be a profitable venture, due to the relatively small installed base of that OS vs OS 9, porting titles to OS X is a different matter.

Rather than just preaching to the converted, Omni has made a very bold effort to share what they have learned about porting titles to Mac OS X with the world -- and specifically, with PC developers. Tim Wood's article Porting Games to Mac OS X published at Gamasutra not only evangelizes the technical aspects of OS X that make game porting easier but makes a strong argument for porting to the Mac platform in general. Here's a sample:

The first reason [to port games to the Mac] is obviously economics. Sure, writing games is one of the most exciting and most challenging jobs around, but if you aren't generating income, you are either independently wealthy, or you won't be doing it for very long. Every developer should strive to write portable and modular code as a matter of course. The benefits of doing this are many and diverse. One of the benefits is being able to move your code easily to a new platform and attract an audience that you wouldn't have attracted otherwise. If your game is written correctly from the beginning, a port to the Mac will generate much more money than the cost of porting it. If you don't do the port, you might as well toss money in the trash.
The developer-centric article also contains advice for those with games in progress on how to organize and optimize their work to make it cross-platform friendly from the beginning.
Gamasutra is a widely-read and influential publication for both print and web; we can only hope that Wood's compelling argument finds sympathizers in the PC gaming industry. Read through this article for more details, and be sure to mail the URL to every PC developer you know who's "on the fence" about porting to Mac and/or OS X.

In related news, we've been hearing rumors for weeks that Omni is working on something very big for Macworld New York next week. We'll be there covering the event to bring you the news, so stay tuned.

"Porting Games to Mac OS X" at Gamasutra

Animators, Modelers and Artists Needed for OS X Game
11:40 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

On Monday a developer from GVS Corportation posted a note to the Apple Games Devlist with a request for talented individuals who want to work on their next project: a game for Mac OS X. If you have skills in the areas they are looking for, you can be a part of creating a game for Apple's next-generation OS instead of merely reading about games online.

Here is the note, posted by Christian Gomez of GVS:

GVS entertainment, a division of GVS Corporation, is producing a new game
for the Mac OS X. We are currently looking for 3D animators, 3D modelers and
programmers as well as a storyboard artist.

If you think you have what it takes, you are motivated, hard worker,
passionate send us your resume along with pictures or video clips of past
work (or URLs). We will consider them all and give answers within 72 hours
of our choices.

As you can tell from the description of the positions the game will be a 3D title of some type, but no further details were given. Visit the CVG web site for more details on this company and be sure to pass your resume along if you qualify.

e-mail Chris Gomez of GVS
GVS Corporation

IMG Reviews Apple's Ultimate G4/733
11:24 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG writer Patrick Leyden has taken an in-depth look at Apple's G4 733 MHz, currently the fastest Macintosh ever made (though Macworld New York next week will almost certainly feature faster models). Not only does he uncover the changes to hardware architecture and components that set this screamer apart from the G4 500 and dual 533 machines, he also tests game performance in a wide variety of titles and with various video cards (including the GeForce 3).

Obviously this system is the absolute top of the line (for now), and is the ultimate luxury for avid gamers -- but is it worth the serious investment? Here is an excerpt:

When compared to the former single-processor champ, the G4/500, the new G4/733 has clearly raised the performance standard of the Mac platform. Running Quake 3 Arena version 117, a G4/500 equipped with a Rage 128 Pro video card scored an average frame per second (fps) rate of 20.9 frames running high quality at 1024x768 resolution. Replacing the Rage 128 Pro card with a PC GeForce 2 MX card that was upgraded to work on the Mac upped the frame rate to 50.8 fps. This is compared to a G4/733, which edged out the GeForce 2 MX test with a 53.4 fps score. When a Radeon was brought into the mix in the Quake 3 tests, a score of 58.7 frames per second was achieved. Testing with the brand new nVidia GeForce 3 card in the 733, the same test resulted in a noticeable jump in performance, yielding a 73.7 fps score.
Read on for more details on Apple's most powerful gaming rig ever built.

Review: Apple G4 733 MHz

Rune Co-Op Mod Expansion Tips
11:09 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

IMG has received several forum posts and e-mails about the Rune Co-Op mod, a modification for Rune 1.0.7 that allows cooperative play on the solo levels of the game. It seems a few of you have downloaded this monster-size mod but have been unable to get it to expand, even though it is in .sea (self-expanding archive) format.

After some experimenting, we've found a solution -- the file is a PC .sea file, not a Mac .sea file! If you have the very latest Stuffit Deluxe (full version) installed, the file will open with a simple Expand from the Magic Menu in the Finder, or the Convert submenu. However, if you don't have Stuffit, the file can still be expanded. Just change the extension on the end of the file from .sea to .zip and open it with MacZip or ZipIt. If it still fails to open, change the type and creator of the file to TEXT and ZIP, and try again. If you need any of these tools check CNET's utilities section (link below).

If you're able to successfully expand and install the mod, be sure and post your comments on this new style of Rune gameplay in our Forum. For those of you on less-than-robust Internet connections, we have a sneaky suspicion that the Rune Co-Op mod will show up (in a Mac-friendly form) on the next MacGames CD issue, so don't commit to that 50 MB download just yet.

Rune Co-Op Mod
Compression Utilities on

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Shadowbane: Disclosure
9:55 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Shadowbane: Warcry site has recently posted a document for the public's benefit. Entitled Disclosure: Extra, this document, naturally centered around Wolfpack's upcoming MMORPG Shadowbane, is meant to list all the most-asked questions from Shadowbane fans that have yet to receive a solid answer for various reasons. In some cases, there are no real answers to give, though possible answers are still speculated upon in reasonable detail.

The first question addresses the start date of the next beta of Shadowbane. As with their previous betas, Wolfpack is sticking to its "it's ready when it's ready" strategy, as they've been burned in the past when attempting to stick to a specified date. They are, however, extremely excited by beta 3, the next beta. The rumors are that the Non-Disclosure Agreement will be relaxed, established guilds of players will be allowed in, and that new players will be introduced in stages, rather than all at once.

The next question asks "Who is Shadowbane's new publisher?" While it is unknown who Wolfpack has picked as their new publisher, it is known that Gathering of Developers is no longer the official publisher. Wolfpack has been removed from GOD's online roster of clients, their webpage at GOD's site was removed some time ago, and their E3 2001 presentation gave no mention of Shadowbane. It is rumored that Ubi Soft may be the next publisher in line, at least overseas.

The third question addresses system requirements. It is worth noting that the Mac version is still alive and kicking. Back in February, Warden of Wolfpack was bombarded with Mac questions during an interview, all of which were answered in the affirmative concerning Wolfpack's support of the Mac platform. He also notes that they may be reopening the beta testers list for Mac users when beta 3 is released in an attempt to gather more Mac clients. As far as more general system requirements go, the Disclosure document notes that a dialup modem will be enough of a connection.

For the full spread, be sure to check out the whole Disclosure: Extra page. A link has been provided to Warden's Q&A regarding the Mac version of Shadowbane as well for those interested.

Shadowbane Vault - Warden on MacOS Beta
Shadowbane Vault - Disclosure: Extra
Wolfpack Studios

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WWII Online Q&A
9:44 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gamezone recently had the opportunity to fire a couple of questions at Rodney Hodge, public relations manager for Playnet, the company currently providing online service for Cornered Rat's recently released World War II Online game. Best described as a massively-multiplayer first-person shooter mixed with a War sim, this title has had a rocky start (to say the least) but seems to be progressing towards a playable game. While the Q&A does delve into generalities, a few specifics regarding WWII Online can be gleaned from the interview.

When a player first logs into the game, they will see an overhead map that displays a key to locations such as cities, who controls what and the like. As players advance in rank, they'll be able to see more detailed information regarding cities and supply information. Ranking players can also design missions based on the current tactical situations and attempt to implement them. The beginner, however, will only be able to see where the action is as well as decide whether to accept or reject participating in a mission. If a player decides to jump straight into the action, that player will bypass any rank/advancement opportunities. If a mission is accepted and the player does well, then opportunities for advancement will be present.

Hodge also notes that ranking players have to do much more than just plan missions. They also have to be able to communicate well with their soldiers, often leading by example as well as gaining the trust of those in their command in order to execute a mission well. Leaders who get their players killed will almost certainly get a bad reputation. Leaders who do well, however, will be more likely to find soldiers eager to participate in their missions as their reputations get better.

Hodge also remarks on the whole WWII Online experience:

The thing that surprised me the most? That’s pretty easy – the immersiveness of the whole thing. I mean, the first time you ride to battle on the fenders of a tank with your buddies as part of a huge convoy of trucks, halftracks, AT guns, troops, etc. Fighter cover overhead keeping the enemy planes from strafing you with the losers blowing up here and there on the terrain around you. You can hear the gun, cannon fire, and explosions up ahead around that last bend in the river, and you just KNOW that you could be staring at a black screen of death at any second. To be honest, it’s pretty hard to describe in words… You really have to experience it first hand to truly understand.
For the full write-up, be sure to check out the Rodney Hodge Q&A at Gamezone. There is no official release date on WWII Online for the Mac yet - check out today's feature article for more information regarding this.

Gamezone - Rodney Hodge Q&A
IMG - More Mac WWII Online Delays
Strategy First
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online

New Red Faction Screenshots
9:07 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

PC Gameplay has recently posted some new screen shots of Red Faction, Volition's futuristic first-person shooter. Already out for the PS2, this game will soon be out for both the PC and Mac as well. Besides having the usual bells and whistles of any good FPS, RF's most notable feature is its Geo-mod engine, which allows players to blow up and deform everything in the game. The significance of these shots over previous ones is that these are from the PC version, rather than the PS2 version which was previously used for screen captures.

The new shots themselves show some interesting enemies. Several different types of armored human enemies can be seen, each of them wielding different weaponry. There are also shots of some bizarre-looking crab/bat creatures threatening the player in what looks like an almost completely dark environment.

One of the shots also shows what appears to be a friendly NPC communicating with the player. Going by the name Masako, this NPC simply quotes: "I'd stay myself, but I have other matters to attend to." This is said while the player is in the middle of a raging firefight.

For a look at these shots as well as a brief blurb on the game, be sure to head over to PC Gameplay's site for the full array.

PC Gameplay - Red Faction
Red Faction Official Site
Red Faction

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Warren Spector Audio Interview
9:06 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The internet radio station XGR recently spoke with Warren Spector, creator of the action/RPG Deus Ex. The entire Q&A is now available for download, in four MP3-format sections. Some very interesting stuff is discussed, including Deus Ex, Spector's background and even a a few hints about the upcoming sequels-in-progress Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3.

As has been announced before, both titles will be using Epic's Unreal engine (which was also used in the original DE). Spector explains they chose the engine partly because of their familiarity with the technology, and also because of its impressive editing tools for designers. While he's unable to reveal much about the gameplay yet for either game, we're sure both will be top-notch. Any game that follows Deus Ex will have a lot to live up to, that is for certain.

We're also excited because the fact that Ion Storm is using the Unreal engine once again means the Mac port for one or both titles is very much more likely than it would have been if they had selected an engine which hasn't been ported to the Mac before. While neither game has been announced for the Mac yet, you can be sure we'll keep you posted on any new info that does become available; both games are al least a year away, if not more.

XGR Interview with Warren Spector
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

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Updated Rune Patch Will Fix OpenGL
8:48 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive's Mark Adams recently posted to Usenet about the recent 1.07 patch for Rune. Though OpenGL support was added, those who installed the patch will notice it isn't a selectable feature in the list of 3D renderers. Mark explains a new patch will be released soon to remedy the problem:

Ack. Somehow the final build I did of 1.07 had one of the GL build
flags turned off, so its not connecting internally with the GL code.
I'll do a 1.07a patch to hook this back up, which should be available
realtively soon.
We assume the 1.07a patch will just be the application and therefore much smaller than the full 1.07 download.

In other Rune 1.07 news, Mark has also visited the IMG forums to explain the new EAX enhancements made in the update. Here is a quick way to make sure it's recognizing your Sound Blaster Live! card:

Check the rune.log file for a line "EAX initialized", if that shows up it is finding the card. The levels are pretty variable as far as reverb properties- some have a few, some don't have any.
What Mark means is that the EAX environmental effects (reverb, echo and other ambient effects) don't show up automatically -- developers have to "tag" levels with the appropriate code to make EAX work. If you don't notice a difference with EAX, try another level or area of the game. Obviously this only applies to those of you with Sound Blaster Live! cards installed.

Download 1.07 Patch (33MB)
Rune EAX Forum Thread
Westlake Interactive
Gathering of Developers
Human Head Studios
Westlake Interactive

Mac Games News for Tuesday, July 10, 2001

GameDoctor Updated for July4:37 PM
Dragons's Lair 3D to Appear at CGE1:33 PM
First MacGames CD In Duplication12:00 PM
IMG Feature: A Day at MacPlay11:43 AM
Peter Tamte Interview at MacHome Journal11:28 AM
'Payback' Due This Fall, 'WipeOut 2097' Later10:02 AM
Will Wright Interview9:25 AM
Apple Highlights MacSoft9:13 AM
Mark Adams 'Undying' Interview9:06 AM
Diablo II: LoD Crafted Items List9:01 AM
Neverwinter Nights Release Date (Re)Clarification8:57 AM
(No) More Information on id's 'New Games'8:55 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, July 10, 2001 on one page

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Monday, July 9, 2001
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