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Thursday, July 12, 2001

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Potential Diablo II 1.09 Changes
10:04 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The team at has compiled a list of changes they expect will be rolled into the upcoming 1.09 patch for both Diablo II and its expansion, the Lord of Destruction. It is either remarkable or regrettable that Blizzard spends such an enormous amount of time tweaking a game that has been out for over a year, but that's what a bad case of perfectionism will get you. Since they seem to be pretty in-touch with info surrounding this game, it's probably a safe bet to assume the crew know what they're talking about (most are acknowledged Beta testers). Of course, in the end, Blizzard has the final say on what's included with any patch. Here's an excerpt about some major changes to game items:

Items Overhaul: Virtually every item in the game will be tweaked and modified a bit, including damage, requirements, Ilvl, Clvl, max sockets, and more.  This is being done to correct imbalances and even things up based on which items are proving to be the most useful and which aren't being used at all.

Items will change in name as well in some cases, so expect some new Unique and Rune names, among other things.  There should even be some more item artwork.

This includes changes to virtually every Unique item in the game, both changes to the base item they derive their stats from, as well as the special Unique bonuses.  For this reason we're not updating our basic items pages until v1.09, when all the changes come in.

Those playing through the add-on now may be interested to head over and have a look through what might be upcoming for the title. We'll keep you posted on any new patches that do become available from Blizzard.

Diablo II 1.09 Patch Speculation
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

MGF Hosts TacOps Beta 2
2:14 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG's partner site MacGameFiles is hosting a mirror of the Unreal Tournament total conversion TacOps for Mac players of this first-person shooter. It has been a nine-month wait for the next version of this tactical-assault mod, but UT fans will find this radical change in gameplay quite refreshing. If the 104 MB download is too daunting for the modem users out there, IMG will also burn this mod on our next MacGames CD. Here is a description:

Tactical Ops (previously known as SWAT) is a realistic multiplayer teamplay Modification (MOD) for Unreal Tournament (UT). The game is based around two teams, the elite Tactical Ops team of the American police force and terrorists from around the world. Tactical Ops will introduce realistic weapons, maps, gameplay modes and never seen before scenarios. For the first few betas they will be accepting only 21st century realistic combat areas but in the future they may advance to military WW2 scenarios and futuristic areas, but that is still a maybe.

The MOD is based around the UT engine, due to the fact it can create highly complex scenes and vast open areas witch also us to make your level much more realistic and the large open areas will allow up to boast the sniper rifles full potential. The engine also supports high-resolution textures to put extra eye candy into maps without slow down. UT's engine also has a crisp, sharp and fast network code so online Tactical Ops will hopefully not turn into an LPB's game. One of the best features of UT's engine is the ability to add custom behaviours, like adding ladders and triggering events such as explosions.

To all new players, a copy of Unreal Tournament IS NEEDED to play Tactical Ops. We also require the latest patch for UT (436) for optimal performance. The Tactical Ops also runs best over a fresh reinstall of Unreal Tournament. YOU MUST REMOVE BETA 1.6 BEFORE INSTALLING BETA 2, OR YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS!

Jump to MGF to start your download, and be sure to post your feedback on this mod at MGF and on our forums.

This massive file will also be featured on the next issue of the MacGames CD for those who don't want to download the 100 MB file.

Tactical Ops Web Site
TacOps Beta 2 (104 MB)

Veteran PC Designer Forms New Company, Targets Mac
12:55 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Mac gamers are unlikely to be familiar with Brian Hook, but almost anyone who plays games (Mac or PC) is indebted to this developer in one way or another. Not only did he help write the "GLIDE" API for 3dfx, he worked with id Software on their ground-breaking titles and with Verant (makers of EverQuest) on a next-generation MMORPG. He's also an outspoken member of the games industry (and occasional columnist as well) who often comments on the present and future of gaming itself.

Hook has formed his own games development company, working with Rosie Crosgrove who was the art director for EverQuest. Pyrogon will focus on original games development targeting the untapped or overlooked segments of the game market. And as Hook announced on the Mac Games Devlist yesterday, the Mac platform is squarely in his sights as a key future market, as well as Windows and perhaps other platforms.

Hook's endorsement of the Mac game market is important for several reasons; not only does this obviously mean that future titles by Pyrogon will have Mac versions (and indeed be designed with the Mac audience and hardware in mind), it also means an influential member of the PC community is taking the Mac platform seriously and considers it to be an under-exploited market.

Brian passed along a "manifesto" of sorts outlining the reasons behind the formation of this currently independent company and their goals for design. While the full text is a little lengthy for the news page, we'll share some excerpts:

Right now we think the game industry is suffering from several critical

- games are getting too big. They're requiring large teams with long
development cycles, which puts a strain on publisher resources and, in
turn, limits the number of titles a publisher can have under
development. It also limits the amount of risk a publisher is willing
to take.

- As a result of the above, games are too expensive to the consumer.
$50 is an excessive amount of money to pay for something that, odds on,
you may not even like. Coupled with fairly unyielding return policies,
this turns off many buyers.

- many hardcore game genres have been neglected because of a perception
(and reality) that the markets are fairly small. Hardcore vehicle sims;
space trading/exploration; turn based tactical combat; fighting; arcade;
etc. These genres often won't sell more than 100K units, and this
scares publishers. If you sit around asking yourself "Why don't they
make games like [this] anymore?", that's probably why. But this doesn't
mean that the genres aren't worth pursuing, it just means you have to
develop games for that audience on a realistic budget.

One of the key philosophies behind Pyrogon is the concept that the games market itself leans way too far towards the 'hardcore' gamer with a $3500 system and all the latest features, and by doing so unnecessarily limits their audience. This is specifically where the Mac market fits into the picture; how many games currently being developed for Mac or PC are going to target a Rev B. iMac as their hardware base? Yet there are millions of iMac users out there who form an untapped segment of the market. Here are Brian's thoughts on this:
- the entire Macintosh community has been alienated, primarily because
of the perception that it's too small to matter to big publishers. Some
Mac developers are valiantly keeping the flame alive, but overall Mac is
considered an unprofitable niche market with no "real" gamers. And
there is some truth to that -- there aren't as many "hardcore" games on
Mac as on PC. As a result, trying to sell hardcore games to the Mac
crowd is kind of defeating. You have to aim at the average Mac user,
NOT "a hardcore gamer that happens to use a Mac". This explains why
many Mac games don't sell as well as expected even though it's a captive
There are many examples of "hardcore" games that have enjoyed some success in our market, but overall sales of games are much lower than would be expected for a PC market of a similar size.

So how does Hook plan to solve these problems? He plans to develop broad-market titles that hearken back to the early days of gaming, and the genres that first grew the games market itself from a hobbyist activity to a billion-dollar business. Here are more excerpts:

Our business plan is organized
around releasing simple, fun games that are easy to get into, don't
require the latest and greatest hardware, and that can be developed
cost-effectively. Our upcoming games include an arcade-style space
flight sim; an indoor sports game; an interesting take on the flight-sim
genre; and eventually some hardcore titles in genres that are "out of
style" right now. Think of old, fun games like M.U.L.E., Lemmings,
StarFlight/Elite, LHX/Comanche, and even X-Com. These are genres that
are just waiting to be resurrected again.
As noted Pyrogon will be targeting a Rev B iMac with 64 MB of RAM as their minimum spec machine, which means the vast bulk of the existing Mac market can expect to play their titles at full speed. From our e-mail discussions with Hook he seems thrilled with the response he's received from other Mac developers. "For obvious reasons, given our plan of attack it's pretty easy to see
why the Mac is an important part of our overall strategy," he said. "I'm new to
the Mac scene, but so far I'm incredibly impressed, both by the
enthusiasm of the user community, the friendliness of the developer
community, and the quality of the hardware."

We are thrilled to have him aboard, that is for certain. While it may be some time before Pyrogon's efforts bear fruit, Hook's pro-Mac stance should be a big morale boost for Mac gamers and a wake-up call for PC developers who simply dismiss the Mac market out of hand. Watch IMG for more from Hook and Pyrogon in the near future. As such they don't even have a web site, but the company itself has been in existence since January of 2001 so new titles may appear sooner than you think.

"Ask Brian Hook" Column at VoodooExtreme
Pyrogon, Inc. (blank placeholder site)

REALBasic 3D, Other Game Resources
11:17 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

iDevGames continues their drive to bring potential Mac game makers the latest information and tools, in an effort to encourage further Mac-first game development. Two recent updates to the site should be of interest to anyone considering creating or participating in a game project.

Joseph Nastasi has posted an overview of Rb3D, an upcoming plug-in for the cross-platform programming tool REALbasic which will turn that language into a "rapid 3D development environment." The Rb3D plugin is being created by Joe Strout, who created the specialized 3D modeling program Meshwork. While the value of a tool is only as great as the skill of the artist using it, this expansion of REALbasic may enable the creation of increasingly sophisticated cross-platform games. REALaasic already supports game technologies such as OpenGL and TCP/IP networking. Nastasi's article provides an overview, a detailed look at the engine and even some sample code for RB hackers; the author is the creator of the space flight simulator A-OK! The Wings of Mercury.

In related news, iDevGames has just created the Inkubator Message Board, a section of their active forums dedicated to fostering team formation and game development. The goal is to form an open-source Mac games development community, and they are looking for artists, musicians, modelers and designers as well as programmers to participate. Stop by iDevGames to check out this and many more programmer resources.
Inkubator Message Board
"3D in REALbasic with Rb3D" by Joseph Nastasi

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Sims Online First Look
10:08 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The UK-based site PC Gameplay has taken a quick look at the upcoming internet-ready title from Maxis which is sure to be yet another blockbuster, The Sims Online. The game promises to take the successful formula of The Sims into the online realm with an easy-to-use chat system, monetary rewards and a huge number of players developing side-by-side in a virtual neighborhood. Here's a clip from the preview with more:

For those possessing a touch more community spirit, a plethora of financial and social opportunities exist. The self-made individual can establish a booming business chain, but communal houses or shared interests in nightclubs, bordellos and casinos are common too. Various minigames encourage this type of play, presenting basic challenges which require careful cooperation to accomplish.
The Sims Online is likely to be released sometime well into next year for the PC. While no Mac version has yet been announced, we're confident that the series' popularity will continue on the Mac platform thanks to Aspyr Media.

Sims Online Preview at PC Gameplay

Evolutionary War Updated to 1.1
8:44 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Shareware creator Phlogiston Software has recently released an updated version of Evolutionary War, bringing it up to 1.1. The new update includes both a new single-player mode as well as OS X compatibility. Also featuring a 2-player mode, this game takes the classic game of chess and puts a new spin on it.

Here's the official description:

Now featuring single player mode, Evolutionary War is just like the classic game of chess... except for the fact that your pawns can asexually reproduce, thus generating slightly genetically altered copies of themselves. Players control a population of organisms, each of which has a unique genetic makeup that determines its strength, intelligence, fertility, and speed. These organisms can mate, clone, shift, and attack, and the result of all these actions depends highly upon the genetic structure of each organism. Whichever population evolves most quickly can achieve victory by eliminating all members of the enemy population.
This file is currently available for download at MacGameFiles. It weighs in at around 1.2 MB and carries the massive shareware fee of $1. Version 1.1 requires OS X. Players wishing to play this on Classic OS should use version 1.0 instead, which is also available for download.

MGF - Evolutionary War

Clan Lord Updated to v189
8:37 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Clan Lord, Delta Tao's ever-popular Mac-only MMORPG, has recently received yet another update, bringing it up to version 189. For those unfamiliar with this game, CL is a MMORPG centered around player cooperation and includes the ability to create and join clans.

What's new in this update:

  • No crashes or deadlocks to report since the last update.
  • Auto-downloads have been improved. They might even be acceptable. Read me.
  • You can now hold a training ledger from more than one trainer at a time, and switch back and forth without penalty.
  • Check out the new hut on the west side of the fairgrounds.
  • Pathfinding will change slightly in this chaos storm. Exiles should less frequently find themselves unable to pass through some hard paths they could pass through a short time before. On the down side, exiles may find themselves unable to pass through some paths that they were able to pass immediately before the storm.

The update file can be found at both Delta Tao's website and VersionTracker for those that wish to download. For new players who wish to give Clan Lord a spin, a demo updated to the latest version is currently available at MacGameFiles. Links have been provided below for convenience.

Delta Tao - Clan Lord
VersionTracker - Clan Lord v189 Update
MGF - Clan Lord v189 Demo

Jurassic Park III CD-ROM Announced
8:16 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

MacNN has noted the release of some new educational software targeted towards younger gamers. Knowledge Adventure, a newsletter centered around education, announced the release of three games centered around the upcoming movie Jurassic Park III. The games come on hybrid CDs that contain both Mac and PC versions and consist of several titles, including Dino Defender and Danger Zone.

These titles are described as 3D action adventure games and will expose children to creatures such as the Spinosaurus, Velociraptor, and the T-Rex.

For those that wish more information on these titles, be sure to read the full blurb at Knowledge Adventure's site.

Knowledge Adventure - Jurassic Park III

Mac Games News for Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Civilization III Info, Screens3:45 PM
Omni on Porting Games to Mac OS X12:33 PM
Animators, Modelers and Artists Needed for OS X Game11:40 AM
IMG Reviews Apple's Ultimate G4/73311:24 AM
Rune Co-Op Mod Expansion Tips11:09 AM
Shadowbane: Disclosure9:55 AM
WWII Online Q&A9:44 AM
New Red Faction Screenshots9:07 AM
Warren Spector Audio Interview9:06 AM
More Mac WWII Online Delays8:53 AM
Updated Rune Patch Will Fix OpenGL8:48 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, July 11, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, July 10, 2001
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