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Wednesday, July 18, 2001

MWNY: Keynote Report
9:41 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Most Macworld keynote speeches are slim pickings for Mac gamers. The real mind-blowing introductions that floor us, such as the introduction of the Radeon or Doom 3 demonstrated on a GeForce 3, are fleeting at best. Yet while nothing is ever going to top that heart-stopping moment when Halo was demonstrated for the first time, today's keynote did have a few "key" moments which should at least make a Mac gamer's heart do a little jig, if not come to a complete halt.

As was to be expected much of the news dealt with Mac OS X. Jobs claimed that there were over 1,000 shipping Mac OS X-native products right now, and 55% of Mac publishers plan to release OS X products or updates within 6 months. A few of those products will certainly be games.

While not exactly a gamer's paradise, many of you might use Virtual PC as a tool for retrogaming with old PC titles. Connectix demonstrated an OS X-savvy version of Virtual PC, which is available as a tech demo for registered users. Not much was discussed about the apparent advantages of using OS X over OS 9, but it was mentioned that this version could run multiple OS simultaneously -- theoretically you could have every OS from Windows 95 to Win2k running on your Mac at the same time, given sufficient RAM. Sounds like a tech support worker's dream.

The first gaming-related event of the keynote was a demo of WarCraft III, which was of course running on OS X -- you might remember IMG brought you screen shots of the game running on that OS some time ago. Blizzard co-founder Frank Peirce demoed the game for the crowd, to much applause; still no confirmation of a ship date.

This demo was followed by a second treat for gamers, a demo of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 by Aspyr CEO Mike Rogers. This game has been available for some time, but to see Apple give games this much time under the spotlight was a morale boost at the least.

While the demo of the $7,500 3D program Maya isn't exactly a gamer's dream, it may bode well for original game development on our platform. This powerful modeling, rendering and animation tool was used in several extremely impressive demonstrations, and will be a powerful asset to any design team with the resources to afford it.

Jobs also announced and demonstrated Mac OS X 10.1, the first major update to this next-generation OS. As with previous "point one" updates this one will be free, and the focus this time out is speed, speed speed. Jobs seems to have listened well to the outpouring of user feedback, and focused much of his presentation on the improved quickness of Aqua and the OS itself. Many applications that launched in 5 to 10 "bounces" in the Dock before should now launch in a single bounce. DVD playback will be included as well; Jobs showed off the new Mac OS X native DVD player with an improved controller. The significance of this update for gamers will not likely be known until after this release, but all will agree faster launch times and a more tweakable GUI are beneficial for all Mac users. Most importantly for gamers with ultra-high-end systems, this version of Mac OS X will include true GeForce 3 drivers; the card currently uses the GeForce 2 MX drivers under OS X.

On to the hardware. Jobs announced that they had shipped 182,000 of the new Dual USB iBooks between May and July, and so far have been unable to meet retail demand. He rattled off one positive review of the iBook after another, many printed in PC magazines.

The iMac line also received a refresh, though without the radical change in form factor that many Mac OS "news" sites predicted. They now come in 500, 600 and 700 MHz flavors, still sporting G3 processors. All come with CD-RW drives, and the wild color pallette has been reduced to simply Indigo, Snow and Graphite. The prices also remained the same, which many seemed to feel was unfortunate. There was no change in the graphics hardware or its capabilities.

Then Jobs introduced a little something for the hardcore gamers -- a revision of the long-neglected desktop line. While we won't break 867 MHz, which has been clear for some time, the fact that the 733 Mhz model is now the "entry level" PowerMac G4 is enough to make you take notice. The case didn't get the radical overhaul that some sites predicted, but it does have an updated look with a shiny, silver faceplate. The actual specs of the systems remained much the same; perhaps the only item that was a surprise was the introduction of a GeForce 2 MX-based card which supports dual displays. The dual-processor machine was bumped to 800 MHz, definitely a screamer. The SuperDrive now ships standard on both the midrange and high-end models. The new price range is $1699, $2499, $3499; however by fooling around with the options in the Apple store you can get an 867 MHz system down to $1999, which isn't shabby. The GeForce 3 remained an upgrade rather than a standard component.

So, no Doom 3 shockers at this year's keynote, but overall a strong indication that Apple is focused on speed, speed and more speed. We'll bring you more details from the show floor as the day goes on, so stay tuned!

IMG MWNY 2001 Coverage

MWNY: Freeverse Reveals Wingnuts
6:41 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Freeverse Softwarehas revealed Wingnuts at MWNY; this title is an overhead view aerial action shooter in which players must stop the theft of warplane technology through the decades. Based on the OpenGL graphics language, players must fight waves of enemies using a traditional arcade perspective.

Unlike a standard arcade shoot-em-up, players are free to roam around levels instead of being confined to a single direction. Additional breaks from the standard arcade model can be seen in the game's power-ups, bosses, strafe mode and limited amounts of fuel. Players will have to plan their attacks according to their current resources instead of simply blasting away at everything that moves. Wingnuts will be written for both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Freeverse recommends Mac OS 8.6 or later to run the game, which will retail for $25 and be available in this fall. Hopefully we can bring you some images of this game in action from the Expo.

Freeverse Software

MWNY: MacAlly iShock II Released
6:34 PM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

Peripheral maker MacAlly has begun shipping their iShock II Force Feedback
game controller. The device is fully programmable, featuring
InputSprocket support in addition to a customizable control panel. The
iShock II has two analog thumbsticks, an 8-way joypad and a total of 13 action buttons.

The controller ships with demos of five games that natively support the
Force Feedback API developed by MacAlly for the Mac. The demos incldue
Ambrosia Software's titles Apeiron and Ferazel's Wand, Z Sculpt's Retro and Meteor
Storm as well as VortexNG from Feline Entertainment. MacAlly also indicated
that two unspecified Force Feedback-savvy games will be released soon.

Inside Mac Games has received an iShock II, so expect a review in the coming
weeks. For now, check out our iShock II sneak peek.

Preview: MacAlly iShock II

MWNY: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Updates
6:28 PM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games caught up with Creative Labs' Christopher Gamboa to get an
update on the company's recently-released Sound Blaster Live! for Macintosh
audio card. Gamboa revealed that the card "has been doing very well" in
sales. Word-of-mouth about the Sound Blaster card has been as important as
advertising for its success, since Mac users have never had a mass-market
option to add a sound card to their machines.

The game development community has been quick to adopt the EAX audio
standard by integrating it into their games. In addition to games such as
Deus Ex, Diablo II and Unreal Tournament being updated to support the card,
both Alice and Tomb Raider Chronicles will ship with EAX support out of the

Even with the card's success, some users are still experiencing difficulties
when using the Sound Blaster Live. One such problem involves certain G4 Macs
not being able to go into low-power sleep mode when the Sound Blaster Live
is installed. "The Deep Sleep bug is being addressed," Gamboa assured. On
the topic of OS X support, Creative Labs is "researching what it would take
to do OS X [support]."

Creative Labs is offering a show special of $79US for the Sound Blaster Live
for all attendees at Macworld Expo this week. This special is currently only
available for people attending the conference.

Review: Sound Blaster Live!

Click to enlarge
MWNY: MacPlay Shows Sacrifice
5:04 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The Gaming Area at MWNY is hopping, and MacPlay wasn't going to be left out of the action. Running on the 733 MHz 'Quicksilver' G4s was none other than Sacrifice, a 3D RTS with astounding visuals and very unique gameplay. This title was a "sleeper" hit for the PC and we're sure Mac gamers will embrace the wild visuals and fast-paced action.

Development for this title has been very hush-hush, and this is the first time it has been seen in public running on the Mac OS. This title by Shiny Entertainment is definitely a highly-anticipated MacPlay release, and to see it in action was a thrill. We'll hopefully bring you pictures and updates on the game's progress from MacPlay staff later today or tomorrow, so keep checking IMG for the latest and most thorough Expo coverage.

Past Articles on Sacrifice
Shiny Entertainment
Pre-Order Sacrifice

MWNY: GraphSim Shows Red Faction
4:51 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Reports from the expo's Gaming Area continue to filter in, and we have the tremendous news that GraphSim is demonstrating the Mac version of shooter Red Faction. This unique title from Volition has enjoyed tremendous success for the Playstation 2 console, and now the Mac and PC versions are moving towards a hopefully simultaneous release this Fall.

The fact that the Mac version is running and playable is extremely exciting, as it means we won't have long to wait to play this much-praised shooter. Visit our archive of past Red Faction stories for more details, and continue to watch for more reports from the expo.

IMG MWNY 2001 Coverage
Past Articles on Red Faction

MWNY: New Hardware -- a Gamer's Perspective
4:00 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Now that we have had some time to study the specs of the hardware revisions announced at Macworld New York earlier today, we can offer some analysis of this latest series of changes and what it might mean for Mac gamers. In some cases, the change is dramatic; in other situations there are legitimate grounds for disappointment. A speed bump is always welcome, as is a price drop, but the question is: did these revisions come in the areas that are critical to gaming performance?

Let's start with the iMac line. Perhaps the biggest let-down of the keynote was the miniscule changes made to this series of computers. Although some "rumors" (and even "news") web sites made themselves look a little silly with grandiose projections of radically changed systems with 15" LCD screens and wireless keyboards, it was easy to discern fantasy from reality in this case -- LCDs are still far too expensive for Apple to feature them on a sub-$1000 system. Nevertheless many pundits warned that without a radical revision the iMac line would continue to have flat or lower sales, and in this we have to agree.

At $1499, the 700 Mhz G3 system will indeed be a very solid gaming rig. With the Rage 128 Ultra hardware introduced at the previous revision (which is just a Rage 128 Pro with a slightly lower power requirement and heat output) you could expect midrange to high FPS in most games, 2D and 3D. Since very few games take advantage of Velocity Engine instructions (in fact no released games currently do) the lack of a G4 chip doesn't mean poor gaming performance; in fact this little iMac has a good chance of being faster than a G4/500 that was twice the cost just over a year ago.

However, the Rage 128 Ultra chipset is clearly a limiting factor for performance, and this system will continue to fall behind as games become more complex and demanding. We were hoping that the Radeon VE or Radeon Mobility might find a home in this series, or perhaps a GeForce 2 MX, but sadly that's not the case. However there are several big events over the next few months which could see yet another iMac revision, so fans of the one-unit wonder should not give up hope.

Apple's speed-bumped G4 Power Mac series sounds a much more hopeful note for Mac gamers. 733 Mhz systems are now the low-end, with the amazing price tag of just $1,699 -- equip this system with a GeForce 3 and strip out some of the extras you don't need, and you have a fantastic sub-$2000 gaming rig that will not only do well against many PCs but have a long life as a viable high-end machine. Previously to get to this MHz you had to cough up $3400 and buy a Superdrive, whether you wanted it or not.

The midrange system is a little awkward, as always -- 867 MHz is no laughing matter, and is just 1 MHz faster than most pundits predicted we would reach; the additional 2 MB L3 cache will mean a lot for Photoshop and other long-instruction processing, but most likely not much for gaming. Again an excellent gaming rig but only benchmarks will tell if the extra 134 Mhz is worth another $800.

Obviously the ultimate killer gaming rig is also the ultimate Mac, and this one is a whopper -- a dual G4 running 800 MHz is a formidable system indeed. However, dual chips typically do not mean much for gaming, even under Mac OS X. The type of threading and processing that games require does not lend itself well to being split over two processors, and even games that have been specifically optimized for dual setups (such as Quake 3 Arena -- the only such Mac game in existence) see boosts in the tens of frames per second, not radical 100% increases. Again only benchmarks will determine the value of this system, but no one spends $3,499 just to play games; this is the sort of machine you buy to do serious business with, and play games as an afterthought.

What this expo did not see are any sort of radical change to the motherboard architecture of the G4 series. The bus and RAM speed remains 133 MHz; the AGP slot is now 4x standard, but not faster. The PCI slots are still 33 MHz, and there is no USB 2.0 support which is becoming standard in some cases on PCs. Gigabit Ethernet is a nice bonus, but no LAN game even saturates 10BaseT, really. The TwinView card is a nice option, but as games only take one monitor, it isn't a big factor from that perspective.

One curious change is the disappearance of the ATI Radeon from the selectable OEM graphics cards available for these systems, though this card is certainly still available as retail. As ATI has been making plans for most of the summer to introduce a new card (and in fact may be showing it behind the scenes at the expo) this seems a precursor to a new introduction rather than a change of policy; overall Apple's hardware is still heavily dominated by ATI chipsets. And in fact the Radeon card is still available as an Accessory option in the Displays section of the Apple store; it would probably take just a phone call to get them to swap it for the GeForce 2 Mx.

Another area of some disappointment was the lack of any updates for the graphics hardware of the G4 Powerbook (also known as the TiBook) or the new Dual USB iBook. While these models are still extremely new and not really "due" for a refresh, it was hoped that the Radeon Mobility or GeForce 2 MX would replace the Rage 128-based chipsets in these models. Again, no one buys one of these as a gaming rig -- they are specialized hardware designed for portable use, and being able to play 3D games on them at all is a bonus. However walking into a LAN party with a TiBook cranking out 50+ FPS in Quake 3 Arena would be a sight to see, but one that will have to wait for the future.

Overall the most remarkable change to the hardware configurations was the $2000 price drop for the 733 MHz G4. As our own benchmarks of this system reveal, it is a formidable gaming system with spectacular numbers, especially when configured with a GeForce 3. The fact that you can get one for under $2k says the Mac will continue to move forward as a serious gaming machine. And we have to say we like the slightly-refined casing quite a bit, and we're very glad we didn't end up with the transparent monstrosity the rumorz sites were batting about. Be sure and share your thoughts on the new hardware in our Forums.

Review: Power Mac G4/733
MWNY Keynote Report
Apple Computer, Inc.

MWNY: Essential Reality Report
1:33 PM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

Essential Reality is in New York this week, making their first Macworld
appearance. The company showing P5, its glove-based USB input device. Using
the technology that powered Nintendo's PowerGlove almost twenty years ago,
the P5 significantly builds upon this foundation thanks to almost three
years of new hardware and software development.

The $129.00US P5 will initially ship with OS X support on the Mac according
to Essential Reality COO David Devor, but MacOS 9 support is still a
possibility. The device is being targeted towards 3D design and for intuitive web
navigation in addition to the gaming market. The P5 will be available for
Mac, PC and PlayStation 2 platforms in February, 2002.

IMG MWNY 2001 Coverage
Essential Reality

MWNY: Report on Destineer
1:21 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG just met with Peter Tamte of Destineer on the show floor, and we have news for you about this company and their aggressive moves to cement a place in the suddenly crowded Mac publishing market.

According to Tamte, Destineer isn't just working on Mac ports -- they have an original title in development, with an eye-popping engine that will showcase the GeForce 3 for both Mac and PC. No other details were given; he did confirm that the engine they will be using is not the Halo engine.

When asked about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 Peter said that it's the "most complicated
port ever" since it involves legacy code from years and years ago. At this
point there's nothing new to report on except that it is still happening.

Tamte also confirmed that Destineer/Bold has exclusive rights to ALL Microsoft titles, past and future, so they will become our primary channel for MS game releases.

IMG also asked Tamte about Halo; he didn't have much to offer except a promise that this title would be coming to Mac OS as well as to PC after the Xbox release. He would not say if the Mac label Bold would be publishing.

That's all for now -- watch for more expo reports.

IMG MWNY 2001 Coverage

MWNY: Radeon 2 Shown Behind Closed Doors
1:03 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

As a follow-up to our story yesterday which revealed the V12 engine ported by GarageGames to the Mac OS would be used as a demo app by ATI, we have now confirmed the nature of this demo. According to both sources at ATI and GarageGames, the demo is a showcase for ATI's recently-announced TRUFORM technology.

This demo is for select members of the press and developers only, so the actual details may be protected under NDA agreements. However, as ATI has already demonstrated their next-generation chip (code-named the R200) at several PC expos recently, it seems clear that this may be the chip powering this Mac demo of TRUFORM in action. if this is the case, then the fact that this chip is already up and running on the Mac OS is quite thrilling. However, we must caution you that this information is just speculation so far, and we haven't yet had anyone go on record about it.

MWNY: V12 Engine Used for ATI Demo

Radeon 2 Details Revealed
12:46 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The excellent hardware news and reviews site Tom's Hardware has produced an in-depth report on the R200, the next chipset from ATI Technologies which is widely believed to be the successor to the Radeon series. As we recently reported, ATI has announced both TRUFORM and SMARTSHADER (their caps, not ours!) technologies, bringing feature parity with NVIDIA's GeForce 3 series -- and surpassing those chipsets in many respects. Now the actual hardware that will power both of those new technologies is beginning to be revealed.

Tom's overview of the chipset also includes examples and charts of the improved graphics architecture and pipeline. It even includes accounts and screen shots of a live demo of the R200 in action. Here's a sample:

The tack of the presentation wasn't all that original to begin with. In the past, it was Toy Story graphics in real time. Now, ATI is pushing for Final Fantasy graphics in real time. It's a nice marketing message, but the real story here seems to be that ATI has jumped ahead of Nvidia on the hardware curve by adding its own enhancements to pixel shading in DirectX, and got them incorporated in DirectX 8.1...

There have been an awful lot of articles on the 3D graphics pipeline. For the sake of hardware enthusiasm we can probably simplify things here. Vertex shaders are the T&L segment, and pixel shaders are the rasterizers. Prior to DirectX 8, T&L and rasterizer functions were fixed in hardware, but in the new model, programmers can have access to an almost unlimited number of visual effects by plugging in their own routines into the pipeline.

As you can see the article is a little tech-heavy, but certainly worth reading for anyone anticipating ATI's next release. The R200/Radeon 2 chipset may debut as soon as August.

"ATI's R200 Revealed" at Tom's Hardware

Strange Flavour Launches AirBurst
12:06 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Strange Flavour, the amazing shareware team behind the hit side-scroller Bushfire, has announced the official release of their next title. Known as Airburst, this game in inspired by the gameplay of the old-school arcade game Warlords yet takes it to a whole new level.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Strange Flavour would like to announce the release of their latest (and
second this year) Mac only game Airburst!

Airburst is an absolutely bonkers game for 1-4 players set 30,000 feet
above the ground. Players float around on rings of balloons and try to
avoid being hit by razor sharp balls while attempting to burst other
players balloons.

Airburst has got lots of power ups, tons of nice eye candy, manic
action, twelve different game types (Including Levels, Deathmatch, Catch
the Frog, Russian Grenade Roulette and Football) and a mere 60 million
possible levels.

Oh, and being Strangeware, Airburst is only £2 or $5 to register.

For more information on the game itself, be sure to check out IMG's recent preview of the game in our Previews section.

Airburst is currently available for download at the Strange Flavour site. It runs on both OS 8.6+ (with CarbonLib) and OS X. Registration for the software is a small $5, payable online or via regular mail, which is more than reasonable considering the quality of this title. Strange Flavour itself is made up of only 2 people - Adam and Aaron Fothergill, which makes the depth and plosh of there titles all the more remarkable -- make sure to send in those shareware fees and support them!

AirBurst 1.0 (6.8 MB)
IMG - Airburst Preview
Strange Flavour - Airburst

GameRanger Goes Native for OS X
11:56 AM | Ben Boffey | Comment on this story

With more developers supporting OS X and the maturation of its gaming technologies, using the next-generation OS as a primary game-playing platform is becoming ever more viable. Now Scott Kevill has announced that GameRanger for MacOS X is in final development and should be available by the end of August. Here's what Scott had to say :

One of the priorities of the new Mac OS X version was to improve the user-interface to make it as easy as possible for new members to get acquainted with GameRanger, while at the same time, supplying more power to the hard-core gamers.
GameRanger has been completely redesigned to take advantage of the new features in OS X and includes cross-platform support so OS X gamers can interact, with those using OS 8 and 9, along with a new aqua interface and a visual game list.

A new website has been launched, so wether you currently use OS X or not, follow the link below to get the full story on this essential multiplayer-gaming app.

GameRanger Website

Greenstone, Tamte Interviews at
11:51 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

German Mac games site has produced two extensive interviews with major Mac gaming figures, both in English and German. The interviews are with Peter Tamte of Destineer and Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software, and cover their contributions to and thoughts about Mac gaming.

Here's a sample of the Greenstone interview, which focuses on Otto Matic:

Otto Matic, your new game which is scheduled for the end of the year - it looks pretty cool, there are some cool screenshots available on the net. It looks like you are really into early scifi movies. How did they influence the game and what can we expect?

Brian Greenstone: I’ve always loved those old 50’s sci-fi movies! When I was 7 years old I started watching them every Saturday morning and they really got me interested in things which eventually lead to this career. I hadn’t thought of doing a game based on them until a few years ago when I had an idea about it, but once I started working on the design for Otto Matic I really got into it. The game takes cues from many of the old sci-fi themes from the flying saucers, to the music. It will certainly be the best game we’ve ever done.

From the early builds we have seen, we have to agree. The Tamte interview is much shorter, but still contains much valuable information about this budding cross-platform game company. Be sure and check them both out, in your language of choice.
Peter Tamte Interview at (English)
Brian Greenstone Interview at (English)

Click to enlarge
Shadowbane Update - Houses and Dwellings
11:15 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The members of Wolfpack, official developers of the upcoming MMORPG Shadowbane, have once again updated their site with more information regarding their title. Newly added to the ever-growing archive of known information is a section titled "Houses and Dwellings," which covers some of the structures that characters can create and live in.

Shadowbane offers six basic forms of character housing which will vary in things like cost, size, and durability. Houses cannot be upgraded and will remain standing they are until destroyed. Characters must procure deeds in order to build houses, and must pay certain fees in order to upkeep them once built. However, once established, houses can serve as safe havens for characters and their possessions.

Here's a list of the houses along with brief descriptions:

  • Cottage - small, single-room houses. Can be built out of wood panels, logs, or stone. Cheap and easy to maintain.

  • House - Twice the size of a cottage, a bit more durable, but still economical.
  • Villa - Made for the more upscale adventurer or merchant, these houses have multiple floors as well as outdoor terraces.
  • Estate - Often housing the elite of a city, these structures are expensive to build and maintain. An enclosed courtyard is included in the package.
  • Fortress - Built for durability rather than comfort and made only of stone, fortresses can be found in the wilderness as well as within cities.
  • Citadel - The cream of the crop, citadels combine the durability of a fortress with the comforts of a villa.

Shadowbane just seems to get more and more detailed as time goes on. The houses are also supposed to serve as a means to encourage cooperation among players -- the most expensive houses, such as the Citadel, will only be available to a player with many powerful allies willing to pool their resources. For those that want more information on the possible homes of Shadowbane, including pictures, be sure to head over to the site.

Shadowbane - Houses and Dwellings
Wolfpack Studios

Apple Profiles Destineer, Bold
10:57 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Even as they blow the minds of Macintosh users at the expo, Apple has taken a few minutes to post yet another addition to their gaming pages; a profile of Destineer, the company formed by former Bungie member Peter Tamte with the goal of both bringing Microsoft titles to the Mac as well as creating original games for multiple platforms. Destineer's Mac titles will be published under the label "Bold." The Apple profile includes numerous quotes from the Destineer staff, as well as mini-previews of such titles as Age of Empires II, Flight Simulator and more. There are also some extremely vague hints about future titles Destineer will be creating. Here's an excerpt:

Not only will Destineer release ports of games available for other platforms, but it will also be creating original content that is currently under tighter wraps than the Star Wars prequels and Matrix sequels combined.

  “We are developing our own technology from the ground up,” Tamte affirms, “and, although this technology will run on a variety of machines, it will be especially good at delivering visually astounding experiences on a Power Mac G4 with NVIDIA GeForce 3 graphics.”

Destineer currently employs 12 people to handle the conversion work (most of which is being handled by Westlake Interactive (Age of Empires II) and Green Dragon Creations (Links LS 2002)) and develop new content, but Tamte expects that number to grow to 40 next year and likely hit 80 within two years, which is good news for anyone wondering what kind of resources the company will have to draw from for Mac games.

For more information and glimpses of Destineer's future releases, check out the article.

Apple Profiles Destineer

Click to enlarge
The Sims Online for Mac?
10:54 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The popular general information site has recently posted a short interview under its Simulation Games section. The interviewee, Jenna Chalmers, is on the design team for Maxis's upcoming title The Sims Online. The interview offers some interesting insights into this upcoming multiplayer world, but the main question in most Mac user's minds is undoubtedly whether or not a Mac version will ever be produced. Here's a clip straight from the interview which addresses this issue:

[SNG] - Various Mac users have used the SNG Contact form to inquire regarding the Mac compatibility of the online version of the game. Will Mac users who have used the be able to participate in the online community?

[Chalmers] - Initial launch will only support Windows computers but there have been discussions internally and with Aspyr about the possibility of a Mac client.

As far as The Sims Online itself goes, Chalmers notes that the most appealing aspect of the game will be the ability for players of The Sims to import their characters into a persistent world populated with other players. The ability to engage in cooperative or competitive situations will also be available.

Other interesting tidbits concerning gameplay are also noted. The employment scheme of The Sims will be expanded, with players being able to have their Sims become employers of other Sims. Personal relationships can also develop, though the ability to -- ahem -- "produce offspring" (an asked-for feature) will not be implemented.

As far as monitoring/maintaining the world will go, Maxis is currently slapping a 'T' (for Teen) rating on the game. Chalmers states that the idea behind this game is to make it a personalized experience for each player, not necessarily to make it suitable for all ages. In addition, a monthly fee of some kind will be in place.

For those looking for more information on The Sims Online, the interview is available at the About Simulation Games site. Hopefully Mac gamers will receive good news soon regarding a solid deal to port this title.

About Simulation Gaming - The Sims Online Interview

Aspyr and Freeverse Announce iPuppet
9:49 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In another interesting partnership, Aspyr and shareware publisher Freeverse have announced a collaberation to produce iPuppet Classic Cards. This new card collection will include favorites like Hearts, Spades, Euchre and Pitch in both online and singleplayer modes. The new iPuppet technology will allow you to place your own, personalized image into the game. Imagine lining up a game with your friends, and actually be able to see them while online. Here's a clip from Aspyr with more info on the online service:

iPuppet cards will also feature HMS technology which allows you to find
other card sharks online for live challenges, a little online chat, all
with your online persona (with iPuppet technology), 24X7.

iPuppet Classic Cards is currently nearing the Beta stage of development.
As we near the final stages, we will make system requirements and
preorders available. Be sure to check in with www. for the
latest iPuppet announcements.

This is an interesting development between two of our favorite Mac publishers, and we'll follow iPuppet as it moves towards release in the near future.

Aspyr Media

Click to enlarge
MWNY: Aspyr and Pangea Team Up
9:44 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In the lastest Aspyr newsletter launched from the Expo, it was announced that the company is teaming up with Brain Greenstone and Pangea Software to start distributing the Mac-first titles creating by this company immediately. Included in the package is Pangea's upcoming space adventure Otto Matic, which is set for release late in the year. Other popular Pangea games such as Bugdom and Cro-Mag Rally are also available now from the Aspyr store. Here's a clip with more:

Pangea Software, Inc. has recently teamed up with Aspyr in a distribution
deal that will include Cro-Mag Rally, Bugdom and Ottomatic. As of today,
you will be able to order Pangea's hit titles (Cro-Mag and Bugdom), via
our online store (

Ottomatic is Brain Greenstone's (President and CEO of Pangea Software,
Inc.) latest project. Otto is a sci-fi hero who battles against
unearthly enemies. Loosely based on old sci-fi B movies, don't be
surprised to see a few green men and giant tomatoes. Get your ray gun
ready for battle.

"We are big fans of Brian Greenstone's work," says Ted Staloch, VP of
Sales for Aspyr. "We are excited about the future and think Ottomatic
will be the first success of a brilliant future."

We will be showing Ottomatic in its current stage of conversion. It is
scheduled for release later this year. Preorders will be accepted as a
more definite date becomes available.

Pangea has been publishing and distributing their own works for a while, and it's good to see they can now put the focus back on making great games. We wish them and Aspyr the best of luck with future titles.

Pangea Software
Aspyr Media Otto Matic Site
Pangea Software
Otto Matic

Click to enlarge
MWNY: The Sims Moving to OS X
9:39 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In another exciting announcement, Aspyr Media brings word their extremely popular title The Sims will be moving soon to OS X. This carbonized version of the game is underway now at Westlake Interactive, and an initial release could be as soon as sometime next week. This is great news for Sims fans looking for one less reason to reboot to OS X. Here's an exceprt from the newsletter:

Yes folks, the rumor will become a reality, The Sims series will be
available for Mac OS X, possibly as soon as next week!

John Butler and Phil Sulak, of Westlake Interactive, have been doing a
fabulous job getting everything carbonized and ready to roll.

"The truly amazing and talented John Butler started working on it about
two months ago; needless to say, the results are excellent!" says Sulak.
"The launch time (as well as other file operations under X) is very
fast, and the game runs very smoothly. Plus it's a nice bonus to not
worry about running out of memory with large houses and lots of
downloaded objects & skins:-)"

When Sims Carbon is released, updates to the Classic versions of The Sims
and Livin' Large will also be made available. If you're not using OS X,
it is recommend that you continue to play the game with the Classic apps.

We'll keep on this and let you know as soon as any updates become available. Thanks to both Aspyr and Westlake for all of their hard work.

Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims
Buy The Sims

MWNY: ATI Announces Radeon VE Mac Edition
8:53 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Mac gamers who have either been waiting for a lower-cost alternative to the Radeon or a to replace their obsolete Voodoo cards have finally had their prayers answered. Today, ATI announced that the Radeon VE will be available for the Macintosh. Priced at $129, the Radeon VE Mac Edition will be available in PCI format and will feature 32 megabytes of DDR memory, VGA and DVI connectivity, and S-video out. Of course, the Radeon VE will support all the major 2D and 3D API's as well as Mac OS X. Here is a portion from ATI's press release:

ATI Technologies Inc. (TSE: ATY, NASDAQ: ATYT), a world
leader in the supply of graphics, video and multimedia solutions, today
announced availability of the RADEON(tm) VE MAC EDITION graphics card for
Apple users.

Based on ATI's highly integrated, cost-effective and award-winning RADEON
VE chip, RADEON VE MAC EDITION is specifically designed to provide
dual-display capability, enabling any combination of VGA (video graphics
array), DVI (digital visual interface) and TV.

Featuring 32MB (megabytes) of DDR (double data rate) memory and ATI's
patented HYPER Z(tm) technology, RADEON VE MAC EDITION delivers excellent
2D and 3D performance. Additional ATI features such as VIDEO IMMERSION(tm)
and support of industry standards like OpenGL(r) and QuickTime(r), ensure
that the RADEON VE MAC EDITION delivers excellent value for its price
range, and meets the needs of the mainstream PCI Mac market.

In order to hit the $129 price point, ATI removed the T&L engine and one texturing pipeline, cutting the theoretical fillrate in half. Despite this, the Radeon VE should still be a strong overall performer. Watch for a review from IMG in the near future.

IMG MWNY 2001 Coverage

Click to enlarge
Neverwinter Nights Scripting Course
7:53 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Neverwinter Vault, a site devoted to Bioware's upcoming D&D-based RPG Neverwinter Nights, has made a recent addition to their scripting tutorial, adding a style tutorial to their ever-growing guide. For those who aren't familiar with programming languages, here's a clip from the site that explains the idea behind style in programming:

Style in programming helps maintain a certain standard so that all code is more or less written the same way and people don't have to spend time trying to decipher it. Now this style guide is not law, but a guide to help you present your work more clearly.
For those unfamiliar with the inclusion of a scripting language in Neverwinter Nights, what the language does is enable aspiring senario creators/Dungeon Masters to quickly and easily make complex, powerful adventures that can respond dynamically to players.

For more information on NWN's scripting language, be sure to check out the Neverwinter Vault's Scripting Tutorial.

Neverwinter Vault - Style Tutorial
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

IMG Powers Up News Search
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

While Inside Mac Games is indeed focused on bringing you the latest news, reviews and features covering the ever-expanding field of Mac games, we also realize the value of history -- the ability to look back at where we have been and gather those details that bring depth and breadth to a simple news item. We also realize that not every one of you has the time or inclination to stop by every day, or might be new to the Mac gaming world and would like to see how it has developed over the years. IMG has been there practically every step of the way, and while we can't put all seven years of coverage on the Web -- there wasn't even a web site until five years ago -- we can use the power of our database-driven news system to allow you to mine our archives for past nuggets of information.

To aid your searches through IMG's tremendous amount of coverage we have improved our search page, allowing you greater flexibility and power to choose criteria and methods. While the search page is still slightly too hard to find -- a situation that will be remedied soon -- we hope the extra options we have added will make it easier to find what you're looking for. For instance, if you wanted to see the past articles on Max Payne, you'd simply type 'Payne' in the box and hit search; as there aren't many stories in the archive regarding that game (which wasn't announced as coming to the Mac OS until very recently) you wouldn't need to narrow the search. However, there are 346 articles in the database containing the word "Quake", so you'll probably want to narrow the search considerably; perhaps by typing in "Quake 2" and choosing Headline Only. More complex searches can uncover some real gems from gaming history -- for example, a search for all games "based" on the "Unreal" "engine" limited to 2000 uncovers the titles Dark Sector, Shadows of Reality and Alien Leigon, none of which survived to become commercial releases for either platform despite their potential.

The engine also allows you to constrain your searches to a particular event, such as E3 2000 or MWSF 2001. We've included some sample searches below just for fun -- go on, check out the history of Mac gaming. It is truly incredible how far we have come in such a short time.

Stories On Games Based on the Unreal Engine, Limited to 2000
IMG Macworld New York 2000 Coverage
IMG Macworld San Francisco 2001 Coverage
IMG E3 2001 Coverage

Mac Games News for Tuesday, July 17, 2001

MWNY: V12 Engine Used for ATI Demo4:28 PM
V12 Nears First Release [Updated]3:45 PM
MOO3 Poll Seeks Player Stats2:12 PM
More from Hook on Game Design Philosophy12:56 PM
German Publisher Confirms Black&White, Otto and Sims11:35 AM
Red Faction Q&A On Status, Features10:46 AM
Westlake Updates Release Page, Reveals "White"10:09 AM
Baldur's Gate Saved Game Editor Updated9:49 AM
Aspyr Ships Tomb Raider: The Trilogy9:37 AM
Warcraft III: Grunt Character Revealed9:05 AM
Official Myth III Site Opens8:54 AM
MWNY: IMG Heads to Macworld Expo8:51 AM
Black & White Dev Update8:36 AM
MWNY: Tropico Ships for Mac with OS X Support8:27 AM
MWNY: MacSoft Announces Duke Nukem Forever, Others8:16 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, July 17, 2001 on one page

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