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Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Feral Announces Black & White (Finally)
9:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In one of the admittedly worst-kept secrets of the year, Feral has finally confirmed they are bringing Black & White to the Mac. An update to their main page contains a link to a whole new section of their site devoted to the complex god game. Black & White puts you in control of the world, giving you control of both its people and a powerful 'creature' which you raise in your image. Here's the good news from Feral:

We are delighted to announce that Feral will be publishing Black & White for the Mac.

Strangely and yes, yes, uncharacteristically, we are sort of lost for words on Black & White except to say it's an amazing game. All the more amazing for being just about as good as its own hype.

There is a good amount of info on the game, including screenshots and a FAQ, at the Feral site, so be sure to head over and read through it. There is no definite release date given, though earlier reports from Lionhead (the original developers) indicated a Mac version would be out towards the end of the year. You can be sure we'll bring you more info on the Mac port of Black & White when the port's status is known. As for who will publish the title, we expect an announcement soon; Feral's partnership with Aspyr Media in the past is no secret, so that may be an important factor in their decision.

Feral Web Site
Black & White Section at Feral
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

Unreal Tournament Truform-Enabled, Examples
3:02 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

It seems that ATI's new Truform technology for virtual enhancing of 3D models in realtime is already catching on a month before the Radeon 8500 even ships. An article on VoodooExtreme has pointed out a forum thread that links to a patch for the PC OpenGL version of Unreal Tournament. This patch, combined with some "leaked" ATI drivers, allows users of current Radeon cards (the original, not the upcoming 8500) to use Truform model enhancement in the game.

As discussed in our preview of the new chipset, Truform is a technology which enhances the resolution of game models by essentially averaging a model's existing polygons into "high-order" curved surfaces, simulating a much higher-poly model. The result, as you can see from some of the example images posted, is a smoother, curvier model which has much more realistic lighting effects.

This patch is only for the PC version of UT, and does seem to cause a big performance hit because it is not running on the Radeon 8500, as intended, but on the original Radeon. However the fact that it works at all is remarkable and is a sign that ATI might migrate this technology to the entire Radeon product line through future driver updates.

As the server with the original thread is very busy, we have linked to two of the example images below. Be sure and open each in a separate window and do a comparison, as the difference is quite remarkable. With any luck this Truform-enabled patch will migrate over to the Mac OS version of the game -- perhaps when the Carbon version of the game is complete.

ATI Radeon 8500 Preview
UT Trueform Renderer at VoodooExtreme
Unreal Tournament "Before" Image
Unreal Tournament with Truform Enabled

MacPlay Status Updates
2:04 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Although MacPlay has dropped back into "stealth" mode, programmer Bill "Burger" Heineman assured us that they are hard at work on the titles they have announced. In a brief chat with him yesterday, Heineman revealed that he is personally responsible for four projects: Heretic, Zork: The Grand Inquisitor, Fighter Squadron: Screaming Demons Over Europe, and a Mac OS X patch for SiN: Gold.

"All my current and future titles are both Classic and OSX," said Heineman, confirming MacPlay's commitment to Apple's new operating system. Zork, which was close to completion before being canceled long ago, has been augmented with Mac OS X support and is in the release candidate stage. The OS X patch for SiN: Gold is in final testing and will be released alongside a new SiN demo. Heretic II is a bit further behind and in the pre-beta stages.

Flight simulator fans will be glad to know that Fighter Squadron has progressed quite a bit since the build we were shown at E3. First, the OpenGL renderer was overhauled by Heineman, which naturally improves framerates. Networking has been implemented (but not yet complete) and will have GameRanger support when released. And of course, Fighter Squadron has also been updated to work in Mac OS X.

Heineman was unable to provide us with solid release dates, but seeing as how Fighter Squadron is in beta and Zork is very close to completion we hope that MacPlay releases them as quickly as possible into the eager hands of Mac gamers.


On the Baldur's Gate II Delay
1:29 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

One game that Mac RPG fans have been eagerly anticipating for a long time is Baldur's Gate II, which has clearly missed its previously estimated ship date goal of MWNY last month. The forums of IMG partner MacBaldur have always been a great source of information from dedicated fans and game developers, and a recent post by Mumbo Jumbo member Chris Jacobson seems worth sharing with IMG readers.

It was always anticipated that the two biggest challenges involving this port would be networking support (which has to be built from scratch) and Carbonization of the somewhat dated Infinity engine. According to Jacobson's post, OS X has proven a bit of a challenge, but the game should be ready to go any day now. Here's an excerpt:

You'll get it soon, I cant say a date tho because that I really dont know. Its down to the wire here - it could be announced any day (barring any major showstoppers). We're trying to iron out some last minute issues. OS X hasn't been the most pleasant thing to work with... and there have been some other last minute issues with memory and such which had/have to be dealt with. I'm coming in earlier than usual, staying late, losing sleep, getting sick, and generally developing another ulcer while I wrap this up.

As a sidenote, the Baldurs Gate codebase was really designed to take advantage of an architecture that has non-linear mapped memory and true virtual memory (aka Win32), and thus it has some "Gotchas" when moving to MacOS. On OS X it isn't an issue, but on OS 9 and earlier it requires some significant design changes.

Our own sources have confirmed that BG2 is indeed close to shipping, and we hope to bring you that good news soon from an official source. Stay tuned, and be sure to check out our hands-on BG2 preview if you haven't already.

Preview: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Chris Jacobsen on Baldur's Gate II Delay Debuts for TFL Players Tomorrow
12:59 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Several days ago we brought you news about, a "clone" designed to give players of Myth: The Fallen Lords a place to gather and find games. The players of this classic Bungie title were unfortunately left out in the cold when that game company moved to Redmond, WA and joined the Microsoft campus.

If all goes well, tomorrow night will provide their own alternative server for TFL fans to enjoy. Here are the details:

On Thursday night starting at 8 PM Central and ending very late, will have it's Grand Opening party. TFL night is a great way to get back to Myth's roots with a great night of the classics.

Along with the classic maps, many will also be playing with third-party maps.

The post at MythVillage links to many sources for good third-party maps, so be sure to check it out if you are a Myth: TFL fan. Debut Details at Myth Village

Click to enlarge
Apple Previews Undying
9:51 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Apple has once again updated their Games page with a preview, this time getting the drop on all the Mac game sites by previewing Clive Barker's Undying, a chilling horror title inspired by an author considered a master of the genre. This first-person action/adventure won much praise on the PC side for its atmosphere and originality; based on the Unreal Tourney engine, it has also been praised for its visuals.

Among the many interesting facts about the game presented here is the news that the game will be Carbonized for OS X when it ships -- a very important detail that perhaps bodes well for Carbon versions of Unreal Tournament and other games based on the engine in the future.

The preview outlines the plot of the game and includes quotes from Mike Rogers from publisher Aspyr Media, a roster of game characters and a few screen shots. More importantly, the preview lists the minimum requirements for the game, which includes a 400 MHz G3 processor, 96 MB of RAM and a Rage 128 or better -- similar requirements to Unreal Tournament, as expected.

Here's a sample from the preview:

Undying, a 3D first-person shooter based on the Unreal Tournament gameplay engine, is set in Ireland during the 1920s (the perfect setting for Gothic horror). You play the role of Patrick Galloway, a master of the occult who has been summoned to the ancestral estate of the Covenant family by Jeremiah, the last living member of the clan. Unfortunately, Jeremiah is still dealing with some family squabbles.

You see, his four siblings are dead, but they’ve become reanimated as a bunch of creepy crawly walking corpses with just one goal in mind: kill Jeremiah and free the Curse of the Undying King.

Clive Barker and walking corpses -- the two just go together, don't you agree? Be sure to check out the rest of the preview for more.

Clive Barker's Undying Preview at Apple
Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Clive Barker's Undying
Buy Clive Barker's Undying

Omni Group Updates Mac OS X Games Page
9:21 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

While it has been known for some time that the Omni Group is porting several popular games to Mac OS X (one, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, will be OS X only), their games page has been somewhat sparse. Before, it only contained a link to download the Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 beta, but now, it has been improved significantly.

The revamped page lists the games being ported (Alice is now missing, but Quake 3 is present) with links to subpages containing information on each game, links to the developers and publishers of the game, system requirements, known issues, and release notes.

Especially interesting are the release notes for Giants and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. As noted in our interview with Tim Wood, Giants performs very well on a dual processor G4 under OS X and is very competitive with fast Windows machines:

• This is the only version of Giants that can use multiple processors. We actually added multi-processing support while we were doing the port, as well as doing various optimizations on the graphics routines (and changing the graphics library from Direct3D to OpenGL). The end result is we're getting the same framerates on our Macintosh dual 500 MHz G4s with a GeForce 2 on an AGP 2x bus as we do on a brand-new, top of the line Wintel AMD 1.3 GHz Ahtlon with a GeForce 3 on an AGP 4x bus and DDR RAM.
Surprisingly, the Elite Force page notes that the OS X port is based on the expansion pack code. Does this mean that Aspyr Media will be publishing the Elite Force Expansion? Only time will tell. Here is the rest of the text from the release notes:
• This is the only port of Elite Force for any platform that will use multiple processors. In our tests, we found an amazing 100% gain in framerates on our dual-processor 500MHz G4s over single-processor mode, which all of our introductory computer science classes told us should not happen. Well, c'est la vie.

• This port is of the expansion pack of Elite Force. It's our understanding that this port will work with the original Elite Force game and with the expansion pack.

We can already hear the dropping jaws and pools of drool forming. One notable issue found in Oni and Elite Force updates is that the Bink movies will not play properly; there is a Carbon Bink player, but no Cocoa support just yet.

Omni has not set specific release dates, but the page indicates Oni and Elite Force are complete. For more information, surf on over to their slick new website and browse around.

Omni Group Game Ports Page
Planet Moon Studios
Omni Group
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Buy Giants: Citizen Kabuto

MacMAME Updated to 0.37b16
9:09 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Brad Oliver wrote in with news on a new update to the popular MacMAME emulator project. Version 0.37b16 is now available for download, with some minor bug fixes and a speed bump for those running the Carbon version under OS 8-9. He also recommends a new OpenGL plugin to add special monitor and RGB effects to the emulator.

In general MacMAME news, Oliver also wants people to know that the project is still active and under construction. He's a busy guy, but Mac fans shouldn't worry about the emulator falling too far behind the PC version. Here's the full scoop:

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. MacMAME is not dead. I'm just
very busy and sometimes don't have enough time to do a timely release.

I'd like to thank everyone for their understanding on this, and I hope that
in the future people will stop sending me flaming hate mail and PC (!!)
viruses. You know who you are. ;-)

I am also aware that the PC version is one release past 0.37b16, and I'll be
working on having the Mac version out very shortly. 0.37b16 is the last
version to support 8-bit color, so some of the older games will run slower
in upcoming MAME releases. Enjoy b16 for that reason.

Head over now and give this latest version a try. Thanks to Brad and the rest of the folks on the team for their hard work on this excellent project, and hopefully those impatient fans will be more forgiving from now on.

Download MacMAME 0.37b16
MacMAME Web Site

Sheep Set to Stray into Stores in September
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

While the big news on Feral's site was about Black & White, the UK company also provided an update on Sheep. It seems the title is very close to completion, with an expected release date of next month. This title has received good reviews on the PC and console versions, as it has quirky characters and good gameplay puzzle elements. Old school gamers may find similarities to the classic Lemmings. Here's an excerpt from the Feral site with more info on what Sheep is all about:

The aim of the game is to guide, lead, shove or throw as many Sheep as possible back to their celestial ancestors. To do this you have to move them through 7 increasingly hazardous worlds each with four grass-bitingly tense levels, all the time saving them from the perils of electric fences, shark-infested ice cream and combine harvesters.

You start each level with a flock of Sheep, and the aim is to "persuade" the Sheep to navigate their way to the level Exit while keeping as many of the little flockers alive as possible. Apart from wrestling with the sheer mind-boggling brainlessness of your charges, there are huge numbers of hazards to avoid and obstacles to overcome, and if you are sharp, quite a few juicy bonuses to be found.

With the mindlessness of the sheep, your control lies in the hands of one of four available herders. We're looking forward to the title, and will bring you more Sheep info in the coming weeks.

Also be on the lookout for new updates from Feral, as they promise tantalizing announcements on August 24. We'll keep you posted on any news from them.

Sheep Site at Feral
Feral Web Site

Click to enlarge
Neverwinter Nights Designer Diary Update
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Blue's News has noted a recent update made to an ongoing Neverwinter Nights designer diary, currently being hosted at the Neverwinter Vault. The diary, maintained by Art Director Marc Holmes, shares Homes' random thoughts about BioWare's progress as NWN gets closer to completion.

Speaking of completion, it appears that Homes' team is over the bulk of art creation. He notes that in a few weeks, the first pass of 200 creatures will be complete, including both modeling and animation. The first nine tile sets are also nearing completion, with a new viewing feature where "the second floor fades away when it comes between you and the camera," allowing players to still freely look around when indoors.

Here's a clip from the diary detailing the sheer amount of work that's been done art-wise:

If we look back on our last year-and-a-half of work, it's pretty impressive. A virtual view of NWN art content right now would resemble that scene from The Matrix with those infinite racks of guns that come zooming in from nowhere. An army of characters and creatures standing in formation, rows of landscape tiles stretching as far as the eye can see, seemingly infinite racks of weapons, items and armor, a vast library of magical scrolls, a veritable gallery of portraits. If you lay the artwork in this game end to end it would circle the Internet three times.
For the full diary entry as well as other information on NWN, be sure to check out the NW Vault. NWN is expected to ship for both Mac and PC sometime early next year. Don't forget to check out IMG's recently posted preview of this title as well for some hands-on impressions.

NW Vault - Designer Diary
IMG - Neverwinter Nights Preview
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

New Master of Orion III Screenshots
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gamespot recently received several new screenshots from Master of Orion III, Infogrames' and Quicksilver's upcoming space empire strategy title, and were kind enough to post them for all to see. Included in the shots are various alien portraits, some spacecraft, and several strategy screens.

The shown species range from vaguely humanoid to utterly bizarre. One shot shows a species that could almost pass for human, if it wasn't for the obsidian skin and glowing green eyes. Two other characters shown seem to be artificial intelligences of some kind, as they are both composed entirely out of mechanical parts.

The spacecraft shown are no less bizarre. One of them, with batlike wings and a bulky design, could almost pass for something out of the Wright Bros. design portfolio. Another ship featured looks like it was carved entirely out of crystal.

What's sure to get heads spinning are the various strategy/planning screenshots. One of the shots shows Ground Combat information, detailing the statistics of both the attackers and the defenders, which include everything from collateral damage to battle intensity. Another shot shows the Military Information for a planet named Minos III, which includes various bases, the commanding admiral, and what units are available.

A general planet overview information screenshot of some kind is also shown, which displays the stats for several planets, including gravity, regions, and richness. Particularly noteworthy in this shot is the list of filters at the bottom of the screen, which can be checked on and off for easier planet sorting. Some of these filters include Biodiversity, 2+ Starlanes, Safe Route, Within Borders, and Preferred Gravity.

The final new information screenshot shown displays two more subversive tactics at the player's disposal: Secret Police and Disinformation. The Secret Police have monitoring options such as Enemy Agents, Friendly Leaders, Political Factions, and Slaves. Disinformation contains resources such as Propoganda and Strategic Deception.

For those that can't wait for MOO3 to come out, these screenshots are definitely worth a look. The various species screenshots alone are well done, and the information screens are so detailed that they might have some players struggling to take it all in, though doubtless this will only excite others. MacSoft currently has the rights to the Mac version of this title, though an official announcement concerning the release date has yet to be made.

Gamespot - MOO3 Screenshots
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Clue for Myth II Released
6:00 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

We received word this morning of the imminent release of the much anticipated Clue total conversion for Bungie's Myth II. In a totally original take on the well known board game "Cluedo", players are thrown into a dark mansion and a murder.

The Object of the Game: Either kill Mr. Boddy and remain undiscovered for the remainder of the game, or determine the identity of the killer and slay him.

Gameplay: At the start of the game, six weapons are randomly distributed amongst nine rooms, such that no room contains more than one weapon and three contain none. Each player is encouraged to obtain a weapon immediately, and then lurk. Should a suitably anonymous opportunity present itself, a player may kill Mr. Boddy and attempt to avoid retribution. The other players will try to discover and kill the murderer. Whoever succeeds, wins.
Clue promises to provide excellent entertainment, with a plethora of features, including wonderful colourmaps and scripting, an in-game cutscene during the planning time, original mission objectives, and most importantly - bot players, so you can play with all six players, even if you can only find 2 humans to play with!

According to its creator, Datax, Clue has been uploaded to The Mill and all that is needed is for the Mill to return from its state of temporary downtime. Datax assured me that if the Mill did not return promptly, he would make Clue available via the project's website.

Cartographers of Myth
The Mill
Clue Website

Mac Games News for Tuesday, August 14, 2001

More Radeon 8500 Previews12:57 PM
Mac Developers React to ATI Announcements11:40 AM
OpenGL 1.3 Specification Released11:35 AM
New Civilization III Screenshots10:03 AM
On The Death of GodGames9:27 AM
Brian Burke of NVIDIA Interviewed9:19 AM
ATI Announces Radeon 8500 for Mac6:00 AM
Dynamix Close Official, Loki Following?6:00 AM
IMG Previews the Radeon 85006:00 AM
John Carmack Video Interview6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, August 14, 2001 on one page

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Monday, August 13, 2001
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