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Friday, August 24, 2001

Mac Sacrifice Nears Beta [UPDATED]
9:37 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While we were still reeling from the news that Ron Dimant and United Developers had resurrected the once-mighty MacPlay from torpor, they hit us with a second shock -- they would be bringing Sacrifice to the Mac OS, a critically-acclaimed RTS with fantastic visuals and complex gameplay. That announcement was made November 1st, 2000, and we have heard virtually nothing since then.

In fact, the only news of note we have received since that time was the detail that Duane Johnson (who ported Descent 3 for GraphSim as well as working on Tales of the Sword Coast) was now in charge of the project. What was going on behind the veil of secrecy, and when will Mac gamers be able to play this thrilling and gorgeous game for themselves?

Well, we can't answer that just yet. But MacPlay does have some news for you -- this game is just about to hit Beta stage, a major milestone in the development of any game or game port. According to the reports we received from Macworld New York last month, the game already seemed quite robust and stable in its late-alpha stage (and ran well on a slot-loading iMac), so while there is no way to determine exactly how long the "Beta" stage will last we suspect it won't be a six-month affair. We hope to bring you even more information about Mac Sacrifice in the near future.

[UPDATED information from MacPlay] We also have the projected system requirements for this title:

  • Power Macintosh G3/233 MHz
  • 128 MB Ram
  • MAC OS 9.2, and OS X

As you can see the game will have quite modest system requirements (though we have no doubt you will need a monster system to run the game at full details levels and high resolutions, as with the PC version. Note that 9.2 will be a requirement, presumably due to the updated video drivers, OpenGL and CarbonLib in that release. MacPlay did pass along one bit of disappointing information -- the Mac version will not be able to network play against the PC version, due to its reliance upon Microsoft's closed DirectPlay networking API. However we anticipate there will be GameRanger support, so finding opponents should be a snap.

But what is Sacrifice, exactly? For complex reasons, this title never reached the peak of acclaim or sales that were expected on the PC side; it may have been a little too abstract, too surreal for a crowd which has dozens of other, more "realistic" RTS titles to choose from. As a result many Mac gamers may be totally unaware of the fact the game existed at all.

For the long answer, you can read IMG's preview of the game, published just a few short weeks after the initial announcement. In the meantime here is a short synopsis of the game from the official web site:

In Sacrifice, players control a wizard and battle up to 4 other wizards in various landscapes ruled by Five Gods. These landscapes are vast, floating islands, whose composition and architecture are defined by the Gods themselves. The wizards can cast spells to summon creatures to fight for them or simply opt to destroy their opponents and their creatures using attack magic in the form of over 50 different spells. It is even possible to cast spells that harness the elements to alter the landscape or the weather system, plunging your opponents into a newly created canyon, or blasting them with a bolt of highly charged lightning. The only rule is that if your Altar (i.e. home base) is destroyed, then your game is over.
Be sure and read through IMG's preview and gaze at those gorgeous screen shots; the official Sacrifice site is also loaded with screen shots and movies of the game in action.

Past Articles on Sacrifice
Preview: Sacrifice
Sacrifice Web Site
Shiny Entertainment
Pre-Order Sacrifice

The Sims: House Party and Livin' Large Updates
2:58 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr today released various updates for The Sims: House Party and The Sims: Livin' Large. In addition to various bug fixes for the MacOS 9 versions, the new updates include new carbonized versions for OS X.

Both versions include the following fix:

Macs with multiple video cards installed may experience poor video performance if DrawSprocket chooses the second monitor for gameplay. A new check box in the "Screen Size" dialog lets you tell DrawSprocket to use the main screen (ie, the one with the Mac's Menu Bar) if possible. Note that this check box is disabled on Macs with only one monitor.
If you own The Sims: Livin' Large, be sure to also download the Livin' Large Data Update that includes include fixes for roaches showing up too often as well as other minor "bugs" in some of the Livin' Large specific game objects.

Livin' Large Data Update
Livin' Large 1.2.2 (OSX)
Livin' Large 1.2.2 (Mac OS 9.x)
House Party 1.3.1 (OSX)
House Party 1.3.1 (MacOS 9.x)

Mumbo Jumbo Seeks Testers
2:20 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

It seems it is a good time for gamers to get involved in the actual production of Mac games; not only is Westlake hiring a programmer, but now MumboJumbo Games is looking for experienced Beta testers for their upcoming projects and works-in-progress. Currently they are finishing up Myth III: The Wolf Age and Fighter Squadron as well as beginning work on Icewind Dale.

Duncan Stanley of MumboJumbo dropped us a note explaining that they are seeking Beta testers; candidates should be experienced Mac users and previous beta testing experience is a plus (no, downloading beta patches and playing them does not count!). They are especially interested in those living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who can become in-house testers.

There is a sign-up page available at the link below. Please remember, being a Beta tester is not just a licence to play games for free; a serious and sincere tester can make a big difference in the playability and reliability of a published game, so don't waste MumboJumbo's time if you are not willing to put in the effort.

MumboJumbo Beta Testing Application

Westlake is Hiring
12:19 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Suellen Adams of Westlake Interactive, the Mac and PS2 porting house responsible for such games as Unreal Tournament and Rune, has just passed along a short press release with some interesting information. It seems veteran Mac programmer Jesse Spears (who wrote the Harpoon series, among other things) is moving on to pursue his own projects -- which means Westlake is now looking for an experienced game programmer to add to the staff. Here's the release:

Jesse Spears is leaving Westlake Interactive immediately to pursue his own
projects. We at Westlake Interactive would like to wish Jesse well in his
new endeavors. Westlake was very pleased with his work on the award-winning
Escape from Monkey Island, and he will be sorely missed.

While we do not expect Jesse’s leaving to cause any significant impact to
our schedule beyond what has already announced, his departure does leave us
with an opening for another programmer.

“We will be accepting and reviewing resumes beginning immediately.” says
Westlake business coordinator, Suellen Adams. Candidates should submit their
resumes to Resumes submitted to any other e-mail
address will not be considered.

The ideal candidate will have experience with game programming and the Mac
in particular. Knowledge of C and C++ required, familiarity with Windows
APIs preferred. Our programmers are required to be very self-motivated and
able to work independently.

If you think you have the skills to join the most powerful and prolific game porting team we've ever seen, be sure to fire off that resume to Suellen immediately. Best of luck to Mr. Spears; we can't wait to see what he is working on.

Westlake Interactive

Second MacGames CD Ships Next Week
11:17 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The second MacGames CD, a subscription-based CD full of great demos, shareware, updates, add-ons, trailers, and a whole bunch more, is now in duplication and will be shipping sometime next week.

If you're already a subscriber to the MacGames CD, be on the look out for the new CD soon! If you haven't gotten a subscription yet, you can still subscribe from now until the end of the month and be guaranteed to receive the second MacGames CD.

What's included in the MGCD? How about new demos of Escape from Monkey Island , Dark Castle 3, and Lance. Plus add-ons for Unreal Tournament, Tropico, The Sims, Deus Ex, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. Plus dozens of updates, shareware, and much more.

As an added bonus, we're offering a FREE copy of MacPlay's Majesty or Sin or Aspyr's Madden NFL 2000 with every new subscription (all you pay is the shipping and handling). These will also be mailed out with the new MGCD next week.

For more information, be sure to check out the IMG store!

Mac Gaming Gods: Graeme Devine
10:59 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Perhaps the second-most well-known name at id Software (behind John Carmack of course), Graeme Devine is not only a long-haired Brit who worked on Quake 3 and is working on DOOM 3, he is also a relentless promoter of the Mac platform. For all those reasons and more IMG has made him a part of our Mac Gaming Gods feature, and today we post the second installment.

Along with a detailed and interesting biography of this programmer , who began his career with Atari at age fourteen, we also have a short Q&A session with his thoughts on Mac gaming. Here is an excerpt:

Q: A lot of Mac gamers are familiar with your enthusiasm and evangelism about the Mac at id, but not many know about past: you programmed Pole Position for Atari and founded Trilobyte, which developed The 7th Guest. Could you expand on your younger days a bit more?

A; I worked on all the various ports of Pole Position for Atari. At that time Atarisoft was making games for different computers than their own and selling them, and I was in that part of the company. It was fun, even up until the end because we produced games so quickly that the fun component of each game had to be very, very high. Trilobyte came much later and was basically a result of looking around the industry and saying "hey, this CD thing is going to take off... I bet if we make a CD game..."

Read on for more details on this most influential of game developers.

Mac Gaming Gods: Graeme Devine

Counter-Strike vs. Urban Terror
10:43 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

TheMacMind has recently posted an article that compares two popular mods for two quite popular games: Counter-Strike, which is a mod for the PC-only title Half-Life, and Urban Terror, which modifies Quake III Arena. Both games share a commonality in that they try to introduce a little realism into the world of FPS titles, though they both take different approaches in doing so. The article may prove an interesting read for those of you still suffering from Half-Life envy and wondering how you might replicate that experience on your Mac.

Counter-Strike, one of the most popular mods of all time, features two opposing sides: Counter-Terrorists and Terrorists. Its gameplay types include Hostage Rescue, Bomb Planting/Defusion, Escape, and Escort/Assassination. Weapons are all taken from real-life weaponry, such as MP5s and Desert Eagles, and generally behave according to real-life physics, including recoil and accuracy. Weapons must also be bought with money earned through gameplay, meaning that a more productive player will have more cash to spend each round. There's also no respawn - once you've been killed, you're dead until the next round starts.

As for its not-so-realistic features, MacMind notes that there's no penalty for taking damage, unlike other reality-based games. People with 1 health can still run just as quickly as those with full health. The strongest negative of all is the fact that this title isn't available for the Mac, due to the fact it is based off the Half-Life engine.

Urban Terror, on the other hand, takes a slightly different tack than Counter-Strike. Possibly because it's based off the Quake III engine, it still leans heavily towards deathmatch-based gameplay, though the weapons, rules, and tactics take a much more realistic slant than the typical Q3 deathmatch. Gameplay types include Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch, Team Survivor, Follow the Leader, Capture and Hold, and Capture the Flag. Players can select from a variety of real-life weapons, including the PSG1 and the UMP-45, in which to take on opponents, though limited inventory space restrains the number of items and weapons a player can carry.

Another point where Urban Terror contrasts with Counter-Strike is the fact that damage penalizes players. It is entirely possible to bleed to death unless wounds are patched up with bandages. Speed and stamina restraints are also in place. Take a hit in the legs and your rate of movement suffers. Jump around like a crazed hare and you'll quickly tire yourself out, losing jumping height.

TheMacMind author "Stud Beefpile" sums up his thoughts about each mod in this statement:

Both Counter-Strike and Urban Terror are highly addictive, fun, and add that realistic touch. So which is better? Urban Terror offers a bit more realism than Counter-Strike, however, Counter-Strike isn’t available to Macintosh gamers. Both are free downloads, and both are great mods. Personally, I prefer Urban Terror, others agree, others disagree.
On another note, Mac players who yearn for a true Counter-Strike-type game for the Mac should check out the Tactical Ops mod for Unreal Tournament. I myself have played Counter-Strike extensively, and TacOps is a virtual clone of Counter-Strike, albeit with prettier graphics and a ton of new features and improvements.

For the full read of the Counter-Strike vs. Urban Terror comparison, be sure to check it out at TheMacMind. A link has also been provided below to the TacOps site for those interested.

Tactical Ops - Official Site
TheMacMind - Counter-Strike vs. Urban Terror
Urban Terror

9.2.1 Breaks Voodoo5 OpenGL?
10:24 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

From time to time IMG browses the Mac Games Devlist, a mailing list for game developers sponsored by Apple that is a public forum for sharing programming ideas and troubleshooting problems. We've been keeping an eye out for 9.2.1 trouble reports, and one in particular caught our attention. Although we haven't received any reports about this in our Troubleshooting forum, we thought it was serious enough to pass along to IMG readers contemplating downloading that update -- as it may mean the end of the line for Mac Voodoo5 5500 owners who want to play OpenGL games.

The report was submitted by Bill "Burger" Heineman, formerly of Logicware, currently with Mumbo Jumbo and a game development legend on several platforms. According to his tests, OpenGL games are failing to work with his Voodoo5 card:

It appears that MacOS 9.2.1 installs OpenGL 1.2.2. This is nice, except...

It does NOT work with Voodoo 5 cards at ALL!! [Every] app I have that uses
OpenGL rendering like Quake 2, Sin, Quake 3 and Heavy Metal will crash on
OpenGL startup. I've traced the issue to the fact that OpenGL seems to
require new drivers to support OpenGL 1.2 commands. The problem is 3dfx
isn't around to update their drivers.

That might be a problem indeed, if this behavior is common on other systems besides Heineman's development rig. If you have any experience with 9.2.1 and either Voodoo5 5500 or Voodoo 4 4500 cards and OpenGL games, please post your findings in our Troubleshooting forum; we'll continue to research the issue and pass along anything we learn. If the worst-case scenario is true and 9.2.1 does break OpenGL on the V5, it may indeed be the end of an era for Mac gamers.

Re: 9.2.1,OpenGL & Voodoo
IMG Troubleshooting Forum

Click to enlarge
Neverwinter Nights Online Chat Transcript
10:10 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Neverwinter Vault has posted the results of a recent online chat with Marc Holmes, the Art Director for BioWare's upcoming RPG Neverwinter Nights. The chatroom itself was apparently filled to bursting, and Holmes somehow manages to field a bevy of detailed questions regarding NWN from many different people.

Other minor game modifications/improvements include things such as halflings and gnomes having their own models, 32 hair colors to choose from, and camera positions either being top-down or manual. A large number of mod-related questions are also asked.

The entire session log is available at Neverwinter Vault for those that wish to peruse it. NWN currently holds a release date of sometime early next year, with a simultaneous PC/Mac release expected.

Neverwinter Vault - Marc Holmes Q&A Chat
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Click to enlarge
Myst III: Exile DVD Cancelled?
9:41 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The excellent fan site Riven Unofficial Home Page has received a new round of updates recently, including an interesting bit that the DVD version of Myst III: Exile may be in trouble. Jim Stephenson quotes an article from JustAdventure, in which they report:

though UbiSoft will not confirm this, sources claim that the much-ballyhooed Myst 3 DVD has been cancelled.
There is mention also in the article that the game's weaker sales than anticipated may have contributed to the decision, though it should also be mentioned that nothing official from UbiSoft has yet been announced. The DVD was originally expected out around Christmas, and we'll keep you posted if anything new is revealed about its status.

IMG Review of Myst III: Exile
Riven Unofficial Home Page
Just Adventure Web Site
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

Red Faction Movie, Shots
9:39 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Red Faction web site has been updated with two versions of a new movie now available for download. The larger of the two AVIs weighs in at nearly 30MB, while the lower resolution is a more managable 10MB. The video shows off about a minute of in-game action and is worth a download if you're interested in seeing what actual gampleay might be like. It is rather violent, though, so those not accustomed to graphic violence might want to skip this one. There are some interesting new enemies shown (albeit quickly), and some of the vehicle-driving action is also included.

For a quicker look at Red Faction, head over to VoodooExtreme, who has posted four new screen shots from their beta version of the game. They are very high resolution and three are actually from inside both water and land vehicles in the game. FPS fans anxious to get a hold of Red Faction will definitely want to head over for a look. GraphSim recently announced the game has gone 'alpha' and is on track for a release on the Mac in October.

Download Red Faction Movie- Small (10MB)
Download Red Faction Movie- Large (30MB)
Red Faction Screen Shots at VoodooExtreme
Red Faction

Mac Games News for Thursday, August 23, 2001

IMG Previews Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption3:19 PM
Readers Report 9.2.1 Issues11:44 AM
Civilization III Hits Beta, Due for PC in October11:01 AM
Mac OS Planet Comments on Mac Game Viability10:33 AM
David Gaider Q&A - Part 410:11 AM
Unreal 2 Q&A9:46 AM
USWest Diablo II Server Restored9:34 AM
New Infogrames Arcade Remakes?9:19 AM
August MacPlay Newsletter Released9:15 AM
Undying Release Pushed Back9:12 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, August 23, 2001 on one page

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Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Monday, August 20, 2001
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