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Wednesday, September 5, 2001

ECTS: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Info and Screenshots
9:40 AM | Ben Boffey | Comment on this story

For some time now many fans of Douglas Adams have been looking forward to re-entering his complex, bizarre fictional world via a computer game. The last time this was attempted was in an Infocom text-adventure in the 80's. Since then Douglas set up a company called The Digital Village which amongst other projects created Starship Titanic, an adventure game aimed at creating an involving humourous world complete with some bizarre characters with some elements of AI that lead to some rather interesting conversations! TDV has evolved into Phase 3 Studios and they have been working on a new title known as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 3D, a third-person adventure towel-em up!

The game starts with a situation that all fans of the books will be familiar with: the hapless Arthur Dent attempting to cope with the realization that his house is being knocked down by the local council, rapidly followed by the greater ordeal of the earth being destroyed by the Vogons to make way for an intergalactic bypass. From this starting point the player takes on the role of Arthur, travelling throughout the Universe meeting a variety of strange aliens who may help or thwart his efforts to save all known life from being destroyed by an invading force of robots, the Krikkit.

Rather than directly following the plot of the books, the game will take characters that many readers will be familiar such as Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android and uses them to create an entirely new adventure. Travelling through the squalid surroundings of a Vogon Constructor Fleet spaceship, the swamplands of Squornshellous Zeta, the splendour of the fabled Heart-Of-Gold with it's Infinite-Improbability Drive and the legendary planet constructing depths of Magrathea, Arthur must battle with aliens, solve puzzles and of course, talk with annoying lifts!

The main weapon which Arthur uses is his towel, a vital piece of equipment for all hitchhikers, without one you'll never be known by your counterparts as a hoopy frood. Your standard towel will never be enough to beat the Krikkit robots, so Arthur must persuade the Towlin Monks that he is enlightened enough to gain use of the sacred golden towel. This is achieved in the quasi-buddhist manner of passing through the trials of Courage, Strength, Agility, Intelligence and Skill. When you're totally lost, there's always the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy itself to use for reference, and maybe to find a decent party and knock back a few Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters. A good cup of tea on the other hand may be a little more difficult to find!

Unfortunately no actual game code was available at ECTS so we can't go into too many game specifics. You can be sure that this won't be your run of the mill third-person adventure shooter though. Hopefully we'll have access to the game itself in the not too distant future, so you can expect a full preview. In the mean time maybe you should read the books! What we can tell you is that the game will work on OS 9 as well as having full support for OS X and is currently scheduled for release by Pan Interactive in the first quarter of next year.

HHGTG Image Gallery
Phase 3 Studios Project Page
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 3D

FREE Aliens vs Predator or Majesty with MGCD Subscription!
2:42 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

When we introduced the MacGames CD back in early July, we offered a free copy of MacPlay's Sin or GraphSim's Descent 3 with every new subscirption or renewal. Today we've updated the free game offer with two fantastic titles: MacPlay's soon-to-be released Aliens vs Predator and the epic strategy game, Majesty.

The MacGames CD is a CD-ROM subscription service featuring the best in Macintosh game demos, shareware, updates, add-ons, trailers, cheaters and much more. Get 8 issues per year (delivered every 6 weeks) and save big bucks! For a limited time, when you subscribe to MacGames CD, you can get a full version of Aliens vs Predator or Majesty; all you pay is the shipping ($5 USA, $7 Canada, $12 International). Each subscription or renewal also includes free registration of the shareware game guide Game Doctor, plus great discounts from Mac game stores and publishers.

If you're already a MacGames CD Subscriber and would like a copy of Aliens vs Predator or Majesty, you can order either title at the low price of $15 for AVP and $10 for Majesty. This offer is only open for MacGames CD subscribers.

Subscriptions to the MacGames CD start at just $29 for one year. The Aliens vs Predator and Majesty offers are valid until October 15th, 2001. For more information, be sure to visit the IMG web store.

More World of Warcraft, WC3 Images
12:58 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Computer Gaming World has published a spectacular gallery of new images from Blizzard Entertainment's two works in progress, the MMORPG World of Warcraft and the RTS Warcraft III. The only company we know that is happy being up to their necks in Orcs, Blizzard chose ECTS to launch new information, movies and images of both games in action.

The shots posted by CGW are different from the press images released at the expo, and they show a remarkably mature game world for WoW -- for a game that is only a year into development, this one looks ready to ship. As for the WC3 shots, we can only hope that this is the latst batch we see before actual beta versions of the game begin to make the rounds, becuase we have been waiting to play this one since 1999.

Each image is accompanied by a somewhat humorous caption, and the gallery is well worth the wear and tear on your clicking finger. We're sure more WoW details will be trickling out for the next year or two...

World of Warcraft/WC3 Gallerty at Computer Gaming World

ECTS Report on Radeon 8500
12:36 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

In a very brief but interesting report, The Inquirer -- a hardware-oriented web site that always seems to be the source of the latest industry gossip -- has described their experience with the ATI Radeon 8500 at the ECTS Expo. It seems they were very impressed by the product demos that they saw, and quote ATI reps as say the card "is faster than the GeForce 3" with the most recent version of the card drivers.

More importantly the ATI reps stated that the cards will be available the second week of October in the UK, which means that ATI should hit their target date of the end of September in the US as we tend to get things first. That would be the launch date for the PC version of the cards, of course -- the release date for the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition is still not known, though we have been promised by ATI that it would not be a long wait.

IMG's representative at the ECTS expo got his own eyefull of the 8500 in action, and he was quite impressed to say the very least. We hope to bring you a detailed report on his experience very soon. Stay tuned!

Preview: ATI Radeon 8500
Inquirer Report on Radeon 8500

Developer's View of ECTS, iDevGames Seeks Support
11:59 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Two items of interest have appeared at Mac developer resource iDevGames. The first is a report from a game developer who attended ECTS, which by all accounts we have read so far was a dismal, lackluster show with little new information beyond the Blizzard launch of World of Warcraft. The report, from Aaron Fothergill of Strange Flavour, seems to echo these sentiments:

just got back from ECTS in Docklands, London. I suspect it will be the last one they do. None of the major games companies hardware or software was there, they've moved it to what I can only describe as a tube station over in Docklands and there was very very little worthwhile content on display. Mostly it was very bad PC games (the sort that most of us can write as shareware games in a few months time), cheap peripherals (none of which I hadn't already seen in the computer fairs in London) and bankrupt stock/stuff. There was some slightly interesting titles from a couple of Korean companies, but even their releases were mostly dull PC games.
Perhaps Blizzard chose this show to launch their title so they would be certain that no other game launch could steal their thunder! In any case to read more of Aaron's thoughts and the reflections of others on this year's ECTS, jump to the forum thread via the link below.

In related news, iDevGames has launched a new line of "Coolwear" -- T-shirts, hats, bags, mugs and mousepads with various logos related to Mac game development and pro-Mac slogans. Here are the details:

Do you like iDevGames and Mac game development? Now is your chance to help support the community we are building and to also show the world your game platform of choice. The iDevGames store was created to generate revenue which we can use to upgrade our server. The ultimate goal of iDevGames is to serve the site from a fast Macintosh machine with storage capability to handle all our source code, game assets and future content. However, a dedicated sever and high-bandwidth require considerable investments. We are exploring alternative methods to help grow the site such as Paypal and other donation systems. In the meantime, please visit the store and click on Coolwear to see our selection of shirts, bags and other merchandise.
Be sure and stop by iDevGames to check out their site and merchandise.

Aaron Fothergill's Report on the ECTS Expo
iDevGames Online Store

IMG Previews World of Warcraft
10:43 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a detailed first look at just-announced massively multiplayer
online title, World of Warcraft. After having attended the ECTS show,
we were able to get a good rundown from Blizzard on the game. It
should be mentioned up front that no Mac version of World of Warcraft has
been announced by the company; we're hoping their stellar track record of releasing their titles for
the Mac OS will shine through once again.

One of the biggest changes for this title is the online pricing model.
While all of Blizzard's past titles have been free to play online, World of Warcraft
will require a monthly fee in order to play (like every other modern MMO title
on the PC market). Here's a rundown on the server structure:

The multiplayer and server model will be entirely different and separate from; a totally new networking model has been developed with the game world living in its own game-space; there will still be multiple synced servers, as with Diablo II, to minimize lag within each Realm. World of Warcraft will be subscription-based like most of the new Massively Multiplayer games; it is expected to be about as expensive as the existing titles, in the $10-a-month range. These charges will not be purely for mindless profit, but for upkeep of the dedicated worldwide servers; the team claimed the money will be rolled back into the game via the dedicated maintenance crew that will continue to work on the project once it goes live.
Blizzard hopes this new pricing structure won't scare away their huge base of fans,
though the feature set for World of Warcraft will certainly be enough to
convince many to keep paying to play. For much more on the title (including
the possibility of a Mac version), read through the preview. Also be sure
to check out the very impressive gallery of screen shots if you haven't already
seen the unique and gorgeous visuals this game will provide -- even at this early stage of development.

IMG Preview of World of Warcraft

Coldstone Engine Nears Release
10:29 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

A new update to the Ambrosia progress logs this morning has provided
the latest details on the powerful Coldstone RPG engine, under development by Beenox.
The update notes that while the Mac OS 9 and OS X versions are complete (as
witnessed by the recent release of the Coldstone-based Pillars of Garendall),
the Windows build isn't quite up to spec yet. There are some lingering issues
with the registration, but otherwise this project is nearing completion. Here's the full update:

Now that Pillars of Garendall, the first Coldstone game ever, has been released, I can go back to Coldstone. If PoG is ready, then at least the MacOS8/9/X compiler should be ready too right? So the only things left should be the Win32 compiler and the editor itself (with its wizards, graphic libraries, etc.)?

There were two things missing from the win32 compiler: Quicktime movie support and the ASW registration system. Quicktime movies are now working perfectly well. Technically, as soon as we receive the reg libs, we are all set. Vince is now working on some other minor issues.

On my side, I'm packaging and testing what will be a new candidate for the testers. You won't believe it but the full package of Coldstone is quite heavy and it takes a couple of days only to put everything together. Oh, and did I mention that the full CD version of Coldstone will contain additional non-medieval artwork?

Argn! Some top secret screenshots just slipped from my hard drive!

And be sure to head over to the update to have a look at the three screen shots,
which show off some very cool jungle and industrial motifs. Thanks to Dee Brown and
the folks at Ambrosia for their hard work, and we look forward to seeing the results
very soon.

Coldstone Progress Logs
Beenox Web Site
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall

Ars Looks at Gaming History
9:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An interesting new article has been posted by Ars Technica which examines the history of computerized gaming. Unlike most trivial pieces on the subject, this is not a simple revisiting of every title by id Software. Instead they start by looking at the early oscilloscope 'games' from the late 1950's, and move up through the present. Much coverage is given to the early text adventures such as Zork as well as discussing the beginnings of now-huge companies like Sierra and EA. Here's a clip about a mystery game many old-school Apple gamers might remember:

Sierra was founded by a husband and wife team, Ken and Roberta Williams, who worked from their kitchen table.  Ken was the programmer of the games which Roberta designed.  During this period, Sierra created many famous adventures.  However, while Infocom's games were completely in text, Sierra famously introduced graphics to the genre with its Apple II game, Mystery House.

It was a combination of the simple verb + noun style of text adventure and black and white pictures which were shown on the top of the screen.  The game itself wasn't too much to speak of; it was a simple murder mystery.  Regardless, the novel graphics of the game made it immensely popular and established Sierra in the adventure game market.

The rest of the article does take a cynical tone when looking at the modern gaming market, though it's definitely a good read if you've got the time.

Ars Technica: The Stage of the Game

MacPlay AvP Chat Logs
9:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An unedited transcript from yesterday's GameRanger chat with the team at MacPlay has been posted at The question and answer session revolved mainly around their upcoming release of Aliens versus Predator, though some of the company's other titles were also briefly discussed as well. The AvP topics included what hardware configuratiuon is supported, why the graphics aren't up to speed with Quake 3,and how and why the Mac demo is different from the PC demos (those with good memories will remember the PC version was actually split up into four parts):

Was the demo we got the same demo PC gamers got way back when?

[CE] Burger: No, this is not the same demo

[CE] Burger: The PC demos were made before the game was finished

[CE] Burger: and Fox made 4 specific

[CE] Burger: demos, Alien only, Predator Only, Marine Only

[CE] Burger: and DeathMatch Only.

[CE] Burger: I created a single demo that had all 4.

Read through the rest of the chat for good information on AvP and other MacPlay games. As an aside, Baldur's Gate II's delay has been attributed to problems with OS X, not any legal issues; regardless we have been assured by the MacPlay team recently that this RPG will be on store shelves before the end of the month.

AvP/MacPlay Chat Transcript at Utterer

Mac Games News for Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Arcane Arena Beta 3 Available3:46 PM
'Demo' Contest Judging Underway3:38 PM
Custer Goes to Mars11:23 AM
IMG Interviews Sphidia11:10 AM
In-depth Look Into NVIDIA10:45 AM
ECTS: Black & White Expansion Set Announced10:31 AM
More Red Faction Previews10:22 AM
ECTS: PomPom Wins "Edge Award" for Space Tripper9:54 AM
European Exile Set For Release This Week9:18 AM
ECTS: Hitchcock - The Final Cut Preview9:15 AM
New Screenshots of Myth III9:09 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, September 4, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Monday, September 3, 2001
Sunday, September 2, 2001
Friday, August 31, 2001
Thursday, August 30, 2001
Wednesday, August 29, 2001

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