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Thursday, September 6, 2001

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Fly! II Goes Gold for Mac
9:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Infogrames wrote in this morning with new word that the flight simulator Fly! II is now declared Gold Master for the Mac. This means the final version from developer Terminal Reality is now tested and complete, and the game should be shipping out to retailers via MacSoft in the next week or two. The Mac version will also contain a number of extra features out of the box which the PC version lacked, such as new maps and planes. Here's the full scoop:

The thrilling sequel to 1999's Flight Sim of the Year is gold! From
realistic weather effects to one of the most immersive cockpits ever,
players will feel airborne in this amazing simulation. Fly! II includes new
aircraft models like the exclusive Pilatus PC-12 and the renowned Bell 407
helicopter. In addition, the Mac version includes 72 extra maps, six
additional aircraft and terra scenery including New York not featured in the
PC version.

Beginners can learn to fly by Visual and Instrument Flight Rules using U.S.
sectional charts and built-in aids. In addition, visibility ranges (60
miles) is three times greater than in Fly! 2K, offering the most realistic
representation of what real world pilots experience in high altitudes.

Fly! II will be shipping to retailers in mid-Sept.

Flight sim fans should definitely break out their favorite joystick, and be sure to get those preorders in now to get your copy of Fly! II as soon as it's available.

Fly! Web Site
Terminal Reality
Fly! II
Buy Fly! II

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Volition Interview on Red Faction
3:26 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Now that this first-person shooter has been declared "gold" (see related story) we can expect a flood of post-release screen shots, details and interviews to flood the Web. The first of the coming deluge is this short but interesting interview posted by with five key members of Volition, the team behind Red Faction and other titles such as Summoner, FreeSpace (which never made it to the Mac OS) and even the Descent series.

The interview begins with short, humorous bios of the team members and then proceeds with a few standard questions. They delve into matters surrounding the plot of the game, the main character's role and motivations, and the technology behind the "Geo-Mod" engine which will allow you to modify the level geometry with really big guns. However Red Faction isn't all shattering glass and swiss-cheese walls -- the game has been praised for its AI as well. While we apologize in advance for the very big quote, this Q&A on the game's artificial intelligence was quite interesting:

The enemy AI seems very advanced. Ultor guards don't just stand around and wait to die, and the mercenaries are particularly uncooperative. Describe the process of developing the AI for the enemies.

Alan Lawrance: AI is developed by starting with very basic behavior and then adding more interesting and detailed behavior after we have playable AI. The basics are getting your enemies to move around the level without running into walls or objects and making your enemies select targets and fire weapons. These basic elements were more challenging in Red Faction to get working because the environment is destructible. Once you have basic enemy AI, the fun part is trying to make the AI appear intelligent by making them run away when wounded, take cover when reloading, using cover when attacking the player, etc. There is a lot of playtesting and gathering of feedback from the rest of the team when developing AI. It's hard to know when the AI for enemies in the game is good enough, since there is always something cool you could add to the game. At some point you have to stop adding features and focus on balancing the gameplay.

Chris Helvig: Originally, they would find a nice place to shoot you from, and then just stand there and shoot ... forever. This didn't feel very realistic, and it wasn't very exciting or challenging. After working on behavior of ambient creatures such as bats and fish, I got the idea that I could also make the AI dodge with similar random movements, particularly if you were pointing a dangerous weapon in their direction. The dodging AI was a lot more exciting to play against, and required more skill to defeat. Then, we created a system for making the AI flee in full-fledged panic if they were hurt badly or had no weapons. And finally, we had the "take cover" AI. As they were dodging, they often accidentally found themselves already in cover (i.e. not visible to the player), so they would "take cover" by just staying there for a while. Combining the fleeing, finding cover, and dodging AI behaviors made for surprisingly intelligent-appearing AI.

We certainly can't wait to go up against them, that's for certain. Other aspects of the game such as the editing tools (which sadly Mac users will not get) and netplay features are also discussed. A worthwhile read for anyone anticipating the release of this title by GraphSim, on target for an October release.

Volition Team Interview at EBGames
Red Faction Gold, for PC
Red Faction

Knights of Zarria Coming to Mac OS?
1:39 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

A random stroll past led us to Knights of Zarria, an OpenGL-based title in development which draws its inspiration from the classic arcade title Gauntlet. This top-down game with 3D graphics takes the shoot-em-up style of Gauntlet and the arcade hit Smash TV and mixes it with 4-player multiplayer for an explosive experience; even though the game is still in early development, the visuals are quite good -- and the game even supports red/blue 3D glasses.

However this is the part of the game's FAQ that caught our eye:

What platforms will be supported?

The initial release will be for Microsoft Windows.  I'd like to do Linux and Macintosh releases once the game is finished.
The game is currently available as a test release for Windows. We've contacted the author to inquire about a timetable for a possible Mac release; maybe Mac OS X will allow him to speed up the porting process. In any case this is yet another game to look forward to -- perhaps it would be good for those interested to send the developer a note encouraging the development of a Mac OS version.
Knights of Zarria

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Sims Soon to Get a Hot Date
1:05 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Sims Resource at MGON recently received a sneak-peak at Hot Date, the next expansion set in the ever-burgeoning world of The Sims. As the title suggests, Hot Date is all about livening up the romantic aspect of the daily lives of your Sims. Though it is not quite finished yet, the implications of this expansion dedicated to amorous pursuit so far look quite promising.

As every dating expert knows, 3 of the most important words in dating practice are location, location, location. The right setting is just the thing to put a prospective mate in the mood. Hot Date will give players 10 empty lots located downtown on which to build a myriad of dating-friendly locations, including parks, restaurants, and nightclubs. For those that like things hot and sandy, 2 of the lots will be beachfront property.

For those just getting started in the dating game, there are several ways to make contact with other swinging singles. Besides the tried-and-true telephone, Sims can also make use of the internet to set up blind dates, or even just head downtown and play the pick-up game.

While in the midst of a date, Sims have been observed playing footsie, ordering various dishes at restaurants, and entertaining each other with hand puppets. Unfortunately for them, NPCs such as The Prude now wander the streets, just looking to stick their noses where they don't belong:

This little old grey haired granny walks around carrying her handbag (which looks as though it doubles up as a weapon) sticking her nose into other peoples business. Just as my Sim started to flirt with a girl that he tempted out of a dance cage with some pathetic chat-up line, the Prude stepped in wagging her finger and blurting, “Don’t do that”! (in a Simlish kind of way).
An online option will also be available for Hot Date through the existing Sims Exchange program. Basically an online dating agency, players will be able to locate compatible Sims, download them, and head downtown in an attempt to pick them up. As with other Sims, if the relationship progresses, that Sim may eventually become controllable.

Hot Date currently has a release date of November for the PC version. A Mac version still has yet to be announced, but with the huge popularity of The Sims on both platforms, we're confident that someone will port this expansion set over for us sometime in the future; the previous titles and expansions have come our way via Aspyr Media. In the meantime, be sure to check out the preview at The Sims Resource for pictures and additional information on this upcoming expansion.

The Sims Resource - Hot Date Preview
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

Lance v6 Beta Available
11:53 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The Alchemist Guild has released "v6" of Lance, a Mac-only MMORPG currently in development. Along with the usual host of bug-fixes, this version adds the ability to purchase land -- a way to set up your own virtual homestead.

Lance is available as a free demo, with a full version of the game costing $20 (which includes 2 free months of play) and $9 a month after that.

The web site also indicates that the team is looking for an artist to help work on the graphics for the game, so stop by the Lance web site and offer your services if you are skilled in the way of pixels.

Grab the update at MacGameFiles if you are already playing Lance; if you would like to try the demo, make sure to grab both the demo and the new update.

Download Lance v6 Update (970k)
Download Lance Demo (6.7 MB)
Lance Web Site

New FUEL Images, Info
11:03 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

One of the more exciting discoveries of the Summer for Mac gamers was FUEL, formerly known as Everglade Rush. This racing game, which was conceived as a way to showcase the new pixel and vertex shader effects of the GeForce 3 card, has recently been retooled to include action/adventure elements as well as a third-person view in which you can actually leave your vehicle and grab a new (and hopefully faster) mode of transportation in mid-race. Most importantly for Mac gamers, the title is being simultaneously developed for Mac OS X by a team quite friendly to the Mac platform.

VoodooExtreme has just posted a gallery of recent screen shots from FUEL, showcasing the new "driver" models and the third-person point of view. While these are images of a game still in the "alpha" stage of development, you can clearly see the high polygon counts and amazing texture effects that a GeForce 3-class card can accomplish in realtime. These effects should be transparently portable to the ATI Radeon 8500 as well, as the engine is built upon OpenGL.

Our last update on the Mac version was on August 27th, when team member Nathan d'Obrenan mentioned that he was "knee deep" in the Mac OS X port of FUEL and a gorgeous screen saver known as Ectosaver. While a finished product may be quite some time from release, it is certainly good to know that Mac users have another racing title to look forward to in the future, and a gorgeous one to boot. Jump to the VE screen shot gallery to see the eye candy for yourself.

New FUEL Screen Shots at VoodooExtreme
FUEL Dev Update, Mac Status

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Red Faction Gold, for PC
10:46 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Late last night Volition whispered those magic words -- the PC version of the revolutionary shooter Red Faction has been declared "Golden Master" and is now heading to duplication. This is excellent news for Mac gamers as well, as it means the code base is now "frozen" and those working on the Mac port can now proceed full speed ahead.

For those who have been living under a rock which is in a cave which happens to be located on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific, Red Faction is a first-person shooter with a strong solo storyline and a unique graphics engine which allows the actual destruction of walls, floors and game structures. The PC version is a port of the PS2 version, which was quite a hit despite the limitations of controlling a shooter with a gamepad. However the Mac and PC versions will not just be a straight port -- along the way the game has gained higher resolutions and high-detail textures, more balanced and developed gameplay and online multiplayer support (which will of course be cross-platform).

Mac Red Faction is proceeding very well, according to our recent discussions with GraphSim (the publisher of the Mac version); performance is on par with the PC version already and the game is in the tweaking stages; we expect it to also be declared gold within a month, a conservative estimate by all accounts.

Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction

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Diablo II Upgraded to 1.09B
9:24 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Diablo II, Blizzard's ever-popular multiplayer RPG, has once again received an update. According to a posting found at, Diablo II is now up to version 1.09B. The fix addresses a bug that was causing connection problems:

Fixed a bug where a connection problem ("Unable to connect to")would instead result in a downloading patch dialog
that stayed at 0% indefinitely.
The patch can be downloaded by simply connecting the servers. A standalone patch will be available via FTP sometime in the near future. - Diablo II 1.09B Status
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Interview with Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley
8:52 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Fans of the famous strategy title Civilization should be instantly familiar with the names Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley. Having been part of the computer game industry since it first got off the ground, these two were the key designers behind Civilization as well as many other successful titles. Computer Games Online managed to snag the pair for an interview, which looks primarily into their design methods and philosophies.

One of the more interesting answers Meier gives involves a question on Civilizations viability during its time of release, giving insight into what the industry was like back then:

In those days, strategy was a dirty word. If you called your game a strategy game, it was the kiss of death. Strategy games in those days were generally hex-based, complicated games about the military. They were so hard to play, you had to be a fanatic. Also in those days, Microprose was known for their F-15 flying game and Silent Service submarine game.
Another question asks how the designers feel about having their ideas used by other companies in their own games:
It's mostly flattering. I acknowledge that some of the ideas in Civilization were inspired by other games and I think that's part of what keeps us all going forward is learning from what other people do. I know how hard it is to make a game, so I'm not anxious to criticize any other games out there. But if you're going to use other people's ideas, you need to also add a goodly number of your own. I love to see a great game based on some of the things we started, but that adds a new dimension.
The rest of the interview focuses on yet more design issues, including several complaints about the Civilization series. For those interested in game design, the interview raises many interesting points, and the Meier/Shelley pair does not disappoint in giving experienced, thoughtful answers.

CGOnline - The Fathers of Civilization

Eldoren - Book One: The Discovery Coming to the Mac
8:03 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Helpful reader James Carpenter pointed out a new game called Eldoren - Book One: The Discovery which is currently in the design stages for Mac and PC by former Rivenguild webmaster, Gordon Currie. Back in June IMG reported on the closing of the popular Myst fan site which he ran, as Currie was no longer able to fund Rivenguild's web presence. He was also being laid off by Ubi Soft, the new Myst III publisher at the time, from his work on the official Exile and realMYST sites. His latest undertaking, Adventure Gamer, will attempt to fill a gap in sites devoted to Myst-like adventure titles, with a focus now on Eldoren.

The Discovery is actually the first in a trilogy of short novels written by Curry, and will be the basis for this fantasy/sci fi adventure title. Concept artwork is already being done by two artists, Francis Tsai and Christian Piccolo, both having worked on Cyan/Myst games. They hope to have a 30 minute trailer/video available early next year. Here are a few of the other status updates from the official site:

    The book itself that was used to develop that game is close to completion. In fact the game may include the second two books in the series ( The Rings of Aligor and The Houses Unite )
  • The Plot and storyline is now completed
  • Puzzle development is underway for the game. Look for lots of stone, water, rope and locks ( of all kinds ).
  • A decision regarding the game engine used and the format ( 3D, slideshow etc ) has not been made. (We expect an update on this very soon)
  • It is my goal to release both a PC / Mac version as well as a console version. These details will be finalized once a deal is inked with a publisher.
  • We are comptemplating on creating a first person game that will allow you to play either a male or female role or simply sitback and play from a generic position.
  • The concept artwork for the game is near completionl. I have two Graphic Artists currently working on the game concept art - ( Francis Tsai - lead artist on Myst III Exile ) and (Christian Piccolo - Concept artist who has worked for both Presto Studios and CYAN. His most recent development work was on MUDPIE. Christian is no longer working at CYAN and is working on this project independently.)
  • I do not currently have a publisher but I am in talks with three and looking at assembling a development team. Once I have more information on this aspect, I will post publicly.

For more information on the game's background and concept art, be sure to head over to the AdventureGamer page now. While Eldoren is still very early in development, we'll be sure to keep you posted as it moves into actual production.

IMG News: RivenGuild Closes, New Mudpie Site Up
Eldoren Page at AdventureGamer

Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 5, 2001

FREE Aliens vs Predator or Majesty with MGCD Subscription!2:42 PM
More World of Warcraft, WC3 Images12:58 PM
ECTS Report on Radeon 850012:36 PM
Developer's View of ECTS, iDevGames Seeks Support11:59 AM
IMG Previews World of Warcraft10:43 AM
Coldstone Engine Nears Release10:29 AM
ECTS: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Info and Screenshots9:40 AM
Ars Looks at Gaming History9:18 AM
MacPlay AvP Chat Logs9:13 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 5, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, September 4, 2001
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