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Friday, September 7, 2001

Myth III Dev Diary, Preview
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As the prequel Myth III: The Wolf Age draws near its promised October release, keeping to the truly ambitious development schedule, final details about and images of this game are beginning to appear. VoodooExtreme has posted a developer diary penned by lead programmer Andrew Meggs of Mumbo Jumbo, and PCIGN has presented a detailed preview of this title which inherits the Bungie mythology and engine yet tries to take the tactical strategy game to a whole new level.

Andrew's development diary actually says very little about the game itself, besides the detail that they are now polishing the critical netplay portion of the game. The rest up the update is an interesting discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of OpenGL, and an explanation of why the game will not use vertex or pixel shaders even though these are coming into vogue on the PC side (but are still very rare, as are the cards that can properly display them.) The diary is complemented by three very nice screen shots of the game in action.

PCIGN's preview of the game is a complete overview, which is also accompanied by a gallery of new (but mysteriously dark) screen shots. The preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game by Mike Donges of Mumbo Jumbo, and contains lots of detail about the plot line, characters and engine. Of particular interest are the descriptions of the vastly improved graphics of this title over the previous games in the series, which were attractive in their own right when they hit the scene. Not only has texture detail and resolution been improved, but the addition of a true 3D model and animation system (adapted from the engine Ritual used for FAKK2) will certainly enhance both the visuals and physics of the game.

Here's an excerpt with details on the background and setting of the game:

But where could the series go after the menace of Soulblighter was removed from the canvas? The past, of course, 1000 years in the past. With a backstory that was already fairly prepared, if not in detail, it was a natural transition for the series to go prequel and it looks to be going pretty well. Back in the day, the Myrkridia were still walking around killing everything in sight and the humans and dwarves were in constant conflict. The world needed a hero, and that's where the mythic figure Connacht enters. You'll play through his adventures and his course of becoming a legendary hero and his slow recognition of the horrible fate that awaits him. Along for the ride are some other characters you'll recognize such as Domas who eventually turns into Soulblighter and Ravana, a Myrkridia captain who you'll know as Shiver.
For more details on the revamped engine and those unfortunately dark screen shots, check out the rest of the preview. To our knowledge the Mac OS version of this game is keeping pace with the PC version, and plans for a simultaneous release in early Winter are on track.

In related news GameSpot has posted a gallery of screen shots, several of which are duplicated by the shots at the other two sites but also one or two that seem to be new.

Myth III Screen Shots at GameSpot
Preview: Myth III: The Wolf Age
Myth III Developer Diary at VoodooExtreme
PCIGN Previews Myth III: The Wolf Age

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Spider-Man Slinging His Way to the Mac
2:23 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media announced today that they will be bringing Stan Lee's Spider-Man to the Mac. In their September newsletter, they revealed that Westlake Interactive's Mark Krenek is porting the video game adaptation of this wall-crawling and web-slinging hero. Spider-Man was originally developed by NeverSoft for the Playstation and ported to the PC by Gray Matter, and if those names sound familiar, they should. They were also responsible for bringing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 to the PSX and PC, respectively. Here is more information from Aspyr's newsletter:

Spiderman is a third-person action/adventure, based on the Marvel comic series. Players play as Spiderman, high school student Peter Parker who is bitten by a radioactive spider and granted tremendous powers. Spiderman uses his powers to fight off evil and make the world a safer place.

In highly detailed environments, inspired by the upcoming feature film, Spiderman must use his Spider-Sense to side-step danger, his Spider-Agility and quick wits to evade pusuit and his Spider-Strength to overcome the Green Goblin, Venom, Scorpion, Rhino and other arch enemies, in his pursuit to rid the world of evil.

Spidey kicks butt as he shimmies up the side of buildings, shoots webs, swings across the night sky, taking on a legion of sinister villians in this brilliant 3-D world.

System requirements are currently unavailable. However, be sure to check in to our site for more updates on Spidey's progress on the Mac!

Preorders will begin being accepted today. Get your preorder in soon! Spiderman will be available, via our web site only, for $49.95.

Spider-Man for the Mac is expected to be released in November. The game was a hit on the Playstation and the PC gaming media have been impressed with the conversion. If your Spider-Sense is still tingling, check out Activision's Spider-Man page and GameSpot's preview, which has screen shots and more.

Spider-Man Hands-On Preview at GameSpot
Activision's Spider-Man Page

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BBC Interviews Creator of Myst
11:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

In conjunction with the official launch of Myst III: Exile in London, the folks at the famous BBC recently caught up with Rand Miller, one of the two Miller brothers responsible for the creation of the highly popular Myst series, and managed to get an interview with him. The interview, while short, manages to hit a variety of topics that will be of interest to Myst fans.

Miller lists several sources when asked about influences on Myst's design:

My brother and I - I think we just loved making alternative places. We kind of grew up on CS Lewis and Tolkien and those marvellous places.

We started making our own and I don't think we had monsters in them or killing - it was just making interesting places and I still remember doing one that was a lot of fun. It had a lot of puzzles and things you had to solve and I can see - looking back - somehow that was related to what we did with Myst.

As far as Myst-related media goes, Miller notes that there have been 3 novels published so far that flesh out the story that takes place before the original Myst. More books are also being planned for the future. Miller muses that a movie is a possibility as well.

In terms of future plans, Miller mentions the upcoming Internet Myst project as well as the possibility for Myst 4.

The rest of the interview discusses the design team behind Myst III, the general story, and Miller's experiences with live acting. Be sure to check out the BBC's website for the whole story.

BBC - Q & A: The man behind Myst III
Presto Studios
Myst III: Exile
Buy Myst III: Exile

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Black & White Patch/Mod Plans?
11:28 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Black & White Center at MGON recently interviewed Peter Molyneux of Lionhead, developers of the creature/village sim Black & White. The focus of this interview was on the plans and possibilities for future mods and patches of B&W, including the beefing up of online multiplayer capabilities and reviving the B&W community in general.

Molyneux acknowledges that Lionhead has created a seperate company within itself that focuses mainly on B&W patches and mods. However, he adds that Lionhead is a small outfit, and hopes to outsource the code for B&W to other developers sometime in the future.

Of greater interest is the plan for an upcoming creature editing tool:

Yes there is a plan for at third party to create a creature editor that will allow people to create their own creatures. This company is one of the developers I have referred to earlier and will have complete access to everything they need in order to create this tool.
In more unfortunate news, Molyneux notes that the B&W Universe, a planned multiplayer aspect of B&W, will most likely never see fruition. This is mainly due to the fact that a huge number of servers would be required for it, as well as constant support.

As with the upcoming expansion pack Creature Isle, there's no word as of yet whether or not any of these plans and patches will spill over to the Mac community. IMG will be sure to keep readers updated should we receive any news on the topic.

Black & White Center - Lionhead Interview
Feral Interactive
Lionhead Studios
Black & White

MacGamer Chats with Mark Adams
10:32 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Mac programmer extraodinaire Mark Adams has certainly been making the rounds recently, showing up for interviews with FragMac, IMG, and now MacGamer. Not that he doesn't deserve the attention. Besides being the president of Westlake Interactive, he's also nice enough to do things like Carbonize Unreal Tournament in his spare time. In this most recent of interviews with him, MacGamer focuses mainly on OS X-centric questions and how Adams feels about the new OS overall.

For example, Adams points to the protected memory aspect of OS X as a favorite feature:

Since I've mostly been using it as a "developer" user, the best thing about it for me is stability. During development the game you are working on crashes about every 5 minutes. Not having to worry about rebooting half of those times is a dream. The protected memory model has also made my life a bit easier - I found a nasty bug in Unreal Tournament X yesterday that went undetected under Mac OS 9 for a long time. OS X caught it right away.
And for those that have been chomping at the bit waiting for a Carbonized version of UT, here's the official scoop from the man himself:
I'd say itís a late Alpha. Just a bit of work before I can release public beta. Most everything works OK (sound, networking, OpenGL). I just have to make sure the downloadable files are getting saved correctly.
The rest of the interview focuses on development under OS X issues as well as comparisons to Windows. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview at MacGamer.

MacGamer - A Brief Chat with Mark Adams

New Sphidia Interview posted
8:52 AM | Max Dyckhoff | Comment on this story

As a followup to the interview with the Dynasty team that IMG posted at the beginning of the week, the Subnova Network, a "fansite for games that don't suck", has posted another interview with the team - this time focusing on the highs and lows of creating a games company from scratch.

While little is said about the game itself, the Sphidia team has had to recruit new members, cope with members being overseas, and get by with little to no funding. The interview also includes 3 new exclusive images - a piece of concept art and 2 images to show off the engine.

A post by Mike "FŽanor" Powell, the Lead Programmer for Dynasty, on the SNN forums goes into great detail on some of the aspects of Dynasty, especially the water system.

The next stage which we're working on now is the ability for liquids to spread. That is, water will not only fill craters, but if you blow a big enough hole in the side of a lake, you can make it pour out, forming a river, and eventually collecting into a new lake bed.
Both are definitely worth reading, and watch the Subnova Network for more information on Dynasty - they are heavily involved with the team behind the game.

IMG : Interview with Sphidia
Subnova Forum : Feanor speaks of water
Subnova Network : Interview with Sphidia

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Red Faction Hands On
8:10 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpy has written up a quick preview of Red Faction, after having played through a beta of the PC version heading towards stores soon. The article gives a realistic look at the game, and while not calling it completely groundbreaking, does give a good look at its attractive features. The Geo-Mod physics engine is mentioned, as well as the story for Red Faction and the variety of environments it takes place in. Here's a clip:

Red Faction also boasts some intelligent enemies. These guards just don't stand in the open waiting to get killed -- they're constantly in motion, will run away when you shoot at them, and chase you when you flee. Many will even duck for cover in creative ways -- at one point, I was a the top of a stairwell when one guard down below kept moving to keep a support pole between us, blocking my line of sight.

If you need a break from fighting, there are also a few missions where you'll get the opportunity to disguise yourself as a scientist or bearaucrat (ewwww) and infiltrate Ultor's installations. As the game goes on, you become a wanted fugitive, so alarms go off as security cameras spot you, calling more enemies to the fight. Civilians can also call for help, so taking a tactical approach and keeping your weapon holstered until absolutely necessary is a good approach.

Head over now for a better look at this impressive upcoming shooter. GraphSim is scheduled to bring the game to the Mac hopefully in the next month or so.

Red Faction Preview at GameSpy
Red Faction

Pillars of Garendall Reviews
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Both MacGamer and have published reviews of Ambrosia Software's latest release Pillars of Garendall. This realtime RPG is considered a showcase title for the Coldstone game engine, a flexible gaming toolkit which is designed to allow non-programmers to craft the RPG of their dreams or just write plug-in modules for existing Coldstone-based titles. As with Escape Velocity (which had a much less friendly toolset) we expect the release of this engine to bring forth a host of fan-crafted expansions and plug-ins.

Both reviews found much to like and dislike about Pillars of Garendall, and agree on many points. While the Macgamez review refers to the game as "turn based" several times, interestingly enough, it does conclude that overall the game engine may be a more important development than the game itself:

However, the most impressive part of this game is its creation. The game was developed using the Coldstone Engine which stands to revolutionize turn-based gaming creation. And I quote...

"Coldstone is a role playing game construction kit that offers unprecedented power and ease of use, allowing you to create professional, stand-alone games that are limited only by your imagination. Unhindered by the complex details that Coldstone handles for you, your fantasy world will spring to life as quickly as you can dream it up."

This revolutionary new idea is set to allow the revamping of the very items that make The Pillars of Garendall an eventless outing. Allowing just about anyone to add his or her own creativity to a gaming platform without the bother of the small programming details will create a new, diversified and unexpected world of role playing games.

For both viewpoints on this latest Ambrosia release, be sure and read through both reviews. A demo for PoG is available for those who would like to judge for themselves.

Pillars of Garendall Demo (30 MB)
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall Review at MacGamer
Pillars of Garendall Review at
Ambrosia Software
Pillars of Garendall

The Sims Patched to 1.1.5
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MacGameFiles has listed a new patch to Aspyr Media's port of the dangerously addictive life-management sim The Sims. This minor update seems to address a problem being experienced by those with multiple-monitor setups, and is available for both the OS 9 and Carbon versions of the game.

Here is a description of the problem and the 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.
The Readme notes that this patch is not necessary if you have installed and updated either of the Sims expansion packs that are available. If your dual monitor setup is giving you fits, here is the fix.

Aspyr Media
Download The Sims Patch 1.1.5 (1.3 Mb)

The Grumpy Gamer on Eduware
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

We don't typically link to editorial material, especially when it has little to do with Mac gaming, but when the person on the other end of the pen happens to be shareware game designer Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software we tend to make an exception. His perspective, honed by years of producing such mini-masterpieces as the Exile series, is a mixture of deep cynicism redeemed by a genuine love of games and gaming.

This week's Grumpy Gamer column takes issue with the issue of educational games -- is the very concept an oxymoron? Can games really teach you something, or are you perhaps learning something from playing games already, and haven't realized it yet? While both games Jeff cites as examples of this phenomenon are PC-only, there are similar-enough games on the Mac OS to allow us to follow the discussion:

n general, educational games are dry exercises, grinding repetitions of what should be covered in school, covered with splashy graphics and sound in a futile effort to fool kids into thinking they're "fun."

When someone asks me why I don't design educational games, this is stuff they mean. What people don't seem to take into account is that there are much subtler, but just as important, things that a game can teach. Consider, for example, Roller-Coaster Tycoon...

How is this educational? First, Roller-Coaster Tycoon teaches the basics of economics and running a business. Supply and demand. Setting the correct price. Borrowing capital. All of these things are covered. This is teaching the kid how to be the boss, not the grunt, and it's actual, potentially useful knowledge. Second, the game teaches planning and problem solving. When setting up a roller coaster, you plan the route in your head, try to build it, and only then do you find out that it doesn't work. Maybe it's boring, or the track segments don't line up properly, or it throws all of the riders to their certain deaths. Then you tinker with and debug the design until it works. You know. Problem solving and independent thought. Education.

It is an interesting concept which does lead to other thoughts -- what have you learned from the games that you play, personally? Do the puzzle-solving skills earned by Myst III players, or the lighting-quick reactions of a SiN player, or the delicate balancing of resources required to run an island kingdom in Tropico really translate into usuable, real-world skills? Read Jeff's column and then share your thoughts in our forums.

Spiderweb Software
The Grumpy Gamer on Educational Games

Mac Games News for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Volition Interview on Red Faction3:26 PM
Knights of Zarria Coming to Mac OS?1:39 PM
Sims Soon to Get a Hot Date1:05 PM
Lance v6 Beta Available11:53 AM
New FUEL Images, Info11:03 AM
Red Faction Gold, for PC10:46 AM
Fly! II Goes Gold for Mac9:45 AM
Diablo II Upgraded to 1.09B9:24 AM
Interview with Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley8:52 AM
Eldoren - Book One: The Discovery Coming to the Mac8:03 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, September 6, 2001 on one page

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Wednesday, September 5, 2001
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