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Thursday, September 13, 2001

Age of Empires II Reaches Beta
9:29 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive has updated their status page with the news that the port of real-time strategy game Age of Empires II has reached "Beta" status. According to the update, all that remains is bug-fixing and optimization, which means this game should be ready to ship within the holiday season.

The update also notes that the game will be Carbonized for Mac OS X; in fact we expect all future titles crafted by the code wizards at Westlake to be compatible with Apple's very latest OS developments.

For those not familiar with the game itself, here is a summary from the official web site:

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is the sequel to the award-winning, best-selling real-time strategy game Age of Empires. Age of Empires II spans a thousand years, from the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages in which players lead one of 13 civilizations into greatness. The game keeps the epic scope of Age of Empires’ game play while evolving the combat and economic features.

Starting with minimal resources, players are challenged to build their civilization into mighty empires. Gamers can choose from several ways to win, including conquering enemy, accumulating wealth by extensive trading and diplomacy, building and defending wonders of the world. Age of Empires II, being developed by Ensemble Studios, features the expertise of Bruce Shelley, co-designer of Age of Empires and the hit strategy game Civilization.

While the Westlake update is brief, as usual it tells us all you need to know. Here is the latest:
Age of Empires II has reached the Beta milestone. Current development is focused on optimization and bug squashing. When complete, the game will support Mac OS 8.6, Mac OS 9, and Mac OS X with a single application program. You will also be able to download and use custom campaigns developed for the PC version of the game.

Age of Empires II will be published for the Mac by Bold, a division of Destineer Studios.

While the Bold and Destineer web sites are still missing (due later this month) you can check our archive of past stories for more information on this company and their future catalog of Microsoft-published titles.

Destineer Studios
Past Articles on Age of Empires II
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
Westlake Interactive on Age of Empires II: Age of Kings Status
Ensemble Studios
Age of Empires II

Return to Dark Castle Beta 6 Released
11:54 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Z Sculpt Entertainment has just released Beta 6 of Return to Dark Castle, a remake of the classic black-and-white platform games we all loved to play on our Mac Classics. This latest beta has a host of bug fixes and new features, and is ready for public playtesting. Here is a list of changes:

  • Developed the weapon system for storing/retrieving weapons from your inventory!
  • Added the "Test Level" for debugging purposes, and for showing off new features, puzzle elements and character animations. (This level will likely change for future beta releases.)
  • Added the original "bump-wall" and "jump-into-wall" character animations
  • Added the original "head-bump-in-tunnel" character animation
  • Added the original "roll-off-conveyor-belt" character animation
  • Added some new "sewer" pieces, tunnels, and metal ladder rungs (w/ sounds)
  • Fixed incompatibility issues with VGA and non-standard monitors
  • The Demo playback feature has been temporarily disabled for this release
  • Fixed conveyor belt roll-off glitch
  • Fixed issues with using alternative weapons to defeat henchmen
  • More internal bug fixes

Grab the beta from MacGameFiles.

Z Sculpt Entertainment
Dark Castle Beta 6 (6.7 MB)

IMG Reviews Captain Bumper
11:35 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Here at IMG we always keep our eye on titles that are examples of original Mac development, and today we have posted a review of a shining example of Mac ingenuity. Captain Bumper is a shareware title by French developers MacRun, and our reviewer found much to like about this cartoonish, action-packed title. Here is an excerpt:

Imagine being immersed in an action/arcade game based on your Sunday comics page. MacRun chose a 2D 1/2 graphic engine (of their own creation…see below) well. It gives a “homey” retro feeling to the experienced game player, and a “simple” enough feel to the new player to not frustrate them or overwhelm them with rendered details.

Your goal is a devilishly simple one: “help Captain Bumper to free Princess Lovita who is being held prisoner on a mysterious planet…To do this you must foil the traps that the evil Zeurbs have laid in your path, and find your way by exploring the 10 increasingly richer levels of the game.”

Follow the link below to the rest of the review; there is also a demo of the game available.

Review: Captain Bumper

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New Civilization III Screenshots
10:51 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The gaming site BonusWeb has recently posted 36 new screen shots of Firaxis' upcoming title Civilization III. For those unfamiliar with the title, Civ III is the latest in a series of empire-creating strategy games developed by the legendary Sid Meier. Players will compete and cooperate with other empires as they race to become the most successful, employing thousands of different techniques during gameplay.

The new screen shots show off a variety of various aspects of gameplay. One of the more interesting shots shows a well-developed city with several Wonders, including a Colosseum, a large tower of some sort, and a gargantuan Statue of Liberty-like edifice that literally casts its shadow over the city.

Other shots show other game features that should be familiar to Civ fans, including diplomacy discussions, technology trees, and various Advisor screens. A histograph that shows the power, culture, and score of each empire on a timescale is also shown.

As far as Mac news on this title goes, Westlake Interactive, who is in charge of the port, still has it listed as being in Early Development. IMG will be sure to update readers should we hear any news on its further progress; MacSoft will publish.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the screen shots at BonusWeb for more details on this upcoming title.

BonusWeb - Civilization III Screenshots
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

Harpoon Updated to 3.3.4
10:50 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Jesse Spears has recently updated his war sim title Harpoon 3 to version 3.3.3. This new version fixes a time bug found within the game:

In some scenarios, some planes have a Ready Time set many hours in the future. This is used to simulate planes that are damaged, or not combat ready at the start of the scenario for some reason. Previous versions would not let the planes launch early, but were displaying incorrect ready times in the "Launch/Ready Aircraft" dialog (counting down to 0, then staying there). The display code assumed that 30 minutes was the longest ready time possible, and I think that worked ok for all of the early Battlesets. However, in some of the later Battlesets (and possibly in user created scenarios), the delayed ready time was actually used (the particular scenario that was reported to me was Fortune Cookie, from Regional Conflicts 1).
Patch updates for various versions of H3, as well as more detailed information on the bug fix, are available at the Official Harpoon 3 web site.

Harpoon 3 Official Site

Focus on Red Faction's Multiplayer
10:49 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

PC Game Central recently interviewed James Tsai of Volition, the development crew responsible for the upcoming first-person shooter Red Faction. The focus of this particular interview was on RF's multiplayer capabilities, a topic of debate ever since the PS2 version came out with limited multiplayer (which was actually just botmaches).

Tsai stresses that RF's biggest contribution to the online multiplayer FPS world will be its Geo-Mod engine. This engine, which allows players to blow up the environment, will make for constantly-changing maps. Rather than following a set pattern of play over and over again in a map, players will now be able to blow up bridges, walls, floors, and the like. This, in turn, should force other players to quickly change their strategies and routes.

Unfortunately, a few aspects of the single-player game will not make the transition over to the multiplayer. The various vehicles available in the regular game will not be available in the multiplayer, mainly due to technical and balance issues. Bots will also not be included in the multiplayer version as well, forcing players to go online if they want a multiplayer fix.

GraphSim, the people currently in charge of the Mac port, has reported that the Mac version is coming along nicely. The current estimate is that it will be going gold within a month or so.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the rest of the interview with James Tsai for more info on RF's multiplayer aspects.

In related news, Khabal Gaming is celebrating a "Red Faction Day" which includes a report from a recent press showing and some video footage of a game demonstration; follow the link below for more.

Red Faction Report, Video at Khabal Gaming
PC Game Central - Interview with James Tsai
Red Faction

'Surrender' Needs Beta Testers
10:44 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Dark Shadow Software has just informed us that they are seeking beta testers to help them troubleshoot and playtest a network strategy game known as Surrender. Created by the authors of Star Conquest, Surrender seems to be a turn-based game of tactical space warfare played out on a ten-square grid. Taking turns, players attempt to explore empty space and destroy enemy ships, with the ultimate goal being to conquer the enemy star base.

For more information and to apply to be a beta tester, visit the Dark Shadow Software web site.

Dark Shadow Software
Surrender! Web Site

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Interview with Spider-Man Creator
10:03 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

HomeLAN has posted a brief but interesting interview with Jason Maynard of LTI Gray Matter regarding the just-gold PC port of Spider-Man, a game which is making an incredible tour of platforms from PS1 to (eventually) Mac OS. It was just revealed last week that the secret "Stanley" project was indeed Spider-Man (Stan Lee, get it?) which will be published by Aspyr Media, so this interview will help Mac gamers become familiar with the title.

The game will feature all the classic villains from the comic book series, including Venom, Rhino and of course The Green Goblin. A combination of action and adventure, Spider-Man seeks to simulate a truly heroic experience, as you step into the wall-crawling shoes of the wily web-spinner:

HomeLAN - What is Spider-Man able to do in the game in terms of powers and abilities?

Jason Maynard - Web-swinging and zip-lines (shooting a web straight up and using it like a pully to reach distant platforms) are important skills to master for navigation through the city roof-tops and ventilation systems inside of buildings. In terms of combat, Spider-Man has punching and kicking combos along with an arsenal of webbing attacks that include impact webs (balls of web that do a lot of damage to their target), yanking or entangling enemies, web fists (spiked gloves that make Spideys punches more powerful) and a web dome which can shield Spidey from some enemy attacks and unleash an impact ring when broken.

Read on for more details on this game, which is currently available for PS1, Dreamcast and Gameboy Advance. There is no set release date for the Mac version, which is still in Early Development.

Aspyr Media
Spider-Man Web Site
Interview with Jason Maynard on Spider-Man

Blizzard Opens World of Warcraft Forums
9:48 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Those of you with a desire to speculate about Blizzard Entertainment's next contribution to the world of online gaming (and sleepless nights in front of the computer) World of Warcraft, an official forum has appeared to satisfy all of your rumor mongering needs. As with most official forums, you might even find members of the Blizzard staff and WoW design team dropping by to offer tidbits of information and quash the more outlandish theories about this game in progress.

As you might expect, the forum is already flooded with new posts; unfortunately the open-threaded style and green-on-black text make it a little less readable than it should be, in our opinion. One of the primary topics under discussion (or being hosed around like a flamethrower, depending on your perspective) is of course the proposed per-month fee players will have to pay for this online-only game. Be sure to contribute your own thoughts on the matter.

In related news, Blizzard has updated the official WoW web site with one additional "wallpaper" image from the game in development, and they promise one more soon.

First Look: World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft General Discussion Forum
World of Warcraft Web Site
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

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Cyan Reveals New Mudpie Images
9:32 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The CyanWorlds site has been updated with two new amazing images from their upcoming "broadband" title, codenamed Mudpie. Few details about the game are known as of yet, but looking at the two new images, you can see this will certainly be a step-up from previous massively-multiplayer online games at least in terms of visuals. While you may jump to conclusions about these screen shots being clever Photoshop editing, the page claims that "all mudpie images are captured from the engine and have not been altered
in any way, except for the addition of the logo."

The image titled Mudpie 3 shows a detailed room with impressive shadow and lighting effects. The windows look out onto what appears to be an earlier released scene of mushroom-like structures. (Mudpie 1). The second new image, Mudpie 4, is a beach sunset scene with more impressive lighting, anti-aliasing, and character effects. There is no indication given of what graphics hardware (or PC hardware) was used to generate these shots, but they are indeed claimed to be stills from a real-time environment. While there is no projected release date known for Mudpie, check out our previous news on the game for more info.

Past IMG News on Mudpie
Cyan Worlds News Page

Mac Games News for Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Marius.Net To Require Registrations12:17 PM
Stronghold Preview11:22 AM
IMG Feature: Radeon 8500 'In the Flesh'10:09 AM
Freeverse Update from NYC10:02 AM
STV: Elite Force .map Source Released9:58 AM
Cipher Engine Updated9:54 AM
A Chat with BioWare's Trent Oster9:50 AM
Knights and Merchants Gold, Gorky News9:49 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, September 12, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, September 11, 2001
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