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Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Deimos Rising Hits Beta 5
9:33 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Deimos Rising progress log has been updated with news from David Wareing that the Ambrosia title is now at beta 5. It was made clear in a earlier post last week that b5 would include some final gameplay tweaks, after which they would begin Carbonization work on the title. Deimos Rising won't necessarily be released as a Carbon application (meaning it would run natively on OS X as well as OS 9) at the same time it is launched, as this process could take a while -- Carbon support may have to be relegated to a later patch.

This latest beta stage is great news for fans of the addictive original arcade shooter, Mars Rising. We'll dig for more information on the status of Deimos Rising and keep you posted with any new information on the game. For screen shots and other goodies from the game, check out its beta page at Ambrosia.

Deimos Rising Progress Logs
Deimos Rising Beta Shots

Click to enlarge
Creators Give Civ III Details
3:29 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

A very informative new preview of Civilization III has been posted at CGOnline today. They talk with both the series creator Sid Meier as well as current Firaxis CEO Jeff Briggs about the latest and most ambitious Civ titles yet. First they explore a little of the inspiration behind revisiting the popular turn-based strategy series for a third time. According to the preview, their main goals for Civ III include making the game more approachable for those new to the series, as well as expanding the gameplay in logical ways.

Some of the topics broached in the four-page article include the new ways to win, a new Culture rating system, trading resources, and seperating the many civilizations across time. Here's an excerpt explaining more:

Only the Romans can build Legions, only the Russians can build Cossacks, and only the Germans can build Panzers. The age in which you get your special unit varies depending on your tribe. Persians get their Bowmen in the classical age, whereas the Americans don't get their F-15s until the modern age. It's all part of an effort to provide a greater distinction between the game's tribes. And yes, those "ages" are hard coded into the game. The entire tech tree is broken down into four different ages, reflecting the classical, medieval, industrial, and modern eras. When researching new advances, you need to complete certain prerequisites within one age before you can research any advances in the next.
Civ II fans and even those remotely interested will want to give the preview a look. There are many new screen shots as well to give you a better idea of what the gameplay and interface screens will look like. MacSoft is planning to publish Civ III for the Mac after Westlake Interactive has finished the actual porting work. The game is expected out late this year.

MacSoft Web Site
Civilization III Preview at CGOnline
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

Monkey Byte Launches 'Shock Pack'
12:55 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Monkey Byte Development has released Shock Pack, a collection of shareware games and game demos for both Mac and PC. This seems to be an enhanced version of the Monkey Byte CD which ships packed with shareware games that you can register to enable the entire game. Here are the details:

Your friends at have just released the Shock Pack
games CD for Macintosh and PC. This collection of FIVE fun games
comes to you on one very special MBD CD-ROM that includes the games;
Astro Blast, Mold, Jigsaw Puzzle, Zap, Pinball, and tons of other
cool MBD game demos!

"This Shock Pack is a collection of some of the coolest games we have
found Online recently," says Jean Ames, CTO of,"In
releasing these five games for Macintosh and PC, we want to show to
the world that is dedicated to continuing our long
history of cross platform support and that we are on the grow".

Visit the just-redesigned Monkey Byte web site for more details.

Monkey Byte Development

Mac Gaming Personalities Interviewed
12:34 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Unlike the PC gaming field, where there are too many developers to put a face to them all, the Mac gaming community is small enough that we tend to have a more personal relationship with our developers. Recent interviews at MacGamer and MacGamez highlight two particular developers who both have long and enduring relationships with the Mac gaming platform.

Lane Roathe, the man who dresses like a Guns and Roses roadie yet has been behind some of the most interesting Mac projects that have come to market, has participated in MacGamer's "The Gaming Den." More of a test of free-association than an interview, Lane offers his reactions to various titles from the history of gaming -- including several Logicware titles he participated in. Here's a sample, with the game name and Lane's reaction:

Redneck Rampage (Ideas From The Deep)

Not my personal cup of tea, but I have cousins (ages 9-14) who love it and can not get enough, I'd say that the designers did a great job of aiming at the younger gaming audience. Whether that was their intent or not is up for questioning :)

Halo (Bungie)

What can you say, there hasn't been so much hype about a non-shipping game since Daikatana! The previews really looked good way back when, but I'm just not excited anymore about this title. Plus, I'd be surprised if it ships for anything but X-Box in the first year following its release.

Meanwhile MacGamez has interviewed Mark Adams -- developer, shareware author, occasional columnist and all-around nice guy. Probably the most-interviewed member of the Mac gaming community ever, Mark never runs out of interesting things to say. As head of Westlake Interactive and developer of more than 30 game ports to our OS, he's got a lock on Mac gaming. The interview covers such topics as Mark's current projects, his Mac gaming rig and which next-generation console he is looking forward to. Check out both interviews for a look at the personalities behind Mac game development.

Mark Adams Interview at MacGamez
The Gaming Den Welcomes Lane Roathe at MacGamer

On The Future of Game Design
11:20 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

If you play games daily (or write about games daily) it can become easy to forget that behind these electronic diversions lies a large industry that rivals Hollywood in size -- and in annual income. As with the movie industry, the increasingly elaborate and high-pressure field of video game development is more science and economics than art; accordingly a lot of people who depend on the industry for their paychecks take the business of game design and marketing very, very seriously. As the industry moves past the "two guys in a garage" model of development and game budgets climb into the millions, a lot of people with suits and ties and stern expressions need to be convinced before the "next big thing" is funded and begins production. But what is that next big thing, and who will create it?

Harvey Smith knows a few things about game design, having been the lead designer for the sci-fi thriller Deus Ex. As the keynote speaker of the Multimedia International Market expo in Canada earlier this month, he presented a talk on the state of current interactive game design and his projections for the future. While the talk is quite serious, it is a fascinating look "behind the curtain" at one man's vision of the future of gaming -- and for Deus Ex fans, little hints of what might be included in the upcoming sequel are also provided. Here's a sample from his lecture, "The Future of Game Design: Moving Beyond Deus Ex and Other Dated Paradigms":

By contrast, let's look at our plan for sound propagation in DX2 (which we think is the next step in the direction undertaken by Thief): A sound event is broadcast in a sphere outward from a source. In cases where the sound hits a surface, we bounce the sound, taking into account the material applied to the surface. (So that carpet muffles the sound, for instance.) The number of bounces is capped. Taking distance into account, units 'perceive' the sound if the sound reaches them, directly or by bounce. The same model is used for both player and game unit (or guard) to determine whether the sound is perceptible. Certain acoustic aesthetic effects are ignored on the AI side, but these have nothing to do with whether the AI perceives the sound.
The rest of the talk is more interesting, we promise. Only time will tell if Smith's predictions and prescriptions find their way into future games, or if they will even prove feasible, but it is an interesting glimpse of a possible future for the industry.

The Future of Game Design by Harvey Smith

IMG Previews Age of Empires II
10:48 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

RTS and strategy fans have been greatly anticipating the release of Bold and Destineer's first Mac title, the award-winning Age of Empires II Gold. Our detailed preview of this title includes everything from the aspects of gameplay to the system requirements. Here's a sample:

The objective in Age of Empires II, as in Age of Empires, is to develop your fledgling civilization sufficiently to be strong enough to fulfill the campaign objectives and / or defeat your enemies. Victory is achieved through the gathering of resources (food, wood, stone, and gold), building necessary structures to house and provide for your people, and careful allocation of your people. Strategy is, well, necessary in Age of Empires II. If you build too many military units early on, you may not have enough resources to march them off on effective campaigns later in the game. The surest way to win is to develop a healthy civilization with enough resources to support the strong military units that are available as you move through the Castle and Imperial Ages.
For more of the preview and a gallery of screen shots, follow the link below. AoEII Gold is due this November.

Preview: Age of Empires II Gold

Apple "Speed Bumps" Portables
10:42 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The Mac news sites are alive this morning with news of a revision (known in the vernacular as a "speed bump," for reasons unknown) to Apple's line of portable Macs. Both the iBook and the Titanium Powerbook received a modest increase in speed and amount of RAM, as well as slight price reductions in some configurations.

However, we are interested in one angle only -- are these revised machines improved as portable gaming rigs? The answer is a very enthusiastic "Yes!" As has been requested more times than we can count, the TiBook has finally been bumped up to a 16 MB Mobility Radeon chipset mounted on a 4X AGP bus, giving the TiBook equal graphics performance as Apple's tower models.

With Gigabit Ethernet and a 667 Mhz processor hooked to a revised 133 MHz system bus, the new TiBook is a serious LAN gaming machine at last. The "flagship" model even comes with an AirPort card installed, for those occasions when a wireless network is available.

The iBook still features the Rage 128 chipset, but now with a full 8 MB of VRAM, but the bump to 600 Mhz will certainly make 2D and modest 3D gaming an exciting experience. Modest increases in hard drive size are also included, as expected, and for a limited time you can double your RAM on purchase (though Apple's memory prices are still outrageous compared to "street" list price). A CD-RW drive is still optional on both systems, which seems to run counter to Apple's "Rip. Mix. Burn." marketing campaign.

In any case, it is clear that Apple wants to maintain the forward momentum of their portable line, and motivate students who have just returned to school to add a portable to that overstuffed backpack. Check out the official press releases below.

Apple Titanium Powerbook PR
Apple iBook PR

Apple Sacrifices For Its Games
9:35 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Apple has posted a preview Sacrifice, the upcoming RTS from MacPlay. This impressive 3D strategy title has huge, open environments, many different 'gods' to work for and even incorporates roleplaying elements as your work your way through the single-player campaign. This article talks with the original developers at Shiny as well as MacPlay's Mark Dochtermann. Of course, Apple is most proud of Sacrifice's ability to take full advantage of OS X, thanks to programmer Duane Johnson's hard work. Here's a clip from Shiny's Mark Teal on their design:

“We looked at the most popular RTS titles and then designed a game that removed most of the components that we felt hindered the playing experience, in a sense,” says Teal. “In effect, we wanted an RTS game with non-stop action.”

Sacrifice can be played in two different modes, multi-player and single-player. Multi-player allows you to duke it out with up to other wizards online via the free Mac-only service Game Ranger. The single-player game offers a campaign in which you must appease or infuriate each of the gods of Sacrifice in order to gain power. Make your way through nine missions in each of the worlds of five gods: Charnel, god of death; James, god of earth; Persephone, goddess of peace; Pyro, god of fire; and Stratos, god of weather.

Check out the second page for good gameplay tips, info on the five gods listed above and even some cheat codes. The only system requirements at the moment say a G3 with 128MB of RAM, though more specifics should be released by MacPlay when the game is closer to shipping.

Sacrifice Web Site at MacPlay
Apple Previews Sacrifice
Shiny Entertainment
Pre-Order Sacrifice

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Neverwinter Nights Forums Disappear
9:29 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Forum-goers used to visiting the Neverwinter Nights forums hosted by Black Isle Studios may have received a bit of a shock recently. It seems that the NWN forums have simply disappeared from the site, leaving many forum goers wondering where the heck they went. To compound the anxiety, it's also been noted that the BioWare staff, developers of NWN, have lost their moderating status and their ID tags.

A follow-up post at the General Feedback section of the forums titled "What the hell happened to NwN area?" has yielded some interesting replies and theories on the subject. Here's an official post from an admin:

I took the forums down for reasons I cannot discuss. Sorry.
The main theory behind the madness is that the lawsuit recently filed by BioWare against publisher Interplay may have something to do with BioWare's sudden shutout. The lawsuit itself was filed for reasons regarding distribution, with Interplay being accused of withholding money from BioWare.

Nevertheless, BioWare itself announced that the suit would have no effect on the release of NWN, though it seems that some gamers are skeptical about this, given some of the forum postings on the topic. For those interested in seeing those responses as well as adding their own thoughts, be sure to head over to Black Isle's forums and check them out.

Black Isle Studios Forums: What the hell happened to NwN area?
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Interview with GarageGames
9:13 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming site HomeLan Fed recently spoke with Tim Gift, co-founder of Garage Games, and transcribed a short interview with him regarding what makes GG so notable to the game community: their work on the Torque engine. Formerly known as V12, this engine (lifted from Tribes 2) made the computer game world sit up and take notice when it was offered for the low license fee of $100. By comparison, licensing another "pro" engine such as Quake 3 Arena or Unreal Tournament could easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The interview covers many topic, including performance tweaking of the engine, marketing and current prospects for games to be made with this engine. Of main interest to gamers are undoubtedly the prospects of the Torque engine in future game usage. Gift notes that many game developers do have their hands of the engine. Though some are understandably just tinkering with the engine, most are building actual games with it, and in fact they've just had their first developer game beta released sometime last week.

GG themselves plan on working on some games as well once they finish coding the engine to their liking:

HomeLAN - Are you guys at GarageGames going to actually develop games yourself using the Torque engine and if so what can you tell us about them?

Tim Gift - Once the engine settles down, we will be working on some games. We've bounced around a number of ideas, but nothings final at this point.

When asked when the general public might be seeing actual games using the Torque engine, Gift responds that he feels this would happen by next summer, though he is quick to note that most of the factors involved are out of his hands. Nevertheless, he seems confident that the games released will be "small polished products."

The rest of the interview covers more business-side issues, including GG's profitability, its continued tweaking of the Torque engine and the controversy over its licensing scheme. Those interested in these aspects should check out the full interview at HomeLan Fed. For the more technically-minded out there, Tim Gift's current .plan is also available online detailing his development changelog.

Tim Gift's .plan File
HomeLan Fed - Garage Games Interview

Myth III Character Animations Posted
8:55 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Myth Village, a site devoted to Bungie's popular Myth series, has recently posted a series of movies that reveal character animations for the upcoming title Myth III: The Wolf Age. Among the characters shown are the Avatara, Damas, The Forgotten, the Soulless, the Hearthguard, and the Stygian Knights, performing either their taunts or idle animations.

Each character is quite impressively modeled, showing some nice detail and texturing. Realtime shadows can also be seen in motion as the characters go through their paces. The animation itself is also quite smooth, with the Avatara beckoning with one hand and the Soulless catching his lower jaw as it falls off his skull.

The animations are quite small in size, ranging from 96k to 408k, and are available in both AVI and Mac-friendly QT formats. Anyone interested in seeing some of the characters in action should definitely take a look at them.

As far as Myth III's release date goes, the blurb at the top of Myth Village's Character Animation page notes that we're "just weeks before the release of Myth III." Hopefully we'll see this title reach stores sometime within the next month.

Myth Village - Myth III Character Animations

Mac Games News for Monday, October 15, 2001

WC3 Interview Reveals Much Still Undeveloped3:12 PM
Warcraft III Neutral Building Revealed1:10 PM
More Details on World of Warcraft12:56 PM
New Master of Orion III Shots12:50 PM
The Beginnings of Civilization...III12:49 PM
More Details/Movie on Return to Castle Wolfenstein12:24 PM
Custer Enters The Wolf Age11:58 AM
CyberExtruder Comes to Mac OS X10:56 AM
Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn Ships10:44 AM
AoE 2 Networking Info10:34 AM
CM 01/02 Demo Date, B&W in Beta, More...10:30 AM
'Mac Hall' on AvP10:26 AM
uDevGame Winners Announced10:09 AM
'Hitchcock' Coming to US in 200210:05 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, October 15, 2001 on one page

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Friday, October 12, 2001
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