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Thursday, October 25, 2001

Halo Gold for Xbox, Preview
8:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Halo.Bungie.Org forums received the inevitable post yesterday from Bungie rep Matt Soell saying that Halo has gone Gold Master and is now in production. This long-awaited FPS has gone through a number of incarnations over the years since its original announcement at the 1999 Macworld New York. Bungie's move to Microsoft (and subsequently, Halo's move to the Xbox) has garnered a good amount of critique of the game. Looking beyond that, the Bungie team is pround of what they've accomplished:

We passed certification yesterday. Halo is done.

The manufacturing plant got the GM today and is pressing up a zillion Halo discs as I type this.

All of us worked very hard to get to this point and we are collectively very proud of what we have done.

PC and Mac versions are supposedly still in the pipe, with Peter Tamte's Bold label set to publish Halo for the Mac at an undisclosed date. For a taste of what the game will be like, check out some of the previews already starting to be posted on the web.

VoodooExtreme has an excited preview up now, with the reviewer saying "visually, Halo is hands-down the most impressive game I have ever seen in my entire life." He also talks about the framerate problems which plagued the game at the previous E3, Halo's use of vehicles, and the game AI. Check out the article as a number of new screen shots included. We'll keep you posted as anything new on Halo for the Mac is released.

Halo Goes Gold Forum Thread at HBO
Halo Preview at VoodooExtreme
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

X-Plane Beta Updated
2:28 PM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Laminar Research released X-Plane version 6.0.5b2. The new version completely changes the outside world by remodelling the Earth to be truly round. This has a number of positive implications in the game, thus allowing the user to circumnavigate the Earth realistically, and it reduces terrain "jiggling."

Additionally, a few minor realism enhancements have been added and some bugs have been fixed. The load time has been improved as well.

X-Plane is a realistic general-aviation flight simulator with extensive modularity, allowing players to design their own aircraft, systems, and terrain. X-Plane comes bundled with a number of predesigned aircraft, helicopters, and spacecraft, and is the only flight sim for Macintosh that models Mars as well as Earth.

X-Plane 6.05b2 Download

Master of Orion III Underground Impressions
10:22 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming site UGO recently got a chance to sample Quicksilver's upcoming title Master of Orion III, and have posted a preview of it that reveals some intriguing details regarding this game. For those unfamiliar with the title, MOO3 is, at heart, a turn-based strategy game that takes place in space. However, as the preview notes, calling it such "fails to convey the scope and complexity involved."

For those that hate micromanagement, particularly when one's empire becomes too big to navigate with any amount of speed, MOO3 may have the right solution. Stressing the role of the player as the leader of an empire, there will be many AI-controlled leaders under the player's direct command that can be allowed to take care of the little details. These leaders will be able to perform actions such as directing a fleet, governing a world, or even maintaning an entire system.

Combat, unlike the rest of the game, takes place in real-time. Though this is a departure from the previous titles, Quicksilver has taken care to make sure things aren't quite as frantic as a typical RTS title:

You have your core fighting force accompanied by escort and picket ships, and they all understand how to react as a task force. It's these task forces that perform different actions, like colonization, star lane protection, etc. The incorporation of star lanes, which basically speed up travel between worlds, is another new addition. Sure, a player can move from planet to planet without a star lane present, but it will take them longer. What star lanes help introduce is the concept of choke points, a strategically important factor ignored by most space-faring strategy games. Now, a player can effectively hold a system with a defensive force without worrying that the enemy will just bypass the group. Of course, the enemy can circumvent such a blockade; it will just take them three times as long, which means that if the fleet is detected, the defending player has time to prepare an adequate defense.
Further complicating the issue is that each race has its own "gaia requirement," or perfect ideal of how a world should be. Depending on how citizens see an empire the player is currently at war with, they may revolt. War is also hideously expensive, and has the capacity to bankrupt even the most financially successful empire.

More familiar to MOO veterans should be the political climate, which includes diplomacy, treachery, and espionage. The Trading model has been greatly improved, and players now have the ability to make complex trades, offering several smaller items for one large item. The Orion Senate, where emperors get together and decide policies that are literally universal, also plays a large role in the game. For those that like to be more underhanded, spies and assassins can be used to remove individual threats.

In addition to the preview, there are also a couple of interesting-looking pictures of various races featured in the preview. Those interested should check out UGO's latest preview. MOO3 is currently slated for a release sometime during the first quarter of 2002.

UGO - Master of Orion III Preview
Master of Orion III Official Site
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Click to enlarge
Interview with Warren Spector
10:04 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Most computer gamers have heard the name Warren Spector. If they haven't, they're almost certainly familiar with a title for which he was the Project Director: Deus Ex. Currently involved with Ion Storm, Spector is well-known for his wide range of vision and enthusiasm regarding game development and design. The RPG Vault at IGN recently headed down to Austin to interview various members of Ion Storm, and managed to query Spector about the circumstances that brought about Deus Ex, one of the most lauded FPS titles to date.

Interestingly enough, Spector's roots extend far back enough to have attended "Lord British University," a name any Ultima fan should be well familiar with:

[Jonric]: To what extent did Deus Ex draw from and build upon previous games you've worked on versus trying to do new things?

[Warren Spector]: I wish I could just give you a percentage ("Deus Ex - 53% brand new!") but that obviously wouldn't work.

At some level, every game you work on builds on those that came before. Deus Ex wouldn't have been what it was if I hadn't gone to Lord British University back in the late '80s. Rich showed me the power of deep, detailed worlds, open to nearly limitless player exploration... He showed me the importance of offering players a range of options beyond simply killing everything that moves. Deus Ex wouldn't have been the same game if I hadn't played Ultima IV and if I hadn't worked on a bunch of Ultima games back in the '80s and early '90s.

And, of course, anyone who looks at Deus Ex and DOESN'T see the Looking Glass influence just isn't paying attention. Clearly, I learned a lot working with Looking Glass founder Paul Neurath on Space Rogue (an under-appreciated game that influenced me a lot) and I hope everyone can see that Deus Ex is really the next step in a line that began with Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief (with a dash of Half Life thrown in for good measure!)

Was there new stuff in Deus Ex? Sure. But the new stuff was built on a foundation laid for us by earlier games...

As far as Spector's disappointments with Deus Ex go, one of the places he feels his team fell short is that Deus Ex has "more simulation and less emulation." By this, he means that he wishes that things such as the multiple paths and choices were a little less scripted and more emergent, depending more on the player than on the level designers. He also notes that he was personally disappointed that most people, despite all the work put into the title allowing for non-combat options, still insisted playing through the game in full-blown combat mode, much like traditional FPS games are played.

The rest of the interview covers the beginnings of Deus Ex, including how the team came together, what the original ideas and motivations were behind Deus Ex, and early challenges the design team faced. Those interested in these topics, or in game development in general, should definitely give the interview a look.

RPG Vault - Ion Storm Interview, Part 1
Ion Storm
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Click to enlarge
Civilization III Strategy Guides
9:48 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Though Civilization III has yet to hit store shelves for any platform, the PC version is just on the horizon. Getting the jump on the ball, The Adrenaline Vault has been hosting a series of strategy guides, written by Firaxis producer Jeff Morris, that focus on Civ III play strategies by era. Currently featured is the Middle Ages, which include the era of early gunpowder, horses, and more available Great Wonders than any other era.

Here's a taste of the guide that focuses on recommended starting advances for the Middle Ages era:

The advances with which you start this era are all attractive. Feudalism gives you Pikemen and Sun Tzu's Art of War (the maintenance cost-cutting warmonger Wonder). The equally useful Monotheism bestows the Cathedral, a very important element in expanding your territory and the first non-Temple happiness city improvement available. Although Ancient Great Wonders like the Hanging Gardens can also allow you to combat unhappiness throughout the continent, it doesn't accelerate cultural development like the Cathedral, which hurts those cities without the Wonder. Engineering is another potential starting advance in the Middle Ages. While it doesn't give the player any flashy units or Wonders, it does allow road bonuses to persist over rivers and is a cornerstone prerequisite for gunpowder. Basically, you can't go wrong with early Middle Ages advances.
The rest of the guide covers military tactics, recommended Wonders, and introduces the idea of naval warfare. For those seeking to start from the beginning, a guide to the Ancient Era of Civ III is also available. Be sure to check them both out at The Adrenaline Vault.

The Adrenaline Vault - Civilization III Strategy Guides
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

Despot's Redemption Released
9:39 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Kaffen has released Despot's Redemption 1.0. Despot's Redemption is a fast-paced arcade shooter that hearkens back to the upright arcade games of the 80's. You must pilot your ship, the "Redemption," across 15 levels of sci-fi space combat. The game features an easy-to-use interface, 3-D rendered graphics, stereo sound effects, and furiously addictive gameplay.

Despot's Redemption has marginal requirements; a PowerPC with System 8.0 or better and 25MB RAM.

The download weighs in at 4.1 MB and is available, where else, but

Despot's Redemption 1.0

IMG Ships MGCD #3, Aliens vs Predator
9:17 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

In an effort to keep our loyal MacGames CD subscribers involved, I thought I'd pass this little bit of information along. Ok, I admit it, I'm doing this because every other email we get is "Where is my AVP!" Well, the good news is that yesterday we shipped out the third MacGames CD to subscribers, so be on the look out for the CD soon™.

Also, today, we received our massive order of Aliens vs Predator from the good folks at MacPlay. We'll be working throughout the day to ship all those who ordered AVP as part of the free game offer when they subscribed to the MacGames CD and those pre-ordered AVP.

If you haven't subscribed to the MacGames CD, there's still plenty of time to subscribe to receive MGCD #3 and AVP. Be sure to visit our IMG web store for more details.

And finally, today we'll begin taking pre-orders for MGCD subscribers for Bold's highly anticipated Age of Empires II via the IMG web store. Be on the look out for that later in the day.

Target Korea Progress Update
9:03 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Targetware's first project, entitled Target Korea, is a flight simulator set during the Korean War. The game has been designed to capture the essence of this conflict, using authentic terrains, air bases and ultra-realistic flight models for all of the antagonists' aircraft. Gameplay consists of aerial combat between the MiG-15bis and F-86F-30 Sabre jets, the preeminent airplanes flown during the war. This sim is "targeted" at hardcore online pilots, with an emphasis on realism.

IMG recently spoke with Wade Williams, who is working on the Mac conversion of Target Korea and offered us this update on the highly-anticipated flight sim:

Our development schedule has changed significantly. Version .31 has been
in closed beta for quite some time and is working well (and is fun). Sylvan
Clebsch (the genius behind TK) has been hard at work on version .32. In
addition to adding new features, he has reworked a great deal of the
infrastructure of the product. While we hadn't planned on taking so long to
do that, we believe it will result in an even better product in the long

In the meantime, my work on an OS X version has been progressing well.
However, my wife recently gave birth to our twin babies and needless to say,
that has affected my free time. Since our timeline was extended by these
events, I'll avoid giving any dates and just say that we're pleased with how
things are going.

For more details on Target Korea, be sure to check out our interview with Wade Williams posted back in April and visit the Targetware web site.

Interview: Targetware's Wade Williams
Target Korea

Click to enlarge
Mac Red Faction Shots
8:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GraphSim's news page has been updated with word that Mac Red Faction is "looking good and working great!" To celebrate, they've posted a number of new screen shots taken with the Mac version of the game. Over 20 new images are now available, so be sure to head over and give them a look.

Last we heard, the Mac version of Red Faction is progressing very well. The OS 9 application is done, with just work on the Carbon build for OS X holding up its release now. GraphSim hopes to get the title out in the next month, and you can pre-order it now from the IMG store for $35 (MGCD subscribers only) or through the GraphSim web store.

Mac Red Faction Screen Shots
Red Faction

EV: Nova Hits Beta 4
8:18 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Almost exactly a month after sending out beta three to their private testers, Matt Burch has announced the fourth beta of Escape Velocity: Nova is now in testing. The Nova progress logs at Ambrosia Software have been updated with both Burch and Dafydd "pipeline" Williams of ATMOS bantering back and forth about the beta. We're hoping (along with many other EV fans) that both of their estimates on the number of remaining betas are being at least slightly exaggerated.

IMG recently posted a new look at the game, so be sure to give it a read for much more information on this third in the EV series. Beta four is a great milestone, and we're secretly hoping the game could be out by the end of the year. But, of course, the classic response is that it will be done when it's done. Stay tuned to IMG for the latest.

Escape Velocity: Nova Progress Logs
IMG Preview: Escape Velocity: Nova

Mac Games News for Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Warbirds III Updated2:21 PM
IMG Reviews Breakout11:37 AM
New Warcraft III Units and Abilities10:56 AM
Polishing Return to Castle Wolfenstein10:37 AM
Yexi Still on Track10:26 AM
ATI Speaks Up on the Radeon 850010:17 AM
Even More Civilization III Previews9:54 AM
Spaceware Ho! 5 Status Update9:52 AM
GamePad Companion For OS X9:42 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, October 24, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, October 23, 2001
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