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Monday, November 12, 2001

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Spiderman Alpha,
9:06 AM | Brian Rumsey | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive, the highly respected Mac porting company, have recently updated their Project Status page. Among the items in this update are the appearance of a new project with the code name "New World" and the declaration that Spiderman (to be published by Aspyr Media) has reached alpha.

Although Westlake have not identified the New World project, their code names are usually chosen for some connection to the games they represent. Readers are already speculating in the IMG Forum about what this project may be, and while there is no consensus, reasonable arguments have been made for a few games.

Check out Westlake's Project Status page for yourself, and if you have any ideas, add your voice to the already lively thread in the IMG Forum.

IMG Forum: New World Project
Westlake Interactive: Project Status
IMG Preview: Spiderman
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive

Custer Goes "Intergalactic"
4:00 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

This week, IMG's prolific and talented Brad Custer brings us a desktop based on Pangea's upcoming Mac-only game of intergalactic adventure, Otto Matic. To be published by the good people at Aspyr Media, Otto Matic is inspired by classic (and not-so-classic) sci-fi films of past decades.

Of his latest desktop, Custer writes:

With the recent announcement by Aspyr that Otto Matic was gold master, I felt it was time to reveal that again I'll be creating exclusive desktops for another Aspyr title.... "Intergalactic" is a desktop based on the actual game box. Be sure to keep checking [Aspyr's] web site to see my other creations as they are completed and added.
Observant sci-fi fans will note here the unmistakable influence of the movie poster (but not the movie itself!) for Forbidden Planet, that seminal 1956 classic of science fiction in the cinema, listed by Pangea's Brian Greenstone as one of the top ten cinematic influences on the development of Otto Matic.

After downloading Custer's "Intergalactic," be sure to come back tomorrow for this week's Otto Matic Movie Quiz, sponsored by Aspyr, testing your familiarity with one of Greenstone's top ten inspirational movies.

IMG: Otto Matic Preview
Aspyr Media: Otto Matic
IMG: Custer's Desktops

ATI, Nvidia Introduce New Mobile GPUs
3:23 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

ATI and Nvidia today introduced their newest mobile graphics processing units, the ATI Mobility Fire GL 7800 and the Nvidia NV17M.

ATI's Mobility Fire GL 7800 is targeted at the mobile workstation market, so it does not seem likely that it will find its way into Apple's PowerBook line. In the words of ATI's press release:

The Mobility Fire GL 7800 delivers unmatched compatibility, reliability and performance to the new category of notebook workstations. The combination of outstanding 3D graphics performance and quality combined with workstation ISV (independent software vendor) support from ATI’s Fire GL team makes this the ideal choice for mobile workstation users.
Like their recently announced Mobility Radeon 7500, the new chip is based on ATI's Radeon architecture, but it features 64 MB of 128-bit DDR (double data rate) memory.

Of greater potential interest to Mac gamers is Nvidia's introduction of their "new-generation" graphics processing unit (GPU), code-named NV17M. While Apple's mobile line exclusively features ATI GPUs, including the recently adopted Mobility Radeon, Apple's desktop line now comes standard with Nvidia hardware, and it is possible that the NV17M could contend with the Mobility Radeon 7500 for inclusion in future PowerBooks.

While Nvidia's announcement was short on details, it said:

Nvidia's new-generation mobile GPU is... the first to feature custom antialiasing hardware designed specifically for notebook computers. With support for several high-performance, high-quality antialiasing modes, this new mobile GPU enables mobile users to experience very high frame rates and crisp, clean visuals--despite the XGA resolution (1024 x 768) limitation of most notebook LCDs.
While neither ATI nor Nvidia made any reference to Mac hardware or driver support in today's announcements, the following features in Nvidia's new hardware, if supported in Mac OS drivers, would be welcome indeed to DVD movie buffs:
The [Video Processing Engine] improves overall system efficiency and performance by offloading critical tasks, such as the decoding, processing, and playback of video and DVD content from the CPU, and includes the most complete hardware MPEG2 decoder, sub picture alpha blend processor and de-interlacing circuitry to unequivocally deliver the industry's best video playback.
Hands-on information is not yet available for these new chips. We'll be sure to bring you word when it is, but in the meantime, you may want to review our earlier coverage of comparisons between the ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 and Nvidia's previous generation of mobile GPU, the GeForce2 Go. Nvidia say the NV17M is in volume production and will be appearing in notebooks in early 2002.

IMG News: Apple "Speed Bumps" Portables
ATI: Mobility Fire GL 7800 (Press Release)
IMG News: More Details on Mobility Radeon 7500
Nvidia: New Mobile GPU Raises Bar (Press Release)

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IMG Reviews Simon the Sorcerer II
12:58 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG's latest review is of the imaginative and annoying adventure game Simon the Sorcerer II, from Epic Interactive. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

The designers of this game had humor in mind from the start, and it is a genuinely witty and self-aware story most of the time (Simon constantly speaks to the screen (you), and refers to the script writers and such). StS2 purports to be a send-up of classic fairy tales and it accomplishes that goal while dragging numerous references to pop culture along with it. Fast food, Back to the Future, the A-Team, C.S. Lewis, Walt Disney, the Arthurian legends, and Shakespeare are among the many subjects treated with the utmost irreverence. That list is by no means inclusive. Even the manual for the game is funny and abusive, setting you up for your experience in the game. If you like one-liners, obscure references, sarcasm and spoofs in general, StS2 will appeal to you.
For more information, check out IMG's full review at the link below.

IMG Review: Simon the Sorcerer II
Simon the Sorcerer II
Buy Simon the Sorcerer II

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Rampancy Review at Renovated Modsquad, New Map
12:28 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Late Friday, we updated our story about the public beta release of Marathon|Rampancy, a mod that brings Marathon-style gameplay to Unreal Tournament, with news of this UT mod's first review. The Modsquad awarded Marathon|Rampancy Beta 1.0 a score of 9.6 out of 10.

Here's an excerpt praising the balance of Rampancy's weapons, recognizable to any fan of the venerable Marathon series:

For Marathon|Rampancy, the weapons basically make or break the mod. Luckily, they do not break it. Rather, the weapons are all well balanced, and each has it's own distinctive feel.
Peter Yu's review goes on to discuss each weapon in detail, and then describes the four new Marathon inspired game types. Intelligent bot support for new game types has often been a challenge for mod authors, and Yu has this welcome assessment:
Despite the numerous different gametypes, the bots managed to keep up with things. They play [King of the Hill] well, can work together on Roving KOTH, and can play Kill the Man with the Ball and Tag surprisingly well. While they can be tweaked a bit to be improved, I found them good substitutes for human players.
If this sounds like it might be your cup of tea, head over to the Modsquad to read Yu's full review.

The Modsquad, the foremost web site for Unreal Tournament mods and mutators, recently received a thorough overhaul. Improved design, easier navigation, a new review system (including reader reviews and ratings), and new forums all contribute to make this essential resource even more useful.

(A mod - short for "modification" - can alter Unreal Tournament by, for example, changing the game's physics or by adding Marathon's "King of the Hill" game type, as Rampancy does. A mutator, the mechanism by which Rampancy adds Marathon's weapons to UT, is a special class of mod that can be combined with other mods and mutators.)

Thanks to the platform-independent design of UT's mod support and to the skillful porting of Westlake Interactive, almost all the mods and mutators at the Modsquad work with the Mac version of Unreal Tournament.

In related news, a new deathmatch map by Hobeaux of Frogblast: The Ventcore Project has been released exclusively for Marathon|Rampancy. Morpfine is not available on the Frogblast site, nor is it included with the set of Frogblast maps installed with Marathon|Rampancy, so be sure to head over to the Rampancy web site to download this extra dose of Marathon fun.

Download DM-FbMorpfhine (1 MB)
Frogblast: The Ventcore Project
MGF: Download Marathon|Rampancy 1.0b1 (12.8 MB)
IMG News: Marathon|Rampancy First Public Beta
Marathon|Rampancy Web Site
Modsquad: Marathon|Rampancy Beta 1.0 Review

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Warren Spector Interview, Part 3
11:01 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The RPG Vault at IGN recently posted part three of their three-part interview with Ion Storm's own Warren Spector. If Spector's name doesn't ring a bell, the title Deus Ex, of which he was Project Director, certainly should. Spector discusses the temptations of developers to target bleeding-edge hardware in game creation, his thoughts on the current game world, and strategies on pursuing employment in game development.

One of the conundrums in PC game design is deciding what the system requirements should be for a title. The urge to use the latest and greatest is no doubt strong, and Spector seems to know this better than anyone. He points out that, in discussions about Thief 3 and Deus Ex 2, the argument that using bleeding-edge hardware will allow better looking and playing games is currently being hashed out. He also notes that this will yield lower development costs, but at the same time, a smaller audience.

Spector adds, however, that no one ever really remembers "the Best Game played on a 386," but rather just the "Best Game." He tips his hat to companies like Blizzard, who, in his words, "do a stunning job of balancing horsepower requirements and mass market accessibility."

Spector is critical of the increasing power publishers seem to have over gamers and developers alike:

I hate the rising costs and ridiculous timelines. I guess if you want to find a silver lining, a positive, you can cite a higher level of professionalism in the industry, better graphics and sound, but that's about it, really. Not much to like about bigger teams, extended schedules and increased risk!

The blockbuster mentality is as bad for gaming as it has been for movies or books - sure, some folks make a ton of money but the vast majority end up in the red. That means fewer developers have fewer publishers to sell game ideas to. Naturally, as risks go up, publishers become less willing to support efforts outside the tried-and-true. Originality becomes a rare commodity. At this point, it seems to me that only someone with a big name and track record can get a publisher to take a chance on something original. And that's just not right...

I'd love to find a way to make games for less money, in less time, with smaller teams. I just don't know how to do that and remain competitive. The Win Big - Lose Big situation we're in right now totally bites but, unfortunately, I don't see it changing any time soon.

Spector's advice on pursuing a career in game development may surprise some readers. Besides listing the usual "you must love games" argument, he notes that developers must also be very aware of the real world. He adds that having a good knowledge of subjects like history, psychology, economics, and art will really help when actually attempting to develop a game. He also notes that one should play a variety of games on a variety of platforms, and be enough of an analytical thinker to where dismantling a game via its design and implementation becomes second nature.

The rest of the interview covers topics such as Spector's view on multiplayer games, how to actually search for a gaming development job, and what he's really excited about in the current gaming scene. For those interested in gaming design as well as in the thoughts of one of the industry's most respected developers, this interview is a must.

RPG Vault: Warren Spector Interview, Part 3
IMG Review: Deus Ex
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

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Civilization III Post-Release Interview
10:40 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Following the recent release of the PC version of Civilization III, gaming site and server farm HomeLan Fed recently interviewed Jeff Briggs, CEO of Firaxis, asking various questions circulating around the Civ community following Civ III's release. Among the topics broached are the possibility of multiplayer support, the reasons for keeping Civ III turn-based, and future retail expansion plans.

When asked why Civ III was kept turn-based, Briggs defends the decision with the reasoning that turn-based games give players more flexibility in modeling and experimenting with various systems. He points to virtually every board and card game in existence as being turn-based, and adds that Civ III's design was thought out to the point where it should appeal to both new and veteran players of turn-based strategy titles.

Perhaps one of the most lamented issues with Civ III is the lack of multiplayer support. Briggs hints that something might be on the horizon:

The single-player experience has always been our main focus in the development of Civilization III, but we're working on some cool multiplayer concepts that will take a new approach to the challenge of making multiplayer for a turn-based game fun. Once we have more details to report we’ll let you know.
Briggs also hints that new content may be available on the 'Net sometime in the future. He adds, however, that there are no plans to release a demo, and that any future retail expansion pack decisions will have to be made by the publishers.

For more post-release details on Civ III, be sure to check out the whole interview. Westlake Interactive have said the Mac version of Civ III, to be published by MacSoft, reached first playable status in late October, with "a few surprises for OS X users." Early 2002 is the tentative release date.

Westlake Interactive: Civilization III First Playable
HomeLan Fed: Civilization III Interview
Firaxis Games
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

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Update on Red Faction Mac
9:50 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Today IMG spoke with GraphSim's Jeff Morgan to get an update on their upcoming sci-fi shooter, Red Faction. While the Mac OS 9 version has been done for quite a while, more work on the OS X version is needed before they can release the game. According to Morgan, there are "significant" OS X speed issues. But Morgan reiterated that they are working around the clock to fix the problem and hope to finish this week. Here's what Morgan had to say:

We're getting very, very close. We've been tweaking the OS X code to get as much speed as possible. At this point we're hoping to go gold this week.
Be sure to give our preview a look for more info. MacGames CD subscribers can also take advantage of IMG's amazing $35 pre-order price for the game in our store right now.

GraphSim: Red Faction Web Site
IMG Preview: Red Faction
Red Faction

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Halo Launch Party Coverage
9:40 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

To celebrate the upcoming release of Halo for the Xbox, developer Bungie recently threw a Halo Launch Party, inviting players to Chicago to preview the title as well as get the chance to win various prizes and play with their fellow fans.

Eager to share their experiences, fans have posted at several sites, including Halo.Bungie.Org and Invisible Dream. Their impressions of Halo, as well as of the event in general, lean heavily toward the positive. It seems that people couldn't say enough great things about Halo, raving about its gameplay, graphics, and features.

Here's a clip from a fan by the name of Locucious:

The physics in Halo are absolutely unrivaled. They have to be experienced to be believed. Players fly sky-high when hit between the feet with a grenade, and land with their mangled frames conforming to the terrain. No Unreal-esque flat player animations here, it's all dynamically handled by real physics calculations. It's quite impressive to see a player fall on steps, to say the least. Also in the physics area is the Warthog. There were few things as satisfying as watching the jeep being launched into the air by a well-placed grenade, throwing all its passengers out like G.I. Joe figurines.
Here are some comments on weapons by vector40:
The sniper rifle is surely the most amazing weapon in this game. It speaks like some sort of demon, running down a field, sniper rifle in hand, I zoom, quick, on the opposing base (CTF, it was), see a sniper, drop my crosshairs on his eyeline... KER-WHAM, and my view zooms out, to see my body on the ground, a long line of fog lanced into me. I jumped about ten feet high. Cool?

I saw one gun, a rifle, laying on the ground, get hit by a stray shot, and SPIN around.

Count Zero also sees fit to share a funny moment during a LAN multiplayer game:
Best multiplayer moment: A 16-player CTF game on Blood Gulch. Someone jumps in the jeep and heads for the enemy base, accidentally running over a rock and sending the jeep flying. At the same moment, I run out of the base brandishing the flag, and shouting at my LAN-mates "I've got the flag! Someone give me a jeep!" Of course the jeep LANDS ON ME.
For more player reviews of the Halo Launch Party, be sure to check out both Halo.Bungie.Org and Invisible Dream. Be warned: both sites contain enough player reviews to choke an elephant, and it's hard to go through them without getting at least a little excited about Halo.

Bungie Studios: Halo
IMG News: Halo Still Mac Bound
Invisible Dream: Halo Launch Party
Halo.Bungie.Org: Launch Party Reviews
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

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Wolfenstein Dev Diary Posted at IGN
9:19 AM | Sean Carton | Comment on this story

Oh, they're a wily bunch, those game designers. Architects of worlds that so many of us occupy for large portions of our lives, they're the gods behind the machines, the invisible hands controlling the tricks, traps, monsters, and stats that make or break a game.

If a game's too easy, we quickly lose interest: blowing stuff up is fun, but only if that stuff shoots back occasionally. If a game's too, hard those of us with semblances of real lives are often forced to give up (or worse, cheat) in order to reduce our frustration levels to normalcy. And who makes the decisions that herd games toward that fine line that divides blockbuster from mere bust? The game designer, that's who.

Often, though, we fans don't get to hear much from the designers. They operate behind the scenes, unsung heroes of the game world. Worse, even if we do find out who they are, we rarely find out what they were thinking when they put the pieces together. Why did they decide to set up character classes the way they did? Why can't you carry more than 5 weapons at a time? How come those dang guards seem to be able to suck up damage like deranged Sponge Bobs?

Yes, eternal questions. But if you're a fan of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and have been wondering what kind of thought has gone into designing the killer multiplayer experience that many of us have had a taste of through the initial test releases, there's some new info. IGN has gotten a peek into the development diary of Nerve's Brandon James, and he offers some tantalizing glimpses into the thought behind Wolfenstein's multiplayer action:

From the beginning, the goal was to use as many assets as possible from the already beautiful single-player portion of the game. So we went through the maps and decided on what we thought would be interesting locations to play in with a team. Not all the maps created for multiplayer made the final cut, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the cut maps made their way into the public's hands at a future date.

We also had to decide on which weapons to include that wouldn't upset the balance of multiplayer, so not all of the single-player weapons are included in the multiplayer component, though there are some weapons that have had their effects and behavior tweaked as well as new weapons that were created for specific classes as well as new abilities.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg; there's a lot more info in the diary about resource allocation, weaponry, and multiplayer gameplay. Check it out.

MGF: Wolfenstein MP Test 2 for Mac OS X
IMG News: Wolf MP Test 2 Released for OS X
IGN: Brandon James's Dev Diary
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

New Moon Lander Demo Available
8:48 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

On Friday we brought you news of a demo of Moon Lander, a 3D space mining simulation by OnlyMac Software. The company today notified us that they've posted an English version of the demo. Moon Lander features over 20 levels of realistic flight characteristics, damage, and deformations.

Here's a brief description from of Moon Lander:

You have applied for a job at the largest mining cooperation. At first the mining cooperation wants proof of your flight skills. You have to supply the mining stations with workers and tools in order to show your flight skills. One mistake and you can consider yourself as fired!
The Moon Lander demo is about 20 MB in size and requires a 233 MHz Power Mac G3, 8 MB video RAM, and 64 MB free RAM, and it runs under Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. To download the demo, head over to

OnlyMac Software: Moon Lander
MGF: Moon Lander Demo 1.0 (22 MB)

Winners of MouseMan Giveaway Announced
8:38 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The latest IMG Giveaway has ended and the winners have been chosen. Drum roll, maestro...

Congratulations to S. Hankin of Massachusetts and A. Nicholl of Texas. You'll each be receiving a brand new MouseMan Dual Optical mouse. (IMG will contact you via via e-mail to verify your shipping addresses.) Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks again to Logitech for providing the goodies. We hope you'll be seeing more hardware-related giveaways in the future. Stay tuned!

IMG Review: Logitech MouseMan Dual Optical

Spaceward Ho! 5 Public Beta?
8:29 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Over the weekend, Joe Williams of Delta Tao made a post to Usenet about his latest project, Spaceward Ho! 5. Although this latest game in the series still has no official release date, he is making good progress with the game. One of its biggest features will be play over the Internet, and in his post Williams notes they are considering a public beta to test its connectivity:

We won't take orders until we announce our release date -- which
will be around the time it ships.

We may well have a public beta of some sort, though, so keep your eyes

While no timeline is given, we're sure fans would love to get an early look at this game.

We will certainly keep on this story and bring you any new information we can about the game or any public beta. If you're wanting details about the other changes in Spaceward Ho! 5, check out our previous coverage of the title.

Delta Tao
Past IMG News on Spaceward Ho! 5

Mac Games News for Friday, November 9, 2001

ATI Update Coming for OS 9.2.1?4:35 PM
MiG Alley Source Code Released3:27 PM
Myth III Review at IGN1:45 PM
First Halo Review Posted1:23 PM
MacGamer Reviews iPuppet1:12 PM
Major IMG Redesign Coming Soon12:24 PM
IMG Reviews Cambridge FPS2000 Speakers11:58 AM
Harpoon3 Hits 3.3.6b210:24 AM
Earth 2150 Preview at MacGamez10:14 AM
Marathon|Rampancy First Public Beta10:04 AM
EV: Nova Hits Beta 5; New Media10:00 AM
Moonlander Demo Released9:52 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, November 9, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, November 8, 2001
Wednesday, November 7, 2001
Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Monday, November 5, 2001
Friday, November 2, 2001

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