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Wednesday, November 14, 2001

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New Deus Ex 2 Details
10:14 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

While Deus Ex 2, the sequel to one of the most popular story-driven first-person shooters to date, has been long anticipated, details have been scarce. Fortunately, GameSpy recently published an update on DX2 by Project Leader Harvey "Witchboy" Smith.

Smith notes that most of his team's time has been spent in designing such things as maps, bot classes, plot-relevant characters, factions, and synthetically-engineered creatures. They aim to provide veteran DX players with familiar aspects of gameplay as well as to introduce new ones that add to the intrigue and conspiracy which characterized the original game.

For example, a substantial addition has been made to the character-building choices that players make at the start of a game: players must now choose a gender as well as a name and skin.

The story will take place on Earth in a post-DX future. Characters and organizations from the first game will make appearances, though new players will be added as well.

Smith's team seems to have DX2's technical enhancements well in hand:

DX2 will feature a much higher poly count for architecture and models than players saw in the first Deus Ex game. Plus, the models are fully boned and are being animated with a skeletal IK system, allowing for more animations and higher quality (motion captured) animations. The effects are really satisfying and reach into many areas of the game, improving it in both high-impact and subtle ways. For instance, we always wanted characters to have facial expressions, but could not afford it until now; we believe this feature alone will seriously improve the quality of the game's conversations and character interactions.
Smith also released some concept artwork, including art for the genetically-engineered greasels and karkians from the first game. There's also artwork for a new underwater security bot, with a note that points toward more water play in DX2.

Deus Ex was an amazing game, and judging by the details recently provided, it seems Deus Ex 2 will be even better. Be sure to check out the project update at GameSpy for all the details.

GameSpy: Deus Ex 2 Project Update
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

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Halo Interview Talks Mac Version
1:54 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

HomeLAN today posted an interview with Bungie's Matt Soell on, what else, Halo. While the interview doesn't reveal anything that hasn't already been covered by the constant supply of previews, reviews, and interviews, it does reveal some details on the upcoming Mac version as well as what Bungie might be up to next:

HomeLAN - Of course, now that Halo is close to release for Xbox, people are asking when to expect the PC and Mac version. What can you tell us about your plans for the ports and will they have extra features not in the Xbox version?

Matt Soell - We honestly haven't had the time to plan the Mac/PC versions yet. After the team finishes this last round of testing the Xbox version, they will take some much-needed time off and then regroup to figure out what comes next. We know they're going to happen, but exactly HOW has not been worked out yet.

HomeLAN - Finally, what can you tell us about your plans for future Bungie games?

Matt Soell - Well, there's the unannounced game that everybody already knows about, which is code-named Phoenix. There's another project we're working on that's too early to talk about at all. And there are always a bunch of ideas for new games, some of which are related to games we've already done, and some that are not.

Halo for the Xbox will be making its debut tomorrow when the Microsoft Xbox console goes on sale.

HomeLAN: Halo Interview
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

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Unreal II Preview at CG Online
1:44 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Computer Games Online today published an in-depth preview of Unreal II, in development at Legend Entertainment for Epic Games.

The preview begins with a discussion of Legend's unlikely route from adventure games to this, the sequel to one of the most highly-acclaimed first-person shooters in the history of the genre:

The first thing you notice... is a wake of nostalgia. Game posters fill the walls—games like Shannara, Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls, Eric the Unready, Frederik Pohl's Gateway, The Lost Treasures of Infocom, and more—all somewhat befitting of Legend's adventure game history, but somewhat incongruous with its current project, Unreal II.
Legend's experience with adventure games, however, promises to serve single players well:
Unreal II will... provide an extremely detailed single-player storyline with well-defined characters. [Designer-Producer Mike] Verdu is rather sure this will not offend the twitchmeisters. Rather than taking it as slow as something like, say, Deus Ex, it will attempt to be all things to all people. "In spite of depth of game play and a cool story, we want Unreal II to be very approachable," he says. "We want to let players get in and have fun, fast."
The preview continues with a description of some of Unreal II's story elements, characters, and monsters, before continuing with a look at weapons, multiplayer game types, and visual technology:
As a Terran Colonial Authority Frontier Marshal, you play the 24th century equivalent of a "long arm of the law" from the old west, whose responsibility is to make a remote corner of space safe for a variety of colonists and civilians. Your home base is the decommissioned military starship Atlantis, aboard which are your crewmembers, the main characters you will interact with to gain plot information.
For the full preview by Cindy Yans, follow the link below to CG Online.

(Brian Rumsey contributed to this story.)

CG Online: The Skaarj Still Bleeds

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Combat Mission 2 Update
1:42 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

If you were a fan of the World War II combat simulation, Combat Mission, then you've probably been itching to play the sequel, Combat Mission - Barbarossa to Berlin. According to a recent update by developer Big Time Software, the game is "95% done with game feature implementations," and they except to ship the game in the first quarter of 2002. Here's a bit more info on the expected release date:

We are currently projecting end of 1st Quarter 2002. This is later than we had expected, but the extended support of Combat Mission - Beyond Overlord greatly delayed the start of CMBB. We do not regret the time spent making CMBO that much better, but it did not come without consequences.

As with CMBO, we will not release CMBB until it is ready, which is why we do not have a firm ship date. This can be frustrating for some, but if every software developer behaved this way there would be a LOT more great games to choose from out there. Software development, especially game development, is an art and not a science.

As for the demo... we are not planning on releasing a demo until we are VERY near to release. We lost almost 1.5 months of CMBO development time when we released the Beta Demo because of all the support which was necessary for the obviously not finished game. This means that if we release the demo sooner the final product will definitely be delayed. On the whole, this is not desirable for anybody.

What comes next? Well, we are going to release a batch of screenshots showing off the new terrain graphics sometime this month. We are sure you will be impressed.

We'll keep you posted on any future developments. In the meantime, be sure to check out our review of the first Combat Mission (if you haven't already done so).

IMG Review: Combat Mission Forum: Combat Mission 2 Update
Combat Mission

Mind Traveler Game Released
1:14 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

IMG has received word of a new Macintosh game called Mind Traveler, created by MedMaster, Inc. A puzzle/adventure game that delves into the world of neuroscience, this Mac/Windows hybrid is now available for just $14.95. Here's some more information:

MedMaster's first adventure game! Laura Miller, a famous neuroscientist, has developed the Electronic Neural Enhancer, a computer that can communicate with the brain. She and her daughter Nicole die in an auto accident, leaving her husband Todd to explore her work, including the Neural Enhancer. Playing the role of Todd, search deep within the mind, discover new universes, probe the mysteries of time and space, and find a new world where Laura and Nicole still exist.
Mind Traveler requires a G3 or better, 64 megs of RAM, and 265 megs of disk space. For more information, be sure to visit the Mind Traveler web site.

MedMaster: Mind Traveler

Otto Matic Post-Mortem Interview at IMG
12:29 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Otto Matic, the new sci-fi action adventure from Pangea Software and Aspyr Media, recently went gold and will be making its way to stores in early December, just in time for Christmas.

IMG recently caught up with Pangea's Brian Greenstone to chat about the game he just finished. Here's a taste:

IMG: Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea.

Greenstone: The idea came about from two completely different game ideas I was pondering. One was to do Nanosaur 2, and the concept was to have it in space. The other idea was a Flying Saucer Flight Simulator; I'd been mulling that idea around for years. I had always been a huge fan of the old 1950's sci-fi movies, so it occurred to me that I could go with the Saucer Flight Sim idea, but just as a small part of a bigger game with that theme. Bugdom was such a huge hit that it made sense to do another action-adventure genre anyways, so Otto came from all of that.

Check out our full interview at the link below.

Aspyr: Otto Matic
IMG: Otto Matic Preview
IMG: Otto Matic Post-Mortem Interview
Pangea Software
Otto Matic

Heroes of Might and Magic Music Interview
10:34 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Celestial Heavens and Mac Heroes, two sites devoted to the Heroes of Might and Magic series, recently conducted a joint interview with Bob King. Fans of the series and computer music composers alike may find the review quite interesting, as King is the music and sound supervisor for New World Computing.

The length to which King's team is going to make the sound stand out in the upcoming Heroes of Might and Magic 4 is amazing. The soundtrack uses over thirty musicians, including opera singers, a full women's choir by the name of Nevenka, and various orchestral players. The entire score has a Celtic theme and features bagpipes, guitars, mandolins, and vocals.

King stresses throughout the interview that the music for HOMM4 will be real music performed by real people. Synth sounds will be used for things such as percussion, but most of the music will be recorded live. He particularly wishes to make the vocals shine, as fans of the series, accustomed to vocals in HOMM2, were disappointed when HOMM3 largely left them out.

For folks in the music business, King also talks a little shop:

The entire score was recorded on a Digidesign ProTools system. We used various recording software to get things started but it all found its way to the ProTools system. We used Cakewalk's Sonar, Steinberg's NUENDO and Cubase as well as Sonic Foundry's Vegas and Sound Forge to do a lot of pre-production recording. Everything was recorded at 24-bit 48K through Digidesign, Apogee, and SoundScape Converters. Most all the instruments and vocals were recorded straight to ProTools or some of the other software, bypassing any mixing console. The recording path was usually Instrument - mic - preamp - compressor (sometimes) - A/D converter - ProTools. As far as the mix goes, I mixed it entirely on a Mackie D8B digital mixer and ProTools using some great outboard gear like Avalon compressors, TL Audio Compressors stuff from ADL, Joe Meek, Neve and SPL. I also only use a Lexicon 480L for my reverb.
HOMM4 has been shaping up to look like quite a game, and the promise that the soundtrack will be equally great makes things look even better. Knights and other medieval fantasy warriors fighting to orchestral music, complete with choir, is more than enough to get the heart pumping for most fans of the genre.

As for a Mac version of HOMM4, several strong hints have been dropped at the possibility, though nothing concrete has been revealed. IMG will be sure to let readers know once we get confirmation of a Mac port.

Mac Heroes: Rob King Interview

Quick Mac Myth III Status
10:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Nate Birkholz from MacSoft has been doing a good job of keeping eager Mac gamers updated on the progress of Myth III: The Wolf Age. A new post in our forums late yesterday afternoon sheds new light on current issues, noting that both LAN and GameSpy play were broken under Mac OS X. Though things aren't completely fixed yet, it seems they have made some progress on this front.

They're also trying to address the bugs found in the already-released PC version before the Mac version goes gold so that Mac users won't have to download the same patch as PC gamers.

Here's the full scoop:

No major status change. Progress has been made with the networking issues under OS X, but it still is not *fixed*. The other issues remain as before. The good news is that the Mac version will almost certainly ship with the .1 fixes from the PC, so no downloading will likely be required. If [MumboJumbo] finishes the Mac version before the patch, however, we ship without the patch.
Thanks to Nate for keeping us updated, and to the MumboJumbo development team for their hard work in this final push. Stay tuned to IMG for the latest as Myth III heads toward release in the next month.

MacSoft: Myth III
IMG Forum: Myth III Current Status

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Undying Update; "New World" Clue
9:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Mark Adams of Westlake Interactive recently gave an update on Usenet about the thriller FPS (first-person shooter) Undying. He has noted in the past that the complex skeletal animation system implemented in the game has proven to be quite a challenge in getting the game ported to the Mac. And while Mark was previously hoping to be able to focus on the title for the rest of the year, it looks like the secret "New World" project is now taking up some of his time as well:

It's still slow going, and we're having to shuffle things a bit to work
on "New World." The good news is a lot of the work on UT X and another
project are directly applicable to Undying, so it's not like it isn't
making any progress.
This seems to imply that the New World project is a game based on the Unreal Tournament engine. While many may be tempted to guess the well-known UT engine games Unreal 2 or Duke Nukem Forever, we suspect Westlake may have a surprise up their sleeve.

For the latest on both New World and Undying, be sure to stay tuned to IMG. We still hope to see Undying before the end of the year from Aspyr, though no official release date is ever as solid as gamers would like.

Update: A forum thread has already been started with this same thought about Mark's post. Head over there to join in the discussion.

Aspyr: Undying
Westlake Interactive
IMG Forum: New World Clue
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Clive Barker's Undying
Buy Clive Barker's Undying

Mac Games News for Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Otto Matic Sci-Fi Movie Quiz2:58 PM
MacGamer Reviews Fly! II, Age of Empires II12:52 PM
Mac Hall Takes the Bait12:00 PM
Aspyr's iPuppet Now Shipping9:39 AM
New Shadowbane Screenshots9:15 AM
Saitek Introduces Cyborg 3D Force Stick9:07 AM
New Warren Spector Interview8:52 AM
Apple Swings with Spider-Man8:39 AM
First Spaceward Ho! 5 Screen Shot8:22 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, November 13, 2001 on one page

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