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Monday, November 26, 2001

Earth 2140 Expansion Released
8:41 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A recent update to the e.p.i.c. Interactive web site announces an unexpected addition to their expanding lineup: Earth 2140 Missionpack: The Final Conflict. While this small German company is currently working on the sequel, Earth 2150, it looks like 2140 fans have some more to tide them over. This add-on gives owners of the original futuristic real-time strategy game much new content to explore. While the bulk of The Final Conflict is new scenarios, there are new units and building as well. Here's the full update from the e.p.i.c. site:

You have fought many battles, but the war is not yet over. Once again new brave generals are needed to take one of the struggling powers to ultimate victory in this the Final Conflict in the year 2140. Do you have what it takes?

Missionpack The Final Conflict for real-time strategy hit Earth 2140 is now shipping. The new missionpack brings 80 new single- and 30 new multiplayer missions to the game. In addition there are 6 new units, 2 new buildings and a new terrain.

Mac-o-rama is the company's North American distributor, so look for the game to appear there in the near future.

e.p.i.c. interactive
Earth 2140
Buy Earth 2140

Custer Expands on Elite Force
12:02 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

This week's desktop from the electronic easel of Brad Custer expands on Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force:

With the recent release by Aspyr of Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force Expansion Pack, I felt the desire to use some of the great art that Raven Software originally supplied me. I hadn't played Elite Force in awhile, but I was quickly reminded how fun it is with the expansion pack. "Expansion" features a cornucopia of characters from the Hazard Team.
Head on over to Custer's Desktops to grace your screen with the Federation's wayward representatives.

IMG: Custer's Desktops

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Unreal II Tech Talk
11:37 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Tolstiy's Place recently spoke with Scott Dalton, Chris Hargrove, and Aaron Leiby of Legend Entertainment about some of the technology behind Epic's upcoming Unreal II. The interview focuses on the particle and skeletal mesh systems that Legend developed for the game.

In answer to a question about the choice of name for their skeletal mesh system, Hargrove explains:

The name "Golem" comes from Jewish legend, although its modern meaning has more in common with a creature from fantasy mythology. In fantasy terms, a golem is a soulless being made of some earthly substance (like clay or stone) which is given life by some magical or divine process. The entities of our mesh system start out as "lifeless" mesh models which are then given life through the creation of artist-controlled entity scripts (for animation and other effects). So the name seemed pretty appropriate.
Epic went on to develop their own skeletal animation system for the Unreal engine - it made an appearance in Epic's Bonus Pack 4 for Unreal Tournament - but it will be Legend's system that appears in Unreal II. Later in the interview, Dalton explains:
Our initial drive to include both the particle system and GOLEM were those of time and resources. Initially an advanced particle system wasn't something that Epic was interested in pursuing. We'd had a lot of good experience using the one Aaron created for Wheel of Time, so it was natural for us to want to take what we learned in that system and expand upon it to fit the design needs of Unreal 2. I believe that Epic realized the versatility of the system after seeing it in action and decided to pursue one themselves. GOLEM was created so that we could have in house control over our skeletal system and drive its feature set and schedule based upon our needs for this project. We've been very happy with the results and I think that gamers will be too. Not only are we doing some great stuff in Unreal 2 with this tech, but mod authors have some new toys to play with as well - and that's on top of all the great new technology that Epic has brought to the table.
For the rest of the interview, including more detailed tech talk about these new systems, follow the link below to Tolstiy's Place.

Unreal II
Tolstiy's Place: Unreal 2 technology stuff

New Mac Hall Comic Posted
11:26 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

This week's Mac Hall comic takes a jab at the eagerly anticipated, the long awaited, the very controversial, oh, and the just released for the "Xbox only" Bungie game called Halo.

Will Halo ever come to the Mac? Check out what "The Man" has to say by clicking on the link below to go to the latest Mac Hall Comic.

Mac Hall Comic: Web Bastard

State of Mac 3D
10:16 AM | Noah Brimhall | Comment on this story

While many Mac gamers tend to focus on the availability of 3D accelerator cards for the Mac, game developers have a keen interest in the state of 3D graphics creation applications for the Mac. A new article by looks at the state of these applications.

Written in reaction to a recent article at entitled "Maya: Doomed on Mac OS X," the new article gives a great history of the Mac 3D market and also covers new developments. The article highlights no less than ten Mac 3D programs, although some of these have been relegated to the graveyard.

As far as Maya goes, the author has a lot to say about's assertion that it is doomed:

This is a professional high-end application. It isnít aimed at your average Mac consumer! We shouldnít always connect the idea that Mac application equals low-cost tool. While it is true that Maya could be the most expensive application on the Macintosh ever sold, people and companies who work in the business have and do spend much more on hardware and software each year.
This is a very good read for those interested in Mac game development or just the state of Mac 3D. Maya: Doomed on OS X Looking at the Macintosh 3D market

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Dining with BioWare
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Those hungry for more news regarding the Dungeons & Dragons-based RPG Neverwinter Nights may find a recent article published by Neverwinter Nights Stratics interesting. Titled "BioWare Lunch," the story is what the title suggests: a reporter having lunch with two crew members from the NWN design team. Though details on NWN itself are sparse, the article does manage to dig up a few details.

The much-touted editor is described as being as "easy and advanced as we can hope for," though the article notes that, as the editor follows a square-grid plan, creating a rounded corridor may be a difficult task. D&D fans familiar with prestige classes will be happy to know that with a little bit of scripting, it's completely possible to create them.

The multiplayer stress tests also showed a pair of machines, acting as servers, supporting 64 simultaneous players with no problems. The programmers are on record as saying that a hard-coded limit is unlikely to be implemented, meaning that you can load up as many people as you want on one server as long as you don't mind the performance hit.

As far as a release date goes, BioWare flatly refused to even hazard a guess when questioned about it. As is often the case with games of this scope, the final answer is that "it's done when it's done." For those gnashing their teeth at BioWare for the perceived delay, here's a clip from the article showing just how hard at work the NWN team is:

Marc spends every night until 11:00 pm working and trying to be finished for us. He takes one night of the week to REALLY work late. Now that's what I call dedication. These guys are going to be bringing us a work of blood, sweat and tears and I hope we can show them our appreciation by allowing them to finish without us pressuring them for a release date. When it ships, it ships.
For the rest of the story, including some interesting insights into BioWare's own feelings regarding the NWN project and their expectations of the fan community, be sure to check out the rest of the article.

IMG Preview: Neverwinter Nights
BioWare: Neverwinter Nights
NWN Stratics: BioWare Lunch
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

GameSpy Previews Deus Ex 2
9:49 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Making their entry into what has already become a crowded rumor market, GameSpy have recently released their own preview of Deus Ex 2, sequel to Ion Storm's highly popular stealth-based FPS title, Deus Ex. Though the preview rehashes information that has been flying around the net for the past week or so, it does manage to expand on concepts and ideas already introduced.

Warren Spector, Studio Director of Ion Storm, has been noted as saying that he intends to make the interpersonal workings of Deus Ex 2 much more important and compelling than in the original. Rather than having a bunch of throwaway characters, Deus Ex 2 will contain characters that, if done properly, should actually become important to the player as gameplay progresses. A new facial modeling system is being implemented to provide the flexibility of a range of emotions through NPC facial expressions.

Another point Spector seems adamant about is that the graphics of Deus Ex 2 will now match its gameplay. As he puts it: "no compromises." GameSpy report the engine from "Unreal Warfare" is being used, and Ion Storm are also adding their own systems, including ones for sound, physics, and AI.

The level of detail in the game is also getting a boost:

They want to increase the level of detail, so polygon counts will be several hundred-fold higher than they were in Deus Ex, and the sound system should be able simulate the differences in sound traveling through a wide-open or partially open door. Secondly, the world should be more realistic in look and mechanics. According to Senior Programmer Pete Shelus, because of the physics system "objects actually interact properly instead of just sliding around. They will bounce around and roll, tumble realistically. These add a level of believability to the world." The third major goal for the new engine is that besides looking pretty, these worldly details have gameplay effects. So, the lighting and shadows allow you to hide, your likelihood of detection increases if you make too much noise, and in bitter cold environments, the snow affects lasers and surfaces can be slippery.
For those wondering about multiplayer, nothing has been cemented, though mod support is currently in Ion Storm's list of goals. As for a Mac version, nothing has been announced yet, bit it should be noted that Deus Ex 2 is still in early development, meaning there's plenty of time for news to surface.

Ion Storm
GameSpy: Deus Ex 2 Preview

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American McGee Interview
9:35 AM | Noah Brimhall | Comment on this story

American McGee, creator of Aspyr's hit game Alice and former level designer at id Software, has been interviewed by HomeLAN. McGee talks about the problems surrounding the PlayStation 2 version of Alice:

Alice was always meant to be a console game, but someone lost sight of that and decided that the PC title was the end of the line.
McGee also discusses his new company, Carbon6, and his new games in development.
Carbon6 is currently developing over five game titles. The first project we signed was a GBA title based on Spy Kids II. Oz is in pre-production right now and we're looking for a publishing partner for it. We'll announce other titles when the time is appropriate.
There is no news about a Mac version of any of the five game titles, but all seem to be early in development. For the rest of the interview, head over to HomeLAN.

HomeLAN: American McGee Interview
Aspyr: American McGee's Alice
IMG Review: American McGee's Alice
MGF: Download American McGee's Alice Demo (81 MB)
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Rogue Entertainment
American McGee's Alice

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Buy AppleWorks, Get The Sims Free
9:28 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Through the end of February, Apple is running a promotion to reward work with a little play:

AppleWorks 6.2 handles word processing, page layout, painting, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations - and itís built for Mac OS X. And now AppleWorks comes with something extra - The Sims or The Sims: House Party Expansion Pack. Totally fun and absolutely free. After all, good work deserves a bonus.
For all the details, follow the link below to Apple's web site. Or, if you want to buy one of these games by itself, head over to our partner, Compuexpert. And for more information on these hot games, be sure to read IMG's reviews.

IMG Review - The Sims: House Party
Apple: Work has its rewards
IMG Review - The Sims
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims
Buy The Sims

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Shadowbane Contest Winner
8:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After counting down over the past week, the Shadowbane web site has finally revealed the winner of their fan fiction contest. The first place prize went to Britton Gregory for the piece, "Ballad of the Siege of Vodiranon." While everyone in the top five submitted excellent work, Wolfpack seemed particularly impressed with Gregory's use of sweeping destiny. Since we don't want to give away any of the story, here's a clip from their write-up on the piece:

At last, the final story arrives. Our next author offers a story that has action, drama, and purpose. But more so than that, our winning author delivers to us the most difficult aspect of fiction to achieve - a sense of destiny.

Imagine living in a time of great movements in history. A time when the fates of ordinary men and women only flicker and dim in comparison to the blinding power of heroes, demons, and mighty generals.

What can be said for those whom the bards miss, and fail to sing about? What small lives will change, when the rush of destiny sweeps all into war? This story offers an all too brief look at mighty times, and even hints at those yet to come.

Be sure to head over and check out the posted works of all the winners. Shadowbane fans are truly some talented folk, as evidenced by these writings. The winners will receive a variety of prizes, including betas of this much-anticipated massively-multiplayer online role-playing game and signed merchandise from the Wolfpack team.

Shadowbane Fan Fiction Contest: Third Place
Shadowbane Fan Fiction Contest: Second Place
Ubi Soft: Shadowbane
Shadowbane Fan Fiction Contest: First Place
Wolfpack Studios

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Deimos Rising Hits Final Candidate
8:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

David Wareing, programmer for Ambrosia Software's upcoming shooter sequel Deimos Rising, has updated the game's progress log with news of its first Final Candidate release. This means they expect this version to be the final one. If testing confirms it is sufficiently bug-free, you can expect to see it very soon.

As mentioned in the past, Mac OS X support won't be offered initially, though Ambrosia president Andrew Welch is already on the case and helping to get the title Carbonized.

Deimos Rising is a classic top-down shooter which looks to take the genre ahead with impressive graphics, a weapon purchasing system, and a huge number of enemies to take down. Though Wareing has noted in the past that Mac OS 9.2.1 seems slower than previous versions of the OS, at this point he discounts the idea of the ATI/OpenGL drivers being the cause.

Here's Wareing's full post:

Deimos has gone Final Candidate. The game is now complete and will be released as soon as it passes the final round of testing.

We're looking to see if we can get a Carbonised version out in a short time frame, with Andrew Welch helping out with the conversion process. A lot will come down to how well implemented DrawSprocket is on OS X and the differences in window updating and buffering.

Regarding the slow down in Mac OS 9.2.1, it should be pointed out that the source of the problem is unknown. Though Copybits performance is drastically slower in this release, nothing at this stage points to the ATI or OpenGL drivers being the cause.

For more information and screen shots on Deimos Rising, head over to Ambrosia's beta shots page now. We'll keep you posted as a demo of Deimos Rising becomes available.

Ambrosia: Deimos Rising Progress Log
Ambrosia: Deimos Rising Beta Shots
Ambrosia Software
Deimos Rising

Mac Games News for Friday, November 23, 2001

IMG Reviews The Power Mac G4/86712:21 PM
Quake 1.0.3 for Mac OS X Released11:05 AM
Sloppy Sokoban Released10:58 AM
Marathon: Resurrection Updated10:27 AM
MacGamez Reviews Age of Empires II10:25 AM
X-Plane 6.06 Released9:10 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, November 23, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
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Friday, November 16, 2001
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