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Thursday, January 3, 2002

Red Faction for OS X Ready
10:40 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

If you've been playing Red Faction under Mac OS 9, but have been itching to play it under Mac OS X, then the wait is almost over. GraphSim has told IMG that the Red Faction 1.2 patch should be available for general release sometime today or tomorrow.

However, if you're interested in testing a pre-release version of Red Faction 1.2, then you can email GraphSim and they'll email you the patch. Please keep in mind that GraphSim is looking for testers who can provide some good feedback. Please don't ask for the patch if you don't intend to thoroughly test it.

Here's how to get the patch: email Amy Lorance at and kindly ask for the Red Faction 1.2 patch. Be sure to include "RF 1.2 tester" in the subject. The patch is about 2 MB in size, so be sure to keep that in mind as well.

If all goes well with the testing, the Red Faction patch should be released shortly.

IMG Review: Red Faction
Red Faction

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IMG Reviews Yamaha CAVIT RP-U200
12:55 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the Yamaha CAVIT RP-U200. What the heck is it? CAVIT stands for Convergence of Audio/Video and Information Technology, and is basically a stand-alone “external soundboard." The CAVIT line is intended to allow users to truly make their Macs (or PCs) the center of their home entertainment systems, adding home theater capabilities and a level of quality usually only found in high-end stereo.

Here's a snippet from our review by Michael Eilers:

Yamaha loaned me the RP-U200 model, and was kind enough to include a NS-P220 5.1 home theater speaker set. The primary difference between the RP-U200 and the other CAVIT models (DP-U50, AP-U70, RP-U100) is its ability to actually drive a five-channel set of speakers: a center speaker, two front speakers, two rear speakers and a subwoofer. Yes, that does add up to six speakers—the subwoofer counts as “0.1.”

Setup and installation couldn’t have been easier, and I have to say the RP-U200 was one of the most pleasant setup experiences I have ever had with external hardware. It fits the definition of “plug and play” perfectly—just plug the USB cable in, and boom! You are done. The Mac automatically switches to USB sound output on the fly (under both 9.x and OS X) and you get Dolby Prologic-quality audio pouring out in five channels of sound.

Attaching the 5.1 speaker system was very much like installing any other kind of audio component; the upright position of the CAVIT itself actually made this slightly easier than it is with a normal stereo receiver, because you could reach around the back easily and see what you are doing from both sides. The only thing left to do was install the software (an installer on the CD does this with a click) and I was ready.

Be sure to check out the rest of the review by clicking on the link below.

IMG Review: Yamaha CAVIT RP-U200

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Geneforge Update Released
10:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG reported late in December on a beta update from Spiderweb Software for their "RPG with a twist," Geneforge. For those not adventurous enough to deal with beta software, they have made the official, non-beta update available today. The download is a quick grab at only 844 KB, making it an easy update for anyone with a 'Net connection. The 1.0.1 update fixes a number of relatively minor issues in the game, and it will work on both the demo or registered versions.

The Geneforge support page at the Spiderweb web site also makes note of some issues still outstanding. If you're having troubles with keyboard freezing or resolution switching, head over there for the lowdown on what the problem might be. While Geneforge isn't yet Carbonized to run natively under Mac OS X, it should play nicely in OS X's Classic mode. Apparently it is possible to have a few issues under Classic as well though:

Some users have had difficulties getting perfect performance from Geneforge on OS X. Spiderweb Software has plans to carbonize all of our newer games in the Summer of 2002. Until then, while Geneforge is playable on OS X, troubles with the classic environment may cause difficulties.
  • When the OS X screensaver becomes active, it can mess up the Geneforge screen or even crash the game. As a workaround, if you are in the habit of leaving Geneforge running while you go elsewhere, increase the time until the screensaver goes active.
  • Sometimes, if you are playing Geneforge on screen resolutions greater than 800x600, when using Command-Tab to switch applications and returning to the game, the black borders do not redraw completely. This does not look very good, but it doesn't harm the game.
Again, we apologize for this ugliness. We will have Geneforge playing nice with OS X within a few months.
So the good news is that we can expect native OS X versions of the company's newer titles this summer (presumably Geneforge, Avernum 2, and maybe even 3). Stay tuned to IMG for the latest on all of their old-school RPGs.

IMG Preview: Geneforge
Geneforge Support Page
MGF: Geneforge 1.0.1 (844 KB)

Apple Helps Push OpenGL Forward
10:40 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story has posted notes from the December OpenGL Architectural Review Board meeting, which was hosted at none other than Apple's Cupertino campus. Representatives from a wide variety of companies were in attendance, including ATI, Nvidia, Microsoft, Sun, and many more. From the list of attendees, Apple also had quite a strong showing during the two-day event.

The meeting notes are rather technical, as they discuss both the direction for the current OpenGL 1.3 extensions, as well as the goals for the next major overhaul of the 3D API, OpenGL 2.0. It's critical for companies like Apple to keep pushing OpenGL forward so it will stay competitive with Microsoft's Windows-only DirectX graphics APIs. If Windows game developers choose OpenGL over DirectX, their games are that much easier to bring to the Mac thanks to OpenGL's portability.

It's good to see such strong attendance by hardware makers like Nvidia and ATI as well. As their next generations of 3D graphics cards become more and more "programmable" from a game's point of view, having OpenGL up to speed is critical. 3DLabs recently wrote up a number of white papers on OpenGL 2.0, and responses were presented at the meeting. Here's an excerpt from the web site with more:

3Dlabs has concentrated on white papers and reviews of them up until a few weeks ago. Incorporated feedback and otherwise updated white papers last week. Of ARB members, ATI, Apple, SGI, and to a lesser degree Sun have provided feedback. Discreet, Epic, Id, PTC, Rad Game Tools, SideFX, SoftImage, Vital Images among non-members have provided feedback. ISV feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

About 300 responses to an survey asking who supported the general direction of the work, with some interesting comments. General flavor of it's about time.

Head over and check out the meeting notes and OpenGL 2.0 write-up if you're so inclined. Even if the technical specs mean nothing to you, the influence of Apple on the next generation of this powerful 3D API is definitely a great thing for Mac gamers.

OpenGL ARB December Meeting Notes
Download OpenGL 2.0 Status (PDF)

The Inside Story of Romero
10:40 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

There are few computer gamers today that aren't familiar with the chaotic past of game designer John Romero, co-founder of Ion Storm. All one has to do is mention the game Daikatana to generate groans and insults from any gamers within earshot. For the few unfamiliar with the saga, Daikatana has the dubious distinction of having one of the most storied development histories of computer games to date, receiving harsh criticism throughout its development and spectacularly failing when it was finally released much later than anticipated.

However, there are often two sides to every story. To this end, Salon has published an article that focuses on the inside story as told by Christian Divine, a writer employed at Ion Storm. Titled "A hardcore elegy for Ion Storm," the article denounces the harsh criticism raised on the 'Net and seeks to paint a different picture of Romero and his vision:

Despite the social misfit-ism, the game world is far more accessible and democratic than any other media industry. Designers, programmers and artists are in constant touch through the global network. Getting a dream job can be as simple as sending off a great Quake map to a bigwig—as when Luke Whiteside was hired after sending John a sample of his work. One's skill or talent at design is self-evident without a Ph.D. or a capacity for tunneling through bureaucracy. Ion's critics never bothered to acknowledge that John always searched out and encouraged new talent for his company. He never forgot his gaming grass-roots or the people that had helped him out. This was the creative environment that Ion fostered.
Interestingly enough, Divine also remarks on the split between Romero and his former partner John Carmack, citing that Carmack's focus was more on cutting-edge technology while Romero's was on creative game design.

Not one to let these comments slide, Carmack was quick to post a rebuttal at

Ion storm failed due to lack of focus, which came from the top. They had some great employees (we hired some of them!), but games don't get done without someone in a position of authority forcing everything together. Romero's primary mistake was believing that abstract creative design was a primary, or even significant, part of a successful game. The "strategic creativity" in a game is less than 1% of the effort, and if you put that on a pedestal, you will de-emphasize where all the real work needs to be done.
Those looking to get past the 'Net-spawned rumors concerning Romero and Ion Storm should definitely give the Salon article a look, as the different viewpoint it presents is quite interesting. Carmack has also posted several comments on the article, as well as game design in general, at Slashdot's forums for those seeking yet another viewpoint.

Salon - A hardcore elegy for Ion Storm - The Rise and Fall of Ion Storm (Carmack comments) - The Rise and Fall of Ion Storm (More Carmack comments)
Ion Storm

Unreal Tournament 2?
10:40 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The January issue of French gaming mag Joystick contains a surprise feature on a title many gamers have been dreaming about for quite a while: Unreal Tournament 2. The four-page article, scans of which are available at Planet Unreal, contains a wealth of information and screenshots about this supposedly upcoming title.

Though the article is written in French, some enterprising readers were kind enough to translate the highlights of the article into English. Besides the usual graphic and skeletal animation enhancements that usually accompany a sequel of the first-person shooter variety, here's a short list of some of the more controversial features:

  • There will be vehicles to drive.
  • All weapons have been modified, no more razorjack and biorifle. Secondary fire mode will be there.
  • No more ammo packs, armor and medpacks. Replaced by recharge platforms: one for heath, one for armor, and one for weapons. You will be recharged progressively while standing on the platform.
  • You will respawn with all weapons (except for two special ones) and be packed with ammo.
Other new features listed include new maps, new races, and the ability to select and command one's own team in single-player games. The full list of translated features is available at Voodoo Extreme.

While the rumor is interesting, bear in mind that nothing is official. As far as we know, none of the companies associated with the Unreal series has stepped forward to confirm the development of UT2. Some interesting speculation by readers at Voodoo Extreme points to UT2 being a possible port of Unreal Championship, a game currently in development for the Xbox.

Planet Unreal: Unreal Tournament 2 Scans
Voodoo Extreme: Unreal Tournament 2 Information

Mac Games News for Wednesday, January 2, 2002 Opens for Business8:03 AM
Tomb Raider: Chronicles Patch Problems8:01 AM
One on One with Glenda Marie Adams7:18 AM
Apple on Blender6:00 AM
Beta 3 of dimension3 Released6:00 AM
Cave Dig 3 Released6:00 AM
Oni X Updated to 1.336:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, January 2, 2002 on one page

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