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Wednesday, January 16, 2002

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EV: Nova Hits Beta 7
8:13 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Escape Velocity: Nova from Ambrosia Software is nearing release: author Matt Burch writes that the game has reached beta 7. In a post to the EV Nova progress log, Burch went on to say that this might be the last beta before going into the final candidate stage:

EV Nova beta 7 released.

Why beta 7 and not final candidate 1? Because we made enough changes to warrant an extra beta. This will let us test more stuff now and not be forced to wait till the last minute. Luckily this should make the real final candidate stage fairly painless.

For reference, there are about 600 items in my change log (which covers only the game engine itself, not the scenario data or graphics) for the period between beta 1 and today.

If all goes well, EV Nova should be released sometime in February. Be sure to check out IMG's preview of EV Nova to learn more about this exciting title.

IMG Preview: Escape Velocity: Nova
Escape Velocity: Nova
Ambrosia: EV3 Progress Log

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IMG Reviews WingNuts
11:59 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Today, IMG's Patrick Leyden reviews Freeverse Software's recently released arcade-style shooter, WingNuts.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

[Freeverse Software] built a solid reputation as a high-quality game developer, but their focus has generally been in the areas of puzzle and card gaming. WingNuts is clearly inspired by Freeverse’s roots as a developer of puzzle and card games. The game combines proven play mechanics with a fun (yet simple) back-story, colorful graphics and imaginative sound effects....

If there is a single element of this game that points to its 80s arcade shooter roots, it is its library of sound effects. From the weapons fire to the roar of your and your enemy’s engines, WingNuts sounds like it should be an arcade. Any gamer who has spent hours plowing through classic shooters in an arcade setting or by using MacMAME will appreciate the sonic heritage of WingNuts.

The music of WingNuts is extremely high quality. It has a certain whimsical quality that perfectly complements the game’s story and visual flair. Like the sound effects in the game, the music has been influenced by genre titles but stands on its own as a very polished video game score. The last of the important aural elements of WingNuts are the pieces of dialogue that are spontaneously played throughout the game. As you play through the game, both Baron von Schtopwatch and members of your own WingNuts team will talk to you. These will either be helpful and encouraging comments from your fellow WingNuts or berating and distracting quips from the Baron himself. Either way, these snippets of dialogue (and accompanying pictures) are often hilarious. WingNuts would simply not be complete without them.

Follow the link below for the full text of our review.

IMG Review: WingNuts
MGF: WingNuts Demo 1.0 (17.3 MB)

Quake II for Mac OS X Adds AQ2 Support, More
11:18 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

The Fruitz of Dojo updated their Cocoa port of Quake II twice in the last few days, adding support for the fantastically popular "realism" mod Action Quake2 to their Mac OS X-native version of id Software's first-person shooter.

Here's what's new:

Quake II 1.0.2:
This update brings lots of improvements like a "Connect To Server" service, keypad support, working paste and mousewheel support.
Quake II 1.0.1:
[This] Quake II update brings the Action Quake II game library to Mac OS X and many other small changes to the OpenGL renderer plug-in.
You can download the latest Cocoa application from our sister site, MacGameFiles. You'll need the data files from a retail copy of Quake II.

To play Action Quake2, you'll also need a copy of the mod's data files, which you can download from the Action Quake2 web site. (And remember that you can also play AQ2 under Mac OS 9 with the Action Quake game library available from the Railgun Project.)

MGF: Quake II 1.0.2 for Mac OS X (1.1 MB)
Fruits of Dojo: News
Action Quake2
The Railgun Project

Undying, Hot Date Slated for March
9:45 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media recently updated their Project Status page with regard to two titles: Clive Baker's Undying, a first-person shooter with a horror setting straight out of the imagination of Clive Barker, and The Sims: Hot Date, the next installment in the massively popular Sims series.

Both projects are currently listed as being in early development and have a projected release date of March 2002. Westlake Interactive, the developers of the Mac versions of both titles, recently announced at Macworld Expo their work on Hot Date, and explained the delay with Undying as being due to finishing the development of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Readers looking for more information on these two titles can check out the product description pages at Aspyr's web site.

Aspyr: Project Status
Aspyr: Clive Barker's Undying
Aspyr: The Sims: Hot Date
Westlake Interactive
Buy The Sims

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Candy Cruncher Coming to OS X
8:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Brian Hook, the veteran game programmer of id Software and 3dfx fame, recently released more information about the first title from his new company, Pyrogon, called Candy Cruncher. This colorful puzzle game is currently available only for Windows. But in a post yesterday to Apple's game developer list, Hook remarked that he now has Candy Cruncher up and running on Mac OS X—and it's 50% faster than the PC version.

This is obviously a huge ego boost to Apple's OS X team, and Hook searches for an explanation in his post:

Okay, here's a wacky one. I have two machines, a G4/867 w/ 512 MB RAM and GF2MX graphics (and a secondary card with ATI Rage 128); and a dual P3/933 w/ Win2K SP2, 512 MB RAM and GF3 graphics.

I have a puzzle game that now runs on both (sort of). But, it runs at 125 fps on my Mac, and only 75 fps on my PC....

Can anyone offer any other explanation why a Mac would blit 50% faster than a comparable PC with slower clock speed?

IMG talked more with Hook on the subject, and he expects to have a playable OS X demo out in the next few weeks.

While this is well and good, it seems Candy Cruncher is just a test bed for cross-platform compatibility on Pyrogon's future projects. First on that list is an online RPG called Stellar Deep, set to come out for Mac OS X and Windows late in the year. What little information is known about the game so far is posted on the Pyrogon site, so give it a look if you're interested. And keep an eye on MacGameFiles for the Candy Cruncher demo to appear around the end of the month.

Past IMG News on Pyrogon
Candy Cruncher

Spector, Smith Talk Deus Ex 2
8:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A lengthy new interview at GameSpot talks with Warren Spector and Harvey Smith about one of their next huge sequels in the works, Deus Ex 2. While no Mac version of the game has yet been announced, remember it is using the Unreal engine again, and the first game wasn't revealed as coming for the Mac until late in its development. That said, this interview is one of the first good looks at Ion Storm's plans for the game, and any fans of Deus Ex will surely want to give it a look.

While the pair don't discuss much about the game's content, they do give some information on the direction they want to take and their goals for the sequel. Topics include game length and replayability, whether to include multiplayer, and the challenges of improving on the original gameplay. Here's a clip about their impressive (if not a bit far-reaching) goals for the game:

GS: Though Deus Ex does let you circumvent some of the combat, invariably, some sequences require deadly force. Will first-person shooter sequences still be emphasized in the sequel?

WS: Let me jump in and answer this one. See, you're right that Deus Ex got pretty action-oriented in places... but when we started thinking about Deus Ex, we really wanted players to be able to get through the game sneaking, talking, shooting, or however else they wanted. Unfortunately, time and technology imposed some unfortunate limitations on us. As a result, Deus Ex ended up being far more combat-oriented than I hoped it would be. Stealth was an option, but it almost always made the game harder than the brute-force approach. I won't speak for the rest of the team, but I consider that one of our failures. Harvey and the Deus Ex 2 team are working hard to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again in Deus Ex 2.

HS: We want the player to be free to solve problems in his own way. We have some devilish, just evil weapons planned, but we also have established a new goal for our game—we want the player to be able to play the game (and have fun in a challenging way), from start to finish, without touching a weapon.

WS: Go, Harvey! If that happens, I'll be the happiest guy in gaming!

As will the rest of us, if the team is truly able to pull it off. Head over to GameSpot and read through the rest of the Q&A for much more good information on the game, and stay tuned to IMG for any word on a Mac version. Ion Storm is staying tight-lipped about a release date, but it's likely to be at least a year off.

Deus Ex 2 Interview with Harvey Smith and Warren Spector

Mac Crystal Space Updated
8:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

It seems the Mac branch of the open-source 3D engine Crystal Space, which had been somewhat stagnant, received a much needed shot in the arm recently. Programmer Matt Reda has updated three essential drivers for the engine to run well under Mac OS X. The engine is finally able to take advantage of full hardware acceleration via OpenGL, as well as CoreGraphics for any software rendering that might be necessary.

The main Crystal Space page has details on the new drivers; here's a clip with general information:

Matt Reda, a new member of the Crystal Space development team, has written three new Mac OS X drivers for Crystal Space. The addition of these drivers places the Mac OS X port of Crystal Space on par with other ports in terms of performance, capability, and usability. Game development on Mac OS X with Crystal Space is now a viable option.
If you're wanting to take a look at Mac OS X Crystal Space for a game or project, you can check out the CVS branch now or wait until the next major milestone release. Congratulations to Matt Reda and Eric Sunshine for their good work so far on this impressive (and free) project.

Crystal Space

UT X Status Check
8:13 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

While Westlake Interactive has certainly had a busy holiday season followed quickly by Macworld Expo San Francisco, that still doesn't stop Unreal Tournament fans from asking about the Mac OS X version of the popular shooter. Westlake president Glenda Adams recently responded to a question about UT X, offering encouraging news about help from Apple on the port.

She's also looking into some unaligned data issues which could be holding up UT X as well as causing slowdowns in other projects like the Carbon version of Tomb Raider: Chronicles:

Nothing happening on it over the holidays, between Christmas and Macworld I've had little time to program on anything. But I'm back in the office now, and UT X is definitely on the slate. I had a good talk with some Apple people at Macworld, and hopefully we'll be able to get some Apple engineers to take a look or give me some tips on other things to try. So I'm definitely pulling more resources in on the project.

I did hear one good tip about unaligned data problems and some potential stdlib realloc() issues, so I'll probably see if those help at all next week.

On a side note—the unaligned data issues may cause more performance than stability problems, but this may help with the slow performance of Tomb Raider Chronicles under X as well. I'll be looking at that next week or two as well.

Unaligned data may sound non-threatening, but we talked with GraphSim at Macworld and they revealed it was the holdup on OS X versions of games like Red Faction and Black & White. Apparently unaligned data is a minor problem under Mac OS 9 but a very much larger issue under OS X.

The good news is that after aligning the data, developers are generally able to meet or beat Mac OS 9's performance. We'll keep you posted with any new info on UT X or Westlake's other projects in the coming weeks.

IMG Review: Unreal Tournament
MacSoft: Unreal Tournament
Unreal Tournament
Westlake Interactive

Coldstone Game Engine Released
8:13 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Ambrosia Software today announced the release of the Coldstone game engine that brings professional-quality game building tools to the masses. With this unique tool, non-programmers can produce polished, stand-alone games that run on Mac OS, Mac OS X, and even Windows. Here's a snippet from Ambrosia's press release:

Imagine a set of powerful yet easy to use tools for constructing your very own stand-alone game... no rules... a completely blank sheet of paper on which to pen your masterpiece, your imagination is the only limit on what you can create. This is exactly what Beenox, in conjunction with Ambrosia Software, Inc., is bringing to you with the Coldstone game engine. Want to see for yourself? You can download a demo version and get started right now!

Unlike generic media creation tools such as RealBASIC, Director, or Flash, Coldstone is specifically geared towards making games. By focusing on game creation, Coldstone streamlines the design process, creating polished, stand-alone games that run natively on Mac OS, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. Create once, and distribute on whatever platform you choose, with all of the technical details taken care of for you.

So what kind of games can you create with Coldstone? We're waiting for you to answer that question. Coldstone is flexible enough to allow you to create games we've never even dreamed of, and we can't wait to see what springs from your imagination.

If you've ever wanted to create a game but never learned how to program, then here's your chance. Like Ambrosia says, all you need is a little imagination. Be sure to head over to Ambrosia's web site to get more information on Coldstone.

Ambrosia Software: Coldstone

Mac Games News for Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Game Developers Talk New iMac11:20 AM
MacGamer Posts Commandos 2 Preview11:20 AM
Call for Mac DooM Legacy Help10:15 AM
Custer Looks at Luxo10:15 AM
Laser Disc Classics Coming to OS X9:58 AM
Apple Feature on Online Gaming9:47 AM
Black & White Shipping Delayed9:47 AM
Details on the Next Tomb Raider9:47 AM
Magic: The Gathering Online for Mac?9:47 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, January 15, 2002 on one page

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