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Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Heretic II Enters Beta
6:00 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

"Burger" Bill Heineman and the other developers at Contraband Entertainment have been quite busy since returning from Macworld Expo. The latest news from the game development and porting house is that the long-awaited Heretic II, to be published by MacPlay after lying unpublished and mostly complete since the collapse of Logicware, has now entered beta and is still on track for an expected February release.

Heretic II, developed for the PC by Raven Software using id Software's Quake II engine, was the sequel to the Quake I engine-based Hexen II (also being ported by Contraband for MacPlay), which was itself the sequel to the Doom engine-based Hexen, which was in turn the sequel to Heretic, also based on id's Doom engine. Confused? Good.

Aside from being the computer game industry's poster child for craven sequelitis—the announcement of Heretic II for the PC elicited a barbed comment from id co-founder John Romero, who had already left the company, observing that id's and Raven's original plan was for a series of three games entitled "Heretic," "Hexen," and "Hecatomb,"—Heretic II was also very highly acclaimed. (Don't even get me started on the topic of console game names. Just how many "final" fantasies can there be?)

Taking a third person perspective on Raven's trademark medieval fantasy shooters with role-playing elements, Heretic II inspired not only favorable reviews, but a wealth of innovative third-party mods.

Here's a description from MacPlay's web site:

Beginning many years after the original Heretic, Heretic II sets you upon an epic quest across an entire continent to find a means to cleanse a world infected with a deadly magical plague that has victimized the people of the realm. As Corvus—the character from Heretic who has been banished to the Outer Worlds by D'sparil—you perform a variety of acrobatic, swimming and climbing maneuvers in order to penetrate the mystery of the plague. Exploring city, swamp, canyon and dungeon levels, you use a variety of offensive and defensive spells such as the Sphere of Annihilation, Repulsion and Fireball in conjunction with a magical bow and staff to defeat a multitude of insane plague-ridden denizens of Parthoris.
(Although Hexen I was published commercially for the Mac, Heretic I never was. Nonetheless, you can play the original Heretic via Brad Oliver's freeware port, available at the link below.)

Stay tuned to IMG for the latest on this exciting and long overdue game.

Contraband Entertainment
Heretic II
Brad Oliver: Heretic for the Macintosh

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IMG Looks at Harry Potter in Depth
11:54 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

The day Aspyr Media announced that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was coming to the Mac, IMG posted a first look at the game based on the first of J. K. Rowling's best-selling fantasy novels.

Today, IMG has posted a new, detailed preview by our own Eddie Park of this action-adventure game that is practically guaranteed to fly off store shelves:

When J. K. Rowling sat down to write Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I’m sure she had no idea that a bespectacled, black-haired boy with a lightning bolt scar across his forehead would go on to become the merchandising juggernaut that he is today. With a plethora of best-selling books, toys, and a movie being eagerly devoured by a rabid public hungry for more, it was inevitable that a game should eventually work its way to the hands of millions of eager gamers everywhere.
For curious gamers and Harry Potter fans who may apprehensive about this title, Park offers this encouragement:
Avid gamers know that any game bearing the title of a movie spells almost certain doom for the quality of said title. One only needs to look at the track record of past movie-related games to see why this is the case. Happily, however, Harry Potter manages to buck this trend and actually provides a decent gameplay experience for those willing to give it a shot.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is being ported by the good folks at Westlake Interactive—who have ported so many other Unreal engine games before—and is currently in the beta stage of development.

For the full text of our in-depth preview, follow the link below.

IMG Preview: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter
Buy Harry Potter

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Mac Torque Release Coming Soon
11:12 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG recently received new information from David Chait, programmer on the Mac branch of the Torque engine from GarageGames. As noted earlier in today's news, impressive new things are coming out of this modified Tribes 2 engine, and many of them could well be Mac-compatible.

In his correspondence, Chait notes that while he hasn't been in contact with the Trakers team yet, there is nothing preventing them from adding Mac support. With other Torque projects, a simple recompile has been all that is needed to get the Mac client up and running.

He does warn, though, that the point where any of the Torque teams diverge from the main source code tree might spell trouble for a Mac version. Here's his explanation:

But that comes with a caveat: it is in the hands of the teams to stay in sync with changes that occur in the main CVS tree. If, for instance, I make a change that fixes a crash issue, and they don't keep up to date, they'll still have the issue. In some sense, teams need to be thinking about this from day one, and not trying to "re-merge" at some stop-points along the way... It also means that a team's whole approach to modifying the codebase should be to do so [in a way that is] as non-intrusive to the current code files as possible, as it will be that much easier to stay in sync.
When it comes to the general state of the Mac Torque release, Chait is very optimistic. It seems his changes of late have been to add special new ATI features (Truform, etc) which will extend to the PC side of the code as well. He expects a Mac release to follow one last round of testing being done now. Here are some more details on his work:
Now, for the answer to your key question: Mac Torque is due out imminently. We decided to hold off releasing it as I had gotten a huge amount of new code in the beginning of the Macworld week (to try and tune it for ATI), and we wanted the testers to have a chance to really get into it (and many of them were at Macworld, so...). I've been in a code-frozen state for about a week, not wanting to fix even teeny issues as they're non-critical for first release, and we've been more working on the doc so that the average Mac developer should be able to quickly download and build the code, and run the demo.

There will always be work to be done—that's the fun of an ever-evolving engine. But I'm pretty happy with how far the Mac code has come, seeing as it is a side project and not a full-time job. Especially cool is the cross-platform CFM app, which runs perfectly well on both OS 9 and OS X. OS X in particular will want and need the most future work—performance definitely needs further tuning, as OS X has its own whole host of issues that can cut down your speed pretty quickly, and we're seeing large framerate drops (which other Mac developers have noted at times).

It's great to hear they're finally ready to get Mac Torque out to would-be Mac game developers for both Mac OS 9 and X. Congratulations to David and the rest of the GarageGames team for all of their hard work so far. This year should see some teams beginning to show off the results of their efforts with this new engine. For more information on Torque (formerly the V12 engine), be sure to read through IMG's interview with GarageGames' Tim Gift.

IMG Interview: GarageGames' Tim Gift
IMG News: Trakers: Bid for Glory Revealed
GarageGames Needs Testers
10:45 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

In a quick post to the Usenet newsgroup, DeltaTao's Joe Williams gave word the company is looking for testers for This is the multiplayer platform on which players of the upcoming Spaceward Ho! 5, the newest version of the classic turn-based strategy game of galactic conquest, will meet up and play against one another. It seems a lucky few gamers will get the chance to start testing out the new networking code very soon.

Here's the post from Williams in full:

We're going to start testing evenings at 9 PM PST. Anybody who wants to be a tester email me—there's no reward, and it's sort of like work. But you do get to see a pre-alpha game.
As he mentions, this is like a job, so don't bother him with requests unless you plan on actually following through with detailed bug reports. If you think you're up to the task, drop him an e-mail at now. And stay tuned for more on Spaceward Ho! 5 from IMG as the game nears release later in the year.

Spaceward Ho!

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Red Faction 1.2 Beta 2 Released
9:15 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

GraphSim has released a new beta of Red Faction 1.2, bringing it to beta 2. The company released beta 1 a few weeks ago, the first publically available Mac OS X-native version.

Here's a list of fixes from the read me for Red Faction 1.2 beta 2:

  • Update for multi-player mode to allow internet play against the Windows Red Faction 1.2.
  • Significant speed increase for Mac OS 8 and 9.
  • New application that runs natively under OS X.
  • Fixed key-down on launch to show the startup dialog—now "Control" key.
  • Fixed problem with save games and "period" (.) characters in the volume or folder name.
  • Added smoother mouse response.
The patch weighs in at 1.8 MB and includes two applications: an application for Mac OS 9 and a Carbonized application for Mac OS X. To install the patch, simply download the file, extract it, then place both apps into your Red Faction folder. There's also a small data file you'll need to put into the Red Faction "data" folder. After that, you're good to go.

To download the patch, head over to our sister site, MacGameFiles. If you find any bugs with this latest beta, you can e-mail the details to Have fun!

IMG Review: Red Faction
Red Faction
MGF: Red Faction 1.2 beta 2 (1.8 MB)

Television's Interest in Gaming
6:00 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story is reporting on the TV industry's recent surge of interest in gaming, citing the upcoming G4 gaming channel and Charter Communications' gaming-on-demand service.

G4, which will be broadcast by Comcast together with Insight Communications, will debut in over five million homes this April, featuring seven hours of original programming per week, which is considerable for an upstart channel. It is not known yet how much of this content will be specifically of use to Mac gamers, but with the number of cross-platform, A-list games reaching the market recently, there is sure to be something useful.

In this excerpt, Charles Hirschhorn, the CEO of G4 Media, had this to say:

This is a lifestyle channel. The game community deserves a channel. There have been decades of great work, and they deserve this channel, and our goal is to complement this community. In terms of hard-core gamers, we have to appeal to those people, but good television is accessible to casual gamers.
The article goes on to discuss the effect of the current economy and national tone on home entertainment diversity, as well as the projected future of television gaming services.

Follow the link below to read the rest of Wired's article.

G4 Media
Insight Communications
Wired: TV is Going Ga-Ga Over Games

Trakers: Bid for Glory Revealed
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Trakers: Bid for Glory is one of the first large-scale games being made with GarageGames' 3D engine Torque. Diligent readers may remember that this is the same engine that powered the popular PC-only Tribes 2 game and is now being licensed to would-be developers for only $100. While it sounds like the Trakers team is doing some custom coding, the Torque engine itself does have a Mac branch for portability to both Mac OS 9 and X, so it's very possible a Mac client could be released as well.

Trakers looks to have a very interesting concept as far as online games go. While anyone will be able to start up a multiplayer server, all of the game characters will be persistent and saved on a central computer. The game is a mix of deathmatch FPS and RPG, with players able to build up their skill sets by killing other players. A number of skills as well as other goodies like vehicles and special weapons will be available in this "combat simulation."

A new preview and an interview with game creator Daniel Neilsen have been posted at House 'O Spank. Together they provide a good look at what the development team hopes to accomplish with Trakers. Here's a clip:

People are different, people each have their own skills and abilities, strengths and weaknesses. There are no perfect classes of people, there are no snipers and spies, no soldiers and heavy gunners, and so on. And don't expect to find them here in Trakers either. If you plan to be a sniper or a thief then you're going to have the learn to do it. And that is where the role playing comes into the picture....

So what types of things will players be able to work with when building their character? When you start you will have points which can be assigned to four character attributes. These attributes are: Strength, Agility, Vitality and Knowledge. Each has effects on certain things and none is more important than the other.

While Trakers is certainly a ways off (the team is hoping to hit alpha soon), we'll keep an eye on its progress. We're also contacting GarageGames about the possibilities surrounding a Mac version, so stay tuned for more information on that front.

Trakers: Bid for Glory Interview
Trakers: Bid for Glory Preview

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Interview Talks Lineage Plans
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new interview up at The Electric Playground talks with NCSoft about their massively multiplayer online RPG coming soon to the Mac, Lineage: The Blood Pledge. David Swofford, an attendee at the recent Macworld Expo, gives some good information on the game, along with chief operating officer Kyuho Kim. They discuss the current plans for the North American launch of the popular title, future titles, and a bit about the Mac version due out next month.

Some of the more interesting tidbits include the fact that Lineage 2 should be announced as a 3D sequel to the game in a few months in Korea. Other games are also in the queue, though not much about them is known at this point. Lineage for the Mac was ported to Mac OS X in a few months by NCSoft's Jake Song, which bodes well for their other games down the road. Here's an excerpt from the chat:

Electric Playground: What's next for Lineage?

David Swofford: The Mac version will release with episode 10. When we say episode 10, that essentially includes all episodes up to that. We have two more episodes that will release this year. The team in Korea is working on episode 11. Beyond that, not anything we can announce publicly at this stage. It's sufficient to say it's our first-born, we're going to take care of it. We've got plans to announce beyond episode 12 and how we're going to grow the service.

We're looking to upgrade Lineage even before we hit Lineage 2.0. I think people are going to see some significant improvements in the current game, so we're going to continue to work on that, but we're going to continue to expand and have new products. In order to be a dominant leader in online entertainment, you have to.

Lineage's payment system is based on a monthly fee, though the client application is free to download and distribute. The episodes he refers to above are updates to the game which NCSoft adds to the game world free of charge. Stay tuned to IMG for much more on the Mac version of Lineage as it nears release in the coming weeks.

Electric Playground: Lineage Interview

Mac Games News for Tuesday, January 22, 2002

IMG Reviews the DVIator1:16 PM
Apple Game Articles12:58 PM
Game Developer Extolls OS X12:12 PM
Game Memorizer Helps Learn Controller Layouts11:20 AM
GameRanger Adds Giants Multiplay10:41 AM
JeuxMac and Mac4Gamer Interview Glenda Adams9:48 AM
Shadowbane Interview and New Screen Shots8:12 AM
Beta SiN Patch Adds OS X Support7:35 AM
Custer Makes a Blood Pledge7:35 AM
MOO3 Interview with William C. Fisher7:35 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, January 22, 2002 on one page

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