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Monday, February 11, 2002

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GLQuake & GLHexen 2 Carbon Updates
6:00 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Version 1.0b9 was publically released yesterday of the OpenGL-accelerated Mac GLQuake, GLQuakeWorld, and GLHexen 2 applications, along with MacNehahra.

Frank "pox" Condello posted the following news yesterday at the Mac GLQuake project page at SourceForge:

Build 1.0b9 marks the first unified Carbon (Mac OS 8.6-X native) releases of Mac GLQuake, GLQuakeWorld, GLHexen 2 (Regular, Mission Pack & Demo apps), and the MacNehahra application which allows Mac users to play the popular Nehahra Project Quake Conversion and Seal of Nehahra Machinima Movie.

This release builds on the Mac OS X support first introduced in GLQuake 1.0b4, fixing many known issues, and improving performance and functionality.

The work of the Mac GLQuake project, headed up by Condello, Brad Oliver, and Nicholas Lamkins, is based on the open-source releases of the code to id Software's classic first-person shooter Quake and its Internet-optimized multiplayer variant QuakeWorld, as well as on the open-source release of the code to Raven Software's Hexen II Mission Pack, the Portal of Praevus. As its name implies, the project's releases support OpenGL rendering only.

Unlike Quake and the original Hexen, both of which came to the Mac not long after their PC counterparts shipped, Hexen II was never released for this platform. After Raven released the source code for the Portal of Praevus, project developers adapted it to use both the Hexen II Mission Pack and the original Hexen II data files.

Subsequently, MacPlay announced a commercial port of Hexen II for the Mac, one which should support Hexen II mods and cross-platform networking. In the words of the Mac GLQuake project:

MacPlay has announced a boxed retail version of Hexen 2 and we fully expect they will provide better support and value than is possible from a small group of volunteer developers working in their spare time.

Our efforts are further hampered by the fact that we're using the open sourced Hexen 2 Mission Pack exe code, and not the code used to build the original Hexen 2. This means our version of GLHexen 2 and the GLHexen 2 Demo use the Mission Pack protocol and game logic, making them incompatible with mods and demos created for the original. Multiplayer with clients or servers using the original network protocol will also not be possible. Mods and demos made for the Mission Pack will work with the GLHexen 2 Mission Pack application however, as will multiplayer between users running identical versions of Mac GLHexen 2.

With the above in mind, we will continue to maintain feature and release parity with the other game applications hosted here out of courtesy for those who have already bought the PC version of Hexen 2 for use on their Mac.

Despite IMG's inquiries, neither MacPlay nor Contraband Entertainment, who is porting Hexen II for the Mac publisher, have confirmed whether MacPlay's version, currently in beta, will include or even support the Hexen II Mission Pack.

For more information or to download the Mac GLQuake project's latest updates, visit the web sites below, and if you haven't already, be sure to read our Hexen II review.

IMG Review: Hexen II
GLQuake & GLHexen 2 for Mac OS
HeXen II
Nehahra Project
Mac GLQuake & GLHexen 2: Downloads
Buy HeXen II

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X-Plane 6.10 Beta 4 Released
11:59 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Laminar Research has released version 6.10 beta 4 of their extensive civilian flight simulator, X-Plane. Although the update sounds incremental, quite a few new features have been added.

Most notable is support for Mac OS X, although with the temporary absence of joystick support. (Laminar is quick to note that it will not drop support for Mac OS 9.) Regarding their newly supported OS, Laminar had this to say:

OS X is unquestionably the coolest OS ever... it has NEVER so much as hiccupped during the entire development process, even when the applications running on it have gone haywire!
An impressive list of minor enhancements also accompanies this release.

Furthermore, a host of improvements are being added to X-Plane, including support for jet-propelled gyrocopters, ridge lift for gliders, variable center of gravity, and all-new scenery textures.

A freely-downloadable scenery pack is also in the works that will add 12 gigabytes of data to X-Plane, including over 14 million hi-definition roads, rivers, railroad tracks, and powerline towers across the entire planet, along with 50 or so different land use types.

X-Plane is a highly modular general aviation flight simulator known for its robustness and expandability. Players can design and fly aircraft from simple Cessnas to obscure Mars planes using its accompanying tools system.

IMG Review: X-Plane
X-Plane Beta Information
X-Plane 6.10 Beta 4 (40 MB)

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IMG Feature: The Making of Otto Matic
11:16 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Ever wonder how games are created? Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software has written an article for IMG on the making of Otto Matic, the company's latest game, which shipped late last year.

Here's a clip from the feature:

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a huge fan of the old 1930s / 1950s sci-fi movies. Watching those old shows on TV every Saturday morning while growing up made an impression on me, and it really helped to spark the creative side of my brain. In recent years the genre and style of those movies has made a reappearance in such movies as "Mars Attacks" and the TV show "Futurama."

The original game design for Otto Matic was called "They Came From Planet X," and it was much more of a direct homage to classic sci-fi than how the final game came out. Originally, the plan was to base each level on some classic sci-fi theme such as The Blob, Night of the Living Dead, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Attack of the 50 ft. Woman, etc. We were even going to make it look like the planets in the intro screens were being hung by a string!

If you're curious what goes into designing and creating games, be sure to check out the making of Otto Matic.

IMG: The Making of Otto Matic
IMG Preview: Otto Matic
Otto Matic
Pangea Software
MGF: Otto Matic Demo 1.0.2 (24.8 MB)

Westlake Adds 'Miller'; Harry and Wolf Awaiting Approval
9:37 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Continuing a long tradition of code-names for unannounced games, Westlake Interactive has added "Miller" to its project status page. This title is in Early Development, so let the guessing games begin. If you think you might have a good connection to a possible upcoming title, be sure to tell it out in the IMG Forum.

Other changes to Westlake's project status page have been made as well: Mac OS 8.x/9.x support is now listed separately from native support for Mac OS X, and it should be noted that both of the highly anticipated titles, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, are essentially done. Westlake lists the games, which it ported for Mac publisher Aspyr Media, as "Awaiting Approval" as the company waits for sign-offs from license holders and PC publishers. Fans of both games should be happy to hear the titles are all but out the door, assuming no major issues are found at the last minute.

IMG Preview: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
IMG Preview: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Harry Potter
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Westlake Interactive: Project Status Page
Buy Harry Potter
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

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Does Game Length Matter?
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

The Adrenaline Vault has posted an article by Gavin Carter concerning the trend to increasing development time and decreasing gameplay that pervades today's computer games. He examines some of the probable causes of the problem and showcases two contrasting philosophies of game development:

Are the better titles shorter, yet provide a more compact experience, with something new waiting around every corner, or is some filler content good to throw in if it lengthens the experience? Two examples illustrating these opposing viewpoints are Raven's Elite Force and Verant's Everquest. Elite Force followed the first paradigm, packing a lot of content and surprises into fairly small levels. Everquest follows the second paradigm, mainly to provide enough space for thousands of participants to play at once. Interesting locations are often spaced far apart, requiring long runs across open fields or repetitive forests to reach.
Carter's suggestions for increasing the replay value of a game include expanding single-player class choice, level editors, multiplayer features, and ranking systems. The article closes on an upbeat note:
If you haven't noticed, short games are the bane of my existence. I hate having to wait years for a game to release, only to have it keep me occupied for little more than a week. Though it appears developers are starting to take steps away from this, plenty more effort could be expended. Expanding games benefits everyone. Consumers are happier and, thus, buy more products. A little thought and planning during development go a long way toward quality titles with a good balance of length and features.

Adrenaline Vault: Awaiting Gaming's Growth Spurt
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Click to enlarge Issues Identified, Addressed
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment's online multiplayer service has acknowledged several recent issues concerning server downtime and temporary loss of features.

A post on the Status Forum mentions the inability of Diablo II and Diablo II Expansion players on the USWest Realm to whisper to each other using character names, although player account names still work.

Other posts mention lost connections to caused by one of its ISP's backbone routers, and a recent ISP-related outage on the USEast and USWest Realms. According to the posts, all issues are being investigated, and is working to correct the problems.

IMG Review: Diablo II
IMG Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Blizzard: World of Diablo Status Forum
Buy Diablo II

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Neverwinter Nights Interviews
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

Both GameBanshee and IGN PC have posted new interviews with BioWare executives. In the first Q&A session, IGN PC spoke with BioWare's joint CEOs, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, about their recent decision to switch publishers for Neverwinter Nights from Interplay to Infogrames. The article focuses primarily on the breakup and it's aftermath, but does hint at the company's future plans concerning Neverwinter Nights and other Dungeons & Dragons-based games. In the words of Muzyka:

We're very big fans of the D&D universe and we know that we have a lot of loyal fans who like that world as well. We're certainly interested in exploring additional development in this world...
The GameBanshee interview is much more game- than business-oriented and delves deeply into gameplay specifics and features of Neverwinter Nights. Some tantalizing tidbits include the promise of over 200 spells, 60 hours of gameplay, and hundreds of magic items available.

Here's an excerpt on the subject of the game's implementation of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rule set:

GB: Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor was the first game released that incorporated many of the 3rd edition rules, but some people were disappointed at its lack of character customization due to the fact that you couldn't select your feats and skills (among other things). Can you tell us what you've done to make sure players feel like their character is "unique" in NWN? Will there be any notable aspects of the 3rd edition rules left out?

Zeschuk: We are allowing players to select individual skills and feats both at character creation, and when characters level up. For people that don't want to totally customize their character we will have a couple options. One option is the ability for the game to make recommendations for the player in choosing skills and feats, and the other is the ability to choose among various "packages" of skills and feats (e.g. we make presets of brute fighter, dual-wielding swordsman, etc). We understand the importance of allowing players to customize their characters if they wish.

Follow the links below for the complete text of these interviews.

IMG Preview: Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
GameBanshee: Neverwinter Nights Interview
IGN PC: Neverwinter Nights Interview
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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WWII Online OS X Client Lives
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

Despite its non-release this past summer and Playnet's fiscal demise, on a recent chat session, World War II Online developers Cornered Rat Software revealed a glimmer of hope about the massively multiplayer online game's possible release for the Mac platform.

When asked if the the Mac version of WWII Online was officially dead, producer Chris "Mo" Sherland replied:

No. We are looking for a publishing deal. Our launch made some folks shy, but the stability is there now. Mac version works on OS X and is at full parity with the PC version. It's just a matter of striking a deal.
The release of the Mac OS 9 version was originally scheduled to ship the same time as the PC game did, but it never materialized due to technical reasons. Last december IMG reported that Playnet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

IMG News: Playnet Filing for Bankruptcy?
Cornered Rat Software
World War II Online
UnknownPlayer: WWII Online Chat

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Newbie Impressions of Warcraft III Beta
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment recently began its PC-only external beta test of Warcraft III. Given the seemingly universal popularity of the Warcraft real-time strategy series, it comes as a small surprise that has posted the beta-testing impressions of a self-confessed newbie to the Warcraft universe. The article, written by "Mystikal," gives readers a blow-by-blow description of the initial beta experience, starting with installation and going through a multiplayer game.

One of the more interesting things Mystikal notes is the overall interface. He describes menus as having sliding toolbars as well as animated clouds in the background. He also notes the utter lack of the spamming and immature comments that usually afflict's public servers.

The bulk of the multiplayer game described in the article covers a battle with another tester named "Yes," with both of them using the Undead army:

I went mainly towards air units, going for Frost Wurms and Gargoyles. I'm still not that great at using the Necromancers, as I proved when I tried to attack with them, and was quickly destroyed. Also note that "Yes" was also the Undead. After expanding for 15 minutes; I got my Deathknights (I chose three of them, still unsure why I picked them as my hero units), and planned for an attack. Unfortunately before I could begin my assault I was attacked by an army of Frost Wurms and Gargoyles, as well as a Deathknight. I quickly used my Crypt Fiend's (I think thatís what it is) web ability, and with a little micro-management managed to web down 6 of his Wurms. I managed to put down this little attack quickly, and began to produce a few Abominations / Meat Wagons / Fiends, to attack with.
The rest of the article covers further impressions, including more insight into the workings of the Undead army. Those interested can find the whole article at

IMG Preview: WarCraft III
WarCraft III Mystikal's Beta Impressions
Buy WarCraft III

Custer Continues to Conquer
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As much as it pained our resident desktop artist to replace the lovely Cate Archer, featured last week, his sense of duty brings us this week yet another creation.

Titled "Conquer," this desktop celebrates Sid Meier's latest triumph: Civilization III, a turn-based strategy game that has been well received by both Mac and PC gamers.

Here's a clip from Brad Custer on his latest:

It's been over a month since the Macworld Expo San Francisco and MacSoft taking a Best of Show Award home for Civilization III. I have been overloaded with requests to do a desktop of Civilization III for awhile. So, when I gained access to some hi-res art from MacSoft, I finally had the art I needed to satisfy the masses.
As always, those interested in downloading his creations can find them at Custer's Desktops. Don't forget to check out IMG's recent review of Civilization III as well for more information on this outstanding title.

IMG: Custer's Desktops
IMG Review: Civilization III
Civilization III
Buy Civilization III

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Aliens vs Predator Updated to 1.0.4
6:00 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

In response to the e-mail of a gamer troubled about the persistence of several mouse-related control bugs in version 1.0.3, Contraband Entertainment's Bill Heineman quickly patched Aliens vs Predator and released version 1.0.4.

In the hit first-person shooter based on the popular Aliens and Predator movies, gamers are given the opportunity to assume the role of a member of one of three species: human Colonial Marine, Alien, or Predator. Aliens vs Predator was brought to the Mac by MacPlay, who recently announced that they will also be publishing the sequel, Aliens vs Predator 2.

Some of the changes to version 1.0.4 include:

  • Mouse movement is more responsive.
  • MouseWheel up and down are now the same in Mac OS 9 and X.
  • Keyboard remapping menu is now more responsive (it sometimes didn't accept a keypress or mouse press when remapping a keyboard code)
  • If using a Rage Pro chipset (old iMac or iBook), the game would go back to the desktop when starting a game, however, the game was in progress, just not visible. This only occurred in Mac OS X. This is fixed, however, if you are using a Rage Pro chipset, it is RECOMMENDED that you run AvP in Mac OS 9 to get hardware acceleration. Rage 128, Radeon and nVidia hardware work fine in Mac OS X.
  • Adds the latest GameRanger libraries.
  • Supports up to five mouse buttons.

In a thread at the MacGamer forums, Heineman had this to say concerning bug reporting and the quick turnaround time for version 1.0.4:

You'd be surprised at how many issues I may not know about. You see, I get VERY few bug reports. As a result, I find that someone sends me an email bitching about a certain bug that I didn't even know existed.

I can't fix everything as fast as that, but if someone has a problem with one of my games, send an email to me detailing the bug/issue in as much detail as possible. It really really helps me track down bugs.

We're always grateful when programmers are concerned to support their own work.

Follow the link below to download version 1.0.4.

IMG Review: Aliens vs Predator
Aliens vs. Predator: Gold
MacGamer Forums: AvP 1.0.4 released
MGF: Aliens vs Predator 1.0.4 Demo (59 MB)
MGF: Aliens vs Predator 1.0.4 Update (3 MB)

Mac Games News for Friday, February 8, 2002

Icewind Dale, realMyst Reach Beta4:09 PM
IMG Reviews Zork: Grand Inquisitor12:00 PM Opens Starcraft, Red Faction Archives11:16 AM
New Shadowbane Closed Beta Journal Available9:25 AM
Gameporium Loves Mac Gamers9:21 AM
GameSpy Interviews Ressurected Cinemaware9:19 AM
Aspyr Updates Project Status Page9:16 AM
Unreal 2 Preview9:14 AM
Ambrosia's President Interviewed6:00 AM Closes Doors, Opens Source6:00 AM
ComputerUser Examines OS X Gaming6:00 AM
EV Nova 1.0.0b8 Released6:00 AM
nVidia VP Talks GeForce46:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, February 8, 2002 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, February 7, 2002
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
Monday, February 4, 2002
Friday, February 1, 2002

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