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Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Massive Microsoft Giveaway, Day 2
12:37 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

The first day of our Microsoft giveaway has ended and the three lucky winners of the SideWinder Game Pad USB have been chosen. They'll be contacted via e-mail to verify their personal information. So without further ado:

Keith Wofford
Josh Sorokin
Dan Crosby
If you missed out on the first day of the giveaway, fret not. We have more hardware to throw at our loyal readers! Today, we're giving away three SideWinder Precision 2 joysticks.

Priced at $39.95, this joystick features eight buttons, an eight way hat switch, a throttle, and a rotating stick. This joystick will satisfy everyone but the most hardcore simulator fanatics.

Head on over to our contest page to enter for your chance to win. The second set of winners will be announced tomorrow.

IMG: Microsoft Hardware Giveaway
SideWinder Precision 2

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IMG Reviews Survivor
12:15 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Chris Paretti of Survivor: The Interactive Game, a title from MacSoft based on the reality-based television series:

Remember the good old days when the only tropical entertainment we needed on television was Gilligan's Island? While the days of coconut radios are gone, small island drama was reborn on the popular CBS series Survivor. Millions tuned in to watch half naked men and women shipped to a remote location to compete for big money. The people at MacSoft allow us all the opportunity to become these castaways looking to outwit, outplay and outlast in Survivor: The Interactive Game.
For the rest of our review, follow the link below.

IMG Review: Survivor: The Interactive Game
Survivor: The Interactive Game

Is Casual Software Piracy Really Casual?
11:05 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Among the various topics gamers across the world frequently debate, few can start a rousing flame war more than the subject of software piracy. Some gamers abhor it, others swear by it, and many more field it somewhere in between.

In an attempt to raise awareness of one publisher's perspective on software piracy, Matt Slot of Ambrosia Software recently submitted an essay to TidBITS. Titled "The Plain Truth about Casual Software Piracy," the essay provides a unique view from the eyes of Ambrosia, a shareware company that is entirely dependent on registration fees in order to stay afloat.

The essay covers Ambrosia's ever-evolving shareware registration policies, starting all the way back from their humble beginnings:

A few years back, Ambrosia's software was distributed on the honor system. You could download the software and use it forever, scot-free except for the friendly reminders that you had the software for 1,500 days and still hadn't beaten level 6. This was obviously a big leap of faith on our part, but it built up an almost cult following among Mac users. What we lost in sales, we made up in good will. As a business model, the honor system wasn't ideal, but it certainly was idealistic, and it helped put Ambrosia's founder, Andrew Welch, through college and kept Ambrosia's employees supplied with pizza and beer. (I think there's a law of conservation at work there.)

This was all fine and good - except that eventually Andrew graduated and everyone else got sick of pizza and beer. Ambrosia grew from an interesting sideline into a full time place of employment. The company became an entity with its own purpose, its own office space, and its own gravitational pull. It also developed an insatiable appetite for cash, because as any MBA will tell you, the lifeblood of business is green.

The essay then goes into Ambrosia's exploration into more stringent ways of enforcing the registration process, including having to deal with hackers determined to foil those enforcement policies. Slot makes the relevant point that most people will be more than happy to register their products, unless they're given an easy way to get around registration.

Slot proceeds to give an example:

You see, to renew a stolen code, Joe User must contact a computer in our office. There's nothing nefarious about it - he sends us the user name and expired code and gets back a new license code or a suitable error message. We don't encrypt the data, we don't grab any personal information, and we don't even open a connection without explicit permission. But when Joe User clicks that bright shiny Renew button, our server records the product, user name, and the Internet address he came from.

For the first two days after we posted the latest update to Snapz Pro X, our server was busy. Of the 194 different hosts that tried to renew a license code, 107 of them sent in pirated codes. Incredibly, more than 50 percent of the people installing the update entered one or both of the pirated codes we've known about for months. Some of these people even tried several different variants on the names when the server refused them access ("maybe I misspelled it"), and one guy got so frustrated he pounded the Renew button over and over every four seconds ("WHY click IS click THIS click NOT click WORKING???") until our server blacklisted him for flooding.

You don't have to remind us that the sample isn't statistically valid. Nevertheless we think it's a reasonable approximation of reality - if not a little conservative. It certainly reinforces our perception that casual piracy is both significant and widespread.

While Slott doesn't go so far as to make the often implied but patently false claim that every instance of piracy represents a lost sale, and while his description of the statistical analysis used does indeed raise questions about its usefulness, the figures are interesting.

The rest of the essay covers technical aspects of Ambrosia's various methods of registration protection as well as more thoughts on how software piracy can affect a company. The article can be found via the link below.

Ambrosia Software
TidBITS: The Plain Truth About Casual Software Piracy

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X-Plane 6.10 Released
9:04 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Laminar Research released today what they called "unquestionably the biggest update to X-Plane ever," bringing it to version 6.10.

The new version adds complete Mac OS X support, including joystick functionality. The terrain engine has been completely redone to include land-use data covering the entire world. The data comes on four new CDs. Along with other graphical enhancements comes a much more realistic flight model with support for gyrocopters. Enhancements have also been made to the cockpits of the aircraft, and more realistic failure options have been implemented.

X-Plane and the four CDs of land-use data will retail for $29.99. A demo is available that allows players to fly in the SoCal area for six minutes. X-Plane is a comprehensive general-aviation simulator that allows pilots to design and fly a wide variety of aircraft and helicopters.

IMG Review: X-Plane
Download the X-Plane Demo (Server List)

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Baldur's Gate Mod Beta 1.05 for Diablo II: LoD
7:58 AM | David Finley | Comment on this story

Role-playing gamers rejoice: the unofficial Baldur's Gate Mod for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction has been updated to beta version 1.05. While the storyline and basic gameplay will not vary tremendously from standard Diablo II, there are substantial enhancements to game features; what's more, the mod takes on much of the nomenclature and atmosphere of the Baldur's Gate series. Some of the changes include:

  • Five of the seven character classes have been renamed with D&D equivalents
  • Simplified and reorganized skill trees
  • Reduction of skill choices, but increased depth of abilities
  • A plethora of new items, item sets, and class-specific weapons and armor
  • More powerful and spell-savvy mercenaries
  • A new side quest which results in the creation of the Flail of Ages

To check out the mod for yourself, click the download link below. Be sure to choose the MPQ version, as it is Mac-compatible. As the MPQ instructions are not Mac-specific, here is a detailed guide to you installing the mod on your Mac:

  • Open the "Diablo II Files" folder.
  • Backup or archive "Diablo II Patch."
  • Place the mod's .MPQ file in the "Diablo II Files" folder.
  • Rename it to "Diablo II Patch."
  • Change its file type to "D2pq" and its creator to "Dbl2" (same as the original "Diablo II Patch" file).

Note: it is not advisable to import characters from Lord of Destruction or other mods. The safest course of action is to start a new character. If you decide to attempt importing a character, be sure to observe the following precautions:

  • Sell or remove all set items
  • Sell or remove all forms of the Flail of Ages, flail heads and shaft included
  • Sell or remove all weapons/armor/rings/amulets
  • You may only keep scrolls, tomes, potions, cube, money as the other items may give a bad inventory error
  • When porting your character from b1.04 to b1.05, keep all your items in the stash. If this is not possible, restrict yourself to the left 6 columns in the character backpack.

IMG Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Baldur's Gate Mod for Diablo II: LOD
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
Baldur's Gate
Download Baldur's Gate Mod Beta 1.05 Fix 1

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OS X Running Quake I, II, & III
7:58 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

PlanetQuake recently posted a picture of a Mac desktop running Quake, Quake II, and Quake III simultaneously under the Mac OS X environment. A terminal window showing system usage statistics is also present for those interested in seeing how OS X splits up the processing power.

While this isn't necessarily news, it is pretty cool, and it's a tip of the hat to OS X guaranteed to swell the pride of many a Mac gamer.

PlanetQuake: Picture of the Day
id Software
Fruitz of Dojo (Cocoa Quake, QuakeWorld, and Quake II)
GLQuake for Mac OS (Carbon Quake and QuakeWorld))
Quake III Arena

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WingNuts Updated to 1.1
7:58 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Freeverse recently announced the availability of an update to WingNuts, an arcade shooter highly reminiscent of old school coin-ops such as Time Pilot.

The update itself has several substantial fixes, not the least of which adds Mac OS X controller support:

  • This update adds support for most HID compliant USB game controllers (such as the iShock) under OS X.
  • The power of bombs has been enhanced so that ground targets are easier to hit and destroy.
  • More screen resolution and color depth control has been added.
  • Improved support for Voodoo card owners.
  • Numerous and sundry bug squishes.

Pilots looking for the update as well as more information on WingNuts itself can find everything they need at Freeverse's WingNuts page. The update weighs in at around 800 KB and requires users to have the full version.

IMG Review: WingNuts

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Sacrifice Beta Multiplayer Patch Released
7:58 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

As promised, MacPlay has released the first beta of a multiplayer patch for their 3D real-time strategy game Sacrifice. While not yet full-featured, the update does give basic Internet play through the popular GameRanger online service.

While no LAN play has yet been enabled, the patch should also help improve the game's performance. Here's a short list of changes:

Fixes in this patch:

  • Multiplayer support through GameRanger now active.
  • Minor speed and stability improvements.

Known Issues:

  • LAN button is inactive at this time.
Those wanting to try out the beta should have a look at the MacPlay downloads page to find installation instructions for the 4.2 MB file. Any bugs should be reported to New Sacrifice applications are included for both the Mac OS X and Classic versions of the game.

IMG Review: Sacrifice
MacPlay: Downloads
Pre-Order Sacrifice

Galactic Patrol for OS X in Beta
7:58 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The folks at MonkeyByte have announced that their 3D take on the world of classic 80s arcade shooters, Galactic Patrol, is now in beta testing for Mac OS X. This means the popular shooter should soon be playable under Apple's newest operating system. The beta testing team is getting their copies now and it should be ready for public consumption once all the major hang-ups are found and resolved. Here's the news: is proud to announce that we have reached Beta on our Macintosh OS X port of the popular game Galactic Patrol! The development team has begun to send out the Beta to our previously selected beta testers and thank all our Internet friends for the wonderful response we received when looking for testers. Galactic Patrol OS X Gold coming very soon!!

"Galactic Patrol is our most popular game to date," says Yon Hardisty. "We are very excited to see this awesome classic game cross to a new operating system. OS X is the future of Apple and is completely dedicated to supporting this future with all of our games."

For more information on Galactic Patrol, take a look at the MonkeyByte web site. A demo for Mac OS 9 users is available now if you haven't already tried it out.

Galactic Patrol OS X Beta News
Monkey Byte
Galactic Patrol

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 12, 2002

IMG Shines a Spotlight on Aspyr Media12:20 PM
Strike Force 1.75 Released for UT12:03 PM
Bill Roper Talks RTS Design10:40 AM
Apple Examines Tabletop Gaming10:30 AM
Blizzard Confirms Mac WarCraft III Collector's Edition10:30 AM
EV Nova Goes Gold10:30 AM
Massive Microsoft Giveaway Begins!10:30 AM
New MMORPG Seeks Mac Testers10:30 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 12, 2002 on one page

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