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Monday, March 25, 2002

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The Sims Overtakes Myst as Bestseller
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpot recently posted the amazing news that The Sims has outsold the legendary Myst to become the all-time bestselling computer game. While Cyan's adventure ruled that category for nearly a decade, it now seems Will Wright's creation for Electronic Arts may blow it out of the water. In just two short years, the game has already sold over 6.3 million units, combining for nearly 13 million sales with its three expansion packs.

One of the game's main points of success is its appeal to both sides of the gaming gender spectrum. Here's more from EA's president John Riccitiello:

Reaction to The Sims by both customers and critics [has] exceeded our most ambitious expectations. The Sims has become a cultural phenomenon. Its worldwide appeal spans hard-core gamers, casual computer users, and even gaming's most elusive group of consumers, women. Over 50 percent of new Sims players are female.
With more Sims expansions on the way, a sequel, and an online world in the works, you can bet you haven't seen the end of The Sims. The third expansion, Hot Date, is currently on its way to the Mac thanks to the folks at Aspyr Media and Westlake Interactive. Its release is expected later this spring.

IMG Reviews: The Sims
GameSpot: The Sims Overtakes Myst
The Sims
The Sims: Hot Date
Westlake Interactive
Buy The Sims
Buy The Sims: Hot Date

In Other News: Starsky & Hutch, Payback, & More
2:17 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

In other news are shorter stories where anything goes. It includes game updates, not-so-game related stuff, and more. Help us out by sending us your news tips!

Gaming News

Talking Games with Peter Molyneux — Lionhead's god-maker talks candidly with GameSpy about the past, present and future of games and the studio...

Shadowbane Closed Testing Expands — "Two hundred additional testers were selected from our Beta Database today, to reinforce our continuing Closed testing program. Our third wave of testers will supplement our growing community of nearly 600 testers to work on advanced city building and guild testing systems, and begin the initial stages of balance testing."

Shadowbane Beta Journal — Beta tester talks about Shadowbane. Interesting read.

Starsky & Hutch Mac? — IMG reader Christian Lambert sent us a note about seeing Starsky & Hutch for the Mac on pre-order at Amazon. The item is scheduled to ship September 11th, 2002. Could it be another listing mistake on Amazon's part?

MacGamer Previews Payback — "Up until now, Virtual Programming's Payback has been shrouded in secrecy. Today, Lulio Vargas takes a look at this top-down arcade game, and reveals many details about the upcoming Mac version of the game, including the quotes from the developers."

Medal of Honor Expansion Pack News — "The May 2002 issue of GamePro magazine has been mailed to subscribers and has a cover story on Electronic Arts's PS2 action game Medal of Honor: Frontline, but there are also some new details on Medal of Honor: Team Assault, the upcoming expansion pack to EA's hit WWII action game MoH: Allied Assault. The add-on is due out this fall and will feature a new nine-level single player storyline with more emphasis on working with AI driven team members. Historic World War II conflicts like the Battle of The Bulge and the final Soviet assault on Berlin will be featured and the game will also have nine new multiplayer maps."

Casady & Greene Publishes Captain Bumper — "Casady & Greene has acquired the publishing rights to MacRun's arcade action game Captain Bumper, and are now distributing v1.13! The award-winning Carbon application runs natively in both Mac OS X and Mac OS 9."

Anything Goes

Vacuum-Cleaning Robot Unveiled — "Japanese electronics maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is testing a vacuum-cleaning robot that it hopes to put on the market in Japan in two or three years for nearly $4,000. But the unnamed test model shown to reporters Monday still crashes into chair legs and leaves lots of corners unswept."

Online Gamers Pay for Virtual Objects — "Don't mess with Blyndem Denkilem. He's a Bard in the online virtual game world of EverQuest" whose green Singing Steel Gear armor and Flameweaver sword makes him about as tough as they come. So powerful is Denkilem that his owner, 16-year-old Bill Currie, sold him in an online auction for $600."

New weapons stink or hurt, but don't kill — "Soldiers of the future may have some new weapons in their arsenals: slippery slime, pain beams, noise guns and stink bombs.

Japanese Scientist Makes Frog Eyes — "Professor Makoto Asashima is surrounded in his tiny laboratory by shelves cluttered with bottles of chemicals. Test tubes whirl in centrifuges while technicians pore over data at their desks. The scene is a typical one, but what goes on here isn't. Immersed in water at the bottom of a petri dish are about a dozen frog embryos the size of a pinhead that Asashima uses to create the animal's eyes, ears and other organs."

Thumbs Are the New Fingers for Gameboy Youth — "The use of gadgets such as mobile phones and GameBoys has caused a physical mutation in young people's hands, according to a British Sunday newspaper."

The Final Word
I am pooped. Need sleep! — Tuncer

Got a news story you'd like us to post? Email us at

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IMG Reviews EV Nova
11:43 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Richard Porcher of the Ambrosia Software's newest blockbuster, EV Nova:

Say the word Ambrosia to the average Mac gamer, and the first thing that comes to mind isn't what Greek deities feast upon. To anyone reading this review, Ambrosia is the uber-shareware company that brought us the space trading, shoot-'em-up hit Escape Velocity and its equally ambitious follow-up, EV: Override. These titles are so popular that they have been known to invoke serious cases of Mac-envy in otherwise staunch PC using gamers. I've known more than one PC user whose secret vice was sneaking into my room while I was away, to dominate just one more planet or sneak in a few more cargo runs in preparation for buying that shiny new battlecruiser.
For the rest of our review and a gallery of screen shots, follow the link below.

IMG Review: Escape Velocity: Nova
Escape Velocity: Nova
MGF: EV Nova 1.0 (75 MB)

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Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Hint Book
11:24 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Aspyr today announced a special promotion for their upcoming strategy game, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. In the first run of the upcoming real-time strategy game, the company will include a 16-page Prima Hint Book in the box.

Michael Rogers, president of Aspyr, said:

LucasArts' Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds is an awesome real-time strategy game that is sure to be a hit on the Mac. The special Prima Hint Book is just a fun way to reward the diehard Mac fans who have been eagerly awaiting this game.
The game is currently in the Beta stage of conversion and is expected to be released in May. For more information on Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds for the Macintosh, visit the Aspyr web site. Be on the lookout for a hands-on IMG preview soon.

Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
Westlake Interactive
Buy Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds

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Apple to PC Users: Help!
11:20 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

Yes, you read that right. Apple Computer recently posted an open appeal for any PC users who either have switched to a Mac from a PC or use a PC currently but are thinking about switching to a Mac. Apple posted a variety of questions on their web site, but ultimately are asking for permission to contact PC users who are Mac-leaning and conduct a bit of market research on the subject.

If there's someone you know who fits that description, give your favorite company a hand with getting inside the head of the other 95% and urge that person to drop Apple a line. Contact information can be obtained through the link below.

Apple: Call for PC Users

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GameSpy Talks Unreal Technology with Tim Sweeney
10:47 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

GameSpy recently conducted a short Q&A session with Tim Sweeney, the founder and lead programmer of Epic Games. Epic, of course, is responsible for the mega hits Unreal and Unreal Tournament. In the interview, GameSpy gets Sweeney to discuss some of the impressive technical details behind the new Unreal engine and how they will improve gameplay in the upcoming Unreal 2.

Here's a brief excerpt from the interview:

GameSpy: Can you tell us what's new in the new Unreal Warfare engine?

Tim Sweeney: We completely rewrote the rendering engine for Unreal Tournament 2003. We now render hundred times higher polygon counts then we've done in the past. Instead of 500 polygons in an average level, in an average scene, you will now see an average of 50-100,000 polygons and sometimes 150,000, so there is a huge, huge increase in the amount of visual detail there. There is also a new material system for getting multiple layers of blended textures. We have a new tool plug-in for 3D Studio Max and Maya so you can build geometry, texture map them, animate objects in them and import them into Unreal rather quickly. It's now really easy to model stuff and get it into the engine.

While no official word has been given on the status of possible Mac ports of Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament 2003, the success of both of their predecessors on the Mac would seem to dictate that the sequels will be ported as well.

Head on over to GameSpy to find out more about the latest technology in this amazing game engine.

GameSpy: Tim Sweeney Talks About Unreal Technology
Epic Games
Digital Extremes
Buy Unreal Tournament 2003

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Unreal Tournament 2003 Details
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Unreal Tournament 2003, the upcoming sequel to the hugely popular Unreal Tournament, already has fans of the series in an uproar. Adding fuel to the fire, IGN PC recently sat down with Creative Director James Schmalz and managed to uncover a wealth of new information regarding its nature and gameplay.

One of the main goals of UT 2003 is to bring the excitement and team-oriented play of the online experience to the single-player aspect. To this end, players can now select from a roster of over 50 free agents, each of which comes with a salary rating to keep teams balanced. Each agent also comes with three stats: agility, accuracy, and tactics. Each of these can be improved by experience gained either through offline practice sessions or through gameplay itself.

The types of game modes available are also undergoing some changes. The Domination mode, arguably the least popular mode in UT, has been revamped to make things more exciting. Each domination map now contains only two nodes, located in each base. Teams must now capture and hold both nodes, whereupon they score one point for every five seconds both are held. An entirely new game called Bombing Run has also been included, wherein players must grab a bomb from the center of a map and drop it in the enemy's base. To facilitate this, players will be able to pass the bomb to other team members.

Schmalz's vision also includes the tweaking of weapons in order to make UT 2003 based more on skill than luck. To this end, weapons such as the Enforcer and the Sniper Rifle are being removed, while others are being tweaked. The default weapon is now an Assault Rifle, which fires rapidly and can also launch grenades, of which the firing range can be adjusted. The Impact Hammer has been replaced with a Shield Gun, which can be used in melee combat or as a defensive barrier with limited energy. There's also a new Link Gun, so dubbed because its alternate fire is a continuous beam that can be linked with other Link Gun-wielding teammates to increase the damage capability.

Some of the weapons being modified from the original UT include the Minigun, the Flak Cannon, and the Rocket Launcher. The Minigun's alternate fire now consists of explosive projectiles, the Flak Cannon now features a tighter spread and less bounce, and the Rocket Launcher can now only fire three rockets in primary mode and a quick fire option in secondary mode.

A few changes to the online multiplayer mode have been made as well, including the limitation of players by map:

Player limits will be specific to particular maps. James feels "it gets a lot less fun if you're just cramming players onto a map that doesn't support them." The limitations are less a factor of performance than gameplay. Limits should be around 20 or so for some maps, "but that's not to say you couldn't play with 30 or 40 players" if you really wanted to.
For more details on UT 2003, including the Sniper Rifle's replacement and impressions on the multiplayer matches, be sure to check out the full article at IGN PC.

As far as a Mac version goes, nothing official has been announced yet, but Glenda Adams recently responded to a Usenet post asking about the possible timeline of a port relative to the release of the PC version:

UT2003 is a much bigger change from UT than the original UT was from Unreal. I don't know if a one month or less ship relative to the PC will be possible. Since my guess is work would start on UT2003 before it ships for the PC, it would be a closer ship than say 6 months. But whether that is a month, or 2-3, there isn't a way to know yet.

MacSoft certainly would want to ship as close to the PC version on any game.

IMG will be keeping tabs on the situation and will be sure to let readers know of any developments. UT2?
Digital Extremes
IGN PC: Unreal Tournament 2003 Hands-On
Buy Unreal Tournament 2003

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Details on Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Some distressed Lara Croft fans have written in about the next-generation Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness being announced as coming exclusively to the PlayStation 2 console. A new preview from the Game Developers Conference was posted on GameSpy over the weekend with more infomation on the game, revealing it will share a release for both PS2 and PC.

This should also be good news to Mac fans, as it means the PS2 exclusivity excludes only other consoles. While no announcement has been made about a Mac version, the popularity of the Tomb Raider series on the platform will surely continue to inspire Aspyr Media.

The quick GameSpy article goes into some detail on the game's new format, updated graphics engine, and even a bit about the next Hollywood movie. Here's an except:

The better technology in today's more capable hardware platforms also benefited her. She doesn't look like as much of a cartoon or game character, and her animations are very smooth. The economy of pixels is less of an issue — Lara will reportedly be composed of ten times more polygons, going from 500 in previous games to 5,000 in The Angel of Darkness. A lot of credit can also go to the new game engine that Core said it's using for the next couple of TR installments.
With a PC release this fall, we'll certainly be listening for any word of this game on the Mac.

GameSpy: Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness Preview
Aspyr Media
Core Design
Tomb Raider
Buy Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Reevaluating Java and Video Games
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Sun's Java technology has become a standard entwined with the Internet. The language has grown to be used on both the client and server sides of the 'Net, but unfortunately has rarely been seen in applications that need speed or 3D graphics.

At the 2002 Game Developers Conference, Sun is trying to change the opinions held by many of those who make the games you play. In the past, Java was looked down upon by developers who preferred C or C++ for making their games. Sun hopes Java's faster development time, improving execution performance, and cross-platform compatibility will win it converts among the programmers present.

Chris Melissinos, Sun's chief gaming officer has new interviews posted at both GameSpy and the Sun web site. In them, he discusses the company's vision for the language, especially in light of the Java Games Profile. Here's a clip:

There are a lot of misconceptions about Java, one is that it's too slow. It's also perceived as a "Web only" technology. When people first think of Java they think of animating icons on the Web or it's doing little spreadsheet applications on the Web, how can it be possibly good for gaming?
The success of Java gaming sites like Sony's, along with commercial titles like the You Don't Know Jack series, will certainly help promote Java as a gaming language. Its cross-platform nature, especially with its strong ties to Mac OS X, should make it particularly interesting to Mac gamers. Check out both the GameSpy interview and the Java sites for much more information on Java and gaming.

GameSpy: Inside the Java Games Profile
Java Gaming
Sun: Chris Melissinos Interview

Custer's Dale
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Untamed regions. Merciless beasts. Ancient evils. Unspeakable horrors. Such are said to await us in Icewind Dale.

This week, IMG's artist-in-residence, Brad Custer, directs our gaze to MacPlay's newest AD&D-based role-playing game:

Our resident AppleMaster, Michael Phillips, has been requesting a desktop for Icewind Dale for a little while now. So, when an AppleMaster makes a request, you listen. ;) Seriously, I was glad to be able to meet his need for this desktop. This week's selection was created from art supplied by MacPlay and is titled, "Faerun." I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it. :)
To clothe your desktop in Faerun, follow the link below.

IMG: Custer's Desktops

The Gamesome Mac Debuts with Glenda Adams
6:00 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

As IMG reported last Wednesday, The Gamesome Mac debuts tonight with special guest Glenda Adams, president of Westlake Interactive.

Host Sean Smith, IMG's Senior News Editor, and producer and IMG Senior Editor Andy Largent chat with her about Westlake's past and current projects, the state of Mac gaming, and more.

They'll also be giving away copies of Civilization III from MacSoft, Spider-Man from Aspyr, and Age of Empires II from Bold to a few lucky listeners, live on the show!

The Gamesome Mac is a new weekly radio show devoted to the exciting world of Mac gaming, with news, reviews, interviews, and commentary — and of course answers to your Mac gaming questions.

Visit The Gamesome Mac's web page at the link below to listen to the show live over the Internet, tonight from 8 to 10 pm Central Time (6 to 8 pm PST; 9 to 11 pm EST; Tuesday, 02:00 to 04:00 UTC), or to listen to an archived broadcast at your leisure.

IMG News: Mac Games Radio to Debut with Glenda Adams
The Gamesome Mac

Mac Games News for Friday, March 22, 2002

In Other News: GDC, Oz, Knight Rider, & More12:03 PM
IMG Posts Macworld Expo Tokyo Report11:38 AM
New Unreal Tournament 2003 Details8:57 AM
Bubble Trouble X Progress Update8:56 AM
ATI Ships the Radeon 85008:46 AM
IMG Ranks 15th in Best of Mac Web Poll8:46 AM
WarBirds III Mandatory Update to 03.20.028:46 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, March 22, 2002 on one page

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Thursday, March 21, 2002
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