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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

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Coderus Releases MacDX
10:21 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new article at MacWorld UK spotlights Coderus, a company bringing support for Microsoft's DirectX technology to the Mac. Called MacDX, the library promises to ease the porting of PC games to the Mac greatly, according to Coderus's CEO Mark Thomas. DirectX is the set of APIs used by a vast majority of PC game makers in their Windows titles.

The first example of MacDX use is by Virtual Programming, who recently ported Wipeout 2097 to the Mac. MacDX is fully Carbonized, so games implementing it should run in Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Here's an explanation from the Coderus site with more:

After you have compiled your product source with your favourite Mac OS development environment, then just link in the MacDX, and now you have your Mac OS version. The MacDX interface takes away all those worries about which version of the Mac OS Operating System and machine should direct your product at, then donít worry as the interface takes advantage of all the features of a particular Mac OS Operating system version and machine. The interface is finely tuned to take advantage of whatever the userís machines and Operating System.
While this is great news for Mac gamers, don't expect every PC game to be instantly available on the Mac. Many professional Mac porting houses already have developed their own libraries to ease the pain of working with DirectX. We talked briefly with Westlake Interactive's Glenda Adams and Brad Oliver about MacDX, and they were both positive about its potential to help bring more games to the Mac, even if their company doesn't use it. Here's Adams's reply:
I hadn't heard about it; I'll have to look into it.†We have internally a mostly complete DX->Mac library, so right now it might not be a huge difference for Westlake.†But it might be interesting to take a look at.
MacDX is more likely targeted at either PC developers not wanting to farm out the work or Mac developers who don't have something already in place. Here's a clip from Oliver:
For smaller Mac developers who haven't or don't want to implement DX on the Mac, or perhaps even PC developers who want to port to the Mac themselves, such a library would probably be quite a boon.
Unknown at this point are the price of MacDX, the turnaround time on support issues and bugs, and the level of optimization across the codebase. We've emailed Thomas for more information, so stay tuned to IMG for details soon.

Macworld UK Report on MacDX
Virtual Programming
WipeOut 2097
Westlake Interactive

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Tuncer is a Dad!
3:23 PM | Jason Sims | Comment on this story

Congratulations are in order! This morning at 10:27 MDT, a new life entered the world, courtesy of Tuncer and Maria Deniz. In the white trunks, weighing in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, this new contender does not yet have a name, but for now his nickname is "Mac." :)

The baby is shown here with Dominic, Maria's son from her first marriage. He's getting some rest...he'll need to build up energy while he plots to take over the world. Congratulations to Tuncer and Maria!

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IMG Reviews Sheep
2:38 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Brian Rumsey of Sheep, the puzzle-solving arcade game of ovine liberation from Feral Interactive:

According to this game, sheep actually come from another planet. They were sent to Earth long ago to scout things out, but forgot their mission and eventually became domesticated by humans. The sheep from the home planet have now decided to reclaim their scouts, and they've possessed a few people of Earth to round them up and return them. You play the role of one of these Earthly shepherds.

Sheep is primarily an arcade-style game, which also has strong elements of puzzle solving. Playing one of four herders—each with their own strengths and weaknesses—you must try to herd as many sheep as you can, as quickly as possible. The sheep often stay together, but sometimes stray. To herd them effectively, you need to stay behind them, gently nudging them in the right direction....

Follow the link below for the rest of our review and a gallery of screen shots. A demo of Sheep is available for download at our sister site, MacGameFiles.

IMG Review: Sheep
MGF: Sheep 1.0 Demo (23.7 MB)

IMG Q&A with Coderus CEO about MacDX
12:41 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

After this morning's story about MacDX, the DirectX-compatible library from Coderus, we received new information from CEO Mark Thomas on the subject. First off, Thomas responded to comments posted on our original story explaining that MacDX is more than just the drawing portion of DirectX:

MacDX doesn't just do graphics; it offers all the interfaces (Draw, 3D, Input, and Sound) which DirectX does. DirectSound is fully supported and available now.
In another exchange with IMG, Thomas also explains more about the licensing for MacDX, their target audience, and plans for future support:
IMG: What are the licensing costs for MacDX?

Thomas: This isn't a straight forward answer as from my experience everybody seems to have a slightly difference business model, so I want to make sure that we are flexible enough to allow everybody to use this technology. The sort of arrangements we're presently looking to do are:

1) Single payment, with no other costs
2) Partial payment and royalties
3) Percentage of profits

Also other factors will be if they want to do multiple ports. We want this technology used so we can see products come faster to the Mac OS, instead of the Macintosh being second/third thought.

IMG: Who is your target audience with MacDX?

Thomas: Any development houses who want to use the DirectX technology. We are happy to work with any size of organization, as our technology implements all the interfaces which you find in the Microsoft DX headers, which some companies might find it would be better to work with us instead, allowing them to concentrate on the porting aspects of the project.

IMG: With which version of DirectX is MacDV compatible? Do you plan on supporting future updates?

Thomas: We are continually updating our technology to be compatible with the latest version of Microsoft DirectX, but they keep on adding new features. And we plan on adding these features as they come available.

IMG: Are there plans to support Microsoft's networking API DirectPlay as well?

Thomas: We have already been investigating whether this can be added to our fold.

Thanks to Thomas for his prompt answers. We'll keep an eye on MacDX as it develops and becomes used in other projects.

IMG News: Coderus Releases MacDX

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New Unreal Tournament 2003 Details
10:22 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming site had a chance to try out the highly anticipated first-person shooter Unreal Tournament 2003 at a recent media demo. While at the event, they also managed to snag an interview with developer Jay Wilbur, who divulged many more details regarding what looks to be the next big thing in online gaming.

One of the features that XSReality found most surprising is the fact that Unreal Tournament 2003 loads quite quickly, literally only taking seconds to boot up and set up for a little deathmatch action. This is partly attributed to the new map system, which allows map files to be quite small in size.

To make identifying teammates and opponents easier during the ensuing chaos of combat, players sport dual colored torches on their shoulders to indicate allegiances. In addition, teammates will also have yellow triangles above their heads, useful when playing with friendly fire turned on.

Interestingly enough, one of the new moves available to players is a double jump, which basically allows players to jump again after reaching the apex of their first jump. The dodges from the original Unreal Tournament are also still in place.

As noted in earlier Unreal Tournament 2003 articles, players will now spawn with a machinegun that only has enough ammo to down a single player. XSReality also makes note of some of the other changes to weapons:

The flak cannon behaved very similarly to UT in both modes and was deadly at close range. The last two guns were sniper's choice, one being an electric rail-like weapon with zoom option, and the other acting just like the UT asmd (including combo option). Finally there is the translocator, and the default shield weapon. In the demo, the shield is far too powerful, allowing you to block all sorts of incoming fire and letting you take out the enemy by just touching him with the shield.
XSReality adds that the shield will most likely be weakened in the final version in order to even the field.

Fans of the Translocator may be dismayed to learn that their favorite mode of movement has undergone some changes to limit players from teleporting all over a map. During his interview, Wilbur notes that the Translocator now comes with a delayed charge time when brought into play. He adds that the reason for this was that "there was just way too much instantaneous translocating."

Other interesting additions to Unreal Tournament 2003 include the possibility for placed spectator cameras, a redone Redeemer, and the reinforced emphasis on "sports-based team play." Fans interested in more information should definitely give the article at XSReality a look. - UT2003 Interview with Jay Wilbur
Digital Extremes
Buy Unreal Tournament 2003

Tips on Interviewing in the Games Industry
10:22 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gamers interested in turning their hobby into a profession may want to head over to JakeWorld!, a site maintained by games programmer Jake Simpson, and check out a feature posted there titled "Interviewing for the games industry." For those unfamiliar with his name, Simpson has worked on various hit titles such as Soldier of Fortune, Revolution X, and Heretic II (coming soon to the Mac from MacPlay).

The feature is basically a collection of tips for both interviewers and interviewees who are involved in or wish to be involved in the games industry. Here's a clip from the tips for interviewees:

Donít ever lie. I canít repeat that often enough. Iíve heard stories where people show up, explain how they were lead programmer on a project, then when their references are checked they are found to have lied through their teeth. Apart from being monumentally embarrassing, this is a very incestuous business, and more than likely fraudulent claims are going to come out at some time, be it at the interview, or at E3 the following year when two old mates sit down for a beer and your name comes up. "Be sure the truth will find you out" my old mum says, and boy, is she ever right. Saying you are a C++ guru yet not knowing what polymorphism is, is asking for trouble. If you are going to lie, at least do it convincingly and have others to back you up.
Those who have little experience in job interviewing at all may also be interested in the feature, as it contains many solid tips that could be applied to any sort of interview. And if nothing else, some of his comments should make some readers crack a smile.

JakeWorld! - Interviewing for the games industry

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Mac Lineage Credit Deadline
10:22 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

A recent update to the Lineage web site's news page reminds all players who participated in the Mac Beta test that they will need to have their billing applied by April 20th to continue to have access to the game. Any player who has not yet done so and still wishes to continue playing should visit the account administration section on the Lineage home page.

Lineage News: Credit Reminder

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Wolf Requirements Clarified [Update]
10:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Even after Aspyr Media's announcement of the game going Gold Master, it seems Return to Castle Wolfenstein is still causing a stir in the IMG Forums. One of the main concerns being voiced is about the high system requirements for the game, with people wondering whether their systems can handle the title. Both Glenda Adams and Brad Oliver of Westlake Interactive have made recent posts to try to ease concerns by clarifying the situation.

In Adams's post, she notes that a bug in OpenGL affecting the Rage 128 is the reason the card is not recommended. It also seems id Software had a big say in what the final specs for the game would be:

The specs for Wolf were changed to 500 MHz/Radeon at the request of id and Aspyr. The game plays similarly to the PC in nearly all cases, but there is a bug in OpenGL on the Rage 128s that causes extreme slowdowns in certain cases. Rather than ship a game with specs that could be potentially unplayable on some scenes with the Rage 128, the minimums were raised.

The decision was made to increase the requirements even though many gamers would be happy with their performance on a 450/Rage 128 machine because id wanted the minimum to reflect a 20 fps average for most levels. Setting minium requirements isn't an exact science—what is playable to one person is dog slow to someone else. Performance for the final RtCW is slightly better than the last MP test, so gamers will have to use their best judgment in whether they think the game will run well on their machines.

Brad Oliver also posted later that disabling fog might help Rage 128 owners avoid performance gaps. Here's part of his post:
I suspect that if you found performance of the MP test acceptable, you won't have too many issues with the real game on a Rage 128, keeping in mind you might have to disable fog on some levels to keep performance up.
The second part of Adams's message lets gamers know that this situation is only the beginning. As future games (and especially first-person shooters) get more complex, the requirements are only going to go up. This should not come as a shock to many gamers, as there were quite a few machines upgraded in order to play Unreal and Quake II:
On the subject of VRAM, 2002 is a brand new world for games. 32 MB of VRAM is easily the minimum for most games that are shipping this year on the PC. Even an older game like Max Payne can push 40-50 MB of textures onto a card in high detail settings. Games always advance to push the hardware—16 MB video cards are going to be obsolete by Christmas (Max may be the last game we do that has a min spec of 16 MB). Heck, we're negotiating for a game now that at the highest levels uploads 100 MB of textures in a scene!
So do keep in mind that system requirements are not an evil whim of a publisher, but rather a realistic look at what it takes to run ever more complex games at an acceptable rate. Thanks to Oliver and Adams for helping set the record straight.

Update: Thanks to ATI's Eric Jaeger for clarifying that the bug is not in the Rage 128 hardware, but rather in the implementation of OpenGL on the Rage 128. The bug has been fixed in Mac OS X, so only Mac OS 9 users should be affected by it.

RtCW System Requirements Thread
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Quicksilver Explains Master of Orion III 'Demo'
10:22 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Quicksilver recently posted news of an unfortunate accident regarding Master of Orion III and the Australian magazine PC PowerPlay. According to producer Cory Nelson, a pre-alpha build given to their publisher, Infogrames, was leaked to the press as a demo. With the game still far from release, this is obviously not the case, but it seems the damage has been done:

As many of you know, the Australian magazine PC PowerPlay has recently released what they thought was a demo of Master of Orion III. Obviously this has caused a big stir around the Quicksilver offices since we've never made a MOOIII demo. Apparently what they got their hands on was a pre-alpha version of MOOIII that was delivered as one of our normal milestone deliveries to Infogrames and was never meant for public consumption. I spoke to our producer at Infogrames this morning and what I've been told is that one of the Infogrames employees at the Australian office gave the CD out without authority and that led to its release. At this point Infogrames is dealing the problem but obviously there's only a certain amount that can be done after the fact.

So, for those that have seen the version, please realize that what you have is NOT an official demo. It's a pre-alpha build that is buggy, incomplete and needs a lot of tuning/adjustment of screens. Moreover, while we'll be leaving any screenshots up on the forums that have been posted we will be removing any links to actual copies of the version since we don't feel it's representative of the game. Thanks for everyone's support.

It is to be hoped that gamers who get their hands on the alpha won't assume it's representative of the final game.

Announcement Regarding PC PowerPlay Magazine
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

Mac Games News for Tuesday, April 16, 2002

LittleWing Announces Jinni Zeala, Due May 1st1:21 PM
Apple on WarBirds III and OS X1:20 PM
Alien Nations Shipping?11:49 AM
GamePad Companion 2.0 Released10:41 AM
DOWN Coming to the Mac10:05 AM
Colin's Classic Cards Updated to Version 1.110:04 AM
Dr. Bott Offering Radeon 7000/8500 and DVIator Bundles10:04 AM
OS X-Native PlayStation Emulator Available10:04 AM
PC Civilization III Patch Due Soon, Mac Version to Follow?10:04 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, April 16, 2002 on one page

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Monday, April 15, 2002
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