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Tuesday, April 23, 2002

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Beenox Unveils The VATZ; Mac Info
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Dee Brown of Beenox Studios has released some very interesting information about Goliath, a new 3D game engine in the works, and about the first game to use it, a technology demo called The VATZ. Beenox are famous for their work on Mac titles like Pillars of Garendall and Cro-Mag Rally.

The Goliath technology appears quite impressive, as witnessed by the first few screen shots released of the demo in action. While not much about The VATZ's gameplay has yet been released, there is a hint as to its design in the press release:

Featuring intense third-person gameplay and multiple twisted storylines in a completely original world brought to life by stunning state-of-the-art 3D graphics, The VATZ is sure to offer a unique experience to the gamers out there.
The Goliath engine takes advantage of all of the whiz-bang features of most modern 3D hardware, but it was unclear whether The VATZ was up and running on the Mac. We went to Brown for clarification; here's his reply:
We created our technology to be open to cross-platform development. While the technical demo currently runs only on a Windows system (that way, we can showcase a couple of features that are not yet available in OpenGL for Mac), the engine could be used to create Macintosh games (very well for OS X). That really depends on whether or not the publisher of the game wants it for the Macintosh market.
With previous cross-platform work like the Coldstone Game Engine under their belts, we're confident any Goliath games (including The VATZ) could be brought to the Mac by a willing publisher. It's always great to see powerful new 3D engines on the platform, and we'll follow Beenox's development through and beyond the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo to see where they go with it.


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Apple Posts WingNuts Trailer
4:02 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Apple has posted a QuickTime trailer on its Games web site highlighting the gameplay, music, and sound of Freeverse Software's arcade game, WingNuts:

WingNuts brings you back to the good ol' arcade top-down style of gaming. Though, this does not mean the game's graphics and sound are retro as well; it uses highly detailed 3D modeled graphics and beautifully orchestrated music to keep you glued to the cockpit.

Do you have what it takes to catch the insane Baron von Schtopwatch? Strap yourself in and check out the exciting new trailer for WingNuts. Fly, shoot, and bomb your way through 30 mind boggling levels of pure action!

Head over to Apple's Games site to check out the action. WingNuts runs natively on Mac OS X as well as on Mac OS 8.6 and 9.

For more information, see IMG's review at the link below. A demo is also available from our sister site, MacGameFiles.

IMG Review: WingNuts
Apple: WingNuts Trailer
MGF: WingNuts Demo 1.0 (17.3 MB)

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MacGamer Interviews Beenox's Dee Brown
2:15 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

MacGamer's Corey Támas has posted an interview with Dee Brown of Beenox, developers of the Goliath 3D game engine noted on IMG this morning and of the Coldstone role-playing game engine published by Ambrosia Software this past January.

The interview covers the gameplay of The VATZ (Beenox's upcoming game being developed to show off the power of Goliath), the features and target audience of the Goliath engine, Beenox's past work with Ambrosia, and the state of Apple's work on OpenGL.

In this excerpt, Beenox talks about their work with Ambrosia:

MacGamer: How did Coldstone and the associated products (i.e. Ambrosia's Pillars of Garendall) work out for you guys?

Brown: Quite well! We're aware that the current version of Coldstone has some issues on OS X but I'm happy to announce that there is a new patch on its way. Coldstone 1.0.1 is in final beta testing as we speak. It includes numerous bug fixes but also some minor features for the game developers (and the plugin developers for P.o.G.!). We also got a nomination in the "Multimedia" category at the "Octas" contest, the highest computer contest here in the province of Quebec (the winner will be announced in June).

The full interview is available at MacGamer via the link below.

IMG News: Beenox Unveils The VATZ; Mac Info
MacGamer: Dee Brown Interview
Pillars of Garendall

Bubble Trouble X at Beta 7
1:30 PM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

Developer Alex Metcalf has updated the progress log for the upcoming Mac OS X-native version of Ambrosia Software's hit arcade-style title, Bubble Trouble. In the update, Metcalf mentions several changes to the original game that are specifically designed to take advantage of OS X's modern features, as well as a few interesting tweaks to gameplay.

Here is exactly what Alex had to say:

Beta 7 is just about ready, and, all being well, fc1 should follow about a week or after b7 hits the testing group. New game tweaks (instant multipliers and improved scoring distribution) make the game even more addictive... but of course I would say that, wouldn't I.

Update: honoured to see IMG and others are following my progress logs, so I feel obliged to say a bit more about what's noteworthy in beta 7:

- Developed a Bubble Trouble guide to help everyone from new fish squishers needing some guidance to seasoned experts looking for extra tips for big scores.

- Res switching code has been improved, several Aqua interface updates made, and a few more title graphics improved for OS X players. A few visual niceties have been added (e.g. gamma fades), and last but not least a good number of tester-identified bugs have been squished.

If you want to follow the entire development process, click the link below to visit the Bubble Trouble X progress log.

Bubble Trouble
Ambrosia: Bubble Trouble X progress log
MGF: Bubble 1.0.1 Trouble for Classic Mac OS (2.1 MB)

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Lineage's LinWeb Service Upgraded
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Players of NCsoft's massively multiplayer online role-playing game Lineage who have longed for easier availability of either player or Pledge information should be pleased to hear about the recent updates made to the LinWeb service. Though still in beta testing, several new features have been added for players to try out and test, including a Generic Character Page, Pledge Roster information, and Personal Pledge Pages.

Here's some information from NCsoft on each new feature:

Generic Character Page — This page is public and therefore visible to all who access LinWeb. It contains the class and gender picture of a character, along with its name, pledge name and pledge link (if applicable). It also contains public display icons if the player has chosen to make information about that character public.

Pledge Rosters — These are visible to all through a URL containing pledge name. Now you can check out different Pledges and see who belongs to them!

Personal Pledge Page — These pages are visible to each individual pledge member when logged into LinWeb. Pledge members can view pledge inventory and a link to the pledge roster. Just click the community icon from your LinWeb page.

Players are encouraged to test the new features and send feedback to the Lineage folks if any bugs are found. More information on how to submit bug reports can be found at the main Lineage news site.

IMG Preview: Lineage
Lineage: LinWeb
Lineage: New LinWeb Features

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Sid Meier Chat Video Available
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gamers who either aspire to be game designers or are just interested in the creative process behind game design may want to check out a video available for download. Created and posted by Italian gaming site TGM Online, the video centers around computer game design god Sid Meier, splicing footage of the man himself giving a presentation on Civilization III with brief Q&A sessions. The information Meier gives on his design philosophies as well as on his ideals in the making of Civilization III are quite fascinating and provide some insight into how one can make a game insanely addictive.

One of the main points that Meier stresses is that, rather than try to create a game that will appeal to the masses, he strives to create games that he and his team members would like to play. Civilization III, for example, was never designed to be a mass-market seller when the idea was conceived, though of course he was hoping at the time that other gamers would find the title as fun to play as he himself did.

Another point on which he focuses is that of conceiving a solid game design first rather than a technology. While some designers may be given a 3D engine and then be told to make something of it, Meier's own practice is to pick the game first and then adapt technologies to it as necessary. Elaborating on the technology tangent, Meier points out that a game that is not dependent on technology has a much better chance of being a long-lived classic.

As for the widely-known addictiveness of the Civilization series, Meier notes that the idea is to make the player constantly reiterate, "Just one more turn..." stringing him or her along until it's five in the morning. He adds that one of the ways he achieves this is to create a game where players tend to plan several steps in advance, prompting them to finish their plans rather than stop in the middle.

The rest of the interview covers plenty of other design details, from Meier's thoughts on 3D to the console vs computer market. The video, available at TGM Online's site, is a 43.3 MB AVI file encoded in DivX and is highly recommended to anyone even remotely interested in game design.

IMG Review: Civilization III
Civilization III
TGM Online: Sid Meier Q&A Video
Buy Civilization III

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Neverwinter Nights PC Beta Begins
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Yesterday afternoon, Canadian game maker BioWare announced they are accepting applications for a public beta test of their upcoming 3D role-playing game, Neverwinter Nights.

This much-anticipated title based on the third edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rule set is finally nearing release, as indicated by Greg Zeschuk, BioWare's joint CEO and co-executive producer of Neverwinter Nights, in a press release:

Neverwinter Nights will appeal to all types of gamers. This limited beta test will allow selected gamers, of every type and interest, an opportunity to find out why Neverwinter Nights is a "must own" addition to every gamer's collection.
Ray Muzyka, BioWare's other joint CEO and Neverwinter Nights co-executive producer, added:
We've never conducted an open beta test before. We'll be testing module designs, connectivity, and other technical aspects of the game, as well as offering the growing Neverwinter Nights community a snapshot of what we've been working on at BioWare these last five years.
Unfortunately, the application form seems to indicate that only PC users will be called upon in this round of testing. While the Mac client is set to be released simultaneously with the PC, the smaller hardware variance on the Apple side generally allows developers to proceed internally with Mac testing. Mac testers can try their luck in the beta anyway by registering at the Infogrames site. We'll keep you posted if anything new on a possible Mac beta is revealed.

For more information on Neverwinter Nights, be sure to have a look at a new preview and interview posted at GameSpot. It focuses on both character creation and dungeon mastering, talking with many BioWare employees for the full scoop.

While there is no hard date yet for the release of Neverwinter Nights, this new beta is an important step that gamers can hope signals a release not too far into the year.

IMG Preview: Neverwinter Nights
GameSpot: Neverwinter Nights Preview
Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights: Beta Test Press Release
Neverwinter Nights: Beta Test Registration
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Mac Games News for Monday, April 22, 2002

MacHall Explores Incentives to Shareware Registration12:55 PM
Custer's Nova Desktop6:00 AM
IMG's Tuncer on The Gamesome Mac Tonight6:00 AM
Shadowbane: What Makes It Different?6:00 AM
Vendetta Test Released for OS X6:00 AM
Warcraft III Figurines Available6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, April 22, 2002 on one page

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