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Monday, May 6, 2002

Contraband's Heineman on The Gamesome Mac
8:27 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Tonight on The Gamesome Mac, the weekly Mac gaming radio show, host Sean Smith and producer Andy Largent will be talking with programmer "Burger" Bill Heineman, head of Contraband Entertainment and, formerly, of Logicware.

Heineman has one of the longest list of credits in the game development industry, having ported or developed a staggering number of titles for the Macintosh and a variety of other platforms: over 200 games from the days of the Apple II and IIgs, through the Mac version of Wolfenstein 3D, and up through Myth III and beyond.

As we do every week, we'll serve up news, reviews, and commentary, answer listener questions along with our guest, and give away some great games to listeners in the show's live chat room.

The Gamesome Mac can be heard on Mondays from 8 to 10 pm Central Time (6 pm Pacific; 9 pm Eastern; and Tuesday, 01:00 UTC) on the MacTV Network.

Listeners can tune in live at The Gamesome Mac's web page, where they'll also find an archive of past shows with Glenda Adams of Westlake Interactive, Brian Greenstone of Pangea Software, Tuncer Deniz of Inside Mac Games, and Michael Rogers of Aspyr Media (QuickTime is required for listening).

Contraband Entertainment

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IMG Reviews Avernum 2
12:47 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Christopher Morin of Avernum 2, the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) from Spiderweb Software:

Avernum is not a pleasant place. It is now your home, despite the fact that you were exiled to this subterranean world. Now your home is under attack from elite soldiers seeking to avenge the assassination of the cruel emperor Hawthorne. The empire thinks it can easily subdue the Avernites by teleporting a small number of soldiers down to the underworld of Avernum. Of course, in true adventuring style, it is up to you and your party to rescue your world, such as it is, from certain doom. Along the way, the player meets strange alien creatures, travels through underground warrens, and attempts to stay alive. Avernum 2 is another fantastic dungeon-crawling RPG from the gurus at Spiderweb Software.

The game begins much like any RPG title. The player is required to create or modify a party of characters to control throughout the game. In the case of Avernum 2, the player has a party of four at the outset. The character types can be any of the races: human, Nephilim (a feline race), or Slithzerikai (lizard people). Characters can also select from different classes such as soldier, berserker, rogue, archer, rebel, shaman, hedge wizard, cleric, sorcerer, or create your own custom character from an allotment of skill points. Of course, then each avatar has a set of values for his or her skill points. Avernum 2 only allows the player to enhance a certain number of skills at the outset with the standard allotment of six skill points. This gives you a dilemma right away. Do you spend your points on potion creation abilities, pump up your strength or intelligence, or do you use them in other areas? Once all your characters are modified to taste, the game begins....

For the rest of our review, follow the link below.

IMG Review: Avernum 2
Avernum 2
Spiderweb Software
Buy Avernum 2

Custer's Anniversary Desktop
12:32 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

IMG's desktop artist extraordinaire, Brad Custer, has honored us with a new desktop celebrating his first year with Inside Mac Games:

364 days ago my career at Inside Mac Games began. It has been an exciting year working here. From attending all the expos to E3 it's all been a great experience. Again, I'd like to thank IMG for hosting Custer's Desktop and continuing to be the source for your gaming desktop needs....

To honor them my first anniversary here at Inside Mac Games I decided to once again do a desktop dedicated to my host. It is simply titled Inside Mac Games 2. It's a montage of characters from the past year and a few future Mac titles we hope will be released soon. Can you name them all? ;D

Custer is now offering his desktop images in ten sizes, from 640x480 to 1920x1200. Head over to Custer's Desktops now to dress your Mac in style.

IMG: Custer's Desktops

Worldwide Developers Conference Begins Today
12:09 PM | Vern Xiong | Comment on this story

The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins today at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California. An article by MacCentral's Peter Cohen explores some of the attractions of Apple's annual event for game developers:

MacCentral recently sought out some attendees from the game industry to get their perspective on the event's significance.

Westlake Interactive president Glenda Adams said, "WWDC is a good place to get technical information directly from the source -- from Apple engineers. It's a good range of introduction and advanced topics, so game developers just starting on the Mac can get up to speed on game related technologies, and long time Mac game developers can sharpen their skills."

Adams added that one of the big benefits of attending the event is the ability to interact directly with Apple employees that she'd otherwise only know by e-mail or telephone communication. "There are some times that getting together face to face is the only way to work through technical issues or really learn new technology," she said....

Naturally, the emphasis at this year's conference will be on developing for Mac OS X, as it has been in recent years:
Altor Systems' David Rees, best known for the game Nightfall, changed his mind about attending WWDC after having "some interesting conversations." He hopes that WWDC "will provide some answers about how to bring advanced technology to the mass market," noting that "there have been some very interesting developments on the OpenGL front."

Rees added: "I wrote most of my major applications in UNIX years ago. These kinds of apps would bring OS 9 to its knees, but OS X should handle them well."

"It's a great OS to develop on," added Jesse Spears, who developed Harpoon 3 and worked on Aspyr's Escape From Monkey Island. "I do all of my work on OS X using CodeWarrior -- even the Windows versions are done under OS X, and I just use a PC for remote debugging -- and the stability is impressive."

Among further attractions, Cohen touches on the interest of game developers in OpenGL, Apple's 3D graphics API of choice:
Adams said she's particularly interested in some of WWDC's advanced OpenGL sessions. "We're beginning to look at games that will really push the OpenGL capabilities on the Mac. I also plan to gather as much information as I can about OS X optimizations -- we want to make games run as fast as possible under OS X," she said.

The OpenGL standard's specifications are voted on by committee: A slow process that has lead to frustration as OpenGL-centric developers want to incorporate new features already in 3D technology promoted by Microsoft or individual video graphics chip makers. The significance of this isn't lost on Destineer Studios president and long-time Mac games industry leader Peter Tamte.

"Even though the industry's OpenGL group took way too long to create standard ways of accessing the advanced features of today's graphic accelerators, Apple's challenge will be to take advantage of these new specifications -- which are powerful -- to give OpenGL games advantages not available in DirectX," said Tamte.

Follow the link below for full text of Cohen's interesting article.

Apple: WWDC 2002
MacCentral: Game developers to converge at WWDC

Aspyr: Four Titles at Final Candidate
11:20 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media's Amy Torres sent IMG a note this morning to let us know that four of their upcoming titles have reached the final candidate stage. This stage is where last-minute bugs are fixed before a title is declared "Golden Master" and sent to duplication.

Here's what Amy had to say:

Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that the following projects are now at FC:

  • Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
  • The Sims Hot Date
  • Clive Barker's Undying
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
  • If all goes well through the final candidate stage, all four titles should be shipping within the next few weeks. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any further developments.

    The Sims: Hot Date Preview
    Star Wars: Battlegrounds Preview
    Aspyr Media

    Warcraft III Interview at EuroGamer
    10:58 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

    Gaming web site EuroGamer has posted an interview with Blizzard Software's Bill Roper in which he discusses Blizzard's upcoming Warcraft III, the third installment in the series that originally made a name for the game developer.

    In the interview, Roper focuses heavily on the mod-making aspect of the game and the developer tools that will ship with the game. Apparently, Blizzard is betting heavily on the gaming community to keep Warcraft III alive long past its shelf life, which, judging from the adaptability of other such games to this concept, is a pretty safe bet.

    Here's just one of many fascinating points that Roper makes on the subject:

    One of the things that I think is really amazing about Warcraft III is the world editor that's shipping with it. Anything you're seeing that we're doing in these scenarios - setting up triggers where they're destroying buildings, in-game cinematics, background music - can all be done through the editor. With a little practice players can make levels and campaigns and stories that are as complex and involved as what we're able to do in the game. It's really incredible the things you can do with it. If you wanted to, you could make Monopoly with the Warcraft engine - you could make a map that was a board that went around, and move units with the random number generator and use gold as money. We do a lot of things even within the campaign - we have certain levels that act almost like races, where you have to complete goals before your enemy.
    Warcraft III is currently in beta testing, getting ready for a simultaneous Mac and Windows release later this year. Even better news for Mac gamers is that Warcraft III is fully Carbonized for Mac OS X.

    Any gamer who is looking forward to playing Warcraft III should read the entire interview. Just follow the link below.

    Warcraft III Beta Preview at IMG
    Warcraft III Interview at EuroGamer
    Blizzard Entertainment
    WarCraft III
    Buy WarCraft III

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    Myst Trilogy Clarification
    8:36 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Recently IMG reported on the release of Myst Trilogy for the PC. This repackaging from Ubi Soft contains all three Myst titles in one small bundle. At the time it looked like the games were for the PC only, though now it seems there are (some) Mac versions included.

    According to the Myst Trilogy box, Mac versions of both Riven and Myst III: Exile are in the box. Yet for some perplexing reason, the original Myst Masterpiece Edition is not included for the Mac. So owners of the original who have yet to pick up either of its sequels will be happy to know they can do so now for around $40.

    IMG News: Myst Trilogy Released (for the PC)
    Myst III: Exile
    Buy Myst III: Exile

    New Arxel Tribe Adventure Titles for Mac
    8:27 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Helpful reader Dario Tortora translated a report on the Italian site Applicando Online regarding two new games from Arxel Tribe to by published by Cryo for the Mac. The two historical adventure titles are Jerusalem and Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy.

    Jerusalem is up first as a semi-sequel to Arxel Tribe's Pompeii. This "cultural adventure" will take the hero Adrian to the Holy City for new adventures. While not much information is available yet at the Arxel Tribe web site, there are a number of screen shots now up. The game should be available on CD and DVD for Mac and PC.

    Further down the road, Applicando reports Arxel will be working on Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy. The company will be attending the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo, and we'll try to get more information from them about both games at that time.

    Applicando Online Report on Arxel Tribe
    Arxel Tribe

    Click to enlarge
    Ambrosia: pop-pop Update; Bubble Trouble X at FC
    8:27 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

    Two new updates over the weekend at the Ambrosia SoftwareBubble Trouble as well as the long-awaited action puzzler pop-pop. Those who have been following it will know pop-pop has been in development for a few years now. Based on the classic Araknoid, pop-pop takes the idea to new levels with fun, Anime-style graphics and fast multiplayer action.

    The game is currently undergoing the final stages of beta testing, though not without good cause. It seems the past few weeks have brought a major overhaul of pop-pop's performance, so those running any G3-class desktop or notebook should be able to play. Here's a clip:

    All G3s should have very nice frame rates - even notebook users who suffer slow ram, slow graphics subsystems and slow disks. It also may very well run fine on sub G3s but I don't have any of those.
    Much other work was done - almost all of it either so boring or so specific to the cruftiness that is the worse parts of pop's code that I shall spare you any detailed description. Just know that pop is faster, better, stronger and still fun as all get out.
    For more information, read through the rest of the update. Also be sure to check out IMG's recent preview of pop-pop. The hope is to have the title in the final candidate stage sometime this month, but we'll keep on it and let you know about its status.

    Other good progress is also being made on the Bubble Trouble X front. The Carbonized version of this shareware puzzler and its editor are now in the final candidate stage. New screen shots are available at its Ambrosia web page, so have a look to see the addictive title running under Mac OS X.

    pop-pop Progress Logs
    Bubble Trouble X Progress Logs
    IMG Preview of pop-pop
    Ambrosia Software
    Bubble Trouble X

    Mac Games News for Friday, May 3, 2002

    Activision to Distribute id's Doom III on the PC12:50 PM
    IMG Reviews Return to Castle Wolfenstein12:10 PM
    Stronghold: Crusader Announced12:01 PM
    Black & White Multiplayer Beta Patch Available11:10 AM
    Abducted Q&A Feature10:59 AM
    Contraband Porting Uplink to Mac9:18 AM
    id Software Web Site Redesign9:18 AM
    New Nvidia Chip in the Works9:18 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Friday, May 3, 2002 on one page

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    Thursday, May 2, 2002
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