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Tuesday, May 7, 2002

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Sound Blaster 1.1 RC Drivers Available
6:00 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Yesterday evening, Creative Lab's Brian Souder posted a message in the IMG Forum heralding the unofficial availability of a release candidate of the long-awaited driver update for the Sound Blaster Live! audio card.

While version 1.1 RC offers no support for Mac OS X, it does address a number of long-standing issues in Mac OS 9 and even adds a few new features to the card as well:

1. New Features

1.1 Preset Auditioning

This feature allows you to audition presets within a librarian window.
1.2 Preset Editing
SoundFont Bank Manager v1.1 includes a powerful preset editor. This feature allows you to adjust many of the properties of a preset, giving you unparalleled creative control.
1.3 Import
Basic and Advanced Import modes allow you to import audio files (AIF or WAV format) into your own presets.
1.4 SoundFont Help
An extensive SoundFont resource has been added to the help system.
2. Enhanced Features

2.1 Audio Fidelity

Driver v1.1 addresses many sound quality issues such as pops and clicks during playback and recording.
2.2 Power Management
Driver v1.1 adds power management support.
2.3 Roxio CD Spin Doctor
Driver v1.1 no longer conflicts with this application.
2.4 Titanium [sic] Microphone Recording
Driver v1.1 addresses many input microphone recording issues for the Titanium [sic] Macintosh computers.
2.5 Playback Volume
Mixer v1.1 now maintains consistent playback volume.
2.6 Large SoundFont Bank Support
SoundFont Bank Manager v1.1 now supports SoundFont Banks larger than 32 MB.
2.7 Multiple Librarian Windows
SoundFont Bank Manager v1.1 now supports large numbers of open librarian windows simultaneously.
2.8 Keyboard Mouse Text
SoundFont Bank Manager v1.1 now properly displays key number and octave information when mousing over the keyboard.
2.9 External MIDI Preset Change
SoundFont Bank Manager v1.1 now properly responds to preset changes sent from external MIDI controllers.
It should be noted that while Creative's programmers hope these drivers are ready for official release, Creative Labs has not yet completed testing them. Sound Blaster Live! owners who wish to try them out do so at their own risk. The adventurous should take particular note of the known issues listed in the version 1.1 "ReadMe" file, linked below along with the release candidate drivers.

For more information on the Sound Blaster Live! PCI audio card, be sure to check out IMG's review.

[Eddie Park contributed to this story.]

IMG Review: Sound Blaster Live!
Sound Blaster Live!
IMG Forum: Sound Blunder Live! Drivers?
Sound Blaster Live! 1.1 Final RC (22.3 MB)
Sound Blaster Live! 1.1 README (4 KB)

Sugar Cube Releases Cocoa Sprite Kit
1:40 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Sugar Cube Software has released the first public beta of its Cocoa Sprite Kit, a 2D game development tool for Mac OS X:

Built from ground up using Objective-C and Mac OS X's Quartz Compositing Engine, Cocoa Sprite Kit is a framework designed to make powerful 2D graphics applications with ease. Although mainly designed for 2D games, developers are encouraged to find more creative uses.

The Cocoa Sprite Kit (CSK) was inspired by Cocoa, valuing ease of development and rich high level frameworks and functionality. Developers can write Cocoa applications and get features such as transparency, scaling, rotation, and other graphics transformations, collision detection and graphics layering with a minimum of programming effort. CSK is designed for both new and experienced programmers who want to focus on program logic/game-play instead of low level blitters and other graphics problems.

Sugar Cube Software welcomes feedback from interested developers and invites them to contribute to the open-source project as well.

For more information, including source code, sample applications, and preliminary documentation, visit the Cocoa Sprite Kit's web page, linked below.

[Vern Xiong contributed to this story.]

Cocoa Sprite Kit

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IMG Reviews the Flat-Panel iMac
11:39 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a comprehensive review of the hot new flat-panel Apple iMac. Written by IMG's Richard Halls, the review concentrates on the new iMac from a gamer's perspective:

The fact that the iMac now boasts a fast G4 processor (an unexpected bonus which previously was reserved solely for Apple's professional range) also makes the new iMac an interesting machine for Mac users who want to play games. The earlier G3 iMac, for all its benefits, could never really compete with the more expensive G4 Power Macs for game performance; and yet, the Power Mac price range was too expensive for the sorts of casual consumer users who would be likely to want to play a few games on their machines. Many of these kinds of users may even have succumbed to the temptation to buy PCs instead. So putting a G4 in the iMac was a shrewd move for Apple: its resulting new machine addresses the needs of consumers whilst offering them the kind of performance required to play the latest games without having to spend a fortune on a professional-level Power Mac.
If you've been looking to buy one of the new iMacs, be sure to check out the rest of the review.

IMG Review: iMac 2002
iMac 2002

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Two Giveaways: Hot Date and Radeon 8500!
11:38 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Not one, but two giveaways. That's right, it's May and we thought we'd start the month off with two fantastic giveaways.

Inside Mac Games and Aspyr Media have teamed up for a month long giveaway for their upcoming expansion pack, The Sims: Hot Date. To enter the drawing, you'll have to describe your "ideal hot date." What does that mean? Basically, if you were to take your girlfriend, or wife, or someone on a date, describe what your ideal hot date would be like. And please folks... let's keep it clean, okay?

Winners will be picked by the good folks at Aspyr Media based on your response! So put some thought into it, will ya? The prize? How about two movie tickets and a free copy of The Sims: Hot Date! One winner will be picked every week during the month of May.

In celebration of the release of the Radeon 8500, Inside Mac Games and ATI are also teaming up on a super cool giveaway. Enter today to win a brand spanking new Radeon 8500. Featuring 64 MB of DDR memory, a fill rate of two gigatexels per second, and advanced new 2D and 3D technologies, the Radeon 8500 is ATI's top-of-the-line powerhouse graphics card for turbocharged gaming performance.

The giveaway will last for one week, and the winner will be picked next Wednesday.

Enter both giveaways by clicking on the link below.

IMG Giveaways
IMG Review: Radeon 8500
IMG Preview: The Sims: Hot Date
Radeon 8500
The Sims: Hot Date
Buy The Sims: Hot Date

GameSmith Game-Matching Service Announced
10:42 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Freeverse Software and Ideas from the Deep have unveiled GameSmith, a cross-platform multiplayer game-matching service and online community. Based on the latest version, 2.1, of the open-source networking library OpenPlay, and on the mature game-matching HMS 2.0 technology, GameSmith promises to provide unparalleled stability and compatibility across Mac OS X and Windows when it is released later this summer:

"We're excited to be bringing a whole new level of features and service to the online gaming world, and starting today, we will be aggressively signing up game developers to include GameSmith support in their titles," says Lane Roathe, GameSmith Project Lead.

"The Macintosh game community has long been in need of more options for multiplayer gaming. GameSmith brings new and exciting options to Macintosh game developers and we are totally stoked to see talents like Freeverse and IFD pulling this together," says Yon Hardisty, CEO of, "We are equally as excited to announce that our next Galactic Patrol upgrade will support GameSmith!"

The GameSmith host will running off of Mac OS X and will be integrated into a fully multi-threaded WebObjects application. The game matching service will be ramping up over the next two months and will have its official release at Macworld New York this summer.

A test version is available on the GameSmith web site. Be sure to check it out!


Legislation Seeks to Censor Violent Video Games
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Violent video games have had a somewhat rocky past with the government. Ever since the infamous Columbine incident, some outspoken parents and legislators have sought to place the blame for it on the shoulders of violent games, claiming that they influence children in potentially harmful ways.

As reported in a recent article at MacCentral titled " New legislation would ban violent game sales to kids," California Democrat Joe Baca has recently joined these ranks by introducing legislation, titled "The Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act of 2002," to the U.S. House of Representatives that would make it illegal to sell or rent games containing violent or sexual acts to minors.

If adopted, the legislation would prohibit the depiction of:

  • Decapitation, amputation, dismemberment or mutilation
  • The killing of human beings by the use of an object as a lethal weapon or hand to hand fighting
  • The car jacking of a vehicle
  • Rape or other sexual assault and prostitution
  • Aggravated assault or battery
  • Other violent felonies

Interestingly enough, this legislation comes only a few days after U.S. District Court Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr. surprised observers by ruling that video games contain "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech."

(The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has already ruled in a similar case that games are indeed protected speech, but as Judge Limbaugh's district is not in the Seventh Circuit, he was not bound by that higher court's ruling.)

An article recently published at Salon, titled "Playing games with free speech," takes a look at Judge Limbaugh's ruling, calling it "wrong, stupid, and dangerous":

And that could be a disaster for anyone who wants to see games evolve into a medium every bit as culturally relevant as movies or books. It is, of course, indisputable that the world of gaming is replete with titles that have little redeeming value, just as it is true for every other artistic medium. But as Medal of Honor and other games demonstrate, computer gaming has created a new means of conveying complex, relevant ideas. One more uninformed ruling, and the potential of this medium could be curtailed even further, by legislators with elections to win, and ideologues who've pincered it from both sides of the political spectrum. The stakes really are the future of free expression; and as this ruling makes plain, the need for the game industry to mount a preemptive attack is past due. The time for a counterstrike is now.
More information on these stories can be found in the articles mentioned at MacCentral and Salon.

MacCentral: New legislation would ban violent game sales to kids
Salon: Playing games with free speech

Glider Pro X Updated to 3.0.1
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Longtime Mac software makers Casady & Greene have updated Glider Pro X to version 3.0.1. For those unfamiliar with the title, Glider Pro X is the Mac OS X version of Glider, an arcade title featuring a paper glider and one of Casady & Greene's all-time classics.

This latest upgrade features several new levels as well as various fixes. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The new Glider Pro for Mac OS X update to v3.0.1 includes all the houses that were in the original Glider Pro. Fly the intrepid Glider through 13 different artful and grand theme houses such as the Titanic, the Art Museum, the Grand Prix, the Land of Illusion and more!

Other changes in this release include adding the ability to save and load games, and other minor fixes.

Registered users can download the update for free at Casady & Greene's web site. A demo of the game can be had from our sister site,

Casady & Greene
Casady & Greene: Glider Pro X 3.0.1 Press Release
MGF: Glider Pro X 3.0.1 Demo (2 MB)

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Apple Previews Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Apple recently added a small feature to their games section that previews the upcoming real-time strategy title Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. The preview covers all the usual bases, citing Galactic Battlegrounds' use of the Age of Empires II engine as well as discussing the story-based campaign available in the game:

For example, one campaign follows the struggles of Princess Leia as she tries to obtain information that's vital to the rebellion (if you're familiar with the first Star Wars movie, you know what that is). In another, Han Solo and Chewbacca try to restore freedom to Kashyyyk, Chewbacca's homeworld, and it's up to you to help them.
Aspyr Media, publishers of this title, yesterday announced that it has reached the Final Candidate stage, so Mac users should be getting their hands on this game in the near future. In the meantime, be sure to check out Apple's preview as well as IMG's own for more information.

IMG Preview: Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Apple: Games - Galactic Battlegrounds
Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
Westlake Interactive
Buy Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds

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More Details on Upcoming Civilization III Expansion
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Though fans of the popular strategy title Civilization III are no doubt aware of its upcoming expansion pack, precious little is known about it other than its subtitle, Play the World, and that it will include a multiplayer feature.

The Civilization III Fanatics' Center recently sent an e-mail to Jeff Morris, producer of Civilization III, asking for more information. Though Morris was understandably tight-lipped, he did manage to provide some nebulous answers to some of the more interesting questions. For example:

Q: Please tell us more about this "Turnless" multiplayer mode... Is it like Civ2's Simultaneous Move mode?

A: Stay tuned. If you want to get a general idea of the feature, check out fallout tactics. There are a number of significant differences, but that's in the ballpark.

Those interested in seeing the rest of the questions and answers can find them at the Civilization III Fanatics' Center, though those searching for juicy tidbits on the upcoming expansion may be disappointed. Not to worry, however, as Infogrames intends to reveal all at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is only two short weeks away.

IMG Review: Civilization III
Civilization III
Civ III Fanatics' Center: Mini Q&A About the Expansion Pack
Buy Civilization III

ATI Installer, Radeon 8500 Firmware Updated
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Yesterday, ATI's Eric Jaeger noted in the IMG Forum that an updated installer for the March 2002 ATI drivers has been posted. The previous installer did not function correctly in Mac OS X 10.1.4: users were required to install the drivers in 10.1.3 before updating to 10.1.4. That is no longer required with the new installer.

In related news, ATI has released a firmware update for the Radeon 8500. The new version 126 firmware resolves several issues found in the older version 123 firmware and is recommended for all Radeon 8500 cards. Before upgrading, please read the release notes.

IMG Review: Radeon 8500
Radeon 8500
Radeon 8500 v126 ROM Release Notes
Radeon 8500 v126 ROM (281 KB)
ATI March 2002 Retail Update (Updated Installer)

Mac Games News for Monday, May 6, 2002

IMG Reviews Avernum 212:47 PM
Custer's Anniversary Desktop12:32 PM
Worldwide Developers Conference Begins Today12:09 PM
Aspyr: Four Titles at Final Candidate11:20 AM
Warcraft III Interview at EuroGamer10:58 AM
Myst Trilogy Clarification8:36 AM
Ambrosia: pop-pop Update; Bubble Trouble X at FC8:27 AM
Contraband's Heineman on The Gamesome Mac8:27 AM
New Arxel Tribe Adventure Titles for Mac8:27 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, May 6, 2002 on one page

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Friday, May 3, 2002
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