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Thursday, July 18, 2002

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MWNY: ATI Unveils Radeon 9000 Pro and 9700 [Updated]
9:57 AM | Jason Sims | Comment on this story

ATI today took the wraps off two new video cards--the Radeon 9000 Pro and Radeon 9700. We've updated our initial report to clarify the key differences between the two cards.

The Radeon 9000 Pro Mac Edition is based on ATI's R200 graphics processor (the heart of the Radeon 8500 card) The 9000 is basically a clocked-up Radeon 8500. It ships with 64 MB of DDR memory, and support for dual digital displays via its ADC and DVI connectors.

The Radeon 9700 takes it to the next level with ATI's brand new R300 graphics processor and 128 MB of memory.

We spoke yesterday with Chris Bentley--leader of ATI's Mac 3D development team--about the launch of the new R300. He showed us some impressive demos of the new technology. Some of the highlights included:

64-bit color
Each channel: Red, Green, Blue and Alpha (masking channel). The highest possible color mode is actually only 32-bit, but the extra 8 bits per channel allows the R300 to deliver oversaturated colors, which translates to a glare/glow effect that is not possible in normal 32-bit color. The demo showed a large glass sphere surrounded by several smaller, colored metallic spheres, with amazing refraction, reflection and a glowing effect when the light hit the sphere just right. Chris showed us a half-and-half split screen mode of the display with the 32-bit color version on the left, and the 64-bit version on the right, and the difference was astounding. The 32-bit version looked flat and dull alongside the 64-bit version.

Advanced Bump Mapping
The next demo showed a sports car rotating in a showroom, with the left half of the screen showing the previous method of bump mapping vs. the new method. On the right side, the car actually looked like a more detailed model, with some impresive extra details such as stylish air intakes in the hood that were completely absent on the left side of the display. Chris enabled the wireframe overlay and showed that the actual 3D model itself was exactly the same on both sides, and that the extra detail on the right hand side was entirely a product of the R300's advanced bump mapping done by the vertex shader. This is essentially a "free" feature (i.e. should not have an effect on the performance) because the model itself is the same and the bump mapping is part of the process whether used in this manner or not. From an engineering/development standpoint, this is a great thing.

Realistic Fur
The R300 also features a method to render realistic-looking fur. The effect is achieved via a combination of two techniques--one to draw the fur on the edges of the 3D object, and another to render the fur on the rest of the model. We saw a couple of different demos--one featuring a bear and the other showing a gorilla with a butterfly--and the effect is quite impressive.

ATI's press release, issued this morning, states that the Mac Edition of the new cards are expected to ship in late summer or early fall. Based on the conversation we had with Chris, this estimate should be realistic for the Radeon 9000 Pro, but it's likely that the Mac drivers for the newer Radeon 9700 may require a couple months longer.


MWNY: Harmon Multimedia Unveils their ‘Creature’
3:02 PM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

Harman Multimedia has released a new speaker package called the JBL Creature at Macworld Expo this week. The Creature speaker system consists of a pair of satellite speakers and a subwoofer that deliver up to 40 watts of power.

These analog speakers can connect to any device that has a standard stereo headphone jack, including any iMac, iBook, PowerMac, PowerBook or iPod. The JBL Creatures have independent treble and bass controls and have touch-sensitive volume and mute controls not unlike the power buttons found on Apple flat panel displays.

Designer Kurt Solland of Harman Multimedia explained that he “didn’t want them [JBL Creatures] to look like speakers” and that the design of these speakers should act like a “Rorschach Test to provoke (users) emotions” since everyone who sees the speakers describes their unique shape in a different way.

The JBL Creature speaker system will retail for $129 US and will be available from CompUSA as well as the Apple Store. There are currently three colors available; Silver, White and Blue. Additional color selections are on the drawing board but have not yet been announced.

JBL Creature
Harman Multimedia
JBL Creature

MWNY: GameHouse Opens its Doors to Mac Gamers
11:18 AM | Patrick Leyden | Comment on this story

GameHouse, developer of web-based and downloadable games for casual gamers, has just announced the availability eight of their most popular games for Mac OS X.

The titles available for download include Bounce Out!, Mah Jong, TextTwist, Glinx, Nisqually, WHATword, and Collapse!. All the games feature vibrant graphics, excellent sound, and addictive puzzle-oriented playability. Each game is available for download for $19.95. In addition to the downloadable games, GameHouse features over sixty Java-based games that are playable online.

Currently, the downloadable titles are Mac OS X only, but OS 9 versions are planned for all current and future GameHouse titles.


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Warcraft III Featured on CNN
9:57 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Although gamers have known for years that the game industry is a viable, thriving market more than worthy of positive attention, all too often games are mentioned by the national media as a scapegoat for the violent behavior of various lawbreakers. A recent article published by CNN, however, takes the road less traveled and takes a closer look at the wild success of Blizzard Entertainment, recently highlighted by the record-setting launch of Warcraft III.

The article is quite positive in scope, highlighting Blizzard's various accomplishments and design philosophies, including their approach to the current work-in-progress World of Warcraft. While EverQuest, the current king of MMORPGs, currently boasts around 420,000 subscribers, Blizzard's goal for WoW is to attract millions.

Also discussed once again are Blizzard's future plans. While nothing is set in concrete, they do once again allude to the possibility of a WarCraft III expansion set:

Of course, while some eagerly await "World of Warcraft," others are already clamoring for other titles. At a midnight launch sale of "Warcraft III" on July 3, Roper was already being asked when the game's expansion pack would be out. (The short answer is no time soon. Roper hints that an expansion is still 12- to 18 months away.) And the company is constantly peppered with the question of when it plans to create a sequel to "Starcraft," its previous entry in the strategy genre. (Eventually, they hope. But not now.)
The rest of the article covers more information on WoW, including their beta testing strategy and targeted release date. Those interested seeing how a media industry leader sees Blizzard can find the article at CNN's website.

CNN - Of Orcs and Millionaires
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
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MWNY: Shadowbane First Look
9:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Of the many featured titles in the gaming arena at Macworld New York this week, only one could consider itself in the genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Shadowbane was on hand at the show with representatives from UbiSoft, publishers of the title developed by Texas-based Wolfpack Studios. While it's well known that Wolfpack is a very Mac-friendly house, seeing Shadowbane appear for the first time on a G4 running OS X is great for many Mac gamers.

We chatted a bit with the UbiSoft representatives to get an idea of how the game was progressing. The first thing many gamers who have been following this title will notice is the graphical upgrade recently done by Wolfpack. The game's environments and models look considerably better than in previous screen shots you may have seen, and this should be a great boost to the game, now long in development.

When we asked UbiSoft about the parity between the Mac and Windows versions of the game, they were adament that the differences are few:[The versions are] exactly the same. The only thing that's different is about 4MB, which is just the client and the patcher. It goes to a different location for the patcher. I would say 99% of the software uses the same code for both Mac and Windows. And the server, of course, reads both the same.As far as getting to actually play the game, UbiSoft assured us again that this summer they have plans to open it up to many more people, including Mac gamers.

Finally, we talked about system requirements, and UbiSoft remarked that while the game is running on OS X at the expo, it will also be backwards-compatible with those running OS 9.1 as well. A GeForce 2 or Radeon video card will be necessary, along with a "decent" amount of RAM. We'll try and get more information and screen shots of Shadowbane soon, so stay tuned to IMG for the latest on this exciting new title.

Wolfpack Studios

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MWNY: Blizzard's Bill Roper Talks to IMG
9:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Today IMG posted the results of quick new chat with Blizzard's Bill Roper. Their newest title, WarCraft III, was the only game to be mentioned in the keynote by Steve Jobs, and the excitement over it has yet to settle. In the Q&A, Roper discusses their future titles, the state of gaming on a Mac, and his thoughts on 10.2 Jaguar.

Here's a clip from the interview:

When asked about whether Worlds of WarCraft would be available next year, Roper was more hesistant to give a firm date, saying "that's an unannounced launch date title, but we'll probably be able to launch it in 2003. We expect it to be out next year, but we don't know how long our beta process is going to be. Because we don't know; we don't know if it's going to take a month or a year for the beta.

"We are shooting for something that's mass market, and we are not going to be happy with something with 200,000 subscribers, we want 2 million subscribers. And to capture that market, the game has got to be rock-solid. I think that -- even though they gripe about it -- core gamers go into one of these games knowing that it's organic and that there are going to be problems down the road. And even if they're not completely happy with it, they're willing to go along for the ride for a few months.

Check out the rest of the chat for the rest from Roper.

IMG Chat's with Blizzard's Bill Roper
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

MWNY: Second Image Gallery Posted
9:57 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG has uploaded a second set of images from Macworld New York. This batch features more shots of the huge gaming arena, as well as specific titles like Soldier of Fortune 2, Ghost Recon, The Sims and more. Also featured are a few shots from a trip to the Ed Sullivan theater which could be of interest. Check out these shots, and stay tuned for many more later in the day and tomorrow.

IMG: Macworld NY 2002 Picture Gallery Part 2

Mac Games News for Wednesday, July 17, 2002

MWNY: First IMG Macworld Gallery Posted12:44 PM
MWNY: pop-pop 1.0.1 Released12:41 PM
MWNY: MacPlay Ready To Ship SOF2 and NOLF12:29 PM
Ultranium2 for OS X Launched11:37 AM
MWNY: EverQuest Coming to OS X [Updated]11:29 AM
MWNY: Apple Announces Upgraded/Redesigned iPods11:00 AM
MWNY: Aspyr Announces Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon11:00 AM
CH Announces New Products10:59 AM
Freecraft OS X Port Needs Mac Dev10:59 AM
Logitech Control Center 1.0.0 Released10:59 AM
MWNY: Apple Unveils New 17'' iMac10:59 AM
SoundBlaster Live! for Mac OS X Makes Progress10:59 AM
WarCraft III Aftermath Q&A10:59 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, July 17, 2002 on one page

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