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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

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UbiSoft Announces Shadowbane Pre-Order
6:00 AM | Tristan Kane | Comment on this story

Fans of the MMORPG genre that have been awaiting the much anticipated release of Shadowbane may be interested to hear of the somewhat unusual pre-order system that UbiSoft has decided to use. UbiSoft in conjunction with retailers Electronics Boutique, GameStop, and CompUSA is selling pre-order boxes for $10 from September 3. The money spent on this box will then be carried forward as credit should the purchaser then proceed to buy the full game when it is released in November. Here is what the box contains:

  • Shadowbane Desktop Wallpaper
  • A Shadowbane Screensaver
  • A Shadowbane Video “Trailer”
  • A one-time-use promotional code to unlock three Shadowbane Restricted Races: Minotaur, Aracoix, and Centaur.

Before you rush out and buy one however it must be pointed out that there is a definite catch for Mac gamers, while the game itself is being produced for both PC and Mac, the CD that comes with the pre-order box is not Mac compatible, according to their FAQ:
Is the pre-order CD available for Apple computers?

No, the retail version of the pre-order CD will not work for Macintosh users. However, the promotional code will still work to unlock the restricted races. We hope to have a Mac version of the screensaver and video available in September.

Therefore the only real advantage to be gained is the Restricted Race codes, which will themselves be progressively released each month after the release of the game.

For more information on this rather unusual pre-order method, or indeed the game itself please use the links below.

Ubi Soft Unveils Innovative Shadowbane Pre-Order Program
Shadowbane Promotional Pre-Order CD FAQ
Wolfpack Studios

MGD Interviews Freeverse
1:02 PM | Galen Wiley | Comment on this story

Mac Game Database's very own Marc Antony Vose, was given the privilege to have a chat with Ian Lynch Smith and Colin Lynch Smith of the popular Mac game developer, Freeverse.

This exclusive interview is chock full of good news for eager Mac gamers. Ian and Colin reveal some very exciting plans for Freeverse in the near future. Among them is an update to the extremely popular Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab (3), Xpression!, a new "skinning" utility for Mac OS X, similar to the well-known Kaleidoscope, Active Lancer, a new yet old-school vertical side scroller, and a whole lot more.

Ian and Colin also share their take on the OS X gaming scene:

Marc: Are you liking the new developer APIs in X, or are you still sticking with Carbon?

Ian: We're not using Cocoa too much, mostly because the customer base isn't there yet. Even Apple's large umbrella is only saying 10% of Mac users use X, and so we can't. But, everything we're doing is Carbon at least.

Colin: Especially since a lot of our our games are card and board games, so they have an older audience, and they don't upgrade their computers as frequently.

Ian: In some ways, I think we've hurt our business. We've advanced our software faster than the user base. Which will be good; we'll be able to sit on our laurels a little bit, once everyone gets with the program, and switches to X!

For more information, exciting news, and moose flatulence, check out the full interview under the related links section below. And be sure bring an extra pair of pants!

Mac Game Database
Freeverse Interview

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IMG Reviews the Kensington Optical Elite Mouse
12:45 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

IMG's Patrick Leyden reviews Kensington's brand new Optical Elite mouse. Is this just another mouse being thrown into the already crowded fray of input devices? Leyden goes over all the particulars to find out what makes the Optical Elite stand out:

The Optical Elite mouse features a symmetrical button layout, so its suitable for left and right handed gamers. The overall size is larger than Apple’s Optical Mouse, but fits well into an adult-sized hand (though small children might have some difficulty using the Optical Elite). The smooth plastic surface of the device is juxtaposed by a rubberized coating on the sides and the lower back of the Optical Elite. The rubber provides extra grip, which I found to provide extra comfort during extended gaming sessions.
Read the rest of review to find out if this mouse suits your needs.

IMG Review: Kensington Optical Elite
Optical Elite

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Quake 3 Point Release Soon
10:47 AM | Vern Xiong | Comment on this story

Id Software's Robert Duffy has updated his .plan file with word of a new point release patch for Quake 3 Arena. While no mention is made specifically for the Mac version, he notes they will be incorporating the PunkBuster anti-cheating software into the new release. This same technology was recently introduced in another Quake 3-based title, Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Here is the latest posting from Robert Duffy:

Just a quick note on future releases for Quake 3 Arena. We will be releasing a new point release in the relatively near future which includes a handful of fixes and updates and also includes full Punk Buster integration to combat cheating. No firm date on when this will be out but it should not be too far off.
We'll keep you posted with any new information on a Mac point release.

id Software
Quake III Arena

Shadowbane Preview
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming megasite GameSpot recently published a short preview of Shadowbane, the upcoming MMORPG currently in development by Wolfpack Studios that features guild-based governments and the ability to sack other towns. Covered in the preview are topics such as character creation, development, and town sieging.

One feature aspiring  players should make note of is the way that races are currently split up. While there are ten races to choose from, several of them will be restricted races, including centaurs, minotaurs, and aracoix. While the restricted races were originally not available to new players, a special promo CD that contains various extras, including the ability to use restricted races, will be available from certain retailers.

Efforts have also been made to assure that characters of the same class do not end up with similar statistics and abilities:

In Shadowbane, no two advanced characters will be alike, since players will be able to advance from their basic classes to an intermediate class and then to a high-level prestige class. Here's an example: You might play as a rogue, and your friend might play a healer, but both of you will eventually be able to aspire to the powerful sorcerer class. However, you might have spent much of your adventurer's life as an assassin, learning stealth and the art of dispatching enemies with poison, while your friend might have chosen to play as a prelate, preferring to resurrect his fallen comrades on the battlefield and calling forth divine powers to smite his enemies. Though you'll both eventually be powerful sorcerers by choosing and developing the proper disciplines, you'll have very, very different skills, backgrounds, and abilities.
Also discussed in the preview are Shadowbane's methods of early character development, including protection from player-killers, as well as guild warfare. Those interested in more details can find them at GameSpot's recent preview.

GameSpot - Shadowbane Preview
Wolfpack Studios

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Apple Looks At Soldier of Fortune II
6:00 AM | Seth Scott | Comment on this story

Apple has posted a preview of MacPlay's upcoming Quake-based FPS, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix. The player character is loosely based on the real-life Vietnam veteran John Mullins, and the plot depicts a one-man struggle against the forces of bioterrorism. Players familiar with the Quake 3 engine already know of its photo-realistic textures and rendering, and SOF2 promises not to disappoint in these areas.

Offering both single-player and multiplayer action, SOF2 features a variety of painstakingly realistic modern weaponry, and pits the player against Quake 3's clever AI system. You begin each mission with weapons of your choice; when the pre-made missions start to feel old, you have the option of creating randomly generated levels, complete with mission objectives. This option is also available in multiplayer mode, to keep things mixed up and a bit more balanced for newbies facing veteran players.

Here's a taste of Apple's article:

The gorgeous graphics are complemented by outstanding motion-captured animation, too. The way the game’s characters walk, talk, and wince in pain is unmistakably human. Price notes that the characters are “fully skeletal, soft-skinned models with an amazing facial animation system. The enemies in Soldier of Fortune II are the most realistic characters you will ever see [in a computer game].”
The article also offers minimum system requirements for the game of a 350MHz G3, a 8MB video card, OS X 10.1.4 and 128MB of RAM.

Soldier of Fortune II is available for preorder at the IMG store at the link below, and is slated for a Mac OS X-only release very soon. To preorder, or to read a full preview with screenshots, see the links below.

Apple - Games - Soldier of Fortune II
Raven Software
IMG Sneak Preview: Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix
Buy SoF II

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ATI Radeon 9700 First Look
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

PC hardware site Hard OCP has taken a look at ATI's recently announced Radeon 9700 and published their results. Though the article is naturally PC skewed, it does look at the card strictly from a gaming perspective, comparing ATI's powerhouse with the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 using several games, including Quake 3, Jedi Knight II, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, all of which are or will be available for the Mac.

The stats are quite impressive, with the 9700 trumping the Ti 4600 by huge percentages in some cases. The UT2003 benchmark is particularly impressive:

1600x1200x32; 4XAA; 16XAF – The Radeon 9700 doused the Ti4600 by about 25%. Now get a load of this, that is with the GF4 running without AA or AF. With 4XAA turned on the Ti4600 was crushed by nearly 300%. The Radeon 9700 simply made quick work of the Ti4600 under this UT2003 demo.
Those interested in the rest of the benchmarks and test results can find the whole read at Hard OCP. A report on ATI's San Francisco launch of their new Radeon line was recently posted at Gamer's Depot as well. Also be sure to check out IMG's coverage of the new Radeon cards from Macworld New York.

Hard OCP - Radeon 9700 Gaming Experience
ATI Radeon 9000 Series Launch Event
MWNY: ATI Unveils Radeon 9000 Pro and 9700

Mac Games News for Monday, July 29, 2002

MacSoft's Nate Birkholz on The Gamesome Mac12:21 PM
IMG's First Look at Ghost Recon10:31 AM
Knight & Merchants OS X Patch Released8:07 AM
ATI Interview at Gamers Depot6:00 AM
Dragon's Lair 3D Previewed6:00 AM
NingPo Mah Jong Coming to the Mac6:00 AM
pop-pop Contest: 'Beat Ambrosia'6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, July 29, 2002 on one page

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Friday, July 26, 2002
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