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Thursday, October 17, 2002

ATI Releases October 2002 Drivers
9:52 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Graphics chip maker ATI recently released new drivers for its line of Mac-related products. Updates for both OS 9 and OS X users are available, as the following listing indicates:

Under Mac OS 9.x (version 9.2.1 and higher) the following products are supported:

* RAGE 128 Mac products such as
* NEXUS 128
* XCLAIM 3D Plus

Under Mac OS X ( version 10.1.3 to 10.2.1) the following products are supported:

* RAGE 128 Mac products such as
* NEXUS 128

As far as game-related improvements go, ATI's release notes mention that the latest drivers provide performance improvements and fixes for some existing titles as well as others that are close to being released. They also comment on FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering support:
FSAA is available at resolutions up to 1280x1024 on RADEON 8500 and 1024x768 on RADEON(AGP&PCI). A control to enable this feature and its level (2x or 4x) should be available from within any specific game supporting this functionality.

Anisotropic Filtering has been fully enabled for RADEON products. Control for this feature, as with FSAA, is available from within games supporting it.

Other issues covered in the release notes include mirror displays, Quartz Extreme support, and DVD playback. Those interested in seeing the list of improvements and caveats as well as downloading the new drivers can find all at ATI's site. The driver package is around 10.2 MB in size.

October 2002 ATI Retail Update for Mac OS
ATI - October 2002 Driver Release Notes
Radeon 8500

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IMG Reviews Wireless Optical Blue Mouse
1:08 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Following up our review of the wired Microsoft Optical Blue Mouse, IMG has posted a review of the Microsoft's Wireless Optical Blue Mouse. Here's a snippet from the review:

The Wireless Optical Blue has great aesthetics, especially compared with other offerings I've seen from Microsoft. The grey on blue looks really nice, and the scroll wheel has a slightly transparent plastic. Since a mouse is usually covered by a hand though, this may not be of much importance to you.

One thing lefties will like is that the mouse is completely symmetrical, so those playing on the other side of the keyboard need not worry about a design only for right-handed folk. This is a disadvantage over more contoured mice like the Logitech in that the mouse doesn't fit into my hand as well. The mouse has a shapely pear design to try and fit both hands, but I still feel like specialization is sometimes a good thing (as my left-handed brother flames me).

If you're in the market for a new mouse, be sure to check out the rest of the review.

IMG Review: Wireless Optical Blue Mouse
Wireless Optical Mouse Blue

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Shadowbane's Tree of Life & Travel Guide
11:00 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

It's a new day, and with it comes more Shadowbane articles on PC-centric sites (when's the last time a Mac site had a feature on Shadowbane? How about never). The Shadowbane developers, always eager to get on PC-centric web sites (ok, cut it out Tuncer, you nini), has posted an article on about the game's Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is described as the beating heart of a guild city. It serves as the respawn point after a character dies, can heal buildings and city assets, and place the city on the world map.

Here's a snippet from the article:

Trees of Life offer Guilds the chance to build true cities and literally leave their mark on the face of the Shadowbane game world. Like all other buildings and city assets, players can plant a Tree by activating a Guild Seed, a magical stone acorn. Guild Seeds are available for purchase from some vendors, or can be found through adventure. Guild Seeds are Shadowbane's most precious commodity, however, and will never be common or easy to acquire.
In related news, The Bardic Order from the Aerynthian College of Heralds has released the first part of a comprehensive Traveler's Guide called The Aerynthian Codex. The Codex covers the histories behind the landscapes and villages that cover the many worlds of Aerynth.

Here's a clip from the travel guide:

"Aerynth has much changed since the Turning, the shattering of the world has brought chaos to the routes of old. People have forgotten the lore of the land, and the events that have transpired prior to the Age of Strife. Many kingdoms that have been engulfed by the winds of change lay forgotten in hidden dales, earthly paradises have been lost, and many new stories have too often gone unseen, or unheard, by the rest of Aerynth. Too many brave souls have met their doom at the hand of ignorance as they journey into lost settlements that have been overtaken by chaotic creatures.

It is for this reason that I have asked several Soerbairds of the College of Heralds to gather all information, both new and old, on the lands in which they travel. With this information, we shall compile their notes into a codex so that knowledge will flow once again. I believe this undertaking be best suited to the Bardic Order of the College since, contrary to the Heralds who observe the major events of the worlds, the bards are already journeying throughout the fragments in search of lost lore, song, and an ear willing to listen to a tale or two."

If you're dying to learn more about Shadowbane (and who isn't), then be sure to check out both articles.

Wolfpack Studios
Shadowbane Tree of LIfe
The Aerynthian Codex: A Bard's Travel Guide

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MacGamer Reviews Soldier of Fortune II
10:02 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Our friends at MacGamer recently posted a review of MacPlay's Soldier of Fortune II. In the game, you assume the role of John Mullins, a military consultant working for the top-secret anti-terrorist group known as The Shop. You must tackle a wide-range of missions from hostage rescue and intelligence gathering, to search-and-destroy.

Here's a clip from Corey Tamas' review:

Soldier of Fortune II will definitely not disappoint those who want to see eye candy (except for the horrifying problems with performance, which are discussed below in more detail). The grit of military combat is evident in every single level of this game, and the engine shows not only the nuances of combat (empty shells flying about, bullet holes in the walls, smoky, belching explosions) but also the tiny details of the environments themselves (convincing gun metal, bricks so real you can feel them, rain splattering on the ground around you, long, life-life grassy hills). The weaponry always looks realistic and life-like in your hand and the lights from the muzzle flash give you a true sense of actually firing the armament. Thanks, also, to the GHOUL II engine, the graphical power of the Q3A engine is put to good use by displaying damage on the bodies of your enemies. Shoot someone in the leg and see the bleeding bullet hole. Blow someone's arm off and witness what's left hanging off his shoulder. One word of warning: It's not such a good idea to eat rare steak in real life while engaging someone with the knife in the game. Just trust me.
To check out the rest of the review, head on over to MacGamer. Be on the lookout for IMG's own review sometime next week.

Omni Group
Raven Software
MacGamer Review: Soldier of Fortune II
Buy SoF II

OmniGroup To Do More PopCap Ports
9:52 AM | Galen Wiley | Comment on this story

Ken Case, chairman of Macintosh game porting house OmniGroup, informed IMG recently of a new partnership with popular web-based puzzle/strategy game developer, PopCap Games. While Omni is known for such games as Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix and the Fallout series, they have updated their main games page with word on their work for these more 'casual' games.

Already responsible for the Bejeweled and Alchemy Bundle now available to .Mac members, Omni has announced plans to release even more of PopCap's web-games to the Mac in the near future:

We've partnered with PopCap Games to bring several cool puzzle and strategy games to Mac OS X. These "deluxe" versions of PopCap's web-based games can be played offline anytime, and boast improved graphics, high-quality sound, Internet high-scores lists, and numerous special features.
Be sure to stay tuned as we update you with any newly announced products. If you'd like to learn more about Bejeweled and Alchemy, the first available PopCap games for Mac, you can check out their official website.

PopCap Games
Omni Group
Bejeweled & Alchemy

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Sims Online Q&A
9:52 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

HomeLan Fed has posted a new interview with Chris Trottier, a designer for Maxis on their upcoming massively multiplayer title, The Sims Online. Based on the best-selling original The Sims and its many expansion packs, The Sims Online will let users interact in ways never possible with just the singleplayer game. In the interview, Trottier answers questions about character customizations, professions, as well as being able to handle the massive amount of users who will want to join. Here's an excerpt talking about the current closed beta test:

HomeLAN - How is the play test for The Sims Online coming along and what has the team learned from the test?

Chris Trottier - Well, first off, were looking for bugs that only surface at higher player volumes. The main thing is making sure that the service will be able to support the people were expecting to play shortly after launch.

Beyond that, its been amazing to watch the nesting instinct of initial players. Weve put incredible incentives on grouping in-game, whether its owning a property together or just hanging out together. But weve been seeing a huge amount of this happening on its own, independently of the game mechanics. Some of the things were watching most closely right now are economic things that will be harder to change post-launch: how much money to players start with, how quickly they make money through various mechanisms, how quickly maintenance becomes an issue for them, etc. This is also a good time to see whether there are any large parts of the game that are essentially invisible to people so we can feedback in place to surface those dynamics.

For much more on the game, be sure to read through the rest of the interview. While The Sims Online is scheduled for release late this year for PC, there has yet to be any official announcement about a Mac version. Stay tuned to IMG for any new word on the possibility.

The Sims Online Q&A at HomeLan Fed
The Sims Online

Mac Games News for Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Civ 3 Add-On Previewed1:15 PM
NCSoft Interview1:15 PM
Pangea Releases Bugdom 21:15 PM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, October 16, 2002 on one page

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