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Tuesday, January 7, 2003

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MWSF: Neverwinter Nights Update
3:48 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games this morning spoke with MacSoft's Al Schilling to get an update on their long-awaited RPG, Neverwinter Nights. The news is that there's some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news. According to MacSoft's Al Schilling, Neverwinter Nights is practically complete and will be shipping sometime in the first quarter of 2003. The game is well into testing and is being shown at the Bold booth as well as the Apple Games Pavilion and is drawing great crowds.

There is, however, some bad news for those who were looking forward to the NWN Toolset. Schilling said that they've decided to cancel the port of the toolset. He told IMG that the development of the toolset had to be halted because it would have taken over a year to port it to the Mac. Schilling explained that the project to port the toolset was underway, but as the developers (Omni Group) dug deeper into the code, the estimate grew from 6 months to over a year of development time. So instead of delaying the game another 6 months, the hard decision to cancel the toolset was made.

MacSoft plans to ship the game shortly. IMG will be posting a preview of NWN based on a recent beta soon. Let the flames begin...

Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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MWSF: Apple Introduces New PowerBooks
9:57 PM | Jason Sims | Comment on this story

The rumor sites predicted a humdrum keynote for MWSF 2003, but Apple had everyone fooled. At the end of an exciting keynote, Steve took the wraps off the new 17" PowerBook G4, and -- needless to say -- this thing is a monster. It was open to debate whether the original PowerBook G4's 15" display could really be called "mega wide" (for it really isn't that much wider than other leading notebooks), but the new 17" display (which runs at a native resolution of 1440x900 pixels -- a 16:10 aspect ratio) is truly deserving of this claim. There is no other laptop in the world that comes close!

But the larger display is just the beginning. Apple somehow managed to squeeze the guts of the new PowerBook into an even-thinner enclosure than the original -- the case is now just an inch thick when closed. It's quite a bit wider and deeper though, and weighs in a little heavier at 6.8 lbs. It's also made of a new material (an aluminum alloy) that is more durable than the original -- a welcome change, as the Titanium finish on the previous PowerBook G4s tended to scratch and blemish rather easily. Adding to the lust factor is a new backlit keyboard, which is equipped with an ambient light detector that automatically turns on the backlight when it's needed.

The new 17" PowerBook also marks the debut of some new Apple technologies. First is AirPort Extreme, which supports the new 802.11g wireless networking scheme. AirPort Extreme runs at up to 54 Mbps (the original AirPort had a maximum bandwidth of 11 Mbps), and is backwards-compatible with the older 802.11b protocol (the other, 54 Mbps wireless protocol, 802.11a, is not). Next up is FireWire 800, a new version of FireWire that runs at 800 Mbps. The new FireWire 800 has a different jack, but an adapter is included that lets you use older FireWire (400) devices with it, and there is also a second, original FireWire jack.

Rounding out the wireless capabilities of the new 17" PowerBook is built-in Bluetooth, which can be used to transfer data wirelessly between the computer and a Bluetooth-capable cell phone, PDA, or other device. It's powered by a 1 GHz G4 processor with a 1 MB L3 cache, and ships with 512 MB of DDR RAM. Also new is an NVIDIA GeForce4 440 Go graphics processor, with 64 MB of memory.

After the debut of the new 17" PowerBook, Steve unveiled a second, unexpected surprise -- an ultraportable PowerBook with a 12" display (running at 1024x768). The case is the same size and shape as the 12" iBook, except with the new aluminum alloy finish. It sports an 867 MHz G4 processor and a slot-loading "combo" drive (which reads DVDs and CDs, and writes CD-R and CD-RW media). It's powered by an NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go processor, which is identical to the 440 except it has 32 MB of memory instead of 64.

The 12" PowerBook also features built-in Bluetooth, and is "AirPort Extreme ready" -- a card can be added for $99 to support the new wireless networking standard. You can also opt for a SuperDrive instead of the combo drive, as a build-to-order option.

PowerBook G4 1 GHz (17 inch)
PowerBook G4 867 MHz (12 inch)

MWSF: ATI Talks 3D Gaming
9:37 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

IMG sat down today with ATI to talk about their recent (and future) contributions to the Mac 3D hardware scene. As you know, ATI's products did not make it into the new Apple portables announced today, but that doesn't mean the company is down and out about their prospects for 3D on Mac OS X.

Software Goodies
One very exciting annoucement from the ATI camp today was that they will be releasing a control panel for users to toggle features like Full-Scene Anti Aliasing (commonly called FSAA). This means users with recent ATI hardware (likely Radeon-class or above) will be able to turn on FSAA in any 3D application which runs in OS X, without the game developers having to write any extra code. Other features like anisotropic filtering or possibly even special DVD options might get toggled in the control panel as well.

The Radeon 9000 Pro Mac Edition is now shipping to retailers, and the card stakes out a nice balance of features with an affordable price point. Have a read through IMG's recent preview for more on the card. Possibly even more interesting to Mac gamers is the fact that a number of demo machines in the Macworld gaming arena were running the Radeon 9700. According to ATI, this beefy 128MB card has made significant progress over the last six months in terms of OS X drivers. This is proved by the amazing stability of the machines demonstrated at Macworld.

The Radeon 9700 is currently triumphing over anything else on the PC side, and ATI's strategy for producing the Mac version has shifted a bit with this product. Instead of doing a line-for-line rewrite of the drivers, ATI's Chris Bentley explains they are instead wrapping the PC driver in a sort of abstraction layer. They are reordering the input data, shifting from how the Mac represents the it to make it what the drivers expect. This copying is currently only incurring a 3% hit, which could be optimized even further down the road.

The good news for Mac gamers is because they are leaving the PC drivers in tact, the Mac Radeon 9700 drivers will have near feature parity with its PC counterpart. While the ATI team is hoping to have it ready well before Macworld New York, there's no release date even estimated yet. Bentley did note they have very little driver work left to do other than bug fixes.

All in all, ATI is happy with Apple's direction for OpenGL, especially moving forward with new extensions for shader support. This will culminate with a standard high-level shader scripting language, GL2, being implemented, followed by OpenGL 2.0 further down the road.

MWSF: Nvidia's GeForce 4 Go Chips
9:31 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As Mac fans who watched today's MWSF keynote address are no doubt aware, the new Powerbooks that were introduced both feature Nvidia GeForce4 Go chipsets for their graphics acceleration. With the 12" PowerBook sporting the 420 model and the 17" PowerBook containing the 440 model, these are the first chips by Nvidia to be included with Apple-branded laptops.

Nvidia was kind enough to give us a small presentation on the GeForce4 Go series, elaborating on the differences as well as the strengths. Both chips contain a wealth of features, including High-Res Anti-Aliasing (HRAA), PowerMizer power-management technology, and low heat dissipation. The only major difference between the two chips lies in the memory management, with the 440 boasting a 128bit 64MB DDR setup, and the 420 containing a 64bit 32MB DDR setup.

Of particular note is the fact that both the 420 and the 440 feature the same chipsize and pin set. What this means is that, for manufacturing purposes, either upgrading or downgrading can be accomplished with a simple chip swap rather than a motherboard redesign. In addition, Nvidia hopes to keep the same standard format for its future chipsets, again making it easy for manufacturers (not end-users) to upgrade with minimal cost or hardware change.

We're hoping to get our hands on the 12" PowerBook in a few weeks. If we do, we'll be sure to post some performance reviews of it and the GeForce4 Go 420. In the meantime, convention-goers are encouraged to visit the Apple booth repeatedly and drool over the new PowerBooks.


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MWSF: Unreal Tournament 2003 Hands On
4:15 PM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Epic's hotly anticipated Unreal Tournament 2003 was up and running at MWSF as promised, much to the delight of attending gamers. Running on several dual processor G4s, the current build looks quite promising, with amazing graphics, killer sounds, and the same basic gameplay that made its predecessor so popular.

IMG managed to tag about 10 minutes of gameplay with UT2003 on a LAN with two other players. The fragging action is definitely furious, with the dominant player mutating into some form that doubled the health as well as movement speed, making for some incredibly fast play.

We also managed to log some time with Ryan Gordon, the individual responsible for porting UT2003 to the Mac, who was kind enough to divluge some more information on the title. The build showing at MWSF features not only the single-player mode, but full LAN and network compatibilty with Windows and Linux. They've also had it up and running on the Xserve and plan on hosting LAN parties during the show.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a solid release date as of yet, but Ryan assures us that it's "really close." He also notes that it will only run under Jaguar, and that successive iterations of the OS will actually improve performance, citing the recently released 10.2.3 as an example.

Digital Extremes
Unreal Tournament 2003
Buy Unreal Tournament 2003

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Mac Strike Force 1.8 Released
3:55 PM | Mike Apps | Comment on this story

The latest version of the Tactical Realistic Mod for Unreal Tournament, Strike force, is now available for the Mac. For those unfamiliar with the Mod, it is a total conversion to Unreal Tournament which changes the game to one in which players pick Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist and then battle against each other in real world environments. The latest version, 1.8, makes a huge number of fixes to the Mod.

Here are some of the major fixes:

- menu pops up once SF is loaded
- strikeforce.ini has several changes for better performance
- new opengl drivers included (so everything wont be so dark)
- aksilenced and new ak put back in game
-mp5sd shooting point adjusted
-mp5sd shooting rate slightly increased
-aimdot can be adjusted for size and color
-m203 adjusted to match ROF of M4 but has worse accuracy because it's heavier
-flash on steyr should be gone
-Reloadsounds should now work on all Weapons.
-Falling damage modified
-Weapon damage modified
-G36 (stretch) in inv fixed
-Nade problems (stretch) in inv fixed
-Fixed map "After the Fall" new spawn points and cookies
-Removed Ghost Cam
- Walking|jump back, but it cant be used to override Pulse limit
- Damage is not affected by bHardcoremode any more
- Fixed cheat where you could enter "console commands" and adjust online specs
- Flash nades last longer & have higher radius
- Wall hit effect reduced in size
- Bullets have smoke again
- Wall hits have new spark effect
- Bulletholes smaller
- Smoke smaller after Wallhit
- Scope does more wobble. Wobbles faster if moving
- Shotgun shoots slower now
- Jumpdelay out, may the Pulsesystem safe
- Shellshock from Nades/Claymores should be in again without Pure
- aimdot color is remembered correctly now
- Widowmaker shoots a little slower
- mac 10 toned down
- fixed the widowmaker 2x zoom on start
- Worked on smoke grenades
- changed locational Damage :
Headshot : sniper only
Torsoshot: normal damage (Sniper 1shot kill)
Arms : 50% Damage (Sniper takes 2 shots)
Legs : 40% Damage (Sniper takes 2 shots) Speed is a little affected the less legs you have the slower you get)
- increased Flashbang effects
- Shellshock from Nades/Claymores should be in again without Pure
- aimdot color is remembered correctly now
- Size of aimdot changeable via slider in Options (ripped from IR2)
- Go into aim mode while firing
For more information on the Mod, or to download the latest version, follow the links below. If you are interested in the Mod, but do not own Unreal Tournament, you can purchase a copy from the IMG Store for only $15.

Mac Strike Force 1.8
Strike Force
Epic Games
Westlake Interactive
Unreal Tournament

Letter Linker Now For OS X
3:54 PM | Scott Turner | Comment on this story

A game that is a unique cross between boggle, tic-tac-toe, and reminiscent of scrabble, Letter Linker has been released by Prygon and Gamehouse for OS X. Letter Linker involves a set of letters laid in a connected square-like pattern. Choosing to play timed to finish each word puzzle or simply link the letters as fast as possible for a high score, the player must connect the letters in paths that form words. Gamehouse is offering the title for $20.

Simply download the free trial from Gamehouse at the link below, and a link to buy the game is also provided on the same page.

Download or Buy Letter Linker

PowerLogix, Sonnet Announce 1.2 GHz CPU Upgrades
3:53 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

PowerLogix and Sonnet have both announced CPU upgrades using G4 processors up to 1.2 GHz. Sonnet has the lone announcement of a single G4 processor upgrade running at 1.2 GHz for Graphite to Quicksilver G4s, while PowerLogix has several new additions to their lineup.

Their biggest announcement is the PowerForce Dual G4 1.2 GHz for Graphite to QuickSilver 2002 models, which makes it the fastest CPU upgrade to date. PowerLogix has streamlined their single processor upgrade offerings with the PowerForce G4 Series 233 (100+133), available at speeds of 800, 1 GHz, and 1.2 GHz. These upgrades are compatible with systems with 100 MHz and 133 MHz bus.

PowerLogix has something for owners of older PowerMacs as well. Beige G3, Blue and White G3, and PCI PowerMac G4 owners can now upgrade their systems with a G3 800 MHz ZIF. Powered by the IBM PowerPC 750FX chip, the PowerForce G3 800 ZIF features a 512 KB cache running at full processor speed. PCI PowerMac owners can also rejoice as the PowerForce G3 800 will also be made available to them.

Last but not least is the Blue Chip G3 800 upgrade for PowerBook G3 2000 (or Pismo) owners. Unique to this upgrade is the ability to adjust the speed of the CPU through software in order to conserve battery life.

The Sonnet Encore/ST G4 1.2 GHz will retail for $799.95, while pricing for the PowerLogix upgrades will be announced in the coming days. Sonnet is taking preorders and PowerLogix cites a one to three week waiting period for it's various upgrades to appear in stores. For more information (including details on Cube compatibility), read the press releases below.

PR: Sonnet Announces G4 1.2 GHz Upgrade for Graphite and QuickSilver
PR: PowerLogix Announces a Bevy of New Upgrades

Mac Games News for Monday, January 6, 2003

MWSF: UT 2003, Neverwinter Nights at Macworld Expo!6:13 PM
IMG Heads To MacWorld Expo San Francisco5:56 PM
IMG Examines the Radeon 9000 Pro3:37 PM
M-Audio Announces Sonica Theater6:54 AM
Dungeon Siege at Macworld6:00 AM
Freeverse Freeware Board Games6:00 AM
GameSpy on Mac Games6:00 AM
glTron Updated to v0.626:00 AM
Risk-y OS X Games Updated6:00 AM
SoF II 1.03 PC Patch Works for Macs?6:00 AM
Vega Strike Released for Mac OS X6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Monday, January 6, 2003 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Friday, January 3, 2003
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