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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Progress Update on Descent: Freespace 1 and 2 Port
1:34 PM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

On Monday, IMG reported that an independent developer had been working on a Mac OS X port of Descent: Freespace 1 and 2 using open source code. The developer, "tigital", has made another post to the IMG forums, detailing the progress he has made in the past few days. Here is an excerpt from his report:

...last nite I incorporated Taylor's patch for freespace 1 support, and immediately came across a model loading byteswap problem...this was easily fixed, which allowed me to play the first training mission! Unfortunately, still having problems with primary weapons, so it's back to the drawing board for that :-(

...[on the other hand], I was able to finally test out the mve playing code (used for intros and cutscenes), and it works, but verrrrry slooooowly, and with no sound at present...haven't looked at that code, but we're going in the right direction!

"tigital" has been unable to obtain a Freespace 2 CD so he is concentrating his efforts on porting Freespace 1. If you would like to assist him in obtaining retail CDs, post a message in the forum thread linked below. Keep in mind that if and when the port is completed, Mac users would also have to purchase the Descent: Freespace CDs.

Descent: Freespace - The Great War and Freespace 2 are space combat simulators in the tradition of the classic Descent series. They were released on the PC several years ago and became an instant hit with gamers.

IMG Forum: Any chance of a Freespace 2 open-source port for OS X?
Freespace 2 Mac Bound?

IMG Reviews The Sims Unleashed
12:48 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Today, IMG has posted a review of Aspyr Media's latest expansion pack to The Sims entitled, The Sims Unleashed. This review covers all the key features of Unleashed.

Here's a clip:

I?ve reviewed every Sims expansion since House Party, but I must say that Unleashed by far adds the most actual depth. Sure, new items, scenery and social interactions are fun, but they honestly only go so far. However, the addition of pets poses a whole new array of gameplay challenges.

First, we'll discuss choosing a pet. In order to buy pets, it is first necessary for the player to direct their Sim to call a shuttle and head to the newly constructed Old Town district. Aside from various shops and parks that we'll discuss later, Old Town houses a massive pet purchasing & adoption center. At the pet center, Sims can purchase small animals like iguanas, gold fish and lovebirds, oooh. lovebirds.

Hit the link below for the rest of the review.

IMG Review: The Sims Unleashed
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Unleashed
Buy The Sims: Unleashed

Mac Radeon 9700 Pro to Have Limited OS 9 Support
11:55 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

When IMG questioned ATI about Mac OS 9 support for the Mac Radeon 9700 Pro at MacWorld New York 2002, they were still undecided. In a post to the Accelerate Your Mac forums, an ATI employee confirmed that the Radeon 9700 Pro will be able to boot into Mac OS 9 using the standard Radeon drivers, but will not provide hardware acceleration or support for any advanced features. While the point is moot for the new Power Macs since they will not be able to boot into Mac OS 9, older Power Mac owners may still wish to do so. Stay tuned to IMG as we seek further clarification from ATI representatives.

XLR8YourMac Forum: Radeon 9700 in new powermac, retail soon?

Richard Harvey Bids Final Farewell
10:05 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

On January 21st, Richard Harvey, lead programmer for Terminal Reality and the brainchild behind Fly!, Fly! 2K, and Fly! II, bid a final farewell to members of the AVSIM forums. Harvey has been undergoing treatment to stop the growth of a number of tumors in his chest, but currently the affliction is terminal.

Richard Harvey's roots in the Mac gaming community are long and deep. He successfully ported Terminal Velocity to the Mac and was instrumental in making sure that Fly!, Fly! 2K, and Fly! II were brought to the Mac.

Those who may wish to read Harvey's last words to the members of the AVSIM general-aviation flight sim community can do so by following the link at the end of this article. On behalf of Mac users everywhere, the crew at IMG wishes Harvey a warm goodbye and clear skies.

Terminal Reality
AVSIM Forums: A final post and goodbye from Richard Harvey

ATI Announces Radeon 9700 BTO Option on New Macs
9:30 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

ATI today announced that its flagship RADEON 9700 Pro graphics card is now available as a build-to-order option on Apple's recently announed revamped Power Macs. Customers purchasing a new Power Mac through the Apple online store can select to upgrade from a RADEON 9000 card to a RADEON 9700 PRO card for an additional $300.

Here's more from the official press release:

The RADEON 9700 PRO, the fastest and most feature-rich consumer graphics technology in the world, enables users to create and play advanced
real-time cinematic-quality visual effects on their Power Mac systems.

"ATI's RADEON 9700 PRO is a great option for built to order Power Mac G4s, underscoring the importance of graphics performance and quality as a key feature for their professional users," says Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President of Marketing, ATI Technologies Inc. "It also delivers twice the performance of any competing product on the market and enables gamers to crank up the quality-enhancing features while maintaining frame-rates that they can brag about."

"These are the most powerful and affordable Power Macs we have ever
shipped," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product
Marketing. "We're excited by the blazing performance, leading-edge
features, and movie-quality cinematic effects the RADEON 9700 PRO delivers to our creative professional customers."

The RADEON 9700 PRO delivers:

  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines provide the brute force to process
    over 2.5 billion pixels per second;
  • Four parallel geometry engines to process greater than 300 million
    transformed and lit polygons per second;
  • HYPER Z(tm) III memory bandwidth saving technologies to reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels and reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50 per cent;
  • High-performance 256-bit DDR memory interface, providing over 20 GB/second of graphics memory bandwidth;
  • SMARTSHADER(tm) 2.0 advanced pixel and vertex shader technologies; and
  • SMOOTHVISION(tm) 2.0 state-of-the-art, full-scene anti-aliasing enabling unprecedented performance at even the highest quality anti-aliasing modes.
  • At press time, however, the card is shown as not yet available. When selecting the RADEON 9700 PRO card, an "available soon" tag appears in the order. But according to IMG's converstations with ATI a few weeks ago at Macworld Expo San Francisco, the card is getting very close to shipping. We'll be sure to keep you posted.


    Click to enlarge
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 1.4 Patch Released
    8:56 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

    Late yesterday afternoon, Aspyr Media released a patch to Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, bringing it in line with the current PC version of the game. The patch is available for download from our sister site,

    Here's some notes on the patch from the read me:

    This updater will change the external version of the Macintosh application to 1.0.1, and the internal game code version to 1.4. You will see this at the main menu screen, in the lower right corner. This version is the current PC version, and you will be able to play with other users that have this version.

    Double-click the update application to begin, and follow its prompts.

    When complete, you will also see a Ghost Recon 1.4 Update document in your Ghost Recon folder. Read this for the extensive list of changes for version 1.3 and 1.4, as well as some Macintosh-specific changes.

    Replays saved under previous versions of the game will no longer be accessible, but other saved data, such as campaign progress, will be kept.

    Please note that many PC servers running 1.4 may have the Island Thunder expansion module installed (it will say MP2 in the active mods), so you won't be able to join those servers at this time.

    To download the 6.1 MB patch, head over to

    IMG Review: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
    MGF: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 1.4 Patch
    Mirror: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 1.4 Patch
    Aspyr Media
    Red Storm

    AlephModular Brings Marathon 2 to OS X
    8:54 AM | Mike Apps | Comment on this story

    A new open source-project was recently started using the source code to Bungie's classic shooter, Marathon 2. Entitled AlephModular, the project intends to make a clean, stable, and modular version Marathon. For those wondering why this project branched off from the main project of updating Marathon, AlephOne, the AlephModular lead explains:

    I do work on and contribute to Aleph One. However, certain aspects of Aleph One are problematic at best. For instance, the way cross platform support was added.

    Also, I wish to break pieces of Aleph One up into smaller pieces. Wouldn't it be nice if it was much easier to break out the rendering code? Forge used to have an in-engine way of looking at the level currently being edited. Why can't we get this into our other editors?

    I'm not giving up on Aleph One and I see room for cross-pollination between the two projects. For example, I'm comparing M2 code to A1 code to see how some things, like serialization, were implemented, and trying to improve on the concept. I also see some of the changes as too drastic to fit into AlephOne proper without a proper consensus.

    AlephModular is currently only available for Mac OS X, but versions for other OSes are planned later. For more information on AlephModular, follow the link below.

    Marathon 2
    Bungie Studios

    iff Taxi Updated for Sims: Unleashed
    8:53 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    iff Taxi is a utility for categorizing objects for use with The Sims expansion packs, as well as recategorizing items around the Sims' household. Version 1.6 now supports The Sims: Unleashed expansion pack and allows users to edit objects stored in FAR files. The update also adds the catalog preview thumbnail to the "show details" section and the ability to view more category settings within its list box with the "view options" command.

    iff Taxi is shareware and costs $5 USD to register. It requires a Power Mac running Mac OS X or 9 (with CarbonLib 1.2.1 or higher). For more information on iff Taxi, visit the Bangsplat website.

    iff Taxi Website
    Download iff Taxi (1.2 MB)
    The Sims: Unleashed
    Aspyr Media
    Buy The Sims: Unleashed

    Click to enlarge
    Shadowbane Beta Widens
    8:52 AM | Mike Apps | Comment on this story

    Wolfpack Studios, currently working on their upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Shadowbane, recently opened up a large number of positions on their beta test of the game. Wolfpack is allowing all these new testers in to essentially "break the game", or in other words, make it easier for them to iron out any remaining bugs.

    For those who have yet to hear about Shadowbane, it is a MMORPG of a new kind, where the run the history and culture of the world. Players can create guilds, build cities, and even wage war against other cities.

    Here's the full info on the added beta players:

    For the second time in five days, the massive gates of the Shadowbane Closed Beta are opening up again to allow more testers into the world of Aerynth. Five thousand new testers will be admitted into the beta test sometime today, the largest amount in the game's history. The new testers were ordered by Associate Shadowbane Producer Arkama to do whatever they could to break the game. "We want them to break Shadowbane. We really need them to tear this game apart so we can analyze it, fix it, and put it all back together. We need them to give us the best that they can muster," said Arkama.

    Last Friday, three thousand new beta testers were admitted into the Shadowbane beta test. Today's announcement brings the five day total to eight thousand new testers for Shadowbane's continuing closed testing, more invitations are expected very soon. Congratulations to all those who received their beta acceptance letter.

    Shadowbane is slated to be released on March 25 from Ubi Soft for both Mac and PC. The Mac requirements are:
    G3 350 MHz or higher
    128 MB RAM
    1 GB free hard drive space
    OS X version 10.2
    CD-ROM drive
    56Kbps modem connection
    ATI Rage 128 16 MB
    For more information on Shadowbane or its beta test, follow the links below.

    Shadowbane Beta Widens
    Wolfpack Studios

    Crystal Space Updated
    8:52 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

    Crystal Space, self-described as a free, cross-platform 3D Engine, has recently received a significant update, brunging it up to version 0.96r001. The updates include a transition into XML, a new collision detection plugin based on OPCODE, and other various enhancements, including the following:

    • Smart pointers: one of the major reasons for bugs in CS programs has always been the difficulty in knowing when to 'DecRef' a pointer and when not. Sometimes there were too many DecRef()'s causing bad crashes which are hard to track down. Sometimes there were too few DecRef()'s causing memory leaks. Now we introduced a new smart pointer class which helps keeping track of references for you. This has been done in a way that keeps the API as compatible as possible.
    • Effect System: A lot of work has been done on the OpenGL renderer. We now have an effect system in CS (think vertex and pixel shaders). It is still not fully done but already nice things are possible. This is still an area in which we are doing heavy development right now. In general the OpenGL renderer is also being improved considerably. Expect more in this area in the next release of CS :-)
    • New ODE based physics plugin. This has been in CS for a little time now but it is a new feature if you compare with the latest stable release.
    For those unfamiliar with the application, Crystal Space is a large open-source project that provides a free and portable 3D Game Development Kit written in C++. It supports a number of features, including several graphics APIs, particle systems, and 3D sprites. More information, as well as a full list of recent updates, can be found at the official Crystal Space site.

    Crystal Space

    John Carmack on Radeon 9700 Pro, GeForce FX
    8:52 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    John Carmack, president of id Software, made a lengthy update to his .plan file comparing the performance of ATI's Radeon 9700 Pro (R300) and NVIDIA's GeForce FX (NV30) in DOOM III. He also talks about the evolution of the OpenGL and Direct X APIs, as well as the future of graphics cards. While the discussion is quite technical, Carmack breaks it down for the non-technical folk:

    I am using an NV30 in my primary work system now, largely so I can test more of the rendering paths on one system, and because I feel Nvidia still has somewhat better driver quality (ATI continues to improve, though). For a
    typical consumer, I don't think the decision is at all clear cut at the moment.

    For developers doing forward looking work, there is a different tradeoff -- the NV30 runs fragment programs much slower, but it has a huge maximum instruction count. I have bumped into program limits on the R300 already.

    As always, better cards are coming soon.

    Also of note is Carmack's move to support standard OpenGL extensions in DOOM III, instead of vendor specific extensions. If you enjoy delving into the nitty-gritty of graphics programming, read the rest of his update.

    John Carmack .plan Update
    id Software
    Buy DOOM 3

    High Voltage 2 Update Available
    8:52 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

    Antell Software has released a new version of High Voltage 2. Version 1.3 is a major update that adds new many new elements which affect gameplay. Below are the changes made since the previous version:

    Ability to shoot components with the space-bar.
    Extra lives.
    Shield powerups.
    Disorientation power-ups.
    Magnets which attract components.
    Left elephant-head spits out rocket-resistors.
    Fish that spits out rocket-resistors.
    Randomized movement for 1000-power-up.
    Key-input bug fixed in MacOSX.
    High Voltage 2 is a shareware game in which you are an electrical current trying to stay alive by avoiding resistors by grabbing power-ups. The game costs $5 USD to register and requires a Power Mac G3 or G4 running Mac OS X or 9.

    High Voltage 2 Website
    Download High Voltage 2 v1.3 (5.6 MB)

    Mac Games News for Wednesday, January 29, 2003

    IMG Reviews Logitech's Cordless Trackman Wheel5:19 PM
    IMG Store: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Ships Thursday11:18 AM
    Parsec Goes Open-Source11:15 AM
    Apple Previews Master of Orion III7:39 AM
    Game Sales For 2002 Break Record7:39 AM
    Interview with Will Wright7:39 AM
    View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, January 29, 2003 on one page

    Recent Mac Games News

    Tuesday, January 28, 2003
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    Search for other Mac games news stories or browse our Mac Games News Archive.

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