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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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The Ur-Quan Masters Alpha Available
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Readers may recall an article published during the middle of last year that reported on a free volunteer project to bring Star Control 2 to a multitude of platforms. For those that may have missed it, an alpha release, titled The Ur-Quan Masters for copyright reasons, was recently released for OS X.

Currently, the alpha only seems to run in windowed mode, and the single-player campaign is not fully functional. However, the Super Melee mode seems to work quite well, boasting the full compliment of combatants as well as offering computer opponents. Sound seems to be largely in place as well in this mode, and many a SC2 fan will be smiling when they once again hear the evil dirge that plays whenever a Kohr-Ah wins a battle.

Here's a short blurb on the project straight from the official site:

The project started in August 2002, when Toys for Bob released the sources of Star Control 2 3DO version to the fan community. Our goal is to port this wonderful game to current personal computers and operating systems. It is and will remain 100% free of charge, and anyone can contribute to the project and thus help make it even better.
Those interested in downloading the current build can find it at The Ur-Quan Master's Sourceforge site. The OS X download is sized at around 137.1 MB, and is compatible with OS 10.1 as well as Jaguar.

The Ur-Quan Masters

March Madness Sale: Fallout/Fallout 2 Bundle for $34
1:17 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

The IMG Store has a great new deal on two of the hottest titles on the Mac today. Available today only, you can order the Fallout/Fallout 2 Bundle for just $34, plus shipping and handling. This bundle includes full versions of MacPlay's Fallout and Fallout 2.

To order your copy, head over to the IMG Store.

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IMG Reviews Griffin's PowerMate
12:48 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has reviewed Griffin Technology's PowerMate, a sleek jog/shuttle dial that features a brushed metal finish and pulsing blue LED.

Here's a clip from the review:

The PowerMate is essentially a jog/shuttle dial, cast in a smooth, polished anodized aluminum shell. It is about two inches in diameter at its widest point and just over one inch tall. A piece of soft, translucent plastic is attached to the base to provide traction. There was enough friction between the plastic and my desktop to allow me to turn the dial with one finger. Through the plastic, you can see two LEDs, which shine nice and bright, especially in the dark. No batteries are required to power the PowerMate, it draws its power from one USB port.
Be sure to check out the rest of the review.

IMG Review: PowerMate
Griffin Technology

Aspyr On Cross-Platform Publishing
11:00 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Yesterday's announcement by Aspyr Media that it would be publishing the PC and Mac versions of Midway's SpyHunter may have caught some by surprise. It marks the first time Aspyr is producing a game that will ship simultanous for the PC and Mac platform. Aspyr also has plans to bring more cross-platform simultaneous releases in the future (though the company will still be porting some titles after their PC release).

IMG asked Aspyr's Amy Torres about the company's new strategy and what it means to Mac users. While some may see this as a sign that Aspyr may be shying away from the Mac market, nothing could be further from the truth. Here's what Amy had to say:

We are really excited to publish our first Mac/PC game. For many years now, we have gotten feedback on games from Mac users and their number one grievance has always been having to wait for Macintosh versions of titles.

The SpyHunter brand is something that Aspyr had a soft spot for (most of us spent hundreds of dollars at the arcade playing this classic). We are pleased to be publishing this for both the Mac and PC and shipping simultaneously was a priority, from the beginning.

We are an entertainment publisher and that includes various platforms and mediums. The publishing of SpyHunter is NOT a sign that Aspyr is leaving the Mac market. Aspyr is committed to the Mac, which shows with our past line-up of titles and our choice to ship simultaneously. We will continue to bring the highest quality games to the every platform, including the Mac. We started on the Mac and we will not leave a community that we have have grown a strong relationship with. Rather, our goal will be to make the Mac gaming community even stronger.

This is indeed great news for Mac gamers clamoring for simultaneous releases. Stay tuned to IMG for more on Aspyr's exciting new releases.

Aspyr Media

MacPlay Newsletter Released
10:35 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

MacPlay has released the first issue of their "Inside MacPlay" newsletter which includes updates on some recent releases, the announcement of a new AVP 2 contest, and news on store specials.

First up is news that MacPlay has released three new titles in the past month including Snowball Run, a colorful 3D action game starring Pengy, who rolls along on a snowball as he searches for his Arctic home. The company has also shipped Super GameHouse Collection, a collection of arcade and puzzle games, and Pressit, a CD labeling kit.

MacPlay is also offering these hot new titles at a discount. Receive $5.00 off Super GameHouse Collection or $5.00 off the Pressit labelling kit ($10.00 off both) if you order them through the online MacPlay store. This deal only lasts until midnight (Central Standard Time), March 9, 2003.

And finally, MacPlay is also running an AVP 2 contest for those who aren't camera shy. To enter the contest, you'll need to take a picture of yourself with something related to the Aliens vs Predator properties.

Here's more info about the contest:

The person who emails us the most interesting picture will win a free copy of Aliens vs. Predator 2 as well as the upcoming Primal Hunt expansion pack. We'll also publish the best snapshots on our web site for everyone to see. We can't promise that we won't write goofy captions under all of them, though.

So what are you waiting for? Send your digital images to by April 2, 2003. Bonus points for anyone combining a St. Patrick's Day or April Fool's Day theme in their pictures.

To check out the rest of the MacPlay newsletter, be sure to follow the link below.

Inside MacPlay Newsletter

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GarageGames Revises Torque Engine Licensing Options
6:00 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | Comment on this story

In an effort to expand their market scope, game engine developers Garage Games have recently updated the licensing options for their Torque Game Engine.

Garage Games had previously been marketing the engine at the indie game development market, selling engine licenses to developers who qualified as independant game designers - companies making less than half a million dollars annual income - for only $100 US.

While the price remains the same for indie developers under the new plan, larger game companies who don't fall under those requirements can now also license the game. At the price of $10,000 US up-front, and no back-end fees, the cost of licensing the Torque engine is still only a fraction of comparative game engine.

The Torque Game Engine was initally created by Garage Games to power their Tribes and Tribes 2 PC-only first person shooters, and was later developped into a fully-functioning, multi-platform game development tool. Featuring the very latest in game development technologies and offering a full complement of design tools, such as scripting tools, a particle engine, even a water engine, the Torque engine offers professional tools to game designers at a fraction of the cost of comparative design systems. On the Mac side, the Torque Engine is behind the recently-released Marble Blast as well as the upcoming action/arcade game Orbz, and the highly-anticipated Mac port of Garage Game's own MMORPG Realm Wars.

With any luck, marketing the engine at both the low and the high end of the market might increase the number of AAA-titles ported to the Mac. Through the use of their multi-platform design tools, porting games across the different platforms would theoretically be much easier and much cheaper for a game developper to accomplish in-house, rather than to have to hire out a third party studio.

Only time will tell. Stay tuned to IMG as more news regarding the Torque-based projects develops.

GarageGames Opens Torque Website To Public
MGF: Marble Blast 1.0 Demo

Gamespy Posts Second Q&A With Warren Spector
6:00 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | Comment on this story

As part of their "Gaming University" series, PC gaming website Gamespy has recently posted a secind Q&A session with Ion Storm's game design guru and mentor Warren Spector.

In the Q&A session, Spector candidly tackles questions from designer and producer hopefuls trying to break into the ever-increasing industry:

The best advice I can give to aspiring designers is, first, learn to code, and second, get as broad an education as you can. Design may be the only job that really rewards a liberal arts education. I mean, on one game, you may need to know everything about the D-Day invasion, on another about medieval castles, on another about alien biology (and think how important linguistics might be to you when you have to create a language for the aliens your biology studies allowed you to create!) On just about every game you work on, you're going to need a solid understanding of psychology and economics. You're going to be generating design documents, and sometimes, box or ad copy, so hone your writing skills. You just never know what you're going to need to know, so know as much as you can about as many things as possible.
In his usual matter-of-fact tone, Warren goes on to warn readers that getting into the gaming industry might is not just for anyone with a broad education:
Right now, I'd say anyone who starts an independent game development studio is pretty much nuts. It's a tough, tough time for developers these days. Game development is expensive -- and getting more so all the time. Game development is risky. And no matter how great an idea you have and how well you execute it, you pretty much need a publisher anyway. And, publishers are going to want to control the copyrights and trademarks to the stuff they publish. I suppose it's possible to develop an idea using someone else's money and then bring it to publishers to see if anyone's interested in bringing it to market, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Gamespy's Gaming University Series is a fascinating series of articles designed for game development afficionados trying to get their foot in the door of the burgeoning industry. The first half of the series takes a good introductory look at the gaming market and the different requirements and approaches needed to break into the industry. The second, and possibly more interesting part of the series, features an on-going Q&A panel where game design gurus answer questions from the general public. So far the panel has included game designers Warren Spector and Harvey Smith of Ion Storm, Epic's Cliff Bleszinski, and Raven Software's Ken Hoekstra.

It's an interesting read. Click on the links below to read more.

Gaming University: Warren Spector Q&A
Gaming University Q&A Index
Gamespy's Gaming University Series

X-Words Deluxe Updated
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Freeverse Software has updated their crossword puzzle game X-Words Deluxe to version 2.2. The update brings with it a number of new features and fixes several bugs.

For those unfamiliar with the title, X-Words Deluxe is a highly-customizable crossword puzzle game that sports a number of features:

X-Words Deluxe is a fun, educational crosswords game that features exciting board variations, an improved, integrated dictionary complete with definitions, and support for word list plug-ins. The game also features a board editor, making this the most customizable word game for Windows and Macintosh.
Those interested in obtaining more information or a demo of X-Words Deluxe can find both at Freeverse's site.

Freeverse - X-Words Deluxe

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The Sims Q&A at The Armchair Empire
6:00 AM | Scott Turner | Comment on this story

The Armchair Empire has posted a chat with Chris Trotter, designer for Maxis on The Sims and currently helping on the development and updating of The Sims Online. Having worked in close conjunction with famous Sim creator Will Wright and the rest of the Maxis team on development of both products, she is able to give her insight on marketing of The Sims, conceptualization of their products, and where Maxis plans to take the venerable Sim franchise from here.

As a woman on The Sims development team, what feminine touches have your fingerprints all over it that the men on the development team might not had thought of (like possibly romantic elements, for instance; you know how bad most men are with romance).

Well, first off, two of the three designers on The Sims Online are female. And the same was true of The Sims. And the majority of our producers have been female. On The Sims Online, the women were the ones who generated ideas for theater-supporting objects, wedding props, costuming trunks, a vast array of dancing, more satisfying decorative objects, etc. And on the Sims, the women were the ones who pushed very hard for developing the character of The Sims and giving them a greater variety of social interactions with one another. I could go on and on. But at a certain point, we don't really keep track of whose idea was whose. I think the "feminine touches" are just a natural by-product of having women on the team, not a conscious effort to address female players.

For more insight into the Sims and Chris' ideas about the development of the game, head on over to The Armchair Empire at the link below, and read the full Q&A.

The Armchair Empire Q&A
The Armchair Empire Homepage
The Sims
The Sims Online
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
Buy The Sims

Mac Games News for Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Aspyr to Publish Midway's SpyHunter1:19 PM
Portable Gaming: The Right Mouse11:30 AM
Medal Of Honor Sequel Info9:20 AM
Blizzard Posts New World of Warcraft Trailer8:50 AM
Flarestorm PlayStation Emulator Updated7:51 AM
Black & White 2 Preview Posted at Gamespot7:50 AM
Legion/Europa Universalis II Update7:50 AM
March Madness Sale: $5 off IMG Pro7:50 AM
Master of Orion III Release On March 19th7:50 AM
Microsoft Leaves OpenGL Board7:50 AM
Ritual & Elite Force II on The Gamesome Mac7:50 AM
SimCity 4, Spearhead Trailers Available7:50 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, March 4, 2003 on one page

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Monday, March 3, 2003
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