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Monday, April 7, 2003

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Neverwinter Nights Mac Update
9:39 AM | Mike Apps | Comment on this story

BioWare recently made a quick update to their Neverwinter Nights (NWN) Mac page, giving an outline on the game's progress. While not revealing any info on a release date or requirements, it does note that a number of cool things are currently in the works for the Mac version of NWN. These include a tech trial to be released before the game goes Gold, along with some other unannounced things.

Here's the full update:

[Apr 4 2003] We understand the frustration in having to wait for something and we do appreciate your patience in this matter. There are a few cool things that are in the pipe for the Mac version of Neverwinter Nights. One of them is a Neverwinter Nights Mac Tech Trial that will be released before the game goes gold. Part of this Tech Trial will be to garner feedback on the performance and compatibility of the Mac version, to ensure that we provide you, the Mac gamer, with the best experience we can manage. We do appreciate it has been a while since our last update and want to ensure the community that we are diligently working on the project. The Macintosh community and the Mac version of Neverwinter Nights are important to BioWare and we want to ensure the final product meets our fans expectations.
Neverwinter Nights is currently being ported in-house by BioWare, and will be published by MacSoft. For more information on NWN for the Mac, follow the link provided below to BioWare's page. For more information on Neverwinter Nights in general, check out IMG's preview of the game, linked below.

NWN Mac update
IMG: Neverwinter Nights Preview
Neverwinter Nights
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IMG Previews Radeon 9700, Talks with ATI
12:40 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has today posted a quick first look at ATI's latest card now shipping with new PowerMac computers, the Radeon 9700 Pro. This powerful 128MB video card boasts extremely fast rendering in even the latest games, along with support for many niceties such as in-game shaders and Full-Scene Anti Aliasing (FSAA).

The preview runs down some of the features of the new card, as well as chatting with ATI on their direction for the Radeon series. Here's a clip:

Featuring 128MB of DDR memory with a 256-bit interface, the OEM 9700 also has a 325/310MHz engine/memory clockspeed. Smartshader 2.0 is ATI's name for their shader engine, which promises to play a much bigger role in upcoming games like Unreal Tournament 2003 and DOOM III. Smoothvision 2.0 is on-board to help smooth out your gaming experience, with impressive Full-Scene Anti Aliasing (FSAA) and Anisotropic Filtering.

One of the biggest changes with the Radeon 9700 is the way the team has gone about developing drivers for the card. Instead of porting over every piece of code line-by-line (as was done with previous Mac Radeon cards), the team decided it might prove beneficial to wrap the PC drivers in a sort of Mac abstraction layer. This was necessary simply because of the enormity of the driver set for the new line of Radeons, and the process seems to have greatly helped speed the porting of features, while only incurring a very minimal performance penalty.

Stay tuned to IMG for much more on the Radeon 9700 in the coming few days. Also keep an eye out for more info from ATI on a suspected retail version of the next-generation Radeons.

IMG Preview: Radeon 9700 Pro

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MacPlay to Distribute Virtual Programming Games
10:27 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

MacPlay today announced that it will be distributing British publisher Virtual Programming's upcoming games in North America. Under a previous agreement, Freeverse Interactive distributed Virtual Programming's products in the U.S. such as Wipeout 2097 and Payback.

Here's more from the official press release:

Europa Universalis II, which was originally developed by Paradox Entertainment, asks the question "What if you could re-live history?" The action covers the years 1419-1820, beginning with the 100 Years War between France and England and ending with Napoleon's rise and fall on the battlefields of Europe. Players can choose from over 180 Nations to control, including not only the European superpowers but also the Chinese Empire, the African tribes, the Cherokee Indians, and more.

"'What if?' scenarios are endlessly fascinating," said MacPlay President Mark Cottam. "And since Europa Universalis II allows players to relive 400 years of history, it offers all kinds of interesting possibilities. Who knows?maybe the Byzantine Empire will survive past 1453 this time."

Players can dictate both domestic and foreign policy as they guide their fledgling Nations to world domination. They may decide to open the lines of communication with their neighbors and negotiate trade agreements or adopt an isolationist policy and become self-sufficient. They might take an aggressive, expansionist stance and expand their empires or choose to amass military power within small borders.

And when diplomatic talks fail, they can decide when to let slip the dogs of war against their enemies.

Europa Universalis II includes tools for the creation of new countries and historical scenarios, a tutorial system that explains the game mechanics to new players, and an in-depth manual. The music features selections from the time period and the graphics reflect the wide variety of vehicles, weapons, and armor used between the 15th and 19th centuries.

"We are now developing over 10 titles for release over the coming months," explained Virtual Programming Director Paul Lesurf, "and having built a strong team of development partners, we will strive to bring quality releases to the Mac community. We're excited to have MacPlay as our U.S. distribution partner and look forward to working together in the future."

The two companies will launch the agreement with the release of the real-time strategy game Europa Universalis II later this month. Be on the lookout for a preview of the game on IMG soon.

Virtual Programming
Europa Universalis II
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Geneforge 2 Interview, Spiderweb Sale
9:39 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

RPG Codex recently sat down with Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software to discuss the upcoming title, Geneforge 2. The next title in the Geneforge series, this RPG continues the storyline set in the first one, introducing players to a more heavily populated area that also happens to be home to a larger number of Shapers.

As with the first game, players will take control of a Shaper, a magic user capable of creating an assortment of bizarre creatures to carry out his bidding. Vogel notes that the skill set from the first title will be intact, and that there will be a host of new spells for players to master, including mind control and area-affecting spells.

Also noted is the inclusion of four factions for players to deal with:

RPG Codex: Geneforge featured several different factions to meet and join, all with different belief systems with regards to the Shapers. Will Geneforge 2 feature different political groups which can offer distinct differences in how the game unfolds? Can you give us any information about these factions at this time?

Jeff Vogel: There will be four factions, each with their own beliefs, cities, and paths to victory. The Awakened survive from Geneforge. There are Shaper loyalists. There are rebel Shapers, who are really up to no good. And there is something similar to the Takers from Geneforge. But much stronger and weirder.
Other topics covered include ties to the first game, environment architecture, and new methods of skill acquisition. Those interested can find the full read at RPG Codex.

In related news, Spiderweb is currently featuring an April Sadness Sale. In the spirit of T.S. Eliot, quoted as saying "April is the cruelest month," all of their games can be purchased during April for 10% off.

Spiderweb Software
RPG Codex - Geneforge 2 Interview

Blizzard Clarifies Stance on Hacks
9:39 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment has recently issued a statement on their website that addresses player questions sent to them regarding their policies in regards to players downloading and using hacks in their games. As some hacks, such as custom key-mapping ones, could be considered benign, players have been wondering if using these hacks might result in a ban.

In their statement, Blizzard issues a blanket statement that they don't condone hacks of any kind, and cannot guarantee that a player using a benign hack will not be banned. They also note that their technical support group has difficulty supporting players with malfunctioning games due to the use of hacks.

In an interesting statement, they also note the possibility of account-stealing software:

Hacks often contain Trojan code that steals CD keys and passwords. With this information, a person could use one of your accounts, or create an account using your CD key, and then use that account to cheat on A person who has used Trojan code in this way could end up getting your account closed and your CD key banned. In fact, the majority of hacks for Diablo II that Blizzard's Technical Support department has seen do contain code designed to steal CD keys and account passwords. Technical Support receives countless inquiries from people who have lost their account in this way.
Blizzard firmly states that the best course of action is simply not to use hacks at all. Those interested in the full statement can find it at

Update: Clarification on Hack Programs Statement
Blizzard Entertainment

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Combat Mission: Afrika Corps Unveiled
9:39 AM | Scott Turner | Comment on this story

From Battlefront, maker of the acclaimed 3D WWII tactical simulations Combat Mission and Combat Mission: Barbarrosa to Berlin comes Combat Mission: Afrika Corps. Improving on award winning design and gameplay, the newest installment of this gaming series comes with a brand new set of scenarios, covering World War II from the German invasion into Africa to the Allied attack through Crete. Afrika Corps promises all new units, features, and more.

Here's a bit from Battlefront's Afrika Corps website:

There is much new, different, and better about Combat Mission: Afrika Korps. While the game is based on its award-winning predecessor, Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin, it introduces new desert environments and terrain types, as well as features like multi-turreted vehicles and dust clouds from explosions and moving vehicles.

Most features break with "standard" conventions, like spotting via sound, or misidentification of targets. Others simply do a much better job, like the instant feedback 3D LOS check. Still others go into uncharted territory, like the adjustable waypoint movement system and incredibly accurate armor penetration algorithms.

In addition, Battlefront also confirms a map and campaign editor for Afrika Corps, and while the game will not come shipped as a hybrid Mac and PC CD, the Mac version has been assured by Battlefront. Unfortunately, due to technical limitations in the graphics engine, the game will not be compatible with OS X. It will not run in Classic mode either, but will only be playable when booted into OS 9, just like the situation with the first expansion Barbarossa to Berlin.

Click the link to Battlefront's Afrika Corps website for further details, and stay tuned to IMG as this game nears its 4th quarter 2003 release. Also, for those of you who still haven't checked out the original Combat Mission games, go download the demos at MacGameFiles.

Combat Mission: Afrika Corps Website
Combat Mission
Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin
Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord Demo
Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin Demo

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Republic: The Revolution Interview
9:39 AM | Johan HansÚn | Comment on this story

Computer and Video Games has posted an interview with Demis Hassabis, head of Elixir Studios, about their upcoming political strategy/RPG game Republic: The Revolution. The interview is divided into two parts, the first part is mainly about the background of the game and the narrative style, while the second part is more about the actual gameplay. One gameplay element they mention that is a key part to many strategy games is the resource management in the game.

From the interview:

The resource system is separate from the experience system. The way the resource system works is, every action performed in the game costs you resource. For example, if you do an action like Army Draft, that will cost you a lot of Force [one of the three main ideologies]. If you do an action like Bribe it will cost you Money, of if you do an action like Hostile Press, that'll cost you Influence.

So there are three abstract resources in the game, and those resources are updated every three game days. The amount of resource you get depends on the level of support you have in the districts that are relevant to the Force, Money, or Influence resources.

The idea is that, if for example you were going down the Force ideology route, then you'd want to target working class areas, as these are Force-orientated districts. You could then spend resource on Trade Union-type actions.

Head over to Computer and Video Games to read the whole interview, just click on the links below.

Republic: The Revolution is currently under development for PC and will be released later this year, published by Eidos Interactive. The Mac version of Republic: The Revolution will be done by Feral Interactive.

Republic: The Revolution Interview, Part I
Republic: The Revolution Interview, Part II
Feral Interactive
Republic: The Revolution
Buy Republic: The Revolution

Mac Games News for Friday, April 4, 2003

Aspyr Releases Medal of Honor: Spearhead Demo3:51 PM
IMG Previews Pangea's Enigmo11:03 AM
IMG Store: Pre-Order Tony Hawk 4, Nascar Racing 200310:59 AM
Aleph One Network Update10:54 AM
Aspyr Releases Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 Trailer8:57 AM
Custer Build His SimCity8:39 AM
Dracosoft Releases Cube It!8:29 AM
Shadowbane City Building Guide8:18 AM
Aspyr Announces Tony Hawk 4 for Mac and PC6:00 AM
BloodRayne Goes Gold6:00 AM
Neverwinter Nights Q&A6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, April 4, 2003 on one page

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Thursday, April 3, 2003
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