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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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Aspyr Conjures Makin' Magic into Stores
8:08 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

An update to the Aspyr Media status page this morning shows their latest expansion pack The Sims: Makin' Magic has moved through production and is now shipping to stores. Makin' Magic allows your Sims to turn their normal world into a fantasy one with spell casting and hundreds of new objects to use.

Here's a breakdown of the system requirements from Aspyr:

  • Mac OS 9.2.2 or Mac OS X version 10.1 or later
  • PowerPC G3 or better, 500 MHz or faster (600 MHz recommended)
  • 192 MB RAM (additional 128MB for OS X)
  • 1.3 GB free disk space
  • 4MB of VRAM (8MB recommended)
  • Quicktime 4.1.2 or later
Remember you'll also need a full version of the original in order to play. Check out the Aspyr mini-site for more information.

[Update] An email from Aspyr confirms the game's shipment this morning, with Amity Lesko noting it should be available by March 4.

Aspyr Media
The Sims: Makin' Magic
Buy The Sims: Makin' Magic

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Unreal Tournament 2004 Benchmark Tool Released
9:54 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

A new benchmarking tool that is compatible with the latest version of the Unreal Tournament 2004 demo has been released. Mac OS X GUI "CTF Standard" Benchmark v3 uses standard custom INI files for consistent video settings across all users from 640x480 through 1600x1200. This means that the results of the benchmark on any computer will be automatically set to the exact same video settings every single time on all computers.

Previous versions of the benchmark required the use of a terminal command lilne. This new version includes a user interface to make testing a bit easier.

If you'd like to check out the benchmarking tool, please follow the link below.

Digital Extremes
Epic Games
Mac OS X GUI "CTF Standard" Benchmark v3
Buy Unreal Tournament 2004

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Cosmic Encounter Online Welcomes 27th Alien
9:41 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

The folks at Cosmic Encounter Online have announced the arrival of their 27th alien, The Vacuum, to the popular online multi-player game. The Vacuum can suck the lifeblood from its opponents. Vacuum clings to other aliens in a desperate attempt to save itself from the warp. Succeeding only in dragging innocent bystanders along, it takes solace in not going to its doom alone. On the bright side, if you are the Vacuum it makes losing easy to take.

Cosmic Encounter Online is a multi-player game where humans have their brains augmented by a superior alien being. They are then locked in a series of short (30 minute) contests to dominate the cosmos.

With the addition of the Vacuum, the Cosmic Online game combos increase
by 2,600. There are now 17, 550 different alien combinations to provide
the cosmic multitudes with an unending supply of of unique cosmic

Future Pastimes, LLC
Cosmic Encounter Online

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Epic's Tim Sweeney Talks 3D
9:35 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Beyond 3D has posted the results of an interview with Tim Sweeney of Epic Games. While it would've been easy to barrage him with questions regarding the Unreal series, the interviewer chooses rather to focus on 3D gaming in general, which brings about some interesting insights regarding the currently in-development UnrealEngine3 as well as some other topics.

One bit of intriguing speculation comes from Sweeney's vision regarding the direction of both CPUs and GPUs in the future:

I think CPU's and GPU's are actually going to converge 10 years or so down the road. On the GPU side, you're seeing a slow march towards computational completeness. Once they achieve that, you'll see certain CPU algorithms that are amicable to highly parallel operations on largely constant datasets move to the GPU. On the other hand, the trend in CPU's is towards SMT/Hyperthreading and multi-core. The real difference then isn't in their capabilities, but their performance characteristics.
Also commented on are the incorporation of next generation consoles in engine design, current hurdles in 3D technology, and the beginnings of the original Unreal engine.

Beyond 3D - Interview with Tim Sweeney
Digital Extremes
Epic Games
Buy Unreal Tournament 2004

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Shadowbane Class Guides, Test Patch News
9:27 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The latest updates to the official Shadowbane site include both some reorganization as well as some news on a patch currently in testing. The patch is a fix for the Winter is Coming 1.5 update, and is currently undergoing testing on SB's Test server. It currently comes with the following fixes:

- Issues with the /stuck command sending people to a watery grave
- Flight buttons for Taking Off and Landing will be available on the Interface
- Issues with accessing Rise of Chaos content have been fixed
- Issues with Line of Sight inside or next to structures has been improved but still a few outstanding issues with it
- Guard Dogs have had the Claws of Death removed from them and will attack with normal speed
- The thief formula has been readjusted as follows:
- There is now no penalty for stealing from those lower level than you
- Thieves with a low score in peek and steal will now have an improved actual chance to peek and steal
- Peek's chance of success when maxed out has been increased
In related news, the official SB site has also been reorganized, with the Class Guides section now being a separate listing. Besides SB's own notes on each class, each category also offers guides written by 3rd parties on how best to utilize a particular class.

Shadowbane - Class Guides
Shadowbane - In-Testing Notes v.
Wolfpack Studios
Shadowbane: The Rise of Chaos

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Unreal4Ever for Unreal Tournament 2K3 Released
9:27 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

If you're into mods for Unreal Tournament 2003, you'll want to check out Unreal4Ever 2K3 Version 2, a new mod for UT 2K3 that includes all new weapons, maps, monsters, and more. Version 2 now includes the U4E Berserker Mutator which converts you into a fist-wielding madman once you make enough kills.

Here are some of the new weapons included in Version 2:

• Quantum Singularity Generator (QSG, makes Blackholes)
• Industrial Anti-Gravity Mover (IAM, pick up and throw people)
• Fleshbomb Rifle (injects Exploding Serum into victim)
• QuickSilver (shoots bouncing bolts)
• Hive Grenades (releases a swarm of tiny homing missiles
The mod is just under 25 MB and is available in both umod and non-umod formats. For more information, head over to the official Unreal4Ever website.

Digital Extremes
Unreal Tournament 2003
Unreal4Ever Website
Buy Unreal Tournament 2003

Final Neverwinter Nights 1.62 Patch Released
9:11 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

BioWare has released a patch for Neverwinter Nights, bring it up to version 1.62. The patch brings with it a number of fixes, including the following:

  • Added the Sea Hag to game resources.
  • Added the Winter Sky skybox to game resources.
  • Custom talk tables now work in multiplayer games. If you don't have the module's required "*.tlk" file in your "tlk" directory the module wont load and you will be given an error message telling you that the tlk file is missing. This behaviour is the same as for Hak Paks.
  • Fixed up a few spells for various bugs: Elemental Shape, Improved Invisibility, and Crumble.
  • Fixed a bug that was causing store purchasing restrictions messages to be displayed at inappropriate times.
  • HotU: Fixed crash in the official campaign that could sometimes happen after talking to the Battle Herald if you had a summoned familiar present.
  • Made a fix to the lootable corpse system. If the only inventory item that a lootable corpse drops is gold, the gold will now show up on the corpse, rather than the corpse appearing empty. Also, if a lootable corpse is empty, it will become unselectable after you search it once.
The full list of fixes can be found at BioWare's site.

A disclaimer accompanying the patch notes that all modules created or saved under 1.62 will not run under previous versions. For those looking to downgrade, a 1.62 to 1.61 downgrade patch is also available.

BioWare - Original NWN (English) Patch - Mac
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

ATI Releases Technology Demos and Screensavers
9:09 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

ATI has released a significant number of new technology demos and screensavers that are designed to show off vertex and pixel shaders in the cards, technologies that are used in popular games such as Unreal Tournament 2004. The demos were originally written for DirectX 9 and the Windows and have now been ported to work under OpenGL in MacOS X.

There are two demo sets available including SmartShader 1.0 and SmartShader 2.0. The 1.0 demos were originally written for DirectX 8 and will run on virtually all Radeon cards from the 8500 and up. The SmartShader 2.0 demos, on the other hand, were originally designed for DirectX 9 and will run on RADEON 9600 Pro 64MB and up.

If you have one of these cards, be sure to check out these impressive demos and sreensavers by following the link below.

SmartShader 1.0
SmartShader 2.0

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New Northland Demo Released
8:51 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Late yesterday a new demo of Northland was released on According to Freeverse's Colin Smith, the new 1.0.1 demo includes some important bug fixes. If you downloaded the original 1.0 demo back late last year, be sure to give this new demo a try.

Northland combines traditional real-time strategy game play with RPG and simulation elements into a unique gaming experience. Guide your village as you help create new jobs, buildings, marriages, children, and more.

To download the 68 MB demo, head over to

MGF: Northland Demo 1.0.1

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New Vendetta Server Info
8:08 AM | Johan Hansén | Comment on this story

The developers at Guild Software recently changed platform for their server for Vendetta Test, their MMO space shooter currently in development. The platfrom change caused some new server bugs to appear, but they are being ironed out as fast as possible.

From a news post at the Vendetta site:

The new server hardware install went well, and the new machine seems to be stable and fast. However, the Vendetta server code has been experiencing some instabilities, causing it to crash pretty often. Some of the problems have now been fixed (one being a bug in Linux, discovered after the OS switch), others are currently being tracked down. We're valgrinding the production server right now, and we expect to have the major issues sorted out shortly. Thanks for your patience.
A later update reveals they have now pinned down the problems and everything should be on-track with the new server.

The Vendetta Test is a public beta of an engine that will be used for a commercial MMO planned for a release later this year. If you want more information, head over to Guild Software's site or the Vendetta Central. Links to both can be found below.

Guild Software
Vendetta Online

Mac Games News for Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The 20 Mac Games that Mattered Most10:18 AM
Rumors Of Another Monkey Island Sequel8:58 AM
Game Server Configulator for Breakthrough8:57 AM
Battle for Wesnoth Updated8:55 AM
World of Warcraft Q&A8:54 AM
Northland Hits North America7:35 AM
UT2004 Text-to-speech Preview7:35 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, February 24, 2004 on one page

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