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Friday, April 1, 2005

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Second Life Goes Global, Adds Tools
8:08 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Linden Labs has announced the release of Second Life 1.6, providing more access, more tools, and more entertainment opportunities for the popular online game. The game is a 3D online digital world in which you can create, experience and become almost anything you can imagine. Residents build everything from skyscrapers and medieval castles to games and vehicles in a richly immersive 3D landscape that is growing daily.

Here's a list of highlights from version 1.6:

• International Keyboard Support, including Asian character sets, enables Second Life’s international audience to communicate in their own language.

• New in-world tools streamline and simplify the 3D design process.

• In-world video streaming offers the potential for the first Second Life Independent Film Festival, letting residents screen their original movies to an ever-expanding audience

The company has also announced the start of Second Life’s 2nd Annual Game Developer’s Competition, hosted by greats from the gaming world. For more information, visit the Second Life web site.

Second Life costs $9.95 to sign up (though they do offer a 7 day free trial) and requires a small download, allowing users to be immersed in an amazing 3D world within minutes. The software can be downloaded from the Second Life web site.

Linden Lab
Second Life

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Aspyr Posts The Sims 2 Developer Journal
2:05 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Aspyr's Quality Assurance Lead on The Sims 2 for Mac, Karen Halloran, has posted a new developer journal on the company's upcoming game, The Sims 2. In the journal, Halloran gives us a progress update on the game as well as a new screenshot.

To check out the developer journal, follow the link below.

IMG: The Sims 2 Developer Journal
Aspyr Media
The Sims 2
Buy The Sims 2

IMG Posts New Close Combat Feature
1:17 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

We continue Close Combat: First To Fight Friday this week with a new QuickTime movie courtesy of our friends at MacSoft. The game is currently scheduled to ship in April 2005.

In the QuickTime tutorial you'll see how how to order your troops to flank the enemy. To check out the movie, follow the link below.

Close Combat: First to Fight Flanking Tutorial
Atomic Games
Close Combat: First to Fight
Buy Close Combat: First to Fight

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Virtual Programming Updates Massive Assault
12:40 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Virtual Programming has released a new patch for Massive Assault, the company's action-packed strategy game. The new patch includes the following major fixes and additions:

• Networking code updated to latest PC code. Fixes many problems with network play
• Totally new rendering engine. Fixed many problems with first conversion model
• Texture reduction preference now works properly. Fixes many users with slow game response issues
• Optimized rendering engine to speed it up. Was doing a large number of unecessary calculations. Vast speed improvement
• Fixed messages with Wargaming server
• Added hardware cursor for Panther
• Audio now played through OpenAL. Fixes stability issues, is faster, and supports some specialized hardware
To download the patch, follow the link below.

Virtual Programming
Massive Assault
Massive Assault Patch v3
Buy Massive Assault

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Blizzard Announces Panda Program
12:34 PM | Conrad Quilty-Harper | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment today announced a partnership that will solve one of the greatest annoyances for World of Warcraft players. Blizzard is teaming up with Panderan Xpress chain of restaurants to bring fast food to WoW characters in a panda program. The idea behind the Panda program is to help out in those situations where you forget to feed your WoW character. If such a situation arises where your character become famished, you can order chinese takeout with a simple keyboard command. In no time at all a Panderan Xpress helper panda will arrive with your selections from the Panderan Xpress Menu.

From the announcement:

Imagine you are on an instance run in Maraudon, Dire Maul, or even Blackrock Spire. Two long hours into the dungeon and you suddenly notice the hunter in your group feeding his pet. That triggers a rumbling in your belly, which reminds you that you haven't eaten anything all day! How can you satisfy your craving without abandoning your group?! Before, there was nothing for you to do but suffer in hunger. Now, thanks to Pandaren Xpress®, creators of low-priced gourmet meals, you no longer have to leave the group for a food break. In less time than it takes your party's casters to regain mana (even less if you don't have a mage), you can order Chinese take-out from the comfort of your chair! No more tedious walking over to the telephone! No more arduous pushing of unfamiliar phone numbers!
Follow the link below to download Panderan promotional wallpaper and read all about this useful new feature.

Panderan Xpress Teams with Blizzard
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

Aspyr: Buy True Crime, Get Free Game
12:02 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media today announced a special offer available to Mac gamers for the month of April only. Buy True Crime: Streets of L.A though Amazon using a special coupon code and get one of the following games for free. The titles include:

• Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
• Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
• Space Colony
• 007 Nightfire

This promotion is only available through Aspyr and Amazon. For more information, please visit the Aspyr web site, linked below.

Aspyr Media
Aspyr: Buy True Crime, Free Game Offer

MacWorld Poll: Mac Users Don't Game?
11:50 AM | Conrad Quilty-Harper | Comment on this story

In a recent Mac gaming poll on the subject of Mac gaming over at the MacWorld UK website, 57% of the responses were "I don't play games on my Mac." The 57% majority was made up of 1,279 voters of which comments on the state of Mac gaming included;

"The graphics performance on Macs is woeful when compared to equivalent PC's. They seem one or two years behind."
Of the people that admitted to using their Mac for gaming, just 15% said: "It's great" and 28% of people said Mac gaming "lacks oomph". In a forum thread dedicated to discussion of the poll people suggested getting a console and using it in tandem with their Mac. Others countered this suggestion by relating the Mac's gaming power with the GPU installed;
"It depends of what kind of graphics performance you're talking about, the kind that earns money or the kind that passes time."
Although this poll can only be used as a very general guide to readers of MacWorld UK, it portrays a niche gaming world within a niche computing platform. One reader wisely pointed out that the ratio of PCs used for gaming against work may not be as large as the Mac ratio;
"I wonder what percentage of Windows PCs are used for gaming. I bet it's even lower than the percentage of Macs."
To read the rundown of the poll results, follow the link below.

Macs 'no good for games'
MacWorld discussion: Mac Gaming

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Neverwinter Nights 1.66 Beta
10:13 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

For those that may have missed it, BioWare and MacSoft have made available a recent beta patch for Neverwinter Nights. Currently set at 1.66 Beta 2, the patch includes a number of fixes, including tweaks for the game itself, the DM client, server fixes, and custom content.

Some of the game fixes are as follows:

  • Added 3 portraits and 3 music themes from the BioWare Premium Modules Kingmaker, ShadowGuard, and Witch's Wake 1 to game resources.
  • Fixed an issue that was causing the game to slow down and become unplayable at the start of SoU Chapter 2.
  • Fixed an issue with creatures some times occupying the same space. This should happen a lot less frequently now.
  • Extended the glowing monk eye effect to work on all the default playable races.
  • Neutral monks now get ultra cool purple glowing eyes.
  • Fixed placement of glowing monk eyes on Human/Half-Elf females (much thanks to the DLA team for their help with this).
They add that, as the patch is still in beta testing, there will be no support for those willing to try it out. Patches are included for Hordes of the Underdark and Shadows of Undrentide as well as for the original stand-alone NWN.

Interested parties can download the patches directly from BioWare's site.

BioWare - Neverwinter Nights 1.66 Beta 2 Patches
Neverwinter Nights
NWN: Hordes of the Underdark
NWN: Shadows of Undrentide
Buy Neverwinter Nights
Buy NWN: Hordes of the Underdark
Buy NWN: Shadows of Undrentide

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Torque 2D Tech Demo
10:13 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

GarageGames has posted news about the availability of a tech demo utilizing the Torque Engine. Made to showcase the Torque 2D aspect, the demo uses a fishbowl environment, showing off advanced particle effects, layering capabilities, and texture blending, all in an application that took less than 16 hours to put together.

Built upon the amazing power of GarageGames´ Torque Game Engine (TGE), T2D takes advantage of hardware to leave all 2D competitors in the dust. T2D provides a complete cross platform 2D game development solution with built in rigid-body dynamic physics, an incredible particle effects system, sprite based animations, TorqueScript (our C++ like scripting language), static and animated tiles, a fast swept-polygon collision detection system and more.
The demo is available for OS X, Windows, and Linux. More information on Torque 2D itself, which GG currently hails as the "world's most powerful 2D engine," can be found at GG's site.

GarageGames - Torque 2D Tech Demo

Ambrosia Releases ScreenCleaner Pro
8:21 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Although this news entry isn't necessarily gaming related, this free little utility from Ambrosia Software is so cool and useful we thought we'd mention it. Dubbed ScreenCleaner Pro, the utility brings new life to your faded LCD or CRT monitors.

Here's more from the press release:

Over time, your LCD or CRT monitor will gradually fade in brightness and contrast. This fading is inevitable, because the backlights for LCD screens eventually fade, and the photo-reactive substrate on CRT monitors eventually degrades.

ScreenCleaner Pro rectifies this situation by altering the gamma of your monitor to compensate for monitor degradation, so it will look as good as new. Don't toss out that old monitor, just run ScreenCleaner Pro on it, and watch your old monitor gain a new life.

Simply let ScreenCleaner Pro run in the background, and it will automatically analyze your monitor's gamma curve and relative luminescence. After enough calibration data has been collected, ScreenCleaner Pro will adjust your monitor to like-new condition.

The analyzation/calibration process can take up to 10 minutes, but you can work normally while ScreenCleaner Pro is analyzing your monitor; simply let it run in the background.

To download this cool little utility, please follow the link below.

Ambrosia Software
ScreenCleaner Pro

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Doom 3 Expansion Q&A
8:08 AM | Conrad Quilty-Harper | Comment on this story has posted an in-depth question and answer session with the development team behind Doom 3 and the upcoming expansion pack for PC, Resurrection of Evil. The sit down interview has input from Tim Willits, lead designer/co-owner, id Software, Matt Hooper, designer, id Software and Brandon James, president, Nerve Software (the developer of the Resurrection of Evil expansion pack). The team talk about the development of the expansion pack and features in the impending Xbox release.

From the interview:

GI: Any plans for new weapons or items this time around?

Brandon James:  There are actually a handful of new weapons in the expansion pack, as well as new monsters and those sorts of things.  But, I’ll touch on the weapons.  One of the big weapons that has made a reappearance from the Doom franchise is the double-barreled shotgun, which is from Doom 2.  You pick up the shotgun relatively quickly in the expansion, and in fact, it’s Sarge’s old weapon and you find it locked up in his office.  It really becomes the ultimate boomstick to go up against the old and new demons.  It’s sort of an old rustic meets new technology kind of shotgun.  There’s also the ionized plasma levitator, which we all call the “grabber.”  You can use it, thanks to the great physics in the game, to manipulate objects around you like rocks and exploding barrels.

To read the full interview, follow the link included below.

Stay tuned to IMG for any announcements for a Mac version of the Doom 3 expansion.

From PC to Xbox and Beyond: The Ultimate Doom 3 Interview
id Software
Aspyr Media
Buy DOOM 3

Mac Games News for Thursday, March 31, 2005

IMG Reviews Darwinia1:20 PM
KnightShift Now Shipping10:15 AM
Ambrosia Releases Darwinia7:17 AM
Darwinia Interview7:17 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, March 31, 2005 on one page

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