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Monday, January 16, 2006

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MWSF Wrap-Up: Q&A with Feral Interactive
8:18 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | 13 comments

During our visit to San Francisco last week, we sat down with Feral Interactive president David Stephen, and chatted about his companyís progress and his thoughts on the recent MacWorld Expo announcements.

2006 should be a very big year for the veteran game publishers. Imperial Glory, Fable, and Colin McRae Rally 2005 are expected to ship in the first quarter of the year, while Lionhead Studioís Black & White 2, first announced last October, is on track for a fall release. In addition to these games, Feral expects to release an unannounced blockbuster title early in the summer, as well as an additional 3 or 4 new titles in the second half of the year.

In terms of sales, Feral is moving to fill the void left by Mac game publishers who dropped out of the market in the past 18 months. And while the US remains the game publisherís largest market, David is looking at distributing some of his companyís titles in the Japanese market Ė a huge undertaking considering the amount of localization, and the attention to detail and quality demanded by that market. And while Feral is enjoying seeing their products sharing shelf space in worldwide Apple Stores, David is also looking at strengthening their relationship with independent Apple retailers around the globe.

According to David, 2005 was a bit of a slow year for the game publishers. Last year saw delays in receiving the code and licenses for some PC projects currently in development. The year also saw the company establish a relationship with a new developer and porting house. Feral also took a step back to see how the Intel hardware situation would play out, which proved to be a wise move in hindsight - Feralís technical support contractors, such as graphics chip makers ATI, were extremely busy with their own move to the Intel architecture.

In terms of supporting the new CPUs, all of Feralís upcoming titles will be released with universal binaries. Feralís technical support team will also take a look at all their current titles and release universal binary patches as necessary, based on game performance under the Rosetta emulation system. Given the type of games in Feralís roster Ė games that arenít necessarily on the bleeding edge of new technology like some of the other Mac game publishers - Davidís expects that they will more than likely only need to patch two or three of their previously-released titles.

On the topic of the new machines, while David is excited about the new Intel machines coming down the pipe, the biggest news to him is the inclusion of the high end ATI Radeon X1600 graphics card included in all the new Intel Macintoshes, a feeling shared by most of the gaming developers we talked to at the Expo. Davidís opinion is that, up until now, Apple has failed to deliver really high end graphics cards in their consumer machines. David feels that part of the reason the Macintosh gaming market has suffered has been the underpowered graphics chips that, up to now, have been included in most consumer Macs Ė for example, a lot of people only own Apple laptops, which, until now, were never equipped with cards powerful enough to play the most demanding games.

David is a little skeptical about claims that the new hardware inside Macintoshes will mean frame rates and game performance almost equal to PCs for a number of logistical reasons. For example, Apple relies on the motherboardís CPU to handle audio processing, instead of passing the work onto dedicated sound cards found in most PCs. While David believes Mac gamers will see big improvements in game performance over existing computer models, donít expect to see parity in frame rates unless developers can find a way to handle issues like audio processing without contributing too much to a titleís overhead.

David doesnít expect that the dual boot issue will turn out as big a deal as it has been portrayed since the new Intel machines were announced. David expects that Apple is going to make it extremely hard for the average user to turn their newly-purchased units into dual boot machines. And even if people go through the effort of dual booting, good luck trying to get technical support for a Windows program that youíre trying to run on a Macintosh computer.

The last topic we touched on was piracy, which is having a fairly small impact on Feral. The game publishers are taking an aggressive and multi-faceted approach to dealing with software piracy, including a dogged determination to shut down illegal filesharing websites through legal action as required. Feral has found that most web site operators and ISP are co-operative Ė the last thing the average bittorrent copyright abuser wants is the police showing up at his or her parentís door. And while David expects that some forms of piracy will always be present to some degree, he and his colleagues are prepared to do what it takes to keep its impact minimal.

Weíd like to thank Feralís David, Edwin, and Mark for taking the time to speak with us on numerous occasions at the Expo.

MWSF 2006
Feral Interactive

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IMG Posts Stubbs the Zombie Print and Video Reviews
12:16 PM | Blake Buck | Comment on this story

Today IMG posted a print and video review of Aspyr Media's latest release, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. Developed by Wideload Games, Stubbs puts players in control of flesh-eating zombie on a quest for destruction. From the IMG review:

Stubbs the Zombie is one of the most fun, original games I've seen in a long time on the Mac platform. With its unique combination of humor, gruesome action, and innovative story, Stubbs is a game that's hard not to like. Not only does it have the distinction of being the first game ever to give players a chance to explore the world through the eyes of a zombie, but it also provides a large amount of flexibility as to how to approach the challenges scattered throughout the game.
A video review is also available from the review page. To read the entire review, click the link below.

IMG Review - Stubbs the Zombie
Aspyr Media
Stubbs the Zombie
Buy Stubbs the Zombie

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World of Warcraft on an Intel Mac
8:18 AM | Evan Holt | Comment on this story

Blizzard was at MacWorld demoing the Intel version of World of Warcraft on an Intel iMac provided by Apple. This post comes from an Ars Technica poster who was there firsthand to comment on it.

Follow the link for screenshots and their experience. It looks promising with frame rates that would be comparable on a PC.

Ars Technica Journal:WoW on an Intel iMac
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Buy World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

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Macologist Mod of the Year
8:18 AM | Anthony Wang | Comment on this story

Every year, numerous user created additions such as maps and tools are released for Mac games. The Macologist Mod of the Year honors these creations with five honorable mention awards and Mod of the Year.

The honorable mentions go to: Heat of Battle for Call of Duty, Last Man Standing for Doom 3, The Telic Campaign for Alien Swarm for Unreal Tournament 2004, Blitzreigh 2: The Final Hour for Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour, and Red Orchestra for Unreal Tournament 2004. Finally, this year's Macologist Mod of the Year goes to Forgotten Hope for Battlefield 1942.

The staff over at the Forgotten Hope team took this mod one step further. They wanted to guarantee that the mod would work on a Macintosh. To do this, compiler and FH member "ctz" purchased a Mac Mini to do internal testing on as well as creating a Mac friendly installation file. Not acting alone in his endevours, FH member "StrangerThanFiction" kept in constant contact with Macologist beta-tester "adamward" to assist him in receiving an advanced preview to verify their internal testing.This attention not only to detail, but rather to the BF1942 gaming community as a whole including Mac gamers, has propelled Forgotten Hope .7 to be named our Mod of the year for the 2005. Congratulations to the FH team for all of their hard work!
A round of applause for all the winners and their respective mods. Please click the links below to view the Macologist Mod of the Year feature and to learn more about this article.

Macologist: Mod of the Year 2005
Battlefield 1942: Deluxe Edition
Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
Call of Duty
Unreal Tournament 2004
Buy Battlefield 1942: Deluxe Edition
Buy Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
Buy Call of Duty
Buy Unreal Tournament 2004

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Shadowbane Interview
8:18 AM | Anthony Wang | Comment on this story

Gamecloud posted an interview with Sean ďAshen TemperĒ Dahlberg of Wolfpack Studios on the progress of Shadowbane, a fantasy MMORPG for the PC and Mac. The interview discusses the obstacles for Shadowbane over the last few years and possible future updates.

Gamecloud - Since Shadowbane's launch there have been other MMO games launched. Is Wolfpack confident that this game fulfills a niche that other games lack?

Sean Dahlberg - Definitely. The original concept of Shadowbane was a fantastic one and while some of aspects of the design never made it into the game, the heart and soul of what Shadowbane was is still there. What other games out there give you such depth in character creation combined with open player-vs.-player combat and not only the ability to lay siege to cities but actually own and construct these cities?

Please follow the links below to read the interview.

Gamecloud: Shadowbane Update Interview
Wolfpack Studios

Civilization IV Reviews
8:18 AM | Anthony Wang | Comment on this story

Civilization IV is on target for a release sometimes this year and rave reviews keep on popping up. This time, Game Helper and Game Club Central offer their reviews of this turn-based strategy game developed by Firaxis Games and being ported to the Mac by Aspyr.

From Game Helper:

Donít let those two little complaints stop you though! If youíve ever been a fan of the franchise, Civilization IV will definitely tickle the olí pickle. A lot of work clearly went into creating so much new content without complicating, or more importantly, compromising, gameplay. The end result: a title thatíll warm the heart of any Civ vet and siren those with any interest in turn-based strategy right on in.
From Game Club Central:
Civilization IV is a great game for folks who are looking to get into the realm of strategy gaming and for those already familiar with the series. Whatever route you choose to take to victory, this game is prepared to take you there with stunning graphics and addictive game play, so fix yourself that next pot of coffee, turn the volume down low, and before you know it the sun will be rising and you very well may be late for work.
Overall, Game Helper gave Civilization IV an 8.8 of 10.0, and Game Club Central gave a 9.1 of 10.0. Expect Civ IV to hit store shelves and your hard drive this Spring.

Game Helper: Civ IV Review
Game Club Central: Civ IV Review
Civilization IV
Buy Civilization IV

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Heroes of Might & Magic V Screenshots
8:18 AM | Anthony Wang | Comment on this story

Tiscali Games, a Czech gaming website has posted an extensive gallery of Heroes of Might & Magic V screenshots. The gallery showcases cities, environments, turn-based battles, and units from several different factions.

Being developed by Nival Entertainment, Heroes of Might and Magic V will feature a visually stunning 3D environment, new battle system, over 200 skills, 170 creature abilities, and 40 spells to supply your heroes and troops.

Heroes of Might and Magic V is being brought to the Mac by Freeverse. As of now, no release date has been confirmed.

Tiscalli Games: HoMM V Screenshots Gallery
Heroes of Might & Magic V
Buy Heroes of Might & Magic V

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PopCap Releases 3 Deluxe Games For Mac
8:18 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Last week PopCap Games announced the release of deluxe versions of three of their popular puzzle games. Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, Bookworm Deluxe, and Zuma Deluxe are all now available for download and purchase from the PopCap website.

What's new in Bejeweled 2 Deluxe:

Stunning 3d special effects and higher resolutions

Four ways to play: Classic, Action, Puzzle and Endless

Explore a galaxy of handcrafted puzzles in Puzzle mode

Play for eternity and collect jewelry in Endless mode

Discover secret game modes

What's new in Bookworm Deluxe:
Great new graphics, sounds and music!

All-New Action Game!

Save your High Scores in the Hall of Fame!

Play offline anytime... no internet connection needed

Upload your best scores to compete across the web

What's new in Zuma Deluxe:
3d accelerated graphics and effects

Discover new realms in Adventure mode

Test your skills with Gauntlet mode

Stunning sounds and tribal tunes!

Over 20 temples to explore!

Check out the PopCap websites listed below for more information.

Bejeweled 2 Deluxe
Bookworm Deluxe
Zuma Deluxe
PopCap Games
Buy Bookworm Deluxe

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Civilization IV Game Of The Year Interview
8:18 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

After giving Game of the Year honors to Firaxis' Civilization IV, Gamespy interviewed Barry Caudill, senior producer, and the game's lead designer, Soren Johnson about the game's impressive success. The latest in the strategy series, which allows gamers to take a lowly stone age tribe to the heights of world domination, has managed to improve upon the addictive gameplay of earlier titles. The interview covers the game's success, the development process, and a few problems the game has experienced since launch.

GameSpy: Do you have a "wish list" of things you'd like to include in future products?

Caudill: One of the great things about working at Firaxis is that there are always tons of ideas flying around, and I never feel like we have to struggle for new ones. The guys are constantly playing games and discussing them. In addition, we get constant feedback from the fan community, so we probably have enough ideas to get to Civilization XXVII -- plus expansions -- without ever having a case of "writer's block!"

The Mac version of Civilization IV is on its way courtesy of Aspyr Media. For the entire interview follow the link below.

Gamespy: Civilization IV Interview
Civilization IV
Buy Civilization IV

Two New Mac Games, Zex & Zomb, in Beta
8:18 AM | Evan Holt | Comment on this story

Two new beta releases of original Mac games were made available this weekend.

Zomb by KamaShin was released as 1.0b1. This is their first game and the web site is not completed just yet, but this samll rpg-like strategy game is available for download.

Zex by Lightsoft is their first game as well and was released as 0.99.0B1. Zex is a space based role playing game which puts you in the role of saving Earth from an alien invasion. Zex requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, a PowerPC at 600MHz or better or Intel based Macintosh (as this game is a Universal Binary).

Download Zomb 1.0b1
KamaShin - Zomb homepage
Lightsoft - Zex

Mac Games News for Friday, January 13, 2006

MWSF: Original Mac Game Cup Winners Announced10:56 AM
MWSF: Freeverse To Publish Legion Arena10:44 AM
MWSF Photo Diary: Days Two and Three8:02 AM
Custer's Out Of This World Return7:57 AM
A Look Inside The Tower of Kharazhan7:55 AM
Avernum 2.0 for OS X Released7:55 AM
Cosmic Encounter Interview7:55 AM
Dofus Reviewed7:55 AM
GarageGames Releases TubeTwist7:55 AM
MWSF: IMG Chats With Aspyr Media's Glenda Adams7:55 AM
New Maps From Mac Gaming Mods7:55 AM
World of WarCraft 1.9.2 Patch Released7:55 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, January 13, 2006 on one page

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