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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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TrainPlayer-TrackLayer Version 3.2 Released For Mac
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

TrainPlayer Software recently announced the release of version 3.2 of its TrainPlayer and TrackLayer software products for Mac users. The major update to the model railroad simulation brings Mac users up to date with most of the changes previously introduced for Windows versions 2.2, 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. Additions in the latest version include new premium content, scripting options, and CAD import.

TrainPlayer simulates operation of a model railroad layout. Each track plan is equipped with a layer of electronic track, a user-modifiable assortment of trains, and a control panel resembling an old-fashioned power pack. TrackLayer is an add-on module for drawing track, curves, switches, and turntables. The typical user starts with a track plan scanned from a drawing or magazine or prepared in another program, then traces over the track lines using TrackLayer tools.

For you Mac users, we are happy to announce the release of TrainPlayer-TrackLayer 3.2 for Mac, a whole new line of products built in OS X, packed with the same great features and content we've been adding for Windows users.

Premium Content
The new version comes with a lot more scenic acreage to operate on, and a lot more choices of rolling stock to do it with. This release features the Premium Layouts and Cars collection, a huge gallery of fascinating layouts, plus over eight hundred cars and locomotives of all styles. The set includes a dozen beautiful, original layouts by Peter Lloyd-Lee, an amazing collection of operational rail yards assembled from satellite photos by Bruno Pigozzo, not one but four stylish versions of the full Gorre & Daphetid, original artwork by Nicolas Villarreal, and way more.

Scripting is a fun new way to program your layout so it can run itself automatically. Let TrainPlayer create a script for you as you drive, or try your hand at writing one using our simple operations language. Sample layouts include a scripted version of the Turtle Creek -- click, sit back, and watch a typical day of pickups and deliveries.

CAD Import
For the serious Mac-oriented track planner, TrackLayer 3.2 offers a full-service solution. Design your layout with ease and precision using the popular RailModeller CAD system from MacRailSoft, then let TrackLayer 3.2 automatically lay working track on it, so you just add trains and run.

This work would not have been possible without help from Jan Barnholt of MacRailSoft, who arranged for RailModeller to export data readable by us. Thanks, Jan.

And More
Operation is more fun with improved controls and sounds, now including diesel running sounds. Laying track is more precise with snap tools for switch angles and yards. New chooser dialogs give direct access to our large and growing collection of layouts and cars on the web. You can link your layouts together so a train cruises from one right onto the other. If you have OS X 10.5, you can flip through mini-layouts in Finder with Cover Flow, as shown here.
Version 3.2 requires OS X 10.4 and higher. Current TrainPlayer Mac owners have two upgrade options: $24.95 for the new program features (Those who purchased TrainPlayer in 2009 get this option free), or $39.95 for the features and the Premium collection of new layouts and cars.

New customers can choose from the company's six purchase options, starting at Trainplayer Standard for $29.95, and continuing up the scale to the full $99.95 TrackLayer Premium.

TrainPlayer Mac

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IMG Reviews Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil
9:57 AM | Marcus Albers | 18 comments

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the hidden-object adventure Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil from NevoSoft. In the game, you help Laura Jones unravel the ancient mystery around a strange talisman. Here's an excerpt from the review:

Rather than get into an exegesis of the flimsy story-line, I'll plunge right into decoding the gameplay. The core of this game, as you may have guessed, is finding a bunch of stuff on a crowded screen. This is certainly nothing we haven't all seen before, and if you have ever played one of these games before, you'll quickly get the hang of it. In fact, even if you haven't, you'll still find it very easy to grasp. The twist to this premise is that in many instances you must find them in a certain sequence, which will in turn cause elements on the screen to move or disappear, allowing you to uncover more hidden objects, and so on. For example, in one segment, you have to hunt around to find a combination to a safe, and then you open the safe, which tells you to find some more objects, and so on. So, in effect, the vertical X and the horizontal Y axes you're used to exploring is enhanced by the Z axis that goes "deeper" into the screen. I'm not saying it's 3-D, mind you, just that some depth is added to the usual hidden object setup.
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil
Laura Jones & the Gates of Good and Evil
Buy Laura Jones & the Gates of Good and Evil

UDevGames 2008: FIDRIS Postmortem Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

iDevGames recently posted a postmortem article examining work on Pyramid Productions' FIDRIS, an entry in the UDevGames 2008 competition. In the article the developer discusses the design of the game, what went right and wrong with the title's development, and plans to flesh out the game into a full featured release.

FIDRIS puts players in command of a spaceport and challenges them to make as much money as possible by quickly servicing as many incoming ships as possible. Each new level introduces larger and busier spaceports.

During the last uDevGames (2004) contest, I was a student, so time to work on my entry was not an issue. Now I am holding down a job, married, and have a nearly two year old daughter. Coupled with the contest falling over Christmas, New Year, and our decision to take a week’s holiday in January, I knew time would be tight to get this finished. Fortunately, I have a substantial C++/SDL/OpenGL codebase I have built up over the years which helped me get the shell of the game up and running in a matter of hours. Since getting the ‘fun factor’ into the game was the major risk for the project, I worked hard to get a first playable build up only a week into the contest. Graphics were rudimentary at best, but it gave me enough confidence that the idea would work to continue.

After the initial rush to get started, progress through to the end of January was slow. However, during this time I did manage to get ships moving about ‘realistically’. By early February, I had most of the elements needed to make a game — menus, score counters, a way to ‘die’ and restart, and now that the deadline was in sight it was time to throw out all the extra ideas I had hoped to add and polish, polish, polish.

In the last two weeks of the contest, I managed to get all the graphics done (starfields and planets), 3D models for two different ships and various space station components. Originally I had planned to have a file format to define a level in XML, but due to time constraints I had to drop this in favor of hard-coding the 4 final levels in an include file. I picked up some great sounds effects from FreeSound and fellow iDevGames member Jesus De Meyer (Taxxodium/eDot-studios) kindly allowed me to use a couple of his tracks which add greatly to the atmosphere of the game.
Head over to the link below to read the full article.

iDevGames: FIDRIS Postmortem

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Diablo III: Wall Breaking, Game Length, Bunny Slaying
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Diablo III Community Manager Bashiok has offered a few more tidbits of information about Blizzard Entertainment's upcoming action RPG sequel. Topics covered this time include discussion of a wall breaking scene in a recent video, the game's length compared to Diablo II, and the many potential deaths of critters.

On the wall-breaking scene in the WWI demo:
It is indeed the siegebreaker's giant hand that grabs him. It was an extremely difficult and trying shot to create and capture. The way the interior and exterior sections were set up and shot it made it necessary to capture them uncut.

The hand shot just wasn't working that well, so we'd tweak it, hope that the physics would move the debris properly. Shoot, it didn't work right. Tweak it again, reshoot the entire interior run, something else might go wrong, etc. Over and over. In the end we had to settle with what would appear to most as a wall collapse simply because we didn't have time before the announcement to keep tweaking it and reshooting everything to make it more clear that it was a hand busting through the wall and grabbing him. Especially when the one we went with had some very perfect moments in it (zombie corpse landing on railing).

I'm glad that someone caught it though, a lot of work went into those animations, and unfortunately we just ran out of time to showcase them.

On the game's length:
I think what he was referring to was number of acts, I don't think there's any way to judge at this point actual playable hours.

Also, for Diablo II, how do you characterize "game length"? Is it when you've killed Diablo once? Three times? When you have all the best items? When you have a 99 of each class? When you're bored? There's potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay there depending on how you judge it.

On whether or not "critters" will die from direct damage:
Heh, I think someone brought this up a long time ago and I replied to it then too. There was a bug in that build that caused critters to sometimes not be effected by direct damage. If you bombed them off to one side though they'd go flying. To put your mind at ease, bunnies will axplode!

Julian Love, our tech lead, informed me that critters can not only die, but they can die in all the way monsters can. Dismemberment, acid, fire, plague, decapitation, pulverization... etc. etc.

"You haven't lived until you've pulverized a bunny!" - JL '09

Visit the GameBanshee page below to read more.

GameBanshee: Bashiok Diablo III Comments
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Diablo III
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Nexuiz 2.5 Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Nexuiz, Alientrap's freeware FPS death match game project, has been updated to version 2.5, an updated new version of the game. The latest version include new guns, new particle effects, a new race game mode, new maps, and improved netcode.

Almost a year of hard work, 3000 single changes, new developers and players, a few tourneys and lots of matches have passed since the last release.

Today the Alientrap team is proud to bring you a new and improved Nexuiz! Still trying to achieve this fine balance between fun and a challenge, you will notice lots of small additions that will make playing even more fun.

Some larger changes like the new guns and particle effects will make you want to dive into the great and friendly Nexuiz community, while the large additions including the race game mode, some new maps and improved netcode will take away lots of hours of your free time.

Do you dare to take a look and see for yourself what a totally free and open source game can be?
Because of the many changes to the game, a patch is not available. The full game download can be found at the website below.


Mac Games News for Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And Yet It Moves Released6:00 AM
EVE Online: Apocrypha Reviewed6:00 AM
Introversion Software's Chris Delay Interviewed6:00 AM
The Gaming Power Of Apple's Newest Mac Pros and iMacs6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, April 7, 2009 on one page

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