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Wednesday, January 10, 2001

MWSF Recap, More Updates Soon
10:13 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG continues our second day of coverage of the Macworld Expo San Francisco from a gamer's perspective. Although many gamers are still basking in the glow of Jobs' announcement of NVIDIA hardware in upcoming Macs, we expect still more good news for gamers to be discovered today...

However, those reports are still coming in, so here is a recap of yesterday's events.

Our coverage of the Keynote discusses the new hardware, software and of course the biggest news for gamers -- the long-promised emergence of graphics hardware from NVIDIA in the form of a BTO option for a GeForce 2 MX 32 MB AGP card. While this low-cost card may not be able to catch the ATI Radeon (which is also available as a BTO option on all the new Macs) it signals that we may expect future NVIDIA chips to appear on our platform; there is no word as of yet on third-party NVIDIA cards for PCI users or those with existing AGP systems.

We've received word from the show floor that Creative Labs is showing, but not shipping, their Sound Blaster Live! cards for the Mac OS. Supposedly some last-minute bugs in the software that ships with this card were discovered, and this will delay the actual ship date by several weeks.

Creative Labs assured us that the card is "95% there," with printed boxes, manuals and etc. ready to go. One item that may be of interest to gamers: The card ships with a full version of Aspyr's Deus Ex, presumably supporting EAX (positional audio).

Charting a new course in the nearly-nonexistent genre of sports games on the Mac OS, Aspyr Media will publish Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 to the Mac OS, a PlayStation and PC title which features tons of realtime 3D skating action. This Activision game has been Westlake Interactive's "Rad" project for quite some time, but now the secret is out. There is no projected release date for this title.

Our report from the show floor continues with news from MacSoft, one of the oldest and most successful Mac games publishers. They were showing Driver and Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear of course, as well as the Hasbro updating of Pong and Monopoly Casino.

They also had a new title to announce: MacSoft will be publishing the Mac OS version of Master of Orion III, a much-anticipated sequel to this space exploration and conquest series. While a Mac OS version of this game has been considered a good possibility for quite some time, this is confirmation of its existence, and good news for strategy gamers.

When GraphSim lost the rights to the Baldur's Gate sequel and expansion pack to MacPlay, many were worried Mac gaming mainstay would fall on hard times. However, they have found a winning strategy to get back up there with the 'big dogs,' as they have become the Mac publishers for Volition and THQ's upcoming titles Summoner and Red Faction.

Stay tuned for more coverage from the Expo floor!

MWSF: GeForce 2 MX Standard on New Macs
MWSF: Summoner, Red Faction from GraphSim!
MWSF: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is Coming!
MWSF: Keynote Report

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MWSF: Update on Escape from Monkey Island
3:48 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media was on the show floor at the expo, demonstrating a pre-Beta version of Escape from Monkey Island at their booth. This much-anticipated LucasArts 3D adventure title features support for hardware acceleration and the zany humor that is an essential part of the Monkey Island series.

Aspyr expects to launch an information site about the game in February. Estimated system requirements at this point seem to be a Rev. B iMac
(Rage Pro) or higher or Voodoo 2-based acceleration or higher, so a G3 and 6 MB+ of hardware-accelerated 3D are required.

We'll bring you more Aspyr news after we meet with this company later today.

Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Escape From Monkey Island
Buy Escape From Monkey Island

MWSF: GeForce 2 MX Benchmarks
3:06 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG correspondent Patrick Leyden met with NVIDIA staff at the show, and walked away with some benchmarks of the GeForce 2 MX cards shipping as a BTO option in the next generation of G4 towers. The numbers are quite surprising, as the GeForce 2 MX is considered a low-end, low-cost card on the PC side and it is always listed as coming in second to the more expensive Radeon in comparisons. Obviously the new "write combining" support and 4x AGP of the new G4 motherboard gives this card a boost, and NVIDIA has certainly not been fooling around in the driver department either. Here are the numbers:

Quake 3 Arena, Timedemo demo 1:


Rage 128 - 26

Radeon - 59

Geforce - 69


Rage 128 - 41.9

Radeon - 59.4

Geforce - 71.1

The reason why the Geforce 2 MX is the current Mac product of choice is that
it is currently the only product in their lineup that is compatible with Mac
video. All future NVIDIA graphics chips, such as products based on the NV20
architecture, will be fully Apple-compatible.

NVIDIA wants to eventually "drive every pixel on every screen" says their director of public relations, Derek Perez. Lofty ambitions to be sure, but if anyone is capable of this goal, NVIDIA is.

We hope to bring you more benchmarks, along with more details on the system specs, version of Q3A and settings used in the near future. We'll have more details from our discussions with NVIDIA and ATI tomorrow.

MWSF: GeForce 2 MX Standard on New Macs

MWSF: On Peter Tamte's Company
1:38 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

According to an in-depth report published on MacCentral, former Apple and Bungie employee Peter Tamte is progressing well with his new company, formed with the initial objective of bringing several prominent Microsoft game titles to the Mac OS. While he has yet to name his company, it does have a total of six employees now, and they may have Age of Empires II ready to ship by this Summer, if all goes well. Here's an excerpt from the report:

Tamte says that his new company still doesn't have a name, although it now has employees -- six altogether, including Tamte. The Minnesota-based game development studio also features Tamte's fellow MacSoft alum Kirk Sumner, a programmer with years of experience developing new content and porting popular games to the Mac. Prior to his stint at Macsoft, Sumner was employed at MECC, the company that eventually became educational software publisher The Learning Company.

At last summer's Macworld Expo in New York City, Tamte outlined plans to bring three Microsoft-branded games to the Macintosh -- Age of Empires 2, Flight Simulator 2002, and Links LS 2002. Tamte says those plans are still in place, and suggests that Mac gamers may see Age of Empires 2 on store shelves sometime this summer.

The article also mentions that Tamte hinted at a possible original title in development, which would have online elements, but not multiplayer support. For more details be sure and read the entire report.

IMG Interviews Peter Tamte
Peter Tamte Interview at MacCentral

Crazy Car Championship Details
12:05 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Telefragged spoke with the team behind Crazy Car Championship, the first title forthcoming from cross-platform developer Synaptic Soup. The game will be powered by their own custom build multi-platform engine, Cipher. As previously mentioned in our news, Synaptic is very capable of bringing CCC to Mac, but the decision will remain in the hands of the publisher. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

To what extent can players modify their vehicles, and what kind of settings will be available for modification? How are the modifications earned, are they pickups on the track, bought through race winnings, etc. How many variations will be available?

KW: Each character will come with their own main fuselage section which contributes to the overall handling of the car, then the player can use money from winnings to upgrade different wheels, thrusters, engines, spoilers and even change the chassis. These different components affect things like the top speed, acceleration and resistance to damage. We’re not planning on going into too much detail where there are hundreds of variables to tweak on the car, CCC is going to be much more of a pick up and play arcade racing game. Although with the number of versions of each of the components there are still a good few thousand combinations.

This game is closer to completion than you might think, but there are still many details to be revealed. For more details on the Cipher engine, be sure and read out interview with Synaptic Soup staff.

IMG Synaptic Soup Interview
Synaptic Soup
Synaptic Soup interview at Telefragged

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Simon the Sorcerer 2 is Gold
11:51 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

e.p.i.c. Interactive's Thomas Steiding sent us a note that Simon The Sorcerer 2 has gone gold master for Amiga, and now for Mac OS as well. The Mac version needed quite a few changes during the porting process, and they have also included new features such as a French version of the game. Also Steiding gave us an update on another current Mac port, Earth 2140. This game should be reaching completion soon, and they will have demos available in the very near future. Here's the details:

Just wanted to let you know that Simon The Sorcerer II has gone off to
production. The game will be available Jan. 25th.

We are also making good progress now with our RTS game Earth 2140 and hope
to have a demo ready very soon.

Amiga site Shoecake has confirmed that Simon has gone gold for Mac:
The Macintosh version of Simon 2 has now been completed. Many changes to the game code were made, some new features were added including French Language support. In approx 2 days time there will be a new Amiga update for the game which will be built using the latest game sources from the Mac version. There is also an Audio problem that is unique to the Amiga version which will be addressed in the new update.
We'll keep you posted on when Simon actually ships, and of course on when (and where) you can grab those demos.

Shoecake web site
e.p.i.c. interactive
Simon the Sorcerer II
Buy Simon the Sorcerer II

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Velocity Engine Power for Q3A
10:34 AM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

id Software's Mac fanatic Graeme Devine has made a post in their forums announcing that they have included Altivec (G4 Velocity Engine) support for Quake 3 Arena, and most presumably Team Arena. He mentions that this puts the G4 ahead of the PC in benchmark tests! This is a brand new G4/533 with a Geforce 2 MX. Here's the post:

I finally got around to programming in Altivec support for Quake3 1.27h. If you have a G4 you'll certainly want to flex that velocity engine! I think this safely puts the G4 ahead of the PC. I'll probably post this tomorrow.

We have in the office a G4/533 with a GeForce2 card. It's a very very nice setup.


Check out MacGameFiles tomorrow as will surely have the patch. The final versions of Mac Q3A 1.27 and Team Arena, as well as the OS X versions, are expected soon as well.

Graeme's Quake3world post
id software
id Software
Quake III Arena

More on Ritual/Mumbo Jumbo Split
9:51 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Ritual Entertainment's Richard "Levelord" Gray has updated his .plan file with more information on yesterday's announcement regarding the company's split into Mumbo Jumbo. In case you missed it, Mumbo Jumbo will include Ron Dimant, Andrew Meggs and Mark Dochtermann to work on the upcoming Myth III: The Wolf Age title. Ritual isn't dying, though, as Levelord explains more in his .plan file. Here's a clip:

We are NOT going out of business! Far from it, we have never been stronger or happier. I even had headhunters calling members of the Tribe yesterday! The announcement of the split was kind of wacky, hence all the ripples. We had our own press release ready, but things are crazy when starting a new game and we just sort of forgot to do the 'release' part ;) Then GOD spoke and it looked like this big surprise announcement from above.

This division has been our plan for 6 months. It's been talked about for over a year. From the outside, no one will see any significant changes. We are all still working together and will for a long, long time. Ritual is expanding. I'm not sure why, but we are doing really, really well and need to grow. This is like a cell that has reached the extent of its membrane. That's m-e-m-b-r-a-n-e, kids!

We were going to do this internally, by setting up satellite sites like Ritual West (Los Angeles), Ritual's Uptown Software (New York, New York, ...okay, one more, New York), and even Très Ritual (San Tropez), ...but after a while it seemed better (easier, business-wise) to split the company. Like I said, though, not much will be different in the end.

Hope this clears up any confusion surrounding the company(ies) involved. Towards the end of his update, Levelord also notes they are seriously considering a sequel to Sin (which was just released for the Mac recently), though fans of the game are asked to curb their desire for a while:
One last thing, ...SiN II. We have nothing but absolute desire to make SiN II. No one wants this more than we do! My guess is that it will happen, perhaps even this year. We are starting a very cool game right now, so it's hard to say. SiN is a Ritual property and unless someone wants to pay A LOT of money, it will always be a Ritual property ;) PLEASE STOP ASKING ME ABOUT SiN II for at least a little while!
Good news to hear of companies expanding like this and taking on exciting new projects, especially when they happen to be as Mac-friendly as Ritual and Mumbo Jumbo. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any new announcements from either group, so stay tuned.

IMG News: Details on Ritual, Mumbo Jumbo
levelord .plan File

'Captain Bumper' .86 Released
9:49 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

French Mac-only developer Mac Run has released a second version of their demo for Captain Bumper, a fast-paced side-scroller game with colorful, cartoony appeal. Featuring blindly-fast 2D graphics and animation, this epic space adventure will have ten levels upon its release, and is expected to be completed in March.

The game will be for sale for $25 US from the Mac Run web site. Be sure and grab the demo for some old-school side-scroller action.

Captain Bumper Download Page
John Stiles
Candy Crisis

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Europa Universalis Preview
8:56 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A new preview has been posted by PC.IGN providing a look at the dense military strategy title Europa Universalis. While this game has been out for the PC in Europe for quite some time, it's still filtering over to the US, and was just announced as coming to the Mac last Fall. Reportedly Hyperion Software (who recently completed Shogo: MAD) will be doing the port for Paradox Entertainment, the original developers of the game. Here's a clip from the preview:

The game begins in 1492 during the Age of Discovery and ends 300 years later as Napoleon rises to power. This has always been one of the most interesting periods in history as far as I'm concerned. Not only do you have the classic conflicts of Church and State, but you've also got a conflict between the European nations themselves that spans the whole globe. Having the chance to fight through the religious wars of the European continent and eventually set out to establish new colonies in the New World, the Orient and Africa is damn hard to resist. At least if it's done right. In this case it looks like Europa Universalis is at least detailed enough to make it. I mean the manual itself is over 75,000 words. That's like 75 times the length of this preview.

A game with this much going on has got to be turn-based, right? I mean, you can't be priest, diplomat, general, statesman, treasurer and tyrant all at once, right? Not all over the world at least. Of course you can't and one of the real challenges of Europa is that it isn't turn-based. You'll control the fate of every facet of your empire with a big clock ticking right in front of your face. This real-time focus more accurately recreates the pressures and uncertainties of real monarchs (I was for a time ruler of a small duchy in the Apennines). Trying to set your priorities is crucial. And rather than going with a system of focus points (in the manner of the upcoming Master of Orion game), the real time gameplay keeps you sweating. Although you can pause the game if you really feel things are getting out of hand.

Check out the rest of the preview for more information on Europa Univeralis. Browse through the official web site if you are looking for even more details on the title. We've contacted Hyperion on the status of this port, and we'll be sure to let you know what we find out.

Europa Universalis Web Site
IMG News: Europa Universalis Comes to Mac
PC.IGN Preview of Europa Universalis

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Information on the Diablo II Rollback
8:53 AM | Tom Bridge | Comment on this story

Blizzard has completed their scheduled "rollback" of character information, but they have posted some more information on the rollback itself, including some valuable caveats:

The Diablo II Realm character rollback is complete, though there
are some clarifications we'd like to make here, concerning
reasons a player may not see a rolled-back character on this
Realm list:

With the v1.04 Diablo II patch, the number of Realm characters
allowed per account has changed. Prior to Diablo II v1.04, this
limit was 8 characters PER account, for all Realms. In v1.04 it
is now 8 characters PER realm PER account. If, prior to v1.04
your account included Realm characters on different realms--for
instance, you had one Realm character on USWest, and 2 Realm
characters on USEast--then now you will see your USWest character
ONLY on your account's USWest character list, and you will see
your USEast characters ONLY on your account's USEast character
list. So, if you notice that some of your characters are
missing, check the character list for each Realm--if you have
characters on multiple realms, chances are good you'll find them.

For those who haven't been following this story, over the New Year's holiday, several people began to break into many Realm characters (mostly on the Hardcore ladder) and loot them for items, then killed them. So Blizzard initiated a rollback to return characters to a state before the hacking; obviously they follow a solid backup strategy.

Blizzard's US East Realm Hacked
Blizzard's Update
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II
Buy Diablo II

Mac Games News for Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Shogo: MAD Now Shipping4:30 PM
Details on Ritual, Mumbo Jumbo4:02 PM
MWSF: SoundBlaster Live Not Shipping, Yet3:14 PM
MWSF: Mac GeForce2 MX FAQ, Picture2:22 PM
MWSF: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is Coming!1:44 PM
MWSF: MacSoft news, MOO3 coming!1:15 PM
MWSF: Summoner, Red Faction from GraphSim!1:07 PM
MWSF: Keynote Report12:53 PM
'Myth III' Screen Shots?12:45 PM
MWSF: GeForce 2 MX Standard on New Macs12:01 PM
Bitboy's Glaze 3D Canned9:53 AM
Diablo II Demo Released for Mac OS9:16 AM
MacPlay President Named9:12 AM
Myth III: The Wolf Age Announced8:48 AM
MWSF: GoD Blesses Macs in 20018:38 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, January 9, 2001 on one page

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Monday, January 8, 2001
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