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Thursday, February 1, 2001

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Diablo II Expansion Hands-On
9:29 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The Lurker Lounge has published a huge, three-page report from the lucky winner of a GameSpot contest who got a trip to San Francisco to play the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion pack. It's easy to tell the winner is quite the Diablo II connoisseur, as he goes into detail about the game's finer points. He covers improved items and features such as the stash (which is twice as large now), new quests which will be in the fifth Act, and a detailed rundown of the two new character classes and their skill trees. There's even an explaination of the cow level, if you're so inclined... Here's a clip about how your character's conversion from the original Diablo II will work:

It'll be a one-way process.  You can take your character into Expansion Pack mode, but you can't take them back.  If skills are changed around for the expansion, you will need to be aware of them before you switch over - if your favorite skill is nerfed some, you might wind up preferring to keep the character as a standard one.  "We plan to do a complete lookover of every skill in the game," Tyler informed me.  "While every skill won't be altered, we might take a few from each class, say 6, and tweak those."  Matt added, "our goal is to encourage players to employ underused skills in the original Diablo II."  This is great news for those who always want the most in game balance; the game data obtained and lessons learned from six months of fangameplay will give Blizzard excellent information with which to balance the classes.
The rest of the preview is a must-read for anyone excited about this add-on, which should be released this summer for the Mac.

Lurker Lounge Diablo II Expansion Preview
Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

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Warcraft III Races, Release Date
5:30 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Blizzard has released an announcement, finalizing the number of four playable races in Warcraft III. While some fans may be disappointed at the announcement (since it was originally planned to have six, and up until recently five), this is still more than the company has even tried before. Surely the balancing act of so many races was the largest factor in the decision to only have four, as keeping the game fair for all races is a decidedly-difficult matter. Players will now be able to choose between Humans, Orcs, Night Elves, and Undead. Demons, the fifth race previously thought to be playable, will be used mainly to forward the game's plot.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement detailing each of the races:

Humans. The noble defenders of humanity continue to fight for survival in a world plagued by darkness and war. The humans concentrate their skills in the realms of martial discipline and technology. They alter their environment, use armor, weapons and machines; and domesticate animals. Human units include the Footman, Knight, Elven Priest, Elven Sorceress, Dwarven Mortar Team and Dwarven Rifleman. Human heroes include the Paladin, Arch-Mage, Half-Elven Ranger and the Dwarven Mountain King.

Orcs. The savage Orcs have rallied once again and stand ready to face the terrible demons who corrupted their society long ago. The Orcs rely on brute strength and melee combat. Units used by the Horde include the Grunt, Troll Head Hunter, Wyvern Rider, Shaman and Troll Witch Doctor. Examples of Orc heroes are the Farseer, Blade Master, Tauren Chieftain and Shadow Hunter.

Night Elves. These mysterious, shadowy beings are one of the eldest races of the world. They have emerged from their centuries-long seclusion to defend the world from the coming apocalypse. Units include the Ent, Archer, Sentinel, Assassin, Treant and Hippogryph. Elven heroes are comprised on the Keeper of the Grove, Demon Hunter, Priestess of the Moon and Arch-Druid.

Undead. The plague-ridden undead army known as the Scourge has come from the frozen wastelands of the north to topple civilization in its darkest hour. The undead Scourge is renowned for its ability to generate units on the battlefield. Corpses of fallen foes are very important to the Undead. Several abilities and spells rely on corpses as components for their spells. Undead units include Dredge, Ghoul, Banshee, Necromancer, Gargoyle and Frost Wyrm. Heroes include the Death Knight, Lich, Dread Lord and Abomination.

The PR also provides a new timeline for the game, officially pushing the Mac version into early 2002. It's too bad to see the Mac version's delay, though not surprising that this massive undertaking will not be released by the end of the year, as previously thought. Mac Blizzard fans can look forward to the Diablo II expansion, due out this summer.

Blizzard Finalizes Warcraft III Races
Blizzard Entertainment
WarCraft III
Buy WarCraft III

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The Sims #1 Mac Software in December
4:38 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Westlake's Mark Adams was nice enough to point us in the direction of the new PC Data software sales reports. While it's not a surprise to see The Sims topping the charts, as Mark notes, this is the first time (ever?) that a game tops the sales of all Mac software. According to the data, The Sims outsold software biggies like OS 9, Norton Utilies, and Photoshop. It's not too surprising, then, to see the only other game in the top ten was the add-on pack, Livin' Large, which stands at #6 in the rankings. This certainly shows Mac gaming is picking up, and gives good encouragement that we will see Mac versions of future Sims titles like the House Party expansion or perhaps even any sequels.

In the Mac games top ten, The Sims and Livin Large are followed by the newer Sim Theme Park from Aspyr and Feral. In all, Aspyr and MacSoft (also called Infogrames) each have four titles in the top ten, constituting an impressive portion of total game sales. While these numbers aren't perfect, PC Data says they are based on 42 retail stores, which represents 80% of the total market. Of course, a healthy percentage of Mac software is sold via mail order or the internet, so don't take them to be absolute truth on the matter. To check it out now, go to the PC Data home page and click on 'More Lists' to choose which list you'd like to view.

PC Data Web Site
Aspyr's Web Site for The Sims
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

Freeverse Updates Classic Cribbage
3:24 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Mac shareware developer Freeverse Software has announced an update to their card game Classic Cribbage, bringing this solo and online-play title to version 1.5. Changes in this new version include bug fixes and several new features. Here is the press release:

Freeverse Software announces update to its
popular Classic Cribbage game.

Classic Cribbage is one of the most popular card games on the HMS Freeverse
game server. You can find a human opponent to play against almost anytime.
(The computer players are no slouches either).

Changes In Version 1.5 (Feb 1st, 2001)

- Added latest HMS Freeverse Libraries.
Private messages, "Captain" user administrators, player bios and more.

- Fixed bugs in network messaging and chat length,

- Implemented server-side rankings.

- Misc. other bug fixes.

Requirements for Classic Cribbage:

* OS 8.1 or later

* 10 MB RAM

* 15 MB free hard drive space

Classic Cribbage is a $19.95 shareware title, and a demo of the game is available. Be sure and visit the Freeverse home page and try out more of their many amazing and well-polished titles.

Freeverse Software
Classic Cribbage 1.5

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Mac Summoner Shots
2:13 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GraphSim was nice enough to pass along nine new screen shots of Summoner in action. These are straight from THQ, and should be more crisp than previous Playstation 2-based images you might have seen in the past. We spoke briefly with GraphSim, and they assure us the texture resolutions for both the Mac and PC versions are the same. Volition started both Mac and PC versions in 3dfx's Glide API, and are now converting the game to use OpenGL. With Glide support already available, though, Voodoo owners should have no problem running the game in either mode.

Though they're cautious to give an exact date, the wait for Summoner shouldn't be too much longer. Mac and PC builds are progressing well and could be available within the next several months. We'll be sure to keep you posted when more exact details are known.

IMG Mac Summoner Screen Shots
Buy Summoner

The Future of 3D Gaming
1:30 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

Gamespot has written an interesting article on the technology of 3D cards and the future of T&L (Transform and Lighting) technology. While the article is centered around PC cards, both ATi and Nvidia's Mac cards have support for at least basic T&L. The article is a definite must for users wanting to learn more about the future of 3D hardware and the effect it may have on future games. Here is an excerpt:

"T&L" has been well and truly welded into the marketing vocabulary of chip and card manufacturers for at least a year now. According to every other press release it's the saviour of games, promising dazzling lighting effects, detail-rich backgrounds and more pure 3D speed to our polygon-driven virtual gaming worlds.

Proof of T&L's popularity came last month when 3dfx threw in the towel, announcing it was to cease production of all Voodoo cards and sell off its Mexican production plant, instead concentrating on selling chips to other manufacturers. This means we now won't see the much-touted, three foot-long VSA-based 6000 card, which is no bad thing because its clumsy design was getting beyond a joke. The cumbersome beast used four bulky fans to keep everything cool, leaving very little room inside your PC's box for anything else!

As Apple writes more advanced features into their OpenGL implementation (in conjunction with ATi and Nvidia), Mac owners of Radeon or Geforce 2 MX cards will reap the benefits of the added eye candy. Read the rest of the article for more insight into those confusing terms thrown around by PC hardware reviewers.

The Future of 3D Graphics at GameSpot

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More Red Faction
1:10 PM | Toby Allen | Comment on this story

The Daily Telefrag has posted an interview with James Tsai, assistant producer for Volition's upcoming next generation shooter Red Faction. The interview is very informative, with some intersting new information about the progress of the game. As you probably know, Red Faction features the Geo-Mod engine, which allows players to destroy portions of a level with their weapons in real time.

From the amazing screen shots seen so far of the game, many players might be concerned about its system requirments. Volition now estimates Red Faction will run on a Pentium II-200, which is probably the equivalent of a mid-range G3. There is also talk of support for bump-mapping. This is the process in which a texture gets deformed using another texture, creating more realistic effects. Here are some interesting details:

ALIEN: What will the system requirements of Red Faction look like in 2001? Will the game support new videocards' features such as bump-mapping and others?

James Tsai: We're targeting systems with a P2-400, Voodoo 2 class video card, and 64 MB of RAM as having the minimum requirements to run Red Faction. As for advanced features on new cards, gamers will see hardware T&L and possibly bump-mapping.

The Mac OS version is being done in-house by Volition, with GraphSim publishing. Both Mac and PC versions will follow the initial Playstation 2 build later this year.

Red Faction Web Site
The Daily Telefrag's Red Faction Interview
Red Faction

Marathon Editing Mysteries Revealed
9:56 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

While many older titles have long since been discarded in the digital graveyards, the Marathon universe seemingly still has secrets to plunder. Marathon community stalwart and crafter of odd press releases Gary L. Simmons has once again updated his page of all things related to this game with more articles, tutorials and stuff. Here is a list of new additions, straight from The Artist Formerly Known as Battle Cat:

Hamish Sanderson and Chris Komarnicki - Custom Icons and Unique Creator
Codes -

Hamish and Chris have conspired together to produce a missing portion of the
HAS EditNotes. Chris tells me that if you wring Hamishes lungs he sings
like a bluejay and sing he did, here is some great new material from 2
talented geeks plus other new material that makes this version of EditNotes
the most up to date on any planet.

Claude Errera - Marathon Installers -

Everything you need to know about creating your own scenario installers. If
you prefer, you can just dump it in Claude’s lap and he will create an
installer for you PLUS he will sort of treat you to lunch too... er, after
you expose his brain a bit...

Quartz’ Quarry - What’s a Hitpoint Worth? -

Just ask a hitman. Quartz takes you down that road of damage and pain and
explains why the number of shots it takes to kill a monster, according to
the math, and the number of shots in "Real Life™" don't add up. What is odd
is that it is NOT odd that Quartz refers to Marathon as “Real Life™”, but
that is why we tune in and that is what makes him a master Marathon geek.

Mark Levin - Physics Model Reference -

Here is a comprehensive guide to all those mysterious flags, integers and
interrelations in that black box known as Physics Models by a man I call my
Resident Expert. If you pick the mind of this master you will want to go
back for his nose and yes, that snot a good joke.

Chris Komarnicki - Killing Time Tutorials -

Got some time to kill? Kill it here with some fabulous tips by the author
of the scenario, “Marathon: Killing Time”. This guy has no corporate
secrets and shares everything with you from laser dot sniper scopes, to
breakable windows, to duct taping a flashlight under a shotgun for the
coolest and most overdue effects I have seen in Marathon.

If you thought this now-ancient title and engine had divested all of its secrets, it seems this team of diehards are still down in the mines, searching for those last few nuggets of gold. If it all went over your head -- well, lovers of Marathon esoterica are few and far between these days. For those of you still Forging ahead, be sure and pay a visit to Gary's page.

Gary L. Simmons' Marathon Forge and Anvil Tips

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Warren Spector Q&A
9:31 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The film site Cheese and Whine has scored an interesting interview with Deus Ex's lead designer Warren Spector. They ask a number of questions about games and moving the FPS genre forward, as well as many from a movie-oriented point of view. Spector gets to talk more about his philosophy of games, including his drive to move them towards realism and interactivity. Here's an excerpt with more:

You've also stated that you'd love to make a game in the vein of Jean Renoir's 'Le Grande Illusion', however you're still relegated to the Action genre, again due to technological limitations. Although character drama is still a long way off, what other genres would you consider a bit closer to interactive realization?

I'm not sure we're as far off from making a game about how people interact with one another socially and culturally (which is what I mean by a game in the vein of Grande Illusion) as you might think. Mostly I'm frustrated at my own inability to figure out how to make such a game at all, how to convince someone to fund it and then how to convince people to buy it! Basically, I think we're a couple of whacks-on-the-side-of-the-head, creative leaps away from characters who can make you feel something without firing a virtual gun at you. Once someone figures out how to make talking to a virtual character as compelling as shooting at him or her, once we figure out how to make intuiting a character's motivation as interesting as moving boxes around to solve a puzzle, we'll start seeing some very cool games. But I think the problem here is one of creativity not technology. I hope so!

Read through the rest of the Q&A for more of Spector's thoughts on game design. He's still tight-lipped about Deus Ex 2, but once anything is announced, you can be sure we'll pass it along.

Cheese and Whine Q&A with Warren Spector
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Red Faction Site Update, Preview
8:43 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

The official Red Faction web site has received a facelift, and in celebration Volition has released new screen shots and movies from the game in action. Check out the characters section for a new picture of each next to their description. The PC and PS2 shots are amazing, as well, so be sure to give them a look. The features page is also now up-to-date with the latest information on the specifics of the title.

If you're looking for more of a rundown of Red Faction, Action Vault recently posted their experience with the game after having the chance to play it. While the Geo-Mod engine has received a lot of press, there are many other features to the game like the storyline, graphics, and vehicles which should make it very exciting. Here's a clip:

In addition to the selection of weapons, Parker can also make use of five different vehicles for various types of terrain. Among these are two ground vehicles, a jeep and an armored personnel carrier, plus a flying fighter aircraft, a mini-sub and a huge drilling machine reminiscent of the movie Total Recall. According to Lawrance, Red Faction also contains some other similarities to the film, but none that were intentionally borrowed from it. In any case, he did note that the vehicle usage is limited to certain parts of the story by factors such as terrain, fuel and ammunition. Each vehicle has its own 3D cockpit and weapons, and they can become weapons themselves when used to run over unfortunate adversaries.
Check out both the new web site and the Action Vault report for the latest on Red Faction. GraphSim will be publishing the Mac version of the game, which should be available soon after the PC build early this summer.

Action Vault Red Faction Report
Red Faction Web Site
Red Faction

Mac Games News for Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Tranquility Re-Launches, Lowers Cost2:40 PM
MOO3 Interviews Offer Details, Release Date1:35 PM
Summoner Movies, Stills10:19 AM
Mac Q3:A Status Report10:18 AM
On MMORPGs and Player as Author9:58 AM
Mac OpenGL Doom Needs Testers9:11 AM
Diablo II 1.05 Patch Released9:04 AM
Combat Mission Mods8:33 AM
Cyan Becomes Cyan Worlds6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, January 31, 2001 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Tuesday, January 30, 2001
Monday, January 29, 2001
Friday, January 26, 2001
Thursday, January 25, 2001
Wednesday, January 24, 2001

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