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Monday, Mar 06, 2000

  

SoF Q&A

GameSurge has posted a Q&A with Raven Software's Brian Raffel, talking to him about their nearly-complete action title, Soldier of Fortune. While brief, Brian does talk a little about the possibility of a sequel, as shown in this excerpt:

If Soldier does as well as I think we will have a mission pack and a sequel. I have already taken steps to secure John Mullins (our mercenary) for the sequel and this time I want the all the missions to be based off of real scenarios that the military have had to do. I would also like to add more gore zones like affecting the hands and feet as well as more unique animations. If we have time I would like to implement our skeletal system so we can fit more animations in general.

Blizzard Fallout

Warcraft III.net is reporting that three former executive members of Blizzard Entertainment, Pat Wyatt (Vice President of Research and Development), Mike O'Brien (Company Director) and Jeff Strain (reportedly the Team Lead and Lead Programmer of an unannounced title) have left to start their own company, called Triforge. This news has been confirmed with Blizzard, who added that while they are sorry to see them go, they do not anticipate any delays on titles in development. No announcement about any future titles from the startup have been made at this time.

Voodoo 2 Windows 2000 Drivers

3dfx has posted beta Windows 2000 drivers for Voodoo 2 based cards (thanks Voodoo Extreme). These beta drivers are based on their NT4 drivers (making this equivalent to the unsupported "hacked" drivers floating around), and support Glide and OpenGL (according to 3dfx, "DirectX switches to software rendering").

Force Commander Gold

LucasArts has announced that Force Commander, their 3D strategy game, has gone gold, and will be on store shelves as soon as the week of March 20th (thanks Chris Ryan). In other Force Commander news, StarWars.com has posted a feature on the game, complete with new screenshots.

Baldur's Gate II Q&A

New Reality Gaming has posted a Q&A with an unnamed representative from BioWare, talking about their upcoming RPG Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, which will reportedly take 100 - 150 hours to complete (!).

Star Trek: Armada Screenshots

The official Star Trek: Armada site has been updated with a new page of screenshots, showing off the The Klingon Empire's fleet of starships and special weapons in Activision's space-based RTS.

Parsec Demo Patch

Parsec.org has released a patch for the self-running demo of Parsec that was released last week (story), which fixes a startup problem for Win95 users. It's not needed if you run another OS.

Shadow Watch Demo

Red Storm has officially released the Shadow Watch demo for download. When this demo surfaced on the Internet last week, Red Storm stated this wasn't an official demo and requested not to post it, but obviously they have changed their minds now. Shadow Watch is an isometric turn-based strategy title in a retro, comic look that is scheduled for a release next month.

Earth 2150 Preview

There is a new preview of Earth 2150 on GamePower, looking ahead to this 3D real-time strategy title by TopWare that is already out in Europe. As is their custom, they have included a brief Q&A, with producer Jim Tso, and some movie footage of the gameplay.

Wizardry 8 Interview

GA-RPG has posted an interview on Wizardry 8, the latest, 3D installment in the long-running RPG series by Sirtech. Project leader Linda Currie talks in detail about the game's features, and there are several new screenshots as well.

Cliffy B. Interview

incitegames has posted a strange interview with Epic's Cliff Bleszinski. If you're looking for in-depth commentary on the making of Unreal Tournament, you won't find it here, but you will find Cliff talking about how he wants to make, "sweet, sweet love to our customers down by the fire" and other oddball topics.

Q3A Beta Mirrors

As promised, here are local copies of all three versions of the Quake III Arena point release beta 1.16m, complete with mirrors:

New Quake III Arena Beta

As reflected in Robert Duffy's .plan update, beta version 1.16m of the Quake III Arena point release has been posted to id's FTP site (we'll have a local copy and mirrors up shortly). Here are the details:

A new point release beta is out and on the FTP. We anticipate removing the beta tag in the very near future. We have been doing a lot of testing on connection issues, cheat preventions, auto-downloading as well as running a lot of the new mods through it. Things look good, some of the mods heading our way look fantastic!

This also contains a CTF version of Q3Tourney6 which is tons of fun for 2 on 2 CTF.

One key thing is that when connecting to a pure server both sides will have to be using the latest point release as we updated the pak2.pk3. This is not much of an issue once this version propogates a bit but it is something to keep in mind.

There are 3 issues of note with this version ( 2 of them Linux only )

- ZFree errors, on some Linux systems you may see ZFree allocation errors. This happens mostly when fiddling with the mouse etc. during map loads. We are looking into this ( as is Loki ).
- Mods directory does not show mods ( Linux only )
- Starting a team game with bots does not automatically assign the player ( you ) to a team.

As before, please forward bug and other information to raduffy@idsoftware.com

SWAT 3 Postmortem

Gamasutra has posted one of their usual game postmortems, and this time, unusually, it's for a game that was released fairly recently: SWAT3: Close Quarters Battle. In the article, lead programmer Jim Napier examines what kind of game they set out to create, how they achieved that goal, and what went right and wrong along the way. A recommended read if you're interested in this tactical first-person action game by Sierra Studios.

Maya SDK Announced

Just in time for the Game Developer's Conference, Check Six Games has announced the Maya Real-Time SDK, a set of code libraries available through Alias|Wavefront to help designers put,"Hollywood quality content in their games"(obviously they've never seen a Pauly Shore movie). Screenshots from the engine have been posted at GA-Source, and here's an excerpt from the press release:

MARINA DEL REY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 6, 2000--After a year spent building the ultimate game development tool kit for next-generation hardware, the Maya Real Time SDK(TM), Check Six Studios will unveil much of the technology behind the tool that truly will help game developers begin putting Hollywood-quality content in their games.

Exclusively available through Alias/Wavefront, the Maya Real Time SDK is a set of code libraries for implementing 3-D rendering, dynamics, animation, character animation, inverse kinematics and particle systems, used for authoring game and simulation applications. It is seamlessly integrated with Maya to create a clean and efficient workflow from art tool to application.

``It's amazing to us that what started off as an ambitious idea we had about how to converge Hollywood and the gaming industry has turned into the Maya Real Time SDK,'' said Brent Oster, president, Check Six Studios. ``The Check Six technology team comes from all aspects of the game industry -- hardware, PC games, console games, animation software.

``We used this combined knowledge to build what everyone told us couldn't be done -- a real-time 3-D renderer that provides animations which rival what you'll see on the big screen, as well as an integrated animation and dynamics engine that truly brings movie-like interactive content to life.''

Tim Sweeney Interview

E-tailer CheckOut.com has posted an interview with Tim Sweeney, the programming madman behind the Unreal engine. Tim talks about Epic's history, the upcoming importance of console systems for developers, the mod community, and even touches on a favorite subject of mine, Infocom's classic text-adventure, Zork.

Soldier of Fortune in Final QA

According to Raven Sofware programmer John Scott's .plan update, Soldier of Fortune, their Quake II engine title, is now in release-candidate QA testing. Here's an excerpt from his full .plan update, which goes into far more detail about all the stuff in the game than is listed here:

Soldier of Fortune is now with Release QA. This means that we have eliminated all known bugs found at Raven and by Activision's QAs around the world. Release QA verify that we have fixed everything and go through a set list of criteria that the game must pass. They also give the game a thorough QA pass making sure the regular QA didn't miss anything. The lawyers also get the last chance to stick a spanner in the works. If all goes well (which has never happened), this process will take 5-7 days. It is most likely that they will come back with a few minor issues and we'll have to start the process over again. If they found nothing, then they wouldn't be doing their job :)

After Release QA give their OK, the duplicators and distributors take over....

Also on the CD comes the Heretic2 demo, the Battlezone2 demo, the Vampire trailer, DirectX 7.0a, the monolithic install of GLSetup, WONSwap and all the usual help files (quickstart guide, manual, compatibility guide).

...This is all the versions of Sof (US, UK, french, German). In all non German versions there is the option for English, American or french text, the German version has only German. You will require a specific build for localized dialog.

All versions have the violence locked out for Germany and German speaking countries (this includes Luxembourg, Austria Liechtenstein and Switzerland). Please direct flames to the German government, not us, regarding this.

Soldier of Fortune Shots

In other Soldier of Fortune news, French games site GameData has posted a whopping 68 new screenshots from the game, showing off a wide variety of missions and locations. As we always point out, to translate any of the French text, be sure to squish a Babel Fish in your ear.

Tropico Announced

PopTop Software, the company behind Railroad Tycoon II, has announced Tropico, a new, "3D building, strategy and simulation game" (thanks GA-Strategy). The game's official site features the full press release, along with the first two screenshots from the game, which will be published for PC and Macintosh later this year, and in early 2001 for the Dreamcast. Tropico features a radically overhauled version of their S3D engine, which was used to power Railroad Tycoon II.

GameStock Article

Thresh's Firing Squad has written up an article with their impressions of all the games at Microsoft's GameStock last week. The games include Mechwarrior 4, Mechcommander 2, Dungeon Siege and Starlancer amongst others, and they've even posted thoughts on Microsoft's new hardware, including their oddball RTS controller.

Urban Operations Screenshots

Since the feedback on their first batch of screenshots from Rogue Spear: Urban Operations (the upcoming add-on for Rogue Spear) was so positive, SimHQ has posted another massive batch of screenshots from their build of the game. These new shots show off the multiplayer levels, as well as the new Rogue Spear versions of the original Rainbow Six maps.

Hired Team Shots

GA-Source has posted some new screenshots from New Media Generation's upcoming first person action game Hired Team, which show off the environment mapped bump-mapping in their original SHINE engine.

Incoming Forces Shots

New screenshots and preliminary information from Incoming Forces, Rage's sequel to Incoming, have been posted at GA-Strategy. The game uses their Blitter Generation II engine, and features more strategy elements than the original game, "allowing the player to research and develop their own new craft and weapons."

Soldier of Fortune Diary

Raven's Eric Biessman is overwhelmed with work finishing up Soldier of Fortune, so this week's edition of SoF Center's Soldier of Fortune diary is penned by Kenn Hoekstra, Raven's Project Administrator. Kenn talks about the company's new promotional philosophy that started with SoF, which includes an increased community outreach via .plan files, message boards, and more.

X-COM: Alliance Interview

GameSpot UK has conducted an interview with Microprose's Christopher David Clark (designer), Martin DeRiso (producer) and Chris Coon (Lead Programmer) about their work on X-COM: Alliance, an upcoming Unreal-engine, team-based first person action game set in the X-COM universe. Alongside the interview is a new preview of the game, which features some new screenshots.

Deep Space Nine Preview

Also new at GameSpot UK this morning, is a new preview of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen, Simon & Schuster Interactive's third-person Unreal engine title. The preview features a few new screenshots (among familiar ones) from the game, that is being developed by The Collective.

Tim Sweeney Interview

GameSpy.com has posted a new interview with Epic's Tim Sweeney, talking to him about the features and benefits of their Unreal engine. The interview reads like a promotional brochure for the Unreal engine at times, but Tim does talk a little about some of their upcoming features. Here's an excerpt:

We'll shortly be releasing our new skeletal animation system for licensees and the Unreal community; shortly after that, a supercool terrain system--already up and running--that moves the Unreal engine into the realm of large, detailed outdoor environments; and support for Windows, PlayStation2, Linux, and (when the time comes) X-Box.

There will be a lot more after that. We've always stayed on top of the latest technology and hardware support, and are in the early stages of radically cooler new features. But we're also trying to be up-front here, promoting and promising what we have up and running well today, rather than the far-off speculative stuff.

Unreal Movie Studio Released

Version 1.22 of the Unreal Movie Studio, a program used to make demo movies for Unreal Tournament, has been released and is available for download at Machinima.com. To get you started, there are three tutorials already posted at the UMS site, with three more on the way shortly.

Kingpin Disarray

Ryan "Ridah" Feltrin, one-time programmer at Xatrix, the recently-closed company that created Kingpin: Life of Crime, updated his .plan describing what's up with the network code for the game, and the timing of the release of the SDK and its subsquent updates, which he frankly describes as having left Kingpin in a state of disarray. Here's the story:

I would like to take some time to explain a few things regarding some comments I've recently read on the Shack boards.

First, regarding the status of the Kingpin netcode.

This is something I have looked at several times, after hearing some negative feedback from a few users. Each time I've looked into it, I have failed to find any hard evidence of network code inefficiencies.

I did spend a fair chunk of time cutting network traffic both during and after the completion of Kingpin. I introduced more delta compression in the entity packet stream, moved chunks of server code over to the client, and removed single-player legacy fields that were not important to multiplayer gaming.

This does not equate to better network code, but it does at least suggest that we made an effort to make things better, even if the end result is that the network conditions will eventually decide whether the game is playable or not.

There is no action game made to date, that can seemlessly counter an unreliable or lack of network bandwidth between you and the server.

My advice is to look for a server with a consistent ping in your server browser. If a dozen pings return a wide range of times, it's probably not a very reliable server, and will likely result in higher packet-loss.

Another thing to keep in mind, as that a higher percentage of win32 servers are likely to be sitting on a cable or DSL link (read: unpredictable) than are linux servers, which often sit on T1 or OC-x level connections (read: reliable).

Unfortunately, Kingpin has a high percentage of servers running on win32, which increases the chances of players ending up on unreliable servers, due to the typical links these machines are behind, and the likelyhood that they are used for more than just a Kingpin server.

Secondly, the timing of the Kingpin SDK might not have been ideal, but given the release schedule of the binary patches, it just didn't make sense to put out the SDK until the game was all patched up. Unfortunately I was unable to compile the 1.21 release for Linux at the time of release, so that was left at v1.2, and the v1.21 SDK was released only with win32 components.

This has left Kingpin in a state of dissarry.

Several changes have occured since the v1.21 release, which means I am not in the position to make statements regarding any future releases, since Kingpin is now officially the property of a company I no longer work for. All I can say, is that I will do the best I can to alleviate the situation.

Nocturne Missions

There is a new mission from Terminal Reality's Rick Felice on Spookhouse, while the Spookhouse Downloads page also offers downloads of fan-created missions for Terminal Reality's third-person action/horror game. Rick's new mission is titled Motel666, which is described as "NOT the kind of place you want to spend the night."

Urban Ops Preview

There is a preview of Rogue Spear: Urban Operations on CombatSim.Com looking ahead at the upcoming expansion for Rogue Spear, itself the sequel to Rainbow Six, Red Storm Entertainment's tactical first-person shooter. The preview features a bunch of screenshots and a look ahead at the pack which will offer new maps and new weapons, fixes for a few multiplayer issues as well as upgrades to terrorist AI and abilities. The piece also discusses new game types in the pack, and the new custom mission builder. Thanks SpecForce.

Vampire Screenshots

They may not cast reflections in mirrors, but they sure do show up in screenshots, as there are vampires galore on display in Vampire.WON.net's Vampire Gallery with no less than 56 screenshots from Vampire: The Masquerade--Redemption, Nihilistic Software's upcoming third-person RPG. Thanks RPG Vault.

Tech Bits

FAQ Updates

A new release of the Half-Life Opposing Force FAQ/Walkthrough on GameFAQs is now available, updating it to version 1.03. The new version offers new Easter eggs and cheat codes, as well as various other changes. Likewise, their Quake III Arena FAQ/Strategy Guide has also been updated, adding bits about console commands, a list of web resources, and various miscellaneous corrections.

Shadows of Reality Music

Homepage of Erik Lydén has an .mp3 music clip from Nevolution's Shadows Of Reality. It is a background tune from the 'Dorm' level of this upcoming Unreal-engine cyber-punk RPG. If you are into gaming music, there's a James Grote interview on Damage Gaming talking with the author of the Songs for Deathmatch 2 game music CD.

GLQuake for Macintosh

Version 0.5 of GLQuake for Macintosh is now available, offering a Mac port of the public Quake source code. Among the changes in this release over the game's original behavior is the newfound ability to run commands from the console, allowing a wider variety of third-party mods to run on the Mac version.

Q3A mIRC Ping Utility

sYx66's Site has a small mIRC script that allows you to ping Quake III Arena servers from an IRC session. The script, an update of a similar script for Quake II, will allow you to join a game by double-clicking.

Nerf Quake II

Version 1.5 of Nerf Quake II is now available, adding new game types and altering the behavior of the weapons to be more like Nerf guns. The new version also includes a new front-end for the mod. Word is to delete your old directory before installing the new version if you've played previous releases.

Linux OZ Deathmatch for Half-Life

The Oz Deathmatch page has a new version 1.7 of the Linux port of Oz Deathmatch for Half-Life. Oz DM is a H-L front-end that allows server admins to change many of the game's settings without changing game dll's.

UT Tetris

Demonstrating the power and flexibility of the scripting language in Unreal Tournament, Tetris! for Uwindows Standard Edition is now available, offering a full-featured Tetris clone (including patented WhereDidTheTimeGo™ technology) that plays within the UT GUI.

UT Scripting Utility

Cambone's Crypt is a simple "almost non awe-inspiring website" that serves as a roof over the head of Campone's Unreal Script Editor. The current release is version 0.70 alpha, which mainly supports Custom Syntax Highlighting and Command Line Execution.

Competitions: Carmack at CPL

Word from the Cyberathlete Professional League is that id Software Lead Programmer John Carmack will be offering a workshop on coding 3D games at the upcoming Razer/CPL event in Dallas. The session will be Friday, April 14th at 4:00 PM CST, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Running a bit late this morning, but this will help keep normal people hours (ooh, look... the Sun!), as the BlueJet is being serviced and readied for a trip later this week to the Game Developer's Conference in San Jose, CA. Anyway, time is too fleeting for a ramble, so if you feel I've deprived you here, a suggested alternative to reading a typical Out of the Blue is to skip your morning coffee and whack yourself in the head a few times with something like a telephone receiver.... you'll never know the difference. =]

Happy Birthday to the CPL's Angel Munoz, 40 years young today.

Link of the Day: Beaver County Militia Photo Recon, offering an expose on A.O.G. (Amish Occupied Government), MIB (Mennonites in Black), and all manner of other startling conspiracies. Thanks Tom Byers.
Story of the Day: Imagining First Contact (Wired). Thanks Cannelbrae. "Every year a group of renowned scientists, writers, and artists gets together to simulate space explorers and aliens meeting for the first time." Apparently this is what happens when the D&D generation starts getting grants.
Bonus Story: Salon Technology: Can't take a joke, regarding the JoeCartoon site, a former Link of the Day. Thanks elvis.



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