Archived News:

Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Smaller Ground Control Demo

Declaring: "doing the download just got faster," Won.net's Ground Control page has been updated with a new streamlined version of the Ground Control demo, now a svelte 45 MB after starting at 109 MB before the Jenny Craig treatment. Apparently this is a case of 'less filling,' but still 'tastes great,' as it seems the slimmed down demo offers all the content of the original.

Deus Ex Date

A report on the Adrenaline Vault says that Deus Ex, ION Storm's upcoming Unreal-engine action/RPG, is expected in stores on June 30. Thanks Stormtroopers.

Detonator 2 Reference Drivers

Breaking from a tradition of almost never posting reference drivers, the NVIDIA website has the release of new Detonator 2 reference drivers for NVIDIA TNT, TNT2, TNT2-Ultra, Quadro, GeForce, or GeForce2 GTS-based accelerators, and more. Thanks nV News.

Voodoo5 Shipments Resume

3dfx Resumes Shipping Voodoo5 5500 AGP is a 3dfx press release announcing that 3dfx has resumed shipments of the Voodoo5 5500 accelerators, and according to the release, going on to say, "The expected date for retailers to have the Voodoo5 5500 on their shelves is June 9, 2000." Also, the 3dfx website has been updated with new photos of the Voodoo 5 6000 showing changes to the layout of the board since prototypes were seen at Comdex.

Star Trek Armada Tools

Armada Home has word of the release of the Star Trek: Armada ODF files and SOD utilities, available as unsupported betas to allow users to customize their own objects for Star Trek: Armada. According to the update, they really are unsupported: "As unsupported tools the utilities and any functionality relating to them may cause unforeseen issues with Armada that cannot be supported by Activision Customer Support."

Baldur's Gate II Mania

There's a new Baldur's Gate 2 movie on incite offers "exclusive gameplay footage and producer interviews originally aired on the incite PC Gaming CD-ROM. The actual size of the movie is approximately 50MB." If that's just getting your juices flowing for the upcoming sequel to the AD&D role-playing game, there's a Baldur's Gate II Developer Profile James Ohlen on RPG Vault playing getting to know you with a member of the development team, kicking off a series of such profiles.

New Q3A T.E.C.

The techno T.E.C. Page ("touch my monkey!") has a new beta 1 of version 2.0 of T.E.C. for Quake III Arena. T.E.C. was originally intended to bring some Quake II CTF feel to Q3A, but has evolved to the point where it features things like an off-hand grappling hook, nine different techs, new scoring principles, and much more.

On Apogee (3DRealms) & Reviews

It started with a thread called Apogee(r) Bans Negative Reviews? on PlanetCrap which was picked up by Slashdot Apogee(r) Bans Negative Reviews? that suggests Apogee (3DRealms) is implementing a license agreement that would ban negative reviews. Since it doesn't seem likely that there was a way to litigate this, we contacted 3D Realms to ask about these stories before posting about them to see if we could clear this up. According to the response we received from Apogee President Scott Miller, there is no cause for concern:
A standard response to the madness! :-)

I must say this is just entirely too funny. And a sad commentary on how little most people understand law.

I will say that anyone who thinks we are trying to control reviews and such are jumping on a bandwagon without really giving it proper consideration. Legally, that's entirely impossible -- but then, most people know less about law than they do making ice. ;-)

This policy/agreement simply allows fan sites to use our trademarks and copyright character art, etc. Most developers/publishers do not allow this at all. End of story. We are providing a way for them to do so, though. Lay people, of course, read this policy and become panic mongers. This policy is only for owners of web sites who wish to use our trademarks and copyrights, like www.3dportal.com. Somehow, someone found a link to it and of course jumps to the wrong conclusion, because...hey...it then can become a hot topic. Yippee. Don't we live in a fun society?

We might need to make it more clear that reviews are--of course!--not what concern us (nor could we legally prevent negative reviews--that's patently absurd). It's a web site using our logos next to overly foul, abusive, racist, etc. language or art. For example, we would not allow our logos to be used on a porn site.

Back to important work... <g>

Valve Interview

LatestUpdates interviews Wright Bagwell talking with the Valve Software level designer about a variety of topics, going into his background in the industry (which includes work on Cavedog's ill-fated Amen: The Awakening), as well as before (a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience!), how to get a job like his, whether jobs like his are cushy, and a whole lot more.

SoF Interview

Taking a cue from ESPN host Roy Firestone, nearly all the questions on Stomped's Soldier of Fortune interview are longer than their answers, but the Q&A still offers plenty of info, including a clarification that WON does not cause any lag to be added during multiplayer games, when to expect the non-beta version 1.05 as well as what it will entail, and vague references to the future, with Raven's Eric Biessman saying "I don't want to go into any specifics at the moment, but we are currently working on extra content for SoF," adding this about whether that means there will be an expansion pack for Soldier of Fortune: "There are various ideas around, but nothing is set in stone. I wish that I had a better answer, but I don't."

Soldier Screenshots

There are three new Soldier screenshots on Beta Bites along with a feature list for the third-person shooter, where we learn that you: "Play either as Todd, a first-generation Soldier and utilize his brute force strength, or as Sandra the rebel Settler who possesses speed and agility."

On JAS and LGS

A post on Through the Looking Glass indicates that in spite of the petition to save it (story), EA is not going to fund continued development of Jane's Attack Fighters. The post goes on to thank everyone (especially the tireless Zdim) for their support. Also, Reasons for the Fall- A Post-Mortem On Looking Glass Studios tries to sort out the facts behind the closing, in many cases using folks at the developer as their source.

On 3dfx & NVIDIA

Startups - Nvidia, 3dfx Headed In Opposite Directions on Forbes is a lengthy article that looks at the changing fortunes the two rival graphics chipset companies. Thanks Richard Rousselot. Here's how the piece kicks off:
Companies always talk up the importance of execution. But in the market for graphics chips, where new products have shorter lives than a Star Trek extra, execution can make or break you.

And thereby hangs the tale of two companies. One, Nvidia (nasdaq: NVDA), based in Santa Clara, Calif., has just about the sharpest execution in the semiconductor industry, an ability to churn out products that has some analysts comparing it to Intel (nasdaq: INTC). The other, San Jose-based 3dfx Interactive (nasdaq: TDFX), executes more like Old Sparky, the Florida electric chair that has a nasty habit of setting the condemned man's hair on fire.

What makes these two neighbors a good case study is that last year at this time, they were on just about equal footing in the market for powerful 3-D chips--the technology responsible for the explosions, car wrecks and machine-gun fire in your kid's PC video games. Shares of both companies were trading at $20, and it was anybody's guess which company would prevail. But 3dfx dropped the ball, enduring major delays in bringing new versions of its Voodoo chips to market, while Nvidia chugged merrily along with TNT and GeForce chips that not only came out on time but garnered rave reviews from the gaming press.

New ICQ

The ICQ Downloads page has a new ICQ 2000a Beta v.4.31 build #3143 for download. Word is the new release offers an improved connection and additional firewall settings. Thanks File Flash.

Kenn Hoekstra Interview

CheckOut Games has conducted an interview with Kenn Hoekstra, project administrator on Soldier of Fortune at Raven. The interview deals with Soldier of Fortune, with Kenn talking about their GHOUL modeling system, SoF consultant John Mullins and the inevitable question about a possible sequel, which he says they are actually doing preliminary work on already (even though it's not officially in development). Here's an excerpt:
Soldier of Fortune 2 is far from a sure thing at this point, but we are nevertheless doing some preliminary work on the game. I'm guessing you can expect a deeper story, more John Mullins, more weapons and more flash than the original game. If we do a sequel, we're going to spare no expense to make a worthy sequel. There's no point in doing if you're not going all the way.

Independence War 2 Shots

A Talent for War has received three new screenshots from Independence War II: The Edge of Chaos. The shots are in high-resolution (1280x1024) and are the three at the top of their screenshots page.

Vampire Preview

The game's gone gold (story) but to tide you over until Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption hits the store shelves in about a week or so, WomenGamers has posted a beta diary that chronicles the author's experience playing through a beta version of the full game.

Descent 3 Patch

Outrage has released a version 1.4 patch, along with the SDK for version 1.4 on their website. The patch had previously been available via the game's auto-update system, but it is now available as a separate download. This new version adds a limited auto-download system for mods in addition to other changes and fixes.

Starfleet Command II Diary

The first installment of Starfleet Universe's Starfleet Command II diary is online. This edition features Taldren's Joshua Morris explaining the current status of Starfleet Command Volume II: Empires at War, focusing mainly on the various members of the team and their current duties.

Baldur's Gate II Gallery

A brief preview of Baldur's Gate II is up at GameSpot UK. The preview features some details on the game's plot, monsters and engine, as well as new concept artwork and a 24 image screenshot gallery.

Chatting Away

Today at 4:00 EDT (1:00 PDT) IGN is holding a chat session with James Hague, a PS2 programmer on Summoner at Volition. Join in by going to IGN's chat page. Also, later on at 9:00 EDT (6:00 PDT) RPG Vault is conducting a chat with a number of people from Black Isle's Icewind Dale team.

Black & White Diary

GameSpy.com has posted the fourth installment of their Black & White development diary. In this month's edition, Lionhead writer James Leach discusses the development of the game's engine, which allows for remarkable scaling and detail in the world's terrain.

Vampire Shots & More

GameSpot's Vampire Impressions and Brand-New Screens and GA-RPG's preview of Vampire: The Masquerade-Redemption, both look at Nihilistic's upcoming third-person action/RPG that just went gold (story), each piece illustrated by a bunch of new screenshots. Also, it almost goes without saying at this point, the Vampire Vault's screenshot gallery has been updated with another dozen shots, doubling their previous daily load since the beta NDA has been lifted. Finally, an update to Rob (Innerloop) Huebner's .plan gives word on plans for a playable demo, and an SDK:
Well, there's nothing more cliche than a .plan that says "We're gold" but since the opportunity only comes along every couple years these days, what the heck. Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption US release is in duplication and will show up at your local mall/etailer/warehouse store on June 7 or 8th!

We're busily working on a playable demo and also putting together the "NOD SDK version 1.0" which will document all the file formats and so on. We hope to have a preliminary version of the SDK available by June 7, although some of the tools might lag behind a bit to polish them a bit more for public consumption. More detailed info about the demo content and dates will be forthcoming.

The SDK will include:

Embrace editor (modified from QERadiant)
NOT object template editor
NOD viewer (standalone 3D model & LOD viewer)
Documentation for file formats: NOD, NAD, NAM, NAG, NSC, and many others.
HTML documentation for the CODEX Java API (via JavaDoc)
Source code for all Java classes and game scripts
Introduction to using Embrace and other starting documents

Thanks to everyone who participated in the beta and on our web board during development!

Black & White Movies

You know by now that headline doesn't refer to film noire, but rather footage of or about Black & White, Lionhead's upcoming role-playing/strategy god game. There are a pair of new mpg-format movies up on The Citadel, one of the movies is about 6 MB, and shows designer Peter Molyneux announcing the open-sourcing of Black & White, while the other is a whopping 42 MB, and features a lengthy interview with Richard Evans, who is programming the AI in B&W.

Tech Bits

Battle Isle Beta

Blue Byte is now signing up beta testers for Battle Isle The Andosia War, a new installment in a series of turn-based strategy games that has been keeping quiet for about five years now. The test, which will include over 2000 participants, will begin on June 13, and will be conducted entirely over the Internet to test the game's multiplayer capabilities. Registration of testers begins today on their website and will follow on several partner websites during the next few days.

Consorting with Consoles

A pair of Metal Gear Solid 2 Gameplay Movies are up on Daily Radar, from the upcoming PS2 sequel to Konami's third-person stealth series. They call these the first gameplay movies, but they are really mostly video interview footage. The small movie shows a bit of new gameplay footage (repeated at the very end of the large one as well), but the other small bit of the game was also seen in the E3 movie (not to dispute their claim that this is the first gameplay movie, but the E3 movie was allegedly all gameplay). Also, proclaiming that "That whole SegaNet thing is looky better by the day," (looky?) an article called Online Multiplayer Confirmed for System Shock 2 on Dreamcast.IGN.Com says multiplayer support will be part of Vatical's upcoming Dreamcast port of System Shock 2, saying: "the game will come with choices of single player RPG, multi-player Internet death match, and team-based capture the flag. That's right, folks, System Shock 2 is going to be Online through Dreamcast."

Guides and Walkthroughs

The constant updates to the Allegiance Vault's Allegiance Strategy Guide gives tactics for flying Supremacy Fighters in Microsoft's space combat game. Also, Noxious.net's Nox Wizard Walkthrough offers what they call "a brief, but informative Nox single-player walkthrough."

Editing Stuff

Version 1.0 of ChilliSkinner is now available, a "small utility floater" MAXScript for 3Dstudio 3.x to help skinning 3D models.

Competitions

Word from the $150,000 Make Something Unreal Contest is that "category deadlines for Best UT Weapons Pack and Best UT Total Conversion / Partial Conversion have been extended to give authors a chance to get their entries in before voting begins." The report goes on to use the phrase "The odds of winning are high," so it's pretty safe to assume the field is a bit thin so far if that inspires you to get coding for the chance to win some dough. Also The European Rocket Arena 2 League is now accepting entries, which can include non-European clans if they are interested. Finally, The UK Quake3 Dueling League looks to support pro gaming, claiming to offer cash payouts to those who retain the #1 ranking.

Help Wanted

An update to Rich Fleider's .plan gives word that Rogue is looking to hire a 2D artist to round out their art department. It's possible that artists who occupy a third (or even fourth) dimension will qualify, but it's still pretty certain their work must be 2D.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

  • Alien Cabal, a FPS developed in 1997, is now available as a free download. The full DOS/DirectX version is about 13 MB (I know it looks like the page wasn't updated, but dig the link called: "Download Full DOS Version 1.2 and DirectX Version")...
  • TimeGate News has a new Kohan AVI for download previewing "the intense battles scenes, and beautiful spells and animations" from Kohan, an upcoming RTS game. This is the trailer of the game shown off at E3 ...
  • The PlayNOW!-1st Annual PlayNOW! Gamers Choice Awards have been awarded, that link has the winners, transcripts of the ceremony (attended by AOE's Bruce Shelley, Valve's Robin Walker, BioWare's Ray Muzyka, and more...
  • GameSlice's Five Surprise Games at E3 is Geoff K's (not to be confused with JeffK) annual round-up of games from the show that could sneak up on some folks...
  • GameWeek.com's Top 20 Computer Entertainment Software Titles list has been updated. It's not that all ten titles on the Mac list dropped off the board this week, it's just that the Mac list is broken as I write this...
  • The WildTangent Developer Downloads page has a new Game Driver Beta SDK, which will not expire tomorrow (nothing else has been changed). Thanks web dude...
  • Internationally renowned Clan 9 has announced they are setting up a US division to continue their European reign of terror in America. Word is Makaveli, c3 and visE (formerly of clans Deathrow, Demolition, and Kapitol respectively) will be joining Sujoy and Hakeem, who are moving to the US this fall...

Out of the Blue

Thanks to ControlledBurn for pointing out it that it looks like Kentucky Fried Movie, an old Zucker Abrahams Zucker movie, is due out on DVD next week, great news for long-suffering fans like myself who find their later work like Airplane too cerebral. Speaking of Airplane, am I the only one who, upon mention of Russell Crowe's Gladiator epic thinks: "Do you like movies about gladiators, Joey?" Yeah, it's probably just me. Looks like I picked the wrong week to...

Link of the Day: Lara Croft becomes Mrs. Nukem (on the 3D Realms site). Which is the oddest aspect of this? Duke playing The Sims? Duke and Lara playing chess? Duke marrying someone outside the leather biker scene? It's all so weird.
Story of the Day: Donald Davies (1924-2000) R.I.P. the obituary of the man who "pioneered packet-switching, which enables the exchange of information between computers, without which the Internet could not function." Thanks RVF400RR.
Bonus Story: Light Exceeds Its Own Speed Limit, or Does It? (New York Times-free subscription required). Thanks EvilToast. "...a pulse of light that enters a transparent chamber filled with specially prepared cesium gas is pushed to speeds of 300 times the normal speed of light. That is so fast that, under these peculiar circumstances, the main part of the pulse exits the far side of the chamber even before it enters at the near side."

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