Mac Uru cancellation may dim Half-Life 2 hopes

Cyan Worlds Inc. on Wednesday confirmed a rumor circulated since earlier this year: Uru: Ages Beyond Myst is not coming to the Macintosh after all. "We are extremely disappointed to have to announce today that the Mac port of Uru is officially cancelled," the company noted in an update to the Web site posted on Tuesday. The news of the cancellation has potential ramifications for Mac gamers beyond just Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.

In announcing Uru: Ages Beyond Myst's cancellation, Cyan Worlds indicated that porting the game's core physics engine proved to be an insurmountable problem for the unidentified company hired to do the conversion.

Cry Havok

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst uses the Havok Game Dynamics software development kit (SDK) to manage its physics. Havok is described by its developer as a cross-platform engine, but that platform support is thus far restricted to video game consoles and PCs only. Havok was also used in Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, a title released for video game consoles earlier this year. Aspyr Media Inc. recently published the PC version of that game, but was not able to develop a Mac version.

Uru's Macintosh cancellation may portend difficulty for the possible Mac conversion of another high-profile game that was just released for Windows: Valve Corp.'s Half-Life 2, published by Sierra Entertainment. Mac gamers have long clamored for the game -- a hotly anticipated sequel to one of the most popular first-person shooters ever. No Mac conversion of Half-Life 2 has been announced.

A source close to the issue told MacCentral that a Mac conversion of Half-Life 2 would require Havok's developers to create a Macintosh-compatible SDK -- an action they have not yet taken. Havok's developers count the number of games that use their engine at "well over 100." Other high-profile titles that depend on the Havok SDK include Full Spectrum Warrior, Ghost Recon 2, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault and Thief: Deadly Shadows.

Plagued with difficulty

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was announced for the Macintosh this past February, but Cyan Worlds Inc. has been silent about it until now. Uru: Ages Beyond Myst expands the Myst 3D adventure game series with several significant changes like fully realized 3D movement, optional first- or third-person perspectives and more. Initially the game was supposed to have an expansive online multiplayer feature called Uru Live. At the same time Cyan founder Rand Miller announced the Mac version's development, he also announced that Uru Live had been cancelled. Since then, the content initially developed for Uru Live has been released in an expansion pack.

In recent months Ubisoft Entertainment has released Myst IV: Revelation, a new sequel to the Myst series that was released simultaneously for Mac OS X and Windows. Myst IV Revelation does not use the Havok physics engine. While it sports details graphical effects, Myst IV uses a custom-developed node-based game engine similar in function to what's appeared in past Myst games that have been released on the Mac platform.

While Uru's planned Mac conversion has been laid to rest, Cyan Worlds did end its announcement on a positive note. "We'd like to think that we learned something from the experience. We chose not to use the same physics engine on our current project," they said.

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