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So far, it seems that Apple's recommitment to gaming has been little more than assault by alphabet soup: iMac, USB, OpenGL, 3-D, and even ATI. In the end, only one thing matters: what new games are coming out for the Mac? To find out, I asked a few game developers about their plans for 1999. All indications are that the coming year is going to be–to quote my little brother–"hella cool." Here's what you can expect.

No, I don't mean that the games are going to be louder. Rather, there will be more of them&#150a;lot more. Game developers are flocking to the Mac market to meet the demand of the burgeoning throngs of Mac users–particularly iMac users. In fact, the only developer that isn't planning more new Mac titles than ever is MacPlay, and that's because InterPlay, in a classic example of bad timing, disbanded its MacPlay division last year. That aside, everyone else has a full plate of Mac games in production for this year, so start saving your lunch money.

For what, you ask? Well, you didn't hear it from me, but Blizzard's Diablo II should be available for our fine platform in the not-too-distant future. Also look for a StarCraft expansion pack from Blizzard Entertainment, in addition to another WarCraft scenario pack, WarCraft Platinum. Additionally, rumor has it that MacSoft will take advantage of the Unreal engine to crank out some great-looking titles this year, including Klingon Honor Guard and–I hope, I hope&#150D;ke Nukem Forever. Fans of Maxis Software's Sim series will also have reason to rejoice this year when the Mac version of SimCity 3000 arrives on the scene. And Bungie Software will be releasing a hot action title called Oni, featuring a one-woman SWAT team who's as deadly with a spin kick as she is with a gun.

At this writing, two notable games were scheduled for simultaneous PC and Mac releases: MacSoft's Total Annihilation and Electronic Arts' FutureCop: LAPD. Many more same-day releases are slated for this year, but one company is taking it a step further: Sega is planning a Mac-first release of Yoot's Tower (an unofficial sequel to SimTower).

Brace yourselves, sports fans&#150a;new day is dawning for Mac sports games. As I mentioned, Electronic Arts is finally coming back to the Mac with FutureCop. Since EA also publishes some of the best sports games on the PC, you don't have to be Kreskin to predict that if FutureCop does well, the other EA divisions (including EASports) will also pounce on the Mac market. Sierra is also retesting the Mac waters right now with its Hoyle series of casino, board, and card games, and–if things go well&#150c;uld bring its sports titles over, too. In addition, Acclaim had already done a lot of work on the Mac version of NBA Jam before the project was shelved. It shouldn't take too many success stories to convince the company to finish what it started.

It's been an uphill climb, but 3-D accelerator cards for the Mac platform are finally becoming affordable. Expect Voodoo cards to dip below $100, and Voodoo II cards to drop significantly in price as well. In addition, Apple is now including the ATI Rage Pro chip set on all desktop and iMac models, so pretty much everyone can enjoy some level of hardware acceleration. Trust me, until you've seen the unbelievably smooth textures and cool halo explosions while you fly down a hallway at 60 frames per second, you haven't really played Quake.

These are just a few of the trends we'll start seeing over the next year. In addition to the big commercial developers, such prolific shareware producers as Ambrosia, Freeverse, Fantasoft, Delta Tao, and many others have full schedules for 1999 and beyond. So fasten your seat belts: this is going to be a helluva year!

February 1999 page: 186

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