Low End Mac Gaming

Classic Mac Games Updated

Brian Rumsey - Dec. 8, 2000

Chances are you have complained about the rapidly rising system requirements of games. I know I have. One has to admit, though, that with all the power available, developers have been able to come up with some pretty impressive graphics. While many of these new games are very good overall, it is easy to find yourself wishing that your favorite classics were able to take advantage of all these goodies like video cards with up to 64 MB of VRAM.

Depending on which games you list among your favorite classics, this wish may be reality. These transformations have a wide range of origins, from patches released by the developers of the game to open-source projects allowing anyone interested to help work on adding support for 3D accelerators to various games. Some of these patches are more well known than others, but I'll try to hit several in hopes of spreading the word as much as possible.

For those who are not sure exactly what I'm talking about, the use of 3D acceleration in games, especially action games, has risen greatly over the past few years, to the point where it is required for most new games of certain genres. 3D acceleration uses a video card to render enhanced graphics, taking the burden off of the main CPU. 3D accelerated graphics cards have been included in all recent Macs and can also be added to Macs with PCI slots.

The biggest names in the Mac 3D acceleration world are ATI Technologies and 3Dfx Interactive. The terms Glide, RAVE, and OpenGL indicate 3D acceleration. ATI and 3Dfx cards both support RAVE and OpenGL, and 3Dfx cards also support Glide.

One of the most popular games a couple of years ago was the original Quake. The 3D patches for Quake are fairly well known. If you need them, you can download them from Westlake Interactive. These patches are official and should be quite stable. They support Glide and Rave. Also available is an unofficial patch to allow Quake to be used with OpenGL. This patch, called GLQuake, is available from p0x's Playhouse.

Westlake Interactive, which developed the 3D accelerated version of Quake, also has the patches needed for another game, Shadow Warrior. As far as I know, there is no support for ATI cards with Shadow Warrior - only 3Dfx. The patch, which is available from Westlake, only supports the full version of Shadow Warrior, which I do not have, so I can't comment on how well it works.

Shadow Warrior is closely related to another game, Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem does not have an official 3D accelerator patch, but that has not prevented an unofficial one from being developed. The patch, glDuke, uses OpenGL, so it should be compatible with most modern graphics cards. Personally, I have had some trouble getting glDuke to work well with my Voodoo3 card, but since this patch is still in early beta, some inconsistency is to be expected. glDuke is available from glDuke's Official Web Page.

Possibly the most popular series of games for the Mac in the mid-nineties was the Marathon series. None of the entries in this series incorporated 3D acceleration at the time of their release, but thanks to the Marathon Open Source project, called Aleph One, various people have been working to create a version of Marathon which can take advantage of 3D acceleration. It is doubtful that Marathon: Aleph One will ever be an officially supported project, but it is certainly worth checking out. Information can be found on Bungie.org.

In addition to Aleph One, which is still Marathon through and through, some Marathon fans have also taken another route to modernizing Marathon: Modifications, or mods, for the more modern game, Unreal Tournament. Modifications do not make one game into another one, but they can create the feeling of a different game. One mod, Marathon Rampancy, is available. Another modification, Marathon Resurrection, was reportedly in the works, but seems to have disappeared recently.

Yet another series of games for which patches are available is the Descent series. Descent 3 has 3D support built in, but Descent 1 and 2 need patches. These patches, unofficial but written by the same person who worked on parts of Descent 3, are available from Descent2.com. These patches support Glide and OpenGL.

These games are all very good, but the game which has been occupying me recently was never even officially released for the Mac: Hexen II. However, the Hexen II engine has become Open Source, and the same people working on GLQuake decided to see if they could get Hexen II working. They have been quite successful, as their unofficial port is nearly as good as many commercial ones. To play the full version, you have to buy the PC version and copy certain files onto your Mac, along with the Mac application available on Planet Quake. A demo is also available. As with GLQuake, the Hexen port, GLHexen 2, works with OpenGL.

In addition to bringing back old memories, another nice thing about these games is that, for the most part, they should perform decently on relatively old hardware (compared to what many modern games are demanding). I'd expect that most of them will perform acceptably on almost any 603- or 604-based system with a 3D accelerator. Since I can't make thorough tests of these games on a wide range of systems, I would be interested to hear reports of how they run on pre-G3 systems. I would also be interested to hear of other older games which I may have missed which have 3D patches available.

Hopefully these updates to several classics will provide good entertainment for a wide range of people. As for me, I'm just going to try to pull myself away from Hexen II for long enough to survive finals.

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