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Play: Games: Doom 3, Far Cry 1.2, GTA:SA

Doom 3 hype reaches epic proportions, Skaife prepares to race online, and the patch that never was.

  • CNET Australia staff
Play: Games: Doom 3, Far Cry 1.2, GTA:SA
Doom 3 hype reaches epic proportions, Skaife prepares to race online, and the patch that never was.

Doom 3 goes into hype hyperdrive
The marketing buzz surrounding Doom 3 has gone into overdrive, which is pretty much to be expected if you're releasing a game that many gamers have been waiting for the better part of four years or more to actually play. Amongst this week's revelations:

New Doom engine to get Creative sound
id Software announced that it has partnered with multimedia hardware manufacturer Creative Technology to further develop the audio portions of the Doom 3 engine. The creator of the popular Sound Blaster line of PC sound cards will integrate its proprietary 3D audio technology, called EAX Advanced HD, into id's graphics powerhouse. That means game developers licencing the engine for their own games will receive top-of-the-line 3D graphics and sound in the same package.

Ironically, the Doom 3 engine's new audio technology won't be immediately available in its namesake game. Creative and id said that the 3D graphics and audio technology won't become available to developers until later this year.

id's Duffy Speaks:
In a lengthy update to his .plan file, Robert Duffy, one of the primary programmers at id, addresses a variety of Doom 3 related subjects, including:

Quality settings: "I've seen quite a few posts in the forums about 'Ultra' quality and why we don't set this by default out of the box. To put things in perspective, most production levels in DOOM 3 contain more media assets than all of Quake 3: Arena...Image fidelity is dependent on what quality level we load the textures at. In Ultra quality, we load each texture; diffuse, specular, normal map, at full resolution with no compression. In a typical DOOM 3 level, this can hover around a whopping 500MB of texture data...due to the hitching that can occur, we chose to require a 512MB video card before setting [Ultra Quality] automatically. High quality uses compression (DXT1,3,5) for specular and diffuse and no compression for normal maps. This looks very, very close to Ultra quality, but the compression does cause some loss. Medium quality uses compression for specular, diffuse, and normal maps. This still looks really, really good, but compressing the normal maps can produce a few artifacts, especially on hard-angled or round edges. This level gets us comfortably onto 128MB video cards. Low quality does everything medium quality does, but it also downsizes textures over 512x512 and we downsize specular maps to 64x64 in this mode as well. This fits us onto a 64MB video card."

ATI vs. Nvidia cards: "One thing of note on the normal map compression is that, generally speaking, if you DXT a normal map you get really crappy results. NVIDIA hardware supports palettized compression, which yields good compression, and normal maps retain hard and round edges really well. Unfortunately, this compression does a poor job in other cases and you end up getting splotchy areas. ATI does not support the palettized compression, so we needed a better solution. ATI had done some research on various methods of normal map compression, and we ended up swapping the red and alpha ( which is zero in the case of a normal map ) channels. This effectively allows the compression to do a much better job and is just one extra instruction in the fragment program to move the alpha channel into the red channel."

Tools used to build Doom 3: "For the curious, here is a list of software/hardware we found useful during the development of DOOM 3: Incredibuild by Xoreax, Visual Assist by Whole Tomato Software, Alienbrain by Avid (formerly NXN), and Visual Studio by Microsoft. The art team used a wide variety of tools (they probably use other stuff too, but this is what comes to mind): Maya, Lightwave, ZBrush, 3D Max, and Photoshop."

Development woes: "We saw a few bumps in the road during the project. We had a multiple (simultaneous) drive failure in our primary development server, which effectively trashed the raid system and was not recoverable. This resulted in building a two-IDE drive raid system on a Saturday morning so the team could keep working. So all of DOOM 3 development was housed in an old development system with a US$79 RAID card driving two 100GB drives for about a week. The end result of this was that we went ahead and built two identical RAID 1/0 systems (about a half a terabyte each). This has been the configuration for the last 18 months or so."

Skaife to race on Xbox Live
At 4pm on August 16th, Australian Xbox Live gamers with a copy of V8 Supercars 2 will be able to race online against V8 racing legend Mark Skaife. More details, including registration information, is available at the local XBox Web site.

The patch that never was
Ubisoft decided to withdraw the recently released, and long-awaited, Far Cry v1.2 patch from its official Web sites. Citing conflicts with several hardware configurations, Ubisoft said that it has asked German developer Crytek to work on delivering a new patch for the acclaimed PC shooter.

The v1.2 patch seems to be incompatible with ATI graphics cards, with many users complaining of constant game crashes or sluggish frame rates. Besides adding quicksaves and tweaking multiplayer balance issues, the update was supposed to improve the experience of players using Nvidia graphics cards, who experienced some problems in the original game.

EA stuns market by announcing sports sequel
In a move that shocked no one, Electronic Arts announced that it is developing a third installment in its popular NBA Street series. Tentatively titled NBA Street V3, the game will be developed by EA Canada and released under the EA Sports Big brand in "early 2005." Like its predecessors, it will be released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube and will have online play for all but the latter console.

And while we're at it, why not another Star Wars game, too?
EA's also announced that it'll be releasing a game based on the third film in the Star Wars prequel series, which was recently revealed to be titled Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. EA's game will be released on May 5th 2005, two weeks before the cinema release of the film. There will be a preview of the game on the upcoming Star Wars trilogy DVD box set.

This week's game coverage:

First Take: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
First Take: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 
Ever wondered what video game characters eat?
Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 
You've seen the movie, but should you buy the game? We go for a quick swing with Activision's Spider-Man 2.

Reporters from and contributed to this article