Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 6 Apr 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
New!!! Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
Editor's note: Reader John Singer informs us that Piranha Interactive's Revenge of the Toys, reviewed in Spectrum Reviews, 12 March 1998, is $10 cheaper ($19.95) at http://www3.viaWeb.com/revenge/revengeoftoys1.html than at Piranha's own site. Thanks, John!

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER --Microvision Ships WebExpress 3.0 DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --Microsoft, Media Companies Release Advanced Authoring Format Spec --Adaptec Releases Low-cost DVD Recording Software --Eidos Updates Digital Video Compression Tool IN THE INFOGROOVE --General Instrument Ships Millionth Set-Top --Northern Light Offers Enterprise Research Service --Multimedia Convergence Unveils Sub-$500 Home Multimedia System GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Trinity Ships 3DS MAX 2/VIZ Procedural Human Animation System --NewTek Announces Aura Video Tool, LightWave 5.6 --MetaCreations Upgrades Detailer to Painter 3D --Olympus Announces FlashPath Floppy Disk Adapter --Ulead Ships New Photoshop Plug-ins: FantasyWarp, ArtTexture --iDREAM Software Announces Realism 3D 1.5 WEBSIGHTINGS --mFactory/mTropolis Story --TEN Adds Internet Weather Channel THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --EA Tops, but No Player Dominates Home Interactive Market --Study Describes Coming Age of Multimedia Technologies, Services DEALS --Sun to Collaborate with IBM, Sony GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Blizzard's Starcraft in Stores --Activision Teams with Raven, Presto, Wizards/Coast, Quickdraw --Psygnosis Launches Shadow Master on PC CD-ROM --Eidos Ships Deathtrap Dungeon PlayStation --Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic Lands at Retail --NYKO PSX Memory Card Offers Digital Readout --Looking Glass Action/Adventure to See the Light as Thief: The Dark Project NUMBEROLOGY --Parable Closes Financing, Announces Content Relationships HAPPENINGS --Freeware Communities to Meet In Summit --Computer Game Developers Conference Announces Speaker Lineup F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------

WEBMEISTER

Microvision Ships WebExpress 3.0 Just out from MicroVision Development is WebExpress3.0, its $70 Web page authoring tool for Windows-based environments (Windows NT, 95, and 3.x). The update is said to offer new capabilities for more efficient Web site management, intuitive wizards for quick Web site creation, visual WYSIWYG editing for easy manipulation of text and graphics, and enhanced page layout features with hundreds of backgrounds, templates and additional multimedia elements supported. New publishing tools allow the user to publish the site within minutes, with the simple transfer of files to a designated site on the Internet. Check it out at http://www.mvd.com. --------------------------------------------------

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Microsoft, Media Companies Release Advanced Authoring Format Spec A consortium calling itself the Multimedia Task Force (MMTF), comprised of Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Avid Technology Inc., Digidesign, Matrox Video Products Group, Pinnacle Systems Inc., Softimage Inc., Sonic Foundry Inc. and Truevision Inc., last week released the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF), a jointly authored specification. AAF is designed to address the interchange drawbacks of existing multimedia file formats, such as AVI and WAV, that are not cross-platform, cannot be edited without rewriting the entire file and cannot describe compositions with multiple layers or elements. The AAF unified data model enables applications as different as audio editing and 3-D graphics animation to work together to produce a final presentation without the need for each to recognize and interpret the other's domain-specific data. Microsoft plans to implement AAF in future versions of the Windows operating system. AAF and the recently announced Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) will become the new default multimedia file formats for Windows, succeeding the Audio Video Interleaved (AVI) file format. The specification will be available from http://www.microsoft.com/aaf/. In addition, an Advanced Authoring Format Software Development Kit (AAF SDK) is scheduled to be available later in 1998. -------------------------------------------------- Adaptec Releases Low-cost DVD Recording Software Adaptec, Inc. is now offering a new version of its Toast CD-R software -- Toast DVD. The $198 program gives Mac users a low-cost way to create DVD-ROM and DVD-Video discs on their desktop. Prior to this innovation, for the Macintosh user, creation of DVD discs images required a dedicated, expensive workstation/software combination generally available only through high-end post-production facilities. Find more at http://www.adaptec.com. -------------------------------------------------- Eidos Updates Digital Video Compression Tool London-based Eidos Technologies has released ESCAPE VideoStudio Version 2.1 with QuickTime 3.0 support for compressing digital video, animation and graphical effects for full-motion and full-screen playback on personal computers. ESCAPE VideoStudio is a software-based video compression/decompression (codec) tool that allows content developers to produce "production-quality" video sequences that can be played back on personal computers without the need for dedicated, specialized hardware. The engine is used in numerous multimedia titles, enhanced CDs and games, including Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II. Earlier releases provided separate support for QuickTime and Microsoft DirectX media capabilities on both Macintosh and Wintel/PC platforms. The new version of ESCAPE integrates support for QuickTime 3.0 and DirectX media into a single release and provides "high-quality" playback on either platform eliminating the need for separate versions. ESCAPE VideoStudio 2.1, including DirectX media and Replay functionality, is priced at $499. A downloadable QuickTime-only version is currently available from http://www.eidostechnologies.com for $249. --------------------------------------------------

IN THE INFOGROOVE

General Instrument Ships Millionth Set-Top General Instrument Corporation has shipped its one-millionth DCT-1000 interactive digital set-top terminal. This shipment marks a milestone in the deployment and market acceptance of General Instrument's digital interactive system, introduced a little more than a year ago. In addition to these one million set-top terminals shipped to customers, GI currently has digital systems installed in more than 500 cable TV headends, which gives GI's digital platform a service footprint of more than 25 million North American homes passed. This trend was further accelerated when definitive agreements were completed with 12 North American cable operators to provide approximately 15 million interactive digital set-tops in agreements valued at more than $4.5 billion for the next three to five years. The DCT-1000 feature set includes real-time RF return for interactivity, MPEG-2 digital video, Dolby AC3 Digital audio, and the ability to integrate with embedded GI analog systems. Visit General Instrument at http://www.gi.com. -------------------------------------------------- Northern Light Offers Enterprise Research Service Northern Light's new Enterprise Account Service reportedly provides a corporate alternative to expensive traditional information retrieval services and first-generation Web search engines. The service enables organizations to create online accounts so that researchers and other information professionals can find relevant, organized information on the World Wide Web and in Northern Light's Special Collection of more than 3,400 sources, including business periodicals, trade journals, health publications, academic journals and newswire databases. Central to the service is a Web-based billing system that enables organizations to activate Northern Light accounts for an unlimited number of users, departments, and projects within an enterprise. As a result, each can be reported separately, simplifying internal accounting. Organizations also can generate their own monthly reports to track spending and can control expenses by setting usage limits. Northern Light charges no annual fees for Enterprise Account Service, but bills $1-$3 per document, with a $40 minimum monthly usage per organization. Individual accounts are also available. Find Northern Light online at http://www.nlsearch.com. -------------------------------------------------- Multimedia Convergence Unveils Sub-$500 Home Multimedia System Chicago-based Multimedia Convergence Corporation (mcc.) announces the Home Multimedia System (HMS), a digital, consumer-oriented entertainment and utility appliance. The unit combines digital video, Web browsing, data and telephony services over Internet connections in a set-top box that connects to a home television. Features include: · high-resolution DVD playback · Web browsing · customized online service · remote control/joystick · wireless keyboard · picture-in-picture · a 3D-acceleration for games. mcc. is planning to deliver the device at a sub-$500 price point. --------------------------------------------------

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Trinity Ships 3DS MAX 2/VIZ Procedural Human Animation System Anthropos Character, Trinity Animation's new $695 human creation and animation system for 3D Studio MAX, creates procedural humans of variable complexity, with optional skeletons, based on the user's choice of size, sex, race, age and other factors. Unlike its predecessors from Trinity, which focused on fixed poses of lower-resolution humans for populating scenes or performing ergonomic studies, Anthropos characters can be realistically animated with Kinetix' Biped plug-in (part Character Studio) and displayed with enough resolution to look good in close-up, detailed renderings. The hi-res (25,000 poly) humans are seamless and have built in clothing for the non-nude models. In addition, a face-mapping feature allows nearly any front photo of a person to be mapped to the face of the Anthropos character for a unique, realistic countenance. A body morphology editor allows subtle changes to the scale of each major body section, allowing for "fine tuning" of a human's appearance. For creating a crowd, the morphology editor has a randomize button that instantly creates a human of unique proportions. For more information, visit http://www.trinity3d.com/products/anthchar/ or http://www.cebas.com/us/anthropos_frame.htm. -------------------------------------------------- NewTek Announces Aura Video Tool, LightWave 5.6 At NAB today, NewTek announced Aura, new software for animation, video paint and video layering. Its toolset includes standard video and image processing tools, natural-media brushes and animated brush and video brush operations including "tactile" operation said to mimic the feel of traditional artist tools. Aura works in unlimited numbers of layers that let users position keys, 3D animations, video elements, painted layers and effects. The layers can be merged into a single image or saved as separate layers for further modification. Besides stretching operations to make elements fit particular time allotments, Aura's capabilities include: · a brush stroke recorder to give any video animation a "paint on video" look · light table (onion skin) operations and drawing tablet support · support for 3D packages including LightWave 3D, Inspire 3D, 3D Studio MAX and Softimage 3D · more than 1,500 different drawing combinations · choice of pen, pencil, colored pencil, chalk, crayon, airbrush, watercolor, gouache or oil painting · complex composite and layered animation or layered video with image processing · approximately 2,400 image processing and drawing combinations and effects, including color, merge, impress, shade, lighten, smear, shift, smooth, blur, grain, tint, colorize, perspectives, axis transformations, bump mapping, extrusions, convolutions and mosaic · color, chroma, luminance and Alpha channel keying · variable frame rates for video, film and multimedia · a scripting and control language · a plug-in architecture including built in Aura plug-ins (color, motion, speed, keying, texturing, keyframe, calculation, etc.), a third-party software development kit for plug-ins and support for global plug-in compatibility (including support for the Photoshop plug-in architecture) and Aura will be available May 1 for $695. NewTek also announced LightWave 3D 5.6, an enhanced version of the 3D animation software (for a review, see Spectrum Reviews, 2 February 1998), scheduled to be available May 15 as a free upgrade to registered users. According to NewTek, the most significant addition to the 5.6 version is HyperVoxels, rendering technology for simplifying the creation of organic effects and naturally flowing phenomena, from as viscous fluids to detailed rocky surfaces. HyperVoxels is a sub-pixel volumetric rendering technology that ray traces continuous virtual surfaces that can be perturbed with various hyper-textures, or algorithmic textures that allow for extremely detailed 3D surfaces. HyperVoxels surfaces are integrated with the LightWave 3D 5.6 rendering engine to support ray-traced reflections, refractions and shadows. Other new or improved capabilities include: · new Steamer shader, which allows LightWave 3D to calculate accurate shadows, refractions and reflections of the volumetric effect · the ability to copy and paste texture attributes from one channel to the next, for rapid matching of different channels · natural shaders collection for creating snow, water, and rusted surfaces · more realistic reflection and refraction through enhancement of the LightWave 3D time-based selective ray-tracing engine · the ability to adjust the amount of fog assigned to each object · support for Direct 3D (Win 95 only) and QuickTime 3.0 (Intel and PowerMac only) · support (in the Intel version of LightWave 3D 5.6) for Render GL 3.0, for utilizing OpenGL hardware acceleration to rapidly render images with fog, background images, color gradients, anti-aliasing, edge transparency, reflections, refractions, texture anti-aliasing, spherical reflection maps and more accurate smoothing of surfaces · Jolt, a motion plug-in that allows items to be key framed to have random tremors based on locations in the scene · Super Jitter, an extension of the Jitter plug-in that allows the user to animate a random jitter to an object's position, rotation or scale · the ability for LightWave 3D image filters to process Photoshop filters · enhanced threading support · alternative motion plug-in architecture, so motion plug-ins can receive inverse kinematics solutions · Sky Tracer Doubler, which improves render times and enhances rendering quality through adaptive sampling techniques · SDK enhancements (used by third-party developers to simplify the creation of plug-ins): Layout Monitor (progress monitor), Preview Services plug-in and Gradient Services, new color picker global Contact NewTek at 8200 IH-10 West, Suite 900, San Antonio, TX 78230. Phone (210)370-8000. FAX (210)370-8001. http://www.newtek.com. -------------------------------------------------- MetaCreations Upgrades Detailer to Painter 3D MetaCreations Corporation is now shipping Painter 3D ($299 street), a "natural-media" painting tool for 3D models and a new addition to the Painter family of application software products. Based on the Fractal Design Detailer product (see review in Daily Spectrum, 25 April 1997), Painter 3D lets artists and designers paint directly on computer-generated models in real time using Natural-Media brushes and image-editing effects. The program is currently available for Windows 95/NT and Power Macintosh. Features include 100 brushes and real-time image-editing effects, with which users can interactively paint texture, bump, highlight, reflection and glow properties directly onto 3D models. Painter 3D includes plug-ins for working directly with MetaCreations' Ray Dream Studio and 3D Studio MAX from Kinetix, and is compatible with other 3D programs that import and export standard OBJ, DXF or 3DMF, and 3D Studio (R4) file formats. Features inherited from Painter 5 include: · plug-in floaters like Impasto, Liquid Lens and Liquid Metal · plug-in brushes like Super F/X, Layer and Gooey · industry-standard masking and improved selection capabilities · surface texture editing and photographic effects · up to 32 levels of Undo New to Painter 3D: · simultaneous map editing - 3D artists can use the same brush strokes on any combination of maps at the same time. · management of multiple object models that hierarchically lists and displays image-to-object relationships · map sharing - one map can be applied to multiple, grouped 3D objects Visit MetaCreations online at http://www.metacreations.com. -------------------------------------------------- Olympus Announces FlashPath Floppy Disk Adapter New from Olympus America is FlashPath, a $99 adapter that allows the removable SmartMedia Cards (SSFDC) used in Olympus digital cameras to be inserted and read in a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. When the memory card is removed from the camera, slipped into the FlashPath adapter, and inserted into an available 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, the adapter receives a "drive letter" from the operating system, as with a floppy disk. Transfers are then accomplished in the same manner as reading a file from a diskette. Data is read at up to 25 KB/sec -- faster than directly connecting the digital camera to a computer with a serial port cable (the most common way of downloading images from a digital camera). For more information, browse http://www.olympus.com/digital. -------------------------------------------------- Ulead Ships New Photoshop Plug-ins: FantasyWarp, ArtTexture Just out from Ulead Systems are FantasyWarp.Plugin and ArtTexture.Plugin ($29.95 each). Designed for Windows 95 and NT users, the two products work with all image editors that support 32-bit Photoshop plug-ins. FantasyWarp distorts, twists and warps image selections, creating surreal effects and unique patterns from image elements. ArtTexture is a pattern generator that produces colorful kaleidoscope-style effects for use in backgrounds, fills and more. Both tools offer multiple presets and adjustments, of which combinations can be saved and re-loaded as libraries for future use. Both products offer the ability to insert effects into a thumbnail storyboard area and output variations as GIF animations or as image sequences for video overlays. Find more info, plus 15-day trial versions, at http://www.ulead.com. -------------------------------------------------- iDREAM Software Announces Realism 3D 1.5 iDREAM Software last week unveiled Realism 3D version 1.5, its real-time interactive 3D graphics program. Scheduled to be available with 3D hardware devices in Q2 1998, features include: · Direct3D hardware and software support · AGP and MMX support · real-time walkthroughs and scene design with complex polygon-count objects · DirectX run-time installation · preprogrammed intelligent behaviors that can be modified by the user · choice of hardware or software rendering · realistic lighting effects, sharper textures, and optional sound effects · anti-aliasing, bilinear filtering and smooth shading · optimized use of on-board video memory via proprietary resource management · mist, normal and heavy fog settings · auto-step, gravity, and collision detection · save as HTML, VRML 1.0 or 2.0, BMP or JPEG files · support for OLE 2.0 object linking and embedding, plus MAPI and SMTP Call 800-688-9558 or visit http://www.idreamsoftware.com for more information. -------------------------------------------------- WEBSIGHTINGS mFactory/mTropolis Story, Wavelet Compression David Biedny provides this tip: You may have heard that Quark recently bought mTropolis, only to kill mFactory, the company's principal product, just before the release of version 2.0. Read this fascinating, if somewhat depressing, story at http://www.upside.com/texis/mvm/story?id=352286b9. Biedny also tells us of a new, free wavelet compression product at http://www.luratech.com. Quoth David: "The coolest thing I saw for Photoshop @ Seybold NY." Thanks, DB! -------------------------------------------------- TEN Adds Internet Weather Channel Total Entertainment Network (TEN) has added a new tool that lets online gamers track and evaluate the performance of various ISPs. Updated more than 70 times per day, the new Internet Weather Report utility provides users with a user-friendly tool to evaluate their individual connectivity to the 'Net. The tool is freely available in the support area of TEN's Web site for use by all online gamers, and issues updated reports on more than 16 of the top domestic ISPs, including AT&T Worldnet, Concentric, Earthlink and MCI. (Additional ISPs will be added shortly.) "In the world of online gaming, a player's latency ... can be critical to playing many fast-action games, where the game environment is changing constantly," said a spokesperson. TEN's new utility shows both packet loss and latency (network delay, or "server lag") to/from several points in North America: San Francisco, California; Bay Cities, Michigan; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. To go directly to the Internet Weather tool, visit http://weather.ten.net/ --------------------------------------------------

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

EA Tops, but No Player Dominates Home Interactive Market Electronic Arts again topped all other software companies with $848 million in revenue in the home interactive entertainment market in 1997, but is encountering close competition from Nintendo and from Sony Computer Entertainment, according to Access Media International (AMI), a New York based industry analyst firm. GT Interactive and Cendant (formerly CUC software), both companies that achieved critical mass in 1995 and 1996 largely by acquisition, earned the #4 and #5 positions, closely followed by Microsoft. The fastest growing company in the top 15 was Sony, which quadrupled its revenues over 1996 to $801 million in 1997. No entertainment software company holds a dominant share of the worldwide market. The top three players, all focused on producing and distributing game titles, each accounted for approximately 12 percent of the $6.6 billion spent by consumers on home interactive software in 1997. The next five largest companies, some of which split their product line between games and children's edutainment titles, each hold 7 to 8 percent. The market is still consolidating. More than a dozen small entertainment software companies were acquired by the major software publishers in 1997. Only two companies based outside the U.S. made the Top 15, U.K-based Eidos plc., publisher of the top selling "Tomb Raider" product for the PC, and France-based Infogrames, which acquired Ocean in 1996 and Phillips Interactive in 1997. Distribution strength has become key to success in the entertainment software market, according to AMI. "If you can't get your products on the shelves, it doesn't matter if you have good titles," Walter Miao, analyst, AMI, says. Retailers are looking for a steady stream of quality games or evergreen products. "The entry point for a supplier is moving steadily up; it may be at around $250 million in revenue this year," Miao estimates. "Large retailers want a collection of titles from any new company they consider taking on, publishers that can give them a steady flow of new products spaced out through the year." Home entertainment software sales grew faster in Europe, whose sales were up 51 percent in 1997. U.S. sales grew 34 percent, according to Miao. Software sales overall increased by 34 percent in 1997 over 1996. "If the trend continues, American companies with strong, mature distribution channels in Europe may have an edge in 1998," says Miao. AMI's study, entitled Home Interactive Entertainment Assessment & Outlook 1996 - 2002, is available for $2,500 by calling (212) 944-5100. It can also be ordered from the company's Website http://www.ami-usa.com. -------------------------------------------------- Study Describes Coming Age of Multimedia Technologies, Services US and European consumers spent a total of $54 billion on multimedia devices, software and services in 1997, a 24 percent increase on 1996. Eighty-two percent went for PCs and PC software; only 18 percent went to the TV set and TV-related software and services. According to the study, the PC will continue to dominate the multimedia market until 2005, when total annual expenditure will reach $117.9 billion. These findings are presented in a study just released by Strategy Analytics within its strategic advisory service, "Emerging Consumer Products and Services," which monitors new consumer technology market opportunities on behalf of leading players. One of the study's key findings is the emergence of the "Multimedia TV," which will co-exist with the familiar "Multimedia PC." The study predicts that by 2001 there will be more Online TVs in use than Online PCs. Online TV will be driven by interactive digital TV services, which link the TV set to service providers via a modem. Increasingly these services will offer Internet access, which will be used to provide a new range of enhanced television programs and services, like online shopping and interactive games. Infotainment and games will be the dominant multimedia applications, for both TV and PC. The PC will overtake the console device as the primary interactive games platform, driven by continued advances in processing power, speed and storage capacity. Infotainment will become an important factor in multimedia TV, with many viewers having access to home shopping services and information services related to TV programs. For more information, contact David Mercer via mailto:dmercer@strategyanalytics.com. --------------------------------------------------

DEALS

Sun to Collaborate with IBM, Sony Thanks to Spectrum correspondent Howard Dyckoff for tipping us off to these stories: Sun Microsystems and IBM are collaborating to deliver JavaOS for Business software, a new operating system software product optimized for network computing on the Java platform. The product will provide computer and component manufacturers, software vendors, channel integrators and enterprise customers with an open industry platform optimized to run Java applications in a centrally managed environment. The JavaOS for Sun and IBM plan to make the product available to manufacturers midyear 1998. IBM plans to initially offer the JavaOS for Business product on its high-end Network Station network computers in early 1999. Sun will migrate customers using the JavaStation family of products from JavaOS for NCs, to the JavaOS for Business software, over the next year. Also, Sony Corporation has entered into a licensing agreement with Sun for the use and distribution of the PersonalJava technology. In addition, the companies plan to support the development of applications based on Java technology for the digital home entertainment network environment. The collaboration between the companies, subject to definitive agreements, will include Sony incorporating applications based on Java technology into its digital AV products and Sun creating PersonalJava software development tools for digital AV products in the home entertainment network environment. Sony says it is creating an open architecture for the home entertainment network environment where users will be able to enjoy the seamless interaction of computers, AV equipment, and Digital TV, and that the Java programming language serves as an excellent cross-platform tool for creating home entertainment network applications. --------------------------------------------------

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Blizzard's StarCraft in Stores If you thought WarCraft II was addictive, you ain't seen nothin' yet! StarCraft, Blizzard Entertainment's hot new real-time strategy game, is now starting to hit stores in the United States and Canada. As commander of the Terrans, Protoss or Zerg species, players head on a collision course for galactic domination. While battling in space, on planetary surfaces and within installations, players face 30 missions. With each mission, more of the story of the universe unfolds. Key features include: · three intergalactic species with unique units, technologies, attributes and abilities · evolving storyline that unfolds as players experience the game from each of the three species' perspective · 30 different missions in space, on planetary surfaces and within installations. · real-time light sourcing, true line of sight and advanced translucency engine combine for visual and tactical realism · multiplayer option with up to eight players via modem, network, direct link and the Internet · free online gaming via Battle.net · campaign editor that allow players to create their own scenarios and maps complete with trigger points, custom speech, sound, text and hero characters StarCraft is available in Windows 95 CD-ROM format at most computer and software retail chains worldwide. The game is also available directly from Blizzard at (800) 953-SNOW and http://www.blizzard.com. -------------------------------------------------- Activision Teams with Raven, Presto, Wizards/Coast, Quickdraw Activision's been busy. The company has just published subsidiary Raven Software's Hexen II Mission Pack: Portal of Praevus, with 15 new levels that take players to the icy world of Tibet, and plans to publish Raven's Heretic II, the newest title in the Heretic-Hexen game series. Designed for Windows 95/98 and Windows NT PCs, the game is slated for release this Christmas. Using the Quake II engine, Heretic II plunges players into combat and adventure, from a third-person perspective. Gamers travel through complex environments filled with special effects, magic spells, characters, and challenging level designs created by the Raven team and renowned fantasy artist Brom. Exploring city, swamp, canyon and dungeon levels, gamers use a variety of offensive and defensive spells such as the Sphere of Annihilation, Repulsion and Fireball in conjunction with a magical bow and staff to defeat the insane, plague-ridden denizens of Parthoris. (Don't they just need a little understanding?) Also, Activision will publish Presto Studios' new PC 3D action-adventure game, Beneath. Presto's most recent title was the adventure game The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time, published by Broderbund's Red Orb division. Players navigate through three dynamic worlds -- frozen caverns, hot volcanic mines and a mysterious underground city. Climbing, swinging, rappelling and fighting their way through 12 diverse levels, players must escape natural disasters, defeat vicious predators and solve puzzles that emerge out of obstacles natural to the environment. Presto can be found on the Web at http://www.presto.com (send email inquiries to presto@presto.com). In addition, Activision will create a feudal Japanese-themed action/role-playing title for the PC based upon the popular collectable card and paper role-playing games, Legend of the Five Rings. The development of the title represents a collaboration between Activision, Engineering Animation, Inc. (EAI), an Ames, Iowa-based game developer, and Wizards of the Coast, Inc., the owners of the trading card game. The Legend of the Five Rings action RPG will be published by Activision and is expected to be released this winter. Finally, Activision has entered into an agreement with Quickdraw Developments Ltd. of the UK to create a new version of the videogame Asteroids for Sony PlayStation, and is in the final stages of negotiations with Quickdraw to develop the title for the PC. Originally introduced by Atari in 1979 as a coin-op arcade game, Asteroids was released in 1981 for the Atari 2600 game system and by 1982 was one of the fastest-selling home video games in the United States. The new Asteroids will recapture the dodging and firing of the original, but will take the classic game to a new level with 3D graphics, expansive playing areas, increasingly difficult space hazards and multiple modes of gameplay. Activision's Web site is located at http://www.activision.com. -------------------------------------------------- Psygnosis Launches Shadow Master on PC CD-ROM Psygnosis' Shadow Master, an action-packed shooter game originally for PlayStation (see review, Spectrum Reviews, 2 February 1998) was released last week on PC CD-ROM. Based on the fantasy artwork of renowned artist and illustrator, Rodney Matthews, the 3D-accelerated $49.95 game offers 16 levels and seven worlds and hordes of unique bio-mechanical creatures to battle. Contact Psygnosis on the Web at http://www.psygnosis.com. -------------------------------------------------- Eidos Ships Deathtrap Dungeon PlayStation Now shipping from Eidos Interactive is Deathtrap Dungeon for the PlayStation. The "horrific dungeon thriller" lets gamers battle monsters and survive tortuous levels (if they can). The game is inspired by the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series created by Ian Livingstone, chairman of Eidos Interactive. Deathtrap Dungeon features full 3D gameplay with a third-person camera angle system. Set in a medieval environment, with eerie sound effects--dripping water, creaking doors, and cries of torture--the player chooses between a female or male character to defy the 10 vast dungeons composed with 37 levels. Players will also encounter over 50 monsters to cast spells on, slash, bomb, and flame. -------------------------------------------------- Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic Lands at Retail Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic, a new graphic adventure from Simon & Schuster Interactive, is now available at retailers across the United States. The game is said to be notable for its dynamic language processor, which features SpookiTalk, a parser tool that draws on more than 16 hours of recorded dialogue and a library of more than 10,000 popular references. The photo-realistic graphics were executed under the direction of the Oscar-winning design team of Oscar Chichoni and Isabel Molina. On its maiden voyage, the Starship Titanic crashes into the player's home. Once aboard, the player encounters a crew of malfunctioning robots and a semi-deranged parrot played by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. In order to progress, the player must secure the cooperation of the parrot and learn to communicate with the ship's cast of idiosyncratic "bots" including Fentible, the distinguished Doorbot; Nobby, the hypochondriac Liftbot; Marsinta, the irascible Deskbot; and Fortillian Bantoburn O'Perfluous, the Barbot. Find Simon & Schuster Interactive online at http://www.ssinteractive.com. -------------------------------------------------- NYKO PSX Memory Card Offers Digital Readout Memory Card 72, the newest memory card for the Sony PlayStation from NYKO Technologies, Inc., allows up to 1080 game-save storage block positions, 72 times more storage than industry standard. The card also features a digital LCD screen for easy storage and reloading of game data, and its Flash Memory storage contributes to high-speed access. No batteries are required. Suggested retail price is $59.95. With over 450 titles available for the PlayStation, NYKO hopes consumers will appreciate the ability to store more games in more detail. For further information, go to http://www.nyko.com. -------------------------------------------------- Looking Glass Action/Adventure to See the Light as Thief: The Dark Project Entertainment software developer Looking Glass Studios' 3D action/adventure game, previously known under the working title of The Dark Project, has been named Thief: The Dark Project. The title, scheduled for a fall 1998 release, will be published by Eidos Interactive. Thief: The Dark Project is a first-person 3D action/adventure game where players assume the role of a master thief relying on stealth and cunning. Utilizing the new Dark Engine, Thief: The Dark Project transports players into a dark, immersive techno-fantasy world of stealth, intrigue, deception and combat. Players embark on a series of adventures that are woven into a compelling story of seduction, betrayal, and ultimate revenge. --------------------------------------------------

NUMBEROLOGY

Parable Closes Financing, Announces Content Relationships Parable has closed its second round of financing with backing from investors including CMG@Ventures, F.S.C. Corporation (an affiliate of BankBoston, N.A.), The Kraft Group, Venture Management, and Wasserstein Adelson Ventures. Parable produces "Things," described as the industry's first distributable, ownable and protectable multimedia, as well as a Java-based development tool called ThingMaker. Things can consist of any media type and format and can contain actions, attributes and behaviors. In addition, Parable has built content relationships with Parker Brothers and Hasbro Interactive, divisions of Hasbro Inc., as well as the New England Patriots football team and New England Revolution soccer team, to create multimedia Things that display their brand on the Web. Examples of branded Things, such as Hasbro Interactive's Frogger, are available at http://www.thingworld.com. Find out more about Things and stuff at http://www.parablecorp.com. --------------------------------------------------

HAPPENINGS

Freeware Communities to Meet In Summit The creators of the most widely used freeware programs and corporate supporters of freeware will meet in a summit on April 7 in Palo Alto, at the invitation of Tim O'Reilly, president and CEO of O'Reilly & Associates. The primary goal of the summit is an exchange of ideas and strategies for expanding the acceptance of popular freeware such as Linux, Perl, and Apache, and expanding the understanding of the mission-critical nature of Internet freeware applications such as Bind, Sendmail, Perl, Apache, Mozilla, and Linux. Participants include Linux's Linus Torvalds, PGP's Phil Zimmerman, Paul Vixie, creator and maintainer of Bind, the software behind the Domain Name System, and Larry Wall, creator of Perl. On April 14, Tim O'Reilly and other freeware luminaries who were present at the summit will be presenting their thoughts about the importance of freeware at CNET's Web.builder conference in San Francisco. Further information is available at http://www.oreilly.com/ -------------------------------------------------- Computer Game Developers Conference Announces Speaker Lineup The Computer Game Developers Conference (CGDC) has lined up over 300 speakers for the 1998 conference in Long Beach, California, May 4-8. The keynote speakers come from all aspects of game development, crossing genres, platforms and nationalities. The list of visionary speakers includes top names in the industry such as Sid Meier, Masaya Matsuura, Richard Garriott, Richard Hilleman and Dave Perry among others. CGDC attendees will hear keynote speeches on subjects such as "Blazing Fast Code," "Legends of Game Design" and Masaya Matsuura's Audio Keynote, "The Genesis of PaRappa the Rapper." In addition, the conference will feature over 350 classes and hundreds of exhibits showing the latest in tools and technology for making games. For more info, visit http://www.cgdc.com. --------------------------------------------------

F.Y.I.

About Spectrum Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review. Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703. If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks. -------------------------------------------------- Please send address changes (with old and new addresses), subscribe and unsubscribe requests etc. to the above address. If you use the Reply function, please do _not_ echo an entire issue of Spectrum with your message. -------------------------------------------------- Publisher's note: We are now accepting limited advertising. If you'd like to offer your company's products or services to Spectrum's elite audience of Internet and multimedia professionals, send an email query to duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman -------------------------------------------------- ©Copyright 1998 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.
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