Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News
18 April 2005
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)
--Intelliseek Updates BlogPulse
IN THE INFOGROOVE
--VSA arts Launches Interactive Online Literary Journal
--Sega Animanium Animation Software Available in North America
--Electric Rain Announces ZAM 3D
--Turbo Squid Releases Zygote Male 3D Human Anatomy Collection
--Wacom Releases 6D Art Pen
THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--Report: Market Leaders in the Video Game, Interactive Entertainment Industry
--Report: European Interactive Games Industry
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--The Adventure Company Ships Still Life
--THQ Announces Evil Dead Game
--Sony Announces New Ratchet, Sly, Jak PS2 Games
--Webbies Bound for Big Apple
Intelliseek Updates BlogPulse
Intelliseek, a marketing intelligence firm specializing in real-time analysis of online buzz and consumer-generated media, recently upgraded its BlogPulse.com portal ( http://www.blogpulse.com/ ), including a boost in coverage to 9.3 million blogs.
BlogPulse 2.0 reportedly provides faster data retrieval, a six-month index of blog posts and data, a daily count of blog activity and analysis, and the ability to create customized graphs that track themes and issues appearing in the Blogosphere.
Blogs (short for "Web logs") are easily created, personalized Web sites that represent one of the fastest growing areas of content on the Internet. BlogPulse.com is a free portal that analyzes key personalities, phases, trends and popular links shared among bloggers on a daily basis. It showcases Intelliseek's text-mining and text-analysis technologies, which turn raw data into marketing and business intelligence.
BlogPulse 2.0 offers:
- Larger archive: BlogPulse's archive now provides six months of data, compared to the previous 60-day archive.
- Better search capabilities: Users can now search through six months of blog posts and visualize results with a one-click "trend this search" icon that now appears next to their search results.
- Better link-search capabilities: Previously, the ability to search an entire link/URL produced results only for that site's home page. The new capability counts results for the entire site/URL.
- Time-frame options for graphs: Users interested in creating visual graphs that track and compare blog "buzz" can choose from one of four time frames - 1, 2, 3 or 6 months - for the graphs.
- Faster performance: Search and graphing functions are completed in seconds, thanks to hardware and engineering upgrades.
- Daily blog stats: A daily home-page log of blogging activity, including number of total blogs identified, number of blog postings analyzed daily and number of new blogs discovered in the last 24 hours.
VSA arts Launches Interactive Online Literary Journal
VSA arts recently launched an interactive online literary journal showcasing creative writing by students ages 11-18, with a connection to disability. The online journal -- Infinite Difference -- presents selected pieces from a call for flash fiction and poetry.
Infinite Difference includes poems and creative nonfiction by Ekiwah Adler Belendez, a young poet from Mexico with cerebral palsy, whose story was featured on NBC Dateline.
"I cannot walk by myself, yet in my poem I not only walk, but give myself license to have eight legs and experience movement. When I read a poem, on an ephemeral level I go to the places the poet describes," said Ekiwah.
Students are invited to read the work of their peers and post comments on the site -- http://www.vsarts.org/. Infinite Difference also offers educators an interactive tool to tackle national writing standards and promote literacy in the classroom.
The call for flash fiction and poetry asked students to "explore the beauty in variety, perceived imperfections, and the infinite complexities of 'difference.'" A panel of professional writers and teachers judged the submissions and selected a group of ten stories and poems that best exemplify the creative voices that emerge from experiences with disability.
Sega Animanium Animation Software Available in North America
Sega Animanium, 3D character-animation software that has been used by animation studios and videogame developers in Japan, is now available to animators and game developers in North America.
USA Index Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan-based Index Corporation, has acquired worldwide distribution rights outside of Asia to Animanium. The company is marketing and distributing the software to the animation and gaming industries through Turbo Squid and is also making the software available for download at www.animanium.com. The full version of the software retails for $795, with Turbo Squid offering it at an introductory price of $595.
Animanium reportedly reduces the cost and time involved with creating realistic human movement by replacing the need for motion-capture technology and cutting time spent on programming. The software integrates with animation programs including 3ds max/Character Studio, Maya, Lightwave3D and Soft Image XSI.
Electric Rain Announces ZAM 3D
Coming in September from Electric Rain, Inc. is ZAM 3D, a 3D modeling and animation product for developers leveraging Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming unified presentation subsystem for Windows, code-named "Avalon," to build new applications on Windows XP and the forthcoming version of the Windows operating system, code-named "Longhorn." ZAM 3D will automatically generate the XAML markup necessary to create an Avalon 3D scene.
ZAM 3D is built around Electric Rain's Swift 3D product line, used by Macromedia Flash developers with a need for 3D design.
ZAM 3D features include:
- 3D authoring environment
- basic and advanced modeling and animation capabilities
- converts existing 2D artwork in the AI and EPS formats into 3D models
- imports pre-built 3DS and DXF models for quick conversion to XAML
- exports Avalon-compatible XAML mark-up files
- allows for integration of 3D content into Avalon-based applications
ZAM 3D is expected to release in mid-September in conjunction with the Microsoft PDC 2005 event in Los Angeles, CA. The SRP of ZAM 3D has not yet been set. More information on ZAM 3D, as well as a public preview version that supports Microsoft's latest March CTP build of Avalon is currently available for download at http://www.zam3d.com/.
Turbo Squid Releases Zygote Male 3D Human Anatomy Collection
Turbo Squid last week announced the availability of the Male 3D Human Anatomy 2.0 collection from Zygote Media Group, designed for use in medical animation and illustration. The collection is delivered electronically in six formats: 3ds max, Maya, C4D, HRC, LWO, OBJ, and XSI.
The collection has 3D models of the complete human anatomy including muscular systems, skeletal systems, lymphatic systems, nervous systems, digestive systems, circulatory systems, endocrine systems, male reproductive systems, respiratory systems, urinary systems, and integumentary.
The Zygote Male Anatomy Collection has been used in a variety of productions including "Hollow Man" and the "Fifth Element." The Version 2.0 Collection has a suggested retail price of $13,995, with an introductory price of $9,995 for a limited time. Zygote is also available for customized science visualization and medical animation work through Turbo Squid as well.
Anatomical systems included:
- Muscular: Over one hundred individual muscles, deep and superficial, with connective tissue and tendons. It includes each individual muscle of the axial and appendicular skeleton with proper origin and insertion points.
- Skeletal: With over two hundred bones, digitized from casts of a real skeleton. Each bone and tooth comes with a high level of geometric resolution and detail that is efficiently maintained throughout the model -- from skull to phalanges.
- Lymphatic: a schematic of the lymphatic system including nodes and ducts.
- Nervous: includes detailed central and peripheral nervous system models digitized from physical models.
- Digestive: includes teeth, gums, and all digestive organs. The organs are all compatible with the male (female) figures and anatomy systems.
- Circulatory: includes a detailed heart, arterial flow to and venous flow from fingers, toes and organs, to the base of the brain and through the cranium and face.
- Endocrine: includes glands and organs, each individually grouped for selections and visualization.
- Male Reproductive: includes all internal and external structures and organs of the male reproductive system.
- Respiratory: includes anatomical features from the oronasal cavity to the bronchial tree, with detailed models of lungs and respiratory cartilage. Each component is individually grouped.
- Urinary: models from kidneys to external urethra. This model is compatible with the Zygote Figures and with the Anatomy Collection.
- Integumentary: The male body was generated from scans of a live model. With optimized geometric resolution for detailed renderings, and anatomical accuracy representing an ideal physique. The integumentary system currently comes with 2 models: male skin w/ and w/o genitalia.
The Zygote Male Human Anatomy 2.0 is currently available in a static anatomical pose with color information, but without texture maps. Textures shown in some of these images can be purchased from Zygote directly.
Wacom Releases 6D Art Pen
Wacom Technology Corporation, with the support of Adobe has developed a 6D Art Pen that gives artists and designers six dimensions of pen control in Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Adobe Illustrator CS2, newly announced as part of the Adobe Creative Suite 2. Available now, the 6D Art Pen is supported on Wacom's Intuos3 pen tablets and new Cintiq 21UX interactive pen display. The pen has a suggested retail price of $69.95.
The 6D Art Pen builds on Wacom's cordless, battery-free technology to offer artists and designers six dimensions of control:
* X-axis (left and right)
* Y-axis (up and down)
* Pressure (force with which pen is applied to tablet)
* Tilt (angle at which pen is tilted)
* Bearing (direction in which pen is tilted)
* Barrel Rotation (orientation of the pen around its long axis)
Report: Market Leaders in the Video Game, Interactive Entertainment Industry
Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c14903) recently released a new report: Market Leaders in the Video Game and Interactive Entertainment Industry.
The report analyzes the leading companies in the interactive entertainment industry. In the overview, each company is compared and ranked on numerous criteria. Each individual company report is 25-50 pages and includes historical background, financial overview, product analysis and a frank assessment of the outlook for that company. Company reports are available for the following companies.
Each individual company profile has several sections:
- Quick Facts: basic information about the company's location, year founded, number of employees, top executives, key divisions and alliances, company strategies, strengths and weaknesses and market share.
- Financial Info: several years of financial performance based on each company's public filings.
- Background: textual introduction to the company's history.
- Products: the major products of each company, including a frank assessment of their quality/value.
- Outlook: This is the most opinionated section and contains a textual analysis of where the company is headed from a strategic standpoint.
Of course, it is all about games. That is why the researchers spend much time looking at the franchises each company owns, both how they have performed in the past and their future potential (obviously that is the key concern to an investor). In this respect, Square Enix's two key franchises come out very strong. They picked both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest as two of the top 10 game franchises
Both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are RPGs that not only have a long history, they also have a great deal of future potential. The RPG category in general is very strong because these games tend to have international appeal, do well on emerging platforms, including online and mobile, and are story-based so that they easily translate to other media. Final Fantasy does well in Japan, North America and Europe, has already been made into a movie, has had older content repurposed for portable platforms and has a successful online version. When Square combined Final Fantasy with Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts they created a whole new franchise. Compare this with the number 5 franchise, Grand Theft Auto. The GTA games may out sell Final Fantasy on a per-game basis, but the franchise just doesn't seem to translate as well to portable platforms, online games, merchandising and spinoffs with Disney characters.
The contents of this report are as follows:
Company Analysis. 11
Top Franchises. 16
Key Recent Events. 26
Activision Notable Recent Events. 26
Atari/Infogrames Notable Recent Events. 26
Capcom Notable Recent Events. 26
Eidos Notable Recent Events. 27
Electronic Arts Notable Recent Events. 27
Konami Notable Recent Events. 27
Microsoft Notable Recent Events. 28
Midway Notable Recent Events. 28
Namco Notable Recent Events. 28
Nintendo Notable Recent Events. 29
Sega Sammy Notable Recent Events. 29
Sony Notable Recent Events. 29
Square Enix Notable Recent Events. 30
Take-Two Notable Recent Events. 30
THQ Notable Recent Events. 30
Ubisoft Notable Recent Events. 31
Vivendi Universal Games Notable Recent Events. 31
Revenue Comparisons. 32
Income Comparisons. 54
Operating Income Analysis. 54
Net Income Analysis. 62
Expense Comparisons. 70
Cost of Sales Analysis. 70
Sales and Marketing Analysis. 74
Research & Development Expense Analysis. 76
General & Administrative Expense Analysis. 78
Asset Comparisons. 80
Current Assets Analysis. 80
Cash Analysis. 81
Accounts Receivable Analysis. 84
Inventory Analysis. 86
Stock Market Performance Comparisons. 88
Market Value Analysis. 88
Mergers and Acquisitions. 105
Activision (35 pages) 120
Atari Infogrames (48 pages)
Capcom (29 pages)
Eidos Interactive (27 pages)
Electronic Arts (55 pages)
Konami (38 pages)
Microsoft (45 pages)
Midway (30 pages)
Namco (33 pages)
Nintendo (50 pages)
Sega Sammy (50 pages)
Sony (48 pages)
Square Enix (42 pages)
Take Two Interactive (39 pages)
THQ (39 pages)
Ubisoft (32 pages)
Vivendi Universal (36 pages)
Report: European Interactive Games Industry
Research and Markets recently released its new research report: European Interactive Games: The 2005 State of the Industry Report.
European Interactive Games is the companion volume to Interactive Leisure Software: Global Market Assessment report that Screen Digest publishes in association with the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA).
The report provides analysis of the structure and dynamics of the European games industry and looks at the changing factors affecting the key players throughout the games value chain. It contains 105 pages and 68 tables and charts.
The report is structured according to the composition of key industry sectors and the relevant players in each:
* Manufacturers of peripherals
* Middleware providers
Key findings from the report:
* Unlike the film and television industries, the UK games industry has consistently contributed a balance-of-payments surplus to the UK economy in recent years
* The number of employees in UK games studios as well as the number of studios has fallen since 2000
* Xbox was the only hardware platform to achieve growth in Europe during 2004
* The 2004 uplift in European software sales was more subdued than expected
* The trend for UK developers to downsize staffing numbers is likely to continue in 2005
* Average game development costs have risen by 300% since 1999
* The total number of employees in the UK games industry as a whole has risen by 7% between 2000 and 2004
For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c15238
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
The Adventure Company Ships Still Life
The Adventure Company, a publisher of adventure games, recently released Still Life, a Windows-based investigative thriller developed by Microids.
Players step into the role of Victoria McPherson, a young FBI agent and the granddaughter of Post Mortem's private detective, Gustav McPherson. On the hunt for a serial killer, Victoria is up against five dead bodies, a mountain of circumstantial evidence and an angry boss breathing down her neck. Things become more complicated when, on a visit to her childhood home, she comes across one of Gus's old case files dating back more than 75 years. As she reads deeper into the file, she discovers an uncanny number of similarities between her case in Chicago and the gruesome killings in 1920s Prague.
Still Life aims to gives players an insider view into the world of a criminal investigator. While on the case, they will employ a variety of forensic devices and techniques and investigate an intriguing cast of characters in modern-day Chicago and former-day Prague.
* Play as two characters: Private Eye, Gus McPherson or FBI Agent, Victoria McPherson.
* puzzles integrated into the storyline
* lifelike crime scene investigations of horrific serial homicides
* full-screen inventory offering an examine feature, with a zoom function, and a Combine button to allow wider use of inventory items
* detailed environments and cinematics
Fans can also take part in the three-part Still Life Extended Reality Experience, which focuses on the characters and events prior to the opening of Still Life and continues upon completion of the game. Players will scour several fictional, but realistic Websites created exclusively for the game universe, watching the story evolve through various media vehicles and following hidden hints and clues provided by alternate reality, and the marketing materials surrounding the game.
THQ Announces Evil Dead Game
Coming this summer from THQ Inc. is Evil Dead Regeneration for Xbox, PlayStation2, and Windows, developed by THQ studio Cranky Pants Games. The game explores a "what if..." continuation from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2. Players will control Ash, the reluctant hero of the series voiced by Bruce Campbell, as they're thrown into a masquerade of evil events, equipped with the latest in prosthetic fashion.
Thought to have murdered his companions, Ash is arrested, convicted of the crime, and sentenced to Sunny Meadows, an institute for the criminally insane, but not for long. Ash's peaceful stay is about to end, thanks to the perverted experiments of his psychiatrist, Dr. Reinhard. Hell-bent on using science to harness the Necronomicon's powers, the mad doctor unleashes the book's all-powerful evil on the world -- releasing a new slew of Deadites, monsters and spirits, twisting reality into a hellish strudel and leaving mankind with that not-so-fresh apocalyptic feeling.
Sony Announces New Ratchet, Sly, Jak PS2 Games
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. recently announced details behind the fall 2005 release three of its top PS2 franchises:
Ratchet: Deadlocked by Insomniac Games incorporates co-op gameplay in both single-player and multiplayer story modes as well as squad-based functionality. Ratchet and Clank are captured and forced to compete on an underground reality combat sport show. Vox subjects the hero to a series of deadly battles and elaborate games of death, much to the delight of the show's enormous audience. To keep himself and his friends alive, Ratchet must participate in the games and keep driving up the show's ratings with spectacular victories until he can figure out a way to break free from Vox's control.
Ratchet: Deadlocked features non-linear gameplay, and all single-player levels will be available for multiplayer use. With much of the combat taking place in battlefields and arenas, gameplay will be more sports-oriented and will include announcer commentary. Featuring a new mission-structure approach, players will be rewarded with a constant progression of items such as weapons, armor and health. A new weapons modification system provides players the ability to choose the way their weapon powers up -- both numerically and functionally -- providing players with thousands of possible mod combinations.
In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves from Sucker Punch Productions, players will be able to replay missions via the time machine feature, thus providing an opportunity to sneak around an environment again using alternative moves and disguises in order to achieve even higher Master Thief ratings. In the new multiplayer mode, players will play head-to-head and experience cooperative missions or replay mini-games together.
Lastly, Jak X: Combat Racing, created by Naughty Dog, Inc., evolves the Jak and Daxter franchise with head-to-head car combat incorporating both multiplayer and online functionality. As destructible objects, other racers and their ammunition and explosions careen by them, players will compete against each other as they participate in more than 100 events over the race season in Adventure mode. In addition, players will be tasked with a variety of missions spanning across other various play modes including Time Trial, Death Race and Arena Death Match as they rip up the terrain. To compete, six players can participate in head-to-head action utilizing a broadband connection, or two individuals can play against each other in multiplayer mode.
Features include over a dozen customizable vehicles, with multiple segment "snap-ons" that include body parts, paint patterns and colors, and fun add-on accessories such as decals, bobble heads and antennae flags. Many of the items are scarce and must be found through careful exploration. A power-up system provides players multiple strategies for races and tasks, as players can pick up turbo, health and weapons as they complete their missions. The Eco power-up system is based on Jak's world with each color representing a turbo, projectile, special weapon, repair and more. Power-ups include projectile weapons, smart bombs, mines, catastrophic attacks, shields and turbos, and each helps to deliver a more destructive and challenging experience for players.
Webbies Bound for Big Apple
The 9th Annual Webby Awards will take place in New York City on Monday, June 6, 2005, marking the first time the event will be held outside its San Francisco birthplace.
Hailed as "the online Oscars" by The New York Times and "the only awards for internet sites that matters" by The Los Angeles Times, The Webby Awards are the leading international honors for Web sites.
The 9th Annual Webby Awards will honor the best Web sites of the year on Monday, June 6th, at New York City's landmark Gotham Hall, a majestic turn of the century ballroom.
The master of ceremonies for the star-studded event will be celebrated comedian Rob Corddry, correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
This year's event also marks the debut of Webby Special Achievement awards, which will recognize influential leaders using the Web to reinvent, business, entertainment, and popular culture. Recipients of the new awards, which include Webby Person of the Year, Artist of the Year and the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced in early May.
More than 400 folks from the fields of media, advertising, business, technology, entertainment, politics, and the arts will attend the ceremony, which will showcase winners delivering five-word acceptance speeches. Webbys will be handed out in 65 categories ranging from Blog and Fashion to Retail and Film.
The 9th Annual Webby Awards received over 4,000 entries, including submissions from more than 40 countries and all 50 states. Nominations were unveiled April 12, and winners will be announced on May 3, 2005 and honored at the June 6th event.
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/online-development tools and end product for review.
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