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Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

26 April 2004
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:spectrum1@broadviewnet.net
Search the Spectrum archives at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
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Today's Headlines (details below)

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX
--Khronos Group Releases OpenML 1.0 SDK
--TransMedia Updates Media Management System
--Savvis, HP Team for Deliver Digital Media Platform

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--Adobe, Intel Seek Universal 3D Standard
--wondertouch Announces particleIllusion Plug-In for After Effects
--Toon Boom Updates Studio for Mac
--Bauhaus Announces Bluefish444 Support in Mirage
--Alien Skin, Others Offer Plug-in Bundle
--mental images Updates 3D Renderer
--Apple Announces Motion Graphics App

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--Report Examines Animation Outsourcing

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Sony Releases New Survival-Horror, EyeToy Titles
--EA Announces Plans for The URBZ
--Eidos Ships Hitman: Contracts
--Sony Announces Jak 3 for PS2
--Sony Announces Ratchet & Clank Sequel
--NCsoft Unveils E3 Lineup

HAPPENINGS --Registration Opens for 2004 Open Source Convention

F.Y.I. --About Spectrum

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DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Khronos Group Releases OpenML 1.0 SDK

Just out from The Khronos Group is the final release of its Software Development Kit (SDK) for OpenML 1.0. The OpenML specification provides software and hardware developers with a cross-platform programming environment for the standardized capturing, processing, synchronizing and playing of digital media content, including video, audio and 3D graphics. The OpenML 1.0 SDK contains executable libraries and utilities to enable OpenML applications to run on Linux, IRIX and Windows systems; source and header files for the libraries to enable new OpenML applications to be built; source code for example OpenML applications and audio and video device modules which can be used as a starting point for building commercial applications; and full documentation. The license agreement for obtaining the free SDK is available at the Khronos Group Website http://www.khronos.org/developers/downloads.html .

Since their release, the beta version of the OpenML SDK has been downloaded nearly 4,000 times and the OpenML API Specification over 13,000 times. The Khronos OpenML Working Group is now defining an OpenML open source program and an OpenML Adopters Program that will define Conformance Tests to enable the OpenML trademark to be used on conformant products. Khronos has also started work on the next version of OpenML that will extend its professional media authoring capabilities while taking advantage of advances in related standards such as the OpenGL Shading Language set of release in OpenGL 2.0 in mid-2004.

The Khronos Group is a member-funded industry consortium focused on the creation of open standard APIs to enable the authoring and playback of dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices. Members are able to contribute to the development of Khronos API specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able to accelerate the delivery of 3D platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.

http://www.khronos.org

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TransMedia Updates Media Management System

TransMedia last week unveiled Colaborata 2.2 at the 2004 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas. Colaborata 2.2 introduces new media management, collaboration, production and distribution modules in an integrated and compatible online platform.

The universal online platform is said to let users manage, preview, share, collaborate, communicate, publish, distribute and transact media content. Colaborata reportedly manages virtually all major digital formats of video, audio, images and documents. TransMedia claims the modular online solution is non-invasive and integrates with existing workflow processes and systems.

TransMedia's digital-media-management module allows users to drag and drop multiple video, audio, image and document files into the browser window for automated upload, metadata extraction, indexing, sorting, archiving, and transcoding. The system automatically generates browser-based media previews at various resolutions, creating instant previewing and sharing compatibility with virtually any user. Users can add unlimited custom metadata to assets and projects. New at NAB are advanced metadata search, sort and edit functionality, and asset status and tracking.

The collaboration module allows users to share and use information via multimedia collaboration and communication tools, and the production module is an online media production, broadcasting and third party media content resource for producers and other media content creators. And the distribution module supports audio and video publishing and syndication tools, as well as equipping a sales force with multimedia sales tools, plus integrated subscription and ecommerce services.

http://www.transmediacorp.com

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Savvis, HP Team for Deliver Digital Media Platform

Savvis Communications, a global IT utility, is collaborating with HP on the development of a new system for digital entertainment creation, management and distribution.

This effort will reportedly result in the HP Digital Media Platform, an industry-standard platform touted to link together all production and post-production applications, technologies and processes in a way that enables the media and entertainment industries to securely and efficiently create and deliver digital entertainment across multiple media channels and invent new entertainment experiences and revenue models.

The HP Digital Media Platform is designed to enable companies that own, create and distribute digital content-such as broadcasters, cable operators, film studios, Internet service providers, advertising agencies, and video and music production houses-to collaborate more effectively, resulting in faster time to market and quicker and more profitable revenue streams.

The Digital Media Platform consists of a complete set of tools and infrastructure that addresses the entire workflow process, assists the management of media assets along the content lifecycle and provides for easy plug and play of applications. Savvis and HP are collaborating to ensure the platform protects the management and distribution of digital content in the broadcast and entertainment industry

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Adobe, Intel Seek Universal 3D Standard

Adobe, Boeing, Intel Corporation, and more than 30 other companies last week formed the 3D Industry Forum, whose stated goal is to remove technical barriers and promote the adoption of a common standard so interactive 3D content can be as widely used online and in business as digital audio, video and photos.

The cross-industry group of developers and corporate users of 3D graphics technology will work with Ecma International, an international standards body, on a Universal 3D Format proposal as an ISO standard.

The power of interactive 3D graphics to communicate ideas, to educate and entertain is widely understood. But even as bandwidth and computing performance has increased across corporations, a lack of standards for experiencing and sharing 3D content online and among standard applications has limited its use outside of the engineering and design communities.

A universal standard for repurposing 3D content, such as product designs, would enable companies and educators to make interactive simulations a common training tool. Electronic owners' manuals could provide interactive guides for maintaining and repairing cars, boats, planes and other equipment. Customers of online catalogs could try products based on the 3D computer models used to produce them.

"Each time a new media standard has been enabled in computing and communications, it has led to an explosion of new uses and new markets," said Pat Gelsinger, Intel senior vice president and chief technology officer. "This collaboration between different industries marks a significant step toward turning 3D graphics into the next ubiquitous media, the same way the JPG-file format brought pictures to our PCs, the Internet and even cell phones."

"Boeing is investigating interactive 3D technologies to provide its employees and customers with enriched media that revolutionizes how complex product data is communicated," said George Uffenorde, 3D Technology Manager, Boeing. "We are working to develop very efficient information delivery processes to produce more cost effective training and improved visualization methods. We are participating in the 3D Industry Forum because it provides the necessary framework to collaborate with other thought leaders in developing and standardizing the infrastructure to enable broad-based use of 3D."

The 3D Industry Forum began when Intel researchers gathered a group of leading 3D graphics hardware and software developers together to discuss the implications of a establishing a common standard for sharing 3D content over the Web. Additional discussions with corporate users of 3D graphics revealed a common desire to repurpose the 3D assets they developed for product design across the corporation in training, documentation, marketing, sales, as well as over the Web. Today, there are more than 30 members of the Forum. The goals of the 3D Industry Forum are:
* creation of a common standard for sharing interactive 3D content
* to provide tools and information for the use of these technologies
* establish a community for ongoing industry initiatives and development in 3D graphics
* promotion of industry growth and ecosystem development for the 3D graphics market

The first version of the Universal 3D open format will be released later this year with a sample player and runtime libraries to support adoption and implementation. Key features will include streaming and compression, animation and the capability for end users to begin interacting with the content before the entire file is downloaded to its destination.

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International has developed standards for information and communication technology and consumer electronics. Ecma is a not-for-profit industry association of technology developers, vendors and users. Industry and other experts work together in Ecma to complete standards, and then Ecma submits the approved work for approval as ISO, ISO/IEC and ETSI standards. More information can be found at: http://www.ecma-international.org .

http://www.3dif.org
http://developer.intel.com

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wondertouch Announces particleIllusion Plug-In for After Effects

wondertouch, a developer of particle-effects software tools for the visual effects industry, is developing a new particleIllusion plug-in for Adobe After Effects (Windows and Mac OS X). The plug-in, expected to ship in late Q2 / early Q3 '04 (pricing TBD), will let motion-graphics and visual-effects professionals working in the film post-production and pre-visualization, commercial broadcast, standard and HD video, and Web graphics industries to access the particleIllusion 3.0 engine from directly within the After Effects environment to add and modify effects from the particleIllusion library.

http://www.wondertouch.com

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Toon Boom Updates Studio for Mac

Just out from Montreal-based Toon Boom Animation is Toon Boom Studio version 2.5 for Mac OS X. V2.5 (coming soon for PC). New features in the $199 upgrade include sound scrubbing in the Timeline, the ability to draw in Sceneplanning, and support for scanning.

For a full list of new features, see http://www.toonboom.com/products/toonBoomStudio/featuresMac.php

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Bauhaus Announces Bluefish444 Support in Mirage

Bauhaus Software, a provider of products and technologies for the digital visual effects market, says its Mirage product line natively supports several of Bluefish444's Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) graphics cards, including WildBlue|AV, HD|Lust and HD|Fury. Combining Mirage's paint, animation and effects software with Bluefish444's hardware technology provides broadcasters and post-production professionals with a digital-output solution for both previewing and broadcast production.

With Bluefish444's WildBlue|AV card, users can output a real-time framebuffer signal directly from Mirage for previewing on an NSTC/PAL monitor, and see immediate results of their work in broadcast-quality.

In addition, using Bluefish444's HD|Lust and HD|Fury capture and playback cards, Mirage outputs full-frame real-time broadcast-quality HD and SD video modes.

http://www.bauhaussoftware.com
http://www.bluefish444.com

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Alien Skin, Others Offer Plug-in Bundle

Four Adobe Photoshop plug-in developers have partnered to create and offer a software package The Essential Plug-ins Bundle. The bundle includes seven Photoshop plug-in programs for Mac OS X/9.x and Windows systems. The value of these products, when purchased separately, is $913.90. The Essential Plug-ins Bundle is being offered for $199.00 (US). Sales for the bundle will end May 31.

The bundle includes:
* Andromeda Series 3 Screens
* Andromeda EtchTone
* Alien Skin Image Doctor
* Alien Skin Splat
* Digital Element Aurora
* nik Color Efex Pro! Photo Classic/Design Bundle
* nik Color Efex Pro! 2.0 Select Upgrade

http://www.alienskin.com
http://www.andromeda.com
http://www.digi-element.com
http://www.nikmultimedia.com

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mental images Updates 3D Renderer

mental images, last week released version 3.3 of mental ray, its rendering software. mental ray is used for visual effects in motion pictures and for the computer-based design of industrial products.

mental images developed mental ray 3.3 in cooperation with Nvidia Corporation to utilize the new line of Nvidia QuadroFX 4000 boards and its Cg programming language. In addition to performance improvements, especially when rendering scenes that contain hair or fur geometry, additional features include the following:

* accelerated graphics hardware rendering: Exploitation of available graphics hardware for high quality rendering, including support for OpenGL, NVIDIA's Cg 1.2 higher level language, phenomena and shade trees where hardware shaders are available. Automatic combination of hardware and software generated elements. Support for displacement mapping, order independent transparency, hair geometry, volumes, and high quality anti-aliasing
* detail shadowmaps: Combination of shadowmap and ray-traced shadow algorithms for more realistic shadows
* subsurface scattering: physically correct simulation of subsurface scattering effects, according to actual local geometric and optic properties
* state shaders: Tighter integration with animation packages and improved interface between mental ray and front ends, resulting in better control of application-specific rendering effects and phenomena
* conditional rendering of scene files for improved selection and control of processing scene contents
* OpenEXR image file format: Support of the OpenEXR high dynamic range image file format developed at Industrial Light & Magic, for texture and image output

http://www.mentalimages.com

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Apple Announces Motion Graphics App

Coming this summer from Apple is Motion, a new $299 application for the interactive animation of text, graphics and video, with instant previewing of multiple filters and particle effects. It includes "behaviors," which let users add "natural-looking" movement to type and graphics, such as gravity and wind, without the use of keyframes.

Motion's behaviors use procedural animation techniques to create natural simulations, such as gravity and wind, or interaction between multiple objects, such as attraction and repulsion. Users can automatically generate fluid motion effects with minimal effort and make modifications without having deal with keyframes. Users familiar with keyframes can use Motion's Keyframe Editor to plot precise parameter values at specific frames.

Motion also includes a particle engine that lets artists apply presets such as smoke, sparkles and fire to an animation. Using Motion, a graphic element can be turned into a particle and then modified to create unlimited, customized special effects.

The user interface employs "dashboards," or contextual, semi-transparent floating palettes that provide tools and slider parameters for objects being animated on screen. Behaviors are applied with a graphical control that appears on the dashboard. Motion also includes 25 "gestures," which, in some mysterious way apparently not worthy of mention in the press release, obviate searching for keyboard commands or menu items.

Motion integrates with Apple's suite of applications, including Final Cut Pro HD, DVD Studio Pro 3, Shake 3.5, Soundtrack, and Logic Pro 6.

http://www.apple.com/motion

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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Report Examines Animation Outsourcing

Research and Markets last week added State of the Global Animation Industry: Developing Competitive Advantage through Outsourcing to India to its offerings.

The rapid advancement of technology has made computer animation available to the masses and the animation industry is one of the fastest-growing industries. Owing to the increase in computing power and the reduction in computing costs, we are seeing more and more of the global computer animation production output taking place outside of North America. This is a pattern we have seen for the past three years, with the resultant growing importance of the outsourced computer animation production market. This market is increasingly being tapped by North American film and television program producers. The major factor behind this shift of computer animation production to the Asia/Pacific region continues to be the availability of low-cost, powerful computer animation platforms and much lower labor rates in the Asian and Pacific Rim countries compared to North America and Europe. The bulk of the outsourcing happens for 2D animation content with some amount of 3D content.

The global computer animation production industry is very fragmented and the total number of players in this industry runs in excess of 4,000. Most of the small and medium players are located outside of North America and execute outsourced animation projects. The costs of getting work done in countries such as Korea is said to be roughly half that incurred in production houses in developed countries. In countries such as the Philippines and India, the costs are even lower (25 - 30 % of the cost of production in developed countries). The low local labor costs in these countries means that they can offer computer animation production services to American and European producers at very attractive rates. The cost-competitive advantage along with the delivery of good international standards of animation by studios in India has encouraged these production houses to look towards India as the future destination to outsource their assignments.

There is a considerable increase in the 2D and 3D animation outsourcing to India. Due to the extremely competitive climate as well as the global slowdown, some of the large studios in the US have implemented large amounts of layoffs of animators and artists. India is slowly emerging as an alternative to Korea, Philippine and Taipei for animation outsourcing. India is also emerging as a post-production hub for animation.

http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c1410

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Sony Releases New Survival-Horror, EyeToy Titles

New from Sony Computer Entertainment America is Siren for PlayStation 2. Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, in conjunction with Sony Computer Entertainment America's Santa Monica Studios, the game is set in a fictional Japanese village, where a terrible force slowly turns the civilians into vile creatures.

With a story loosely inspired by Japanese folklore and horror movies from around the world, the game, which takes place over the course of three days, makes time irrelevant as episodes do not happen in chronological order. The story builds as the player uses their own character's psychic abilities to look through the eyes of the shibito. The shibito or 'living dead' are civilians in the village that have been slowly transforming into evil creatures that are out to destroy the player. Players can steal the viewpoint of the shibito in their surroundings by using the 'sightjack' system, foreseeing danger and predicting enemies' actions. However, in this world of unspeakable evil and horrific visions, this extraordinary observational power could be more of a curse than a blessing. With 78 missions in the game, every individual has their own chilling story to tell throughout the various episodes, providing not only a mission to survive, but an opportunity to slowly piece together the horrifying events that have overcome the village of Hanuda.

Also just out for PS2 from Sony is EyeToy: Groove, developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's London Studio. The interactive videogame lets players dance in time with one of the 28 licensed songs from such artists as Elvis, Madonna, Jessica Simpson, Village People, and Fatboy Slim, with no controller or dance pad necessary.

If playing solo, gamers can try out dance moves or just choose to interact with onscreen special effects in the Chill Out Room. Multi-player options include Tournament Mode, where players take turns to determine who has the best rhythm, reaction time and accuracy, and Team Sync Mode, which lets friends conquer the dance floor together, plus Battle Sync Mode, where players dance together while being judged separately.

In addition to the game modes, EyeToy: Groove features a Dance Move Maker option that enables players to be their own choreographer by creating a custom routine to the song of their choice. Pick a song, record movements as it plays, and at the end of the tune, import the routine into the solo groove mode in place of a difficulty level.

http://www.us.playstation.com

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EA Announces Plans for The URBZ

Coming this fall from Electronic Arts is The URBZ (working title) for PlayStation2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance. For the first time, Sims are living in the city where reputation (rep) is everything. Players will custom-create these new Sims, called Urbz, by customizing their style and building their status to become the biggest “player” in the city.

Players will take their Urbz to work and be challenged by bosses at locations like the Sushi Bar, Chop Shop, or Bootleg Fireworks, Inc. Success brings the player well-earned promotions and gets them access to power socials to help them influence other Urbz. The fast-paced lifestyles in The URBZ is evident in gameplay including job challenges based on a direct-control mechanic for job objects, skill-building objects, and power social interactions.

The URBZ is built on a new graphics engine touted to re-create the essence of living in a vibrant city with distinct districts inhabited by Urbz with unique lifestyles. The game's style captures the pulse of the action-packed downtown, ritzy shopping districts, Bohemian artist workshops, and a gritty subway station. Players create their Urbz using a new character-customization engine to show off attitude and unique style, as well as signature “bling” such as tattoos and nose rings.

Players build relationships to increase their rep, influence other Urbz, and gain access to city districts, jobs, and lifestyles. Gaining access to all districts in the city, being able to live in any district, live any lifestyle, and become the biggest “player” in the city is the ultimate goal.

In the GBA version, being developed by EA's Maxis studio in conjunction with Griptonite Games, players will hit the big city and work to increase the reputation of their Urbz to gain access to the hottest spots in town. Players start out in a city on the brink of ruin. After getting fired from their job, they'll stumble upon Daddy BigBucks' devious plot to take over the city. Players are challenged to thwart his evil schemes, while building their rep to become the biggest “player” in the city.

Players gain access to new vehicles like a hover craft to explore 25 brand new locations including Urbania, Sim Quarter, and the Bayou where they will interact with residents, master eight lively mini-games such as Moogoo Monkey Madness and Motocross Mayhem, unlock new Xizzle motive power ups, and collect over 120 new objects. Players will link two GameBoy Advance systems together in the Multiplayer Café and play head-to-head mini-games, unlock new features, and trade rare items.

http://www.ea.com

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Eidos Ships Hitman: Contracts

Eidos, a publisher and developer of entertainment software, last week shipped its action-stealth game Hitman: Contracts, developed by IO Interactive, for PlayStation2, Xbox, and the PC. The game offers new missions with a greater variety of ways to make the hit, and a larger arsenal of firearms and close-combat weapons. Other features include a new graphics engine, an improved control system, and a more gradual learning curve.

Hitman: Contracts takes the player into the mind of Agent 47, a ruthlessly efficient contract killer. The game begins in Paris as Agent 47 finds himself in a trapped in what is a dangerous situation, even for him. Eidos claims the game explores the dark psychology of killing for a living and promises to be the darkest, most disturbing episode in the series.

http://www.eidos.com

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Sony Announces Jak 3 for PS2

Coming this fall from Sony Computer Entertainment America is Jak 3 for PlayStation2. Developed by Naughty Dog, the new title concludes the Jak and Daxter trilogy with a plot-driven adventure game filled with friendship, betrayal, death, and an understanding of the Precursor civilization that has, until now, remained a mystery.

Haven City is still immersed in deadly chaos as three groups fight for control of the streets. The people of Haven City have grown to distrust Jak's dark powers, and as rumors boil of Jak's ties with Krew and Kor, the city blames Jak for its current woeful circumstances. When the palace is destroyed by a surprise Metal Head attack, even Ashelin cannot protect Jak as the High Council's power broker, Count Veger, forces Jak into banishment to the desolate Wasteland. Jak is flown to the harsh island and dumped. With Daxter and Pecker bravely by his side, the three begin their next adventure where the battle for the city has just begun.

Five times the size of Haven City, the Wasteland is a desert environment with multiple areas including mines and a volcano. Given the enormity and variance in terrain, vehicles play a large role as off-road transportation is introduced, fueled by a physics engine. With a rugged new look and suited with armor, Jak is also equipped with an arsenal of new weapons with upgradeable mods that enable players to increase their firepower and enjoy the freedom to strategize and activate their arsenal at any time.

As Jak has been exposed to Light Eco, players can now experience Jak's transformation to Light Jak. With a glowing electric blue aura and a massive wing span, Light Jak introduces new move sets, including the ability to glide great distances, emit energy to block enemy attack, and power up at any time. Dark Jak also returns with more capabilities, forcing Jak to find a balance between light and dark.

Additional new technology includes enemies with "ragdoll physics," which provides a unique death for each enemy that is killed. Naughty Dog has also implemented independent cloth-movement technology and enhanced the enemy artificial intelligence (AI) with wall climbing and smart formation capabilities.

http://www.naughtydog.com
http://www.us.playstation.com

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Sony Announces Ratchet & Clank Sequel

Also coming for PS2 from Sony this fall is Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, developed by Insomniac Games. The third installment in the franchise incorporates new elements of gameplay including online and offline multiplayer capabilities. Gamers return to Planet Veldin, the setting of the original Ratchet & Clank, where the duo set off on a new adventure through a multitude of diverse planets to fight for galactic peace. Players will be able to earn up to 20 weapons (including online and offline) with up to four levels of upgrades for most weapons, plus new high-tech gadgets to help them through their journey.

Ratchet and Clank are able to recruit Captain Qwark from previous games, out of retirement to lead the Q-Force, an unlikely band of heroic space cadets comprised of characters from the Ratchet & Clank franchise. This includes Helga, the robotic seductress; Big Al, a techno-geek with the ability to encrypt technology systems; and Skidd McMarxx, a former hoverboarding champ and pro slacker turned spy.

The Starship Phoenix, headquarters for the Q-Force, serves as a key information hub, and is also where players receive new missions and training and purchase armor and weapons. In addition, players can use new vehicles, like the Turbo Slider or Hovership, to compete in races and combat enemies in intense battlefield missions. Refined intuitive enemy artificial intelligence means non-playable characters behave more intelligently by gathering information about their environments and forthcoming attacks, ultimately providing the player with more challenging gameplay.

In the split-screen multiplayer game, up to four players can play offline, while the multiplayer online mode accommodates up to eight players over a broadband connection. In addition, six new levels are introduced for online play, featuring several elements that encourage team-based activities in modes such as capturing an enemy's base. For example, destructible environment obstacles in battlefield environments create strategic gameplay decisions and general mayhem. Commandeering multiple vehicles further encourages strategic co-op gameplay by allowing players to work together as one person navigates the vehicle while the other works its weapon's arsenal.

In order to promote community gameplay, voice communication will be supported online via the USB headset (for PlayStation2), allowing players to communicate with fellow team members during online games, either in-game or in the main lobby. The lobby area will feature an online friends list, allowing players to be matched up based on their gameplay statistics and will offer the ability to select from a variety of player skins.

http://www.insomniacgames.com

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NCsoft Unveils E3 Lineup

NCsoft, a developer and publisher of online computer games, last week announced its lineup of games for next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), May 12-14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The games on display will include Guild Wars, a competitive role-playing game from Seattle-based ArenaNet, Tabula Rasa from Richard Garriott, and Auto Assault from the developers at NetDevil. NCsoft will also be showing Lineage II and City of Villains, an expansion to Cryptic Studios' City of Heroes comic-book-inspired online game.

* Guild Wars -- From the developers who helped create StarCraft, Warcraft, Diablo and Battle.net, Guild Wars (www.guildwars.com) will let players compete based on their gaming skill rather than hours played. The game is also said to combine a social world with a personal story.
* Tabula Rasa -- Created by Destination Games, features include 3D environments, alien creatures and characters, and "technorganic" fashion and architecture. Tabula Rasa includes integrated voice chat and an original soundtrack by Chris Vrenna.
* Auto Assault -- Combines vehicular combat with futuristic weaponry and hundreds of skills and you get Auto Assault. Hop in customized cars, semis, and motorcycles and prepare to fight the mutated creatures and bandits of Auto Assault's post-apocalyptic world. Battle other players both in arenas and in epic race vs. race wars for control of the regions in a devastated Earth. Auto Assault uses the Havok physics engine to let you make jumps, send obstacles flying and blast bridges, buildings, fences and trees with car-mounted rockets.
* City of Villains -- Play the bad guy in Paragon City in Cryptic Studios' City of Villains, currently under development and to be shown in limited play at E3. With City of Heroes (www.cityofheroes.com) set for an April 28 launch, Cryptic developers are working on the first major expansion to the game that will allow players to take on the role of villain in Paragon's modern metropolis. Turn the tide on all the heroes and heroines and lead your crime syndicate into battle in the 3D backdrop of Paragon City.
* Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle -- From the creators of Lineage, a successful online role-playing game, comes a new experience in medieval massively multiplayer games. Lineage II (www.lineage2.com) uses Unreal technology to provide a 3D world in which to adventure, siege and conquer and the game's player-vs.-player combat system reportedly allows for a unique and player-driven in-game society.

http://www.ncsoft.net

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HAPPENINGS

Registration Opens for 2004 Open Source Convention

The O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) returns to Portland, OR from July 26-30. Open source tools are being used to cruise Mars and plumb the secrets of genomes-- unthinkable achievements when the convention started seven years ago. Apache runs more than half of the world's Web sites. Linux is making headlines thanks to a legal donnybrook involving corporate giants.

However, as open source opportunities multiply, so do the growing pains. Notes OSCON program chair Nathan Torkington, "Open source mindshare is gained and lost, not by legal battles, but by technical and economic decisions by developers, administrators, and their managers asking 'What's the ROI if we move to Linux?' 'Can I do this project in PHP?' 'Is Mono stable enough for our next project?'"

Torkington has planned this year's OSCON to tackle these issues and many more. Skill-related topics, like new tools and programming language changes, will be featured alongside strategic ones: How are open source languages intertwining, both with each other and with commercial products? If "open source" moves to "open services," who will the players be in this new space, and what are the deeper implications for software and applications? How will business models continue to morph to accommodate open source's proliferation?

The keynote speakers for OSCON 2004 embody open source's diversity and its adoption into the enterprise: Freeman, Esther, and George Dyson praise the concept of "open thinking"; AT&T Wireless' Robert Lefkowitz deconstructs the semasiology of open source; Milton Ngan of Weta Digital wraps up his LOTR keynote trilogy; Novell's Vice Chairman Chris Stone talks about making open source a mainstream reality; Bdale Garbee, Linux CTO of HP, delves into the continuing importance of community development; and Tim O'Reilly outlines new trends creeping onto his radar.

http://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/

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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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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