Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

2 August 1999

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman

for editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com

Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

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Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER

--CoffeeCup Releases HTML Editor++ for Linux

--Active Concepts Ships Funnel Web for Unix

--Blackboard Updates Online Teaching/Learning Platform

IN THE INFOGROOVE

--RealNetworks Introduces RealSlideshow

--NetMind Launches Mind-it 3.0 Web Tracking Application

--NovaWiz Unveils Odigo Search/Communications Tool

--WebSideStory Ranks Top Web Plug-Ins

 

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

--Open-Source GEL to Enable Online Multi-User 3D

--Discreet Ships 3D Studio Max R3

--Digimation Ships Toon/Illustration Renderer for 3DS Max

--Adobe Ships Photoshop 5.5

--Ulead Releases SFX Pack for Cool 3D, Photo Express Platinum 2000 

--Virtools to Integrate NeMo 3D Authoring Tool with Macromedia Director

--PuppetTime x 3

--Realviz S.A. Announces Softimage Distribution Partnership

WEBSIGHTINGS

--Loki Launches Site

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

--Jupiter: Defensive Stance on MP3 Hurts Industry

DEALS

--Lotus to Purchase Macromedia Pathware Business

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

--Monolith Set to Ship Rage of Mages II: Necromancer

--Bungie Announces Halo

--EA Ships Mac SimCity 3000

--Acclaim's Shadow Man Goes Gold

--EA, FIRAXIS to Release Alpha Centauri Expansion

--Sierra to Incorporate 3Deep Tech into Homeworld

--Activision to Make PSX Star Trek Game

--System Shock 2 Set to Ship from EA, Looking Glass

--Wilco Adds Grand Canyon to MS Flight Sim

--Interplay Announces Invictus RTS

--Delphine Ships Darkstone 3D Action Role-Playing Game

 

NUMBEROLOGY

--Be Incorporated Announces IPO

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

--Ex-EA, GT Developers Join Interplay

 

HAPPENINGS

--Wrox Press to Stage ASP Pro Web Developers Conference

--Seybold San Francisco

--Miller Freeman Announces GDC RoadTrip Series

 

F.Y.I.

--About Spectrum

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WEBMEISTER

CoffeeCup Releases HTML Editor++ for Linux

CoffeeCup Software's new GTK Editor for Linux features 60 JavaScripts, Quick Start Wizard, Table and Frame designers, a large HTML tag vocabulary, 30 background images, more than 175 animated GIFs, upwards of 140 Web icon graphics, a snippet editor, project directories, a horizontal rule designer, and a link wizard. Also included in the Linux version are PHP and VRML samples.

http://www.coffeecup.com

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Active Concepts Ships Funnel Web for Unix

Australia-based Active Concepts is shipping Funnel Web, its US$995 Web site traffic analysis package, on the Unix platform. New features include Proxy analysis and a choice of command-line interface or Graphical User Interface (GUI). Funnel Web/Unix is available on Linux and FreeBSD with releases scheduled for Solaris, Mac OS X Server, HP-Unix, SCO Unix, IRIX and Digital Unix throughout the coming months.

Also new is a Funnel Web 3.5 update. New features include a setup wizard and log file viewer for easier Web Site analysis; referral

filtering for independent click-through verification; three new reports measuring loyalty, circulation and time online; and a reported 100% performance

increase in processing the Mean Path Through Site report. Funnel Web 3.5 is available for Windows '95, Windows '98, Windows NT and Mac OS.

http://www.activeconcepts.com/

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Blackboard Updates Online Teaching/Learning Platform

Online education company Blackboard Inc. recently launched Blackboard CourseInfo 3.0, the newest version of its online learning platform. Features include:

  1. course conversion hooks that will support upcoming utilities developed by Blackboard and partners to migrate    courses developed with early standalone Web course tool systems.
  2. enhanced discussion boards. Faculty can customize discussion forums, allowing them to    designate forum administrators, set reply options and lock and archive discussion threads.
  3. extensive search capability with CourseMap feature that streamlines information gathering and sorting.
  4. new assessment engine that lets instructors attach graphic files to questions and assign test key codes used to deploy online tests at a distance
  5. live classroom module includes integrated   virtual chat, whiteboard, and slide show

http://www.Blackboard.com/

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IN THE INFOGROOVE

RealNetworks Introduces RealSlideshow

Streaming media specialist RealNetworks' new RealSlideshow lets home and business users make and broadcast digital pictures over the Internet, enhanced with RealAudio. RealSlideshow creates Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) -based presentations, which play back using native image formats, including JPEG and BMP, in RealPlayer G2.

RealSlideshow is available for free download from http://www.real.com/products/tools/slideshow/index.html

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NetMind Launches Mind-it 3.0 Web Tracking Application

NetMind Technologies recently launched a new version of Mind-it, its free online service that tracks changes to any Web-based information and proactively notifies users by email when changes have occurred. New features include:

  1. My Mind-it - central Web location where users can go to view all the information they are tracking.
  2. QuickMinds - directs users to one location where they can find lists of the most popular Web pages, categorized into special interest groups for easy "minding."
  3. Minder Wizard - a utility that travels with users as they surf the Web and lets them set tracking requests on the fly.
  4. SmartLinks - remembers log-in information and allows users to automatically enter sites with one click.

http://www.netmind.com/

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NovaWiz Unveils Odigo Search/Communications Tool

NovaWiz's new Odigo is said to combine real-time information, dynamic graphics and a sophisticated search technique based on users' real-time interests. It merges instant messaging, chat-on-page and temporary Web page note posting tools into a single application.

Once at a site, Odigo lets users communicate with other people on the Web through instant messaging, email, and/or chat-on-page. When visiting a Web page, temporary notes can be posted on Odigo that can be viewed by other users on that particular page. To avoid clutter, messages disappear from Odigo when the user who posted them logs off.

http://www.odigo.com

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WebSideStory Ranks Top Web Plug-Ins

WebSideStory, a provider of Internet tracking and traffic analysis, recently reported the top 10 installed base of plug-ins on the Internet. The report is based on data from StatMarket (http://www.statmarket.com), which compiles data on Internet user trends.

This report came from information culled from approximately 8,000,000 unique daily visitors using Netscape browsers. The top 10 plug-ins on July 16, 1999 were:

1.  LiveAudio   82.46%

2.  AVI       75.37%

3.  QuickTime   68.51%

4.  Flash      63.96%

5.  Beatnik     37.92%

6.  Shockwave    34.30%

7.  Media Player  34.04%

8.  Acrobat     31.32%

9.  RealPlayer G2 31.18%

10. Cosmo 1.0    12.21%

http://www.Websidestory.com

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Open-Source GEL to Enable Online Multi-User 3D


A new Linux-style open-source project called GEL aims to deliver interactive, visually superior 3D for the Internet. Following the open development model, GEL source code will be released free of charge, at SIGGRAPH 99 (mid-August, Los Angeles). On its release GEL will consist of a core engine and authoring tools--a working infrastructure for the community to refine and extend.

GEL 3D worlds are fundamentally distributed, dynamic and interactive. Users will reportedly be able to build worlds collaboratively, editing objects, scenes and behaviors live, in real time. Applications include gaming, entertainment, e-commerce, education, and virtual communities. Features include non-polygonal modeling, a new 3D API and graphics card driver (QDraw) by the original authors of Microsoft's Direct3D, distributed processing, peer-to-peer networking, and a visual authoring toolkit.

GEL stands for Graph Evaluation Language.  Graphs (networks of connected objects) are the underlying components of the system; the scene graph, the object hierarchy, behaviors, and the communication network are all graphs.  GEL unifies the creation, modification and distribution of these graphs.  GEL worlds are visualized and manipulated as a tinkertoy-like network of 3D objects, for easier authoring and editing.

An introductory white paper on GEL is available on the web at
www.urstudios.com.

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Discreet Ships 3D Studio Max R3

Just out from Autodesk division Discreet (formerly Kinetix) is 3D Studio MAX Release 3 software, the latest release of its 3D modeling and animation solution for Intel architecture and Microsoft Windows NT. Shipping with the 3D Studio MAX R3 software is a free update to Character Studio Release 2.2. New features include an enhanced collaborative workflow environment and new renderer.

Headlining the new release's collaboration features are external references, which allow artists to include in their projects specific objects or entire scenes from other files, and to introduce new animation, materials or models as they want. Artists can then edit the original portions, and their changes propagate through all related files. In addition, a new proxy system within the External References tool enables users to manipulate and animate complex objects interactively.

Artists can also customize the user interface, viewing only those toolbars and menus they need for their current project. Users can also create their own custom layouts for any aspect of production, including modeling, animation and materials editing. These layouts are loadable and portable, so artists can use them as needed on any system in their production environment.

Other workflow enhancements include customizable right-click menus, toolbar scripts, presets, transform gizmos and selection-sensitive key editing. Plus, Discreet expanded the capabilities of MAXScript, opening 3D Studio MAX software's scripting feature to most aspects of the application, including plug-ins. New plug-in scripts enable animators to redesign, simplify and combine plug-in interfaces, and to define their own.

Discreet also rebuilt the renderer and transformed into plug-ins such specific rendering steps as antialiasing, sampling, shaders and shadows. The use of plug-in rendering features lets artists choose which rendering results they want at any given time, said to improve the speed at which they can achieve a particular look. This approach also simplifies the process of creating rendering-related plug-ins with the Software Developer's Kit (SDK).

Discreet also optimized the renderer's displacement mapping in this release and extended it to polygon meshes. This allows all geometries within 3D Studio MAX software to take advantage of surface displacement.  With new rendering effects, post processes are applied immediately after a frame is rendered and are interactively adjustable thereafter. Current rendering effects include Flare, Glow, Ring, Ray, Secondaries, Star, Streak, Highlight, Blur and Film Grain.

For organic modeling, application-wide Soft Selections let artists to give regional influences to sub-object selections for gradual falloff of modeling actions and dynamic effects. Advances in the MeshSmooth polygonal subdivision tool include weighted vertices and edges, interactive operation at defining levels, and a new NURMS method that approximates a NURBS result. Additional modeling enhancements include surface tools, a new Editable Patch object, spline and patch modeling improvements; faster NURBS modeling; and the capability to leverage models from other applications with IGES support.

New core character animation tools perform skin deformation, secondary dynamic motion and morphing. The new character animation tools are part of the industry-leading 3D Studio MAX SDK, as is the VRML Exporter.

www.ktx.com

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Digimation Ships Toon/Illustration Renderer for 3DS Max

Just out from Digimation is Illustrate! 4.0 ($395), the latest version of its toon and technical-illustration renderer for 3D Studio MAX. The new version lets users render Shockwave Flash animations. A Rendering Wizard sets up the animator's output, including format, background color, and so on.


http://www.digimation.com/plugins/illustrate/

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Adobe Ships Photoshop 5.5

Now available from Adobe Systems is Photoshop 5.5, with enhanced Web capabilities. Photoshop now includes Adobe ImageReady 2.0 software, an integrated Web production component. New features include more advanced Web graphics tasks, such as JavaScript rollovers, animation and image slicing, and a set of advanced features for optimizing and compressing Web graphics. New creative features include an Art History Brush and Extract Image command.

http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/photoshop/main.html

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Ulead Releases SFX Pack for Cool 3D, Photo Express Platinum 2000 

Ulead Systems' new $25 Plug-in Madness II for its Cool 3D includes 10 special effects, including Facet, Outline, Human Motion, Explosion II, Reflection, Merge Control and four new Token-based effects.

Also new from Ulead is the next version of its Ulead Photo Express software for image editing and creation. New additions are Step Guides and Activity Tips to help new users complete tasks quickly, new templates and projects, photo enhancement and creativity tools, a cataloging feature that supports both video and audio files along with images, and support for the Intel Pentium III processor. A new Web Studio walks users through the process of collecting photos and sharing them with family and friends over the Internet in different ways.

http://www.ulead.com/

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Virtools to Integrate NeMo 3D Authoring Tool with Macromedia Director

Coming August 15 from Virtools S.A. of Paris is an upgrade to its Windows-based NeMo 3D interactive authoring solutions. The new version includes support for synchronized integration with Macromedia's Director software, enabling 3D interactivity to be accessed within Director.

This update also includes new support for importing 3D models created in NewTek's LightWave, Alias|Wavefront's Maya and Template Graphics Software's Amapi content creation packages - Version 1.0 supported only Discreet's 3D Studio MAX and Avid's Softimage.

The new update also includes a lightweight (under one megabyte) Web playback engine for both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator to allow 3D games, presentations and projects created in NeMo to be played back over the Web.

The NeMo product line lets developers prototype and simulate behaviors associated with 3D objects used in a game or presentation.

The update is available at no charge to registered NeMo users and can be downloaded from http://www.nemo.com beginning August 15, with the Maya importer expected to be available early in the 4th quarter of 1999.

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PuppetTime x 3

PuppetTime, Inc. says its Mac-based PuppetTime Producer is now feature complete, and that a time-limited beta version has been released for user testing and evaluation. PuppetTime Producer is a 3D character animation program that lets users choose characters, type the dialog, and select the actions.

Puppets automatically create their own mouth shapes (visemes) from dialog text, using the MacOS Text-To-Speech technology. The user can then overdub his or her own voice speaking the dialog, giving the puppet characters unique inflections and personalities. Sound and MIDI QuickTime movies can be imported for use as sound effects and background music.

Finished animation can be output in a number of different file formats, including QuickTime movies, video, or as an animated storyboard (animatic).

A time-limited beta version is available for testing and evaluation at http://www.puppettime.com/

Also new is the PuppetTime BioEditor, an application for converting 3D geometries into bones-animated PuppetTime puppets. Based on technology acquired from Pangea Software (makers of Nanosaur and Bugdom), PuppetTime BioEditor allows users to import trimesh geometries, define a bone structure in and around the trimesh, attach individual bones to trimesh vertices, and animate the trimesh by keyframing the bones over time.

The resulting PuppetTime BioEditor file can be embedded into a PuppetTime Producer movie using the new BioPro puppet, which contains just the playback portion of the bones animation system. BioPro puppets have eyes and mouths just like Bibble puppets, and can support a variety of emotional states including postures and motion cycles. All of the animations created in PuppetTime BioEditor appear in the Actions list in PuppetTime Producer.

Developers interested in creating puppets can download PuppetTime BioEditor from the company Web site at http://www.puppettime.com/ .

Finally, PuppetTime has included the full source code to the Eggy puppet as part of its Puppet Development Kit (PDK) preview release. Developers interested in creating PuppetTime puppet components in "C" code can download the PuppetTime PDK from the company Web site at http://www.puppettime.com/.

The Eggy Puppet was the first puppet developed by PuppetTime, Inc., and includes features such as dynamic texture mapping, a simple runtime behavior model, and phoneme-to-viseme conversion routines. Eggy demonstrates how to export actions and properties to PuppetTime Producer and is also good sample code for cross-platform QuickTime component development.

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Realviz S.A. Announces Softimage Distribution Partnership

France-based Realviz S.A. will provide Softimage users with a free pay-per-use (PPU) license of MatchMover for Windows NT with all new purchases, upgrades, and maintenance packages of Softimage 3D version 3.8SP2. Using MatchMover, computer-generated 3D images can be integrated with video or film.

The live-action 3D camera path and all camera parameters can be captured and verified for use in commercials, effects or movies. The camera data can also be exported directly to animation software, where new image sequences can be created using mixed live-action footage and computer-generated 3D animation.

http://www.realviz.com

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WEBSIGHTINGS

Loki Launches Site

Loki Entertainment Software, known for bringing PC games to the Linux platform, last week launched its new Website. The site offers news, updates, information on Loki products, downloads and all the other comforts of home.

www.lokigames.com

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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Jupiter: Defensive Stance on MP3 Hurts Industry

After over a year of turmoil surrounding digital distribution, music industry players must adopt a less defensive tact, using digital distribution aggressively as a tool to market and sell music, according to new research by Jupiter Communications. The Jupiter research projected that revenue from digital distribution will reach just $147 million by 2003 (comprising 5.7 percent of online music sales). In the near term, however, downloadable music will serve as a powerful driver of the larger market of physical online music sales, which is expected to exceed $2.6 billion by 2003.

Jupiter believes that the next five years will serve only as a prelude to mass-market acceptance, which is currently hindered by bandwidth constraints, lack of music availability, the presence of a free alternative (i.e., MP3), and a dearth of portability solutions (e.g., penetration of CD-R and portable devices). Digital distribution marketing initiatives will serve to sell more CDs than digital files over the course of the next few years. "Industry players have been so eager to dampen any momentum MP3 had as a format that the great benefits of digital distribution-including use of MP3--remain vastly underexploited," said Mark Mooradian, senior analyst for Jupiter Communications.

http://www.jup.com

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DEALS

Lotus to Purchase Macromedia Pathware Business

According to a recent agreement, IBM's Lotus Development Corp. will purchase Macromedia Inc.'s Pathware business and distribute certain other of Macromedia's authoring software for Web-based learning. Pathware is Macromedia's learning management system.

The Macromedia group that develops and markets Pathware will become part of Lotus' Distributed Learning Business Group, which develops and markets Lotus LearningSpace, the company's Web-based distributed learning platform. Macromedia will continue to ship, sell and support Pathware until a transition to the Lotus Distributed Learning Division is completed. Lotus will then sell and support Pathware as a stand-alone product.

Lotus will also distribute Macromedia's Authorware, Director, Attain Objects for Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash authoring products. In addition, Lotus will license Macromedia's Shockwave, Flash and Authorware player technology for use with Lotus and IBM products.

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Monolith Set to Ship Rage of Mages II: Necromancer

Monolith Productions plans to ship its Russia-developed RPG/strategy game, Rage of Mages II, on September 21.

New game features include:

  1. 43 nonlinear, branching missions
  2. new story set in an original realm with Middle-Eastern desert cities and arboreal Druid villages.
  3. new multiplayer arenas support up to 16  players. In addition, character data now resides fully on the server to  prevent player cheating.
  4. new multiplayer map editor
  5. over 200 new weapons, armor, spells, objects and buildings
  6. 52 additional races and 14 new monstrosities to conquer.
  7. new ally system. Players can now crush the competition by allying with Orcs and Trolls as well as people.

http://www.lith.com

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Bungie Announces Halo

Expected to ship sometime next year from Bungie Software is Halo, a third-person perspective, sci-fi action epic for Mac & Wintel that takes place indoors, outdoors, in the sky and beneath the surface of a world complete with flora, fauna, weather and celestial events. Other features include a universal physics model, persistent objects, real-time shadows, inverse kinematics, 3D positional and ambient sound effects, multipass texture mapping, scalable polygonal models, deformable terrain mesh. Enemy artificial intelligence operates simultaneously on both individual and squad levels, accounting for morale, with the result that no combat situation plays out the same way twice.

The player is a military recon unit of the human race's fledgling planetary empire. Pursued by alien warships to a massive and ancient ring construct deep in the void, the player must single-handedly improvise a guerilla war over land, sea and air, using the arsenals and vehicles of three distinct cultures. Using everything from composite swords to orbital bombardment, driving everything from giant tanks to agile combat aircraft, players wage intense warfare over and under the surface of this world.

The single-player game is complemented by a role-based, cooperative multiplayer team game. Playing the humans or the aliens, players will use different skills, strategies, vehicles and weapons to compete in a variety of game types. Three players might take the roles of driver, shotgun and rear gunner of a light, fast all-terrain vehicle, roaring and bouncing over uneven ground toward the enemy fortress, ducking under a hail of fire from alien aircraft screaming overhead. Halo's multiplayer game will be an experience that is as much lived as played.

http://www.bungie.com

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EA Ships Mac SimCity 3000

Electronic Arts has shipped SimCity 3000 for the Macintosh. Players are in charge of creating an entire metropolis from the ground-up and keeping their "sims," the citizens of SimCity, happy. The updated version lets players see individual pedestrians and vehicles-cars, trucks, busses, trains, boats-traveling about their city with two new close-in zoom levels. Players can spruce up their skyline by choosing from real-world landmark structures ranging from the Empire State Building to Big Ben. Like the pedestrians and traffic, the sounds of the city, from sprinklers to school bells, reflect the neighborhood being viewed.

New simulation layers include waste management and water pollution, and players can strike deals to bring certain businesses into their city and trade resources with neighboring cities.

http://www.simcity.com

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Acclaim's Shadow Man Goes Gold

Coming soon from Acclaim Entertainment announced is Shadow Man for the PC. Set against the backdrop of voodoo mythology, the third-person action/adventure puts players in the role of Mike LeRoi, English Literature graduate now turned hired assassin, operating within the dark and seedy underworld of New Orleans. LeRoi can cross over into Deadside, the world of the dead, where he becomes the Shadow Man - an immortal voodoo-warrior with astonishing powers.

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EA, FIRAXIS to Release Alpha Centauri Expansion

Electronic Arts and FIRAXIS Games plan to release an expansion pack to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri in late 1999. Titled Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire, the add-on will feature seven new playable factions, several new technologies and secret projects, and a new plot that continues the story of humanity's struggle to colonize a hostile alien world.

The new factions include seafaring pirates, advanced cyborgs, and a society of disgruntled laborers. Players can also take command of the two warring alien races or create their own factions with the custom faction editor. New technologies include "Geosynchronous Survey Pods," which will improve a colony's ability to track nearby enemy forces, and the "Brood Pit," where enemies are devoured by hatchling Mind Worms.

http://www.firaxis.com

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Sierra to Incorporate 3Deep Tech into Homeworld

Sierra Studios will integrate Sonnetech, Ltd.'s, 3Deep technology into their PC game, Homeworld, due to ship this September. 3Deep is "absolute-gamma-correction" software for 3D games and graphics. Inaccurate gamma settings are responsible for "washed out" or "too dark" images seen on many computer games. 3Deep is said to provide a consistent solution for delivering accurate lighting and shading effects in the graphic renderings of today's PC titles.

www.3deepgames.com

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Activision to Make PSX Star Trek Game

Next summer, Activision will release the first Star Trek game for the PlayStation game console. The space shooter places players in control of the Federation's newest single pilot fighters and challenges them to undertake a voyage to investigate strange space anomalies, defend the Federation against alien threats and uncover the mystery which has opened a rift in the Beta Quadrant.

The game features 30 missions in which players pilot multiple vessels, including new ships, in an attempt to defend the Federation from a mysterious threat. As they progress through the missions, players will encounter classic Star Trek characters, including The Borg and Klingons, as well as a new alien race. Gameplay involves in-game energy management, shielding systems and cut-scenes. The game is being developed for Activision by Warthog.

http://www.activision.com

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System Shock 2 Set to Ship from EA, Looking Glass

The sci-fi/horror RPG System Shock 2 has gone "gold". Scheduled to hit the streets August 12, the title being co-developed by Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games, and will be co-published by Electronic Arts and Looking Glass Studios.

The evil artificial intelligence SHODAN returns in this sequel to System Shock. The game features a science-fiction action/role-playing game system, with detailed character generation and growth, inventory and equipping, and several groups of special traits unique to each character. System Shock 2 is based on a next-generation version of Looking Glass' proprietary 3D technology, the Dark Engine, which offers 16-bit graphics, colored lighting, and variable translucency objects. The game's role-playing gameplay is enhanced by a large assortment of enemies, modifiable weapons, and unique psionic powers.

The System Shock 2 team was led by Ken Levine, co-founder and president of Irrational Games and former screenwriter for Paramount Pictures. Ken created the initial design and story for Thief: The Dark Project and is the lead designer of System Shock 2. A/V production, engine and AI system code for the game was the result of the efforts of a Looking Glass team led by Joe Gilby, VP of Product Development at Looking Glass Studios.

www.shock2.com

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Wilco Adds Grand Canyon to MS Flight Sim

Coming soon from Belgium-based Wilco Publishing and Safari Fliteware is Reality Flights: Grand Canyon, an add-on for Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator and Microsoft Flight Simulator. Planes include a touring Cessna 206 Stationair, a De Havilland Twin Otter Vistaliner, a Bell 430 or a Spitfire.  The title covers 12,000 square miles and about 300,000 real-world elevation points, and it includes eight photorealistic airports with real traffic.

www.wilcopub.com

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Interplay Announces Invictus RTS

Travel back to the days of Homer's Odyssey, when men were men, monsters ate people, and amazons didn't sell books. 14º East, a division of Interplay Entertainment Corp., announced last week its real-time strategy game, Invictus: In the Shadow of Olympus, anticipated to ship Winter, 1999.

Caught in a bitter feud between spiteful gods, players must enlist the mightiest heroes in their epic struggle to attain an eternal seat atop Olympus. Eliminating the need to gather resources or manage research trees, Invictus focuses the player upon carefully shaping a war party and balancing strengths and weaknesses, because warriors are carried over from mission to mission. The player will choose from over 30 distinct units, each with a unique ability, like Gorgons turning flesh to stone and Harpy's poisonous claws. The player recruits new units from those they have encountered in their journeys. Ten legendary heroes are at the player's beck and call - four can be sent into battle at any given time. Each of these legendary heroes, such as Hercules and Achilles, are super-human warriors who beseech the gods for special powers.

The game world is depicted with a combination of 3D and Voxel technologies. Environments can be rotated, zoomed, and tilted. The player can customize formations and interact with NPCs.

http://www.interplay.com

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Delphine Ships Darkstone 3D Action Role-Playing Game

Delphine Software International's new 3D action, role-playing game Darkstone is being published in the US by Gathering of Developers. The Diablo-style game offers 22 scenario-led quests, and dual character control, 3D environments and real-time lighting.

Other features include:

  1. 100 different enemies based on 30 creature types such as spiders, skeleton captains and a Medusa.
  2. 22 types of weapons including hammers and two-handed swords to ward off diabolical enemies.
  3. 22 character-oriented skills such as the Magician's ability to detect magical objects.
  4. 32 spells such as language, which allows players to decrypt chat messages during multi-player games, and transformations to cast upon evil creatures and opponents.
  5. night mode to test gamers' nocturnal skills.
  6. simultaneous control of two characters with the option to set the secondary character on either offensive or defensive mode.
  7. ability to team with up to eight players to duel over the Internet or a LAN.

http://www.godgames.com/games/darkstone/

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NUMBEROLOGY

Be Incorporated Announces IPO

Be Incorporated plans an initial public offering of 6,000,000 shares of its Common Stock at an initial public offering price of $6.00 per share. The underwriters have an option to purchase up to an additional 900,000 shares at the initial public offering price to cover over-allotments, if any. The initial public offering is being managed by Volpe Brown Whelan & Company, LLC and Needham & Company, Inc.

Be Incorporated offers the BeOS operating system, an operating system designed for digital media applications and Internet appliances. BeOS is said to be capable of providing faster and more predictable processing times for digital media applications than traditional desktop operating systems.

A prospectus relating to the offering can be obtained from Volpe Brown Whelan & Company, LLC at One Maritime Plaza, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111; or Needham & Company, Inc. at 3000 San Hill Road, Building 2, Suite 190, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

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DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Ex-EA, GT Developers Join Interplay

Interplay recently added two industry veterans to its internal development staff. John Morgan, recently of GT Interactive, and David Sullivan, formerly of Electronic Arts, were named to the positions of corporate technology director and lead programmer respectively.

Morgan will focus on creating technology for next-generation consoles. With 22 years of experience in the gaming industry, Morgan brings expertise from GT Interactive, Williams Electronics, Leland Corp. and other software publishing houses. At GT Interactive, Morgan was director of development with title credits including: the original Super Off-Road, Indie Heat, Zoo Keeper and Dirt Trax FX.

Sullivan will serve as lead programmer for PlayStation 2 console technology. Sullivan is a 20-year industry veteran formerly of Electronic Arts and Mindscape. He was lead programmer and technical director for Electronic Arts where he designed the Network Play System (NPS), client/server architecture, implemented the client API's and provided technical direction to EA Seattle's usage of NPS within Need for Speed. His title credits include Soviet Strike, Road Rash for the Internet and Wing Commander SNES among others.

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HAPPENINGS

Wrox Press to Stage ASP Pro Web Developers Conference.

On 15-18 September in Washington DC, Wrox Press will host its first conference aimed at ASP/XML professional Web developers. The event is designed to bring together industry professionals, Web solution providers, Microsoft product developers, and Wrox authors and technical reviewers to present briefings on XML and ASP with related technologies (ADO, RDS, MTS, MSMQ, ADSI, Site Server).

The three-day conference includes:

  1. three tracks comprised of 45 technical sessions
  2. an exhibition hall with demonstrations by software development companies and vendors
  3. a team of Wrox technical and development editors to respond to technical queries

The main body of the Conference is aimed primarily at an audience familiar with the basics of Web programming with ASP. However, in addition, Wrox is running a series of pre-conference tutorials. These tutorials will cover the basics of Active Server Pages, XML and Site Server, and are designed to provide additional training and/or accelerated learning opportunities.

Contact: Stephen Farncombe, Wrox Press Ltd Voice: +44 (0) 121 687 4100

Fax: +44 (0) 121 687 4101

mailto:stevef@wrox.com

www.wroxconferences.com

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Seybold San Francisco

Seybold San Francisco 99, with workshops, product evaluations and industry interaction, will be held at Moscone Center from August 30 - September 3. The conference will present two concurrent conferences tailored to print and Web publishing.

The Web Conference is a two-day program beginning on Monday, August 30 and focusing on the tools, techniques, visions and strategies currently driving the Web. Industry visionaries will lead tracks on Web design and authoring, producing and developing, and the business and marketing side of Web publishing. Session topics include: The State of the Internet Design and Technology, Managing Web Site Projects,  Managing Dynamic Database Driven Web Sites, The Dollars and Sense of Publishing

www.seyboldseminars.com

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Miller Freeman Announces GDC RoadTrip Series

Miller Freeman, Inc., in conjunction with the Computer Game Developers Association (CGDA), has announced a number of industry executives confirmed to participate in the 1999 Game Developers Conference (GDC) RoadTrip Series. Speakers include independent developers, executives from Incredible Technologies and Turbine Entertainment, programmers from Red Storm Entertainment, one of the Jellyvision designers behind You Don't Know Jack, and a professor of computer science from University of North Carolina. The GDC RoadTrip Series is designed to foster learning and networking opportunities for regional game development communities. The conferences will visit eight cities around the country, bringing affordable (under $95) one-day seminars to locales that have seen a major growth in the area of videogame development.

Stops on the trip include Boston, Chicago, Raleigh, NC,  Buena Park, Salt Lake City,  Austin,  San Rafael, and Seattle.

http://roadtrips.gdconf.com

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F.Y.I.

About Spectrum

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