14 August 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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3Dlabs, Inc. will launch an Embedded Graphics Program to promote the use of its graphics processors in embedded and non-PC applications. A key element of this program is a collaboration with Seaweed Systems, a specialist supplier of real-time graphics drivers. Seaweed is shipping off-the-shelf, real-time X Windows and OpenGL drivers, accelerated on a of 3Dlabs graphics silicon which supports Wind River's VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS).
Customers working to integrate advanced 2D and 3D graphics into embedded applications can now enroll in 3Dlabs Embedded Graphics Program for an annual support fee. Membership in the program ensures access to chip design documentation, detailed hardware design assistance, hardware design reviews and ongoing software support.
3Dlabs has expanded its technical support staff to support the program and each member company is assigned to a member of the support team for long-term liaison. Companies interested in joining the Embedded Graphics Program should contact John Rose at mailto:email@example.com or 1-940-241-3148.
NeMo and RTIME, Inc. have begun integrating the RTIME Interactive Networking Engine with NeMo's products for creating interactive real-time 3D content. RTIME is a provider of networking solutions for real-time, multiuser games and applications for the Internet and broadband networks.
The RTIME Interactive Networking Engine is packaged into four components:
Steinberg North America recently announced Cubase VST 5.0, the newest Cubase VST Series for the MacOS. The software offers a graphic makeover plus new features including analog warmth with Magneto technology and 32-bit recording, output and mixdown in the top of line, Cubase VST/32. Furthermore the Cubase 5.0 series is optimized for Power Mac G4 with Velocity Engine.
RocketPod is developing a cross-platform operating system and a line of interconnected consumer electronics designed to let consumers receive digital music entertainment, manage communications devices and data, and engage in e-commerce via the Internet.
RocketPod is being developed by Next Planet, a company that provided solutions for such companies as Xircom, Handspring, Compaq and Intel. Its family of smart iAppliances, or "Pods," includes such devices as the LaunchPod (USB Hub), MP3Pod, CamPod (digital camcorder), SnapPod (digital camera), PVRPod (Digital Video Recorder), PDAPod (personal digital assistant), TelPod (phone-mote, combination smart phone-remote control), and others. These devices' capabilities are connected by RocketPod's networking architecture; the RPOS that allows for an open system into which any licensed Pod can be simply and instantly integrated.
http://www.nextplanet.com/ (coming "soon")
Microsoft says it has shipped its first Xbox software developer kits (XDKs) to game designers worldwide, enabling them to create great games for the future-generation Xbox video game system that is scheduled to ship in fall 2001. The company estimates that by the end of this summer, more than 1,000 XDKs will be deployed to more than 100 companies developing Microsoft-approved Xbox games.
The XDK is based on familiar Intel and NVIDIA chip design and Microsoft's DirectX 8 API development tools. The three-phase XDK program begins with an upgradeable PC-based development system available today and culminates with customized console units delivered to developers in early 2001.
Today's XDK system includes early graphics hardware, a large hard drive, a beta version of DirectX 8, technical documentation, and off-the shelf game pads that simulate Xbox functionality.
Metrowerks plans to begin allowing PlayStation2 game developers to license its CodeWarrior Analysis Tools Framework and APIs (application programming interfaces), making it possible for developers to create custom analysis tools.
The tools consist of a Hierarchical Profiler that detects code optimization opportunities and a visual Code Coverage tool that finds and examines portions of tested and untested code. Along with a graphical user interface, the tools are designed to help developers maximize their code performance and minimize their time to market.
The Framework allows developers to create "disposable" tools, helping developers reach market more quickly. The company also says it will ship CodeWarrior Analysis Tools for PlayStation2 by the end of this month.
Electric Rain, Inc. recently unveiled its newest version of their 3D vector-graphics tool, Swift 3D, for the Macintosh. The title is scheduled for a September 15th release.
Swift 3D is designed for creating, editing and animating 3D images. These images can be created from fonts and basic 3D primitives within Swift 3D, or imported from other popular applications like 3D Studio (3DS), Adobe Illustrator (AI) or any program that exports Encapsulated PostScript files (EPS). Swift 3D allows control over the extrusion, rotation, coloring and animation of 3D images. Pre-built drag and drop animations and keyframe animation let users apply motion to new or imported images. These images are then converted into a vector file format (SWF, Sequential EPS or AI) and exported in a variety of styles including outlines, meshes, flat shading, average shading and gradient shading.
At the recent Siggraph, New York-based software company Improv Technologies announced the launch of Orchestrate3D (O3D) Version 1.0, a non-linear production system for creating and managing 3D animation. Orchestrate3D, in conjunction with existing 3D applications software, is designed to let users create and manage entire projects within a unified, collaborative framework that can be combined to form a variety of original animation. O3D lets users buy only the components they need to enhance their already existing 3D animation software packages; modules can be added to create an enhanced production pipeline on top of existing software applications.
Improv says Orchestrate3D will also work with future project management, asset management and animation modules. O3D's first module, Scene Conductor, lets animators layer and blend key-frame, expression based or motion-capture animation sequences, in a procedural non-linear environment.
Key benefits of Orchestrate3D reportedly include multi-target animation, layering, motion compositing, hierarchical sequencer, adjustment clip, import and export of Maya, 3D Studio Max (in beta) and Softimage/XSI (in development) file formats, module based framework and future platform independent architecture.
Scheduled to ship next month and coming, it seems, hot on the heels of the previous release, is Macromedia's Flash 5.
Macromedia says Flash 5 is more accessible due to the newly redesigned user interface that simplifies the process of inspecting and editing Macromedia Flash content. Other features:
And, of course, there will be a free Flash 5 Player. The new version is integrated with server technologies such as Extensible Markup Language (XML), for structured data transfer, and Macromedia Generator, for delivering server-created, real-time visual content to data-intensive sites. The player also supports HTML-formatted text within Flash content, and can maintain a persistent connection between the lightweight client and server to share real-time XML information for business applications.
Just out from Ulead is Plug-in Madness III, a new version of the special-effects add-on for Ulead's COOL 3D app for animated 3D titles and effects for Web pages, videos and presentations. Designed to work with COOL 3D versions 2.0, 2.5 and 3.0, Plug-in Madness III delivers six animated effects including Lens Flare, Spotlight, Sparkler, Light Bulb, Fireworks and Clouds.
Cortona CE, reportedly the first-ever 3D VRML browser for Windows CE based devices, was showcased at Siggraph 2000 in New Orleans by ParallelGraphics, a Dublin, Ireland-based specialist in of Web 3D. ParallelGraphics plans to license the Cortona CE technology to mobile communication manufacturers and cross platforms applications, including cell phones, palmtops and set-top boxes.
Cortona CE is … placed to take advantage of the advent of WebTV and the huge potential of interactive 3D for this medium. No longer will 3D be the domain of PC users alone" said Alexander Pivovarov, vice president of marketing.
MGI offers a downloadable 30-day trial version of its VideoWave III at the Web site. Features include StoryLine, which lets users "tell a story" with video, plus the ability to capture and produce video in formats including native DV, with Windows Media Web-streaming format, and MPEG-2, with integrated GoMotion technology from Ligos.
Macromedia recently launched the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver UltraDev, a new site for the product's developer community. The site lets developers search for extensions, participate in discussion threads, receive email updates, and rate and review extensions. "Macromedia Approved" extensions on the site are tested by Macromedia to ensure they install correctly and behave in a manner familiar to Dreamweaver UltraDev users.
Sample extensions include extensions that will add instant e-commerce capabilities to sites, generate and send e-mail based on Web form data entered through the browser, and protect pages from unauthorized visitors.
Just out from publisher Charles River Media is Awesome Game Creation: No Programming Required!, a book designed to teach aspiring game developers how to create computer games with the “drag-and-drop” technology of The Games Factory 32-bit development tool and The PIE 3D Game Creation System. The software is included on CD. Written by Luke Ahearn, the developer of the games Sorcerer and Dead Reckoning, the book explains the game creation process from character and plot development, weaponry, and scoring, to level creation, scenery considerations, and sound effects. It includes tutorials, example games, and step-by-step lessons.
Also from Charles River is the new Game Programming Gems, the first volume in a new series for professional game developers. The reference contains C and C++ algorithms written by over 40 industry experts, with articles covering animation, artificial intelligence, Z-buffering, lighting calculations, weather effects, curved surfaces, multi-player Internet gaming, music and sound effects, and more. All of the code is provided on the companion CD-ROM and is easily portable to Windows or Linux. The CD-ROM also includes glSetup for installation of the Windows OpenGL drivers, and GLUT for easy multi-platform OpenGL programming.
Lastly, Charles River's new title The Digital Filmmaking Handbook teaches readers how to use their desktop computer as a film production workstation and explains how to distribute the final product via the Web, home video, broadcast television, projected video, or film. It covers pre-production, budgeting, and storyboarding, shooting, editing, and adding post-production special effects. Additionally, all of the critical software (Windows and Macintosh) is thoroughly covered.
O'Reilly & Associates has announced the release of "CGI Programming with Perl" by Scott Guelich, Shishir Gundavaram, and Gunther Birznieks. Based on the best-selling "CGI Programming on the World Wide Web", this edition has been rewritten to demonstrate current techniques available with the CGI.pm module and the latest versions of Perl.
The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is one of the most powerful methods of providing dynamic content on the Web. CGI is a generic interface for calling external programs to crunch numbers, query databases, generate customized graphics, or perform any other server-side task.
Chapter 8, Security, is available free online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/cgi2/chapter/ch08.html
For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, and samples, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/cgi2/
Rainbow Studios, a creator of digital entertainment, recently acquired Motional Realms, developers of the ReelMotion real-time simulator that uses physics and collision detection to animate vehicles and objects. ReelMotion is in use at facilities including Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues, Midway Games and NASA.
ReelMotion ($795) is a real-time simulator that uses physics and collision detection to animate rigid body objects and vehicles such as cars, aircraft, motorcycles, and helicopters. It is suited for vehicle and forensic animation, game development, the creation of movie rides and custom projects requiring collision detection for realistic animation.
The ReelMotion Simulator is a standalone application that can be used with any animation program that supports Biovision or Acclaim motion capture file formats. ReelMotion plug-ins are available for Electric Image, Cinema 4D XL, LightWave 3D, Maya, and 3D Studio MAX. Features include:
Be Incorporated and Metricom, Inc. will partner to provide a wireless-enabled solution for the Internet appliance market by integrating the BeIA software platform with the Ricochet wireless modem and high-speed mobile access. By combining Ricochet 128 kbps with Be's software platform designed to deliver information and entertainment over the Internet, the companies will provide hardware manufacturers the elements for a wireless Web solution.
The combined Be and Metricom technologies may be available to hardware manufacturers by Q4 2000.
According to Reston, VA-based PC Data, Electronic Arts' The Sims was the top-grossing PC game in North America for the first six months of 2000. The game lets players create a neighborhood of simulated people and control their lives. It has been translated into 13 languages and has sold more than 1.8 million copies worldwide.
The Sims Livin' Large expansion pack will be available in early September. Livin' Large lets players put their Sims into new situations and environments. It includes 125 new items for Sims to use, from a potion making chemistry set to a vibrating bed; five new careers for Sims to pursue: journalism, hacker, slacker, music and paranormal; and new design and architecture features, so players can build anything from a tacky love shack to a gloomy castle for their Sims to call home.
LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC and BioWare Corp. will partner to create the first Star Wars role playing game (RPG) for PC and next-generation videogame systems. Expected to release in 2002, the game will be set in a time period prior to the Star Wars films. The title will be developed by BioWare and marketed and distributed by LucasArts.
For the game, LucasArts and BioWare are creating an original storyline set some 4,000 years before Star Wars: Episode I. The ancient era is dominated by an epic struggle between the Jedi and the evil Sith.
Sierra Studios recently launched a special pre-sell incentive deal with retailer Electronics Boutique. For fans of last year's PC Game of the Year Homeworld, comes Raider Retreat, the lost Homeworld mission, developed by Relic Entertainment. Raider Retreat will be available to consumers who pre-order the stand-alone next installment to the series called Homeworld: Cataclysm, due in stores this fall.
The new demo CD includes the original training mission, the first four Homeworld missions, and a special fifth mission that has never been released to the public, called "Raider Retreat." This lost mission was developed and tested but never included in the full version of Homeworld.
Homeworld: Cataclysm, developed by Barking Dog Studios, adds new fleets of ships, each with the ability to upgrade their capabilities, new research, fog-of-war, interface enhancements, mothership modules, damage control and way points. Homeworld: Cataclysm continues the saga from the original Homeworld game and introduces a new threat from a techno-organic entity known as "The Beast." In addition to 17 new single-player missions, Homeworld: Cataclysm will feature an improved multiplayer mode that allows for multiplayer games of up to eight players.
Microsoft Corp. intends to form a games publishing alliance with a new, unnamed startup company headed by Peter Tamte, who was the founder of MacSoft, former senior director of worldwide consumer marketing for Apple Computer Inc. and former executive vice president of Bungie Software Products Corp. The proposal enables the new company to bring select Microsoft® games to the Macintosh platform.
Among the first titles expected to be published for the Macintosh include the real-time strategy game "Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings," as well as new versions of "Links LS" and "Flight Simulator." In addition, the action game "Halo," currently in development at Bungie Studios, is scheduled to appear on the Macintosh as well as being published by Microsoft on the PC and Xbox.
Coming in Q1 '01 from Blue Byte Software is the online game Battle Isle: DarkSpace. The PC game is being developed by Austin, TX-based Palestar. A closed online-beta test of DarkSpace, formerly known as DeepSpace (working title), will commence in September 2000 via the Blue Byte Game Channel.
DarkSpace is a space action/strategy sim featuring real-time 3D graphics, spatial sound, command structure and tactical ship-to-ship combat. It is set in the multi-galaxy Battle Isle Internet universe, in which the player commands a starship competing against hundreds of other players for galactic domination.
Also, if you're looking for game-dev work in the Austin area, BB is hiring: check out http://www.bluebyte.com/us/jobs/jobs_20000718.htm.
Blizzard Entertainment says its Diablo II has surpassed 1 million copies sold worldwide, based on information from PC Data and key retail accounts worldwide. The game, which had an initial retail shipment of two million copies in July, already has reorders in excess of more than 600,000 copies and began shipping for Macintosh in late July.
Following in the tradition of other Blizzard titles, Diablo II becomes not only the fourth consecutive Blizzard title to sell 1 million copies, but also to debut as the number-one selling game. In the U.S. during its first week in stores, the game earned a record 39 percent of the entire dollar amount spent on games, according to PC Data.
On November 10-11, ORIGIN Systems will host the first ever Ultima Online (UO) player convention, World Faire 2000, at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. The event will be held in conjunction with the Port Austin: Plug in to the Future of Broadband event, taking place at the same time in the Convention Center.
The event will feature more than 50 panels, workshops and roundtable discussions on all things UO including an array of topics ranging from player towns and political systems to fishing and treasure hunting, game balance, weapons, guilds, blacksmithing and dungeons. Members of the Ultima Online development team will lead many of the discussions. Players themselves will host other panels.
Another highlight will be the main exhibit hall featuring a renaissance village of vendors where attendees can purchase exclusive UO merchandise from licensed UO vendors and participate in game tournaments and demos. UO players will also be involved in peddling their own UO merchandise.
Fans will also find live medieval weaponry exhibitions, a fantasy art show and a charity auction. UO players who participate in their own musical bands will be invited to perform.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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