Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

25 August 2003

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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Editor's note: Spectrum will take next week off for the Labor Day holiday, and will return with news and several new reviews (we hope) the following week. We wish you a truly relaxing holiday weekend before leaping into the fall work schedule.

- David Duberman

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Today's Headlines (details below)

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Nevercenter Announces Subdivision Surfaces Modeler Silo

Bauhaus Reincarnates Aura as Mirage

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Tritton Introduces $60 DVD Backup Tool

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

New Book Chronicles Gaming History, Culture

O'Reilly Updates ColdFusion Book

O'Reilly Hacks Amazon, TiVo

DEALS

Discreet, SGI Partner for Film Mastering, Video Production

Macromedia to Purchase New Frisco HQ

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Her Interactive Ships Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel

Enlight Acquires N.A. Rights to Space Sim

Vivendi/Interplay Release RPG Lionheart

Sony Revises PS2 Pricing Structure

Macrospace Launches BREW Games

Sony Online Entertainment Announces New Matching Service

Pick Up And Play Develops BREW Arcade Games

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Sony Online Entertainment Appoints Koster Chief Creative Officer

HAPPENINGS

Austin Game Conference to Cover MMO, Wireless Games

F.Y.I.

About Spectrum

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Nevercenter Announces Subdivision Surfaces Modeler Silo

Just out from Nevercenter Ltd. Co. is Silo, its new $109 subdivision-surfaces modeler for Windows. From the Website:

Subdivision surfaces allow you to quickly define a smoothed shape by editing a rough control mesh. Silo offers true, real-time subdivision surface modeling, allowing you to view the subdivided shape at any resolution while you work. You can also use subdivisions to add more detail to a shape by creating a new control mesh from a subdivided shape. Silo supports partial subdivision of faces or edges, only subdividing the areas you select while keeping the rest of your model clean. Edges can be creased to maintain a sharp line on a subdivided object without adding extra control geometry. Any piece of geometry, including paths for extrusions or lathes, can be subdivided or partially subdivided.

A 40-use demo is available from the Website.

http://www.nevercenter.com/

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Bauhaus Reincarnates Aura as Mirage

Bauhaus Software Inc. last week launched its flagship product, Mirage, software for creating animated graphics and special effects. Mirage integrates real-time video paint, animation and effects functionalities. Designed for projects of any resolution, ranging from HDTV and film to Web video, the program is based on technology formerly distributed as Newtek's Aura Video Paint. The pre-release version of Mirage is available now to existing NewTek Aura, LightWave and Video Toaster customers; the final version will be available to the general public in October of 2003.

 

Users can combine tools such as video paint, stop-motion, natural-media drawing tools, volumetric lights, particles, keying, color correction, and point tracking within the same project.

Mirage includes an integrated particle system with animatable parameters and 2D alpha collision detection. Also included is a volumetric lighting system, plus support for proxy loading of incoming clips, making them instantly available.

 

Upgrade pricing is set at $295 USD for a limited time. The full product will be released in October for $895 USD, and will be available on both Windows XP/2000 and Apple Macintosh OS/X operating systems.

 

http://www.bauhaussoftware.com

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CONSUMER CHANNEL

Tritton Introduces $60 DVD Backup Tool

 

Tritton Technologies will distribute Redxpress' DVD CopyWare in North America. The software reportedly lets users copy any DVD disc, including Digital Signature Standard (DSS)-encoded movies.

DVD CopyWare offers a point-and-click DVD backup solution, with a choice of complete DVD-to-hard disk transfer or an incremental DVD caching process. Users can select or omit special features and language options and then burn an exact copy with no data loss and no compression in less than one hour.

And now for a bit of dirt from the publicist: And yes, DVD CopyWare will compete head to head with DVD X Copy in the market for DVD backup (for $30 less), including DVDs encoded with DSS encryption.

http://www.trittonsales.com

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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

New Book Chronicles Gaming History, Culture

Recognizing the vast cultural impact computer and video games have had on popular culture, Brad King and John Borland have researched the roots, the icons, and the growth of computer gaming from the early 1970s to the present day in their book "Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic," published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne. The book examines the history, culture, and heroes of the 10-plus billion-dollar computer and video game industry.

King and Borland explore the phenomenon of gamers, and most specifically, the communities of computer game players that have sprung up and matured over the past 30 years. The book is about the people who comprise these communities, and how early computer game creators helped form them. The authors describe how computer gaming reaches back to Dungeons and Dragons, the still-popular paper role-playing game that lets storytellers lead their charges through mystical worlds where the only limitation is imagination.

Based on interviews with Richard Garriott, the developer of the first commercially successful online role-playing game Ultima Online, King and Borland tell the story of the icon's start and ascent in the industry. The authors also profile other creators, crusaders, and celebrity players, including:

  • Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, masterminds behind Dungeons and Dragons, the role-playing game that inspired generations of computer game developers
  • Willie Crowther and Don Woods, creators of the early text-based computer role-playing game Adventure, which eventually became Zork
  • Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, creators of the first MUD, where gamers could meet online and go adventuring in a shared world
  • John Carmack and John Romero, who created Doom
  • Henry Jenkins, the media critic who found himself unexpectedly defending such violent games as Mortal Kombat before a Senate subcommittee

Additional information about the book and authors, a sample chapter, and related news can be found on the companion Web site at http://www.dungeonsanddreamers.com.

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O'Reilly Updates ColdFusion Book

"ColdFusion MX represents perhaps the single most revolutionary release of ColdFusion yet," says Rob Brooks-Bilson, author of the just-released second edition of "Programming ColdFusion MX" (O'Reilly, US $54.95). "The application server itself was completely rewritten in Java--all previous versions were written in C++. The shift to Java enabled ColdFusion MX to take advantage of the J2EE framework and all that it has to offer in terms of standards, functionality, and scalability."

Macromedia has also integrated ColdFusion into its MX family of technologies, so ColdFusion is now capable of interacting with Flash applications, making ColdFusion more versatile than ever. "ColdFusion MX supports a new technology called Flash Remoting," explains Brooks-Bilson. "Flash Remoting opens up a whole new category of applications known as Rich Internet Applications that go beyond what's currently possible with HTML/DHTML front ends.

"You don't have to be a hard-core programmer to get started with ColdFusion," he says. "But that doesn't mean that ColdFusion isn't powerful. Quite the contrary. ColdFusion makes it simple to do common tasks--such as processing form data or querying a database. But when you need to create highly scaleable, robust applications--such as transaction processing or personalization--ColdFusion makes that possible, too."

This edition documents new techniques for using ColdFusion MX 6.1 to develop and serve dynamic Web page content. It covers everything from the basics to advanced topics, with numerous examples that programmers can use for their own applications.

Chapter 11, "Advanced Database Techniques," is available free online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/coldfusion2/chapter/index.html

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O'Reilly Hacks Amazon, TiVo

Paul Bausch, author of the new book "Amazon Hacks" (O'Reilly, US $24.95), says, "The common conception is that Amazon.com is a Web-based bookstore. While that's true, once you begin to look beneath the surface a bit, you realize that Amazon is really a complex Web application."

Through its collection of tips and tools, the book shows readers how to (among others): find products; control preferences, recommendations, and information; participate in the Amazon community; become an Amazon Associate; sell products online using Amazon's billing, inventory, and marketing infrastructure; and build full-scale desktop and server applications on Amazon's Web Services API

http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/amazonhks/

 

 

The article, "How to Become a Hacker," by Eric S. Raymond may be read in full at:

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/hacks/news/0103_raymond.html

Several sample Amazon hacks, including "Jump to a Product Using Its ASIN" and "Power-Search for Books," are available free online at: http://hacks.oreilly.com/pub/ht/24

Also: Why hack your TiVo? As Raffi Krikorian explains, "You can think of the TiVo as a carefully tweaked desktop computer with a television tuner card. Everything the TiVo does, save the channel tuning and video encoding, is done in software. Everything you see on the screen, all the interactivity through the remote, and the recording scheduling is all defined in code."

Krikorian's new book, "TiVo Hacks," gives users personalized control of their TiVos. The book includes various types of hacks: hardware and software, and for the faint of heart, there are also remote control hacks that they can do from the comfort of their favorite armchair.

Hacks include:

  • Use your remote control to activate the 30-second skip to blaze through commercials, enable advanced wishlists, push fast-forward to the limit, and open the back door to further hacks
  • Upgrade TiVo's hard drive
  • Log in to the TiVo command line for access to programming data
  • Display caller-ID on your television, present digital slide shows, and play MP3s
  • Write TiVo programs in Tcl and C

Several sample TiVo hacks, including "Opening the Box," "Caller ID on Your TV," and "Undeleting Recordings," are available free online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/tivohks/chapter/index.html

http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/tivohks/

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DEALS

Discreet, SGI Partner for Film Mastering, Video Production

SGI last week formally joined Discreet's infrastructure sparks partner program. As part of the agreement, Discreet and SGI are qualifying key elements of the SGI InfiniteStructure solution, including the SGI SAN Server family and SGI CXFS shared file system, to work with Discreet's systems and software product lines.

Discreet, working with SGI, will resell SGI SAN solutions worldwide as an integral part of its infrastructure products for scalable, shared-storage environments, necessitated by the increasing complexity of modern post-production projects combined with the transition to high-resolution digital film and television formats, including the emerging digital intermediate market.

The SGI CXFS file system provides the potential to store up to 18 exabytes (18 million terabytes) of data, the equivalent of over nine million high-resolution 2K feature films, while the SAN can be configured to provide as much as 12GB-per-second aggregate bandwidth, the equivalent of 32 10-bit 2K film data streams. As a result, InfiniteStructure systems also provide a high-performance shared storage environment for Discreet's real-time lustre digital film-color-grading system.

The SGI InfiniteStructure environment enables high-speed sharing of media assets between IRIX, Linux and WindowsOS-based workstations connected directly to the SGI SAN Server family. Mac OS X clients are currently supported via file serving with a direct Fibre Channel access option available later this year. The openness of the CXFS file system is said to provide applications running on a range of operating systems with instant, shared access to files and reduces costly and time-consuming copying of data from one file system to another.

CXFS shared filesystem reportedly can serve data efficiently not only to real-time creative systems like lustre, but also to large-scale, multi-seat software environments such as 3ds max and combustion software. Discreet also plans to add standard file support to future versions of its inferno, flame, flint, fire and smoke products, enabling them to read and write data directly to the SGI CXFS file system.

http://www.sgi.com/industries/media/production/solutions/digital_infrastructure.html

http://www.discreet.com

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Macromedia to Purchase New Frisco HQ

Macromedia last week agreed to purchase the historic Baker & Hamilton building and two adjacent properties near its current leased headquarters in San Francisco's south-of-Market area.

The three properties are the Baker & Hamilton building at 601 Townsend Street; 625 Townsend Street, a recently completed building adjacent to the Baker & Hamilton building; and 650 King Street, a recently completed six-story parking garage that serves these two buildings. The purchase price for all three properties is $55 million.

Macromedia has approximately 600 employees based in San Francisco, with approximately 1,100 worldwide. The new facilities will house Macromedia's corporate, marketing, and research and development staffs, which will begin migrating to the new headquarters in the latter half of 2004.

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Her Interactive Ships Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel

Her Interactive, a developer of interactive entertainment for girls and women, last week began shipping Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel, a game that beckons players to investigate some highly unusual incidents occurring at a local amusement park. The latest Nancy Drew game is the eighth title in the CD-ROM series.

Targeted at players 10 and up, Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel, puts gamers in the shoes of Nancy Drew as she explores a seaside amusement park teeming with fear, secrets and crime. At the heart of the mystery is an antique carousel horse that has disappeared and a merry-go-round that has begun operating on its own.

As the player wanders through the life-like amusement park piecing together clues, she'll become involved in more than 30 activities and puzzles within the game. After speaking to the characters in the game, players will need to uncover key hints that lie hidden amid the roller coaster, carousel and The Haunted House.

Players will be able to keep track of their clues using an in-game laptop, and if they get stumped, they can tap built-in game hints such as the "phone a friend" feature where Nancy flips open her cell phone to call pals Bess, George and the Hardy Boys. Players can also go to an (actual) online community for live online hints and tips and share their own clues with others.

http://www.herinteractive.com

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Enlight Acquires N.A. Rights to Space Sim

 

Enlight, an entertainment software developer and publisher, last week acquired the North American rights to the space-simulation game X(squared): The Threat. A sequel to the 1999 X: Beyond the Frontier, the game uses a new graphics engine and offers a large dynamic universe for players to explore. The game was designed with a graduated learning curve, and its universe contains thousands of unique objects including stations, over 70 ships, myriad weapons, commodities to trade and different races with their own agendas and technologies. Players can build their empires as they play the role of a trader, bounty hunter, pirate, miner or a combination.

The player takes on the role of a pilot native to the X-Universe. The story unfolds as the soon-to-be hero and his companion attempt to steal a ship. After a failed escape, he finds himself aboard a security ship and destined to live out his days on the cold, prison-mining world of Artur.

http://www.enlight.com/x2

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Vivendi/Interplay Release RPG Lionheart

 

 

Vivendi Universal Games and Interplay recently shipped Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader. The original PC role-playing game from Black Isle Studios, developed by Reflexive Entertainment, reportedly combines traditional RPG elements with a sense of action and adventure. Moving out of the typical high-fantasy world, Lionheart takes place on alternate-reality Earth in which history has diverged from the world resulting in a twist to the conventional RPG experience.

In the game, players can control the entire party themselves or join forces with up to four gamers for mission-based cooperative multi-play. As they progress through the realm of Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader, players will be able to arm themselves with hundreds of melee weapons and 60 spell attacks as they attempt to turn the tide against a savage onslaught of otherworldly creatures. Lionheart also features the SPECIAL RPG system for character advancement previously found in the Fallout series of PC games.

http://lionheart.blackisle.com/

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Sony Revises PS2 Pricing Structure

Preparing for the upcoming holiday selling season, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. last week announced exciting new consumer pricing options for PlayStation2. The PlayStation 2 Combo Pack is a special offer that includes the PlayStation 2 console, Network Adaptor (Ethernet/modem) (for PlayStation2), and a copy of the online-enabled game, ATV Offroad Fury 2 (rated 82% at review-agglomeration site http://www.gametab.com) at $199 SRP. Both the Network Adaptor and ATV Offroad Fury 2 are also sold separately for $39 SRP. In addition, the company continues pricing the standalone PlayStation 2 console at $179 SRP.

http://www.us.playstation.com

 

 

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Macrospace Launches BREW Games

Macrospace last week released the first three titles in its range of mobile games developed for Qualcomm's Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) platform:

  • Dragon Island -- take control of the axe-wielding hero in a platform adventure game. Climb ropes, collect power-ups, dodge monsters and make your way to Dragon Island, where you must defeat the ancient dragon to restore peace to the kingdom
  • Detonate! -- blast your way through all the levels and collect power-ups while dodging surveillance robots and fighting bosses. Power-ups include multiple bombs, speed, shields and extra range.
  • Crash N Burn -- racing game with nitro boosts and missiles, features Championship and single-race modes, with 24 unlockable races on eight tracks.

http://www.macrospace.com

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Sony Online Entertainment Announces New Matching Service

Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE) is finalizing plans to create SOEGames.net, an online game matching service designed to let gamers to find and fight each other across the Internet. The first games to take advantage of SOEGames.net will be Lords of EverQuest and Champions of Norrath, two upcoming Sony Online Entertainment titles. The system will reportedly be the first designed to host both console and PC games.

For the basic service, there are no additional subscription fees required (players must provide their own Internet connection for online gameplay modes). The SOEGames.net service will be built-in to both Lords of EverQuest and Champions of Norrath so that gamers will not have to leave the game environment to find opponents and allies.

Champions of Norrath, an Action/Role-Playing Game (RPG) for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, will use SOEGames.net to connect up to four players who can then adventure together. Players with Lords of EverQuest, a PC Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game, will find a number of options available online, including multiplayer matches of up to 12 players.

http://www.station.com/

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Pick Up And Play Develops BREW Arcade Games

Southern California-based Pick Up And Play, a new alliance of console game developers focusing on the wireless market, last week released Barnyard Bouncin' and Alien Siege, developed for Qualcomm's Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) platform.

Pick Up And Play's first two games are based on retro coin-op style games and both are currently available through Verizon Wireless' Get It Now service. Barnyard Bouncin' got its roots from the black and white coin-op game era, while Alien Siege is a combination of numerous arcade shoot 'em up classics. Pick Up And Play has also designed a mobile game engine specifically tailored for BREW devices.

http://www.pickupandplay.com/

 

 

 

 

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DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Sony Online Entertainment Appoints Koster Chief Creative Officer

Sony Online Entertainment recently promoted Raph Koster to chief creative officer. Koster comes to this new role from his position as creative director of Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, where he oversaw and contributed to the product's design and community management.

Prior to joining SOE, Mr. Koster was the lead designer of Ultima Online. He is a frequent writer on issues of virtual world design.

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HAPPENINGS

Austin Game Conference to Cover MMO, Wireless Games

"Top online games … generate revenue in excess of $100 million each. This figure should only grow as consumer usage of online and mobile games is likely to increase dramatically over the next several years," forecasts David Cole, president of DFC Intelligence.

The Austin Game Conference, taking place September 11-12, 2003, at the Austin Convention Center, is focused on massively multiplayer online games (MMOG), as well as mobile and wireless Games.

Conference attendees will hear from 65 speakers in 48 sessions and 6 tracks. The event will also feature a Technology Pavilion showcasing tools, technologies, products and services, plus LivePitch, an opportunity for independent developers to demo their games to publishers, and a Machinima Theater showing examples of the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development.

The Conference is the inaugural event organized by the Austin Game Initiative and features keynote presenters Mark Jacobs, chief executive officer and president of Mythic Entertainment, and Raph Koster, Chief Creative Officer of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE).

Sessions include:

  • 10 things to avoid when making an MMOG
  • Show Me The (Online) Money
  • Minimum Feature Set: What An MMOG Must Have To Compete
  • Massively Multiplayer Games on a Shoestring Budget
  • How To Start, Survive And Succeed As A Wireless Game Developer
  • 1001 Platforms: What Should A Developer Support?
  • Game Design For The Small Screen
  • Developing Multiplayer Games For Wireless Devices
  • Development Tips And Tricks For Wireless Games
  • 3D For Wireless Devices: Today And Tomorrow

http://www.gameconference.com

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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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- David Duberman

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