Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 26 August 2002

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
Search the Spectrum archives at www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

Today's Headlines (details below)

SPECTRUM REVIEW: PROPELLERHEAD REASON 2.0

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX
--Sonic Foundry Releases Acid Pro 4.0
--Bias Updates Peak Audio App
--Cycling '74 Releases Jitter
--Developers Challenged to Create Smartphone Apps --Alchemy Engine Integrates Audio Rendering Tech

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--ATI Ships Radeon 9700 Pro
--Cinema 4D Gets Eighth Version
--SketchUp Update Includes Slice Tool
--ACD, Sanyo Release Panoramic Imaging Software --Caligari Adds Network Rendering

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--New Books from New Riders
--O'Reilly Releases "XPath and XPointer"

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Activision Releases BMX, Hoops Titles --Hunter: The Reckoning Coming to Gamecube --EA Plans Sims Deluxe Edition
--THQ Releases Low-priced Games

HAPPENINGS
--Future, Advanstar to Host 3D Graphics/Animation Event

F.Y.I.
--About Spectrum
___________________________________

SPECTRUM REVIEW

Feature Review: Reason 2.0 from Propellerhead By David Duberman My first 16-bit computer, back in the mid '80s, was an Atari ST. Its designers were by and large an unimaginative bunch, but they did implement one innovation: built-in MIDI connectors. Naturally, I needed something to plug into those hungry sockets, so I purchased a sampling synthesizer/keyboard. But the MIDI connectors weren't satisfied, so out came the checkbook and in came an FM synth module (a TX81Z). You'd think that might've been enough, but no. Roger Corman could've programmed the MIDI ports; they kept crying, "Feed me. Feed me!" They wanted a reverb and other effects boxes, more synths, a multi-track tape unit to record everything aurally; a rack or two to hold all the modules; you name it. But, being that the bank account was effectively wiped out at this point, I drew the line. So I noodled around with my little digital music setup for a while, and then eventually put it away and moved on to other pursuits. Switch to 16 years later, and we now have the ultimate music-making expandable studio rack in the form of the amazing Reason 2.0. Propellerhead Software, Reason's Swedish developer, has created a marvelously versatile and brilliantly designed piece of music software. Reason gives you a sequencer/transport bar, a mixer, a MIDI-to-audio interface, and two synthesizers: analog and "graintable." You also get two samplers, a pattern-based sequencer, and a drum computer. But wait, there's more! Namely, a full complement of effects boxes and two additional modules handle that input from other Propellerhead apps. The beauty of this system is that, since it's all software, you can stack up modules to your heart's content, or to the maximum processing capacity of your computer (whichever comes first), without breaking the bank. A Reasonable Interface A good deal of attention went into designing the user interface. These boxes look like the real thing, all the way down to the identifying labels, which use a font that looks like neat hand printing on white tape, and the warning tags on their backs. You can see the latter by pressing the Tab key, whereupon the stack flips 180 degrees on its vertical axis, and all the routing is visible with patch cables that sway realistically when you change connections. Sometimes the cables block connector names, though, and you can't push them aside. On the front side, you get more knobs, switches, sliders, and buttons than you can shake a conductor's baton at. When you're finished setting up a module, you can collapse it, much like a folder in Explorer's hierarchy view, so it takes up less room in the stack. As you build a stack, basic connections are created automatically, but of course you can change and augment these at will. Most of the modules offer a bewildering variety of back-panel connectors. Fortunately, Reason comes with an unlimited, lifetime supply of free patch cables, so you can experiment all you like. The Modules Following are brief descriptions of each of the modules. I'll preface this section with a caveat: I can't even begin to do justice to these modules in the limited extent of this review. The manual goes into a great deal of depth on each, and it behooves the user to read these descriptions, ideally several times. Reason is a knob-tweaker's dream machine, and the more you learn about how to customize the settings, the better equipped you'll be to create unique sounds. My favorite module is the Redrum Drum Computer. You can program any number of steps from one to 64, of which you can see 16 at a time, represented as buttons. By default, you get a one-measure, 16-step pattern plus 10 drum samples in a kit. You click the step buttons to play notes. For instance, if you want four regularly spaced snare hits in the measure, you'd activate the snare sample, and then click buttons # 1, 5, 9, and 13. The computer keeps repeating this measure, so as soon as you start clicking buttons, you hear the results. Then you can choose other samples and assign them to steps. You don't need fast reflexes, just the willingness to experiment and a feel for what sounds good. Perhaps the most daring module is Malstrom (visualize an umlaut over the "o"), new in Reason 2.0. Propellerhead calls it a "graintable" synth because it combines the granular synthesis method, which strings together a number of contiguous short sound segments, with wavetable, which involves various ways of playing back a sampled waveform. Malstrom lets you use one or two graintables, each with its own pitch/volume controls and ADSR envelopes. Two modulators can affect either graintable or both. Further tools for influencing the sound include a shaper, two filters with a common ADSR envelope, controls for portamento and legato, and flexible routing options. Add an extensive included collection of graintables in categories such Bass, FX, and Polysynths, and the ability to route audio output from other modules into Malstrom, and you've got a powerful sound-generating beast! To these ears, Malstrom's sound is roughly comparable to frequency modulation (FM), but its capabilities are light years beyond that primitive method. Subtractive synthesis is a time-honored and flexible means of generating sound using analog methods; that is, with waveforms. It's known for its ability to create mellow tones, which Reason's Subtractor module does very well, but the included FM capabilities and noise generator enable the creation of more-abrasive sounds as well. The two oscillators can use any of 32 different waveforms, four of which are identified with icons and the rest by number. What's more, Subtractor's phase offset modulation lets you create complex waveforms by combining the basic ones in unique ways. Other features include up to 99-voice polyphony, dual filters, two LFOs, three envelope generators, and extensive velocity control. The well-equipped modern music studio needs samplers, and with Reason, you get two: the NN-19 and the NN-XT. Actually, "sampler" is a bit of a misnomer here, because Reason's samplers don't actually record audio. Of course, your sound card can do so, and the NNs can play back whatever it dishes out, with bells on. The NN-19 is Reason's basic, original sampler, and comes with myriad samples in such categories as Bass, Guitar, Organ, and Voice. Of course, most of these aren't single samples, but patches, each comprising a set of samples with associated settings such as key zones. You can roll your own patches by loading samples one at a time and manually assigning them to key zones. Or, if you'd rather let the machine do the work, the NN-19 can automatically key-map each of a set of batch-loaded samples according to its root note. Additional settings include pitch, LFO, filter and amp with ADSR envelopes, and mod wheel functions. New in Reason 2.0 is the NN-XT, which Propellerhead describes as an advanced sampler that complements the NN-19 rather than succeeding it. Although the functionality of the two overlaps broadly, the latter is easier to use for quickly setting up a couple of samples. The XT justifies its greater complexity with support for complete SoundFonts (the 19 can load only single samples from SoundFonts), as well as eight stereo-output pairs for more flexibility in routing samples to effects modules. It can also layer samples, limit sounds to specific velocity ranges, and create key maps with individual parameters for each sample. In many cases, music consists largely of repeating patterns. Besides Redrum, Reason gives you two ways of using and generating patterns. The Dr. Rex Loop Player lets you play back and edit files created by Propellerhead's ReCycle looping software. And Matrix lets you program patterns of up to 32 steps that control other devices. It doesn't generate sound itself, but instead produces three types of output: Note CV for controlling pitch; Gate CV for controlling velocity; and Curve CV, a separate pattern that can control anything you like. It's among the simplest of the modules, but does offer a Tie function that lets you add a legato effect to your patterns. Lastly, the ReBirth Input Machine lets Reason accept input from Propellerhead's ReBirth synth emulator software. Once you've generated the music, you can enhance it with Reason's eight effects modules: digital reverb, digital delay line, foldback distortion, envelope-controlled filter, chorus flanger, phaser, auto make-up gain compressor, and two-band parametric equalizer. As with their hardware counterparts, operation of these is simple and straightforward, and they all do their jobs ably and with no fuss. Taking Control Reason's command center is a two-part panel at the bottom of the stack with MIDI sequencer above and transport controls below. The latter lets you play and record music, set tempo and signature, toggle looping and set the loop points, and more. For some reason, the main online Help file ignores the all-important sequencer, but it is discussed in an included Acrobat document. A useful new feature in Reason 2.0 is the ability to detach this panel to a floating window, which is especially handy for those with a two-monitor setup. By default, the sequencer displays a horizontal track for each playable module in the stack, with hash marks for note events. Controls on each track include setting it to MIDI control, muting and soloing, renaming it, and changing the output to a different module. Editing functions include cut, copy, delete, and duplicate. You can also quantize a track during recording or after the fact, either to a specific value or to a "groove" from a rhythmic track you specify. The Quantize Strength setting lets you specify, in relative terms, the extent to which notes should be moved. Clicking a button takes you to Edit mode, where you work with one track at a time. Options here are far too profuse to describe in full, so I'll just mention a few of the most important. You can toggle the display of "lanes" for keys, velocities, drums, controllers, and more. In the key lane, you can use the mouse to move and change the length of a single note or a group. A pencil tool lets you add events, change velocities, and draw curves for, say, controllers; a line tool augments the pencil for the latter usage. Lastly, Reason gives you two workhorses, necessary in just about every stack: the mixer and hardware interface. The mixer, with 14 stereo input channels, has the usual controls: volume, mute/solo, pan, treble and bass, and four auxiliary sends. If you need more channels, you can chain mixers, with the output level of all controlled by that of the original. However, soloing a channel in one mixer does not mute those of chained mixers. The hardware interface simply connects Reason to your audio device (typically a sound card); in most setups, you don't need to deal with it. But for more advanced studios, it's nice to know that it can handle up to 64 channels of MIDI. I encountered few annoyances with Reason: the documentation, while well written, could be better organized, and the sequencer solo function could be more straightforward. Also, it doesn't do everything. For example, if you want to incorporate vocals or instrumental recordings in your music, you can take advantage of Propellerhead's ReWire technology to slave Reason to another music program. I did find Reason to be extremely stable; it didn't crash once. Conclusion I don't often recommend a piece of software unequivocally, but in the case of Reason I'm going to break with tradition and strongly urge you to buy this program if you have any interest at all in making music with your computer. At $400, it's certainly not cheap, but when you consider how powerful and well designed Reason is, and the abundance of music-generating resources it offers, it's actually a bargain. A slightly tougher call is the question of whether Reason 1.x owners should upgrade. There are only two new modules: Malstrom and the advanced sampler. But these are major additions, and with the added benefit of the 550MB Orkester library, plus support for higher-quality samples, all for $89, it's really a no-brainer. I'll avoid the temptation to make a bad pun here, and simply conclude by saying that if you don't get Reason, you'll be missing one of the coolest pieces of creative software ever. Get more info and the demo version at http://www.propellerheads.se/. ___________________________________

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Sonic Foundry Releases Acid Pro 4.0 Sonic Foundry last week released Acid Pro 4.0, its professional loop-based music-creation tool. The software can be used to create songs, remix tracks, develop music beds, produce 5.1-surround audio mixes, score videos, and develop music for Web sites and Flash animations. It also has built-in support for MIDI, video scoring, and can save to a number of audio and video file formats, including WAV, WMA, WMV, RM, AVI, MOV and MP3. New features include: * VSTi support * ASIO driver support * effects automation * 5.1 surround mixing * alternate time signatures * MIDI piano roll and event list editing * MIDI step recording * loop cloning * Yamaha OPT support The MSRP is $499.95, but it is offered direct from Sonic Foundry for $349.97 as a download or $399.96 for boxed product. Registered users of Acid Pro 3.0 can upgrade direct from Sonic Foundry for $149.95. http://www.sonicfoundry.com/acid40 ___________________________________ Bias Updates Peak Audio App Bias Inc. last week began shipping Peak 3.1, a new version of its digital audio editing application. The update adds support for QuickTime 6, encoding audio with Dolby's AAC, and several other feature enhancements. Peak 3.1 is native for Mac OS X and is compatible with Apple's latest and OS upgrade - Mac OS X v10.2 Jaguar. It also runs under Mac OS 8.6 - 9.x. The update is free for owners of Peak 3 as a download from the BIAS Web site. AAC is a new standard for high-quality, bandwidth-restricted audio delivery. It provides more efficient compression than older formats such as MP3, yet reportedly delivers quality rivaling that of uncompressed CD audio. Other feature enhancements include a Duplicate command, which enables automatic repetitions of audio material within a file. The Duplicate command is useful for loop-based composition as well as other instances where audio is repeated. Peak 3.1 also adds user-definable contextual menu support for access to relevant menu commands within the application. Peak 3.1 also includes enhanced Wave file support. Markers, loops, regions, and other information are all maintained within Wave files created within Peak and opened in other Wave-compatible applications. Additionally, Peak 3.1 now supports Broadcast Wave files with Broadcast Audio Extension chunks and 24 bit Wave files. http://www.bias-inc.com ___________________________________ Cycling '74 Releases Jitter Cycling '74 last week released Jitter, a set of video, matrix, and 3D graphics objects for the Max graphical programming environment (too bad, Windows users; it's for Apple Macintosh only). Jitter includes over 130 new objects for describing and manipulating matrix data -- any data that can be expressed in rows and columns, such as video and still images, OpenGL-based 3D geometries, text, spreadsheet data, particle systems, voxels, or audio. Jitter is aimed at those interested in real-time and interactive video/3D graphics, data visualization, custom video-effects creation, video rendering, and classroom applications. Although the architecture is general, Jitter is optimized for use with video data. It includes mathematical operators, keying/compositing, analysis, colorspace conversion and color correction, alpha-channel processing, spatial-warping, convolution-based filters, as well as less-traditional video-processing objects. Users create modular video processing "patches" out of Jitter components and matrix patch cords in the same way that Max/MSP users create custom audio and MIDI applications. Jitter supports Apple's QuickTime architecture, including the recording and playback of all QT supported file formats, editing operations, import/export capabilities, integrated real-time QT effects, video digitizing, QTVR, file format conversion, and support for QuickTime audio in the Max/MSP environment. It also includes a set of OpenGL objects for reading and rendering of 3D text and models, video and image texturing, hardware and software rendering support, and low-level access to geometry data and the OpenGL API. The use of a single, generalized matrix data format (of up to 32 dimensions and up to 32 channels or planes) allows for transcoding data for cross-media experimentation. Text can be interpreted as an image, video images converted to 3D geometries, audio turned into particle systems, video data played as audio. Jitter supports digital video (DV) camera control as well as input and output via FireWire and provides multiple-monitor support for performance situations. Jitter users can develop and share their programs and algorithms, and create standalone visual applications, as with Max/MSP. A free runtime version will be available that runs any application created with Max/MSP. Jitter includes a set of objects, documentation, tutorials, and a number of useful examples. A trial version is available for download from http://www.cycling74.com. ___________________________________ Developers Challenged to Create Smartphone Apps Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and Metrowerks have a proposition for wireless application developers: create a killer application for the P800 Smartphone and they will make it famous. Issuing an "Application Proclamation," Sony Ericsson is offering developers an opportunity to have their applications featured as part of the P800 Smartphone launch activities and distributed to the marketplace at no cost. Running the Symbian OS as base, the P800 also adds Personal Java and Java MIDP support. Advanced MMS is another feature, together with the WAP 2.0 and HTML-capable browser. The P800 is a multimedia smartphone for worldwide communications. It has a large color touch-screen, built-in camera, access to the Internet and runs on triple-band GSM and GPRS networks. Submissions will be accepted from August 1 through October 31. The 50 coolest applications chosen will be highlighted within the Sony Ericsson P800 Smartphone launch campaign, and will be featured on Handango, an online marketplace for wireless applications. In addition, winners will receive a P800 Smartphone, Metrowerks CodeWarrior development tools, and registration of their application with the Sony Ericsson Developer World and Ericsson Mobility World programs. The applications will be judged by Sony Ericsson engineering and product development teams on the basis of innovation, relevance, ease-of-use, and "coolness factor." The top 50 applications will be announced December 1, 2002. http://www.SonyEricsson.com/codetocash http://www.SonyEricsson.com/developer ___________________________________ Alchemy Engine Integrates Audio Rendering Tech Intrinsic Graphics, Inc., developer of the Alchemy game-development platform, says a customized version of Analog Devices' SoundMAX Audio Rendering Technology Toolkit (SMartTools) will be available as an optional component to Intrinsic Alchemy at no additional charge. Evaluations of this newly bundled package will be available this October through Intrinsic Graphics at http://www.intrinsic.com. SoundMAX SPX is a cross-platform audio rendering solution said to provide realistic interactive audio for game titles. Based on both physical and event-modeling technologies, the software is designed to alleviate the repetitive nature of sound-effects processing by using advanced audio rendering and manipulation techniques. This reportedly results in more organic sound effects that reflect user input in real time. http://www.audioforgames.com ___________________________________

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

ATI Ships Radeon 9700 Pro ATI Technologies Inc. says it began shipping the new Radeon 9700 Pro to retailers on August 19, and the card will appear on shelves soon. Based on the Radeon 9700 series visual processing unit (VPU), the card features eight parallel rendering pipelines, Microsoft DirectX 9 support, AGP 8X support and fully programmable floating-point architecture. Additional features include 128-bit floating-point raster pipeline, over 110 million transistors, four vertex engines and ATI's Smartshader 2.0 and Smoothvision 2.0 technologies for greater realism. http://www.ati.com ___________________________________ Cinema 4D Gets Eighth Version Coming this fall from Maxon Computer is release 8 of its Cinema 4D 3D animation system. Said to contain hundreds of new features, the new modular system starts with a $595 entry package, Cinema 4D R8, with the option to expand production capabilities with additional modules that enhance specific areas of 3D workflow. Initially, seven extra modules will be available: Advanced Render, Thinking Particles, PyroCluster, MOCCA, Net Render, Dynamics and BodyPaint 3D. All will be available separately or as part of two special packages, the XL and STUDIO bundles. Most notable among the new features is the MOCCA module for character animation, whose "Soft IK" feature reportedly allows realistic movement and automated secondary motion of things like sagging skin and lazy limbs. Thinking Particles is an event-based particle system with "built-in intelligence." Expressions give precise control over anything that moves or changes depending on other objects or events; the XPresso and set-driver/set driven-features use a point-and-click interface. Rendering is up to 30% faster, and output quality and options have been further enhanced by additions such as depth of field simulation and Flash export. http://www.maxon.net ___________________________________ SketchUp Update Includes Slice Tool @Last Software last week released SketchUp 2.1 featuring a section-cutting tool. This sixth release of its 3D-design software lets users cut a section through a model in real time to generate and export 2D plans, sections and elevations of the 3D model to CAD programs. Features include: * DWG/DXF import and export * TourGuide technology - create 3D animations * self-casting, mathematically accurate, location-sensitive shadows * profile and extension lines for rendering a "sketched" look * compatibility with direct-input tools - pens and tablets * color and material application * drag-and-drop scanned backgrounds * scaling and grouping tools * built-in PDF Integration (Mac version) SketchUp 2.1 (English) is available for Windows and Mac OS X for $495. SketchUp for Windows is available in Swedish, Japanese, German and French. http://www.sketchup.com ___________________________________ ACD, Sanyo Release Panoramic Imaging Software ACD Systems International Inc., a digital imaging company, last week released Photostitcher Plug-in, software that lets users automatically stitch a series of digital images into a single panoramic image. The plug-in was built by Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Sanyo Electric Software Co. Ltd., using ACD's Software Development Kit (SDK). ACD will distribute the product. Photostitcher, accessed from within ACDSee, creates panoramic photographs from two or more digital photos and automatically aligns the photographs into one panoramic image. Users can adjust the alignments, stitch the image into a flat panel or a 360-degree cylindrical form, and trim the final picture. http://www.sanyo.com http://www.ACDSYSTEMS.com ___________________________________ Caligari Adds Network Rendering Caligari Corporation last week released tSNet, a network-rendering plug-in for trueSpace users who want to use their computers in multi-node rendering networks, also known as render farms. The product is available in two configurations: a single-node batch renderer for rendering multiple scenes as sequential still images or animations, and in multiple-node bundles that can be purchased in quantities of 3, 7, 12, or 20 nodes. Pricing ranges from $49 for the single-node batch renderer to $559 for a 20-node license. http://www.caligari.com ___________________________________

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

New Books from New Riders Inside JavaScript; Steve Holzner - Covers the latest technology, such as Internet Explorer 6, JavaScript 1.5, and JScript 5.6. Written for beginning-to-intermediate readers. Inside Dreamweaver MX; Laura Gutman, Patty Ayers, Donald S. Booth - A mix of explanations of Dreamweaver MX features, real-world tips, and expanded tutorials on all Dreamweaver functions. ColdFusion MX: From Static to Dynamic in 10 Steps; Barry Moore - Aimed at the professional Web developer who is new to ColdFusion, this book opens with a case study of a Web site and how it can be improved using ColdFusion. It then progresses through 10 stages of upgrade by giving theory, examples, and hands-on instruction for creating a dynamic site using such features as a data-driven catalog, search page, and shopping cart. Dreamweaver MX Magic; Brad Halstead, Josh Cavalier - The authors address approximately 12 areas that are troublesome for professional Dreamweaver users. They examine each of these areas using projects that provide guidance in the form of tips, tricks, and practices. Java Message Service (JMS) for J2EE; Levent Erdogan - A guide to JMS for enterprise developers. Covers the concepts, but also presents simple examples to explain the concepts and techniques. Inside ColdFusion MX; John Cummings, Neil Ross - Covers the main issues in moving to the new version of ColdFusion and explains the creation of real-world ColdFusion applications from the ground up. The authors discuss the new CF Administration, integration with existing IDE's, recent language extensions, and the planning and development of ColdFusion applications under the new CF architecture. Fireworks MX Fundamentals; Abigail Rudner - Insider's look at the best practices for using and integrating Fireworks MX effectively, from a 17-year graphics veteran. Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies; John Yunker - Focuses on real companies who have globalized their sites and the benefits they've received. ASP.NET for Web Designers; Peter Ladka - Content is presented with "hands-on" examples so the opening chapters lay the groundwork for more advanced subjects by not only presenting the information but by writing code as well. The middle section of the book covers the key cast members on the .NET stage including HTML Controls, Web Controls and List Controls. The final section covers more advanced issues in ASP.NET including data access and security issues. Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative, Mark Stephen Meadows - Investigates the design, architecture, and approach to developing successful interactive narrative, while addressing emerging interfaces and new forms of content on the Web. Encourages reader interactivity by offering varying levels of information, different navigational possibilities, and even flipbook animations. http://www.newriders.com ___________________________________ O'Reilly Releases "XPath and XPointer" XPath and Xpointer are two related languages that let developers manipulate embedded information. XPath is used for locating XML content within an XML document; XPointer is the standard for addressing such content, once located. Developers will find information on using these two technologies in O'Reilly's latest release, "XPath and XPointer" by John Simpson (US $24.95). Written for XML developers, document authors, and others with a need to address specific portions of XML documents, "XPath and XPointer" assumes a working knowledge of XML and XSLT. It begins with an introduction to XPath basics. Readers will learn about location steps and paths, XPath functions and numeric operators. The book then moves on to XPointer--its background, syntax, and forms of addressing. By the time they have finished the book, readers will know how to construct a full XPointer (one that uses an XPath location path to address document content) and understand both the XPath and XPointer features it uses. An article by the author,"Of Grouping, Counting, and Context," can be found at: http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/07/31/qa.html Chapter 3, "Location Steps and Paths," is available free online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/xpathpointer/chapter/index.html For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, and samples, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/xpathpointer/ ___________________________________

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Activision Releases BMX, Hoops Titles The top athletes in BMX biking will soon be treating gamers to their own brand of riding with the release of Activision, Inc.'s Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 for PlayStation2, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance. The title lets players perform flatland tricks while they trek across eight large, free-roaming, populated levels. Multiple modes of play such as Road Trip, Single Session and Free Ride accompany multi-player games including Half-Pipe Hell and PUSH. The game also incorporates a new Trick Tweaking feature, which lets players pull off new moves such as manuals, wall rides, tire-taps, grinds and other air tricks, which can be "tweaked" for a better score. Gamers will also be able to create their own BMX course using the next-generation Park Editor. Players can also utilize the Photo Scrapbook feature to keep a collection of snapshot photos of all their best tricks. http://www.activision.com Also new from Activision is Street Hoops for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, developed by Black Ops Entertainment. The game lets players compete in a nationwide tournament representing their hometown on notorious street courts in nine U.S. cites, as well as four fantasy courts that can be unlocked during gameplay. Players can bet cash on competitions, buy real-world gear with their earnings, talk trash, shout and push other players around, if need be. Multiple modes of play include World Tournament, Lord of the Court, and multiplayer Full Court and Half-court games. Additionally, a large variety of freestyle basketball moves, dunks, and a hip-hop music soundtrack lend to the game's authenticity. On Xbox, the game supports HDTV resolution of 720p running at 60fps, plus Dolby Digital for surround sound. The PlayStation 2 version offers DTS audio for surround sound. The game will be released for GameCube this fall. http://www.streethoopsgame.com ___________________________________ Hunter: The Reckoning Coming to Gamecube Interplay Entertainment Corp. plans to release Hunter: The Reckoning on Nintendo GameCube this winter. Developed by High Voltage Software, the action game is based on the characters and fiction found in the eponymous role-playing game from White Wolf Publishing Inc. Played from a third-person perspective, Hunter immerses players in the nightmarish setting of Ashcroft, a town plagued by creatures of the night. Throughout the game's gothic environments, players will face over 30 creature variants, from bloodthirsty vampires to unstoppable legions of the walking dead. Four players can play cooperatively on the same screen, similarly to games like Smash TV and the Gauntlet series. http://www.interplay.com http://www.high-voltage.com ___________________________________ EA Plans Sims Deluxe Edition Electronic Arts will release this September The Sims Deluxe Edition, which will combine the full version of the hit title with the Livin' Large expansion pack and new content, including the all-new customization tool: The Sims Creator. Livin' Large allows players to put their Sim families into zany situations and settings. Its content adds to The Sims dozens of extreme items like a home chemistry lab, a heart shaped bed and a crystal ball as well a cast of wild characters like the Grim Reaper, Genie and Tragic Clown. The Sims Creator is an all-new customization tool for creating Sim characters. Players can now re-create any Sim imaginable, down to the smallest detail. Users can also select new clothes, design original attire, add logos to their clothing, and accessorize Sims with belts, ties and jewelry. The player can also import his or her face into the program and put it directly on a Sim character. Rounding out the package are two new design sets featuring over 25 exclusive objects, plus over 50 additional new clothing choices. http://www.info.ea.com ___________________________________ THQ Releases Low-priced Games Big Idea Productions, creators of the VeggieTales children's video series, and ValuSoft, a division of THQ Inc., last week released The Mystery of Veggie Island interactive PC game ($20). Assisted by Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and the rest of the VeggieTales characters, players will join the veggie kids on a Cub Sprout camping trip on Veggie Island. Kids will explore the island, completing 11 activities, help Junior Asparagus earn his Achievement Certificate and sing along with 10 new "Silly Campfire Songs with Larry." Then, when the Veggies find themselves stranded without a boat, kids will be faced with a dilemma that teaches them a valuable lesson in helping others. The title also incorporates a "Parental Controls" feature, which lets parents determine how long their kids play by setting the game play timer in the startup menu. When time's up, the game automatically saves and ends the game. Also new from ValuSoft is Arthur's Quest: Battle for the Kingdom ($20). Players, taking the role of Arthur, must defeat the legendary evil that threatens to keep Arthur from his place as the greatest king of all time. The first-person game lets players explore 11 levels while facing enemies such as Morgan le Fay, towering monsters, and evil dwarves with weapons including bow & arrow, sword, mace and Excalibur. http://www.valusoft.com ___________________________________

HAPPENINGS

Future, Advanstar to Host 3D Graphics/Animation Event The organizers of two events for the 3D, animation and effects market in the UK have combined their resources to create a single event. Digital Arts Festival, owned by Future Publishing, and Digital Media World, owned by Advanstar Communications, are to combine as Digital Arts World. Digital Arts World will feature: * a multi-stream conference comprising the 3D Festival London and London Effects & Animation Festival (LEAF) with attractions including presentations from the creative houses behind Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Monsters Inc, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Spiderman * workshops on broadcast effects, games graphics, web design, and digital music * the LEAF Awards * BAFTA's Interactive Entertainment Awards. * 3D film festival The combined event will be held in the Grand Hall, Olympia from October 9-11. The exhibition and the 3D Festival London and LEAF Conference will run on all three days, with the LEAF Awards on the evening of October 9 at London's Hippodrome nightclub, and the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards on the evening of October 10 at Olympia. ___________________________________

F.Y.I.

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