Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 9 December 2002

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send spectrum1@broadviewnet.net
Search the Spectrum archives at www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

Today's Headlines (details below)

--Poser 5
--Treasure Planet, Ratchet & Clank
--Macromedia Ships Second MX Developer Resource Kit
--Metrowerks Updates CodeWarrior Tools for Gamecube
--Digital Element Updates WorldBuilder
--Electric Rain Launches Swift 3D 2.0 Plug-ins for 3ds max, LightWave
--ParallelGraphics Releases Cortona Movie Maker --Media 100 Announces OS X Final Effects
--The Art Institutes Buy 2,500 3ds max 5 Licenses
--Army Uses Anark Studio for 3D Target Models
--Game Developer Mag Announces Front Line Winners
--About Spectrum


Poser 5 Review

One of the more interesting aspects of the Baby Boomers' dominance over pop culture is the mass acceptance of childhood and adolescent activities for adults. It's not uncommon nowadays for folks in their 50s and 60s to enjoy or play rock music, read comic books, and play video games, whereas it would have been shocking to see "oldsters" do such things in the 1960s (well, the first two, anyway; video games didn't exist then). And the resurgent popularity of playing with dolls is one of the phenomena responsible for the best-selling computer game series of all time: The Sims. The game lets you decorate houses and direct activities for dozens of virtual humans. But The Sims doesn't let you directly pull the strings of your digital dolls, and its customization options go only so far.

For the ultimate in godlike control over a simulated human, in reasonably priced software designed for ease of use, only one program will do: Poser. The first few versions were brought to us by Fractal Design and then MetaCreations, but now Curious Labs has taken the reins, and the company recently introduced Poser 5. The new version is incredibly powerful, with some truly jaw-dropping features, but the basic functionality of being able to pose and customize your mannequin with a few clicks of the mouse is still the main draw.

If you've used a previous version of Poser, you'll have no trouble coming to grips with version 5's distinctive user interface. But after using it for a little while, you'll appreciate the enhancements. In the center of the screen is the Document window, which shows the 3D character and any other scene contents. By default, it shows a single view into the scene, but you can switch to a variety of multiple views (e.g., right, top, and main cameras) from buttons on the left side of the window. You can resize the window and change its proportions by dragging a corner, or numerically from a dialog, and reposition on the screen by dragging the title. Incidentally, Poser doesn't use tooltips, but when you point at a control, its name appears above the interface entity associated with the control.

On the left side is a host of iconic camera controls that let you pan, zoom, and rotate the view, as well as switch among a variety of default camera positions. Three of the most useful camera controls also appear just above the Document window. Off to the side, the convenient "dots" feature lets you quickly save and restore up to nine different custom presets for each of three items: UI setup, camera position, and character pose. To the right of the Document window are buttons that let you set the tracking mode; whether the program displays bounding boxes always, never, or only when you're changing a setting or a pose. Here you'll also find switches for depth cuing, in which closer objects are more distinct than farther objects, as well as shadows and collisions, about which more shortly. Also on the right side are controls for setting colors: background, ground, shadows, and foreground, or wireframe coloring.

Also in the main UI are controls for lighting, setting the display style, and manipulating the figure and its parts. You can create and delete lights, position them by dragging circles on a small sphere, change their color, set shadow properties, and more. You can set display style for the entire document, on a per-figure basis (a figure can be a character or a prop, such as an article of clothing), or for each part individually. That's power! Among the display styles are the standard ones such as wireframe, hidden line, and smooth shaded, and some more unusual ones including Cartoon, optionally with outlines. And most of the manipulation date back from the original Poser: Rotate, Twist, Translate, Scale, and so on. There's also the morph putty tool, which lets you manipulate morph targets by dragging in the Document window. I didn't have much luck with this, but the morphing itself works fine, and has been substantially enhanced in Poser 5.

Morphing in Poser mainly means adjusting facial expressions and structure. Earlier versions of the program had a good number of basic morph targets such as Smile and Frown, but Poser 5 takes morphing to a whole new level, with categories of morphs such as Nose, Eye, Ear, Mouth, and even Tongue and Wrinkle. Incidentally, someone should tell the designers that "eyebrow" is one word. Each category has a number of settings for adjusting the facial details to the nth degree; for example, Nose alone has 24! Among these are the length, angle, and roundness of the tip, the width of the base and position of the bridge, and even emotion-oriented settings such as Tension, Furious, and Cry. Another morph category is Full Expression, with overall adjustments for Happy, Sad, Fear, Angry, and Repulsion. Again, some editorial oversight should was needed here: Should these be nouns or adjectives?

The morph-target settings are all adjustable by mouse with dials, and from the keyboard. In addition, a menu available for each setting lets you reset the morph, set limits, and animate the morph (and edit animation keys) using a graph. Most morphs affect both sides of the face equally, but you can split a morph so that it affects one side or the other only. The original, two-sided morph remains intact. All of this control comes at a slight cost: It works only with Poser 5-format figures only. Poser 5 comes with four native models: two adults and two children, one of each sex.

Speaking of animation, it's easy to do in Poser, using the traditional keyframing method. The controls are arrayed along the bottom side of the main interface. Simply go to the frame at which you want to set a key, adjust the pose or a parameter, and continue. Poser offers a reasonably powerful animation editor that lets you move and delete keys, and change interpolation curves between keys.

Another vital part of the main interface is the Library, which is out of sight most of the time, but slides into view when you click a handle on the right side of the interface. This provides access to all the content, including figures, poses, preset facial expressions, hair objects and props such as articles of clothing, and lighting and camera setups. All the human figures come clothed and unclothed (visible genitalia is an option), and Poser also includes a nice selection of animal figures, such as a dog, a cat, a dolphin, and a horse. Also included are cartoon humans and robots. The program lets you apply animal poses to humans, which is kind of fun, although some look pretty silly.

The clothing works nicely; you simply add it to the scene and conform it to the figure that's wearing it. Then, when you manipulate the figure, the article of clothing follows along naturally. Speaking of which, the inverse kinematics that has always been a prime feature is still there: You pull the forearm, and the rest of the body follows as if you're grabbing a real person. New in version 5 is collision detection, so you can prevent body parts from interpenetrating during setup. It can be a bit tricky to use, but once you get the hang of it, you can avoid some awkward-looking poses.

As I mentioned, Poser includes hair objects, but these look like what they are: hair-shaped hats. Those seeking greater verisimilitude can take advantage of the new Hair module, which lets you create strand-based hair. To use it, you select the polygons from which hair is to grow, and then generate guide hairs, each of which controls a patch of surrounding hair. You can set overall growth controls such as length and "pull back," and styling controls such as clumping and kinkiness. You can also edit guide hairs, adjusting their length and applying transforms such as move, rotate, and twist. And to top it all off, you can apply dynamics so the hair moves naturally during animation.

One of the major new features in Poser 5 is the ability to design and use procedural textures. The material editor, called the Material Room, works much like Darkling Simulations' DarkTree program, but in some ways is more powerful. Most of a material's 23 attributes, such as diffuse color and bump, can be wired to a node in one of the following categories: math, such as one of 21 functions, including multiply and divide; variables, such as frame number; lighting, such as diffuse and specular; 3D textures, including marble and wood; and 2D textures, such as bitmap (still and movie), tile, and brick. Each of a node's settings can, in turn, be wired to another node. The possibilities are dizzying.

Equally complex and mystifying is Poser's new Cloth module. Here you can use special dynamic clothing objects to react to figure motion and external dynamic forces, such as wind. For example, a woman does a high-kick, while her loose-fitting skirt follows the motion realistically, folding and draping as if it were the real thing. It's not easy to understand or use, so a detailed tutorial is needed for the typical user. Fortunately, there's some helpful information available on Curious Labs' Tutorials Website, available from the Help menu. But be prepared to spend a lot of time the Cloth module if you want to get it right, especially because it requires mucho computing power. Where are the 50-gigahertz processors when we really need them?

The other Poser 5 modules are the Face and Setup rooms. In the latter, you can modify an object's underlying skeleton, or bone structure, as well as how the object mesh is attached to its bones. Incidentally, even props have bones. And the Face room lets you create customized heads by adjusting morph targets, importing face textures such as digital photos, and even create random heads at the click of a button. I looked at these only briefly, but they seem quite usable and useful.

The included documentation functions well as a reference; it's complete and detailed. But there should be many more tutorials; that's the only way ordinary mortals with limited free time can really learn to use complex software like this. To help resolve this, Curious Labs has created a tutorials Web page (http://www.curiouslabs.com/go/tutorials), but most of what's available there was created by individuals not associated with the company, and the writing and presentation is amateurish. Curious has done a great job of adding advanced new features, but it needs to realize that such features are of little use to most users without detailed, professionally written tutorials.

While I was favorably impressed with Poser 5 overall, I did find some problems. There's only one level of undo, and you can't undo a number of settings. A Zoom All or Reset Zoom would be nice; currently, you can zoom out only in relatively small increments. On the other hand, the wealth of included cameras makes it easy to jump to a desirable view, such as the face or a hand only. You can set the render size in inches, but the Render Options dialog always defaults to showing dimensions in pixels when you reopen it. It does the math correctly, but it'd be nice if it remembered the preferred measuring system. The program is reasonably stable, although it is balky at times, and it's slow starting up and accessing different parts of the library.


At $319 (direct, until the end of the year), Poser is a true bargain. It offers an amazing variety of features, some of which I haven't had room to mention, and most of which work reasonably well (Curious Labs issues new patches regularly). The fact that it comes with all the content from the previous versions adds to the value, although you'll probably spend the most time with the Poser 5 content. At this price, you can even afford to buy add-ons from the new (and rather disorganized) Content Paradise site, available from the Poser interface.

If you know someone that likes to play with creative software, and has abundant free time to experiment, but hasn't yet discovered Poser, it would make a great holiday gift. And if you're wondering whether to upgrade, I'd recommend it. But by all means, first check some other opinions, at http://www.computerarts.co.uk/reviews/review.asp?id=998 and http://www.cocs.com/poser/poser5mess.htm.


Ratchet & Clank and Treasure Planet

For an excellent study of the differences between great and mediocre game design, one need look no further than two recent PlayStation 2-exclusive releases from Sony Computer Entertainment America. Ratchet & Clank is the latest game from Insomniac Games, the house that built its fortune on the PS1-based Spyro the Dragon series, and Treasure Planet is, of course, a license based on the not-so-successful animated feature from Disney. Both are nominally platform games, although both include a racing component as well, the latter title more substantially. R&C is a beautifully designed game, fun to play over extended periods of time, while Treasure Planet is a bit of a chore, and somewhat annoying to boot.

In Treasure Planet, as "the rebellious young Jim Hawkins," your goal is to retrieve a treasure hoard belonging to the evil pirate Captain Flint. You have a map that helps you to find said treasure, but you can progress along the map trail only by lighting beacons at key map locations. At first you can access only one location, but as you light increasing numbers of beacons, more and more map locations open up. The first beacon is easy: You just walk up to it, and it's yours! But lighting succeeding beacons takes more work, of course, and therein lies the gameplay. At each location, your first goal is to find each of five or so beacons. As you find each beacon, you're assigned a mini-quest to accomplish in order to light it. The mini-quests include winning races and finding elusive items. Two quests most levels have in common are to find 100 or more gold coins, or "drubloons," and 10 glowing "green energies." If you die, the game remembers the number of drubloons you've found, but drops the green energy count back to 0.

It's really easy to die in Treasure Planet; one false step, or receive more than a few whacks from the various enemies scattered about, and you're history. Fortunately, you have an infinite number of lives, and you're usually revived near where you last succumbed. The game's handy auto-save feature ensures that you don't lose too much progress.

Throughout your journeys you're accompanied by Morph, a small, pink, big-eyed, ghostly critter whose primary function seems to be to circle your head and emit electronic-sounding squeaks. Actually, I tell a lie: Morph is very useful! If you find the right "charger," Morph transforms into one of several short-lived tools that help you accomplish specific questions, such as Cyborg Arms to smash and throw things, and Jetpack to leap to great heights. But most of the time, you'll just be jumping around while Jim grunts and yells rather annoyingly. Not to mention that bloodcurdling scream as he plummets to his death, quite regularly.

In many places, though, Treasure Planet seems more like a racing game than a platform game, thanks to developer Bizarre Creations' exploitation of the movie's Solar Surfer gimmick. Is it a skateboard, or is it a sailboard? It's both! Basically, it lets you traverse the levels at breakneck speed, leaping hurdles with one button and dropping the sail to clear overhead obstacles with another. Forget to do the latter, and you smash up and have to start over. For me, not being particularly adept at the racing genre, these sequences were mostly an exercise in frustration, but I can see how those so inclined, with better reflexes than I, could enjoy them. More playable are the "rail-grinding" sequences, where you stick to the rail by holding down a button.

Treasure Planet is quite difficult in spots, and its indifferent level design and gameplay didn't motivate me to keep trying. Not to mention that the few characters in the game have the personality of sprouting potatoes. And some of the tasks are pretty mysterious, such as "shuffle boats." Huh? On the plus side, the graphics are quite nice, if uninspired, and the level design is competent. There's nothing overtly wrong with the game, though, and if your kids loved the movie, and don't mind a challenge, and have finished Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter, this would make a nice holiday gift.

Which brings us to Ratchet & Clank. The developer, Insomniac Games, was quite successful with the Spyro series, and now it's turned its hand to a new franchise-to-be (one hopes) in Ratchet, a young, anthropomorphic-animal mechanic (think Bubsy) and his wee robotic sidekick Clank. Insomniac injects personality and interest into the game by creating friction between the two, based on Ratchet's initial lack of interest in the big picture and Clank's gullibility.

Said big picture arises from the plans of evil corporate Chairman Drek to take over various planets, eliminate their native populations, and develop them for commercial purposes. Drek is portrayed comically as a diminutive (think Napoleon), megalomaniac, pony-tailed Nixonian character who chews out his clueless minions in between hatching devious schemes for increasing the level of entropy in the universe. These and other story-development cut-scenes are revealed to us by Infobots, which are among the goals Ratchet & Clank seek during their journeys.

But the real object of this game is to collect and use gadgets. Videogame players are mostly gadget junkies at heart, and this game will satisfy your Sharper Image cravings quite well. In fact, it could've been named Gadget & Clank! Most of the devices are in the form of cleverly conceived and designed weapons, some as mundane as a machine gun and flamethrower, and others more exotic, such as a cannon that sucks in smaller enemies and then shoots them out as exploding projectiles. My favorite is the Glove of Doom, which shoots small robots who seek out ground-based enemies and then blow up, all the while cackling evilly to themselves. Some of the weapons seem not to be very useful, such as the decoy that simply attracts enemy attention for a short while. But it turned out to be the only way I was able to get through one particular enemy-laden scenario, so I was glad to have it.

How do you get these gadgets? For the most part you buy them with bolts, the game's currency. Much of the play action involves accruing bolts, which you do by running around hitting crates, whacking enemies, and, in some cases, destroying scenery elements such as lampposts. This involves a seemingly minor but ingenious gameplay element in which nearby bolts fly into Ratchet with an ear-pleasing, musical tinkling sound. Another nice touch is that they don't disappear after a short time, but remain indefinitely should you be inclined to return later to pick them up. Likewise, some crates yield ammo instead of bolts; usually of a sort that you're low on, conveniently enough. It's usually not quite enough, though, and the better gadgets and their ammo aren't cheap, so you'll want to collect every last bolt you can get your hands on.

Another important item type you find in your travels is the health power-up, which is relatively rare but important, as you have relatively few hit points (you start with four, and eventually get another one). Fortunately, as in Treasure Planet, if you die, you don't have to backtrack very far. And die you will, because Ratchet & Clank is quite challenging, but you don't mind because it's so darn much fun. The game's fun factor is due in no small part to clever level design, both in the attractive graphics and the use of puzzles. You'll need to use a variety of methods to get through the levels, in part by the use of non-weapon gadgets. Some of these augment your capabilities, such as enabling survival in non-oxygen environments such as under water or in space, while others serve as tools, letting you, for instance, empty water from one receptacle and use it to fill another. Still others give you extra powers via Clank, who mainly spends the game riding on your back and acting, for example, as a rocket booster for augmenting jumps. Occasionally, Clank strikes out on his own in brief, puzzle-oriented levels that serve as a welcome relief to the Ratchet's more action-oriented role.

As with Treasure Planet, by accomplishing certain goals, you open up more of the game, but in this case you're also advancing the story, which is actually an interesting one, thanks to Insomniac's use of devilish humor. In each level, besides the main tasks, you have optional goals such as finding special gold bolts and developing mysterious skills. The latter aren't described in the poster-style game manual, but both seem related to adding replay value by giving you extra goodies the second time through the game. Level exploration is aided by the well-designed 3D automap, which you can rotate in any direction and zoom.

I won't spoil the fun by giving away any more details, but rest assured, Ratchet & Clank is a great deal of fun. The expansive levels are highly varied, but all look great and are designed to keep the player's level of interest at a peak. There are lots of nice touches; for instance, if you return to a level you've already explored, you can take a shortcut to a faraway location of interest. And you will want to return to each location at least once, because you probably missed something the first time around, not to mention those elusive gold bolts. Ratchet & Clank gives hours of fun and a surprise around every corner; what more could you ask for $40? http://www.playstation.com


Macromedia Ships Second MX Developer Resource Kit

New from Macromedia is the MX Developer Resource Kit, Volume Two. The $99 kit, the second of a quarterly series, contains extensions and components to enable Flash MX, Dreamweaver MX, and Fireworks MX developers to create and deploy Websites and rich Internet applications.

The kit contains cross-product articles and resources, Flash MX components, and Dreamweaver MX and Fireworks MX extensions. These extensions and components are available only as part of this kit.

For Dreamweaver MX developers, the kit contains extensions for Website building and application development using PHP and SQL. The extensions include a PHP User Authentication extension to add server behaviors to restrict Website access, and a PHP Master Detail Page Set extension to create master list and detail pages. The SQL Reference extension provides inline SQL command and function reference materials. The Batch Spell Check Extension automates the spell checking of entire sites and groups of files.

For Macromedia Flash MX developers, the kit includes the Macromedia Flash UI Component Set 4. The component set includes a text editor that enables developers to provide a text editor for inputting plain and HTML text using a word processing-like interface on Websites. The set also includes components that simplify the inclusion of smart combo boxes, advanced calendars, color pickers, and simple menus within content and applications.

For Fireworks MX developers, the Juno extension set provides four commands that enable users to create vector-based patterns, waves, and random effects without having to create them in another program. The new commands can create vortex patterns, tsunami wave patterns, ordered arrays of objects, or spiral buttons and mathematical patterns.



Metrowerks Updates CodeWarrior Tools for Gamecube

Metrowerks recently released CodeWarrior Tools for Nintendo Gamecube, Version 2.0. The tools incorporate new features and provide increased flexibility for game developers through CodeWarrior's integration with third-party tools including Visual SlickEdit and Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0.

CodeWarrior Development Tools for Gamecube allows developers to create and compile integrated IDE Relocatable (REL) Modules. Supported by Nintendo's REL Module Make system, RELs let applications be broken into separate pieces allowing individual pieces of the application to be loaded when needed.

Version 2.0 includes an improved C/C++ front end compiler with fast link and compile times, enabling fast compile times by utilizing concurrent compiles on multi-processor systems and includes command-line tool adapters. Game developers will also find efficiency improvements with CodeWarrior's upgrades to the debugger command line tool adapters.

CodeWarrior Communication Utility (CWComUtil), which enables remote download of code and data through a connected Win32 server, is an additional feature incorporated in Version 2.0. This utility allows developers and artists to make changes without having to recompile or reload the entire executable file. CWComUtil supports client/server architecture.

Version 2.0 also includes the following enhancements to the CodeWarrior IDE: * code completion for C and C++

CodeWarrior Analysis Tools (CATS), which identify performance bottlenecks to ensure adequate test suite coverage during the quality analysis process, are also available for the Gamecube platform.


Digital Element Updates WorldBuilder

Digital Element, an Oakland-based software development firm specializing in 3D nature, last week released WorldBuilder 3.5, the latest update to its software for modeling and rendering high-definition, animating landscapes. New features include rain, snow, and 3D clouds.

WorldBuilder 3.5's new Levels of Detail are designed to make rendering faster and real-time scene generation easier. Also new is the ability to export to RPF format, designed to ease compositing.

WorldBuilder Pro 3.5 retails for $999 and the Standard version, which differs in network rendering and access to the Rosetta Communicator Plugins, retails for $399. Academic pricing is available.


Electric Rain Launches Swift 3D 2.0 Plug-ins for 3ds max, LightWave

Electric Rain, Inc. last week released of Swift 3D LW Version 2.0 and Swift 3D MAX Version 2.0, new plug-ins that let LightWave 3D and 3ds max users render their scenes to the SWF file format as both vector and raster output. The software lets 3D content developers working with the respective 3D apps create Web-optimized output in the SWF file format, as well as AI, EPS, SVG and Toon Boom's PNT format.

New vector-rendering capabilities in the software include: * transparency - Renders objects with opacity control
* reflectivity - support for reflective materials
* advanced specularity - gradated specular highlights
* multiple shadows - overlapping shadows from any light source

Also new is SmartLayer technology, which works in conjunction with the Swift 3D Importer plug-in for Macromedia Flash MX, enabling users to render scenes with certain aspects broken out into individual layers.
* Render separate layers for colors, outlines, shadows, highlights, reflections and transparencies for better integration with Flash projects
* Create separate layers for stationary and moving objects, eliminating duplication of static frames and reducing file size
* Insert Swift 3D LW renderings directly into Flash MX libraries for better workflow
* supports full-textured renderings for raster-based output to the SWF format, with per-frame cropping to insure maximum optimization.


ParallelGraphics Releases Cortona Movie Maker

Dublin, Ireland's ParallelGraphics, a developer of Web-based 3D technologies, last week released Cortona Movie Maker 1.0 for the 3D virtual manuals market. The software allows virtual manuals to be delivered in video format.

Virtual Manuals, said to be more flexible than traditional training materials, and used in the delivery of customer support, training and maintenance activities. Cortona Movie Maker creates high-resolution and high-quality movies based on VRML models by capturing all the movements, animations and user actions and then recording them as a digital movie in popular video formats, including streaming video.

Movie Maker reportedly solves the problem of capturing video from a PC screen, which previously resulted in considerable quality loss. Using Cortona Movie Maker, no single frame is skipped during the video recording session. Its smart pausing technology can automatically pause a recording session until all the large textures are loaded. The output resolution can be higher then the screen resolution. It is possible, for example, to record a 2000x2000 movie from a PC running an 800x600 UI.


Media 100 Announces OS X Final Effects

Coming at the end of 2002 from Media 100 is Final Effects Complete for Mac OS X. The set of over 100 software plug-in filters and transitions generates special effects for film, video, animation, DVD and CD-ROM content.

The heart of Final Effects Complete is its ability to generate two-dimensional and three-dimensional particle animations within digital media solutions such as the 844/X, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Boris RED and other applications supporting the After Effects plug-in interface standard. These particle filters let video editors generate rain, snow, fire, smoke, ball action, explosions, distortions, jet trails, hair, liquid mercury distortions, spotlights, color transitions and other video effects.

Some of the filters included in Final Effects Complete are:
* Mr. Mercury - creates mercurial effects for cascading water, molten metal, dissolving plastic, etc.
* Ripple Pulse - creates a user-definable ripple wave
* Light Burst - creates a burst of light emanating from a source image
* Particle Systems - creates different particle animations, ranging from explosions to smoke screens
* Pixel Polly - creates an effect similar to a pane of glass shattering and flying apart
* Light Rays - creates radiating streaks of light, for casting light behind images or lettering.
* Burn Film - creates the illusion of film burning or melting when it gets stuck in a projector.



The Art Institutes Buy 2,500 3ds max 5 Licenses

In what is said to be one of the largest purchases in animation-software history, The Art Institutes has purchased 2,500 copies of Discreet 3ds max 5 for use in its design and art schools throughout North America.

"Enormous industry acceptance and demand by our employers has led The Art Institutes to implement 3ds max 5 as the natural and optimal choice for our curriculum needs," said Rich Moore, assistant vice president of classroom technology, The Art Institutes.

"Students want to walk away knowing what they learned in school will be applicable to the real world. Leading companies are recruiting 3ds max artists to deliver quality 3D content for films, games and design visualization; and this was another critical reason aside from its great toolset that 3ds max best prepares our students with the best skills for any type of 3D project."

Closing out what many consider a roller coaster ride of a year for the animation sector, Discreet's 3ds max 5 software celebrated its fifth generation release with an expanded market presence and the receipt of industry awards including Animation Magazine's Seal of Excellence Award and Atomic Maximum Power Computer Magazine's Hot Atomic Award (Australia). 3ds max 5 was also selected by PC Magazine as a finalist for its 19th Annual Awards for Technical Excellence.
http://www.discreet.com ___________________________________

Army Uses Anark Studio for 3D Target Models

The U.S. Army's Virtual Targets Center is using Anark Studio to display 3D, interactive military target models for presenting content to various government agencies. The center has created interactive demos and visualizations of a variety of its models to help educate customers on its product offerings.

The center's team of development analysts is using Anark Studio to show interactive 3D models that are used to support various simulation efforts. Potential users can interact and visually inspect a growing library of models through Anark's interactivity that lets military users making decisions on model usage relating to simulation and training applications.
http://www.anark.com ___________________________________


Game Developer Mag Announces Front Line Winners

Game Developer magazine last week announced its list of winners for the fifth annual Front Line Awards, honoring excellence and innovation in tools for game development in 2002. The winners of the Front Line Awards will be profiled in the January 2003 issue of Game Developer magazine, available on newsstands beginning December 27, 2002.

Award categories encompass programming, art, production, audio and hardware. A panel of game developers specializing in the fields relevant to each category selected finalists and winners based on utility, innovation, value, and ease of use. Nominations were open to all new products and new versions of products related to game development released between September 1, 2001 and August 31, 2002.

Winners in the various categories include:

* A.K. Peters Publishing: Real-Time Rendering, 2nd Edition
* Metrowerks: CodeWarrior Wireless Studio
* Nvidia: Cg Shader Programming Language

* Adobe: Photoshop 7
* BioGraphic Technologies: AI Implant
* Discreet: 3DS Max 5

Game Components
* Havok: Havok Game Dynamics SDK

Audio * AudioEase: Altiverb 2.0

* ATI: Radeon 9700
* Wacom: Cintiq 18sx

In addition to the Front Line Award category winners, each year one product is inducted into the Front Line Awards Hall of Fame. The inductee is chosen for its contribution to the game development industry over five or more years. This year's honor was presented to Microsoft DirectX, chosen in recognition of Microsoft's long-range commitment to PC game development, the technology DirectX brought to console-game development, and the persistence with which Microsoft continues to improve development tools.


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