Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 14 Dec 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
New!!! Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
Editor's note: We'll be taking a break during the holidays (and we hope you will, too), so there will be no Spectrum editions for December 21 and 28. We'll be back January 4, with lots of New Years news. Happy Holidays! - David Duberman

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER --NetObjects Announces Fusion 4.0 --Fluid3D Delivers Streaming 3D with RealPlayer G2 --Macromedia Ships Director 7, Dreamweaver 2 --Netscape Previews Advanced 'Gecko' Browsing Engine --Test Strong Internet Encryption with Data Fellows' F-Secure VPN+ Demo --Things Stream --BOOMASoft Unveils WebForms for NetObjects Fusion 4.0 --Brooklyn North Releases Site-Analysis/Management App --knOcean Interactive Launches Free Online Scrapbook DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --Virtus Introduces OpenSpace3D Interactive 3D Development Architecture --Sun Announces Java 2, 3D API --Sarnoff Announces MPEG-4 Authoring Tools IN THE INFOGROOVE --Hot Off The Web Version 2.0 Ships GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Marlin Studios Offers New Seamless Textures CD --Alien Skin Releases New Filter Collection --Equilibrium Adds Mac OS 8.5 Compatibility to DeBabelizer 3 --Computer Shopper Offers 3D Benchmark Site TECHNOTES --MatchLogic SpeedSelect Offers Bandwidth-Adaptive Tech for Rich Media Delivery CONSUMER CHANNEL --Aureal "Welcomes" Creative Labs to Marketplace --Novation Announces Software Dreampack for Writers THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Study: Interactive Shopping a 'Gift' to Multimedia Market --Portals Emerge as Dominant Source for Online News --WebXess Contest to Aid Non-Profits in Joining the Information Highway DEALS --Nintendo, Softimage to Develop Next-Generation Authoring Technology --GT Interactive to Distribute Sega PC Titles GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Acclaim Ships Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for N64 --Dethkarz Cheats Revealed --Eidos Ships Mobster Sim Gangsters: Organized Crime --Fighter Ace "War Week" Starts Today on MSN Gaming Zone --Guillemot Introduces PC Game Accessories --Hightech Introduces Three New Gaming Products --Combat Flight Sim Damage/Weapon Profile Editor Available DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --Digital Film Festival Call for Entries --Insight.com Receives Outstanding Web Site Award F.Y.I. --About Spectrum ___________________________________

WEBMEISTER

NetObjects Announces Fusion 4.0 NetObjects, Inc. last week announced NetObjects Fusion 4.0, the latest version of its Web site-building software, scheduled to be available by January 1999 at an estimated street price of $299.95. The new version is said to provide integrated, visual support for creating business sites that include dynamically generated data, e-commerce functionality and rich content. Separately, NetObjects announced the launch of eFuse.com (http://www.eFuse.com), an online resource dedicated to helping small businesses easily create more effective Web sites. NetObjects Fusion 4.0's new Java-based component architecture is said to enable the creation of components that extend its power by providing integration with third-party products and technologies such as Allaire ColdFusion and iCat Commerce Online. In addition, Fusion 4.0 includes several user-requested enhancements to ease-of-use, WYSIWYG design and site-management capabilities. Visit http://www.netobjects.com. ___________________________________ Fluid3D Delivers Streaming 3D with RealPlayer G2 OZ.COM (formerly OZ Interactive) last week announced Fluid3D, a system for the development and deployment of streaming 3D animation across the Internet. Fluid3D is integrated with RealNetworks' RealPlayer G2. Fluid3D lets digital artists create content using standard tools such as Kinetix 3D Studio MAX, the authoring tool for real-time games such as Tomb Raider, and Avid SOFTIMAGE|3D, used to create visual effects in Titanic, Starship Troopers, and Jurassic Park. Content exporters enable 3D animation created in these applications to be saved directly to Fluid3D's binary file format, optimized for streaming delivery. Support for the conversion of VRML 2.0 models as well as NewTek LightWave 3D and Alias/Wavefront Maya formats are currently in development. OZ's Anim-X CODEC, a proprietary technology for the compression and optimization of animation data for real-time delivery over IP networks, allows animation to be streamed over low-bandwidth connections, requiring less than 4 kilobits per second to deliver a complex animated digital scene over the Internet. With 33.6Kbps connections or higher, multiple characters and objects can be animated simultaneously. Fluid3D also utilizes a compressed binary format for storing the geometry and textures needed to render 3D in real-time on a PC. The format reportedly delivers approximately seven times the compression of GZIP, the most common compression method used for 3D data on the Internet today. Factoring both the compressed geometry format and textures, typical Fluid3D content is approximately 50-75% smaller than identical content delivered in existing 3D file formats. By keeping animation data on the server, where it is streamed as needed, and by storing the 3D content on the viewer's system in a binary format that cannot be easily altered or manipulated, Fluid3D purportedly protects publishers' copyright-protected content and intellectual property from inappropriate or illegal use. The Fluid3D system consists of three distinct components for the playback, delivery, and authoring of 3D Web animation: * Fluid3D for RealPlayer G2: Free client-side renderer that adds real-time 3D functionality to RealPlayer G2. The Fluid3D player also supports Direct3D and OpenGL for accelerated performance on systems with 3D graphics acceleration. * Fluid3D for RealServerG2: A server-side plug-in for RealServer G2 that adds support for streaming 3D and is licensed on the basis of simultaneous users supported. * Fluid3D Content Exporters: Free content exporter plug-in that allows animators to use their preferred authoring environment for the creation of Fluid3D segments. The exporter is currently available for use with 3D Studio MAX and SOFTIMAGE|3D. OZ's engine, which operates as a real-time animation layer on top of Direct3D Immediate Mode or OpenGL, offers support for the following features: Textures and Materials: * constant, Lambert and Phong materials with full color * faceted/smooth * textured materials * translucent material Lights: * ambient, point lights, spotlights and directional light * position color and intensity can be fully animated F-curves: * spline, linear and constant key frames * unified broken key slopes * support of extrapolated/looped curves Geometry/Vertex animation: * shape animation (weighted, linear, additive and average) * cluster animation Fluid3D for RealPlayer G2 will be initially available for the Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 operating systems, with support for the Mac OS to follow in Q1 '99. Fluid3D for RealServer G2 is available for Windows NT 4.0, with support for Solaris and other flavors of UNIX in development. The beta version of Fluid3D for RealPlayer G2 will be available online from RealNetworks at http://www.real.com by early January of 1999. Fluid3D for RealServer G2, and Fluid3D Content Exporters for 3D Studio MAX and SOFTIMAGE|3D will be available directly from OZ at http://www.oz.com. Beta versions of content exporters are available at no charge to registered members of the Fluid3D Developers Program. Pricing of Fluid3D for RealServer G2 will be made available at final release. ___________________________________ Macromedia Ships Director 7, Dreamweaver 2 Macromedia last week announced the general availability of the Director 7 studio and Dreamweaver 2. The Director 7 studio delivers an all-new Shockwave, Internet-native design and delivery, effects for immersive content creation, and more immediate content creation and playback. In addition to Director 7 and Shockwave 7, the studio includes Macromedia Fireworks for creating and producing Web graphics, as well as Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge XP4 or BIAS Peak LE for sound editing. Customers also receive a multi-user server for creating distributed Shockwave experiences such as multi-player games and online chat rooms. Macromedia Dreamweaver 2 offers new features for page production, site management, visual authoring for dynamic publishing, and Roundtrip XML. For more information about Director 7, visit http://www.macromedia.com/software/director. For more information or to download a free 30-day trial version of Dreamweaver, visit http://www.dreamweaver.com. ___________________________________ Netscape Previews Advanced 'Gecko' Browsing Engine Netscape last week delivered the first version of "Netscape Gecko," its next-generation browsing engine, to thousands of Internet developers. Formally code-named "Raptor," the new technology is designed to Internet-enable virtually any application, operating system or device. Netscape Gecko is the first software product from Netscape based on contributions from mozilla.org, the organization chartered with managing Netscape's open source initiative among Internet developers and Netscape. At the heart of future versions of Netscape Navigator and Netscape Communicator, the Gecko browsing engine offers these features: * size: fits on a single floppy disk * speed: said to be several times faster than previous browsers * standards: supports open Internet standards such as CSS, HTML4, DOM1, RDF, and XML * source: developers will have access to the modular source code and freedom to freely license the source, make changes and build customized versions to accommodate their individual needs The source code is available for download at http://www.mozilla.org. The developer preview of Netscape's Gecko browsing engine is available at http://developer.netscape.com. The final version is expected to be available during the first half of 1999. ___________________________________ Test Strong Internet Encryption with Data Fellows' F-Secure VPN+ Demo Data Fellows has set up a demo of the commercial version of F-Secure VPN+, whereby companies can test an encrypted IPSec connection between their own machine and a VPN+ Server at the Data Fellows site. The supported platform is Windows NT 4.0 (Intel) with an Ethernet network adapter. The release works on both single- and multi-processor machines. An encrypted IPSec connection can be set up by downloading and installing the F-Secure VPN+ Demo Client, available at http://www.DataFellows.com/f-secure/vpn-plus/demo/, and connecting through it to the F-Secure VPN+ server. This setup does not affect a company's other network traffic; all other hosts and network services can be accessed as usual. Unlike the commercial version of VPN+, it is not possible to create encrypted connections to hosts other than VPNPlus.DataFellows.com. This server cannot be contacted without the VPN+ demo client. ___________________________________ Things Stream ThingWorld.com has integrated its ThingViewer with the Microsoft Windows Media Player, enabling Things to support streaming audio and video while retaining their interactive functionality, including the ability to lock, copyright, collect, and control access. Available solutions are viewed through the client run time, ThingViewer 1.2, which is currently in beta and can be downloaded from http://www.thingworld.com/previews/streamingthings/viewertest.asp. Full release of ThingViewer 1.2 is scheduled for the first quarter of 1999. ___________________________________ BOOMASoft Unveils WebForms for NetObjects Fusion 4.0 BOOMASoft last week introduced BOOMA WebForms for NetObjects Fusion, a component for the latest version of NetObjects' Web-authoring product, NetObjects Fusion 4.0. BOOMA WebForms for NetObjects Fusion lets site developers create forms by dragging and dropping BOOMA WebForms elements into the NetObjects Fusion page designer. As the page is published, a database is automatically and invisibly created on the back end. The Web forms are processed using a Java applet. As a result, no programming or server-side applications are required. The program also includes an auto responder application that allows users to define automatic responses to submitted forms. Responses can then be sent to submitters either immediately or at pre-determined dates and time intervals. Users can customize and personalize each response based on the information submitted in the form. BOOMA WebForms for NetObjects Fusion runs on Windows 95/98 or Windows NT. The program has a suggested retail price of $99 and is available for purchase from BOOMASoft by calling 800-893-9603. A free 30-day trial version can be downloaded from BOOMASoft's Web site at http://www.boomasoft.com. ___________________________________ Brooklyn North Releases Site-Analysis/Management App Brooklyn North Software Works' new is a 32-bit Internet/intranet site analysis and management application for Webmasters and others whose responsibilities include regular site verification, updating, and maintenance. In addition to identifying broken Website links and producing detailed site reports, is said to be able to isolate the broken link and let the user repair it directly from the application. The product requires MS Windows 95, NT 4.0 or higher, Pentium 100, 16MB RAM, and 10MB of free disk space. For a 15-day trial download and more details, visit http://www.brooklynnorth.com ___________________________________ knOcean Interactive Launches Free Online Scrapbook knOcean Interactive's new Online Scrapbook lets users create, organize, and maintain a scrapbook of up to 20 megabytes of images and text online with an interface that requires no knowledge of HTML. Users upload their images and can freely edit titles and descriptions for each image. The service is offered free at http://www.knOcean.com. ___________________________________

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Virtus Introduces OpenSpace3D Interactive 3D Development Architecture Virtus Corporation last week unveiled OpenSpace3D, its new interactive 3D development architecture for creating and integrating 3D media into business and entertainment applications. Its component-based architecture is said to bring drag-and-drop functionality to the development of sales, marketing, training and e-commerce applications. Features include: * scalability and extensibility. Because of the component-based architecture, individual components can inter-operate and be reused in other applications with no additional programming. * An open environment. All components plug into a standard container. The container can be integrated into external systems, allowing for integration of functionality between OpenSpace3D and products such as Visual Basic, and Macromedia Director. * Real-time rendering Virtus will release a variety of products based on OpenSpace3D during 1999. The first will be OpenSpace 3D for Macromedia Director, which lets Director users compose an interactive 3D scene with lights, video, sound, animations and HTML links. Users can integrate the scene into Director using the OpenSpace3D ActiveX control, then they can use Lingo scripting to build advanced animations and application integration. OpenSpace3D for Director projects can be distributed via CD, DVD or on the Internet using Macromedia's Shockwave technology. More info can be accessed at http://www.virtus.com/. ___________________________________ Sun Announces Java 2, 3D API Sun Microsystems last week announced the availability of the Java 2 platform, the next release of the core Java technology (formerly code-named JDK 1.2). The new release reportedly provides performance improvements, a new, flexible security model and a complete set of Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs). More information and the Java 2 platform are available at http://java.sun.com/products/jdk. Sun also announced the year-end availability of its Java 3D application programming interface (API). An extension to the Java 2 platform, the 3D API allows developers to incorporate 3D graphics into their applets and applications such as financial analysis, data mining and MCAD. The latest release of the Java 3D API includes several performance enhancements including geometry decompression, which allows very large 3D models to be rapidly downloaded over the network for remote viewing and manipulation. The Java 3D API will be available free worldwide by year-end at http://java.sun.com/products/java-media/3D/ and on the next release of Graphics@Sun CD-ROM in early 1999. For more information on the Java 3D API, visit http://sun.com/desktop/java3d. ___________________________________ Sarnoff Announces MPEG-4 Authoring Tools Sarnoff Corporation's new object-based authoring tools for MPEG-4 video are designed to let creators of video for display, broadcast, or the Web add still or moving objects and do other editing of compressed video in real time on a standard PC. They will be marketed to hardware or software providers for inclusion in video editing packages targeted at professionals and consumers. The tools are compliant with the new official draft standard of MPEG-4, as finalized on October 16, 1998 by the ISO Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG). They provide such functions as: * insertion of still pictures into a video file * drag-and-drop of video objects into a file while resizing the objects or adapting them to different frame rates, speeds, transparencies, and layers * substitution of a different background * mixing natural image and video objects with computer-generated synthetic texture and animation video objects * metadata, editing, indexing and search of compressed image and video objects Contact Sarnoff Corporation's Tom Lento at 609/734-3178, mailto:tlento@sarnoff.com ___________________________________

IN THE INFOGROOVE

Hot Off The Web Version 2.0 Ships Insight Development Corporation last week shipped Version 2.0 of Hot Off The Web (HOTW), its Web page capture and mark-up tool. This new version, now browser independent, is said to be easier to use, offers streamlined mark-up tools and includes a more powerful scrapbook for archiving and annotating web pages. HOTW lets users grab an entire page or a single paragraph from Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer or directly from the Internet. They can then mark up the contents with Cyber Notes, Digital Stickers, the Graffiti Pen and/or Highlighter and email, fax, print or save it. When emailing, the marked-up page automatically attaches to the user's default email program. The recipient double-clicks to see the page. The $30 program comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee at http://www.hotofftheweb.com. ___________________________________

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Marlin Studios Offers New Seamless Textures CD Shipping today from graphics studio and publisher Marlin Studios is "Seamless Textures2 - Rustic Exterior Surfaces," a CD-ROM of photorealistic, seamless textures for use by 2D and 3D graphics artists. The company also sells "FireCD," a collection of animated alpha-channel fire sequences. Seamless Textures2 specializes in seamless rustic exterior textures from older buildings and structures. Typical images include aged structural woods; metals; rusted surfaces; old windows and doors; stained concrete and bricks; various ground covers; and rocks and stones. Seamless Textures2 features 310 seamless textures and an equal number of bump maps (elevation maps) in three resolutions: large (approx. 1280x1024 pixels), medium (66% of large) and small (33% of large) in JPEG format. More information and free sample textures can be downloaded at http://www.marlinstudios.com ___________________________________ Alien Skin Releases New Filter Collection Xenofex 1.0 is a new collection of 16 special-effects filters for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and other Mac/Windows graphics programs from Alien Skin, of Black Box/Eye Candy fame. The effects include lightning, little fluffy clouds, puzzle, television, baked earth and stain. Other features include the ability to load and save settings, support for grayscale, CMYK, RGB and Duotone image modes, and support for Photoshop Actions. Full information, including a free demo, can be found at http://www.alienskin.com. ___________________________________ Equilibrium Adds Mac OS 8.5 Compatibility to DeBabelizer 3 Equilibrium announced last week the availability of a free Mac OS 8.5 updater for DeBabelizer 3 for Macintosh, its software for automatically preparing digital graphics and video. The updater revises DeBabelizer's interface to comply with Mac OS 8.5 standards, extends support for pre-press files and enables the use of Photoshop 5 filters and plug-ins. The updater is available free from http://www.equilibrium.com. ___________________________________ Computer Shopper Offers 3D Benchmark Site Interactive 3D specialist Superscape's free public utility, 3D Benchmark, has been automated, courtesy of sponsorship by Computer Shopper magazine. 3D Benchmark is designed to assess a personal computer's 3D performance. The product measures the speed of a PC specifically in relation to interactive real-time 3D graphics by calculating and displaying in real-time a series of 3D graphics sequences. Six key aspects of real-time 3D graphics: lighting, translucency, transformation/collision, z-buffering, fog and texturing are measured. 3D Benchmark has now been automated so viewers submitting their results see them added to the results database immediately. A new advanced search feature allows the viewer to search the results page by PC manufacturer, processor type and speed, clock speed and graphics card. The fastest DirectDraw result is currently 39.0 fps and the fastest Direct3D result is 195.2 fps using an STB V4400 graphics card. Computer Shopper now includes the 3D results in its hardware tests and reviews. 3D Benchmark is available free at http://www.3dbenchmark.com. ___________________________________

TECHNOTES

MatchLogic SpeedSelect Offers Bandwidth-Adaptive Tech for Rich Media Delivery Digital marketing services firm MatchLogic, Inc. last week introduced SpeedSelect, a new service that allows Internet advertisers and Web sites to deliver different versions of advertising and content to users with varying connection speeds. A potential use of the technology would allow an advertiser to display one of three advertisements of its new product model based on the user's connection capabilities: potentially a black-and-white static version advertisement for low-bandwidth users (14.4Kbps modem), a color animated version for average-bandwidth users (28.8Kbps modem) and a rich-media, interactive version for high-bandwidth users (ISDN or T1 connection). The latter version could allow users to view multiple angles of the product, alter the color, or zoom in and out. Using a proprietary technology, SpeedSelect intelligently identifies user bandwidth capabilities in real time. Since many factors can affect a user's total transfer speed on the Internet at any particular time, SpeedSelect monitors available user bandwidth and calibrates itself to provide a Web browsing experience fine-tuned to each user's capabilities. For additional information, contact Evan Neufeld, senior analyst, or Drew Ianni, analyst, in the Online Advertising Strategies group at Jupiter Communications 212/780-6060 (Evan: ext. 164; Drew: ext. 187). ___________________________________

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Aureal Welcomes Creative Labs to Competitive Marketplace This is cute. The above headline is verbatim from Aureal Semiconductor's press release, which then went on to extend "a congratulatory message to Creative Labs for finally entering the PCI audio race with its latest SoundBlaster Live! product line." But then: "Creative's relatively recent introduction of a PCI product line and its promotion of 3D audio technology have clearly validated Aureal's vision for the future of audio," said Kip Kokinakis, Aureal's president and CEO. " Creative's attempts to thwart Aureal's success through litigation and misleading public statements (such as irrelevant associations between today's Aureal and the old Media Vision) is simply further evidence that Aureal's vision of the future of PC audio is the one to be followed." Being somewhat familiar with Creative's predatory corporate culture, we don't doubt Aureal's implications for a moment. ___________________________________ Novation Announces Software Dreampack for Writers Novation, creator of the Writer's Software Companion <http://www.novalearn.com> and Writer On Line <http://www.novalearn.com/wol>, announces a new product: "Software Dreampack for Writers: 57 software applications for $19.95." Promoters say the CD will save the buyer 100 to 200 hours of Web time. Novation produced the disk by downloading, researching and testing hundreds of separate applications. Says CEO Terry Boothman, "Dreampack was our attempt to truly exploit the Internet on behalf of the professional and aspiring writer. We wanted to find virtually every shareware program that would be useful to someone in the trade." The CD is organized into 10 categories including accessories, learning and skill tools, writing support, reference, personal organizers and even a few brain teasers chosen for non-violent content. Programs were chosen for playwrights as well as novelists and general-purpose writers. There are screenplay formatters, text editors, synonym and antonym finders, specialized dictionaries, calendars, and at least one poetry generator. Whereas some require registration for upgrades, many are free, and most offer functionality without registration. Details are available at http://www.novalearn.com/dp/dppr.htm ___________________________________

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Study: Interactive Shopping a 'Gift' to Multimedia Market While online sellers push everything from flowers to lobsters this season, the real holiday "gift" is interactive shopping's boost to revenue growth in the sluggish multimedia market, says a new report from Insight Research. In years past, visions of video-on-demand danced in multimedia marketers' heads, but in 1998, video-on-demand will comprise just $47 million of multimedia service revenue while interactive shopping will bring in more than 100 times that amount at $4.8 billion. According to Insight's report "The Market for Video and Multimedia Services 1998-2003," the multimedia market includes the Internet, videoconferencing, CD-ROM, DVD, interactive shopping, video games and video-on-demand. One of the primary drivers for the growth of these services -- and the associated network equipment -- is the residential consumer. Today, homes with a PC and modem can connect to the Internet, but the high-bandwidth bilateral communication needed to carry video-telephony and video-on-demand is not efficiently handled via a standard telephone or cable line. And direct fiber to the home (FTTH) is still an expensive proposition. "The future success of video-telephony and video-on-demand depends upon a number of variables -- cost, content, security -- but most importantly, the network delivery strategy," explains Robert Rosenberg, president of INSIGHT. "If fiber moves closer to the home, it can be mated with less expensive, high-bandwidth wireless and copper technologies such as LMDS and ADSL, making the lingering promise of interactive video services a reality," Rosenberg notes. "The Market for Video and Multimedia Services 1998-2003" forecasts the U.S. video-on-demand market to reach $14.1 billion by 2003, while interactive shopping will cash in at $35 billion. Five-year forecasts of CD-ROM, DVD, Internet access, Internet advertising, electronic messaging, video telephony and video game revenue are also included. Multimedia network and access equipment expenditures -- routers, multiplexers, switches, servers, modems, LMDS, ADSL, and network administration and billing -- present infrastructure investments through 2003. An excerpt from the 175-page, $3,495 study is available at http://www.insight-corp.com/vidmm.html. ___________________________________ Portals Emerge as Dominant Source for Online News Jupiter Warns Mainstream News Providers that Brevity, Not Depth, Wins Almost half of online users now access news via search engines or directory Web sites, and 40 percent access news via online services, according to a new report from research firm Jupiter Communications. Jupiter analysts encourage online news providers to focus more on users' utility consumption of online news and develop content around major and breaking stories rather than produce deep analysis. The report, which highlighted results from a recent Jupiter/NFO survey questioning more than 2,200 online users about their online news consumption habits, revealed that online users are gravitating to the Web more than several other media to collect top headlines and breaking news, but are spending an average of less than 10 minutes per session. Twelve percent of those surveyed indicated that the Internet is where they go to collect breaking news versus nine percent that indicated they gravitate to the radio and two percent that identified newspapers. While the majority of consumers still choose broadcast and cable sources for breaking news, 39 and 37 percent respectively, there is clear evidence that consumers are now logging on for breaking news. With the majority of traffic coming online for headlines and summaries, Jupiter recommends that mainstream news providers adjust their editorial resources devoted to producing deep analysis online, and instead focus on developing content around major and breaking stories. The report also detailed that 61 percent of consumers indicated that they read national and international news online, followed by business news (39 percent) and then sports (34.4 percent). Entertainment-driven news (31.3 percent), local news (25.9 percent), and technology news (20.6 percent) rounded out the top categories. The research also shows that consumers' preference for collecting news on search engines and directory sites has also lead to another trend: Newswires, predominantly a service developed for news providers, are gaining more acceptance in the public eye. Since search engines pull stories straight from the "wires," news services such as Associated Press, Bloomberg, and Reuters are becoming more familiar to consumers. ___________________________________ WebXess Contest to Aid Non-Profits in Joining the Information Highway WebXess, Inc. is announcing a 1998-1999 Essay Contest that will allow qualifying organizations a chance to win free Web space on the Internet. Interested non-profit organizations need to submit a one-page essay explaining the nature of their services and expressing the benefits of an organization Web site. WebXess will award each of twenty (20) winners with a lifetime virtual server on which to place a Web site. The prizes will include a customized URL of the organization's choice, a Web server, an email server, and an ftp server. Get the scoop at http://contest.Webxess.com ___________________________________

DEALS

Nintendo, Softimage to Develop Next-Generation Authoring Technology Softimage Inc., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, last week announced an alliance with Nintendo Co. Ltd. to design and create game development tools for the Nintendo 64 home video game console. Nintendo has chosen to work with SOFTIMAGE|3D as a game development tool. Under the agreement, Nintendo and Softimage will collaborate on defining the NIFF (Nintendo Intermediate File Format) v.2.0 and game development environments. NIFF makes it possible for developers to use the Nintendo-supported standard N64 file format. In parallel, Softimage will create new tools to support NIFF v.2.0, based on SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8. New features in SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 said to help speed the game development process include: * Animation Sequencer - provides high-level animation control for animation of segmented characters; allows users to create and save "actions" for each character and to build libraries of actions * Interactive Polygon Reduction - allows users to maintain surface attributes, such as materials, textures and weights, eliminating the need to reapply attributes once a model is reduced * Color Reduction - a new tool based on neural network technology that provides color palettes and indexed images * GameFilter - allows developers to perform both hierarchy filtering and animation compression on a current scene, lightening the overall scene as necessary for download to a target platform For more information, visit http://www.softimage.com ___________________________________ GT Interactive to Distribute Sega PC Titles GT Interactive Software Corp. has reached affiliate-label agreements with Sega PC and SegaSoft Networks, Inc. for the North American sales and distribution of PC titles from both companies. Under the combined agreements, GT Interactive is distributing several PC games from Sega throughout North America. Sega PC titles in the agreement include The House of the Dead, Enemy Zero, Sonic R, Sega Smash Pack, Yoot Tower, Sega Rally 2 Championship, and the Sonic & Garfield Pac while SegaSoft titles include Plane Crazy, Fatal Abyss, and Vigilance. Sega PC and SegaSoft join GT Interactive's other affiliate label partners including Empire Interactive, Smart Code, Beam and Golf Manager. ___________________________________

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Acclaim Ships Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for N64 Acclaim Entertainment last week shipped Turok 2: Seeds of Evil for Nintendo 64. One of the first N64 products to feature a 32MB cartridge, the 3D shooter is four times larger than the 1.5 million unit-selling original, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. It also supports the newly released N64 memory expansion unit with a high-resolution (640 x 480) display mode. Turok 2 for Game Boy and Color Game Boy is also available. The PC version of the game will be shipping in the first calendar quarter of 1999. Also available is a strategy guide from Acclaim Publishing. Visit Acclaim's Web site at http://www.acclaim.net. ___________________________________ Dethkarz Cheats Revealed Beam wants Dethkarz players to know about the first official cheats: Press and hold Shift + Ctrl + C on the main screen to open the CHEATS option. On the Cheats Screen, type one of the following: * GLOBAL (All tracks are selectable) * DEV 6 (All cars are selectable) * RACE CORPS (All seasons are selectable in Championship Mode) ___________________________________ Eidos Ships Mobster Sim Gangsters: Organized Crime Eidos Interactive's $50 PC CD-ROM mobster simulation Gangsters: Organized Crime is shipping. Developed by UK based Hothouse Creations, Gangsters incorporates human resource and business management with real-time strategy. Gangsters takes place in the 1920s fictional city of New Temperance, during the Prohibition period, where the player takes on the role of a mob boss in charge of a growing crime syndicate. With over 5,000 generated characters, the player chooses the lackeys, lawyers, molls, and accountants in order to generate money and power to ultimately gain control of the city. The outcome depends on the decisions the player makes as the game progresses. As the empire builds gamers can choose the violent route or the passive approach. The results can vary from becoming the most feared man in the city to being loved and voted as New Temperance's Mayor. In addition, Gangsters supports multiplayer gaming for up to four players via LAN, TCP/IP, serial, modem and EidosGames through mplayer.com. Visit http://www.eidosinteractive.com. ___________________________________ Fighter Ace "War Week" Starts Today on MSN Gaming Zone Starting today, the MSN Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com) is hosting the Fighter Ace "War Week," five days of aerial combat featuring a grand prize worth over $3,000 dollars. The "War Week" Champion wins a 400 MHz computer system, Intensor IGS 400 Chair Plus, and a Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro Joystick. The runner-up will receive a Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro Joystick. To participate, go to http://www.zone.com ___________________________________ Guillemot Introduces PC Game Accessories Montreal-based Guillemot is now shipping its line of PC accessories: the Race Leader Force Feedback steering wheel, Jet Leader joystick and T Leader 3D joypad. The Race Leader features include high-resistance motors and rubber collar, 27 adjustable effects, a clamping system to secure the wheel to the user's desktop, wide non-skid base, and a new pedal system designed to eliminate calf muscle strain. Also, two authentic Formula 1-race car gear-change levers and a programming interface that gives players control of the steering wheel, its 12 action buttons and programmable 8-directional D-Pad. The wjee; will soon be available in USB mode. The Jet Leader joystick is currently available in standard and USB versions. The T Leader's analog ministick is designed for both right- and left-handed players, in addition to a central trigger. It is playable in four modes: digital, analog, CH Products and Thrustmaster. Find more info at http://www.guillemot.com ___________________________________ Hightech Introduces Three New Gaming Products Hightech Suppliers' new gaming video cards, now shipping, include: The previously announced Flash 3D-II TVpro, a 12MB 3Dfx Voodoo2-based accelerator with TV output, is now shipping for a price of $179 US. The card requires no additional modifications to 3Dfx reference drivers for the TV output to function in Windows 95/98 and DOS. Ambush B-16 is a 3Dfx Voodoo Banshee-based 2D/3D AGP accelerator with 16MB of 125 MHz SGRAM. Ambush TNT is a NVIDIA RIVA TNT-based 2D/3D AGP accelerator with 16MB of SDRAM. Ambush B-16 is available for a price of $99 US ($155 Canadian), and Ambush TNT is available for $129 US ($199 Canadian). Visit http://www.hsdirect.com/ or phone in the US and Canada 1-888-450-4444. ___________________________________ Combat Flight Sim Damage/Weapon Profile Editor Available Now available is a free downloadable Damage & Weapon Profile Editor for Combat Flight Simulator, Microsoft's World War II air combat simulation game. Players must have Microsoft Excel 97. The spreadsheet organizes damage profile elements into functional areas allowing players to edit damage and armament profiles at will. Players can modify the default damage profile to: * add, remove or modify guns on aircraft and vehicles * place guns accurately on aircraft * add, remove or modify aircraft systems and damage models * modify damage profiles for vehicles and buildings * control damage effects such as fire and smoke The editor is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/games/combatfs/downloads.htm ___________________________________

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Digital Film Festival Call for Entries The D.FILM Digital Film Festival is seeking films made with computers and other new forms of technology for its 1999 series of shows. This includes films created with digital/desktop video, computer animation, digital cameras, non-linear editing and custom software. As a result of their being shown in the first season of D.FILM, films were picked up by MTV, Showtime and Saturday Night Live. The festival accepts both shorts and feature length film and video. They're looking for work that demonstrates innovative new uses of technology. Although they show abstract work, they especially value pieces that can convey ideas or tell stories, pieces that will entertain audiences and inspire them to create films themselves. The deadline for the next series of shows is January 18. There is no entry fee. More information and entry forms are available at http://www.dfilm.com. __________________________________ Insight.com Receives Outstanding Web Site Award Insight.com, computer direct marketer Insight's e-commerce Web site, was last week named as a recipient of the Outstanding Web Site WebAward for 1998 by the Web Marketing Association. Winners of the organizations 1998 awards competition are posted at http://www.Webaward.org. ___________________________________

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 and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review. Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 2233 Jefferson Ave., Berkeley, CA 94703. If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks. -------------------------------------------------- Please send address changes (with old and new addresses), subscribe and unsubscribe requests etc. to the above address. If you use the Reply function, please do _not_ echo an entire issue of Spectrum with your message. -------------------------------------------------- Publisher's note: We are now accepting limited advertising. If you'd like to offer your company's products or services to Spectrum's elite audience of Internet and multimedia professionals, send an email query to mailto:duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman -------------------------------------------------- (c)Copyright 1998 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.
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