Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 8 Feb 99

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
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Today's Headlines (details below)

TODAY'S TOP STORY --Connectix Prevails Over Sony in Request for Temporary Restraining Order WEBMEISTER --ParaSoft Releases Beta of CodeWizard for HTML --MetaCreations to Deliver Headline Studio, New Tool for Web Advertising --GeoLearning Releases 3D Online Learning System --Bluestone Software Contributes Freeware to XML/Java Movement IN THE INFOGROOVE --IntelliSeek Updates BullsEye Search Tool --BMT/EmTec Release Yonc Internet Connection Monitor --Internet-Sales Discussion List Conducts Marketer Survey --Aladdin Releases WinExpander 5.0 Beta, Mac 5.1 Final --ImaginOn Delivers "Supra-Search" Engine, WebZinger 6.0 --SurfSaver Update Exports HTML GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Credo Interactive Announces Downloadable 3D Character Motions, Models --Guillemot Ships Banshee with Xing DVD-Decoding Software --Avid Unveils New Packages, Pricing Options for SOFTIMAGE|3D --MAXON Introduces Entry-Level CINEMA 4D Version --Alias|Wavefront Unveils Maya Complete WEBSIGHTINGS --Web Bits TECHNOTES --Kenwood Unveils 52X CD-ROM Drive --Microsoft DirectX 6.1 Introduces DirectMusic THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --V_Graph Granted Patent on New Programming System DEALS --ASCII Entertainment Announces AGETEC Subsidiary --CNET Acquires NetVentures, ShopBuilder Store Creation System GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Maxis Releases SimCity 3000 --Black Isle Announces Baldur's Gate Add-On --Infogrames to Take "Mission: Impossible" Multiplatform --Sierra FX Announces '99-2000 Product Lineup --EA to Develop Need for Speed: High Stakes for PlayStation NUMBEROLOGY --Sony Announces PSX Holiday Figures --Sierra Announces High Sell-Thru for Caesar III HAPPENINGS --VRML 99 Conference in February --RealNetworks Third Streaming-Media Conference/Exhibition Set for SF/May --DV Conference/Expo Set for Long Beach in October F.Y.I. --About Spectrum ___________________________________


Connectix Prevails Over Sony in Request for Temporary Restraining Order The San Francisco Federal District Court last week rejected Sony's request for a temporary restraining order on shipments of Connectix Virtual Game Station yesterday afternoon. Version 1.1, now shipping at SRP $50, features improved game compatibility over the original Version 1.0 and enhanced anti game-piracy technology. It also introduces an Auto Launcher mode that launches compatible PlayStation games as soon as they are inserted into the CD-drive of the Macintosh. For the thousands of current users of Version 1.0, a free version 1.1 updater has been posted at the company's Web site, www.connectix.com. In a related story, Connectix also announced that Virtual PC Version 2.1.2 is now available for download from www.connectix.com as a free update for all Virtual PC 2.x customers. This free update to the company's flagship PC emulator for Macintosh offers improvements for iMac and Blue & White G3 users, including support for USB floppy drives including the Imation SuperDisk USB Drive, Newer Technology uDrive, and VST USB floppy drive. This new compatibility makes it easy for users with USB floppy drives to install Windows programs from floppies or share floppies with other Windows users. Also included in this update is a more intelligent PC Hard Drive Expander utility and improved support for Macintosh systems with multiple monitors. ___________________________________


ParaSoft Releases Beta of CodeWizard for HTML ParaSoft announced last week the beta release of CodeWizard for HTML, an error-prevention tool that comes as a plug-in for ParaSoft's Web management tool, WebKing. CodeWizard for HTML is an error-preventing Web tool that automatically enforces HTML coding standards and helps ensure that Web pages appear correctly on all browsers. According to ParaSoft, CodeWizard for HTML: * helps ensure code is viewed correctly by all browsers and search engines * standardizes HTML code across Web pages and sites * makes HTML code more effective * accelerates the learning curve for HTML CodeWizard for HTML is currently available for beta-testing. Those interested should contact ParaSoft at (888) 305-0041. ___________________________________ MetaCreations to Deliver Headline Studio, New Tool for Web Advertising Coming right up from MetaCreations Corporation is Headline Studio, a $200 software package for creating animated Web-based GIF banner ads that can be viewed on any browser at multiple bandwidths. The program is planned to be available for the Windows and Macintosh platforms via e-commerce and electronic distribution later this month and on retail shelves in March. Features include video effects such as walk-ins, dissolves and fades for images and text (either lines, words or individual letters), customizable, Web-safe color palettes, unlimited undo, and the ability to determine GIF animation size and frame rate after the animation has been designed. Additional features: * Split text: Divide text into individual lines, words or characters for control over animation possibilities. * Instant preview of GIF animations: Streamline creation time with the ability to view animations on the fly. * Dozens of animation parameters let text and images to flow smoothly into a banner, "fade" in from a motion blur, bounce like a ball, and more * Color palettes: Users can choose from preset "Web-safe" color palettes, create custom palettes within Headline Studio, or import palettes from MetaCreations' Painter 5.5 Web Edition, or Adobe Photoshop. Visit http://www.metacreations.com/products/hls for more information ___________________________________ GeoLearning Releases 3D Online Learning System GeoLearning, Inc. last week launched Geo Learning Center(GLC) -- a training system that allows organizations to develop and deliver online courses, Webcast live seminars, and administer tests and surveys using a 3D interface. The system uses an open architecture design for customization, and allows for a variety of delivery options. GLC includes the following: * Administration and Authoring System: lets users create, publish and administer online courses. Because it is a browser-based system, authors from different locations can work on the same course at the same time and then publish and update instantly. An E-commerce package allows for internal or external charges and automatic credit card validation. * Testing and Survey Center: lets users to author and administer online tests and surveys. Results and reports can also be collected and viewed online. * Virtual Classrooms: supports asynchronous training delivery, with over 400 courses available in areas ranging from computer and technical skills, to human resource and other soft skill areas. * Live Conference Center: allows for presentations of live seminars via Webcasting technology. Video, audio, and slide presentations are used to create online sessions. Large and small conference halls can accommodate up to 1,000+ participants, including breakout rooms for small group discussions. * Research/Resource Center: An entire organizational library can go online. A multimedia lab lets users download software. 120 master links connect to search engines, world libraries, and other reference sites. Geo Learning Center can be viewed at http://www.geolearningcenter.com ___________________________________ Bluestone Software Contributes Freeware to XML/Java Movement Bluestone Software last week debuted XwingML (pronounced zwing-M-L), a public domain contribution from Bluestone labs said to accelerate the learning curve for early adopters of XML/Java tools. XwingML can be downloaded at http://www.bluestone.com. According to Bluestone, XML is emerging as the communications standard for the masses because of its simple English programming and self-documenting facility. The company claims XML will facilitate application-to-application, business-to-business communication, and the integration of the virtual corporation. XwingML was developed by Bluestone labs as the framework for creating Bluestone's commercial XML products: Bluestone XML-Server, a dynamic XML server, and Bluestone Visual-XML, a toolkit for building XML applications. XwingML version 1.0 is a development platform for merging XML and Java code. It comes with a standard Document Type Definition (DTD) that defines the entire Swing/Java Foundation Class (JFC) set of classes and properties, as well as providing support for all Swing/JFC Listeners. (Swing is the set of graphical components in Java 2 that allows users to do Java graphical programming.) Complete with sample templates for a wide variety of GUI interfaces (i.e., menus, frames, and dialogs), users easily author XML documents in simple English, which XwingML reads and dynamically creates the Java GUI. ___________________________________


IntelliSeek Updates BullsEye Search Tool BullsEye Version 1.5, a new version of IntelliSeek's Internet search tool, offers the following enhancements: * more comprehensive searching of over 450 search engines and databases, plus intelligent agents * faster loading, smaller disk/memory footprint * workgroup capability, with the ability to share searches, tracker items and search results and import/export facilities * the software can format reports for and deliver them to PDAs Pricing is $49 for BullsEye, and $149 for BullsEye Pro, which adds the ability to track changes to Web pages, run searches automatically after hours, and more. Get a 30-day trial version from www.intelliseek.com. ___________________________________ BMT/EmTec Release Yonc Internet Connection Monitor BMT Micro, Inc. and EmTec Innovative Software have released Yonc ($19), Windows software that lets users dial with a single mouse click and redial if the Internet provider's lines are busy. It graphically displays the line performance, monitors other information about the Internet connection, and users can check multiple email accounts while online. Yonc can also records online time and cost (session, daily, monthly) and writes a log file. Yonc also keeps the Internet connection active to avoid disconnects due to inactivity and can be set to disconnect after a defined time, even when using tools like ICQ. Find more at http://www.emtec.com/yonc/index.html ___________________________________ Internet-Sales Discussion List Conducts Marketer Survey Email is getting more and more attention as a marketing tool. But what format works best? Are people ready for dynamic, graphically enhanced messages, or is the simplicity of straight text one of e-mail's greatest strengths? The Internet-Sales Discussion List (I-Sales) is hosting an online survey to find out. The survey was created in response to a discussion on the topic in I-Sales over the last week. The goal is to gather quantitative data in addition to the qualitative input provided by posts to the discussion list. Participants can vote for HTML, Text, or indifferent, and receive an immediate cumulative total of all votes at: http://www.mmgusa.com/isales/survey/ ___________________________________ Aladdin Releases WinExpander 5.0 Beta, Mac 5.1 Final Aladdin Systems last week released a public beta version of Aladdin Expander, 5.0b1 for Windows, a freeware product that gives users access to compressed and encoded files found on the Internet, including StuffIt and Zip compressed files. Aladdin Expander offers 32-bit, long file name support and is Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 compatible. New features: * expands StuffIt 5.X archives (.sit), including self-extracting archives (.sea) * decodes MacBinary III encoded files, the new format utilized by Mac OS 8.5 * Unicode support for cross-platform, multilingual file access * folder hierarchy support for Arc (.arc) compression format Aladdin Expander 5.0b1 is available from http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander/expander_beta_login.html. Also, Aladdin is shipping Aladdin StuffIt Expander 5.1, a free update to its Macintosh-based expansion and access tool. StuffIt Expander 5.1 adds PC functionality (Zip and .uu decoding). New features: * up to twice as fast as the 5.0 version * .uu decoding * Roman language text encoding conversion built * access to Internet Config settings for all supported file formats with new Internet Config Preference utility that maintains a list of helper applications to use for processing files downloaded from the Internet * helper application support is included for processing additional file formats. StuffIt Expander now searches for an available "helper" application on a user's hard disk to access files Find it at http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander/. ___________________________________ ImaginOn Delivers "Supra-Search" Engine, WebZinger 6.0 ImaginOn, Inc. last week launched its "all-in-one Supra-Search" engine, WebZinger 6.0, a Java-based application software program for Windows PCs. Versions for the Apple Macintosh and Sun Solaris platforms will be introduced shortly. WebZinger 6.0 incorporates ImaginOn's Transformational Database Processing and Playback technology which transforms data from a spatial domain, where objects are arranged in space geometrically, to a temporal domain, where they are arranged in time sequentially. As applied in WebZinger 6.0, the technology results in an all-in-one Web software utility said to search, locate, evaluate, download, format and play back search results in the form of a multimedia slide show in about 30 minutes while the user continues to run other applications on his or her PC desktop. Also, a Fast Mode lets users to compile an abbreviated WebZinger report in about one minute. Download a trial version at http://www.imaginon.com. ___________________________________ SurfSaver Update Exports HTML A new version of SurfSaver now allows users to share information gathered on the Web. In addition to network support, SurfSaver 1.5 includes the following enhancements: * user-definable drive and directory for folders. Store SurfSaver folders on ZIP drives, network drives, or anywhere else. * export pages from SurfSaver to HTML (complete w/graphics) so that users can then modify them with an HTML editor. * modify the date of a saved page. * quicksave to the last folder where user saved a page. SurfSaver 1.5 is available for download at http://www.surfsaver.com. ___________________________________


Credo Interactive Announces Downloadable 3D Character Motions, Models Vancouver, BC-based Credo Interactive's PowerMoves series will move online and expand to provide ready-to-use character motions and models in regularly released, theme-based modules. The series will feature such character motion collections as "Animal Moves," "Sports," "Dance," "Avatar Moves," and specially designed character motion "sprites" for game development. Individual PowerMoves modules will range in price from $49US to $249US and be available in multiple formats, including Life Forms, LightWave 3D, 3D Studio MAX, PowerAnimator, Maya, SoftImage, Biovision, Acclaim, VRML 97, StudioPro, Cinema 4D, trueSpace, and more. The first PowerMoves module "PowerPak 1" - a $99US collection of over 50 assorted keyframed character motions - will be available from http://www.credo-interactive.com beginning March 1. ___________________________________ Guillemot Ships Banshee with Xing DVD-Decoding Software Guillemot has started shipping the Phoenix with the XingDVD Player. It has partnered with Xing Technology Corporation to offer the XingDVD Player with the Maxi Gamer Phoenix. The Phoenix is reportedly the first Voodoo Banshee video card to offer this unique feature and enable its owners to benefit from DVD video playback. The $90 Phoenix integrates a high-speed 250 MHz RAMDAC with refresh rates up to 85Hz at 1600 x 1200 resolution. It accelerates real-time 3D rendering of Glide and Direct3D games with 3D image effects including Z-buffering, alpha-blending, fogging, tri-linear filtering and anti-aliasing. Optimized for use on systems with Intel Pentium II processors, the XingDVD Player can decode full-screen, full-motion MPEG video along with MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital (AC-3) audio, and includes DVD navigation capabilities. Get more info at http://www.guillemot.com. ___________________________________ Avid Unveils New Packages, Pricing Options for SOFTIMAGE|3D Avid Technology, Inc., which recently bought Softimage from Microsoft, last week announced a new set of end-user options for SOFTIMAGE|3D, its modeling, animation and rendering system, along with a series of revisions that reduce the entry-level price to $4,995 (U.S. MSRP). The announcement of the new options and pricing structures coincides with the release of SOFTIMAGE|3D v3.8 SP1, which extends the core functionality of the application. New options include the SOFTIMAGE|3D Plus and SOFTIMAGE|3D Performance packages, which result from collaboration with third-party tool and application developers to deliver extensive new functionality to SOFTIMAGE|3D. The SOFTIMAGE|3D Plus package includes 17 third-party modeling and animation tools designed to work specifically with SOFTIMAGE|3D v3.8 SP1, which improve the overall functionality and workflow. Additionally, customers who purchase the IRIX version of SOFTIMAGE|3D can choose to add desktop compositing capabilities with the new SOFTIMAGE|Eddie bundle. SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 SP1 is now available for $4,995 (U.S. MSRP) from Avid authorized resellers. Find more info at http://www.softimage.com/. ___________________________________ MAXON Introduces Entry-Level CINEMA 4D Version MAXON has released CINEMA 4D GO ($195.00 US SRP), the entry-level version of their integrated modeling and animation solution, running on MacOS and/or Win9x/NT. GO users can upgrade to the professional SE or XL versions. CINEMA 4D GO includes the Instant Space CD-ROM, a modular construction system that generates varieties of space ships. The GO edition can output pictures and animation in broadcast quality (S-VHS PAL with 4x4 oversampling and fields). 3D titles for video films can be created using the internal compositing functionality or by using the alpha channels. Of course, the press release doesn't say what was left out from the more expensive versions, but if you're resourceful, you may be able to find out at www.maxon.net ___________________________________ Alias|Wavefront Unveils Maya Complete Now Shipping from SGI-owned Alias|Wavefront is Maya Complete ($7,500), an animation and effects package that includes 3D modeling, rendering, and animation technology, a Maya F/X particles system with integrated soft-body dynamics, and Maya Artisan tools for sculpting and modeling with a brush. Maya Complete includes: * F/X - particle system plus integrated rigid and soft-body dynamics* * Artisan - integrated brush interface for digital sculpting and modeling* * Modeling - NURBS and polygon modeling tools * Rendering - rendering system with visual effects * Animation - inverse kinematics (IK), character skinning, and deformation tools * MEL - open interface for programming and scripting * Previously offered as separately priced add-on components. Visit www.aw.sgi.com or call 800-447-2542 or 978-466-7623 (outside North America) ___________________________________


Web Bits Need a new graphics card? Visit http://www.matrox.com/mga/contest/contest.htm for a chance to win one of three Matrox Millennium G200s. Entries must be received by March 1 ... Norther Light Technology (http://www.nlsearch.com/) has added publications from economic think-tank WEFA Group to its online research library. WEFA content available on Northern Light will include analyses and forecasts of economic conditions and financial markets in more than 100 countries; regional coverage of all aspects of the U.S. economy; and analyses of major industries worldwide ... Russia's current online population is estimated at around one million and is expected to rise to about five million by the end of the year 2000. Orientation Russia (http://ru.orientation.com) is a new gateway to the Russian Web, and Russia's online community ... Ticketmaster Online's online ticketing service, My Ticketmaster, at http://my.ticketmaster.com alerts fans to ticket on-sales of favorite events including concerts, sports, family entertainment, performing arts, etc. It also features IPIX 360ยบ photographic images and 3D virtual reality images of more than 75 venues including New York's Radio City Music Hall, the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, and Chicago's Comiskey Park ... WWW.VictoriasSecret.com was flooded with over a million hits within the first hour after the company's 30-second spot aired last week during Super Bowl XXXIII. According to Jon Leland of Communication Bridges (http://www.combridges.com): "The event also resulted in one of the best pieces of streaming media journalism that I have read to date. The article dubbed an 'Internet Review' and headlined 'A Sex Metaphor, by Victoria's Secret' by Edward Rothstein appeared in [the] New York Times. This review is available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/02/biztech/articles/05roth.html (site registration required)." Perceptronics, Inc. has opened a Web site around its IC3D Technology for Internet Collaborative 3D, including the InterGame Framework and related products and services at http://ic3d.perceptronics.com ... Activeworlds' (http://www.activeworlds.com/) new @mart, an e-commerce "virtual mall," lets users in different locations shop simultaneously in a 3D environment by clicking on the items they want to buy. ___________________________________


Kenwood Unveils 52X CD-ROM Drive Kenwood Technologies (USA), Inc. last week unveiled the Kenwood 52X TrueX CD-ROM drive, the second in a family of drives based on Zen Research's TrueX technology (the first is a 40X). Unlike other "Max" CD-ROM drives that reach top performance only on the outermost tracks of the disc, Kenwood's $130 IDE drive (SCSI is in development) reportedly delivers a typical transfer rate ranging from 6750 - 7800 KB per second across the entire disc. Zen's TrueX technology enables the Kenwood 52X TrueX to read multiple tracks simultaneously, dramatically increasing the drive's data transfer rate without increasing its rate of rotation. A reduced rate of rotation equates to less noise. Kenwood says its 52X drive delivers a typical performance ranging from 45X to 52X across the entire disc, depending upon the operating environment and quality of media,. According to the company, an advertised 48X "Max" CD-ROM drive performs at 19X on its innermost tracks, but achieves 48X performance only on the disc's outermost tracks (if the disc is full). Additional information is available at http://www.kenwoodtech.com. ___________________________________ Microsoft DirectX 6.1 Introduces DirectMusic Microsoft last week shipped version 6.1 of the Microsoft DirectX Software Development Kit (SDK), including the first public release of the Microsoft DirectMusic API as well as native support for the Intel Pentium III processor family. DirectMusic reportedly addresses the historical limitations of MIDI-based music playback on Windows by delivering superior timing services, support for the MIDI Manufacturers Association's Downloadable Sounds (DLS) standard for wavetable synthesis, and an integrated software synthesizer, which guarantees users consistent and high-quality playback on virtually any hardware configuration. DirectMusic also includes a DLS version of the industry-standard SoundCanvas General MIDI sound set, licensed from Roland Corp., enabling composers to become immediately productive with the technology and reverberation technology licensed from Waves Ltd., said to deliver richer, more complex sound quality. The DirectX 6.1 SDK is available for download for a limited time at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp and can be ordered on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/sdkcdorder.asp. The DirectX 6.1 SDK will also be made available as part of the Microsoft Platform SDK in an upcoming release of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) developer program. Consumers can upgrade to the latest version of DirectX by using the Windows Update feature in Windows 98 or by downloading a copy at http://www.microsoft.com/directx/download.asp. ___________________________________


V_Graph Granted Patent on New Programming System V_Graph Inc. was awarded a patent on Jan. 19, 1999 for OZONE - The Object Zone, its new system for programming computer software. The patent covers the use of software components in a way that lets developers create a program without writing any source code. The system records and saves the settings for the components in a small script. This is now familiar to people who create Web sites using ActiveX controls and Java Beans, but in 1994 it was unknown. The patent was filed Nov. 16, 1994. The patent covers "wrapping" objects with properties common to all the objects in the system. Software developers are aware that "wrapping" is exactly what the newer programming systems do. The new patent also covers the use of a synchronized multi-view development interface. This allows developers to use the view that is suitable for the task. During debugging, the developer can view the execution of the project in any, or all, of the four views at the same time. For more on OZONE visit the V_Graph Web site (http://www.v-graph.com). For a look at the patent, visit http://www.uspto.gov and search for patent number 5,862,372. ___________________________________


ASCII Entertainment Announces AGETEC Subsidiary ASCII Entertainment Software (AES) is creating a wholly-owned subsidiary, AGETEC, Inc. to focus on its videogame publishing business. The new company's name is an acronym for ASCII Game Entertainment Technology and will be fully operational March 1. AES' European subsidiary, ASCII Entertainment Europe, will be re-named AGETEC Europe. AGETEC's 1999 release schedule includes seven software titles: R-Types, Echo Night, Shadow Tower, Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, Fighter Maker, and Rising Zan for the Sony PlayStation game console; and AirBoardin' USA for the Nintendo 64. New hardware titles include the ASCII Wireless Pad for the Sony PlayStation game console and the ASCII Pad 64 for the Nintendo 64. The company has named 10-year industry veteran Mitch Kampf as vice president of sales and marketing. Kampf has been contracting with AES since February 1998, and brings industry experience from companies such as Accolade, Renovation, PF Magic, and TecMagik. Contact Kampf at 650-780-0800 x 821 or mailto:Mitch@asciient.com. ___________________________________ CNET Acquires NetVentures, ShopBuilder Store Creation System CNET, Inc. has acquired NetVentures, Inc. in a stock-for-stock exchange. NetVentures owns and operates ShopBuilder (www.shopbuilder.com), an online store creation system. Under the terms of the agreement, CNET will issue approximately 100,000 common shares for 100 percent of NetVentures' stock. With the acquisition, CNET will enable resellers of unbranded computer systems, known in the industry as "white box" PCs, to build online stores and use CNET's online sales channel, Shopper.com, to market products directly to customers. The move reportedly creates the Internet's first marketplace for white boxes, sales of which account for an estimated 30 percent of the $75 billion U.S. PC market. The services will roll out in Q2 '99. ___________________________________


Maxis Releases SimCity 3000 Following the sale of over five million copies in the SimCity line, Maxis, a division of Electronic Arts, last week released SimCity 3000 Windows 95 and 98. Players are in charge of creating an entire metropolis from the ground up and keeping their SimCitizens happy. New features include the ability to see individual pedestrians and vehicles--cars, trucks, buses, trains, boats--traveling about their city with two new close-in zoom levels. Players can spruce up their skyline by choosing from real-world landmark buildings ranging from New York's Empire State Building to Turkey's Hagia Sofia. Like the pedestrians and traffic, the sounds of the city, from sprinklers to school bells, reflect the neighborhood being viewed. New simulation layers include waste management and water pollution. Players can strike deals to bring certain businesses into their city--from a megamall to a high-tech research facility--and trade resources with neighboring cities. Players can check their progress and get advice through an interactive news ticker, a cadre of advisors and citizen petitioners. More information is available from http://www.simcity.com. ___________________________________ Black Isle Announces Baldur's Gate Add-On Baldur's Gate is one of our favorite new RPGs, so it's a treat to hear that Interplay division Black Isle Studios plans to release an add-on adventure pack for the game. Entitled Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, the add-on expands the gameplay area by offering new quests and challenges to the main game. Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast will be available on CD-ROM for Windows 95/98 computers this spring, and gamers will need the original Baldur's Gate in order to play. Tales of the Sword Coast takes the player through additional areas filled with intriguing new characters, items and quests. A large island beckons just off the Sword Coast region of the Forgotten Realms, where Baldur's Gate is set. The player's band of adventurers must reach the island, explore it and attempt to unravel its secrets before yet another evil is unleashed upon the Sword Coast. Another adventure takes place in and around Durlag's Tower, the decrepit keep whose traps, illusions and denizens have thwarted adventurers for centuries. Tricks, traps and possibly treasure await those who survive. More information is available at http://www.interplay.com. ___________________________________ Infogrames to Take "Mission: Impossible" Multiplatform Mission: Impossible, the spy adventure from Infogrames Entertainment that has sold more than 1 million units on Nintendo 64 since its release last summer, is under development for the Sony PlayStation (PSX), PC and Game Boy Color (GBC) platforms. Each of the new versions of "Mission: Impossible" will contain various enhancements and offer a different number of levels from the original. Both the PSX and PC units feature a CD-quality soundtrack, a new menu design and sample speech formats. The Game Boy Color title will let players link the handheld units and communicate via encrypted messages. Infogrames' spy simulation engages players on a worldwide crusade of espionage and intrigue. Players utilize classic Impossible Mission Force (IMF) weaponry and gadgets throughout the adventures, which place an emphasis on strategy and cunning, rather than violent rampages. "Mission: Impossible" will appear first on the PlayStation by mid-1999, with the PC version shortly thereafter. The Game Boy Color title, expected by fall, will incorporate modifications necessary for compatibility with the handheld unit. Infogrames will oversee a team of outside studios on the production of the new versions. German-based X-ample will produce the PSX game, while Indian developer Dhruva Interactive will complete the PC title. The Game Boy Color unit will be developed by Rebellion, located in the United Kingdom. For more information, visit the Web at www.mission-impossible.net. ___________________________________ Sierra FX Announces '99-2000 Product Lineup Sierra FX, one of six brand names under the umbrella of Sierra On-Line, focuses on releasing interactive entertainment titles based on existing licensed entities such as best-selling books and TV shows. Upcoming products releasing in the years 1999/2000 include: * Babylon 5, a space combat simulator based on the TV series, which is being co-designed and co-authored by the show's creator J. Michael Straczynski, expected to ship in September 1999 (http://www.b5games.com) * Richard Marckinko's Navy SEALs, a squad-based 3D tactical simulation using the Unreal engine, drawing on the exploits of the elite fighting group as detailed in Marckinko's Rogue Warrior book series, slated for completion in April 2000 (http://www.navyseals.net) * J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, a fantasy world online, fully 3D and hosting up to 10,000 players simultaneously, based on the books by British author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, scheduled for final release in summer 2000 (http:www.middle-earth.com). All three upcoming titles are being developed at Yosemite Entertainment, Sierra's design and development studio based in the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Oakhurst, California. ___________________________________ EA to Develop Need for Speed: High Stakes for PlayStation Electronic Arts plans to release Need For Speed: High Stakes for the PlayStation in late March. Key features will include a new "High Stakes" mode, a revamped "Hot Pursuit" mode, licensed sports and supercars, a game economy that allows for car purchases, upgrades and modification, visible and punitive car damage, eight new tracks and special effects. More information can be found on http://www.needforspeed.com. ___________________________________


Sony Announces PSX Holiday Figures Sony Computer Entertainment America says it sold a record-breaking four million PlayStation game consoles during November and December 1998, according to internal sales data. Specifically, more than 1.1 million PlayStation game consoles were sold during November 1998 and nearly 2.9 million units during December 1998. The company sold more than 961,000 consoles during Christmas week alone, which helped drive December sales up more than 40 percent over the same period in 1997. These positive year-end sales bring cumulative PlayStation hardware sales to more than 17 million units in North America. Also, according to the November and December 1998 TRSTS reports from The NPD Group, a market research firm that tracks the videogame industry, PlayStation software sales for both first and third party games exceeded 18.1 million units. Software market share for 1998 was 65.2 percent for PlayStation and software-to-hardware tie ratio was more than 7-to-1. ___________________________________ Sierra Announces High Sell-Thru for Caesar III Sierra Studios announced last week that sales of Caesar III have reached over a quarter of a million units worldwide since its release at the end of September 1998, and global sales continue to climb. The strategy game lets players create, rule and defend a Roman-era city of their own design. The game features a new interface, more progressive career structure, one-level game play, a new musical score, and detailed animations, structures and terrain elements. Sierra Studios and Impressions Software have also released a Caesar III game enhancement package and Assignment Editor. Both additions bring another level of intrigue and challenge to this hugely popular strategy game and even further enhance the spectacular real-time city building and management experience. They are available free via download from www.sierrastudios.com and www.caesar3.com. Also, Sierra Studios and developer Impressions Games announced that Caesar III will be available for Macintosh gamers this June. ___________________________________


VRML 99 Conference in February VRML 99 takes place February 23-26 at the Heinz Nixdorf Forum, in Paderborn, Germany. This year the conference is showcasing other 3D technologies that are used in presentations on the WWW. The exhibit hall will include new technologies from Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, Platinum Technology, SENSE8, Microsoft and others. For more information, visit http://www.c-lab.de/vrml99. ___________________________________ RealNetworks Third Streaming-Media Conference/Exhibition Set for SF/May The third annual RealNetworks Conference & Exhibition will be held at the San Francisco Marriott Hotel, May 5-7, 1999. The conference will offer exhibitors, classes, lecturers, keynote speakers, a hands-on lab sponsored by Intel, and sessions from RealNetworks and other streaming media companies. RealNetworks exhibition, new to the conference this year, will feature more than 80 firms exhibiting new products and technologies built on RealSystem G2. To register online or get more information about conference registration, visit http://www.real.com/conference or call 800-632-5537. To register for free to attend only the exhibits, visit http://www.real.com/register/. ___________________________________ DV Conference/Expo Set for Long Beach in October You still have plenty of time to prepare for Miller Freeman's 1999 Digital Video Conference & Exposition, scheduled for October 19-22 in Long Beach, Calif. Conference sessions will include video compression, animation and video for the Web, story-boarding and visual pre-production, automating digital workflow, creating demo reels, audio mixing and more. Get the scoop at www.dvexpo.com. ___________________________________


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