Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

5 January 1998

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com

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Today's Headlines (details below)

IN THE INFOGROOVE

--LinkInfo Service Provides Detailed Analysis of Web Site "In-Links"
--Blacklisted by CyberPatrol
--Cosmo Releases VRML 2.0 Client

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

--Marlin Studios Releases Seamless Textures CD
--Infini-D Patch Available
--Ulead Announces 'URL-Aware' Thumbnail Management Tool
--MetaCreations Plug-in Enables 3D Painting in 3DS MAX

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

--Acclaim Brings Riven to PlayStation
--Sierra Upgrades Realm Online World
--Sega Adds Shining Force III to Saturn Lineup
--Dark Reign Universe Goes Online
--Sierra Releases Online Games Collection
--Papyrus Releases Details about 3Dfx Version of NASCAR Racing 2

HAPPENINGS

--MACWORLD This Week
--VRML SIG - January
--Dobbs, Sulzberger to Keynote Jupiter Online Services Conference

F.Y.I.

--About Spectrum

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IN THE INFOGROOVE

LinkInfo Service Provides Detailed Analysis of Web Site "In-Links"

Pinnacle Publishing has launched LinkInfo < http://www.linkinfo.com >, a tracking and analysis service that tracks the "in-links" from external Web sites to a specified URL. The service tracks the number of sites that have stopped linking to the URL in the past week, and the number of sites that have added links to the URL in the past week.

LinkInfo gathers its data directly from the Alta Vista search engine database. Subscribers use LinkInfo to identify external sites that are linking to their site. Sites that have recently added links can be contacted to thank them for the link. Sites that have dropped links can be contacted to verify the drop and, in many cases, to get the link re-established.

Subscribers can also use LinkInfo to compare links to their site with links to competitors. This allows them to identify sites that might be driving traffic to a competitor's site but not their own.

LinkInfo is available on an annual subscription basis of $199. Charter subscriptions are available for a limited time at $149.

For more information, call (206) 625-6900; fax (206) 625-9102; send mailto:pm@linkinfo.com.

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Blacklisted by CyberPatrol

The Censorware Project, a newly formed organization founded by net activists and writers, announces the release of its report, "Blacklisted by CyberPatrol: From Ada to Yoyo." < http://www.spectacle.org/cwp/ >

The report takes a close look at over 100 sites blocked by the Web filtering software from MicroSystems (a subsidiary of The Learning Company).

Previous reports about the accuracy of CyberPatrol have brought to light inappropriate blockage of sites. "From Ada to Yoyo" presents many more bad blocks, but the report looks at special topics:

· the blocking of Internet service providers

· of gay sites, including a neighborhood with over 20,000 users

· of newsgroups

· the subject of whether such a product is appropriate to censor what adults may see in public libraries

"I was stunned by some of the sites which were blocked," said Jamie McCarthy, a Michigan-based software developer who is a founder of the Censorware Project and author of the report. "Some of the errors at least made sense: There were pages which could be mistaken for explicit material, even though they were not.

"But some were bizarre. The town of Ada, Michigan is just an hour's drive from my house: it has a Website about local politics, which is blocked as containing full frontal nudity and sexual acts. It's baffling."

"We have only scratched the surface in this report of the problems with CyberPatrol," said James S. Tyre, a free speech attorney in Pasadena, California. "Products as riddled with flaws as CyberPatrol have no business in public libraries, which are arms of the government. Libraries exist to promote knowledge and ideas, but CyberPatrol's bad blocks and reblocks of sites it said would be unblocked demonstrate vividly that its agenda is not to promote the free flow of ideas."

The Censorware Project's mission is to call public attention to the flaws of blocking software and its inappropriateness in public institutions such as libraries. For more information, contact Jamie McCarthy at mailto:jamie@mccarthy.org.

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Cosmo Releases VRML 2.0 Client

Silicon Graphics-owned Cosmo Software's feature-enhanced and redesigned VRML 2.0 client, Cosmo Player 2.0 for Windows 95 and Windows NT, is now available for public download from http://cosmo.sgi.com. Cosmo Player 2.0 is a universal VRML client that enables consistent playback of VRML content on desktop PCs with or without hardware acceleration.

Improvements reportedly include an updated, easier-to-use user interface and improved rendering performance through support for OpenGL. The redesigned, customizable user interface, said to resemble the controls found in today's consumer electronics devices, enables navigation and manipulation of VRML content.

"Cosmo Player 2.0, which enables high-performance VRML animations with extremely small file sizes, paves the way for a new generation of Web advertising," said Janice Carter, business development director of the DoubleClick Network, one of the leading Internet advertising companies.

According to the Cosmo folks, developers also have more flexibility as a result of the tight integration of Java and JavaScript into the native code base of Cosmo Player 2.0. Faster performance rendering through OpenGL enables the creation of next-generation content through improved support for textures, consistent color and lighting. In addition, the extensive channels of distribution for Cosmo Player 2.0 will allow for more varied development of applications in areas such as online advertising, electronic commerce and interactive entertainment.

A short 3D title called CHOMP is also available for download at no charge from http://cosmo.sgi.com. The CHOMP game was developed to help novice 3D users learn to master the new Cosmo Player 2.0 interface controls quickly and easily. CHOMP was created in partnership with San Francisco-based Mondo Media.

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Marlin Studios Releases Seamless Textures CD

We've looked at a pre-release version of this product, and can recommend it highly to anyone who wants a great seamless texture collection at a reasonable price. Graphics studio and game developer Marlin Studios today announced the release of its "Seamless Textures You Can REALLY Use" CD-ROM ($99 plus s/h). The disc features over 250 seamless textures, most with matching bump maps, for use in a variety of computer graphics applications, such as 2D/3D art, computer games, Web content development, multimedia, film industry CGI, and many other applications. The collection, created almost completely from original photography, includes hard-to-find, photorealistic real-world textures, such as peeling paint, rust, corrosion, and much more.

Marlin, a graphic artist and animator, oversaw creation of the collection, with assistance from artists such as Dr. Jeffrey Wall and David Campbell.

"We wanted to create something by artists, for artists," said Marlin. "I think we've all been disappointed by various texture collections that include hundreds of textures, with only a dozen or so you can really use."

The collection is divided into 27 logical categories, with thumbnail images included in each category. In addition to common categories like Bricks, Marbles and Woods, there are more exotic categories like Rusty Surfaces, Paint Surfaces and Wickers.

The product can be ordered from http://www.marlinstudios.com, where users can also download free texture samples and view thumbnail pages. For phone orders, call distributor Tachyon Technology Corp. in Seattle at 206-622-7805.

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Infini-D Patch Available

Software updates for Infini-D 4.0 Mac and 4.1 Windows are now available at http://www.metacreations.com/downloads/.

At the site, select:

Product: Infini-D

Type: Patches/Updates

Platform: Macintosh or Windows

The updaters are version-specific and only work on the most recent shipping version. The Mac updater updates version 4.0 to version 4.0.1. The Windows updater updates version 4.1 to version 4.1.1. This update fixes some memory problems with the renderer as well as a few other things. A complete listing of the fixes is included with the installer. The ReadMe with the updater also contains some tips for optimal memory use, notes on rendering performance, and other notes.

Note: The patcher updates the existing copy of Infini-D on the hard drive and does not make a copy of the old application. The user will need to re-enter the serial number when first launching the application after updating.

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Ulead Announces 'URL-Aware' Thumbnail Management Tool

New from Ulead Systems is Ulead Web Album 4.0 ($49.95), a visual cataloging and management tool for Windows 95 and NT. Formerly called PhotoImpact Album 3.0, Web Album 4.0 applies multimedia file management capabilities to the World Wide Web by offering users the ability to output thumbnails as Web pages or slideshows and create visual databases of Web sites, complete with text, voice, URL and video annotations.

Tools include user-defined fields, large thumbnails, and OLE 2 launching of original file applications. New tools to link URLs to Albums let users visually search, sort, catalog, and manage Web site links without resorting to bookmark lists. Other benefits include on-the-fly HTML generation from Album pages and the ability to output Albums as Java-based slideshows.

More details:

· New preview panel shows all active Albums. Albums can now be viewed individually as slideshows and dragged into the active workspace. In addition, thumbnails can be moved or copied between Albums with ease.

· OLE 2 launching of original applications. To change the native content of a thumbnail, simply right mouse click and choose Open. Web Album will bring up the original file in the application it is linked with.

· Improved batch commands. Import files from folders and all sub-folders with a single click New toolbar commands. The commands now include Print, Send Mail, Send Fax, Export Thumbnails, Acquire from Scanner, Acquire from Digital Camera and Slide Show.

For additional information, visit http://www.ulead.com.

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MetaCreations Plug-in Enables 3D Painting in 3DS MAX

Newly available from MetaCreations is a plug-in that integrates Detailer, the company's 3D paint product, and 3D Studio MAX from Kinetix. By accessing the Windows-based Detailer-MAX Transporter directly from 3D Studio MAX, artists can create and modify surface maps by painting directly onto 3D models.

The new Detailer-MAX Transporter plug-in, which is installed under the 3D Studio MAX Utilities tab allows objects and materials to be transported from a 3D scene directly into Detailer. The bitmap images can then be painted using the Natural Media tools and special effects included in Detailer, and then reloaded as edited surface maps on the original 3D object created in 3D Studio MAX. Additionally, the plug-in acts as an importer/exporter for supporting Detailer's VDU file format in 3D Studio MAX.

The plug-in is available now at an introductory price of $99. Call 800-459-5188 for information on purchasing.

Find more on the Web at http://www.metacreations.com.

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Acclaim Brings Riven to PlayStation

Riven, the sequel to Myst, is now available from Acclaim Entertainment for the PlayStation. The title is the first PlayStation game to feature five discs.

Riven for PlayStation was developed by Sunsoft in tandem with the PC game, which has sold 450,000 units to date, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The game features a storyline, puzzles, animation and unusual characters.

Visit Acclaim's Web site, http://www.acclaimnation.com.

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Sierra Upgrades Realm Online World

A new, larger version of Sierra On-Line's multiplayer community known as The Realm, version 3.0, recently launched to nearly 14,000 subscribers.

The new Realm, a fantasy role-playing game played online by multiple computer users numbering into the hundreds or thousands at one time, is more than four times larger than it was upon the original introduction of version 2.0.

New features include:

· 11 towns instead of the original one

· some 15 to 20 new dungeons

· over 100 spells which players can cast on one another or on numerous NPCs (non-player characters)

· 24 character types

· re-done combat and magic systems

· an internal mail system in addition to four IRC-style public gossip channels

Also, players can now choose be an Elf, a Giant or a Human, and may designate their character's gender and choose his or her profession--adventurer, warrior, wizard or thief, as well.

Combat is no longer the only way for Realm players to gain money or Experience Points (EP). Now, they can become armorcrafters or blacksmiths, and earn money as they ply their trades. Additionally, there are over 100 quests by which players can acquire certain skill books, and increase their standing that way.

A one-year unlimited-play subscription costs $49.95. Access software (Win95) for The Realm can be purchased directly from Sierra at 800/757-7707 or from http://www.sierra.com. Gamers can download a free demo version from http://www.realmserver.com.

 

Sega Adds Shining Force III to Saturn Lineup

Shining Force III is a strategic role-playing game (RPG) that takes players on an adventure through an ancient civilization where they encounter multiple enemies in a battle to the death. Continuing the popular "Shining" video game series, "Shining Force III" offers players role-playing technology with a segmented, turn-based battle system and more than 50 hours of gameplay.

Game features:

· 3D Engine - polygonal environments with buildings, houses and furniture viewable in 360 degrees

· accelerated gameplay by funneling the game code through the Sega Saturn's sound chip processor for faster transfer of polygons

· the battlefield map, an overview of the battle area, can be accessed at any point during the game.

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Dark Reign Universe Goes Online

Activision has launched Dark Reign Universe, a new Web site dedicated to its real-time strategy game Dark Reign. The site features nine areas, including:

· the story area, where a new downloadable mission will be posted every two weeks. Missions are offered in the context of a continuing episodic storyline, and the final missions will lead players into the storyline of Dark Reign Expansion, an add-on pack. In the coming weeks the downloadable missions will be accompanied by a Dark Reign Universe encyclopedia.

· a news area

· an area for contests and promotions

· a page for general information about existing and upcoming products in the Dark Reign franchise

· links to downloads, online reviews, customer support and Dark Reign discussion boards

· a fan center with a list of links to fan sites

· the designer's studio area features team members' bios, hints and tips, information on units and new game features, a construction kit walkthrough, and a producer diary.

Check it out at: http://www.activision.com/games/strategy/darkreign/index.html

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Sierra Releases Online Games Collection

Sierra On-Line has released the Online Games Collections Volume #1 ($39.95), a boxed set containing 12 games from Sierra, Dynamix, Synergistics, Berkeley Systems and Impressions, all playable over the Internet. The games can be played on CUC International's recently-announced World Opponent Network (WON), a free online multi-player service accessible at http://www.won.net.

The 12 games featured in the Online Games Collection come on three "themed" CDs including the Family CD, the Strategy/Action CD and the Sports CD.

Titles are:

Family CD:

· YOU DON'T KNOW JACK the netshow - irreverent quiz show party game

· 3D Ultra Mini Golf

· Hoyle Poker & Hoyle Blackjack

· Time Warp of Dr. Brain: Puzzles - challenging, fun puzzles that aren't just for kids.

· The Realm - 30-day trial

Sports CD:

· YOU DON'T KNOW JACK Sports the netshow - sports trivia game

· Front Page Sports: Golf, Coeur D' Alene Course

Strategy/Action CD:

· Outpost 2 - space strategy game

· Lords of the Realm II: Siege Pack - do battle with other warlords in 50 arenas designed for head-to-head combat

· Red Baron 2 - pre-release version of WWI flight sim

· Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance - battle strategy and role-playing

Call Sierra at 1-800-757-7707.

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Papyrus Releases Details about 3Dfx Version of NASCAR Racing 2

Papyrus Design Group, the motorsports division of Sierra On-Line, announces that the 3Dfx version of NASCAR Racing 2 will be available in early 1998 and that the version will support the NROS (NASCAR Racing Online Series).

Current owners of NASCAR Racing 2 will be able to access a patch in early 1998 containing the 3dfx support at http://www.sierra.com/papyrus. The NASCAR Racing Online Series is currently available at http://www.nros.com.

In October, Papyrus released the NASCAR Grand National Expansion Pack.

Featuring ten new tracks and thirty drivers from the popular NASCAR Busch series, the Expansion Pack enhances the experience of NASCAR Racing 2. It also includes two fantasy tracks.

Developed by NASCAR and Papyrus, the NROS is a formalized online racing series, available to North America residents.

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HAPPENINGS

MACWORLD This Week

Catch the excitement (before the stock drops again)! The deadline to pre-register for MACWORLD Expo/San Francisco has passed, but you can still register at the show.

The event takes place at:

Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, Calif.

Macworld Pro/Conference: January 5 - 7 MACWORLD Expo Conference & Exhibits: January 6 - 9

The opening keynote by Steve Jobs will take place Tuesday, January 6, 9 - 10 a.m.

Yerba Buena Ballroom, San Francisco Marriott Hotel

Additional keynotes, Tuesday, January 6,

· FireWireside Chat with Kai Krause and friends

· AppleMasters with Muhammed Ali, Gregory Hines, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Harry Marks

· interview with Jim Carlton, author and Wall Street Journal reporter

· Mac Meets Net with Scott Knaster, Microsoft

For more detailed information, visit http://www.macworldexpo.com or call 800-645-EXPO for information by fax.

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VRML SIG - January

On Tuesday, January 20, at 7 pm, the Software Forum ( http://www.softwareforum.org ) presents the VRML SIG at Silicon Graphics (directions below).

Title: The Streaming of VRML

Streaming will pay a key part in the future of VRML, and because streaming VRML is important we now need to make the transition from interactive VRML to streaming real-time VRML. This month's presenters will speak on the issues that need to be addressed to make this a reality.

Presenters:

Saul Kato from Sven Technologies ( http://www.sven-tech.com ) will be addressing the some of the issues of streaming as it relates VRML. Saul will be presenting MRG SDK, the Multi-Resolution Geometry Software Development Kit, which provides the latest advancement to 3D- "real-time continuous level-of-detail representation." MRG enables 3D engines and browsers to display objects and characters at dynamically variable polygon counts, thus maximizing visual fidelity, giving freedom from polygon bottlenecks, and allowing streaming of geometry data. Saul's presentation will include a killer demo of the technology in action.

Tony Parisi of Intervista ( http://www.intervista.com ) will address new features and streaming capabilities within the WorldView browser that affect the future of corporate presentations. He also plans to present their new VRML-based business reporting software, WorldChart. The product uses 3D graphics and data visualization technology to help create Internet-ready ready reports. In addition, the company will demonstrate WorldView for Developers ActiveX control inside a Visual Basic application.

Event Location:

Silicon Graphics Corporate Offices in Mountain View (The big building with all the windows right off the freeway)or 1401 N. Shoreline - Building 20, Mountain View, CA

Directions:

-Take the Shoreline blvd. exit off hwy 101.

-Head East toward the shoreline amphitheater -turn right on Pear Avenue, just past the Silicon Graphics sign and take the first right into the building 20 parking lot -The event is in the Cafe in building 20

To be added to the mailing list or be a presenter, contact Katherine P Bretz: mailto:kbretz@fsc.fujitsu.com

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Dobbs, Sulzberger to Keynote Jupiter Online Services Conference

CNN financial news president Lou Dobbs and New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. will be among the keynote speakers at Jupiter Communications' Consumer Online Services V (COS V). Industry executives will come together in New York City from March 4-6 to discuss the online/Internet industry, particularly revenue strategies, alliance building, technology prospects and the marketing of interactivity to the mass market.

Joining Dobbs and Sulzberger as keynote speakers are Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief, Time Inc.; Geraldine Laybourne, president, Disney/ABC Cable Networks; Steve Case, chairman and CEO, America Online; Steve Brill, chairman and CEO of Brill Media Ventures; and Tom Jermoluk, chairman, president and CEO, @Home Network.

"Online News: From The Doorstep to the Desktop" is a pre-conference seminar where members of the news publishing industry will be on hand to discuss the transition of print, radio and television news to the computer desktop.

No longer considered experimental, the online news site's business model is rooted in advertising. Joining Dobbs and Sulzberger in discussing reader loyalty, electronic distribution and the potential for online profit are Marc Teren, president and publisher, Digital Ink, Washington Post; Martin Nisenholtz, president, Electronic Media Company, The New York Times; Lorraine Cichowski, vice president and general manager, USA Today Online; and Al Sikes, president, Hearst New Media.

To register, or to receive a full conference brochure, contact Jupiter Communications at (800) 488-4345 or (212) 780-6060. Fax: (212) 780-6075.

mailto:jupiter@jup.com. Web site: http://www.jup.com.

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F.Y.I.

About Spectrum

Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media 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, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703.

If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks.

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- David Duberman

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(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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