7 January 2002
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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New online is Orura, a search engine whose name comes from the African tree with wide, stretching branches. The site's main search section provides access to multiple search engine technologies. For those with an even greater need for speed, Orura also presents an edited directory of the most sought-after online search subjects. The directories cover technological, professional, residential, transportation and leisure topics.
Web sites can be listed for free in the Orura directories, while those seeking higher exposure can open accounts to bid on keywords and phrases in the search engine. An affiliate program is also available. A box version of the search engine can be adapted for placement on a Web site, and Orura can also be set up as a Net surfer's home page.
Just out from Digimation is SceneExplorer, a new scene-productivity tool developed by Squirrely Productions for use with Discreet’s 3ds max 4.
SceneExplorer is designed as an all-purpose productivity tool for the management of complex scenes within the 3ds max environment. Instead of having to click in multiple locations in order to perform a number of common scene maintenance tasks (such as making objects visible or invisible), SceneExplorer provides the user with a single floating dialog that gives them access to everything in one panel.
Electric Rain, Inc. recently released a plug-in version of its Swift 3D standalone product that lets Softimage|XSI render 3D scenes to a variety of vector-based file formats, including Macromedia Flash (SWF), AI, EPS, and the latest XML-based Web standard, SVG.
Rendering options include three levels of outlines, five levels of cartoon shading, two levels of gradient shading, plus shadows, specular highlights, and a preview window allowing users to see the results of each rendered frame.
Just out from Pandromeda, Inc. is the 1.1 software upgrade for MojoWorld Generator 1.02. It is available as a free download from Pandromeda. New features in MojoWorld 1.1 include:
MojoWorld Generator features:
MojoWorld 1.1 Near Space comprises three products: the free MojoWorld Transporter for exploration and imaging, the US $29.99 Transporter Pro featuring unlimited rendering resolution, and the US $249 MojoWorld Generator for creating new worlds.
Nominations are now open for the Game Developers Choice Awards, which are nominated and voted on exclusively by game developers, allowing developers to recognize and be rewarded by their peers.
Nominations will be accepted through Feb 1, 2002, and are open to all professional game developers. Submission information is available online at http://www.igda.org/awards.
Presented by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the Game Developers Choice Awards recognize excellence and outstanding achievements in developing interactive entertainment. Awards are given in the following categories:
The IGDA will present the awards on March 21, 2002, at the Gama Network's Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, CA, a conference and exposition dedicated to video game development and related industries.
The Best of 3D Graphics Rockport, a book coming in spring '03 from Rockport Publishers, will showcase more than 200 examples of 3D artistry from around the world presented on color plates. Rather than a how-to book; it will be a visual showcase. Send work for consideration no later than February 11, 2002, to Epic Software Group. Winners will be featured in this full-color, 192-page, 8.5 x 11–inch (146 x 279–mm) hardcover book.
To download the necessary entry form, go to http://www.rockpub.com/3dgraphics.rtf.
Coming this June from publisher Charles River Media is Infinite Game Universe: Level Design, Terrain and Sound, Volume II. Author Guy W. Lecky-Thompson provides guidance for 3D game developers on creating interesting levels, engaging landscapes, realistic sounds and high-quality music. Features include:
Here's a partial table of contents:
NewTek, Inc. and Digital Element are working together to create an Animation Annex in Russia, to retrain unemployed Russian nuclear scientists in the formerly closed city of Snezhinsk in computer graphics. Their efforts will involve working to outfit the Annex with computer hardware and software, including NewTek’s LightWave 3D and Digital Element’s World Builder, and training on those systems and software. These activities are planned to move towards the creation of a new animation studio and a new form of economic viability for these former nuclear scientists.
The project began earlier this year under the auspices of a program by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and its Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and to create commercial initiatives in former “closed” Russian nuclear cities. Upon successful completion of the Animation Annex, they will continue in further efforts to support Strela, the company in Russia with whom NewTek and Digital Element are working. In addition to working together to publicize the work of those at Strela, Digital Element is also working to facilitate work-for-hire technology development contracts using those resources in Snezhinsk.
The two packages, LightWave 3D and WorldBuilder, will create the base of software used by the scientists at the Animation Annex. An announcement is expected soon from NewTek and Digital Element about a direct plug-in from WorldBuilder to LightWave, which will improve workflow for those using the programs together.
For information about how to contribute to the effort, Don McClure, CEO of Digital Element should be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning this evening, January 7, individuals residing in the United States or Canada will have the opportunity to register for their chance to be one of 5,000 players chosen to play-test Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos These players will be the first to experience the new real-time strategy game from Blizzard.
The beta signup is scheduled for a 24-hour period on www.blizzard.com, beginning on Monday, January 7 at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8). and ending on Tuesday, January 8 at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8). Following the registration period, Blizzard will randomly select 5,000 testers based on a variety of system configurations and locations. Multiple submissions will result in disqualification.
The beta, which will be playable only over Battle.net, will give testers a chance to play all four races: Humans, Orcs, Night Elves and Undead. Each race is armed with unique units, magical abilities, and weapons designed to aid them in combat as they renew their struggle for dominance.
New from LucasArts Entertainment Company for Xbox is the action game Star Wars Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan's harrowing journey is the central focus of the game's story, which begins weeks before the events in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and culminates in a showdown with Darth Maul. During the course of the game Obi-Wan confronts a powerful new adversary known as the Jin'ha.
With his lightsaber and the Force to assist him, Obi-Wan works his way through more than 15 treacherous and challenging levels. The Jedi Knight battles an unsavory cast of new and familiar enemies including Darth Maul, Tusken Raiders, assassin droids, and mysterious new enemy who threatens to upset the balance of power in the Star Wars galaxy. The game's story takes Obi-Wan from the lowest depths of Coruscant to dusty Tatooine and the lush city of Theed. Obi-Wan's Force abilities include attack, push, pull, throw, defend and jump.
Fox Interactive, Sierra Entertainment, LithTech and Monolith Productions have released mod tools for Aliens vs. Predator2. The mod tools 8.73 MB download includes:
This release provides the latest level and model editing tools from the Talon engine - the package behind AVP2's creation. Included are the world-building tool DEdit and the model editing utility ModelEdit. Monolith has also included extensive documentation and samples as well as detailed walkthroughs on how to configure game objects for every multiplayer mode, and additionally, LithTech's Talon-based DEdit package offers exporters for a number of the most popular editing tools including some versions of 3ds max and Maya.
Sony Online Entertainment and Intel are working together to enhance the graphics of EverQuest, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, for Intel Pentium 4 processor-based systems by offering higher frame rates and smoother animations.
EverQuest is said to be the largest fantasy world ever created online. With new player features and improved graphics EverQuest: The Shadows of Luclin is the latest and most extensive expansion pack. During peak periods, more than 98,000 adventurers and dragon slayers have explored the world of Norrath simultaneously.
Microsoft says Age of Mythology, Ensemble Studios' latest real-time strategy game, will be available in September of 2002. The title is set in a mythological past when heroes battled monsters of legend, and gods intervened in the affairs of mortal men. To celebrate this announcement, Microsoft is unveiling a movie that showcases the ancient Norse civilization. The AVI is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/games/PC/ageofmythology.asp.
Using familiar elements of classical mythology, Age of Mythology casts players as ancient Greeks, the Norse and Egyptians. Call upon the mighty powers of gods such as Zeus to rain down lightning bolts on unsuspecting enemies. Age of Mythology also incorporates features from previous Age of Empires games such as the economic model, an army and battle system, artificial intelligence, random maps, and attention to detail.
Age of Mythology's 3D engine provides realistic terrain and lighting adjusted to produce the look of any time of day. In-game cinematics create a story-based and character-driven campaign. In addition, the game features special effects including ocean waves, waterspouts, infernos, lava, tornadoes, earthquakes and smoke.
Interplay division Digital Mayhem has shipped Giants: Citizen Kabuto to retail for PlayStation2. Originally developed for the PC by Planet Moon Studios, the new version reportedly exploits PS2 technology via detailed character and world models along with new special effects.
The humorous game takes place on a planetary formation known as The Island, where three races find themselves at odds with one another: Meccaryns, a team of beer-guzzling cockney aliens who have technological superiority as their main weapon; Sea Reapers, gorgeous mystic beings who possess devastating elemental spells and magical combat abilities; and Kabuto, a huge thundering mass of horn and muscle whose advantage lays in brute force.
Viewing from a third-person perspective, the player controls each of the three main characters at different points in the storyline. Each race has access to different equipment and abilities as the game progresses. Just as the player's powers grow over the course of the game, so do those of her foes. Enemies use projectile weapons, magical spells and group tactics in effort to defeat the player.
Enroute, Inc., a Palo Alto-based developer of immersive video technology, has entered into an agreement to license its FirstPerson Immersive Video technology to interactive entertainment software publisher THQ Inc. for use in the latter's upcoming Britney Spears video game for PlayStation 2. Under the agreement, THQ will use Enroute's technology, production services, camera systems and FirstPerson-formatted content in the Britney Spears game.
FirstPerson is a new immersive viewing experience that places the user in the center of the action and lets them look around as a recorded event unfolds on a 360-degree wrap-around landscape. Using a controller, the user can look up, down, left, right, zoom in, zoom out, turn around and see everything happening from a full-motion 360-degree perspective at 30 frames per second, with broadcast-quality resolution. Other potential applications include music and concert videos, filmed narratives, sporting events, adventure videos and documentaries.
LucasArts Entertainment Company and Sony Online Entertainment announced recently that www.starwarsgalaxies.com, the official Web site for LucasArts' upcoming Star Wars Galaxies massively multiplayer online role-playing game series, reached a significant milestone by surpassing 100,000 registered users. This achievement also coincides with the site's one-year anniversary.
Registered users can participate in weekly polls, post to message boards, download exclusive content, and receive a monthly newsletter.
LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment hope to attract hundreds of thousands of players to Star Wars Galaxies, which will feature role-playing and ground-based adventures across multiple planets in the Star Wars timeframe. Game play will combine combat, exploration, social interaction, specialized missions, and quests.
The Star Wars Galaxies game series is being developed by Sony Online Entertainment, and will be distributed and sold at retail by LucasArts and available for play exclusively online at The Station, www.station.com.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. says it sold an additional 1.5 million PlayStation 2 computer entertainment systems between Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, bringing the overall installed base to 6.5 million units since its October 2000 debut.
In addition, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software sales accounted for more than two thirds of the videogame software market during the month of November, according to the TRSTS reports from market research firm the NPD Group. Sales from the PlayStation family of products -- hardware, software and peripherals -- generated more than $700 million in retail revenue during this timeframe. The company previously projected that total PlayStation category sales will bring in more than $1 billion retail revenue during December alone.
Sure Thing CD Labeler won the Best Program of the Year honors in the 2002 SharewareJunkies.com Awards. It was also named Best Windows Program in the sixth annual awards, sponsored by the Web site SharewareJunkies.com (http://www.sharewarejunkies.com).
The SharewareJunkies.com Awards were voted on by a global audience of software enthusiasts who cast their ballots online during November and December for the best programs among the main operating systems: Windows, Macintosh and DOS. A fourth award, celebrating the Best Freeware Program, was open to any program which is available at no cost.
For the first time, no award was presented for best OS/2 program. No shareware program operating in the OS/2 format received any votes.
The winners of the 2002 SharewareJunkies.com Awards are:
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award-winning creators of 3D animated feature films "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2," and most recently "Monsters, Inc." The event takes place on Thursday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the museum's Leo S. Bing Theatre.
John Lasseter, Pixar's Academy Award-winning filmmaker and the company's executive vice president of creative, will participate in a retrospective of the studio's feature and short films as well as a Q&A hosted by ABC-TV film critic Joel Siegel. Clips from the studio's four feature films and five animated short films, including the Academy Award-winners "Tin Toy" and "Geri's Game," will be presented.
Also scheduled to attend the event are Pete Docter, director of "Monsters, Inc.," and Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation Studios, as well as some of the studio's other filmmakers.
Admission to the event is free but tickets are required and are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the LACMA box office beginning at noon on the day of the event only. Reservations are not accepted. Theater doors open at 7:00 p.m. LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036. For more information, phone 323-857-6010.
Verbum's 12th Annual Digital Be-In will take place January 12, 2002 from 7pm - closing at StudioZ.tv, 314 11th Street (at Folsom), San Francisco. The event is a one-night exposition, networking salon and showcase featuring speakers, live music, performances and late-night dance party.
Scheduled events include:
Visual Arts track: Peter Chan, Conceptual Illustrator, whose credits include "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace."
General Interest track: Shin'ichi Okamoto, CTO & VP, Sony Computer Entertainment, who was instrumental in the formation of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and is credited with the development and launch of the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
Business & Legal track: Gabe Newell, co-founder & managing director, Valve Software, a veteran of Microsoft Windows product releases and producer of Half-Life.
Game Design track: Kazunori Yamauchi, president, Polyphony Digital, producer of the hit racing title and franchise Gran Turismo.
Level Design track: Toshihiro Nagoshi, president, Amusement Vision, veteran of Sega and AMII, developer of titles Super Monkey Ball, Virtua Stricker 3 and Daytona USA 2001.
Programming track: John H. Conway, Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, credited with numerous mathematical theories and games, including Game of Life.
Production track: Shuhei Yoshida, VP of product development, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), involved in the creation of the Sony PlayStation and oversees all product development activities for SCEA as well as the 989 Sports brand.
Audio track: Ray Colcord, president, The Society of Composers and Lyricists, former producer with Columbia and United Artists Records. His television and film credits include The Simpsons, Deep Impact, Dinosaur and Big Brother 2.
The O'Reilly Open Source Convention will take place this year at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, California, July 22-26.
This five-day event is designed for programmers, developers, strategists, and technical staff involved in open source technology and its applications. The organizers seek presentations that invoke open source's innovative, do-more-with-less origins and address the challenges of today's economic turbulence. What technologies will thrive, and help us to thrive, in the future? Creating and reinvesting in community is at the core of open source philosophy--what open source initiatives continue to strengthen these values?
The O'Reilly Open Source Convention begins with two days of tutorials aimed at novices and experienced users of Perl, MySQL, PHP, Python, XML, Linux, and other open source technologies.
Following the tutorial sessions are three days of multi-tracked convention sessions focusing on leading technologies, best practices and case studies, feature talks, demonstrations, and panel debates examining: Perl, PHP, XML, databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Redhat DB, Sleepycat), operating systems (Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Mac OS X), Python, Apache, and Java. Emerging topics, ethics, and political and legal issues will also share the debate limelight.
All presenters whose talks are accepted will receive free registration at the conference. Deadline for submission of proposals is March 1, 2002. Speakers will be notified by March 11, 2002. Convention registration opens April 1, 2002.
For more information about the 2002 O'Reilly Open Source Convention, visit: http://conferences.oreillynet.com/os2002/
For more details about tutorial and convention session topics, and to submit a proposal, go to http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/os2002/create/e_sess
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.
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