Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

17 January 2005
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --GarageGames Announces Torque 2D Engine Support of Tiger

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Luxology Updates modo 3D Modeling System --@Last Software Releases Free SketchUp Component Libraries

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Flash Film Festival Nomination Deadline Jan. 24

DEALS --Superscape Signs Agreement with Hong Kong Network Operator

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --DreamCatcher to Publish Survival Horror Title Obscure --World of Warcraft Dominates Holiday Sales --The Adventure Company to Publish Still Life --DreamCatcher Games to Publish Universal Combat: A World Apart

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --Game Developer Mag Announces Front Line Awards

HAPPENINGS --IGDA to Explore Quality of Life Issues at GDC --Wired NextFest Coming to Chicago

F.Y.I. --About Spectrum



GarageGames Announces Torque 2D Engine Support of Tiger

GarageGames, creators of the indie-focused Torque Game Engine, announced last week at MacWorld 2005 that its new Torque 2D Game Engine will be supporting Apple's upcoming OS X platform, Tiger.

Torque 2D is intended for rapid development of games. It takes care of the technology, and the developer can focus on gameplay and art.

Features of Torque 2D:

Torque 2D will be available from GarageGames. In addition to Torque 2D's support of the upcoming Tiger OSX, other GarageGames products like the Torque Game Engine 1.4, Dark Horizons: Lore Gold, Torque ShowTool Pro, Zap! and many more will also be supporting Tiger.




Luxology Updates modo 3D Modeling System

Luxology LLC today announced the immediate availability of modo 102, a new version of its subdivision surface and polygonal modeling platform.

Some of the new features include:

Advanced Toolset: Artist-centric functionality such as bridge, paste and loop slice selected; organic power tools such as bend and element falloff distance; new UV sew and edge length data utilities provide detail-oriented tools.

Increased Flexibility: In addition to the existing PERL scripting connection, modo 102 adds support for the LUA scripting language, often used by game developers. The modo 102 scripting system also provides new file and information dialogs, a new progress meter and additional services that allow users to extend modo's custom functionality via scripts.

Workflow Improvements: The new UV-to-EPS export script provides a seamless method for accurately painting textures in Photoshop and other paint applications used for creating texture maps. modo's new auto-quad will quickly create a quadrangular polygon from three vertices. Fix Symmetry repairs the symmetry in a mesh when the artist accidentally creates asymmetrical mesh edits. UV selection enhancements for loop select and select connected let users create complex UV maps.

Seamless Integration: New Alias Maya data support, SUBD blendshapes, SUBD creasing, and selection sets improve connectivity to Maya. The RIB exporter allows users to render modo meshes with any Renderman compliant render engine.



@Last Software Releases Free SketchUp Component Libraries

@Last Software, Inc., a Boulder-based developer of innovative three-dimensional design software, announces the availability of SketchUp Component Libraries for use in the film and stage, interior design, landscape architecture, and architectural and mechanical design industries.

The libraries contain hundreds of 3D images that SketchUp users can employ to enhance their designs. For instance, set designers can insert vehicles, lights, cameras, and people required for a movie shot, while landscape architects might insert images of trellises or patio furniture in their garden design.

SketchUp's pre-designed components are created for ease of use. Users click, drag, and drop each component wherever it needs to go in their SketchUp model. Every component in the new libraries is fully editable.

The SketchUp Component Libraries are available free at www.sketchup.com/downloads/components.



Flash Film Festival Nomination Deadline Jan. 24

January 24 is the nominations deadline for Flashforward's 13th Flash Film Festival. The online competition is a prelude to the live awards ceremony to be held the evening of April 7 at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco during Flashforward, a conference for digital designers and developers using Macromedia Flash.

Prior to January 24, anyone may nominate a Flash Website in one of 15 categories including: Application, Art, Cartoon, Commerce, Educational, Experimental, Game, Motion Graphics, Navigation, Original Sound, Story, Technical Merit, 3D, Typography and Video. Nominations are now being accepted online at http://www.flashforwardconference.com/nomination.

Admission to the live festival is free to attendees at the three-day Flashforward conference (April 6-8), which will feature presentations by more than 70 Flash experts. The Flashforward line-up of speakers includes Pete Barr-Watson (Pixelfury); Mathew Carter (Carter and Cone); Brendan Dawes (magneticNorth); John Davey (Develop Ltd.); Ze Frank (zefrank.com); Chris Harding (Hallmark Cards); Martin Hughes (wefail); Laurence Lessig (Stanford Law School); Garrett Nantz (Big Spaceship); Nader Nejat (Omega Media); Noel Saabye (Cartoon Network); Stefan Sagmeister (Sagmeister, Inc.); Grant Skinner (gskinner.com); Evan Spiridellis (JibJab Media); Jared Tarbell (levitated.net), and more. The entire program and list of speakers is posted on the Flashforward Website at http://www.flashforwardconference.com/.



Superscape Signs Agreement with Hong Kong Network Operator

Superscape Group plc, a 3D mobile games publisher, recently signed a revenue-sharing mobile games distribution agreement with Hong Kong-based SmarTone. Under the terms of the agreement, SmarTone will distribute both Superscape's 2D and 3D games titles to its consumers.

SmarTone has also secured exclusive distribution rights for the recently launched E680 mobile phone from Motorola, which includes a number of Superscape's 3D titles including Evel Knievel, Independence Day and AMF Bowling. The phone launched 14 October and is reportedly selling well.




DreamCatcher to Publish Survival Horror Title Obscure

DreamCatcher Games has joined forces with MC2 to publish and distribute Obscure in North America. The survival horror game will be available for the PlayStation2, Xbox, and Windows PCs in March.

Obscure tracks a group of five all-American high school students who discover the halls they walk each day are anything but safe from their most horrifying nightmares. A string of mysterious disappearances and unexplained events set the stage for a night more horrifying than any trip to detention...

Players can customize their action experience, interchanging between any characters at any time, utilizing the unique skills and abilities of each student. Controlled AI settings of defense, attack and help, allow characters to assist each other during combat and while solving puzzles.

The game also offers single or team play, with a second player able to enter or exit the game at any time. Obscure also includes a full cooperative mode: A second player can take control of another student and work together to fight monsters and resolve puzzles.

Players can combine conventional weapons with natural and artificial light, exploiting enemies' weak spots. A “black aura” feature intensifies stress, making dangerous elements visible on screen through real-time graphic effects. Dynamic camera settings allow for freedom of movement, making it possible to shoot and move simultaneously.

Developed by Hydravision, Obscure has an ESRB rating of 'M' for Mature. For more information visit the official website http://www.obscure-game.com


World of Warcraft Dominates Holiday Sales

Blizzard Entertainment says that World of Warcraft has sold through more than 600,000 units to customers in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The fastest-growing massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) has also shattered all previous concurrency records in North America, achieving over 200,000 simultaneous players during the holiday period.

Retailers estimate that, over the recent holiday season, nearly all remaining supplies of the game sold out across North America, Australia, and New Zealand. To accommodate the increasing number of players, Blizzard will be bringing several new servers online. After a testing period to ensure server stability, the company also plans to release additional units to retail outlets.

To support the growing population in World of Warcraft with regular content updates, Blizzard Entertainment is introducing new features on an ongoing basis.

Several features have already been introduced since the game's launch just over a month ago, and more are planned for the lifetime of the game. In the near future, the promised Player-versus-Player (PvP) Battlegrounds, which will pit Alliance and Horde players against each other in a battlefield, as well as the PvP Reward System, will be revealed.

In World of Warcraft, players assume the roles of legendary heroes and interact with thousands of other players online as they explore and adventure across a vast world. Journeying together or questing on their own, players will engage in heroic battles, develop friendships, forge alliances, and compete with enemies for power and glory. The game features customizable character classes with thousands of weapons, spells, and abilities.



The Adventure Company to Publish Still Life

The Adventure Company has joined forces with MC2 to publish and distribute Still Life in North America. The adventure game will be available for Xbox and Windows on April 14, 2005.

Players step into the role of Victoria McPherson, a young FBI agent and the granddaughter of Post Mortem's private detective, Gustav McPherson. On the hunt for a serial killer, Victoria is up against five dead bodies, a mountain of circumstantial evidence and an angry boss breathing down her neck. Things become more complicated when, on a visit to her childhood home, she comes across one of Gus' old case files dating back more than 75 years. As she reads deeper into the file, she discovers similarities between her case in Chicago and the gruesome killings in 1920s Prague.

Still Life is an adventure that gives players an inside view into the world of a criminal investigator. While on the case, they will employ a variety of forensic devices and techniques and investigate intriguing characters in modern-day Chicago and late-1920s Prague.

Game Features:

Still Life is developed by Microids, and has an ESRB of 'M' for Mature. For more information, visit the product page: http://www.adventurecompanygames.com/tac/still_life


DreamCatcher Games to Publish Universal Combat: A World Apart

DreamCatcher Games will publish Universal Combat: A World Apart, the second title in the Universal Combat series, for Windows in May 2005. The company describes the game as one that gives hardcore fans an enhanced “Battlecruiser” experience, keeping the flavor of combat, but utilizing newer technologies.

A new graphics engine gives the game improvements including new shader based lighting, glow and environment mapping, render paths; along with normal and bump mapping support for various high end assets. It will also offer high definition first-person character models, new first-person weapon models and classes such as machine guns, fixed gun turrets and several new combat weapons. Gamers will also find many new player-controlled naval crafts and ground vehicles classes.

Game features include:

Technology improvements include:

Developed by 3000AD Inc, Universal Combat: A World Apart has an anticipated ESRB rating of 'T' for Teen in North America and an anticipated “12+ PEGI” rating in Europe.

http://www.dreamcatchergames.com http://www.3000ad.com



Game Developer Mag Announces Front Line Awards

CMP Media's Game Developer magazine last week announced its list of winners for the seventh annual Front Line Awards, honoring excellence and innovation in tools for game development in 2004. The winners of the Front Line Awards are profiled in the January 2005 issue of Game Developer magazine, available on newsstands beginning Jan. 17, 2005.

Award categories encompass programming, art, production, audio and hardware. A panel of game developers specializing in the fields relevant to each category selected finalists and winners based on utility, innovation, value, and ease of use. Nominations were open to all new products and new versions of products related to game development released between Sept. 1, 2003 and Aug. 31, 2004.

* Winners in the various categories include:
* Middleware -- Net-Z by Quazal
* Game Engine -- Unreal Engine 3 by Epic Games
* Programming
-- nVidia SDK 8.0 by nVidia
-- Bugzilla by Mozilla Foundation
-- Perforce 2004 by Perforce
* Art Tools
-- Polytrans 4.1 by Okino
-- Endorphin 1.5 by NaturalMotion
* Hardware -- Wildcat Realizm 200 by 3Dlabs
* Audio Tools
-- Garritan Personal Orchestra by Garritan Orchestral Libraries
-- CRI ADX by CRI Middleware Co. Ltd.
* Books
-- GPU Gems edited by Randima Fernando, Addison-Wesley (March 2004).

In addition to the Front Line Award category winners, each year one product is inducted into the Front Line Awards Hall of Fame. The inductee is chosen for its outstanding contribution to the game development industry for five years or more. This year's honor was presented to RenderWare, chosen in recognition of Criterion's long-term commitment to PC game engine development, the revolution the company then brought to console game development, and the persistence with which Criterion, now part of Electronic Arts, continues to improve development tools.



IGDA to Explore Quality of Life Issues at GDC

Addressing the continued response to quality-of-life issues for the game-development industry, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) will host the Quality of Life Summit on March 8th, at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), in San Francisco. The Summit will focus on the issues addressed in last year's Quality of Life white paper, published by the IGDA, which documented the long hours and pressures exerted on developers and the toll that these problems take on people and companies alike.

Developer/author Steve McConnell (Code Complete and Rapid Development) will explain the dollars and cents of production process improvement, mapping out the need for improved software development practices in a way that is meaningful to managers and executives. Blue Fang Games will sponsor this keynote speech.

Content of the summit will focus on labor relations theory, the current state of quality of life within the industry, case studies on successfully implemented practices and a discussion on how to overcome the issues preventing a better quality of life. Developers, producers, managers and those in involved in the human resources process are encouraged to attend the summit.

The complete list of speakers:



Wired NextFest Coming to Chicago

Chicago will host the second annual Wired NextFest event. Wired worked with the Chicago mayor's office to bring this one-of-a-kind event to the Midwest in June 2005.

The event showcases inventions from around the world that demonstrate how technology will transform our lives. Inspired by past world's fairs, the NextFest pavilions will demonstrate advances in communication, design, entertainment, space/undersea exploration, medicine/health, security, and transportation.

NextFest brings together innovations from inventors and research and development labs from around the world for both children and adults alike. The three-day celebration will show the best in emerging technology including flying cars, commercial space planes, smart homes, fuel-cell cars, unmanned aerial vehicles, future warrior battle gear, holograms, hypersonic sound beams, and invisibility coats

NextFest 2005 is slated to begin with an "Education Day" free for students on Friday, June 24. Staged at Chicago's Navy Pier, it will open for general admission on Saturday, June 25, & Sunday, June 26, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

And if you want to get in on the action: Wired is now accepting submissions for its three-day festival that will show the best in emerging technology across industries including: communication, design, energy, entertainment, exploration, medicine/health, the home, security, and transportation.

Approximately 100 technology exhibitors will be selected based on these criteria:

There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted by an entrant. A complete entry form and separate fee must accompany each submission.

The submission deadline is March 4, 2005. All submission forms and fees postmarked after March 4, 2005, will be returned.



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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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