Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 15 July 2002

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
Search the Spectrum archives at www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
Editor's note: Spectrum will take the next week off for the holiday, and will return July 15. Have a great Independence Day!

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER
--Macromedia Delivers Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX --Xara Online Launches Web Apps

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX
--Ulead Updates DVD Workshop

IN THE INFOGROOVE
--Survey: Broadband Subscribers Unhappy with Customer Service

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--pmG Ships Messiah:Animate
--NXN Upgrades Integration
--Electric Rain Begins Distribution of Flash Compressor --Curious Labs to Announce Poser 5
--Okino Announces HOOPS Support
--ParallelGraphics Updates Outline3D
--Oregon3D Launches 3D Training Center

CONSUMER CHANNEL
--New Hypertext from Eastgate

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--AMAS, Nvidia Announce Machinima Film Festival --UT-Austin to Host Game Development Workshop --New O'Reilly Titles Cover XML, ASP.NET

DEALS
--TDV Technologies Changes Name to X3D

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Blizzard Ships Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos --Activision to Show Upcoming Trek Games @ Virtual Con --EA Announces Sims Unleashed
--NCsoft to Publish Trade Wars MMORPG
--Microsoft to Develop Halo for PC, Mac --New Spyro Title Coming for GC, PS2

NUMBEROLOGY
--Study: Emerging Gaming Platforms to Create EUR6.5bn Revenues by 2006

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI
--SCEA Promotes Execs

F.Y.I.
--About Spectrum
___________________________________

WEBMEISTER

Macromedia Delivers Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX Just out from Macromedia is its Flash Communication Server MX, which integrates support for streaming media, real-time collaboration, and multi-way video, audio, and text messaging. The server also leverages the authoring environment of Flash MX and broad distribution of Flash Player, as well as the capabilities of the Macromedia MX product family. The server lets developers add communication and collaboration capabilities into their Websites and rich Internet applications. With streaming media and live, human interactions integrated directly into existing Websites, companies can offer product marketing, stock information, online learning, and sales-communications information within an integrated user experience. Designed as an open development platform, the server enables custom solutions and integrates with existing Web and application server infrastructure. http://www.macromedia.com/go/flashcom/ ___________________________________ Xara Online Launches Web Apps New from Xara Online is a range of ready-made Web Applications enabling non-techies to enhance the functionality of Websites. Xara says the applications, which include those offering content management and communications tools, can be integrated into a Website within minutes. The new range of ready-to-go Web applications has been built using the Xara Modules. The connectable nature of Xara Modules means that database, email and SMS functionality can be combined to create any number of applications without any programming knowledge. The applications can still be adapted and customized by the Website owner if they wish, but being ready-made means that a Website can benefit from the features of an application instantly. The applications available include: * Feedback Form, which allows Website visitors to easily email the site owner using one of the many forms supplied * News Release Publisher, for the management and update of news items at a Website * Auto Sales Database, offering a searchable online car database * SMS Sports Reporter, allowing for the update of a Website and communication to members via SMS and email, trigged from a mobile phone More ready-made applications will be added in the future, further incorporating database and SMS features. These include Group SMS, which allows for mass communication to a group of people via SMS either from a private Web page or from a mobile phone. http://www.xaraonline.com ___________________________________

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

Ulead Updates DVD Workshop Ulead Systems announced new and improved audio and video features for its DVD Workshop authoring software with the 1.2 Power Patch. The new version lets videographers author DVDs with broader set-top player support by encoding LPCM audio. And, according to Ulead, Multiple Video Title Set support (Multi-VTS) eliminates the hassle of re-encoding and maintains the quality of source video. Multi-VTS lets users mix various DVD-compliant video files such as MPEG-1 VCD files, 16:9 ratios, different bit rate qualities and Half D1 into one DVD project. Other features include improved burning performance and superior encoding, said to speed DV-to-MPEG file capture and transcoding by up to 59 per cent. Other 1.2 enhancements include burning support for new DVD+R drives, improved motion menu button quality, ADS USB Instant DVD device support, correct file information and import of AVI files created in Adobe Premiere, and increased reliability in burning large projects (4GB+ DVDs; 600MB+ CDs). There is also enhanced support of the Ulead PhotoImpact Object (UFO) file format, allowing for import of any graphic object as a button or decorative element within DVD Workshop menus. http://www.ulead.com/tech/dws/dws_ftp.htm ___________________________________

IN THE INFOGROOVE

Survey: Broadband Subscribers Unhappy with Customer Service Broadband Internet access technology continues to increase in popularity in U.S. households, but customer service and support are lagging behind. According to a Harris Poll survey released recently, three in 10 Americans who use the Internet now use broadband service for access, but over half of the broadband subscribers have had problems with their customer service, and 90% said they currently would not buy new services from their provider. The online survey, sponsored by Motive Communications, Inc., indicated that among respondents using broadband, a staggering 51% had encountered problems with service and support from their provider. The most common issue was having to contact the provider multiple times to get a problem solved (reported by 33% of broadband users), while 20% said it took the provider too long to solve their problems and 7% never had their problem solved at all. Another question revealed that 51% of broadband subscribers were forced to wait for a technician to come to their home to install the service. Given these customer service shortcomings, it's understandable that 90% of broadband users don't have enough confidence in their supplier to consider buying additional services now or in the near future, even though 45% expressed general interest in new broadband services, such as music, streaming video, games, and home networking. Also, an alarming 23% of subscribers said that based on their broadband experience they would consider switching to a different provider or canceling their high-speed Internet service altogether. David Hawley, analyst in the Yankee Group's Telecom Software Strategies Planning Service, commented, "For broadband providers to generate the revenue per customer necessary to ensure long-term profitability, they must find a way to sell additional services to their subscribers. As this survey shows, when service for basic broadband access is only marginal, customers don't feel compelled to purchase additional services like gaming, music and video from their provider when they can get them through other established channels." Other questions asked in the online survey focused on how the respondents gain access to the Internet in their homes. 57% of the respondents who still use dial-up service indicated that cost was the main factor preventing them from upgrading to broadband. Another 24% said that broadband was not available in their area. http://www.motive.com/ ___________________________________

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

pmG Ships Messiah:Animate pmG Worldwide, creator of the project:messiah 1.5 character-animation plug-in for LightWave, has released messiah:animate. The $1,045 character-animation application can run as a stand-alone, and can also connect to 3ds max, Maya, and LW, with support for other packages currently under development. Designed as a production tool, messiah:animate lets studios and independent animators animate, transfer projects between multiple applications, and work on joint projects requiring multiple studios. Two years in the making by pmG founders Dan Milling, Lyle Milton and Fori Owurowa, the software features an OpenGL custom-control environment that allows for future expansion and functionality across an array of platforms. PmG says its "Learn It Once, Use It Often" design method lets users can learn one area of the program and then apply that knowledge for use in both current and future components. New technologies and enhancements include: * 20-200 percent speed increase in nearly all aspects of the program. * new non-linear animation and editing system * faster bone deformation * faster cloth dynamics with more options to create soft-body effects * animatable effect parameters * interactive creation of muscles * reconfigurable tools. Users can transfer bones to different skeletons, points to different curves, etc. * editing of multiple objects * improved hierarchical expression system * allows a combination of Bezier and TBC curve types on the same motion curve * messiah:script scripting language, based on C, allows use of expression functions in scripts http://www.projectmessiah.com ___________________________________ NXN Upgrades Integration NXN Software has improved its NXN alienbrain integrations with graphics applications including Adobe Photoshop, softimage|XSI, 3ds max, and Maya. The alienbrain system, designed for game developers and animation teams, combines asset, project and workflow management. Over the last year, NXN Software has worked with its partners to provide increased security and productivity for 2D and 3D artists by integrating its version-control and file-management features with authoring tools. The integrations with Photoshop, Softimage|XSI, 3ds max, and Maya combine asset-creation and -management functions by storing artwork on alienbrain's secure server and allowing artists to access and edit their scenes, textures and animations directly from a drop-down menu in the art application's GUI. While the artists work on a file, the file is locked from editing by other team members. Once the artists save their work, the latest version is automatically stored on the server along with every other version of that file. If artists need to access an older version of a file, they can do so simply by rolling back to that version on the server. The integration interface allows artists to assign a status and due dates to files and folders, as well as lock files from further changes once a file is approved for use. This ensures the correct version of a file is always used and eliminates the danger of unapproved file changes that can severely affect game builds. The integrations now offer an advanced Reference Manager that extends support for textures and object references. Designed in conjunction with Softimage, Discreet and AliasWavefront, the Reference Manager allows users to work with local and server-side files. The Reference Manager is a resizable floating window that provides quick access to all textures, objects, and whole scenes and their references. The upgraded integrations are intended to save artists time by eliminating the need to switch back and forth between applications in order to find, edit and manage their files. The integrations currently ship with NXN alienbrain's Base- and PowerClient, and work with the latest versions of all of the authoring tools mentioned. http://www.nxn-software.com ___________________________________ Electric Rain Begins Distribution of Flash Compressor Electric Rain, Inc. recently began its U.S. distributor and reseller program for Optimaze!. Produced by UK-based Ideaworks3D, the $129, Windows-based vector-compression tool lets Flash users optimize SWF files an average of 35%, reportedly without significant quality loss. The post-production tool allows the compression process to be applied across entire SWF files, or just selected movie clips within the SWF. It gives the user control over the compression process, while offering a real-time preview of the results. Optimaze! works with all tools that output vector graphics to the Macromedia Flash (SWF) file format. http://www.optimaze.us ___________________________________ Curious Labs to Announce Poser 5 Scoop! Next Monday, Curious Labs will unveil Poser 5 to the world at Siggraph. New features include: * dynamic cloth simulation * dynamic strand-based hair * photo-based facial modeling * rendering engine incorporates a ray tracer and micro-polygon, subdivision surfaces Curious Labs plans to ship Poser 5 late this summer. Find info after Siggraph at http://www.curiouslabs.com. ___________________________________ Okino Announces HOOPS Support Okino Computer Graphics, Inc. has announced integral support for the HSF (HOOPS Stream File) file format via an export converter module for its NuGraf Rendering System, PolyTrans 3D Translation System, PolyTrans-for-3DSMAX, PolyTrans-for-XSI and PolyTrans-for-Maya software products. Okino also announced licensing of the HOOPS Stream Toolkit from Tech Soft America for the creation of compressed HSF files. The HSF format is appropriate for visualization of the design-manufacture-commerce process chain including CAD/CAM/CAE and related downstream applications, including e-commerce. In addition to providing the kind of detailed information needed for engineers to work with an intelligent model, HSF is a compressed, stream-capable format with features such as environment mapping, shadow rendering, textures, transparency, etc. and as such is suitable for streaming 3D-file content across the Internet from Web sites to cross-platform clients. The new HSF export converter in Okino's PolyTrans and NuGraf software provides a translation path from all major 3D file formats and modeling programs into the .hsf file format. The new export converter also allows users to directly export HSF files from 3DS MAX, Maya and Softimage|XSI via the special native plug-in versions of PolyTrans for these respective programs. http://www.okino.com ___________________________________ ParallelGraphics Updates Outline3D Ireland's ParallelGraphics has released Outline3D v 3.0, the latest version of the design service that enables furniture suppliers, interior designers, and real estate firms to present a product range to clients over the Internet and intranet. The new version of introduces two features: support for parametric objects and support for object-to-object collision detection. Parametric object support allows furniture suppliers present a complete product range in 3D without having to create an extensive catalog. When a 3D model is chosen, the user can see a full list of its parameters such as designs, sizes, and handle locations, and then can try combinations of these properties. Object-to-object collision detection prevents items from entering walls or other objects. This lets users easily place furniture items one by one against a wall, or together in a line. Outline3D is available as an online service that allows a company to demonstrate its products to remote clients (ASP model), or can be installed within the company intranet and its network of sales terminals, allowing sales assistants to demonstrate goods and services to potential clients using an up-to-date database stored on the main server. http://www.outline3D.com ___________________________________ Oregon3D Launches 3D Training Center Oregon3D Inc. has launched its Center for Visualization Technologies in Portland, Oregon. The training facility offers 3D graphics professionals a collaborative learning environment and a variety of courses in 3D modeling, animation, special visual effects, editing, and compositing, as well as real-time image generation for data visualization and simulation. Taught by certified and industry professionals, Oregon3D offers courses on 3D products from companies such as Alias|Wavefront, Discreet, Real Viz, Right Hemisphere, and SGI. Consisting typically of four or five days of intensive, hands-on training, Oregon3D classes go beyond theory to integrate coursework with real-world pre-production, storyboarding and project management practices. Equipped with an SGI Onyx 3200 supercomputer and PC-based workstations and SGI Octane workstations, Oregon3D's 8,000-square-foot facility provides the working environment and equipment used by professional creative artists in the film, game, TV and visualization industries. Oregon3D will also launch a service bureau, which will make the Center's facilities and Visualization Room available for use on a contract basis. The centerpiece of the visualization room is an immersive display wall. The wall, which measures over 12 feet wide and 6 feet high, is driven by the latest supercomputing technology from SGI, including an Onyx 3200 based Reality Center. Oregon3D general information: 735 SW 20th Place, Suite 230 Portland, OR 97205 Local Tel: 503.626.9000 Toll-free: 866.626.9100 info@oregon3d.com ___________________________________

CONSUMER CHANNEL

New Hypertext from Eastgate Eastgate Systems has published a new hypertext title: My Name Is Captain, Captain, by Judd Morrissey and Lori Talley. The authors combine dynamic text, links, and motion graphics to create a textual environment inspired by the first airplanes. The work, made with Macromedia's Flash authoring software, uses the computer and hypertext to create a specifically digital kind of concrete poetry. Text and images transform themselves with the click of a mouse, appearing and disappearing on the screen. My Name Is Captain, Captain also capitalizes on the computer screen's malleability. Unlike ink on a page, pixels can be programmed to change on the fly, a flexibility that has allowed Morrissey and Talley to create animated, dynamic poetry that breaks with traditional print conventions, such as fixed letters and the organization of the printed page. A lost pilot, the eponymous captain, forms the nucleus of the work. In keeping with the aviation theme, Morse code is frequently invoked; for instance, an entire section of the work shows reams of dots and dashes marching across the screen. In another part of the work, lines of white letters scroll backwards on a black background, recalling the mirror-writing of Leonardo Da Vinci. http://www.eastgate.com/catalog/Captain.html ___________________________________

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

AMAS, Nvidia Announce Machinima Film Festival The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences (AMAS), an organization that provides advocacy, education and community-building awareness for the entertainment medium known as Machinima: the art or technique of film making using real-time 3D virtual environments, has teamed up with Nvidia Corporation to host the first Machinima Film Festival on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Trail Dust Restaurant in Mesquite, Texas. The event will include screenings of Machinima films, workshops hosted by Machinima filmmakers, special screenings, talks with independent filmmakers and kiosks where attendees can take a crack at making their own Machinima films. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony where Machinima filmmakers will be recognized for their artistry in the new entertainment medium." The event will also feature a historical retrospective of Machinima filmmaking produced by Fountainhead Entertainment that will be shown at the awards ceremony. Entrants' work will be judged in 10 categories: Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Writing, Best Acting, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Visual Design, Best Independent Film Effort and Best Technical Achievement (software/hardware vendor-oriented). An Honorary Award will also be given to an individual whose contributions have significantly impacted the Machinima arts. Award guidelines are available at http://www.machinima.org. ___________________________________ UT-Austin to Host Game Development Workshop Game developers, academics and students will focus on electronic game development at The University of Texas at Austin's first Game Development Workshop. UT-Austin's IC2 Institute will host the event Aug. 22-24. "Games and simulations represent the future of learning," Dr. Alex Cavalli, deputy director of the IC2 Institute, said. "In the next decade, nearly every classroom will use game-based learning programs to enhance its curriculum. Our youth, who have grown up playing electronic games, need programs that simulate work environments and teach life skills if they are to compete in the 21st century." The workshop will include lectures, case studies and panel discussions led by industry experts covering game development, academic research opportunities and game systems design. The goals are to support the next generation of game developers, improve academic-industry relations and develop multidisciplinary game-related curricula to be implemented at The University of Texas at Austin. Workshop speakers and participants include Alex Cavalli, Ph. D., deputy director of IC2 Institute; Tim Fields, lead designer for Digital Anvil/Microsoft; Richard "Lord British" Garriott, co-founder of NCSoft Austin and creator of Ultima; Rick Hall, senior producer of Origin Systems Inc./Electronic Arts; Raph Koster, lead designer of Star Wars Galaxies, Sony Online Entertainment; Jay Lee, database programmer for NCSoft Austin; Starr Long, producer at NCSoft Austin; Bill Randolph, senior programmer at NCSoft Austin; Warren Spector, founder of Ion Storm; Carly Staehlin, design manager at NCSoft Austin; Rich Vogel, executive producer of Star Wars Galaxies, Sony Online Entertainment; and Bryan Walker, producer at Origin Systems Inc./Electronic Arts. http://www.eltlabs.org/workshop/index.htm ___________________________________ New O'Reilly Titles Cover XML, ASP.NET XML, the Extensible Markup Language, is a W3C-endorsed standard for document markup. It defines a generic syntax used to mark up data with simple, human-readable tags, and it provides a standard format for computer documents. Because of its flexibility, XML has become the syntax of choice for newly designed document formats across almost all computer applications. "XML in a Nutshell, Second Edition" provides developers with a guide to all aspects of XML, from the most basic syntax rules, to the details of DTD and schema creation, to the APIs used to read and write XML documents in a variety of programming languages. With updated sections on standards still in development, and extra coverage of Unicode, the book provides a reference to the fundamental rules to which all XML documents and authors must adhere. The book helps readers quickly develop an understanding of well-formed XML, namespaces, Unicode and W3C XML Schema. Authors Elliotte Rusty Harold and W. Scott Means tackle the key technologies used mainly for narrative XML documents, such as Web pages, books, and articles, offering readers a working knowledge of XSLT, Xpath, XLink, XPointer, CSS, and XSL-FO. The book also covers the technologies use for building data-intensive XML applications and for processing XML documents of any kind. The core of the book is the quick-reference guide that details syntax rules and usage examples for key XML technologies. http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/xmlnut2/ Also new from O'Reilly is "ASP.NET in a Nutshell," a technical reference for developers with classic ASP experience. Complete with a concise tutorial, two reference sections and plenty of sample code, the 800-page volume highlights little-known details and uses real-world examples to show how new features can be used in a working application. As the book points out, the transition from ASP to ASP.NET is a real eye-opener. Classic ASP offers just one type of application, in which the Web server uses script programming to generate a page with HTML code and then sends it to the client requesting it. ASP.NET provides an enhanced version of this application with Web Forms, a feature with the same drag-and-drop convenience enjoyed by Visual Basic developers. ASP.NET also offers tools for developing Web services, which promise to fulfill the long-anticipated dream of sharing data across applications and operating systems. http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/aspdotnetnut/ ___________________________________

DEALS

TDV Technologies Changes Name to X3D TDV Technologies Corporation has changed its name to X3D Technologies Corporation, reflecting the company's goal to develop an online culture where X3D (X-treme Three Dimensional) images enable 3D in the areas of education, entertainment and video games. The X3D system transforms still and moving computer images to X3D images that appear to float in space, inside, or out in front of the monitor screen. The technology significantly enhances ordinary 3D by adding depth information to the perspective view. Users can convert television and DVD signals on the fly to Stereoscopic X3D that's viewable on any computer with a CRT display. The X3D system includes wired and wireless glasses, receiver, connecting cords and infrared transmitter, install system software, and TV/DVD conversion software. To access the Stereovision X3D experience on the X3D Web portal, each customer must purchase the $99 X3D Viewing System, which is easy to install and retails for. http://www.3dworld.com/ ___________________________________

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Blizzard Ships Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Blizzard Entertainment recently shipped Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, the anticipated sequel to the company's #1-selling PC game series. With initial orders of over 4.5 million copies, Blizzard says the release of Warcraft III represents the biggest worldwide launch in PC-gaming history. In the game, players revisit the war-torn world of Azeroth a generation after the end of the Second War between the Orcs and the Humans. The fragile peace that had since settled over the land is now on the verge of being shattered, for a dark power has returned after thousands of years to carry out its nefarious plans. Two new races--the Undead Scourge and the Night Elves--emerge to join the fray, as players follow a single epic storyline through four successive campaigns. Players can also engage in an enhanced multiplayer mode, playable on local area networks and over the Internet on Battle.net. A focus on concentrated battles between groups of mighty warriors brings an blend of action to the franchise. In the single-player game, players follow the adventures of Legendary Heroes, who grow more formidable with experience. As the game progresses, these Heroes are able to learn spells and special abilities and acquire powerful magic items. Heroes advance faster in multiplayer games. Expanded multiplayer options include the ability to share units and resources with allies and to compete anonymously against other players of similar skill levels. The World Editor puts the same tools used by Blizzard's designers into the hands of players, enabling them to create 3D maps and unique missions, with scripts for units, spells, and action-packed events. Players will also be able to produce their own in-game cinematics, using flexible camera controls and incorporating .mp3-based sound files. http://www.blizzard.com ___________________________________ Activision to Show Upcoming Trek Games @ Virtual Con Trekkers who can't make it to the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas can now fix their sensors online at the first Official 3D Virtual Star Trek Convention, where they can also check out the latest entries in Activision's Star Trek lineup. As a convention co-sponsor, Activision will be giving attendees a sneak peak at its titles, Star Trek Elite Force II and Star Trek Starfleet Command III, by debuting two new gameplay movies. Taking place August 2-4, 2002, the Official 3D Virtual Star Trek Convention is being produced by virtual-conventions, llc, under license from Viacom Consumer Products, and offers attendees the chance to control their own Star Trek-themed avatar and interact with other fans. Additionally, participants will have access to a "live" wide shot of the main stage at the Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas where Leonard Nimoy is scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award from Creation Entertainment. In Star Trek Elite Force II, players join the ranks of the Hazard Team, an elite Starfleet security unit assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701-E under the command of Captain Picard. Over the course of the game, players will engage in first-person combat with foes of the Federation including the Borg, Romulans and mysterious new alien species. Star Trek Starfleet Command III lets players take total tactical control of their favorite starships and engage in epic strategic warfare. Once at the helm, players will be able to customize their ship's loadout and crew complement for maximum firepower as they explore three separate campaigns played from the perspective of the Federation, Romulan Star Empire and Klingon Empire. http://www.startrek.com http://gaming.startrek.com ___________________________________ EA Announces Sims Unleashed Coming this September from Electronic Arts is The Sims Unleashed, a new add-on disk to hit PC game The Sims. Players will be able to add furry (feathered, finny, scaley, etc.) friends to their virtual families. A new, expanded neighborhood featuring parks, pet stores, cafes and markets will give the Sims and their new pets a variety of places to sniff, explore and meet their new neighbors. The Sims Unleashed gives players dozens of new social interactions and expands their neighborhood. Thirty all-new residential and community lots featuring new homes, lush parks, a hip new café, cool shops and a farmer's market are available for Sims to explore. Now the Sims can walk their pooch in the park or bring their cat to a café and build their relationships with their neighbors through their adorable animals. Sims can teach Fido where to go themselves or hire a pet trainer to do all of the dirty work. Sims can also enter their kitties and canines in the local Pet show. The competition is "dog eat dog," as Sim pets try to impress the Pet Judges for prizes in obedience, tricks and good pet mood. Also new to the add-on is gardening. Sims can grow a variety of vegetables in their backyard plots using seeds purchased at the local garden store. Proper care of the garden will yield a crop that can be picked and stored in the new kitchen pantry or sold at the local farmer's market. The new pets can help chase away the pesky rabbits, gophers, and mice. The expansion pack adds five new career paths with 50 new jobs. A Sim can enter the world of fashion, become a culinary genius, take care of the neighborhood's pets as a trustworthy veterinarian, teach others as a noble educator, or simply run away and join the circus. Plus, over 125 new objects for pets and people, dozens of new character skins and an all-new decorator set with a New Orleans French Quarter theme. http://www.thesims.com ___________________________________ NCsoft to Publish Trade Wars MMORPG NCsoft Corporation says it will publish Trade Wars: Dark Millennium (working title) from Realm Interactive, LLC. Trade Wars features an action RPG combat experience set in a large virtual world where players are able to explore space as well as mysterious uncharted planets. http://www.tradewars.com http://www.realminteractive.com ___________________________________ Microsoft to Develop Halo for PC, Mac Could this be the death knell for Xbox? Halo: Combat Evolved, from Bungie Studios, was originally intended to be a PC-based game, but then Microsoft bought the company and made the title an Xbox exclusive. To this day, many gamers say it's the only reason to buy an Xbox, whose sales have been lagging in the latest version of the console wars. But last week, Microsoft Game Studios announced development of the PC and Macintosh versions of the first-person shooter. Halo: Combat Evolved is a science-fiction game that takes place on a mysterious alien ring-world. The PC adaptation is being developed by Texas-based Gearbox Software and based on the game's original concept. The Macintosh version will be developed by Westlake Interactive and published by Destineer, which has brought other Microsoft games to the Macintosh including "Age of Empires II" and "Links Championship Edition." Development of the Macintosh version of "Halo" will occur simultaneously with Gearbox's development of the PC version. The computer versions are expected to be available in summer 2003. http://www.bungie.net ___________________________________ New Spyro Title Coming for GC, PS2 Universal Interactive, Inc., a studio of Vivendi Universal Games, says its Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly videogame is scheduled for release in Q4 on GameCube and PlayStation2. In the sequel to "Spyro: Year of the Dragon," Ripto returns with a plan to steal the Dragonflies of the Dragon Realms. To combat his foes, Spyro's existing set of abilities will be enhanced with features such as electric, ice and bubble breath. Equipped with his new skills, new vehicles, and help from new and old friends, Spyro must find a way to return the dragonflies and restore order to the dragon realm. The Spyro franchise has sold more than 11 million units worldwide and is the winner of the 2002 All Star Award from the Children's Software Revue for the title "Spyro: Season of Ice." The title is being developed by California-based Equinoxe Digital Entertainment http://www.spyrothedragon.com/ ___________________________________

NUMBEROLOGY

Study: Emerging Gaming Platforms to Create EUR6.5bn Revenues by 2006 Emerging video game platforms are poised for rapid growth, as a confluence of factors enables advanced multiplayer experiences on consoles and PCs, improved games on mobile phones and other handheld devices, and simple, yet engaging interactive TV games. According to a new study by Screen Digest, commissioned by the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), spending on these emerging services by European consumers will grow from EUR127m in 2001 to EUR6.5bn in 2006, or growth over 5,000 per cent. While the new online services being launched for Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube will start slowly, Screen Digest believes these ultimately will be very successful, generating more than EUR2.5bn in Europe by 2006. Online console gaming will become an important driver of broadband Internet deployment as a predicted 16.6m households in Europe connect over the next five years. Another big new opportunity for the leisure-software industry will be next-generation mobile phones. New handsets with color screens that allow games to be downloaded will be available in European shops this year. Screen Digest predicts 60m European users by year-end 2003 and consumer spending increasing from EUR70m in 2001 to EUR2.2bn in 2006. Screen Digest predicts UK consumer spending on iTV games will more than double from 50.7m pounds in 2002 to 132m pounds in 2006. The total European iTV gaming market is expected to be worth EUR470m in 2006.Internet PC gaming has been led by multi-player games, like Everquest, Ultima Online and Asheron's Call, with over 1m subscribers worldwide. Screen Digest forecasts this will increase globally to 7m by 2006 with a market value of $1.3bn by 2006. Despite strong growth in PC gaming, it is expected to be eclipsed by the emerging market for "games on demand". Initially takeup of downloaded and "streamed" games will be slow. However, Screen Digest predicts in Europe there will be 5.5m users by 2006, with a market value of EUR930m. For more information on "Wireless, Interactive TV & Online Gaming," visit http://www.screendigest.com. ___________________________________

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

SCEA Promotes Execs Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. recently announced strategic organizational changes and executive promotions designed to strengthen its North American operation. Kaz Hirai, the company's president and chief operating officer, said the new executive appointments, effective immediately, are designed to accelerate a wide range of business objectives including the evolution of PlayStation2 as a broadband-based entertainment delivery medium. Andrew House and Jack Tretton have been promoted to the position of executive vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America. Reporting directly to Hirai, both have been instrumental in the development and continued success of the PlayStation business in North America, and are key members of the organization's management team. As part of their new responsibilities, House and Tretton have also been appointed to serve as corporate executive officers of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Formerly senior vice president, House is responsible for all facets of the company's marketing efforts in North America and the day-to-day management of Sony Computer Entertainment America's third-party program that includes licensee relations, product planning and strategic relationships. Tretton, previously holding the position of senior vice president, oversees all sales and channel relations in the United States, Canada and Latin America. In addition to his current role, Tretton will assume responsibility for SCEA's first-party product development operation led by Shuhei Yoshida. Internally developed titles include Twisted Metal: Black, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, and its first online title for PlayStation 2, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, scheduled for release on August 27 in conjunction with the Network Adaptor (Ethernet/Analog) (for PlayStation 2). Yoshida will now report to Tretton. http://www.playstation.com ___________________________________

F.Y.I.

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