Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 1 Jun 98 May 1998

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
-------------------------------------------------- Editor's note: A couple of weeks back, we ran an item about an article on "mind-matter interaction"; unfortunately, the story wasn't easy to find on the site referred to. If you'd like to check it out, point your browser to: http://www.edtn.com/news/may11/051198topstory.html. -------------------------------------------------- Today's Headlines (details below) WEBMEISTER --GoLive Tackles Consumer Market with CyberStudio PE DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --IMSI Unveils Multimedia Fusion--Sequel to Corel Click & Create --Cosec Releases UTrack Bug Tracker IN THE INFOGROOVE --Fast-food Chain To Premiere Full-screen Internet Ads --Veon, Intertainer to Deliver Interactive Video Programming --Agents Technologies Ships Copernic 98 Games Edition GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --MetaCreations Offers Painter 5 For DEC Alpha Windows NT Systems --AIMS Lab Releases GrabIT II Still-image Digitizer --Viewpoint to Optimize LiveArt 98 for AMD 3DNow! Tech --Dimension 3D Announces Joe's 3D Accelerator Guide --Kinetix to Distribute N64 Export Plug-in for 3DS MAX --Zapa Creates Add-Ins for Microsoft Liquid Motion TECHNOTES --Programmable Platform to Support Range of Digital Consumer Electronics THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Survey: Games Most Fun Home Entertainment Activity --Call for Papers for Creativity and Consumption Conference GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Unreal is Real --Activision Doings --Sony Adds PDA to PlayStation --Red Orb Showcases New Titles at E3 --Microsoft Previews Upcoming Titles at E3 --Official Jagged Alliance 2 Website Goes Up, Game Goes Alpha --EA to Publish Looking Glass Shock 2, Flight Unlimited III --Microsoft Announces Launch Date For Online-only UltraCorps --MediaX Debuts Real-time 3D Title Based on Orwell's 1984 DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --AIAS Announces Winners --Motion Factory Forms Advisory Board of Game Development Execs HAPPENINGS --Webvertising Forum Set for July in NoCal --"KidCast for Peace" Featured at SIGGRAPH --SIGGRAPH 98 Illustrates a Trend Toward Human-Centered Computing F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------


GoLive Tackles Consumer Market with CyberStudio PE Just out from GoLive Systems is a $99 Personal Edition of GoLive CyberStudio, its Macintosh-based Web page layout tool. The Personal Edition offers a tool set for Web site design, layout, and maintenance, with features for visual layout and design, site management, HTML source code and JavaScript editing, and user-defined options. * Visual Layout and Design Control - place page elements on a grid, and controlling elements' attributes with pixel-level precision - see all elements on pages without switching back and forth to a browser. * Advanced Site Management - create, import, edit and view entire sites as complete projects - see a site's structure, adjust hierarchy, add pages, delete pages, open individual pages as well as visually verify, change and update links and anchors. A free competitive upgrade to GoLive CyberStudio Personal Edition is available directly from GoLive for owners of full versions of the following products: Adobe PageMill, BBEdit, Claris Home Page, Macromedia DreamWeaver, Microsoft Front Page, NetObjects Fusion, and Symantec Visual Page. Owners must provide GoLive with the competitive packages. Details are available on the GoLive Web site at http://www.golive.com. --------------------------------------------------


IMSI Unveils Multimedia Fusion--Sequel to Corel Click & Create IMSI recently released Multimedia Fusion ($99.95), an object-oriented multimedia authoring application designed for beginning to professional multimedia authors. The Windows program uses a drag-and-drop interface for creating multimedia projects, including business presentations, multimedia applications for the Web, computer-based training guides, games, personalized screen savers and interactive kiosks. New features include: * support for Intel MMX and Microsoft ActiveX * Multiple .WAV and .MIDI files spanning multiple frames, allowing users to produce voice-overs without losing the music through a frame transition. * Improved object-oriented development structure that allows users to drag and drop special effects on multiple objects * Customizable install program lets users install and run a Multimedia Fusion application directly from their hard drive. * customizable user interface Find more at http://www.imsisoft.com. -------------------------------------------------- Cosec Releases UTrack Bug Tracker Cosec Corporation has released its product UTrack 1.00, which helps product developers, IT Managers and end-users to keep track of issues, bugs, status and feedback pertaining to a group of projects or products. The software is said to distinguish itself from the competition by its ability to manage documents along with the regisered cases. It also supports multiple sites, so that any product company can distribute UTrack to all its customers in various sites and accurately monitor feedback from each users from these sites. In addition the product provides multi-level security, filtering, reports and configurability. An evaluation copy is available free from http://www.cosec.com. The single-user, multi-site version is available for $99.95. The multi-user, multi-site version of UTrack 1.00 costs $399.95. A partner program offers a discount to users who provide at least five meaningful bugs or feedback on the product. --------------------------------------------------


Fast-food Chain To Premiere Full-screen Internet Ads If you think animated banner ads are annoying, you ain't seen nothin' yet. A newly developed advertising technique, the IC (for Internet Commercial) Systems method, developed IC Systems of Santa Ana, Calif., results in full-screen, broadcast-style advertisements on the Internet. Before selected content can be accessed, a commercial message, which can't be bypassed, is displayed in a full-screen format. After the full message has been executed, the user's intended content appears onscreen. The first company to use the ads will an as-yet unnamed national fast-food chain. For more information, visit http://www.icimpact.com. -------------------------------------------------- Veon, Intertainer to Deliver Interactive Video Programming Intertainer, Inc., a broadband entertainment program service, and Veon, Inc., creators of hypervideo technology, authoring tools and systems, have worked out a to deal which they claim will let content providers and aggregators create and deploy interactive video entertainment, promotion, commercials and programming for Intertainer's broadband service available on multiple cable modem and Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) systems. Under the agreement, Veon will provide the back-end servers and tools to enable content providers and aggregators to develop and deliver interactive video programming and promotions over Intertainer's broadband service. Subscribers to the service will get broadband video content on-demand with interactive and personalized functionalities. Applications include interactive entertainment, commerce channels, video catalogs, travel, sports, shopping and games. For more information, visit http://www.veon.com and/or http://www.intertainer.com. -------------------------------------------------- Agents Technologies Ships Copernic 98 Games Edition Newly available from Agents Technologies Corp. is Copernic 98 Games Edition, the company's search agent software specifically for the gaming community. Copernic 98 Games Edition is available for free download at http://www.copernic.com. Rather than searching the entire Web for information on gaming or a specific computer game, Copernic 98 Games Edition gives users the opportunity to query gaming-specific sites, such as Happy Puppy, CNET Gamecenter.com, GamePower and The Adrenaline Vault. It then ranks results according to the most pertinent information, checks for dead links and compiles results in a hypertext summary that can be saved, filed and even emailed. --------------------------------------------------


MetaCreations Offers Painter 5 For DEC Alpha Windows NT Systems MetaCreations' natural-media painting application, Painter 5, is newly available running native on Digital Equipment Corporation's Alpha processor for $299. The title was previously available only as a bundle with Digital's Creation Studio workstation. Painter 5 provides artists with traditional and digital brushes that create fine art painting, photo editing and layering tools. Painter 5 will run on any Digital 21164 or later processor running Windows NT 4.0 with 32 MB system RAM, a VGA Video (24-bit recommended) and a CD-ROM drive. For more information, call 1-800-846-0111, Department 1. Customers outside the US and Canada should call customer service at 408-430-4100. -------------------------------------------------- AIMS Lab Releases GrabIT II Still-image Digitizer Making a grab for the market established by Play's Snappy, AIMS Lab's new GrabIT II ($70 minus $20 mail-in rebate) is a mouse-sized device that plugs into a PC printer port. With a camcorder or VCR hooked up to a power adapter that plugs into the computer's keyboard port, it enables capture of 24-bit images at resolutions of up to 1600 x 1200 pixels. Multiple preview windows display six sequential frames in full color simultaneously. Users can adjust saturation, contrast and brightness before capturing an image. A passthrough feature lets a printer share the parallel port with GrabIT II, eliminating the need to plug and unplug the printer cable when printing. (Are you listening, Paul?) The product includes five software tools: * Howdy Lite - create and email multimedia postcards * Live Pix Photo Projects - insert images into holiday greeting cards, invitations, flyers and brochures. * WebCannon - drop your digital photos into Web page templates * With PictureMall - arrange for grabbed pictures to be printed on products like mugs, t-shirts and watch faces * ImageAXS - create visual thumbnail index of image collection For more information, phone (510) 661-2525, send mailto:info@aimslab.com, or visit http://www.aimslab.com. -------------------------------------------------- Viewpoint to Optimize LiveArt 98 for AMD 3DNow! Tech 3DNow! technology is chipmaker AMD's extension of the x86 processor architecture designed to enhance 3D graphics, multimedia, and other floating point-intensive PC applications. Specifically, it's a set of 21 new instructions that use SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) and other performance enhancements to open the performance bottleneck in the 3D graphics pipeline between the host CPU and 3D graphics card, accelerating front-end physics and geometry functions. Of course, applications must be rewritten to take advantage of such enhancements, and Viewpoint DataLabs International is among the first to do so. Viewpoint will optimize its new LiveArt 98 graphics productivity software for AMD's new processor, the AMD-K6-2. LiveArt lets users add 3D illustrations to their documents, using a mini-app that enables lighting, styling, rotation and scaling of objects, and includes a library of 3D digital objects and 35 artistic styles. -------------------------------------------------- Dimension 3D Announces Joe's 3D Accelerator Guide This might sound like a joke, but we checked it out, and it's serious. Dimension 3D (http://www.dimension3d.com) last week released of "Joe's 3D Accelerator Guide" (http://www.dimension3d.com/guide). The publication introduces the concept of the MOP-Mark, a ratings system designed to distinguish hardware on a "suitability to task" basis. The MOP-Mark (My Own Personal-Mark) methodology incorporates several key factors into the rating of accelerator hardware, going beyond that of traditional benchmark applications. The key advantage of this methodology is the ability to rate each of the accelerators in a variety of end-user target-audience groups, from the hardcore gamer to the professional 3D modeler. -------------------------------------------------- Kinetix to Distribute N64 Export Plug-in for 3DS MAX Kinetix will distribute Animetix Technologies, Inc.'s $995 GAMUT-N64 Artist Tools for Nintendo 64 game developers. Scheduled for release in June as a plug-in for Kinetix's 3D Studio MAX modeling and animation app, the Animetix tools enable game developers to create game content using Kinetix software and then export them for the Nintendo 64 game system. The GAMUT-N64 tools include a NIFF (Nintendo Intermediary File Format) export plug-in for 3D Studio MAX that exports geometry, materials (including colors at vertices), bitmap textures, texture mapping information, object hierarchy and animation (including animations created by Character Studio's Biped and Physique components). Animetix also provides a preview plug-in tool, which allows developers to preview their 3D Studio MAX scenes on a Nintendo N64 console. Visit Kinetix on the Web at http://www.ktx.com, or contact the company at 800/879-4233. -------------------------------------------------- Zapa Creates Add-Ins for Microsoft Liquid Motion Zapa Digital Arts last week announced Ch@racterz, its new, dynamic, 3D animated technology that will work with Microsoft Liquid Motion Web animation tool. Ch@racterz, part of Zapa's Smart Objects technology, can be added through its Liquid Ch@racterz plug-in to enhance Liquid Motion scenes. Zapa also announced that its MicroSites product has been further enhanced for use with Liquid Motion in the creation of online advertising. MicroSites enables advertisers, marketers, and merchants to create Web banner ads in Microsoft's Direct Animation format. Ch@racterz are 3D animated figures with embedded behaviors and intelligence. Ch@racterz can be used as actors in online entertainment, advertising branded spokescharacters, such as a dancing cereal box, a Web site host, or even messengers for Internet broadcasting and push technology. With Liquid Ch@racterz, the Liquid Motion plug-in, users can select Ch@racterz from their libraries and add them to a Liquid Motion scene. For further information, see Zapa's Web site at http://www.zapadigital.com. For more information about Microsoft Liquid Motion, visit http://www.microsoft.com/liquidmotion/ --------------------------------------------------


Programmable Platform to Support Range of Digital Consumer Electronics Manufacturers of high-definition televisions (HDTV), set-top boxes (STB) and 3D games must meet consumer demand for interactivity, quality, performance and functions found in today's personal computer at a lower price point. A technology gap exists between what is needed by the manufacturer and what current technology can provide. Semiconductor systems company Equator Technologies is working on a programmable platform to unify the processing of audio, video, communications and 3D graphics for computers and consumer electronics. John Setel O'Donnell, Equator president and co-founder, states, "High-level language programming allows a single processor architecture to be used in multiple applications." Equator 's focus is to replace hard-wired fixed-function MPEG platforms with a programmable engine. This engine can be designed into multiple applications including HDTV, STB, 3D games, teleconferencing, interactive virtual worlds and video image processing. Equator Technologies's use of parallel very-long-instruction word (VLIW) architecture leaves the complexity of managing parallelism to the compiler, not the chip. This scalable architecture is as fast as application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) with minimal cost difference for a concurrency of media applications. Equator's solutions are designed to be programmable for adaptation in emerging markets by using VLIW high-level language for rapid prototyping and end product delivery. Web Site: http://www.equator.com --------------------------------------------------


Survey: Games Most Fun Home Entertainment Activity Americans now believe that playing video and PC games provides more fun than any other home entertainment activity by a margin of two to one, according to a new survey released last week by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) at E3. The survey also revealed that interactive games players believe that playing video and PC games provides a higher quality experience than watching television or movies. The survey found that 41 percent of game players consider playing PC and video games as the most fun, while 21.6 percent like watching television, 12.3 percent chose reading books, 11.3 percent preferred going out to the movies, 8.2 percent chose surfing the Internet, and 5.5 percent preferred renting movies. In addition, respondents said the highest-quality home entertainment activity was reading books (37.6 percent), followed by playing PC and video games (22.6 percent), watching TV (20.3 percent), going to the movies (8.6 percent), surfing the Internet (6.4 percent), and renting movies (4.5 percent). The omnibus annual survey, conducted by the Custom Research Division of the NPD Group, gathered data from more than 1,500 nationally representative households identified as owning either or both a video game console or a personal computer used to run entertainment software. Other highlights of the survey include the following: * Respondents spent an average of 18.1 hours a week watching TV, 8.6 hours playing interactive games, 6.4 hours reading books, 3.7 hours surfing the Internet, and 2.9 hours watching rented movies. * For the third consecutive year, PCs were used more to run entertainment software than for any other application, including word processing, online activities, and business/finance applications. * Interactive entertainment appeals to people of all ages and both genders. In fact, 31.1 percent of the most frequent users of console games are women, while 43.9 percent are under age 18, 36.4 percent are age 18 - 35, and 19.7 percent over age 36. Almost 40 percent of the most frequent PC game players are women (37.7 percent), while 30.4 percent are under age 18, 31.0 percent are age 18 - 35, and 38.5 percent are over age 36. * Among game players, the most popular console game genres are (in order of preference): action, sports, driving/racing, puzzle/board/card, and role-play/adventure, while the preferred PC game genres are: action, puzzle/board/card, learning, role-play/adventure, sports, and strategy. * About one-third of PC game players (31.3 percent) and just over half of console gamers (55.4 percent) say that the ability of a game to accommodate multiple users is extremely or very important to their purchasing decision. While Internet games command great interest, only about 18 percent of PC game players say that an online or Internet component is extremely or very important to them when they are considering buying a title. -------------------------------------------------- Call for Papers for Creativity and Consumption Conference Creativity and Consumption, an international conference to be held 29-31 March 1999 at the University of Luton, UK, will explore theoretical issues around the content and use of digital technology in order to promote a critical understanding of new media products and the context in which they circulate. The organizers require both papers and panelists, and there will be an exhibition. In particular, they are looking for research papers that relate to the following themes: * computers and creativity * the human-machine interface * dead media and science fiction * 'interactivity' and cultural practices * the aesthetics and politics of new media practices * implications of the 'new media age' for cultural institutions * distribution, exhibition and the audience * preservation and access * copyright, ownership and economic models Submit a 500-word abstract, together with author name, address, tel and fax numbers and email address, by 30 September 1998, via mailto:creativity@luton.ac.uk --------------------------------------------------


Unreal is Real GT Interactive Software recently shipped Unreal, causing productivity levels to drop to precipitous lows in homes and offices throughout the country (seriously--this is one addictive game). The first-person shooter offers single-player action; multi-play for up to 16 gamers; as well as the Unreal Level Editor. Features include: * dynamic lighting * optimized for Intel MMX technology, Power VR and 3Dfx 3D accelerator chip sets * portal technology allows levels to defy 3D Euclidean space (??) * enhanced enemy artificial intelligence * Internet play with client-server environments * polygonal enemies with more than 300 frames of animation each * bilinear texture smoothing -- making environments appear more realistic * vast 3D environments -- including spacecraft, ancient ruins, mines and castles, each with their own unique challenges and secrets Additional information can be found at developer Epic MegaGames' Web site at http://www.epicgames.com. -------------------------------------------------- Activision Doings Marvel Comics' mutant franchise the X-MEN will return to the gaming scene when Activision introduces the first X-MEN 3D fighting game for PlayStation. The title, expected to be released in early spring 1999, pits the menacing Mojo against the deadly Apocalypse in a battle to end all X-Battles. Also, Activision has acquired the worldwide license from White Wolf, Inc. to the role-playing universe, Vampire, which includes Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, and Kindred of the East. Under the long-term agreement, Activision has attained the exclusive rights to develop and publish interactive games based on the property across all platforms. Activision's first Vampire title will be a 3D role-playing game developed by Nihilistic Software, expected to be released in fall 1999. The game will cast players in a journey through the gothic past to a dark modern day, in which they must battle their inner beast and bloodlust while hiding their true nature from mortals. Furthermore, Activision has entered into an agreement to publish DreamWorks Interactive's character-based action- fighting game, T'ai Fu, for the PlayStation game console. Set in ancient China, the title places players in the role of T'ai, the lone survivor of the Tiger Clan. Blamed for the savage murder of the Panda Monks, T'ai must complete a quest to clear his name and defeat the Dragon Master, thereby restoring balance to the world. The game is slated for release this fall. And last but not least, Activision will publish the third-person action-exploration game, The Fifth Element, being developed by Kalisto Entertainment for the PlayStation game console for release this fall. Based the motion picture, The Fifth Element is set in 23rd century New York City where players must navigate and battle through a series of missions as they attempt to join together the five elements of earth, air, fire, water and anti-energy and save Earth from evil and ultimate destruction. Utilizing an enhanced version of the Nightmare Creatures engine, the title challenges players to master the skills of both a female and male character and combine fighting, shooting and puzzle-solving to progress through 16 levels. More information can be found at http://www.activision.com. -------------------------------------------------- Sony Adds PDA to PlayStation Look out, Game Boy! So hopes Sony Computer Entertainment America, which last week announced the details of its miniature gaming and information unit (code name Personal Digital Assistant or PDA) that integrates the technology of the PlayStation game console and a handheld unit. Initial release of the PDA unit in Japan is expected for Q4 '98 and in North America by spring of 1999. The unit is expected to retail in the US for $30. The unit, developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., plugs into the existing memory card slot on the PlayStation game console and stores information from PDA-compatible PlayStation software. Applications downloaded from the PlayStation to the PDA can also be used separately. The unit's (IrDA standard) infrared communication capability allows two PDA units to exchange information, such as stored game data, remotely, without using the console as the bridge. Possible applications for the PDA include development of real-time role-playing game (RPG) communities by downloading a character from a PlayStation game, playing with or nurturing the character on the PDA, and then replacing the enhanced character back into the game. The PDA could also enhance gameplay for sports gamers with the ability to create new sports leagues and conduct player and league trades. Potential non-gaming capabilities include a message exchanger and a clock function that runs programs such as personal schedulers or calendars. Sony expects as many as 12 titles available for the PDA at launch. Visit Sony at http://www.playstation.com. -------------------------------------------------- Red Orb Showcases New Titles at E3 Broderbund division Red Orb Entertainment showed up at E3 this year with the following titles: * Prince of Persia 3D (Win 95, Early 1999) - uses 3D technology to combine adventure/action with combat. Story line, in the tradition of the Arabian Nights, takes the player through locales of ancient Persia. * Extreme Warfare (Win 95, Internet, September 1998) - 3D real-time action game where players crawl behind the controls of combat machines, either as a solo Commando or as part of a multiplayer Platoon. * Warlords III: Darklords Rising (Win 95, Internet, August 1998) - fantasy game of conquest and strategy delivers four new campaigns, 35 new units, full game editor and enhanced AI, plus nine new multiplayer games, including Capture the Flag and North versus South. * Baja 1000 Racing (Win 95, Internet, Winter 1998) - 3D arcade-style off-road racing game * Riven DVD (Win 95 DVD, August 1998) - enhanced sound and graphics, plus "Making of ..." * The Journeymen Project 3: Legacy of Time DVD (Win 95 DVD, August 1998) - over 30 minutes of MPEG2 video, improved graphic quality Visit http://www.redorb.com. -------------------------------------------------- Microsoft Previews Upcoming Titles at E3 Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator and Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings led Microsoft's 11-game lineup at E3 last week. Microsoft also plans to ship an Age of Empires Expansion Pack in time for the 1998 holiday season. The Expansion Pack focuses on the ancient Roman Empire and delivers new civilizations, unique units and additional campaigns, including the rise of Rome. Combat Flight Simulator is a World War II air-combat simulation game built on the Flight Simulator engine, and combines air combat with realistically modeled aircraft. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, the follow-up to one of the biggest hits of '97, spans a thousand years, from the Dark Ages to the late medieval period. Players can win in several ways, including conquering enemy civilizations, accumulating wealth by trading and diplomacy, building and defending wonders of the world, or protecting a king or queen. Urban Assault combines action game play and real-time strategy elements against a foreboding post-apocalyptic backdrop. Players are simultaneously the generals and the front-line soldiers (sounds confusing!). Gamers simultaneously command and deploy their entire army from an overhead transparent map while controlling, from the cockpit, 15 types of combat vehicles - from airplanes, helicopters and satellites to jeeps and tanks. Close Combat 3 and Inertia (working title) are scheduled for release in 1999. CC3 puts players in command of the Eastern Front - the largest land war in modern history, spanning from the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union to the 1945 fall of Berlin. Inertia is a vehicular shooter that lets gamers custom-design a combat vehicle. For online product information, visit http://www.microsoft.com/games/ -------------------------------------------------- Official Jagged Alliance 2 Website Goes Up, Game Goes Alpha Sirtech's official Jagged Alliance 2 Web site at http://www.jaggedalliance.com/ is now online. The site features a development journal, a listing of game features, screenshots and profiles of some of the 50 mercenaries in the game. The title, a mix of strategy, role-playing, and gun-blazing tactics, puts players in command of a team of mercenaries whose goal is to free a small country from the rule of a ruthless dictator. The Web site announcement comes just as Jagged Alliance 2 officially enters alpha. The game is scheduled for an October 1 release. -------------------------------------------------- EA to Publish Looking Glass' System Shock 2, Flight Unlimited III System Shock was one of the best of the DOOM-era first-person action/exploration titles, so it's good to hear that Electronic Arts Distribution will publish several titles that bear the Looking Glass brand, including System Shock 2 and Flight Unlimited III. System Shock 2 is a 3D science fiction role-playing game for the PC. The title will reportedly match the role-playing depth of the original while incorporating advanced 3D graphics technologies and artificial intelligence based on the Looking Glass Dark engine. Flight Unlimited III is a civilian flight simulation for the PC. More information about EA can be found on the Internet at http://www.ea.com, and the Looking Glass Web site is http://www.lglass.com. -------------------------------------------------- Microsoft Announces Launch Date For Online-only UltraCorps Microsoft plans to launch UltraCorps, its second premium online-only game for the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com/), on June 25. The game is currently in open beta testing. Players can join the free beta by going to the Zone and proceeding to the UltraCorps link in the Strategy Games section. Microsoft also previewed two additional premium online-only titles for the Zone, plus a Fighter Ace online multiplayer game upgrade, at E3 last week in Atlanta. UltraCorps, developed by VR-1 Inc., is a turn-based strategy game that pits thousands of players against each other for domination of the universe. Players command one of 14 alien races, develop new technologies and weapons, dispatch fleets to colonize other planets, and manage resources to maintain their growing empires. Social interaction is a key component of the game as players form alliances, draw up treaties or taunt their enemies. "Oblivion," current code name for a 3D space-action premium game scheduled to arrive on the Zone late in 1998, lets players engage hundreds of others online in territorial team wars, amid endless permutations of roles, missions and challenges. Asheron's Call online multiplayer fantasy role-playing game, scheduled to arrive on the Zone in early 1999, draws together thousands of players within a dynamic, 3D online world. Players can create truly unique characters, with varied combinations of visual appearance, attributes and skill sets. The setting for the game is a 24-by-24-mile island, where players compete against or cooperate with thousands of other real players. A system of allegiance and influence enhances social interaction. The story line in Asheron's Call evolves dynamically over time based on the decisions and actions of the Asheron's Call community. The game is being developed by Turbine Entertainment Software. -------------------------------------------------- MediaX Debuts Real-time 3D Title Based on Orwell's 1984 MediaX Corporation, a developer and publisher of multimedia educational and entertainment software, announces its upcoming fall release, Big Brother, based on the classic novel, 1984, by George Orwell. The 3D adventure game picks up where the literary work ends. A new character, Eric Blair, returns to his homeland to discover a changed world dominated by the Thought Police. Eric must venture on a dangerous journey to search for his missing fiancé. Gamers navigate 10 square blocks of Orwell's retro-futuristic world, following clues, solving puzzles and interacting with 3D characters while trying to disable and destroy intrusive tele-screens and spy cameras. For more information, send mailto:info@mediax.com or browse http://www.mediax.com. --------------------------------------------------


AIAS Announces Winners The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), created to advance and recognize outstanding achievement in the interactive arts, last week announced the winners for its inaugural Interactive Achievement Awards. Golden Eye 007, published by Nintendo of America and developed by Rare, Inc. received four awards, including Interactive Title of the Year. Other winners were Sony/Square's Final Fantasy VII (best console RPG), Microsoft's Age of Empires and Blizzard's Starcraft (tied for best strategy game), and EA/Origin's Ultima Online (best online game). To view a list of rest of the winners, go directly to http://www.interactive.org/html/award/awardwin98.htm -------------------------------------------------- Motion Factory Forms Advisory Board of Game Development Execs The Motion Factory, creator of the Motivate 3D game authoring system, announced last week the formation of The Motion Factory Advisory Board, comprised of game development industry executives. The board is intended to serve as an open forum for developers to help steer the direction for the current Motion Factory technologies as well as future products that will answer far-reaching development wishes. Participants include: * Angus Guschwan - Sony Interactive * Barry Dempsey - Xatrix Entertainment * Glyn Anderson - Accolade * Jay Page - Radical Entertainment * John Price - Interplay * Carey Clutts - Red Orb/Broderbund * Peter Lipson - Broderbund * Rusty Buchart - Interplay * Steve Crain - Activision * Jean-Noel Portugal - In Visio Contact The Motion Factory at 510-505-5151, by fax at 510-505-5150, or via mailto:marketing@motion-factory.com. Visit http://www.motion-factory.com. --------------------------------------------------


Webvertising Forum Set for July in NoCal Web advertising guru Mark Welch is planning a July forum to help Web publishers evaluate affiliate programs, banner advertising networks, and other advertising and revenue programs for Internet Web sites. For more than two years, Welch has maintained a Web site that lists and analyzes advertising networks, brokers, and "affiliate" or "partner" programs (http://www.markwelch.com/bannerad/), but the sheer volume of revenue options is beginning to overwhelm Web publishers, who find it difficult to compare programs or predict likely revenue. In April, Welch hosted a small meeting where a dozen California Web publishers discussed their experiences with online advertising. Based on the success of that event, Welch is now planning a larger two-day "Web Advertising Forum and Web Publishers' Brainstorm Session," to be held July 17-18, 1998 in Dublin, California. The first day will cover "Web Advertising Basics." The first-day programs will be aimed primarily at new Web publishers and those who are confused by the terminology and concepts involved in Web advertising. The second day will be a "brainstorming session," in which Web publishers discuss their experiences with existing advertising and "partner" programs, and exchange ideas. Attendees will be required to provide information in advance about their Web site and advertising experience, to be included in the written program materials. The two-day event will take place at the Monarch Hotel in Dublin, California. Registration is $95 for one day or $145 for both days, including lunch. (Early registration discounts are available.) Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 100 Web publishers. For more information, phone (925) 462-8483, fax (925) 417-1331, send mailto:brainstorm@markwelch.com, or visit http://www.markwelch.com/brainstorm/. -------------------------------------------------- "KidCast for Peace" Featured at SIGGRAPH Visionary Artists' Resources Including Other Unique Services (V.A.R.I.O.U.S.) announces "KidCast For Peace; Solutions For A Better World." This featured event at SIGGRAPH gives "kids" the opportunity to connect in live gatherings and cyberspace videoconferences (see following story for more info on the conference). Younger generations will offer artistic solutions to the challenges facing the world and its peoples. Children of all ages will express solutions through art forms including visual arts, computer animation, written words, live global Natural Musical Instrument Jams, and performance art as to how they would make this a happier, healthier, safer and more peaceful planet. According to KidCast coordinator, Peter H. Rosen, "We want to empower the storytellers and leaders of tomorrow. This global community event is designed to give kids a loud voice in shaping the world they will inherit." K-12 students, youth and the general public everywhere are invited to participate and share their art and their heart. Visit http://creativity./net/kidcast2.html for details, as well as documentation from past events and participation/sponsor information. -------------------------------------------------- SIGGRAPH 98 Illustrates a Trend Toward Human-Centered Computing The organizers of SIGGRAPH 98, the 25th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, promise that visitors will see a trend toward human-centered computing. Below are a few examples of the human-centered applications to be shown at the conference: * Telematic Vision: Telepresence Interactive Installation. Sit on the couch and interact with a friend in a distant geographic location. * Swamped! Using Plush Toys to Direct Autonomous Animated Characters. Become an autonomous character in a multi user virtual environment using a stuffed animal as the iconic and tangible interface. * GestureVR: Gesture Interface to Spatial Reality. Move your gloveless hand as the sole input devise to play popular video game "Doom." The Hand Gesture Recognition Interface technology developed at Bell Labs offers precise control of the viewer's navigation in 3D space or for grasping and moving objects on the screen. The trend toward human-centered computing is also evident in the SIGGRAPH 98 Panel and Paper presentations: * Human Factors in Virtual World Design: Psychological and Sociological Considerations * Listen Up! Real-Time Auditory Interfaces for the Real World * Characters on the Internet: The Next Generation * The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Invoking Ubiquitous Computing for Computer Graphics * Constellations: A Wide-Range Wireless Motion-Tracking System for Augmented Reality and Virtual Set Applications SIGGRAPH 98 is being held 19-24 July, at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. The Web site URL is http://www.siggraph.org/s98/ --------------------------------------------------


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