Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 22 Mar 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
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Today's Headlines (details below)

TODAY'S TOP STORY --Rheingold Calls For `Technorealism' in SXSW Keynote WEBMEISTER --Macromedia Releases New Behavior Add-ins for Dreamweaver. --Perspecta Upgrades SmartContent System --XOOM Introduces Clips, Tools --Cognicity Products Embed Data in RealAudio Streams DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX -- Metrowerks to Provide Development Tools for AMD-3D Tech --Vtopia Launches XML Publishing and Processing Tookit --BulletProof Ships JDesignerPro 2.5 --3Dfx, Motion Factory Demo Intelligent Digital Actors IN THE INFOGROOVE --Utility Blocks Web Ads, Cookies, Animated Images --Trellix Utility Enables Sharing Multiple HTML Files Via Email --Gambling Site Lets Sports Bettors Make Money with No Risk GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Kinetix Unveils 3DS MAX 2.5, Character Studio R2 --Extensis Announces Public Beta of GIF Animator --Interactive Pictures Offers Java IPIX Viewer --Digimation Shows Six New Plug-ins at NAB '98 --ELSA Launches AGP 3D Accelerator WEBSIGHTINGS --Alan Alda to Chat Live with Mir Astronaut Today --Site to Promote Individual Webcasting --CNET Sites Offer Free Developer Resources --3Dfx 3D World Built with Newfire Tools CONSUMER CHANNEL --Diamond Launches Low-cost PCI Audio Card Line THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Creative Sues Diamond, ESS for Audio Card Patent Infringement --O'Reilly Releases Virtual Private Networks Book DEALS --Hasbro Interactive Acquires Atari Assets --BreakAway Games Formed from Ashes of OT Sports GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --LucasArts Releases Star Wars Strategy Game --Paramount Pictures Acquires Tomb Raider Film Rights --TEN Officially Adds 'Magic: The Gathering' --Electronic Arts Ships ReBoot for PlayStation --Red Orb Ships WarBreeds: RTS Game of Genetic Conquest --NASCAR Racing 2 3Dfx Beta Patch Ready --Jane's to Release F-15 Title --Acclaim to Produce South Park Titles NUMBEROLOGY --Internet Donation Box Hits Million-per-Month Good-Deed Mark DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --team smartyPants! inc Grabs Texas Award F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------


Rheingold Calls For `Technorealism' in SXSW Keynote Speaking at the recent South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference opening keynote, author and cyberspace guru Howard Rheingold called for technology users to actively question the rate and extent of technology adoption in everyday society. "People are not thinking critically about technology adoption," said Rheingold. "Technology is the most powerful force influencing the world today. It will impact our children and our grandchildren. Yet there is this sense that progress is an autonomous force over which individuals have no control." Rheingold referred attendees to a paper on technorealism, authored by fellow cyberculture authors Steven Johnson, Andrew Shapiro and David Shenk and posted at http://www.technorealism.org. --------------------------------------------------


Macromedia Releases New Behavior Add-ins for Dreamweaver. Macromedia has just released some new JavaScript behavior add-ins for Dreamweaver, its Website development software. Now you can create hyperlinks that load different pages based on the browser type. Also, the new Swap Image behavior improves on the original by offering an optional preload feature to speed up image rollover effects. Visit the Dreamweaver Developer Center at http://www.macromedia.com/support/dreamweaver/ -------------------------------------------------- Perspecta Upgrades SmartContent System The latest version of the Perspecta Inc.'s SmartContent System, a platform for building, managing and leveraging an information architecture, includes a new suite of tools and a structuring methodology said to provide information publishers with a more effective way of organizing, delivering and visually presenting large amounts of information. The system integrates with existing authoring and production environments, such as Vignette StoryServer 3 and Adobe FrameMaker 5.5, and leverages existing information organizational structures and meta-data including XML - an emerging standard for structured information on the Web. The system incorporates an OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) engine--once the private preserve of numbers crunchers--designed to organize and present complex, multi-dimensional information such as text, audio, video and graphics. The OLAP engine dynamically places tagged content into various places in the overall information architecture, allowing users to organize and access information from a variety of perspectives, drill down on areas of interest, see information that's related to their interests, and understand information in the context of other information. The Perspecta SmartContent System is a client/server, browser-based development platform. The client software works in current generation Web browsers running under popular operating environments. The server software runs on Sun Solaris 2.5 servers. The system is shipping today and is available directly from Perspecta. Server licenses begins at $30,000. For further information, call Perspecta at 415/437-4150, email sales@perspecta.com, or visit the Perspecta Web site at http://www.perspecta.com. -------------------------------------------------- XOOM Introduces Clips, Tools Here's an ideal application for DVD-ROM: XOOM, Inc. new Web Clip Empire 150,000 is a six-CD-ROM set with over 150,000 animated GIFs, Java buttons, 3D icons, backgrounds, textures, sound effects, classic photos and other Web objects. The price is $49.95 for XOOM members and $79.95 for non-members The six CD-ROM set features more than 75,000 GIF animations, including flags, animals, bombs, fire, starbursts and business and professional animations, among others; more than 60,000 non-animated clips, such as buttons, backgrounds, borders, side bars, textures and other useful Web objects; 5,200 originally scored sound effects and music tracks, including MIDI and .WAV files and various musical genres such as rock, classical and jazz; and more than 13,000 classic photos, videos and Java buttons. The set includes an image organizer and browser for Windows 95 and Macintosh users. Also just out from XOOM is the WebPage Power Pack, a one-disc Web page building toolkit. Contents include: · Ulead GIF Animator · 10,000 animations · Ulead SmartSaver 2.0, a GIF image reducer · ByteCatcher Pro for transferring files over the Internet · Anawave Web Snake, an offline browser · the Xoom Web Site Starter Kit, a collection of more than 50 complete Web sites, including graphics, templates and instructions. See http://www.xoom.com -------------------------------------------------- Cognicity Products Embed Data in RealAudio Streams Cognicity Inc.'s new AudioKey; Server and Plug-in for use with RealNetwork's RealAudio streaming technology is designed to let music content providers protect and promoting their digital assets, by transparently embedding control data into music streams. AudioKey is implemented on the server as an inline module for embedding, and as a free RealPlayer Plug-in for extracting data at the client. A key application for music publishers that enables "music downloading" is the ability to embed the RealPlayer ID into the digital content. This allows the publisher or reseller to link digital content to the individual's player, thus addressing the concern of downloaded music being freely shared with others. Also of interest to this group is the ability to promote music by allowing a download of music with hyperlinks and an expiration date embedded. At expiration, the user can be presented with purchase and other hyperlink options. Other application examples include embedding: · ISRC identifiers · hyperlink to order page with UPC number · advertising messages · transaction audit trails · automated monitoring · tamper detection · lyrics · background information A white paper on data embedding and more can be found at http://www.cognicity.com. --------------------------------------------------


Metrowerks to Provide Development Tools for AMD-3D Tech Metrowerks Inc. will provide CodeWarrior software development tools for the AMD-3D technology. The tools include vectorization techniques that allow software to take advantage of the AMD-3D instruction set. AMD-3D technology is an enhancement to the x86 processor architecture that promises faster frame rates on high-resolution scenes, better game and application physical modeling of real-world environments, sharper and more detailed 3D imaging, smoother video playback, and near theater-quality audio. CodeWarrior support for AMD-3D Technology, including inline assembly, optimization for the K6 3D processor, per function optimization for AMD-3D Technology, and vectorization compiler techniques for AMD-3D Technology will be included with CodeWarrior Professional Release 3 ($449), scheduled for shipment at the end of March. Complex vectorization will be available later in 1998. Visit the Metrowerks Web site at http://www.metrowerks.com. -------------------------------------------------- Vtopia Launches XML Publishing and Processing Toolkit At last week's XML '98 Conference, Vtopia, Inc. announced the release of Woodstock Markup, a set of Java class libraries designed to let developers build interoperable applications using XML. Woodstock Markup provides a unified model for publishing and processing information in XML format. "XML will soon become as pervasive as HTML, and it will take off very quickly," said Jeff Mackay, president and founder of Vtopia. Developers can use Woodstock Markup to publish information in XML format. With a generic data access framework, applications can generate XML directly from SQL databases, Enterprise Java Beans, or any other custom data source. An XML template processor is included with Woodstock Markup. The product also includes an XML parser and processing toolkit that allows developers to import data in XML format directly into their own applications. For more information, visit Vtopia's Web site at http://www.vtopia.com/. -------------------------------------------------- BulletProof Ships JDesignerPro 2.5 BulletProof Corporation's release of JDesignerPro version 2.5 ($695) includes the company's FastSockets technology. FastSockets reportedly increases development speed over 300 percent while requiring 20 percent less time from the server for each client request. JAGGServer, BulletProof's application server and integral part of the development and deployment processes, now uses this technology. Decide for yourself: A free trial is available for download from http://www.bulletproof.com/. -------------------------------------------------- 3Dfx, Motion Factory Demo Intelligent Digital Actors 3Dfx Interactive has collaborated with The Motion Factory, Inc. to develop a 3D presentation that features "intelligent" digital actors to enliven and personalize a corporate overview. The presentation is believed to be the first of its kind for executive audiences. 3Dfx utilized Motion Factory's Motivate Intelligent Actor System to help develop the presentation. The intelligent or "Motivated" characters are able to reason within the environment they inhabit and create motion on-the-fly in response to a dynamically changing environment. Instead of pre-programming all of the character movements, a character's course of action changes depending on its interaction with the environment. In the presentation, 3Dfx CEO Greg Ballard is represented as a 3D digital actor who guides the audience through a 3D cityscape and displays corporate information. He transforms the dull technicality of reading of a standard disclaimer about forward-looking statements into audience laughter by interacting with a virtual fortune teller who peers into her crystal ball before proclaiming the financial future. Visit http://www.motion-factory.com. --------------------------------------------------


Utility Blocks Web Ads, Cookies, Animated Images Internet Mute, Inc.'s new interMute 1.0 ($19.95) is a shareware Web browsing utility that removes unwanted advertisements, animated images, cookies, Java, JavaScript, background music, and other unwanted material from Web pages. interMute is configurable and customizable via a graphical interface. Users can select or deselect each kind of filtering (ads, animations, etc.) for all Web sites, specified Web sites, or no Web sites. Internet Mute, Inc. offers free periodic ad recognition updates, and users can also customize the ad recognition database themselves. We gave it a brief trial run, but uninstalled it after experiencing unpredictable performance. Check it out for yourself at http://www.intermute.com, where you can download a free seven-day evaluation copy. -------------------------------------------------- Trellix Utility Enables Sharing Multiple HTML Files Via Email Trellix Corporation, the developer of document builder Trellix 1.0, has just released a beta version of the Trellix Trelligram Utility. A Web content distribution utility, the utility lets users email multiple graphics-rich HTML files. To open the Trelligram file, the recipient double-clicks on the attachment icon, which launches their browser, enabling them to read and navigate the HTML files on their desktop like a normal Web site. Trelligram files automatically execute a local HTTP server provided by Trelligram on the reader's PC, serving files to the browser using industry standard protocols. Users can also "unpack" a Trelligram file and save the HTML and other Web related files to disk. The Trelligram file is a standard Windows 95 or NT executable file and can be checked by standard virus checkers, renamed, copied, etc. like any other program file. Trelligram is available as a free download at http://www.trellix.com, where you can also find more info on Trellix. -------------------------------------------------- Gambling Site Lets Sports Bettors Make Money with No Risk In the wake of the recent Federal indictments of 14 Internet sports gambling operators earlier this month and the voluntary shutdown of many other Internet sportsbooks, sports handicapping enthusiasts across the country are flocking to "entertainment only" gambling sites where they can enter their picks and compete for prizes without placing any real bets. One site that has taken a different approach to these contest is Sportscappers.com. Users can enter their picks for free, and the site makes those users' picks available for purchase by other users. When users' picks are bought, they earn part of the revenue and get paid real money with a real earnings check. Sportscappers.com enables users to make money from the sale of their picks when they are hot, and to get the picks of the hottest 'cappers in the country when they are not so hot. "Everyone wins," pointed out prexy Tom Courts, "except the so-called pros, many of whom have been cheating the betting public for far too long." Picks at Sportscappers.com sell for $3.00 each, with one dollar paid to the person whose pick was bought. Get picking at http://www.sportscappers.com. --------------------------------------------------


Kinetix Unveils 3DS MAX 2.5, Character Studio R2 San Francisco-based Kinetix today announced 3D Studio MAX R2.5, the latest version of its flagship 3D animation and modeling software for PCs. Available in May, upgrades from MAX R2 are $95, and from MAX R1 are $895. New licenses of 3D Studio MAX R2.5 are $3,495. New features include: · enhanced NURBS functionality - NURBS points and curves, new NURBS surfaces, and added surface approximation options · genuine displacement mapping · 3D motion tracking for film, video and broadcast - integrates a 3D scene with live-action footage taken from a moving camera · zoom feature for film animators and special effects artists - lets animators zoom into a composition for an up-close check of a 3D wireframe model over the live action film or video backdrop, for matching 3D work to film resolution footage. · for broadcast production, support for the Apple QuickTime 3.0 standard, which supports the playback, editing and integration of major video file formats. Users of video production solutions such as Discreet Logic, Avid and TrueVision can incorporate content created with MAX R2.5 software into broadcast projects. Also, support for leading film formats, including the Kodak Cineon and RBG bitmap file formats. · New features for game developers include: a new Mesh Boolean Compound Object with added capabilities; polygon editing, cutting and slicing; and a new, fast method for assigning materials directly to face selections. Kinetix also introduced Character Studio R2, a new version of the extension to 3D Studio MAX software used to create the notorious Dancing Baby seen on Ally McBeal and numerous Web sites. Character Studio R2 combines motion capture, editing, and blending technology with traditional key frame animation, new skin deformation tools, and Character Studio's patented footstep-driven technique. New capabilities designed to let animators import, edit, organize, and blend large sets of motion capture data include: · motion capture import, allowing Character Studio to read optical "marker" motion capture data via Character Studio's new ASCII CSM format, and to read rotation motion capture data via the Biovision BVH format. · motion capture import key frame reduction, which automatically reduces the amount of key frame data, making it easier to add expression to motion capture animations. · motion capture import footstep extraction and adaptation, eliminating footstep sliding - traditionally associated with motion capture data - and enabling full use of Character Studio's footstep animation tools. · motion capture import free-form import, letting traditional animators import and alter motion capture sequences of all types, especially free-form motions like swimming, flying, or falling. Footstep animations can be converted to free-form mode and then back again. Also included is a library of more than 150 motion capture samples, representing a variety of typical sequences, such as punching, kicking, jumping, and running. Physique has been redesigned to provide intuitive assignment of deformation envelopes, muscle bulging, and tendon pulling - all within interactive 3D viewports of MAX. Character Studio R2 will be available in May as a plug-in application for 3D Studio MAX, and is U.S. list priced at $1,495 from Kinetix, and from Kinetix resellers and distributors. Upgrades from Characters Studio Release 1 are U.S. list priced at $495. 3D Studio MAX R2.5 also will be available in May and is U.S. list priced at $3,495. Visit Kinetix on the Web at http://www.ktx.com, or contact the company at 800-879-4233. -------------------------------------------------- Extensis Announces Public Beta of GIF Animator Scheduled to ship in April, Extensis Corporation's PhotoAnimator is a new standalone application that creates GIF animations for the World Wide Web, using a time-line based visual interface. Customers can get an advanced preview of PhotoAnimator for Macintosh or Windows by downloading the public beta from http://www.extensis.com/. -------------------------------------------------- Interactive Pictures Offers Java IPIX Viewer Newly available from Interactive Pictures Corporation is a Java version of the IPIX Viewer that makes it possible to view 360-degree x 360-degree images without installing a plug-in. The 30K applet downloads automatically, working cross-platform to produce a 50-80K image. An IPIX image is created from two opposing photographs captured by a fisheye lens. The IPIX technology re-maps the images, seaming them into an immersive whole. The results can then be linked together, linked to traditional photographs and renderings, enhanced with audio or other types of files, or incorporated into other development environments. Visit Interactive Pictures at http://www.ipix.com. -------------------------------------------------- Digimation Shows Six New Plug-ins at NAB '98 Louisiana-based Digimation will be showing six new plug-ins for 3D Studio MAX at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention, April 6-9, 1998, in Las Vegas. The plug-ins cover most of the available plug-in types including materials, atmospheric, modifier, and video post. All are available for both MAX 1.2 and 2.0, and range in price from $95 to $695. They are: · Shag:Fur, $295, is an environment plug-in that is used to add fur and hair to an object's surface. · UltraShock, $295, allows the animator to add volumetric effects to the scene's particles so that they look like realistic clouds, sparks, fire, plasma and more. · The Incredible Comicshop, $695, creates and animates 3D scenes or parts of 3D scenes into comic 2D art. · MAXMatter, $129, is a collection of three procedural textures: bricklayer, text placement, and a flatten module. · Grow, $95, is a mesh modifier which makes meshes grow in various organic, user controlled ways. · X-Ray, $95, is a collection of routines that extend the capabilities of the Lens Effects modules built into MAX. Visit Digimation on the World Wide Web at http://www.digimation.com, or contact the company directly at 504-468-7898. -------------------------------------------------- ELSA Launches AGP 3D Accelerator The GLoria-XXL from ELSA, Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) is a new high-end 3D graphics accelerator expected to ship in second quarter of 1998. Based on the latest GLINT GMX 1000 chipset, which includes the GLINT Gamma, from 3Dlabs, Inc. (San Jose, CA), GLoria-XXL reportedly will be capable of accelerating up to 3.3 million polygons-per-second, with full geometry transformation, lighting calculations, texture coordinate generation, and high-quality fog calculation. The card will be configured with a 16 MB VRAM frame buffer and 24 MB DRAM -- expandable to 40 MB -- local buffer memory for Z-buffering and texture-mapping. It supports high resolution true color display of up to 1920x1080 or 1600x1280 on 24" monitors . GLoria-XXL uses a 48-bit local buffer interface to enable simultaneous use of 3D features such as front and back buffer, Z-buffer, stencil, fast clear planes, and graphics ID. ELSA GLoria-XXL also supports stereoscopic 3D imaging through a VESA-standard connector. Supported 3D APIs include OpenGL, HEIDI, and Direct3D. Get accelerated at http://www.elsa.com --------------------------------------------------


Alan Alda to Chat Live with Mir Astronaut Today Today, Monday, March 23, outer space meets cyberspace as Scientific American Frontiers host Alan Alda conducts a live interview with American astronaut Andy Thomas aboard the Mir space station in a PBS Online Webcast. Utilizing RealNetworks' RealPlayer, Web surfers can listen to and watch Mr. Alda as he asks Mr. Thomas such questions as: · What is it like to live in such a dangerous place? · What is it like to look back on Earth? · What about longer journeys into space in more dangerous spacecraft? · What are the effects of weightlessness? · What about the potential for a human mission to Mars? Web surfers who are not able to watch the event live will be able to access it on the "Mir to Mars" Web site on PBS Online following the interview. The 30-minute interview "From Mir to Mars" will take place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (Eastern? Pacific? They didn't tell us.) at http://www.pbs.org/saf/mirtomars/ (exact start time will be announced at this address prior to the event). -------------------------------------------------- Site to Promote Individual Webcasting NTT Human Interface Laboratories (NTT-HI) and Netyear Group, Inc. announce the launch of the SoftwareVision 2 Web site at http://www.sv2.com. SoftwareVision is the streaming video technology developed by NTT-HI (http://www.hil.ntt.co.jp), the R&D division of telecommunications company NTT. The new site will showcase the streaming video technology's individual broadcasting and video on-demand capabilities. NTT-HI and Netyear Group -- the SoftwareVision 2 Web Site producers -- have collaborated to produce a site where individuals and groups throughout the world can Webcast their material at no cost. The SoftwareVision 2 Website producers are collaborating with arts organizations and arts and technology groups to build the content on the SoftwareVision site. These groups will provide special Web events around the nexus of arts and technology to interest other individuals and groups and encourage them to join the Webcasting arena. -------------------------------------------------- CNET Sites Offer Free Developer Resources Check out CNET's Download.Com's Multimedia & Design section for the latest releases of graphics shareware and freeware. Many of these products are full-release versions that allow you to take advantage of their features for free, for up to 30 days or longer. The site also includes a selection of Photoshop plug-ins, free downloadable fonts, and software updates. If the long URLs below appear on two lines, you may need to copy and paste each line separately into your browser. For the PC: http://download.com/PC/FrontDoor/0,1,0-60,01.html?st.dl.fd.txt.cat60?dlbutton.duberman For the Mac: http://download.com/Mac/FrontDoor/0,1,0-60,01.html?st.dl.fd.txt.cat60?dlbutton.duberman Also, CNET's Developer.com online developers' resource recently acquired HTML Goodies, a Website focusing on HTML and other markup languages, and a graphics library. The acquired resources are available through a new HTML section on developer.com, which contains over 100 HTML tutorials and an HTML primer as well as resources on DHTML, XML, SGML and other mark-up languages. In addition, developer.com has gained over 450 new reusable JavaScripts, enriching its existing content sections. The new HTML section can be accessed at http://www.developer.com/directories/pages/dir.html.html. The new graphics library is available through a new section called Downloads, http://www.developer.com/downloads/index.html, which will also soon include code, HTML templates, freeware and shareware. -------------------------------------------------- 3Dfx 3D World Built with Newfire Tools 3Dfx Interactive, maker of the Voodoo family of 3D accelerator chips, has developed 3Dfx City, an immersive 3D version of its Web site that requires acceleration from its own Voodoo Graphics, Voodoo2 or Voodoo Rush products. As a result visitors can glide smoothly through a virtual city, exploring various parts of the 3Dfx Interactive Website. Said Andy Keane, 3Dfx marketing veep, "It is far easier to negotiate information and choices by walking through a real space rather than clicking through pages of words." 3Dfx City was created by 3Dfx Interactive using Newfire's Catalyst game development environment. Consumers can experience 3Dfx City on PCs equipped with a 3Dfx Voodoo-based accelerator board and Torch, Newfire's hardware-optimized game engine. Because of bandwidth limitations, the initial version of 3Dfx City is designed to reside on individual PCs. The local version contains live links to information based on servers at 3Dfx Interactive and associated hardware and software companies. 3Dfx City can be downloaded from http://www.3dfx.com free of charge. --------------------------------------------------


Diamond Launches Low-cost PCI Audio Card Line The first member of Diamond Multimedia Systems' new Sonic Impact line of PCI-based audio accelerators is the Sonic Impact S70 at ERP $69.95. Features include PCI performance gains, compatibility with Microsoft's PC98 specification and new application programming interfaces (APIs) DirectSound and DirectSound3D and ease of installation with PCI plug-and-play support. Powered by ESS Technologies' Maestro-2 audio chipset, the card provides a 64-voice DLS-compatible hardware wavetable synthesizer with effects and multi-stream audio support for up to 32 independent CD-quality audio streams. In addition, it supports real-mode DOS, Windows 95/98, and Windows NT 4.0 programs and games. The retail version of the Sonic Impact S70 will come bundled with a suite of PC audio applications and utilities from Midisoft, including Audio Works Pro 2.0 Wave Editor, Studio Recording Session (MIDI editor), and Internet Sound Bar. Contact Diamond at http://www.diamondmm.com or phone 408-325-7000; Fax: 408-325-7070 See related story below, in The Dials & Levers of Power. -------------------------------------------------- THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER Creative Sues Diamond, ESS for Audio Card Patent Infringement Creative Technology Ltd. has filed and served a patent infringement lawsuit against Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc., a PC add-in board company, and ESS Technology, Inc., a semiconductor company. The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in the Central District of California, was brought by Creative and its U.S. subsidiary, E-mu Systems, Inc. The lawsuit alleges violation of United States Patent No. 5,698,803 issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to E-mu on December 16, 1997, and seeks injunctive relief and damages. The lawsuit relates to PCI audio technology embodied in Diamond's Sonic Impact family of sound cards and ESS's Maestro-2 audio chip. The lawsuit was served last week, prior to the announcement, this Tuesday, of Diamond's Sonic Impact S70 sound card, which utilizes the technology covered by the lawsuit. -------------------------------------------------- O'Reilly Releases Virtual Private Networks Book O'Reilly's newest release, "Virtual Private Networks" (200 pages, 1-56592-319-7, $29.95 (US)) describes how to plan and build a virtual private network (VPN): a collection of technologies that creates secure connections or "tunnels" over regular Internet lines. Key advantages offered by a VPN include universal connectivity, security, and low cost. Authors Charlie Scott, Paul Wolfe and Mike Erwin cover general concerns like costs, configuration, and how a VPN fits in with other networking technologies like firewalls, as well as providing detailed descriptions of how to install and use VPN technologies that are available for Windows NT and UNIX, such as PPTP and L2TP, the Altavista Tunnel, and the Cisco PIX Firewall. Erwin warns: "Just like in the real world, security is one of life's little things that needs to be addressed and re-addressed, and tested and probed, and re-done; constantly underfoot. Without firewalls, a VPN could exist, with some paranoia, but without encryption it most certainly could not. Cipher routines are what solve the fundamental problem of secure communication over an insecure channel in a hostile environment." "In many companies in the near future, modem banks and remote access servers may become a thing of the past." says Scott. "Many ISPs are offering VPN capabilities as a service, and it's important for network administrators to understand the issues involved." --------------------------------------------------


Hasbro Interactive Acquires Atari Assets Games publisher Hasbro Interactive has acquired copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property assets of the Atari Division of JTS Corporation. The Atari properties and assets include over 75 game properties including the legendary titles Centipede, Missile Command, Pong, Breakout and Tempest . Hasbro Interactive plans to release its first Atari title this fall with Centipede for both the PC and Sony Playstation game console. "We plan to implement the same aggressive strategy we used with Frogger, in bringing back the Atari classics," said Tom Dusenberry, president of Hasbro Interactive. Well, Tom, based on the dismal reviews with which the gaming press received Frogger, we hope you'll do a little better than that. For more information, visit http://www.hasbro-interactive.com. -------------------------------------------------- BreakAway Games Formed from Ashes of OT Sports Doug Whatley, executive producer of the ABC's Monday Night Football series and an industry veteran with 18 years of game development experience, has announced the formation of BreakAway Games. The new company is comprised of the core development teams from the former OT Sports group, including the developers responsible for ABC's Monday Night Football 98, ABC Sports College Football: Heroes of the Gridiron and ABC Sports: Indy Racing League. The company is currently in negotiations with several top publishers and expects to announce more detailed plans shortly. The company is located near Hunt Valley, MD and can be found on the Internet at http://www.breakawaygames.com. --------------------------------------------------


LucasArts Releases Star Wars Strategy Game Here's a chance to rule the galaxy--the Star Wars galaxy, that is. Just out from LucasArts is Star Wars Rebellion, which places players in the role of strategic commander of all resources, planets and forces controlled by the Galactic Empire or Rebel Alliance. The character-driven game can be played in single-player mode or head to head against a single opponent, using any of the usual array of connection types. To succeed, players must satisfy specific victory conditions. Those fighting for the Empire must capture Luke Skywalker and Mon Mothma, and destroy Rebel HQ. Players taking up the Rebel cause can win by capturing Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, and overthrowing the Imperial Seat at Coruscant. The universe size can be tailored for longer or shorter sessions, from 100 to 200 systems. Players must manage production resources, military production and deployment, while conducting political and espionage activities. A planet's loyalty can be won either via diplomacy or through battle. When two opposing fleets meet over a system, a separate tactical game element kicks in, using a 3D space-combat engine. We haven't had a chance to check this title out yet, but the 176-page manual looks very complete. Maybe you won't have to buy a strategy guide! Check it out at http://www.lucasarts.com. -------------------------------------------------- Paramount Pictures Acquires Tomb Raider Film Rights The trend toward developing motion pictures around computer/video game licenses took another giant leap as Paramount Pictures last week acquired the worldwide film rights to Eidos Interactive's Tomb Raider, with plans to produce a live-action feature film based on what has become one of the most popular video games in history. Charles Cornwall, Eidos' chief executive officer, will executive produce the action-adventure inspired by the video game and Lara Croft, the game's bodacious, British protagonist and the subject of millions of adolescent-male wet dreams. More than six million copies of Tomb Raider and its successor, Tomb Raider 2, have been sold. The producers' first job will be to keep the Tomb Raider phenomenon from becoming an infinite Indiana Jones loop, if possible. -------------------------------------------------- TEN Officially Adds 'Magic: The Gathering' Total Entertainment Network (TEN) has transitioned MicroProse's Magic: The Gathering from its initial phase to a full online version available for free to owners of the PC version. Based on Wizards of the Coast, Inc.'s card game, and available online only via TEN, "Magic: The Gathering" has attracted more than 10,000 new accounts to TEN since its inception in January. TEN also developed a variation of its player ranking system specifically for the online version of Magic: The Gathering." Based on the U.S. Chess Federation's system and optimized for online gaming, TEN's rankings engine is designed to track and evaluate each player's relative skill level and success ratio. The system, which updates players' historical rankings instantaneously, has been modified to duplicate Wizards of the Coast's DEC scoring formula, the de facto standard for all Magic: The Gathering matches. Web sites: http://www.gathering.net and http://www.microprose.com/ -------------------------------------------------- Electronic Arts Ships ReBoot for PlayStation Electronic Arts has begun shipping ReBoot for the PlayStation. Derived from the computer-animated television series of the same name, ReBoot is a single-player, 3D action/adventure game whose lead character, Bob, uses his "zipboard," a flying skateboard, to soar around the futuristic world's many levels mending bomb-like "tears" while ridding it of multiple enemies. Features include a stockpile of weapons and gadgets to collect and utilize, cinematic musical scores, and the use of "single-skin" character models. These models are designed with a single skin or mesh of polygons, said to create a more realistic look, as opposed to a jointed collection of angled polygons. ReBoot, which premiered in Canada on YTV and aired on the ABC network in the U.S., was a television first. It is a half-hour series produced entirely using state-of-the-art digital 3D animation. Electronic Arts has licensed the show's characters to create an interactive universe for the game. More information can be found on the Internet at http://www.ea.com. -------------------------------------------------- Red Orb Ships WarBreeds: RTS Game of Genetic Conquest Showcasing its in-house development team, Red Orb Entertainment, a division of Broderbund Software, Inc., announced that WarBreeds is shipping. Players command one of four different alien clans, each with unique sets of characteristics and skills, vying for supremacy on an alien planet. Gameplay involves managing and harvesting special plant-like energy pods and creating various bio-mechanical devices and creatures. In order to defeat their opponent, players must gather the DNA of their dead warriors after battles and return it to their labs. With the genetic material, each player can create more than 35,000 combinations of customized troops and lethal weapons. Cooperative multiplayer mode allows allied players to share resources, base structures, and troops. A Red Orb Zone-supported multiplayer demo is available at http://www.warbreeds.com/demo.html. The WarBreeds Scenario Editor will also soon be available at http://www.warbreeds.com. -------------------------------------------------- NASCAR Racing 2 3Dfx Beta Patch Ready Papyrus Design Group, a software-development division of Sierra Sports, has just released a beta version of a 3Dfx patch for NASCAR Racing 2. With the beta release of the patch, users with 3Dfx graphic accelerator cards should experience better graphics and a faster frame rate over the non-accelerated version of NASCAR Racing 2. The patch, plus an NROS version, is available at http://www.nros.com. -------------------------------------------------- Jane's to Release F-15 Title On its way to stores as you read this is Jane's Combat Simulations' F-15 jet combat simulator. The title reportedly offers the most realistic graphics, physics, avionics and gameplay in the virtual sky. Produced by Andy Hollis' (F-15 Strike Eagle series, AH-64D Longbow and Longbow 2) Jane's Skunkworks team, with cooperation from Jane's top military analysts, F-15's "stability and control derivative" flight model is based on data US Air force data used to model aircraft characteristics. Visual effects include true dynamic lighting and shading, real shadows, swarms of glowing tracer fire, dissipating smoke trails, translucent clouds, crisp night vision, meticulously detailed objects, and geographically accurate, jaw-dropping terrain. Other features include mid-air refueling, smart bomb camera views, real-world F-15E squadrons, intense radio communications, stellar AI, and more than 50 accurate weapons systems. Also: Compete with other players in head-to-head multi-player battles over the Internet, modem, network or direct serial connections; design missions with the mission builder. Find more at http://www.janes.ea.com -------------------------------------------------- Acclaim to Produce South Park Titles Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. will develop PC and video game titles based on the popular Comedy Central adult animated series South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The South Park gang is due to take over PCs and next-generation gaming consoles worldwide in 1999. Visit Acclaim's Web site at http://www.acclaim.net. --------------------------------------------------


Internet Donation Box Hits Million-per-Month Good-Deed Mark After just four months of operations, Internet service eyegive is delivering more than one million ads per month to members and is distributing its first quarterly payments to nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In its Quarterly Givings Report, the service reported that checks totaling more than $5,000 representing the first month and a half of activity are being mailed to more than 160 charitable operations ranging from scouting troops and community-based nonprofits to large social service and advocacy organizations. The eyegive service reportedly offers individuals a simple, free opportunity to transform the way they support their favorite causes or charities into a daily, almost instantaneous activity. After designating charitable causes to receive funds, eyegive members receive personalized home pages containing full-page advertisements when they start their Internet browser. When members click anywhere on the eyegive page, they earn funds for their chosen nonprofits. To learn more, visit http://www.eyegive.com. --------------------------------------------------


team smartyPants! inc Grabs Texas Award team smartyPants! inc, a creative media development studio in Austin, Texas, earned the first annual Texas Interactive Media award for "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media" at the opening ceremonies of the SXSW Interactive Festival on Saturday, March 14. The award for "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media," popularly known as "Best Of Show," was presented to tsP! inc for their role in the design of the Let's Talk About Me CD-ROM. Let's Talk About Me, an interactive guide to adolescence for today's girls, was produced, designed, and programmed by teams of young men and women in Austin and New York. The title is published by a joint venture of Davidson and Associates and Simon & Schuster Interactive, developed by GirlGames Inc, visual and interactive design by team smartyPants! inc, music by Blue Arrow and Govinda, with primary programming by Bill Peverill and Jeff Raun. --------------------------------------------------


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