24 March 2003
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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4D, Inc., publisher of the 4th Dimension RAD/RDBMS environment and 4D WebSTAR Server Suite, has begun shipping 4th Dimension 2003, with support for integrated Web Services, including XML, SOAP, and WSDL. The release also provides enhanced programming features such as a new method editor and an integrated compiler, new printing and new reporting features.
New Web Services server and client support provide scalable development capabilities, with wizards that create the underlying code necessary to call Web Services. XML import/export and programmatic XML parsing are also now available from directly inside 4th Dimension 2003.
The new reporting engine includes an enhanced Quick Report Editor, with cross-tab and list reports. Direct output to HTML and XML formats let the software receive and send reports via the Web and Web Services with new options.
DTS (Digital Theater Systems, Inc.) announced at the 2003 Game Developer’s Conference that it is now offering a zero-fee license for use of its multi-channel sound technology for PlayStation2 games. All games that are certified by DTS prior to April 1, 2004 will qualify. This agreement allows game developers to integrate DTS Interactive, the company's interactive multi-channel audio, into their titles.
The license includes technical and marketing support.
The PlayStation2 is equipped with a DTS Digital Out-capable S/P-DIF. When incorporated with the DTS Interactive PlayStation2 SDK, this enables real-time, discrete digital surround sound to be output to a DTS A/V decoder. To date, more than 24 million DTS decoders have been sold worldwide. DTS-encoded titles for the PlayStation2 include Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar Games,) FIFA 2003 Soccer, NHL 2003 Hockey, SSX Tricky, (all from Electronic Arts,) Street Hoops (from Activision,) and the forthcoming Indy Car Series (from Codemasters.)
DTS launched the DTS Interactive SDK for the PlayStation2 in late 2001.
At last week's Microsoft Mobility Developer Conference in the U.S., Microsoft chairman Bill Gates discussed the potential of the wireless industry and underscored the importance of mobile application development to the evolution of the industry as mobile devices become increasingly programmable and customizable. Gates summarized new development tools and programs his company has designed to assist with the creation and delivery of wireless applications.
In his keynote address, Gates announced the availability of tools that will enable the development of connected wireless applications for next-generation wireless devices, including the launch of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework and the Windows Powered Smartphone Software Developer Kit (SDK). He also noted surging developer momentum for Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. Approximately 3,000 application developers and wireless industry representatives listened as Gates described how software innovations can help ignite a new marketplace for wireless applications and services.
The .NET Compact Framework brings .NET and Web services to mobile devices. With Visual Studio .NET 2003, Visual Studio developers can use existing desktop development skills and make the transition to building smart mobile applications for the .NET Compact Framework. Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Compact Framework offer a single developer tool and a consistent programming model for building applications across a range of devices.
Microsoft also announced plans to boost mobile development with a promotion to provide 25,000 Visual Studio developers with ViewSonic V37 Pocket PC devices. More details about this program will be available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/getpocketpc/.
More than 30,000 Smartphone Software Developer Kits have been delivered since the product's launch in October 2002. Now, Microsoft is making the kit available to members of the Microsoft Mobile Solutions Partner Program (MSPP), the company's partner program, which provides new technical, marketing and business development benefits. Members of the MSPP can add to the more than 100 certified applications for the Windows Powered Smartphone. More information on MSPP membership details can be found at http://microsoft.com/mobile/partners/.
The Smartphone SDK provides developers worldwide with the resources necessary to develop, test and deploy innovative wireless applications for the Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone. The kit includes a special pre-commercial Smartphone and accessories along with the Microsoft Mobile Development Toolkit CD, containing access to development tools, technologies and resources. In addition, the kit will include information regarding Mobile2Market, a program designed to assist developers with the logo certification and market delivery of Smartphone and Pocket PC applications. More information on Mobile2Market can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/mobile2market/.
The U.S. Mobility Developers Conference is the first of several that will be held this spring. Others will be held in Paris, March 31-April 2, and in Tokyo on April 25. Updates to this schedule can be found at http://www.mobilitydevcon.com/jump_.asp?uid=4856,37599.296328279321.
Turbo Squid last week released Absolute Character Tools: Modeling Tool Set (ACT-MTS) from Snoswell Design. The $345 software lets users model characters and create proxy and sub-skin characters and muscle sets for characters, all with embedded UV mapping.
ACT-MTS can be used for all stages of character modeling, adding the ability to sculpt models in real time with muscles. Users can start with an existing model and add detailed musculature and skin inflections.
The cgXScetionEditor lets users work in 2D, cross-section view. This method is said to be appropriate for users who start by reproducing an existing mesh, perhaps from a 3D scan where the meshing is poor although the overall shape is good.
ACT-MTS is exposed inside 3ds max as a suite of plug-ins:
Unlike its big brother, Absolute Character Tools 1.6 Pro, users can't animate the musculature rigs with ACT-MTS. Animation capabilities are not available nor are the specific modifiers for animation that come with ACT 1.6 Pro (cgLink and cgVLink).
Just out from Digimation is Particle Tools for 3ds max, which combines three particle utilities--Atomizer, Glider and Spray Master--into a single package. Particle Tools is compatible with versions of 3ds max 4.x and above for the list price of $195. Upgrades to Particle Tools are available for $125 to users who currently own one of the plug-ins individually, and for $50 to users who own two or more.
Atomizer allows a particle system to use any 3ds max object as a particle object. Glider includes two space warps: Particle Glider gives lets users make particles flow over another object's surface or follow any 2D or 3D spline; and Object Glider lets users animate objects and particles along the surface of another object. Spray Master allows users to spray both 2D and 3D geometry as particles on or around other objects with a freehand brush or spline-based control.
Kaydara's HumanIK plug-in for Discreet 3ds max software is now available for purchase through Turbo Squid's worldwide reseller channel.
Built on Motionbuilder technology, HumanIK gives 3ds max users control over character-animation projects. Features include:
New from Interactive Multimedia Solutions is the IMS CharacterGenerator Studio animation tool-Xtra product for Director MX from Macromedia, Inc.
The software lets users create talking characters from within the Director authoring environment by selecting a prerecorded sound file, analyzing the file and publishing directly to the active Director movie. The animations are rendered in Macromedia's Shockwave player. The IMS voice-to-animation engine automatically creates the corresponding facial animation sequence for the character. The assets and Lingo code are automatically generated for the developer during the publishing process. Sound files used in the application can be of a recorded human voice, or from a text-to-speech engine, in any language. CharacterGenerator Studio includes four stock characters. Additional characters will be available from the IMS Web site. Users can also have custom characters created by IMS.
Coming this May (5-30), Oregon3D will offer its Maya program, described as a comprehensive look at the process of creating 3D animation and storytelling. Taught by certified instructors and industry professionals such as Mike Wellins, a former director from Will Vinton Studios, the course is designed to provide a foundation for those new to Maya and explore concepts such as storyboarding, modeling, animating, character rigging, project development, and rendering.
Designed for new and beginning users of Maya, the class begins with a theory course on character and story development, transitions into learning the basic Maya interface, moves on to character rigging and animation, then finishes with a week of project development and a light overview of rendering. Extended evening and weekend lab time will be available to all participants. The schedule and topics for Maya Camp is as follows:
The Maya Camp will take place May 5 - May 30, 2003 at Oregon3D's training facility in downtown Portland, Oregon for US $2,500.
Beginning March 26th, Blizzard will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of The Lost Vikings for the Super Nintendo. On that day, the company will release the title, featuring directionally-challenged Norsemen, for Game Boy Advance. Players must guide Erik the Swift, Baelog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout through devious puzzles, traps and obstacles in their quest to get back home.
For a free online demo for PC or Mac, visit http://www.blizzard.com/blizzclassic/vikingsdemo.asp.
Coming this fall from Sony Computer Entertainment America is Jak II, developed for PlayStation2 by Naughty Dog. The latter also created the original: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.
The plot-driven adventure game takes gamers on a journey through an enormous, dark, mystical world, with added visual impact and detail to both the environments and the characters. New features include multiple weapons that can be employed at any time, and numerous power-ups in every game location.
With hundreds of millions -- and eventually billions -- of dollars up for grabs, online gaming represents a budding new industry, which is just beginning to spread its wings, reports In-Stat/MDR. The high-tech market research finds that while online gaming won't take over the world, even a moderate number of gamers (such as 10% of the game consoles), playing for relatively short periods of time (5 hours a week), would consume more than 5% of all of the American backbone traffic by the end of 2003.
"Online gaming is a real industry, which will make real money, and has some fairly significant consequences for the companies involved," says Eric Mantion, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "The biggest risk to any company that is even marginally affected by online gaming is to dismiss it out of hand or put plans on the backburner until they think it matures. There are a lot of companies that are working very hard to grow this industry quickly so, odds are, they will help to move things along, faster than some expect."
Of all the companies out there, In-Stat/MDR reports that broadband service providers are at the most risk for not only missing an opportunity for additional revenues in the long run, but also having their networks being negatively affected by this online gaming trend, in the short run, if they don't act soon.
In-Stat/MDR has also found that:
The report, "Online Gaming Affects More Than You Think" (#IN030683IA), covers the money to be made, the number of subscribers, and the percent of backbone traffic to be consumed from 2002 to 2007. To purchase the report, or for more information, visit http://www.instat.com/catalog/cat-tx.htm or contact Rick Vogelei at 480.609.4533; email@example.com . The report price is $2,495 U.S. Dollars.
Registration is now open for the 2003 O'Reilly Open Source Convention, an annual event for the open-source community. Programmers, developers, strategists, technical staff, and other open-source votaries congregate for five days of tutorials, conference sessions, and networking of the flesh-and-blood variety. Recognizing that open-source tools have moved into the mainstream, this year's convention focuses on "embracing and extending proprietary software." The convention takes place July 7-11 in Portland, OR, one of the most wireless cities in America.
Melding open source and commercial aspects in operating systems and applications is becoming the norm, for financial and technical reasons, making open standards for data exchange and service interoperability essential. "You can't scratch a Fortune 500 company without finding free and open source software," observes Tim O'Reilly, founder and president of O'Reilly & Associates. Some state governments are mandating that open source software be considered when making software purchases, and large-scale open source enterprise applications are multiplying. The convention's corporate sponsors--Apple, IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, and Ticketmaster, among others--are another indicator of the breadth of open source technology.
This year's tutorials and sessions are organized into specific tracks and conferences:
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- David Duberman
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