Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 30 Mar 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
New!!! Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
-------------------------------------------------- Editor's note: In the 23 March edition of Spectrum, we mistakenly attributed ownership of Developer.com to CNET. In fact, the site belongs to EarthWeb. --------------------------------------------------

Today's Headlines (details below)

TODAY'S TOP STORY --Microsoft Barred From Using Java-Compatible Logo on IE4 WEBMEISTER --WebSite Professional 2.2 Upgrade Available --StarNine Upgrades WebSTAR DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --Directors: Dig DOUG --Create Custom DSP with VST --Sun Delivers Java Technology Roadmap IN THE INFOGROOVE --Web Browser Monitor Added to WinU 4.1 --Tritium Network Launches Free Internet Service in Six U.S. Cities GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --OpenGL ARB Ratifies 1.2 Spec --3DS MAX to Incorporate Discreet Logic PAINT And EFFECT --NewTek Introduces Motion Pack Plug-In for Power Mac LightWave 3D 5.5 --Lightscape Posts Contest Winners --Matrox Brews Up New Graphics Silicon WEBSIGHTINGS --Holocaust History Project --Radio Teleplays Broadcast Over the Internet --ShockRave Site Offers "Interactive" Cartoons TECHNOTES --Voodoo2 Dominates 3D PC Accelerator Tests CONSUMER CHANNEL --Ziff-Davis Upgrades Classroom Training Courseware THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Online XML Resource Opens DEALS --Sony Interactive Studios to Become Independent Publisher --Interplay OEM to Distribute VIE Titles --Activision to Publish Nihilistic Titles GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --StarCraft Goes Gold --Cavedog Releases Total Annihilation Map and Mission Editor --Fighting Game Allows Freedom of Movement --Activision Ships Pitfall 3D: Beyond The Jungle --Psygnosis Rascal, PSX 3D Platformer Hits Street --Virgin Interactive Announces Swords & Sorcery --RPG Targets New Agers DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --Westwood, Discovery Channel Online Win Codies F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------


Microsoft Barred From Using Java-Compatible Logo on IE4 A U.S. District Court judge last week granted Sun Microsystems' request for a preliminary injunction that prevents Microsoft from using Sun's "Java Compatible" logo to promote and distribute its Internet Explorer 4.0 and related products. Sun sued Microsoft in U.S. District Court on Oct. 7, 1997, alleging that Microsoft has improperly modified the Java technology incorporated in Internet Explorer 4.0 and is infringing Sun's trademark by distributing Internet Explorer 4.0 and related products using the "Java Compatible" Logo. In granting the injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte, ruled that Sun was likely to prevail on the merits of the trademark claims. In his ruling, Judge Whyte said that Microsoft's interpretation of the licensing agreement between the two companies "would essentially allow Microsoft to destroy the cross-platform compatibility of the Java programming environment. Sun has demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of establishing consumer confusion," said Judge Whyte, to entitle it to a "presumption of irreparable harm." --------------------------------------------------


WebSite Professional 2.2 Upgrade Available WebSite Professional 2.2 is now available from O'Reilly & Associates. The upgrade to version 2.2 offers a wide range of developer options, as well as good value for e-commerce storefronts which typically require full-strength encryption. Created in cooperation with Robert Denny, the new version of WebSite Professional includes enhancements and all "hot fixes" since the product's 2.0 release in September. Suggested list price for WebSite Professional 2.0 is $799; the upgrade to version 2.2 is free for downloading by registered version 2.0 and 2.1 customers. WebSite Professional version 2.2 includes Uplink, O'Reilly's new utility designed for Internet Content Providers (ICPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Uplink, also supporting SSL-3, lets clients or partners publish to a site without compromising the site's security. Also included is a royalty-free license for distributing Uplink to users and customers. O'Reilly has enhanced WebSite Professional's log file management and generation, making it easier to obtain Web traffic reports. For easier access and archiving, the software now automatically cycles log files by date and file size. Developers have more options for Java servlet development. With the inclusion of Live Software's new JRun 2.1, this release adds support for Java Development Kit (JDK) version 1.2 of the JavaSoft Servlet Advanced Programming Interface (API) 1.1. WebSite Pro 2.2 also includes persistent session tracking capability and support for Java Foundation Classes (JFC) 1.1 for remote administration of servlets. iHTML Professional 2.12, also upgraded by Inline Internet Systems, is WebSite Professional's system for dynamic sites with extensive database capabilities. The new version of iHTML Professional features improvements to logging, error handling, tags, and system stability. Other improvements have been made to WebSite Professional's IP-less virtual servers, and WebView, the server/site management tool. Check it out at http://software.oreilly.com. -------------------------------------------------- StarNine Upgrades WebSTAR Newly shipping from Berkeley, Calif.-based StarNine Technologies is WebSTAR 3.0. The upgraded Mac OS Web server software includes new FTP and Proxy servers, Search capabilities, IP Multi-homing, a revamped WebSTAR Administrative interface and support for the latest Internet standards including HTTP 1.1, JavaSoft's Java Servlet API and WebObjects. WebSTAR 3.0 can be downloaded from <http://www.starnine.com/>. --------------------------------------------------


Directors: Dig DOUG The Director Online User Group (DOUG) is a free resource for Macromedia Director developers. It features developer-written content such as technical articles and tutorials, industry reports, Macromedia news, developer interviews and product reviews. Founded by three multimedia developers, DOUG is committed to developer support. DOUG's sections include: · Techniques: weekly technical tutorials written by expert users · Features: interviews with developers and Macromedia Employees, product reviews and commentary · Help Central: tools for assisting developers, such as a threaded BBS, chat, and a collection of Director search engines · Resources: a collection of developer resources, including a library of reusable Lingo code · breakPoint: a monthly Lingo programming competition · Showcase: links to examples of Shockwave and Web-design work · Job Board: a worldwide database of job openings and developer listings Dig the scene at http://www.director-online.com/. -------------------------------------------------- Create Custom DSP with VST Cycling74, a new company founded by David Zicarelli, last week announced the ability to both host and create VST Plug-Ins from within MSP, real-time synthesis and signal processing software. MSP is a set of DSP extensions to the MAX 3.5 graphical programming environment. MSP consists of over 60 objects that synthesize, process, analyze and delay audio signals on a Power PC Mac OS computer. The objects can be grabbed and grouped in a graphical manner to create custom applications that leverage the power of the MAX environment. MSP is useful for musicians, sound designers, educators and researchers. A free runtime version is available that runs any application created with MSP. It includes the complete set of objects, tutorials, and a number of useful demos. Users can build applications with MSP that can host VST Plug-Ins or build their own VST Plug-Ins. Virtual Studio Technology is a real-time native DSP Plug-in technology developed by Steinberg. It is utilized by major digital audio software programs such as Cubase, Logic Audio and metro and is supported by over a dozen plug-in developers and digital audio hardware manufacturers. MAX 3.5 is required to create and edit MSP applications and is available from Opcode Systems at http://www.opcode.com. MSP can be downloaded at the Cycling '74 Web site at http://www.cycling74.com. -------------------------------------------------- Sun Delivers Java Technology Roadmap Sun Microsystems last week announced a Java technology roadmap for the upcoming Java Development Kit (code-named JDK 1.2), including performance advancements and a complete Java application programming interface (API) update. The third beta release of this next JDK is available for download at http://java.sun.com/products/jdk. Sun also released the Enterprise JavaBeans 1.0 specification, which has completed its public review and is now final. Since JDK 1.1 was released last year, Sun claims to have improved performance via enhanced thread synchronization, memory allocation for the Solaris operating environment, and class library tuning for all platforms. In April, Sun will deliver JDK 1.1.6, which incorporates Symantec's Just-In-Time (JIT) Compiler 3.0 into the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for Microsoft Windows. Preliminary benchmarks reportedly show that JDK 1.1.6 provides over four times the performance of JDK 1.1 and over nine times the performance of JDK 1.0.2. In addition, the next JDK includes the foundation for the Java HotSpot virtual machine, said to further raise the bar on performance via adaptive optimization technologies. The Java HotSpot virtual machine is compatible with the next JDK's architecture and will ship in the fall of 1998. Currently in an alpha version released to Sun licensees, developers should expect a public beta release of the Java HotSpot technology this summer. Core to the next JDK, the Java Foundation Classes (JFC) software is a comprehensive set of graphical user interface (GUI) components (code-named "Swing") and foundation services for building, displaying and printing rich, customized user interfaces and graphics. More information on JFC can be found at http://java.sun.com/products/jfc. The new security model featured in the next JDK is said to provide flexible access while solidifying greater control over that access. By extending the original "sandbox" model with permission-based access policies, applets and applications written to the Java platform can be given varying amounts of access to system and network resources. More information on Java security can be found at http://java.sun.com/security. Sun also announced the final release of InfoBus 1.1, a compact Java API which allows cooperating applets or JavaBeans components to exchange structured data with one another. Jointly developed by Sun and Lotus Development Corp., the InfoBus technology has been 100% Pure Java certified and is now available. More information on InfoBus can be found at http://java.sun.com/beans/infobus. --------------------------------------------------


Web Browser Monitor Added to WinU 4.1 A cautionary item: Bardon Data Systems announces the availability of Version 4.1 of WinU, its Windows 95 replacement user interface with desktop security and access control capabilities. This new release features a Web browser monitor that enables system administrators to oversee access to the Internet. WinU 4.1's browser monitor allows administrators to maintain a log of Web sites that were visited, along with the amount of time spent at each site. System administrators can produce reports and graphs that analyze this information, or can export it to any database or spreadsheet. Like previous versions of the program, WinU 4.1 sports three levels of security; the ability to deny access to unauthorized programs, files and folders; numerous options for preventing users from changing a system's configuration; and network-based management, control and remote configuration capabilities. These features are intended for businesses and organizations that want to let employees use only authorized applications, schools and public institutions that need to give patrons access to specific prorams while safeguarding the system; and parents who want to restrict their children's use of the family PC. A complete list of features and a "test-drive" version can be found at the Bardon Data Systems Web site, http://www.bardon.com. -------------------------------------------------- Tritium Network Launches Free Internet Service in Six U.S. Cities Tritium Network has launched its new advertiser-supported, free Internet access program in six U.S. cities Cincinnati, OH (January 2) Chicago (Feb. 23), Boston (March 2), Washington D.C. (March 30), New York (March 30), and coming up: San Francisco (April 6). The free dial-up service is based on Tritium's AdPath, a push technology application that displays tickertape-style advertisements at the bottom of users' screens. Ads will change every 30 seconds based on user demographics and will rotate through a predetermined cycle. "Until now, people have been able to access a lot of valuable content for free, and could have free e-mail, but they had to pay Internet Service Providers (ISP) to be allowed the opportunity to access the Internet and surf the Web," said Michael Lee, president. "But now, with our AdPath technology, we have been able to provide Internet access for free, saving users an average of $263 per year on access fees." Consumers interested in subscribing can register now at the Tritium Web site (http://www.tritium.net) by answering several questions and providing demographic information. About once a month, in exchange for free access, users fill out short questionnaires about buying preferences. For example, users who indicate that they plan to buy a car in the next six months will likely see ads with cards of their liking. Overall, Tritium says it will send ads that fit the needs and interests of its users. Tritium expects to have one million subscribers by fall of 1998, three million by fall of 1999, and six to nine million by 2000. The registration/membership process is a measured, customer-oriented phase-in process. Once users have completed the pre-registration process, they go into a registration pool. Memberships are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The regions that receive the most applications for membership will be phased in to the service first. --------------------------------------------------


OpenGL ARB Ratifies 1.2 Spec The OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB) announces the ratification and availability of the OpenGL 1.2 specification. This represents the latest enhancement to the cross-platform 2D and 3D graphics Application Programming Interface (API) pioneered by SGI. OpenGL 1.2 implementations are expected to be available for various platforms in late fall 1998. In OpenGL 1.2, several extensions have been ratified and brought into the API's core functionality. These extensions enhance OpenGL in the following ways: Improved Windows Support * The ARB has improved performance and functionality of OpenGL under Microsoft Windows 9X and Windows NT. For example, OpenGL 1.2 includes native Windows pixel formats to increase overall performance. Improved Visual 3D Quality * Separate Specular Color - Enables more realistic highlights by allowing a specular color to be displayed on textured objects * Texture Coordinate Edge Clamping - Avoids blending texture borders and textured pixels Improved Performance * Packed Pixel Formats - Packed 8/16/32-bit pixel format types reduce color converting, use less memory and allow images to load more quickly * Normal Rescaling - Automatic rescaling of vertex normals speeds geometric operations by avoiding expensive renormalization following transformation * Texture Level of Detail - Conserves texture memory by enabling subsets of mipmap levels to be loaded as required * Vertex Array Enhancements - Enables operations on a specified sub-range of a vertex array, allowing optimizations such as caching and pre-transformation of geometries New Capabilities and Functionality * Three Dimensional Texturing - Support for 3D textures enables hardware-acceleration of volume rendering * Optional Imaging Feature Set - Addresses the growing role of imaging in 3D graphics and is the first optional feature set ever included in OpenGL More will be available at http://www.opengl.org. -------------------------------------------------- 3DS MAX to Incorporate Discreet Logic PAINT And EFFECT Montreal-based Discreet Logic announces integration of new versions of its PAINT and EFFECT with 3D Studio MAX R2.5 from Kinetix. In a separate announcement, the two companies announced a strategic relationship to create a synthesis of 3D modeling and animation, 2D graphics, visual effects, paint, compositing and non-linear editing software for digital media production. The combination of PAINT, EFFECT and 3D Studio MAX is said to let 3D designers, compositors, rotoscope artists--anyone integrating paint, 2D graphics, visual effects and 3D modeling and animation--save time and money by eliminating the need to re-render advanced effects. PAINT is a vector-based paint and animation system for manipulating and enhancing both clips and single-frame graphic images with no resolution limitations. It is designed for video painting and image processing for multimedia, Web animation, interactive, video and film projects. Most operations are key-frameable, eliminating frame-by-frame operations and enabling interaction with moving pictures. EFFECT is a resolution-independent 3D video compositing, clip animation and visual effects tool. Features include keying effects, a timeline, alpha channel support, animated effects filters, color correction tools and realistic 3D effects such as reflections, refraction and lighting effects. It works in conjunction with a true video paint program PAINT. The combination is said to eliminate the need to re-render a 3D scene for simple changes like color correction, rotoscoping, touchups or client requests. Users import the rendered file into PAINT or EFFECT to make the necessary adjustments. EFFECT can read object, material, spatial and channel information created in 3D Studio MAX. Objects in a rendered 3D scene can be isolated in one step in PAINT or EFFECT, eliminating the use of magic wand or bezier selection tools. The 3D Studio MAX Z & G buffers are used to support a broad range of new filter plug-ins which provide advanced 2D EFFECT compositing capabilities based on 3D data. New plug-ins developed by Discreet Logic and Kinetix that demonstrate this ability are: · MAX Depth of Field - adds depth of field to a rendered 3D Studio MAX scene based on Z-space information; · MAX Fog - generates Z-space fog based on a single colour or another layer; … MAX Glow - produces a glow on objects, materials, or any combination of the two, and; · MAX Lens Flare - creates a lens flare based on 3D spaces which means it can move in front or behind objects in a scene. Due to the vector-based nature of PAINT, infinitely scalable painted bitmap-style textures are accessible. This lets users import PAINT vector-based (IPP) files as resolution-independent textures for MAX objects and scenes, eliminating jagged-looking, pixelated textures when scaling objects. Kinetix expects to deliver the new MAX capabilities as a plug-in available free to registered 3D Studio MAX users by June 30, 1998. Discreet Logic customers will be able to access the features in the new versions of EFFECT and PAINT which are expected to ship by June 30, 1998. For more information on Discreet Logic, visit http://www.discreet.com or send mailto:info@discreet.com. Find Kinetix online at http://www.ktx.com. -------------------------------------------------- NewTek Introduces Motion Pack Plug-In for Power Mac LightWave 3D 5.5 Just out from San Antonio, Texas-based NewTek is a Power Macintosh version of its Motion Pack Plug-In, with five animation-oriented plug-ins. The five are as follows: · Cyclist, an expression system allowing animators to control certain aspects of one object or item in relationship to another · Serpent, which causes an object to deform along its own motion path · Follower, which allows the mimicking and mirroring of motions · Oscillator, which enables the user to create, rotate and scale a motion path based on a sine wave, using damping · Gravity, which allows animators to assign a level of gravity that will affect an object's motion path, including bouncing motions. Find more, including special promotional pricing, at http://www.newtek.com. -------------------------------------------------- Lightscape Posts Contest Winners Looking for new cutting-edge images that show off the photo-realistic possibilities of computer graphic design? Check out Lightscape Technologies' Web site at http://www.lightscape.com/Contest98/ to see the results, posted last week, of the 1998 Lightscape Image Contest. The contest attracted almost 250 entries from more than 50 individuals around the world. Many stunning images were submitted, exhibiting a wide variety of uses for Lightscape's radiosity technology. -------------------------------------------------- Matrox Brews Up New Graphics Silicon Matrox Graphics' new low-cost chip, the MGA-G100, was engineered as an AGP solution for sub-$1,500 PCs. It reportedly integrates faster acceleration than previous generation MGA chips, a 230MHz DAC and support for multimedia upgrades. The chip's 32-bit Z-buffer can be used in resolutions as high as 1024 x 768 double-buffered when working in 3D. A 32-bit Z-buffer is said to give CAD users a high degree of depth precision. It also supports bilinear filtering, perspective-correct texture-mapping, Gouraud shading, vertex fogging, specular lighting and other advanced 3D features. The MGA-G100 features a video input port, video CODEC port and video output port. This provides interfaces for external video decoder, video encoder, hardware Motion-JPEG and hardware MPEG-2 CODECs. Also, support for Windows 98's multiple display feature, allowing users to run multiple monitors and/or multiple graphics adapters on a single PC. Matrox's new flagship MGA-G200 AGP graphics chip uses a 128-bit DualBus architecture, up to 16MB of high-bandwidth synchronous memory and an integrated 230/250MHz RAMDAC. Matrox claims the architecture's performance is superior that of traditional 128-bit bus designs, using two independent 64-bit buses that operate in parallel inside the graphics engine to effectively double the raw performance of most 2D operations. 3D features include bilinear and trilinear filtering, superior alpha blending, specular highlighting, fogging and anti-aliasing. The MGA-G200 also supports multiple texture rendering required to produce special lighting and atmospheric effects in games such as Quake II from id Software. The chip features a programmable, ultra-pipelined floating point setup and culling engine. The setup engine is capable of calculating full-featured Direct3D and OpenGL triangles, strips, fans and vectors. Additionally, the setup engine moves up the 3D pipeline to increase performance by including inline backface culling. The setup engine combines parallel execution of multiple instructions along with an ultra-pipelined command flow to process triangle data resulting in over 1.5 million triangle per second rendering capability. The MGA-G200 was designed to maximize the parallel operation of the triangle setup engine and the fill engine. There's much more: Find it all at http://www.matrox.com/mga. --------------------------------------------------


Holocaust History Project The Holocaust History Project, a newly formed organization both of and for Holocaust researchers, has opened its Website at http://www.holocaust-history.org/ . The Project was formed in 1997 both to respond to the fraudulent claims of Holocaust-deniers and to document that period of history. "With the growth of the Internet, more and more fringe groups are creating slick-looking, misleading Websites about the Holocaust," said THHP Webmaster Jamie McCarthy. "Many people feel removing these groups from the 'Net is the only way to stop them." "But we do not believe that censoring these Holocaust-deniers is either an appropriate or an effective response to their propaganda. Instead, we hope to give researchers, students, and other interested readers the background and evidence they need to see through their falsehoods." The site provides an email question-and-answer service, for all questions relating to the Holocaust, at mailto:questions@holocaust-history.org. -------------------------------------------------- Radio Teleplays Broadcast Over the Internet Video may have killed the radio star, but Seeing Ear Theatre ("S.E.T.") has brought it back to life. S.E.T., part of The Dominion, Sci-Fi Channel's Web site, pays homage to the radio serial with an online archive of classic radio dramas, profiles of groups who carry on the tradition, and original teleplays. The site also showcases science fiction authors reading from their own works. Written, directed and performed in the tradition of the classic Orson Welles' Mercury Radio productions, Seeing Ear Theatre's audio plays are original adaptions of new or previously published materials. Contributors include authors Harlan Ellison and James Patrick Kelly. The upcoming original, "Herd Mentality" tells the tale of an alien attack on cattle in Roswell, New Mexico in the Old West. The campy teleplay, presented in two parts, debuts on March 30 and features the voice talents of Mike J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl and Paul Chaplin from Mystery Science Theater 3000. New "Originals" are presented every other Monday. Teach your ears to see at http://www.scifi.com. -------------------------------------------------- ShockRave Site Offers "Interactive" Cartoons New interactive cartoons on Macromedia's ShockRave online entertainment site include"Ask Chef" and "Tech Sergeant." In Ask Chef, online players can ask for personal advice by typing a wide range of questions, which are whimsically answered by Chef, South Park's amiable cafeteria cook (featuring the voice of musician Isaac Hayes). Tech Sergeant, a rambunctious new character from Mondo Media, answers questions about technology and the computer industry with military zeal. Toon it in at http://www.shockrave.com/. --------------------------------------------------


Voodoo2 Dominates 3D PC Accelerator Tests 3Dfx Interactive's Voodoo2 chipset was named the fastest 3D graphics accelerator in a recent independent test rating graphics accelerator performance. Of the 20 cards tested, a Voodoo2 board earned the top rating while boards based on Voodoo Graphics and Voodoo Rush were awarded two of the top six positions. The 3D graphics accelerator cards were measured using 3D WinBench 98, a benchmark from Ziff Davis, in a report issued by Mercury Research, a PC market research firm. From the group of cards tested, those utilizing Voodoo2 technology were found to outperform the nearest competitor by 125 points. According to Mercury Research, Voodoo2 seized the first position and Voodoo Graphics and Voodoo Rush were awarded the fifth and sixth positions, with Nvidia's Riva 128, ATI's Rage Pro Turbo, Chromatic's Mpact2, 3Dlabs' Permedia II and Rendition's V2200 all trailing behind. Visit the company on the Web at http://www.3dfx.com. --------------------------------------------------


Ziff-Davis Upgrades Classroom Training Courseware ActiveLearn 2.0, Ziff-Davis Education's upgrade to its classroom training courseware, features multimedia software said to support high-performance in-class training through the use of attention-grabbing graphics. This reportedly results in increased student retention. A new, intuitive interface reportedly makes navigation easier for instructors and users. And a new network capability eases installation. A one-time installation of the Interactive Training Companion engine on a workstation allows access to all ActiveLearn content on the server, eliminating multiple installations or the need for more than one CD-ROM drive. For more information, call 1-800-434-3466. --------------------------------------------------


Online XML Resource Opens XML, the industrial-strength markup language being eagerly adopted by the Web development community, is being touted as an essential tool for electronic commerce and information management. With the recent approval of the XML Specification by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), interest in XML development has picked up considerable steam. To promote the development and commercial acceptance of XML, three companies--O'Reilly & Associates, their affiliate Songline Studios, and Seybold Publications--have joined together to create XML.com (http://www.xml.com), a new Web site that serves as a resource for XML developers and users. A preview site is now available, and the launch date for the full site is May 1, 1998. --------------------------------------------------


Sony Interactive Studios to Become Independent Publisher Effective April 1, Sony Computer Entertainment America's PlayStation and PC development studio division, Sony Interactive Studios America (SISA), will take on additional independent publishing functions. SISA will add a stand-alone marketing department to its already independent product development, finance, legal, licensing and PC sales operations. SCEA will also strengthen its in-house product development group to focus purely on PlayStation products designed to expand the appeal of the platform. No loss of staff is planned in this reorganization. Said SCEA CEO Kaz Hirai, "New in-house development efforts at SCEA will be focused on broadening the PlayStation's appeal beyond conventional videogaming and videogaming demographics." Hmmm ... wonder what that means? SISA recently released Tanarus, its first Internet-only game, and is finishing up its real-time 3D Internet role-playing game (RPG), EverQuest, for release later this year. -------------------------------------------------- Interplay OEM to Distribute VIE Titles Interplay OEM last week signed an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) distribution agreement with Spelling Entertainment's Virgin Interactive, developer and publisher of titles such as "The 7th Guest," "The 11th Hour," the sequel to "The 7th Guest," and "Command & Conquer". The agreement calls for Interplay to be the exclusive OEM distributor in North America, Latin America and Europe with non-exclusive rights worldwide, for all titles from Virgin Interactive and its Westwood subsidiary during the next two years. Interplay OEM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Interplay Productions, develops and represents entertainment software from industry publishers to the computer hardware community (e.g., as pack-ins with display cards). The company can be accessed at http://www.ipoem.com. -------------------------------------------------- Activision to Publish Nihilistic Titles Activision has signed an agreement to publish the first three titles from Nihilistic Software, Inc., a newly formed development company headed by game industry veterans Ray Gresko, Robert Huebner and Steve Tietze. The Nihilistic principals' combined credits include Dark Forces, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, Descent, Descent II and the Quake Mission Pack #2: Dissolution of Eternity. The first title from Nihilistic will be a 3D role-playing game which Activision expects to release in fall 1999. --------------------------------------------------


StarCraft Goes Gold Blizzard Entertainment, maker of the WarCraft series of time destroyers, warns gamers that they should start clearing their calendars and stocking up on caffeinated beverages. The company's eagerly awaited StarCraft real-time strategy game has released to manufacturing for duplication. The game should ship and begin hitting stores nationwide this week. The product's sell-in figures top 600,000 copies domestically and more than one million copies worldwide. StarCraft is the company's biggest product launch ever. StarCraft will be available in Windows 95 CD-ROM format at most computer and software retail chains nationwide for approximately $50. The game will also be available directly through Blizzard at (800) 953-SNOW. -------------------------------------------------- Cavedog Releases Total Annihilation Map and Mission Editor Cavedog Entertainment will give fans one of the company's proprietary development tools for its Total Annihilation 3D real-time strategy game. The Total Annihilation Map and Mission Editor Beta is available as a free download from http://www.cavedog.com. The editor will also be included in the company's second product release, Total Annihilation: The Core Contingency, which will hit retail stores the last week of April. The editor lets fans create custom missions and multiplayer maps, and includes landscape art from Total Annihilation's Green World. Additional art from other Total Annihilation worlds will be made available for download in the coming weeks. -------------------------------------------------- Fighting Game Allows Freedom of Movement March 24 marked the release of Die By The Sword, the first product to hit retail shelves from Tantrum, the new action division of Interplay Productions. The combat-adventure game, for Windows 95-based computers, utilizes 3D chips (3Dfx, Rendition, Nvidia) with its new VSIM technology. The game employs a physics-based motion engine that produces dynamic interaction with both the playing environment and computer opponents. Dr. Peter Akemann, the "mastermind" behind VSIM, states, "VSIM creates character motion from a physics model, which eliminates the need for motion capture." The physics model generates human motion through mathematical calculations. These calculations generate the entire range of human movement, providing the player with full control over their character's motions or attacks; this allows the players to invent fighting moves and combinations "on-the-fly". This total control eliminates the need for the widely used motion capture technique, which limits the players' movements to those created and "canned" by the games developer. Players and opponents will attack and defend themselves in a 360-degree world where weapon reacts to weapon, and contact with opponents results in realistic damage. More information is available at http://www.interplay.com. -------------------------------------------------- Activision Ships Pitfall 3D: Beyond The Jungle Pitfall Harry swings into the third dimension on the PlayStation game console, with the shipment last week of Activision's action-adventure Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle. Utilizing a 360-degree environment and incorporating the voice of cult-film star Bruce Campbell as the voice of Harry, the game incorporates classic Pitfall elements - swinging vines, scorpions, deadly pits and gold bars - into a next-generation adventure where the player has complete freedom of movement. Over 250 dynamic animations allow players to perform a variety of movements as they battle their way through four unique regions where they explore the ruins of the Moku civilization, climb the inside of a volcano, escape a prison colony, and fight the ultimate battle in the Scourge's Lair. Additionally, Pitfall 3D contains a hidden version of the classic Atari 2600 Pitfall! game and an interactive demo of Activision's upcoming vehicular-combat game, Vigilante 8. Activision's Web site is located at http://www.activision.com. -------------------------------------------------- Psygnosis Rascal, PSX 3D Platformer Hits Street Rascal, published by Psygnosis, shipped last week for the PlayStation game console. Developed by Traveller's Tales, the title is based on a character designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop of London, UK. Created for children ages 8 - 12, Rascal is a new hero for kids that blazes through time and space to save his mad-scientist father from an evil time overlord, all the while maintaining his flair for mischief and fun. Visit http://www.psygnosis.com -------------------------------------------------- Virgin Interactive Announces Swords & Sorcery Spelling Entertainment's Virgin Interactive announces the October 1998 launch of "Swords and Sorcery Come Devils, Come Darkness," real-time RPG game that gives players the ability to choose turn-based or real-time combat. A game feature called Adaptive Time Phasing is said to ensure that combat action occurs at a reasonable pace in order to move the adventure along, but not to the extent that any of the strategic elements of turn-based combat are sacrificed. Created by David W. Bradley, the mind behind Wizardry 4, 5 and 6, "Swords and Sorcery" is a 3D role-playing game for Windows 95-based Pentium PCs. According to Bradley, the underlying principle behind "Swords and Sorcery" is to bring "live" role-playing to the computer gamer. The title can be played either as a single-player game or multiplayer (Internet, modem/LAN) game. A single player can control the actions of from one to six PCs acting as a group. In an Internet or modem/LAN game, two to six players each control a single PC, acting either as a cooperative or by forming subgroups and playing as adversaries and competitors. A special server will be available for those wishing to host their own Internet games with friends or other RPG fans. More information can be found at http://www.vie.com. -------------------------------------------------- RPG Targets New Agers Set against a backdrop of ancient monasteries, caves, and the Gazebo bridge, Celtica, an upcoming role-playing adventure game from I. Hoffmann + associates Inc. ("H+a"), weaves a story line loaded with New Age elements from astrology, dream analysis, to alchemy. The title is set to launch in May. Your worst fears have been realized. An island somewhere in Northern Ireland contains three ancient items that hold the clues to the biggest mystery known to mankind. And only those who dare the unknown have a chance to solve them. It's the time of Druids, astrology and unexplained magic. Otherworldly gods have arrived, only to find the world in chaos. Filled with dismay, these celestial beings depart, leaving behind three gifts: The Ascension Amulet, to induce visions; The Book of Ascension, which details how humans should contact them; and The Ascension Harp, which holds the heavenly powers of song. H+a's corporate Web site is located at http://www.h-plus-a.com --------------------------------------------------


Westwood, Discovery Channel Online Win Codies Westwood Studios' Command & Conquer Red Alert has won the 1998 Codie Award for the Best Strategy Game. The award was presented to Westwood on March 23 in San Jose at the Software Publishers Association's Excellence in Software Awards, which honored the achievements of software publishers for outstanding creativity and innovation. Other nominees in the Best Strategy Game Category included Microsoft's Age of Empires, Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper, Microprose's Master of Orion II, and Red Orb Entertainment's Warlords III. Also, Discovery Interactive Media received two Codie Awards. Discovery Channel Online (http://www.discovery.com) was named Best World Wide Web Site, and Discovery Channel School Online (http://www.discoveryschool.com) was named Best Education Online Product. --------------------------------------------------


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