Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 4 May 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: Today's top story is RealNetworks' release of their next-generation media streaming technology. Read all about it in Howard Dyckoff's report, sent under separate cover in a special edition of Spectrum.

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER --Cosmo Releases PageFX Beta DEVELOPER’S TOOLBOX --Apple Updates HyperCard with QuickTime 3 --McCarthy TeamworX Debuts "Teams OS" IN THE INFOGROOVE --Northern Light Unveils "Industry Search" --Novita LiveLetter Lets Consumers Enliven Email --Canyon Releases Browse and Zip for Using Zip Files Online --askSam's SurfSaver Files Web Pages --Magic Baby Offers IE Accelerator MicroSurfer --SPEX Evaluates Web Search Engines GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Trinity Announces PyroCluster Environmental Effects for 3DS MAX 2 --Canopus Offers 12 MB Voodoo2-based Pure3D II LX --Extensis Ships PhotoAnimator GIF Animator --Matrox Offers Three New Cards --WEBSIGHTINGS --Site Offers Refugee Crisis Information CONSUMER CHANNEL --Health Awareness, Compliance Raised via New Interactive Media --Brilliant to Demo 10 Multipath Movie Titles at E3 DEALS --EA, Square Establish Joint Ventures GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --3DO Ships Might and Magic VI, Army Men --Microsoft Ships Outwars --Neversoft to Develop Apocalypse for Activision --Activision to Publish N64 Titles --New MS Gaming Zone Release Adds Netscape Support, Player Rating System --Messiah Engine Unveiled at CGDC --Microprose to Showcase New Lineup NUMBEROLOGY --Report: Games Industry Contributes $16 Billion to U.S. Economy DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --Academy Announces Interactive Achievement Awards Finalists HAPPENINGS --May SofTECH Talk - Multimedia/Virtual Reality --Virtual Humans3 (VH3) Conference F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------

WEBMEISTER

Cosmo Releases PageFX Beta Now in free public beta is Cosmo PageFX (estimated street $250), described by SGI subsidiary Cosmo Software as a "new kind" of Web authoring tool that lets 2D graphic and Web designers add depth, motion and interactivity to images and type. The program reportedly creates low-bandwidth Web content in the ISO standard VRML 2.0 file format. Features include an array of predefined, customizable effects for controlling appearance and motion. Cosmo PageFX composes dynamic Web graphics from a variety of media including: · TrueType and Type 1 typeface outlines · images (JPEG, or PNG or GIF with transparency) created by other tools · sound imported as WAV and MIDI sequences · shapes imported as VRML 2.0 files · ready-made elements from the Cosmo PageFX clip-art library Designers can: · maintain control over depth placement, size, 3D rotation and transparency · define color, texture, transparency and sheen of elements · add motion and appearance effects from a library of 40 customizable effects · orchestrate the timing, synchronization and sequencing of effects · control interaction cues and responses The beta version of Cosmo Player 2.1 is now available for download at http://cosmosoftware.com. --------------------------------------------------

DEVELOPER’S TOOLBOX

Apple Updates HyperCard with QuickTime 3 Apple Computer has released HyperCard 2.4 for creating interactive applications primarily for training and education. The new version leverages QuickTime 3's video and audio capabilities, and lets users work directly with more than 30 standard media file types. New features let users: · establish links from HyperCard stacks to QuickTime movies, QuickTime VR scenes, and the Web · navigate quickly to predefined locations in a QuickTime movie by searching the movie's text track · resize, flip, mirror, rotate or skew a QuickTime movie in real time · loop a movie, providing continuous play for unattended applications like multimedia kiosks HyperCard 2.3.5 customers can upgrade to the new version free of charge from the HyperCard Website (http://www.apple.com/hypercard/). HyperCard 2.4 will be available for US$99 via The Apple Store (http://www.apple.com/store/). For more information, in the U.S. call 1-800-282-2732. -------------------------------------------------- McCarthy TeamworX Debuts "Teams OS" Kirkland, Wash.based McCarthy TeamworX Corp. describes its new Operating System for Teams vaguely in its press release as a collection of conceptual protocols and "Human-APIs" for collaborative teams said to produce higher-quality results in less time and with less stress. The company will present OS/T at this week's CGDC in Long Beach, Calif. "The contemporary model of destroying your life to ship a piece of software is just not sustainable," said Michele McCarthy, president of McCarthy TeamworX. OS/T 1.0 will be available July 1, 1998 as a "beta" delivery to OS/T early adopters and potential ISVs (consultants and resellers). The beta includes source code, white papers, and the human-executable version of OS/T components. It can be downloaded for $50 from http://www.teamworx.com. --------------------------------------------------

IN THE INFOGROOVE

Northern Light Unveils "Industry Search" Northern Light, LLC's new Industry Search lets business users search both the Web and Northern Light's Special Collection of more than 3,400 sources -- including business periodicals, trade journals, health publications, academic journals and newswire databases -- for information on 26 specific industries and business functions. Industries included are Accounting and Taxation, Advertising and Marketing, Banking and Finance, Biotechnology, Chemicals and Plastics, Computing and Internet, Economics, Energy and Petroleum, Entertainment, Environmental, Food and Beverage, Forest Products, Healthcare, Human Resources, Insurance, International Business, Legal, Management, Manufacturing and Engineering, Media, Music, Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics, Retail, Telecommunications, and Transportation. Northern Light's Industry Search lets users perform a search on one specific industry or any combination of the 26 industries and business functions listed. In addition, searches can be narrowed by date range, as well as by document type, such as "press release," "job listing," or "product review." Relevant results are automatically organized by subject, source, and type, and categorized into Custom Search Folders. Reviewing results in these organized folders reduces the time it takes to find quality information. Seek Northern Light at http://www.nlsearch.com. -------------------------------------------------- Novita LiveLetter Lets Consumers Enliven Email Novita Communications' new Novita LiveLetter 1.1 is designed to let users create and send emails with personal voice recordings, digital photos, colorful animations and more. The application's interface provides design options including fonts, colors, background textures and images to grab and paste. Users can also choose from a palette of templates, such as postcards, greeting cards and stationery, and customize the look with text, images, Java applets and Web links. In addition, Novita LiveLetter 1.1 users can select any Web page directly from the Internet, add their own "special" touches and send it as an email. The ability to copy and paste applets into documents is a unique feature, enabling users to send interactive messages with animations and playable games. Voice messages can be recorded to send as voice emails, such as baby's first word or a personal birthday wish. Users click the voice recorder "on" button and speak into their computer system's microphone. Existing sound clips can also be added. Find more at http://www.novita.com. -------------------------------------------------- Canyon Releases Browse and Zip for Using Zip Files Online Canyon Software's Browse And Zip is a new $20 plug-in for Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer that allows a computer user to work with Zip files while on the Internet without having to download them. When a user clicks on a URL in a Web browser that links to a Zip file, the Web browser will automatically load the Browse And Zip plug-in. Once loaded, Browse And Zip will determine if the server where the Zip file exists will allow it to look at the Zip file without having to download it. Most FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers and some HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) servers allow this. If possible, Browse And Zip will read all the information that is needed to display a listing of the Zip file in the browser; this can generally be accomplished with any size Zip file in under a minute. From this Zip file listing, the user can select any file and click on the view button, allowing the selected file to be downloaded and expanded in the computer. Then Browse And Zip will automatically load the computer's installed viewer to display the file. Browse and unzip at http://www.canyonsw.com. -------------------------------------------------- askSam's SurfSaver Files Web Pages askSam Systems is now shipping SurfSaver, a new product that lets users store Web pages directly from a browser into searchable folders. Searches let users locate specific Web pages. SurfSaver supports full-text, Boolean, date, proximity searches, and others. SurfSaver is available online for $29.95. Information and a trial version are available at http://www.surfsaver.com The current version runs only on Internet Explorer 4.0 (a version for Netscape is scheduled for release in the third quarter). Magic Baby Offers IE Accelerator MicroSurfer Magic Baby has just released MicroSurfer, a new navigation tool for Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x that lets users select the links that they want to see next by dragging and dropping them onto the MicroSurfer window. The pages are then downloaded in the background to the user's hard drive while they continue to surf the Web. Once downloaded, navigating to a page is said to be nearly instantaneous, even with a slow connection to the Internet. A free evaluation copy is available at http://www.magicbaby.com. After the evaluation period, the price is $29.95. -------------------------------------------------- SPEX Evaluates Web Search Engines Newly available from research firm SPEX (Software Product Expertise) is a new evaluation kit for Web search engines. In its Web Search Engines Product Evaluation Kit, SPEX evaluated the following packages: · AltaVista Search Intranet 97 (Digital Equipment) · BRS/NetAnswer (Dataware) · Fulcrum Knowledge Network (Fulcrum Technologies) · RetrievalWare (Excalibur Technologies) · Search97 Information Server (Verity) · ZyIMAGE/ZyINDEX (ZyLab) SPEX research found that while the volume of documents is doubling on the Web every year, the lifespan for these documents is decreasing. However, increasingly intelligent Web search engines are enabling companies to get the right information, to the right people, faster than ever. Many Web search engines offer sophisticated search capabilities for performing more effective searches within intranets and extended search and retrieval functions across geographically distributed databases. They also offer natural languages for inquiries. Samples of the evaluation kits can be found at http://www.checkspex.com. --------------------------------------------------

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Trinity Announces PyroCluster Environmental Effects for 3DS MAX 2 Trinity Animation, Inc. announces PyroCluster, a new $295 environmental animation system from German developer Cebas that lets 3D Studio MAX animators create fast-rendering dust, smoke, fog, clouds, fire, and other effects. PyroCluster effects work from the data provided by particle systems. These particles are usually set to a size of zero, so that only their 3D information is available for PyroCluster. Then PyroCluster generates its effects during rendering, combining complex gradients with fractal noise to produce rocket engines, explosions, puffy clouds and more. The software connects both the 2D Video Post and 3D Atmospheric virtual spaces. Clouds can deform and stretch based on particle system action, and each bit of cloud moves and rotates based on the source particle system. This allows the user to apply space warps to particle systems to create complex and realistic atmospherics. Clouds can receive and cast shadows from any other object in a scene, and can cast shadows on themselves. You can even cast a volumetric light through a PyroCluster cloud to get a "cloudburst" effect. The plug-in also features a "pushpin" button for each parameter that allows it to be "commonized" throughout a scene. For instance, if a scene requires four smokestacks to emit red, green, blue and orange smoke respectively, then one might choose to commonize all parameters but smoke color. Changes to all four smokestacks could be then made by adjusting any one of the four effects. For more information, visit http://www.trinity3d.com/products/pyclus or http://www.cebas.com/us/pyrocluster_frame.htm. -------------------------------------------------- Canopus Offers 12 MB Voodoo2-based Pure3D II LX Canopus Corporation's second offering based on the new 3Dfx Voodoo2 chipset is the 12MB, $280 Pure3D II LX, which lacks the recently announced Pure3D II's TV-out capabilities and cooling fan. Both cards offer a connector for linking two cards for enhanced graphics capabilities. The company has also extended its $30 rebate program to June. For more information, visit http://www.canopuscorp.com. -------------------------------------------------- Extensis Ships PhotoAnimator GIF Animator Just out from Extensis Corporation is Extensis PhotoAnimator, a stand-alone application for creating GIF animations for the Web. The product automatically generates the frames and transitions needed to create special effects for animations. PhotoAnimator is compatible with Adobe Photoshop, letting users view, import and export Photoshop layered documents. Additionally, it features multiple undo, multiple layers, interactive previews and live updates. The software can repeat, scale, rotate, flip or invert images in an animation sequence over any length of time, and all aspects of these settings can be changed at any time. Transition layers incorporate transition effects, such as merge, fade, wipe and barn door. The product, for Macintosh and Windows, is available from the Extensis Web site for a limited time at $69.95. Visit http://www.extensis.com. -------------------------------------------------- Matrox Offers Three New Cards Matrox Graphics' new $169 (with 8MB) Matrox Millennium G200 uses the company's new MGA-G200 graphics chip, which integrates a high-speed 250 MHz RAMDAC, 128-bit DualBus architecture, 3D rendering and setup engine including a new Symmetric Rendering Architecture (SRA), which utilizes the capabilities of the AGP 2x bus. Equipped with 16 MB of SGRAM, the card displays 24-bit color at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200, or 3D applications at 1280 x 1024 in 32bpp double buffered with a 32-bit Z-buffer. Available multimedia add-ons include: digital flat panel monitor or TV out support, TV tuning and video editing, hardware DVD acceleration, and video conferencing. Also, Matrox's new Matrox Mystique G200, also $169 with 8MB and using the MGA-G200, can take advantage of multimedia applications like hardware video capturing and editing, hardware DVD video, and 'TV on the PC' by adding upgrades. Finally, the new Matrox Productiva G100 combines AGP acceleration with 8MB of SDRAM for $99. Based on the new MGA-G100 chip, the card delivers 2D acceleration, improved 3D and video performance and a multimedia upgrade path. Upgrades include the Matrox Flat Panel daughter card, which supports PanelLink-based flat panel monitors. Users in the financial trading market can also obtain an AGP multidisplay flat panel solution thanks to an agreement between Matrox and PixelVision. Users can also upgrade with the new Rainbow Runner G-Series video editing card which combines both hardware Motion JPEG video capture and TV tuning for watching and monitoring TV on the PC, in addition to holding live video conferences over the Internet. The exclusive Matrox DVD Video is a hardware DVD video daughter card for hardware-accelerated MPEG-2 video playback. Find more at http://www.matrox.com. --------------------------------------------------

WEBSIGHTINGS

Site Offers Refugee Crisis Information The U.S. Committee For Refugees has just launched a new Web site with news and information on refugee crises throughout the world as well as the latest on USCR national and international efforts to respond to the needs of refugees. The site includes database of information on refugee situations and information on the wars, violence and overall political climate around the world that have spurred these refugee crises. The site also includes a searchable copy of USCR’s "World Refugee Survey" report that provides governments, NGOs and others with information on country conditions, the status of refugees and their numbers. Currently featured is a new USCR report exposing the little-known plight of more than one million Colombians who have been forced from their homes in recent years because of the guerrilla, paramilitary violence, and drug cartels. Visit http://www.refugees.org. --------------------------------------------------

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Health Awareness, Compliance Raised via New Interactive Media "The Clubhouse Kids Learn about Asthma" is the first in a series of multimedia health-education programs published by MindJourney Software. The program uses learning techniques enabled by the application of new interactive media to teach health messages to affected children. The CD-ROM-delivered lesson is specifically intended for children with asthma, up through 10 years of age. Each segment of the program includes game-like features, animations, and sounds that draw children into the story of Jamie, who has just been diagnosed with asthma. Lessons conveyed include what asthma is, its cause and treatment, and how children can effectively manage their condition to lead active, normal lives. The condition of asthma is a growing concern of medical professionals through out the world. In the US alone, the number of reported asthma cases has risen 60% in the past 10 years, reaching record numbers of 13 million people. Of that number, five million are children. New topics under consideration for the MindJourney health series include diabetes, cancer, and smoking prevention. For more information, visit http://www.clubhouseasthma.com. -------------------------------------------------- Brilliant to Demo 10 Multipath Movie Titles at E3 At E3 in Atlanta, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Inc. plans to demonstrate 10 new Multipath Movie titles, a proprietary tool set that will enable companies with digital content to create interactive movies or training videos without prior programming experience, and an enhanced pay-per-view Internet video streaming service. Multipath Movies are three-dimensional, digitally animated stories, with multiple plot alternatives or paths, leading to distinct conclusions that are influenced by the user. Each Multipath Movie runs approximately the same length as a film or video. Users can dictate the story and alter each character's mood and ensuing actions. New titles include: · The Multipath Adventures of Superman: The Menace of Metallo and Boxing The Parasite (DC Comics) · Xena: Warrior Princess: Girls Wanna Have Fun, Death in Chains and Dreamworker (Universal Studios) · Ace Ventura: The Case of the Serial Shaver (Morgan Creek Productions) · Popeye and Friends: The Rescue and Sunken Treasure (King Features Syndicate) · Choose Your Own Nightmare: Biting for Blood and The Mummy Who Wouldn't Die (Bantam Doubleday Dell) · Gravity Angels (Brilliant Digital Entertainment) BDE's software tool set lets developers and producers create interactive digital productions and Multipath Movies without programming. The tool set borrows from film writing and production techniques. Brilliant will also announce a new pay-per-view system that lets customers stream new episodes of Multipath Movie titles through the Internet, similarly to purchasing pay-per-view movies on a home television. Subscribers are issued an access code that lets them bill new episode requests to a credit card or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) account. The new system will be available for use in the fourth quarter of 1998. Check it out at http://www.bde3d.com. --------------------------------------------------

DEALS

EA, Square Establish Joint Ventures Electronic Arts of San Mateo, Calif. and Japanese videogame developer Square Co., Ltd. of Final Fantasy fame last week formed two new joint ventures to develop and distribute entertainment titles in North America and Japan. In North America, the companies will form Square Electronic Arts, LLC, headquartered in Costa Mesa, California. The new company will have exclusive publishing rights in North America for all future interactive entertainment titles created by Square. The first new titles to be released in 1998 by Square Electronic Arts, LLC are Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Bushido Blade 2 and Brave Fencer Musashiden. Jun Iwasaki, vp marketing at subsidiary Square Soft, will become president of Square Electronic Arts, LLC. The company will be owned 70 percent by Square Soft, Inc. and 30 percent by EA. In Japan, the companies will establish Electronic Arts Square, KK, based in Tokyo. It will localize and publish in Japan EA properties originally created in North America and Europe, as well as develop and publish original video games in Japan. The EA-created titles include EA SPORTS golf game featuring icon Tiger Woods, as well as FIFA Soccer, FIFA: World Cup 98, NBA Live, Diablo, Theme Hospital and the Ultima series. --------------------------------------------------

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

3DO Ships Might and Magic VI, Army Men One of last week's highlights was the arrival at our door of a copy of Might and Magic VI, newly shipping from New World Computing and 3DO. The latest installment in the highly regarded role-playing game series presents a vast fantasy world that lets players switch between real-time and phased combat at any time by pressing the Enter key. It looks and plays great. Unfortunately, it's also somewhat crash prone, so we recommend you wait for a patch to be released before picking it up. But when the patch arrives, don't delay, because what little we've seen of it shows tremendous promise and playability. Keep checking at http://www.3do.com. Also just out from 3DO is Army Men, a nifty real-time tactical action game that lets you blow them little green and tan plastic soldiers to smithereens. You play Sarge through over 25 missions in desert, alpine and bayou environments, commanding six classic army men unit types, calling in airstrikes and paratroopers, and more. Multiplayer action is available over LAN, direct serial and TCP/IP; the disc comes with an Mplayer setup, but Mplayer isn't set up to host Army Men games yet. Find out more at http://www.armymen.com. -------------------------------------------------- Microsoft Ships Outwars Microsoft's latest foray into the first-person shooter category is here, and it looks like a winner. In the relatively original title Outwars, developed by SingleTrac, players lead a team of space (read: starship) troopers against an alien insect force in a planet-by-planet battle to save the universe. Features include rocket-pack dynamics for going up and down real fast; immersive environments including a tropical paradise, an ice planet with dangerous frozen caverns, and a planet-sized hive; a variety of weapons including flamethrowers and proximity mines; strategy options; multiplayer support and more. If you have 3D acceleration, you'll love how this one looks. -------------------------------------------------- Neversoft to Develop Apocalypse for Activision Activision has signed an agreement with Neversoft Entertainment to develop its action-shooter, Apocalypse. Neversoft recently completed the conversion of MDK for the PlayStation game console. Apocalypse is expected to be available in stores this winter. Apocalypse is a third-person action-shooter starring Bruce Willis as Trey Kincade. The game is set in a dark violent future where science and religion have become competing pillars of society, each offering their own version of salvation. A false prophet known only as the Reverend corrupts stolen nanotechnology to bring into being the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death, Plague, War and The Beast roam the earth in human disguise, gathering evil force and awaiting the Reverend's signal to destroy humanity. players must stop them and save mankind from mass destruction. Featuring explosive action-shooter style gameplay, Apocalypse incorporates 3D character movement within a cinematic action environment. -------------------------------------------------- Activision to Publish N64 Titles Activision, Inc. plans to begin publishing games for the Nintendo 64 home video game console system. The first two titles will be QUAKE II and Nightmare Creatures. Industry veteran Aaron Seeler is set to develop QUAKE II for the N64. Prior to forming his own company, Seeler worked at Midway Home Entertainment as the lead programmer and director for such popular N64 games as Quake and Doom. id Software's most recent game, QUAKE II is one of the best-selling CD-ROM games of all time, and has shipped more than 850,000 units worldwide since its launch on December 9, 1997. Activision's Web site is located at http://www.activision.com. -------------------------------------------------- New MS Gaming Zone Release Adds Netscape Support, Player Rating System Microsoft's latest update for its Internet Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com/ ) features support for Netscape 4.0 and the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. The new version also introduces the new Zone Rating System, which allows game players to determine how they fare against other players. Chess and Age of Empires will be the first games with the Zone Rating System, and new games are scheduled to be added to the system in the coming weeks. With nearly 1.5 million subscribers, the Zone has more than 7,500 simultaneous users at peak times, and is said to gain new members at the rate of one every 20 seconds. -------------------------------------------------- ISPs Endorse VR-1 Conductor Technology Five network providers in four countries have endorsed VR-1 Conductor technology as a platform for delivering online-only games. The five are: · Sony Communications Network in Japan · the Bertelsmann Game Channel in Germany · British Telecom's WirePlay in England · DACOM and Samsung SDS in South Korea These companies will encourage online game developers creating multiplayer games for their services to use the VR-1 Conductor software development kit (SDK), a component of the VR-1 Conductor technology suite. VR-1 Conductor is a set of tools designed to help mitigate the effects of latency in online gaming through packet optimization; setting bandwidth limits; accommodation of varying modem speeds; and monitoring of client and server CPU and network performance. The technology also facilitates network administrative functions such as game management, security and billing. VR-1 will begin to offer the VR-1 Conductor SDK in May to software developers. VR-1 can be found on the Web at http://www.vr1.com. -------------------------------------------------- Messiah Engine Unveiled at CGDC "Messiah: What You May or May Not Believe," is one of the topics of discussion at this year's Computer Game Developers' Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center, May 6 - 8. Headlining the hour-long session on May 6 at 2:00pm is Shiny Entertainment president David Perry and Michael "Saxs" Persson, lead programmer for the company's forthcoming 3D game Messiah. "The Messiah engine uses RT-DAT technology (Real Time Deformation and Tessellation)," states Persson. "I will discuss this technology and how it will effect future games and save developers time, money and frustration in great detail." Perry proclaims, "This engine heralds the beginning of a new era for graphics where scalability and adaptability makes cross-platform development easier and allows games to ride the technology curve instead of being left to obsolescence only months after release." -------------------------------------------------- Microprose to Showcase New Lineup At E3 in Atlanta this month, MicroProse will exhibit its new lineup of branded games: · Falcon 4.0 - combat flight simulator provides authentic flight modeling, including detailed models of F-16C avionics and weapon systems, threat environments and artificial intelligence. Also, thousands of tanks, aircraft, ships and military personnel simulated in a real-time, dynamic campaign. · Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard - 3D shooter game (Unreal engine) sends the player on a mission to uncover a plot to assassinate the Klingon High Council and its leader, Gowron. 20 levels, 16 weapons (six new); AI lets enemies duck for cover, sound alarms and run for reinforcements. · MechCommander - real-time strategy game lets players determine which pilots, weapons, sensors and 'Mechs they send out to the battlefield. Developed by FASA Interactive. · MechWarrior 3 - Gamers command an elite 'Mech scavenging a war-torn enemy world while taking direct control over mission planning, determining what targets to hit and when. Newfound equipment and parts allow players to customize and repair damaged 'Mechs. Web Site: http://www.microprose.com --------------------------------------------------

NUMBEROLOGY

Report: Games Industry Contributes $16 Billion to U.S. Economy A new report released by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) last week indicated that the interactive entertainment industry generated $16 billion in economic activity in 1997, not including computer and video game hardware sales. These findings were released as part of the "Economic Impact of the Interactive Entertainment/Edutainment Software Industry Report" conducted biannually by the IDSA, a trade group representing interactive entertainment software publishers. "Video and computer games are a mega-force in the new American economy," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the IDSA. "This rapidly growing business sector is generating jobs, discovering new technologies and creating positive ripple effects in other segments of the economy, such as packaging and printing, retail, talent and equipment manufacturing." More than 60 percent of the companies are just seven years old or younger, and two-thirds have already reached profitability stage, compared with just 14 percent of young, venture-backed businesses in other high-tech areas. The report also found that interactive entertainment companies are leveraging foreign market opportunities, thereby positively impacting the U.S. trade balance. Export sales of interactive entertainment products grew by 38 percent last year, despite ongoing battles with piracy issues. For more info, visit http://www.idsa.com/. --------------------------------------------------

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Academy Announces Interactive Achievement Awards Finalists The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), created to advance and recognize achievement in the interactive arts, last announced the finalists for its first Interactive Achievement Awards, scheduled to take place during E3 in Atlanta. Age of Empires, Blade Runner, Final Fantasy VII, Golden Eye 007, Parappa the Rapper, Quake II, Riven: The Sequel to Myst, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter will all contend for Interactive Title of the Year. More information is available at http://www.interactive.org. Unfortunately, the entire list of nominees, which we didn't have room to publish here, isn't available on the site at this writing, but we hope it'll be posted on the site soon. --------------------------------------------------

HAPPENINGS

May SofTECH Talk - Multimedia/Virtual Reality Thanks to Craig's List (http://www.listfoundation.org) for this item: Is virtual reality for real? Find out from an expert at the May SofTECH meeting in San Rafael, Calif. Kenneth Pimentel is vp of business development for Sense8 and co-author of the book "Virtual Reality: Through The New Looking Glass". Currently, Ken is responsible for identifying and structuring the broad scale use of VR in business and industry. Ken's talk will demonstrate VR applications, and will cover problems in the area of business visualization, simulation and training, education, marketing, and design. The creation of virtual worlds on the Web using VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) also will be covered. The meeting is on Wednesday, May 27 at Autodesk's headquarters at 111 McInnis Pkwy. Networking and refreshments start at 7:00 PM. To get to Autodesk, take the Freitas Pkwy Exit off of 101, and proceed to the east side of the freeway. Make a right onto the frontage road, so you are heading south, parallel to 101. At the bottom of the hill, make a left onto McInnis. Autodesk is next to the Embassy Suites Hotel. The meeting starts at 7:00 PM. There is a $20 fee for nonmembers. -------------------------------------------------- Virtual Humans3 (VH3) Conference At next month's Virtual Humans event, animators and movie makers will confer alongside computer hardware and software companies, games developers, roboticists, military simulation experts, industrial ergonomists, avatar builders and academics. Virtual Humans3 explores areas such as motion capture, facial modeling, artificial life, body language and gesture analysis, digital actors, online communities and synthetic battlefields. Conference highlights include sessions on the commercialization of virtual human technologies; Prof. Nadia Thalmann's (of "Marilyn" fame) "Cyberdance" and "Virtual Fashion Show" presentations by Digital Domain showcasing recent work with digital stunt doubles and extras on "Titanic" and Kleiser-Walzack's The Adventures of Spiderman. On opening day, the Metaborg session, chaired by Prof. Bowen Loftin, will launch a new international initiative to formally bring together the various virtual humans standards activities, an important prerequisite to successful commercialization of the technology. It's all happening June 16-17 at the Universal City Hilton, Los Angeles. Get virtual at http://www.vrnews.com/eventsvh3main.html --------------------------------------------------

F.Y.I.

About Spectrum Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review. Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703. If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks. -------------------------------------------------- Please send address changes (with old and new addresses), subscribe and unsubscribe requests etc. to the above address. If you use the Reply function, please do _not_ echo an entire issue of Spectrum with your message. -------------------------------------------------- Publisher's note: We are now accepting limited advertising. If you'd like to offer your company's products or services to Spectrum's elite audience of Internet and multimedia professionals, send an email query to duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman -------------------------------------------------- ©Copyright 1998 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.
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