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Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

10 May 2004
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
For editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:spectrum1@broadviewnet.net
Search the Spectrum archives at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
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Today's Headlines (details below)

SPECTRUM REVIEWS
--Enhance:DT Review
--Siren Review

IN THE INFOGROOVE
--BioWare Licenses CodeBaby Interactive 3D Tech

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING
--3D Modeler Uses New Algorithm
--Digimation Ships Enhanced Maya Scripting Environment
--Cebas, Turbo Squid Update finalRender Stage-1
--Maxon Bridges Gap to ArchiCAD

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--Report: Amateur/Independent Game Development Tools Market 2004-2008

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--DreamCatcher Games Announces 2004 E3 Line-Up
--Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain Launches for PS2
--Activision Showcases 10 New Games at E3
--VU Games Announces E3 Lineup
--SOE Announces Champions: Return to Arms for PS2
--City-Building Game to Debut at E3
--True Crime: Streets of L.A. for PC Goes Gold

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI
--Siggraph 2004 Announces Animation Award Winners

F.Y.I.
--About Spectrum

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SPECTRUM REVIEWS

Enhance:DT Review
By David Duberman

Enhance:DT is a set of 107 new components for DarkTree 2.5 and all its Simbionts from a third party, not Darkling Simulations. You can find my review of the excellent DarkTree software for creating procedural textures online at http://www.creative-3d.net/productFeatureDisplay.cfm?content=dt2 . I covered the basic functionality of the DarkTree program there, so for the most part I won't go over that ground again here.

The aptly named Enhance:DT add-on provides not only the new components but a large number of new textures that show them off. Installation is fast and easy, and when you start the program you find the new textures in their own Enhance_DT folder in the main DarkTree UI. They're neatly organized into several high-level categories, many with sub-folders. The main categories include Basic Shaders, with geometric gradients (round, square, etc.), nicely textured noise and organic textures, skins, and space textures; a few examples of the Enhance generators; a good number of geometric textures in categories such as Cubic and Dimples; myriad examples of usage of the Enhance Noise, Organic, and Skins components; and many more. In fact, there are so many supplied textures that you might never need to use the components themselves, but of course playing with and building components is at least half the fun of using DarkTree.

The only problem I found with the sample Enhance:DT textures (not the components) is actually a weakness with the DarkTree app itself: The locations of bitmaps incorporated into textures are hard-coded, so if the software is installed in a path other than the default (C:\Program Files\...), DarkTree won't find the image files when you want to look at the textures. The fix for this is easy if you use a text editor that can handle multiple documents, such as UltraEdit: Load the text-based DSTS (texture) files and do a search and replace. Of course, back them up first. A future version of DarkTree will probably remedy this.

The components themselves come in eight categories: Generators, Geometric, Gradient, Noise, Operators, Organic, Skins, and Space. The Generators (essentially, graphed functions) include Impulse, with a quick up and down at the start, and then flatlines for the remainder (there's also a smoothed version); Power, which flatlines at the start and then curves upward sharply in the latter third of the graph; and Smooth, a bit like a sine wave with a flat top. The Geometric category includes a number of symmetrical 2D and 3D gradients including Corners, Circular, and Dimples. The three Gradient components provide access to Enhance's color maps functionality. A color map is essentially an eight-step gradient, each of whose steps can be defined with different colors and alpha values.

The richest component category is Noise, with 29 members such as Agates, Granite, Scar, Scruffed, and Turbulent. These, along with the 24 Organic components such as Dirt, Caustic, and Waves, give you an incredible variety of tools for making natural-looking textures. The Operators category gives you Boolean-type image-processing components such as Complement and Intersection, and the Skins components include Scratched, GrainyWood, and Monster, which, while an interesting and potentially useful texture, doesn't particularly bring to mind anything monstrous. Last, the 16 Space components are useful for creating interstellar clouds, space-vehicle surfaces, exploding novas, and more.

One of the best aspects of Enhance:DT is the documentation. As with DarkTree itself, it's contextual; clicking the Help link in the component editor brings you to a page describing each parameter, with links to further information as appropriate. There are plenty of illustrations, but of course the best way to learn is to use the components to build textures. DarkTree is a procedural-texture-builder's dream machine, and Enhance:DT makes it even more powerful. At a mere $49, Enhance:DT should be considered a must purchase by any self-respecting DarkTree user.

http://www.shaders.org/enhance:dt/index.htm

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Siren Review
By David Duberman

Survival-horror is a sub-category of the action-adventure game genre whose main purpose is to creep the player out. In this respect, Siren, a first-party game by Sony for its PlayStation2 console, succeeds admirably. With its foggy exteriors and decrepit interiors, eerie, jarring soundtrack, and brutal, out-of-nowhere attacks, Siren will have you on the edge of your seat, as with most other games in this genre. Where Siren differs is in its distinctive Japanese atmosphere. Most of its ilk, while also developed in Japan, possess a markedly Western sensibility, but Siren revels in the culture of its developers. Alas, the American (and, one assumes, the European) version was dubbed into English using less-than-highly skilled British actors, so seeing the distinctly Japanese characters speaking like English teenagers causes something of a disconnect. Frankly, I would've preferred hearing the original Japanese dialog, with optional subtitles. In most cases, it's not necessary to understand the dialog; sometimes it's even kind of annoying, such as when an accompanying character continually badgers you.

The game takes place in Hanuda, an isolated Japanese village made up of a close-knit community of families. Most of the villagers have somehow become shibito, which are essentially murderous zombies. You proceed through the game via a series of interlinked episodes, taking the role of a different character in each. Your goal in each episode is basically to survive; sometimes you need to reach a certain location, or guide a non-player character to safety, etc. In some cases you have or can find a weapon; in others you're defenseless. A map is available, but only on a separate screen; you can't superimpose it over the main screen. It shows the various landmarks in the current area, but unfortunately it doesn't show your current location, which can make it difficult to navigate certain levels.

That's it in a nutshell, but there are a few elements that further set Siren apart from its survival-horror brethren. First is a feature called sightjacking, which shifts your viewpoint to those of any nearby shibito. This lets you see what they're doing, and thus hopefully figure out how to avoid them or prevent them from intercepting you, adding a strong strategic aspect to the game. There's also the non-chronological sequence of events; one episode might take place before the previous one, and at certain points you can choose any of several different stages to advance to. For instance, in some cases you must return to a previous stage and complete secondary objectives in order to advance the game story. It's actually a bit disconcerting, and requires a persistent attitude on the part of the player to succeed. In addition, certain stages are quite difficult, and the difficulty is exacerbated by the iffy control.

Siren is an interesting and challenging game, but it's not so much fun as it is an experiment with gameplay in an attempt to create something new. In this case, the experiment didn't entirely succeed, but it is worthy of study by game developers for its innovative elements. I also recommend the game with reservations to those who absolutely love the survival-horror genre, but you may want to wait into Sony reduces the MSRP to $20. Given the overall lukewarm critical reaction to the game so far, that mightn't take very long.

http://www.us.playstation.com/Content/games/SCUS-97355/ogs/?confirm=1

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IN THE INFOGROOVE

BioWare Licenses CodeBaby Interactive 3D Tech

Game developer BioWare last week unveiled a sneak peak of Jade Empire, its new game for Xbox, using CodeBaby virtual agent technology to create an interactive 3D demo on the BioWare Website. The CodeBaby-enabled Website gives fans an advance taste of the martial-arts fighting styles and gameplay they can expect to see when the action-Role Playing Game (RPG) Jade Empire is released for the Xbox game platform.

"One of the … new features in Jade Empire is the ability for players to master more than 30 martial arts, weapons, and magic fighting styles," said Greg Zeschuk, BioWare joint CEO. "CodeBaby's technology provides us with the … Web-based 3D platform we need to properly showcase the Jade Empire characters and their … martial arts techniques," said Ray Muzyka, the other joint.

CodeBaby's Web-based virtual agent technology lets corporations integrate interactive 3D characters with their Websites and online services. The CodeBaby Production Studio is a development platform that allows a company to design and deploy a 3D interactive character to serve as a virtual assistant, sales agent, help agent, host or tutor.

To see BioWare's CodeBaby-enabled demo, visit the official Jade Empire site: http://www.jade-empire.com/ and click the 'Interactive Fighting Styles' link.

http://www.codebaby.com/

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

3D Modeler Uses New Algorithm

Belgian graphics software developer Genicap Corp. NV, last week showed its new Supergraphx 3D plug-in for Maxon Cinema4D in Dusseldorf. The company says its software is the first major 3D offering to incorporate the recently discovered algorithm, the Gielis Superformula.

Supergraphx for Cinema4D is described as an intelligent shape generator that can create an unlimited variety of 3D models and reduce the size of graphic files by more than 1,000 times. It reportedly lets Cinema4D generate virtually any 3D shape instantly just by changing variables in a single "Superformula." Then, once a basic shape is created by the user, Supergraphx can create an endless stream of variations -- hundreds of new shapes and models every hour.

The program generates small file sizes because The Superformula makes it possible to generate virtually any shape with a single mathematical formula.

In addition to Supergraphx, Genicap demonstrated its new Supergraphx 3D Shape Explorer, a standalone application that generates unique 3D shapes using the Superformula. The user to export the finished shapes in a range of different file types including dxf,. stl, Targa images, and 3D .obj files for use with most popular 3D CAD, graphics, animation, and modeling programs.

For example, a simple 3D model of a toy race car that might require one megabyte of data could be created with Supergraphx using barely one kilobyte. The result is a 3D model that can be pasted into a report, sent via email, or used with virtually any graphic device and any platform.

The plug-in for Cinema4D is scheduled for release this summer.

http://www.genicap.com

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Digimation Ships Enhanced Maya Scripting Environment

Digimation last week began shipping Mel Studio Pro for Maya 4.5 and 5.0. The $150 development environment for creating MEL scripts serves as a replacement for the built-in Maya script editor. This is Digimation's second plug-in for Maya.

Once installed, Mel Studio Pro appears as a General Editor and provides such capabilities as:
* multiple-document interface (MDI)
* find/replace functions
* unlimited undo/redo
* colored comments, keywords, MEL commands, strings and uncompleted strings, to allow better code understanding
* error checking on () [] {} pairs
* declared procedures list
* expressions creation and editing.
* Current-line highlighting
* re-indent selection, automatically re-indent code using indentation criteria

More info and a free Mel Studio LE version are available at:
http://www.digimation.com/software/asp/product.asp?product_id=162

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Cebas, Turbo Squid Update finalRender Stage-1

Just out from Turbo Squid is service pack 2B (SP2B) for finalRender Stage-1, a Discreet Certified 3ds max3 plug-in. The free download provides the following:
* stability enhancements and fixes
* Particle Flow motion blur support
* DR enhancements to support large bitmap rendering
* added 3ds max support for render-to-texture

Render-to-texture was first introduced to 3ds max 5 and now is available in an enhanced version in 3ds max 6. The feature was previously available with the scanline renderer only. Rendering to texture, or "texture baking,” lets the user create texture maps based on an object's appearance in the rendered scene. The textures are then “baked” into the object: that is, they become part of the object via mapping, and can be used to display the textured object rapidly on Direct3D devices such as graphics display cards and game engines.

Registered users of finalRender Stage-1 should receive an email instructing them how to obtain the service pack. Others can contact dcpsupport@turbosquid.com for information.

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Maxon Bridges Gap to ArchiCAD

New from German developer Maxon Computer is an eXchange plugin for the exchange of data between Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Maxon Cinema 4D. The plugin transfers all relevant objects, object classes, lights, materials and cameras of an ArchiCAD project to Cinema 4D.

The building process starts with the design tools of ArchiCAD. When the plans are ready, the project can then be exported to Cinema 4D, where ArchiCAD colors can be replaced with photorealistic materials.

The eXchange plugin also features an intelligent update function, which lets the user go back to ArchiCAD to modify the building without losing any work already done in Cinema 4D. Trees, lights, materials, and so on will be preserved when the user updates.

Two optional Cinema 4D modules are also available. The Advanced Render module provides greater realism with rendering effects such as radiosity and HDRI lighting, and the Sketch and Toon module can offer a more stylized result such as a painting or sketch of the building.

http://www.maxon.net

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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Report: Amateur/Independent Game Development Tools Market 2004-2008

Research and Markets last week added its Amateur/Independent Game Development Tools Market 2004-2008 report to its offerings. The study focuses on code- and content-creation tools within the amateur/independent game development segment, one of the fastest-growing segments in the game development tools market. It presents detailed analysis of this market segment and looks at new opportunities and strategies for toolmakers. It also examines past, present, and future trends in the tools market and provides historical and projected revenue information for tools by category.

It also offers an analysis of our recent survey of amateur/independent developers, with demographic data, information on work habits and productivity, piracy trends, and more. The report is targeted to code and content toolmakers seeking additional streams of incremental revenue and the opportunity to leverage their products and technologies beyond their current markets.

Interestingly, the press release included a slightly idiosyncratic list of technical and market terminology found within the report, which Spectrum herewith passes along to you:

Amateur/Independent Game Development (referred to in the report as ama-indy): This market segment is comprised of individuals and teams that seek to create and distribute shareware or retail games but do not have the backing of major established publishing muscle. Experience levels range from none to many years and tool budgets range from nearly nothing to tens of thousands of dollars.

4GL: 4th Generation Language, slightly inaccurate term used to refer to products such as Microsoft's Visual Basic and Borland's Delphi.

API: Application Programming Interface, a library that enables specific functionality without creating it from scratch. APIs range in scope from a handful of functions to full-blown middleware systems and engines.

CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate, the year-over-year growth rate over a specified period of time. CAGR does not truly represent reality. It is an imaginary number that describes the rate at which a variable-rate investment has grown as though it had increased at a steady rate.

Freeware: Software distributed free of charge, though donations are often solicited from dedicated users

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GPL/LGPL: (Lesser) GNU General Public License, Common license for freely distributed software components, such as game engines. Libraries released under LGPL can be used by proprietary software, whereas those released under GPL can only be used in free software.

Lightmapping: A clever way to fake real-time lighting for games. Game levels include two sets of texture maps, one for color and another that contains light and shadow, which is blended with the texture map to create a more convincingly shaded environment. A lightmapper is a tool that is used to create lightmaps for game geometry.

Pixel/Vertex Shading: The latest graphics hardware and APIs allow small programs to be run for each rendered pixel (or each model vertex), processing the data to create a particular shading or geometry effect.

Retail/Reseller/Direct - Software sold to users either via store shelves, resellers, or directly. Products distributed electronically now commonly feature a trial period, after which the software will no longer function.

Shareware: Traditionally, software freely distributed with the caveat that users should/must pay to use the software beyond a set period (usually 30 days). Occasionally, though not technically correct, this term is also used to refer to software with an enforced trial period.

UV: The coordinate space used for texturing 3D models. UV mapping refers to applying UV coordinates to a model in a way that the texture map is lined up properly on each of the model's faces.

Warez: The hip Internet term for pirated software. Superset of Appz, Gamez, Romz, Toolz, and other incorrectly pluralized piracy terms.

http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c1766

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

DreamCatcher Games Announces 2004 E3 Line-Up

DreamCatcher Games will show four new titles at E3:

Dungeon Lords: Windows Only, developed by D.W. Bradley and Heuristic Park, Release Date: Fall 2004 - Combining a fantasy RPG with FPS-style controls, the 3D game Dungeon Lords offers a deep storyline shrouded in mystery and betrayal and features many playable races with myriad character classes. Players journey through a land of ancient castles, dark forests, and dungeon lairs, braving an army of diabolical foes to uncover secrets lying hidden within the depths of an evolving storyline. The game offers real-time player control of all combat tactics, character hero development, four different schools of magic, and multiple class specializations.

SuperPower 2: Windows Only, developed by Golem Labs, Release Date: Fall 2004 - A global geopolitical simulation game in which players control countries in three major areas: political, economic and military, in a real-time 3D environment. Players build up their own countries and increase their influence in the broader world while competing against A.I. Along the way, gamers make use of economic sanctions, political alliances, and military actions to wage battles.

Besieger: Windows Only, developed by Primal Studios, Release Date: Summer 2004 - Real-time 3D strategy game set in a medieval fantasy world in which rival players wage war as either Viking or Cimmerian warriors. The story-based game involves a series of quests that determine the game's eventual outcome. As well as the bloody battles, each player must create an economy to allow them to construct or upgrade 40 types of buildings and more than 50 different units for battle. They will also create and train workers for fighting and other survival skills. http://www.Besieger.com

Cold War: Windows Only, developed by Mindware Studios, Release Date: Winter 2004 - Follows the story of John Rawlins, a freelance journalist who finds himself in the midst of an international conspiracy that aims to control the U.S.S.R. Twelve hours after arriving in Moscow for a routine story, John has been stripped of all possessions, beaten unconscious and thrown into the KGB's political prison. Using only recovered weapons and improvised gadgets, he must now evade or overcome elite Soviet forces and defeat the conspiracy before he is sent to a Siberian prison camp or killed. Cold War is set in real Soviet locations, and is built around locations such as Lenin's Mausoleum, Chernobyl and the KGB's notorious Ljubljanka prison.

http://www.dreamcatchergames.com

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Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain Launches for PS2

Sony Computer Entertainment America last week released Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain for PlayStation2. Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment America's Bend group, the new installment in the series adds four-player cooperative peer-to-peer online play, a character-customization feature, and larger, detailed international environments. Omega Strain places gamers in the role of a counter-terrorism agent where they can combat hostile terrorists alone or join together with up to three other agents online via a broadband connection to take down global terror as a team. Going online lets players access new areas of the offline environments and discover bonus objectives, as well as testing teamwork abilities.

Gamers will immerse themselves in Gabe Logan's covert operation as they exchange gun shots or fight hand-to-hand with a knife against new terrorists and enemies in international locations approximately three times larger than previous installments in the franchise. The game arms players with over 100 unique weapons and gadgets and allows them to upgrade their artillery as they progress through the levels. Players must carefully plot out which weapons to use for a particular mission, and are limited to carrying four weapons at a time. Detailed animations give players new abilities to keep enemies in target.

http://www.us.playstation.com

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Activision Showcases 10 New Games at E3

Activision, Inc. will show 10 titles at the 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo, taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 12-14. The lineup is:

Spider-Man 2 -- Players swing, sling, dive, jump and scale the heights of Manhattan to protect the innocent, in a living city with super villains, common criminals, vehicles, trains and helicopters.

DreamWorks' Shark Tale -- Players assume the role of Oscar, a fast-talking little fish working his way up the food chain, who becomes an unlikely hero as he searches for an easy path to fame and fortune.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events -- Based on the book series and upcoming movie film, the game that lets players experience the misadventures of the savvy and resilient Baudelaire orphans.

X-Men Legends -- The 3D action-RPG based on the Marvel characters challenges players to master the attributes of their favorite X-Men by creating, customizing and controlling teams of four mutants in real time. Players lead teams of mutants as they battle the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and other Marvel villains on a quest to stop the extinction of mankind and determine the fate of the world.

DOOM 3 -- id Software's terrifying battle with the forces of Hell is invading the Xbox. A massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the UAC's Mars research facility, leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of only a few survivors, you struggle with shock and fear as you fight your way to Hell and back in an epic clash against pure evil.

The Movies -- Developed by Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux, The Movies lets gamers become Hollywood players by creating unique movies and releasing them from the studios they build, starring the actors they discover and develop.

Rome: Total War -- From Creative Assembly, the RTS game lets gamers take command of massive armies that wage war in epic, cinematic battles in the brutal world of the Roman Empire.

Call of Duty: United Offensive -- Over 10 new levels in an all-new single player campaign, as well as nine new multiplayer maps.

Call of Duty: Finest Hour -- Takes console gamers to the frontlines of combat to experience WWII across new campaigns from Northern Africa to the Eastern Front.

Vampire: The Masquerade--Bloodlines -- Uses Valve's Source engine for an RPG that blends the storyline, character development and interaction, exploration, and multiple solutions to quests of a traditional RPG with the graphical beauty, action, and first-person immersion of an FPS.

http://www.activision.com

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VU Games Announces E3 Lineup

Vivendi Universal Games (VU Games) last week announced its multi-platform product lineup for the 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Among the 18 titles:

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay -- Featuring the likeness and voice work of Vin Diesel, the game is played from a primarily first-person perspective (with special third-person actions). Using normal mapping technology, the game recreates the horrors of the prison. To escape, players will have to use of the game's environments, including using shadows, subterfuge and distractions to avoid patrols. Coming June 2004 for Xbox.

Crash Twinsanity -- Crash Bandicoot pairs with his archenemy, Dr. Neo Cortex, to save the world. Gamers encounter reactive enemies, immersive environments, and a cast of new characters. Coming Q3 2004 for PlayStation2 and Xbox.

Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs -- The third expansion pack to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Discover an underground city in each of Camelot's three realms, with hidden dungeons, new mysteries, fearsome enemies and catacombs that can be set up to host private adventures. New classes and enhancements to character customization. Scheduled for release in December 2004.

Empire Earth 2 -- Gamers take control of a fledgling civilization and strive to forge empires. Unique units, powers, leaders, and inherent bonuses to all of the game's 14 different civilizations.

Evil Genius - Strategy/life-simulation game from Elixir Studios; player assumes the role of a wicked mastermind bent on achieving global domination through the construction of the ultimate doomsday device. A tongue-in-cheek take on the 60's spy thriller genre, Evil Genius offers the player the chance to be the villain and control a secret island fortress complete with powerful (and strangely dressed) henchmen, mindlessly loyal minions and a funny gizmos. Players build a secret base, train minions, gain infamy and notoriety by completing missions, toy with the forces of justice by setting traps, torture captives (hmm …) with ingenious devices, and develop evil super weapons to complete a nefarious master plan. Scheduled for release in September of 2004, for PC.

Fahrenheit -- Psycho thriller, set in New York. For no apparent reason, ordinary people are randomly killing total strangers with the same ritual and pattern. Lucas Kane becomes one of these murderers. Finding himself in control of Lucas, the player is haunted by strange visions and the desperate need to find out what is happening to him. At the same time he must keep one step ahead of the police, especially Inspector Carla Valenti and agent Tyler Miles. A constant interaction with the storyline makes the story change as a result of your decisions. Fahrenheit gives gamers the unique chance to play both hunter and hunted, which in turn leads them to speak, explore, interact, fight and confront unknown dark forces. Scheduled for release winter 2004 on PlayStation2 and PC.

StarCraft: Ghost -- From Blizzard Entertainment, engage the StarCraft universe face-to-face as Nova, a deadly Ghost operative in the employ of the Dominion. With the help of a group of allies, follow story-driven missions that take you from massive planetary battles through dangerous solo operations to an unexpected turn of events that leaves the fate of the universe in your hands. New style of gameplay showcases Nova's physical and psionic abilities, as well as weaponry, off-planet call-downs, and vehicles from the StarCraft strategy game. Coming ??? for PlayStation2, Xbox, and GameCube.

http://www.vugames.com/

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SOE Announces Champions: Return to Arms for PS2

Coming in Q1 '05 from Sony Online Entertainment Inc. is Champions: Return to Arms, the sequel to the action/RPG, Champions of Norrath. Developed by Snowblind Studios (the creator of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and developer of Champions of Norrath), the game introduces two new playable races, more character customization options, thousands of items, weapons and spells, detailed environments, the ability to import characters from the original game, a new storyline, a medal system that unlocks secret gameplay modes, and more online and multiplayer options.

http://www.championsrta.com/

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City-Building Game to Debut at E3

Myelin Media, a new entertainment software publisher, will debut first title, Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile (Children of the Nile) for PC during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and will ship the title this fall. Created by Tilted Mill Entertainment, a development studio comprising of industry vets who pioneered the category, the game is said to distinguish itself by its use of 3D and unique human behavior technologies.

Tilted Mill and Myelin also announced the launch of the official Children of the Nile Web site at http://www.childrenofthenilegame.com . The site offers visitors an early glimpse of the scope of the game, as well as information on a variety of topics, including ancient Egypt and game development. The forums on the new site serve as a destination for people to join the Children of the Nile community.

http://www.tiltedmill.com http://www.myelinmedia.com

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True Crime: Streets of L.A. for PC Goes Gold

Coming any day now from Activision is True Crime: Streets of L.A. for the PC. The conversion from console format includes new PC graphics, new weapons, unlockable characters, and new multiplayer features. Building on a soundtrack featuring original hip-hop music from Snoop Dogg, Westside Connection, and others, the PC version adds 32 new tracks from rock artists such as Alice In Chains, Queensryche, Spineshank, and Stone Sour.

http://www.activision.com

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DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

Siggraph 2004 Announces Animation Award Winners

Last week ACM Siggraph announced the Computer Animation Festival's Best Animated Short and Jury Honors winners for Siggraph 2004, the 31st International Conference on Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques, being held 8-12 August 2004 in Los Angeles, California. The Computer Animation Festival jury selected these two award winners from 643 entries for their exemplary use of computer-generated imagery and compelling storytelling. Chris Bregler, New York University, is the Siggraph 2004 Computer Animation Festival Chair.

The winners are:

Birthday Boy (Best Animated Short), Sejong Park, Australian Film Television and Radio School -- The scene is Korea in 1951. It is little Manuk's birthday and he is playing on the village streets, imagining his father's daily life as a soldier at the frontlines. After playing, Manuk returns home to find a recently delivered parcel. Thinking it is a present for him, Manuk opens the parcel - and its contents change his life forever.

Ryan (Jury Honors), Chris Landreth, Independent -- Ryan hovers between animation and documentary, and defies easy definition. It is based on the life of Ryan Larkin, a former animator who produced some of the most influential animated films of his time 30 years ago at the National Film Board of Canada. Today, Larkin lives on welfare and panhandles for spare change in Montreal. How could such an artistic genius follow this path? In Ryan we hear the voices of Larkin and people who knew him as an animator. These voices speak through bizarre, humorous, twisted, disturbing, or disembodied 3D generated characters. The distorted appearances reflect Landreth's personal world of "psychological realism." A world encapsulated in the words of Anais Nin: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are."

A complete list of Computer Animation Festival selections for SIGGRAPH 2004 can be found at www.siggraph.org/s2004/conference/caf/index.php

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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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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