21 May 2001
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
for editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:email@example.com
Search the Spectrum archives at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum
Macromedia and UsableNet, Inc. recently released an extension for Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 and Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 that checks Web content for compliance with federal accessibility guidelines. The extension is also available as part of the new "Macromedia Accessibility Starter Kit" that helps developers ensure that their existing and future Web content is both usable and accessible to people with disabilities.
The kit is part of an attempt to address the issues raised by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (http://www.section508.gov/). Under this section, federal Web sites are required by law to make all content and programs offered on their Internet and intranet sites accessible by June 21, 2001. The free kit is available on the new Macromedia Government Resource Center (http://www.macromedia.com/resources/government/).
The Section 508 Accessibility Suite for Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 and Dreamweaver UltraDev 4, created by UsableNet, allows Web sites to be checked for accessibility in the same way a document is spell-checked. The extension, available for free on the Macromedia Exchange (http://www.macromedia.com/exchange/), helps ensure Web content meets Section 508 and Level 1 W3C/WAI guidelines and reports can be run on one page, a complete site, selected sections, or any folder. The extension can also connect users to an additional online service from UsableNet that allows tests to be automatically scheduled on live Web sites.
CUseeMe Networks, a provider of integrated voice and video communications solutions for IP-based networks and the Internet, last week released a new version of its consumer software, CUseeMe version 5.0.
New and enhanced features include:
Free 15-day trial at http://www.cuseemeworld.com
Alias|Wavefront recently made its Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plugin available as a free download. The plugin can be used to transfer content directly from Maya into Macromedia’s Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio software.
The Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plugin consists of the Maya RT Scene Checker, which serves as a Maya scene optimizer, and the Maya RT Export Express, which allows for rapid fine-tuning of Maya content for the newly released Shockwave Web 3D player. Like Director, the Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter plugin will be available in both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh versions.
Criterion Software last week announced RenderWare dynamic PVS, (dPVS ), a technology designed to let game developers speed 3D rendering by dynamically determining which objects need to be drawn.
Current game engines limit the complexity and flexibility of game worlds because they rely primarily on pre-processed visibility data to speed up rendering. Using this common technique, however, makes a game incapable of handling dynamic environments where more than a few special-case objects move. RenderWare dPVS reportedly transcends this barrier, enabling dynamic 3D scenes through real-time visibility calculations.
The technology was co-developed by Criterion Software and Hybrid and is powered by Hybrid's Umbra technology, based on over three years of research.
An example of a game already using this technology is 'Republic:The Revolution' from Elixir Studios, http://www.elixir-studios.co.uk/htm/republic.html.
RenderWare dPVS is available as a plug-in for RenderWare Graphics or as a standalone library for use with other game engines. Further information can be found at www.renderware.com/dpvs.
Newly available from Microsoft are 7.1 updates for the Windows Media Player, Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK).
Windows Media Player 7.1 now includes CD ripping using Windows Media Audio 8 technology and provides new tools for enterprise customers that reduce deployment time and support costs. Key improvements include:
The Windows Media Encoder 7.1 lets digital media users convert audio and video to Windows Media Audio and Video 8 for live and on-demand delivery. The new update includes new encoding features such as support for Windows Media Video 8 for streaming video and for streaming and download of audio files support for Windows Media Audio 8.
Updates to the Windows Media SDK include:
Arush Entertainment, Internet publisher of Webisodic video games, last week announced its new GameCapsule, a packaged solution designed to let companies deliver and sell games online.
GameCapsule acts as a digital "wrapper" for Web video games, offering simplified downloads and installs to consumers and giving them detailed game information, updates and the opportunity to purchase other titles with the click of a button. Users download a game from the Web and can then play it at any time, whether they are connected to the Internet or not.
Companies are able to private label the GameCapsule on their own sites. This lets them offer and to charge consumers for content and create a new revenue stream while continuing to promote their own brand.
Newly developed games can be seamlessly inserted into the system, expanding the product offering. At the same time, the intellectual property is protected from piracy through digital-rights-management features.
SONICblue subsidiary frontpath, inc. has begun shipping its wireless Web device, ProGear. Targeted to broadband-enabled vertical market segments including hospitality, education and healthcare, ProGear is a portable wireless Web device with multimedia capabilities.
ProGear supports rich media formats and offers a 10.4" TFT display, X 86 compatibility, a soft keyboard and a touch screen. The three-pound product comes with a Soundblaster-compatible audio and microphone/headphone support. ProGear comes standard with a three-cell battery. An optional six-cell battery, cradle with integrated USB hub and charging station, keyboard and mouse are also available.
ProGear's software includes the Linux 2.4x operating system, Netscape browser version 4.74 and a set of utilities and diagnostics. Hardware components include the Transmeta TM3200 400 MHz processor and a 10.4" polysilicon TFT display. Additionally, ProGear comes with 64 or 128 MB of system memory. ProGear is available in Hard Disk Drive or Thin Client versions.
Contact frontpath by calling (408) 588-8715 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just out from Digimation, Inc. is Bones Pro 3, a new version of the skeletal deformation tool for character and creature animation in 3ds max. Users build a set of underlying bones to deform a mesh, assign the Bones Pro 3 modifier to the mesh and pick the bones that will drive the animation.
The new Bones Pro 3 toolkit also includes the advanced tools MetaBones and ParaBones. These give users further control of deformations of their characters through the use of simple primitive objects that are used as constraints within the skeleton. This means that instead of having to build a complicated skeleton to get hard creases (like an elbow), the user can now insert a new MetaBones object to further control the deformation at the joint.
Alias|Wavefront showed its recently unveiled Maya 4 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Maya 4, the sixth release of the company’s 3D animation software, is scheduled to ship in June 2001. New features include:
Maya Complete 4 will be priced at $7,500 (US) and include modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Artisan, Paint Effects and MEL, an open interface for programming and scripting. Maya Unlimited 4 will be $16,000 (US) and includes Fur, Cloth and Advanced Modeling features.
Maya Builder 4 will be priced at $2,995 and include polygon modeling, texturing and animation capabilities for level editors, games tool programmers, and Web applications.
Caligari Corporation last week released trueSpace 5.1, a new version of its 3D modeling program featuring new support for Macromedia Shockwave3D and other Web output capabilities. In addition, trueSpace 5.1 offers enhanced modeling tools, interface integration, compatibility with standard design formats, and an updated software developers kit (SDK) for plug-in developers. The company also launched a new "proTeam" program: online tools, training programs, libraries, and support services available on an annual subscription basis.
Caligari's new Shockwave3D Exporter plug-in converts objects and scenes to Macromedia Shockwave3D and Director 8.5 formats, including all geometry, materials, lights, views and animation. trueSpace can be used alone to create Shockwave 3D content, or as a 3D authoring complement to Macromedia Director.
trueSpace5.1 also generates HTML files directly for export to Viewpoint format. A Flash plug-in for trueSpace5.1 is currently being developed.
Version 5.1 also offers:
The company also announced iSpace 1.5, a new version of its Web 3D package, with new support for Flash output, and optimized JPEG compression. The Flash plug-in supports outline, cartoon, and photorealistic output. iSpace1.5 will be available in June.
Nvidia Corporation last week announced Quadro DCC, its graphics solution for real-time character animation, game development, and visual-effects production. The product features built-in support for programmable vertex shader and programmable pixel shader technology, enabling real-time rendering of special effects. ELSA will sell the Quadro DCC as the ELSA GLoria DCC exclusively through Discreet's network of 3ds max resellers.
Customized for game artists and 3D content-creation professionals, the Quadro DCC utilizes Nvidia's Elsa MAXtreme application driver, said to improve 3ds max performance and enhance to the 3ds max scene-rendering window. Features include performance tuning for DirectX and OpenGL professional applications, OpenGL overlay support, performance optimizations for AMD- and Intel-based workstation configurations, and back-buffered memory management.
An article about Extreme Programming--XP--recently published on the O'Reilly Network has generated reports of XP successes and failures. The article offers a basic overview of XP, its relationship to open source methods for writing software, and the steps involved in its implementation.
Extreme Programming isn't really as extreme as it is logical. It improves the efficiency of writing software, delivering top business value early and consistently, and reducing the cost of changes. Many of these practices have been part of conventional wisdom for years, but rethinking their interaction is the value of XP.
An Introduction to Extreme Programming by chromatic * 05/04/2001: http://linux.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2001/05/04/xp_intro.html
In the past, laptops have been the only real option for mobile Linux, but that's changing. A recent article on the O'Reilly Network compares three Linux PDAs: Compaq's iPAQ, Agenda Computing's VR3 and G.Mate's Yopy. I thought you would be interested.
Linux on Your PDA by Chris Halsall * 05/11/2001, the first part of a four-part series testing Linux PDAs: http://linux.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2001/05/11/linux_pdas_one.html
OpenNap network is similar to Napster, but OpenNap supports exchange of multiple file types, not just audio. A study by Clip2 shows that OpenNap usage has plummeted since February, probably due to RIAA's notice to ISPs.
OpenNap Use Crashes by Kelly Truelove * 05/11/2001
Princeton Graphic Systems says it recently shipped the world's first TV with a built-in interactive subsystem. Princeton's $3,499 Ai3.6HD is a 36" viewable, 4:3 direct-view CRT HD-ready TV/computer monitor with integrated Ch.1 services for enhanced TV and Internet functionality. The Ai3.6HD monitor system supports video, 480p, 1080i and 720p (letterbox) digital formats as well as displaying VGA, SVGA and XGA graphics. The Ai3.6HD with built-in DVDO 503 deinterlacer/scaler also includes Ch.1's universal remote/keyboard/mouse.
Ch.1's embedded, thin client interactive entertainment subsystem offers an Internet browser with email, chat, secure online transactions and channel guide to digital television manufacturers. Powered by National Semiconductor's Geode CPU, Ch.1 offers rendering of Web pages at 800 x 600 via a 56k modem for dialup ISP service or Ethernet, T1, DSL or cable modem for broadband connections. The Ch.1 portal opens with customizable TV and Web favorites for up to five users. The localized channel guide offers program details and link to the network's Web site. To operate the system, an integrated keyboard/remote/pointing device and a multi-device universal remote for TV, Cable, satellite, VCR, hard disk recorders, and a/v receivers is included with the Ai3.6HD.
Optional Ch.1 dialup service is available for $18.95 a month for individual users. A family plan adds up to four additional users for $3.00 more per month. Outgoing and incoming filtering can be added at $1.00 or $3.00 a month for individual users or families respectively. If a user has existing dialup or broadband ISP, Ch.1 service is discounted by $10.00 a month.
Mia, the skateboarding mouse from Kutoka Interactive whose CD-ROM adventures have already turned literacy, science and soon math into a game for children, will be returning this fall with a paintbrush in hand for Click & Create with Mia--an arts and crafts title that offers activities ranging from drawing and painting to pasting, projects and do-it-yourself multimedia animations, featuring characters and scenes from the Mia series.
Designed for children 5 and older, Click & Create with Mia is a self-contained CD-ROM art studio that combines computer-based activities with hands-on pursuits utilizing pre-cut shapes and other art materials included in the product’s carrying case.
Many of the activities feature Mia and her friends, allowing children to revisit their favorite characters from the Mia series. Mia also appears in a special window to offer suggestions, tell jokes, and provide verbal assistance on specific questions.
Also, Kutoka’s Mia: Just in Time!, a math-based edutainment title set for August release, follows Mia through two CD-ROMs worth of adventures that take her from the backyard of her fire-consumed Victorian home to a nearby shed, a mole’s underground den, the tree trunk laboratory where the time machine is being assembled, and eventually to the house as it stood before the blaze. The child is asked to solve equations, identify geometric shapes, work with number sequences, and answer various numerical questions integrated into the plot.
MathSoft Engineering & Education, Inc., a provider of interactive math, science and engineering software products and content, last week released new versions of its StudyWorks! Mathematics Deluxe and StudyWorks Science Deluxe educational software titles.
StudyWorks Mathematics Deluxe now offers three times as many lessons and exercises, including Basic Math, Pre-Algebra and a new Write On! Math topic area that demonstrates the proper ways to express mathematics in writing. Students also receive increased step-by-step guidance and self-testing at the end of every lesson.
StudyWorks Science Deluxe has been expanded to cover nine subjects, including new topics such as Oceanography and Writing Research Papers. The software offers lessons for mastering scientific concepts in earth sciences, biology, chemistry, astronomy and physics. Students can also explore new animated biology simulations and interact with a new chemical equation balancer.
The new titles let students and teachers create and read MathML, a standard technology approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for displaying and publishing math online. Each StudyWorks title includes IBM techexplorer Hypermedia Browser to give students the ability to exchange math and science content on the Web.
Sierra last week announced a partnership with Utah-based Alpine Studios to develop upcoming console games for Sierra.
Alpine staff have worked on projects spanning a variety of genres and platforms. CEO Les Pardew has had his artwork appear in more than 80 video games and has overseen the development of titles such as Rainbow Six for Nintendo 64 and MLS ESPN Gamenight for the Playstation. Together with Lynn Freeman, who has more than 15 years experience and has worked on titles including Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2000 for Game Boy Color and NHL Breakaway 98 for the Playstation, Pardew leads a team of game developers with more than 70 years combined experience.
Nokia and Loki Software announced today an agreement to make Linux games from Loki available on the Nokia Media Terminal.
The Media Terminal is an infotainment device that combines digital video broadcast (DVB), gaming, Internet access, and personal video recorder (PVR) technology. As part of the agreement, Linux-based games from Loki will be pre-installed on the Media Terminal. Anticipated rollout of the Media Terminal will be early fall in Europe.
Both companies say they'll support the open source community by developing open tools and standards. Loki Software has developed open multimedia standards for gaming such as SDL, SMPEG and OpenAL. Nokia has created the OST (Open Standards Terminal) platform for home-entertainment applications based on open source technologies such as Linux, Xfree86 and Mozilla. The OSTprovides a platform for developing applications for a variety of electronic devices, the first of which is the Nokia Media Terminal. In addition, Nokia recently announced the launch of ostdev.net, a Website dedicated to support developers in the open source community.
German firms Steinberg Media Technologies AG, Hamburg, and Wizoo GmbH, Bremen, have founded a joint venture for the development and marketing of sound libraries. The new Bremen-based company is to trade under the name of Wizoo Sound Design GmbH and began its business operations in May 2001.
The new company will concentrate on the development and marketing of sounds and samples. A multitude of sounds and musical instruments is to be emulated as software plug-ins and content CD-ROMs and made available in all of the current formats. Wizoo Sound Design will license these products to software manufacturers (including Steinberg) and makers of musical instruments.
Sierra On-Line showcased its lineup of 10 forthcoming titles at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles last week.
Last week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2001 in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced the North American launch details of its Xbox video game system. Starting Nov. 8, 2001, Xbox consoles will be available for purchase at North American retail outlets for an estimated retail price of $299.
Sega announced that it is creating Xbox versions of its Sega Sports 2K2 games, as well as Crazy Taxi Next and House of the Dead 3. The games will ship in the Xbox 2001 launch window in North America. Sega also committed to design its Sega Sports 2K3 lineup for the Xbox broadband online game service, which is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2002. Sega's says its future games will take advantage of the broadband Ethernet connection and hard disk built into Xbox.
Microsoft also announced that 27 games companies will support Xbox. In addition to Sega, Acclaim Entertainment Inc., Activision Inc., Artdink Corp., Atlus Company Ltd., Bandai Company Ltd., Capcom, Codemasters, Crave Entertainment Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Eidos, FOX Interactive Inc., Gathering of Developers, Infogrames Inc., Interplay Entertainment Corp., Konami Company Ltd., LucasArts Entertainment Co., Midway Games Inc., Namco Ltd., Rage Software, Rockstar Games, Sierra On-Line Inc., Taito Corp., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, TDK Systems, THQ and Ubisoft will produce titles.
Microsoft also exhibited action-adventure, strategy, sports, sci-fi, fantasy and simulation games at the show.
Game designer Sid Meier and his team at Firaxis Games are working with the creators of the PC games The Sims and SimCity to create Sid Meier's SimGolf, a PC game that puts players in charge of their very own golf resort. As course designer, CEO and resident pro, the player is challenged to grow a business from a small, public pitch-and-putt to a five-star resort complete with world-class golf holes, professional tournaments and luxury accommodations. The title will be published by Electronic Arts.
Said Meier, "Golf resorts are really playgrounds for adults and I found that golf course design provided a perfect starting point for a 'Sim' style game."
Players can create golf courses in a variety of environments including woodlands, desert, tropical and British links. Advanced game play includes tuning the skills of a golf professional, hosting and playing in major tournaments, and dabbling in members' personal lives. Players will be able to share courses, stories, customized golfers and snapshots of golf moments with other SimGolf players from around the world via the SimGolf Web site.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. (SCEA) plans to release a network adapter for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system in the North American market in November 2001 for a suggested retail price of $39.95. The new adapter will offer a combination of analog connectivity with high-speed broadband access.
The network adapter combines high-speed Ethernet connection with a V90 analog modem that will allow consumers network access and connection to multiple devices in the home through PlayStation 2 at the same time. By connecting to a broadband network such as CATV and DSL through Ethernet, PlayStation 2 can also be connected to analog telephone lines.
Through an alliance with AOL, Sony also plans to release the network adapter along with a hard disc drive giving consumers access to AOL features like instant messaging, e-mail and chat, as well as Web access through a Netscape browser for PlayStation 2.
In a related story, Sony announced a new Internet Protocol (IP) software optimized for PlayStation2's architecture. The software, developed by Cisco Systems, will be incorporated into PlayStation 2 to enable a broader access to the Internet. It will also be incorporated into the Software Development Kit (SDK) for PlayStation 2, enabling game developers to create broadband-enabled entertainment content.
Initially Cisco will provide SCEI with IPv4 which will be incorporated into PlayStation 2. Incorporation of Quality of Service (QoS) functionality into PlayStation 2 will follow to enhance the entertainment experience by prioritizing network traffic. SCEI will continue to work together with Cisco to develop an IPv4/IPv6 dual protocol stack for the broadband era. The IPv4/IPv6 technology allows game developers to utilize either version of the IP software in their title to connect to next generation networks.
Also, Sony and Macromedia will partner to bring the Macromedia Flash Player to PS2.
Lastly, Sony and RealNetworks will partner to embed RealPlayer 8 and other RealNetworks client technologies on PS2 and the PS2 Software Development Kit (SDK).
Loki Software says MindRover: The Europa Project for Linux will ship on Wednesday, May 23.
MindRover from CogniToy is a 3D strategy/programming game that lets players create autonomous robotic vehicles and compete them in races, battles and sports. Starting with an empty vehicle, gamers add components such as sensors, weapons and engines.
Players wire the components together and set their properties using a visual programming system before entering the vehicles in the 3D competitions. Gamers can also share their custom robots over email or through Website competitions.
In conjunction with the launch of its RealArcade games service, RealNetworks says it has 120 PC games including 3D downloadable games, massively multiplayer games and Web games. RealArcade launches with five new exclusive titles including: Tex Atomic Big Bot Battles, Super Bubble Pop, Kayak Extreme, Evernight, and SmallBall.
The new RealArcade 3D downloadable games are available on a "try before you buy" basis, enabling users to play a free demo to get a feel for the game. Consumers can then purchase and download the full versions. New titles include:
Multiplayer games include:
The Web Games section of RealArcade offers casual gamers single and multiplayer games from providers including Popcap, Gamegate, NuvoStudios, Gamehouse, Fly or Die, and Music Gaming. All games are free and play directly in a Web browser or in RealPlayer 8. Titles range from puzzle and card games to music trivia and action. Some highlights of the 85 new games include:
Mediaweave, a new media development company, recently appointed Terrence E. Joyce to the new position of project manager. Joyce comes to Mediaweave following a stint as supervisor of interactive services for PR Newswire, where he managed the firm's interactive staffers and coordinated all of the company's multimedia efforts including Web-based conference calls, video news releases and archived video clips for high-profile clients.
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: email@example.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, 2233 Jefferson Ave., 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 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours.
- David Duberman
©Copyright 2001 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.