Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 18 November 2002
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)
--Macromedia Announces Contribute: $99 Web Software
--Nvidia, Discreet Develop 3ds Max CgFX Plug-In --Pulse Updates Veepers Virtual Human Software --NetVendor Updates Collaborative Workspace --NXN alienbrain 6.0 Integrates With MS Office
IN THE INFOGROOVE
--Harcourt Interactive Launches Web-Based Instruction Tool
--Softimage Introduces Behavior Animation Tech --NewTek, Digimation Integrate of Video Toaster, 3ds max --Discreet Updates gmax Games Mod Software --LightWave Used for Cartoon Network Feature --Curious Labs Launches Poser 5 Content Portal --ATI News
THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
--CyberEdge Releases 2002 VR Tech Market Report --O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference Call for Participation --O'Reilly Releases "NetBeans: The Definitive Guide" --O'Reilly Releases "Learning Visual Basic .NET"
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
--Game Review: Summoner 2
--Metroid Returns to Nintendo
--Disney's Treasure Planet Comes to PSX, PS2 --Midway Ships Platform Adventure: Dr. Muto --Activision Set to Release Rally Fusion: Race of Champions --EA Launches Harry Potter on Seven Platforms --Midway Ships Justice League: Injustice for All for GBA --SCEA Releases Online Racing Title for PS2 --Sierra, Papyrus Present NASCAR Racing 2003 Season
--U.S. Wireless Game Market Emerges
--Game Developers Awards Board Named
Macromedia Announces Contribute: $99 Web Software
Coming for Windows in December is Macromedia Contribute, with introductory pricing at $99. The product will initially ship in English, with French, German, Japanese, and Macintosh versions expected to be available in 2003.
The new desktop application is designed to let users update, add, and publish Web content to existing Websites without requiring technical skills beyond basic word processing. It's said to work with any HTML Website, including those coded by hand or created with tools like Macromedia Dreamweaver MX or Microsoft FrontPage.
Macromedia Contribute allows users to update Web content in three steps: Users browse to the Web page they want to update, edit the page, and publish their updated page to the live site. Contribute also features integration with Microsoft Word and Excel, so users can drag-and-drop Word or Excel files from their desktop onto a page and the content is added with the original formatting intact. Users can also email draft pages for review before publishing them. Web pages can also be updated offline and published later.
Nvidia, Discreet Develop 3ds Max CgFX Plug-In
Nvidia Corporation and Discreet last week released a CgFX plug-in for 3ds max 5, Discreet's 3D animation and modeling software. The plug-in is intended to let artists author and visualize content in 3ds max using advanced hardware rendering and the Cg high-level language. Cg was developed in collaboration with Microsoft Corporation and works with OpenGL, DirectX, Microsoft HLSL (High-Level Shading Language) and assembly language.
The 3ds max CgFX plug-in brings a palette of shaders directly into the authoring software package. Accessible from the 3ds max Material Editor, DirectX users gain a custom GUI featuring real-time effects with sliders and other interfaces. Existing shaders can be edited in the CgFX file directly using Visual Studio .NET or a text editor. New CgFX shaders downloaded from the Web can be loaded into the shader palette. CgFX shaders also follow the standard set by Microsoft's latest D3DX Effect.fx file format, and are compatible with Microsoft's HLSL.
Nvidia also released a CgFX Viewer last week. Available as a free download from the www.nvidia.com and www.cgshaders.org Web sites, the viewer is a standalone application that serves as an example of Cg integration for OpenGL and DirectX developers. It also provides a shader prototyping and editing environment that can load CgFX content exported from 3ds max. Nvidia created the CgFX Viewer to approximate a typical game-development pipeline and to provide source-code to developers to speed their development cycle.
Pulse Updates Veepers Virtual Human Software
New from Pulse is Veepers 3.0, software for creating interactive "virtual humans" and other characters for e-marketing and other enterprise arenas. The major new feature is the ability to output directly to Java, such that no viewer plug-in is required. Other new features and functionality include full-body characters, transcript-assisted automatic lip-synching, and tools for manipulation of images before, during and after the "Veeperization" process. Also last week, Pulse announced a partnership with intelligent agent software provider Kiwilogic, to produce new intelligent virtual agents for online marketing and customer support.
New feature details:
* greater selection of expressions, gestures and other behaviors; characters can be instructed to look in various directions, show more expressions and exhibit a wider range of emotional states. All such actions are user-definable, via both text-based scripting and drag-and-drop icons placed anywhere in the Web page or application hosting the Veeper.
* image manipulation: cropping, sizing and painting tools; insertion of new backgrounds; whitening of the subject's teeth. Image textures (of both the Veeper and background image) and resolution are now user-definable as well.
NetVendor Updates Collaborative Workspace
NetVendor, a provider of collaboration software, last week released its Embrace Collaborative Workspace 5.0, designed to capture both structured and unstructured communication across the enterprise, enabling real-time, enterprise-wide collaboration and communication with peers, managers, customers and partners.
* detailed viewing of 2D and 3D CAD, office docs and graphics files * real-time conferencing and collaboration tools * 3D model viewing allows for component and subcomponent assemblies * zooming via a Web browser helps users pinpoint specific information * workflow automation tools
* secure document library
* version control
* layering and markup capabilities
* user-access control
* attribute searching
* URL directly linked to file systems
* tracking, event monitoring and audit trail capabilities * document history
* file acquisition and interfaces to legacy data * multi-language
* interfaces to Microsoft Project 2002
NXN alienbrain 6.0 Integrates With MS Office
NXN Software, a supplier of asset-management solutions for the digital entertainment and computer graphics industries, last week released a new NXN alienbrain plug-in for Microsoft Office. Designed to extend asset management to every team member in a digital media project, including administrative staff and marketing, the new plug-in integrates alienbrain commands into the menus of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, giving users version control from within familiar applications.
* automatic recognition of files under version control * prompts for necessary actions such as checking files in or out of the central database, or requesting comments on changed files * access to collaboration features such as workflow status and the integrated messenger
The new plug-in works with NXN alienbrain 6.0 and can be downloaded for free at http://www.nxn-software.com/supp_reso_dolo.php.
IN THE INFOGROOVE
Harcourt Interactive Launches Web-Based Instruction Tool
Harcourt Interactive Technology last week launched iloli (iLearningOnline), a classroom-based, online instructional reading assessment system aligned to state standards. iloli is a diagnostic, prescriptive and instructional reading tool whose test practice provides instant feedback and immediate test results.
iloli provides teachers with a reading-diagnostic tool to lead their students toward reading comprehension proficiency and testing success. Using the instructional assessment process, teachers target student instruction to meet specific needs by assessing, targeting needs, and re-assessing. Teachers can use iloli to provide additional work at home.
Softimage Introduces Behavior Animation Tech
New from 3D app developer Softimage is Behavior, scalable, programmable crowd-simulation and behavioral-animation system, incorporating an integrated development environment (IDE), with visual state-graph editing, and embedded debugger.
Going beyond simple pre-defined functions and behaviors, the company says Behavior lets tens of thousands of characters be imbued with intelligence, choreographed, and precisely coordinated using high-level behaviors. A single technical artist or developer, using animated characters from XSI, can reportedly turn around a completed crowd simulation in less time than using traditional methods.
* choreograph thousands of extras
* smart motion blending and collision avoidance * intelligent decision making
* integrated previewing
* XSI-integrated pipeline
* integrated development environment
* real-time character engine
* XSI Integration
* dotXSI v.3.6 Support
* unified file tool kit
* free XSI Viewer v.3.6
NewTek, Digimation Integrate of Video Toaster, 3ds max
NewTek and Digimation last week announced a suite of plug-ins providing integration between NewTek's Video Toaster  and Discreet's 3ds max. The plug-ins will ship standard with Video Toaster .
Said Andrew Cross, NewTek senior VP of engineering, "3ds max users who composite with Combustion will welcome Video Toaster's fast framebuffer performance that makes working on layered effects interactive in real time."
Video Toaster  complements 3ds max's toolset with compositing, video editing, video painting, video in and out, digital disk recording (DDR), and other powerful tools that let 3ds max animators take their work to a new level. NewTek has created custom hooks that give 3ds max direct links into the VT  Graphics System. 3ds max animators can use VT 's framebuffer for real-time display on a PAL or NTSC broadcast monitor. This eliminates guesswork about how colors translate from the computer monitor to a TV, or wondering if the image looks good on an interlaced display.
NewTek also includes file-saving tools for 3ds max that let the user save animations in the VT 's own file format. The RTV format is an uncompressed 4:2:2 video format. NewTek's software does a conversion from 16-bit RBGA space into the RTV format.
Discreet Updates gmax Games Mod Software
Discreet last week released gmax 1.2, a free downloadable videogame-modification application for game enthusiasts, game developers and publishers. The new version offers compatibility with plasma, Discreet's desktop 3D content-creation software. Thus, gmax users can create or enhance game characters in gmax, and render their creations into movies or flash animations in plasma to share via the Web. The gmax 1.2 release also offers performance optimizations for the Intel P4 and includes a number of general software fixes.
gmax 1.2 is available at www.discreet.com/products/gmax, and information on plasma can be found at www.discreet.com/products/plasma.
Developers can start creating gmax-ready games by joining the Discreet sparks Developer Support program at http://sparks.discreet.com.
LightWave Used for Cartoon Network Feature
S4 Studios (www.s4studios.com), the animation and original-content studio formed by Dale Hendrickson, Geoffrey Kater and Larry Le Francis, has completed production of The Groovenians, Cartoon Network's first 3D animated half-hour program. Created and designed by pop artist Kenny Scharf, the project debuted on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim November 10 at 10:30pm.
Produced, written and directed by Jordan Reichek with CGI produced by S4's Kater, The Groovenians, a music and dance-filled fantasy, features title music by the B-52s, a score from Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh and the voices of Dennis Hopper (who makes his singing debut), Drena De Niro, Paul Reubens, Ann Magnuson, RuPaul, Debi Mazar and Vincent Gallo.
Animated and rendered in LightWave 3D7, The Groovenians was an exercise in preserving Scharf's work, described as sculptural in nature, and 3D characters permeate a lot of his work. Said Kater, "Right at the beginning, we decided that rather than turn on all the 3D bells and whistles, we would create an animation style that was simplistic, economical, and focused on key poses, expressions and compositions, very much in the mold of the old George Pal Puppetoons of the 1940s and 50s."
Curious Labs Launches Poser 5 Content Portal
Curious Labs' new Content Paradise online service lets Poser 5 users search and browse a database of Poser content, then purchase and download their selected items. The company partnered with Renderosity to provide the first collection of third-party content. Other brokers will add their content collections later this year.
Content Paradise features include:
* interface lets users find, choose, purchase and download custom Poser content * customizable search engine allows users to search multiple 3D content stores at the same time * works with the Poser 5 Download Manager to automatically download and install content without leaving Poser. Manual content installation is also supported.
* available in Poser 5's Content Room and via the Web * personal accounts let users track all of purchased content, from all partner sites, in one central location * provides marketplace for content developers to reach new Poser users
Content Paradise is an HTML window in Poser 5 that logs onto the Content Paradise home page. The home page contains a search engine, and users can fine tune their search with parameters that include the artist name, content type, price, keywords, or even where the content is hosted. The searched database is a collection of content descriptions and images provided by the content creator. Actual purchase of the content is managed by the third-party partners, who process the transaction and manage transfer of the content to the user.
ATI Technologies says its family of visual processing units (VPUs) is among the first graphics technologies to support Intel Corporation's newly announced Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology, featured in the newest 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor systems.
The Radeon 9700 visual processing unit (VPU) will be the first graphics card used to showcase HT Technology at COMDEX this week in Las Vegas, when Dreams Interactive unveils Lejendary Adventure, its new online role-playing game (RPG). Most recently, at the Intel Developer Forum in September, Intel demonstrated Asheron's Call 2 running simultaneously with time-shifting MPEG-2 video content through ATI's All-in-Wonder Radeon 9700 PRO.
Also, ATI last week released a new beta software driver supporting Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Release Candidate 0 (RC0) application program interface (API). The new driver, Catalyst Beta Release Candidate 0 (BRC0), supports DirectX 9.0. ATI is also releasing four demos--Pipedreams, Rendering with Natural Light, Car, and Bear--that exercise the advanced performance capabilities of DirectX 9. The Catalyst Beta RC0 driver and the demos are available for free download at http://www.ati.com.
Lastly, ATI introduced Imageon 3200, its multimedia co-processor for handheld electronic devices such as PDAs and mobile phones. Imageon 3200 integrates a 2D graphics engine and an MPEG/JPEG decoder alongside a set of peripheral I/O functions.
THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER
CyberEdge Releases 2002 VR Tech Market Report
The Visual Simulation/Virtual Reality (VizSim/VR) marketplace will surge to $36.2 billion in sales in 2002, up from $28 billion in 2001, according to the most recent annual market report from CyberEdge Information Services. This revenue milestone marks a 29.2% increase over 2001 VizSim/VR sales, and reflects growing global acceptance of VizSim/VR as a mainstream technology in 69 specific applications in industry, education, training, and research.
In addition to providing revenue data for the industry as a whole, The Market for Visual Simulation/Virtual Reality Systems, Fifth Edition (ISBN: 1-929696-06-X), breaks out VR data by region, company size, respondent type, and system value.
The report looks at eight key components of VizSim/VR systems and measures user satisfaction with both the components and the companies that make and sell them. Ratings are offered for satisfaction with the hardware, software, and service of 109 companies.
The report also reveals the allocation of spending for different components of VizSim/VR systems, and also offers detailed information, such as average system cost, system component cost, number of organizations involved, and dollar value, for 69 specific applications of VizSim. In addition, the market share of the manufacturers of eight key components of VizSim/VR systems is provided.
The report is organized in four main sections: Financial Findings, Technology Findings, Demographic Findings, and the Opportunity Index, CyberEdge's unique gauge of where the greatest leverage can be obtained by sellers and buyers of the key VizSim/VR components or systems.
The Market for Visual Simulation/Virtual Reality Systems, Fifth Edition is available now from the CyberEdge (http://www.cyberedge.com) in Adobe Acrobat format for US$2,750. Discounts are offered to purchasers of last year's report and to study participants.
O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference Call for Participation
If you know, or at least have a really good theory, about the technology that will revolutionize the way we compute--and the way we live--you are invited to submit a proposal to lead tutorial and/or conference sessions at the 2003 O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, taking place April 22-25 in Santa Clara, CA.
Attendees include entrepreneurs, CTOs/CIOs, technologists, programmers, business developers, policy-makers, researchers, Internet strategists, designers, journalists, and hackers. Any innovative application that harnesses the power of distributed computers, users or devices, and the technical or business issues raised by such applications, are appropriate subjects for this conference.
* Rich Internet Applications--What happens when you turn Web pages back into their underlying applications? How much more is the "Rich Internet Application" than simply taking the browser to the next level?
* Social Software--Explores work designed to support two-way communications in groups, from retrofitting broadcast mechanisms with conversational tools, publishing systems that treat community involvement as central, to the integration of multimedia and/or mobility into the communal repertoire.
* Untethered--Cuts across several aspects of no-wire networks and systems, including community networking, location-based services, opportunistic equipment, wireless electricity, and the dangers of leaving portals open, however secure, to the outside world.
* Biological Models of Computing--Sessions investigate work in any sort of evolutionary computing (genetic algorithms, neural networks, cellular automata); systems that self-tune in response to their environment (immune system models for security; swarm intelligence); and systems that use biological materials as computational tools (DNA computing).
* Digital Rights--Digital Rights Management (DRM), copy-restriction, and rights-expression tools are potentially dangerous but often-innovative technologies. The Digital Rights track considers the nexus of personal and legislated DRM. Can DRM work? How far along are these technologies? Can DRM help the public? Can, and indeed, should you plug "the analog hole"? What happens when tech meets law?
* Hardware--Hardware hacks expand the machine in new and powerful ways, using cheap, off-the-shelf technology. Proposals for this track should address how to change the world today with Radio Shack parts and simple schematics or how clouds of tiny sub-micro devices will upend the world of tomorrow.
* Business Models--Features technologies that are growing just below the horizon of commercial viability, and spotlights projects and people who are likely to become important to the future of Internet computing. Equally important is a careful study of what the new business models will look like. Will they be a return to the traditional, times being as they are? Or is there still room to innovate? Who is putting a stake in the ground and attempting to build the new applications, network, and online culture?
The submission deadline for all proposals is December 13, 2002. Presenters will be notified of selection results by January 7, 2003.
O'Reilly Releases "NetBeans: The Definitive Guide"
"The power of an IDE lies not just in its ability to make programming simple, but also in its ability to make programming powerful," state the authors of "NetBeans: The Definitive Guide" (Boudreau, Glick, Greene, Spurlin, and Woehr, O'Reilly, US $44.95), adding, "While IDEs are often greatly valued for making repetitive tasks easier, the truly useful IDE makes even the most complex tasks accessible by the typical developer." This is what NetBeans does: it allows developers to exchange one set of development techniques and practices for another. Rather than just performing the same tasks more quickly, programmers are able to master more advanced topics, and create more complex applications, all with their existing skill set and the NetBeans IDE.
There are numerous IDEs available today for use by Java developers, but NetBeans stands above the rest. It's powerful, useful, extensible, open, and free. In "NetBeans: The Definitive Guide" developers will learn how to use this IDE. Through a tutorial, the book explains the capabilities of the NetBeans IDE, introducing readers to the basics of the IDE and getting them started with the various editor and explorer windows. Readers will learn many of NetBeans' advanced features and learn to work with XML documents, CVS repositories, Javadoc trees, and Web applications, all within the NetBeans framework.
Chapter 11, "Working with XML," is available free online at: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/netbeans/chapter/ch11.html
For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios and samples, see http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/netbeans/.
O'Reilly Releases "Learning Visual Basic .NET"
Jesse Liberty, author of "Programming C#" and "Programming ASP.NET," has written "Learning Visual Basic .NET" (O'Reilly, US $34.95), an entry-level guide to learning the VB.NET language.
The book introduces the reader to fundamentals like Visual Studio .NET, object-oriented programming principles, and the Visual Basic .NET language itself. Readers will learn about the syntax and structure of the Visual Basic .NET language, including operators, classes and interfaces, structs, arrays, and strings. Liberty then demonstrates how to develop various kinds of applications--including those that work with databases--and Web services.
Chapter 2, "Getting Started with Visual Basic .NET," is available free online at http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/learnvbnet/chapter/index.html.
For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, and samples, see http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/learnvbnet/.
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
Game Review: Summoner 2
THQ, the publisher of Summoner 2 (for PS2), would have us believe that it's a role-playing game. In a sense, it certainly is: As your characters gain experience and cash, you get to choose which of their powers increase, and how to spend the loot on better equipment. And let's not overlook the real-time combat aspect, which is quite challenging at times. In most cases, though, battles can be won simply by mashing the action button repeatedly, while making judicious use of the block and heal buttons.
But at its heart, Summoner is really an adventure game of the highest order. You're constantly being given new quests, many of which are optional but lucrative, and a few of which are necessary to advance the plot. Most are actually interesting, rather than the usual FedEx type used by unimaginative developers in other games. At this point, maybe halfway through the game, my "quest item" list has about 40 entries, many of which I have no idea what to do with (but I intend to find out). Also, as in any good adventure, but rare in console games, you can save at any time, and loading takes you back to exactly where you saved. There's also a good deal of well-acted spoken dialog, although characters don't move their mouths while speaking.
The 3D game features Maia, a feisty and bodacious god/queen who refuses to sit on the throne and rule, but instead likes to get down and dirty with her crew, a motley gang of oddball characters with mysterious pasts. Maia's goal is ... well, I'm not really sure; it's another one of those silly adventure/RPG plots, but when a game is this fun, who cares? She starts out teamed with Sangaril, an assassin, who originally set out to kill her but ended up becoming her best pal. As Maia progresses through an astonishing variety of well-designed, great-looking game levels, she meets a number of others, including the usual opponents who end up becoming allies, plus lots of interesting non-player characters. Speaking of graphics, by the way, the game takes advantage of particle effects to an extent that few others do.
What's also great about Summoner 2 is the fact that your allies have reasonably good AI, whose basic nature you can change from a menu (melee, range attack, heal, etc.), but even more, that you can switch instantly among the three team members available at any given time. When not in battle, the other two tag along, ready to mix it up at a moment's notice. Occasionally, you might need to venture forth alone, for which the game gives you a "solo" mode option. Other times, you're forced to play a particular team member through a short mission. One of my favorite areas so far splits up the gang into multiple teams, which gradually get winnowed down through an ingenious series of plot jumps. Slight annoyances include longer-than-usual load times and the occasional misplaced camera, but overall gameplay is silky smooth.
There's more, like the "summoning" aspect where Maia takes on the form of some pretty weird critters, but it's a lot more fun if you discover it for yourself. Summoner 2 is a shining example of all that makes console gaming at its best a unique, exciting pastime. Don't let this one fall through the cracks, especially if you like adventure games and don't mind a bit of combat action.
Metroid Returns to Nintendo
This week, Samus Aran returns in two new games: Metroid Prime for Gamecube and Metroid Fusion for Game Boy Advance. Both games feature the solitude and exploration that the original Metroid games demonstrated in the '80s. Gamecube owners will confront the varied landscapes of the planet Tallon IV through a first-person perspective. Metroid Fusion players must 'fuse' with alien enemies in order to save Samus from a parasite destroying her from within.
Thanks to the connectivity between the two systems, players can receive two bonuses by linking their hardware. By successfully completing the Gamecube version, Samus can be equipped with the new armored spacesuit featured in Metroid Fusion. Plus, those who successfully complete the Game Boy Advance adventure can unlock an embedded version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System Metroid for play on their Gamecube systems.
Developed by Retro Studios and Nintendo, Metroid Prime is an exercise in strategy, exploration and survival.
Disney's Treasure Planet Comes to PSX, PS2
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. and Disney Interactive last week released two titles centered on Disney's new feature film based on Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," titled Disney's Treasure Planet, which opens in theaters on November 27. Featuring voice actors from the motion picture, gamers will join Jim Hawkins, a cabin boy, and his devoted pet and protoplasmic "shape shifter" Morph who can transform into valuable tools and help solve puzzles in a balanced mix of solar surfing and action-platform adventure.
The PlayStation version builds upon the story in the movie, where Jim leaves home in search of treasure to discover the treasure within him. Gamers will go beyond the realms of the motion picture to discover new characters, environments and gameplay elements while viewing cut-scenes that tie in the feature film narrative. The title features 10 levels, mini-games and boss challenges as well as original artwork, behind-the-scenes game footage and stored movie clips.
The PlayStation 2 version lets gamers explore 20 intergalactic levels based on the movie with unlockable film clips to gather and store. Gamers take on the role of Jim as they solar surf and perform action moves with the help of Morph who can transform into a variety of items: a glider, speedy boots, smashing hammer, helping hand, a giant glove that can throw switches, cyborg arms that can smash crates and a jet pack.
Midway Ships Platform Adventure: Dr. Muto
Midway Games last week shipped Dr. Muto, a new 3D action-adventure videogame for PlayStation2 and Xbox. A GameCube version is expected in December and one for Game Boy Advance next year.
Players assume the role of Dr. Muto, a maniacal genius whose latest experiment accidentally destroyed his home planet, except for his laboratory. Now, the mad doctor must rebuild his world by harvesting resources from other nearby planets, while dashing through a stylized universe -- encountering deadly challenges, freakish monstrosities, and battling his arch nemesis, the evil Professor Burnital.
Gamers assume the role of Dr. Muto and forge through vast levels on four distinct planetscapes: from the junkyard world of Totltec, to the half-drowned water world of Aquem, through the smog-choked skies of Flotos, and finally the forbidden mines of Mazon. Armed with his newest invention -- the Splizz-gun -- Dr. Muto morphs himself into a variety of DNA spliced-up creatures including an alien-spider, miniature mouse and hulking gorilla. By morphing, Dr. Muto gains each creature's abilities and physical attributes -- such as clinging to webs, squeezing into tight spaces and breathing underwater -- all to better crush, outwit and outlast his enemies.
Activision Set to Release Rally Fusion: Race of Champions
Right around the corner is Activision's racer Rally Fusion: Race of Champions. Based on the Michelin Race of Champions, held annually in the Canary Islands, the game lets players take on the racers from the world of motor sport with the ultimate goal of becoming the "Champion of Champions." The title was developed by Climax for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Rally Fusion features nine different environments including road, desert, mountain and arctic conditions for players to test their talent as they careen through hairpin turns on their way to the checkered flag. With detailed damage modeling and dirt effects, the game lets players select their machine from 19 makes and models. Nine different modes and 20 different tracks are available.
EA Launches Harry Potter on Seven Platforms
Electronic Arts last week shipped Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets, based on J.K. Rowling's second book in the best-selling series, on seven game platforms. Players get to "be" Harry Potter on PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube, in addition to PC, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation and Game Boy Color.
With the help of returning friends Hermione, Ron, Hagrid and Hedwig, players attend new classes to learn second-year spells that will aid them in a quest to uncover the true identity of the "Heir of Slytherin" and protect Hogwarts from the evil force within the Chamber of Secrets.
Under the supervision of EA, The KnowWonder studio of Seattle-based entertainment software developer Amaze Entertainment developed Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets for the PC and Game Boy Color; Argonaut Games, based in London, developed the PlayStation game; Eurocom, based in Darby, England, developed the Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance games and Electronic Arts developed the PlayStation 2 game.
Midway Ships Justice League: Injustice for All for GBA
Today, Midway Games releases Justice League: Injustice for All for GBA. Based on the DC comic book franchise and animated Cartoon Network series, the game features superheroes who band together to fight the Injustice League. Gamers can choose from the seven core members of the Justice League team including Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter. Fighting for truth, justice and freedom, the Justice League's mission is to protect the world from infamous evildoers The Joker, Lex Luthor, Mongul, Cheetah, Solomon Grundy, The Shade, Star Sapphire and Felix Faust.
Players battle the through 12 levels, where they can switch between super heroes to continue the action and stay out of danger. Each member of the Justice League can utilize his or her own special powers such as The Flash's super speed, Superman's heat vision or Green Lantern's power ring.
SCEA Releases Online Racing Title for PS2
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. last week released ATV Offroad Fury2 for PlayStation2. The title provides free-roaming offroad racing gameplay, with additional courses, large environments, extra modes, mini-games, ATVs and new online gameplay.
Developed by Rainbow Studios and produced by Sony Computer Entertainment America, San Diego development studios, the online racing title for PlayStation 2 supports up to four players per game via a broadband or dial-up connection. Players can choose from more than 20 ATVs including licensed models from various manufacturers.
Playable from both first- and third-person perspectives, ATV Offroad Fury 2 lets players race in 40 environments through six event types, as well as compete in new mini-games including Tag, Hockey, King of the Hills and Treasure Hunt. The six event types include: Enduro courses, Nationals courses, Supercross courses, Freestyle courses, short tracks and a training course.
Sierra, Papyrus Present NASCAR Racing 2003 Season
Coming in February 2003 from Sierra is NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, developed by Massachusetts-based Papyrus Racing Games, will feature new 3D graphics, an enhanced physics model developed with the input of official NASCAR team engineers, and informative driving aids for both seasoned and novice drivers. In addition, the game will include 2003 NASCAR Cup series teams, sponsors, and tracks.
The game's 3D graphics include a populated pit row, team war wagons, pit signs, aerial objects such as planes, helicopters, blimps, and more. In addition, the enhanced AI automatically adjusts to match the player's driving ability, allowing both rookies and veterans the opportunity to trade paint with the pros.
U.S. Wireless Game Market Emerges
The U.S. wireless gaming market is emerging as a viable long-term opportunity for game developers and publishers, wireless carriers, and wireless handset providers. According to a new study from IDC, Are We Having Fun Yet?: U.S. Wireless Gaming Forecast, 2002-2007, the number of total U.S. unique wireless gamers will climb from nearly 7.0 million in 2002 to 71.2 million in 2007.
The development of the U.S. wireless gaming market requires the successful triangulation of mutually dependent players, including handset providers, wireless carriers, and game developers and publishers. Currently, domestic wireless carriers are pursuing 2.5G and 3G network upgrades to deploy next-generation wireless services that include wireless data applications.
* The advent of faster processors, color screens, polyphonic sound, new battery technology and improved input control features will boost wireless gaming * Quality game content targeted to the appropriate demographics will be a driving factor for wireless gaming * Wireless gaming will promote the adoption of wireless data services by providing subscribers with a familiar activity
To purchase the study, call 508-988-7988 or contact Jim Nagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Game Developers Awards Board Named
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has named the 2003 Game Developers Choice Awards advisory board that will shape the annual event and assist in the selection of the Lifetime Achievement award.
All professional game developers are eligible to nominate, vote and pay tribute to the developers whose work they respect most. Nominations open January 3, 2003. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on March 6, 2003 at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Jose, CA.
The board members are:
* Hal Barwood, project leader, LucasArts (USA) * Louis Castle, general manager & co-founder, Westwood Studios (USA) * Sarah Chudley, business director, Bizarre Creations (England) * John De Margheriti, co-founder, MicroForte (Australia) * Martin de Ronde, managing director, Lost Boys Games B.V. (Netherlands) * Noah Falstein, president, The Inspiracy (USA) * Petri Jarvilehto, project leader, Remedy Entertainment (Finland) * Chris Kingsley, CTO, Rebellion Developments Ltd. (England) * Lulu LaMer, producer, Ion Storm Austin (USA) * David McCarthy, news editor, Edge Magazine (England) * Dave Perry, president, Shiny Entertainment (USA) * Samantha Ryan, chief operating officer, Monolith Productions (USA) * Yoot Saito, lead game designer, Vivarium (Japan) * Greg Zeschuk, joint CEO & co-founder, BioWare Corp. (Canada)
The International Game Developers Association, presenters of the Game Developers Choice Awards, is an independent, non-profit association established by game developers to foster the creation of a worldwide game development community. The IGDA's mission is to build a community of game developers, which leverages the expertise of its members for the betterment of the industry and the development of the art form.
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