Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News 12 Oct 98

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send duberman@dnai.com
New!!! Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER --Live Picture Releases Image Server Ver. 3.0 --RealNetworks Ships RealSystem G2 Beta 2 --Free GIFCruncher Service Speeds Download Times --ATG Unveils Dynamo Personalization Server for Relationship Commerce --1Automata Ships Web Hotspots 4.0 DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX --VR-1 to Update VR-1 Conductor Networking --Samsung Releases COCKTAIL '98 Multimedia Production Software IN THE INFOGROOVE --L.A. Times, Washington Post Sue Freepublic.com --Internet Players Launch Online Marketing Bureau --New 3D Browser Reads VRML, SVR Formats --Alexa 3.0 Surf Engine Features News, Financial Info --SINANET.com Debuts Typing with Chinese Characters --Smith Micro Ships Internet CommSuite --Moonlight Ships FoneCam 1.0 GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING --Digimation Ships Procedural Textures for 3DS MAX --McNeel Ships Rhino, 3D NURBS Modeler --Mac Vector Scope --MetaCreations Ships Painter 5.5 Web Edition --Adobe Ships Illustrator 8.0 --Quantum3D Releases Voodoo Banshee-Powered 16 MB Raven Graphics Board --Life Forms Studio 3 Adds Support for Poser 3, 3DS MAX WEBSIGHTINGS --HyperTextNOW Offers Essays CONSUMER CHANNEL --Mindscape Launches PF.Magic's Dogz 3 and Catz 3 --Sierra Starts Up Driver's Education '99 --Silicon Alley Releases Interactive Movie on DVD THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER --Communication Arts Mag Names Interactive Media Winners --Diamond to Fight RIAA Legal Action DEALS --Viacom Sells Activision Star Trek License GAMES PEOPLE PLAY --Activision Ships Paintbrawl, Pool Hustler, Fifth Element --Interplay Ships Die by the Sword Expansion, with Ogre Hockey --LavaMind Launches Business Sim, Partners in New Online Venture --Shiny Entertainment's Wild 9 Hits Retail --Sega Announces Dreamcast Launch Titles, Price --Microsoft Announces AoE Expansion Trial Version --Mindscape Announces Plans for Red Orb Product Line --Abracadata Ships 3D Railroad Master DIGERATI ILLUMINATI --USC Appoints Pesce Director of Interactive Media Program --Hasbro Interactive Names Gilman Louie Chief Creative Officer F.Y.I. --About Spectrum --------------------------------------------------

WEBMEISTER

Live Picture Releases Image Server Ver. 3.0 Live Picture, Inc.'s new Live Picture Image Server Ver. 3.0 is said to provide image delivery performance gains of up to 300 percent over the previous release, plus refinements that let companies distribute high-impact zoomable images over networks more efficiently than before. The new release's server-side Java viewers let users with standard Web browsers view high-resolution Zoom images, zoomable 360-degree panoramas, and interactive image objects without plug-ins or special software. A trial version is available for download at http://www.livepicture.com. -------------------------------------------------- RealNetworks Ships RealSystem G2 Beta 2 Just out from RealNetworks, Inc. is the second beta release of RealSystem G2. RealNetworks says the encoder and server are ready for production use and evaluation. Features include: * incorporates Intel's Web Streaming Video technology, said to provide enhanced playback performance, smoother Web video, and better CPU scalability * audio and video enhancements: up to 30 frames per second (fps), stereo and near-CD quality capabilities * new technology called FRU (frame rate upsampling) reportedly produces smoother video playback for Internet bitrates by increasing the frame rate without requiring additional bandwidth. * for content creators, video encoding is now up to four times faster, and support for MPEG files as an input format allows rapid conversion of existing video into the RealVideo format. Get real at http://www.real.com. -------------------------------------------------- Free GIFCruncher Service Speeds Download Times Spinwave Software announces the debut of GIFCruncher, a free new Web-based service said to reduce download times of Web sites up to 90 percent by analyzing and optimizing the color content of still and animated GIF images. GIFCruncher allows realtime or scheduled optimization of one or more images, including entire sites. Created by the developers of the HVS ColorGIF and HVS JPEG plug-ins for Photoshop, the service compresses GIF images without compromising quality. GIFCruncher will optimize any GIF on a user's hard drive, or located on the Internet (FTP, or HTTP). In Basic mode, GIFCruncher automatically generates several versions of a GIF image with progressive levels of optimization. Batch Mode lets Webmasters and designers optimize entire sites. The user can submit a batch, and review the results at a later time. The GIFCruncher batch engine uses a sophisticated algorithm to ensure that image quality is maintained during optimization. Batch mode is a subscriber option, but is available for a two-week free trial. A Desktop version of GIFCruncher is scheduled for release to Macintosh and Windows users later this fall. Get crunched at http://www.gifcruncher.com. -------------------------------------------------- ATG Unveils Dynamo Personalization Server for Relationship Commerce Art Technology Group (ATG) last week unveiled Dynamo Personalization Server ($10,000 to $60,000), a rules-based content targeting and customer management system for the enterprise e-commerce Web application. The product is designed to let companies establish and manage users and market segments, create competitive personalization features and leverage users based on behavior or customer data. It is comprised of two products, Dynamo Personalization Station 4.0 and Dynamo Application Server 4.0, ATG's scaleable Java-based architecture. URL: http://www.atg.com -------------------------------------------------- 1Automata Ships Web Hotspots 4.0 1Automata announces the availability of Web Hotspots 4.0, a package of three software programs for creating interactive Web graphics and animations. The package includes a keyframe-oriented vector-animation program, a vector graphics program, and an imagemap editor. All programs use common visual editors for working with figure layouts, and the graphics and animation programs use common consoles for working with effects, transparencies, and imported images. The interactive animation tool supports separate timelines for each figure's mouse over and click event. A timeline can include any number of animation sequences and/or other actions including audio, status bar messages, and URL jumps. The program creates animation sequences by tweening movements, shape morphs, and effects. Simple transitions such as fades and color changes are possible, as are more complex transitions such as gradient morphs. All programs save complete Web implementations into existing Web pages. Trial copies of Web Hotspots 4.0 can be downloaded at: http://www.1automata.com --------------------------------------------------

DEVELOPER'S TOOLBOX

VR-1 to Update VR-1 Conductor Networking VR-1, Inc., a developer of online-only games, has released an updated version of its VR-1 Conductor networking technology. VR-1 Conductor is the enabling technology behind such "massively multiplayer" games as Microsoft Fighter Ace. In addition to client/server, communications and management applications, VR-1 Conductor version 1.1 provides the following new features: * Relational database support for building persistent worlds, sharing data across multiple servers, saving game data (scores, player rankings, etc.), and providing real-time game data to lobbies and other game-launching facilities * more efficient communication protocol * More aggressive bandwidth management * Improved player synchronization Find more information at http://www.vr1.com. -------------------------------------------------- Samsung Releases COCKTAIL '98 Multimedia Production Software Just out from Samsung America, Inc. is COCKTAIL '98 ($99), a new Windows-based multimedia authoring and production tool that lets users incorporate sound, photos, music, animations, text, and video into corporate presentations, publications etc. The program combines a "Multimedia Studio" with five "workshops": * Artist Workshop for editing--image manipulation and compressing. * Music Workshop for music, sound, and sound effects; record and play voice and CDs. * Word Workshop for editing text and controlling background colors. * Hypertext Workshop for creating hypertext documents and HTML web pages. * Database Workshop--add, delete, and search data with popular-format database files. The two-CD package contains a multimedia library with music, sound effects, art, animations and more. Make a toast at http://www.cocktail98.com. --------------------------------------------------

IN THE INFOGROOVE

L.A. Times, Washington Post Sue Freepublic.com The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post Company and its subsidiary, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), have filed a copyright infringement case in Los Angeles federal court against the operator of a Website known as freerepublic.com. The lawsuit alleges that freerepublic.com, which operates out of Fresno, California, copies and posts dozens of articles from LATimes.com and Washingtonpost.com, the Websites that publish content from the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, respectively. In addition, freerepublic.com is charged with encouraging its users to copy and post the full text of plaintiffs' copyrighted newspaper articles on its Website. The complaint also alleges that Freerepublic's actions and those of its readers harm plaintiffs by depriving them of revenues for licensing their articles and by diverting valuable traffic from their Websites, which attract advertisers. -------------------------------------------------- Internet Players Launch Online Marketing Bureau A coalition of interactive marketing services companies has formed the Internet Direct Marketing Bureau to ensure the effectiveness and acceptance of direct marketing on the Internet. The association will address a range of Internet marketing disciplines, including e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, affiliate partner programs, collaborative filtering, affinity linking, ROI measurement, site analysis, sweepstakes, online privacy issues and other forms of Internet publicity, promotion and direct marketing. Find more at http://www.idmb.org. -------------------------------------------------- New 3D Browser Reads VRML, SVR Formats Interactive 3D specialist Superscape launches Viscape Universal, the company's 3D Web browser for exploring both VRML and Superscape's own SVR-enabled 3D Web pages. Features of Viscape Universal: * navigation system requires no user setup * graphics renderer that runs on all systems using Microsoft DirectX * enhances VRML content using Microsoft Directshow * supports spatialized sound * uses accelerator cards * compliance checking on VRML files * supports Java and ECMAScript The product is now available for free download from http://www.superscape.com. Viscape Universal is also available for corporate licensing. -------------------------------------------------- Alexa 3.0 Surf Engine Features News, Financial Info Alexa Internet's new Alexa 3.0 features related news and financial information provided by Industry Watch, an industry-oriented business and news information service highlighting company information from NewsReal, Inc., a customizable interface to enables users to choose which Alexa features best suit their needs, and site reviews from other Alexa users. Alexa 3.0 is the newest version of Alexa Internet's free surf engine. The beta version of Alexa 3.0 can be installed from http://www.alexa.com. -------------------------------------------------- SINANET.com Debuts Typing with Chinese Characters SINANET.com, an Internet portal for Chinese users, has incorporated new Internet technology to allow users to send messages in Chinese without Chinese software or hardware. The new Java-based input technology, SinaType, works across platforms and with all Java-enabled Internet browsers. Visit http://mail.sinanet.com/. -------------------------------------------------- Smith Micro Ships Internet CommSuite Smith Micro's new Windows-based Internet CommSuite ($69.95) lets users add voice and video to emails and online chat sessions, talk to friends and family over the Internet, send faxes without paying long-distance phone charges, and more. A player embedded in the message lets the recipient play it without any additional software needed. For more information, contact Smith Micro Software at 949/362-5800 or visit http://www.smithmicro.com. -------------------------------------------------- Moonlight Ships FoneCam 1.0 Moonlight Products' new $399 FoneCam 1.0 for Windows and Macs emulating Windows is remote digital camera with its own integrated 14.4Kbps Rockwell modem that can be installed and accessed anywhere a standard phone line is available. The compact self-contained unit can be installed anywhere a standard telephone line exists. It can be accessed by modem from any PC running FoneCam's software. For more information, visit http://www.fonecam.com. --------------------------------------------------

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

Digimation Ships Procedural Textures for 3DS MAX Digimation has just released Texture Lab: Tiling Tools, its new $149 plug-in enhancement for 3D Studio MAX 2.0. The three procedural map types appear inside the MAX Material Editor as Tiling Tesselations, Tiling Geometry and Tiling Lattice. The maps can be used in any combination to produce results ranging from Arabic repeating geometric patterns and Mexican tiles, to procedural wooden shingles, metal grating and pressed tin roofing. Tile yourself silly at http://www.digimation.com or contact the company directly at 504-468-7898. -------------------------------------------------- McNeel Ships Rhino, 3D NURBS Modeler New from Robert McNeel & Associates is Rhinoceros (Rhino), the first NURBS (non-uniform rational B-spline) modeler for the Windows platform. The initial release is scheduled to ship imminently for US$795 ($495 intro special at Web site below). Features include: * create, edit, analyze, and translate NURBS curves, surfaces, and solids in Windows. No limits on complexity, degree, or size. * Construction aids: unlimited undo and redo, exact numeric input, object snaps, grid snap, ortho, planar, construction planes, layers, background bitmaps, object hide/show, object lock/unlock. * Create curves: point, line, polyline, free-form curve, circle, arc, ellipse, rectangle, polygon, helix, spiral, conic, TrueType text, point interpolation, control points, sketch. * Create curves from other objects: extend, fillet, chamfer, offset, blend, from 2 views, cross section profiles, intersection, contour, section, border, silhouette, flowline, project, pullback, sketch, wireframe, detach trim, create 2-D drawings, flatten developable surfaces. And much more. Curb your NURBS at http://www.rhino3d.com. -------------------------------------------------- Mac Vector Scope Spectrum reader and Photoshop guru David Biedny informs us of VideoScope, a software waveform and vector scope for Power Macintosh G3 computers with video input capabilities. According to author Nick V. King, the shareware ($30) program performs realtime luminance and chrominance analysis of any video source, QuickTime movie or still image, allowing you to adjust your video digitizer's image settings to obtain the best possible video quality. "Pretty cool!" says Biedny. We say check it out at http://members.aol.com/yuv422/. -------------------------------------------------- MetaCreations Ships Painter 5.5 Web Edition MetaCreations Corporation last week released today Painter 5.5 Web Edition, an upgrade to Painter. Designed for graphics professionals who want to create and edit original art for print and the Web, the program offers such new features as image slicing, dynamic text, JavaScript rollover support, easy custom button creation and a built-in content library of more than 1,000 Web-ready images. For more information, see the September 8 edition of Spectrum, or visit http://www.metacreations.com. -------------------------------------------------- Adobe Ships Illustrator 8.0 The latest version of what many consider to be the premier vector-graphics program for the Wintel and Mac platforms is now out from Adobe. Illustrator 8.0 contains such new creative tools as the Gradient Mesh and new Brushes, plus a new Pencil tool for drawing and editing paths. The Actions feature, similar to Photoshop's, automates oft-repeated procedures. For more information, see Spectrum, 24 August 1998, or visit http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/illustrator/main.html. -------------------------------------------------- Quantum3D Releases Voodoo Banshee-Powered 16 MB Raven Graphics Board Quantum3D announces availability of the $149 Raven 3D/2D graphics accelerator. Based on the latest-generation Voodoo Banshee chip from 3Dfx Interactive, Raven provides integrated 3D/2D acceleration on a single board. Features include: * support for major gaming APIs, including OpenGL and Direct3D, plus 3DFX Glide * 16MB of SDRAM graphics memory * 3D texturing with perspective-correct texture mapping and trilinear filtering * full frame-rate DVD video acceleration, including HDTV quality resolution Find more at http://www.quantum3d.com. -------------------------------------------------- Life Forms Studio 3 Adds Support for Poser 3, 3DS MAX Vancouver, B.C.-based 3D character animation specialist Credo Interactive announces that Life Forms Studio 3 can now exchange motion capture data with Poser 3 from MetaCreations. Through the BioVision BVH motion capture format, Poser 3 users can import files created with Life Forms Studio, and export Poser 3 movements to Life Forms for editing. In addition, Poser 3 users can take advantage of PowerMoves 1 & 2, over 720 ready-to-use keyframed animations and motion capture files, that ships with Life Forms Studio 3. Also, in an apparent challenge to Kinetix's Character Studio, Credo's new 3D Studio MAX plug-in for Life Forms Studio 3 lets MAX users share both segmented models and character motion with Life Forms Studio 3.0. Users can keyframe movement or apply motion capture data to their segmented models within Life Forms Studio, and can also now edit and blend keyframed or mocap movements in Life Forms Studio, and export the movement data directly to 3D Studio Max. Character animation-related features in Life Forms Studio include: * range editing lets movement sequences be edited over a series of keyframes with one single action, including realtime walk generation. * support for motion capture data * blending lets users copy/paste individual body part movements between different models * walk generator creates customized walk sequences with parameters such as velocity, distance, and step count * inverse and forward kinematics For more info, visit http://www.credo-interactive.com. --------------------------------------------------

WEBSIGHTINGS

HyperTextNOW Offers Essays If you're interested in the creative uses of hypertext, you might enjoy the latest essay in HypertextNOW: Patterns, Narrative, and Baseball http://www.eastgate.com/HypertextNow/archives/Baseball.html While some people seem to think the complexities of literary hypertext to be mere theory, a close look at popular narratives -- even the stories of professional sports -- reveals a rich structural patterns. Understanding these patterns helps people craft better stories (and better Web sites). Also, Web professionals can easily convince themselves that almost everything is unusably bad. Designers can easily convince themselves that almost everything they craft is superb. Nobody can agree, because everybody applies different yardsticks. Find a guide to techniques for judging Web sites. Judging Web Sites: Usability or Criticism? http://www.eastgate.com/HypertextNow/archives/Merit.html --------------------------------------------------

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Mindscape Launches PF.Magic's Dogz 3 and Catz 3 Windows users whose landlords don't allow pets can circumvent the rules with Mindscape Entertainment's new Dogz 3 and Catz 3. A spokesperson for the company stated: "Still no pooper scooper or litter box required." New features include several interactive environments where Petz can now play, including a kitchen, family room, backyard and beach. Each environment comes stocked with a bunch of toyz and treatz, including water spritzers, perfume bottles and sea shells. Also new is the ability to breed entire Petz families, and a tool that helps owners with Internet access design and post their own Petz Web sites for free. Visit http://www.petz.com to download sampler "Adoption Kits" of all Petz titles. -------------------------------------------------- Sierra Starts Up Driver's Education '99 Cendant-owned Sierra On-Line announces the availability of Driver's Education '99 ($29.99), a driving simulation. Developed by Dynamix, the title teaches beginning drivers the 1999 traffic regulations and defensive driving techniques, increases awareness to key safety issues, provides introductions to driving physics, and enhances understanding of dangerous issues such as drunk driving and road rage. Features include: * awareness of key safety issues and the physical attributes of driving * understanding of how road rage develops and how to avoid it * comprehension of the effects of alcohol and other drugs on driving * ability to recognize and report drunk and road rage drivers Contact Sierra Direct at (800) 757-7707. -------------------------------------------------- Silicon Alley Releases Interactive Movie on DVD Silicon Alley interactive media production company Planet Theory has released "I'm Your Man" ($29.98), an interactive movie on DVD / DVD-ROM, and the first title from its new ChoicePoint Films studio. The production marries live-action film with DVD's programming capabilities, allowing players to construct their own versions of the film from multiple branching plots. The theatrical version of the comedy murder mystery "I'm Your Man" was originally produced in 1992 by Interfilm, and stars MTV's Kevin Seal with a soundtrack by Joe Jackson. The film was initially shot for theatrical exhibition, where viewers could vote plot twists by means of joysticks at their seats. For more information, visit http://www.imyourman.com. --------------------------------------------------

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Communication Arts Mag Names Interactive Media Winners Winners of the biggest Communication Arts (CA) magazine Interactive Design competition are featured in the September/October issue, on newsstands through the end of October. The 37 winners from more than 1,300 entries are featured in the 228-page printed magazine and accompanying CD-ROM, which allows readers to experience the full interactive design qualities of each title. Winners are also featured on the Communication Arts Web site (http://www.commarts.com) Winning titles include floppy-disk and CD-ROM based projects and Web sites in five categories: Advertising, Business, Entertainment, Information Design, and Self Promotion. A jury of new media creative professionals spent two months evaluating the entries. -------------------------------------------------- Diamond to Fight RIAA Legal Action Diamond Multimedia Systems last week described as "oppressive practices" a complaint by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) concerning the company's recently announced Rio PMP300 portable MP3-format music player, and claimed the complaint was designed to prevent shipment of the unit. "The RIAA's claim that the Rio player and similar devices are in violation of the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act is unfounded," said Diamond marketing VP Ken Wirt. "The Rio PMP300 portable music player is a playback-only device, and does not record. Rio simply holds audio content that is already stored on a computer's hard drive and plays back that content." In fact, the MP3 format is widely used to pirate copyrighted music. But according to Michael Robertson, owner of the MP3.com Website, "Nearly 800 artists have signed up to use MP3, including larger artists like the Beastie Boys ... the majority of traffic in MP3 is legal." "It appears that the RIAA's lawsuit against Diamond is being driven by the interests of its largest members, the big five record labels, who are seeking to maintain their control of music distribution and prevent the unfettered freedom of musicians without recording contracts at their member companies to distribute their music to a broad audience," said Wirt. --------------------------------------------------

DEALS

Viacom Sells Activision Star Trek License Activision, Inc. and Viacom Consumer Products, the licensing division of Paramount Pictures, the entertainment unit of Viacom Inc., have signed a 10-year alliance that will allow Activision to develop and publish interactive entertainment titles based on the Star Trek franchise. Under the terms of the agreement, Activision has obtained the exclusive worldwide publishing rights for multiple platforms to all Star Trek properties, subject to the expiration of existing publishing agreements. The deal also provides Activision with exclusive worldwide rights to any new television series or motion pictures based on Star Trek. Activision intends to release its first Star Trek title based on Paramount Pictures' holiday '98 feature film, "Star Trek: Insurrection." --------------------------------------------------

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Activision Ships Paintbrawl, Pool Hustler, Fifth Element At last, a sports simulation that isn't football, soccer or baseball. Featuring five fields of battle and over eight paintguns (otherwise known as "markers") to select from, Sheridan's Extreme PaintBrawl, new for the PC at a low $20 SRP, lets gamers play capture the flag, strategic assault or elimination. With online single- and multi-player capability, players battle their opponents in a variety of settings including a desert, an urban concrete jungle and outer space. Also new from Activision is Pool Hustler, where gamers players can employ techniques such as English, backspin, masse and jumping. Developed for the PlayStation, Pool Hustler carries a suggested retail price of $39.95. Moving from joint to joint, players encounter 12 A.I. opponents, each with different skills, taunts and betting strategies in various environments with unique pool tables, cue sticks and backstories. The game offers six play modes and five games -- including 8- and 9-ball, Trick Shot, 14.1 and Bowlliards. Also, based on the feature film of the same name, The Fifth Element immerses players in a futuristic world where they attempt to join together the four elements of earth, air, fire and water around a fifth to save the world from annihilation. Gamers explore, shoot and fight their way through four interactive worlds, solving a series of puzzles as they battle their way through New York, a mysterious Egyptian temple, a luxurious hotel and a space shuttle to save the planet from ultimate destruction. The Fifth Element utilizes an enhanced version of the Nightmare Creatures engine, which allows for character animations and movements while providing intelligent camera angles that adapt to each character's actions. Also, in Activision's new 3D PC title Barrage, developed by Mango Grits, players are thrust into a cockpit of a high-speed hover fighter aircraft in which they must blast away at military targets to activate the gateway into the next world. While searching for the portal to the next level, players fly through five detailed environments, including the Grand Canyon, underwater, tunnel, downtown Chicago and a New England prairie. Each level features a new weapon to find and master, from lasers to nuclear arms. Activision can be found at http://www.activision.com. -------------------------------------------------- Interplay Ships Die by the Sword Expansion, with Ogre Hockey Interplay division Tantrum, a of Productions, has shipped an expansion disc for their technology-driven sword fighting game, Die By The Sword. Developed by the original Die By The Sword creator Treyarch Invention, Die By The Sword - Limb From Limb is available for Windowsr 95-based computers with full installation of the original Die By The Sword game. The expansion disc offers four new arenas, three new multi-player games, new monsters and power-ups. A revised quest adds new surprises to the familiar caverns. Gamers can play a newly revamped quest as Maya, the Orc, the Skeleton or one of the other monsters they've wasted in the past. "VSIM, the engine that powered Die By The Sword, can render almost any human motion on the fly," stated Peter Akeman, president of Treyarch Invention. "With Limb From Limb we wanted to show that it can easily be used for something other than swordplay, like Ogre Hockey." Ogre Hockey, played by only the biggest and toughest Ogres in the clan, takes place in a cave with a circle in the middle and goals at each end. A Kobold from the Ogres' reserve of slaves is dropped into the circle from a hole at the top of the cave and the game begins. Each Ogre wields a club and rushes the stunned Kobold, each trying to slap-shot the hapless creature hard enough to land inside the opponent's goal. Both Ogres and the Kobold are invulnerable during play. The Ogres can knock each other down, but can't kill one another. More information is available at http://www.interplay.com. -------------------------------------------------- LavaMind Launches Business Sim, Partners in New Online Venture LavaMind's new Profitania Deluxe completes the developer's Economic Simulation trilogy, which includes the titles Gazillionaire and Zapitalism. In Profitania Deluxe, the user runs a subterranean factory and must compete against six other industrialists in a race to build a manufacturing empire. In the past, LavaMind has had publishing deals with Microprose, Ionos, Seiko-Epson, A.W. Bruna, and numerous other companies around the world. "This time we're going it alone," says co-founder Steven Hoffman. "Unless we can find a publisher that targets our market, we plan on self-publishing." "We've done exceptionally well over the Web this past year. The Web is the best thing to ever happen to software developers," says co-founder Naomi Kokubo. "It turns the distribution playing field on its head." Visit http://www.profitania.com. In a related story, Hoffman and Kokubo recently launched Spiderdance, Inc., a new Web technology company, with partners Tracy Fullerton, formerly West Coast Creative Director for R/GA Interactive, and Mike Gresh, founder of MGMM. Spiderdance's Mass Activity Server System (MASS) has been in development over a year and has a full range of backend tools for customization and user tracking. Gresh, director of technology, developed MASS as a means of staging mass-participation events. The technology has evolved into a system for hosting massive, real-time online activities and building Web-based communities. Spiderdance's first application built on top of the Mass Activity Server System is JabberChat, an online game that allows thousands of users to chat and play simultaneously. Visit http://www.spiderdance.com -------------------------------------------------- Shiny Entertainment's Wild 9 Hits Retail Interplay subsidiary Shiny Entertainment announces the release of Wild 9. The single-player, save-the-universe action game, created exclusively for PlayStation, places the player in the role of Wex-Major, a 21st century earthling teenager lost in the midst of another universe playing host to a galactic war. Players venture through 13 levels in search of the evil Karn. Gamers will pole-vault walls and chasms, float on air currents, ride a jet bike and a wild beast, launch a kaleidoscope of flashing hoops of fire and explosions and burn their enemies to a crisp using The Rig (the ultimate torture weapon). For more information, visit http://www.Wild9.com. -------------------------------------------------- Sega Announces Dreamcast Launch Titles, Price Last week in Tokyo, Sega Enterprises, Ltd. announced first- and third-party games, price, network capabilities and peripherals for Dreamcast, its new 128-bit videogame console. The information pertains only to the Japanese launch of Dreamcast on November 27. Dreamcast will ship next fall in North America and Europe, and details surrounding those launches were not disclosed. Sega unveiled a catalog of 45 first- and third-party titles, five of which will be available at launch including "Godzilla Generations," "Virtua Fighter 3tb" and Sega Rally 2" from Sega. Third-party launch titles include "July" from 45 and "Pen Pen Triathalon" from General Entertainment. The company also confirmed that more than 300 Japanese software developers are supporting Dreamcast. At the conference, Capcom Japan announced the Dreamcast-exclusive "Bio Hazard Code Veronica" for the Japanese market, based on the Resident Evil property. Dreamcast will debut in Japan for a price of 29,800 yen and will be bundled with a 33.6 Kbps modem and the Dream Passport networking software. Games with modem support at this point include "Sega Rally 2," which will be network-enabled for online gaming. Network support for the other titles has not yet been announced. Sega is also developing email software for Dreamcast gamers called "Dream Flyer." This software will allow users to send email, design email templates from different writing paper and envelopes, and access an animation function allowing characters in a letter to come to life. Sega 's Web site is located at (http://www.sega.com). -------------------------------------------------- Microsoft Announces AoE Expansion Trial Version The trial version of Microsoft's Age of Empires Expansion: The Rise of Rome, will be available mid this month, marking the one-year anniversary of the original title. The trial version is a stand-alone, meaning players will be able to play it without having installed or purchased the original Age of Empires. The expansion pack, which focuses on the ancient Roman Empire, is being developed by Ensemble Studios, and features the expertise of Bruce Shelley, co-designer of Age of Empires and the hit strategy game Civilization, and Sandy Petersen as lead designer. The Web site is at http://www.microsoft.com/games/aoeexpansion/ -------------------------------------------------- Mindscape Announces Plans for Red Orb Product Line Mindscape Entertainment last week announced its plans for the Red Orb products recently acquired in the merger between Mindscape's parent company, The Learning Company, Inc., and Broderbund. The Myst and Riven, Warlords, and Prince of Persia product lines, cornerstones of the Red Orb brand, have been identified as key product lines, and Mindscape Entertainment is moving forward with existing plans to support and expand the lines. In regard to other Red Orb titles in development, The Journeyman 4 project has reverted to the developer, Presto Studios, Inc. and opportunities for Baja 1000 Racing and Extreme Warfare are currently under evaluation. Two Red Orb titles will ship in October as planned: Ages of Myst and the Prince of Persia Collection Limited Edition. Both are compilations with no additional gameplay. Visit http://www.learningco.com. -------------------------------------------------- Abracadata Ships 3D Railroad Master Abracadata's new $60 Windows-based train simulation game, 3D Railroad Master, is described as a real-time, cab-view simulation with 3D graphics, and realistic controls, operations and sounds. Players control the throttle, brakes, horn, headlights and track switches. They can create trains from a variety of rolling stock that can be coupled and uncoupled during the simulation. Next, the player can designate any cargo and assign it to the appropriate car type. Get railroaded at http://www.abracadata.com for more details and a demo. --------------------------------------------------

DIGERATI ILLUMINATI

USC Appoints Pesce Director of Interactive Media Program Mark Pesce has been named director of the USC School of Cinema-Television's burgeoning program in interactive media. Pesce brings his expertise in virtual reality, the Internet and Web design to the School's core courses in 3D media. His accomplishments include numerous publications and the creation of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), now an ISO Specification and a worldwide standard. As director, Pesce will develop the USC concentration into an intensive program in interactive media. Specifically, the new program will leverage the School of Cinema-Television's strengths in writing, directing and production to develop curricula in interactive narrative, game design and interface techniques. "We'll be exploring the convergence of entertainment and technology," Pesce says. "Students will be encouraged to develop new interactive designs in their thesis work, and partnerships with commercial organizations will give students access to cutting-edge technologies that deliver a cinema-quality interactive experience. We expect that graduates of this program will generate the best of the next generation of interactive works." For additional information, call the USC School of Cinema-Television at (213) 740-2804. -------------------------------------------------- Hasbro Interactive Names Gilman Louie Chief Creative Officer MicroProse chairman Gilman Louie has been named Hasbro Interactive's chief creative officer. Louie will be responsible for developing high-level creative concepts and product designs for Hasbro Interactive's game line. In 1982, at the age of 22, Louie founded the Nexa Corporation, an entertainment software developer that later merged with Spectrum HoloByte. He's perhaps best known for his creation of the Falcon air combat simulation. Visit Hasbro Interactive at http://www.hasbro-interactive.com. --------------------------------------------------

F.Y.I.

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