18 October 1999
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Enter the MathEngine Code for Cash Competition and win $5000!
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I have a response/correction to the article from Spectrum 12 October 1999: Guillemot Announces 3D Prophet DDR.
You said "faster AI from a display card? I don't think so!". Actually, a video card that handles transforms and lighting on the card (as opposed to by the CPU, as with current generation cards) frees up the CPU to handle other complex tasks. Extra CPU cycles could then be dedicated to AI.
vp site development, i-Socket Web Creative
Ed. response: Thanks for your feedback, David. What you say is true, but until such cards are common, I question whether developers will take the trouble to scale their AI routines based on how much of the T&L burden the graphics card shoulders. But it will happen.
Morph's Outpost ran a similar item as an April Fools joke back in '95, but apparently these guys are for real. And Mark Canter's involved! Once considered to be a science fiction fantasy, Smellovision and Digital Scratch 'n' Sniff are finally here. Dexter Smith and Joel Lloyd Bellenson, founders of biotech leader Pangea Systems Inc., last week announced their latest venture, DigiScents, Inc. ( http://www.digiscents.com), an interactive media company. The November 1999 issue of Wired Magazine features the company as its cover story.
Developers will be able to use DigiScents technology to scent enable Web sites, email, movies, music, e-commerce, interactive games, and online advertising, making the multimedia consumer experience more lifelike and memorable.
The company's offerings will include the following hardware, software, and content:
"The sense of smell is closely tied to memory and emotion, making scent a powerful way to reinforce ideas. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a scent is worth a thousand pictures," states Joel Bellenson, CEO. "Scent is very evocative. Just think of the applications in advertising and education."
DigiScents is currently partnering with Web sites and interactive game developers to scent enable their content. Developers can apply to join DigiScents' early access program at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Potential corporate partners can contact mailto:email@example.com.
Voyant Technologies last week released its CleverVoice software developer kit (SDK) for the InnoVox platform, Voyant's open platform for intelligent voice applications. The company also released an enhanced version of ConferenceNow!, the company's Web-enabled, on-demand voice conferencing application, which runs on InnoVox.
The CleverVoice software developer kit includes tools for Internet and telephony service providers to develop intelligent voice applications -- any integrated collaboration application using voice as the foundation. Examples of intelligent voice applications include multipoint Internet conferencing, voice communication through Internet portals and data collaboration applications, such as presentation sharing, whiteboarding, e-Learning, software application sharing and Web marketing.
Emerging areas for intelligent voice application use include solutions for customer-relationship management, enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and on-demand e-commerce customer service.
The CleverVoice SDK supports Java and allows software developers to build voice services into their existing customer-relationship management solutions in any format, including Java and HTML. Using CleverVoice, Voyant customers can now customize and adapt ConferenceNow! and its interface to meet the unique needs of their customers enabling them to integrate voice services into their e-Business and intranet solutions and give them a substantial competitive advantage.
Criterion Software last week announced the availability of RenderWare3 beta for Playstation2. The company says its third-generation 3D game-development toolkit has been optimized over the last six months to take advantage of Playstation2's architecture.
Game developers can join the beta program at http://developer.renderware.com/betaprogramme.
The gold release of RenderWare3 for Playstation2 will be available in November 1999.
Further information about RenderWare3 can be found at http://www.renderware.com/rwgames.
Ulead Systems' new VideoStudio 4 is the latest version of its consumer-level ($100) video editing software. This new version supports IEEE-1394 (Firewire/iLink) device control, DV and D8 formats, the GoMotion MPEG-2 codec, as well as the MP3 audio format.
The software integrates GoMotion from Ligos Technology, a real-time MPEG-1/MPEG-2 software codec. It can import MP3 audio files for background music and sound effects in video productions. It also gives users the option to output audio only.
Another new feature is the availability of limitless title pages to produce scrolling credits plus the ability to copy music data directly from CDs at a higher quality than recording through PC sound cards.
Pace Micro Technology plc is launching its new generation of digital set-top boxes (STB) designed to let telecommunications companies deliver video and interactive services over existing copper wires.
Be Incorporated, developer of BeOS, an operating system designed for digital media applications and Internet appliances, last week announced the availability of a new BeOS bundle. It includes the currently shipping BeOS Release 4.5, the BeOS Bible and Gobe Productive for $149.95 MSRP, reportedly a $100 savings over purchasing the three items separately.
The BeOS Bible is a reference guide to BeOS written for both novice and expert users. It includes details and graphics designed to help consumers take advantage of BeOS' features. Gobe Productive is an integrated office suite featuring word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, charting, image processing and presentation tools.
The bundle deal also includes free access to ongoing updates about BeOS scripting, games, emulation, hardware and behind-the-scenes development via the Web site, www.beosbible.com.
The October 26 NBMA Internet/Web Developers SIG will feature Ken Colby giving a tutorial on Webcasting. It will be a nuts-and-bolts how-to from 7 to 9 pm at Autodesk, 111 McInnis Parkway, San Rafael.
Colby is chief application architect for San Diego-based INTERVU, Inc., a service provider for Internet video delivery solutions. Colby will cover all that is involved on the technical side of Webcasting. He is a longtime professional with a degree in electrical engineering, three patents pending (with INTERVU), as well as a software patent in layout intelligence.
Free to members, $10 to non-members.
Recent improvements in networking protocols, network infrastructure and the development of video and audio compression algorithms and techniques have made it possible to stream video, voice and data over networks. In an effort to help educate users on the basics of streaming media technology, Optibase, (Nasdaq: OBAS), a provider of digital video networking products, has published the Streaming Media Handbook. The 63-page pocket-sized book is a concise primer on streaming rich media content and includes information on the various kinds of video and audio formats, networking protocols, and technologies used in media streaming applications.
Chapters in the Streaming Media Handbook include information on various types of digital video and audio formats, setting up a media streaming service, and a glossary of networking terms and video and audio compression terms. The book also covers the advantages and disadvantages of various types of access networks, and network protocols.
The Streaming Media Handbook is priced at $9.95 but is available at no cost for a limited time by request through Optibase's Web site at www.optibase.com/telecom or by emailing mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hook up with other game developers in the Bay Area on Friday, December 10 for a day-long learning and networking event. The Third Annual GDC RoadTrips are bringing together local development experts to lead discussions on programming, art, game design, and more.
The Marin RoadTrip is being held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, 1010 Northgate Drive, San Rafael. The phone number is 415.479.8800. Sessions include:
CNET, Inc. has acquired SavvySearch Limited, a provider of metasearch technology in a combination of cash and stock totaling $22 million. As a result of the acquisition, CNET will incorporate SavvySearch into the CNET network.
SavvySearch Limited's metasearch technologies integrate over 300 Internet search engines. Integration of SavvySearch functionality will begin in Q4 1999.
Just out from Psygnosis for Sony PlayStation are Wipeout 3 and G-Police: Weapons of Justice. Fans of futuristic racing can revel in Wipeout 3's high resolution throughout, including multi-player mode; new craft designs; seven new weapons; and eight new tracks that include spirals and 90-degree turns. As with previous versions, the game was designed by The Designers Republic, and it also features sounds from The Chemical Brothers and Orbit.
The second in the G-Police series, Weapons of Justice features:
Building on their first joint venture with Civilization: Call to Power, Activision, Inc. and Loki Entertainment Software will join forces again to bring more PC and Macintosh games to the Linux platform.
Loki will develop, publish and support the Linux ports of five popular Activision games, including Heretic II and Heavy Gear II, over the next two years.
And in a related story, Loki last week released its fourth open-source project, the Loki Game Installer [Setup 1.0].
Setup 1.0 is an graphic installer utility a developer can use to create a standardized install routine. It uses an XML description file to describe a package, and provides both a console and a GTk front-end to install it. The install process also creates an uninstall script in the install directory which can be run when the user wants to uninstall the product. Loki has included x86, PPC, Alpha, and Sparc binaries for this version of the installer.
Loki developed Setup 1.0 in the course of porting Railroad Tycoon II: Gold Edition by PopTop Software and Gathering of Developers. While Loki is contractually bound to protect the publisher¹s original game code, Loki shares any improvements to the underlying Linux software code with the Open Source community.
Loki¹s other Open Source projects include the SDL MPEG Player Library (SMPEG) and the SDL Motion JPEG Library (SMJPEG), and Fenris, Loki¹s bug system based on Bugzilla from the Mozilla codebase.
These Open Source projects are freely available for download from www.lokigames.com, and are offered under the GNU Library Public License (LGPL).
A free, downloadable version of Asheron's Call is now available on the MSN Gaming Zone at http://www.zone.com/. Playable for a 10-day period, the open trial gives gamers full access to the epic virtual world of Asheron's Call. Participants will be able to interact with thousands of other players and explore the 500 square mile isle of Dereth before the game is commercially released in November. Asheron's Call is an epic, massively multiplayer, role-playing game developed by Turbine Entertainment.
Interplay's RPG division Black Isle Studios announced last week their latest computer game venture, Icewind Dale, A Baldur's Gate engine adventure. In the spirit of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure Tomb of Horrors, Icewind Dale will be a classic dungeon crawl. It will incorporate gameplay elements from Baldur's Gate, offering players a chance to hone their combat skills while exploring the enormous caverns and dungeons beneath the Forgotten Realms. Icewind Dale is being developed in-house at Black Isle, and will be available for Windows 95/98-based computers in the Spring of 2000.
Using the BioWare Infinity Engine developed by BioWare for Baldur's Gate, players create a party of adventurers in the frigid north to combat monstrous Cyclops and frost giants that dwarf the player characters as they search for an evil lying deep within the Spine of the World. Icewind Dale offers character advancements from levels one through 15 in the most recent adaptation of the AD&D rules under license from Wizards of the Coast.
Also in production at Black Isle Studios is Planescape: Torment, a dark AD&D role-playing game centered around an immortal character who searches for his past. Torment, which is in development in-house at Black Isle, will ship this fall for the PC. Neverwinter Nights, which is being developed by BioWare Corp., will be published by Black Isle in late 2000. Neverwinter will bring the pen-and-paper D&D experience to the PC by allowing players to create their own modules, host those modules on their own server and even "DM" the game.
Sierra On-Line's new Hoyle Word Games includes eight games:
Gamers can take a trip back to the '80s with Activision's new $30 Intellivision Classics compilation that features emulated platform versions of 30 of the best selling Intellivision games including Football, Star Strike and Space Battle.
With the use of emulation technology, each game featured in Intellivision Classics reportedly looks and plays exactly as it did on the original Intellivision console. Players can rocket through asteroid storms and alien attacks in Astrosmash; smack a long drive to bring the runners home in Baseball; and conquer battlefields in the full-throttle warfare of Armor Battle. A special "video history" section includes interviews with some of the original programmers and designers. The Intellivision system was one of the most successful in the early '80s, with more than 3 million sold and over 100 games released.
Intellivision Classics also includes Space Armada, Auto Racing, Night Stalker, Pinball, Sub Hunt, Hockey and Stadium Mud Buggies.
Players of SimCity 3000 can create their own Sleepy Hollow with a set of 70 free Halloween-theme buildings newly available for download from the official SimCity.com Web site: http://www.simcity.com. Once downloaded, they can be imported into players' homemade metropolises. The 70 buildings, including haunted houses, spooky castles, graveyards and a giant Frankenstein statue, were created by SimCity players using the free Building Architect Tool, also available from SimCity.com. In addition to the Halloween set, there are nearly 7,000 other player-created buildings available for download. The Halloween-theme buildings will remain on the SimCity.com site for at least one year.
Infogrames North America last week began shipping Test Drive Off-Road 3 for the PlayStation game console. The game will also be available for the personal computer this week, and will be available for the Nintendo Game Boy Color later this fall.
Said a company rep, "There are no roads and no rules … [the title] offers wider tracks, modifiable vehicles, … real-world locations." The game lets players modify vehicles' tires, transmission and suspension.
Developed internally at Infogrames North America, Test Drive Off-Road 3's new engine and physics model allows for destructible objects and branching tracks. Players will be able to drive their vehicles through obstacles and barriers, as well as smash into trees and fences to expose alternative pathways and shortcuts. Also new is a technique called feathering. To avoid losing traction, players can pump the gas to get up a hill or steep pathway.
Slated for release in spring 2000 from Activision is Alundra 2, a sequel to the PlayStation game console title Alundra. The company has acquired all worldwide publishing rights to Alundra 2 excluding Japan and certain other Asian countries where Sony Computer Entertainment publishes the product.
In the action/role-playing game, players assume the role of Flint, a young renegade who must embark on a fantastical journey to defeat the evil Baron and his reign of terror. Along the way, players attempt to solve hundreds of puzzles and unlock more than 10 mini-games integrated into the game's overall storyline.
The title is being developed by Matrix and produced by Contrail, a satellite company of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. It features a new real-time, 3D polygonal engine, and more than 40 hours of gameplay where players climb, jump, swim and slide through a variety of environments, including volcanoes, sunken ships and underground caverns.
Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. last week reported a 32% increase in net revenues which grew to $431.0 million for the fiscal year ended August 31, 1999 versus $326.6 million in the prior year. The Company reported net earnings of $36 million or $0.57 per diluted share, a 74% increase, compared to $21 million or $0.37 per diluted share in the prior year.
During fiscal 1999, Acclaim released more than 30 new products across multiple platforms. Four Acclaim titles that sold in excess of one million units each, including South Park and Turok 2.
Gross revenues by platform for the year were 59% for N64, 27% for PlayStation, and 14% for PC and other platforms. On a geographic basis, North American operations generated 70% of net revenues and international operations generated 30% for the year.
In the fourth quarter, revenues were led by the success of WWF Attitude and NFL Quarterback Club 2000 from Acclaim Sports, and three new brands from Acclaim Studios: TrickStyle, Re-Volt and Shadow Man.
The International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and its partner, Empowered Media, will produce iEMMYs, The International Emmy Nominee Festival, in its inaugural year.
iEMMYs is an international interactive-media industry event being held in New York City, November 19-20, and will be Webcast live at www.iEmmys.com.
Confirmed speakers for iEMMYs are: Tom Rogers, Chief Executive, Primedia; Bruce Paisner, President, Hearst Entertainment; Ralph Baruch, Founder, Viacom International; Kay Koplovitz, Founder, USA Networks; William Poole, General Manager of Marketing and Business Development, Streaming Media Division, Microsoft Corporation; Tom Britt, Chief Executive, ChannelSEEK; Peter Arnett, Chief Foreign Correspondent, ForeignTV.; Bill Collins, Director of Business Development, Enron Communications, Inc.
Sierra Studios, Gearbox Software and Valve announce the three winning Team Fortress Classic levels to be included in new episode Half-Life: Opposing Force. The three winners will each also receive a prize of $1,000. The rest of the map submissions will be posted on Won.net for free download.
About the winners:
In addition to the winning submissions, Half-Life: Opposing Force (a.k.a. Op For) will feature 12 new multiplayer levels created by 3D action-industry "all stars." Op For also features a new single-player episode were players return to the Black Mesa Research Facility from the new perspective of a soldier sent in to eliminate Gordon Freeman. The title, which is being developed by Gearbox Software, is on schedule to ship this fall.
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.
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