Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

25 October 1999

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman

for editorial/subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com

Check out Spectrum on the Web at http://www.3dlinks.com/spectrum

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Today's Headlines (details below)

WEBMEISTER

I-Drive.Com Adds Sideload, Clip to Web-Based Tools

DEVELOPER’S TOOLBOX

Macromedia Announces Authorware 5.1

Smart and Friendly Unveils Extended-Capacity CD-R

IN THE INFOGROOVE

Shockwave Goes Realtime Multiuser

Forty Software Upgrades File Download Utility

Creative Introduces Music Video Player

QVC Founder Granted Patent for Internet Health-Enhancement System

GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

LightWork Updates Kazoo 3D Tech

Spaceward Ships Satori, 64-bit Vector Paint, Graphics, Animation Bundle

3D Studio MAX Used for Sherlock Holmes TV Show

Credo Interactive, Digimation Bundle Life Forms 3.5, Bones Pro 2

NeMo Updates NeMo

3dfx Releases Mac Drivers for Voodoo3 3000 PCI

CONSUMER CHANNEL

Mindscape Ships Dogz 4, Catz 4

O'Reilly Publishes Guide to Lego Mindstorms Robots

THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Jupiter: Web Businesses Don't Capitalize on European Opportunities

Digimation Releases 3DS MAX Cinematic Effects How-to Vid

Call for Image Conference Papers

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Sony Ships Crash Team Racing for PlayStation

EA, Firaxis Release Alpha Centauri Expansion Pack

Sims Goes Alpha

Mindscape Ships Creatures Adventures

Sierra Transfers Realm Online Game to Codemasters Management

Pandora's Box Hawaii-Themed Puzzle Available for Download

EA Ships Jane's USAF

bleem! Updates PlayStation Emulator

Crimson Skies Form Over Redmond

Pharaoh Goes Gold

NUMBEROLOGY

EA Announces Q2 Fiscal Results

StarCraft Big in Korea

EverQuest Breaks Records

Be Incorporated Reports Revenue Growth of 82%

HAPPENINGS

San Francisco SIGGRAPH Education Event Concept Series

F.Y.I.

--About Spectrum

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WEBMEISTER

I-Drive.Com Adds Sideload, Clip to Web-Based Tools

I-drive.com last week launched Sideload and Clip, two new tools that let visitors to a site save files and content directly to i-drive accounts. Sideload allows saving and sharing downloadable files, and Clip makes it possible to capture and store dynamic Web content.

Sideload and Clip are the newest additions to i-drive's Builders Tools for Webmasters. Adding Web-based file storage and management tools is designed to let Webmasters add value to a site and extend the relationship between visitors and the site's content. All the tools are free.

http://www.idrive.com

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DEVELOPER’S TOOLBOX

Macromedia Announces Authorware 5.1

Macromedia's new Authorware 5.1, an upgrade to its authoring software for deploying learning applications for the Web, networks and CD-ROM, adds support for multimedia and Web media formats, new delivery capabilities and an enhanced user interface. Key new features include support for Macromedia Flash 4, Macintosh delivery, and a new, smaller player for streaming delivery over the Web. The upgrade is free for registered users of Macromedia Authorware 5.

The new features in fall across three major areas: new media formats, enhanced delivery and improved usability:

·        New media formats - Authorware 5.1 allows developers to take advantage of the latest versions of Web and multimedia formats including Macromedia Flash 4, Apple QuickTime 4, QuickTime VR and animated GIFs. Lightweight Flash 4 content keeps applications small for fast Web delivery. Authorware can capture and respond to Flash and QuickTime VR events, enabling the use of these powerful media types within learning applications.

·        Enhanced delivery - Authorware 5.1 offers improved capability for delivering Authorware applications over the Web, networks and CD-ROM. The new minimal Authorware Web Player reduces the player footprint by 80 percent to less than 800K and will play all Authorware 5.0/5.1 applications. With version 5.1, Macromedia is also delivering a Macintosh player, which allows Authorware developers to author once and deploy cross-platform applications to Windows and the Macintosh.

·        Improved usability - The Authorware 5.1 user interface has been enhanced to improve usability and workflow. The new version provides model palettes, new right-click context menus and optional scrollbars.

http://www.macromedia.com.

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Smart and Friendly Unveils Extended-Capacity CD-R

Newly available from Smart and Friendly is CD Rocket Fuel 80: extended-capacity, 8x certified CD-Recordable media capable of storing 700MB of data or 80 minutes of audio/video. Supported data formats include CD-ROM, CD-DA, CD-ROM/XA, CD-I, CD-Bridge, Video CD, CD-Extra and CD-Text. The new media reportedly conforms to all established industry standards set forth in the "Orange Book, Part II" as modified on March 1999 to incorporate the new 80-minute format. According to industry analysts, CD Rocket Fuel 80 media can be played back in any of the market's estimated 1 billion CD players.

http://www.smartandfriendly.com

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IN THE INFOGROOVE

Shockwave Goes Realtime Multiuser

RTIME, Inc., a provider of networking solutions for realtime, multiuser applications over the Internet and broadband networks, last week announced the immediate availability of its networking engine for Macromedia's Shockwave. The combination reportedly enables new classes of interactive applications that span entertainment, "advertainment," education, distance learning, community, and multiplayer games.

RTIME for Shockwave is built on top of RTIME's networking platform, which runs on standard servers running Linux, Irix, Solaris, Window NT operating systems. Each server can support hundreds of simultaneous users located anywhere on the Internet. On the client side, Shockwave developers use a customized Macromedia Xtra that plugs in to Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator browsers. This plug-in communicates with RTIME's servers, which provide the realtime interaction among active participants.

The Software Development Kit (SDK) with a 5-user server is free of charge, and is available now at http://www.rtimeinc.com. Included with the SDK is a documentation, tutorial, a sample application, and the source code to the sample application.

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Forty Software Upgrades File Download Utility

Forty Software last week released Download Wonder 1.55, a utility for downloading files online and organizing the files offline. New capabilities include the ability to organize downloads, manage simultaneous downloads and maintain Internet, AOL and NetZero connections while downloading files.

While online, the program intercepts file downloads and controls the interaction between the PC and the file server. While offline, Download Wonder 1.55 allows users to organize their file downloads with a database.

During the download process, Download Wonder 1.55 lets users:

A database lets users to organize their files by:

http://www.forty.com

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Creative Introduces Music Video Player

Creative Technology of SoundBlaster notoriety has a free, stand-alone beta version of its interactive music technology, LAVA! (Live Audio Visual Animation). Creative also announced last week audio support for Microsoft Windows Media. The two companies will add Windows Media support for an upcoming release of the LAVA! MusicVideo Player, said to enable interactive 3D music videos on the Internet.

The enhanced player, available for download at www.LAVAmusic.com, now supports PC-based sound card made by Creative rivals. Using audio analysis developed at the Creative-EMU Technology Center, it lets users with a graphics card that supports OpenGL experience MP3s accompanied by a an environment made up of 3D objects consisting of textures, images and colors that move to the music.

Creative also announced partnerships with Internet music providers who will provide LAVA! MusicVideos associated with MP3 tracks. These content partners include:

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QVC Founder Granted Patent for Internet Health-Enhancement System

A U.S. Patent was granted last week for a new computer-based system to help people quit smoking, lose weight or reduce stress. The principal inventor is Joseph M. Segel, founder of QVC, The Franklin Mint, National Software Testing Laboratories and 19 other companies.

Segel has established a new venture, HealthLIFT.com, which reportedly will be one of the few Internet services that have patent protection.

The newly patented methodology (U.S. Patent No. 5,967,789) will use an "expert system" database to produce wellness programs that are matched to the needs of the user. The programs will be formatted into daily action plans accessible online via a personal Web page or delivered daily by email or fax, with an interactive capability to keep each program in sync with the user's progress. The patent covers applications of its methodology through the Internet, intranets, fax or any other electronic means, as well as any printed medium.

"There are two key advantages of this new methodology," Segel said. "First, by communicating the program one day at a time, it avoids the information overload commonly associated with other behavioral modification programs that distribute a week's worth of instructions - or an entire program - all at one time. Second, the daily feedback option enables the next day's plan to be adjusted on a timely basis to be in perfect harmony with the user's progress."

HealthLIFT.com is headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania. Segel is chairman and Michael C. Boyd, former president of QVC, is vice chairman.

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GRAPHICALLY SPEAKING

LightWork Updates Kazoo 3D Tech

LightWork Design, Inc. last week released Kazoo version 2.0, a technology suite providing software developers with expanded 3D image-editing effects.

The suite includes:

Kazoo Viewer 2.0 -- Designed for software developers to bundle with their own products. Viewer 2.0 comes with a drag-and-drop interface that can be customized to feature a developer's brand name, logo, specialized help files, Web links and other tailored content. Kazoo Viewer 2.0 includes all Kazoo Version 1.0 features, including a browser for searching by keyword and selecting Kazoo 3D models from catalogs, and a wide range of artistic styles embracing realistic, cartoon, gold, mosaic and hand drawn, with controls to customize each style.

In addition, Viewer 2.0 lets end users:

Kazoo Toolkit -- Available for software developers to include Kazoo within or alongside current applications or indeed to develop specific Kazoo-based products. Allows customization and integration of the new 3D image editing components within Kazoo whilst maintaining the look and feel of their own graphical user interface.

Kazoo Encoder -- A conversion tool for 3D modelers to save 3D models into the secure Kazoo file format for future use within a Kazoo-based product. The 3D modeler is also able to interact with the model to ensure proper conversion, and store pertinent information about each model such as keyword for searching, copyright and contact information.

Kazoo Player -- A viewing tool that lets Kazoo users share 3D images with non-Kazoo users for interactive viewing.

Kazoo Style & Model Packs -- New styles and model collections

The Kazoo Technology 2.0 Toolkit and Player are available for Windows '95,'98 and NT as well as the Mac. The Viewer and Encoder are currently available for Windows '95,'98 and NT.

http://www.kazoo3d.com

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Spaceward Ships Satori, 64-bit Vector Paint, Graphics, Animation Bundle

 

Newly available from Cambridge, England-based is its Satori 64-bit graphics and animation bundle; vector paint, graphics, special effects and animation software for graphics professionals, designers, artists and animators working with Photoshop, Painter, Paint Shop Pro, Photo-Paint or other compatible 2D/3D software (Satori PaintFX is designed for Photoshop plug-in compatible software).

The Satori 64-bit graphics and animation bundle offer is available until November 26 and comprises the latest full high-end versions of Satori FilmFX64 3.2 software and Satori PaintFX 1.1 plug-in suite.

http://www.satoripaint.com/SatoriPaintStore.htm

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3D Studio MAX Used for Sherlock Holmes TV Show

Autodesk division Discreet's 3D Studio MAX is helping bring a 3D look to Fox's new Saturday morning cartoon series, "Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century."  The series, which premiered Sept. 18 and topped its time slot ratings during its first two weeks, is a traditional 2D cel animation production enhanced with 3D vehicles and backgrounds.  Using 3D Studio MAX software, artists at the Hyper Image studio add three-dimensional, real-life camera techniques to key sequences in the series' 26 episodes. 

"The 3D scenes add camera rotation, perspective shots, and high-impact landscapes," said Rob Smiley, Hyper Image founder and co-director of the series. "A number of scenes in the series demand a level of realism that would take too long and cost too much for cel animation to produce.  In a street scene, for instance, a cel animator might make his job easier by putting  the character in front of a brick wall.  But with 3D Studio MAX, we can place that character on a busy 22nd Century London thoroughfare with 1,000 futuristic cars flying  around. And because it's a mystery show, we use 3D to great effect when the perspective rolls 30 degrees to reveal something important in the story. "

To match the palette used by the 2D animators, Hyper Image used 3D Studio MAX software to map painted textures onto 3D geometry. "Unlike in a film project, we weren't looking for photorealism, which would have stood out from the rest of the content," said Smiley, whose animators first studied the show's storyboards to identify scenes that could be enhanced with 3D. 

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Credo Interactive, Digimation Bundle Life Forms 3.5, Bones Pro 2

Credo Interactive Inc. and Digimation, Inc. announce the Life Forms 3.5/Bones Pro 2 bundle, available for $495 from Digimation.

Bones Pro 2 brings a deformation system to 3D Studio MAX. Compatible with R3, the plug-in provides visualization tools to help determine how the mesh is being controlled. Included is Bone Jiggler space warp, used to make the vertices of a mesh jiggle when animated. This can be used to add secondary motion to characters automatically.

A stand-alone app dedicated to character movement, Life Forms offers a figure editor for keyframing and editing animation, plus an instant walk generator.

http://www.digimation.com or 800-854-4496.

http://www.CharacterMotion.com or 888-291-7453.

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NeMo Updates NeMo

Paris, France-based NeMo S.A. (formerly Virtools) last week released version 1.0.1 of its NeMo interactive 3D authoring tool. New features include:

http://www.nemo.com

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3dfx Releases Mac Drivers for Voodoo3 3000 PCI

3dfx Interactive Inc. last week released Beta version 5.0 of its Macintosh developer drivers with support for the Voodoo3 3000 PCI board. The drivers include two selectable ROMs for the 143MHz and 166MHz clock speeds, featured on the Voodoo3 2000 PCI and Voodoo3 3000 PCI respectively.

The drivers are available for download from the 3dfxgamers.com Website at http://www.3dfxgamers.com/view.asp?IOID=30

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CONSUMER CHANNEL

Mindscape Ships Dogz 4, Catz 4

The Mindscape division of Mattel Interactive last week released version 4 of its Dogz and Catz virtual-life products. New features include:

IBM's ViaVoice voice-recognition software lets owners talk to their Dogz and Catz and train them to respond to voice commands, such as "sit," "fetch" and "roll over." Each package includes a microphone.

The Playscene Editor allows users to create new play environments for their Petz with a digital camera or by scanning in traditional photos or by using an artwork program.

Both titles offer several new places for Petz to explore, including a gypsy carnival, a wild West scenario, an Arabian desert, the South Seas' Islands and a winter wonderland. Version 4 also features new costumes, toys, and accessories, including pirate hats, bandannas, a sheriff's badge and more.

www.petz.com

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O'Reilly Publishes Guide to Lego Mindstorms Robots

Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention Kits may turn out to be the hottest geek gadget of this year's gift-giving season. Unfortunately, the documentation that goes along with the kit doesn't take its many fans far enough. Forbes Magazine even reported recently that dedicated LEGO robot programmers had "open-sourced" code designed to run the robots and posted it free on the Web.

Publisher O'Reilly & Associates says Jonathan Knudson's new book, "The Unofficial Guide to Lego Mindstorms Robots," shows geek-gadget buyers how to get the most out of the product.

"Lego robots go way beyond being cool toys. Combine a bunch of Lego bricks, a standard robot brain, a talented and highly motivated online community, and your own imagination, and you've got an advanced tool for learning and teaching about robot design and programming," says Knudsen. "Best of all, it's a lot of fun."

Based on hands-on robot projects, the book includes descriptions of advanced mechanical techniques, programming with third-party software, building your own sensors, working with more than one kit, and sources of extra parts.

The book includes:

The book includes numerous illustrations and code examples. Many URLs are listed to serve as an introduction to the online Mindstorms community.

For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, online resources, and samples, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/lmstorms/

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THE DIALS & LEVERS OF POWER

Jupiter: Web Businesses Don't Capitalize on European Opportunities

Currently, Europe is home to more than half of the world's most sophisticated Web markets; yet, US and EU Web enterprises have failed to move toward establishing high-value consumer relationships aggressively, according to new research from Jupiter Communications Inc. The research featured rankings of top nations for Web sophistication and Internet market potential. European nations secured 12 of the top 20 spots for Internet sophistication and 10 of the top 20 spots for future Internet market potential.

To date in the European market, the key elements of Internet commerce--access, commerce, and content players--are driving low-value, high-volume relationships with consumers. However, Web ventures in Europe must increase the value of those relationships, from acquisition to retention, and eventually ownership in order to practice truly targeted marketing.

In the case of access, free-to-air ISPs have increased the sheer number of people online in Europe; yet, by their failure to increase incremental usage of the medium, they have not increased the value of those relationships. In a similar fashion, content players have attempted to increase their overall audiences by focusing on portal offerings of commoditized data and listings, and neglecting to drive consumers to specifically focused vertical content sites. The latter offer content such as sports or lifestyle, where a meaningful, targeted relationship between content and customer can exist. In Europe's commerce arena, merchants--especially those in the off-line world--have concentrated on driving traffic to their sites instead of developing strategies to retain these customers. This is best illustrated by the generally low quality of European customer service online. A recent Jupiter survey of the top European e-commerce sites found that more than 60 percent of sites did not respond to a customer's inquiry within 48 hours.

www.jup.com

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Digimation Releases 3DS MAX Cinematic Effects How-to Vid

Cinematic Effects, a new 90-minute training video from Digimation featuring Discreet's Frank Delise, aims to reveal how the big animation houses produce Hollywood-style special effects.  It offers two hours of step-by-step tutorials using 3D Studio MAX Release 3's newest features. 

The exercises include:

$99.95 NTSC, $119.95 PAL

www.digimation.com

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Call for Image Conference Papers

The Image Conference, first held in 1977, is sponsored by the Image Society Inc., a non-profit, professional association for the advancement of the technologies used to create, sense, operate, and navigate computer-generated virtual environments. Approximately 36 papers will be accepted for presentation at the conference and publication in the conference proceedings. If you're interested in submitting a paper, visit http://www.public.asu.edu/~image/EVENTS/00IMAGE/CFP.html.

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GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Sony Ships Crash Team Racing for PlayStation

CTR (Crash Team Racing), an extension of the Crash Bandicoot franchise, raced into retailers nationwide last week. The PlayStation game lets fans assume the identity of characters from past Crash Bandicoot games as well as new characters introduced in this title. Using the Multi tap adaptor, up to four people can challenge one another in a high-speed go-cart race.

Developed by Naughty Dog, Inc., and produced in partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment America, CTR features a new mad scientist named Nitros Oxide, who is about to wreak havoc on Crash's little island paradise. Nitros Oxide is obsessed with speed, claiming "fast just isn't fast enough." He concocts a crazy idea to speed up the whole world until the end of time. It is up to Crash and his friends and foes to race to save the planet and restore a steady pace.

Crash Bandicoot, Coco and the infamous Dr. Neo Cortex are the most notorious of the more than 12 playable characters, some of them hidden. Others include Tiny, Dingodile, Pura, Polar and N. Gin. More than 25 tracks can be played in five modes, including Adventure, Time Trial, Versus, Gran Prix and Battle modes. Gameplayers must pick up Bandicoot goodies and avoid environmental hazards like TNT crates. Power-ups can be used to pick up speed or to slow down opponents.

http://www.playstation.com

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EA, Firaxis Release Alpha Centauri Expansion Pack

Electronic Arts and Firaxis Games last week shipped Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire, an expansion pack to Meier's Alpha Centauri. The product features seven new playable factions, several new technologies and secret projects, and a new plot that continues the story of humanity's struggle to colonize a hostile alien world.

In Alien Crossfire, the original inhabitants of Planet have returned to reclaim their world. The aliens, though, are split in a brutal struggle. They engage in battle over Planet, nearly destroying each other in the process. The survivors jettison to Planet's surface where humanity has been building a new home. Now the humans from Earth are caught in the crossfire.

"One of the most exciting parts of the game is battle between the two alien factions," said Brian Reynolds, lead designer and programmer of Alpha Centauri and vice president, software development for Firaxis. "The aliens are slightly more powerful than the human factions but are balanced by the fact that all the other factions tend to gang up on them. As a human, getting caught between the aliens' hatred can be quite an exhilarating experience. As an alien, having the world against you can be pretty fun and challenging as well."

http://www.aliencrossfire.com

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Sims Goes Alpha

Maxis' upcoming game The Sims has reached "alpha," the stage at which all design features have been implemented in the game's software. The Sims, the people simulator designed by SimCity creator Will Wright, has been in development for over seven years. While quite a bit of game balancing, tuning and debugging is still required, Maxis says that the game is on track for release in the first quarter of 2000.

"The Sims has evolved so dramatically over the past several years, it's hard to believe we've finally gone alpha," said Wright. "The team has been working around the clock to get the game to this critical final stage. We've been tuning the gameplay for the past several months, but it's difficult without having all the features in place. We have a lot of work to do, but we're in the final stretch."

Maxis has released preview versions of two tools, available for download from http://www.thesims.com, that allow future players to begin customizing their games today. With the Home Master tool, users can preview custom wallpapers, floors and artwork for houses in The Sims. SimShow lets players preview "skins" for Sims characters. Edit the skins in a paint program, then preview them using the tool.

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Mindscape Ships Creatures Adventures

Mindscape Entertainment last week introduced Creatures Adventures, a virtual life program for a younger audience with a large interface and bold, colorful graphics designed to invite play and exploration.

Users and their Norns can play baseball games, bake cakes, explore castle dungeons, parachute from airships, make music with dinosaurs, grow vegetables or ride a skateboard. Other interactive scenes include a friendly forest, a spooky forest, a toy room and Dragon Land. There is also a nestery to incubate and hatch Norn eggs and a doctor's cart to heal sick Norns.

Creatures Adventures utilizes an enhanced application of developer CyberLife's artificial life technology. Each Norn is a complete, artificial life form with its own DNA, brain, biochemistry and personality. The game was developed by Creature Labs, the entertainment division of CyberLife Technology, Ltd. in the United Kingdom. CyberLife Technology developed the original Creatures, which was released in 1996, followed by Creatures 2 in 1998. Creatures 3 will be in stores this November.

www.creaturesadventures.com

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Sierra Transfers Realm Online Game to Codemasters Management

Codemasters, a UK-based developer and publisher of computer and video games, recently announced establishment of its first USA-based development studio and the acquisition of certain assets previously owned by Sierra On-Line and Havas Interactive, of which The Realm is one. As Codemasters' US operation ramps up, the process of coordinating the transfer of "The Realm" is underway. The transition brings the game back to the location where it was originally developed and launched in late 1996 - in Oakhurst, California near Yosemite National Park. The transition is being coordinated between managers of both Sierra On-Line and US-based Codemasters' managers.

USA-based development personnel interested in job opportunities at the new Codemasters studio in Oakhurst, CA should contact http://www.codemasters.com

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Pandora's Box Hawaii-Themed Puzzle Available for Download

Microsoft wants you to know about a free, downloadable Pandora's Box puzzle. Based on Pandora's Box, a new game developed by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, the puzzle demo features a view of sunny Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

http://www.microsoft.com/games/pandorasbox/

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EA Ships Jane's USAF

Electronic Arts last week shipped Jane's USAF, featuring jets of the United States Air Force. Players can fly historical missions over Vietnam and the Middle East, or futuristic missions over Germany, and defend home soil over Nellis Air Force Base and the Las Vegas Strip.

Published by Electronic Arts' Jane's Combat Simulations brand and developed by Pixel Multimedia Inc. in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jane's USAF allows players to fly the F-15C, F-15E or A-10 Warthog "in the mud" and destroy enemy ground targets. Relive historic air battles over Vietnam in the F-4E or the F-105. Fly the F-16C Falcon and take out enemy MIGS. Push the envelope while flying the menacing F-117 Stealth Fighter and ultra-modern F-22 over Las Vegas.

A next-generation 3D terrain engine reportedly allows for high resolution and high frame rate terrain rendering on all kinds of PCs. Detailed "real-world" terrain is created with real satellite data with true elevation and coloring. Special effects include night flight, lighting, multiple explosion types and 3D virtual cockpits.

Jane's Combat.net (http://www.janescombat.net) lets players fly with as many as seven human foes or allies for free online. The site features a "Kill-and-Compare" area where Combat.net posts players' combat statistics every time they go online, allowing players to challenge other pilots based on their expertise with specific weapons or tactics. This feature allows players to trace their career development, learn from mistakes and earn their place at the top of the pyramid.

Jane's USAF features a mission recorder that works like a digital VCR, with the ability to edit camera angles or skip to the point where the MIG bit the dust, then send the file as an email attachment to wingmen or rivals. Another feature lets players command allies using voice activation for wingman commands, aircraft operations, and predefined chat messages.

http://www.janes.ea.com

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bleem! Updates PlayStation Emulator

Version 1.5 of the bleem! PlayStation emulator reportedly provides improved compatibility for over 70 games, bug fixes, improved texture rendering in Direct 3D, new controller profiles for automatic configuration, and improved speed management for more consistent gameplay in Microsoft Windows.

bleem! v.1.5 improves memory card support for popular games like WWF:Attitude, Final Fantasy 8, Castlevania and Star Ocean: The Second Story. In addition, bleem! will now work with another 30 PlayStation games for the first time, including Dino Crisis, Knockout Kings, Contra, Final DOOM, and G-Police.

The company says its emulation code has been entirely re-written for more consistent and accurate game speed overall, resulting in better sound synchronization and gameplay that more closely matches the PlayStation console.

The new version also offers a "texel alignment" option to eliminate faint lines that can appear between textures when playing games in 3D hardware mode; emulation support for NegCon and JogCon controllers, and added automatic configuration profiles for game controllers including Microsoft Force Feedback Joystick and Gravis GamePad Pro USB; an installer/uninstaller program for easier download and installation; and various other performance tweaks.

The new upgrade can be downloaded free at www.bleem.com.

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Crimson Skies Form Over Redmond

Shipping in mid-2000 from Microsoft and Zipper Interactive, the action/simulation game Crimson Skies plunges gamers into a world of aerial piracy and daredevil adventures set during the golden age of aviation.

In this alternate history, the year is 1937 and the United States is fractured into squabbling nation-states, brought about by the weight of the Great Depression, regional prohibition and mounting isolationism. Giant Zeppelins crisscross the skies carrying both passengers and cargo, and airborne bandits are a constant threat. It is a time of gunship diplomacy and airship piracy, as dastardly villains, beautiful air-privateers and valiant militia forces battle for control of the skies over North America.

In Crimson Skies, the transcontinental railroad and the budding highway system are useless because they cross the hostile borders of the nation-states. In an effort to maintain commerce and trade, flight becomes the vital lifeline connecting allied countries. America has fallen in love with the airplane, not the automobile, resulting in an explosion of unusual and exotic aircraft.

The creative team of FASA Interactive, acquired earlier this year by Microsoft and led by Jordan Weisman (one of the creators of the BattleTech universe), is providing the vision and design expertise for the Crimson Skies PC game. Zipper Interactive, the development team behind MechWarrior 3, is leading the day-to-day development of the new game.

http://microsoft.com/games/crimsonskies/

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Pharaoh Goes Gold

Impressions Games and Sierra Studios announced last week that Pharaoh, Impressions' strategic city-building game set in ancient Egypt, has gone gold.  The prequel to the Caesar trilogy, Pharaoh lets gamers manage cities, construct giant monuments, and interact with the citizens of their creations. The title is expected to ship the first week of November.

Pharaoh is set in ancient Egypt from 3200 - 1350 BC and allows players to lay out majestic Egyptian cities and grow them into thriving metropolises. Players can build large pyramids, and discover why the Nile was so crucial to all aspects of life as they witness the effects of seasonal flooding on the lives of the local inhabitants.

http://www.pharaoh1.com

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NUMBEROLOGY

EA Announces Q2 Fiscal Results

Electronic Arts last week announced its results for the second fiscal quarter ended September 30, 1999. Net revenues for the quarter were $339 million, a 38 percent increase compared to $246 million reported for the same quarter of the prior fiscal year. Net income increased 69 percent to $18.1 million in the second quarter, compared to $10.7 million reported last year before a one-time, pre-tax charge of $41.8 million. Diluted earnings per share increased 65 percent to $0.28 from $0.17 reported excluding the one-time charge, in the same quarter of the prior fiscal year.

During the quarter, the company released 17 new products on three different platforms. New products shipped included six for the PC, seven for the PlayStation and four for the Nintendo 64. New releases during the quarter included: Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun and NHL 2000 for the PC; Final Fantasy VIII, Madden NFL 2000, WCW Mayhem, NASCAR 2000, NHL 2000, NCAA Football 2000 and Sled Storm for the PlayStation; and WCW Mayhem, Madden NFL 2000, and NASCAR 2000 on the N64.

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StarCraft Big in Korea

Blizzard Entertainment announced today that in Korea it has recently topped the 1 million units sold mark in combined sales of StarCraft and its expansion pack StarCraft: Brood War, according to figures released by international sales partners. Currently, Blizzard has sold over 3 million copies of both games combined worldwide.

Considering that Korea is a country of approximately 40 million in population and that by industry standards a successful game in Korea sells roughly 10,000-15,000 units, the StarCraft phenomenon in Korea is unprecedented.          

According to Blizzard, it is the fast-paced style of the game that attracts the Korean players. In addition, the company says its success can be attributed to the recent birth of over 10,000 game rooms that parallel the cyber-cafes or Internet gaming coffeehouses that are becoming popular in the U.S.

The game is also said to be becoming a cultural phenomenon in the country. "StarCraft-related scenes and characters are popping up everywhere throughout Korea," Young Seog Yoon, president of character product agent YNK said. "The way in which this game has become a part of the Korean culture can only be compared to the way in which the Star Wars Phantom Menace movie became a cultural icon in America."

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EverQuest Breaks Records

Sony Computer Entertainment Group company 989 Studios said last week that its online PC game EverQuest has broken all subscription-based online gaming sales records. In six months, the title has reportedly sold more games than any other online role-playing game ever released, with 225,000 units sold and an active subscriber base of more than 150,000 players. The monthly subscription fee is $9.89.

EverQuest was released in February 1999, and was developed by 989 Studios' PC division, the predecessor of Verant Interactive. The game involves a variety of adventures and quests whose storyline evolves according to the decisions a player makes.

Players can choose to begin the game in any of three continents, with more than 70 adventure zones and 12 cities. Each of these continents has diverse species, economic systems, alliances and politics.

During peak periods, EverQuest adventurers and dragon slayers can form alliances with up to 37,000 other players simultaneously. The active global EverQuest subscriber base is comprised of players from various countries including the U.S., England, Canada, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, France and New Zealand.

www.verant.com

www.989studios.com

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Be Incorporated Reports Revenue Growth of 82%

Be  Incorporated last week reported financial results for the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 1999.

Net revenues for the third quarter of 1999 were $775,000, an increase of 44% from $537,000 reported for the second quarter of 1999, and an increase of 243% from $226,000 in the same period in 1998. For the nine months ended September 30, 1999, the Company reported revenue of $1,621,000, an increase of 82% from $892,000 reported in the first nine months of 1998.

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HAPPENINGS

San Francisco SIGGRAPH Education Event Concept Series

The Creative Process

When: October 28, 1999, 7:00 to 9 PM

Where: Exploratorium - McBean Theater

  3601 Lyon Street

  San Francisco, CA 94123

  1-415-EXP-LORE

  http://www.exploratorium.org/

  Directions: http://www.exploratorium.org/general/directions.html 

  What: 7 to 9 PM Panel talk and discussion on the creative process.

Cost: free

Speakers:

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F.Y.I.

About Spectrum

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