7 September 1999
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Macromedia, Inc. last week announced Macromedia Generator 2, its dynamic, graphical Web server. The new version adds streamlined authoring with Flash 4, as well as the ability to drag and drop objects for adding dynamic content. On the server side, performance is said to have been enhanced to provide 30 percent faster delivery of data and users can access data-driven content through URLs. New delivery options include 3D interactive charting and advanced publishing capabilities including Apple QuickTime 4.
Generator 2 will be available for Windows NT with Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 3.0 and 4.0 and Personal Web Server 4.0; and Solaris with Apache and the Sun-Netscape Alliance’s iPlanet Web Server, Enterprise Edition 4.0. The Windows NT version is expected to ship in September and additional versions are slated to ship in the fall. Pricing for Generator 2 starts at $2,999 with upgrades at $1,499. The Generator authoring extensions for Flash 4 can be downloaded in September for free from www.macromedia.com/software/generator.
Also newly available from Macromedia is the Drumbeat 2000 line of products for Web application and e-commerce development. Drumbeat 2000 is available in an Active Server Pages (ASP) version, a JavaServer Pages (JSP) version, and an eCommerce edition.
SierraHome has released Complete Web Studio, a Web publishing suite for families and small business users. Features include:
Be Incorporated, developer of BeOS, an operating system designed for digital media applications and Internet appliances, is demonstrating multiple applications for BeOS at the ECTS '99 Conference this week at Olympia Exhibition Centre in London. Audio, games and video applications as well as Internet appliances pre-installed with BeOS will be demonstrated at the booth (# N190).
New applications being demonstrated at the show include:
Be will also be demonstrating BeOS on the Internet Personal Access Device (IPAD) which provides simple consumer Web access through a customizable interface. It includes features for audio and video streaming, enables low cost development and deployment, and will be e-commerce and broadband-enabled.
Be, Inc. also announced the latest update to BeOS (4.5.1). Updates include support for new sound and Internet cards, support for the Adaptec 7890 (Ultra 2) and a host of improvements to existing drivers, including the Matrox, ATI, TNT2, Solo-1 and DEC Ethernet chipset drivers.
Online gaming firm Total Entertainment Network (TEN) last week changed its service, company and domain (URL) name to pogo.com. The company also launched its own game site under its new name. With a distribution network that reportedly boasts six of the 15 most trafficked sites on the Web, pogo.com has amassed 3.5 million registered members, with almost 100,000 new members registering every week.
In part to fund trade and consumer marketing programs supporting the company's new focus and business model, pogo.com recently secured $30 million in a recent round of private financing, primarily from new strategic investors Liberty Media and Nokia Ventures. These partners also give pogo.com allies in the nascent broadband and handheld interactivity markets.
The Lego Company has added MetaCreations' interactive MetaStream 3D streaming technology to the Lego Mindstorms Web site (www.legomindstorms.com). The addition of streaming 3D objects enables viewers to solve real-world, robotic challenges.
The Robotic Invention System lets kids ages 12 and up design and program "real" robots. It combines traditional Lego bricks with the RCX, a microcomputer that is programmed using a PC. Aspiring engineers solve the online learning challenges, or missions, which may include the creation of an aerial tram or a similarly complex structure. Clues are provided on the Internet in the form of needed robotic parts.
With the new addition of MetaStream's 3D imagery, participants can view, rotate and zoom in on the robotic parts needed to complete the Missions.
Digital River's new eBot is a free subscription service that offers free software updates and free or discounted retail software, including the latest game releases by companies like Eidos, GT Interactive, Hasbro, Electronic Arts, MicroProse and Monolith. Digital River has more than 5,000 publisher and retail partners, and more than 100,000 digital products in its library.
Once eBot is installed, users enable eBot's Updates feature, which determines what applications are installed on their PC. EBot then searches the eBot database for updates and sends the subscriber only the free updates or software offers applicable to his or her system.
Coming this fall for Mac and Wintel from MetaCreations is Carrara 1.0, a 3D modeling and animation product for print, video and the Web. The software evolves from MetaCreations' 3D development experience with products such as Ray Dream and Infini-D.
Carrara features include:
Macromedia's new Flash Writer, a free downloadable plug-in for Adobe Illustrator coming later this month, lets Illustrator users save artwork natively to the Flash Player file format (SWF). Previously, Illustrator users needed to convert vector artwork to a bitmapped GIF or JPG format to view and publish it online. In the process, they lose scalability and the ability to quickly publish the vector artwork to the Web. The Flash file format also boasts a compact binary file that can be streamed from any Web server and displays more quickly than other major graphics formats.
Of course, this undercuts Adobe's attempts to create its own vector format for the Web, but in our opinion, Macromedia has so much of a head start with Flash that anything else will be too little, too late.
Macromedia published its Flash file format as an open Web standard last year, allowing other companies to both export the Flash file format or playback Flash content within their applications. The Flash Player is freely available for Macintosh, Windows, Solaris, Java, Linux, and IRIX platforms. Macromedia also makes the Flash Player source code available at zero cost to platform and device developers, further extending Flash's broad reach.
Coming this month from Ulead Systems is version 5 of its PhotoImpact image editing software.
New features include:
Also new is WebRazor Pro 2.0, the latest version of Ulead's suite of Web graphics, animation and production tools. The upgrade introduces new versions of GIF Animator and SmartSaver Pro.
Ulead GIF Animator 4 includes a revamped tabbed interface for quick access to all tools and new features such as onion-skin and film-strip modes, improved frame selection tools, merging and more video effects. Also, a new Headline Banner module for creating animated text and banner headlines.
Ulead SmartSaver Pro 2.0 - optimization and production software lets users build rollovers with still images, animations or any combination they choose and a "distance rollover" option allows designers to define actions in one part of an image based on mouse activity in another.
Maxon Computer recently released Cinema 4D Net, a network rendering solution for its 3D rendering software of the same name. The client program is freely distributable and can be used on any supported OS. Cinema 4D Net is currently available for the platforms Intel-PC (Windows 95/98/NT), Alpha (Windows NT) and Power Macintosh. Server and client versions for all platforms are included in the package. Additional platforms are slated for late 1999.
How it works: Once a project file and related textures are copied to the server (the computer that's running the Cinema 4D Net server program), the user can log on with an HTML browser and start the job. The Details screen lists the project files on the left the results of the job; that is, the individual frames of the animation.
Cinema 4D Net automatically shares the work between all clients that are available on the network. With parallel work processes, and features such as dynamic load balancing and hot plug-in, it can react dynamically to requests. If one client finishes before the others, the remaining work is automatically redistributed. In terms of licensing, MP machines are treated as one machine.
Also, version 6.0 of Cinema 4D SE, XL and Net, due at the end of this year, will be optimized for the new capabilities of the Power Mac G4.
Media 100 subsidiary Terran Interactive has shipped its $1,299 Media Cleaner Compression Suite for preparing Internet video and audio. The suite includes Media Cleaner Pro 4, Sorenson Video 2 Developer Edition, QDesign Music Codec 2 Professional Edition and the "How to Produce High-Quality QuickTime" booklet.
Available for both Mac OS and Windows 95/98/NT, Media Cleaner Pro produces RealSystem G2, Windows Media, MPEG-1, AVI, MP3, and other popular formats. Also available are optional upgrades to unlimited MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, as well as OMF import.
Eos Systems has released PhotoModeler Pro 3.1; the latest version of its Windows software that uses photographs to build 3D models and measurements. New features include project and camera-setup wizards, online training cards, enhanced accuracy and measurement tools, more flexible 3D Viewer, plus other program and interface improvements. Standard features of PhotoModeler Pro include automatic camera orientation, surface drawing, enhanced file export, enhanced photo-texturing, cylinder and curve modeling, and multimedia tutorials.
The MSN Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com/) last week launched the Microsoft Bridge Club, the Zone's first premium service for card games. The service offers bridge games and related educational content. Bridge fans who sign up for the Microsoft Bridge Club before Sept. 30, 1999, will receive a 30-day free trial of the club.
In addition to ACBL-sanctioned daily matches and monthly tournaments, the club will award Net Points that can be converted to ACBL-sanctioned masterpoints. It also features content to help players improve their bridge skills, including the option for all players to load preset hands for tutorial or casual play. Lesson mode includes the option for players to track their hands in every game and archive them for future analysis. Teaching mode allows all players to see the cards that are played in all four hands, thereby enhancing an instructor's advice. The club will host articles and chats by top bridge players, including Fred Gitelman, one of the world's top-ranked bridge players. And Better Bridge's Audrey Grant will offer lessons on the Microsoft Bridge Club in unique virtual classrooms.
The Microsoft Bridge Club is available to registered members of the MSN Gaming Zone for an annual subscription rate of $99.95, or a three-month subscription of $29.95.
Peachpit's Visual QuickStart Guide series offers no-nonsense, step-by-step learning techniques for a range of computer graphics applications, and the newest in book in the series, 3D Studio MAX 3: Visual QuickStart Guide, is no exception. Author Michele Matossian, an artist, writer, teacher of 3D graphics, and Spectrum contributing editor, provides a practical, task-based approach to learning the fundamentals of this complex program. The book shows users how to model, map, render, and animate objects, as well as how to place cameras and lights, use special effects, and build and explore 3D worlds. The guide also explains the concepts that underlie each task. If you're just getting started with discreet's (formerly Kinetix) latest and greatest, you need this book.
McNeel & Associates' Rhinoceros is widely regarded to be the best dedicated NURBS modeling program, and now it has its own book. Rhino: NURBS 3D Modeling by Margaret Becker, published by New Riders, provides tutorials that show how to create freeform objects, accurate models, and the human face. Readers also learn to master techniques of control-point editing, and how to use photographs to get started with a 3D model.
Also just out from New Riders is volume 1 of author George Maestri's Digital Character Animation 2. An updated version of Maestri's previous work on character animation, now divided into two parts, this first volume is subtitled Essential Techniques. It covers basic design concepts, new techniques for modeling a character's head, body and hands, new info on skeletons and mesh deformation, and focused discussion on the fundamentals of character animation, locomotion, and dialogue. Highly recommended.
The Internet's killer app is not the World Wide Web or e-commerce; it is humble electronic mail. More people use email than any other Internet application. As the number of email users swells, and as email takes on an ever greater role in personal and business communication, Internet mail protocols have become not just an enabling technology for messaging, but a programming interface on top of which core applications are built. O'Reilly & Associates' newest release, "Programming Internet Email" by David Wood unmasks the Internet mail system and shows how a loose federation of connected networks have combined to form the world's largest and most heavily trafficked message system.
Written for programmers building applications on top of email capabilities and power users trying to get under the hood of their own email systems, the guide and reference book covers the topic with 19 chapters and five appendices.
"I wrote 'Programming Internet Email' because I needed it," explains Wood. "No other book brought the relevant standards together in one place. Before this book, one had to plow through the Internet RFCs, an academic exercise at best and impossible at worst. I wanted to bring together all the relevant Internet standards regarding email in one volume. This book also addresses upcoming email standards, such as encrypted email, electronic business cards and remote configuration protocols."
Chapter 12, The Application Configuration Access Protocol, is available free online at:
For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, and samples, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/progintemail/index.html/
Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Konami Co., Ltd. have agreed to establish a joint venture company, Mobile 21, which will be headquartered in Tokyo and will focus on the creation of new types of video games for Nintendo's next-generation Game Boy, called the Advance.
Also, Nintendo will launch a dedicated adapter to connect Game Boy Color and cell phones or PHS in April, 2000 and, simultaneously, the joint venture company will introduce software with the new genre of "Game Boy + communication game".
The "Game Boy Advance" which Nintendo is planning to launch August, 2000 will be able to connect with the Internet to play network games and be attached to a dedicated digital camera to be sold separately. If both players have digital cameras, they can see eac other. The joint venture company will develop the software for this new system.
The joint venture company also will develop unique software for the "Dolphin" system, the next hardware system coming from Nintendo, and Nintendo's portable game machine.
The Game Boy Advance has the following features:
Preliminary specs for Game Boy Advance:
Departing from the current generation of real-time strategy games, Blizzard Entertainment is developing Warcraft III as a 3D RPS, or Role-Playing Strategy game. Instead of focusing on resource gathering and accumulating massive numbers of expendable units, Warcraft III will immerse players in a dynamic world, letting them will control smaller, more powerful forces as they adventure, complete quests and interact with non-player characters, while simultaneously devising strategies to succeed in the overarching mission of defeating opponents.
Key features in the game include:
Warcraft III is expected to release by the end of 2000 in Windows 95/98/2000/NT formats.
Sony Computer Entertainment America last week released Tiny Tank, a character-based 3D action shooter featuring a diminutive tank with tons of firepower and an attitude to match, available exclusively for the PlayStation game console.
What Tiny lacks in size, he makes up in attitude. A cute but deadly fighting machine, Tiny boasts weapons including Gattling guns, a super-charged turret, rocket launchers and Teeny Weeny Tanks -- miniature remote control scout tanks. He must travel through free-roaming, three-dimensional battlefields to defeat his arch rival, MuTank, and his fleet of more than 25 different robot warriors, each with distinctive personalities. SenTrax, the world's largest defense company, created this futuristic mascot tank with the mission to destroy these robots and other enemies and restore order and justice to the world.
The title was produced by MGM Interactive and developed by Appaloosa Interactive with AndNow, the team that created the popular Ecco the Dolphin and X-Men series.
Eidos Interactive's first Dreamcast title will be Fighting Force 2, an action game from the creators of the Tomb Raider series, Core Design. Expected to ship for the Christmas season, the game features interactive 3D environments and advanced combat, and will be available for the PlayStation game console as well.
Fighting Force 2 combines elements of action, stealth and strategy in an interactive environment. Mission goals include stealing blueprints, tracking down escaped mutants, and unleashing a lethal combination of fighting moves.
Here are some more details on Hangsim, Wilco Publishing’s new light aviation simulator set for October release:
Interplay Entertainment Corp. has shipped R/C Stunt Copter for the Sony PlayStation. The company claims the title falls into its own category: that of Software Toy.
Simulating a radio controlled helicopter, as opposed to an actual helicopter, R/C Stunt Copter is a blend of computer software and high-performance toy. Developed by Shiny Entertainment, known for sarcastic humor, published by Titus Software Corporation, and distributed by Interplay, the title offers six helicopters and 36 increasingly difficult levels, including ten training exercises to help get gamers familiar with the analog controls. The analog controller mimics that of real R/C controllers, making it the perfect hardware peripheral for such a game.
Coming right up from GT Interactive is Duke Nukem: Zero Hour for Nintendo 64. The action-adventure game lets the player view the game from either the first- or third-person perspective. Missions include destroying alien machinery, scuttling alien ships, and, as always, freeing the captive babes. Enhanced gameplay includes such nuances as: instead of simply hitting switches to exit levels, players may have to use a crowbar, or even wire cutters. Other new features include saving historical figures (some to ensure your existence, others as bonus characters) from different time periods.
Notes regarding graphics and animation:
Sega Dreamcast will ship on 9-9-99 with 18 launch titles. The first- and third-party titles include:
Internet advertising and commerce conference @d:tech returns to New York with an emphasis on convergence and rich media. @d:tech.NewYork will take place November 1-3 at the New York Hilton and Towers.
Keynoter Leo Hindery, president and CEO of AT&T Broadband and Internet Services, will be followed by the Convergence Super Panel: Media, Marketing and Technology on a "wired" future and how advertisers and marketers will benefit from the advent of new broadband technologies. The panel, led by moderator Bruce Francis, CNNfn, features Hindery as well as Richard Goldstein of Unilever United States, Jim Kinsella of MSNBC.com, Tom Rogers of NBC Cable and Business Development, and Lucille Salhany of JH Media. Elizabeth Silver, senior VP advertising, Visa USA, will also present a keynote speech offering a marketer's perspective on the promise of interactive advertising.
The conference's Global Web Marketing full-day session will feature an in-depth look into the impact of the Internet and associated technologies on marketing in Europe.
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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