11 September 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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MetaCreations subsidiary Metastream Corporation last week said that Metastream 3 (MTS3) Broadcast Keys are now available for both commercial and non-commercial Web sites wishing to deploy MTS3 content. Metastream 3 Broadcast Keys enable Web sites to display Metastream content.
While commercial and e-commerce sites pay an annual license fee to use MTS3, the technology is free for non-commercial, non-profit, educational and most hobbyist Web sites. Applications for a MTS3 broadcast key can be submitted by visiting http://www.metastream.com. Additionally, Web content developers can download a host of free tools for creating MTS3 content from the "Developer Central" section of Metastream's Web site.
Expandable Language announces the release of HTML Rename! 2.0 for Macintosh and Windows, a $29 utility that facilitates publishing Websites from a local system to a remote server or to CD-ROM.
The software is designed to eliminate the problems encountered when moving files between DOS/Windows, Macintosh, UNIX and CD-based file systems by changing file names (case, length, and invalid characters) and fixing corresponding links in HTML code.
BIAP Systems bills its new go’trieve as a desktop portal product that delivers customized, updated personal information to end-users. Using intelligent agent-based technology, go’trieve can reportedly identify and collect data from Web pages, thus removing the need to manually visit dozens of scattered sites to search for information.
BIAP go’trieve is available for download in Lite (free), Standard ($39 US) and Pro ($99 US) versions for Win95, 98, 2000 and NT; for Macintosh (PPC,68K; MacOS version 8.1 or higher); and soon, go'trieve for Linux (x86 Linux, LinuxPPC) from http://www.biap.com/ .
Right Hemisphere intends to support the upcoming Itanium processor from Intel with a new version of its software Deep Paint 3D with Texture Weapons. The company says the product will be a ground-up rewrite of the existing code to take advantage of the Intel 64-bit architecture, as well as newly enhanced capability in the Wacom Intuos tablets. Shipping is anticipated to be close to the commercial shipping of Itanium processor-based workstations. Users of existing software will be eligible for a special upgrade offer when the new versions are available.
Digimation is working with Discreet and Intel to port their 3DS MAX plug-ins, including Bones Pro 2, Shag: Hair, Phoenix and Particle Studio, to the new architecture. Prototype versions of several of these products were shown during the recent Siggraph 2000 convention in July, demonstrating how the plug-ins take advantage of the Itanium processor’s system's four gigabytes of addressable memory for manipulating large scenes for high-resolution animation and special effects work.
Just out from Canada's MGI is PhotoSuite 4-Platinum Edition, the latest version of its $50 Web and PC photo software. The new version adds photo-enhancement tools, more sharing capabilities, new content, and Web features:
Adobe Systems has finalized a strategic Internet technology investment in Metastream Corporation, a subsidiary of MetaCreations Corporation. The investment provides Adobe with technologies for creating and deploying 3D content on the Web. Bruce Chizen, president of Adobe, will sit on the board of directors of Metastream and MetaCreations.
To help creative professionals move into the world of 3D, Adobe acquired MetaCreations’ Canoma product, which creates 3D models from photographs and outputs finished files to the Web. Adobe will announce its future plans for this product line at a later date.
Adobe also licensed MetaCreations’ Carrara technology that incorporates 3D modeling, shading, scene building, animation, rendering, and special effects. Adobe may apply portions of the technology for integration into future versions of our graphics and Web products.
In addition, Metastream has fully embraced the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format as an integral part of its Metastream enhanced 3D file format (MTS3). Adobe will support Metastream with tools to allow SVG authoring, and will export the MTS3 format across its tools.
Corel Corporation says that Bryce 4 users can now update the terrain-generation and animation software to version 4.1. A free download of Bryce 4.1 is now available at http://www.corel.com/support/downloads/index.htm.
Enhancements in version 4.1 include new mapping modes: Sinusoidal, World Front, World Side, World Cubic and Object Cubic. In addition, game developers will benefit from the new Microsoft X (DirectX 3D) file import and export support. A new feature is the Custom Starfield Map. Until now, the starfields in Bryce were only randomly generated. Now a Custom Starfield Map can be used, which represents the stars visible from earth.
Photoshop trainer Ben Willmore is offering his free Ultimate Guide to Photoshop 6.0, an insider's look at every palette, menu and dialog box that Adobe has tweaked or refitted. Willmore's first impression? "From the smallest touches to the largest features, it's obvious that Adobe has really been listening to their customers."
RocketPod is launching into the Internet appliance technology and next-generation consumer electronics marketplace with a cross-platform operating system and integrated line of smart electronics devices ("iAppliances") connected to the Internet through a user's computer.
The newly formed company enters the market with a proprietary, licensable RocketPod Operating System (RPOS) and scaleable RocketPod GUI. The RocketPod family includes the MP3Pod (digital audio player), LaunchPod (USB hub), and ViewPod (flat-panel computer monitor).
RPOS is designed to share information among connected devices and other popular desktop applications as well as automatically install and update its software via an Internet connection. Consumers will be able to access, store, exchange and manipulate information.
Cable's Showtime Networks' recently launched alt.SHO.com site is targeting content submitters in preparation for its inaugural Alternative Media Festival. The site has begun accepting original content submissions from digital artists, animators, directors and programmers to be judged by a panel of technology and entertainment industry leaders based on artistic merit and innovative use of technology. Deadline for content submissions is November 15, 2000.
A gala will be held in February 2001 spotlighting and awarding the finalists. Launching for consumers and viewing audiences on September 20, 2000, alt.SHO.com will feature content created for the Web by up-and-coming digital artists.
Submissions must be original electronic entertainment presentations in one of nine categories: comedy, drama, action, documentary, sci-fi, horror, family, experimental or toys/games. Only the following electronic formats will be accepted: QuickTime, Flash (source only), Director Shockwave, Windows Media (AVI), MPG, Java Applet, HTML (Java Script, VB Script, Animated GIF) or RealMedia. To enter and for further information and the official rules for the festival, visit http://www.alt.SHO.com.
US businesses have become serious about leveraging the power of the Web, with firms investing as much as 20% of their total IT spending on Internet-enabling services, personnel and solutions, according to high-tech research firm, Cahners In-Stat Group.
In-Stat says an estimated 70% of the US workforce has access to the Web at work in 2000, up from 63% in 1999. By 2004, nearly 85% of US employees are expected to be able to harness the power of the Internet at work, giving new meaning to the phrase "the Internet economy."
In-Stat's cross-market "Building for eBusiness" research found that:
This info comes from a series of new In-Stat research reports covering IT Expenditure, Communication Platforms & Internet Infrastructure for the four U.S. Market Segments: Small, SOHO, Middle and Enterprise. To purchase one of these reports or for more information, please visit http://www.instat.com/catalog/cat-ms-ebusiness.htm or contact Courtney McEuen; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Individual reports are priced at $3,995 USD. Discounts are available on multiple report purchases.
Media 100 has acquired technology assets and intellectual properties from ICE (Integrated Computing Engines), a provider of acceleration solutions for streaming media from the desktop. Media 100 assumes ownership, and will continue the production of key accelerator solutions from ICE. ICE technology currently is integrated into Media 100's Media Cleaner PowerSuite streaming media production system.
ICE acceleration technology reportedly increases the speed and quality of the compression process for streaming media content. Terms of the asset acquisition were not disclosed.
In a recent agreement, Big Huge Games Inc. joined Digital Anvil, Ensemble Studios, Gas Powered Games and Relic Entertainment as a developer of computer games for Microsoft. Bill & co. get exclusive publishing and distribution rights to Big Huge-developed strategy-oriented titles. In addition, Microsoft also has made an equity investment in Big Huge.
Based in Hunt Valley, MD, Big Huge is a newly formed independent development studio founded by veteran game designer Brian Reynolds, whose list of PC game titles includes strategy games "Civilization II" and "Alpha Centauri." Before forming Big Huge earlier this year, Brian was a founding partner of Firaxis Games Inc., the computer game development house led by game designer Sid Meier.
EA last week released The Sims Livin' Large, the official expansion pack for its hit PC game The Sims. The add-on offers 125 new items for Sims to use--from a potion making chemistry set to a vibrating bed; five new careers for Sims to pursue--journalism, hacker, slacker, music and paranormal; and new design and architecture features, so players can build anything from a tacky love shack to a gloomy castle for their Sims to call home.
Blizzard Entertainment last week announced plans for the Diablo II Expansion Set for its hit title Diablo II. Diablo II has sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide since shipping two months ago, reportedly making it the biggest PC game this year.
In the Diablo II Expansion Set, players return to follow the path of Baal, the last of the Prime Evils, into the Barbarian Highlands of the north. Traveling with hordes of demonic minions, Baal intends to corrupt the powerful Worldstone that protects the whole of the mortal plane from the forces of Hell. Players will face a new series of quests and challenges to prevent the vile minions of the underworld from destroying the world of Sanctuary.
Diablo II Expansion Set is being developed by the Blizzard North design team and is expected to be released in the first half of 2001 in Windows 95/98/2000/NT and Macintosh formats.
Last week SCEA released NHL FaceOff 2001 for PlayStation. The hockey title includes these features:
Coming next week from Activision is the first-person shooter Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force. Developed by Raven Software using the Quake III Arena engine, the game puts the player in the role of Ensign Munro, second in command of Voyager's elite Hazard Team security force. Through the game's 10 single-player campaigns and over 30 missions, players will battle against both new and familiar enemies, including the Borg, Klingon, Hirogen and more.
As in the TV series, missions include team and solo assignments. Players will interact with characters from the show that offer insights and assist the player, and with new characters that make up the rest of the Hazard Team and assist in battles with hostile aliens.
Acclaim Entertainment last week released Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion, the final N64 episode in its three-million-unit-selling Turok franchise.
Developed by Acclaim Studios Austin, Turok 3 combines of storyline-driven gameplay and objective-based action. Game highlights include dual main characters, cinematics, and multiplayer modes. Turok 3 also features "living environments," which lets the environments to be in a constant state of movement, independent of the main character's actions. Turok 3's sound team has created an orchestrated musical score, digital speech and improved sound effects throughout the entire game for enhanced gameplay experience.
Sega recently revealed details of its strategy for online console gaming. The three-point strategy includes: a new manufacturers suggested retail price for the Dreamcast videogame console, plus the launch of SegaNet, a console gaming network and ISP, and confirmation of the imminent arrival of the first console online multiplayer games, "Sega Sports NFL 2K1" and "Quake III Arena."
Sega announced a new MSRP of $149.95 for the 128-bit, Internet-ready Dreamcast. Also, last week the company launched its SegaNet (http://www.sega.net) online console and PC gaming network and ISP. Features include online chat, 3D multiplayer gaming, contests, codes, content and PC online game servers. Sega describes the network as "high-speed," but in fact the Dreamcast is the only next-generation console _not_ equipped for broadband access.
When queried about whether SegaNet was the only ISP choice for Dreamcast owners, a company representative stated, "You can use your existing ISP, however we cannot guarantee that it'll be the best experience. The difference is if you play using your ISP, you are subject to the issues and slowdown of the public Internet. However, if you use SegaNet, then you are guaranteed a gameplay experience of 200 milliseconds or less because it is a dedicated network built for gaming that you can also use as an ISP via your Dreamcast or your PC."
Microsoft last week unveiled a list of 18 development studios working on projects for its Xbox videogame console. With the first wave of developer tools just released, Microsoft claims Xbox is rapidly gaining popularity among game designers. Xbox is slated for a worldwide release in fall 2001.
The list of development studios creating Xbox content under the Microsoft label include the following:
Sierra Studios last week showed its lineup of new titles at the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in London, England.
Tribes 2 - The sequel to the 1999 online action/strategy game Starsiege Tribes offers team-based action and large worlds for exploration and battle, and adds a new single-player component that lets players fill their teams with computer-controlled teammates before heading into battle. Coming this fall.
Zeus: Master of Olympus - From Impressions Games comes the sixth game in its city-building series. Set in a mythological ancient Greece, the game world includes Hercules, Athena, Ares, Medusa, the minotaur, and others. Players build and rule Greek city-states while summoning heroes and gods to protect their land from monsters and other Greek cities. Will ship this November.
Half-Life Dreamcast - Scheduled for release this fall, Half-Life Dreamcast is in development by Northern California-based Captivation Digital Laboratories in conjunction with Gearbox Software and Valve LLC. In addition to an exclusive new mission, Half-Life: Blue Shift, the Sega Dreamcast edition includes the original version of Half-Life with several enrichments, including detailed characters, enhanced weapons, and more "articulate" animation.
Warrior Kings - A next-generation medieval fantasy, the 3D RTS lets gamers create and train their own army, oversee their economy, conduct espionage, fend off dark forces by evil, wage war. In development by UK-based Black Cactus, Warrior Kings lets players command battalions with the new Battlefield Enhanced Simulation Technology (BEST). The game features a large single-player campaign plus "active/passive" LAN/Internet play with up to 16 players a game. Due to ship in early 2001.
Gunman Chronicles - The futuristic 3D-first person shooter, based on the Half-Life engine, is a stand-alone PC game that takes place on five unexplored planets with a variety of habitats for enemies. In development by ReWolf, the title includes new monsters, configurable weapons, vehicles players can drive, original sound and music, hundreds of realistic new textures and fantastic architecture. Coming this fall.
Midway Games has shipped a new version of the arcade title San Francisco Rush 2049 for Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. Dreamcast players can upload and download ghost races and high scores.
Other features for Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast only:
Loki Software, Inc., a publisher of commercial games for the Linux operating system, will work with developer Timegate Studios to bring Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns to Linux. Kohan will be the first of the real-time strategy gaming genre to be commercially available for Linux. The Linux and Windows versions will be released in Q1 2001.
A real-time fantasy war game for up to eight players, Kohan is set in the mystical world of Khaldun. Players use strategy, tactics, and resource management to create a successful kingdom and to create and deploy their military forces. Features include the consideration of terrain, formation and company efficiency in combat and movement.
The growing domination of French firms in the games industry continued last week as Ubi Soft Entertainment S.A., acquired Red Storm Entertainment. It is anticipated that Red Storm will continue to be operated as an independent company, and that most of the Red Storm Entertainment staff will remain intact in North Carolina.
Red Storm Entertainment Inc. was founded in November 1996 by author Tom Clancy and others. The company publishes titles such as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and Tom Clancy's Rogue Spear, with combined sales of over three million copies globally and 1999 net revenues of $52 million.
As part of the transaction, Clancy entered into a new exclusive, long-term license and endorsement agreement with Red Storm and Ubi Soft for all video and computer gaming platforms and products.
Internet retailers must prepare for early holiday shoppers this year, as worldwide online holiday sales are forecast to reach $19.5 billion in 2000, a 85 percent increase over last year's revenue, according to Gartner Group, Inc.. In 1999, Internet holiday sales totaled $10.5 billion.
"Explosive Internet access growth over the last two years, particularly in regions beyond North America, means that many Internet users are now familiar enough with the medium to make online purchases," said Astrid Van Dorst, senior analyst for Gartner's e-Business Services. "We've witnessed strong demand for Western goods by the affluent in Asia and support by governments, retail banks, card companies and national portals to 'Webify' their countries."
North America will continue to account for more than half of online holiday sales this year, but the other regions are gaining market share. Europe and Asia/Pacific are projected to grow 96 and 91 percent, while Japan and Rest of World online holiday shopping sales this year will increase more than 180 percent of 200 percent over 1999 revenue.
Gartner analysts will provide additional insight into the Internet retailing market during Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo 2000, October 16-20 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Speakers include Hewlett-Packard chairman/CEO Carly Fiorina; Sun Microsystems chairman/CEO Scott McNealy; and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.
Yeti Interactive, a developer of interactive entertainment software based in Montpellier, France, last week announced its official formation. The company, created by seven veteran developers who have previously worked on entertainment titles for Ubi-Soft Entertainment, is led by:
Yeti Interactive's first title, a 3D action game for PlayStation 2, is currently in the design phase. The game is scheduled to be released before Christmas 2002.
Aspiring online gaming giant WildTangent recently expanded its content management team with the appointment of three industry experts. Sanjay Bala-Krishnan has been named senior director of product development; David Schwartz joins as director of product development; and Phil Shenk, director of product development.
As senior director of product development, Bala-Krishnan will direct strategy, parlor and flight/space simulation games such as SabreWing. Before joining WildTangent, he acted as executive producer of the Simulation Games Division of Dynamix/Sierra.
As director of product development, David Schwartz will lead the development of sports and 3D shooter games, as well as mapping products. He joins WildTangent from Midway where he was the director of technology for Midway's 3rd party publishing group, as well as a lead programmer and project manager.
Shenk comes to WildTangent from Blizzard Entertainment where he was most recently a project director and designer for the Diablo franchise. He previously served as lead character artist for Diablo 2, where he designed and created characters and monsters for the game.
BreakAway Games, an independent game developer of strategy, sports and historical simulations, announced several appointments last week.
Ed Beach has been named director of software development. Most recently, Beach headed up the development team for Cleopatra: The Official Pharaoh Expansion.
Stephen Langmead, an eight-year veteran of the computer games industry, has been appointed art director. His responsibilities will include developing and implementing a consistent visual style for BreakAway titles. Prior to joining BreakAway Games earlier this year, Stephen was art director at TalonSoft.
Ed Fletcher will shape and implement BreakAway Games' Internet strategy. He was a founding partner of both Bethesda Softworks and Meyer/Glass Interactive.
This one-day event for Web-development professionals will teach skills including Flash, SMIL, SVG, DHTML and developing for wireless devices. It will be held September 18, 2000 at The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco.
Sessions will cover:
Keynote speakers include:
The University of California Digital Media Innovation Program (DiMI) will assemble thinkers and researchers at the first DIGIVATIONS, an invitation-only gathering of global leaders in the fields of digital technology and media.
This first-of-a-kind event will bring together key convergence industry players, venture capitalists, creative talent and digital visionaries, along with leading University of California research faculty from all nine UC campuses and three national laboratories, creating a unique community that will continue beyond the initial three-day "think tank", September 24-26, 2000, at the BACARA Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.
DiMI integrates the nine University of California campuses and three national laboratories to create an unbiased resource, enabling partnerships to fuel core technology development across multiple application areas," said JoAnn Kuchera- Morin. DiMI Program Director.
New demonstrations will include:
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