Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

27 Sep 2004
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)

--Bare Bones Software Ships BBEdit 8.0

--BioGraphic Technologies Updates AI.implant
--Metrowerks Ships Development Tools for Sony PSP

--cebas Updates pyrocluster

--O'Reilly Launches Digital Media Web Site

--PlayStation News
--TAC Set to Ship Western Adventure
--GarageGames Releases Gish, Linux Dark Horizons: Lore
--Eidos Announces FPS Project: Snowblind
--Activision News
--SuperPower 2 Demo Available
--Dragon Quest VIII Coming to Japan

--GarageGames @ IndieGamesCon

--About Spectrum



Bare Bones Software Ships BBEdit 8.0

Just out from Bare Bones Softwareis BBEdit 8.0, an upgrade to its HTML and text editor. The new version introduces over 100 new features and improvements, including a new Documents Drawer and Navigation Bar interface, new Text Factories for automating text processing, enhancements to the product's signature HTML markup tools, improved Unicode support, integrated support for Perforce, and much more. BBEdit 8.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.5.

New interface options allow multiple documents to be opened into a single window, and provide efficient navigation among multiple open documents. The Documents Drawer presents a list of open documents in a given editing window, and switches to another document with a single keystroke or mouse gesture. The Navigation Bar works alone, or in concert with the Documents Drawer, to provide an alternate interface for switching between documents in a window while conserving screen real estate.

The new Text Factory feature provides a mechanism to apply BBEdit's tools across multiple files and folders. Text Factories let the user create a list of individual text-processing operations and apply them in order and with corresponding options over a designated document or set of documents and folders. A Text Factory can run in the background, can include AppleScripts or Unix scripts, and can be saved for future use.

Advances to BBEdit's signature HTML markup tools include enhanced CSS markup tools and a more flexible HTML syntax checker with support for "exclusion zones" and partial-document checking. New Preview Server support enables previewing of pages that require server-side processing before rendering. The newly integrated HTML Tidy tool formats and cleans up HTML code, and can be used to convert between HTML and XHTML.

BBEdit 8.0 features enhanced support for editing and processing Unicode text files, and can now work with documents written in multiple Unicode-represented languages.

The program's multi-file search and replace capabilities have been enhanced in version 8.0 to support the searching of multiple discrete files and folders as selected by the customer. Multiple multi-file search and replace operations now run as background tasks, leaving the application usable for other purposes.

Integration with the Perforce Fast Software Configuration Management System (SCM) now allows users to perform Perforce functions within BBEdit. Perforce, a commercial version-control system, is used in enterprises for multi-file updates, concurrent development, and managing multiple software releases. http://www.perforce.com/.

Additional integration with the Unix command-line environment includes enhancements to the "bbedit" command-line tool, a new "bbdiff" tool for invoking BBEdit's powerful "Find Differences," support for Perl debugging using the Affrus environment from Late Night Software , and integration with Exuberant Ctags http://ctags.sourceforge.net/ for source-code indexing and navigation

. http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/index.shtml



BioGraphic Technologies Updates AI.implant

BioGraphic Technologies, a Montreal-based provider of AI-based 3D tools and engines for games, film, television and simulation, recently announced version 2.5 of AI.implant, its multiplatform AI software for dynamic pathfinding, crowd animation, and character logic which includes a C++ SDK and/or exporters for 3ds max and Maya. Enhancements include a next-generation blind-data enabled navigation mesh pathfinding architecture, an expanded toolset, and gains in authoring and run-time performance. In addition, BioGraphic is segmenting the AI.implant for Games product into three separately purchasable modules: Navmesh generation and editing, Dynamic pathfinding and Decision logic.

More on the new features:

Dynamic pathfinding: Building on the navmesh architecture introduced in version 2.0 of AI.implant, all pathfinding via navmeshes is now dynamic. Navigable space can now be blocked and unblocked dynamically to simulate events such as road blocks and collapsing walls. As well, AI.implant now takes into account character width relative to paths, so that a large character will not necessarily choose the same path as a small character. Finally, with the optimization of the underlying architecture, overall pathfinding has become more efficient in terms of memory usage and CPU time.

Blind data on mesh objects: All mesh objects--the MeshBarrier in particular--can now hold arbitrary amounts of "blind data": user-defined named data that can be specified on a per-cell or a per-vertex basis. Blind data opens up possibilities including the ability to query the world from decision trees, to influence pathfinding, and to achieve other forms of spatial-based reasoning. For example, a series of cells can be tagged as “a sidewalk” and the pathfinder can be told to keep the character on the sidewalk. Or a cell can be tagged as a weapons depot, and the character's behavior programmed to trigger a reaction to load up on munitions when near such a depot.

Sharing of geometry: With AI.implant V2.5, navmeshes do not require their own separate geometry. AI.implant can utilize existing level geometry already created for physics or rendering, resulting in significant memory savings and in improved overall performance. Furthermore, this geometry can be dynamic.

AI.DE: AI.DE is a complete AI development environment. Visualization now features a new point-and-pick interface, which simplifies the visual debugging of a scene; tighter integration with the AI.explorer in 3ds max and Maya; more-flexible camera options; hardware acceleration for large mesh objects; and representations of waypoints, paths, and MeshBarriers. Finally, selecting one or more objects in the AI.explorer will now highlight the selections in the visualiser.

Increased scripting support: The AI.DE scripting dictionary has been expanded to provide more power and expression. A number of commands related to navmeshes and blind data have been added to take advantage of the new appearance of these functions in the SDK. In addition, scripting can now be used as an effective tool to allow blind data to influence decision-making.

Also, developers can now license the following core AI.implant functions separately:
* Navmesh generation and editing tool
* Dynamic navigation (pathfinding) engine
* Character logic (decision trees, finite state machines, scripting) engine

Developers interested in learning more about this new pricing scheme should contact BioGraphic Technologies' sales team via e-mail at middleware-sales@ai-implant.com or via telephone at (514) 844-5255. But here's the basic pricing info:
* Node locked: $10,000
* Floating: $15,000
* Educational pricing available upon request

AI.implant 2.5 is available now for Alias Maya and Discreet 3ds max as well as the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms. Current customers and evaluators have already been sent instructions for downloading the latest version of the software. Those people not currently evaluating AI.implant are invited to visit www.biographictech.com/products.html where they can request an evaluation copy of the product.


Metrowerks Ships Development Tools for Sony PSP

Metrowerks, a subsidiary of Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., demonstrated the features and capabilities of CodeWarrior Development Studio for PSP, Version 1.0 at the Tokyo Games Show 2004 last weekend. Available now, the studio offers:
* a compiler that enables the creation of compact object code
* support for Sony Computer Entertainment's communication protocol
* the ability to work within either the native CodeWarrior development environment or the Visual Studio.NET environment
* a C/C++ debugger that provides an intuitive graphic interface for flexible and accurate code visualization

CodeWarrior Development Studio for PSP, Version 1.0 can be purchased by contacting Metrowerks via telephone at 1-800-377-5416 or +1-512-996-5300, or by email at games@metrowerks.com. Corporations that have concluded appropriate contracts for "PSP" game title development and can purchase tools and middleware products may purchase CodeWarrior Development Studio for PSP, Version 1.0. For more information, contact games@metrowerks.com in North America and Europe, or j-info@metrowerks.com in Asia or Japan.



cebas Updates pyrocluster

German plug-in developer recently shipped version 3.0 of pyrocluster, its add-on for creating volumetric smoke, explosions, etc. with 3ds max. Features include:




O'Reilly Launches Digital Media Web Site

If there's been one particularly bright spot in the rebounding tech economy, it would have to be the adoption of digital media tools by just about everyone, especially digital photography and music. Sales of digital cameras rival their film counterparts, and downloading music has become as almost as simple as turning on the radio. Fine artists and graphic designers are also benefiting from the growing array of new gear and software now available


To inspire digital media users to new heights of creativity and expertise, O'Reilly has unveiled its Digital Media Web site: http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/. "We built this site to bring digital media influencers and enthusiasts together to share and learn," explained Bill Takacs, product marketing manager for O'Reilly.

Developing in three phases, the digital photography component is the site's first focus. A digital audio section is in the works and soon to come, followed by graphic design. "I'm also looking at digital video, but haven't quite got my arms around our approach to that yet," noted Derrick Story, O'Reilly network managing editor.

Currently, the site's primary features include:
* Photographer of the Month: An important function of this site is to give innovative photographers a place to display their work
* Industry News: The latest in camera releases, new software, events, and other happenings in the world of digital photography will be posted daily
* Digital Media Services Directory: A functional directory listing services and what other digital artists are doing
* Feature Articles and Tutorials: Learn to leverage tools to make your vision happen, become a better technician, and ultimately a more engaging artist
* Weblogs : It wouldn't be a community without a place to post late night discoveries and musings

Working digital media specialists can contribute to the site by entering a listing in the Digital Media Services Directory. They are also invited to contact the staff about authoring articles or Weblogs, or if they are interested in showcasing their work on the site.

Sample features:
* "Go Wide with Digital Panoramas" by Jack Herrington: http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/digitalmedia/2004/08/25/panorama.html
* "Julian Cash: Interactive Photographer" by Derrick Story: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/digitalmedia/2004/08/25/featured.html



PlayStation News

Just out from Sony Computer Entertainment America is Sly 2: Band of Thieves, a comic crime, action-adventure for PlayStation2. Created by Seattle-based developer Sucker Punch Productions, the game builds on its predecessor, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, through team-based thievery, immersive storylines, and interactive environments.

Word is out that Interpol has excavated the robotic remains of Clockwerk -- Sly's nemesis and sworn enemy of the Cooper clan. Sly and his gang discover the parts of Clockwerk are missing, and embark on a quest to ensure Clockwerk is never reassembled. The journey takes Sly and his crew to the far reaches of the globe, including Paris, Prague, India, the Canadian Wilderness and more, each with unique and diverse landscapes and environments all waiting to be explored. The story offers deceit, plot twists, and an romantic triangle.

The game blends gameplay elements including stealth, thievery, platform adventure, combat, strategy and exploration. Incorporating a new approach to team play, Sly and his crew are all playable and must work together to plan and pull off a series of big heists. Enhanced move sets include pick-pocketing, vent crawls, rooftop chases, and stealth attacks.

Also, coming in November is a new, redesigned PlayStation2. While inheriting the basic functions and design philosophy of the current PlayStation 2, the internal design architecture of the new model has been overhauled, resulting in a slimmer and more lightweight form. Internal volume has been reduced by 75 percent, overall weight has been halved, and thickness trimmed down to 2.8 cm (thickness of current model is 7.8 cm).

The unit is equipped with an integrated Ethernet port for network gaming, but lacks HD support.

Lastly, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has begun preparations to adopt Blu-ray Disc ROM (BD-ROM) format as a medium for the next-generation PlayStation, the successor system to PlayStation2.

Blu-ray Disc (BD) is a next-generation, high-density optical disc format that enables recording and playback of digital high-definition (HD) video signals and programs. BD-ROM format has a memory size of 54 GB (dual layer, single side), six times larger than that of DVD-ROM. Standardization of this format is currently underway lead by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA).

MPEG2-TS, the signal compression technology used in Hi-Vision TV broadcasting, is also used in BD, making it possible to reproduce high-resolution HD video images. With the introduction of the latest high-compression code/decode technology (MPEG4-AVC, VC-1), playback of high-quality video images from HD video signals reportedly becomes possible even under a low bit-rate environment.

Development of key devices, including a single optical pick-up that can read data from all three formats of CD, DVD and BD, is already on-going within the Sony Group. Research and development in optical disc technology with even larger storage capacity, as well as mass production technology, are also moving forward.



TAC Set to Ship Western Adventure

Toronto-based The Adventure Company announced last week that Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure has gone gold for Windows in North America. A playable demo for this title will be available for download shortly.

The western adventure's story begins with Fenimore Fillmore as he gallops upon [sic] a small farming community in trouble. John Starek, a greedy rancher, has set his sites on the town and will stop at nothing to take over the land. Quaking in their boots, the community turns to Fenimore for help. A natural-born hero, Fenimore saddles up for standoffs, gunfights and jailbreaks. He also becomes enchanted with the lovely school teacher, Rhiannon, who just happens to be Starek's niece. Take on the role of Fenimore Fillmore to save the town, get the girl, and ride off into the sunset.

Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure combines the graphic adventure and RPG genres. The graphics and humor are said to be reminiscent of LucasArts titles such as Monkey Island and Sam & Max. Players explore eight locations and interact with a supporting cast of more than 30 3D characters. The game features over 40 minutes of real-time 3D cinematic cut-scenes plus numerous puzzles and mini-games. The new proprietary engine allows for facial expressions and character movement.

Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure was previously released in Euorpe under the title The Westerner. Developed by Revistronic with script editing by Steve Ince, the game has an ESRB rating of 'E' for Everyone and ships to retail September 30.



GarageGames Releases Gish, Linux Dark Horizons: Lore

GarageGames last week released Gish on OS X, Linux and Windows. As an amorphous ball of tar that rolls and squishes around, players experience 2D side-scrolling action-adventure gameplay.

The main character, a ball of tar named Gish, is in search of his beloved Brea, who has been kidnapped by the villainous unknown assailant. His journey deep into the underworld drags the player into an increasingly challenging labyrinth of puzzle-filled levels. Gish manipulates his gelatinous body through dangerous levels filled with deadly spikes and twisted abominations as he solves puzzles and sloshes his way through hours of gameplay.

The game Gish was developed by the indie-game studio Chronic Logic, which also provided a specialized playroom in which to practice all the different tar-ball skills of climbing, squishing, sliming and steamrolling, plus a head-to-head competition mode.

The Gish demo version is available for OS X, Linux and Windows. The full version can be downloaded on sale now for $20 from Garagegames.

Also new from GarageGames is its game Dark Horizons: Lore for Linux-based distributions.

The first-person shooter is based in a universe where the unfolding history of a war-torn Earth is revealed before the player's eyes. Warring factions in the year 2155 pit cybernetically controlled mech-style machines of war against one another in team-based combat on a dark, 3D Earth. Squad-vs.-squad action takes place as teammates struggle to hold ground and complete objectives against enemy forces.

A free time limited trial version is available for download for Linux as well as both Mac OS X and Windows. The online retail version is available for $25 at http://www.garagegames.com



Eidos Announces FPS Project: Snowblind

Currently in development by Crystal Dynamics for Eidos is the first-person action shooter Project: Snowblind. The game puts players in the role of an elite super soldier, fighting on the front lines of a near-future war using unique weapons, abilities and high-tech gadgetry. The game emphasizes multiplayer and online play modes and will be available this winter for PlayStation2, Xbox, and the PC.

The game is set in a near-future Hong Kong, the year is 2065. 2nd Lt. Nathan Frost is just a regular grunt until he volunteers for a super-soldier transformation for an international army called the Liberty Coalition. A painful series of surgeries gives Frost extra-normal abilities via implanted enhancements, which place him on the frontlines of a war against a destructive regime. After a military coup leaves him stranded in hostile territory and cut off from command with only a handful of men, Frost must stop the militia's secret weapon that threatens to plunge the world into darkness.

Players will be able to employ a variety of bio-enhancements to augment their character's attributes and physical abilities. They will also have access to different weapons, demolition gear, and high-tech gadgetry. All primary weapons will have secondary fire options, allowing the weapon to perform dual tasks.

Online multiplayer capabilities include voice over IP support and classic FPS multiplayer modes such as Deathmatch, capture the flag, etc. Mission types include suppression and infiltration.



Activision News

Activision, Inc. recently shipped Call of Duty: United Offensive. The expansion pack to Infinity Ward's Call of Duty was developed by Gray Matter Interactive Studios and lists for $30.

Call of Duty: United Offensive allows gamers to experience more WWII conflicts through the eyes of Allied soldiers fighting for the liberation of Europe through 13 new single-player missions. Featuring three new campaigns, the game lets players join the U.S. 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge, the British campaign as an airman shooting down German ME-109s from a B-17 bomber, and the Russian frontlines as a conscript in the crucial eight-day Battle of Kursk.

Additionally, Call of Duty: United Offensive expands on the multiplayer experience with a battle between Axis and Allied powers, now including vehicle combat aboard tanks and jeeps as well as tank-and-foot-soldier combined arms action. The expanded multiplayer component offers 11 new maps and three new modes of play - including Base Assault, Capture the Flag and Domination - where squads must take control of key locations while preventing enemy troops from advancing. And, a newly added ranking system now lets players earn additional weaponry upon completion of objectives, call in artillery support, and gain the respect of friends and foes alike.

Other enhancements include new, realistic WWII weapons, including the German Flammenwerfer 35 Flamethrower and Panzerschrek anti-tank weapon, American M1A1 Bazooka, Russian Tokarev SVT-40 Self-Loading Rifle, portable deployable machine-guns, and smoke grenades. Gray Matter also added a new special-effects system for explosions, weather, and particle effects.

Also new from Activision is X-Men Legends for PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube. Developed by Raven Software, the action RPG, with a storyline written by former X-Men comic book writers, the game lets players create, customize, and control teams of four mutants in real time as they embark on a quest to stop the extinction of mankind. Players assume the role of up to 15 X-Men characters, each with individual mutant powers and fighting skills, including Wolverine, Gambit, Nightcrawler and Storm. Gamers select specific X-Men characters depending on each mission and unlock new playable mutants and super powers as they battle the Brotherhood of Mutants and other Marvel villains in interactive, destructible 3D environments. Along the way, players lead teams of mutants on a variety of challenging missions set in locations from the X-Men comics, including the X- Mansion, New York City, and the infamous Weapon X facility.

Gamers can adventure alone or team up with friends to battle in up to a four-player cooperative mode for dynamic Super Hero action.

X-Men Legends is powered by Vicarious Visions Alchemy middleware game engine.

Also, the ancient battles of Roman history rage on in Activision's Rome: Total War. The new title in the Creative Assembly's Total War series transports players to the battlefields of ancient history's greatest conflicts, where they can control armies of up to 10,000 polygonal, detailed, motion-captured warriors that appear on the screen at once. Gamers can direct armies led by generals including Julius Caesar and Hannibal, and must use a combination of brains and brawn to successfully recreate the Roman Empire.


Finally, Activision and Lionhead Studios are hosting an online contest where fame is the ultimate prize. Fans of the forthcoming game The Movies are invited to design their own studio logo. The winning logos will appear in the game for use on the studio entry gates, throughout the back lot, and during opening film credits, and the designer will receive acknowledgment in the game.

If you're interested in participating in this contest, you can view the official rules and submit up to five entries at: www.themoviesgame.com/logocompetition.html. Submitted images must be 256x256 pixels in size, preferably on a transparent background, and be in one of these formats: tga, tiff, png, gif.

The Movies logo competition ends October 20. The production team at Lionhead Studios will judge all entries and pick the top three logos for use in the game. The winners and their designs will be announced on November 30 at www.themoviesgame.com.

In The Movies, the studio logo is an important game element, as it appears on crew clothing, the water tower, flags, and most importantly, the credits for every film created.

Developed by Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux, a pioneer in the "life simulation" genre, The Movies lets gamers become Hollywood players by creating unique movies and releasing them from the studios they build, starring the actors they discover and develop. Players create and design their own studio lot from which they select scripts, dress sets, choose costumes, determine the intensity of the action, dub voiceovers, score music, and write their own subtitles to create movie masterpieces that they can share online with friends. Gamers can become movie moguls who discover stars, managing their fame from young unknowns to through the twilight of their careers, or let focus on directing movies from their favorite time periods.



SuperPower 2 Demo Available

DreamCatcher Games says its demo for SuperPower 2 is now available for download at the game's site, www.SuperPower2Game.com.

The 160MB single-player demo offers desktop dictators a 90-minute timed Russian scenario where they can attack other countries, perform covert actions, or stir things up abroad with war declarations. They'll witness the cause and effect consequences of their actions from an atlas-mode view.


Dragon Quest VIII Coming to Japan

Square Enix Co., Ltd., a developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software, including the popular RPG franchises Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, says that Dragon Quest VIII for PlayStation2 will be released November 27 in Japan.

The Dragon Quest Series is one of the leading RPGs in Japan. The series was first released in 1986 and has sold 35.89 million units worldwide. Dragon Quest VIII "Sora to Umi to Daiichi to Norowaleshi Himegimi," using 3D graphics a new game system, will be released for the PS2 as a completely new Dragon Quest, four years after the last installment.

The world of Dragon Quest VIII is created with 3D graphics. The world, which includes fields, towns and dungeons, will allow players to move around seamlessly. All of the monsters and characters are transformed with 3D graphics. Battle scenes provide a strong presence of characters and monsters. Moreover, both new and familiar monsters have been recreated with uniquely detailed animation popular among fans of Dragon Quest.

Koichi Sugiyama, the composer of all music from previous titles in the series, created an original score.

No word on an English-language version yet (but we can't wait!)




GarageGames @ IndieGamesCon

GarageGames invites game developers to IndieGamesCon '04 in Eugene, Oregon, October 8-10. This year's conference is an informal gathering of independent game developers with the keynote address “The Story Behind GameHouse” by Garr Godfrey from GameHouse, now a division of RealNetworks.

IndieGamesCon (IGC) is a summit meeting of game developers with the shared goal of collaboration and building community. Along with sessions on game art, technology, tools and business, the event has a central ShowOFF center open to developers to play-test and showcase current prototypes, demos and newly released games. There will be a Live IndieJam Party sponsored by Wild Duck Brewery and the action-packed LAN party sponsored by nVIDIA.

IGC provides connections and content for programmers, artists and indie entrepreneurs. Speakers include Jeff Tunnell on game design, Jeannie Novak on indie entrepreneurship, Ron Powers and Dave Nixon on the state of the industry, Thomas Buscaglia on law and many more.

Early registration is online and costs $195 for a three-day pass, including sessions, t-shirt, food, parties and beverage of choice (“beer”).




About Spectrum

Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media/online-development tools and end product for review.

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