Titles and Sites in the Works
January, 1997 (Vol 3, No 1)
Each month indelibleNews! prints industry news, gossip, scoops, and insider information you won’t find anywhere else. Jump directly to Alliances, Children, or Net News. Or start at the top:
Former Warner Brothers Interactive VP Steven Koltai has announced his plans to create a new company, called CyberStudios, which will create “revenue-generating Internet content.” His future plans include organizing a field trip to meet Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Singularity is still looking for a publisher for its first title, Azaria. The Director of Product Development, Rick Gonzalez, recently said he expects the game to make $10 million. He and the afore-mentioned Steven Koltai will then use the cash as mad money during their layover at the lost city of Atlantis on their way to Shangri-La.
The good news: a DVD-ROM encyclopedia is planned by Xiphias Corp. The possible bad news: Xiphias plans to use the increased storage capacity to offer more fluff than ever before, promising 80 minutes of MPEG II video (and not mentioning anything about in-depth articles).
Activision has taken two existing CD-ROM projects and juiced them up to create their first DVD-ROM discs. Spycraft: The Great Game and Muppet Treasure Island will be unveiled at Fall Comdex 97.
Multicom Publishing also plans five DVD-ROMs, four of them based on old CD-ROMs, and one new and original.
Bayware Products promises, for $139, to teach you Chinese with Power Chinese, available now.
PF.Magic, creator of digital pets Dogz and Catz, are unveiling a new line of virtual critters called Oddballz. These weird and wacky creatures, which can be downloaded from the web (http://www.oddballz.com) mutate and morph into even weirder and wackier things.
Viacom New Media have their own entry into the AI arena: Your Interactive Pet Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Rex. Virtual dinosaurs live in your computer, accept food, sulk when ignored, et cetera.
Magic: The Gathering has been long delayed by a legal battle over the rights; now a settlement has been reached. Acclaim Entertainment will release Magic: The Gathering BattleMage, a strategy game based on the characters and scenarios of Magic, before January 10th. Spectrum Holobyte will release Magic: The Gathering, a digital version of the Magic card game, after February 1st. Isnt it nice when people talk things out?
Sante Fe New Media will kick off their Shakespeare Interactive Series with Romeo and Juliet, retailing at $100 . Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet will follow soon after.
Microprose has shipped 20 new scenarios for their smash hit Sid Meiers Civilization II.
Sea-D Publishing will unveil Fishes of the South Pacific in early January.
Ulead PhotoImpact 3.0 has been updated to Ulead PhotoImpact 3.01 with WebExtensions. The company responsible is Ulead Systems Inc.
Sim-masters Maxis will unveil Marble Drop in early ’97. Marble Drop, their first puzzle-strategy game, requires players to drop colored marbles into a puzzle machine to try to get the right colored marbles to their corresponding bins.
Maxis says they are tightening their policy on “Easter eggs” slipped into programs by developers. The catalyst is the now infamous “Easter egg” slipped into SimCopter, which shows two men kissing (78,000 units were shipped before it was discovered). Were sure tightening their policy is a good thing, but why did it have to be a gay theme that got them up in arms? What about all the naked women “Easter eggs” over the years? Huh?
Picassos eldest son, Claude Ruiz, has endorsed Grolier Interactive’s Picasso, the Man, his Works, the Legend, despite the less-than-stellar punctuation in the title. Amazing as it may seem, this is the first CD-ROM about the master.
The Waite Group Press, recently acquired by S&S, has released a series of interactive courses for programmers and web designers. The books come with CD-ROMs that link students to a web site, where, when finished, they can download a certificate. HTML 3 Interactive Course, Perl 5 Interactive Course and C++ Interactive Course are offered.
Konami of America is releasing Lucy & Desi: The Scrapbooks Volume I, which was designed by Education Through Entertainment Inc. Home movies, scrapbook photos, and audio interviews chronicle the life and times of Lucy & Desi; the disc is the first of three.
Interplaybought a toy. The company, which is inordinately proud of their 11 original audio tracks for Virtual Pool, has purchased a Euphonix CS2000P-56 “automated post-production system.” This means theyll be making their music in-house from now on.
ABC sportscaster Jim McKay will do voice-overs on British Open Championship Golf, coming from Looking Glass Technologies.
Sony has changed its mind about Psygnosis. It seems that Sonys hands-off policy with the developer, which produced some smash hits for the PlayStation, rankled certain Sony execs who have since departed. Sony, which had been planning to sell Psygnosis, has now decided to keep them.
GT Interactive may have eyes bigger than its stomach time will tell. After recently acquiring Humongous Entertainment and FormGen, GT has now snapped up Warner Interactive.
Industries celebrate themselves. Hence the new Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, created by the Interactive Digital Software Association, which will hold – surprise! – an annual awards presentation.
Cyberflix, Inc., which has so far concentrated on in-house projects, will now pursue development deals with other houses. They believe their DreamFactory 3D authoring system will attract many deals.
Clinton has found something new to waffle about: taxing the Internet. The Clinton Administration has announced that it will “encourage debate” on taxes and the Internet, but, for the time being, remains neutral.
Most alarming press release of the month: “If youre one of the millions of baby boomers saving only about one-third of what you will need to retire comfortably (source: Merrill Lynch) …” then youll need RetireReady Deluxe, from Individual Software.
Hemingways The Old Man and the Sea is coming to CD-ROM, courtesy Southern Star Interactive. The disc, scheduled for release in early 1997, will be targeted at middle and high school students.
Red Storm Entertainment is entering the CD-ROM game business even though a lot of publishers have shut down recently. Their ace in the hole: Tom Clancy, chairman, and Doug Littlejohns (Clancys technical advisor), president. All Red Storm products will be based on Clancys work.
Lintronics will release The Civil War According to James Forman (working title) next summer. The disc offers unpublished letters and a diary kept by James Forman, a solider of Michigans 5th Infantry who was stationed in Wa
Mediocre sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster (his career high point, in our opinion, was the Star Wars novel Splinter of the Minds Eye) has signed on with MagicMaker to create The Marexx, an episodic series on the Web (http://www.magicmaker.com). MagicMaker hopes to spin The Marexx off into a CD-ROM, and eventually start charging admission to the web site. We assume Piers Anthony, the definitively mediocre sci-fi author, wasnt available. Or maybe hes dead.
Turner New Media is kicking off the new year with a bang its being absorbed by Warner Bros. Online, effective December 31st. “At least half” of the companys 25 employees will lose their jobs. Happy New Year!
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January 6, 1997 is the delivery date for The World Book 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia from IBM and World Book, Inc. Weve seen an advance copy, and it is pretty damn impressive.
Boss Game Studios and BMG Interactive have created Spider, for the Playstation and Saturn platforms. Weve also seen an advance copy of this one; all we can say is, we’re hoping for the PC version sooner rather than later.
AnyRiver Entertainment has given worldwide distribution rights to Electronic Arts. AnyRiver has three titles coming in 1997. Now they need to make an alliance with a proofreader, so their press release doesnt read “Quaternity, a haunting, murder mystery.” Watch, the, commas, kids.
Byron Preiss, Inc. has made an agreement with America Online to develop a line of Virtual Comics for that service.
Edmark Corp. has been swallowed by IBM Corp. IBM will pay the educational software company $15.50 per share, or $80 million.
Sound Source Interactive Inc. and Viacom Consumer Products are getting together to make a Star Trek: Voyager “Entertainment Utility.” This means a CD-ROM which uses scenes from the first two seasons to make jigsaw puzzles, screen savers, audio clips, and wallpapers. Sounds about as original and exciting as Voyager itself.
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Living Books and Family PC magazine are sponsoring the Green Eggs and Hamulator online scavenger hunt, to conclude February 8, 1997. Prizes include CD-ROMs from Living Books, Dr. Seuss books from Random House, and T-shirts.
Living Books is also preparing its third Arthur Adventure CD-ROM. Arthurs Reading Race, for kids 3-7, should be available in Spring 97.
7th Level Inc., which has been somewhat kid-friendly with releases like The Great Math Adventure and The Universe According to Virgil Reality, announced the creation of an educational subsidiary. Kids World, Inc. is planned for March, 1997.
A high-tech boat, retracing the voyages of Magellan, Cortez, and DeGama, will set sail in April. All sorts of data will be sent daily to the Internet Circumnavigation Web site (http://www.circumnavigator.com); more than 20,000 students per month are expected to visit the site.
Virgin Sound & Vision has unveiled The Kids Place in Space! (http://www.vsv.com). Kids create their own homepages; Virgin maintains them at no charge.
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Poets & Writers Online (http://www.pw.org) a new web site from non-profit organization Poets & Writers, Inc., offers sections like How to Publish: A Quick Guide, Defining and Finding Success in Publishing, and Freelance Writers Guide.
Now owners of wacky home videos have an alternative to Bob Sagat. Submit something to Internets Wackiest Videos (http://www.IWaV.com), from IWaV Productions, and you could win $5,000.
Literature Online (Lion), a new web service from Chadwyck-Healey, costs $375 for a one year subscription. For the money you get over 210,000 full texts, as well as links to 10,000 others. For more info, go to http://www.chadwyck.com. Or go to your local library, which is still (probably) free.
Chadwyck also launched International Index to Music Periodicals on the web; cost for a one-year subscription is $495.
Readers who are interested in military operations, strategy, travel, languages, and political intrigue may prefer to swing by the newly-unrestricted Pentagon Book Store (http://www.booksdc.com).
Houghton Mifflin will create a political science web site with Politics Now; Houghton Mifflin will also launch their own online bookstore. In addition, HMIs Peterson Online site (http://www.petersononline.com) has recently launched Birding Forums, where birders can trade war stories. New bird info is provided via an agreement with Bird Watchers Digest.
HMI has also announced that AT&T WorldNet Service and Stream International will participate in The Polar Express Share the Spirit 96 Campaign (see last issues Titles & Sites for details).
Check out the Hollywood Stock Exchange (http://www.hsx.com) to try your hand at Tinseltown wheeling and dealing. Upon arriving at the site you receive one million virtual dollars, to invest or squander as you please.
Catchiest press release of the month comes from Virgin Interactive division Burst, which launched SubSpace, a real-time multiplayer action game designed exclusively for the Net. Headline: “First of its Kind Game Allows Thousands of Gamers From Around The World to Meet and Interact Then Kill Each Other.”
Amnesty International is hosting a tribute to Bob Marleys “Get Up Stand Up;” stop by the web site (http://www.getupstandup.com) to sample “acclaimed music artists” performing the tune, or submit your own version.
Check out the Trivial Pursuit Genus III web site (http://www.trivialpursuit.com) to sample some trivia questions and read biographies of the games creators.
Box Top Interactive, between developing a site for MGMs upcoming movie Turbulence and developing a site for fledgling network UPN, has found time to develop a site for the gay community. Outbox.com is still in the beta stage, but that doesnt mean you cant go take a look.
Tunes.com (http://www.tunes.com) claims to have over 200,000 sound samples. It also claims to be the first site to offer a click-and-play recommendation engine give it your interests and tastes and it recommends something for you.
Disney will soon create a new, fee-based online service that plans to compete with AOL. Theyve got the content to make it a contender. Stay tuned.
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Revised: February 15, 1997.