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TIW December 1996 May 11, 2009

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indelibleNews!
Titles and Sites in the Works
December, 1996 (Vol 2, No 12)

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:

NEWS

TheVoyager Co. is on the block and co-founder and company president Bob Stein is out. Peter Becker, the son of Voyager co-owner Bill Becker, has been named president. Word is that Stein is scrambling to raise the capital to buy Voyager back. “I could spend a lot of energy to start another company, but Voyager is already in place,” he said. Aleen Stein, Bob’s ex-wife, may have something to say about that. She still owns 20% of the company. Maybe she should take a turn as president?

Multicom has picked up the rights to 14 CD-ROMs, including American Sign Language Dictionary and Photography Workshop, from HarperCollins, which closed their adult interactive division earlier this year.

Compton?s Home Library is introducing The Genius of Edison, with an in-depth look at 13 of his greatest inventions, and Battles of the World, with maps and animations reenacting ten major battles from 2750 BC to the present.

A $2500 college scholarship and a trip to the Association for Computing 97 Expo will be awarded to the three winners of the ACM97 Vision of the Future Contest, sponsored by ACM and Popular Science magazine. High school students who want to compete should write an essay describing how computing technologies will change their lives over the next 50 years.

With so many companies in trouble, the following prediction, from financial analysts attending last month’s Software Publishers Association Conference, should come as no surprise: 64% of multimedia publishers will either merge, acquire, or be acquired in 1997.

Philips Media may have trimmed their workforce by 88%, but they don?t plan on folding. In fact, they hope to launch about 12 titles during the coming year. They say that in-house development has not been abandoned completely, but the strategy for the moment seems to be releasing titles made by third-party developers.

Acclaim Entertainment Inc. was on top of the world only a couple of years ago, ruling the 16-bit arena with Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam. In fiscal 1996, they lost $140 million. President Jim DeRose admits to being “professionally embarrassed,” but insists Acclaim is staying in business.

Sometimes it seems like everybody?s in trouble. Trilobyte, creator of the successful 7th Guest and the much less successful 11th Hour, has canned 8 of its 55 workers.

Simon & Schuster Interactive will fire or move 20 employees over the next year; this from a company which is assumed to be one of the more successful multimedia divisions of a publishing house, thanks to the Star Trek series. S&S Interactive also made a deal with the Harvard Medical School to publish books, periodicals, newsletters, CD-ROMs, audiobooks, videocassettes, and online products.

Alexey Pajitnov, who designed Tetris, hasn’t had another hit anywhere near as big, but that hasn?t stopped Microsoft from hiring him. Perhaps future Pajitnov games will be incorporated directly into the Windows operating system.

It?s not your grandmother?s software company. Sierra On-Line has created a new division,k.a.a., which will make action titles focusing on “lightning-quick gameplay, hard-driving soundtracks, a rebellious spirit and a ton of attitude.”

UVision is the new game engine by Utopia Technologies, creators of Montezuma?s Revenge. Utopia will use UVision, which lets players move in one direction while looking in another, in the upcoming Montezuma?s Return!.

Softkey is changing its name to The Learning Company to reflect its focus as an education technology company. Softkey took a $93.1 million loss in the third quarter, but says this has nothing to do with the name change.

The Software Council of Southern California gave out some awards at their third annual meeting. Multimedia Company of the Year: Disney Interactive. Internet Company of the Year: EarthLink Network Inc.

Maris Multimedia, creators of the astronomy program Redshift 2, will soon unveil Solar System Explorer, covering interplanetary flight and planetary sciences.

In 1992, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen put up $100 million to create the Interval Research Corporation. Now Interval Research will spin off three software units ? Carnelian, making software for Internet publishers; Ogopogo Studios, focusing on children?s games; and Purple Moon, creating girls? software that will go beyond traditional stereotypes (and haven’t we heard that before?).

Stupidest press release typo of the month: A Fork in the Tale, a new adventure game from AnyRiver Entertainment, stars Rob Schneider and his “clever, quick whited humor.”

Finally, some good news. Broderbund pulled in $37.7 million over the past year ? less than they hoped, but nothing to whine about.

 Top of Page | Front Page

ALLIANCES

The rights to Paul Verhoeven?s upcoming Starship Troopers have been snapped up, though the movie itself isn?t coming out for another year. Spectrum Holobyte, Inc. and Sony Signatures Film and Television have signed an agreement to make four games based on the movie.

Broderbund has commissioned Raven Software, creators of Hexen and Heretic, to develop Outrage, a “post-apocalyptic 3D action thriller.”

Activision will publish Little Big Adventure 2, from Adeline Software International.

 Top of Page | Front Page

KIDS

Sanctuary Woods and the NFL Players Association are sponsoring the second annual NFL Math Bowl, in which students from 37 schools in nine cities use the NFL Math CD-ROM to strut their stuff.

State Facts & Factivities For Kids! is a new series of educational trivia titles from Carole Marsh and the Gallopade Publishing Group. There are 50 different discs, one for each American state.

Frog and Toad are Friends, Danny and the Dinosaur, and Whatley?s Quest, all projects from the moribund HarperCollins Interactive, have found a home with Fox Interactive.

Troll Communications is creating Planet Troll, featuring a virtual playground and an online bookstore, as well as Deadtime World, a 3D VRML-based haunted house, based on Troll?s series of books Deadtime Stories.

Headbone Interactive will launch an online project developed with Excite Inc., called Netscapade, on December 15th. The project will feature a comic strip using the characters Iz and Auggie, borrowed from Headbone?s upcoming CD-ROM Iz and Auggie Escape From Dimension Q.

Ringling Online, the Ringl
ing Brothers Barnum & Bailey
site on America Online, is moving fast. In the past six weeks they?ve added Clownscopes, The Ringling Online Almanac, The Ringmaster?s Challenge, Get Published!, A Backstage Tour, Morphing Madness, Congress of Curiosities, and more.

God bless America: the first title from the partnership between Digital Impact and H.E.P. Group will be 101 Money Making Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs.

 Top of Page | Front Page

NET NEWS

The HotWired Network is introducing Talk.com, free to members. Half a million HotWired members and intellectual celebs like Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno can be found there, waiting to talk.

Firefly Network Inc. has developed Rollingstone.com with Rolling Stone magazine. The site includes content not published in the magazine, including daily Random Notes.

CasinoWorld Holdings Inc. has chosen Mytec Technologies to supply biometric encryption technology for their online gaming system. Mytec?s system scans the user?s thumbprint. Cool.

Brandon Tartikoff has signed a deal to develop content for NBC?s online service. His first effort, Beggars and Choosers, will debut on the web and as a Showtime movie this spring.

E! Online has launched The O.J. Civil Trial. Every night E! television covers the trial on TV; surfers can now type out questions at the web site, and a live anchorperson will (or may) respond.

Yahooligans!, The Software Publishers Association, and ten other companies are gearing up CyberSurfari ?96, an Internet treasure hunt that will offer over $100,000 in prizes.

Bill Porter, who worked with Elvis, will unveil a column called Studio Techniques on TDK?s web site.

Enhanced CDs haven?t made much of a splash anywhere, but Apple Computer Inc. and N2K are making the Enhanced CD Database anyway.

Last month we reported on PF.Magic?s computer pets; now you can sample them for free at their Web site, PFMagic.

The American Lung Association hits the web with Breathing Lungs, a site that offers a pair of animated lungs, info on asthma, asbestos, radon and ozone, and updates on tobacco control legislation.

Practice playing the stock market at USA Today Final Bell, a stock market simulation created by USA Today and Sandbox Entertainment Network. The game, which bases its prices on the real market, offers a $10,00 grand prize to the winning virtual tycoon as of January 10, 1997.

Egotistical press release of the month: Businessweek.com, launched on November 7th, declares that “if knowledge is power, this is omnipotence.”

Most honest press release of the month: the new Bar-min-ski multimedia project, Cyclops Boy ? The One Eyed Detective, is available for viewing at American Cybercast?s “QuickFix Theater” “You will like it!*” says the press release. “*” is then defined as “probably”.

Readers Digest is not only debuting its web site (Readers? Digest World), but a websearch engine(Reader?s Digest LookSmart) as well. Brevity is ? wit.

Discovery Channel Multimedia?s upcoming online, multiplayer word game WatchWord will be distributed through ARIES Online Games, which boasts over 12 million subscribers (and is linked to America Online, CompuServe and EarthLink Network).

Washington-based consulting firm Trysail, Inc. has launched a “Bugs That Bite” feature on its corporate web site. The feature will expose computer bugs, starting with Catch 95, which screws up the emergency recovery disk used by Windows 95.

The American Greetings Corporation has started American Greetings On-Line. The service allows users to send cards, candy, and flowers (thanks to an agreement with 1-800-FLOWERS) without ever leaving their computers.

Top of Page | November 1996 Titles & Sites | Front Page

Send comments, tips and gossip to the Editor.
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Revised: January 01, 1997.

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