Wallace & Gromit's CRACKING CONTRAPTIONS, a new series of ten short films from Aardman Animation, premiered online October 15, 2002, on AtomFilms.com. The first episode, titled "Soccamatic," is currently available for free, but on October 22, the entire CRACKING CONTRAPTIONS series will only be available to Atoms online subscribers. CRACKING CONTRAPTIONS marks the first new appearances from Wallace and Gromit in seven years. Each of the ten episodes showcases one of Wallace's ingenious mechanical inventions in storylines that range from one to three minutes apiece.
Category: Internet and Interactive
Educational software company Muzzy Lane has licensed NDL's NetImmerse 3D game engine and development toolkit and Quazal's Eterna game connectivity software to create a series of historical simulation games designed for the classroom. Aimed at high school and college students, Muzzy Lane's network-based strategy games will combine historical accuracy with engaging game play in scenarios that are appropriate as homework or classroom activities. To learn about World War II for example, students can focus not only on military strategies but on diplomacy, geography and economics as well.
THQ Inc. and Nickelodeon have released two new video games based on the popular Nickelodeon property Jimmy Neutron. JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS for PlayStation2 and THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY NEUTRON VS. JIMMY NEGATRON for Game Boy Advance are now available at retail outlets nationwide. The PlayStation 2 version is based on the digitally animated motion picture, JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS, while the Game Boy Advance version is based on the Nickelodeon television series. In JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS for PlayStation 2, players take on the role of Jimmy with his robot dog Goddard at his side.
Click 3xi, the interactive design division of New York-based Click 3x, recently designed a series of interactive television games that teach young children about science. Developed for the Crayola Kids Club, an interactive television service from the Hallmark Channel and Crown Interactive, Click 3xi designed the interface and provided scores of computer-animated elements illustrating the outcomes of all the potential choices that can be made during game play. The studio worked hand in hand with the Hallmark Interactive staff, who designed the game architecture and handled the programming.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original arcade release of the hit video game DRAGON'S LAIR, interactive DVD publisher Digital Leisure is producing a special edition DVD box set of the three arcade classics created by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. DRAGON'S LAIR, SPACE ACE and DRAGON'S LAIR II: TIME WARP are fully interactive games that include scenes from the original arcade releases. Optionally, players may select new scenes that were animated in 1983 but not included in any previous DRAGON'S LAIR release.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. has updated its PlayStation.com Website with a new look and feel specifically designed to target loyal PlayStation gamers. The new design has been tailored explicitly to keep gamers up-to-date on the latest PlayStation offerings, allowing fans to find the games that interest them quickly and easily with the game finder search tool. The site also features in-depth hardware and software information, including advance links between titles and hardware that help users easily find peripherals that support games they choose.
Visual communications software provider Eyematic has joined with Verizon Wireless to offer Shout Messenger, the first animated mobile messaging application in the U.S. Shout Messenger allows Verizon Wireless' "Get It Now" subscribers to personalize their mobile messages with Marvel superheroes animated in full color, including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and X-Men characters. Shout Messenger subscribers first enter their text, then select a famous hero from the Marvel universe and an animation corresponding to the emotional tone of their message.
Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men and 4,700 other characters from the Marvel universe are part of a 10-year worldwide licensing agreement between Vivendi Universal Publishing (VU Publishing) and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. The arrangement grants VU Publishing's games division (VU Games) the right to develop and publish online massively multi-player (OLMMP) games based on Marvel's superheroes. The first OLMMP title under the new agreement is targeted for release in 2005.
Animator Joe Blackwell is taking animation to the airwaves with the debut of B.R.A.T.S. (Blackwell's Radio Animation Talk Show), a new weekly radio program featuring highlights from the world of animation. The show promises behind the scenes discussions of video games, television commercials, movies and Websites, as well as interviews with members of the animation community. Originating in New York City and also broadcast in New Jersey, B.R.A.T.S airs on WJUX 103.1FM and is simulcast on 94.3FM and 99.7FM in the New York and New Jersey area.
comedycentral.com, MAXIM magazine and Combe Incorporated have joined forces to produce "The Maxim Player Generator Game." MAXIM magazine licensed its name to Combe, makers of the Just For Men brand of hair color, to help promote a new hair color line aimed at young adult men. To market the new brand, the companies turned to comedycentral.com to provide an online animated game. Glenn Ginsburg, vice president, interactive sales for Comedy Central, said, "Combe was looking for innovative ways to market both a new product and product category to a young male demo.
4Kids Entertainment, Inc., the worldwide agent and co-producer of the new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES series, has announced that Konami Corporation will be the exclusive worldwide developer and publisher of video games based on the upcoming animated show. The series is currently in production and is scheduled to debut on the FOX BOX in the first quarter of 2003. Konami was the game developer for the original TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES phenomenon, and created games in the late 1980s and early `90s for the property, which grossed nearly half a billion dollars.
CinemaNow, Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with Warner Home Video to deliver selected Warner Bros. films via the CinemaNow Website at www.cinemanow.com. This is the first major studio deal made by CinemaNow, an online video service that has previously offered films from independent companies. The service is majority owned by independent production company Lions Gate Entertainment and counts Microsoft Corp. and the video chain Blockbuster among its minority shareholders. The Warner library will be made available on the Internet in a secure, protected download format.
Video games are fast becoming the nation's number one source of entertainment, but, as with movies, the content of these games is often cited as the cause of violent behavior in young adults. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed all actions against Chicago-based Midway Games Inc., and other entertainment providers in the case arising out of a school shooting that took place at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky on December 1, 1997. High school student Michael Carneal killed three fellow students and wounded several others.
Alias|Wavefront continues its drive to make its Maya software more accessible to non-professional users by providing a copy of its Maya Personal Learning edition with the upcoming PC game release Unreal Tournament 2003 (UT2003). UT2003, which was developed by Digital Extremes in collaboration with Epic Games, Inc. and is distributed by Infogrames, Inc., will come bundled with a copy of Maya Personal Learning Edition and a special plug-in, jointly developed by Epic and San Francisco-based Secret Level, Inc.
The U.S. video game industry grew 43% in 2001, and remains a hotbed of career opportunity in a struggling economy. In response, GAME DEVELOPER magazine has published its first "Game Career Guide." In this special issue of Game Developer, game industry veterans provide valuable information to aspiring developers, including an overview of careers in game development and the skills they require, along with a comprehensive directory of game development schools and programs.
Popular action series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has been transformed into a first-person combat game for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft. Taking on the role of Buffy Summers, fans of the TV series will enjoy progressing through the game, recognizing familiar characters and hang outs. Players can learn more than 50 fighting moves and polish their "slayer" abilities to gain experience and power. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER for the Xbox was developed by The Collective and is co-published by Electronic Arts and Fox Interactive.
Independent filmmaker Tonya Hurley has launched Ghostgirl.com, a new Website that introduces Charlotte Usher, an unpopular girl who wakes up dead one day and finds herself just as unappreciated in the world of the Great Beyond. The site, aimed at teens and tweens, features Flash animation, weekly comic strips, games, tips and quizzes. GHOSTGIRL is based on a story and screenplay by Hurley and was produced by JOHNNY BRAVO creator Van Partible. Hurley has written and directed numerous short projects, both animation and documentary.
Focus Enhancements, a designer of proprietary video technology for the computer and television industries, has developed the FS454 TV-Out chip for Microsoft's Xbox, to assist in Microsoft's continuing effort to reduce the cost of its next generation video game system. In May 2001, Microsoft and Focus Enhancements began an OEM development program to produce low-cost TV-Out technology with fine text capabilities that would fit into the existing Xbox configuration, as part of a cost reduction effort.
Game developer and publisher Midway Games Inc. has recently licensed BioGraphic Technologies recently released AI.implant SDK for an action-adventure game in production for next generation platforms. AI.implant is a powerful real-time interactive commercial artificial intelligence animation solution that enables digital content creators to create rich AI character interactions. "We are extremely pleased to have Midway as a partner," said Dr. Paul Kruszewski, president and founder of BioGraphic Technologies.
For the first time in animation and internet history, the public willbe able to watch an entire animated feature being drawn beforetheir eyes. On Monday, September 16, 2002, Bill Plympton will begin drawing hisnew animated feature, HAIR HIGH, and it will all be done live on theinternet. There will be a camera looking over Bill's shoulder, and from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (EST) everyday you can watch as he single-handedly draws hisnew animated extravaganza. The "ani-cam" will be available at http://www.hairhigh.com. More information to come!
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. is developing RISE TO HONOR (working title), an action-adventure game inspired by the cinematic styling of the Hong Kong action movie genre, exclusively for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system. Sony Computer Entertainment's Foster City Studio will collaborate with action star Jet Li (THE ONE, KISS OF THE DRAGON, LETHAL WEAPON 4, SHAOLIN TEMPLE) on the game, which will immerse players into a series of lethal missions extending from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
Interactive entertainment software publisher TDK Mediactive, Inc. will be issuing a Collector's Edition for the fall launch of the video game ROBOTECH: BATTLECRY, available on the PlayStation2, Xbox and GameCube game systems. Each limited edition box will be individually numbered, and include the ROBOTECH: BATTLECRY video game, the game soundtrack featuring re-recorded versions of the original series' music, a specially designed T-shirt, exclusive artwork including a lenticular motion card, and a Defense Force dog tag. "ROBOTECH is a strong property with a very big following.
Simon & Schuster Interactive, in association with Jim Henson Interactive, a division of The Jim Henson Company, announced that their anticipated PC release FARSCAPE: THE GAME has shipped. Based on the hit Sci-Fi Channel show, and featuring voices of the cast members, the PC release of FARSCAPE: THE GAME will be available at retailers August 17, 2002. FARSCAPE: THE GAME is a 3D action game that incorporates CG models and sound effects taken from the series. In addition to the game arriving at retail, Farscapegame.com, the official Website of the game has launched.
Take-Two Interactive Software is expanding its Rockstar Games label with the formation of Rockstar Vancouver. Take-Two acquired Vancouver-based Barking Dog Studios, Ltd. for $3 million in cash and 242,450 shares of restricted common stock. Barking Dog will be renamed Rockstar Vancouver. Barking Dog Studios currently employs approximately fifty developers, and is working on a yet to be announced military video game to be published under the Rockstar brand, and will soon begin development on a second original video game title for Rockstar.
Stan Winston Studio and software publisher Midway Games Inc. have teamed to create an action-adventure videogame for next-generation consoles. The game, currently in development, is tentatively titled AREA 51 and is scheduled to ship in 2004. Stan Winston Studio will serve in a lead creative capacity in the development of the main alien enemies for the game, which takes three distinct characters on individual and cooperative missions in an attempt to unlock the extra-terrestrial mystery behind the titular Nevada desert locale.