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Game and Hardware News: August 2nd, 1999


Thrustmaster and Guillemot: July 27th

Guillemot is positioning itself as a leader of gaming accessories by acquiring ThrustMaster's hardware division. The $15 million purchase gives Guillemot's line of racing wheels, flight simulation tools and game controllers a new edge.

"We have been longtime partners of ThrustMaster, distributing their products in France for the last five years on an exclusive basis. We value the company's commitment to excellence, its intuitive perception of gamers' needs. We feel that these qualities make ThrustMaster a perfect match for Guillemot, which operates with the same outstanding guidelines," stated Claude Guillemot, President of Guillemot.

Guillemot has purchased all assets of ThrustMaster's hardware division, including the brand name, patents and designs. This strategic move will give Guillemot a major share of the worldwide console and multimedia pc market, which is growing at an increasingly rapid rate.

Guillemot will combine ThrustMaster's brand recognition and reputation for quality to it's strong R&D team and its current worldwide distribution. Guillemot hopes to renew ThrustMaster's product line with the same attention to realism and quality that ThrustMaster has built its name and reputation on.

Although ThrustMaster's lineup for the Q4 will remain unchanged, engineering teams are already hard at work on developing future projects within ThrustMaster's tradition. Watch for more information soon.

Silicon Dreams and Matrox

With the unveiling of Silicon Dreams’ new game, WARMONKEYS, it was announced that the company would integrate support for Matrox’s DualHead Display and true Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping features. This partnership combines the first true 3D action/tactics game with the first graphics cards to enable simultaneous output of independent images to two separate display screens.

As one of the first game developers to experiment with DualHead gameplay, Silicon Dreams has teamed up with Matrox to give gamers the opportunity to experience 3D worlds as the artists had intended them to be.

Matrox recently sat down with Chris Satchell, Technical Manager at Silicon Dreams Studio Limited to find out what he thought about DualHead Display and Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping. Here is an excerpt from the Interview.

Q: How does the Millennium G400's DualHead Display feature enhance the gameplay of WARMONKEYS?

A: As you can imagine, keeping track of 50 to 100 units within a complex real 3D environment is quite difficult for the player. By using a second display for the strategic map, the player can clearly see where each of their units is and still view the whole level. Without the screen real estate offered by the second monitor, the player has to make a choice: detail or scope. With DualHead Display you don’t have to make that choice.

Dual Head

Q: What other advantages do you gain from using more than one monitor when playing strategic and tactical games like WARMONKEYS?

A: In WARMONKEYS the second monitor can be used to display a second 3D display of the environment. This is great for placing a tracking camera on a group of units, so that the player can keep an eye on them without fiddling with controls all the time. This is going to become even more important as the complexity of these games increase. Imagine using the second monitor for the back of 3D displays, such as the mobile command in Aliens. This would be a very cool feature.

Click to continue . . .



Q: What kind of special effects are you planning to create using true Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping?

A: At the moment we use detail mapping for the scenery when the player is controlling a unit directly in 3rd person camera. This is great, but bump-mapped terrain will be such an improvement especially when the action really kicks off and missiles start flying (each being a light source). The units will also look superb with the extra detail we can add using bump maps for their steel exteriors.

Like Rage, we are also proud of the water systems we have in the game, since it contributes a great deal to the feel and the overall gameplay. After seeing the excellent work they did with environment mapped bump mapping in Expendable we are going to have to raise the bar again with our water effects.

Warbirds Freehost

Many of us have marvelled at how some people are still willing to pay $2 per hour to play WarBirds online. Granted, the hardest of the hard core proudly proclaim that WarBirds is so authentic, immersive, and massively multiplayer that it's well worth the price of admission.

Recently, however, a Finnish computer programmer and fan of Warbirds named Markus Mikkolainen announced the creation of an ingenious hack he had created that would allow up to 32 people to play Warbirds online without going through the iEN servers. Hello? Isn't that illegal? According to iMagic it is, but the complexities of international law and the speed at which such programs can and do propagate throughout the Internet makes the whole thing slightly more complicated for iEN than merely threatening legal action.

The program, called Warbirds Freehost, is a Java program that works with Warbirds 2.6 and early versions of 2.7. Warbirds is currently at version 2.70r1. Where can you get it? Are you kidding? Do we look that crazy? Suffice it to say, it's out there.

If there was ever a case of having all one's eggs in a basket, this could be it. iEN, formerly Interactive Magic and/or iMagic, is a publicly-traded company which used to have its feet in two separate game markets: retail box games on CD-ROM and the on-line games of which WarBirds is the flagship title. Recently, Interactive Magic restructured by selling off its CD-ROM division in order to focus on online-only games under the moniker of iEN (Interactive Entertainment Network).

We contacted iEN's Bill Stealy, Jr., son of the flamboyant "Wild Bill" Stealy, Sr., founder and CEO of iEN. Bill, Jr., and he told us that their lawyers are "working on it."

This is just the latest in a series of public relations nightmares for the company. Recently, over a dozen WarBirds programmers walked-out because they were unhappy with planned changes to the WarBirds gameplay model. Their stock is trading around the $1 3/4 range, down from a high of about $18 a year ago.


This division in the iMagic and Warbirds community could be part of the impetus for a new online simulation titled "Aces High." Here is part of the press release from HiTech Creations (at least one of the principals is an ex-Warbirds designer.)

"Aces High is an online multi-player combat flight simulator utilizing a variety of World War II vintage fighters and bombers from six countries, each modeled in intricate detail. Whether you love airplanes, history, the thrill of competition, or social recreation, Aces High has much to offer. Unlike stand-alone sims, there's nothing artificial about the intelligence of your opponents and allies. The challenge of combat, teamwork, camaraderie, and social interaction are all real."

Screen Shot

"Aces High is about the science and art of air combat. It is designed to be very representative of air combat through the use of real world tactics. While the game is easy to learn, it is difficult to master. However, you don't have to attend ground school just to figure out the start sequence of an engine. We don't model complexity for the sake of it, but we don't shy away from those factors we feel are inherent to the real experience."

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