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    Wednesday, May 29, 2002
    Ultima Underworld Pocket PC - Update! - Saam - 8:29:41 PM EST
Apparently, E3 also let gamers see other platforms other than consoles and PCs: The Pocket PC! Chris Harris was kind enough to let us know that PocketGamer has an informative report on the pocket games being displayed at E3, most notably, Ultima Underworld. Here's a snip:

But I can tell you what I saw: Ultima Underworld is an exact port. The game runs flawlessly and the controls are actually pretty intuitive for the game, very reminiscent of playing it on my old 486. If you’re a fan of the series and/or this game, you won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for some major amazing 3D graphical feat to blow you away, this game is not it. As I said, it looks exactly like the 3D graphics did on my 486. Which would make my real complaint about the 3D playing field part of the screen is a bit too small, of which I complained about in the original too. According to ZIO, this game is scheduled for a release sometime in June. Whether they meant June of this year, last year or next year couldn’t be confirmed ;)
Be sure to check out the rest. Ultima Underworld lives!

Update: It seems that PocketGamer has received word (check out their main page) that Ultima Underworld has in fact been released and can be purchased for a measly $29.95! Here's some more:

Features include:

• Exact conversion to give you the true original feeling.
• Travel through 8 levels of fraught with peril, where the only way is down...
• Based on the PC game awarded GAME OF THE YEAR by Chicago Tribune.
Wow, this sounds real exciting. Those of you with Pocket PCs better get a head-start!

    Arx Interview at Les Esclaves d'Akbaa - Elenkis - 12:07:23 AM EST
Dubs of Arx fansite Les Esclaves d'Akbaa has done a new interview with Raf, Marco and Julien of Arkane. It comes in two flavours; the original in French and then an English translation. It's an interesting interview so be sure to check it out, here's a peek:
(LEDA): the 22-09-2000 Cyril Meynier said (interview for rpgvault): Well, in the final version, all the data directories will certainly be packed in one big file. But as many other games do, before looking for ".\SOUNDS\PLAYER\hit.wav" inside this big file, the game will look in the game root directory for this same file and if it exists, it will use it instead of the packed one. The same is true for textures, models, etc. So modifications will be easy and encouraged !

(Raphael Colantonio): It was completely possible, but for reasons of security we have to remove it the functionality : indeed, since the added resources would have consequence on those inside of the paks, it would be sufficient to add a small file script out of the paks, and then : we got an hero with boosted skills, etc... then we didn't want that, especially when we saw how some succeeded to eviscerate the demo of Arx ;)

    Tuesday, May 21, 2002
    Arx and JoWood a GO! - Dan - 4:34:06 PM EST
I just got word that JoWood is indeed going to publish Arx Fatalis, and believe strongly in the game.


    Thursday, May 16, 2002
     Arx Gets New Publisher - Elenkis - 8:10:18 AM EST
Now here's some rather shocking news. Ravensburger Interactive (of which Fishtank is a division) have today been bought by major Austrian games puplisher, JoWooD. What this means for Arx we don't know, except it will now be published by JoWooD. It's too early to know how this will effect release dates (bear in mind JoWooD already had rights to publish numerous Fishtank games throughout Europe and Asia), but as the game has not yet gone gold I do not expect it to meet the May 23rd release date. Here is the full press release (thanks to RPGDot):
JoWooD takes over the assets of Ravensburger Interactive

JoWooD takes over ongoing activities from Ravensburger Interactive thereby establishing itself as the premier German speaking computer games publisher
Continuous broadening of product portfolio and development capacity Managing Director of Ravensburger Interactive joins JoWooD board as of June

Games publisher JoWooD Productions Software AG, a company quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange, today announced the takeover in an asset deal of extensive Ravensburger Interactive Media GmbH activities. Ravensburger Interactive, whose primary activity is publishing computer games, is a subsidiary of the well-known German games manufacturer Ravensburger. With this agreement JoWooD continues to strengthen its market position and to establish itself as by far the largest German speaking publisher and developer of entertainment software.

Within the scope of this agreement, JoWooD takes over an extensive portfolio of titles still in production at Ravensburger Interactive. The portfolio includes nine high-quality software games for PC and console platforms to be published in 2002 and 2003 – among them the eagerly anticipated epic strategy role-playing game Arx Fatalis, the business simulation Wildlife Park as well as the console version of the underwater action game Aquanox for PlayStation 2.

Furthermore, both companies are currently discussing the ongoing marketing of Ravensburger Interactive titles. This will enable JoWooD to enter into the dynamically growing area of family entertainment. In this sector Ravensburger Interactive has published successful titles such as Enid Blyton’s Five Friends and The Crazy Maze.

In addition to the broadening of JoWooD’s product portfolio, this agreement will give rise to further extensive synergies in the area of development, producing, marketing and distribution. JoWooD will also enter into part of an existing Ravensburger Interactive distribution and marketing cooperation agreements. Furthermore the cooperation between Ravensburger Interactive and some of the sector’s most renowned development studios offers further potential cooperation in development and publishing for JoWooD.

Ravensburger Interactive was founded in 1996 and has been built up under the management of Thomas Kirchenkamp. During this time the company has succeeded on several occasions in placing its products into number one position in the German sales charts, an example being last autumn for the PC-title Aquanox. However, the company has been unable to reach the necessary critical mass in order to gain a foothold in the international arena.

"In this industry, the key to success in the long run is by having a comprehensive international distribution network together with critical mass for competitiveness – like JoWooD Productions Software AG", commented Thomas Kirchenkamp, Chairman of Ravensburger Interactive Media GmbH.

Within the scope of the Ravensburger Interactive takeover Thomas Kirchenkamp (44) – outgoing chairman of Ravensburger Interactive – will be appointed as the new CTO (Chief Technology Officer) in the JoWooD board as of beginning of June 2002. He takes on this role from Johann Schilcher (40), one of the company founders and main shareholders. At his own request Johann Schilcher, creator of the famous Giant-series of products by JoWooD and responsible for the successful title IndustryGiant, will resume his original position as head of the development studio in Ebensee in order to fully concentrate on the games development.

Andreas Tobler, CEO of JoWooD: "This agreement is another important milestone in our successful corporate strategy. Ravensburger Interactive has an excellent brand name and a very promising product portfolio with potential for topping the charts. These add strength to our product portfolio going forward. Furthermore, we are strengthening our position as the biggest German speaking publisher and at the same time are becoming a key European player".

    Sunday, May 12, 2002
    Underworld Adventures - Elenkis - 10:10:47 AM EST
Here's something cool. Michael Fink has started another Underworld 1 remake which he names Underworld Adventures. This of course increases the chance that we will one day actually get a finished UW remake, so this is a good thing :)
Welcome to the Underworld Adventures home page. Underworld Adventures is a project to recreate Ultima Underworld 1 on modern operating systems (e.g. Win32, Linux or MacOS), using the original game files. It uses OpenGL for 3D graphics and the SDL library for platform specific tasks. It is developed as Open-Source and uses the GNU General Public License.
An alpha version of the remake is already available to download and lets you run through the first level. Please go take a look and give Michael your support, be sure to check the development section if you think you can help out on the project too.

Good luck Michael!

    Arx Interview on HomeLAN - Elenkis - 9:57:47 AM EST
Wow, an update! HomeLAN Fed have a done a new interview with Arkane's Raphael Colantonio. It's your general "cover all the bases" type interview, but it's always nice to see something new and hear from the devs. Here's a snip:
HomeLAN - How has the reception been for the demo and what have you learned from the feedback you have received from it?

Raphael Colantonio - The demo was extremely well received in general, despite its numerous bugs an issues due to its beta stage. The plan for us once the demo was out was to listen to all feedbacks we'd receive or we'd read in forums, and to do all we could to please players. We learnt very interesting things from the feedbacks: for example, the controls seemed to be the number one complaint of Northern American players, so we reworked the controls and added tons of customizations. I think overall it was a good plan to release a demo that was may be at a too early stage, because it left us enough time to be reactive to suggestions.