Playback: Week in Review

Games are comin' (Half-Life and Tomb Raider III), people are goin' (ION Storm and Interactive Magic). See what else took place in games right here.

It's been a crazy week in news: Half-Life is shipping, Tomb Raider III might be out already, people are quitting.... Let's dig in and get some perspective on the highs and lows of the week in gaming news.

Late on Thursday, we received word that eight ION Storm employees had given their letters of resignation to the company. We've been hearing all sorts of rumors coming out of ION. And though the company isn't talking (much), we've already heard of more departures. While the eight members who left ION Storm on Thursday will start their own development house, there are two more resignations from the house of ION to report.

ION's 3D graphics programming guru, Corinne Yu, is leaving to pursue a position at 3D Realms, and Chris DeSimone will be leaving ION on December 1 for a position as level and set designer at Terminal Reality. So ten people in one week? ION's John Romero posted a statement yesterday saying, "Most of the levels are in a final state, much of the coding has been completed for most of the game, and almost all the music has been done. Everyone that left made significant contributions to the project, and I am thankful to have had them on my team." So it sounds like Daikatana is still on the way, but losing some key players may be a long-term bruise for the company. As we get more 411 on the situation at ION, we'll let you know what's happening.

A few weeks ago, we heard that one of Origin's lead designers, Rod Nakamoto, was leaving the company with several other members from the Wing Commander team - that he was starting a new company funded by GT Interactive. This week he and GT announced Bootprint Entertainment. The new company will be developing a character-based action/strategy PC game. GameSpot's Elliott Chin caught up with the company's founders and found out that Bootprint will focus extensively on the online aspect of gaming. Will Bootprint kick the industry into a new online direction? Read on.

And speaking of online gaming, Interactive Magic this week recast itself as a provider of online games - and to that end laid off 20 staffers from product development. While the hard knocks were tough, the company is hopeful it made the right decision.

Last week, there were heaps of buzz regarding Half-Life. We've now heard that the title is boxed and on shelves nationally this weekend, which means: It's time to play.

Earlier this week, we had a rare chance to talk to Ken Birdwell, Valve's senior software development engineer. Birdwell may not be one of the names you usually see associated with Half-Life, but gamers will undoubtedly enjoy his works - he's the brain behind the skeletal animation system. Want to know more about how characters move in Half-Life or think you want a little more insight into the development side of gaming? Then you may find our interview interesting.

Voodoo fever is still one of the many game afflictions of the day, and 3Dfx's announcements about its upcoming sequel to the Voodoo series is bound to cause some controversy. Word on the Web is that the Voodoo3 is kicking some serious ass. 3Dfx is giving up on the SLI connections that made the option to buy two Voodoo2 boards more entertaining, but the new 2D/3D Voodoo3 boards should give gamers that same power without taking up two or more slots.

The Voodoo3 will follow the Banshee's feature list with hardware-accelerated 2D functions, DVD hardware acceleration, TV out, and a whole slew of other features. Now that Rendition has reportedly pulled its V3300 out of the running, nVidia has to be a little nervous about the Voodoo3 announcement.

It may seem a little out of the way to have a gaming publication cover a movie trailer, but the trailer for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is not your normal trailer. Not only is it the first completely new Star Wars movie in 15 years, it carries an entirely different era of the Star Wars universe, which can only expand LucasArts' upcoming titles for the PC. You may have seen the trailer already, as news stations, entertainment shows, and web sites have been hosting an official trailer release for the past few days. If you haven't downloaded the trailer yet because you haven't seen it, feel free to download it from our story page. We recommend the MOV version even though it is a little larger - it has much more detail - but if you're trapped on a slow modem connection, the AVI version is OK for now.

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