Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio - Part 2

Reviewed by: David Bell, send e-mail
Published by: Macromedia, go to the web site
Requires: (see previous Director 8.5 review in this archive)
MSRP: US$1199

(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts - part 1 was published here)

In the first instalment of this two part review I addressed the various features of Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio as well as the ease with which it loads and my initial reaction to the versatility and capabilities of the program. Because of the large size and varied aspects of this program I felt it was necessary to follow-up with some additional overview.

The Lingo Dictionary with its 800 commands provided me with an easy format for using scripting to control 3D interactivity. With a basic knowledge of Javascript or Visual Basic I found these commands simple to use and easy to implement. Web site designers will appreciate the ability to stream RealAudio and RealVideo within Director content by applying Director's imaging Lingo and precise sound features to control, enhance and transform the RealMedia stream. Another feature that I particularly like is the ability to 'drag & drop' behaviors onto a specific sprite. This allows the Parameters dialogue box to open and specific 3D action behaviors to be applied - simple but effective.

One of the first things that I look for in any software program is the availability of technical support, online help and tutorial documentation in case I run into a sudden mental block. Director 8.5 includes several teaching aids in their Help system including multimedia tutorials. These tutorials are accessible from the help menu. Macromedia also provides online courses and technologies to help you build your skills with Director 8.5

After trying a few simple programs with success, I decided to take a look at what the big boys in the industry are doing with Director 8.5's capabilities. A couple of sites to check out are Timex and the rather interesting Presto Studios. (Ed. Note: As of January 2003 Presto is no longer operating).

As mentioned briefly in part 1, the Multiuser Server 3 provides an efficient way for developers to add community to their Shockwave content. The multiuser server offers both TCP and UDP protocols and supports up to 2,000 simultaneous users. This capability is included with the Director 8.5 package at no extra cost.

Director 8.5 will not work with some older video cards and users should update their cards to a Direct3D compatible 3D accelerator card that supports Z-Buffering, Bilinear Filtering, and Alpha-Blending. Macromedia recommends DirectX version 7.0a or higher for 3D authoring and playback. Director 8.5 also supports a large variety of multimedia, image, video, sound and other file formats. Users should contact Macromedia for specifics if in doubt.

After working with Macromedia Director 8.5 for several weeks I discovered an increasing appetite to try new things. Although it was necessary to progress slowly at first, as I became more familiar with the scripting and other applications I was able to progress at a faster rate. Web Developers should find this program virtually unlimited in its ability to produce interactive and 3D applications for their business.

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