December 2001

VM Labs Chapter 11 Court Papers
12/31/2001 by K3V

We've managed to get a hold of some of the court papers that have been filed in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process that VM Labs is currently undergoing. This document is the "Notice of Motion for Order Establishing Auction, Notice and Overbid Procedures" and you can view it right here.

Rare Items Hit eBay...Then Disappear
12/29/2001 by K3V

A lot of rare NUON items that was on eBay was pulled yesterday, because claims were made that the goods were "stolen" and that they were under strict licensing protection. Some of the things up for grabs included Iron Soldier 3, The Next Tetris, some unreleased NUON-Enhanced movies (Stigmata and Galaxy Quest), 5 various NUON controllers, 3 Firmware Update discs (one that would turn an N501 into an N705), and a ROM that could make an N2000 region-free.

Unfortunately, all the items had to be destroyed, so all that remains of them are these pictures below:

PacMan for NUON Now Available
12/26/2001 by K3V

I've added a fun little modification to the Chomp game that was in the second NUON SDK to the Media Page. This takes the graphics and audio from the arcade version of PacMan and plugs them into the framework of Chomp for a simple yet fun conversion.

The levels for Chomp are very easily modified via ASCII in a text file, so anyone with the SDK can easily add, remove and modify the levels in the game. If anyone cares to submit a level for PacMan, I'll gladly add it for the next release. Just send it in a text file to me at Enjoy the game!

New Screenshots and Downloads Added
12/23/2001 by K3V

All new screenshots of Chomp, and my PacMan modification of it are available over on the Media Page, along with a new Downloads section where you can get the latest free NUON apps and games as they become available. Look for the PacMan mod of Chomp to be there soon!

Holiday Giveaway Ends
12/23/2001 by K3V

Well the month of goodwill for NUON gamers comes to a close as Chris Brockman walks away with the copy of Tempest 3000. But that doesn't mean the end of free junk from NUON-Dome, oh no! We're lining up more goodies to give away so be sure to stop back for the details. Congratulations to Chris and all the other winners, and thank you to all who participated.

New SDK Available
12/23/2001 by K3V

VM Labs has released a new version of their public SDK, which you can grab from this page. Here are the main changes in Release 2 of NUON SDK:

  • Added an "experimental" directory containing code we're working on and thought you'd be interested in, but which is not yet finished or tested. We do not guarantee that this code will continue to be available in the future, or will be supported. In this release, the "experimental" directory contains tools, documentation, and examples for a UI framework that allows you to create NUON applications using only a markup language and scripting. No C or assembly programming is required.

  • Added a sprite library and its associated header file, sample code (Chomp and VMBalls4), and documentation.

  • Updated the CreateNuonCD application to fix a bug in memory allocation that could result in a fragmented heap when your app is launched.

  • Removed mml2d support for lines and ovals, since these were unreliable.

  • Added several code samples.

  • Removed video/safearea code sample.
  • VM Labs Files Voluntary Petition for Reorganization
    12/19/2001 by K3V

    VM Labs today posted a press release to their website in regards to the news of their filing for a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The full press release follows:

    For Immediate Release
    December 19, 2001
    • Secures Debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing
    • Files for reorganization through Chapter 11
    • Normal operations to continue
    Mountain View, CA, December 19, 2001 - VM Labs, Inc. announced today that it has filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The Company has also negotiated Debtor-in-Possession financing and will apply for court approval this week. Under the DIP financing the Company will continue normal operations including serving its customers and developing its next generation products.

    VM Labs CEO Richard Miller said: "After an exhaustive search for financing and potential acquirers, we concluded that filing for Chapter 11 relief was the only way to raise the financing necessary for continued operations. The filing and DIP financing will enable us to focus on operating our business and serving our customers while we work to achieve the maximum value for our creditors and shareholders. During the Chapter 11 process, we will continue normal operations including fully supporting our customers and developing our next generation products."

    Debtor-in-Possession financing will be provided by Paradise IV, a newly created company led by Alex Lushtak, Chairman of Genesis Microchip. Paradise IV recently purchased the Company's secured debt from creditors Motorola and TSMC and has been providing interim financing for the past two weeks.

    VM Labs has requested the Court's permission to access the DIP financing in order to fund normal business operations and other cash needs during the bankruptcy proceeding.

    VM Labs is a fabless semiconductor company focused on the DVD and consumer entertainment markets. The Company's "NUON" branded semiconductors and software are incorporated into industry leading DVD players from Toshiba and Samsung, while the NUON operating system and authoring tools are used by software developers and content authoring houses to deliver advanced features and applications to the living room.

    Certain statements contained in this press release, including but not limited to information regarding the future economic performance and financial condition of the Company and its proposed reorganization, are forward-looking in nature and involve risks and uncertainty. There are various factors that could cause results to differ materially from those anticipated by some of the statements made in this press release. Such factors include the Company's ability to secure ongoing DIP; the Company's ability to operate in compliance with the DIP facility or obtain any necessary waivers, amendments or refinancing of the facility; the Company's ability to obtain expected Bankruptcy Court approvals of the Company's proposed use of the DIP facility; the Company's ability to retain its employees, customers and vendors during the Chapter 11 proceeding; and the overall viability of the Company's long-term operational reorganization and financial restructuring plan.

    More Yak Games a Possibility
    12/18/2001 by K3V

    There has been much speculation as of late as to whether or not Jeff "Yak" Minter is working on any further titles for NUON. After a message board post turned up stating that he was "no longer tied to the Nuon platform," it was thought that Yak had completely jumped ship from NUON.

    Apparently this is not completely true. When questioned more recently on the same forum about the possibility of more games for the NUON platform he said "Nuon is obviously supported by the LVM, so provided it makes economic sense to produce Nuon versions, then there is no reason not to do so."

    LVM is the "Llamasoft Virtual Machine," a programming environment Yak is developing to allow updates of Llamasoft classic titles across multiple platforms. Rumored LVM-compatible platforms include NUON, PocketPC, and Windows.

    Home Theater Reviews Samsung N501
    12/16/2001 by K3V

    The January 2002 issue of Home Theater Magazine , available on newsstands now, features a 3 page review of the Samsung DVD-N501. The review is decidedly positive and objectively showcases the features of NUON and addresses the few shortcomings of the player.

    Scans of the review can be found on the Media Page, or just use the following links: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

    Final Week of Holiday Giveaway Begins
    12/16/2001 by K3V

    The contest for FreeFall has ended with Shawn Cordy as the winner, which means that the final week of the NUON-Dome Holiday Giveaway is upon us. Up for grabs this week is possibly the best game for NUON, Tempest 3000. Get your entries in and good luck! Remember, only one entry per person, any repeat entries will be deleted. Thanks.

    Crayon Shin-Chan and More N591 Media
    12/13/2001 by K3V

    Okiyasu comes through again, this time with in-game screenshots of the Crayon Shin-Chan N591 pack-in game, along with Windows Media video and shots of the packaging too! Head over to the Media Page to check it all out.

    Pictures of Korean N591
    12/12/2001 by K3V

    Our Asian correspondent Okiyasu has picked himself up a brand new Korean Samsung N591 NUON DVD player and was kind enough to pass along a few photos for the rest of us to check out. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge:

    He did confirm that the N591 can't play US NUON games and vice-versa. So that means those of you hoping to somehow import the pack-in game based on Crayon Shin-Chan are out of luck unless you get an N591 to play it on.

    Thanks again to Okiyasu for the pictures!

    New Chat Room is Up!
    12/10/2001 by K3V

    I put together a little java chat room here on N-D today, since the official chat hasn't been working for most people. You can get to the NUON-Dome Chat by clicking the link in the menu on the left, or right here. See you there!

    Holiday Giveaway - Week 2
    12/10/2001 by K3V

    This week is your chance to win a copy of FreeFall 3050 AD in the NUON-Dome Holiday Giveaway. Get your entries in before Saturday night and be sure to stop back next week for your chance to win Tempest 3000. Good luck!

    First Iron Soldier 3 Cheat Found
    12/8/2001 by K3V

    Thanks to some digging around through the Iron Soldier 3 disc on a PC, Stephen Anderson was able to uncover the first cheat code! Called "Incredible Speed," entering this code increases the overall speed of the game. Here is the text pulled directly from the disc:

    "To activate the cheat called incredible speed you have to enter the following code in the options menu:C B 5 A 8 7 If you manage this, we surrender! We can't offer you anything more challenging than this... Have fun!(Can you find the other cheats?)"

    In case there are any other ambitious sleuths out there, here's a list of other codes to dig for:

    Unlimted Energy
    Double Speed
    Show Mission Status
    Unlimited Ammo
    Power Weapons
    No Exit
    Double Radar
    Fast Forward

    The code needs to be entered in-game (pause the game and enter the code), rather than at the options screen before you begin a mission. This code will be archived on the Cheats & Codes Page for future reference.

    More on VM Labs Bankruptcy
    12/7/2001 by K3V

    Here's some more insight into the news regarding VM Labs filing for bankruptcy, from Consumer Electronics Daily:

    Copyright (C) 2001.
    Warren Communications News, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved.


    Thursday, December 6, 2001 Vol. 1, No. 36

    Today's News

    VM LABS TO FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY in bid to preserve Nuon chip technology. Private consortium seeks patents, key assets.
    (P. 1)

    Ending months of uncertainty about its future, DVD technology company VM Labs is in process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. VM Labs executives said filing was part of strategy to allow its Nuon chip technology to go forward without debt that had crippled company for last year.

    Sources close to situation described complicated maneuver to save Nuon technology that's used in Samsung and Toshiba DVD players, and planned models from Oritron and others. Sources told us private consortium led by Alex Lushtak, Genesis Microchip chmn., had provided capital to continue operations and had purchased promissary notes from VM Labs' secured creditors, Motorola and VentureTech. Latter is venture capital arm of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. Genesis has announced plans to acquire video processor developer Sage and its Faroudja subsidiary.

    Arrangement puts consortium in position to take control of VM Labs' key intellectual property and other assets in bankruptcy court proceedings. Although involvement of Genesis chmn. raises question of potential synergies involving technologies of Genesis, Sage, Faroudja and VM Labs, sources stressed that Nuon acquisition was being led by parties outside of Genesis.

    Putting best face on what had been difficult negotiations, VM Labs founder-CEO Richard Miller said: "After several months of financial difficulties and a severe shortage of working capital, VM Labs has negotiated financing that will allow us to aggressively drive forward our product development, sales and marketing." Bankruptcy filing is
    being prepared by lawyers, Miller told us: "Separately, VM Labs has been served with a petition for bankruptcy and we have hired counsel to file petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The filing will enable us to focus on operating our business and serving our customers while we finalize the sale of our intellectual property, trademarks, know-how and other resources required to support customers and grow the business. During the Chapter 11 process, we will continue business as usual, including fully supporting our customers and developing our next generation of breakthrough products."

    While details remain sketchy, it's believed that if all goes according to plan, new owners could end up owning all key VM Labs intellectual property, Nuon brand and relationships with key customers for fraction of $30 million that's been invested in company during its history.

    Bankruptcy filing caps wild ride for VM Labs. Company was founded in mid-1990s by Miller and other former videogame engineers. Strategy was to bring out enhanced DVD players that also played games and other content in hope of capturing casual gaming audience that wanted both movie playback and ability to play games and other interactive content but didn't want dedicated game console. Samsung and Toshiba introduced DVD players in U.S. with Nuon features that included zoom, smooth high-speed scanning and ability to play Nuon-specific videogames and other interactive content. It's estimated that 40,000-50,000 Nuon-enhanced DVD players have been sold in N. America since hardware introduction last year. Samsung recently introduced new model in Europe and S. Korea.

    VM Labs encountered difficulty because of higher cost of original Nuon chip compared with standard MPEG chips from suppliers such as ESS, LSI Logic, Zoran. As DVD player prices plunged, that cost differential became crucial factor, with hardware makers looking to cut production expenses wherever possible. Miller said that over last 18 months VM Labs engineers managed to come up with updated version of Nuon chips that he said was 2-3 times more powerful than original, yet its cost was competitive with standard DVD chips. "It opens up the opportunity for VM Labs technology to be in Nuon branded and non-Nuon branded products as well," he said.

    Sources familiar with negotiations said new buyers originally had considered abandoning Nuon brand and enhanced content strategy and instead opt to become standard chip maker. But talks with hardware partners convinced them that brand still had value, and new entity is likely continue to offer Nuon brand and encourage studios and game makers to bring out software with features that are accessible only on Nuon players. Library of Nuon-enhanced discs is not large but does include handful of games as well as movies Bedazzled, Dr. Doolittle 2 and Planet of the Apes from Fox Home Entertainment, as well as MGM Entertainment's planned special edition re-release of cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension.

    Sources said that although VM Labs was entering bankruptcy proceedings with hope of executing above-stated plan, outcome ultimately would be in hands of bankruptcy judge. They said in essence there would be auction for assets that could trigger additional bids. "Our goal is to maximize the value of our assets for our creditors and shareholders," Miller told us.

    VM Labs - Forced Into Bankruptcy?
    12/7/2001 by K3V

    It sure appears so, according to an article at (scroll about halfway through the article for the NUON-related part). Here is a direct quote:

    GAME OVER: It was known as Project X, the mystery product by former Atari executive Richard Miller. Unveiled last year after five years in the making, the Nuon chip aimed to revolutionize the video game business by turning DVD players into game consoles.
    Or not. Doomed by deep-pocketed competitors and perennial struggles to raise cash, Miller's VM Labs was slapped Monday with an involuntary bankruptcy petition -- by a former company executive, no less.

    The move forces the Mountain View company down the road to liquidation. Miller says he hopes to find a buyer for the firm's intellectual property and trademarks.

    ``We were about to file a voluntary Chapter 11 anyway,'' Miller says. But Nick Lefevre, who until two weeks ago was VM Labs' executive vice president of business and legal affairs, struck first because he feared the company -- which has laid off half its staff of 100 since June -- was in danger of being foreclosed on by its secured creditors.

    ``I'm making sure there's a process that allows a fair and open auction,'' Lefevre says.

    Despite Lefevre's move, Miller isn't doing the et tu, Brute? routine. Both men say they continue to be friends; Miller says Lefevre was protecting the interests of his family.

    Lefevre and his father have put about $1 million into VM Labs, which Miller says makes them the company's largest unsecured creditors. Miller says the Lefevres have agreed to withdraw their petition as soon as VM Labs files its voluntary motion, which should happen today or Monday.

    More on this as it becomes available.

    Atari800 Emulator Screenshots Now Available
    12/6/2001 by K3V

    New screenshots of MULE running on the Atari 800 emulator programmed by Mark Manyen from Wounded Badger Interactive are available over on the Media Page. Currently the program is quite slow and there's no sound, but it does show that emulation is very possible on NUON.

    Thanks to Skah T from the NUON Development Forums for putting up the compiled version of the Atari Emulator. You can download it to check out for yourself here.

    Here are some instructions once you get the emu up and running:

    Pushing both L & R together does a cold reboot. START is the Start key. C-Left is the Option key. C-Right is the Select key.

    I had to hold C-Left during boot to get the game to load. Otherwise you get a "Remove Cartridge" message.