Picks and Pans Main: Bytes

updated 08/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

G-MAN E-MAIL

Less than 48 hours after TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island, the FBI's toll-free telephone number was joined on the nation's TV screens by a more contemporary way to contact investigators: newyork@fbi.gov. In this day of mushrooming Web sites, an e-mail tip line may hardly surprise, but to the FBI, the Net is more than good PR. In the first week after the crash, about 100 messages a day poured into the New York field office's e-mailbox—some helpful, some just encouraging agents to hang in there.

E-mail tip lines, also created for the Unabomber and Oklahoma City bombing investigations, represent only half of the FBI's cyberspace face. Its Web site, the spare but information-dense http://www.fbi.gov (launched in June 1995), receives 3.6 million hits a month and made its mark this June when a 14-year-old boy surfing the Web from Guatemala pegged his neighbor as Leslie Isben Rogge of the site's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. "We're now in the computer age," says FBI spokesman Bill Carter. "It's another means for getting the information out."

WHOLE LOTTA QUAKIN' GOIN' ON

A bad game with a great story is still a bad game," declares id Software co-owner Jay Wilbur. "A great game with no story is a great game."

That's the philosophy behind the tiny Mesquite, Texas, game-maker, whose 1993 run-'n'-gun juggernaut Doom introduced 15 million players to a new kind of motion sickness. Now, with the long-anticipated Quake, id takes its trademark ultraviolence into true 3-D and adds options for multiplayer "deathmatches" over the Net. Summarizes id designer Tim Willits: "Quake is Doom on steroids."

Twitchy-fingered fans have already downloaded preview "shareware" levels free from the Net (the full version will cost $45) and are getting busy axmurdering, grenading and Nine Inch Nail-gunning its mix of medieval monsters and futuristic baddies. No story, you say? "What," Willits asks, "was the story behind Pac-Man?"

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