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31st August 2009

Canada Media Fund Focus Group Sessions Coming to a City Near You

CTFOttawa – The Canada Media Fund launched its consultation with the industry through two virtual town halls on August 6, 2009, and now they’re traveling across Canada to conduct regional focus groups and gain further input for its programs. The Q & A PDF report from the August 6 Town Hall can be read here or you can access the taped version of the town hall here. The full tour schedule is posted below, or can be read on the CMF site. Background information on the Consultation Process is also available in PDF.

Briefing notes detailing the key policy issues are also available from the CMF site in PDF format. These issues will be discussed during the industry consultation process. Industry stakeholders are invited to submit written responses to the above policy issues. Industry participants can send their submissions to the CMF in Word or PDF format until September 4. According to their web site, no submissions have yet been received.

Key Issues

1. Program Allocations – Convergent & Experimental Streams
2. Convergent Content
3. Video on Demand
4. Audience Success & Return on Investment
5. Marketing & Promotion
6. Television Content in the Convergent Stream – Allocations by Genre
7. Documentary Production
8. Canadian Elements of CMF Projects
9. Third-language Production
10. Broadcaster-affiliated & In-house Broadcaster Production
11. Performance Envelopes. Eligible Entities
12. Audience Success & the CMF – Emphasis on original, first-run, prime-time programming
13. English Regional Production

Focus Group Meeting Schedule:

Regina – September 8
Winnipeg – September 9
Halifax – September 21
Fredericton – September 22
Charlottetown – September 23
St. John’s – September 24
Iqualuit – September 25
Calgary – September 28
Vancouver – September 29
Vancouver – September 30 (Aboriginal Focus Group)
Whitehorse – October 2
Toronto – October 14
Toronto National Focus Group – October 15 (By Invitation)
Montreal – October 21 (French Market Focus Group)
Montreal – October 28 (English Market Focus Group)
Ottawa – October 29 (French Language Producers Outside Quebec)
Ottawa National Focus Group – November 5 (By Invitation)
Montreal National Focus Group – November 25 (By Invitation)

Also from the CTF site: “The sessions will be moderated, and a light lunch will be served. The purpose of the Focus Groups is to obtain the input and expertise of industry stakeholders, such as yourself, as we create the policies and programs of the CMF. Discussions at the Focus Groups will centre on the key policy issues we outlined during our virtual town hall on August 6, 2009. Through the approach used during the sessions, the following are some of the questions that will be addressed:

* What are our common sector and business needs, and how do we align those aspects with
stakeholders’ discrete business goals?
* How can we leverage your feedback to deliver on the goals of the policy and the publicly-funded program?
*How do we gain awareness, understanding, alignment, and commitment among various stakeholders?

To register for one of the focus group sessions, please complete this form. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rachel Coley, Administration Manager via email or by phone at 1-877-975-0766.”

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31st August 2009

Digital Alberta Hosts Pre-GDC Austin Workshop

digital albertaCalgary Digital Alberta is hosting a pre-conference workshop led by Dante Anderson, an industry veteran, former GDC presenter and currently VP of Product Development at Kuma Reality Games, and Ken Bautista, an experienced entrepreneur and interactive creative director who has led and organized several digital media industry missions to Shanghai, Austin, Washington D.C., Hong Kong,

Ken Bautista

Ken Bautista

Austin and San Francisco. Together, Dante and Ken will share their insights and experiences in successfully navigating an international conference like GDC Austin. From identifying key industry players, building a game plan for the conference, and networking effectively, we’ll show you how to stand out, be memorable, and get the most out of being at GDC Austin.

Austin newsfeed from Dante… “this is the year of social networking…GDC is on it…the third keynote for Austin is Sebastian de Halleux, co-founder of Playfish, one of the most successful social gaming companies. They consistently have 5 of the top 10 most popular Facebook games…This is a must-see talk… In other news the website says that hotel deals are still available: the Marriott is close and a good deal. Note it is not clear on the website but you must actually call Marriott and mention the convention by name and that they have a promotion running–(sheesh)…finally attending Austin Gdc can be a good way to meet the sxsw folks if you are thinking of attending/presenting/speaking…Austin is a good show, lots of people to meet and the city claims (rightly imo) to be the Live Music Capital of the World so it is a fun and interesting place…details to follow.

Dante Anderson

Dante Anderson

As it is the new age social networking I will discuss social gaming and media At the prep talk. I will review the general trends and more specifically discuss how social media can be used to network an event like Austin. To that end I would recommend that attendees set up a Twitter and Facebook account if they don’t yet have them. I will mention a few good meeting places (Austin doesn’t have something as central as the W at the main SF GDC), some must see lectures, things to do at night (Austin really is the LIVE music capital of the USA as they claim) and some other networky stuff like trick I learned from some IBM guys. I mentioned this last time I was there but now I have found the article in question. See it at the prep talk!”

This is a mandatory session for subsidized delegates but we encourage and invite anyone in the industry to attend. AND THEN…come out for drinks with Ken and Dante and the Digital Alberta team afterward at Jameson’s!!

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31st August 2009

Oscar de la Hoya and Klitschko Brothers on Fight Night Round 4

EA GamesBurnaby Electronic Arts has announced that its first downloadable boxer pack for Fight Night Round 4 is now available on the PlayStation® Network™ and Xbox Live™ Marketplace. Featuring Oscar De La Hoya, Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko, and alternate versions of George Foreman and James Toney, the downloadable boxer pack retails for 400 Microsoft points and $4.99 on Xbox Live Marketplace and the Fight Night Round 4PlayStation Network, respectively. Named the Game Critic Awards “Best Sports Game of E3 2009” and according to NPD data,  sold over a million units in its first month, Fight Night Round 4 has been winning over reviewers and fans since its release on June 23rd.

In addition to the boxer pack, EA Sports™ announced that a free downloadable game update that enables players to use the face buttons on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers to throw punches is also available now. A new demo featuring the button controls will be available to all Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network users by early September. The 10 round demo will feature Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton as playable boxers.

Designed with a revolutionary physics-based gameplay engine, Fight Night Round 4 replicates the sweet science to an unprecedented degree of realism. Witness gloves grazing off an opponent as he dodges at the last second, or watch as a vicious uppercut rips through the block of a boxer who turtles for too long. With realistic physics, no fight is ever the same in Fight Night Round 4

Fight Night Round 4 is currently available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® video game system from Microsoft. This game has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB.

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31st August 2009

Jade Raymond Named as Head of Ubisoft Toronto

UbisoftToronto Ubisoft® announced today the appointment of Jade Raymond as head of its recently announced Toronto studio. Under the governance of Yannis Mallat, Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft’s Montreal and Toronto Studios, Raymond will oversee day-to-day operations of the Toronto studio’s work on video game projects.

Jade Raymond

Jade Raymond

Raymond joined Ubisoft’s Montreal studio in 2004 as a Producer on Assassin’s Creed® and is currently Executive Producer on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed® II among other Ubisoft projects. Prior to Ubisoft, Raymond spent eight years on video game development for Electronic Arts, IBM and Sony Online.

“I’m excited to have Jade managing our Toronto studio,” said Yannis Mallat, chief executive officer of Ubisoft Montréal and Ubisoft Toronto. “With more than 12 years of experience in the video game industry, Jade’s knowledge and leadership as an industry veteran are major assets in building the Toronto studio and expanding Ubisoft’s presence in Canada.”

“I’m honored to be a part of Ubisoft’s expansion into Toronto,” said Jade Raymond. “I’m looking forward to building a strong and talented team to work on AAA games and new intellectual properties.”

Ubisoft Toronto is slated to open by the end of the 2009 calendar year, and it’s expected to create approximately 800 new jobs over the next decade. Ubisoft is currently accepting applications for the new studio location.

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29th August 2009

Saturday Snapshots

Fair Copyright CanadaVancouver – The next Fair Copyright for Canada – Vancouver Chapter meeting will take place on September 2 at SFU Harbour Centre Room 2245 at 6:30pm. The Federal Government’s consultation process will be coming to an end on September 13, and if you haven’t had your say, please make sure your opinions are heard.

Michael Geist’s report on the latest Toronto consultation meeting doesn’t show a heavy involvement from the interactive media industry. He states that “Tonight the government held its second copyright town hall.  Only it wasn’t really a copyright townhall in the sense of bringing the community together to talk copyright in an open and balanced manner.  Instead, the music industry stacked the room to such a degree that little else was discussed.  There was the odd intervention from ACTRA, the Writers Guild, the education community, and software developers (and a self-professed pirate who may have worn a fair copyright shirt but did not discuss anything that resembled fair copyright), but the repeated music industry representation was the dominant theme of the night…”  You can read the rest of Michael’s report on his site.

Eidos MontrealMontrealEidos Montréal’s General Manager Stéphane D’Astous has put out the call for a new PR agency who can handle a national campaign for their upcoming titles Deux Es 3, Thief 4 and beyond. It is at a time like this that I wished I still worked in the industry, because I’ve found the creativity and originality required in the PR fields to have contributed to the best job positions I’ve ever held. The Montréal studio is also looking for people to fill a few job openings, including those of Senior Special Effects Artist and Programmers for Thief 4.

VancouverWired Woman Network has partnered with Kontent Creative Group for a session on Wired WomanCreating Interactive Brand Stories this September 1. Wired Woman members will received a 20% discount on register for the seminar, which will look at examples of brand storytelling, identify what others stories are and how they are using the online space and social media to tell their brand’s story and engage with their audience. Just like the stories online, this workshop will be interactive and we will be doing some story building of our own. Please see the Wired Woman event page for further event and registration information.

CalgaryAutodesk has joined WorldSkills Calgary 2009 as a Platinum Sponsor and the Presenting Sponsor of the Mechanical Engineering Design (MED) competition. Autodesk’s sponsorship of WorldSkills World Skills CalgaryCalgary 2009 compliments its status as a Global Industry Partner of WorldSkills International and further cements its ongoing support of the WorldSkills Movement since 2007.

“Autodesk is proud to be a sponsor of this very important educational undertaking,” said Joe Astroth, PhD, Autodesk Vice President, Learning and Education. “Being an integral part of WorldSkills Calgary 2009 represents a significant opportunity for Autodesk to inspire the next generation of architects, engineers and digital artists. We are confident the knowledge and experiences students gain using our software will prepare them to meet the demands they will encounter in the workplace.”

Autodesk’s role as a Presenting Sponsor of the MED competition also includes participation as a sponsor of the Polymechanics/Automation, CNC Milling competitions, Plumbing/Heating, Electrical Installations, Industrial Control and Joinery Competitions. As part of its sponsorship, Autodesk will provide its Inventor®, Maya® and AutoCAD® software for use by Competitors. It is through these seven competitions covering multiple disciplines that Autodesk is hoping to inspire students to develop their skill sets. Autodesk’s software used in the 40th WorldSkills Competition will be donated to Alberta schools, benefiting students across the province. For more information on Autodesk products, please visit our local premier Autodesk representatives and local event supporters at Annex Pro.

Washington Interactive NetworkSeattle – For those interested in what’s happening across the border, enterpriseSeattle’s Washington Interactive Network will convene its 3rd annual Power of Play Economic Update Lunch. A panel of industry executives will explore the state of Washington state’s $4.2 billion Interactive Media Industry, the economy, and the Pacific Northwest region’s competitiveness compared with others in the US and Canada.

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28th August 2009

Students Calling For Fairness in Copyright Consultation

Canadian Federation of StudentsToronto – Students are calling on the federal government to reform Canada’s Copyright Act in a way that fairly balances the rights of users and creators of copyright works. At a town hall meeting held in Toronto last night, as part of the federal government’s copyright consultations, students reiterated their call for fair copyright legislation.

“Students have been clear in their demand for fair copyright,” said Shelley Melanson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “New copyright legislation must carefully regulate technological protection measures, eliminate Crown copyright and provide a more flexible definition of fair dealing.”

Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement have been leading a round of public consultations on copyright reform. Thursday night’s meeting was one of two town halls designed to facilitate discussion from hundreds of live participants and online followers.

Because of the last-minute introduction of a lottery system that did not guarantee those participating the right to speak, students attempted to circulate a flyer detailing their position on copyright reform (PDF). Event organisers used private security guards to prevent the distribution of the flyers, threatening to remove the students from the premises of the hotel where the consultation was being held. The flyers contained an introduction to copyright that provided a summary of the results of campus copyright consultations held by the Canadian Federation of Students throughout Spring 2009.

“With the ever increasing cost of education, students should not have to pay even more to access the material they require to be able to study, research, and learn,” said Melanson. “It is ironic that while students are concerned that new legislation may allow copyright owners to lock up information, the government is locking up its own consultations.”

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28th August 2009

Crash Time 2 Available On Steam

Meridian4MontrealMeridian4 and RTL Interactive Games Publishing, are pleased to announce that their line up of games for North America are rolling out over the internet, beginning with the release of Crash Time 2 on Steam. Crash Time 2 is now available on Steam and if you purchase before September 3rd you’ll save 10% off the regular price of $19.99.

For more information on Crash Time 2 and the other RTL games being published by Meridian4, visit the games section of the Meridian4’s web site or visit Steam to pick up your copy of Crash Time 2 at the Crash Time 2special low introductory price.

About Crash Time 2

Solve exciting criminal cases on the mean streets as member of the autobahn police force – or freely explore the open game world while chasing down high-octane racers. Escort politicians, transport precious goods or take down the criminal element with over 500HP and close to 200MPH. With fully destructible cars, arcade gameplay, outstanding graphics and stunning slow-mo effects, Crash Time 2 puts you right in the driver seat, ready to burn rubber.

The game features:

·5 huge criminal cases to solve with up to 10 missions each
·Solve cases or freely pursue crimes in the game world
·Many bonus assignments and more than 40 new tracks
·Over 20 AI cars with visual damage system
·Spectacular pileups with impressive and realistic graphics
·3 different difficulty settings
·Additional tasks and mini games are hidden to be discovered

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28th August 2009

Habib Zargarpour Joins S-3D Gaming Alliance Advisory Board

S3DGAToronto – What began as a surprise announcement at SIGGRAPH 2009 has quickly become an industry-wide movement to ensure the adoption of stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) gaming in consumer homes around the world.

“When I saw ‘Need for Speed SHIFT’ in stereoscopic 3D at SIGGRAPH, I was impressed. The audience was blown away by how well ‘SHIFT’s’ immersive cockpit was represented by the 3D tech, and we see a great future for S-3D in

Habib Zargarpour

Habib Zargarpour

games. We need an industry-wide standard for S-3D gaming, and S3DGA has the drive and experience to push this forward. All developers and manufacturers should participate,” said Habib Zargarpour, Senior Art Director for Electronic Arts Inc.

As a Senior Art Director for “Need for Speed,” Habib Zargarpour’s game development credits also include “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” “James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing,” and “Need for Speed Underground.” His diverse film background includes work with IMAX 3D, and a whole range of visual effects work for projects such as “Star Wars: Phantom Menace,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Twister,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “The Mask,” and several more memorable films.

Neil Schneider, the President and CEO of S3DGA, is best known for his pioneering work on Meant to be Seen, the world’s leading website focused on stereoscopic 3D gaming and entertainment.

“When game developers purposely support just one or two S-3D solutions, the message is that stereoscopic 3D gaming is just a technology demo. We can do better! With XBOX, PS3, and PC gaming now available in S-3D, our industry has grown large and diverse enough to get well beyond this stage. It’s an honour that Electronic Arts is helping S3DGA fulfill its mandate, and with the industry’s backing, the S-3D gaming standard will happen,” said Schneider.

An introductory S3DGA meeting will be held 5:30PM PST September 17th at the 3D Entertainment Summit being held in Los Angeles this September 16-17.

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28th August 2009

Xona Games Title Accepted Into XNA Game Studio Contest

xona gamesNova Scotia – Indie studio Xona Games has announced that their arcade shooter Duality ZF has been accepted into Microsoft’s Dream Build Play 2009 Challenge. Duality ZF is an original Xbox 360 arcade shoot’em up featuring 4x multiplayer and dual play being developed by twin brothers Jason and Matthew Doucette. Following their philosophy of “Give the power to the player. The game’s difficulty should arise from enemy strength, not player weakness,” Duality ZF will be playable by anyone of any skill level.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Game Features as listed on the game’s website:

  • DUAL PLAY lets you control both fighters with the left and right thumbsticks.  The d-Pad also controls the “left” fighter.
  • DUAL PLAY is optional.  Use it only if you want.  Solo play is default.
  • DUAL PLAY is for beginners and experts alike.  Beginners should dual play in the easy modes.  Our weakest beta tester, who never plays video games, beat stage one with dual play.
  • DUAL PLAY is not difficult to grasp in gameplay.  All our beta testers managed it within a few game plays.  It turns out, most Xbox gamers are already used to controlling each thumb independently for independant purposes.
  • DUALITY ZF is not an expert-only bullet hell (danmaku, bullet curtain) shoot’em up.  Anyone can play it.  A four year old beat stage one in the easiest mode, including the intimidating end boss you see in the YouTube videos.
  • DUALITY ZF allows eight independently controlled fighters on the screen at once, a shoot’em up first.  This is possible via four players each using dual play.  The impact of eight times the firepower blew us away, and forced us to offer additional unlockable difficulty modes to challenge such extreme gameplay.
  • DUALITY ZF grows to match the skill of every player on the planet with unlimited unlockable difficulty modes.  These unlockable modes will be untainable by the average solo player, but are a bonus to elite players.  Elite players will have a “bullet hell” style experience, but this is out of the ordinary.  We are excited to see gameplay captures of these most elite players.
  • DUALITY ZF scoring system awards points proportional to the enemy strength and attack.  The same scoring formula used for all difficulty modes.  If the enemy is twice as hard to kill, you get twice the points.  The scoring system does not “care” about, or factor in, the difficulty mode, only how tough the enemies are.  It was important to make scores from all difficulty modes compatible, and we acheived this.
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27th August 2009

BC Interactive Publishers and Developers Survey

BC FlagVancouver – A secure and confidential survey web site has been launched under the direction of PricewaterhouseCoopers to assist in the BC industry’s government lobbying efforts.

According to the BC Interactive Publishers and Developers Survey web site, it has “been designed to provide a secure and efficient means to collect the industry data for video publishing and interactive games companies in British Columbia.

The BC Interactive Task Force is organizing an industry-led government relations strategy to influence BC government policies that benefit the local industry. During discussions with the BC Government, it will be important to share the size of the industry in BC while investigating different tax incentive scenarios and their relative economic impacts and costs to the BC government. The purpose of the data collection is to identify important information regarding the size of the local video publishing and interactive games industry.

Initially, data will be aggregated and used to report on the size of the video publishing and interactive games industry in British Columbia. Later, the information may be used to estimate the industry’s economic impact on BC’s economy.

Survey data should be for the most recently completed fiscal year. All individual submissions will be held in strict confidence by PricewaterhouseCoopers and results will be presented in such a way that will not identify any individual organization.

I urge all of BC’s Interactive Publishers and Developers to participate in this very important initiative, as it will have an effect on our entire provincial industry, and now is the time to get involved.

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