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26th January 2010

Digital Media Pub Night To Raise funds for Haiti Clean Water Project

Vancouver – The Vancouver digital media industry is raising their glasses to clean water. A group of industry leaders, musicians and concerned citizens have organized a pub night this Thursday to raise funds for a clean water project in Haiti.

Lead organizer and videogame veteran, Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch says, “Like many Canadians, our hearts go out to Haiti. My husband, Eli and I are both take action type of people and we decided to gather our network around a long-term sustainable project: clean drinking water. With Steamworks hosting the event and the help of friends in the music and digital media industries, we’re hopeful that Thursday night will raise enough money to launch this project for Haiti.”

Steamworks’ owner and Bailey’s husband, Eli Gershkovitch, is hosting the event. Tickets can be purchased for $25 dollars online at haitipubnight.com and include a beer, choice of burger and fries. Musical performances by Adaline, DJ Revise, Echo Pilot and The Zoe Trio will be featured. A silent auction will also be on site with donated goods from the videogame sector.

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Funds raised will go towards a Unicef Safe Water project with matching funds from CIDA. With an estimated 300,000 homeless in Haiti, the pub night group wanted to focus on a second wave support project. The Safe Water initiative provides homeless families with water kits, water purification tablets and other supplies that help reduce the deadly risk of contaminated water.

The group is using all of the tools in their arsenal to spread the word including a website, YouTube video, Facebook group and twitter feeds. The fundraiser takes place this Thursday at Steamworks from 7-10pm.

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26th January 2010

marblemedia Announces 3rd Season for Taste Buds and Canada Gets A New Yahoo!

marblemediaTorontomarblemedia today announced that a third season of the smash-hit children’s television series Taste Buds has been green-lit by TVOntario for a spring start of production.

With recent funding secured from the Shaw Rocket Fund, marblemedia will produce six new deliciously enticing episodes of Taste Buds. A hands-on interactive food adventure series for children ages 7 to 10, Taste Buds takes place in the kitchen and beyond. Hosted by returning cast members Avery, Lily and Matt, season three continues to encourage young viewers to be part of the whole process of food preparation – shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up. taste buds

“We are proud to be able to influence the way kids are learning about food,” said marblemedia Executive Producer and Partner Mark Bishop. “Our third season of Taste Buds will celebrate the countless letters and suggestions we continue to get from kids and their parents while introducing them to new foods and healthy ways to create meals for the whole family.”

The launch of season three is scheduled for fall 2010, as the show returns to TVOntario, Access Alberta, Knowledge Network and the Saskatchewan Communications Network.

Associated with the television show, the official website TasteBudsTV.com, will be seasoned with additional interactive content supporting the third season, including streamed episodes, delicious recipes, make-your-own “cookbooker” and games for all ages.

Yahoo! CanadaTorontoYahoo! Canada has announced the launch of a new homepage for Canadians that brings together the best of the Web with the best of Yahoo! in a single destination across both PC and mobile screens. With the new Yahoo! Canada homepage, Canadians can easily add apps – from Yahoo! or virtually any other site on the Web – and access them from their computer or mobile devices so their favourite content, services and experiences are always at their fingertips.

“The Web is an indispensable part of Canadians’ lives, it’s where they socialize, stay in touch with family and friends, buy products and services and share their photos and memories,” says Matt Idema, Yahoo! vice president and country manager, Canada. “Whether for their PC or mobile device, Yahoo! Canada is bringing greater simplicity and relevance to the way Canadians experience the Web. Our new homepage is designed to help Canadians stay on top of what is going on in their world, and around the world no matter where they are.”

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26th January 2010

Innovacorp Announces I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition Winners

innovacorpHalifaxInnovacorp today announced the first and second place award winners in the provincial I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition, an innovative competition to identify and support high potential Nova Scotia knowledge-based businesses.

“The start-up businesses chosen as first and second place award winners are excellent examples of the types of high potential Nova Scotia companies that have the opportunity to compete globally,” said Dan MacDonald, president and CEO of Innovacorp.“The I-3 finalists are all targeting high growth industry sectors, including clean technology, life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”

The first and second place zone winners each receive $100,000 and $40,000 respectively in a combination of cash and in-kind business building services from professional services firms located in their zones to be used for the further development of their start-up ventures. The first place winners will move on to the provincial round happening February 9, to compete for a $100,000 seed investment from Innovacorp.

The first and second place award winners in each zone are:

Zone 1 (Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties)

1st Place – LST Energy – Jim Trussler, Gus Swanson and Philip Landry – Pictou – has developed an innovative patented technology that will enable efficient burning of grass and hay biomass pellets. While grass and hay biomass is plentiful and renewable, until this innovation it has been impractical to use as a fuel because it caused furnace and stove maintenance issues that required continuous intervention. LST Energy will first target commercial heating applications.

2nd Place – X-Flux Environmental Technologies – David Risk – Antigonish – has developed an innovative system for real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide emissions from underground carbon capture and storage facilities. The patented technology enables a network of ground level CO2 monitoring probes, network management and validation of carbon storage for public safety and containment integrity. X-Flux is positioned to enter the global market and will begin pilot installations in 2010.

Zone 2 (Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties)xona games

1st PlaceXona Games – Matthew and Jason Doucette – Yarmouth – is an independent game development studio targeting Xbox 360 and PC gaming platforms. The company concentrates on intensifying retro-style games and has already gained international recognition, placing 7th in the world and 2nd in Canada in Microsoft’s 2009 Dream Build Play competition. Xona’s game Decimation X is the number one rated Xbox LIVE Indie Game in Japan.

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26th January 2010

Mass Effect 2 Day, VFS Teams Up with Pixelogic, IUGO Releases More Escape Details

Bioware CorpEdmonton – It would be only natural to begin with the biggest game release news of the day – Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 hits store shelves across the nation today, and already the title is getting raves from every corner of the continent. I will be picking up my Collector’s Edition today, and I am really looking forward to the awesome goodness that I know will be contained in that special tin box. While EA did send an advance copy to Village Gamer, it hasn’t yet arrived (watch it be sitting in the post office box today), and while I certainly appreciate the opportunity the publisher is trying to extend to me, I never receive the titles they send until after the games have been released, and as I like to log a number of hours in a game before writing a review, well…gotta love our postal system. Not. Mass Effect 2 Collector Armour

Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA commented on the launch of Mass Effect 2 saying, “Rich, immersive worlds, compelling characters and stories, and intense action are some of the hallmarks of BioWare games, and Mass Effect 2 truly raises the bar in every area. I’m incredibly proud of our team, who worked passionately to deliver a very high quality game for our fans. This epic sequel in the stunning Mass Effect universe is an extraordinary accomplishment, one which we can’t wait to get into the hands of a world-wide audience!”

The Mass Effect trilogy is an epic science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

Gamers who purchase a new copy of Mass Effect 2 will also be able to activate the ‘Cerberus Network’, an in-game portal in Mass Effect 2 that will keep fans engaged with the Mass Effect universe through downloadable content (DLC) and news at no extra charge. The first piece of DLC is available today, featuring a new mission around the Normandy crash site. For players who do not buy the game new, the ‘Cerberus Network’ can be unlocked through a one-time, in-game purchase of an activation code for 1200 MS points on the Xbox 360 and $15 on the PC. BioWare will release additional news on future ‘Cerberus Network’ content in the coming weeks. Activation is tied to a specific EA Online account and is non-transferable. Mass Effect 2 is available for the Xbox 360 and the PC and is rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB

VFSVancouverVancouver Film School (VFS), Canada’s premier entertainment arts institution, and Pixologic, maker of the award-winning 2D/3D sculpting, texturing, and painting application ZBrush, today announced an official partnership agreement to provide VFS with full access to educational licenses for Pixologic’s cutting-edge software, ZBrush.

The partnership is the first of its kind for Pixologic in Canada. The agreement will primarily benefit students of VFS’s Animation & Visual Effects programs, respected worldwide for their graduates, including District 9 director Neill Blomkamp among many others. VFS students will have access to the latest innovative tools available in ZBrush, upgrades and technical support.

“Pixologic enthusiastically supports education and is committed to providing artists with the ZBrushmost innovative cutting edge tools of their craft,” says Pixologic Chief Operating Officer Jaime Labelle. “From illustration to animation and visual effects to game design, we at Pixologic recognize the standard of excellence that comes from the entire VFS community and are thrilled to partner and support them in their creative process.”

ZBrush’s place within the Animation & Visual Effects curriculum means that students are provided with skills and experience in a tool that is widely used on top films like Avatar, Watchmen, and District 9, and games like Gears of War 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, all properties on which VFS Animation & Visual Effects graduates have worked. The partnership gives students at VFS a crucial advantage as they begin their careers.

“This partnership really allows us to take advantage of what Pixologic brings to the table with their products,” says VFS’s Managing Director Marty Hasselbach. “It also allows Pixologic to benefit from what VFS does, and that is create fantastic work using their cutting-edge software, ZBrush.”

IUGOVancouver – Mobile game developer IUGO has announced that their latest title Escape, which we announced a few days ago, will be going to the EscapeBlackBerry platform before it becomes available for the iPhone, with pricing to be revealed upon launch. This newest puzzler promises the following features:

*Endless levels and gameplay
*2 additional unlockable difficulty modes introduced through DLC (iPhone only)
*Simple controls for all ages
*Minimalist graphics for maximum appeal
*Unique cerebral game play complimented by relaxing audio and visual effects
*Surprisingly addictive!

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26th January 2010

The Saboteur – Review

The SaboteurDeveloper: Pandemic
Publisher: EA
Release Date: December 2009
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Number of Players: Single Player
Genre: Action-Adventure
ESRB Rating: Mature

I have logged approximately 140 hours of gameplay in Pandemic’s final title, The Saboteur, and overall I did enjoy the game. I have completed 100% of the freeplay targets as well as the mission campaign, but still have to obtain 1 gold perk and 4 achievements. In my OCD gamer style, I have spent alot of time driving or running around exploring the map, collecting cars, contraband and running into cows. The Saboteur as a game has lots that I like, but it’s impossible to not compare many of the elements to other titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto and Prototype.

The game opens at a car race where Sean first The Saboteurencounters the nasty Kurt Dierker from Team Doppelsieg. As the game’s hero, you play as Irishman Sean Devlin, who drives for Team Morini. Your best friend Jules Morini, is dead before the first chapter ends, setting the stage for Sean’s thirst for revenge against the Nazis and in particular, Dierker. Sean carries a heavy load of guilt as he heads for Paris with Jules’ sister Veronique and their father, Vittore. It is this guilt and vow of revenge that will enable the British to use Sean as a pawn in their battle against the Nazis. As you delve deeper into the game and storyline, there are more characters who enter the plot – Skylar, the mysterious woman from Sean’s past, Luc who heads up the Resistance, and that sneaky Bond-wanna-be from Britain, Bishop. There are other characters who play minor parts throughout the story, but these are your main game characters. Of course, only Sean Devlin is actually playable by the gamer.

The SaboteurI am impressed with the amount of game time offered by The Saboteur – there is certainly a lot to do in the way of collecting postcards, blowing up sniper nests and playing with some really big guns. On the converse side, those of us who have spent much time playing Asssassin’s Creed will be somewhat disappointed with the climbing and jumping abilities which have been given to the main character, Sean Devlin. Granted, he is a race car driver and not an assassin like Altair and Ezio, but I would have expected there to have been better climbing mechanics in a game which places such importance on the ability to reach building tops in order to carry out missions and destroy freeplay targets. There were times when Sean would grab ledges when I didn’t want him to, and times when he wouldn’t make a simple jump or grab a ledge to prevent a suicidal fall, even though I had specified through the controller that he do so. There were several times when I found the game’s controls to be somewhat clunky or unresponsive, and this did lead to some frustration.

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