Vancouver – Electronic Arts has announced two new partnerships involving local studios. First, EA announced that it has inked an exclusive deal with Klei Entertainment to bring the studio’s provocative new game Shank to Xbox LIVE® Arcade, PlayStation®Network and PC this summer. Featuring a unique art style inspired by graphic novels and golden age comics, Shank blends the intensity of classic 2D side-scrolling action games with a gripping and mature storyline. The cinematic brawler is a finalist for “Excellence in Visual Art” at this year’s Independent Games Festival and will be featured at the IGF Pavilion during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.
“Our mission at EA Partners is to work with the best talent across the game industry, and we are thrilled to extend our expertise to the leading creative developers in downloadable indie games,” said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development at EA Partners. “The team at Klei Entertainment is among the best in the world at developing fun and engaging titles for digital distribution platforms, and Shank is an amazing experience.”
“As an independent development studio, we always focus on creating great, authentic experiences for players. Working with EA Partners expands our distribution and allows us to bring Shank to a much wider audience,” said Jamie Cheng, CEO of Klei Entertainment. “They have been a fantastic partner and their understanding of the space is incredibly exciting.”
Taking place in a stylized, modern-Western setting, Shank tells a classic betrayal story directed through a sophisticated cinematic lens, with addictive action gameplay found in classic 2D side-scrolling games.
EA’s second announced deal today is another exclusive publishing deal, this time with Hothead Games and their newest title DeathSpank, which will be coming to Xbox LIVE® Arcade and PlayStation®Network in 2010. Developed under the vision of The Secret of Monkey Island creator and industry icon Ron Gilbert, DeathSpank blends a story filled with Gilbert’s unique humor and wit with classic and addictive action RPG gameplay.
“The team at Hothead Games is a perfect fit for EA Partners. They are a great example of how the EA Partners program continues to emphasize the importance of building strong relationships with the world’s top indie developers,” said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development at EA Partners. “DeathSpank is an engrossingly fun and hysterically funny experience, and we are all excited to have the opportunity to help introduce DeathSpank to gamers across the world.”
Ian Wilkinson, CEO of Hothead Games added, “We are proud of our independence, but are very excited to be working with EA Partners on a title as big as DeathSpank. With EA Partners handling distribution and marketing, Hothead can continue to focus on what we do best, making great games.”
The game casts players in the role of DeathSpank, the Hero to the Downtrodden, a Vanquisher of Evil and Defender of Justice as he fulfills his life-long destiny and searches for a mysterious and magical item only known as “The Artifact”. Along the way he’ll rescue a few Orphans, defeat a local tyrant and tumble headlong into the even deeper mystery surrounding the legendary Thongs of Virtue in an epic adventure game that includes collecting loot, crazy puzzle solving, witty dialogue, collecting loot, over-the-top animations, fun, accessible action combat, and of course, collecting loot.
Hothead Games was also awarded a 2009 Editor’s Choice Award from MacWorld for bringing Jonathan Blow’s Braid (the time-bending Independent Games Festival winner) to the growing audience on the Mac.
“We’re honored to receive an award from a prestigious magazine like Macworld,” said Joel DeYoung, Hothead’s director of game technology and producer on the project. “It is part of our core purpose at Hothead to support indie development and meet the needs and desires of gamers around the world, regardless of platform. We’re excited to see others support our efforts and we will continue to lead in indie game collaboration in 2010 and beyond.”
Aylmer – Ratrod Studio Inc., with the collaboration of pro skateboarder Mike Vallely is proud to present this highly anticipated title Mike V: Do or Die. This skateboard video game is now available worldwide for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game is rated 4+ (for everyone) and can be purchased now on the Apple App Store.
Mike V: Do or Die focuses on Mike’s path, passions and career. It will feature an overview of his evolution as an individual and his lifelong accomplishments in the history of skateboarding. Players start from the legendary ‘Bones Brigade’ Powell-Peralta era and can improve their skills while gaining experience to unlock exclusive game content including a selection of over one hundred items to choose from. They can customize their character, board, wheels and car.
The game features stunning next generation 3D graphics using the multi-touch capabilities of the iPhone or iPod Touch to simulate an authentic skateboarding experience by using a cutting edge control system to execute over 40 unique tricks ranging from different styles. The players are even able to select their stance and adjust their trucks to fit their riding style.
“This game was built by skateboarders sharing a passion for the sport and targeting skateboard fans from all around the world. We have been working hard to push the limits of what can be done on the iPhone and to deliver a unique and realistic skateboard experience on this mobile platform which can be often very challenging.” Says Pat Toulouse, Executive Producer and President of Ratrod Studio Inc.
Starting off with the basics then learning some new tricks as you play, tricks range from old school impossible to grinds, slides, grabs, plants and manuals. Mike V: Do or Die includes 7 adrenaline-packed skate locations including a Skate Park, Vert Ramp, Warehouse, Roof Tops, Movie Studio, Ditch and a Mall, the game also includes a Free Ride driving mode featuring a massive open city for players to explore.
The game features top brands and affiliates including Element, Powell-Peralta, Von Zipper, Bones, Active Rideshop, Affliction, Powell, FUEL TV and Ferret Music on top of a diversified sound track that includes multiple songs from Revolution Mother’s newest album “Rollin’ with tha Mutha”. Players are also able to use their own iPhone music library.
From skateboard legend to rock star and movie actor, Mike Vallely is known as a pioneer and innovator in the skateboarding world. Discovered by Stacy Peralta (Z-Boys) and Lance Mountain in the 80s, Mike became the first east coast street skater to emerge on the scene and became an overnight sensation. Mike is also the vocalist for the band, Revolution Mother, and is the host of his own TV show called DRIVE on FUEL TV. Recognized and idolized by skateboard enthusiasts around the world, Mike has long been featured in the Tony Hawk video game series published by Activision including their latest, RIDE.
Mike V: Do or Die is now available for the iPhone and iPod Touch and can be purchased on the Apple App Store. Ratrod Studio Inc is also planning to bring this exciting new title on the console platforms in the near future.
The game has already been recognized world-wide and nominated at the 2010 International Mobile Gaming Awards for Excellence in Design. This category is for games with an exceptional attention to visual quality.
OTTAWA – Playbrains, an independent game development studio, has announced their upcoming mobile gaming debut with Babo Crash, a fast-paced action puzzler built for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms. Babo Crash starts out simple with familiar gem-swapping match-3 gameplay, rewarding players who create bigger matches – but it ramps up the intensity one level at a time, adding hero characters with special abilities, real-time enemy combat, destructive powerups, chain reactions and evolving objectives.
Rotating the device shifts gravity, adding a strategic element to gameplay. Additionally, tilting the device controls a hero’s special power s, emphasizing tactics and rewarding fast reflexes. Once players guide a bomb to its detonation zone, they’ll instantly clear the stage and enter Overtime, a frantic bonus round where they can rack up huge scores through combo chains and multipliers.
BaboCrash brings frenetic match-three action with tons of genre-bending features:
• Addictive, high tempo match-three puzzle action
• Gorgeous graphics with over-the-top special effects
• Strategically rotate your device to control collapses
• Unleash heroic abilities to destroy tons of gems at once
• Combo/multiplier system – the faster you match, the higher you score
• 21 levels to ramp up the madness
• Leaderboards and Achievements via OpenFeint
Babo Crash is coming to the App Store in March 2010 for $0.99.
Edmonton – Bioware has released another creature bio for the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins expansion chapter, Awakening. Today’s feature creature are The Disciples, a branch of the darkspawn who “are organized despite the death of the archdemon, following the lead of unknown commanders. No civilized person can say where these darkspawn commanders come from, but they think, speak, and act with purpose, which makes them dangerous indeed.”
The Disciples join the ranks of villainous new creatures along with The Children and the Queen of the Blackmarsh. I predict much death for my Dragon Age characters in the future. Dragon Age Origins: Awakening is scheduled for release on Tuesday March 16th and is available for pre-order at video game stores everywhere. The Dragon Age franchise is rated Mature by the ESRB.
Halifax – DHX Media Ltd. has launched its Living Stories storybook apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch by DHX Interactive, DHX Media’s digital and interactive media divison. These animated storybooks will bring new and classic children’s tales to life, with titles to date including King Midas, The Tortoise and the Hare, and the Hans Christian Anderson classic The Princess and the Pea. All three Living Stories apps are available on the iTunes App Store for $1.99.
Anne Loi, Senior VP Finance and Operations of DHX Media said: “This is an ideal marriage of DHX’s production expertise in animation, illustration and storytelling, and our interactive division’s expertise in developing content specifically tailored to these devices. The Living Stories app titles are perfect for kids and parents.”
The Living Stories apps are easy-to-use for kids, allowing preschoolers to read along on their own. Users can read along with full English language audio narration that is accompanied by beautiful illustrations developed specifically for iPhone screens. DHX Media’s Living Stories apps also permit readers to record their own narration, adding their voice to the book to play back again and again.
Toronto – Open Text Corporation, Canada’s largest software company and a global leader in enterprise content management, today announced it will spend $225 million over the next five years on product innovations and related job creation at its Waterloo, Richmond Hill and Ottawa locations. At a press conference this morning, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello unveiled a $33.75 million contribution to Open Text’s initiative from the province’s Next Generation of Jobs Fund.
“As a proudly Canadian company, we’re pleased to announce this investment in a long-term growth strategy for our operations in Ontario,” said John Shackleton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Open Text. “One of the drivers for this investment is the digital media sector which offers opportunity for growth and innovation. The provincial government’s support of this initiative is an investment in Ontario’s long-term prosperity and we’re pleased to collaborate in this effort.”
Open Text’s plans will include almost 400 job opportunities at the company’s Ontario offices in Waterloo, Richmond Hill and Ottawa. Innovations driven by new Research and Development (R&D) efforts in green computing, mobile applications and high-performance systems will help Open Text continue its successful track record in the growing ECM market which is expected to have a valuation of $9.3 billion globally by 2014 (Content Management Market Shares Strategies and Forecasts 2008 to 2014 – Winter Green Research).
“This is a strategic investment that anchors Open Text’s operations in the province and furthers Ontario’s reputation as a leader in digital media and information and communications technology. We’re proud to support Open Text’s latest investment that creates high-value jobs for Ontario families,” said Minister Pupatello.
The Open Text announcement was made by Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at Open Text, who has been a champion for digital media and a proponent of advancing Canada’s digital economy through increased talent, technology and creative investment. Open Text’s investment will not only benefit technology innovation and employment, but will also benefit the environment given digital storage reduces or eliminates wasteful printing and storage requirements.
“Our government knows that going forward, the jobs and skills of tomorrow will be different than yesterday’s. Supporting innovative companies like Open Text is part of our government’s plan to create a knowledge economy that future generations can build on – and rely on,” said John Milloy, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation and MPP for Kitchener-Centre.
Toronto – Get Involved and q media solutions are pleased to announce the launch of DigitalU – the first television/webshorts to examine how the internet and social media is changing the world around us. DigitalU is an eight-part series that looks at transparency, crowdsourcing, privacy and security – with powerful examples that demonstrate how the internet is changing the way we live, work, play, consume and communicate.
DigitalU demystifies social media – from NASA crowdsourcing to map craters on Mars, or businesses like JetBlue twittering to improve the customer experience, DigitalU shows us how the speed and collaborative powers of the internet are transforming our lives. DigitalU covers everything from cautionary tales about the future and security of our personal information, to empowering stories about how the internet is fuelling change at a furious pace.
Every Friday, beginning March 5, at 8:50PM, TVO will premiere a new DigitalU short, featuring interviews with over 25 social media and experts including; Mitch Joel, Twist Image, author and pundit Don Tapscott, Jason Mogus, Communicopia, Meghan Warby, Argyle PR, Beka Economopoulos, Fission Strategy, Craig Heintzman, World Wide Web Foundation, Christopher Berry, Critical Mass, and Sacha Chua, IBM.
Additionally, beginning today, all eight DigitalU shorts will also be available on YouTube in full HD 1080p and audio versions will also be available on iTunes by mid-March.
“This series has been produced as a primer; a digital 101 of sorts,” says Dorothy Engelman, Executive producer, Digital U “With all the buzz about social media, we couldn’t find one series on television or the web that provided a big picture view of what’s spinning all around us. I personally feel overwhelmed by the speed of change and I worried I was out of the loop and missing opportunities. And so DigitalU is our attempt to help people wade through all the terminology, while giving them real world examples that bring the tools to life. We did over 25 interviews and so many great examples and wonderful stories ended up on the ‘cutting room floor’ and so we created 24 podcasts alongside the series for those that want a more in-depth look at what’s going on.”
Vancouver – When comic publisher and artist / writer Jason Thibault began combing the internet for a website that covered all aspects of the crime genre in the form of a pop culture magazine he came up empty. Enter Blunt Force Beating, a site dedicated to the coverage of crime films, novels, comics, television, documentaries and video games.
Says Thibault, “I couldn’t believe that no one had put together a site documenting all of the incredible work being done in the crime genre worldwide. Shows like The Wire, The Shield and Sons of Anarchy have already entered mainstream consciousness not to mention all of the high-quality crime graphic novels such as ‘The Hunter’ being produced in the comics industry right now. I knew something cool could be put together with the right group of people.”
Optimum Wound, a Vancouver-based boutique publisher specializing in dark crime and genre graphic novels, already had experience both in building a popular online website for creators and publishing crime fiction. When faced with the task of building a new online magazine they enlisted the help of artist and long-time collaborator, Christopher Williams.
“I saw something magical in what Jason was putting forward. A highly-focused site for the crime market was a brilliant idea”, adds Williams. “I immediately got to work helping Optimum Wound organize a killer site. This is a passion project and everyone better hold on tight over the next few years as we build the definitive crime culture magazine. The aim is to make it the go-to source for the culture of bad people doing bad things and the vengeance that may or may not follow.”
“Blunt Force Beating” will review film, video and books both fiction and non-fiction that fall within the crime genre and its darker subgenres. As horror culture is already well documented online this site will be quite focused on the crime genre with few exceptions.
In addition to the North American market there will be a strong emphasis on covering international works. Christopher Williams and Optimum Wound co-owner Richard Serrao are already working closely together to produce a series of reviews and essays. In addition a small group of writers have been solicited to add more material to the site. With this new online crime magazine the internet just got a little more dangerous.