I listened to the Town Hall webcast of the official launch and question period earlier today, and to be honest, as a non-developer, all of the policy is making my head hurt. Kudos to those of you who work with policies and documents such as the Canada Media Fund and understand all of the application processes. Please read on to learn more about today’s CMF announcements – I put it at the end of today’s post so that your minds wouldn’t be frazzled before you could take in the rest of the day’s news from our great Canadian digital media industry. See? There is a method to my Gemini madness…
Vancouver – CanPages  has extended their API contest  deadline to April 12 2010, so all of you developers out there still have time to enter. All entered applications must be showcased in a video for judging and four finalists will be decided by popular vote. Those final four app entries will be judged by an internal panel of Canpages.ca executives who will determine the $5,000 Grand Prize winner. All applications will be showcased on Canpages.ca, and the final application winners will showcase their app video at DemoCamp Vancouver. 
If you haven’t tried the dimeRocker  site yet, or want to know how to get started on games using it in conjunction with Unity3D , check out dimeRocker’s PDF Getting Started  tutorial. If you are working on a Facebook game but aren’t sure how to get it published, the folks at dimeRocker can help you with that too. Yesterday they published a deployment tutorial  which is so easy to follow even I understood it. Now if I could just draw and animate…
Untold Entertainment  recently opened a new site dedicated to the best in free flash word games. Enter Word Game World . What makes this new portal different from other free game portals is that each game is curated. Speaking on the Untold blog , Ryan Creighton said that every game is tested and properly classified in a word game sub-category. Visitors to the site can choose their favourite type of word game to play and easily find a free, quality title to enjoy. The games even work properly. Untold Entertainment is also developing a new word game title SpellCaster which, according to their site, will combine word-building with a fantastic story, packed with colorful characters, humour, danger, and a magical menagerie of monsters. I was privileged to get a look at an earlier title that Untold had been working on and had lots of fun with it, so I am definitely looking forward to having a go at SpellCaster.
Don’t forget that nominations  for the Canadian VideoGame and Digital Arts Awards  close on March 31st. Nominations for 2009 titles are free, so what’s holding you back? Get your nominations in today! In related news, GDC Canada  has announced more speaker sessions for the May 6 – 7 conference taking place in Vancouver. A sample of the newly added sessions:
* Evolving Episodic for a Growing Digital Audience with Dan Connors (CEO, Telltale Games)
* Forza Motorsport 3 Audio: Design, Process and Pipeline with Greg Shaw (Audio Director, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft) and Mike Caviezel (Audio Designer, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft)
* Social Games – 85 Million Farmers Can’t All be Wrong with Jason Bailey (GM of Virtual Currencies, Adknowledge)
Early Bird passes  are only available until March 31st, so if you haven’t reserved yours, you should ideally do so within the next few days. Check out the session schedule  (note that more sessions may yet be announced) and then make plans to attend the second GDC Canada conference in Vancouver this spring.
Stir Fry Games  has released a new trailer  for the PC version of their XBox Live Indie Games title SFG Soccer, an arcade-style sports game featuring 64 customizable teams and tournament play. Both PC and 360 versions of SFG Soccer are available now for purchase, plus you can try the demo before buying the full game.
Playbrains  has announced that Babo Crash  is slated to launch on the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android mobile devices on March 29th for $0.99. The game also features native support for the iPad, and owners of the new Apple tablet can enjoy even more eye-popping graphics when it launches on April 3rd – rather than simply up-scaling, Babo Crash was re-egineered for the iPad’s vibrant screen and designed to take advantage of its advanced hardware.
Babo Crash starts out familiar with tried-and-true gem-swapping gameplay. But it doesn’t stay in that comfort zone for long, adding controllable hero characters when players match four or more, each with their own special abilities. Then it ramps up the intensity one level at a time, adding challenges like real-time enemy combat, destructive powerups, chain reactions and evolving objectives. Even better, players can actually rotate the screen to shift the direction of gravity – an important strategy as the battlefield becomes riddled with obstacles.
Babo Crash brings frenetic match-three action and a slew of cool features to the iPhone, iPad and Android phones:
• Addictive, high tempo match-three puzzle action
• Vibrant visual style with over-the-top special effects
• Multiple control schemes suite various styles of play
• Rack up huge scores in Overtime, a hyper-speed bonus round
• Strategically rotate your device to control collapses and navigate bombs
• Unleash heroic abilities to destroy tons of gems at once
• Combo/multiplier system – the faster you match, the higher your score
• 21 levels to ramp up the madness
• Leaderboards and Achievements via OpenFeint
Get your entries in for the 37th Computer Animation Festival taking place at SIGGRAPH 2010  this July. The world’s most innovative and stimulating showcase of computer-generated animation and visual effects, this four-day international event presents a wide spectrum of computer animation genres and styles ranging from narrative character animation to scientific visualization, mainstream TV commercials, and digital effects for futuristic movies. All entries must be uploaded by 19 April 2010 – please see the Festival’s information page  for full entry conditions for the ten categories.
The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages , Louis Roquet, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canada Media Fund  (CMF), and Valerie Creighton, President and CEO of the CMF, today announced the launch of the new funding agency and presented details regarding its programs. Open for business on April 1, 2010, the CMF’s mandate is to champion the creation of successful, innovative, Canadian content and software applications for current and emerging digital platforms through financial support and industry research.
“In launching the Canada Media Fund, we’ve taken an important step towards supporting a truly modern, multi-platform industry and a digital content strategy for Canada. The CMF will allow our industry to do what it does best: create, entertain, and connect with Canadians,” said Minister Moore. “We must all work together to ensure the Canada Media Fund’s success and provide Canadians with exciting content that is reflective of new digital realities.”
The CMF will support projects through two streams of funding, an Experimental Stream, which will invest in the creation of innovative content and software applications for eventual integration into mainstream Canadian media platforms; and a Convergent Stream, which will support the creation of convergent television and digital media content.
“Disbursing over $350 million in funding support, the CMF will strengthen Canada’s production and broadcasting industries as they adjust to the evolving content consumption behaviour of Canadians,” said Mr. Roquet.
Through its Experimental Stream, the CMF will encourage the development of leading-edge, non-linear, interactive digital media content and software applications. Through its Convergent Stream, the CMF will support the creation of television shows and related digital media content in four underrepresented genres: drama, documentary, children’s and youth, and variety and performing arts. While basic digital media components, such as first generation websites and video-on-demand will be eligible, the CMF will encourage the creation of rich, value-added content.
The programs and incentives that comprise the Convergent Stream are designed to support production in all regions of Canada and in the variety of languages spoken by Canadians. The majority of funding in the Convergent Stream will be disbursed through the Performance Envelope Program, which encourages partnerships between broadcasters, television producers, and digital media producers to create convergent content that Canadians want to consume.
There are three distinctive areas on the Canada Media Fund website : Connect, Create and Innovate. I recommend visiting and exploring all three areas of the site to get full information and the Fund guidelines (documentation is in the Create section). They’ve just announced on the webcast that the full English and French broadcasts will be available on the web site for those who weren’t able to catch the launch information live. There will also be transcripts available for the hearing impaired.