31st May 2010

Pur Futbol Launches In North America Tomorrow

UbisoftUbisoft Vancouver will be releasing its second sports title to the North American audience tomorrow, June 1st. Already released to the European market, Pur Futbol (also known as Pure Football) is a knock-down, drag-out, no refs allowed soccer duel. Gamers are offered the choice of Quick Pure FootballPlay, Exhibition Mode or Campaign Mode with no penalties and no coloured cards. You will, however, still have to mind your manners on the field.

Quick Play is exactly what it says – you are tossed into a randomly chosen match and expected to hold your own. Exhibition Mode will let you chose your teams, but don’t expect the game to be an easy trouncing of your opponent. Meanwhile, over in Campaign Mode, you can customize your pixelated self to your heart’s desire before heading off for a play-through of 18 tournament matches with varying challenges which you must successfully complete if you want to take part in the ultimate tournament and become the Pur Futbol champion. Take a look at the European launch trailer for the game to check out how it’s done.

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Pur Futbol is not meant to be a technical round of sanctioned world cup soccer. It’s meant to be fun, challenging and rewarding in that there is somewhat less structure than the more rigid, rule-following Pure Football Player Mapsoccer titles out in the game market. You will be granted special team management privileges by completing the challenges set out for you; this means you can upgrade your character, trade or steal other players, building your team up to the ultimate playing machine required to dominate the world on the soccer pitch.

Pur Futbol offers 230 players, 17 of the top teams from the international leagues, as well as 3 legend-status teams. The Hometown Champions feature on the Pur Futbol site lets other players view local Uplay Pure Football Rewardand global leaderboards as well as search for future opponents. With Xbox Live or PlayStation Network accounts, players will be able to challenge friends, families and foes to some fierce online play, further extending Pur Futbol’s replay attraction.

As we saw with Ubisoft Vancouver’s first title Academy of Champions, the game’s environment is full of rich graphics with recognizable locations and fantastical backgrounds. Pur Futbol also ties in with Ubisoft’s Uplay system, where you can get bonus actions and rewards as you earn Uplay points. As shown here, you can get a special Ubisoft team uniform set with 30 Uplay points. Pur Futbol is rated E for Everyone and is available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Pur Futbol is listed at GameStop Canada for $39.99.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets for SIGGRAPH Vancouver’s next event are now on sale. The Making of ModNation Racers, which will feature presentations by Clint Hanson, Lucas Granito and James Grieve from United Front Games, this panel presentation will take place on June 29th at the VanCity Theatre. Tickets will be available to members for $10.00 and $20.00 for non-members.

Chapters will be hosting two book signing sessions with author Neil Pasricha for his  newly published work “The Book of Awesome“, which was inspired by the Webby AwardBook Of Awesome winning blog 1000 Awesome Things, where he posted one awesome thing in life each day. The Book of Awesome reminds readers of little things that make everyone smile. You are invited to join Pasricha as he signs copies of this universal high five for humanity at these Chapter’s outlets:

Chapters Macleod Trail – 9631 MacLeod Trail S.W., Calgary on Thursday June 10th at 5:00 pm
Chapters Robson – 788 Robson Street, Vancouver on Saturday June 12th at 2:00 pm

Crank SoftwareCrank Storyboard Suite 1.1 is now available from Crank Software Inc., an innovator in embedded user interface (UI) solutions. Compared to older, traditional electronic design automation tools, Storyboard enables R&D teams to quickly and collaboratively develop rich and dynamic graphical user interfaces while optimizing hardware performance. Read the rest of this entry »

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28th May 2010

Yes The iPad Is Now In Canadian Stores

Well as many of you are well aware, today is launch day for the iPad in Canada. While it’s easy to want one, the iPad is not something that I will be purchasing in the near future. I have a netbook which I really like, and while the battery life could be better, it is functional for the purposes I require of it, and really, other than the tablet-styled type pad, I don’t see many advantages for an iPad over my iTouch other than the bigger screen. Besides, I need a PS3 more than I need an iPad. Then again, it would be easier to read books on the iPad than it is on my iTouch…

quickmobileBCTIA and QuickMobile are pleased to announce the “mobilization” of this year’s Technology Impact Awards (TIAs) taking place on June 8th, 2010. In collaboration with BCTIA, QuickMobile has developed an iPhone app and mobile website which provides information about the awards dinner real time on any mobile device.

BCTIAThe community will be able to access the awards program, list of attendees, and finalist profiles on their SmartPhone. Other major features of the mobile solutions include online ticket purchasing, past history of TIA winners presented as cover flow graphics, as well as the evening’s seating plan.2010 TIA app

David Snell, EVP of QuickMobile stated ”we are very pleased to provide the first ever mobile solutions to enhance and extend this year’s TIAs experience. The iPhone application and mobile website benefits both the attendees and organizers by including an interactive mobile program guide with access to real-time features, which in turn provides leading edge interactive tools for all attendees and reduces printed material.”

“We are very excited about using these innovative mobile solutions to differentiate our 2010 TIAs celebration“said Pascal Spothelfer, President and CEO of BCTIA. “QuickMobile has created these mobile tools for us within an extremely short time frame and incorporated features we know will improve our attendees’ experiences at the 2010 TIAs.”

Licensing Executives SocietyThe Licensing Executives Society (USA and Canada) Inc., are holding some educational events in Toronto on June 7th. Commercializing Technology through the Power of IP Licensing is an introductory course designed for those with no prior experience in licensing. According to the event’s information page, it is specifically aimed at:

* non-licensing professionals about to enter the field
* those who are considering a career in licensing
* entrepreneurs who need to understand the value of their IP
* professors of entrepreneurship
* students interested in learning the basics of Intellectual Property (IP) and how to commercialize IP through licensing

Essential Principles & Tools of Licensing is the next step in the Society’s educational programme, and it is also running in Toronto, with a given date of June 7 – 10. This course is much more in-depth and is also more costly to attend than the introductory session mentioned above. Please see the Society’s web site for all of the pertinent information. The intended audience for this educational programme are intellectual asset management professionals, including those responsible for licensing and business development, who want to increase their knowledge of licensing and raise their professional skill level.

kerberos productionsKerberos Productions and Paradox Interactive are happy to announce that Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection which includes the original Sword of Stars game as well as its’ expansions: Born of Blood, A Murder Crows, Argos Naval Yard as well as a brand new scenario, has been released today with a recommended retail price of $29.99

Developed by Kerberos, Sword of the Stars is an epic space 4x Strategy game set in the year 2405 that allows players to play as one of four distinct galactic races, research over 150 distinct technologies, design and build ships across three size classes and wield over 40 weapons from six different weapon groups. Players can also choose from a variety of single-player scenario campaigns along with up to eight player multiplayer.

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The first expansion, Born of Blood, unveils the merciless Zuul Slavers with over 90 brand new ship sections and their unique drive system, the Tunnel Drive. It also introduces a variety of new game features including slavery, trade routes and diplomatic communications, as well as 25 additional technologies, 15 more weapons, new ship sections for the original four races as well as new scenarios, maps and galactic encounters.

A Murder of Crows introduces a sixth new race in the form of The Morrigi with their unique ‘Grav Flock’ Drive System, 27 additional technologies, 15 more weapons along with construction ships, orbital stations, spy ships, police cutters and more.

The third and final expansion, Argos Naval Yard, completes Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection with 19 more new technologies, over 75 additional ship sections to build, 10 weapons, three scenarios, as well as single player/multiplayer with co-op scenario maps.

blitwareBuilding on the success of their popular software utility applications, Blitware is happy to announce the latest addition to their lineup, Undeleter. As the name implies, the application helps computer users rescue documents, photos, and folders that have Undeleterbeen deleted and were previously thought unrecoverable. Though Undeleter joins similar software applications in its category, Blitware developers have designed a unique functionality to prevent overwriting and the ensuing permanent damage that is a common risk with such software applications.

Scanning the PC and any attached storage devices such as cameras, USB drives, and external hard drives, Undeleter searches for deleted files and folders and displays them for selection and recovery options. Unlike most data recovery software applications Undeleter Screenshotthat recover files one at a time, Undeleter utilizes a unique technology that Blitware has termed “DataStream”. Recovering all retrievable files to RAM, encrypting them so that only the host computer can read them, and temporarily storing them until the entire batch is safe and ready to be written back to disk, Blitware’s DataStream technology protects against overwriting and damage to files that is problematic with other data recovery solutions. Undeleter is compatible with the following Windows operating systems: Windows XP Home/Professional, Windows Vista (32-bit & 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit & 64-bit).

The latest in Blitware’s suite of utility software products, Undeleter joins Blitware’s Driver Fetch, File Helper, and the ever-popular PC Medkit as part of the company’s lineup of electronically downloadable software applications. As a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Vancouver Island Technology Association (VIATeC), Blitware is committed to providing user-friendly, effective utility software to PC users and is confident that Undeleter, their latest application, will serve their customers well and far surpass industry expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th May 2010

Today We Honour, Share, and Learn

Vancouver’s Genius Factor Games has published a seven point article laying out the company’s current and future involvement with the social media culture. The seven points denoted in this article can easily provide a starting point for any company who has not yet plunged into the massive and constantly changing world of social media. While I encourage you to visit the Genius Factor Games blog to read the article in its entirety, here are the seven points the company raises:

1. Connect With Players
2. Leverage Technology
3. Connect With Customers on their Terms
4. Word of Mouth/Viral Marketing
5. Connect with Investors and Strategic Partners
6. Lead the industry forward
7. Encourage Positive Change

UbisoftUbisoft Canada has announced that several of its upcoming titles will be featured at E3, along with several yet-to-be-announced titles from across the Ubisoft network. Games exhibited at the Ubisoft booth will include the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed™ Brotherhood, Shaun White Skateboarding, Tom Clancy™ ’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier™, the next iteration of the blockbuster franchise Driver®, and many other titles that are yet to be announced. Ubisoft’s website will host select information sent directly from Ubisoft’s booth at E3 as well as the press conference, giving fans access to exclusive interviews and trailers of Ubisoft games.

To kick-off its E3 activities, Ubisoft will host a press conference at the Los Angeles Theatre on Monday, June 14, 2010 at 5 pm (doors open at 3.30 pm). Ubisoft is thrilled to announce that Joel McHale, star of NBC’s “Community” and E!’s “The Soup.” will return as the host of its E3 press conference. The press conference is by invitation only to Ubisoft partners, investors, retailers and select media. Attendees will be treated to live demonstrations of Ubisoft’s upcoming releases and special guests in this not-to-be-missed event that will set the tone for one of Ubisoft’s most impressive line-ups to date. Toon Boom

Toon Boom Animation has put many of their creative software titles on sale – check out their limited time specials – they will be ending soon. Also available today is a very cool “how-to” article on rotoscoping for beginners – a process that could even help me make an animation, and I definitely can’t draw.

Electronic Arts Inc. and Black Box Studios have announced that Need for Speed™ World, the massively multiplayer online action racing game, will go live on July 20, 2010. Need for Speed World thrusts gamers into an enormous, socially-connected white-knuckle Need for Speed experience featuring an all-new power-up system and deep RPG style progression. Need For Speed World

Beginning July 20th, Need for Speed World will be available as a free client download, which will give gamers a taste of the action with access to all races, pursuits and career progression up to level 10.

Players looking for the ultimate experience can purchase the Need for Speed World Starter Pack which includes a credit for $20 worth of SpeedBoost, full access up to level 50, a bundle assortment of power-ups like Nitrous and Traffic Magnet to help you get started, and an exclusive limited edition vehicle – all for MSRP $20.00 (*Conditions and restrictions apply. See details at point of purchase). Owners of the Starter Pack also get the added benefit of being able to purchase items like power-ups, double XP periods and even rental cars starting at just a few cents.

Players who pre-order Need for Speed World will have a one-week headstart to the game on July 13th, Need For Speed Worldwith increased Rep (XP) gain for the duration of the headstart event and guaranteed access to all upcoming Need for Speed World beta events. Finally, players will also be able to reserve their driver names in advance of the game going live and have VIP status permanently displayed in their driver profile. Pre-orders are available now at EA’s Online Store or at participating digital retailers nationwide.

Need for Speed World brings together best in class action racing with an unparalleled social experience. Players can compete against any one of their friends, family or pick from thousands of top ranked players to challenge in intense online battles and police pursuits across 150 miles of sprawling open world. Need for Speed World combines new content with the most popular cities from Need for Speed Most Wanted and Need for Speed Carbon to create the biggest, most exciting race world ever released in the Need for Speed universe.

TransGamingLos Angeles-based Riot Games have announced that they are working with TransGaming, Inc. to expand their debut title, League of Legends™, and releasing a version for the Mac that will be available for download this summer. The new Mac version of the session-based online multiplayer strategy game, powered by TransGaming’s Cider™ Portability Engine, will bring millions of Mac owners the same fast-paced gaming action that more than one million PC gamers have enjoyed since the game launched in October, 2009.Cider Portability Engine

“Millions of gamers across the world are accessing their gaming content on Macs but until now they have not been able to play League of Legends,” said Brandon Beck, co-founder and CEO of Riot Games. “The first competitive phase of the game will be kicking off this summer, and we’re excited that Mac gamers will also be able to participate and have a chance to vie for top prizes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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26th May 2010

Babel Media Expanding Its Montreal Facility

Anime NorthHey all of you anime, cosplay and gaming fans – don’t forget that the Anime North Convention is happening this weekend in Toronto.  Speaking at Anime North will be writer/actor Benjamin Israel, who will be showcasing his new cartoon-series-to-be The Dark Comedy. Benjamin will discuss his struggles to turn an idea into a television show and his journeys in trying to find a market for his creation. On a side note, Anime North has issued a scam alert – an anonymous third party group is claiming that they have purchased a bulk quantity of memberships and are selling them to unsuspecting anime fans at a discount. Please be aware that these convention passes are fake, and you will not be able to get past the front door at Anime North if you’ve bought one of these counterfeit memberships. Play it safe and purchase your convention passes directly from Anime North.Province of BC

Digital media developers in BC will be pleased to know that Bill 19, which includes the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit in Part 10, has passed its third reading in the Victoria legislature and is now officially on the books. The Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit was announced by the Provincial Government in February, and through the diligent efforts of the BC Interactive Industry group, this new incentive will assist BC’s digital media companies as they move forward with new projects.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble Inc. announced today that Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon have been re-released to the iTunes Store and now have iPad support, so that you can now experience the books that started the massively popular series, which has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, on your iPhone or iPad. Fighting Fantasy fans will love the classic story and original illustrations with a technological twist. No more dice, pencils, or bookmarks.

Fighting Fantasy readers will be excited to know that Big Blue Bubble will be releasing Fighting Fantasy: Citadel of Chaos shortly.Deathtrap Dungeon Congratulations also to Big Blue Bubble on both of these games as well as another BBB title, Thumpies, being nominated to the Long List for the 2010 Golden Joystick Award in the Portable Game of the Year category.

Updated Features:

• New! Universal app iPad support
• New! Scrolling image gallery of unlocked in-game art
• Tap the on screen buttons to flip pages (No papercuts!)
• Shake to roll the 3D dice using the accelerometer
• Inventory items selectable via touch-screen
• Game-save feature allows you to retrace your steps
• Includes both original illustrations by Ian McCaig and digitally re-mastered versions
• Integrated iPod music library access

Banff World Television FestivalIan Brennan, co-creator of the hit series Glee is coming to the Banff World Television Festival to discuss the show that is redefining TV drama.

Learn about the creative process behind a show with an extreme cult following and fanatic fans who are watching, buying, and loving everything “Glee”. Join Ian for a sneak peek at Glee’s next season and potential story lines for the cast as he speaks about:

* The inspiration for writing Glee
* The importance of seamlessly incorporating musicality into the storyline
* Product placement, CDs, tours, downloads and how they affect today’s TV market

babel mediaBabel Media is rolling out the next phase of its global expansion by significantly expanding its Montreal and New Delhi facilities as well as adding new positions in its Tokyo facility. By continuing to grow around the world, Babel is able to meet the game industry’s increasing need for flexible external resources providing immediate cost savings over in-house staff.

“I am really delighted to be able to announce our continued expansion around the world” said Richard Leinfellner, CEO of Babel, he added “Babel’s expansion is all about putting people in the right place, or “right shoring” as we call it, this means offering our clients cost effective locations where we can deliver high quality services, helping them to improve their profits by giving them the much needed flexibility and allowing them focus on their IP generation.”

As part of the expansion in Montreal, Babel will build extra test labs to accommodate testing on next generation motion controllers, and create new employment opportunities for functionality and localization games testers, as well as project managers and integration engineers, as the company continues to increase its North American client base. This expansion means Babel is recruiting for its PC, Console, Online and Handheld test labs, native speakers of French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Swedish, for full time or part time positions. Babel will provide its industry recognized in-house training, plus for recruits wishing to relocate to Babel’s Montreal facility, Babel will assist with relocation & visa assistance.

wattpadToronto-based Wattpad, the world’s most popular ebook community, has released the Q1 2010 edition of its Global Ebook Metrics Report. This comprehensive report covers both desktop and mobile ebook usage of subscribers from over 160 countries.eBook Consumption

“Reading an ebook now involves much more than just reading fiction online. Our readers are mobile and interact with writers and one another, generating communications which are critical to driving the popularity of ebook titles,” explains Allen Lau, CEO of Wattpad. “We continue to see tremendous growth in the number of readers who are accessing ebooks and participating in the ebook community through mobile devices.”

Report Highlights:

– Interactions among users positively contributed to the viral effect and popularity of stories and writers
– English speaking users are far more likely to interact with other members of the ebook community than users of other languages
– In addition to reading ebook content, over a third of total users have interacted at least once with other community members
– iPhones were the most popular device to access ebooks in English speaking countries. Additionally, we saw considerable growth in the use of iPhones in both Japan and Spain Read the rest of this entry »

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25th May 2010

United Front Games Has Their First Title On Store Shelves

ModNation Racers Happy Launch Day to everyone over at United Front Games – Congratulations on your first official “Game Now On Store Shelves” milestone, and we wish you every success with ModNation Racers as it karts its way into homes around the world – now on to True Crime!

Vancouver Innovation CampThe next Innovation Camp will be held on May 29th and 30th at Bootup Labs. Get your tickets now for a great workshop that will challenge assumptions, connect ideas, embrace failure and see problems as opportunities for creative solutions in order to take your entrepreneurial venture to the next step. Tickets for Innovation Camp are $119.00 and can be purchased online.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets are also still available for the Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation of Alice in Wonderland: Creating Underland. Taking place on May 25th at the Empire Theatre Granville, this session features two presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members. Please note that online ticket sales for the seminar are now closed, but you can still get tickets at the door.

ICAOur friends over at AnnexPro have just told us about two upcoming seminars for Final Cut Pro editors. Presented by the International Colorist Academy, these two courses will be taking place in Vancouver beginning on June 7th. The first course, Apple Colour, will be held on June 7 & 8th, while the Colourist Strategies session will be held June 9th through 11th.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) today announced the American Idol Star Experience game will be available as a free download on May 26th to coincide with the Season 9 finale of the smash hit American Idol™ TV show. The game enables fans to continue their Idol obsession as they unleash their creativity by producing jaw-dropping online performances for family, friends and the whole Facebook community to rate and compare against other players.

Idol enthusiasts simply use their existing Facebook login to create a game account to access the free Performance Creator download for PC. The Performance Creator enables players to design their own unique stage performance, including building a custom avatar from head to toe, choosing a song to sing from dozens of hits, choreographing dance moves, and directing a multitude of staging elements like camera angles and special effects. The player can then post the performance to Facebook with one click, to be rated to see how they compare to other performers in singing, styling and staging categories.Play American Idol

Members of the Facebook community can also enjoy the American Idol Star Experience game in a highly social context as members of the “audience” view and rate performances, choose favorites, leave comments for performers and discuss the best (and worst) of the performances- all within the Facebook environment.

“We are excited to release a unique game experience based on American Idol, one of the most important entertainment franchises in the world,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “American Idol Star Experience reinforces our existing multiplatform game strategy, now seamlessly integrated with robust social features.”

American Idol Star Experience features:

* A free downloadable Performance Creator, available via players’ existing Facebook account.

* Personal avatars that players build head to toe, including body type, face, eyes, hair and more.

* Dozens of hit songs available in a wide variety of genres to suit all musical tastes including rock, punk, pop, hip hop, disco, R&B and country.

Players can achieve further customization of all elements of a performance via a simple “drag and drop” interface, including:

* Recorded singing- Players can select pre-recorded voice tracks, or use their own voice to sing karaoke-style.

* Personal styling- Hundreds of hair styles, wardrobe items and accessories to choose from.

* Unique staging- Stages modeled after the famous American Idol stage, with special effects, lighting, camera angles, dance moves and props that players can craft to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

* Social interaction within the Facebook community as members of Facebook can visit the game’s page to view and rate performances based on singing, styling and staging criteria. Players have also the ability to invite select Facebook friends to a private viewing of their performance.

“After more than eight top-rated seasons on television, the Emmy-award winning American Idol is one of the most successful properties on TV,” said Olivier Delfosse, Director, Interactive, FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for the program. “We are pleased to extend American Idol to both the existing fan base and new audiences alike with a highly immersive game experience that further deepens consumer engagement with the franchise.”

Ubisoft Montreal has released the North American trailer for Shaun White Skateboarding, which is scheduled for release this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

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24th May 2010

Murphid Addiction Alert

Decapod StudiosI’ve spent the past week or so playing Murphid, the debut title from Vancouver-based Decapod Studios. Murphid’s game play is, to an extent, a mix of the Tetris and Collapse 3 styled games. It is also quietly addictive. Released on the XBox Live Marketplace on May 13th, Murphid is priced at a very reasonable 240 MS Points. In my opinion, it’s worth the price – plus there is a free demo available, so you can try Murphid before putting your points on the line.Murphid Arcade Mode

Murphid has a very short learning curve and does offer on-screen tutorial hints for the first few minutes of play – this is the game’s sneaky way of drawing you into its clutches. Don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy playing Murphid, and I think Decapod did a fantastic job with its development. I particularly like that there is no annoying music, just the game’s sound effects for audio. I can’t count the number of arcade-styled games in which I turn the music completely off because it grates on my nerves. Not so with Murphid. The sound effects fit pleasantly into the game play, and even losing sounds okay. This is nice when playing at the end of the day, winding down and trying to enter some semblance of relaxation mode. Jarring arcade music just doesn’t seem to help with that.

The UI for Murphid is bright and colourful, and there are really only two things that I would like to see added – a time counter for Survival Mode and for Microsoft to enable achievements for indie titles. Survivor Mode does tell you how many lines you’ve survived, but in my opinion, a timer would be better. Murphid also rewards players with the following eight awards:Murphid Awards

Me Not Noob – Break 600 marbles
Take The Red Pill – Complete the 1st stage in Campaign Mode
Anabolicious – Earn 300 power ups
Another Brick Off The Wall – Break 1000 blocker marbles
Serious Pam – Survive 30 minutes in Arcade Mode
Captain Darwin – Survive 60 minutes in Survival Mode
New Way To Say Hooray – Break 100 000 marbles
Friends Call Me Puffy – Earn 99 lives in Campaign Mode

In true “level up” fashion, each award has a progress line which shows you how close you are to winning it, and the awards fly out from the right whenever you hit a milestone. There is also a High Score board and there appears to be some very interesting characters who have been playing Murphid. I do believe that I have now taken over every spot on the board – at least on my screen.

Murphid Anabolicious ProgressMurphid’s game play differs from all of the others in that you are unable to rotate your game pieces. You can switch over to the next piece if it is more advantageous to your strategy, but there’s no rotating, and you cannot “slide” your pieces to the left or right, either. Unless you’re in Arcade Mode. Then you can “slide” – but only if you’re quick. Campaign and Survival Mode do not allow “sliding” but they do offer shadowy arrow tracks to help you place your pieces. To add to challenge, some of the marbles are “stapled” to each other, which means you must eliminate one marble to free the other. If you plan your strategy well, this can often work out quite well for you and result in some very large matches and resulting chains.

Campaign Mode has 12 stages, with each stage divided into 6 levels. The game saves automatically as each Campaign stage is cleared, with difficulty ramping up the further you get into the game. Difficulty comes with shortened room for clearance, a slightly faster Murphid Campaign Modemoving wall of marbles, and the addition of more colours to clear. The only time I had any difficulty with the additional colours was in the closeness of hue for the two variations of red.

Arcade Mode offers endless play – unless you fail to clear the marbles – again, with increasing difficulty the longer you play. Survival Mode is just what it sounds like – it starts off challenging and gets harder the longer you survive. For the curious, no, I have not won the Captain Darwin award yet. But I will.

There are several power ups to assist you with your game play. These randomly generated power ups include the standard row (fireball) or column-clearing (lightning bolt) bombs, as well as the non-discriminatory marble-blasting WMD (weapon of marble destruction) bomb. Another useful power up is the Chainsaw, which will clear a few marbles out of a column. This comes in handy for getting rid of overhanging marbles or X-blockers. Another power up will clear all of the X-blocker marbles, while the paint drop power up will convert several marbles, including the X-blockers, to match the colour of the paint drop. If you place this power up right, you can convert a very large number of marbles to one colour, allowing for an easy and large area clearing. Another power up will clear all marbles of one colour from the screen, which can also lead to some very nicely chain matches, and the multi-coloured Joker power up will Murphid Survivor Modecomplete a matched set for you, getting rid of more pesky marbles.

Rounding out your power arsenal is the coveted power medallion. Interspersed throughout various Campaign Mode levels, these medallions come in a variety of colours. Match its colour to capture the medallion, which then be iheld for you on the left side of the screen. These medallions come in very handy as they will clear half the screen for you should the marble wall advance past your defenses to the top of the screen. Players are also rewarded with bonus points for combo matches. Your current bonus multiplier is always displayed to the right of your screen.

According to Decapod’s dev blog, the studio is working on Murphid’s first update which will be available in a few weeks. One thing that I hope they do not change is the non-rotation of marbles. Some may see this as a fault, but I do not. I believe that the non-rotation factor makes the player (namely, me) pay more attention and come up with plans which I must deploy in rapid succession in order to stop the advancement of the Coloured Marble Liberation Army. Grab the demo, buy the game – either way, I recommend giving Murphid a go. I rate this title at 5/5 on the scale of puzzle games I will play over…and over…and over…

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21st May 2010

Canadian Hockey League Partners With EA Sports for NHL 11

Canadian Hockey LeagueThe Canadian Hockey League (CHL) in association with Electronic Arts Inc. have just announced a four year agreement that will see the league included in EA SPORTS™ NHL® products. The three regional leagues that make up the CHL, including the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), will all have their teams and players represented in EA SPORTS NHL 11 when it becomes available in retail stores this September.

Representing 51 Canadian and nine American teams with players aged 16-20 the CHL is the top development league in the world and the number one provider of talent to the NHL. 47% of all players selected in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft came from CHL teams. The 2010 NHL Entry Draft could mark the fourth straight year where a CHL player is selected first overall, with Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth EA SportsWhalers and Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires representing the top two ranked players by NHL Central Scouting.

“The CHL is very excited to partner with an industry leader like EA SPORTS to create a brand new way for CHL fans to associate with their favorite CHL teams and players,” said David Branch, President, CHL. “This opportunity also provides EA SPORTS fans around the world the ability to learn more about the next wave of NHL stars as they compete in the best development league in the world.”

“It’s exciting to have the CHL integrated into our game for the first time,” said Jordan Edelstein, VP of Marketing, EA SPORTS. “Their inclusion will make NHL 11 the most definitive and complete hockey experience available.”

Four of the last five players to be featured on the cover of EA SPORTS NHL Series games are CHL graduates including Patrick Kane, Dion Phaneuf, Eric Staal and Vincent Lecavalier.

The licensing agreement between EA SPORTS and the CHL allows the following to be included in NHL 11:

* Ability to play with all 60 teams that make up the CHL
* Names and Likenesses of players that are on the rosters of a CHL team
* Mastercard Memorial Cup
* CHL new RBK Edge Jersey design in NHL 11
* WHL, OHL and QMJHL logos and league structures
* The CHL integration in NHL 11 will tie to several modes in the game including Be A Pro, Be A GM,    Tournament Mode, Season Mode and Playoff ModeNHL 11

The EA SPORTS NHL franchise has won 22 Sports Game of the Year awards over the past three years. This year the NHL 11 franchise begins a new era with gameplay innovations that are set to deliver the most realistic, accurate and exciting representation of NHL hockey to date.

NHL 11 will be available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system with an MSRP of $59.99. It is developed by EA Canada in Burnaby, B.C. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

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21st May 2010

International Awards and New Releases

Digital LeisureDigital Leisure has officially announced Mix Superstar for the Wii. Expected to be available on WiiWare in 2010, and according to the game’s site, you’ll be able to create, mix and record your own royalty-free musical masterpieces right on your Wii™. Mix Superstar will allow you to export your music creations or download them to your computer so you can take them on-the-go. You will also be able to use WiiConnect24™ to send those hits to your Wii Friends or collaborate on mixes. Mix Superstar has full support for both the Logitech® USB Microphone and Wii Speak so you will even be able to add your own vocals.

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Wired WomanWired Woman Vancouver invites you to discover the value and learn effective strategies for Building a Community Through Social Media, a one-evening seminar taking place on June 14th at UBC Robson Square. Tickets for this event are $35.00 for members or $40.00 for non-members. Wired Woman costs nothing to join, so save a quick $5.00 by joining the network.

What is community in relation to the web? Community is beyond a blog, and a few people following you on Twitter. This evening will help you realize what the new meaning of an online community is, and why it holds an important spot at the new marketing table. Find out how the experts are building, engaging, and managing their communities.

Session Speakers:

Briana Tomkinson – Tenth to the Fraser and Fjord West
Carisa Miklusak – SoMedios
Chris Breikss – 6S Marketing
Mhairi Petrovic – Out-Smarts Marketing
Sibylle Tinsel – Club Fat Ass

If you are in Toronto, Wired Woman is hosting an evening event on June 1st titled Social Networking Your Way to Better Work with guest speaker Mark Swartz, author of Get Wired, You’re Hired.

This interactive session covers social networking techniques that are proven to increase your marketability. Get up to speed, find work faster and enhance your employee worth. During this brief but informative session you will learn how to:

* Leverage your virtual contacts for networking into the hidden job market
* Increase your visibility and presence
* Research employers for the inside scoop, giving yourself the competitive edge
* Build your professional brand online and merge this with traditional marketing material
* Boost your value as an employee using Web 2.0
* Differentiate yourself from your peers

namcoNamco Networks is excited to announce its ‘Win a PAC-MAN-themed smart car’ sweepstakes to celebrate the video game icon’s 30th birthday.

“Over the last 30 years, PAC-MAN has continued to evolve and be relevant with his fans—no matter the pacmandemographic or generation. Giving away a smart car that commemorates his 30 years is a way for us to show our appreciation to one of the many fans out there.”

From May 21 through August 20, participants from the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to visit PAC-MAN’s official site and fill out the electronic entry form. No purchase is required to enter but you must be at least 18 years of age. Further information on the sweepstakes, including official rules and regulations, can also be found there. The winner of the brand new 2010 PAC-MAN-themed smart car will be selected on September 3, 2010. *Note: At press time, the electronic entry form was not visible on the site. I haven’t been able to speak with anyone from Namco yet, but perhaps the form will become available on May 22, which Namco has stated online is the “official” birthday for Mr. PacMan.

According to Kenji Hisatsune, CEO of Namco Networks, “Over the last 30 years, PAC-MAN has continued to evolve and be relevant with his fans—no matter the demographic or generation. Giving away a smart car that commemorates his 30 years is a way for us to show our appreciation to one of the many fans out there.” Read the rest of this entry »

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20th May 2010

News As Diverse As Our Country

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund’s business policies are now available. This document, Appendix B: Business Policies (PDF), includes the following information:

Default Policy
Accounting and Reporting Requirements
Producer’s Fees and Corporate Overhead Policy
Completion Protection Policy
Production Insurance Policy
Standard Recoupment Policy
Treatment of Tax CreditsMIGS

The Montreal International Game Summit has unveiled its web site for 2010. Although much of the content is still focused on last year’s conference, more information will be available soon for the November 8 & 9th event.

IUGOSince the launch of Implode XL’s latest update which brought the level editor to the iPhone on May 11, 2010 (a little over a week ago), new levels have exploded into the game. IUGO is happy to share some exciting stats about the accumulating user-generated content:
Implode XL
There is now over 10x the amount of content for users to play. IUGO has done updates providing users with 170 levels to play, and there are now over 550 levels are being downloaded and played every day. In total over 100,000 levels have been downloaded and played to-date and over 2,300 levels have been rated by players.

“We are beyond pleased with the reception and engagement that our users have had with the newly launched level editor for Implode XL,” beams Sarah Thomson, IUGO’s Director of BD. “There are some incredibly challenging and creative levels being built and we’re excited that Implode XL fans now have fresh puzzles to solve all the time. We will continue to create games with compelling features that encourage user interactivity and a meaningful social layer. We’re just getting started!”

Implode XL featuring the new level editor for all iDevices is available on the App Store for $2.99 US.

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal is recruiting playtesters for its new PlayTest facility. If you live in or near Montreal, this could be a great opportunity for you to put all those hours of gameplay experience to good use. For those looking for other employment in the game development industry, Eidos Montreal also has a number of career positions open.

Need For SpeedThis morning on Twitter, Team Need For Speed announced a new build project with Vaughn Gittin Jr. This project involves a 1969 Mustang which Vaughn has been working on since December 2009. Team NFS unveiled a first look at the classic muscle car, which will be unveiled at SEMA 2010 as well as making an appearance in a future Need For Speed title. Check out the details and picture on the Team NFS blog.

MaRSMaRS, a Toronto-based not-for-profit innovation centre, is the newest addition to the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). The collaboration will enhance levels of technology commercialization and help develop successful companies in the digital media sector. The announcement follows on the Canada 3.0 2010 digital media forum in Stratford held May 10-11 where Industry Minister Tony Clement emphasized the importance of digital media to Canada’s economy.

“Bringing together MaRS and the collaboration network of the CDMN will enable powerful progress for digital media in Canada,” said Kevin Tuer, Managing Director of the CDMN. “Helping more start-up digital companies bring products to market and creating opportunities for growth in the Information and Communications Technology field is critical both for Ontario and all of Canada.”

MaRS advisors have been helping tech companies with advice, education, market insight and access to capital since 2006.

“At MaRS we are dedicated to furthering growth in the ICT sector by enabling the success of emerging technology companies,” said advisor Krista Jones, ICT Practice Lead. “We’re located in the heart of Toronto and have worked with hundreds of early-stage companies across Ontario to help them build their ventures into global successes.”

Together MaRS and the CDMN, which is headquartered in Waterloo Region and now connects nodes throughout Canada, will share and develop knowledge through surveys, data-mining and reports; develop programs to enhance entrepreneurial skills; promote the capabilities of digital media industries in Canada; and more. The CDMN was the organizer, with the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, of the Canada 3.0 2010 forum.

wavefrontWavefront and SFU Present Developing Apps for Symbian. This seminar is targeted at developers who would like to learn the basics about developing apps on the Symbian platform. According to ABI Research, more than 330 million cell phones run Symbian OS with a 48% global market share for smartphones. Developers will learn how to leverage the Symbian Horizon Program, an application-publishing platform that allows developers to write an application once and publish it in dozens of Symbian app stores worldwide, and how to port apps from other platforms to Symbian. This seminar will take place on the morning of May 28th at Discovery Parks in Vancouver. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Social Media ClubCurious about how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to enhance your business? Wondering what your competitors, customers, and prospects are talking about? Or unsure of how to tell what’s working and what isn’t? Join the Social Media Club Vancouver at Social Media 101 where the answers to all of these questions will be explored.

With three light-speed presentations: 20 minutes for lecture, 10 minutes for Q&A, join Guacira Naves, Kemp Edmonds, and Tris Hussey, the clutter will be cleared and you will gain the critical information you need to advance your social media plans. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th May 2010

Designing Assassin’s Creed II With Patrick Plourde

Many thanks to Patrick Plourde, Lead Game Designer at Ubisoft Montreal for an in-depth look at Patrick Plourde - Photo Credit: GDC 2010Designing Assassin’s Creed II. Presented by the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter last evening, Patrick’s presentation covered the main design focus followed to cram all of the great features and improvements we saw in Chapter Two of this very successful franchise.

The amount of development that went into Assassin’s Creed II is mind-boggling. With over 230 features and a dev team of over 300, just the massive amounts of data to keep a rein on would bury the uninitiated. Patrick stated that through the entire development process, the most Ezioimportant things to pay attention to are your game play pillars and the need to keep an honest perspective. He said that your game play pillars are used to create the challenge, while your supporting features give meaning and depth to the core, while exotic features are used to change the pace of the game.

Patrick also drew attention to the importance of play tests and making the most of the test feedback in the development of your title. Using a two-fold process of Qualitative and Quantitative Reporting will give developers a very good perspective of what gamers like or do not like, as well as how they are playing your game. The Quantitative portion focuses on data tracking and usability reports, which provide concrete information to orient discussion on data instead of personal opinions. Meanwhile, the appreciative, or Qualitative reports, give context to the data you’ve collected, and you can see what is working, what isn’t, and what changes need to be made so that the gamer can more fully experience (and enjoy) the mechanics of the Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodgame.

Patrick also touched briefly on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and how everything learned in the two previous Assassin’s Creed development processes helped the team work quickly through a very short ten month production window. A big part of this was the strength, scope and depth of the team’s design documents. He stated that it is very important to keep your documentation up-to-date right through until the end of the project. Paying attention to your development documentation will cut down on needless questions and distractions, as well as force you to think and keep track of the vision for your title. As has been stated in many, many game dev seminars – it is cheaper to fail on paper than in production – and Patrick reiterated this by saying how important it is to challenge every feature you want in your game on paper first. This is not a perfect process, but it will reduce risk to your bottom line. In reply to a question asked from the audience, Patrick noted that features drove a large part of the story, and have a big part in the future of where the Assassin’s Creed franchise is heading in the future. Too bad he wouldn’t expand on that future…just where is Assassin’s Creed III going to take us? Curious gamers want to know.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterSIGGRAPH Vancouver has two more upcoming events which may interest you. The first is Alice in Wonderland – Creating Underland on May 25th at the Empire Theatre on Granville. This session features Alice In Wonderlandtwo presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members.

The other upcoming SIGGRAPH Vancouver event, just announced last night, will focus on The ModNation RacersMaking of ModNation Racers. Featuring Clint Hanson, Lucas Granito and James Grieve from United Front Games, this panel presentation will take place on June 29th at the VanCity Theatre. Tickets will be available to members for $10.00 and $20.00 for non-members. As of press time, this event had not yet been added to the SIGGRAPH Vancouver web site, so you’ll have to check the association’s site later for ticket availability.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) have announced the availability of The Price Is Right game ($9.99) for the Sony PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on the PlayStation®Network. Players can now “COME ON DOWN” for their shot in Contestant’s Row, bid on items in 19 different pricing games, test their luck with spinning The Big Wheel, and experience the winner-takes-all tension of the Showcase.

“We are pleased to extend our tremendously successful The Price Is Right game to PlayStation 3 systems via the PlayStation Network,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This first game release is just the beginning for Ludia games on PS3™, and further reinforces our multiplatform game strategy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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