18th June 2010

Indie Game The Movie Project

Indie Game The MovieThis morning I found out about a movie project happening over in Manitoba (we live in a big country, sometimes it takes awhile for news to filter my way). The project, which is scheduled for a 2011 release, is called Indie Game: The Movie, and it is also listed on KickStarter, should you wish to support the movie project. According to the film’s site, the movie is “a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. It examines independent game developers as a way to understand the medium and the theory behind video games. Throughout, the film focuses on the human side of the creative process, EA Sportsand the connections between game and game-maker.”

Congratulations to EA Sports (Burnaby Campus) for being recognized with two Guinness Book of World Record awards. The first award was for Best Selling Soccer Video Game Franchise (FIFA with more than 68 million copies sold), and the second award was for the Earliest Console Sports MMO (NHL 09).

Canadian games did not get a lot of love from IGN in their 2010 E3 Awards. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood won for Best Action Game, defeating Vancouver-made Shank. NBA Jam won for Best Sports Game, beating out its studio mates NHL 11 and FIFA 11. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was nominated in several categories, but didn’t get the winning nod from IGN, and neither did Company of Heroes Online, which was beat out of the RTS category by Civilization V. GameSpot has yet to reveal their top picks for this year’s E3 – they won’t be revealing their winners until June 25th – but readers can nominate their favourite E3 games until June 21st, and then vote for the finalists for Reader’s Choice awards.

Government of CanadaThe Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is hosting a consultation with Canadians on the topic of cloud computing and its impact on the privacy of consumers. The consultation, the third in a series, will take place on June 21, 2010 in Calgary at the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. This event, which begins with registration at 08:00 MDT, will also be broadcast live on the Web, and media and the public will be able to submit questions via e-mail and Twitter with hashtag #priv2010 or follow @privacyprivee.

The aim of the consultations is to learn more about emerging technologies that touch on the privacy of consumers, and to stimulate further informed debate. Previous OPC consultations examined the privacy impact of online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by marketers and other businesses.

Even though the call for Cloud Computing submissions closed April 15, 2010, we would be pleased to receive additional written contributions in order to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to respond to what is said at the Cloud Computing consultation event.

UbisoftThere is a new republishing deal agreed between UK games publisher Focus Multimedia and Ubisoft which will further cement the long-standing partnership between the two publishing giants and will see key Ubisoft titles of recent years launched on PC in the UK under the Focus best-selling ‘Essential Games’ label.

PR & Marketing Manager for Focus, Alan Wild says, “Ubisoft has a well earned pedigree with some truly exceptional titles, and they are excellent to work with. Focus has an established reputation and a long history of success in the budget sector. In combining our areas of expertise we have created the perfect mechanic to deliver quality games to both retail and consumers, enhancing the purchasing experience with choice and value for everyone.”

With its masterful storytelling, sprawling environments and incredible set-piece moments in an experience rivaling the best blockbuster Hollywood movies, Prince of Persia® is the first of the newly agreed titles to be launched.

Further Ubisoft titles are destined to receive the Essential Games release treatment over the coming months. Amongst others, these include games from the multi-million selling Tom Clancy series, and the highly acclaimed gamer’s favourite, Far Cry® 2.

koboKobo has released their ebook app for Android-enabled smartphones. Just like other Kobo applications, Kobo for Android is designed to provide the best eReading experience to customers around the world. This announcement furthers Kobo’s goal of delivering any book on any device. The service’s open standards mean that customers can access and read their books from a variety of devices.

“Now the fastest-growing mobile platform, Android has many new devices that are great for eReading and we’re excited to deliver Kobo to the millions of Android users around the world,” said Kobo CEO, Michael Serbinis. “We’ve adapted the features our customers love and expect from Kobo to ensure that we provide the best reading experience for Android-enabled smartphones. In the near future, Kobo will support other Android-enabled devices such as tablets, netbooks and eReaders.”

Kobo is available for free on Android smartphones through the Android Market. Kobo supports the ePUB standard including rich text and images, offering a top-quality reading experience. Existing Kobo users can login to their Kobo account and start reading their books right away. Additionally, there are over two million eBooks available for download through the Kobo store, including hundreds of thousands of free titles, classics, and today’s hottest bestsellers.

mcafeeCanadian rock/metal band Three Days Grace is the most dangerous 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards nominee to search for in cyberspace, according to Internet security company McAfee, Inc. McAfee researched today’s finest musical talents to reveal the riskiest 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards-Nominated Artists. The latest McAfee research found that searches for teen sensation, Justin Bieber pose less threats compared to others.three days grace

Fans searching for “Three Days Grace” or Three Days Grace-related downloads, wallpaper, screen savers, photos and videos have a higher chance of landing at a Web site that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest music artist news and downloads can cause serious damage to one’s personal computer.

“Cybercriminals watch stars too – they follow popular celebs to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise,” said Ross Allen, Canadian general manager at McAfee. “The fan’s obsession with music artist news, while theoretically harmless, can result in lots of computer damage at a mouse click.”

The MuchMusic Video Awards air Sunday, June 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET on MuchMusic. Cybercriminals are using popular music icons’ names and images, like Beyoncé, Jason Derulo, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry and Adam Lambert, to lure surfers searching for the latest stories, screen savers and ringtones to sites offering free downloads laden with malware.

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17th June 2010

Hamilton Institute for Interactive Digital Media Announced at E3

GlitchSoftOttawa startup GlitchSoft Corporation has launched their first title for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch platforms. BarStar is a casual, time management, bartending game similar in gameplay style to Sally’s Spa and Diner Dash, that allows the user to enter the world of owning their own bar.

The goal of the game is to quickly serve as many customers and collect tips and bonus points in each of the 35 timed levels. Using the bonus points earned from each level, players are able to barstarpurchase items to upgrade the bar and their bartending skills. By the end of 35 levels, the small, one roomed bar the game starts with will be transformed into a full fledged bar. Featuring an original score, stunning graphics and a deep story line, BarStar is an immediately addictive and engaging game.

“The gameplay is obviously something we have strived to keep engaging and entertaining throughout the entire experience,” says Wes Tam, founder and CEO of GlitchSoft. “Our biggest accomplishment was the innovative, multi-touch approach to mixing drinks that brings you deeper into the game.”

Features include:

– 35 levels of frantic bartending gameplay
– Mix drinks using our innovative multi-touch system. Drinks include beer and wine in the early levels and cocktails including Screwdriver, Caesar and Strawberry Daiquiri in the advanced levels.
– 12 unique customers and 4 secret guest stars with different styles and tastes
– Bar and skill upgrades based on performance with over 200 upgrades (??)
– Made especially for your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

BarStar is available internationally, and is currently on sale at an introductory price from the App store for $2.99.

Silicon KnightsToday at E3, Ontario game developer Silicon Knights announced its exciting collaboration with McMaster University, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) and Mohawk College. The partners will work to create a new research institute around interactive digital media that will pioneer and shape cutting-edge advances in the interactive entertainment arena. The initiative, called “Eight: The Hamilton Institute for Interactive Digital Media,” will be located at McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton and will debut in 2011.

The joint venture centers on the development of the “8th Art,” art that develops technology and creativity beyond the moving image, i.e. film, and adds interactivity. The Institute’s focus will be on the creation and integration of new technologies, new design and innovative artistic concepts for digital media applications. “Eight” will provide a nucleus where staff of Silicon Knights and the AGH and faculty and students at Master University and Mohawk College can move seamlessly between organizations on shared research projects and digital media development. Staff of Silicon Knights and AGH could participate in research, course development and teaching at the new Institute.

“By adding interactivity to moving images such as film (the ‘7th art), we are creating what Silicon Knights’ has dubbed for many years as the ‘8th Art’,” said Silicon Knights President Denis Dyack. “We have been promoting the ‘8th Art’ for many years, and are beyond excited to have aligned with three outstanding partners – McMaster University, AGH and Mohawk College – that share the same vision, and understand the need to grow the talent and resources in this arena.

The partnership brings together several prominent groups whose talents and synergies will result in a groundbreaking initiative. Silicon Knights brings its development and creative expertise, which complements the talented faculty at McMaster, a leading research-intensive university with a track record of world-class research and education capabilities. AGH, a leading public art gallery that positions digital art as one of its key artistic activities through research exhibition and education, has a solid track record of engaging, stimulating and enriching the community through art, and this expertise will be compounded by talented faculty and staff at Mohawk College, with its keen focus on and responsiveness to industry and market trends.

McMaster University’s President, Peter George, believes the partnership will be a catalyst in developing a critical mass of expertise in digital media. “We want to be known as the “8th Art” university, but to achieve that distinction will depend on effective collaboration with great partners,” he said. “Capitalizing on one another’s strengths will create unlimited opportunities for research commercialization, education and training, and economic development and job creation for our region.”

The council of Canadian Academies has identified new media as having the greatest momentum and the highest growth prospects of Canada. Worldwide the digital media sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the knowledge economy, projected to be valued at US $2.2. trillion over the next five years. This program will help grow the innovation and commercialization efforts in this key strategic sector of the new knowledge and creative economy.

“Mohawk College is pleased to be a part of this exciting new initiative that will bring together the best and brightest in the field of digital media,” says Mohawk College president, Rob MacIsaac. “It’s an initiative that will build on Mohawk’s long-standing partnership with McMaster University, draw on our college’s strengths in applied learning and research and leverage our ability to stay responsive to employer needs and industry trends.”

“Many innovative art forms today already incorporate practices and techniques from other disciplines, said Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of AGH. “A key difference here is this partnership extends to the entire process from research, production, dissemination, training and marketing of the end product. It will be most enriching for artists, students and the community to have the opportunity to work closely with world renowned researchers in science and technology and for the AGH to present their accomplishments as it proceeds in the context of an art gallery.”

creativemixCreativeMix is offering the chance for you to promote your creative project or venture this November 4th at CreativeEX, the exhibition at CreativeMIX – Vancouver’s annual ideation and creative collaboration conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

Meanwhile Back In Alberta

BiowareHot on the heels of Tuesday’s new DLC pack Overlord for Mass Effect 2, Bioware has announced a new DLC expansion for Dragon Age: Origins. In Leliana’s Song, players will assume the role of party-member Leliana, a young bard involved in a criminal ring that deals Lelianain political secrets. While accompanying her mentor Marjolaine on a high-risk mission, Leliana soon finds herself entangled in a game of intrigue that she cannot escape with just her beauty, charm, or stealth. The only way out of this game is to kill or be killed.

DLC Features:

* Explore Leliana’s dangerous past and why she joined the Chantry
* Fully voiced cinematic experience brings the characters to life
* Unlock a unique reward that transfers into your Awakening and Origins campaign

Digital Alberta has put out an official call for applications to become the association’s new Executive digital albertaDirector. There is also a career opening for the position of Executive Assistant. Interested parties are asked to please contact Larry Jacques, Digital Alberta President,  with your resume if you wish to apply.

Alberta’s 2nd Annual All Associations BBQ will be held on Tuesday June 22nd at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre.  Members from 26 industry groups, ranging from such sectors as research, marketing, gaming, investment, design, arts, hi-tech, media, magazine, music, book, tv and film will get together at 5pm for some great food and awesome networking.

Alberta ICTThe Alberta ICT Council will also be hosting a Digital Economy Symposium Luncheon which will offer an overview of the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures initiative, followed by an afternoon symposium on building Canada’s digital media economy. Recommendations will be submitted to Industry Canada as part of their cross-Canada consultation process associated with their Digital Economy strategy announced in May at Canada 3.0. Luncheon presentations also include a welcome by the president of Olds College and a review of sector activities by the Alberta ICT Council. This signature luncheon provides an opportunity for Alberta ICT sector stakeholders to meet and discuss the Alberta Innovates program and related opportunities open to Alberta’s ICT sector. The luncheon will be held at the Olds College Alumni Centre on June 25th and will begin at 11:45a.m. Tickets are available now for $30.00

If you couldn’t make the trek to Banff for the 2010 World TV Festival, fear not – you can find lots of great Banff World Television Festivalarticles, videos and photos online at the Festival’s web site, from opening day to closing BBQ. There have been a number of great announcements since this year’s event began. One such announcement came from the National Film Board, who added to their long legacy of avant-garde technical and creative firsts when Government Film Commissioner & NFB Chairperson Tom Perlmutter, Rob McLaughlin – Director, Digital Content and Strategy, English Program, and Hugues Sweeney – Advisor and Conceiver, Digital Programming, French Program officially launched Interactive.NFB.ca at Tuesday’s NFB Lunch.NFB interactive

As noted on the Banff 2010 Highlights page, Interactive.NFB.ca is a site that hosts a growing “collection of projects – interactive documentaries, video and animations, photographic art and essays, data visualization, mobile and locative media, community media and user-generated media,” which aims to support content that has yet to be, or may never be broadcast . Not without risks, the site is an ingenious way to facilitate conversations and collaborations for creatives in this new media landscape.

Congratulations also to all of this year’s Rockie Award Winners:

2010 Rockie Awards for Fiction:

Entertainment Categories:

* Animation: Le Printemps de Melie/ Molly in Springtime, National Film Board of Canada in association with Folimage, PIWI, Divertissement Subsequence Inc – Canada
* Comedy Programs: Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Table Read, HBO Entertainment, Home Box Office – USA
* Music & Variety Programs or Series: Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, Glassbox Productions, BBC – United Kingdom Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

More Canadian E3 Goodness

Canada Media FundConfused about the Canada Media Fund? There’s a conversation going on over at Christine Lim-Labossiere’s site, Pentimento Productions. Christine is working on an initiative to assist Digital Media companies who would like to access the new Canada Media Fund-Convergent Stream, and she invites all interested parties to share their thoughts. As announced earlier this month, the CMF has extended its deadline for applications to its Experimental Stream has been extended from June 21 to July 5, 2010.

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have released a new trailer for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which is scheduled for release on June 30th. A unique and stand alone piece of content, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero will introduce players to the main protagonist, Chuck Greene, and game play features of Dead Rising 2 ahead of its release. Available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners via Xbox LIVE, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is set two years after the Willamette incident chronicled in the original Dead Rising and three years before the action of Dead Rising 2. Players purchasing Dead Rising 2: Case Zero who then go on to buy Dead Rising 2 will be able to carry over character attributes earned such as Player Level, to a maximum of five, Prestige Points alongside skills, Combo Cards and a number of alternate outfits. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is not yet listed in the XBox Marketplace.

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TransGaming, Inc. has announced the redesign of its Mac digital distribution portal, GameTreeOnline, as well as the release of exciting new Mac games. As at E3 this week and on our site yesterday, GameTreeOnline features two new Disney Interactive TransGamingtitles, Toy Story 3 and Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey. Both titles are available immediately and only from GameTreeOnline as digital downloads. In addition, GameTreeOnline will release Her Interactive’s first award-winning Nancy Drew franchise title for Mac on June 29, 2010.

These new releases complement two new Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games from Riot Games and LEGO®, League of Legends and LEGO Universe, respectively. The Mac enablement and deployment of high quality franchises, such as LEGO’s first ever MMO title, clearly define TransGaming’s leadership position and adds to the company’s growing collection of award-winning titles that have been enabled for the Mac community using TransGaming’s Cider Portability Technology.

“TransGaming’s announcement of these new games coming to the Mac, at this year’s E3 Conference, clearly demonstrates to the gaming community that leading publishers are pursuing the Mac platform and are focused on releasing a simultaneous PC/Mac hybrid product,” commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “We have maintained our commitment to giving Mac gamers the highest quality gaming content and we are bringing these incredible games to the Mac simultaneously with their PC counterparts, which is possible only through our portability technology. TransGaming is truly delivering on the promise of a low-touch enablement technology for simultaneous multi-platform releases.”

Propaganda GamesDisney Interactive Studios have released the E3 trailer for Propaganda Games‘ upcoming epic, action role-playing game Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, which will give gamers an entirely new experience within the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. The game takes place before the events of the blockbuster films. Players will take on the role of a pirate and embark on epic land and sea adventures. Numerous moral and character choices will need to be made that affect their character and the original story within the world. Players will explore a massive open world while fighting enemies, mystical creatures and Mother Nature, both to gain experience and stay alive. Supernatural elements familiar to the Pirates of the Caribbean world will also affect their character’s story and influence their choices. Armada of the Damned is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2010 for next-gen consoles and Windows PC.

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“Armada of the Damned is a dynamic action role-playing game that captures all of the franchise’s excitement, unpredictability and action while delving into narrative elements never before explored within this unique universe,” said Dan Tudge, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “Our team’s collective experience with industry-leading RPGs and action titles provides a strong foundation for us to create and build a compelling action role-playing title.”

Disney Interactive has also released a new and innovative E3 2010 trailer for the TRON: Evolution video game that connects the storyline of the game and the film. The piece features the voice of Bruce Boxleitner as the character TRON, who takes the player through their paces and prepares them for immersion into a world they’ve never seen. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design

Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design
Title: The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design
Authors: Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten
Publishers: Watson-Guptill Publications
Year: January 2008
Softcover: 260 pages

The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design is mistitled, but only slightly so. For any designer or writer with aspirations of success in the gaming industry, this book will aid them. However, the book should not be the last guide an amateur buys,i nor the first. The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design is not ultimate, simply thorough, with solid advice for both novice and veteran writers. The book’s great weakness is that its authors only seem able to address half of their audience at a time; this is no one’s ultimate guide.

Each half is well-written and concise, if festooned with typos. The first half provides a walkthrough of the process of developing a strong, marketable property, and the second half teaches its readers how to see that property through the corporate minefield. The first half errs on the side of simplicity; it’s difficult to conceive of a would-be game designer unaware of the basic history of video games, or who would need to be reminded of the difference between onscreen and offscreen dialogue. A newcomer will benefit from the learning exercises provided, if they’re the sort of writer who works well with templates, but writers who fancy themselves experienced creators may find Dille and Platten’s fill-in-the-blanks approach demeaning.

The second half of the book contains valuable advice for staying hired at a development agency, but their suggestions about how to ease into the industry are not only basic, but common. Even a reader completely unconnected to the industry will find their advice rather obvious; in 2010, it is unlikely that aspiring designers are not already aware of their need to network and check for jobs online. Fresh hires will find the chapter on the various uses of lawyers, managers, and agents useful, but only if they can afford them, and the glossary will be useful only so long as the references are relevant—and references to plot devices like the Giant Rat of Sumatra may not be relevant as long as the authors seem to think.

The guide may be penultimate, but it does have its strengths. Dille and Zuur Platten both are warm, considerate writers who want their readers to succeed in the field. But the odds of any novice being guided to chairmanship through this guide alone are slim to none. The readers and writers both would be better served through an expansion of this book into a two or three volume set to give the writers the breathing room to be more cohesive, and the vast scope of readers more distinct attention. Dille and Zuur Platten have the necessary skills and ambition to make an ultimate guide to videogame writing; this just isn’t it.

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15th June 2010

Ubisoft Montreal to Develop Titles for the New Nintendo 3DS

Propaganda GamesPropaganda Studios is at E3 in full force, with both of their currently in-development games being showcased at the Disney Interactive Studios booth. Oh and by the way, Propaganda is hiring.

The TRON universe is coming to additional platforms than previous transmissions revealed. Tron EvolutionDisney Interactive Studios today announced the development of TRON video games for Wii™, Nintendo DS™ and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. These games complete the TRON video game portfolio this year from Disney Interactive Studios, joining the previously announced TRON: Evolution for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

Set during the era between the two TRON films, TRON: Evolution conveys a story of significant events within the TRON mythology. The game features an epic adventure across the massive digital TRON world filled with high-mobility disc-based combat and light cycle action. The TRON: Evolution games will be released in Holiday 2010 before the “TRON: Legacy” film hits theaters on December 17 in Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.

TRON Evolution – Battle Grids (Wii), TRON: Evolution (DS) and TRON: Evolution PSP are action packed games set within the combat arenas and mysterious cities of the TRON world. All game versions give fans a unique way to battle and explore the TRON universe alone or with friends and family.

“These games offer unique experiences within the TRON universe that are ideal for their individual platforms,” said Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing, Disney Interactive Studios. “TRON is an exciting, dynamic property that appeals to interactive entertainment fans of all ages.”

The TRON games for Nintendo platforms (TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids for Wii and TRON: Evolution for DS), include games and art styles appropriate for a wide audience, including families and kids. While Propaganda is the primary developer, the studio has partnered with n-Space Inc. and SuperVillain Studios, both located in the USA, to deliver this wide range of games for the new generation of TRON titles. Armada of the Damned

Propaganda’s other new title, Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned (2011) is an epic action-role playing game that lets players decide what type of pirate legend they want to become. Will they become Legendary, or Dreaded? Set before the blockbuster films, the game is a deep action-RPG that lets players carve out their own story in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. In development for the PS3, Xbox 360 and the PC, Armada of the Damned casts players off on a journey where they will encounter numerous memorable characters, both original and familiar.

TransGamingTransgaming has just announced that new titles for the Mac are now available at GameTree – Disney fans can now pick up Toy Story 3 and Disney Princess Enchanted Journey at GameTree Online for $29.99 and $21.99 respectively.

Here is a look at the E3 2010 trailer for Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, coming to the 360 from Relic Entertainment.

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UbisoftA new 3D version of Assassin’s Creed will be released by Ubisoft for the just-announced Nintendo 3DS. Ubisoft has also announced that the following titles will be available when the new handheld units go on sale: Hollywood 61; Battle of Giants™: Dinosaur Strike; Driver® Renegade; Assassin’s Creed™ Lost Legacy; Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory™ and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon™.

As one of the top independent publishers on the Nintendo DS™ and Wii™, Ubisoft is also one of the first major publishers to invest hieavily in development for 3D. “Nintendo has created a new portable console that will allow easy and affordable access to 3D technology,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “The portability and freedom from glasses of the Nintendo 3DS™ allows our creative teams to craft unique new and immersive games for all types of gamers.”

Ubisoft’s Nintendo 3DS line-up spans different genres of video games, allowing early adopters of the new console to find the style of games that they most enjoy:

* Hollywood 61 (code name): Live the thrill of mastering tailor-made mind games and become the obsession of a criminal mastermind in the first interactive 3D movie. Solve the deadly mystery with 150 classic and 3D puzzles.
* Battle of Giants™: Dinosaur Strike: 150 million years ago, Nature’s fury was unleashed, forcing Dinosaurs to fight for their survival. Dive into spectacular battles and deal powerful blows to your worst enemies. Master your fierce dinosaur and rule the cataclysmic Jurassic world!
* Driver® Renegade: The first and exclusive action driving game on Nintendo 3DS that lets you experience the intensity of urban car chases. As former cop John Tanner, you work outside the law to fight crime in the gritty streets of New York and defeat the 5 crime lords who own the city.
* Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory™: Sam Fisher, the renowned secret agent is back in this redesigned version of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Experience one of the most acclaimed games in the Splinter Cell franchise for the first time in 3D.
* Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon™: Lead the Ghosts, the most elite special forces unit in the US Army, across multiple tactical missions to prevent a war from breaking out.
* Assassin’s Creed™ Lost Legacy: Driven by curiosity and a desire to understand the origins of his Order, Ezio Auditore travels East in search of the lost castle at Masyaf, the ancient seat of the Assassins.

Ubisoft has also released more information about Shaun White Skateboarding, which will bring skateboarding to a wider audience, allowing players to transform a dull, lifeless city into their own extraordinary skating playground. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th June 2010

Symantec Releases Norton Online Family Report

Future ShopFuture Shop appears to be the first Canadian retailer to 360 slimbe accepting pre-orders for the new Microsoft Xbox 360 Slim Console in all of its sleek blackness. As Don Mattrick announced earlier today, the shelf price is indeed $299.99 and the hard drive is 250GB. The new console also has built-in WIFI and is said to be “whisper quiet” which is something my current Xbox 360 Elite is not. Future Shop has placed a limit of 1 pre-order per household, and the current estimated date of arrival is December 31 2010. Won’t it be a nice surprise when it arrives earlier?

Ubisoft announced during their E3 press event that Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved is in development exclusively for Kinect™ for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the game will be available at retail in Fall 2010. Using the power of Kinect™ for Xbox 360® and Ubisoft’s proprietary Player Projection technology, Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved will give players full control of Ubisofttheir fitness experience through voice and body motions. Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved will deliver a dynamic, interactive and convenient at-home workout tailored to each player’s individual fitness goals. The combination of Kinect™ for Xbox 360® with Ubisoft’s Player Projection technology will provide the player with unprecedented precision, feedback and results.

“Ubisoft’s Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved leverages the interactivity of Kinect™ for Xbox 360® to revolutionize fitness gaming,” said Felicia Williams, international brand manager at Ubisoft. “Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved is so precise, fun and interactive that players won’t even realize that they are getting a great workout while playing our game.”

Ubisoft’s Player Projection technology is a trailblazer for Kinect™ for Xbox 360®. The player’s real silhouette is projected on screen, not through an Avatar, making the player the main focus of the experience. Oh, joy. The player’s real body is tracked during the training session, enabling the game to give direct feedback, telling the player if they have reached the optimal position for the most efficient and immersive fitness experience ever.

Players will have the freedom to choose how they want to play and interact with Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved. They have the choice of working with a personal trainer, taking a variety of classes or getting the entire family involved with fun mini-games, such as dancing and target practice. At the start of the game, players will complete a fitness test and will be asked to input their goals. The game will then offer players a complete fitness program fully adapted to their goals and capabilities, and the fitness program will evolve and change as a players’ fitness level improves, keeping them motivated and challenged.

Players will also have the opportunity to work out with some of the best personal trainers in the industry in the comfort of their own homes without the cost of a gym membership. Michael George, Los Angeles–based celebrity fitness trainer and Michelle Bridges, trainer for all five series on Australia’s “The Biggest Loser,” will both offer workout classes at launch. There are also a variety of fitness class options, including yoga, Pilates, martial arts and boxing. In addition, Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved will also offer a wide choice of mini-games including dancing, ball games, balance games and hula-hoop. The mini games support turn-based multiplayer mode so players can challenge friends and family.

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Kinect™ for Xbox 360® puts you at the center of your favorite entertainment experiences, including fitness,” said Matt Barlow, general manager of IEB marketing for Microsoft. “The precision of the Kinect sensor will transform your workout routine by making you the controller, taking technology out of your hands to allow you to get fit and have fun in the most natural way possible.”

Your Shape’s online fitness portal will allow players to track and share all their workout data and will provide a centralized location for all fitness, wellness and training needs. It will host a thriving community where users can share their fitness challenges, interact with groups and stay inspired and Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodengaged. Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved will also offer new content online available on Xbox LIVE® Marketplace to refresh and continually develop players’ workout experiences.

While Your Shape: Fitness Evolved might look really cool, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood looks absolutely amazing. Ubisoft Montreal’s Patrick Plourde revealed that Brotherhood will exploit the full potential of horses – gamers will be able to ride them within cities as well as use them in combat. There will of course be new abilities and new weaponry, including the very useful cannon. This will come in handy, as Patrick stated that the enemy NPC AI has become more aggressive. I see much respawning in my future. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th June 2010

DrinkBox Studios Announces its First Original Title

drinkbox studiosToronto indie developer DrinkBox Studios has announced that its first original console title will be coming to the PlayStation®3 system via the PlayStation®Network toward the end of the year.

Tales from Space: About a Blob is a game about an innocent little creature that grows and grows until it eats the whole world. In development since January of 2009, the game features a monster movie setting and theme, a retro-inspired art style and puzzle-focused platforming gameplay.

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“Players will interact with the game environment using unique growth and absorption control mechanics, experiencing the world at vastly different scales as they progress. Both single-player and co-op play will be supported.” said Ryan MacLean, CEO of DrinkBox Studios. He continued: “We’re extremely excited to be releasing the game on the PlayStation®3 system.”

49 Pixels has announced plans for an open forum which will allow for the gathering of Pixel to Productpeople and facilitate an open conversation in regards to Canada’s digital economy. Please see the the Pixel to Product blog for complete conversation details. The first online conversation is scheduled for Friday June 18th at 4pm ET.

United Front GamesGrammy Award winning recording artist, producer and musician Pharrell Williams brings his unique blend of pop, hip hop and soul to headline the soundtrack for United Front GamesTrue Crime: Hong Kong, the company’s forthcoming open-world/action game. Also on the soundtrack is up and coming R&B, pop and jazz singer Rhea who frequently collaborates with Williams and has performed with N.E.R.D. With orders to “do whatever it takes to become one of them,” players assume the role of undercover detective Wei Shen as he engages in visceral, fast paced martial arts combat, explosive gunfights, high-octane action driving and acrobatic free-running chase sequences in order to infiltrate and bring down one of Hong Kong’s most notorious Triad organizations. In order to survive, Wei must think like them, fight like them, and even kill like them.

Bioware CorpThe Mass Effect™ 2 phenomenon rages on! BioWare™has launched a demo for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox Live® and PC. Designed to help introduce the rich Mass Effect fiction to all-new players, the demo features the first two missions of the game as well as one bonus mission, totaling over 90 minutes of the action-packed game play and rich storytelling that have made Mass Effect 2 one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. BioWare is releasing the demo with a “Story-so-far” video, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, that provides a recap of past events aMass Effect 2 Overlordnd plot twists in the Mass Effect universe.

In the demo, players step into the role of Commander Shepard and must escape from a Cerberus space station under siege. Players can jump ahead to a later mission where they must rescue Subject Zero, a hardened, dangerous criminal from a heavily guarded prison ship. Once they play the demo, players will be able to create a save and carry over their character along with the experience points, story decisions, achievements and weapons earned into the full version of the game – picking up right where they left off, on both PC and Xbox 360.

BioWare also announced today that the new DLC chapter “Overlord”, which will add five new areas and two new achievements will be available on June 15th for 560 Microsoft points and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Also on June 15, BioWare is releasing a new premium theme based on Omega and new avatar items for Xbox Live will follow on June 17.

“Mass Effect 2 is one of our greatest achievements to date at BioWare,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and Group General Manager of the BioWare Group, and Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts. “The Mass Effect team continues to deliver on our promise to add exciting new content to the universe for our loyal fans, and we’re also excited to be able to give all gamers a chance to experience this amazing game through a free demo!”

Down at E3, Target and Ubisoft have teamed up for an exclusive preview of four upcoming Ludiafamily fun games. Target’s Bullseye Lounge will feature two upcoming video game adaptations of the hit television game shows, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?™ and Hollywood Squares™. Playable on Wii™, these demos will offer Expo attendees a chance to engage in competitive gameplay. The new Who Wants To Be A Millionaire video game is created by Ludia and is based on the Disney-ABC Domestic Television hit game show, which will premiere its ninth season in syndication this fall. The Millionaire video game, on display in the Bullseye Lounge at E3, will put the brains of expo attendees to work as they compete against one another to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions. Visitors to the Bullseye Lounge will be able to experience the drama and intensity of the pop culture game show sensation first-hand, as they test their trivia knowledge and give their “final answers.” Read the rest of this entry »

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11th June 2010

Playboy Appears Amongst The Zombies

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have confirmed that there is a new partnership in place with Playboy magazine to have content from the iconic publication featured in upcoming title Dead Rising® 2, scheduled for release later this year for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and PC platforms.

Players who discover the Playboy magazine in the game will receive a unique and special upgrade for Chuck Greene, the main character in Dead Rising 2. Furthermore, players will come across Playboy ads and billboards that will feature specially selected issues from the magazine’s Playboy in Dead Rising 257-year history.

The new magazine system for Dead Rising 2, which will feature Playboy along with various other publications, is an evolution of the popular book system from the original Dead Rising game. Along with the special Playboy issue, there will be a variety of different themed magazines that Chuck will be able to pick up for bonuses to use to help fend off the zombie hordes along the way.

“The Sin City-type environment in Dead Rising 2, Fortune City, is a natural playground for the Playboy Bunnies,” said Seon King, Senior Director of Licensing for Capcom Entertainment, Inc. “We have integrated the Playboy brand throughout the game in ways that bring even more life to Fortune City and add to the user experience.”

Dead Rising 2 Playboy BunnyFor those unfamiliar with the premise of Dead Rising 2, former motocross champion Chuck Greene arrives at Fortune City, America’s latest adult playground, to participate in the zombie game show Terror is Reality, a gruesome test of strength and agility through excessive and imaginative  elimination of hundreds and hundreds of zombies. While in Fortune City, a zombie outbreak occurs and Chuck must survive the onslaught of the undead for 72 hours. Pitted against bosses and psychos – tens of thousands of zombies and the constant countdown of the clock – while potentially rescuing other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, players must also unravel the greater conspiracy behind the outbreak.

The Dead Rising® series is renowned for letting players pick up and use everyday items to fend off hordes of the undead, but Dead Rising 2 adds a new twist with combination weapons. Take Dead Rising 2 Playboy Magazinetwo objects, add a roll of tape plus the inventiveness and skilled hands of Chuck Greene and an innocent water gun and a can of gasoline become a deadly flamethrower, while a garden rake and car battery combine to create an electrified zombie prod. Using combination weapons to fend off hordes of the undead in fun and grotesque ways is only just the beginning as the more combo weapons a player uses, the more Prestige Points (PPs) they will rack up. Earn enough PPs and Chuck levels up which will helps him along the way.

Equally important is Chuck’s need to to find Zombrex, a drug that stops his infected daughter Katey from turning into a zombie. Players will decimate thousands and thousands of zombies in an increasingly outrageous manner in order to beat the clock and survive 72 hours in the darkly comedic, no-holds-barred confines of Fortune City.

June is also the month when we 360 players are supposed to get a prologue look at Dead Rising 2 with the availability of Case Zero, which was announced in February as being in the XBL Marketplace on June 30th (I am awaiting confirmation on the release date). Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, will introduce gamers to Chuck Greene and provide a link between the original game and the events that await players in the gambling paradise of Fortune City.

frima studioJune has been an incredible month thus far for Quebec’s Frima Studio. On June 1, Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec, Mr. Sam Hamad, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Minister of Labour and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, and Mr. Steve Couture, CEO of Frima Studio, have announced an investment of  two million dollars in the training of the Québec-based studio’s personnel, specialized in the development of video games. Half of this sum will be invested by the Government of Quebec via Emploi-Quebec and its envelope destined to large-scale economic projects.

“Quebec has become a destination of choice for many multinationals in the interactiveQuebec Government at Frima
entertainment industry. We are known around the world for our creativity and dynamism in that field. This fairly recent reality is owed to people of vision and passion; to people who get involved, and who dare take the necessary risks to build the companies that will, over the years, become symbols of pride for us all,” declared Mr. Charest.

The development of a video game requires the participation of experts in various fields. To ensure coherence and cohesion within the teams of artists, game designers, interface designers, animators, programmers and testers, each employee must develop a certain level of versatility within the framework continuum, which this training plan will enable. Read the rest of this entry »

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10th June 2010

Patrick Beaulieu Launches Animation Insiders

Just a reminder that if you haven’t already, time is running out on your chance to have your say about Canada’s digital economy strategy. This incentive is meant to benefit our Canadian digital industry, so get involved in the discussion today. digiBC has released the 2010 BC Digital Media and Wireless Survey report (PDF) which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report covers key sectors of British Columbia’s rapidly developing Digital Media and Wireless industries.

dabble dbTwitter announced earlier today that it has purchased Vancouver company Smallthought Systems, the powers behind Dabble DB and Trendly. A message on Dabble DB’s landing page about the sale of the company reads:

“Obviously this represents a new chapter in the life of Dabble DB, both for us as a team, and for the product itself. We’d like to assure you that, for now, we will continue to provide our software and technical support to current Dabble DB customers. However, we will be disabling new account signups effective immediately.

There will be further changes to Dabble’s ongoing operations, and when those happen, we want to do right by you. We will provide you with 60 days advance notice of any major change. We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that, at any time, you can export all of your data, including attachments, in a structured format suitable for import into other systems.”

animation insidersPatrick Beaulieu, Animation Artistic Director at Ubisoft Quebec City, has launched his first 3D animation collection book Animation Insiders. A rich and complete work of knowledge sharing, this collection of testimonials gives a lot of tricks and hints as well as anecdotes from renowned animators at Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Pixar, to name a few. The book is now available worldwide on sstudiopress.

“Gathering all these people from all over the world and putting together all of these testimonials was a lot of work, says Patrick Beaulieu, but the result gives us a privileged vision on what is going on back stage in animation. Each collaborator had a clean slate to share his experiences, works, methodologies, philosophy, etc…. even if some aspects are more technical, Animation Insiders remains open to a wide audience, from the animation fan boy to the experienced animator. Everyone passionate about animation, movies and video games will find himself in this book, he will also find details and insides about his favorite animation movies or games” he adds.

You will find testimonials, visuals and illustrations from 13 renowned animators such as:

Jason Ryan (USA, Dreamworks, Shrek 4)
Andrew Gordon (USA, Pixar, Nemo)
Jason Martinsen (USA, Animation Mentor, Ice Age)
Jason Schleifer (USA, Dreamworks, LOTR)
Anthea Kerou (USA, Dreamworks, Bolt)
Victor Navone (USA, Pixar, The Incredibles)
Ana Maria Alvarado (USA, Sony Image Works, Spiderman)
Mike Nguyen (USA, Rainplace, Iron Giant)
Pedro Blumenbaum (Spain, Nocturna)
Pablo Navarro (Spain, Nocturna)
Emilio Ghorayeb (Canada, New Breed VFX, Madagascar)
Matt Stangio (USA, Pixar, Toys Story 3)
Reno Armanet (France, Tigobo Animation)

gamesauceThe schedule for the GameSauce Conference has been posted to the web. This conference takes place on July 19th, immediately prior to Casual Connect Seattle (July 20 -22). Registration is $100.00 USD or is free to those registered for the Casual Connect Seattle conference. There are some great topics, panels and roundtable discussions on the slate, so plan to be in Seattle one day early in order to take advantage of this event. Along with the great topics being offered through the GameSauce Game Development Track, the following areas may also be of interest to you, and like me, you will need a clone in order to take it all in.

The Leadership & Professional Development Track, produced in partnership by Women In Games International, Women In Games Vancouver and Women In Games IGDA offers some great panels and roundtable discussions about career building and talent nurturing.

If game audio is your thing, The Audio Track, produced by Game Audio Alliance, has much to offer, and the Nvidia Tegra Mobile Game Development Track, which is making its debut at this year’s GameSauce Conference is a must for those looking for opportunities in the mobile market. The Alternative Funding and Exit Strategies Track, produced by The Corum Group is a four hour crash course discussing the positives and negatives of funding as well as what to do with your company once you are successful.

trainyardiPhone developer Matt Rix has released his first title in the iTunes App Store. Trainyard is a challenging puzzler that requires the safe movement of coloured blocks (trains) from one station to the next. Each of the 100 puzzles ramps up in difficulty, adding colour and track-changing blocks into the mix while you try to draw tracks from one locale to the next, hopefully avoiding train pile-ups. There are no set solutions to the puzzles, so you are free to try as many options as you like. Trainyard also includes bonus levels as well as the ability to share solutions that worked for you on the game’s web site. Trainyard is available now for only $1.99. Read the rest of this entry »

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