29th October 2010

The Friday Final Word

Congratulations to Bioware, EA Sports and Ubisoft Montreal for a triumphant run in the 28th Annual Golden Joystick Awards:

Action Game of the Year sponsored by Nuts – Assassin’s Creed II
RPG of the Year in association with GamesRadar – Mass Effect 2
Ultimate Game of the Year in association with GamesMaster – Mass Effect 2
Sports Game Of The Year in association with Mousebreaker – FIFA 10

Two Canadians have been named to the IGF Nuovo Award jury for the 2011 competition. Clint Hocking, formerly of Ubisoft Montreal now settled in at LucasArts, and independent developer Justin Smith, creator of 2010 Nuovo finalist Enviro-Bear 2000. The Nuovo Award is dedicated to honoring abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which advances the medium and the way we think about games. Now in its third year, the Nuovo Award allows more esoteric ‘art games’ from among the almost 400 IGF entries to compete on their own terms alongside longer-form indie titles, and has been newly expanded to include eight finalists.

Media Awareness NetworkMedia Awareness Network (MNet) has released e-Parenting Tutorial: Keeping Up With Your Kids’ Online Activities, an online resource to help parents better understand and become actively involved in their children’s online lives.

Made possible through financial contributions from Inukshuk Learning Plan Fund and Bell, this engaging interactive tool helps parents increase their awareness of the ways that children and teens are using the Internet for learning, entertainment and socializing, and the issues they may be encountering along the way. Through the exploration of five key themes – homework, cyberbullying, marketing, online relationships and excessive use – parents can develop the knowledge and skills they need to help their children navigate the Internet safely, wisely and responsibly.

“Parents often feel unprepared when it comes to helping their children manage their online lives,” said Jane Tallim, Co-Executive Director of MNet. “e-Parenting Tutorial is designed to instill the confidence they need to help their kids become thoughtful cybercitizens.”

This practical resource takes a light-hearted approach while tackling serious issues, with downloadable tip be web awaresheets and links to further resources to help parents out. The key message throughout is that parents need to talk with their kids about their online explorations and work together to develop ground rules that everyone can live with.

e-Parenting Tutorial is available for free on Media Awareness Network’s Web site. It is also available on Be Web Aware, an Internet safety Web site for parents developed by MNet in partnership with Bell. The e-Parenting Tutorial development and promotion partners are the Alberta School Councils’ Association, The Alberta Library and the Canadian Home and School Federation.

webcom Toronto 2010webcom is coming to Toronto next month, bringing decision makers together for a collaborative conference focused on empowering professionals from across industries to integrate digital communications into business planning. webcom-Toronto Don Tapscottfollows in the footsteps of internationally recognized webcom-Montreal, which is approaching its ninth edition. webcom-Toronto features a keynote address delivered by Don Tapscott, international best-selling author and chairman of nGenera Insight, focused on content from his new book Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World. He will examine how the evolution of new technologies, combined with the recent crises that have swept across industries have brought the world to a turning point.

webcom-Toronto will take place on November 3rd at the Chestnut Convention Centre. The conference opens at 8:00a.m. and runs until 6:00p.m., with the public welcome to visit free of charge after 3:00p.m.

Enter the GroupThe people at Project Education Technologies ask, “Have you ever worked on a group project from hell?” They claim many of us have been there at some point and asked if there was a better way to do things. This was their motivation in launching their new site, EntertheGroup.com.

Winnipeg-based EntertheGroup.com provides students and teachers with project management tools such as the ability to create their own group pages, event calendars, task management, project outlines, polls, checklists, file sharing and more. There are also important social networking features like blogging, instant messaging, a Q & A forum and Twitter feed.

The site enable teachers to create virtual classrooms which enable them to interact with students online, share handouts, post events (like exams) to a shared calendar, conduct polls and much more.

“Students typically complain about their group projects. Their biggest problems are free riders and group members who try to take over the group. Also, getting everyone organized and on the same page is problematic,” says Sal Pellettieri, CEO of Project Education Technologies, creator of the website.

“I built this site so that students could learn project management techniques and integrate them into the classroom. I think that many students are overwhelmed by their work and I think that the tools and advice the site offers will help a lot,” says Mr. Pellettieri.

An important feature of the site is that it’s free. Users simply have to register and they will gain access to all of the tools and the library of articles at no charge.

“I wanted students to be able to make use of this site and it’s unlikely they could pay for this service, so I made it free,” says Mr. Pellettieri.

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29th October 2010

Brotherhood Is Gold

Ubisoft® has announced Ubisoftthat Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood for the Xbox 360®  and the PlayStation®3 has gone “gold” and will be available at retailers in North America on November 16, 2010.

The critically acclaimed single-player experience of Assassin’s Creed is back and better than ever as Ezio returns for an epic struggle against the powerful Templar Order. Offering more single-player gameplay than Assassin’s Creed II, players now play as a legendary Master Assassin, and journey into Italy’s greatest city, Rome, center of power, greed and corruption to strike at the heart of the enemy.

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For the first time in the franchise’s history, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood offers never-before-seen multiplayer, awarded “Best Multiplayer Game,” by the prestigious Game Critics organization, at e3 2010. Players will have the opportunity to experience things from the Templar’s perspective when they step into the shoes of an elite Abstergo agent, hand-picked to undergo training in order to better fight the Assassins. Players can choose from a wide range of unique characters, each with their own signature weapons and assassination techniques, and match their skills against other players from all over the world in different Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodgame modes. The multiplayer suite coupled with an extensive single-player campaign makes Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood not only the best Assassin’s experience to date, but the best value as well.

“Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is the largest and most ambitious title we have ever created,” said Sebastien Puel, executive producer at Ubisoft Montreal. “Not only will players get a fully robust and upgraded single-player game that is larger than Assassin’s Creed II, but an award winning multiplayer component as well. Brotherhood is the biggest Assassin’s experience we have ever created.”

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is a worldwide production effort led by the Ubisoft Montreal Studio in collaboration with Ubisoft studios in Singapore, Bucharest, Québec City and Annecy. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is rated “M” for Mature by the ESRB and will be available at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $59.99.

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29th October 2010

ESAC Releases 2010 Essential Facts and New Promo Video

esacToday is a big day for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, with the launch of a new Canadian game industry sizzle video and the release of its annual guidebook to the entertainment software industry, ESAC 2010 Essential Facts (PDF). In this report, readers can find updated stats on the average age of the Canadian gamer, frequency of play, gender breakdown, preferred platforms and ways to play. The report also provides data on how online play, social games and mobile games are changing the gaming landscape. This annual publication also features relevant data about ESRB ratings awareness, family gaming and top selling games. Finally, Essential Facts gives an overview of the Canadian entertainment software industry with data on jobs, growth rate and annual contributions to the Canadian economy.

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The 2010 Essential Facts reveals that 39% of gamers (defined as someone who has played video games in the past 4 weeks) are spending more time playing games accessible through social networking websites.

Also of note is the fact that 7% of gamers use a mobile device (such as a cell phone or smart phone) most often to play video games – almost twice as many as in 2009 (4%). Gamers are also connecting their games with others through the Internet with 76% reporting online play.

“Social games are a growing part of the Canadian gamer’s repertoire – especially for ESAC 2010 Essential Facts PDF Reportwomen and teen girls – but they are only one of the many types of games that Canadians enjoy,” says Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC. “While we’re seeing a shift in how Canadians are playing games particularly towards online games, console and computer games remain the principal way to play,” she adds.

Social games are mostly free, widely available and accessible through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. These games – including popular ones like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Cafe World – are quick to load, take only a few minutes to play and grow virally as users invite their contacts to join in. Research found that 35% of adult women and 37% of teen girls play social games. 26% of girls (6-12yo) play social games, with 38% report spending more time playing these types of games.

The research was collected through a comprehensive Internet survey using NPD Group’s Online Consumer Panel. Data was obtained from over 3,500 Canadians across the country identified as having played a video game at least once in the past 4 weeks. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 1.6%, 19 times out of 20.

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29th October 2010

Mobilicity Launches Mobile Phone Bill Horror Stories Contest

mobilicityGetting gouged by wireless companies has become something of a feared tradition, based on the flood of mobile phone bill horror stories coming to light in new wireless carrier Mobilicity’s FMyBill contest.

Thousands of online voters have been flocking to Facebook.com/Mobilicity to rate the stories, which paint a less-than-flattering picture of the extra fees and unexpected charges found all too often on Canadian mobile phone bills.

Every FMyBill story puts a human face on consumers’ ever-growing dissatisfaction with wireless bills. According to Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services, Canadian grievances with wireless companies grew by over 15 per cent in the last year. Of the almost 4,000 complaints it received, 44 per cent involved billing errors.

South of the border, the Federal Communications Commission recently proposed rules requiring carriers to alert customers before they reach monthly usage limits and incur extra roaming charges. The agency has said it has received many complaints about mobile phone bills, including one that totaled over $68,000.

The FMyBill stories range from the sublime to the subversive and the comical to the combative:

Alicia G. writes: “My husband and I went to the US in July for vacation. I nagged him everyday to be sure to purchase the ‘roaming package’. He purchased the package for an extra $75 and my mind was put at ease…temporarily! The following month we received a bill for $1300! Now I suffer from Post traumatic stress, and have an attack every time the Rogers bill arrives.”

Faiqa K. writes: “I went over my allowable text limit and ended up being charged what I would say was about two week’s worth of groceries. I was soooo not happy about that and had to live off Mac and Cheese for a while. FMB!”

Oscar S. writes: “Okay, so I’m a victim of not seeing that small tiny piece of text that you can only see with microscopes that usually happens in cartoons, in the summer, I was using MSN all the time, during my summer job, and I sent over 2000 IMs, and Fido didn’t put this on my bill for 2 months, and in the third month, my bill was over $300! FMB big time.” Read the rest of this entry »

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29th October 2010

GameString Adrenalin Fires Up World of Warcraft for the Google TV

afterCADVancouver’s Aftercad is pleased to announce that the very first game of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been played on the new Google TV, using the GameString Adrenalin service.

“Using GameString Adrenalin, you can now play high quality game titles using the new Google TV.” said Chris Boothroyd, CEO of Aftercad. “The Google TV is pretty cool and we thought it could also serve as a great game console for people who would want to play games they already have on the big screen right along side all of the other great content available on the Google TV. Now you can have it all!”

Aftercad has recently expanded its 3D web publishing efforts to include GameString for game developers and Renderjam v2 for CAD and GIS 3D broadcasting and remote access. As cloud computing continues its assimilation of other verticals, developers are looking to cash in on the new cloud gaming methods being touted by the current crop of cloud gaming services. The technology used by Aftercad GameString is different than other cloud gaming efforts and delivers the ability to leverage the full power of Flash or HTML5 on the client’s computer or mobile device. This improves game performance and offers Game Publishers more options when designing and deploying games for the web.

“World of Warcraft is a popular game here with the staff at Aftercad so we felt it was appropriate that it should be the first 3D game played on the Google TV.” said Boothroyd. “It works really well and you can watch the YouTube Video here.”

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“Our GameString technology represents the next generation in cloud gaming as it doesn’t rely on downloads, plugins, java or obscure codecs to work. The proof is in the fact it works with the Google TV right out of the box while other cloud gaming services will have to write an app to run it on. For Game Publishers looking to leverage the cloud to spice up the production values for Flash based social games, it is clear our approach is the way of the future and the way to go.”

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28th October 2010

3vis Presents The Foundry Sessions and ICBC Launches Creative Contests

3vis3vis would like to invite you to a presentation about The Foundry, a leading innovator of visual effects and image processing technologies that boost productivity in motion picture and video post-production. The Foundry’s technology touches most Hollywood blockbusters that reach our screens, as well as numerous television and commercial productions. Discover all the ways the latest suite of software opens up new opportunities in film production and television. See the latest technology from NUKE, MARI and the new STORM digital production hub.

Pre-registration is required, and the first 50 arrivals get a free gift. There will be three free-to-attend sessions held across the country:

November 3: Toronto – The Fieldhouse at The Berkeley Church
November 4: Montreal – Centre des Sciences – Le Hall Panoramique
November 23: Vancouver – Caprice Night Club

icbcTurn on your camera or pull out your sketchpad – ICBC is calling on artistic youth to help spread road safety messages to their peers and, in return, they’ll be eligible to win some cool prizes. It’s clear that safer roads are a priority in B.C. with new laws introduced this year to ban handheld electronic devices while driving and tougher impaired driving laws and excessive speeding penalties.

“Car crashes remain the number one preventable cause of death for youth in B.C and that’s why we’re looking to youth to help create advertisements that will reach their peers and express the importance of making smart driving decisions,” said ICBC’s Nicolas Jimenez, director of road safety.

ICBC has launched two contests: the 180 Film Contest, for 19 to 25 year olds and the Your Ad Here contest, for high school students in grades 8 to 11. The contests ask these groups to create either a short film or a print ad on one of three road safety topics: impaired driving, speeding or distracted driving.

For the 180 Film Contest, the winners of the top three films in each safety category will receive prizes amounting to about $35,000 worth of filmmaking equipment and software. By visiting 180filmcontest.com, you can vote for your favourite entry and the most popular film will receive a people’s choice award. The contest closes December 31, 2010.

High school students with a passion for art are also being called on to get inspired and create a print ad for the Your Ad Here contest. The top winner in each region of B.C. (Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, North Central and Southern Interior) will win an Apple Macbook and their ad will be displayed on next year’s high school agendas in their region. Visit icbc.com/youradhere to vote for your favourite ad. The fan favourite will win an Apple iPod touch and the school with the most participation will win an Adobe Creative Suite CS5 software package. The contest closes on January 14, 2011.

voicesEarlier this week Voices.com rolled out Local Voices, a new service offering voice over talent an opportunity to market themselves directly to potential clients within their own city.

Local Voices utilizes Google Maps, Bing Local, and Yahoo Local Search, employing local map listings, Internet yellow pages (IYPs) and local franchise advertising. Voice talent who sign up for the service are able to expand their online visibility and drive qualified contacts to their profiles so that they can work with local producers in addition to the online casting calls that the site already delivers on a daily basis.

Local Voices helps streamline the casting needs for producers wanting to work with local talent, saving them time and money in audition costs. Local Voices eliminates the need for ‘cattle-calls’, allowing businesses, producers, casting directors, and agencies to do the preliminary research online, pinpointing the voice over talent that they would like to work with in a local recording studio.

“Local Voices brings our online presence offline, expanding Voices.com’s reach and enabling people to find talent through local searches on Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other prominent engines.” said David Ciccarelli, Voices.com co-founder/CEO.

This service is available to members of the Voices.com website who are at the Platinum or Premium level. To be included in the Local Voices service, members log in to their accounts, fill out the Local Voices form, and follow the simple directions.

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28th October 2010

New Titles Trailers and Expansions

Wild Games Studio Inc. has released the first Wild Games Studiotrailer for Dhaila’s Adventures, featuring Dhaila, a young girl and her extraordinary powers. She can absorb the DNA of other creatures, making the heroine able to acquire its shape at any time.This is the first of 2 trailers that follow and form a story.

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Orphaned in the fantasy world of Martania, Dhaila possesses unknown extraordinary powers. She has special skills, including one which can absorb the energy of nature directly through its DNA. She can also absorb the DNA of other creatures, making the heroine able to acquire their shape at any time. Living in one of these valleys, the village seems protected by an unknown magical force, more powerful than in other villages. Dhaila will leave to research her origins, while trying to release Martania of the influence of Dysan, a tyrant who has subjugated the people, forcing them to labour under the threat of the dragons he also holds sway over.

Wicked InteractiveLike most free-to-play games and massively multiplayer games in general, Mission Against Terror, published by Wicked Interactive, is serving up its own batch of Halloween goodies this year. New weapons, masks, costumes and items will be introduced for a limited time to spice up the battlefield and add a few tricks to everyone’s treats.

Halloween weapons include the “Hellfire Green” edition of the M134 minigun which is effective against hordes of evil mummies; the Mummy’s Talons which are replica mummy claws with real blades to slice and dice unsuspecting victims. Of course, what would a Halloween frag party be without Pumpkin Smoke Grenades. Permanent additions to gun shop include the M4A1 Silver and an urban-camouflaged AWP.

Players who enjoy getting their costume on will be able to don scary Halloween masks to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. The Eclipse Mask, Goblin Mask, the Gothic Phantom Mask and the Keres Mask set the tone for a festive Halloween. Those that want to utilize the art of seduction from afar can dress up as the scary yet sultry Bloody Enchantress or the Obsidian Succubus, distracting their opponents before they go in for the kill. Festive taggers will be able to spray paint the “Demon Child” and “Witching Hour” images on the floors and walls.

DreamCatcherDreamcatcher Games has announced that it will be publishing two new PC game titles:

The Guild 2: Renaissance – Anno Domini 1400: The sway of the church and nobility are dwindling and the simple folks are acquiring more and more wealth and power. Immerse yourself into the world of the renaissance, choose your profession, enter politics and lead a dynasty to the height of civilization! This title is a stand-alone add-on for the popular Guild 2 game series.

Features: Guild 2 Renaissance

·8 completely new professions: mercenary, grave digger, stonemason, juggler, innkeeper, banker, miller and the fruit grower
·New goods, buildings, ambient details and effects
·All new scenarios (“Transylvania”, “The Rhineland” and “The Alps”) & bigger world maps
·Improved AI, title and nobility system as well as new options (e.g. “God Measures”, levels of difficulty)

Jekyll & Hyde – London, 1894: A strange contagion has been sweeping through the population of the poor districts of the city but curiously, all the children seem to be unaffected. The young Dr. Jekyll is in search for a cure. Unfortunately, the serum he develops does not yield the desired result – as he tries the serum himself he uncovers the dark alter ego Mr. Hyde.

After he accidentally discovers an entrance to an extensive tunnel system, his investigations lead him deeper and deeper in a mysterious world underneath the city. Bit by bit he stumbles upon an ancient secret sect, who has a dreadful plan…

Features:Jekyll and Hyde

·Classical adventure with action and skill gaming elements
·Exciting storyline based on the well known “Jekyll & Hyde” novel
·Several sinister places to discover in and around London’s underground world
·Mysterious riddles and puzzles based on the Greek mythology
·2 playable characters with completely different skills
·Real 3D engine featuring a lot of different special effects
·Dynamic camera movements and suspense focused directing guarantees a high level of excitement
·Mini laboratory to mix special potions giving the characters new abilities

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28th October 2010

Open Text Acquires StreamServe

Open TextWaterloo’s Open Text Corporation today announced that it has acquired Burlington, Massachusetts company StreamServe Inc., a leading provider of business communication solutions. The acquisition will add complementary document output and customer communication management software to the Open Text ECM Suite, while enhancing Open Text’s SAP partnership and extending its reach in the Nordic market. The transaction is valued at approximately USD $71 million, subject to customary purchase price and holdback adjustments.

StreamServe offers enterprise business communication solutions that help organizations process and deliver highly personalized documents in any paper or electronic format. The company’s powerful solutions enhance the customer interaction capabilities of the Open Text ECM Suite by enabling the automation of business processes for B2B and B2C markets, including financial services, the public sector, telecommunications and utilities.

Designed to address the “last mile” of communication between an organization and its customers, StreamServe’s solutions excel at improving and expanding business relationships. With StreamServe’s software, companies can automatically create documents through rules-based dynamic assembly and present them to customers, partners, and suppliers, in multiple formats and through whichever channel they prefer.

StreamServe offers solutions that scale across a company’s document-driven business processes. The company’s solutions are designed for easy integration with ERP and supply-chain systems and applications, including SAP. Open Text and SAP have a 20-year partner relationship, and SAP resells a wide range of Open Text ECM solutions. Like Open Text, StreamServe has an established reseller partnership with SAP making it a natural fit with Open Text’s SAP partner strategy.
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28th October 2010

Soundtrack for Brotherhood Scored by Jesper Kyd

Assassin's Creed BrotherhoodBAFTA award-winning composer Jesper Kyd has composed an original music soundtrack for Ubisoft®’s Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, the next iteration of the critically acclaimed, multi-million selling video game franchise. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is inspired by historical events during the occupation of Rome by The Borgias in 1503. Kyd’s new music score for Brotherhood draws influence and authentic instrumentation from this Renaissance period, immersing players in Ezio’s adventures to liberate Rome from a corrupt and tyrant regime. The Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Original Soundtrack will be available for digital download from iTunes on November 16, 2010, to coincide with the North American release of the game on Microsoft Xbox 360® and the Sony PlayStation®3.

“Researching the history of the Borgia Family it became clear early on that Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood would require a very dark score in order to match the Borgias’ aspirations to become the rulers of Italy. The music reflects the compelling story of Ezio as a Master Assassin going up against the Borgias,” said Kyd.

Kyd’s globally acclaimed score for Assassin’s Creed® 2 continues to receive top honors for Best Original Music including the Gold Spirit Awards, Hollywood Music In Media Awards, GameSpot Readers’ Choice, GameSpy Editors’ Choice, Game Audio Network Guild Awards as well as recognition from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, International Film Music Critics Association, Golden Joystick Awards and Spike TV VGAs.Jesper Kyd Photo by Wes Bender

In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood the critically acclaimed single player experience of Assassin’s Creed is back and better than ever as Ezio returns in an enduring struggle against the powerful Templar Order. Now a legendary Master Assassin, he must journey to Rome, center of power, greed and corruption to strike at the heart of the enemy. Defeating the corrupt tyrants entrenched there will require not only strength, but leadership, as Ezio commands an entire Brotherhood that will rally to his side. Only by working together can the Assassins defeat their mortal enemies. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is also the first time the franchise has featured a multiplayer gameplay experience, which has already received numerous industry awards.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is a worldwide production effort led by the Ubisoft Montreal development studio in collaboration with Ubisoft studios in Singapore, Bucharest, Québec City and Annecy.

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28th October 2010

Frima Studio Chosen By Adobe as Pre-Release Partner for Molehill

frima studioFrima Studio has revealed that it has been selected to participate in the pre-release of Adobe’s new 3D Flash technology, “Molehill”. Announced this week at Adobe’s annual Max 2010 conference, “Molehill” is a new set of low-level, GPU-accelerated 3D APIs that will enable advanced 3D experiences through the Adobe® Flash® platform runtimes while providing advanced 3D and 3D engine developers the flexibility to leverage GPU hardware acceleration for significant performance gains.

Frima Studio has produced numerous demo videos utilizing the new “Molehill” technology, the first of which was for their highly popular game Zombie Tycoon, which was presented by Adobe Flash Player Engineer Sebastian Marketsmueller at Max 2010.

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“This opens up endless possibilities to creating the next generation in-browser entertainment, where the visual quality is equivalent to console and mobile platforms like iPhone and Wii,” said Steve Couture, CEO at Frima Studio. “Adobe has called upon the expertise of Frima and we are proud to work in partnership with them on this launch. This opportunity poises Frima to continue strengthening its position as a leading-edge Flash developer. ”

Frima is adapting and improving its existent technology platform to support all the new features and Zombie Tycoonpossibilities included in this new 3D Flash technology. Utilizing the revolutionary “Molehill” technology, Frima is now able to create in Flash a wide variety of atmospheres like static and dynamic lighting, shadows, fog, and mirror effects. Additionally, “Molehill” delivers the ability to create, add texture and animate hundreds of avatars simultaneously without losing performance as well as generate advanced special effects never before seen in a Flash game, like explosions, rain, and particle systems.

As one of the chosen pre-release participants, Frima is directly collaborating with Adobe on the structure, performance, optimization and design of the upcoming API. Adobe plans to extend “Molehill” to the rest of the development community in the first half of 2011.

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