21st October 2010

Thursday Tidbits

frima studioFrima Studio has put its popular puzzle title Big Brain Wolf on sale for $4.99 on Steam, a 50% reduction in price, until Friday, October 22 – what a howlingly good deal!

Big Brain Wolf is a downloadable 2D point-and-click adventure game for puzzle lovers. AsBig Brain Wolf an asthmatic, vegetarian wolf in training, you will face over sixty unique puzzles and six brain-training exercises, all while encountering a colorful twist on the characters from classic fairy tales of old, including a chubby Red Riding Hood, a long-nosed lawyer, three little pigs, seven dwarves and many more. This crime story takes place in a fairy tale kingdom and features a slew of hilarious characters. Big Brain Wolf is available now for PC and Mac, and can be downloaded at Bigbrainwolf.com or Steam for $9.99 and $4.99, respectively.

dhx mediaDHX Media has announced that WTTW, Chicago’s premier public television station, in partnership with DHX Media’s W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and The Michael Cohen Group, LLC, has won a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support a new five-year Ready to Learn initiative. Ready to Learn supports the development of educational programming and media for preschool and early elementary school children and their families. WTTW will team with DHX Media subsidiary W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, the award-winning production company and animation studio based in Los Angeles, to develop UMIGO (you make it go), a transmedia property created by Michael Polis, President of W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and Executive Producer of Yo Gabba Gabba!.

UMIGO will also be developed in collaboration with the Michael Cohen Group, LLC, a research and evaluation firm recognized for its work with children, media and education, and responsible for formative and summative testing of the UMIGO property. UMIGO will launch as a web-based property and is intended to later transition into a television series and line of consumer products.

“UMIGO is a fun and engaging virtual world where young minds can let their imaginations run wild,” said Polis. “When we were kids, we thought of all sorts of incredible things to invent. UMIGO will test the boundaries of even the most creative imaginations while providing a solid foundation in mathematics,” he continued. “Our multi-platform strategy will make UMIGO accessible to children and families of all socio-economic levels. We look forward to collaborating with WTTW and the Michael Cohen Group on a property that contributes to giving all kids an equal opportunity for success in school,” he added.

This is WTTW’s second Ready to Learn grant. Past Ready to Learn initiative grants from the U.S. Department of Education have funded some of the country’s most beloved children’s educational programming, such as WordWorld, Between the Lions, Sesame Street and SUPER WHY!. The most watched public television station in America, WTTW has 1.5 million weekly viewers and serves a four-state region.

cloudcorCloudcor today announced that Spirent Communications, a Gold partner at UP 2010 Cloud Computing Conference, will deliver a keynote address on cloud testing best practices and methodologies that help end-users in enterprises, as well as government agencies, streamline network operations and significantly mitigate their risk of migration to cloud environments.

“We are delighted to continue our world-class relationship with Spirent as our Gold partner for the UP 2010 conference,” said Khazret Sapenov, UP 2010 chairman. “Spirent has led the way and set the benchmark for excellence in testing and validating real-world scenarios in the cloud across both virtual, physical and hybrid environments.”

While cloud computing offers tremendous possibilities, it is critical to understand the limitations of this framework across key network attributes such as performance, availability, security and scalability (PASS). Real-world testing of a cloud computing environment is a key step toward putting any concerns in these areas to rest.

“Cloudcor has been spearheading the effort to uncover opportunities and issues in the cloud space while providing world-class guidance around key cloud concerns,” said Martin Vickery, marketing communications manager at Spirent. “We are committed to enabling IT professionals to leverage the benefits of cloud computing while overcoming challenges and ensuring a successful transition to this architecture.”

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21st October 2010

Clarity Systems Acquired By IBM

clarity systemsIBM today acquired Toronto-based Clarity Systems, a privately-held company that delivers financial governance software that enables organizations to automate the process of collecting, preparing, certifying and controlling financial statements for electronic filing, in support of mandates by the SEC and other financial regulatory agencies. To significantly reduce the risks of potential error and the lengthy times required to create and file financial documents, Clarity Systems software allows finance professionals to seamlessly integrate information for more efficient planning, consolidation and financial reporting.

The acquisition of Clarity Systems extends IBM’s business analytics initiatives, and represents IBM’s commitment to address financial governance and risk management challenges faced by financial departments in virtually every industry. With today’s news, IBM now has a comprehensive portfolio of business analytics software for financial professionals to plan, forecast and analyze performance, identify and manage key business risks, and report to external stakeholders with confidence.

Finance departments in organizations are relied upon to provide accurate data more quickly, improve risk management and forecasting decisions, and meet financial business goals. To address these demands, CFOs and finance managers are increasingly relying on business analytics software to make faster decisions to anticipate performance gaps, prioritize resources, and gain insight into profit and growth.

A recent IBM study of 1,900 global CFOs and senior finance leaders revealed enterprises that have adopted standards and increased finance efficiency are performing 25 percent better by strengthening compliance programs and internal controls. The study also indicated that enforcing data standards, integrating information and applying business analytics are key capabilities that enable improved business insight and risk management.
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21st October 2010

A Message From Kik

kik interactiveKik Interactive, Inc. today unveiled the next generation of Kik Messenger, a free, cross-platform mobile instant messaging (IM) service. The new version – available worldwide starting today – makes texting conversations more real-time than ever before.

Kik Messenger, officially out of beta today, now ensures lightning fast delivery every time. It’s about four times faster than the old system, which was already pretty quick! That means every message – and Kik’s message sent, delivered and read receipts – appear in real-time. So messaging with Kik now feels more like a real conversation.

Other cross-platform mobile IM apps are more like regular, plain texting; none offer message receipts, nor Kik’s speed and reliability. Only BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) provides similar receipts, but Kik Messenger stands apart because it works on all smartphones – iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

“Kik Messenger offers the closest thing to a real-time, face-to-face conversation. And you can connect with all your friends, no matter what smartphone they use or where they live,” said Ted Livingston, President and CEO, Kik. “With the latest improvements and global reach, we expect more and more people to get Kik-ing.”

Introduced six months ago, the beta version attracted more than 175,000 users, even with availability limited to the US and Canada and no marketing push. The new system is more scalable and reliable, ensuring Kik will remain fast as user numbers continue to grow.

If you’re a Kik user now, or if you’ve ever used BBM, you’ll know why message receipts are so popular. Receipts tell you more information about your message. ‘S’ means your message has been sent. ‘D’ means it has been delivered to your recipient. ‘R’ means your message has been read. And ‘Is typing’ means your friend is currently typing a reply.
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21st October 2010

Meridian4 Inks Publishing Deals For Scary Games

Meridian4Montreal publisher Meridian4 has signed a digital publishing agreement with Welsh developer Arberth Studios to publish its 2008 haunting adventure game Rhiannon – Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition.

“We see this new alliance with Meridian 4 as the ideal completion of our strategy for sales of Rhiannon in North America,” comments Karen Bruton, one of the three partners at developer Arberth Studios. “Meridian knows and understands the complexities, pitfalls and potentials of the North American market. We are confident in their ability and dedication in bringing our game to new audiences who have yet to experience our chilling, Welsh, supernatural mystery.”

“We are so pleased that we can make Rhiannon available to the wide audience that digital distribution provides. Arberth have created a game that weaves a deep and immersive storyline that has you hooked from the beginning. With the Premium Edition, they have listened to their community and have offered up features that increase the value of the gameplay. We know that this game is a ‘must’ with any adventure fan.” said Andy Sher, CEO at Meridian4. Rhiannon Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition

Rhiannon is hearing noises and seeing things she can’t explain. Living in her family’s remote farmstead miles from friends and neighbours and having ambitious, busy parents, Rhiannon is alone. Her parents believe her stories to be an overactive imagination and teenage angst. So the Sullivan’s decide to take their daughter away for a break and have asked you to look after their home. The moment you enter, you suspect that something is not right. Rhiannon’s stories are true and the farmstead is engulfed in supernatural happenings as an ancient myth spills over into reality.

Discover dark secrets in this chilling point and click adventure as you encounter an ancient evil lurking in the walls of the home that holds a terrible connection to a timeless struggle between man and magic.

Features

· Set in present day, the plot draws from ancient Welsh myths and legends
· Explore the eerie Welsh farmstead, from the imposing house, to its extensive grounds and buildings
· First-person point-and-click with approximately 20 to 30 hours of largely non-linear gameplay
· Involved multi-threaded plot
· Features classic themes such as: magic, paranormal phenomena, and technological gadgets
· Interact with a comprehensive inventory of nearly 200 items
· Engaging and unusual challenges, mostly plot and inventory driven
· A haunting musical score will send chills up your spine
· Solid chapter structure to the compelling and ultimately uplifting story

The Rhiannon – Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition includes an in-game tutorial and hint system, interactive map and improved navigation.

ScratchesMeridian4 has also signed a digital publishing agreement for the 2007 horror/adventure game Scratches – Director’s Cut was developed by now-closed Argentinian developer Nucleosys Digital Studio.

“Scratches is one of those rare games that genuinely gets under your skin. Its storyline, dark graphics and all too effective soundtrack will have you looking over your shoulder and hearing strange noises long after you turn off the computer. Meridian4 is excited to be able to bring this quality of adventure game to a wider audience through digital distribution. We know that anyone who likes adventure games or a good scare will love Scratches.” said Andy Sher, CEO at Meridian4.

Dark Legends surround the old abandoned Blackwood house, secluded far away in the northern wastelands.

For writer Michael Arthate, this cold, solitary atmosphere is fodder for his restless imagination. But Michael soon becomes distracted by the mysteries offered up, as he follows a trail exploring and delving into the secrets of the past. As he is drawn deeper into the story, his sleep is shattered by mysterious noises, and he is plagued by nightmares that cross into reality.

Whose shadows lurk in the dark corners? Is that lonely house inhabited by restless spirits of the past or something more sinister? What is that sound that chills to the very bone…scratching?

Join Michael in a suspenseful adventure, as you explore beautiful and chilling environments. Prowl dark corners and solve puzzles leading to the solution of a tale begun with obsession, and ending with madness and murder.

Features

· Eerie and immersive story
· Haunting soundtrack
· Full 360 degree panoramic viewing
· Puzzles and challenges throughout
· Numerous hours of gameplay
· Explore a Victorian mansion, sinister chapel, forbidding crypt, musty rooms, greenhouse…

Director’s Cut includes:

· An alternate ending that might be more shocking than the original
· A new chapter: “The Last Visit” will have you back at the house 10 years after the events of the original game
· Michael’s diary with more clues and thoughts from the main character
· Upgraded graphics and an eerier soundtrack

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21st October 2010

EA SPORTS NBA JAM to Feature Online Play on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

EA SportsEA SPORTSNBA JAM will be available in stores worldwide November 17 for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® and, for the first time ever for the arcade classic, in high definition and featuring online play. Described by Gamesradar.com as “virtually perfect”— NBA JAM will take advantage of the online communities playing on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to bring all the action into your own virtual arcade.

Featuring gameplay that is true to the original, NBA JAM will have players spinning with ankle breaking moves to the basket and on the way to high-flying, backboard-smashing dunks. With two distinct game modes—Classic Campaign and Remix Tour—plus online modes, EA SPORTS NBA JAM offers something for everyone.

At launch, gamers will be able to take on all rivals playing Classic 2-on-2 online^ for the first time ever, measuring their success on Friends and Global Leaderboards. In December 2010, the online features for NBA JAM will expand significantly with several major online features being delivered through a free title update for connecteNBA Jamd gamers. In December, connected fans will be able to team-up locally and online to compete in Remix Games, including classic arcade hoop games like Backboard Smash, Domination Free-for-All, Elimination, and 21. Fans will also be able to make it a Jam Party online by inviting up to 3 friends to play. Plus, gamers will be able to take on the world in Online Progression, levelling up through a series of challengers and secret online JAM Challenges to unlock online exclusive rewards and hidden content in the ultimate quest for global bragging rights.

“We have listened to our NBA JAM fans and appreciate their desire to play this game online, so we are going to deliver the online feature set they expect and deserve,” said Trey Smith, Creative Director of NBA JAM. “Fans will be able to play Classic JAM online right out of the box, and can expect to enjoy features like Team-up, Remix Online, Jam Party, Online Progression, and even more secret players and teams, in December.”

In Classic Campaign, players can take a trip down memory lane, individually or with a friend, as they play all 30 teams in the NBA in a worst to first ladder tournament. In Remix Tour, players will be faced with a new twist on the traditional NBA JAM experience. From boss battles against some of the NBA’s greatest legends, to half-court game modes with distinct challenges and winning conditions, players will be taken through an NBA JAM experience completely unique to the basketball videogame genre while demonstrating classic arcade hoops at its best.

According to Metacritic.com, EA SPORTS NBA JAM for Wii™ is currently the 8th highest rated sports game ever on the Wii platform as of Oct. 19th, and is available in stores now. EA SPORTS NBA JAM is rated “E” for Everyone by the ESRB and has an MSRP on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation3 of $49.99 USD.

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21st October 2010

Nintendo Announces Red Holiday Bundles

Nintendo CanadaNintendo has everyone’s holiday shopping list covered with an array of great new products. These include Mario™-red, limited-edition Wii™ and Nintendo DSi XL™ system bundles that celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros.™ game on the NES™ and a new Wii Wii Red BundleRemote™ Plus controller that has Wii MotionPlus™ motion technology built right in. Nintendo already offers tremendous video game value, and these products will make it even easier for shoppers to find fun at a great price. All new products go on sale in North America on November 7th, and the limited-edition products will be available while supplies last.

“Whether shoppers want to add a cool new look to their gaming setup or expand their supply of controllers with an exciting game, Nintendo offers a great value for the holidays,” said Ron Bertram, Nintendo of Canada’s vice-president and general manager. “For anyone who is still on the fence about whether to join the world of video games, we’re offering many fun, easy, economical ways to get involved.”

Red Wii Bundle: This limited-edition Wii hardware comes in beautiful red to celebrate the 25th DSi XL Red Bundleanniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game. The bundle includes New Super Mario Bros.™ Wii and a new red Wii Remote Plus controller, in addition to all the other included items, like Wii Sports™ and a red Nunchuk™ controller. It will be available while supplies last at a suggested retail price of just $209.99.

Red Nintendo DSi XL Bundle: This special-edition Nintendo DSi XL bundle is also red in honour of the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and features three iconic Super Mario Bros.-themed graphics. The bundle comes with Mario Kart™ DS, which looks gorgeous on the extra-large screen. That’s in addition to the pre-loaded software of Brain Age™ Express: Arts & Letters, Brain Age Express: Math and Photo Clock. It will be available while supplies last at a suggested retail price of just $179.99.

Wii Remote Plus whiteWii Remote Plus: This new controller combines the original, iconic Wii Remote™ controller with built-in Wii MotionPlus functionality. The compact WiWii Fling Smash Bundle Boxi Remote Plus controller offers players precision motion controls all in one unit. It becomes the new standard Wii controller, and will be available from now on in all Wii hardware packages and bundles, as well as sold separately at a suggested retail price of $44.99.

FlingSmash™ Bundle: The new Wii game combines the hands-on fun of tennis with the nonstop action and instant gratification of pinball. It requires use of the Wii MotionPlus accessory, so it seemed natural to bundle it with the new Wii Remote Plus controller. For a suggested retail price of $49.95, shoppers get to enjoy both the game and the controller in one package.

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21st October 2010

Riese the game Preview

Last Friday I had the opportunity to go visit the headquarters of Genius Factor Games and sit down with the CEO Ted Nugent to talk about their new release “Riese” for the iOS platform. The game is based on “Riese The Series” web show, which has been picked up for digital broadcast by Syfy.com. Riese The Series will begin airing on October 26th under its new title, Riese: Kingdom Falling,  and Riese the Game will be launched in the App Store at the same time.

The game is a card based strategy game in which you play as one of three factions The Sect, The Eleysian’s or The Resistance with the goal to take over the world. As you try to gain control of the Riese world Riese Start Screenprovinces, for each province you try to take over you must battle the computer or online opponent and gain control of 75% of the game board by placing your troops and defeating the bad guys. As you progress you will unlock new cards for your battle and using open feint some nice achievements. Fans of the series will be glad to know that you can use the heroine Riese as a character and her trademark wolf Fenrir in battle.

The game looked really nice when I got to take a look at it, the graphics were polished and the audio sounded good.The controls were easy to pick up and learn. I will also mention I was surprised to learn that the narrator for the game is Felicia Day from The Guild.

When the game launches it will have 3 difficulty settings for you to choose from. In the version 1.1 release local multiplayer will be added so you can battle your friends. The group at Genius Factor Games is optimistic that the game will be enjoyed by the Series’ fans as well as gamers who enjoy strategy card games.

Riese The Series Backgrounder:

Riese tells the story of a banished princess on the run from a dangerous religious sect in a steampunk inspired world. It stars Allison Mack (Smallville), Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary), Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Gallactica), Patrick Gilmore (Stargate Universe), Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary), Sharon Taylor (Stargate Atlantis), Ben Cotton (Harper’s Island), and in the title role, Christine Chatelain (Sanctuary). Read the rest of this entry »

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