21st December 2010

A Tale of Many Games And Then Some

Game Prototype ChallengeVersion 2 of the Game Prototype Challenge closed yesterday – and this go-round of fast prototyping saw ten entries for the Immortality and Thin Ice theme – a big increase over the number of participants in version 1 of the challenge, which took place in November. I’ve included the list of entries here, but please visit the Game Prototype Challenge Blog for a full run-down on Version 2 plus links for post-mortems and information on Version 3, which will be coming at you in February 2011.

GPCv2 Entries:snowboggan

Snowball Jones and the Last Crusade by Rocket5Studios
Ice Skating Vampires by Kyle Rodgers
Lifetrek by Jason P. Kaplan
Immo and Thic! by Kyle Dwyer
Snowboggan by Chris Kaitila
Phoenix Rising by Regan Chan
Shatterfist by Jon Remedios
Made of Mirrors by Damian Sommer
Main by Vytenis Krukonis
Titan Miners by Dale Wick

gnometechI found out today about another Canadian-made free-to-play MMO game titled Greenwood Faire, which is currently in a publicly-playable alpha release stage. The game is being developed by Toronto-based greenwood faireGnometech Inc.

According to the game’s site, Greenwood Faire is a massive multiplayer social game experience set in and around the small town of Greenwood. Chat with your friends or make new ones. Listen to music in the tavern and play a board game. Play an instrument yourself, or get a medieval band together and put on a show. Learn to create fireworks and wait until nightfall to set them off. All of this and more is possible within the 3D environment of Greenwood Faire. If you would like to read more about the game’s development, check out the feature on Torque Powered.

UbisoftUbisoft has released a patch for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood that solves both the Animus Bug as well as restoring Trophy functionality for PlayStation players. While we do not yet have a final ETA for this patch, we can assure you that it will be coming very soon… all you have to do is apply the patch once it is released (your console should automatically prompt you to do so).

Fixes (MP)

* Sometimes players may remain stuck during matchmaking (game never starts)Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
* In extremely rare occasions, a crash may occur if another player of the same session quits while another player is loading the map at the exact same time
* When joining a session In Manhunt, in the chased team, you may have a sound present during the entire session

Fixes (Singleplayer)

* The player may remain stuck in the present optional (2012), in a spawning loop in Monterigioni, while interacting with the Animus (Animus Bug)
* Using fast travel towards Northern Campagna may result in Ezio getting continuously desynchronized
* Sometimes a bug can occur that prevents the player from unlocking any additional Trophies (Trophy Bug)
* On rare occasion, if the player changes their outfit at the completion of a mission, they will respawn in the same world, being stuck, without any possibility of returning to Rome

A sneak preview for Moderation Town episode three is now out and about; let’s see how our favourite moderators and dealing with real life and the internet

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Canadian Film CentreIn celebration of Black History Month and presented by TD, the Canadian Film Centre and Clement Virgo are pleased to host a special evening at the Cineplex Odeon Varsity Theatre 8 in conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee to discuss the role of music in his films. A notable writer, director, producer, actor and author who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of black talent in film, Spike Lee is widely regarded as a premiere filmmaker and a forerunner in the ‘do it yourself’ school of filmmaking. His films are often provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions, not only about race, but class and gender identity as well while incorporating a distinctive and powerful use of music. The evening (Tuesday, January 25th 2011,7 – 8:30 p.m.) will combine conversation and film clips to examine the use of music in Lee’s films – from his musical collaborations with his father, Bill Lee, a jazz bassist, to Prince, Stevie Wonder and composer Terence Blanchard. Tickets are $20.00 (all proceeds will go towards the CFC Diversity Scholarship). Tickets can be purchased at www.totix.ca or at the venue on the night of the event.

Government of CanadaSome lucky Canadians will be revelling in a sparkling new smart phone this holiday season, and others will amuse themselves by downloading games and other online applications. But while mobile technologies can be useful and fun, it’s important to recognize their impact on your personal information, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, says.

“A fully-loaded smart phone is like carrying around a tiny little communications satellite, bristling with sensors and antennas,” the Commissioner explains. “It’s constantly sending and receiving data about your activities and your whereabouts. But where is the data going? What is it saying about you? And what is the effect on your privacy?”

In the third quarter of 2010 alone, more than 400 million mobile phones were purchased worldwide, and smart phones accounted for about one-fifth of that market. But, relative to regular cellphones, smart phones are exploding in popularity. While sales of all mobile phones increased by a third from the year before, smart phone sales actually doubled. In fact, industry observers predict that smart phones will comprise the largest share of the mobile phone market by the end of next year.

As these devices gain in popularity and sophistication, more and more applications (or apps) are being developed to run on them. These range from quirky quizzes to handy mapping and navigational programs, diet-tracking tools and social networking sites.

Increasingly, apps are also capitalizing on the capacity of smart phones to reveal their owner’s location. One widely used app, for instance, automatically transmits coupons and other bonuses to the user’s mobile device every time the user patronizes certain establishments.

But just as apps vary in type and quality, so do their privacy policies and practices. From a technical standpoint, there’s little to stop developers from programming apps in a way that enables them to collect, use or share the personal information of users – and often that of their contacts or networks.

Users may never even know this is happening, and might not approve of the practice if they did. Indeed, the inappropriate collection, use or disclosure of personal information could expose people to surreptitious surveillance, or unwanted targeting by unscrupulous marketers or swindlers.

“Smart phones can do a lot of great things for you,” says Commissioner Stoddart. “But when it comes to protecting your personal information, it’s up to you to make the first call.”

Here are some tips for smarter smart phone use this holiday season:

Do your due diligence – Before you download a dazzling new app, check it out. Does it tell you what personal information it collects, and how it will use it? If not, do your own research. Many online forums discuss apps and provide authoritative reviews about important matters, including privacy.

Think it through – Downloading an app may be a snap, but take your time and do a cost-benefit analysis first. Your personal information has real value, which is why app developers, marketers and many others want to get their hands on it. But don’t give it away. Trade it for something worthwhile, including a solid assurance that it will be treated with care.

Keep it safe – If you lose your smart phone, a lot of your personal information can fall into the wrong hands. Make sure you always use a strong password to protect your data. If you give, trade or throw away your smart phone, be sure you first follow the manufacturer’s directions for thoroughly deleting all the data that was on it.

amazonFor those who just haven’t spent enough money this holiday season, Amazon.ca has announced that beginning December 25th and running through January 2nd, customers can take advantage of amazing Boxing Week promotions on everything from electronics and books to home and garden products and men’s watches. Beginning on Christmas Day, customers can explore The Deals Store to find the full list of Boxing Week special promotions. Customers are encouraged to shop early as these offers are only available while supplies last.

“Christmas week is a time that people want to be with family and friends, but still be able to take advantage of post-holiday deals and promotions,” said John Nemeth, director of Amazon.ca. “With incredible savings, thousands of products and free shipping on eligible products, customers can enjoy the best of both worlds by shopping on Amazon.ca from the comfort of their home.”

Customers will find great discounts on a variety of well-known and trusted brands, including Panasonic, Canon, KitchenAid and Garmin. In addition, Amazon.ca offers customers FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders of eligible products of $25 and over.

Please note that product prices and availability of products and deals are subject to change. Prices and availability were accurate at the time this release was sent. However, they may differ from those you see when you visit Amazon.ca.

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21st December 2010

A Tale of Many Apps

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble Inc. has made two game announcements today, the first is that that their faithful recreation of pure, classic tabletop hockey, Vintage Hockey, has arrived on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and an HD version for the iPad. Who better to handle this than a Canadian company, eh?
Vintage Hockey
It’s the fast and furious original which inspired modern table top hockey! With authentic sounds, the original table layout and even the ability to flick the ball around with your fingers all there for you to enjoy. Vintage Hockey is a faithful recreation of a time when games were made of wood and classics were born, filled with addictive game-play (and in this case free multiplayer).

Vintage Hockey Features

• Multiplayer with only one device
• Authentic Sound Effects
• Simple controls inspired by the original
• Classic tabletop hockey gameplay

Also arriving on the iPhone and iPod Touch is Big Blue Bubbles’ genre defining sequel, Home Sweet Home 2: Kitchens, a game that puts you in charge of redesigning the Kitchens of eclectic characters whose tough demands and crazy requirements will have you designing for hours. Use your master designing Home Sweet Home 2 Kitchensskills to give them the kitchen of their dreams. With a build mode that adapts to your skill level, a new catalogue system, and better than ever art, Home Sweet Home 2: Kitchens gives you the ability to take your designs to the next level.

Home Sweet Home 2: Kitchens Features

• Over 300 Customizable Kitchen Items
• 25 Re-playable Levels
• Unlimited Designs
• 12 unique floor plans
• Adaptive AI

renown entertainmentHaven’t played Renown Entertainment’s Waves: Survivor yet? Try what many are calling “Mario meets Doodle Jump® on incredible water physics” for your Apple© iOS touch device. Dive in now with special holiday pricing of $0.99 USD for a limited time only and see what others are playing and talking about. To sweeten the deal the game has received a significant update.Waves Survivor

President and Creative Director, James Lau notes “We received a lot of feedback from casual players to hardcore fans and polished the game to further meet and exceed their expectations. With a dedicated tuning team, Waves: Survivor has improved dramatically and our hero Johnny Calm can’t wait for you to try out his new moves! New jump attack, new physics, visual refinements, Carolina the mermaid even lends you a helping hand instead of just collectibles, and much more.”

“Our focus for this update was to improve the core game and to thank our fans. Their support has been invaluable as they helped Waves: Survivor enter the Top Paid Arcade and Action charts in less than 3 days of its original release in addition to “New and Noteworthy” features from Apple©. We hope our fans and those new to Waves: Survivor, 1.1 have an experience more fun and enjoyable than with the original.”

padworxFor a limited time Apple® iPad™, iPhone™ and iPod™ Touch owners can get their hands on PadWorx Digital Media’s steampunk-style edition of A Christmas Carol, which was iPad Christmas Carolcrowned App of the Week shortly after its launch, for the special price of $2.99 USD. The universal App will run across iPad, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod touch for the single purchase price.

Through 130 pages of lovingly abridged text, readers help power the timeless classic forward. Whether turning the key in Scrooge’s door and watching as the door knocker changes into the deceased Jacob Marley, powering up and manipulating an assortment of wonderful steam powered devices, or just marveling at each chapter’s ‘mechanical ‘page-turning contraptions, A Christmas Carol’s animations, illustrations, original score, and sound effects will draw you into the story’s unforgettable lessons of darkness, despair, joy and life. Keeping in the holiday spirit, PadWorx Digital Media will be donating a portion of each sale of A Christmas Carol to charity. PadWorx is also dropping the price to $2.99 on its highly acclaimed first eBook, Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition, although it is currently only available for iPad.

loblawLoblaw Companies Limited has launched its President’s Choice Recipe Box App is now available on the App Store for iPad. The free app brings over 700 mouthwatering recipes, created by the President’s Choice brand chefs, to your fingertips – complete with photos, easy-to-follow instructions and videos.
pc recipes
“The President’s Choice Recipe Box App brings to life our extensive collection of recipes in an easy-to-use, highly interactive format specifically designed for iPad” explains Allan Lindsay, vice-president marketing, Loblaw Companies Limited. “The app makes it simple for busy families to create inspired and tasty meals with ingredients found at local Loblaw banner stores.”

Whether it’s for fun family fare, special occasions or holidays, the President’s Choice Recipe Box App is a convenient tool to help you search for your favourite recipes and discover new ones. Each recipe has been created and tested by the President’s Choice brand chefs to be easy, simple to prepare and delicious. Favourite President’s Choice recipes can be saved, emailed or shared on Facebook.
Building on the innovative solutions offered on pc.ca and in the President’s Choice Insider’s Reports®, the President’s Choice Recipe Box App for iPad, developed in partnership with Intelliware Development, is the first mobile digital solution from the President’s Choice brand to help households manage their busy lives.

“Innovative enterprises like Loblaw are realizing the power of mobile platforms to interact with consumers and strengthen brand engagement,” says Dave Scapillati, VP Mobile Solutions, Intelliware. “Our long track record of building world class apps for top companies has given us a distinct advantage in helping our clients extend the reach of their apps into the consumer marketplace and on the App Store.”

Taking banking convenience to the next level, RBC is pleased to announce it has become the first Canadian bank to launch fully integrated mobile banking applications for select smartphones – joining the other Canadian banks who have previously launched mobile apps for their services – unlike our Credit RBC iPhoneUnion, which hasn’t. According to a recent RBC poll (conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of RBC Royal Bank in October 2010), most Canadians (79 per cent) own a mobile device and 44 per cent are interested in mobile banking.

Topping the list of what mobile device users would like to be able to do, the RBC poll found that Canadians want the ability to check account balances (34 per cent), pay bills (32 per cent), view transaction history (28 per cent) and transfer funds between accounts (26 per cent).

RBC’s new integrated mobile banking applications, which are now available for download, enable personal and business clients to do all that and more – on-the-go, anywhere, anytime.
rbc Blackberry
“RBC has offered mobile banking services to our clients since 2008 and our new integrated apps leverage the capability of the device to create a simple and easy to use experience,” said James McGuire, VP, Digital Strategy & Experience, RBC. “In an era of long work days and short weekends, getting more done can be challenging. We are taking convenience and control to a new level by providing customers with the ability to stay connected with their finances on their schedule.”

Canadian mobile device users who have already tried mobile banking cite convenience (69 per cent) as the main reason for using mobile banking. However, the poll found that concern over security (24 per cent) is one of the main reasons cited for hesitation to try mobile banking.

“We understand how important information security and privacy are and we are providing customers with the same safety and security guarantee that’s offered with our online banking services,” said McGuire. “If an unauthorized transaction is conducted through an RBC mobile banking service, clients will be reimbursed for any resulting losses to those accounts.”

The RBC mobile app allows clients to access a full range of services, including the ability to:

* View account balances for all personal and business accounts.
* View account details for accounts such as credit lines, credit cards, mortgages and loans.
* Pay bills (non-recurring and current) for all existing online banking payees.
* View transaction history.
* Transfer funds between all RBC accounts.
* Send internet email money transfers.
* Send third-party payments.
* Locate RBC branches and ATMs.

To download the app for free, clients can visit www.rbc.com/mobileapps. Downloading the app is very simple: Turn on your mobile device, launch the browser and then go to www.rbc.com/mobileapps and select the download for your device. Once you install the app, use your RBC Royal Bank Online Banking client card or username and password and start banking right away!

dhx mediaDHX Media Ltd. is pleased to announce that the company is set to launch an iPad app based on the hit CBeebies-commissioned family series Grandpa in My Pocket. The Grandpa in my Pocket: Horatio Heave Ho! ebook will retail at £1.79 and will be available in the UK iTunes store at launch, with other territories to follow. In addition, the app will be available for the iPhone and iPod Touch in Spring 2011.
grandpa in my pocket
Anne Loi, SVP Finance and Operations, at DHX Media said: “The iPad is a natural platform for extending a popular kids brand, especially one with such a strong narrative and characterization such as Grandpa. The Horatio Heave Ho! ebook helps kids with their reading, and incorporates fun, interactive activities for fans of the show – and their parents can join in too. It’s the ideal, portable accompaniment to the television series.”

Grandpa in My Pocket, which features live action with special effects, has sold to broadcasters worldwide. Channels airing the show include Canal+ in France, French-speaking TFO, TVO and Knowledge in Canada, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, Norway’s NRK and Sub Juniori in Finland, HOP Israel, RUV Iceland, okto in Singapore, Greece’s MCOM. CBeebies has also acquired Grandpa in My Pocket for the Latin American and US Hispanic markets as well as Poland, South Africa and Asia.

In Australia, the series airs on ABC TV and a home entertainment deal has also been agreed with ABC Home Video. Australia’s Stella Projects, headed by Grahame Grassby, is licensing agent for Australia and New Zealand. In the UK, Warner Home Video UK has been appointed as DVD partner and in Indonesia, Tarra Group is on board for home video. Made with participation from Finance Wales, Grandpa In My Pocket is developed and produced by Adastra Creative and stars James Bolam as Grandpa and Jay Ruckley as Jason Mason.

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21st December 2010

Canada Media Fund 2011-2012 Program Guidelines Announced

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced announced its Program Guidelines for the upcoming fiscal year starting April 1, 2011. It also announced the Factor Weights that will be used to calculate Performance Envelopes for 2011-2012. These announcements reflect decisions made by the CMF’s Board of Directors at its meeting held on November 25, 2010.

“The changes announced today reflect much of what we heard during the extensive consultations undertaken this fall by the CMF”, stated Valerie Creighton, President and CEO. “We once again wish to thank our stakeholders for their time, advice and valued contributions”.

“We are truly pleased with the success achieved so far by the CMF”, added Louis Roquet, Chair of the CMF’s Board of Directors. “The CMF has been an important catalyst for change within the industry, while also accounting for the challenges faced by its stakeholders in the face of rapid transformation of the market. The changes announced today also set in motion the two strategic objectives identified by the Board to continue to move the organization forward, namely to simplify the CMF’s policies and programs and to reward success.”

Complete Program Guidelines are available on the CMF web site. The updated Performance Envelope Manual will be available this week. The CMF will hold a webcast to provide a complete overview of changes to its programs and Performance Envelope calculations in January 2011. Key highlights include the following:

Experimental Stream

In line with the objective of simplification of the CMF’s programs and in order to provide an incentive for producers to return recoupment revenues to the CMF more rapidly, the CMF will amend its recoupment policy for projects financed at the production stage.

Producers who return the CMF’s investment will benefit from an increased share of future profits. Those who do so within a 2 year period will receive an additional benefit. Also, in this stream, the CMF will no longer require an undivided share of copyright in the projects it funds in return for its equity investments.
These changes will apply retroactively to projects supported in 2010-2011.

Convergent Stream

In line with the objective of ensuring that content is available to Canadians on all platforms anywhere, anytime, anyplace, projects will continue to be able to qualify in the Convergent Stream through one of the following three options: in addition to the television component, the creation of rich and substantial digital media components; the airing of the television component on a CRTC-licensed video on demand platform; or its non simultaneous digital distribution (streaming). Basic digital media components will no longer qualify to make projects convergent.

Broadcasters will continue to be required to allocate a minimum of 50% of their envelopes on projects with rich and substantial digital media components. Projects with pre-existing rich and substantial digital media components will continue to be counted within this percentage, but at only half of the amount of the envelope allocation to such projects. Also, in order to allow the production of more elaborate digital media content, the CMF’s maximum contribution to digital media components will be increased from 200K$ to 500K$ in the Performance Envelope program.

Performance Envelopes

In July 2010, the CMF announced the Performance Envelope Factors to be used for 2011-2012 calculations, as well as related definitions. The Factor Weights that will be used for 2011-2012 calculations will reward successful projects more significantly through an increase in the Audience Success (Total Hours Tuned) factor. For drama and VAPA, an increased emphasis will also be placed on the Audience Success of original, first-run programs aired in prime time. Broadcasters will also be provided with an incentive to support rich and substantial digital media content through the creation of a Digital Media Investment factor. Read the rest of this entry »

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