11th March 2011

Games For Rainy Days

Last Chance: Registration for the Great Canadian Appathon closes at 5pm tonight.

IUGOLast week during IUGO’s GDC Smartphone Summit Session, their VP of Biz Dev, Sarah Thomson, announced IUGO’s latest social game venture; Sunshine Cruise Lines. IUGO’s first social title, Lil’ Sunshine_ContinentViewPirates (published by Capcom Mobile), launched in November 2010 and was a breakout success earning accolades from users, critics and fellow industry colleagues alike. Lil’ Pirates went on to win Pocketgamer’s best FREEmium title of 2011.

Having proved their chops as a solid social game developer, IUGO plans to launch several social titles during the course of 2011/2012. “Lil’ Pirates was a great experience for us,” enthuses Thomson. “We saw that we could build a unique experience that users loved. It was amazing to see how “into” the game players got. On top of that, the game was monetizing really well solely from virtual items, which was a testament to our design strengths as a studio,” Sarah adds.

“Now, with Sunshine Cruise Lines, the team is super excited to build a game around a theme that appeals to Sunshine-ShipViewvirtually everyone: Travel,” offers Thomson. Setting sail later this Spring/early Summer of 2011, Sunshine Cruise Lines is a FREEmium game in which players manage their own cruise ship while traveling the world. “There is so much we can do with this theme,” she explains. “This is an opportunity for us to play on users’ imaginations while having the world at their fingertips. Players will find the game familiar and easy to play as we’ve kept a foundation of tried and true mechanics. But the team has been really amped to try new things in Cruise,” alludes Sarah. “With Cruise players will enjoy a more dynamic environment that encourages experimentation. Players will have a number of different options for how to make their cruise ship unique, while offering deeper social interaction. The team is focused on making every facet of the Cruise experience special and fun from the art style, the UI, the audio to how they all tie in and enhance each other. We can’t wait for people to play our game!”

frima studioDon’t get caught dead in that island wear, it’s so last season! Quebec’s Frima Studio and SFO’s Bolt Creative have announced that the Pygmies of Pocket God on Facebook have arrived dressed to impress with Episode IV: Dressed to Kill. This latest addition to the Pocket God world introduces new items, including St. Patrick’s Day accessories, as well as a new dance taking the island by lightning storm.PocketGod Dressed To Kill

Since its debut in December 2010, the Facebook version of Pocket God has grown exponentially and is attracting more players every month. More than 40 million loyal, unquestioning Pygmies have met their demise over that time, with two million of those being sacrificed by volcano alone (that’s approximately the same amount of people who visit Pompeii every year – coincidence?). Another two million sacrifices can be attributed to friends on Facebook sacrificing other friends in a host of brutal and irreverent ways, including electrocution, shark attack, venus fly traps, tornados, tar pits, and more! What good is a friend if you can’t sacrifice them every once in a while?

The new updates for Dressed to Kill include:

• All New Customizations: Fans have been waiting for the chance to dress up their Pygmies and the time has come! Pygmies can now be customized in a variety of ways, including wearing t-shirts, bow ties, life jackets (no worries, they won’t actually work), an oh-so-taboo censor bar, and more!PocketGod Customizer
• All New YPDA (Youth Pygmy Devotee Association) Dance: It’s fun to hang with the Y-P-D-A! Even though the Pygmies constantly meet death, it doesn’t dampen their spirits, and they’re now prepared to show the world their latest dance craze. Go ahead and join in already, we swear no one is watching!
• St. Patrick’s Day-themed Items: For the Pygmy leprechaun in all of us, players can now customize their favorite faithful followers with holiday-themed items such as clover hair ties and fashionable green suspenders to hold that grass skirt up. Players can also do a little jig with the new St. Patrick’s Day dance. All holiday-themed content is available for a limited time.
• Brand New Quests: Of course, we have added more quests for all the deities out there looking to bring their sacrifice count to an all-time high.

Stir Fry GamesThe National Lacrosse League, which is comprised of teams from Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto (along with some American teams) has announced that NLL 11, the NLL’s officially licensed video game by Pittsburgh’s Crosse Studio in conjunction with Guelph’s Stir Fry Games, is in development for Lacrosse11release this spring on Xbox 360’s Indie Game Channel.

The game will feature all ten NLL teams and the league’s 230 players, a completely new game engine, franchise mode, player statistics, celebrations and much more. For the first time, NLL 11 will include fighting in the video game. NLL Lacrosse 2011 will be available on the Xbox 360’s Indie Game Channel and will be priced at $5.00 USD.

While you’re waiting for NLL11 to debut, you could check out Stir Fry’s latest game, Office Brawlers, which is available on Xbox Live Indie Games. You can try it before you buy it, the price is 240 MS Points. Playing as your Avatar, you fight your way through Story Mode with 11 crazy weapons. You can play against your friends either on or off-line. Be the greatest Office Brawler of all time and achieve the highest score by playing in Survival Mode.

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What started out as a very small Meetup group for independent developers in the Vancouver area has now become Full Indie. The new group was unveiled to a packed house of over 100 devefull indielopers at Tuesday night’s monthly event for what is now the largest collective for independent game creators in Vancouver.

In May 2010, game developers Jake Birkett and Alex Vostrov founded the aforementioned Meetup group in order to connect with their peers. After only nine meetings with overwhelming event attendance and community input, Jake and Alex agreed that a formal brand, mission and web presence were the next logical steps. The group’s mandate will be to continue with its very successful monthly events which include presentations and networking as well as develop the Full Indie web site as a community-sourced endeavour, with centralized resources to assist indie developers not only in Vancouver, but around the world, with the development, publishing and publicizing of their work.

In keeping with the National Film Board’s commitment to digital production, and reflecting the evolution of National Film Boardaudiences into dynamic participants, the eastern section of the NFB Mediatheque in Toronto is currently being transformed into an interactive hub that will provide new ways to connect with the NFB. Its redesign guided by the principle of engaging and communicating with Canadians, this area of the Mediatheque will soon offer access to , where visitors can check out recent web-based projects via the NFB Interactive portal, the Online Screening Room featuring more than 1,800 streaming films, and news and information about the NFB.

This flexible new space will also be outfitted with ceiling-mounted projectors, floor-to-ceiling screens and a state-of-the-art audio system, providing a venue for innovative new content such as participatory programming and immersive multimedia installations based on NFB online productions. The space will also host exhibits and screenings; its resources will be creatively incorporated into the Mediatheque’s many workshops and camps, and it can be tailored for private event rental. A webcam-enhanced touchscreen will allow the public to further connect with the NFB and record instant feedback on their experience such as film reviews, workshop recommendations and programming suggestions. Visitors will continue to enjoy over 5,500 NFB titles on free digital viewing stations, and services and events at the Mediatheque will not be affected. This new area will open to the public in early April, 2011.

This is a good start, but doesn’t go nearly far enough; I hope that MP Tony Clement will keep the pressure up in regards to telecom pricing in all areas:

CRTCIn response to numerous requests, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today clarified the form and scope of its proceeding to review wholesale residential high-speed Internet access services, which was launched on February 8, 2011.

Canadians will have an opportunity to share their views at a public hearing starting on July 11th in Gatineau, Que. The CRTC will also hold an online consultation. Details of both the hearing and consultation will be announced shortly.

Although the scope of the proceeding will not be limited to reviewing usage-based billing proposals, the CRTC intends to focus on issues such as:

  • usage-based charges, whether aggregated between the Small Internet service providers (Small ISPs) or applied to each Small ISP
  • usage-based charges driven by peak traffic periods, and
  • an examination of network capacity and congestion.

The CRTC will not be expanding the scope, as requested by several parties, to include the billing practices for retail Internet services. There is no evidence that market forces are not working properly in this unregulated market.

Finally, the CRTC will not review, as was also requested by several parties, the overall regulatory framework for wholesale high-speed Internet access services. The overall framework was not part of the decision that is being reviewed, and it would not be appropriate to initiate such a wide-ranging review within the current proceeding.

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11th March 2011

Canadian Content Initiatives Underway

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada announced today that the agency is embarking on a broad initiative intended to deliver on the primary objective of its new corporate plan: stimulating demand for Canadian content. The underlying principles of its new corporate plan were unveiled by Telefilm’s Chair, Michel Roy, and Executive Director, Carolle Brabant, during the organization’s annual public assembly held last December in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“Telefilm wants to create a groundswell in favour of Canadian content,” Carolle Brabant reiterated today. “The current success of Canadian films provides an ideal context for achieving this initiative, provided we put the necessary effort behind it. I am delighted that the Canada Media Fund (CMF) is joining us in this major endeavour and that Valerie Creighton has accepted Telefilm’s offer to lead this project.”Canada Media Fund

“This initiative underlines the Canada Media Fund’s expanded mandate for the marketing and promotion of Canadian content. One of the Fund’s strategic objectives is to reward the success of our rich and compelling Canadian ideas, stories and creative content,” stated Valerie Creighton, President and CEO of the CMF. “The initiative will build on past success and explore new and innovative ways to ensure content is more widely accessible and stimulate demand for Canadian stories.”

Brabant and Creighton are of one mind that the time has come to leverage the success and investment in our content. The project will look to industry expertise from the production, broadcast and distribution sectors as well as other agencies to work towards a cohesive strategy that positions Canadian content in the forefront, and that will explore and leverage the opportunities offered by multi-platform digital distribution and social media.

The strategy to be developed will be grounded in the rich cultural and entrepreneurial vitality of Canada’s provinces and territories. Advice and engagement will be sought from the Telefilm staff, industry, elected officials, business as well as other community leaders and influencers in cities and towns throughout the country.

The goal is to establish dynamic public-private partnerships, to generate innovative ideas and locally tailored solutions to improve the visibility of, and demand for all Canadian content: feature film, television and interactive digital media.

In parallel to the work undertaken at the local level, initiatives will also be developed to track, promote and further enable the international success of Canadian film, television and interactive digital media projects, including co-productions, reinforcing the industry’s dual role as the window on the vibrancy of Canadian culture and as a significant driver of the Canadian economy.

“With the launch of this initiative in April 2011, our objective is to further support the expression of Canadian culture by enabling a broader local and international reach of compelling content,” stated Carolle Brabant. “This in turn will provide economic and cultural benefits to Canadians and develop a pride of ownership in the investment, success and impact of Canadian content.”

BC Film CommissionMeanwhile, I recently found out about two BC Film funding opportunities from Toronto digital media business analyst and producer Sasha Boersma. I did reach out to the BC Film for more information than what was available on their web site, but have not yet received a response.

The BC Film’s Digital Media Development Envelope is a one year pilot program created in partnership between British Columbia Film and the BC Arts Council with funding provided by the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy. The program is intended to provide film or television based entertainment companies with an envelope of money to support a range of eligible interactive digital media activities. The funding is a non-recoupable advance of up to $25,000 and does not require matching funding or market support to trigger eligibility. Applications are reviewed through a competitive, subjective process. Please note that the deadline to apply for this initiative is March 14th, which is Monday. There goes your weekend.

The Interactive Fund is a one year pilot program created in partnership between British Columbia Film and the BC Arts Council with funding provided by the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy. The program  is intended to support the production of high quality, original, interactive digital media content owned and controlled by BC companies or individuals. The funding is a non-recoupable advance of up to $50,000 and does not require matching funding or market support to trigger eligibility. Applications are reviewed through a competitive, subjective process, and the deadline to apply for this initiative is March 31st, so you have a little more breathing room for this fund.

For more specific information regarding either the Interactive Fund or the Digital Media Development Envelope, please contact Business Analyst Erika Kumar at the BC Film office.

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