30th March 2011

Fly A Dragon Take Hoard For A Spin On Steam

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games announced today that their award-winning strategy-arcade title HOARD™ now has a demo version immediately available for download on Steam.  The full version can be purchased at a “dragonfire sale” discount of 25% off the normal retail mark of $9.99. The full version unlocks Hoard-Screenshot(releases) on April 4th on Steam for both PC and Mac.  4-packs are also available for a discount, so gamers can take on their friends as well as participate in the Hoard Steam Community and follow the game on Facebook.

Big Sandwich Games expects HOARDTM to be a big hit with PC and Mac users who want an addictive combination of action and strategy. The game offers bite-sized chunks of single and multiplayer play that includes a co-op mode for up to 4 dragons working together.  “HOARDTM is a rare game that was created for both core and casual gamers,” says Tyler Sigman, the game’s designer. “Whether they prefer solitary play, competitive multiplayer, friendly co-op, or arcade-style score-attack challenges, HOARDTM is a great fit. At under $10, that’s a lot of fire-breathing destruction and fun for very little money.”

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All popular Steamworks features are employed in HOARD™, including over 100 achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer matching, friend invites, stats, and Steam cloud saving.  Steam Play is also supported, meaning users who want to play on both PC and Mac only need to buy the game once.  Several new features are also making their appearance in the Steam version, including graphical boosts like night mode and a crisp winter tile set.

audiokineticAudiokinetic Inc. has released the latest version of Wwise. Wwise 2011.1 introduces new features and enhancements, including support of portable systems such as iOS (iPhone and iPad) and previously announced Nintendo 3DS™.

“The video game industry is evolving, casual and social games are becoming a focus for more partners. This also implies making games available on a wider range of media and devices.” said Simon Ashby, VP of Product Strategy at Audiokinetic Inc.

In an effort to make Wwise accessible to a wide range of developers, Audiokinetic confirms a new pricing model for iOS projects. Developers will be able to license Wwise for $500 US. New public discussion forums will be made available to the community. Approved Nintendo 3DS developers that want to license Wwise will be able to purchase a license at $5,000 US. Additional details on our pricing are available on Audiokinetic’s web site.

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30th March 2011

Used Smartphones Can Be A Source of Income

New smartphone use is growing rapidly in Canadian enterprise, but the investment in current wireless devices or the terms of the wireless contract may hamper adoption for many organizations. The new Wireless CellBack Program, powered by The Wireless Source Canada can help organizations convert to smartphones, shorten device upgrade cycles, more quickly refresh wireless technology and expand their mobility footprint.

Wireless CellBack is a pre-owned wireless handset buyback program tailored specifically to the needs of Canadian organizations who will now be able to receive real monetary value for retired, replaced and redundant devices and have the assurance of comprehensive data removal and the security of complete serialized compliance and disposition reporting. The Program is Simple, Safe and Smart with easy, no cost return shipping, reliable free quotations, guaranteed data security, serialized reporting and a focus on sustainable product reuse

And the “New Source of Power” – Organizations receive a free vehicle charger to charge-up the new smartphone for each used handset returned with residual value, regardless of the amount (ask for details, some restrictions apply).

For The Enterprise

Residual values as high as $100 for Blackberry Bolds, Curves, Pearls & Storms can help fund upgrades to the Torch and BB 6 system or can support an enterprise-wide conversion to Android. Similarly, early generations of the iPhone, which retain even higher value, can be captured to help the enterprise change devices or move up to the new iPhone 4. And there may even be a few ‘early adopters’ that are interested in the next wave of tablets that are hitting the market and use the almost $300 of value in first generation Apple iPads or Samsung Tabs to help role out new tablets for the whole enterprise.

Many organizations may also be migrating from employer-provided to individual supplied devices. Legacy handsets can be a real security risk and a real loss of value if left in storage and forgotten. Wireless CellBack ensures that confidential information left on these handsets is properly managed and that the enterprise receives value for the retired assets.

For The Mobility, Wireless Expense & Telecom Management Service Provider

Lifecycle mobility management is a fast growing enterprise service that, increasingly includes management of used devices during decommissioning. Consultants and service providers can use the Program to help their clients realize cost effective refresh strategies and reduce wireless spend to win new business and retain existing clients.

For The Enterprise Wireless Dealer

Corporate account ‘hunters’ looking for new business can convert prospects and help offset the cost of the required new handsets, while The Wireless CellBack Program can help support early contract renewal; early device upgrade, service plan expansion and retention for business account ‘farmers’ working with existing customers

Enterprise, mobility management service providers and dealers in all Canadian provinces and territories can use Wireless CellBack. Program launch includes a 10% ‘QuickStart Premium’ for handsets received during the month of April.

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30th March 2011

Quebec Entreprenship Contest Report Now Available

qecThe Québec Entrepreneurship Contest (QEC) has released a comprehensive report based on an analysis of the spinoffs and success factors of entrepreneurial projects that were carried out in Québec elementary and secondary schools in disadvantaged areas (according to the socioeconomic indicators of the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport), in the context of the Valoris project. Over 800 young people and 50 teachers from five regions of Québec (Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Mauricie and Montréal) took part in this process during the 2009-2010 school year.

The observations that emerged from this survey are very revealing. As QEC President and Director General, Natacha Jean, put it: “Although we are in a unique position to observe the workings of entrepreneurship in the schools, we are favourably impressed by the Valoris findings. These data confirm the full scope of the benefits of entrepreneurial projects for both young people and their teachers.”

Young people with more confidence, motivation and a sense of empowerment can work towards their potential – “I now know that I can go farther in life.” said one 16-year-old student in special education.

During entrepreneurial projects, students are encouraged to make decisions, take on responsibilities and come up with ideas. In doing so, they become aware of their abilities, and sometimes even reach the point where their perceptions of themselves change. Moreover, 95% of teachers have observed that entrepreneurial projects have led to increased self-esteem among students with learning difficulties, while 82% of students stated that, by taking part in such projects, they have developed pride in their abilities. And 77% of students said that they were more confident as a result of the experience.

Thus, motivation to succeed in school is one of the positive spinoffs of student entrepreneurship projects. Indeed 97% of teachers feel that entrepreneurial projects have increased students’ motivation in the classroom, 99% say that students’ feeling of belonging in the school has also increased, and 66% of students claim that such projects motivated them to stay in school.

Moreover, according to 98% of teachers entrepreneurial projects developed students’ entrepreneurial profiles. A sense of responsibility, perseverance and team spirit were the qualities that the students themselves mentioned most often in response to the question. Through entrepreneurial projects, students have also come to know themselves better and discover new talents, according to 96% of teachers.

Teachers who are happier in their work and who tailor their interventions to their students’ needs – “Carrying out this project reminded me of why I became a teacher. It’s what keeps me grounded in my work!” comments one secondary school teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

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30th March 2011

Funcom ReWrites Engine In Preparation For The Secret World

funcomFuncom and NVIDIA have announced that Funcom’s proprietary game engine Dreamworld 2.5 has been launched within Age of Conan, which  is the first game to incorporate server-side NVIDIA® PhysX®. This unique implementation into the Dreamworld engine  results in more than a doubling in the speed-of in-game physics processing vs. traditional client-side PhysX technology, delivering realistic collision effects within the online gaming environments.

Dreamworld currently powers two of the world’s most popular massively multiplayer online games,  Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, and the launch of the new engine is a major milestone towards the high requirements for The Secret Worldvisual performance in virtual adventures for The Secret World, which is currently in development at Funcom Montreal.

“We are excited to be working closely with NVIDIA to integrate PhysX technology into our Dreamworld 2.5 engine,” said Rui Casais, Chief Technology Officer at Funcom. “Server-side collision using PhysX will allow us to add a new level of realism to our online worlds, and we look forward to implementing other enhancements as well, including NVIDIA APEX clothing and destruction, to make our games even more interactive and immersive.”

“We are also proud to have launched  a fully rewritten render engine for Age of Conan, yielding major performance increase on high-end systems and enabling several new visual features for lower end machines”, said Casias. “We have been collaborating closely with NVIDIA in continuously improving the quality of the Dreamworld Render engine, resulting in fully new effects such as shader-based anti-aliasing techniques now being implemented in Age of Conan.

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30th March 2011

Distribution360 Is Ready And Set For Action At MIPTV

distribution360Distribution360 has unveiled over 200 hours of content, and will showcase a wide range of properties including a new format in France next week at MIPTV .

“We’re bringing an array of exciting properties to MIPTV this year that are sure to appeal to many audiences,” says Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, Head of Sales, Distribution360. “In less than a year, D360 has built an impressive slate of over 200 hours of content, and we’re thrilled to have built partnerships with many internationally-renowned producers.”

New additions to Distribution360?s slate of offerings include:skatoony

Kids & Youth
Skatoony (39 x 30′ / 13 x 30′ live-action/animation, web games, online videos) An animated/live-action comedy series that pits tweens and „toons against each other in competition through four frantic, trivia-based rounds – but only one will be named Skatoony Quiz Champ. Set in a fantastical television studio in the fictional town of Showtown, the series is anchored by the hilarious cartoon duo of host Chudd Chudders and his lounge-singing sidekick, The Earl. Each week they attempt to put together another show while all manner of mad happenings occur around them… but the show must go on! North American versions produced by marblemedia; UK and German versions produced by Cartoon Network UK.

Splatalot (26 x 30’ action reality series, format rights, web games, online videos) A hilarious medieval-themed action reality show geared to the tween audience, featuring an extreme obstacle course with more wipe outs and spills than ever imaginable. Each episode features a different group of 12 thrill-seeking teen contestants, dubbed Attackers, competing in three cringe-inducing rounds. The Defenders of Splatalot, an international squad of nine splatalotmedieval-themed gladiators, will do their best to protect the castle from the Attackers – only leaving one to be crowned King or Queen. Splatalot was commissioned by YTV, the BBC, and ABC (Australia). Produced by marblemedia.

Ghostly Encounters (83 x 30’ episodes) Start a conversation about things that go bump in the night, and pretty soon everybody in the room has a story to tell. Paranormal experiences aren?t just the domain of psychics and tarot card readers – in fact, many ordinary people believe they have had supernatural encounters. Ghostly Encounters looks into those incidents and the regular folks-next-door who had them, and takes the viewer on a chilling ride through a fascinating, highly personal ghost story. Produced by Logan Hill Productions.

TAC.tv (181 x 3’ animated shorts & 23 x 30’ animated episodes and online videos) The series features a cast of hilarious characters such as The Googoos, The Secretary, and The Pilot, to name a few. These off-the-wall characters are sculpted from modeling clay by the creator himself, Michel Beaudet. In post production, he superimposes his own moving eyes, mouth, and nose, creating unique characters with over-the-top personalities. Produced by Salambo Productions.

Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town (8 x 30’ episodes) When Death gets off the Greyhound bus in small town Shuckton, Ontario, everyone in town is implicated when one of its most distinguished citizens is found murdered. As a suspect is arrested and the trial plays out, the entire town is affected and its dark secrets are unraveled and exposed. Famous around the world for their sketch comedy, Death Comes to Town features the original five Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, in an all-new narrative format. The Kids still play all the characters – men and women – all distinctively quirky, gender-bending, boundary-pushing and definitively Kids in the Hall. Produced by Axis Entertainment.

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30th March 2011

No Excuse For Boredom

Open: Online Registration for SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver – Make It Home.
Reminder: Early Bird pricing for the Canada 3.0 Forum ends today.
Nominate: The Ingenious Awards Program celebrates and showcases the achievements of Canadian organizations that have accomplished significant business transformation or outcomes through the innovative use of ICT.
Develop: Flash in The Peg March 31st meeting looks at WordPress Design and Development with Dreamweaver
Luncheon Learning: CanWIT BC presents A Career in Project Management signature event, taking place in Vancouver on April 30th and featuring an expert panel of women in technology who will discuss their careers and experiences in Project Management.
Islanders: Next Viatec networking event is April 28th. Don’t forget to submit your VIATeC Award nominations!
Call For Speakers: Get your proposals in for the Montreal International Game Summit before April 11th.
Just Announced: Gamification workshop in Toronto on May 27th.

Silicon SistersVancouver studio Silicon Sisters has submitted its debut title, School 26, to the iTunes store for approval. Official launch is imminent. Designed for girls ages 12 to 16, School 26 is a unique casual game built around the complex social hierarchy of high school. Versions for iPad ($4.99) and iPhone or  iPod Touch ($2.99) are expected to arrive in the App Store in April, with PC, Mac and Android versions coming soon after.school 26

School 26 follows Kate, a student whose nomadic family has made it difficult for her to maintain long-term friendships. As she enrolls at her 26th new school, she and her parents strike a deal: if Kate makes good friends here, the family will stay put. Now the player must help Kate use intuition, empathy, and strategy to build friendships and navigate the moral dilemmas of high school. These dilemmas range from power struggles to peer pressure, from romance to betrayal, from alienation to acceptance — real and relevant situations teens face every day.

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School 26 is inspired by academic research that identifies social engineering as a prominent element in the lives of teenaged girls. In the game, Kate must get to know her new classmates’ personalities, resolve their issues, and strengthen her connections to them. These objectives are met through various types of gameplay including dialogues during which players pick up on social cues and select appropriate emotional responses, quizzes that provide insights into other characters’ (and the player’s) personalities, and a card matching game with shifting rules that reflect the evolving social dynamic among the School 26 crew.

While Silicon Sisters ultimately plans to develop games for all age ranges and demographics, the company decided to lead with School 26 after considering where they could make the biggest impact. “With the workplace shifting to knowledge-based industries and women leading in university enrollments and professional degrees, today’s teen girls are poised for better success than any other generation,” says Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters’ CEO. “By highlighting and rewarding the social activities girls engage in every day, School 26 legitimizes ‘soft skills’ such as communication, empathy, and networking. Girls need to understand that these skills will give them a competitive advantage not only in high school, but also later in life.”

Slant Six GamesCapcom and Slant Six Games have released the debut trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. As I mentioned yesterday, this game is scheduled  for release in Winter 2011, and players can expect the return of familiar faces, including police rookie Leon S. Kennedy, iconic landmarks and classic enemies as the Umbrella Security Service battles to destroy all evidence of the deadly T-Virus.

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Coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City is expected to deliver a true third person team based shooter experience set within the dark and sinister Resident Evil universe and a reinterpretation of the events depicted in Resident Evil™ 2 and Resident Evil™ 3. The setting of the Resident Evil universe not only provides a rich backdrop to the action but delivers a unique and thrilling triple threat battle. Zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W’s) add to the mix as players not only compete against an opposing squad but also tackle this third unpredictable element, creating a brand new style of gameplay and breaking the conventions of traditional team based shooters.

Decapod StudiosDecapod has released another app to the WP7 Marketplace.  According to the information available for Emergency Alerts Free, it provides extended information and useful tips for survival in case of various natural and man-made disasters. Along with the provision of emergency phone number for various countries, this app allows you to tapp into the live feed of nationwide FEMA alerts. The Emergency Alerts app shows location, status, time of occurrence and detailed description of most calamities known to mankind.

radian6Probably the most tweeted-about news today is the acquisition of Radian6 by American-based SalesForce. SalesForce is an enterprise cloud computing company with offices around the globe – including a Canadian corporate presence in Toronto. The 5 year old Radian6, which is based in New Brunswick, is a leader in the social media monitoring platform. SalesForce will be assimilating the Radian6 for approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock, net of cash acquired, with the expectation that the transaction will be completed during SalesForce’s fiscal second quarter ending July 31, 2011, and it is subject to customary closing conditions.

Earlier this month Radian6 had announced that it was releasing a new platform for SalesForce clients, connecting social capabilities within both the Salesforce Service Cloud and the Radian6 platform, enabling enhanced social customer service for SalesForce Clients. Apparently SalesForce liked it so much, they bought the company. Radian6 had also done a little acquiring of its own this month, welcoming the UK’s 6Consulting into the fold. The London company provided social media monitoring services to corporations in the UK, and had been a Radian6 platform reseller for the past two years.

summifyAnd as one startup is acquired, another makes its official launch. Vancouver’s Summify, a new company founded by former Google and Microsoft interns and backed by its first round of seed funding. Investors include Accel Partners, Rob Glaser (RealNetworks), Stewart Butterfield (Flickr, Tiny Speck), Steve Olechowski (Google, FeedBurner), and Canadian super angel Boris Wertz. Company founders Mircea Pa?oi and Cristian Strat have been programming together since high school in Romania. They built two successful services there, connecting programmers to competitions and jobs, and were pursued for full-time jobs by Google and Facebook. Opting for entrepreneurship, they relocated to Vancouver to start up Summify.

For connected people with hundreds of friends and followers, it’s impossible to keep up with relevant news, and what friends are saying, sharing and posting. Summify analyzes and filters your streams, so you can read less but get more out of it. Summify distills the social web, boiling down the torrent of daily information from Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader into a summary of the top five or ten most important and relevant stories that day. An easily consumable summary arrives in email or on the web, with mobile coming soon. Summify is based on a highly refined algorithm that analyzes, among other things, what people you interact with most, what stories your friends are sharing most, and global reaction in social media to important stories worldwide.

Best Buy CanadaTo celebrate the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS™, Best Buy Canada is offering hot deals to help Canadians get the most out of their portable 3D entertainment device. With 18 Nintendo 3DS game titles to choose from, a wide selection of accessories to protect your device and hot offers to trade in your old DS systems, Best Buy is making it easy for customers to maximize their Nintendo 3DS experience.

Best Buy is offering two trade in promotions with the Nintendo 3DS until March 31:

  • Trade in your Nintendo DS and save $50 off of your 3DS
  • Trade in your Nintendo DSi XL and save $100 off 3DS
  • Trade in three Nintendo DS games and receive a $10 credit

Until April 7, purchase any two Nintendo 3DS games from the selection of 18 game titles Best Buy is carrying and save $10.

getting-business-onlineGoogle wants Canadian businesses to get a web site – the upside is that it’s free – for one year. The downside is that they are not using Canadian web hosts or designers. For business owners who aren’t internet or design-capable, this is a good initiative on Google’s part. It’s also an easy way to serve ads, and to help businesses get started with Adwords, Google is also offering a Get Your Business Online badge, a listing and a $200.00 for an Adwords account. Google has been trying very hard to get Canadian businesses using Adwords – I’ve received at least a half dozen snail-mail gift cards from them – some of them with the right mailing address, but the names they were addressed to weren’t even close. Don’t know who Killian is, but apparently he works for us.

casaThe Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has launched a new social media campaign aimed at making education and student voting a cornerstone of the 2011 federal election.

“Students live on social networks and media, and this campaign and website engages students and politicians online,” said Zach Dayler, National Director of CASA. “This might be the first ‘Twitter election’, which means that the conversation will be taking place on our doorsteps.”

The campaign features key information about parties’ post-secondary education policy, important voter information for students, a student blog. It will also feature a video vault, and throughout the campaign students and others will be asked to contribute their own videos on the importance of student and youth voting.

Kicking off the collection is a video from comedian and CBC Host Rick Mercer. “Rick Mercer’s message on student voting speaks directly to the important role that we can and should play during an election,” said Dayler. “It is ready-made viral, and we expect to see many more like it between now and May 2nd.”

CASA is calling on politicians to make a firm commitment to post-secondary education this campaign, calling on them to introduce policies that improve access to and enhance the quality of Canada’s university and college system. CASA has also invited all party leaders to help encourage youth participation by posting videos on education and join the online dialogue with students.

parta dialoguePARTA Dialogue Inc. has announced that its social media hubs, including ecomobility, energy 2.0 and alternativechannel have been white-listed by Facebook as video-serving sites that can embed their players directly into Facebook pages. This status places Parta’s web-video sites on par with recognized leaders such as Youtube, Dailymotion and Blip.tv, whose video players can also appear directly through Facebook. An expert in social media engagement, Parta’s strategies for generating online conversation involve the building of a central debate hub and active outreach and participation in the social networks where publics congregate. The company has already created and deployed DialogGeneratortm , a Facebook application which allows for two-way penetration between discussions happening on the social network and those on Parta’s proprietary sites.

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