20th April 2011

News Bytes For A Quick Snack

igdaThe IGDA has put out a Call for Speakers for its two Leadership Forums. Qualified individuals are being sought who can provide insightful leadership and production-related sessions for the 5th Annual IGDA Leadership Forum US and new this year, the First Annual IGDA Leadership Forum EU, focused on advancing the state of the art in game production and management. Both forums will take place this fall, with the European forum being held in Copenhagen on October 20th and 21st. IGDA Leadership Forum US is taking place at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles on October 27th and 28th.

Toon BoomToon Boom Animation Inc. has release of its initial line up of fun apps for the Apple community, from mobile devices to Mac computers. Each app has several entertaining features, these vary depending on the app and device used. The Mac AppStore now offers Flip Boom Cartoon and Flip Boom Doodle which are available internationally.

On the mobile devices front, Toon Boom has launched Flip Boom Lite for the iPhone and iPod, a free app that lets your fingertips doodle, scribble or draw fun animations. Flip Boom Lite is already available for the iPad and has received rave reviews.

“A natural synergy exists between Apple and Toon Boom Animation, as our award-winning applications are used by the largest animation studios in the world, while Apple products are the most popular devices in the world,” said Joan Vogelesang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toon Boom Animation. “Toon Boom is an amazing example of the potential that can be unlocked by applications that can run smoothly on any Apple platform.”

kids anatomy puzzleVancouver-based JAH App Development is pleased to announce the release of the fun, interactive Kids Anatomy Puzzle iPhone App is available through iTunes App Store. The Kids Anatomy Puzzle is a series (16 in Total) of kids anatomy puzzlebody part puzzles with easy tap and swipe controls that lets your child learn the anatomy of his or her body by building each puzzle. Upon completion of each puzzle your child will see and hear the body part they have just completed.

Starting with a basic Boy or Girl head, kids can can choose a part of the face and create a puzzle to complete the face. There are audio and visual rewards upon completion of each puzzle. This game is recommended for kids aged 2 – 10.

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20th April 2011

No Gravity Now On iOS Android and HP webOS

realtech-vrMontreal’s realtech VR has launched its No Gravity application for iOS, Android users and is now extending the offer for iPad 2, taking advantage of the power of the new tablet from Apple, extending its support for more Android devices and adding availability for HP WebOS devices. No Gravity, originally released as a PSP game on the Playstation network, is now available for iOS and Android operating system. Players will love the fast action as they work their way through thirty-one dangerous missions in a spaceship, in an attempt to save their people. No Gravity has a history of being a popular favorite with PSP players.

PSP players will recognize the name of one of the Android Market and iTunes App Store’s newest additions. No Gravity has already been a very popular game on the Playstation Network for some time. Realtech VR has been busy, adapting this space/action game to take advantage of HD display and open the world of No Gravity to iOS and Android users. The game pits the player against evil forces who have unleashed a mind-altering sickness across thousands of colonies. It’s up to the player to try and save people, or at least prevent more damage.

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Players have thirty-one mission levels to play, can choose from six different spaceships and two levels of difficulty. To help in the fight, each ship comes equipped with six weapons, everything from lasers to ion blasters. Along the way, players will enjoy the massive explosions, first or third person views and rewards for a job well done. No Gravity is a very fast-paced, action packed game that is not for the weak at heart. Good reflexes and a calm hand go a long way to helping the player succeed.

These are some of the features offered in No Gravity:

* Incredible, fast-paced, non-stop action
* This is the iOS and Android version of the PSP for Playstation favorite
* Full frame rate
* Massive explosions and damages
* Play in first or third person viewno gravity
* Select from 5 characters and 5 space ships
* Each ship available in 4 different colours
* Choose from 6 different, awesome weapons
* 31 mission levels to play
* 2 difficulty modes to test a player’s skills
* Reward system with achievements to unlock
* Multitouch and Accelerometer
* iOS Game Center (requires iOS 4.1 or better)
* Google Backup Service for ‘on the cloud’ save games
* Support for phone and tablets (Android 2.2 support for PowerVR, Tegra GPU and Adrenon GPUS including Android 3.0 support – including Motorola Xoom )
* Support for the iPad 2 new graphical processing power.

With the popularity of this game already established on the Playstation Network, No Gravity is being featured on the iTunes App Store in more than 500 places while still being a brand new launch. This should help players find yet another way to enjoy the nail-biting action offered in this all-time favorite.

No Gravity is only $2.99 (USD)  and available worldwide through the iTunes App Store, Mac App Store, Android Market and HP WebOS Application Store in the Games category.

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20th April 2011

Relic Expands Dawn of War 2 Universe With Last Standalone

Relic EntertainmentRelic Entertainment has released it’s very popular Dawn of War II play mode The Last Stand as a new stand alone playable game. Dawn of War II Retribution: The Last Standalone is Dawn of War 2 Retribution The Last Standaloneavailable for purchase on Steam for $9.99 USD. This latest offering in the Dawn of War world is a cooperative survival mode where you control a single hero and face off against waves of enemies along with two other teammates. You can take on the enemy in two different co-op arenas with one of the six available heroes. Gain experience points to level up and unlock new war gear and abilities for your characters. Players can also customize their character’s abilities to create the ultimate build and fight off twenty waves of increasingly devastating enemies as well as track ratings against other gamers and see how your different builds match up.

The Vancouver studio has also released a slew of new screenshots for Space Marine. Head on over to the official Space Marine vs Orks on CrackFacebook Fan Page to check them all out. The intense 3rd person action shooter RPG Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine chapter takes place in the brutal, science fiction setting of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe. In the 41st Millennium, humanity faces extinction at the hands of horrific aliens and demonic hordes. Only one force can offer salvation: the superhuman Space Marines. Who will come out the victor as the Imperial Forces battle against feral Orks and the powers of Chaos? Will UltraMarine Captain Titus be able to hold back the Renegade Militia, Tainted Psykers and Bloodletter Daemons? The fate of the Universe will be in the hands of gamers this summer when Space Marine launches on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC this August.

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20th April 2011

CGC Early Bird Deadline Approaches

Canadian Games ConferenceThe Canadian Games Conference would like to remind you that the Early Bird ticket deadline is April 26th – don’t miss this opportunity to save $150.00 off the full ticket price. The conference has also confirmed three more sessions for this year’s event, which takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 19th and 20th:

Dee Jay Randall

Dee Jay Randall

* 1000s of Zombies, 1000s of Problems — The Dead Rising 2 Multiplayer Experience – Presented by Dee Jay Randall, Technical Director at Capcom Vancouver, who will discuss the challenges posed by the co-operative online play for Dead Rising 2. Find out how the studio went about creating a shared experience of killing zombies and rescuing survivors while maintaining the quality of offline single player. The whimsical violence of hitting, stabbing, shooting and crushing zombies needed to be as fluid and as responsive in co-op as it was in single player.

Attendees will be rewarded with details of the networking components developed for Dead Rising 2’s co-operative mode. We will reveal how we achieved the perception of seamless simultaneity for thousands of in-game entities. In addition, we’ll describe the criteria we used to determine which features relied on a peer-to-peer model versus a traditional client-server model. Finally, we’ll describe the in-game tools used during development and highlight improvements that can ease future development.

* 2011 Processor Graphics Profiling for Console Level Game Performance in your Lap – Presented by Yannis Minadakis from Intel Corporation

* Evolution of an App to Deliver Scalable Application Infrastructure, Matt Chilek, Vice President, Systems Development at SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.

The Canadian Games Conference will also be presenting a PechaKucha-styled closing to this year’s conference, featuring an hour’s worth of high energy game industry topics designed to leave you with the inspiration to go forth and create. Don’t forget to get your tickets for the Canadian Videogame Awards, taking place May 18th at the Centre for the Performing Arts.

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20th April 2011

Flurt Is The 21st Century Flirt App

tipping canoeFlirting entered the 21st century today with the launch of Winnipeg-based Tipping Canoe’s new mobile application, Flurt. With location-based applications surging in popularity and many people viewing their digital presence as an extension of themselves, Flurt helps avoid the awkwardness of a traditional pickup line by sending an anonymous flirt instead.

“Flurt is the digital version of passing notes during class or approaching someone at a bar,” said co-developer Varun Mehra, a 25-year-old computer science graduate from the University of Manitoba. “Flirting is an instinctual behaviour of verbal and physical cues, and this mobile app provides a new dimension to the art of flurtflirtation.”

With 2011 being billed as the year smartphones become mainstream, the International Data Corporation reports that the global smartphone market is expected to grow four times faster than the overall mobile phone market as customers switch from basic cell phones to devices that can download apps and connect to the Internet. According to IDC Canada, more than 50 per cent of smartphones in Canadians’ hands are Android phones or iPhones.

Once Android and iPhone users download the Flurt app, they can send anonymous flurts to anyone in their current location and see all flurts sent by others within 150 metres. As Flurt is a public application, anyone can be flirted with whether they have the app or not. However, to view or respond to a flurt, the mobile app needs to be installed.

“Flirting is universal and we’ve all been in situations where we wanted to compliment or flirt with someone, but have been shy,” said Jeff Friesen, 23, Flurt app developer. “For us, it was a logical leap to create a way for people to make that first introduction more easily and reduce the risk of something we all cringe at – embarrassment or rejection.”

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20th April 2011

Conference Board Looks At Employee Motivation

conference board of canadaNinety-seven per cent of organizations in a Conference Board of Canada survey have an employee rewards and recognition program in place. Yet, fewer than half of the survey respondents believe their employees are satisfied with the organization’s rewards and recognition practices.

This Conference Board of Canada study, Making it Meaningful: Recognizing and Rewarding Employees in Canadian Organizations, found that the average annual amount spent on recognition is $175 per employee. Public sector organizations average $123 in expenditure per employee; those in the private sector spend $208 on average.

The survey was completed by 166 primarily medium- and large-sized organizations across Canada. Respondents represent a cross-section of public and private sector organizations and include all major industry categories.

“Recognition from a manager carries meaning and motivation for employees, whether or not it is accompanied by a reward,” said Karla Thorpe, Associate Director, Compensation and Industrial Relations. “Organizations should keep in mind that recognition is personal, in that what motivates one employee is different from what motivates another.”

“Organizations that take into account the preferences of their employees will see a greater impact from their investment in rewards and recognition programs.”

Responding organizations spend, on average, 0.26 per cent of base pay on rewards and recognition programs. This level of expenditure indicates that maximizing the investment should be top of mind for managers of these programs.

Rewards and recognition programs can be used to increase employee engagement and to create a positive work environment. However, organizations often struggle with how to effectively use their rewards and recognition program to connect with employees.

The most prevalent type of recognition program among survey respondents is long-service recognition, with almost all organizations rewarding employees for their tenure with the organization. The most common types of reward given to these employees include gifts, pins, and plaques. Almost half (45 per cent) of recognition spending goes to long-service recognition.

Some of the main challenges in managing rewards and recognition programs include:

  • Getting employees and managers to actively participate in their programs;
  • Ensuring employees are being rewarded and recognized fairly and consistently;
  • Making the business case—finding the budget, showing a return on investment; and
  • Administrating and communicating the program.

The full report, Making it Meaningful: Recognizing and Rewarding Employees in Canadian Organizations, is available to subscribers at www.e-library.ca.

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20th April 2011

Coca Cola Monitors National Happiness

coca colaCanadians say they don’t need extravagance to be happy. So what inspires them? It’s the simple things in life, like spending time with family and friends, experiencing the majesty of Canada’s landscape and participating in charitable acts. These are among the top activities that bring Canadians happiness, according to a new survey from Coca-Cola, aptly named the Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor.  The survey is the most comprehensive online study on happiness in Canada.

The Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor, conducted in celebration of Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary, canvassed 5,000 Canadians 16 years and older. Respondents were asked about all things “happiness” including social networks, active living, work and the influence of Canadian icons and landscapes in their lives. Results showed more than half of Canadians believe they are happier than the average person. The number-one contributing factor to personal happiness is family or a significant other at 71 per cent.

“For 125 years Coca-Cola has championed the values of optimism, positivity and happiness,” said Nicola Kettlitz, President, Coca-Cola Ltd.  “The Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor will help us inspire and encourage more of those happy moments that allow us to pause, refresh and experience life’s simple pleasures.”

Throughout the year, Coca-Cola will release additional results of the Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor. Further insights will include those moments, locations and times Canadians are happiest, as well as the happiest occupations in Canada, stress levels, ambitions and views on money.

Coca-Cola Happiness Monitor Highlights

Go Canada Go! Canada’s gold medal win in men’s hockey at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games was the happiest national sporting event for almost half of the country (47 per cent).  The 1972 Canada vs. USSR series was a distant second at 17 per cent. (Why wasn’t the Women’s gold medal win included in this? I feel it’s just as important for national morale as the men’s gold medal win.)

Natural wonders….Drawn to the vast landscape of astonishing natural and rugged beauty, close to one third of Canadians (32 per cent) say that the Rockies in Banff, Alberta, make them the happiest.

  • The runners up? The dance of the Northern Lights, which light up 26 per cent of the population, and Niagara Falls, a popular tourist destination and source of natural happiness for 15 per cent of the country.
  • The rugged Rocky Mountains are a popular source of scenic happiness amongst men and older citizens, while women and younger Canadians were more likely to cite the Northern Lights.
  • Third-generation Canadians, also partial to the Northern Lights, were less likely to choose the thundering waters of Niagara Falls as the natural phenomenon that makes them the happiest.
  • The Falls scored big points with Canadian parents, who cited this natural wonder most often.

Happiness is a helping hand. Whether by giving time or money, nearly half of Canadians (49 per cent) say that they feel happy when they support charitable causes, with 14 per cent saying it makes them extremely happy. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th April 2011

Momcafe Presents A Look Inside The Alpha Male Playbook

momcafeMomcafe Halifax will host an all-day event for Halifax women in business that is called “What Men Don’t Tell Women in Business.” The May 2nd event will take place at Pier 21 and will offer two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Halifax women in business who attend the morning session will have the privilege of hearing Chris Flett, author of “What Men Don’t Tell Women in Business” give a very special keynote address. During this session Chris will share with participants an authentic Alpha Male’s account of what has happened to business in the last 40 years, what drives Alpha Males in business, and the ways that professional women unknowingly give up their power in business to men. This discussion covers all the things men discuss at the water cooler, in the locker room, and in the board room when women aren’t present. Participants should come prepared for a truthful look inside the Alpha Male’s playbook of business.

The afternoon session will treat Halifax women in business to a “Women’s Leadership Program,” also led by Chris Flett. This half-day session brings to light the three fundamentals for any professional woman looking to advance her career:

1) having a clear big picture and plan for their career

2) understanding how to increase professional value (reputation, quality of contacts, and unique skills & expertise) throughout their career

3) building a powerful business network that produces clients, opportunities, and support.

When participants leave the room, they will have at their disposal some of the most powerful planning tools known to the industry. These tools will be relevant now and throughout their careers. This Momcafe Halifax event is being presented in partnership with RBC, C100 and Rooftight.

genworthYou can now check out your Financial Fitness Score online to help discover how financially fit you are, courtesy of Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada and the Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services.

The score is based on attitudinal and behavioral questions that were developed from financial fitness data collected in a survey sponsored by Genworth Financial Canada and CACCS. The tool helps people determine how well they are managing their finances and provides useful information that is based on their fitness level. The national online survey of over 1,500 Canadians, including 254 first time buyers and people who intend to buy homes in the next two years, was conducted between January 19 and February 1, 2011 by Environics Research Group.

“Having a firm understanding of what it means to manage your money is so important to peace of mind”, said Henrietta Ross, Chief Executive Officer of CACCS.  “It’s quick, easy and free, but so rich in value. Understanding your score and what you can do to improve your situation is very empowering.”

The fitness tool is just one of a series of initiatives provided by Genworth Financial Canada in collaboration with CACCS and was launched as part of their recent Homeownership Education Week events that included live seminars and webinars on various financial topics.

“Providing this financial fitness evaluation is an extension of Genworth’s commitment to helping Canadians get a better understanding of their finances,” said Debbie McPherson, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing of Genworth Financial Canada. “As The Homeownership Company, we help Canadians achieve their homeownership dreams responsibly and providing education is an important first step”.

A recent report by Canada’s Task Force on Financial Literacy concluded urgent action needs to be taken to strengthen financial understanding in Canada. Genworth Financial Canada supports this recommendation and is continuing to work with the CACCS to offer helpful financial resources for Canadians.

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