2nd May 2011

If Nothing Is Real What Will Be Revealed

ubisoftAll of you who are waiting to get more details on the next Assassin’s Creed title from Ubisoft Montreal needAssassin's Creed Reveal to take part in the studio’s viral marketing effort. The studio will reveal more information the more people share the AC Reveal app on Facebook. The images so far have been typically cryptic – reflecting the Subject 16-styled video puzzles Assassin’s Creed players have become familiar with. There is an image of what looks to be Jerusalem – is it the city under 16th century Ottoman rule? This could fit neatly at the tail end of Brotherhood, should the developers be continuing the Ezio story, that is. However, there are also flashes of the Phaistos Disc, which points to Crete – and a hint of the current Greek flag does seem to flash on the screen – but it didn’t come into use until the 1800’s. The armoured hand appears to belong to Altair, whose name is flashed across the screen in Arabic – or is it someone new to the franchise? Is that the Apple of Eden glowing in the image’s centre – or just the sun viewed through Eagle Vision?

There is the speculation that the next Assassin’s Creed will be titled Revelations, which is of course being fueled by Ubisoft’s social media corps. At press time the unlock graph was only at 11% – if you are at all curious about what the studio will reveal and have a Facebook account, share with your friends and get them to share with their friends so we can all have  a closer look – as the Unlock level increases, there are more clues added to the cinematic.

While I’m pondering the next direction for Assassin’s Creed, here are today’s news briefs and reminders: INplay 2011

Today is the final day to apply for the Canada Media Fund-presented Canadian Interactive Showcase at INplay 2011, which will be held in Toronto on May 17th & 18th. Registration for the conference is still open – register online to save $100.00 off the door price.

Microsoft Game Studios has revealed the official site for its Vancouver studio, which might be hiring, by the waMicrosoft Game Studiosy – I say might because the MGSV site says there are no positions open, but the MGS Careers page says there are. According to the new site, the Vancouver studio is ‘dedicated to making games for “core” gamers. Our mission is to push the limits of proven and unexplored game development and show the world what’s possible on Microsoft’s game consoles.’ This makes me happy – I can look forward to new titles for my 360 – as long as they aren’t for Kinect, because we don’t have yet have that peripheral.

siggraph 2011SIGGRAPH 2011 has begun posting the Birds of a Feather activities for the conference this August. Check out the offerings, and if you would like to see a group meetup added, you are invited to submit your suggestion to the conference committee. Don’t forget, SIGGRAPH 2011 is August 7th through 11th in Vancouver. Make It Home.

Okino Computer GraphicsOkino Computer Graphics has announced that its 3D DCC/Animation/Skinning and CAD/MCAD/Architectural conversion software PolyTrans-for-3ds-Max (for 3ds Max 2012 & 3ds Max Design 2012), and PolyTrans-for-Maya (for Maya 2012), are now fully qualified and shipping to customers. This is a general notice to those Okino customers who have not upgraded to the 2011/2012 releases yet, and for those not aware of Okino?s software for 3ds Max & Maya.

Virgin MobileVirgin Mobile Canada and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada are digging up some real treasure with their next A-list benefit for Virgin Mobile Members across Canada. As part of an ongoing program delivering the latest movies first, Virgin Mobile has already offered its Members access to advance screenings for hits like I Am Number Four. On May 18, winning Members will have the opportunity to catch the most anticipated film of 2011, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, before its general release on May 20, 2011.

A total of 140 winners and their guests from Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver will get the chance to see the action-packed flick – starring Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz – before anyone else. Plus, one super-lucky Member and their plus one will get some serious VIP treatment: travel and two nights stay in L.A., walking the red carpet at the Hollywood movie premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and access to a super exclusive after-party. Follow Virgin Mobile’s Twitter at @virginmobilecan to see all the latest tweets from the VIP Member while they walk the plank – or red carpet – at the premiere.

To enter for the chance to be at one of the pre-screenings or walk the red carpet at Disneyland as Virgin Mobile’s Red Carpet Reviewer, visit The Lounge on Virgin Canada’s site or the Facebook Contest tab on Facebook. More big time opportunities are always around the corner with the hottest new movies getting delivered to Virgin Mobile Members. The next big blockbusters coming soon to a theatre near you: the 3-D horror remake Fright Night and the high adrenaline Hugh Jackman action film Real Steel.

Ontario-IPCDr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, will unveil details about a new extension of Privacy by Design, called Privacy by ReDesign, in a keynote speech at a premier Canadian privacy event, in Toronto on May 5.

At the same time, the Commissioner will address recent concerns over location tracking in popular smart phones and mobile devices. This hotbed topic will also be featured at a session on the privacy implications of mobile computing led by the Commissioner’s Office. Renowned privacy experts will attend to discuss the protection of privacy in today’s world of ongoing technological advances. It is all taking place at The International Association of Privacy Professionals‘ (IAPP) Canada Privacy Symposium at Ryerson University.

“The fabled demise of privacy has been widely portrayed of late, which reinforces the reality that we need to reframe how we present the privacy equation,” says Commissioner Cavoukian. “This is precisely why it’s time for Privacy by ReDesign right now! It will help organizations rethink and redesign privacy into their existing, legacy systems and business practices.”

Since the 1990’s, Commissioner Cavoukian has advocated for organizations to proactively embed privacy into technology right from the outset, a concept called Privacy by Design. International privacy regulators unanimously passed a landmark Resolution in 2010 recognizing the made-in-Ontario solution as a Global Privacy Standard. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission now recommends Privacy by Design for protecting online privacy.

The Commissioner’s Office is leading many timely sessions at the event including:

* Addressing the Privacy Implications of Mobile Computing
* Biometrics: Enhancing Privacy, Security and Trust through Privacy by Design (Related to this, roll out has begun across Ontario of a new privacy-protective facial recognition system to support customers enrolled in Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s voluntary self-exclusion program)

* Embedding Privacy Protection into a Risk Management Framework (At this session, a new white paper will be introduced, showing how IBM implemented Privacy by Design, moving it from a theoretical concept to a practical solution)

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26th April 2011

THQ And Games Workshop Extend License Deal

THQTHQ and Games Workshop have announced a multi-year extension to their successful video game license agreement, extending THQ’s current exclusive rights to publish video games based on the popular Warhammer® 40,000® universe through titles across all relevant platforms including core, social and mobile rights.Relic Entertainment

Since entering the licensing agreement with Games Workshop, THQ has published several highly successful titles based on the intellectual property (IP), including the Warhammer® 40,000®: Dawn of War® real-time-strategy games for PC systems that have shipped 6.5 million units to date. Two fresh interpretations of the Warhammer 40,000 IP are currently in development; one by THQ Relic Entertainment: Warhammer® 40,000®: Space MarineTM – a third-person shooter for the Xbox 360® , PlayStation®3 and PC set to release later this year – and Space MarineWarhammer® 40,000®: Dark MillenniumTM Online, a massively multiplayer online game exploring the deep fiction and myriad races of the IP which is in development at Vigil Games in Austin, Texas.

“The complex, futuristic war-torn universe created by Games Workshop equipped THQ’s award-winning development teams with the material to create one of the most loved PC franchises – Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War,” said Brian Farrell, THQ President and CEO. “Our envisioning of the Warhammer 40,000 universe will continue to grow with top quality games across all platforms, including the upcoming launches of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online.”

“The impressive translation of the Warhammer 40,000 universe from the tabletop to the video game space by THQ certainly highlights the potential of our most successful intellectual property in the right hands,” said Mark Wells, Games Workshop CEO. “We know that the depth of the storylines, characters and imagery of the Warhammer 40,000 universe positions the IP to excel across many media platforms – and extending our agreement with THQ will help ensure that Warhammer 40,000 maintains a strong and growing presence in the video game space.”

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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

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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19th April 2011

Burn The Rope On Your Mac

igdaThe IGDA has posted a response to Amazon’s clarification of seller terms for its digital marketplace, stating that the company’s policy is still unfair to developers and fails to fully address developer concerns. The article urges developers to join the conversation and let Amazon know that their policies need to be changed.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s Burn the Rope has ignited puzzle gaming on the iPhone and iPad, and will soon be burn the rope for macdoing the same for the Mac OS. Wickman has been looking to make his next move, and with brand new cursor and keyboard-driven controls, Burn the Rope for Mac OS brings the original hit mobile gaming experience and proven flame-lighting fun to Mac gaming enthusiasts everywhere, now from the Mac App Store.

The goal of Burn the Rope is to burn as much rope as possible on each level. The fire only burns upwards, so the player must rotate the rope to keep the flame going – once all the flames are out, it’s game over. With clever puzzle designs for each level and rope-crawling insects that add to the game-play in unique and interesting ways, Burn the Rope is one of the hottest apps in the App Store. Burn the Rope is fast-paced addictive fun, and the Burn the Rope for Mac OS is sure to please puzzle game fans of any age.

EA Black BoxEA Black Box invites you to experience the white-hot intensity of illicit street racing in the all-new Team Escape mode in Need for Speed™ World, the Play4Free online PC action racing game from EA. Available now, players can team up with three friends to win the race while battling a determined police force. This is a race to the finish line using any means necessary including roadblocks, spike strips and deadly rhino SUVs. Players can also fight back with two brand new power-ups; Team Emergency Evade, which can be used to save friends from getting busted with a more powerful blast than regular evade, and Team Slingshot which gives one team a huge burst of speed. NFSW car customization

Need for Speed World players will be the world’s first game to use Dolby® Axon voice technology. This innovative new technology lets players stay in constant contact as they organize objectives, create race strategies and perfect escape tactics without requiring a separate application or any drain on bandwidth.

Additionally, Need for Speed World players can now further personalize their cars with an enhanced visual customization system featuring window tints, underbody neons, license plates, wheels, and lowering kits.

Need for Speed World brings together best-in-class action racing with an unparalleled social experience on the PC. Players can compete against their friends and family or pick from thousands of players to challenge in intense online battles and police pursuits. Gamers race the way they want in an ever-expanding world with a constant stream of new content, cars, and features.

Eidos MontrealSquare Enix Ltd. has announced that Deus Ex: Human Revolution™ Collector’s Edition, an extremely limited, exclusive product will be releasing in select European countries on August 26, 2011 and in Australia and New Zealand on August 25, 2011, snubbing the Deus Ex fans in the home country of developer Eidos Montreal – unless the publisher is being coy and simply not yet announcing something special for the NTSC zone gamers, but why do something that will blatantly alienate the gamer community the studio has worked very hard at engaging prior to the game’s release?

The Collector’s Edition will include some extras that can be purchased with one of the Augmented Reality versions or as a standard edition pre-order bonus (I’ve had an AR copy on pre-order since the title showed up in the GameStop computers), and while this newly announced edition will include all of the previously mentioned bonuses, it will also include the highly coveted and highly collectable Adam Jensen action figurine designed by Play Arts Kai – a Square Enix company.

This is not the first time Canadian gamers have been shut out of collectable extras sold by the publishers of Canadian-made titles. One of the most recent incidences was with Assassin’s Creed 2, when gamers in Canada (and the USA) could not purchase the AC2 CE with Ezio dressed in black Assassin’s garb, only white. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Canadian developers recognize their “hometown” supporters with a Canada-only special edition?

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12th April 2011

Cineplex and Warner Bros Interactive Celebrate Mortal Kombat Canadian Launch

Warner Brothers Interactive EntertainmentWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Cineplex Entertainment will be hosting a Canadian launch and tournament event for Mortal Kombat, the highly anticipated game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, on April 18th. Tickets for this event are only $5 – on sale now – and all ticket holders will get the chance to participate in a Mortal Kombat tournament for some great prizes, with the final rounds taking place on the big screen. An exclusive contest for SCENE members will also take place at each location (not including Quebec). By redeeming SCENE points, members can enter to win a life-size Scorpion replica statue ($2,000 approximate value).

Event participants at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto will be able to meet Canadian UFC fighter Sean Pierson as he will be signing autographs from 8:00-10:00 p.m.  Finally, three versions of the game for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will be available for purchase at midnight at the theatre. The Mortal Kombat Standard Edition will be available for $69.99, the Mortal Kombat Kollectors Edition for $99.99 and the Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition for $149.99.

The latest iteration of the award-winning Mortal Kombat videogame, available on April 19, marks a triumphant return to the series’ mature presentation and a reinvention of its classic 2D fighting mechanic. Driven by an all new graphics engine, the fan favorite Fatality is back and presented in more gory detail than ever before. In addition, Mortal Kombat introduces a number of new game-play features including tag team and a deep story mode. Mortal Kombat is being developed by NetherRealm Studios, led by Mortal Kombat creator and creative director Ed Boon.

The game is rated M for Mature, participants must be at least 18 years of age to attend the event and purchase the game.

WHEN: Monday, April 18, 8:00 p.m. to midnight (local time)

WHERE: Advance tickets are now available at participating theatre box offices, through the Cineplex Mobile Apps and online at www.cineplex.com/events or mobile site m.cineplex.com

BRITISH COLUMBIA: SilverCity Coquitlam Cinemas, 170 Schoolhouse

ALBERTA: Cineplex Odeon South Edmonton Cinemas, 1525-99th Street NW, Edmonton and SilverCity CrossIron Mills Cinemas & XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, 261055 CrossIron Boulevard, Rocky View (Calgary)

MANITOBA: SilverCity Polo Park Cinemas, 817 St. James Street Winnipeg

ONTARIO: Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, 259 Richmond Street West and SilverCity Newmarket Cinemas and XSCAPE Entertainment Centre, 18151 Yonge Street

QUEBEC: Scotiabank Theatre Montreal, 977 rue Ste-Catherine Montreal

In the meantime, check out this teaser trailer for Mortal Kombat: Legacy done by Vancouver’s GoldTooth Creative:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Updated: This press release arrived in my email just after I made the original post.

Goldtooth Creative is proud to have provided visual effects, editing, motion graphics, and more than an hour of original music for the highly-anticipated Mortal Kombat web series, produced by Contradiction Films and Warner Goldtooth CreativePremiere and debuting online today.

Beginning in the pre-production phase and continuing through filming and beyond, Goldtooth artists worked closely with Director Kevin Tancharoen and the Mortal Kombat production team to create slick visuals and an evocative musical score that heighten the chills and thrills of Tancharoen’s action-packed series.

Though the Goldtooth crew has worked its magic on countless videogames—and key creative personnel cut their teeth on television series’ and blockbuster films—this is the company’s first foray into live-action web-based entertainment. “We’re excited to be part of this innovative project and proud to show off the talent we have here at Goldtooth,” said Tyler Weiss, Goldtooth Vice President and Audio Director.

“We’re fans of the franchise, and so we were determined from the word ‘go’ that our work would be worthy of the Mortal Kombat universe,” said Goldtooth VFX Supervisor Keegen Douglas, who helped design the visual effects in pre-production, supervised on set, and led the Goldtooth VFX team during the whirlwind post schedule. “We had a great time collaborating with Kevin and the entire Mortal Kombat team,” said Goldtooth Associate Creative Director Paul Furminger, who led the Goldtooth editorial team on this project.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

“From the start we knew that this was going to be an unbelievably challenging project,: said Tim Carter, producer of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. “Goldtooth embraced the project and truly invested in it both emotionally and in terms of their approach to budget. Their work has been consistently phenomenal and it’s no exaggeration to say that without them Mortal Kombat: Legacy simply wouldn’t have been possible.’

The nine-webisode series relates origin stories for many of the franchise’s most notorious characters. The first episode—in which Sonya Blade (Jeri Ryan) and Jax (Michael Jai White) go head-to-head with Kano (Darren Shahlavi)—premieres today, with subsequent episodes to be released each consecutive Friday through April and May.

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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.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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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29th March 2011

IGDA Vancouver Makes A Move Forward

Reminder: Early Bird Registration for Partnerships in Learning close on March 31st. Conference is being held at Dalhousie University this April 26th – 28th.

On Sale: Tickets for HackWaterloo, taking place on April 9th at the Post Rank office in Waterloo.

Panel Event: BCTIA TechForum Series presents Accelerator Programs…Do they really work? on April 19th at the Sutton Place Hotel, featuring speakers Jim Maynard, Wavefront President, Tim Jackson, Waterloo Accelerator Centre CEO, and Iain Klugman, Communitech Hub President and CEO.

Election 41: The Polaris Institute has re-launched TarNation, a popular political video game aimed at highlighting Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff’s unwillingness to take action on the environmentally destructive tar sands. Players spray oil at Conservative and Liberal party leaders to get them out of the tar sands.

Last evening the EA Canada Campus in Burnaby played host to the relaunch of IGDA Vancouver, with pizza supplied by Slant Six Games and beer provided by Granville Island Brewery. There was a pretty good turnout of people from IGDA Vancouver Relaunchthe local development community, which to me says that there is interest in breathing new life into our long-dormant local chapter. IGDA Executive Director Gordon Bellamy and IGDA Community Manager Ryan Arndt were on-hand to answer questions and bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on with the global association, and it looks like there are some very good initiatives on the horizon.

Work Life Balance, Outsourcing and Collaboration were but some of the topics pursued throughout the course of the meeting, and I hope that as our local industry revamps itself and moves forward, the discussions will continue. As one who is unable to attend events such as GDC San Francisco or the Leadership Forum, due travel and ticket costs being rather prohibitive, I look forward to more localized and affordable events as outlined in Gordon’s preamble to the meeting. What stood out the most for me was the willingness of the IGDA to work with other groups and events, including the BC Interactive Task Force, Women In Games Vancouver, ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver, the Canadian Games Conference and Full Indie for the betterment of all aspects of the digital media industry – not just those who are artists and coders – because not all of us are talented enough to create outstanding artwork or code more than a Hello World function. I hope that the next iteration of DigiBC will also see the opportunity for collaboration, thereby adding even more strength to our local community.

For those unable to attend, Scott videotaped the information and open mic session that took place in the EA theatre, and we’ll be posting that to our YouTube channel as soon as he has a chance to process it. If you would like to find out more about our local IGDA chapter and (hopefully) get involved, please visit the IGDA Vancouver Facebook page and jump into the conversation. There are future events being planned, two of which will be hosted by Next Level Games and Radical Entertainment – I believe there was also mention of Relic Entertainment hosting an event as well.

Decapod StudiosVancouver’s Decapod Studios has updated its Slash Effect WP7 app, which is a news reader for  the Slash Dot website. The studio has also released Photo Search Free to the WP7 marketplace. With fully customizable search parametres, you will be able to search the internet from your phone to find anything from regular photos to clip art and design elements to new wallpaper backgrounds and even faces. Search results can be shared with your friends as well as saved to your phone’s Photo Library.

Bioware CorpThe final chapter of Mass Effect 2 has now landed on my Xbox 360 – and it can land on yours too, as it’s available in the XBL Marketplace today for 560 MS Points. The DLC is also available for PC (560 Bioware Points) and for the PS3 (approx. $9-10) and gives gamers the opportunity to earn three new achievements (or trophies, whichever applies to your chosen platform).  In this new game add-on, Commander Shepard is sent to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who may have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion that has been looming since the very beginning of the series. Returning and playing a prominent role in Mass Effect: Arrival is fan favorite Admiral Hackett, who is voiced by legendary science-fiction actor Lance Henriksen of Alien and Terminator fame.

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So ends the current adventures of Commander Shepard. Now I can go back and try to earn 100% on the first two titles while awaiting news bits about Mass Effect 3, which Bioware will start releasing in the near future – perhaps in May.

Netflix Canada has begun offering three different viewing options to its Canadian subscribers, which is very timely for those who are concerned about User Based Billing and data transfer caps. Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix, announced on the company’s blog today that the new options are designed to enable a 2/3 reduction in transfer usage. In short, these new options are:

  1. “Good” – The default setting with good picture quality and lowest data use per hour (about 0.3 GBytes/hour)
  2. “Better” – Better picture quality and medium data use per hour (about 0.7 GBytes/hour)
  3. “Best” – Best picture quality and highest date use per hour (generally about 1.0 GBytes/hour – or up to 2.3 GBytes/hour when streaming HD content)

Please visit the Netflix blog for complete details on how to manage your Netflix transfer usage.

dhx mediaDHX Media has signed a deal with Discovery Communication’s The Hub for the second season of its hit preschool series Animal Mechanicals. Originally commissioned by CBC in Canada, where it is one of the highest-rating preschool shows, Animal Mechanicals is produced and distributed by DHX Media. It airs around the globe on channels including the Disney Channels in the UK, Italy and Asia; Radio-Canada, Discovery Latin America, Beetle BuggyRomania’s HOP, EBS in Korea; Al-Jazeera Children Channel and Prava I Prevodi, which acquired the title for Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Josh Scherba, SVP Distribution at DHX Media, said: “Animal Mechanicals has really engaged with young audiences on The Hub since its launch last Fall; success underscored by this commitment to the second season. We continue to build the licensing programme for the show including the launch of the Animal Mechanicals app which offers a new interactive element for children and their parents.”

DHX Media has also recently launched a new iOS app based on the show. Animal Mechanicals: Beetle Buggy Race, is priced at $1.99, and available on all iTunes stores worldwide. In licensing deals, Producciones Publiexpress have been signed up for colouring and activity books in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has really been on the move this week (pun intended) – the company has just announced two more Motion Seating agreements with American movie theatres.  Emagine Entertainment will equip two screens at its new Royal Oak, Michigan theatre with a total of 29 D-BOX MFX Seats when the theatre opens in May. D-Box has also signed its first agreement with RC Theatres to equip two of that company’s Pennsylvania complexes. The Hanover Movies 16 will feature 18 D-Box MFX Seats and the Wilkes Barre Movies 14 will feature 22 D-Box MFX seats. These two RC locations will soon be the first in the state to feature the immersive motion technology that completely transforms the movie viewing experience with seats that move in perfect sync with the onscreen action.

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28th March 2011

T-Virus Outbreak Pinpointed Near Granville Island

CAPCOMCapcom® has offiically announced that Resident Evil®: Operation Raccoon City, is in development at Vancouver’s Slant Six Games for the PlayStation®3, Xbox 360® and PC with a scheduled Winter 2011 release. In addition it was also confirmed that the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS™ title, Slant Six GamesResident Evil®: The Mercenaries 3D,will ship with a playable demo of Resident Evil® Revelations.

Since the launch of the first title 15 years ago the Resident Evil® series has enjoyed phenomenal success, selling over 45 million units worldwide to date. This latest offering will take the series in a completely new direction and offer a style of gameplay yet to be seen from the franchise.

Resident Evil Outbreak Zone

Resident Evil Outbreak Zone

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City delivers 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.

It is September 1998 and the action centers once more on the ill-fated Raccoon City and the horrific consequences of the deadly T-virus outbreak from the Umbrella facility. With a cover up required, Umbrella orders an elite team into Raccoon City to destroy all evidence of the outbreak and eliminate any survivors. Hearing of this plan, the US Government dispatches its own special forces to uncover any evidence that exposes the cause of the viral infection and Umbrella’s actions. Players take on the role of an Umbrella Security Services soldier (U.S.S.), competing alone or in four player co-op in a battle against all the competing forces at play in Raccoon City.

Expect the return of original Resident Evil enemies, iconic landmarks such as the Raccoon City Police Department and fan favorite characters, including Leon S. Kennedy, who as a rookie police officer in Raccoon City is on your hit list to eliminate. Players will experience a retelling of classic moments from past titles Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 and watch the events unfolding from the menacing perspective of the Umbrella Security Service, giving fans the chance to rewrite the history of the Raccoon City outbreak. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th March 2011

Follow Friday For March 25th

Reminder to all Canadian IDM developers: Take the Pixel To Product Digital Economy Survey. It’s important, and it only takes a few minutes. Follow Pixel To Product on Twitter at 49Pixels

So we are starting our weekend with a non-confidence vote in Parliament, which means we technically have no government and are headed for a Federal election. This also means that all of the Federal parties will be stepping up their campaigns of nastiness. As I said on Twitter earlier – please, please, please stop with the finger pointing. Instead of telling us why every other party is evil, tell Canadians truthfully why your party is awesome, be prepared to back it up with quantifiable proof, and let’s move on. Enough with the playground bully tactics, okay?3DS boxshot Act like the intellectual adults you’re supposed to be and take the responsibility you are asking voters to give you more seriously.

The bonus is that it’s Friday, and that means tomorrow is Nintendo 3DS Launch event day, so if you’re in Toronto or Vancouver, you can get some hands-on time with the 3DS before the midnight sales events at Future Shop. Vancouver’s pre-launch event will be taking place from 6pm until midnight at TD Square (corner of Granville & Georgia streets) and then moving over to the Robson & Granville Future Shop for the midnight opening.

The Toronto pre-launch event will be taking place at Yonge-Dundas Square also from 6pm until midnight, with the midnight sales launch at the Future Shop located at 325 Yonge Street. In support of Earth Hour between 8:30pm-Chun-Li Martini9:30pm, Nintendo Canada will turn off the lights and not draw any electrical power at its dedicated event space. Follow Nintendo on Twitter.

Last evening was the second iteration of the Women In Games Vancouver Martini Night, and while there weren’t as many ladies as at the first event, there was still a good turnout and new connections were made amongst those who attended. Last evening’s Chun Li Martini, created by our awesome Rogue bartender, also appeared to be a big hit; I was driving, so didn’t try it. Martini Night, which for now is supposed to be a ladies only social event, is intended to give women who work in the creative industry a place to network and talk about issues in the industry that are important to them. We hope you will come out for the next Martini Night in April – details to be announced. Follow Women In Games Vancouver on Twitter.

Canadian Games ConferenceThe Canadian Games Conference organizers would like you all to know that tickets are now on sale for both the conference and the Canadian Video Game Awards, and they’ve announced the first round of confirmed speakers. Follow the Canadian Games Conference and Canadian Video Games on Twitter.

The Canadian Games Conference is a two-day conference/exhibition that brings together some of the industry’s top innovators, businesses and talent responsible for the explosive growth of the gaming industry, providing a platform to share knowledge and develop industry partnerships. The Conference, which takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 19th and 20th will be preceded by the Canadian Video Game awards on May 18th, at the Centre for Performing Arts. The Awards will be hosted by Electric Playground’s Victor Lucas and will featuring a live performance by Video Games Live.  As an added bonus, tickets start at just $30 for CGC pass holders, $37 for ESAC and CIAIC members, or $45 for the general public. Tickets for the Awards show can be purchased through Ticketmaster.  Public voting for Game of the Year will start April 15th on the CVA website. Follow Electric Playground, Victor Lucas and Video Games Live on Twitter

Announcing the first round of confirmed sessions:

  • Musing About Cloud – Denis Dyak, Silicon Knights
  • How FIFA Stumbled on a New Business Model – Paul Hossack, EA
  • How MMOs Really Work – Simon Ludgate, Soulrift and Craig Morrison, Funcom
  • On-Line Everywhere – Cyrus Greenall, Ubisoft Vancouver
  • The Design Evolution of HOARD – Tyler Sigman, Big Sandwich Games
  • Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Studio – Matt Tanner, Snowed in Studios
  • So You Want to be a Game Programmer? – Karl Schmidt, THQ
  • Microsoft KINECT Showcase
  • How to Self Fund Development – RBC and Export Development Canada
  • Cross Platform iOS Development – Wolfgang Hamann, Koolhaus Games
  • DO Sweat the Small Stuff – Kris Piotrowski, Capybara Games

Follow Export Development Canada, RBC, EA, Funcom, Ubisoft Vancouver, Big Sandwich Games, Snowed In Studios, THQ, and Capybara Games on Twitter.

Relic EntertainmentThe news that everyone (especially The Cavechild) has been waiting for and that you all probably already know is that THQ and Relic Entertainment announced late yesterday that Triple A title Space Marine finally has a release date – or, release month, anyway.  Set in the rich Warhammer 40,000 universe created by Games Workshop®, Space Marine is a single-player 3rd person campaign-styled action-shooter. This latest entry into the Warhammer 40 000 franchise will not only feature the brutal and feral Orks, but also the dark and sinister forces of Chaos.Space Marine

Space Marine puts players into the role of one of humanity’s elite soldiers, as they battle to protect an Imperial Forge World from a millions-strong Ork invasion. But this isn’t all that faces Captain Titus of the Ultramarines. When Titus makes planet-fall, he soon realizes that the forces of Chaos are lurking in the shadows pulling the strings for their own nefarious purposes.

The addition of Chaos forces adds more variety to the Space Marine single-player campaign by complementing the animalistic and horde-like Orks with a much more powerful and strategic enemy. While Titus can dispatch dozens of Orks alone, the Chaos Space Marines are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with him, especially with the support of Renegade Militia, Tainted Psykers and Bloodletter Daemons, among other units. Space Marine is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. Follow Relic and SpaceMarine on Twitter.

tiny hipposDev studio Tiny Hippos has been acquired by Research In Motion. A press release on the Tiny Hippo states that the studio is  “extremely excited about our future at RIM and continuing to grow and support Ripple. This is a great step towards our goal of providing a cross-platform mobile application development and testing tool to developers worldwide.  Specifically, we will be working to bring BlackBerry support to the Ripple product.

We also want to reassure all new and existing users that we expect that the Ripple product will continue to be offered for download and the team will continue to develop features, provide support, and help grow the mobile application developer community. We would like to extend a special thank you to all of you that have supported and believed in us.” Follow Tiny Hippos and RIM on Twitter.

Toon BoomToon Boom Animation Inc. has released the first of its first line up of fun mobile apps for the iOS App Store. Toon Boom has launched Flip Boom Lite for the iPhone and iPod, a fun app flipboom litethat lets your fingertips doodle, scribble or draw fun animations. Flip Boom Lite is already available for the iPad and has received rave reviews. Both apps are free in the App Store and let you discover the fun of animation creation. The company will be releasing more features for their apps in future updates.

“Toon Boom’s fun applications lend themselves perfectly for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. You can discover how easy creating animation can be while having coffee or waiting for a meeting,” said Joan Vogelesang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toon Boom Animation. Follow Toon Boom on Twitter.

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd is pleased to announce that after only two weeks in the open beta phase, the MicroVolts player population has soared and continues growing rapidly every day.  To celebrate its success, MicroVolts will host a number of events where players will have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes including an iPad 2.  The events start tomorrow March 26 and will continue through April 11!

To thank the active and growing community, MicroVolts will host the MicroVolts iPad 2 contest where they will be giving away two custom MicroVolts iPad 2’s.  Players who rack up 10 hours of play in one week will automatically be entered into the drawing.  The first event will take place between March 28 through April 4, and the second iPad 2 drawing for 10 hours of play will take place between April  4-11. Additionally, this weekend between March 26th and 27th, MicroVolts will give out 2,000 bonus experience points for everyone who plays at least three hours! microvolts

MicroVolts features fast paced, third person shooter action and pits players against each other in a secret battle that has been waged and going unnoticed right in our own backyard for years.  No one knows for sure when or where the first toy declared war but rumor has it that the uprising began with four original limited edition figures, code named MicroVolts. Battle lines were drawn when Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P.-the prototypes a-were soon joined by an endless number of modified versions. Now, toy figures around the world are engaged in an all-out war for valuable battery resources and supremacy of the Micro World.  All we can do now is stay out of their way and wait for a champion to be declared!

With a ton of weapons, inventive character designs, and a huge list of customization features, MicroVolts is destined to invigorate and re-energize the Free2play space. Intuitive controls and a third person view make the game easy to play and fun for both newcomers and veterans of shooter games.  Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept. Follow Microvolts on Twitter.

Family ChannelFamily Channel is giving viewers a sneak preview of Canadian live-action tween show Debra! on the evening of April 22nd. Produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, Debra! follows Debra Delong, an effervescent teen with a unique style and outlook on the world who is determined to start her own business. Debra’s best friend Preston is sometimes reluctant to become embroiled in Debra’s ambitious schemes but always manages to stick by her side. Debra! was created by Andrew Nicolls and Darrel Vickers (Jimmy Neutron, Fairly OddParents, Back to the Barnyard) and marks Cookie Jar Entertainment’s first live-action series for Family Channel. Follow Family Channel on Twitter.

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute® Software Corporation has announced that the company will be presenting at the Government Security Conference & Expo (GovSec) on next-generation solutions for endpoint security and management of mobile devices in Washington, DC on March 31.

Geoff Glave, senior product manager at Absolute, will discuss the growing challenges facing IT in managing and securing the endpoint. He will focus on the need for a layered approach to security, which is now, more than ever, essential to an environment that consists of multiple devices across multiple platforms.

“The mobile landscape is changing dramatically for IT organizations and they need to be prepared more than ever to mitigate the risks posed by mobile data,” states Rob Chase, chief operating officer at Absolute Software. “Absolute is uniquely positioned with cross platform and device support, persistence, and emergency response services. Our solutions provide organizations with actionable intelligence to effectively secure and manage their endpoints and the valuable data on them.” Follow Absolute on Twitter.

teletoonThe season finale of the TELETOON original series Total Drama World Tour premieres on Sunday, April 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and TELETOON is keeping everyone in suspense – even the contestants. This season’s winner will be decided by the fans through an online vote beginning Sunday, March 27, with the winning contestant revealed during the final episode on Sunday, April 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Before the winner is revealed, TELETOON will pay tribute to the three remaining contestants, Alejandro, Cody and Heather, with special episodes in the weeks leading up to the finale. One tribute episode will air on each of the first three Sundays in April at 8 p.m. ET/PT taking a look back at each of the finalists’ journeys from the beginning of this season all the way to the finale. On Sunday, April 24, the finale will air as part of a special four-episode marathon beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT with the three most recent episodes followed by the season finale at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

When viewers visit the Teletoon site to fill out their ballots for the winner beginning Sunday, March 27, they can also enter a contest for the chance to be animated into their very own Total Drama character and conduct an interview with animated host Chris MacLean.

Total Drama World Tour brings an international twist and musical spin to the popular Total Drama animated franchise. This season continued the series’ hilarious tradition of parodying reality shows by bringing back some of the fan-favourite past contestants and a few exciting new faces. The crew’s latest chance at fame and fortune saw them fly all over the world for a chance at another million-dollar grand prize while facing the kind of scary, embarrassing and even disgusting challenges that Total Drama fans have come to expect. Total Drama World Tour is created and produced by Toronto’s Fresh TV Inc. Follow Teletoon on Twitter.

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