25th April 2011

Monday New Releases and Upcoming Events

Meetup: Vancouver Social Game Devs at Calabash this April 28th from 6 – 9pm. Sign up on the Meetup page.
Edmonton Game Pub: April 27th in the Bioware Theatre from 6 – 9pm. Sign up on the event page or on Facebook.
Speaker Session: Wired Woman Presents A Blueprint for Implementing a Successful Mentorship Program, 6pm at the Vancouver YWCA Royal Bank Room on April 27th.
Deadline: IGDA Scholarship Applications for E3 – get them in by April 29th.
Attention Canadian Students: If you would like to take part in the Impact Apprentice 2011 challenge, now is the time to start your plan of attack. Submissions open on May 11th.

Coming Soon: VI Technologies has announced that the company will be releasing VI Racing 964 3.3 Turbo: AI First Drive on April 30th.

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Digital Leisure Inc. has launched Word Searcher Deluxe exclusively on WiiWare for 500 Nintendo Points. In this follow up to last years ‘Word Searcher’, gamers will need a sharp eye aDigital Leisurend a quick mind to Word Searcher Deluxecomplete these 100 themed word search puzzles. Word Searcher Deluxe contains fun words from multiple categories including palindromes, pirates and painting. Packed with a huge assortment of subjects to choose from, there’s sure to be a puzzle anyone will enjoy.

Word Searcher Deluxe will help improve your vocabulary, memory and problem-solving skills with its addictive puzzles. Keep track of your progress and try to beat your own play through times again and again as words are scrambled every time you play. Get your thinking cap on and conquer all 100 today, or take on the whole family and your friends with the full cooperative and competitive multi-player modes. You will also be able to download and enjoy additional puzzles via Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play

Mobile Game StudioToronto’s Mobile Game Studio will be releasing Web Swinger, the studio’s newest arcade game  in just a few weeks’ time. This new fun packed game will put you in the role of a tiny creature who despite his size, is determined to rule world, reaching incredible heights while defeating enemies in a life and death battle for barn supremacy. Arcade-styled Web Swinger will take you into the world of insects, casting you as a spider and pitting you against numerous insect enemies as you battle against time in your quest to the bottom of the barn.

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Click on the down or up arrow to move the spider down or up the web and drag your finger on the screen to swing the spider. Web Swinger features 20 different levels of unbelievable fun, but it is up to you to make your mark and defeat your enemies. You will lose the game if your spider loses all of its lives or is crushed by time.  Stay tuned for the official release of Web Swinger in the Apple Store.

pixtonParksville’s Pixton has been selected as an Official Honoree in the Youth category of the 15th Annual Webby Awards, one of the Internet’s most respected symbol of success.  This year’s Webby Awards received 10,000 entries from 60 countries and 50 U.S. states. The Official Honoree distinction is awarded to the top 10 percent of all work entered. Fellow Honorees in the Youth category include such powerhouses as Disney, Lego, Teen.com, and Nickelodeon.

“We’re incredibly honored that Pixton has been selected. It reinforces Pixton as one of the best websites for youth, and that wouldn’t be possible without our active, vibrant community”, says Clive Goodinson, Creator and Founder of Pixton Comics.

Pixton pushes the limits of creativity on the web by giving anyone the power to create comics, full of original characters with life-like expression and movement. Every element of a comic is controlled with an intuitive click-and-drag motion. Comics can be shared in print as well as across the social web, in browsers, mobile devices, tablets, and interactive whiteboards.

“Kids today want not only to get inside their favorite characters’ worlds, they want to actively shape those worlds, in an online social environment,” says Clive, “Pixton is that place. Kids can carve out their own niche while being part of a shared world of digital stories and comic conversations.”

Already available in 9 languages, the website is continually growing as Pixton expands its reach to homes, schools, and businesses around the world.

appnovationVancouver based interactive digital agency Appnovation Technologies has become an official systems integration partner with San Francisco based Strobe Inc., a company founded by SproutCore creator Charles Jolley, enables the delivery of cross platform mobile solutions using HTML5 and SproutCore technologies.

Appnovation’s expertise lies in designing, building and deploying content rich web and mobile applications using open source technology platforms such as Drupal and Alfresco. By adding SproutCore and Strobe technologies to their services arsenal, Appnovation will now be able to blend the robust content and document management capabilities of Alfresco and Drupal with ability to deploy applications across multiple mobile platforms. Appnovation is already working with Strobe to bring the value of this partnership to market and continue to drive open source solutions for its customers.

Vircom, an award-winning e-mail messaging security software company in Montreal has released vircomdirectQuarantine™, an Outlook add-on module for its modusGate™ email security software that provides end-user control of quarantine emails directly from Outlook. Vircom’s directQuarantine software is compatible with modusGate 4.7 or 5.0, runs on Windows platforms (2003/2008/2008R2 for the server and XP/Vista/7 for the client) and is available to order today.

directQuarantine provides a Spam folder in Outlook that allows end-users to search for quarantined emails in real-time using the Outlook search toolbar or the blazingly fast native Windows search – no more waiting for nightly quarantine reports, logging in to a Web portal, or depending upon IT to check for and release blocked emails. The directQuarantine folder contains all emails caught and filtered by modusGate and any false positives can be quickly and easily released directly from the Outlook toolbar. Any attachments, viruses, phishing links and all other electronic threats remain safely on the modusGate server and are not downloaded to Outlook, ensuring the highest level of security.

avixToronto’s AVIX Technologies, Inc. has announced that its its proposed wholly owned subsidiary, Florida-based Actus Interactive Software, LLC has developed a suite of cutting edge graphical multi-touch capable interactive kiosk and active digital signage products that are intended for broad market and vertical appeal.

Divided between active digital signage and interactive kiosks, these solutions feature self service content management in an easy to use, dynamic way, deploying to countless end point devices in a real time or scheduled manner. ACTUS’ kiosk and digital signage owners can also dynamically brand or “skin” end point devices uniquely or in groups.

Cornelia Volino, President of AVIX stated that, “As the Company moves closer to completing the acquisition of ACTUS, our focus is shifting towards integrating vertical and horizontal industry segments and those that will be capable of supporting the development efforts of ACTUS, which include multi-touch capability and gesture based technologies built on the NUI.”

This suite of kiosk and interactive digital signage products has the potential to significantly affect competition in the kiosk and interactive digital signage spaces across multiple vertical industries. ACTUS kiosk solutions are multi-touch (and eventually gesture) capable based on the latest advances in Natural User Interface (NUI) providing for high levels of usability beyond what is normally seen in today’s web based kiosk software. ACTUS kiosk and digital signage solutions deploy to multiple form factors on multiple platforms including large HD screens, computers, slates, and mobile devices and all leverage a common web & cloud capable back end architecture.

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21st April 2011

New In The App Store

Here are some recent and new releases from a few of our fine Canadian studios:

skymodoSkyModo has released free and paid versions of Dog Pile on the iTunes App Store and Android Market. dog pileThe free version gives a bonus of 50 dog bones for the customization of your dog pack and comes with the Easter Pack that is also available in the full 99 cent version. The paid version of Dog Pile starts gamers off with a 250 dog bone bonus. Players can spend the dog bones in the store, purchasing items with which to dress up your Dog. I have not yet played this game, but it appears to use a combination of tilt physics, pachinko-styled levels and power-ups to match your Dog to the ones in the pile – in a match 3+ kind of way. Dog Pile is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. I have downloaded the free version of Dog Pile, but it will not load on my 2nd gen iPod touch, so I’ll have to get Scott to try it on his iPhone.

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endloopChicken Balls (99 cents USD) by Endloop Systems has taken to the skies. You play as Crash, the bravest chicken this side of New Mexico. It’s the summer of 1947, you’ve just come back from chicken balls HDthe war and had hoped to hang up your flight cap for good. When a UFO crash lands just outside the nearby town of Roswell you knew you’d have to take to the skies – one more time. At launch, Chicken Balls features 50 levels of physics puzzles, with more levels in coming updates. The game makes use of an innovative mix of slingshot physics destruction and pachinko/breakout styled play, with the Farmaggedon power-up achieved by collecting all of the eggs on each level. Crash can also harness the power of alien technology to make himself bigger, faster and stronger. Chicken Balls is OpenFeint and GameCentre enabled. Future updates will offer more levels, more power-ups and more unlockable animals. Chicken Balls is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.

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Loud Crow InteractiveLoud Crow Interactive has a new children’s book out on the market. The studio has released its second Sandra Boynton book, Moo Baa La La La to the iTunes Store. This interactive version of Ms. Boynton’sMoo Baa La La La best selling book “will intrigue and amuse little kids and big people alike, and perhaps even elicit an appreciative snort from the occasional uninvited rhinoceros.”

Moo Baa La La La is narrated by Keith Boynton and includes Country Air, an original instrumental soundtrack composed by Michael Ford. Each of the illustrations, which have been redrawn and recoloured by Ms. Boynton allows young readers to interact with the animals through touch and sound. This young reader app also features “The Big Guy Reads It” with word highlighting to help improve reading skills or the “I want to read it myself” mode which allows children to hear individual words pronounced with the tap of a finger. Moo Baa La La La is $1.99 USD for the iPhone or iPod Touch version while the iPad version is $2.99 USD. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.

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Silicon Sisters InteractiveThe debut title from Silicon Sisters Interactive, School 26, is available now for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. School 26 takes a less-trodden path in game play and is aimed at the female tween school 26market, although some older gamers may find this title engaging as well. I do have a copy of the game and will be sharing my thoughts on this new title with you over the weekend.

School 26 follows the efforts of a female student named Kate, who, due to having nomadic parents, is now in her 26th school. Her parents have struck a deal with her, and if she can forge new and lasting friendships with people at the school, they won’t move. School 26 makes use of conversation, mini-games, puzzles and choosing the correct most appropriate emotional responses in advancing players through the game.

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The iPad version is $4.99 USD while the iPhone version is $2.99 USD. School 26 requires iOS 3.1.3 or later and does have a content warning with a 12+ age rating for:

  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References

GamerizonGamerizon’s newest title is Chop Chop Rocket, a 99 cent (USD) game that features the adventures chop chop rocketof lost space explorer Alexis Rocket. This fast-paced one finger tilt and play game features 18 achievements to unlock with GameCentre and OpenFeint leaderboards on which to compete for space supremacy. Chop Chop Rocket is rated 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. This colourful, cartoon-styled game is the 8th title in Gamerizon’s Chop Chop franchise and requires some pretty fast reflexes to use the power-ups, change your speed and navigate through space to make it through the game.

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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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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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8th April 2011

Swarm Review – Momma knows best

Hothead GamesLet the heavens rejoice after 5 years in development  Hothead Games has released Swarm. Swarm is a amazing downloadable action platformer game for  XBLA and PSN.

It’s about a gigantic blue worm that lands on a nasty planet and it’s up to you to control a team of 50 little “Swarmites” at once through 11 levels, collecting points and DNA to help grow “Momma”, get her a new hat and leave the planet. There is one catch though; this path is full of things that burn, trap, electrify and decapitate your swarmiteswarm at every point and you get glorious points added to your score for it. All you have to do is make it through the level with at least one Swarmite in order  to return to Momma. Momma has lots of  Swarmites spawn points throughout the levels so if they die, Momma spawns more. This can be helpful because there are points in the game that require you to have a certain number in order for the higher point value orbs to appear.

You are rewarded in this game for the collection of things that look like nucleus and DNA. The more you collect in swarma row helps fill a multiplier which can greatly add to your score, but in a cruel twist, deaths of your Swarmites also add to it. So if your multiplier looks like it’s running out you can just kill off some of your swarm to keep it up. This is the game’s primary mechanic, as you find that most obstacles you encounter or crates to open just happen to kill off some of your happy blue buddies. At the end of the level your amount of Swarmite deaths are calculated up and put towards progressive death medals and the worldwide death total. Deaths in the level also have death medals but are only rewarded when the last 10 of your Swarm encounter the same deadly fate.

The game gets progressively harder and (easier if you replay earlier levels) as you get better at controlling your swarm and there are even two boss battles that are unlocked by collecting enough DNA.

Some of the awesome things you can get your swarm to do include moves such as jump, dash, huddle together and stack on each other as well as pick up and throw explosives. Sometimes your Swarmites will pick each other up when picking up explosives, leading to some hilarious deaths.Swarm Level

The game’s length is 6-8 hours but with the leaderboards, achievements and the constant questioning of Momma asking “Why can’t you be more like (Insert friend’s gamer tag here)”  the replay value is high. Here’s hoping there is more Swarm content coming.

Hothead Games has taken an old convention that games punish you if you die, turning it around so that death is rewarding. Congratulations to Hothead for taking an original idea and making it shine. If you’re looking for a fun, original type of game don’t let this one pass you by cause you wouldn’t want to disappoint Momma – plus it would make a great gift for any video game loving mom (Mother’s Day is coming up) and you know that would score some serious points.

Swarm is on  XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) for 1200 MS Points and PSN (Playstation Network store) for $14.99 Released on March 22nd 2011 by Hothead Games, Swarm is rated T for Teen by the ESRB.

Review by: Twisted Majic

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6th April 2011

Smiles Now Available in Ovi Store

Talent Lab: Applications are open for the TIFF Talent Lab. Deadline is June 8th.
Nominate: Gemini Awards now accepting Digital Media nominations. Deadline is May 24th.
Apply: Mesh Prize is now open for submissions.
Register: BCIC New Ventures 2011 Competition applications open until April 18th.
Register: Search Engine Strategies Toronto is open for registration.
Survey: Vancouver’s Network Hub is looking for your input on a second location.
Open Today: Disney Store locations at Metrotown in Burnaby and Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga
Hiring: Hothead Games in Vancouver is looking for programmers

sykhronicsSmiles Zen and Smiles Drop, two mobile games by Sykhronics Entertainment have made their debut in the Ovi Store smilesas a dual game pack for $2.99.  The games are also available on iTunes as a pack for $4.99 or you can buy them separately for $2.99 each. There is also a lite version of the two pack on iTunes that lets you experience both games. The Android pack is also priced at $2.99 for the dual game pack. Smiles works on both phones and tablets for iOS and Android.

Smiles Drop is an unconventional action puzzle game of the “match 3+” genre, but unlike other games, you don’t have to wait for the tiles to stop moving before you make your next move. You can also play at your own pace, making matches and using power-ups to work your way through the levels. Also unlike conventional match 3 games, you don’t slide the tiles to make your matches, you use the single tile at the bottom right of the screen, so placement of the tile becomes very strategic as you want to match as many at one time as you can while setting off more matches in succession.

Smile Drop’s companion game Smiles Zen is a relaxing game of strategy that borrowing heavily from the Solitaire and Sudoku style of game play. Instead of clearing the board of pieces, you need to make enough matches to light up the full board.

Smiles features 14 game modes, including Avalanche, where the ice constantly pours out, Hard Mode where the ice is harder to break, Long Play, where multiple matches and combos are easier, and Six, where you can lose in as few as two moves. The games also offer three different themes – blocks, vegetables and weather, along with 140 achievements. You can also keep track of your high scores and game statistics.

VI TechnologiesVancouver middleware developer VI Technologies has released a beta version of their SDK, which is currently free. VI Technologies has two game development products based on AI and Animation available. The company plans to release programming tutorials on a regular basis, and its first tutorial is a soldier squad evolving on difficult terrain, which is part of this first SDK release. The next tutorial will be about racing.

Canada PostCanada Post announced today the addition of a BlackBerry version of its Mobile Apps suite, which broadens its family of mobile applications and provides consumers and small businesses with new ways to access to its Track a Package and Find a Post Office tools.

The new application is available as a free download from BlackBerry App World and follows the release of the app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch a few months ago. These tools provide customers with the ability to track their packages and find nearby post offices, either by typing in an address or by using their device’s GPS feature.

“More and more, our customers are interacting with us on-the-go using their mobile devices,” says Louis O’Brien, Senior vice-president and Chief customer officer at Canada Post. “With this new BlackBerry application we are becoming as mobile as our customers. This is a great example of how we are embracing new technology to become a truly modern post.”

Canada Post is expected to release an Android version of the application this spring, and will also be adding a Find a Postal Code tool to its mobile applications on all three platforms within the next two months.

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5th April 2011

Introducing Puzzle of the Day for Burn The Rope

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble is pleased to announce that Burn the Rope for the iOS fans can now play a new puzzle every day. Players can log in daily to see a fresh, new challenge. Additionally, Burn the Rope fans are invited to submit their original puzzle ideas for development as a Puzzle of the Day.

Puzzle of the Day is a unique game feature introduced in the 1.3 game update now available to all users. Every day, players of Burn the Rope for the iPhone will receive a new puzzle to play, which means free ongoing new content designed by users.

Anyone who submits a puzzle design has a chance to win a free T-shirt, bragging rights, and the undying admiration of Wickman if their puzzle is selected to become an actual game level. One puzzle will be selected every day so there’s plenty of opportunity to win. Submit a puzzle now to become one of the first winners.burn the rope key

“Puzzle of the Day strives to give users more influence over the kind of levels they most enjoy. With the ability to design and rate their own levels, players can create an experience they want and not what we think they want.” stated Dave Kerr, designer of Burn the Rope.” Plus, they’ll get a ton of new levels to solve.”

Burn the Rope is a challenging game where you try to burn as much rope as you can in each level, and as the fire only burns upwards, you have to tilt and turn your iOS device to keep your flame alive – and sometimes it’s burning up three or four different ropes, all headed in different directions.

As you progress through the levels, you’ll encounter bugs crawling along the rope. Different bugs have different reactions to the flame. For example, the ant changes the color of the flame so you can burn different colored ropes, and the spider shoots out a web bridge so you can access parts of the level that you could not before.

Burn the Rope is incredibly fun and addictive. You will actually feel like you’re burning a rope, yet there’s no need for a fire extinguisher.

Features:

· 112 exciting levels that are fun for the whole family
· New puzzle of the day feature
· Incredibly fun and addictive that is easy to learn but hard to master
· Unique controls with beautiful graphics and cool fire effects

Burn the Rope has received a great deal of praise from the critics and has been nominated for several awards including Best of 2010 and several categories in the upcoming Canadian Video game awards. Burn the Rope was also selected as “App of the Day” on both Gizmodo and TUAW. Burn the Rope 1.3 is $1.99 (USD) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category, as is Burn The Rope Lite version. A new Unlocking System has been introduced in Burn the Rope Lite, which now includes the ability to earn every level in the original game, for free.

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18th March 2011

No Friday Slowdown Here

IGDA Members: Today is the last day of voting for your Board Members. If you have not yet done so, please check your email for the Election Notification and voting link. We are very close to a quorum, please make sure you cast your vote before 11:59PM tonight. I’ve done my part and voted – now it’s your turn. Please pass along the word to other IGDA members, let’s get this election into the Tasks Successfully Done column. If you did not receive the email or are having problems please contact Ryan Arndt via email at ryan@igda.org right away.

siggraph 2011SIGGRAPH 2011 Tickets Now Available For Purchase. Early Bird pricing is in effect until June 17th. Member, non-member and student prices are available for all categories: full conference, full conference single day, basic conference, basic conference single day, computer animation festival. Please see the ticket information page for full details on categories and pricing.

SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver – Make It Home

Congratulations to onX Enterprise Solutions, who has received two Cisco Partner Summit regional awards for Canadian Managed Cloud Partner of the Year and Canadian Borderless Network Partner of the Year.onx

VIATeCDon’t forget that nominations are open for the 2011 VIATeC Awards. A little saddened that VIATeC is using the current tide of attention being paid to that recently fired TV personality as part of their promotional efforts, but here are the categories open to Vancouver Island technology companies:

  • Technology Company of the Year
  • Emerging Technology Company of the Year
  • Employer of the Year – can only be nominated by staff
  • Online Strategy of the Year
  • Environmental Excellence
  • Executive of the Year
  • Employee/Team of the Year
  • Innovative Excellence
  • Product of the Year
  • Member’s Choice for Service Provider of the Year – can only be nominated by a technology company.

The Awards ceremony will take place in Carson Hall at the Victoria Conference Centre on June 2nd. Tickets are $150.00 for VIATeC members and $200.00 for non-members.

Hothead GamesHere is the launch trailer for Hothead Games‘ latest entry into the digital download realm. Swarm is scheduled for release on PSN March 22nd (March 30th in Europe) and XBLA worldwide on March 23rd. This is definitely one game I’m looking forward to getting my hands on – I’ve been hoarding most of the MS Points I was given for Christmas just so I can see how many ways there are to squish and dismember these little blue guys.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will already know that Swarm is an action-platformer that allows you take control of 50 utterly fearless Swarmites and drive them through an intense, entertaining and often suicidal battle of survival. Run, bash, huddle, boost, stack, jump, push and throw your way through gauntlets of death and destruction in an attempt to collect valuable DNA and ensure that at least one Swarmite survives.

behaviour gamesAtari has released the second developer diary from its upcoming XBLA, PSN and PC download top-down arcade shooter Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, which was developed at Behaviour Interactive. Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is out on XBLA and PC download on March 23rd and will launch on PSN on March 30th (even though the dev diary says it’s available now).

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Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is a four player, ghost-busting adventure that will take players on a brand new paranormal experience. Players will suit up with their proton packs and assume the role of a rookie hired by the Ghostbusters to save New York City from a disaster of ghoulish proportions.

The action-packed gameplay progresses as players complete jobs as fearless rookies who explore a series of haunted environments that must be cleared of any ectoplasmic threats. The gripping adventure rages on as players encounter gigantic bosses that require a concentrated effort to defeat using a medley of highly destructive weapons including the Proton Stream, Plasma Inductor, and the Fermion Shock. Rookie Ghostbusters will face the dangers of the eerie world alone or with a ghostbusting team of friends both locally or online through the game’s multiplayer capability.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s Burn The Rope is bigger and better than ever with a version for the iPad launching today! Now is the time to join in the flame-lighting fun with bigger graphics, brighter fire, and Wickman as you’ve never seen him before! Burn the Rope HD also features an innovative new touch control burn the rope hdscheme exclusive to the iPad that lets players rotate the puzzle onscreen.

Burn the Rope is a casual puzzle title that was originally released on the iPhone in December 2010. The goal of the game is to burn as much rope as possible on each level – which is not as easy as it may sound. 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, hard to master puzzle designs for each level and some insects that add to the gameplay in unique and interesting ways, Burn the Rope been one of the hottest apps in the App Store for the past several months.

With 116 exciting levels (and more on the way), Burn the Rope is incredibly fun and addictive, and the new features in Burn the Rope HD for iPad let players experience the game in a whole new way

Additional HD Features Include:

• Apple Game Center support with 30 achievements and iTunes library support
• All-new Bug-Blasting Bonus Rounds!
• Lights Out! Mode – light the way as you burn!

Bioware CorpBioWare will be releasing Mass Effect: Arrival, the thrilling final mission for Mass Effect 2 on March 29th. This conclusion to Mass Effect 2 and preamble to Mass Effect 3, Arrival will also include three new achievements (or trophies) for the Xbox 360®, PC and PlayStation®3. The PDLC pack will be available for 560 MS Points on Xbox 360, $6.99USD on PlayStation Network and also available for PC for 560 BioWare Points.Mass Effect 2-Arrival

In Mass Effect: Arrival, 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 (Alien, Terminator).

“All year, we have been extremely honored and humbled by the reception we have received for Mass Effect 2 from players around the world, including our post release DLC”, said Casey Hudson, Executive Producer, Mass Effect series. “Mass Effect: Arrival is an exciting extension to Mass Effect 2 and will show players just how close the Reapers are to returning and completing their deadly harvest.”

TVOOnly two weeks after launching, TVO’s new applications for BlackBerry® smartphones for early learners and school aged-kids, have been downloaded from BlackBerry App World™ over 250,000 times.

Flower Frenzy and Polka Dot Shorts support learning objectives from the Ontario school curriculum and are teacher and classroom tested. Both are designed for BlackBerry smartphones running OS 5.0 and higher. Polka Dot Shorts is a sequence matching game for kids aged 2-5 that supports the early-learning and kindergarten math curriculum. Flower Frenzy is an entertaining and flower frenzyeducational game with three levels of progressive difficulty that uses pictures of flowers to help kids ages 6-11 learn to create sequences.

Both apps teach kids pre-cursors to patterning skills which help build the foundational knowledge required for mathematics in later years.  Each app also has a safety feature to prevent young users from making phone calls or sending emails.

“We’re really excited that so many kids are embracing TVO’s latest digital media offerings,” says CEO Lisa de Wilde. “There is a real need for digital content that will engage kids in learning that complements what happens in the classroom environment. We’re happy to help fill the gap.”

CRTCThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today simplified the process for Canadians who want to change providers for their television, home telephone, wireless or Internet services. Consumers will now be able to switch service providers with only one phone call. Once it has obtained the proper consent, the new provider will make all the arrangements on behalf of consumers to have the services transferred over. The CRTC requires that customer transfers be completed within two business days, except for wireless service where transfers must be completed within 2.5 hours.

“In a competitive marketplace, consumers are always encouraged to explore different options for their broadcasting and telecommunications services,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “The new rules will make the transfer process a seamless and convenient experience, while enabling Canadians to benefit from receiving retention offers from their current providers.”

If they prefer, consumers can also cancel their services by contacting their service provider directly, which can make them offers to retain their business. The CRTC reminds consumers that, when switching to a new service provider, they are still responsible for any termination penalties or other terms associated with their existing contract. Additionally, the CRTC has established safeguards to prevent service providers from sharing confidential customer information with their internal sales and marketing groups during the transfer process.

Following today’s decision, the CRTC has also launched a new proceeding seeking views on whether these safeguards are still in the best interests of consumers and whether they limit a consumer’s ability to receive offers from a service provider. Interested parties may submit their comments by April 18, 2011. They may do so by completing the online form, by writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, or by fax at 819-994-0218.

CanWITNominations are now open for the Sara Kirke Award for Woman Entrepreneurship, which is presented to the woman who has shown the most outstanding technological innovation and corporate leadership — leadership that has significantly expanded the frontiers of Canada’s advanced technology industry. The purpose of the Award is to celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and create positive role models for women. The Sara Kirke Award for outstanding woman in technology innovation and corporate leadership for 2010 was awarded to Carol Leaman, CEO of PostRank Inc.

Sara Kirke is considered by many to be North America’s first entrepreneur. She arrived in Newfoundland in 1638 with her husband David Kirke, who was soon recalled to England. Sara, however, continued to reside in Avalon, and conducted business as usual from the Pool Plantation. Lady Kirke was a remarkable individual as she managed affairs at the Pool Plantation and became one of the most successful merchants on the English Shore — and was almost certainly North America’s first and foremost woman entrepreneur.

Submissions for the 2011 Sara Kirke Awards must be received at the CanWIT office by April 15, 2011, and all nominees must be a member of CanWIT, which is itself a Division of CATAAlliance. The 2011 winner will be announced at the 26th Annual Canadian Innovation and Leadership Awards Gala on May 18th, which are being held at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

BCIC New VenturesThe BCIC-New Ventures Competition: 2011 is now open for applications until April 18 at midnight, with the first seminar in the new nine seminar series taking place on April 4th. The competition dates and seminar schedule have been officially set and now it’s up to the competitors to invest $200 in their technology business idea and learn how to develop it into a profitable company.

As one of North America’s largest technology business idea competitions, BCIC-New Ventures attracts applicants from a wide range of industries including cleantech, media, Internet, information technology and life sciences. BCIC and the New Ventures BC Society invite BC entrepreneurs to submit their ideas to the 11th annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition offering the chance to win a share of the more than $360,000 in prizes.

Added to the mix of prizes to be won this year are the $15,000 Vancity Social Venture Prize and two prizes for Agricultural technologies, valued at $30,000 and $20,000. The competition has also launched a separate stream for Agritech competitors, with events starting March 30.

The competition is open to any BC person, resident or business with a technology-focused idea that has not yet secured significant financing from external investors (i.e. investors other than friends, family and company founders).

The series of nine business education seminars, open to both the public and competition applicants, will take place in Vancouver at the SFU Beedie School of Business beginning April 4, 2011. Students with valid ID can register to attend these seminars at no cost.

Register today to:

  • Learn from some of BC’s top business experts at our business-education seminars
  • Network with top professionals in business, law, finance, government and academia
  • Improve your business and strategies during each round of competition
  • Receive advice and insight from mentors In Round 3
  • Present your condensed business plan to a panel of ‘angel’ investors, venture capitalists and industry experts in Round 4

Now in its eleventh year, the main BCIC-New Ventures Competition attracts applicants from a wide range of industries. This year we’re launching a new stream of the competition focused on Agritech ventures in the categories of: primary production, food, and bioenergy/bioproducts (for or from agriculture).

This new program is funded through Growing Forward, a federal/provincial agreement between the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to support agri-food technology innovation and commercialization.

There will be two specific prizes – a $30,000 first prize and $20,000 second prize for Innovation in Agricultural Technology – plus specific events for Agritech competitors who proceed through the four rounds of the business competition. Applicants who register will also be placed into the larger competition with the chance to compete for more than $300,000 in additional prizes.

AOL CanadaAOL Canada is proud to sponsor the Interactive Category of the 2011 National Advertising Awards (NAA) that celebrates and rewards outstanding Canadian advertising creativity, delivering fresh new ideas to Canada’s leading brands. In addition to the recognition they receive with the award, category winners will attend the 58th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival June 19 to 25, 2011 in France.

“Sponsoring the interactive competition aligns with our commitment to high-value, premium quality and creativity online,” says Graham Moysey, AOL Canada General Manager, “At AOL, it’s all about creating a vastly improved online consumer experience – what better way than to get Canada’s best and brightest creatives engaged?”

AOL is also working with agencies that are submitting entries to consider using AOL’s award-winning HD content delivery platform, Pictela, now available in Canada. Pictela provides agencies with a broad and highly unique canvas for demonstrating their creativity.

In the Interactive Category, participants are challenged with a brief from Biotherm to recruit new users to their BioLab Skin Solutions. All category briefs were made available on March 2 and the deadline for creative submissions is March 31. Winners will be announced at the National Advertising Awards Gala on May 5 in Toronto.

“Participating in the National Advertising Awards Interactive Category is a fantastic opportunity to submit the challenge of taking our BioLab recruitment animation to the next level to the best Canadian creative minds,” said Bradley Smith, Biotherm Marketing Director. “I can’t wait to see how they’ll translate Biotherm’s biological expertise and its strong Canadian heritage into a complete interactive brand experience that will attract new consumers to the brand.”

“The National Advertising Awards are unique because they are North America’s only major brief-based competition,” says Cam Gardner, President, Adcam Media Group, Owner of The National Advertising Awards. “It’s always a thrill to see the results of unleashed creative thinking against the needs of major Canadian brands. We’re grateful for the support of sponsors like AOL Canada who help make the awards possible.”

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posted in Action Adventure, Associations, Awards, Business News, Casual, Dev Diaries, Digital Products, Early Childhood, Education, Educational, Events, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Government, Mature, Mobile, National News, New Releases, News, Platform, Puzzle, Teen, Upcoming Releases By: | Print This Post Print This Post

14th March 2011

Challenging Puzzle Game Codex Now On Windows Phone 7

Good Guy RobotsGood Guy Robots has released a Windows Phone 7 version of its mind-boggling puzzle game Codex. Available now in the Zune store. There is a free trial version with the full game available for 99 cents USD. Codex features 30 mind bending levels embellished by stunning visuals and a beautiful custom sound track.Codex for WP7

The objective of the game is to solve each puzzle in the fewest number of moves in order to earn medals. Solving a puzzle involves shifting rows and columns of scrambled tiles to match the puzzle key pattern. Each shift counts as a move until the puzzle is solved and the number of moves you make determines the kind of medal you earn – bronze, silver or gold. Finishing the puzzle in the fewest known moves earns you a gold medal.

I have the Xbox 360 version of Codex, and I have yet to make it through all of the puzzles. They are very challenging, and I used this game as a test on my parents, who have no interest in playing video games at all. It was interesting to note that my Mom picked up the mechanics of the controller faster than my Dad, but it was my Dad who completed the most puzzles. He likes puzzle games like those metal “get the ring off of these welded together pieces” puzzles you can buy in stores, I believe that if he had access to a 360 or owned a smartphone, he would be attempting this game when no one else was around.

Codex Level Select WP7The 360 version of Codex has been nominated in several categories for this year’s Canadian Video Game Awards, and while the developers are hesitant to say they deserve such nominations, I feel that the game is in fact innovative and can stand on its own merits. If you’d like to try the 360 version, there is a trial version and the full version is available in Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace for 80 MS Points.

Some standout features in the game are:

* Rotary dials for level selection is very satisfying on a touch screen device
* The Soundtrack is outstanding. Music was composed for the game by the following super talented artists:

o Westcoast Requiem – Terence Mazon and Ariana Bliek
o Illest Orchestra – Mr Famous (aka Ryan Bantog)

* Game can be played in any orientation portrait or landscape, the text will auto rotate with the option to lock a rotation in the settings.
* When you play your own music and launch the game it will display track/artist info in game.
* The game always starts at the last puzzle you attempted
* The tutorial on the first level purposely gives you the silver solution so that you can go back and try for gold. The player really understands how to play when they figure out how dumb the tutorial suggestion is for the last move.

You can also listen to your own music while you play the 360 version of Codex – the game’s background assets react to music, adding another level of visuals to the player experience. If you reset a puzzle, it doesn’t go back to the same one, you get a whole new puzzle to solve, which adds more to the replayability factor of the game. There is also a mood meter and a timer – all of which work in conjunction with the earning of medals. Even though Codex is essentially a single player game, it really does make a good party game when everyone gets in on the attempts to win gold medals – and every puzzle has more than one solution. You will need to channel your inner patience skills to make it through all of the levels. There is no rushing through Codex, and just so the rest of you can become addicted to this incredibly challenging game, it will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android in the near future.

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13th March 2011

Get Set For Some Galactic Puzzle Solving With Galaxy Express

arctic empireI gained early access to Arctic Empire’s latest game, Galaxy Express, which has now launched in the iTunes App Store. This latest release is a puzzle game that features main character Jonathan Rowe, whose task is to deliver Galaxy Express Title Screenpackages to the many planets sprinkled throughout the galaxy. He has a cranky boss named Mr. Bluckerman and a cheeky robotic assistant named Kim-Bot. As the game progresses, you are introduced to enemies who are trying to interfere with the smooth flow of courier activities in outer space. First you encounter a former childhood acquaintance who has embraced the pirating way of life – hopefully you are able to successfully fend him off this time, but you know he’ll be back for more, because pirates don’t like to admit defeat, and he’s going to bring friends.

You will also need to out-maneuver The Enemy – nasty little spaceships that will cause your ship to blow up on impact. Some puzzles require that you alter your own course, while others require altering that of The Enemy and still others require a combined solution. As the levels get progressively harder and you run into little obstacles like cannons, you will be thankful that there is no instant death time-limit nor a limit on the number of lives you have. Some puzzles will take a lot of hit and miss (remember, in the case of The Enemy, miss is a good thing) in order to figure out their solutions. I’ve also discovered that even though some puzzles seem really complicated, the solution is usually very, very simple – these will often bring on a *facepalm* moment Galaxy Express Puzzleswhen you realize how simple that particular puzzle really was. Well you might not, but I have.

The first 30 levels of the game are available for free, but you can unlock a further 75 levels with a $2.99 USD in-app purchase, and I recommend unlocking the additional levels if you are a puzzle addict, because they will challenge you right to the end. Upgrading to the full version also means you will receive all future game updates and any new puzzles the studio creates. On the start screen you will also see that the studio is planning on giving players the ability to build their own levels with an in-game level builder, as well as bonus levels.

Galaxy Express is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch (it works well on my 2nd gen model) and the iPad, providing you are running iOS 4.1 or newer. The graphics are of good quality, and you do have the option of skipping the 2D retro-styled story screens, not that I would recommend this as several of them contain important information on how to combat the enemies. If you do need to look for a tutorial, all of those levels are marked with a “T” which makes things a tad easier as they explain the new game mechanics you will encounter.

The audio and soundtrack for the game are of good quality and not the least bit irritating. That said, you do not need the sound enabled to play the game, and while Galaxy Express has been configured for low battery usage, being able to turn off the audio eases battery use just a little bit more. The controls for the game are very easy to understand and use. You can also set the speed with which your ship will move through the puzzle – just Galaxy Express Charactersremember that all of The Enemy ships, cannonballs and other interferences will move at the same speed as you – so other than navigating the puzzle faster, there isn’t really any advantage.

The developers have also added the ability to share puzzle solutions via email, Facebook and Twitter, and you can also ask for help via this same method if you’re really, really stuck. I personally haven’t used these options for sharing or asking for help, but they are nice additional features for the game. There is no scoring system, so you are not competing for ownership of a leaderboard, however if you’re playing against friends, you can always see who can solve the puzzle first simply by solving, sharing the solution and see who posted it first. The only challenge feature I’d like to see added is a time-keeper – not to penalize a player for not solving a puzzle in time, but to keep track of how quickly the player can solve the puzzle, thereby opening the challenge of beating one’s personal times.  That said, even if you’ve solved the puzzles, Galaxy Express does have a good replayability factor.

Overall, I give Galaxy Express a 9.5 out of 10 – if there had been a personal timekeeper and if the toolbar were movable (for those of us who are left-handed), it would have earned a full 10 – although these two features are not game-breakers for me.  I can still easily access the toolbar for what I need to do in order to play the game, it’s a personal preference.

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posted in Casual, Everyone, Game Reviews, Mobile, National News, New Releases, News, Puzzle By: | Print This Post Print This Post

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