10th March 2011

March 10th Noon News Round-up

Register Now: The Great Canadian Appathon happens this weekend, don’t miss out on this opportunity for some collaborative learning and great prizes.

Congratulations to our friends over at Greedy Productions – the studio announced this morning that Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run now have an additional slot on CityTV Vancouver and will begin airing from 6-7pm nightly in addition to the 12-1pm & 11pm-12am time slots.

footloose gamesFootloose Games has launched Munchies Lunch, a game that the Cavechild took a look at back Munchies Lunchin December. Munchies Lunch is a puzzle game that involves some quick and clever maneuvering of your characters in order to avoid becoming a monstrous lunch entree for the Hungries, the story’s bad guys. The game’s premise is that you must lead your family away from the dangerous Hungries who are invading your forest dwelling. Travel the world to find safety in the far-away jungles, gathering food and power-ups for your family while eluding those nasty Hungries. Available now for Windows XP,  Vista and Windows 7, you can try the family-friendly Munchies Lunch before you buy it. With the low price tag of only $5.99 and a high replayability factor, Munchies Lunch offers good value for its price.

Additional System Requirements for Munchies Lunch:

CPU: 1 Ghz
Ram: 512 MB
Hard-Drive Space: 150 MB
Video Card: Must support Pixel/Vertex Shader 1.1

Siggraph 2011Most of you already know this, but I’m going to share it anyway. Science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist Cory Doctorow has been selected to present one of the keynote presentations at SIGGRAPH 2011, the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques taking place this August 7th-11th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

diomaticDi-o-matic is offering a free 85+ minutes masterclass, where viewers will learn many key techniques from modeling to rigging as well as animation using Autodesk 3ds max, MotionBuilder, FBX, Mudbox and Softimage FaceRobot as well as Di-O-Matic Facial Studio, Morph-O-Matic and Maskarad. As an Autodesk Authorized Developer, Di-O-Matic earlier announced that new versions of all Di-O-Matic plugins will be made available shortly after the release of Autodesk’s 3ds max 2012, Maya 2012 and Softimage 2012.

comscorecomScore is pleased to announce the release of the 2010 Canada Digital Year in Review, its annual report on the prevailing digital trends of the past year and their implications for navigating the uncertainties in the year ahead. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the digital landscape in Canada including overall Internet usage, high-growth categories, online advertising, video and search.

* How are Canadians consuming digital media, and how does this compare to other countries?
* Which trends dominated the digital landscape in 2010?
* How does media consumption differ across age and gender segments?
* What trends are we seeing in the social networking space, and what impact does that have on email activity?
* How has digital advertising shifted in the last year, and how has social media played a part?
* Which content categories are serving up the most videos? Who’s watching online video in Canada?
* What is the current state of the search market?
* How will mobile media consumption in Canada stack up against other markets?

pwcNot surprisingly, the key motivator for consumers to pirate films and television programs is the reward of free content. But aside from the traditional reason of price, leading factors also include consumers’ desire for earlier access, a perception that “everyone is doing it” and the explosion of free content available online. This is according to PwC’s new piracy study from its US consumer research program measuring consumer attitudes towards piracy and related behaviours.

At the same time, consumers in Canada are being faced with escalating access fees and the usage based billing debate is ongoing. “Usage based billing if a reality will push consumers back to traditional and payment based methods of consuming content,” says Michael Paterson, a partner in PwC’s Canadian Entertainment & Media group.

Among key findings in the PwC study:

* 81% of the consumers who admit to pirating TV, movie and video content say they will likely continue to do so.
* 40% of those who report “pirating” content via traditional methods said they will probably also pirate on mobile devices within the next six months.
* US$3 for a movie and US$1 for a television show is the maximum amount consumers who admit to pirating are willing to pay to access content.

Combating piracy remains a struggle and a prime concern for entertainment companies – especially with the growing ease at which consumers can now access a variety of content on multiple platforms at their fingertips. Given the proliferation of smart phones, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the Internet—on average, 35 times per week.

“Mobile piracy is poised to escalate with the proliferation of smartphones, says Paterson. “This will need to be addressed in anti-piracy efforts. There is some good news in sight as consumers expressed concern about potential piracy pitfalls, including poor quality of some content and the possibility of downloading a virus or facing legal trouble.”

funcomFuncom has unveiled a new site design for The Secret World, along with a brand new trailer that offers gamers a unique glimpse into the world, the monsters, the myths, and the gameplay of the much anticipated online game. In ‘The Secret World’ players get to play the character they want to play without being limited to classes or levels, as they adventure through modern-day, real-world locations. No release date has been announced. The game is being co-published together with EA Partners, a division of Electronic Arts Inc.

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“It is truly exciting for us to show gamers just how much freedom they will be able to enjoy in ‘The Secret World’,” says Director and Producer Ragnar Tørnquist. “The video perfectly encompasses the four important pillars of ‘The Secret World’: the modern-day setting, the freeform character progression, the dramatic storyline, and the unique secret society conflict. It feels great to reveal new details on the ‘The Secret World’ as we continue to make strides in the development of the game.”

scoremediaScore Media Inc. and WWE have expanded their partnership with a multi-year agreement that will bring more high-energy WWE entertainment than ever before to fans across Canada. The unprecedented deal builds on Score Media and WWE’s already successful, exclusive television relationship to include online, mobile and VOD rights. In addition, theScore and WWE will work together to bring new original WWE content to Canadians across all platforms.

Canadian Telecom SummitMore than 60 leaders who shape Canada’s ICT industry will speak at the 2011 Canadian Telecom Summit, being held this May 31st – June 2nd in Toronto. The event will include over 15 keynote addresses offering insights into the future of Canadian ICT, examining the services, technologies, consumer & business trends and regulatory & policy initiatives that drive the information economy. This year, in addition to its always popular Regulatory Blockbuster panel, the conference is featuring sessions devoted to:

* LTE: The future of mobile
* Connecting Canadians: Delivering broadband to all
* Wireless Broadband: Our insatiable thirst for spectrum
* Privacy & Security: Guarding information in a transparent world
* Unified Communications: The evolving future of business
* Evolution of Consumer Communications: Compete or collaborate
* Tablets, TVs and Smartphones, Oh My!: The explosion of the multiscreen universe
* Cloud Computing

fairplayFair-Play has launched its new website. An essential reference tool, the site allows both industry people and the public at large to find out more about Fair-Play’s many television products among which are Quebec’s current mega hits Les enfants de la télé and Peut contenir des Rachid. Headlining the company’s latest news and featuring an exhaustive production catalogue, video excerpts, and a Who’s Who of the Fair-Play team, the new site profiles a company founded in 1998 now firmly established in prime time and on the Web.

Television series, variety shows, documentaries, comedy, drama, live performance recordings, public affairs – their catalogue has grown over the years and will continue to expand. As the organization looks forward to producing more entertaining and provocative content, it remains proud of the creative environment it strives to foster for its writers, creators, performers and other colleagues.

canonCanon Canada Inc. has announced the availability of its Cloud Portal software for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software enabling a broad range of Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems to access Google Docs and Microsoft SharePoint Online cloud-based services directly from the MFP panel. Using its MEAP technology, Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is available as a free application that allows users to scan and store paper-based documents directly to the cloud, as well as to print documents stored in the cloud to imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems.

The Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is a server-less, driver-less application that requires no additional hardware to enable direct connection to the cloud via the MEAP application. By facilitating direct integration with leading cloud services, the new application increases end-user flexibility and helps to increase productivity by allowing users to access cloud-stored data from a PC, tablet device or smart phone, and print or share the data with multiple users across locations. To print from the cloud, the Canon Direct Print Kit or the PS Printer Kit needs to be installed on the imageRUNNER office system. Please see the Canon site for full information not covered here.

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3rd March 2011

Social Media and Geek Culture Inching Into Canadian Daily Life

Event: Early Registration for Canada 3.0 2011 has been extended until March 17th.
From GDC 2011: Congratulations to the Bioware Mass Effect 2 team for picking up the Best Writing award at the GDC Choice Awards and to the University of Montreal for winning at the IGF Awards with FRACT being named as the top Student Game.

Big Blue BubbleCatching up with Big Blue Bubble this morning, the studio has released Geeks Unleashed to the Mac App Store for $3.99 USD. This game is a strategic puzzle game that pits the player against some of the smartest, yet geekiest opponents on the planet. The storyline, which for some reason makes me think of Big Bang Theory, follows the player as they enter a geeks unleashedcollecting convention, attempting to accumulate collectibles from different categories such as Sci-Fi, Fashion, Comics, Plush Toys and Role Playing Games.

Another popular Big Blue Bubble game also made its debut on the Mac App Store this week. Home Sweet Home, available now for $4.99 USD, is a game that invites you to play Interior Designer. You choose the furniture, patterns, and colors to create a masterpiece that will blow your client away. You can email photos of your newly designed rooms to yourself or your friends, and you can also replay levels or your designs.  With simple controls, a fun graphical style, and an easy to use interface, Home Sweet Home allows you to nurture your creative side.

Government of CanadaCitizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has launched a fun and educational Facebook application that tests your knowledge of Canada’s history, values, symbols and political institutions. The quiz can also be downloaded to mobile devices like iPhone, Blackberry and Android. TheMP Jason Kenney 20 questions are randomly selected from a bank of 122 questions, allowing the quiz to be played more than once.

“Download the app, take the quiz, and share it with your friends,” Kenney said. “You might be surprised to find out just how Canadian you are!”

The initiative is part of an on-line resource called “A Fun Path to Learning” that was launched in April 2010 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for students and teachers. The educational tool draws from material in the popular new citizenship study guide Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship and aims to help students from grades five to 12 learn about Canada’s history and political institutions through games and activities. There are a number of learning resources on the Youth page, making learning about Canada’s history fun.

The “How Canadian Are You, Eh?” application is a cross platform application that can be found within Facebook, at the iTunes app store, in the Blackberry app world, and in the Android marketplace.

radian6Radian6 has announced Radian6 for Salesforce, bringing new social capabilities to the Salesforce Service Cloud experience. Monitoring the overwhelming volume of social conversations that matter to enterprises, and connecting them to existing sales, service and marketing processes is a major challenge for companies today. To address this challenge, the Radian6 integration will connect the social capabilities within both the Salesforce Service Cloud and the Radian6 platform, enabling enhanced social customer service.

The Radian6 platform monitors social media, including blogs, forums, comments, photo and video sharing sites, Twitter, public content within Facebook and more. Radian6 leads the industry with its ability to surface social metrics on everything it gathers, enabling valuable time savings through sorting and prioritization. With its pending arrival on the AppExchange, Radian6 for Salesforce will let agents work entirely within the Service Cloud, with fully automated case creation that adds social media content to Salesforce based on the customizable Radian6 workflow rules engine.

In addition to the recently added feature that allows users to interact with Salesforce Chatter directly within Radian6 Engagement Console™ additional capabilities that leverage the Service Cloud will include the ability to create new or view existing cases, leads and contacts from within the Radian6 Engagement Console™. Radian6 for Salesforce is currently scheduled to be available to early adopters in April 2011 while a full public release is currently scheduled for Q3 of calendar year 2011.

zipzoomzipzoom is a brand new patent-pending anonymous communication technology changing the way consumers and businesses find each other. The service was officially launched today in Simcoe County, choosing Barrie because it is one of the fastest growing cities in North America.

“A dynamic, friendly and booming community like Barrie is the perfect place to launch this revolutionary service,” said Reg DesRosiers, the founder of zipzoom.com. “We offer residents the ability to make quick, informed decisions about any products or services they need, while also providing new streams of customers to Barrie’s local businesses and salespeople.”

zipzoom.com recently launched a beta version of its site, which acts like a personal shopper for overwhelmed consumers. zipzoom.com-registered consumers just make an anonymous personal inquiry and zipzoom immediately, through its exclusive communication platform, sends the inquiry to all relevant contacts and businesses using a brilliantly designed product keyword search association, saving time, money and effort. Businesses and salespeople also benefit by having direct access to “ready-to-buy” customers 24/7 without increasing their advertising costs. zipzoom is free of charge to register for consumers, businesses, service providers and salespeople. zipzoom finally answers the question consumers ask themselves every day: “How can I find the best deal, person or business to work with?” On the vendor side: “How do I consistently find ‘ready-to-buy’ customers?”

In addition, zipzoom is offering weekly giveaways via their social media networks on Twitter and Facebook, where randomly chosen registered vendors will receive a no-charge lifetime membership subscription.

original joe'sStaying true to its friendly, down-to-earth and down the street philosophy, Original Joe’s has announced that, starting today, it will be providing a free pound of wings to each individual who ‘likes‘ them on Facebook.

“Each person who decides to participate by liking Original Joe’s on Facebook will be able to print off a coupon which they can redeem at any of our 37 locations for a pound of wings on us,” says Derek Doke, President of Original Joe’s. “We appreciate the support and loyalty of our existing customers and this is one way to express our gratitude to our regulars while encouraging newcomers to find out for themselves why so many people choose Joe’s as their preferred neighbourhood pub.”

Joe’s is expecting thousands of individuals to take advantage of this promotion, and are prepared to give away up to $100,000 worth of wings (estimated Canadian dollar amount based on 10,000 pounds of wings and gift cards). With more than a dozen wing flavours available ranging from dill pickle, Caribbean jerk and industrial strength, to the more traditional honey garlic or salt and pepper, Joe’s has something for everyone.

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15th February 2011

A Flood Of Game News Bytes

Dark AcreVancouver indie developer Dark Acre Game Development announced today that its new game, ‘Ball of Steel’ is now available as a free-to-play title via Kongregate.com for gamers with Unity-enabled web browsers.

Ball of Steel is a marble tilt-maze with a twist: in addition to navigating twisting passages, players must guide their ball through high-tech teleporters and avoid burning pillars of scorching flame to clear each table. Players may choose their challenge levels and warp or skip to any of the 20 boards.

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Ball of Steel was built in Unity 3D during two weeks of intensive full-time development. It was developed as an entrant to the Unity Game Contest currently underway at Kongregate.com, and represents the second in a series of free-to-play efforts from Dark Acre. You can check out more information on Dark Acre’s first title on the project’s web page.

frima studioIn the category of receiving the news a day late (honest, I just got this today), Frima Studio apparently celebrated Valentine’s Day by unveiling a host of new updates for Pocket God with Episode III – The Birds! This third episode follows in the footsteps of the recent Episode II: Clash of the Frightened for the social game, which is currently in an open beta and growing rapidly with more than 175,000 monthly active users on Facebook.

The new updates for The Birds include:

* The Return of the Dodo! – While it may have gone extinct hundreds of years ago for being too passive and peaceful, this reincarnation of the Dodo could not be farther from its ancestors – keep an eye out as it will terrorize your island, making short work of your fish and pygmies!pocket god
* New “Dodo Down” Item – Usually there’s a limit on how often you can sacrifice your friends, but with the new Dodo Down power, feel free to resuscitate them and bring them back to life…only to kill them again!
* More Customization – Make Pocket God your own! Players now have the ability to name their individual pygmies so there’s no need to have to settle for the pre-assigned monikers…name them after your enemies and get extra satisfaction from their sacrifice!
* Fat Cupid! – It’s gorgeous, lovely, and quite Rubenesque – it’s Fat Cupid and it needs to be stopped! Band together with your Facebook friends to take down the ultimate evil god.
* Valentine’s Treats – Take a break from drowning your Facebook friends and get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day…send them chocolate treats to let them know that each time you sacrifice them, it’s a gesture of love.

Since its debut on the world’s most popular social network in December of 2010, the Facebook version of Pocket God has grown exponentially and is quickly approaching a quarter of a million active users in less than two months. More than 20 million hapless and helpless pygmies have been sacrificed over that time, and one million of those are friends on Facebook sacrificing other friends in a host of brutal ways, including electrocution, drowning, shark attack, tornado, volcanic lava and much more! The lucky user who sacrificed the one millionth friend, Jessy Rivas of France, received 350 Pocket Change, the in-game currency for Pocket God!

behaviour gamesWith the city quaking in fear and no help in sight and a rumoured release date of March 23rd*, who ya gonna call? Atari, one of the world’s most recognized publishers and producers of interactive entertainment, is once again answering the call for gamers everywhere by delivering the first ever Ghostbusters digital title, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime. In conjunction with Sony Pictures Consumer Products and developed by Behaviour, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime will be available on Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®Network, and Windows PC Download at Atari.com.
Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime
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.

* Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime has yet to appear on the Xbox Marketplace or on the Atari store, so the release date as of yet has not been confirmed. Perhaps someone in the know could let me know?

fluik entertainmentEdmonton’s Fluik Entertainment has announced that Gunner Galaxies, the sequel to top-downloaded Gunner Galaxiesgame Gunner will is scheduled for release this March, and will pack new galaxies, new gameplay, fun new unlocks and ship upgrades into this latest chapter. Gunner Galaxies is an asteroid-blasting classic arcade action game for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Fluik’s previous game releases include the aforementioned Gunner, Bubble Rainbow (which are free in the iTunes store and now residing on my iPod Touch), the also free Tic Tac Draw and Airport Madness Challenge, Airport Madness Mobile, Will It Fly, and CoolSpell, which all have both free and paid versions.

DreamCatcherToronto publisher DreamCatcher Games and parent company JoWooD Entertainment have confirmed the release date for the official Painkiller Standalone Add-On “Redemption“ as February 25th 2011 – although there is no official page on the DreamCatcher site yet for Redemption, the game will continue the epic Painkiller conflict between good and evil.

The kingdom of heaven is threatened by a ruthless army from hell. Two champions, Daniel and Belial, who we already know as the two previous heroes of the series, combine their forces and join the never-ending battle between good and evil.Painkiller Redemption

“It demands quite a bit of skill to confront the countless hordes of monsters – to vanquish them you can equip some really crazy weapons“, says Markus Reutner, International Product Marketing Manager at JoWooD. “We also have the right soundtrack for the fast-paced action because the atmosphere is particularly important when countless monsters attack you without mercy. An insiders’ tip for Painkiller friends as well as for new fans!“

Features:

· 7-10 hours playtime
· Transform yourself into a demon once you’ve collected enough souls!
· Use the occult powers of tarot cards
· More than 6,000 enemies and up to 1,000 monsters on all of the 6 new maps
· Easy to use map editor for your very own Painkiller experience
· Adrenaline pumping soundtrack

gamerkraftAnother Toronto-based publisher, Game Bridger Entertainment, has unveiled the latest game to come to their free-to-play gaming platform, GamerKraft. Aida Arenas, developed by Korean developer GalaxyGate, is an “MMORPG Brawler” set in the raucous world of Aida – a land where adventuring, treasure-hunting, and good ol’ fashioned rough-housing are the primary pastimes.

“We are excited to announce Aida Arenas’ arrival on the GamerKraft platform in the first quarter of 2011,” said Matthew Denomme, Marketing Manager for Game Bridger Entertainment, “the game’s charming cartoon graphics and whimsical game world, plus its accessible controls and gameplay mechanics, are sure to appeal to a wide range of both hardcore and casual gamers.”

Create a hero, explore dungeons, fight monsters, compete with friends, and discover hidden treasure in AIDA Arenas, the new MMORPG Brawler from GamerKraft, where you can Combine elements of the classic beat ‘em up arcade genre with the character progression and social features of modern MMORPGs.

Bioware CorpAnd of course I would be totally remiss if I did not even mention the big Triple A game news of the day, which is the announcement that Felicia Day has written a new web series based on Bioware’s Dragon Age series. The six part Dragon Age: Redemption series will star Ms. Day as elven assassin Tallis. In an article on USA Today, (no, I was not one of the lucky ones who were sent a press release about the web series, I found out about it via Twitter) the story will revolve around Tallis’ personal quest to capture a renegade magician and the companions she enlists into her fellowship along the way.

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14th February 2011

Trailers For Your Valentine

Reminder: There are 15 days left to get your nominations in for the Canadian Video Game Awards.
Reminder: There are 15 days left to submit entries for the 2011 Design Edge Canada Regional Design Awardsubisoft
Reminder: Digital Media practitioners, don’t forget to fill in the industry survey over at Pixel to Product.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed in today’s conference call to investors that there will be a new Assassin’s Creed infinite ammo game this year, however we will all have to wait until May for more details.

Winnipeg studio Infinite Ammo, the co-developer of Aquaria, has posted a dev diary update for Marian and the Fantastic World of Dreams, and the game thus far looks great. In this very detailed dev diary you read about the process of meshing 2D with 3D and the trials the team has experienced thus far as the game unfolds. You can also hear a sampling of the game’s soundtrack as you read the diary post.

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If you are unfamiliar with Infinite Ammo’s project, the game’s main character is Marian, a beautifully carved marionette who rips her strings from the grasp of ‘The Narrator’ and to become her own master. She becomes caught in the dream world between life and death, learning to her own puppet strings as a tool in her quest to Rocket 5 Studiosdiscover her true identity, and in fitting with today’s universal Valentine’s Day theme, she may even find true love.

Rocket5 Studios has released the first teaser trailer for that studio’s upcoming iOS game XS Force, which the creators will be demoing at GDC 2011. XS Force is an explosive arcade shooter starring characters inspired by some of the biggest action movie stars of the 1980?s, and this trailer lets you get a glimpse of one of the XS Force heroes.

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Rocket5’s previous titles for the iPhone and iPod Touch include Giant Moto and Holeshot Drag Racing as well as amusement apps Alien Booth and iSpoof Walken.

source studioSource Studio has announced new DLC for the recently updated Proto Galaxy. Proto Defense, the first DLC release for Proto Galaxy, will soon be available for free via the game’s Steam page. Check out what’s coming in this expansion:

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Released in October 2010, Proto Galaxy is a turrent defense game that allows up to four players to team up and save the galaxy from an alien force determined to enslave humanity. As Earth’s last line of defense, you must put an end to the attacks and rebuild a home for the survivors.

distribution360Distribution360 has acquired rights to distribute the Cartoon Network U.K. version of Skatoony to French and German-speaking Europe as well as Spain. The company will also distribute the North American version of Skatoony—produced by marblemedia—to the same territories. Skatoony (U.K.) airs on Cartoon Network U.K.; Skatoony (North America) was commissioned by TELETOON, and premiered on the Canadian kids network in English and French this past October. Skatoony is the first animated/live-action quiz show adventure that pits tweens and ‘toons against each other in four frantic, trivia-based rounds. Set in a fantastical television studio in the fictional town of Showtown, the series is anchored by the cartoon duo of hostskatoony Chudd Chudders and his lounge-singing sidekick, The Earl. Each week, they attempt to put together another show, while all manner of mad happenings occur around them. Skatoony Interactive features the “Skatoony Home Game,” a multi-player game where kids play Skatoony in real-time against other kids online.

“We’re excited to be distributing both versions of Skatoony to international markets,” says Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, Managing Director/Head of Sales, Distribution360. “We’re looking forward to offering broadcasters a library of versioned episodes in order to identify content that best suits their needs.”

“Working with Distribution360 gives us the opportunity to exploit new territories for Skatoony,” says Michael Carrington, Chief Content Officer, Turner Broadcasting. “It’s a fantastic fast-paced game show which is sure to delight new audiences across Europe.”

In addition to Skatoony, D360’s kids slate also includes Splatalot, Ambition Skatecamp, This is Daniel Cook, and This is Emily Yeung for distribution to international markets.

communitechCommunitech’s annual Tech Leadership Conference on March 2, 2011 is the place to be for anyone in high-tech — to hear keynote speakers author Geoffrey Moore and futurist Watts Wacker, share views with journalist and author Scott Berkun, and gain insights from a high-tech power panel moderated by former Global national news anchor Kevin Newman. More than 500 people are expected to attend the largest such one-day event in Southwestern Ontario.

“It’s an action-packed day that will focus on the new fundamentals of business in an era where the power of the crowd shapes everything from marketing practices to purchase consideration, and leading-edge innovation continues to drive rapid change,” said Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech.

The Tech Leadership Conference will feature a ‘BIG Conversation’ between Canadian industry leaders — MKS CEO Philip Deck, Sr. VP OSI John Ruffolo, and CTO OpenText Eugene Roman with Geoffrey Moore and moderated by Kevin Newman — addressing the major shifts occurring in the tech industry. Startup companies will also pull back the curtain on latest innovations moving from stealth mode to commercialization in the annual Tech Expo staged at the conference.

Geoffrey Moore is best known as the author of the ground-breaking book “Crossing the Chasm” and is a managing director at TCG Advisors and a venture partner at MDV. Tech leadership attendees will hear from Moore how disruptive innovation can have a positive impact on their business plans. Lecturer, best-selling author, political commentator and social critic Watts Wacker will bring a futurist’s perspective to the Tech Leadership Conference, focusing on navigating the sea of change in business.

Scott Berkun — author of three best-selling books, contributor to publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, and a blogger for Harvard Business and BusinessWeek — will investigate the myths of innovation.

Breakout sessions at the Tech Leadership Conference include the following topics and leaders:

* Myths of Innovation: Scott Berkun
* Developing Your Digital Roadmap: Dan Christian, DanoDigital
* Recruiting Trends: Sharon Rudy, SpencerStuart
* Under Construction: The Sales and Marketing Organization of the Future: John Neeson, Sirius Decisions
* Life After Exit Leadership Panel: Steve Woods, Google; Yvan Couture, Primal; Ron Neumann, Dejero Labs; moderated by Greg Barratt, Communitech.

secure keyCongratulations to Toronto-based SecureKey Technologies Inc., who has received an investment from Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment organization. SecureKey designs hardware and software solutions to enable the strong cryptographic capabilities of debit, credit and identity smartcards including those within NFC based phones to be used for online authentication and online purchases. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

canonCanon Canada is launching a national print and broadcast campaign, developed with JWT Canada that is uniquely Canadian – for Canadians by Canadians. The campaign, with additional online elements to be incorporated in the next several months, aims to deepen Canon Canada’s emotional connection with its consumers through the telling of important shared moments in life.

JWT Canada undertook strategic sessions with the various business units, which resulted in the notion that people need and want Canon imaging products when the output really counts; be that a photo of your child’s graduation, a retina camera that can detect early warning signs of diabetes or print-outs for an important client presentation. The campaign takes the focus off the product attributes and shines a light on the people who use Canon products.

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11th February 2011

Snowed In Studios Turns One

snowed in studiosHappy first anniversary to Snowed In Studios. The Ottawa studio is currently working with Eidos Montreal on the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution and recently worked with Artech Studios on The Undergarden for Atari. The Snowed In team has also worked with two other studios on our Favourites List, Behaviour and TransGaming. Here’s to many more years of gaming goodness for the team at Snowed In! vertigo towers

Vancouver indie developer Josh Brown has released his first Android title. Vertigo Towers is a physics based 3D action puzzler with 3 game modes which requires the player to match sets of three or more bricks and create chains for huge points. Vertigo Tower is OpenFeint-enabled complete with a Leaderboard and Achievements. There is both a paid version (1.99 USD) and a lite version available in Android Marketplace. I would buy this game if it became available for iPod Touch.

Relic EntertainmentRelic and THQ have opened up the Warhammer®40,000®: Dawn of War®II – Retribution™ BETA to anyone who has bought a Dawn of War game through STEAM or has registered a Dawn of Dawn of War 2 RetributionWar II product on their STEAM account. In addition, gamers can get access to the beta by registering on the Dawn of War Community site and following the instructions under the Beta Key giveaway tab.

Featuring all six multiplayer races including the new Imperial Guard faction, the beta will run through the end of February to test the new Steamworks network and matchmaking features and help balance the multiplayer mode. All new units for each race will be available in the beta along with the new multiplayer maps that will ship with Retribution. The Dawn of War II – Retribution multiplayer beta is currently planned to run until midnight on February 24th, at which point the developers will take all feedback into account to create a day-zero Dawn of War 2 Retributionbalancing patch.

The Cavechild checked out the Retribution Beta last week, and his thoughts thus far are: HOLY WTF WIN! FREAKIN’ EPIC OMG WEEEEEE. That pretty much sums it up, there is more and all but that is for another time.

Retribution is very very VERY pretty, it a new thought out army panter so that you can see what many of you squads will look like, they made it a little less shiney and more grungy like the old dawn of war which is freaking amazing! The sound in the game, the effects, ambiance, voices, yelling, gunfire, tanks, orcs and so on are very clear even in the middle of a giant war with 2 Imperial guard armies taking down Dawn of War 2 RetributionOrcs, more Orcs and some weird looking Eldar.

In my opinion the Imperial Guard are just a little OP considering I was able to beat down the Orc Warboss pretty easy, same with the Eldar Farseer. The game play is the same as the two games previous so none of you have to worry about changing style and how to do things. If I remember correctly you are allowed to import everything for Last Stand mode which is you versus a ton of AI which aren’t too hard then casually grow in difficulty. Dawn of War II: Retribution is by far one of the best games for 2011 and the year has only started…

EA GamesCongratulations to the Mass Effect 2 team on all of the hardware they picked up at last evening’s AIAS Awards, winning in three categories: Outstanding Achievement in Story,  Role Playing / MMO Game of the Year and Game of the Year – and of course congratulations to Bioware co-founders Doctors Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk on their induction into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame. Congratulations also to the FIFA 2011 team over at EA Sports for picking up the Sports Game of the Year award.Widgets Odyssey

frima studioFrima Studio titles Widgets Odyssey I and Widgets Odyssey II are now available in Europe as a single game bundle for the super low price of £1.74 / €1.99! As PlayStation®Mini titles, Widgets Odyssey I and Widgets Odyssey II are playable on both PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Portable. Both titles are rated as PEGI 7 (ESRB rated E for Everyone).

In the Widgets Odyssey saga, five robots aboard their space vessel have just one simple mission…to save the universe from the tyrannical Yagor and his evil henchmen! Armed with the unique abilities of Spad, Cosmo, Bruce, Helmut, and Monk, players will guide each robot along their exciting adventures filled with puzzles, mazes, minigames and intense platforming challenges.

BCTIAIf you’re in the Vancouver area on March 9th, you may be interested in attending BCTIA’s TechBrew event being held at the Stanley Park Pavilion. The mega-mixer invites entrepreneurs, investors, professional service providers or anyone interested in technology companies to meet, talk, and make new connections in a casual setting. Featured companies at the March event include: D2D Campaign Solutions, Gogiro, ikamobile, Jostle, Nexterra Systems Corp., NGRAIN, REV, Rx Networks, SewerVUE, Snap Technologies, Solegear Bioplastics and Wishpond. Tickets for TechBrew are $34.95 for BCTIA members, $44.95 for Non-Members or $19.95 for Students.

bantbant, an iPhone based application to help adolescents improve diabetes self-management by capturing, analyzing, and sharing their blood glucose data, is being tested by teenagers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Diabetes Clinic in Toronto. The pilot program will assess the impact that social networking and rewards that encourage and reinforce self-management behaviours have on young teens as they become more independent in managing their diabetes. The pilot will run for three months.

bant was developed by University Health Network (UHN) in collaboration with SickKids and with input from patients, families, doctors, nurses and engineers. The multidisciplinary teams from SickKids’ Diabetes Clinic and Division of Adolescent Medicine worked closely with colleagues at UHN to design the application. bant is partially funded by the Saint Elizabeth Health Care ACT research grant program.

People with type 1 diabetes need to maintain their blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible to decrease diabetes-related complications, such as kidney and heart disease. Optimal blood glucose is very hard to achieve; requiring frequent measurement of levels, detailed analysis of the results, and continued adjustments of the treatment plan.

A free version of bant is already available in 10 languages at the Apple App Store. An advanced version of the application has been developed for use in the pilot which will use a LifeScan OneTouch Mini blood glucose meter to collect and wirelessly transfer readings directly into bant using a Bluetooth adapter developed by the UHN team. The data are then displayed and organized visually. Teens can customize the tool to categorize readings according to their activities and daily schedule to enable accurate decision-making and medication adjustments. They will also be able to share their experiences in a private social network within the app and earn experience points leading to rewards in the form of iTunes redemption codes to purchase music and other apps. bant is integrated with TELUS health space, Powered by Microsoft HealthVault, giving pilot participants the ability to store, review, and control the sharing of their personal health information with their care team and family members.

sierra wirelessSierra Wireless has unveiled a multi-purpose wireless gateway that defines next-generation intelligent machine-to-machine (M2M) networking. The powerful Sierra Wireless AirLink™ GX400 gateway offers a leading-edge combination of features, including cloud-based device management, extensive hardware and software enhancements, mil-spec ruggedness, GPS and associated location-based services, and advanced configuration options with comprehensive expandability for both hardware and software features.

Flexible and powerful enough to meet the needs of a wide range of applications in the transportation, industrial M2M and enterprise markets, the AirLink GX400 will make solution deployment faster, easier and less expensive for mobile system operators, OEMs, application service providers and end customers. With the AirLink GX400, system integrators can standardize on a single gateway platform to serve the needs of all of their customers.

Sierra Wireless also announced AirLink Management Services (AMS), which will facilitate comprehensive cloud-based device management for the AirLink GX400, as well as other AirLink intelligent gateways and routers. Based on the Sierra Wireless AirVantage™ Platform, this powerful hosted device management service means small and large deployments can affordably take advantage of the comprehensive AMS management features from any location with Internet access.

Sierra Wireless boosted processing performance five-fold, basing the AirLink GX400’s design on an ARM 11-class microprocessor architecture operating with high-capacity DDR memory. This provides a powerful foundation for exploiting existing and new features and functionality. Other hardware enhancements include external antenna connectors, Ethernet, Serial and USB “OTG” (On-the-Go), as well as an expansion slot to accommodate future integrated add-on capabilities such as additional physical interfaces and wireless local and personal area networking and communications.

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20th January 2011

Six Canadian Game Franchises Receive Interactive Achievement Award Nominations

marblemediamarblemedia interactive and Teletoon have flipped the On skatoonyswitch for Skatoony’s web page, which is filled with games, show information, downloadable craft projects and videos. Skatoony is a combined live action and animation quiz show for kids. Each week the two hosts, Chudd Chudders and The Earl pit 3 animated characters against real kids who hope to survive the show’s shenanigans, temperamental producer and environmental challenges to be declared victorious.

aiasSeveral Canadian titles have been named as finalists for the AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards which will be presented at DICE Las Vegas this coming February 10th. The dev teams from EA Canada will be competing against each other in the Sports Game of the Year category with both FIFA Soccer 11 and NHL 11 receiving nominations. The debut title for United Front Games, ModNation Racers, has been named to the Racing Game of the Year category.

Relic Entertainment’s Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising has been nominated in the Strategy Game of the Year category, while Ubisoft Montreal action title Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction is competing in the Achievements in Animation category. Bioware has been named to the Outstanding Character Performance category for Mass Effect 2 – Male Shepard, while Mass Effect 2 was given the nod for both the Outstanding Achievement in Story,  Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year and Game of the Year categories.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has been nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition Award as well as Adventure Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play. The Ubisoft Montreal blockbuster will also be going head to head with Bioware’s blockbuster Mass Effect 2 as they compete in the  Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction category. Best of luck to all of our Canadian nominees!

krangGAMESVancouver Film School graduate Nicholas Yonge has officially launched his indie game development studio krangGAMES, which will initially be focusing on flash games with an eye to expanding its products to other platforms in the future. The studio is currently developing DotGuy vs The Galaxy, which is an action-puzzle game where the player must successfully guide DotGuy out of a damaged spaceship. According to the game’s description, DotGuy vs The Galaxy will feature a campaign mode, unlockable modes of play, multiple playable characters, and user-made content via the Assembly Level Editor. krangGAMES also developed a game named Prior, which was created for the Ludum Dare Competition #19. Prior is a msyterious 2D platformer that was built in Adobe Flash, and in following with the LD19 theme of Discovery, players must navigate through a dark facility in an effort to figure out who they are, what has happened, where they are, and why they are there, developing their story piece by piece.

Hothead GamesHothead Games has brought Swarm creator, Dr. Mike Hayward, out of his dark and windowless office for a few short minutes to explain how players can control their “Swarm” in this first edition of “Ask Dr. Mike.”

Since Dr. Mike tends to speak in programming code without even realizing it, Hothead brought in “man of the people” and “regular guy”, Lead Designer, Pete Low, to bridge the gap and explain to us laypeople the unique and fun way to control your Swarm. Swarm is the upcoming and ultra addictive action game from UTV Ignition and Hothead Games set to release early this year. Dr. Mike did his PhD research in the field of artificial intelligence, and while his research didn’t directly relate to causing the horrific deaths of little cute and pudgy blue creatures, he has harnessed his work to realize that vision in Swarm. In the newly released video, Dr. Mike shows us everything from how to jump, group up, huddle and even stack and bash your Swarmites.

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

Swarm gives players control of 50 utterly fearless Swarmites and drives them through an intense and often suicidal battle of survival. Swarm is the first game to feature mass character control, where players move all the Swarmites at once. Steer the flock of pudgy, clueless little blue morons through the game and they naturally flock and flow around obstacles. Creatively combine swarm moves to work your way through a relentlessly dangerous and hilariously brutal environment. Compete against friends to get the high score by deftly moving through the world and cleverly solving puzzles the game throws your way. Swarm is rated T for Teen by the ESRB

EA SportsEA SPORTS™ and Virgin Gaming™ have penned a new agreement which names Virgin Gaming as the official worldwide provider of online tournaments for EA SPORTS. The agreement covers all head-to-head competitive play, pay-to-enter and sponsored tournaments for select EA SPORTS console video games.
virgin gaming
As part of the agreement, the Virgin Gaming tournament platform will integrate directly with select EA SPORTS titles offering seamless web functionality and enhanced community tools for competitive gaming across Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3 consoles. The first tournaments will begin early 2011, with details to be announced in the near future.

“EA SPORTS is the leading sports video game brand and publisher in the world, and we are thrilled to offer our members the opportunities to compete in some of their very best multiplayer sports games,” said Rob Segal, CEO of Virgin Gaming. “Virgin Gaming is a unique convergence of competitive gaming, video games and social/community networking, and we are excited that EA SPORTS shares our vision for the platform and its potential.”

“Competitive online gaming is an increasingly popular component of our industry and a great way for EA SPORTS and Virgin Gaming to help connect gamers around the world through the global language of sports,” said Peter Moore, President of EA SPORTS. “Virgin Gaming demonstrates the system-wide integrity we desire, and this is a great opportunity for EA SPORTS fans to experience secure and impeccably managed online tournaments for some of our top titles.”

Wicked InteractiveWicked Interactive and Mission Against Terror (M.A.T.) today offered a first look at Occupation Mode, the eagerly anticipated update which brings hardcore, capture-the-flag-style competitive action to everyone’s favorite free-to-play shooter.

“Gamers have been extremely curious,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “Since there hasn’tMAT Occupation Mode been an Old School hardcore competitive title in quite some time, gamers seem like they can’t wait to get their hands on Occupation Mode. We hope that these screenshots hold them over until Occupation Mode goes live, which, we promise, will be very soon.”

What’s New in Occupation Mode:

· New maps
· Territory capture and control – the two essential ingredients of a competitive title
· New team-based action and coordination
· Ability to set time-challenges – game creators determine how long one team has to hold all points on map for the win
· Opportunity to test out recently purchased or unlocked weapons in new, challenging environments

“With Occupation Mode, we offer players a great mix of flexibility and raw competition,” added Ho. “Some players want an experience that is nothing less than a fight to the death, with matches lasting countless rounds until one team finally emerges victorious from the firefight. For others, it’s about light, scrimmage with friends. We are proud to serve both communities of gamers with this latest update to M.A.T.”

Mobile IT management solution provider Rove has announced the rapidly growing adoption of its award-winning solution, Rove Mobile Admin, a secure smartphone- and tablet-enabled IT management solution giving IT staff unprecedented mobile access to incident detection, diagnosis, triage and resolution.

Spurring the surge of interest and uptake has been Rove’s Dashboard, functionality that aggregates alerts, alarms, notifications and tickets from IT monitors and incident management systems, presents them to IT administrators directly on their mobile device’s screen, and makes it possible to drill down quickly into problem details to identify the cause and implement a fix.

“We use Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager to monitor a wide variety of security and server health issues,” said Jeff Rountree, Global Network Manager for Dover’s Pump Solutions Group (PSG), a world-leading manufacturer of industrial pumps and compressors. “While email alerts for warnings and errors are available to us, setting them up takes a number of steps and our time. With the Rove Mobile Admin Dashboard my team can view alerts directly, without the need for any email escalations. The added value is being able to receive alerts regarding our Exchange and/or Blackberry servers even if they’re offline – as long we have network connectivity we can get the Rove Dashboard alerts and begin taking corrective action.”

“There is a growing awareness within IT organizations that robust, proven mobile solutions are required to effectively manage their networks and infrastructure,” said Russell Ure, President and COO, Rove. “Rove Mobile Admin is increasingly seen as the preferred solution to address these needs.”

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10th January 2011

Ontario Libraries Connect Users To Knowledge

Reminder: Today is the final day to get in on the free upgrade to Bioware’s Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition when you pre-order Dragon Age 2.
Reminder: The deadline for the Canada Film Centre Cineplex Entertainment Film Program is January 21st.
Reminder: The application period for Canada Summer Jobs 2011 will be from February 1st to February 28th.

Since January 2008, many Ontario libraries have been collaborating to provide an online inquiry service askONcalled askON, along with a similar French-language service called ONdemande. askON and ONdemande are among the five digital services of Knowledge Ontario, a not-for-profit collaborative. Seven more public libraries joined the service on January 3, so a total of 63 libraries across the province are now participating.

Here’s how it works. You go to your local library’s website or to the askON home page and open a live chat session. After you post your question, a real librarian—not an automated search engine—finds the information you need. The service is available 45 hours a week, and most inquiries take about 10 to 15 minutes to answer.

Each library provides two to eight hours of live chat help each week. As a result, Ontarians in even the smallest and most remote communities can get almost instant answers to their research questions. “It’s an excellent example of how libraries work collaboratively,” says Cathy Matyas, CEO of the Brampton Library.knowledge Ontario

askON is the sort of service very few libraries could provide on their own. However, it’s exactly the sort of service they need to offer to stay relevant to many of their users.

“Providing wider access to library services is a key priority for us,” says Matyas. She points out that technologically savvy users have flocked to askON. “The uptake has been tremendous in our community.”

askON has been particularly popular with students and businesspeople—two groups who might not naturally visit a brick-and-mortar library but who spend a great deal of time online. “We’re actually going where they are,” says Laura Master, co-ordinator of information services at the Kitchener Public Library. “It’s one more avenue for people to explore and discover our libraries.”

Once users have made that initial contact, librarians can use the opportunity to help them increase their digital literacy. Many Ontarians, for instance, don’t realize that their library cards give them access to a wealth of authoritative databases that can take them far beyond what a simple Google search can offer. In an online chat, librarians can help clients access and navigate these databases. Librarians are unabashed fans of the service, which helps them develop their technical skills and gives them an opportunity to do what they do best: find information.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble Inc. has turned the tides in the App Stores war for top selling app with the smash-hit, Burn the Rope, their new original game for iOS devices.

After Burn the Rope’s release last month, it has made a giant leap to the top of the charts in over 50 countries, dethroning best sellers Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope to sit in the #2 spot in the US and Canadian App Store, right behind Angry Birds.

Burn the Rope is the most original game of the year, and can be played by anyone and everyone! Each level gives you a more challenging rope design. Touching the rope will set it alight, so you must be pretty strategic where you choose to start. burn the rope

To play Burn the Rope you have to tilt and turn your phone to keep your flame alive, but there’s a catch… the fire only burns upwards! It’s your job to try to burn as much rope as you can in each level so you can collect Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals!

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 access and 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. You will actually feel like you’re burning a rope, yet there’s no need for a fire extinguisher!

Based on its huge popularity with reviewers and fans alike, it’s easy to see that Burn the Rope is going to be sitting at the top of charts for quite a while. Big Blue Bubble Inc. is pleased to see that an Ontario company can make such a huge impact in the US App market, as well as those from around the world.

One Canadian title has been named to the IGF Student Game Showcase, and one received an Honourable Mention. First-person puzzler FRACT, developed by University of Montreal student Richard Flanagan, puts the player into an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music. The player must then resurrect and revive the long forgotten machinery of this musical world, thereby unlocking the mysteries contained within.

Honourable Mention was given to Star-Twine, a title developed at Carleton University. According to the game’s description, “Star-Twine is a strategy game with ambient sounds, unique visuals and a virtually infinite number of levels to play on. Battles take place on three dimensional maps where you, a small point of light, must build structures to extract energy from the threads that make up the world. Energy can be spent on new structures, each with their own unique abilities. The enemy AI builds while you build and reacts to your play-style. This results in challenging battles that require strategic insight and quick thinking.

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28th December 2010

When Zombies and Hungries Attack

footloose gamesFootloose Games has launched an open beta of their new title, Munchies’ Lunch. The munchies lunchCavechild took the game for a spin this morning, and while it only took him about 15 minutes to puzzle his way through the 16 Adventure Mode beta levels, he had nice things to say about the game, including the clean graphics, crystal-clear soundtrack and effects, as well as the ramping difficulty of the puzzles. In Munchies’ Lunch, players must help the Munchies journey across their world, gathering food while avoiding the Hungries, who mirror your moves as you gather food in the crop fields. Use your PC to out-manoeuvre the Hungries and trick them into picking up the red-hot peppers. If you enjoy casual puzzlers, the Cavechild recommends taking the Munchies’ Lunch beta for a spin.

CAPCOMJust in time for the New Year, there is a new case for Dead Rising 2 (at press time, the official DR2 site was not loading). See Frank West and Chuck Greene team up for the first time ever beginning today! Dead Rising 2: Case West brings the intrepid photojournalist and star of the original Dead Rising, together with Dead Rising 2’s Chuck Green as they embark on a brand new case set in the Phenotrans Facility on the outskirts of Fortune City. Set immediately after the events of Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Case West allows players to join up for some serious co-op action to take Dead Rising 2 Case Weston the hoards of zombies. Along with new challenges and new enemies, Chuck and Frank will also have access to new weapons, items and the ability to create a number of new Combo weapons such as the janitor’s favorite, the ‘Zap & Shine’ and the ominous sounding ‘Reaper’.

Wherever he finds himself, Frank is always ready to capture the moment with his trusty camera and Dead Rising 2: Case West is no exception. Frank is able to take photographs of key evidence that will provide indisputable proof of Phenotrans’ part in the zombie outbreaks, not just in Fortune City, but across the United States. As the story unfolds expect to see cameo appearances from other characters from Dead Rising that will provide further links to the original game. If enjoyed as a solo experience, the player will take control of Chuck with Frank’s Dead Rising 2: Case West is now LionHeartavailable on Xbox LIVE for 800 MS Points.

Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons has announced its latest property, atomic cartoonsLionheart, which follows the comedic adventures of Mac and Sir Lionheart of Mane, who, as a decorated member of the Explorers Guild, goes off on daring adventure, often surviving only by the seat of his pants. Often overlooking important details, Lionheart is lucky to have travel companion Mac along, as he tends to keep things somewhat together, at least until the next destination. A mix of adventure and comedy with a nod to classic cartoon styling, Lionheart promises to deliver good “olde time” fun.

koboIt appears that Christmas 2010 was the holiday for eBook sales, with Kobo revealing its Holiday 2010 sales success. With readers around the world receiving new eReaders and iPads and other eReading devices under their tree, Kobo saw over a million people connected to its service, and hundreds of thousands of devices were activated each day since Christmas Eve, fuelling the highest eBook download rate in the company’s history. People around the world chose Kobo this Christmas, with the popular easy-to-use Kobo Wireless eReader, dozens of compatible eReaders, top-rated applications for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and one of the largest catalogues in the world with over 2.2 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines. I also noticed this morning that Kobo has a “First Book” promo offer on – if you’re downloading your first book from the Kobo Store, they give you a promo code for 35% off the purchase price of the title.

“Earlier this month we predicted that Christmas would be a record breaker for Kobo, and we have exceeded our expectations driving several ebook downloads per second since Christmas Eve, or an equivalent number hardcover books stacked as high as 50 Empire State Buildings,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. “I would like to thank our customers for choosing Kobo to start building their digital library this Christmas. Our success this holiday season is a pre-cursor to a New Year with people reading more than ever thanks to eBooks and Kobo.”

Kobo’s holiday growth also included:

* Total registered users nearly doubling from the six weeks prior
* A 50X increase in purchases from previous Holiday weekend last year
* A 5X increase in purchases from the previous biggest weekend (also in December)
* Customer purchases from over 130 countries, with some of the biggest gains outside of US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, occurring in Germany, Netherlands, and Singapore
* A significant increase in device mix, with eReaders and Tablets accounting for the largest percent in sales

Kobo became the first eReading service to launch an eBook gifting and gift card program and for the first time in history, eBooks “arrived” digitally in people’s email accounts this Christmas morning. The top three most popular eBooks gifted this holiday were:

* “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (#2 in Canada)
* “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson (#1 in Canada)
* “Room” by Emma Donahue (#3 in Canada)

Kobo’s recently-announced Kobo Reading Life program, now available on the iPad, marked the industry’s first comprehensive social eReading experience, personalizing eReading and creating a fun, engaging, and meaningful experience. Over 250,000 Reading Life awards have been given out since its recent launch – simply for reading. Tens of thousands were given out this Christmas, including the “Milk and Cookies” award, and the “Holiday Cheer” award for reading on Christmas Eve and Day.

This holiday season, open standards and the ability to read on any device is a consistent theme. With Kobo, customers can to build their lifetime libraries as they choose, and read on multiple devices by downloading a free eReading app. People can also download books for free, borrow and read eBooks from their local library on the Kobo Wireless eReader – and alternatively can read Kobo eBooks on other dedicated eReaders like the Sony eReader and Nook.

RandomHouseAs evidenced by the popularity of eBooks on Kobo, December 25th and 26th were the two biggest ebook sales days ever for Random House, Inc. Combined ebook sales across e-retailers on December 25th and 26th rose more than 300% over last year’s sales for the same two-day period, which had been Random House’s best two-day ebook sales period ever.

Random House, Inc. leading titles from this two-day holiday selling period include Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — with a combined 115,000 units sold in ebook format across e-retailers. Other top Random House, Inc. titles include John Grisham’s The Confession, George Bush’s Decision Points, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

For the first time, Random House also saw a significant sales increase for its children’s picture books available in ebook format, including Go, Dog, Go, a classic children’s book (which was one of the Cavechild’s favourites when he was younger) written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, published by Random House Children’s in 1961.

“We are delighted by the volume of consumers flocking to Random House books across all our e-retailers, and not just to our best-selling titles which are clearly as popular in e as they are in print. Consumers are also using their e-reading devices to discover titles deeper in our list, including David Nicholls’s One Day, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Max Brooks’ World War Z.” said Madeline McIntosh, President of Sales, Digital and Operations, Random House, Inc. The publisher currently has more than 17,000 of its front and backlist titles in ebook format and has been encouraged by the exponential growth in demand for its ebooks across the wide spectrum of the Random House catalogue.

Canadian Short Screenplay CompetitionThe Canadian Short Screenplay Competition, the most prestigious screenwriting competition in Canada, announced earlier today a holiday gift for short filmmakers worldwide in the form of a completion fund for short films looking for that little bit extra to complete the post-production and or marketing of their finished film. The Short Film Fund, described as having no deadline for submissions, will award up to $1,500 cash to up to three successful short film filmmakers per year, until funds are exhausted each calendar year.

The fund is being generously supported by the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition and Year of the Skunk Productions. CSSC founder and producer David Cormican reminds interested filmmakers in putting only their best foot forward. “The fund is highly competitive, very selective and will only invest in the best and most deserving projects “, says Cormican. “We’re looking to support filmmakers with a unique, strong, professional and commercial vision”.

The fund is a first for the CSSC and joins the ranks of Bravo!FACT, National Film Board and the National Screen Institute as being amongst only a handful of private and public organizations financially supporting the making of short films. “Besides, provincial and local funding agencies, short filmmakers don’t really have that many avenues to find money to make their art beyond Bravo!FACT, the NSI and NFB programs. So, we’re happy to be able to help support a few extra projects each year to that same end”, offers Cormican.

While interested filmmakers and producers are asked to limit their number of submissions to two projects per year, they can apply to the fund free of charge through the entirely online submission process available on the CSSC’s website. The Short Film Fund is open effective immediately. Complete Short Film Fund details and guidelines, including the online submission form, can be found online.

GrouponGroupon officially launched in Kelowna just prior to Christmas, and during its first week in town, Groupon’s featured deals included a massage package, a putting course and a coffee shop. Upcoming deals include hair salon services, cooking classes and a local teahouse. Groupon Kelowna joins 20 other Canadian markets currently enjoying Groupon deals.

“With its fine dining, unique shops and vibrant culture, Kelowna is an ideal Groupon market,” said Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer of Groupon. “We look forward to bringing unbeatable deals to Kelowna residents, while driving new streams of revenue to local merchants.”

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23rd December 2010

Lots and Lots of Sales

Development studio Capybara Games held its first internal 48 hour game jam earlier this week, and they’ve now posted the results on the studio’s blog. Working in teams of 2 or 3, the Capy-devs came up with some very interesting concepts, and the studio said on their blog that there will perhaps be some more playable jam titles available after the holidays.

There are lots of holiday sales from our Canadian developers to take advantage of this season, either as gifts for those who are looking for something new to play:

frima studioFrima’s 2D point-and-click Big Bad Wolfadventure game for puzzle lovers, Big Brain Wolf is part of the 5 game Indie Brain Pack available on Steam until January 3rd 2011 for only $4.99 USD. This crime story takes place in a fairy tale kingdom inhabited by a vegetarian, asthmatic wolf, a bipolar Genie, a chubby Red Riding Hood, a long-nosed lawyer, and a slew of hilarious characters. To clear his mother of the murder charges brought upon her, our lupine friend will have to train his brain through 60 puzzles and riddles.

IUGOIUGO Mobile has also gotten into the spirit of the season, putting all of their great titles on sale for 99 cents USD each until early January. Now’s the time to grab these IUGO hits:IUGO Holiday Sale

Toy Bot Diaries 1,2,3, the Toy Bot Compilation, Spy Bot Chronicles and the Toy Bot Mini Missions
Zombie Attack! and Zombie Attack! Second Wave XL
Shaky Summit
Freeballin’
Star Hogs
A.D.D.
Implode! XL
Cliffed XL
ESCAPE: Norm’s World
Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet

Celsius GamesCelsius Games’ new title Red Nova, which has rocketed up the iTunes game chart is still available for its special introductory price of 99 cents USD for both the iPhone and iPad versions. This price won’t last forever, so you’d best grab your spaceship now and make your file screen even more festive because Red Nova is red, which puts you 50% closer to decorating everything you own in Christmas colours. kung fu santa

Speaking of holiday colours, you really should pick up Kung Fu Santa by Big Bad Brush and help save Christmas. This highly colourful and simply fun to play title is also available for the low, low price of 99 EA Mobilecents in the App Store.

EA Mobile’s massive library of iOS titles is also on sale for just 99 cents USD per title – this means some huge discounts on some games, so whether you need some last minute gifts or just want them for yourself, now would be the time to be proactive and scoop them up before the sale ends. Death Spank

Deathspank really wants to move in to his own little home on your PC’s hard drive this Christmas, can you spare him a little change? This amusingly inept super hero game from Hothead Games is currently on sale on Steam for 50% off its regular price. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you really should – and then you can continue helping the downtrodden in Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue, which is also currently on sale.

Cshankoincidentally, Klei Entertainment’s vigilante platformer Shank is also on sale, available for the low price of $10.04 USD, so if you feel the urge to help Shank deal with his anger issues by slaughtering the underworld’s deadliest assassins, you should take advantage of this holiday sale.Dead Rising 2

Feel the need to eradicate zombies? Good news for you! Dead Rising 2 for the PC from Blue Castle Games (or Capcom Studios Vancouver, if you prefer) is also on sale at Steam for 50% off the published price. Head to Fortune City and try your luck – don’t forget your Zombrex!

Bioware CorpIf you’ve been living off-planet this year and haven’t yet gotten Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 for your PC, you’re in luck – Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 2 Digital Deluxe Edition are all on sale at Steam as well. Not to be outdone by its studio mate, Dragon Age and all of its ilk are also on sale in the Steam store.

Loud Crow Interactive is giving away promo codes for their interactive iPad books The Tale of Peter Loud Crow InteractiveRabbit and The Night Before Christmas. Head on over to their Facebook page for details on how to grab a code while they’re still available.Doras Christmas Carol

If you’re looking for other great holiday treats to share with youngsters, may I suggest Dora’s Christmas Carol from Budge Studios. It’s not on sale, but you can get it for your iPhone for $2.99 USD or your iPad for $4.99 USD. Guaranteed to be a hit with any Dora fans living in your house.

I could probably spend all day looking for Canadian-made games on sale, but I do have to go to work. I also apparently have to go Christmas shopping, because my daughter is horrified that I haven’t done so yet. A few other great deals currently lurking around on Steam are all of the Company of Heroes and Dawn of War II titles from THQ and Relic Entertainment, plus there’s 150+ indie titles also on sale. If you see a Canadian title on sale somewhere, send me a message on Twitter, and if I have time I will try to get another posting of sale prices and links done before Christmas.

Wicked InteractiveToronto game publisher Wicked Interactive has launched AI Mode, the newest and most challenging level that brings robots and other surprises to the free-to-play shooter Mission Against Terror.

“This is our holiday gift to the massive and awesome M.A.T. community,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “They have been so supportive since the early days of Closed Beta, we felt thisMission Against Terror update is the least we could do.”

What’s New in AI Mode:

· 8 players vs. slew of AI-controlled robots in a war for survival
· 2 new stages (of four) available now
· 4 new difficulty settings
· 4 new scenarios
· Weapon Reward System for completing stages at current difficulty levels
· Weapon Casting Machine, allowing gamers to create weapons from the parts of destroyed robots
· The chance to do battle with the Robot Captain

The National Post has launched its free National PostNational Post Reader App, available now on the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Simple and sophisticated, the National Post Reader App provides a customizable news feed that brings users straight to the day’s breaking news as well as the latest opinion pieces from Canada’s favourite writers and commentators. As with all National Post products, the app features coverage from across the country and around the world, delivered with a distinctly Canadian voice.

“Our readers like to stay up to date on important news, analysis and commentary wherever they are,” said National Post Publisher Douglas Kelly. “The National Post Reader App delivers this to them in a very personal and convenient way on iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.”

Features of the National Post Reader App include:

* Delivery of Top Story content as soon as news breaks
* Quick and easy navigation tools
* The ability to save stories to read later, including when offline
* Social media sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Instapaper, email, and more

Pinewood StudiosPinewood Toronto Studios, Canada’s largest purpose-built film and TV studio complex, will use a $34.5-million financing arrangement to secure the studio’s long-term growth and enhance the City of Toronto’s ability to attract big-budget films and TV projects, as well as help strengthen Toronto’s role as one of the world’s great production centres.

This investment in vital, long-term Ontario film and television infrastructure will support Pinewood Toronto Studios, Ontario’s premier studio complex, in attracting large-scale production work that would not otherwise be drawn to Toronto.

Pinewood Toronto Studios Chairman Paul Bronfman says, “Toronto is one of a handful of truly exceptional production capitals. This repayable loan will benefit every Ontarian, as well as the film and TV industry throughout the city and province. The ripple effect to the broader Ontario economy will be enormous.”

The financing will permit improvements to Pinewood Toronto Studios facilities, strengthening and propelling its ability to attract bigger and more specialized film and television projects. Among the films and TV series shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios over the last two years are: Battle of the Blades, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The Thing, Devil, Dream House and Chloe. The loan, provided by Infrastructure Ontario and facilitated by Build Toronto, was secured by the Pinewood Toronto Studios Board of Directors and received unanimous approval earlier this month.

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20th December 2010

Gaming On The Go

TransGamingTransgaming Studios and Breakthrough Entertainment have released a fresh new teaser trailer for upcoming time management game, Garage Inc. Scheduled for a January 2011 release, the development team has been busy polishing up the hubcapsbreakthrough entertainment and cleaning out the garage, getting ready for Angelo Marito’s journey into the automobile service industry in 1920’s Chicago. Will recent immigrant Angelo’s seed money loan from cousin Sal come back to haunt him in a city rife with mafia activity? Angelo will depend on you to guide him as he struggles to balance fixing his customers’ cars, hire employees, grow his business and deal with the mob, all while keeping his eye on the elusive American dream.

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Digital LeisureDigital Leisure Inc. has launched Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp, the follow up to arcade classics Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, designed exclusively for Nintendo’s DSiWare™ Dragons Lair II Timewarpservice and available now for 800 DSi Points. From legendary animator Don Bluth (‘An American Tail’, ‘The Land Before Time’) Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp allows you to play the heroic Dirk the Daring, who must stop the Evil Wizard Mordroc as he has kidnapped Princess Daphne and taken her through time! But you must hurry, for once the Casket of Doom has opened, Mordroc will place the Death Ring upon Daphne’s finger in marriage and she will be lost forever… in the Time Warp!

Sharpen your sword and get ready to guide Dirk the Daring as he races through time to save the beautiful Princess Daphne from the clutches of the Evil Wizard Mordroc in Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp. You’ll journey through time to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne by using your Nintendo DSi™ to move and wield your sword.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble Inc. is pleased to announce the release and immediate worldwide availability of Burn the Rope ($0.99 USD), their new original game for iOS devices. Winning the hearts of users with smash hit Thumpies – game that reinvented the rhythm genre – developers are intended to do it again by bringing to the App Store a unique game for all who are fascinated with flame and all kinds of fire effects.

Starting today users have the freedom to set fire without any fire hazard or need for a fire burn the ropeextinguisher. The game involves a mix of strategic planning, thinking ahead, coordination and the ability to stay in deep focus. Users have to feed the fire and burn as much rope as they can in each level to progress. The challenge is that fire only burns upwards, leaving players to tilt and turn their iPhones to keep the flame alive.

The game features 80 devilishly tricky levels with polished graphics and mesmerizing fire effects. Bugs that crawl along the rope spice things up demonstrating different reactions to the flame from level to level. Ants change the color of the flame so that users could burn different colored ropes, and the spider shoots out a web bridge providing access to the parts of the level that were beyond players’ reach before.

“Burn The Rope is our most innovative game initially prototyped with a string of rope and box of matches. It’s really easy to learn, but quite hard to master! That game was created with the whole family in mind and I’m sure that all family members will have enormous fun playing with fire.” – said Damir Slogar, CEO of Big Blue Bubble Inc.

playbrainsIn collaboration with OpenFeint’s Free Game of the Day, Zoo Toss from PlayBrains and Bytemark Games is free for today only. In Zoo Toss, the player is challenged through 20 levels to keep three zoo tosshungry animals happy and fed by flicking good food at them. Keep your vegan giraffes, carnivorous lions and garbage-can warthogs content, don’t feed them bad food and keep vitamins in stock for when they’re looking a bit sickly. Zoo Toss is OpenFeint-enabled with Game Center achievements and leaderboards.

TomKorpIndie game developer Tomkorp today announced that they will be offering their strategy/puzzle game Clones at 50% off over the holiday season. Tomkorp recently partnered with Get Games Go, the PC game distribution platform for Eurogamer. Clones is also available for purchase on Steam, Direct2Drive, and the official ClonesGame.com website.

An updated version of Clones was made public on Dec. 16th. “Since launch we’ve had relatively few technical problems. This maintenance release includes a few requested features and improvements suggested by our growing fan base.” said Tom Kaminski, co-founder.

Clones is winning the hearts of puzzle players from around the world. “We are thrilled with the number of positive reviews Clones has received” said Ryan Tomko, co-founder. One reviewer, James Allen of Out Of Eight PC Game Reviews, writes “While the single player content will last you a while, what sets Clones apart is the robust multiplayer action”, giving the game a “Buy It” rating of 7 / 8.

Clonecloness is a friendly, fun, and engaging evolution to the classic Lemmings puzzle genre that includes robust internet-multiplayer with team play, different game modes, powerups, and leaderboards. The built-in level editor was used to create the singleplayer campaign of over 150 clontastic puzzles spanning 11 CloneMaster bosses over 5 regions of the Clones Planet.

In Clones, the player controls cute alien “clones” by telling them when to morph their bodies in order to overcome obstacles in the landscape and complete the level objective. This can include beaming up a minimum number of clones, leading a special clone to an exit, or reducing all opponent clones to bits. Each puzzle has a leaderboard on the ClonesGame.com website that ranks all solutions based on stats like the number of morphs used, and the time to complete the level. Clones is rated E for Everyoneby the ESRB.

EA MobileEA Sports and EA Mobile bring you FIFA 11 for the iPad. The fifa 11 for ipadlarger Multi-Touch screen on iPad delivers an incredible measure of visual excellence – and sets the stage for a total soccer experience like you’ve never seen before. Featuring authentic teams, superstar players, and precision controls, FIFA 11 on iPad truly kicks it to the next level!

Take the field with superstars like Real Madrid’s Kaka and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. Match up more than 500 teams from real leagues around the world while quality graphics make every detail on the field spring to life. Team colors are ultra vibrant. The green of the grass is even more glorious. Capture the passion and power of the world’s favorite sport with an unprecedented level of visual clarity that you can only get with iPad. The new D-pad and button layout options provide more gameplay sophistication for veterans and simplicity for casual players. Control the ball and the action with 360° player movement and gesture-driven skill moves. Swipe a player to make an attacking run! Control of the action is even more precise and responsive on iPad.

frima studioTraveling through space. Mowing down hordes of evil aliens. Upgrading your ship into the most lethal killing force the universe has ever seen. What could be better? How about getting to do all of the above for a measly two bucks! Frima Studio is pleased to unveil the brand new, never-before-seen trailer for its latest release, A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! As a PlayStation Mini title, A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! will be playable on both the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system and will be blasting off Tuesday, December 21 for the insanely low price of – yep, you guessed it – $1.99.

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Since time immemorial, through eons of time and dozens of game consoles, one thing has remained true: humans love hopping into a spaceship to shoot up hordes of alien invaders! In A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! (a game with perhaps the most straight-forward title in history) you get to do just that. Take control of Commander P. Jefferson and go on an intergalactic shooting spree, hopping from galaxy to galaxy in your attempts to wipe out hordes of swarming alien baddies. With over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek humor from the game’s wide cast of colorful characters (all of which are fully voiced-over) and loads of bodacious power-ups to ensure your ship has a fighting chance against the sea of enemy ships and bullets, A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! gives gamers everything they could ask for in a space shooter! A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! is rated T for Teen for mild fantasy violence, mild language, suggestive themes and use of tobacco.

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