22nd June 2010

Cities Named for Monopoly Canadian Version

Longbow GamesLongbow Games has announced that the studio will be launching a boxed version of their innovative new historical wargame Hegemony: Philip of Macedon at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio from June 24-27, 2010. Recently called “the most in depth ancient world strategic simulator on the market,” by Greg Wild of The Reticule, the boxed version of Hegemony which includes a full-colour printed manual will launch exclusively at the show for $30 (reg. $39.99 + shipping).

“We’d like to invite all fans of history and strategy to come out to our booth at Origins and give Hegemony a try,” says Rob McConnell, lead programmer at Longbow Games. “We’re going to have multiple game stations available where guests can play the full game as well as free demo cds to take home and big discounts for those who purchase Hegemony at the show.” Hegemony Philip of Macedon

Hegemony: Philip of Macedon lets you conquer the ancient Greek world in this PC RTS war game that follows the rise of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Players campaign continuously, unfettered by load screens, across a satellite-accurate map of ancient Greece encountering the full range of warfare from reconnaissance to raids to field battles to mountain blockades. The game also features:

* Innovative supply system – Siege and starve the enemy by cutting their supply lines or burning their crops, all the while building and protecting your own supply network to support your growing empire.
* Steeped in history – In-game pedia and 100+ historical objectives recreate the rise of the Macedonian empire.
* Detailed and Stylized World and Map – Transition smoothly between the detailed 3D world and the stylized board-game map while maintaining complete control over your empire.
* Subjugate your enemy – Chase down and capture routed enemy units to create slave gangs to work your mines or build your forts. But don’t leave them unguarded or they could rebel and wreak havoc in your empire’s heartland!
* Conquer the seas – Build or capture a fleet of triremes to protect your coastlines, raid enemy merchants, or drop an army at your enemy’s backdoor.

HasbroAfter passionate campaigns across the country and more than one million votes from Monopoly fans from Kelowna to Kawartha Lakes, 22 of Canada’s favourite cities now have a home on the new Monopoly: Canada Edition game board. Chatham-Kent, Ontario now represents the coveted Boardwalk spot, with Saint-Jean-Sur Richelieu Quebec capturing Park Place to round out the prestigious dark blue property group in the popular game invented by Charles Darrow in 1935.

“We are thrilled to celebrate Canada Day with this new all-Canadian edition of the world’s favorite family game brand featuring cities voted by Canadians!” said Michelle Sinclair, Brand Manager of Games & Puzzles for toy and game-maker Hasbro Canada. “We hope that Canadian Monopoly fans will enjoy playing on a game board that includes an interesting mix of our cities featuring all of the dynamic cultures, sights and history of this country.”Monopoly Canada

Votes were cast during a six-week period in early 2010. The first four weeks of voting determined 20 of the 22 cities featured in the game, picked from 65 pre-selected cities based on the population size of the province in which they resided. The remaining two spots were reserved for a wildcard vote for any city across Canada. Ten cities with the most nominations for the wildcard faced off for two weeks in February 2010 and Beauceville, Quebec and Banff, Alberta earned the brown property spaces on the game board, traditionally occupied by Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue.

The following 22 cities earned spots on the Monopoly: Canada Edition game board, and are listed with the highest rent properties first:Mr. Monopoly

– Dark Blue: Chatham-Kent, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu
– Green: Calgary, Sarnia, Edmonton
– Yellow: Windsor, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres
– Red: Medicine Hat, Gatineau, Shawinigan
– Orange: Kawartha Lakes, Chilliwack, Montreal
– Magenta: Kelowna, North Bay, St. John’s
– Light Blue: Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver
– Brown: Beauceville, Banff

Along with the 22 property spaces featuring great Canadian cities, the game will include updated Chance and Community Chest cards that highlight events and culturally relevant scenarios from Canada. Players may take flight at the International Balloon Festival in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, skate along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa or win big at the casinos in Niagara Falls. The new Monopoly: Canada Edition also features an Electronic Banking unit with cards instead of cash. Players can collect rent and buy their favourite Canadian cities with the touch of a button! Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

Meanwhile Back In Alberta

BiowareHot on the heels of Tuesday’s new DLC pack Overlord for Mass Effect 2, Bioware has announced a new DLC expansion for Dragon Age: Origins. In Leliana’s Song, players will assume the role of party-member Leliana, a young bard involved in a criminal ring that deals Lelianain political secrets. While accompanying her mentor Marjolaine on a high-risk mission, Leliana soon finds herself entangled in a game of intrigue that she cannot escape with just her beauty, charm, or stealth. The only way out of this game is to kill or be killed.

DLC Features:

* Explore Leliana’s dangerous past and why she joined the Chantry
* Fully voiced cinematic experience brings the characters to life
* Unlock a unique reward that transfers into your Awakening and Origins campaign

Digital Alberta has put out an official call for applications to become the association’s new Executive digital albertaDirector. There is also a career opening for the position of Executive Assistant. Interested parties are asked to please contact Larry Jacques, Digital Alberta President,  with your resume if you wish to apply.

Alberta’s 2nd Annual All Associations BBQ will be held on Tuesday June 22nd at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre.  Members from 26 industry groups, ranging from such sectors as research, marketing, gaming, investment, design, arts, hi-tech, media, magazine, music, book, tv and film will get together at 5pm for some great food and awesome networking.

Alberta ICTThe Alberta ICT Council will also be hosting a Digital Economy Symposium Luncheon which will offer an overview of the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures initiative, followed by an afternoon symposium on building Canada’s digital media economy. Recommendations will be submitted to Industry Canada as part of their cross-Canada consultation process associated with their Digital Economy strategy announced in May at Canada 3.0. Luncheon presentations also include a welcome by the president of Olds College and a review of sector activities by the Alberta ICT Council. This signature luncheon provides an opportunity for Alberta ICT sector stakeholders to meet and discuss the Alberta Innovates program and related opportunities open to Alberta’s ICT sector. The luncheon will be held at the Olds College Alumni Centre on June 25th and will begin at 11:45a.m. Tickets are available now for $30.00

If you couldn’t make the trek to Banff for the 2010 World TV Festival, fear not – you can find lots of great Banff World Television Festivalarticles, videos and photos online at the Festival’s web site, from opening day to closing BBQ. There have been a number of great announcements since this year’s event began. One such announcement came from the National Film Board, who added to their long legacy of avant-garde technical and creative firsts when Government Film Commissioner & NFB Chairperson Tom Perlmutter, Rob McLaughlin – Director, Digital Content and Strategy, English Program, and Hugues Sweeney – Advisor and Conceiver, Digital Programming, French Program officially launched Interactive.NFB.ca at Tuesday’s NFB Lunch.NFB interactive

As noted on the Banff 2010 Highlights page, Interactive.NFB.ca is a site that hosts a growing “collection of projects – interactive documentaries, video and animations, photographic art and essays, data visualization, mobile and locative media, community media and user-generated media,” which aims to support content that has yet to be, or may never be broadcast . Not without risks, the site is an ingenious way to facilitate conversations and collaborations for creatives in this new media landscape.

Congratulations also to all of this year’s Rockie Award Winners:

2010 Rockie Awards for Fiction:

Entertainment Categories:

* Animation: Le Printemps de Melie/ Molly in Springtime, National Film Board of Canada in association with Folimage, PIWI, Divertissement Subsequence Inc – Canada
* Comedy Programs: Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Table Read, HBO Entertainment, Home Box Office – USA
* Music & Variety Programs or Series: Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, Glassbox Productions, BBC – United Kingdom Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

More Canadian E3 Goodness

Canada Media FundConfused about the Canada Media Fund? There’s a conversation going on over at Christine Lim-Labossiere’s site, Pentimento Productions. Christine is working on an initiative to assist Digital Media companies who would like to access the new Canada Media Fund-Convergent Stream, and she invites all interested parties to share their thoughts. As announced earlier this month, the CMF has extended its deadline for applications to its Experimental Stream has been extended from June 21 to July 5, 2010.

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have released a new trailer for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which is scheduled for release on June 30th. A unique and stand alone piece of content, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero will introduce players to the main protagonist, Chuck Greene, and game play features of Dead Rising 2 ahead of its release. Available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners via Xbox LIVE, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is set two years after the Willamette incident chronicled in the original Dead Rising and three years before the action of Dead Rising 2. Players purchasing Dead Rising 2: Case Zero who then go on to buy Dead Rising 2 will be able to carry over character attributes earned such as Player Level, to a maximum of five, Prestige Points alongside skills, Combo Cards and a number of alternate outfits. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is not yet listed in the XBox Marketplace.

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TransGaming, Inc. has announced the redesign of its Mac digital distribution portal, GameTreeOnline, as well as the release of exciting new Mac games. As at E3 this week and on our site yesterday, GameTreeOnline features two new Disney Interactive TransGamingtitles, Toy Story 3 and Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey. Both titles are available immediately and only from GameTreeOnline as digital downloads. In addition, GameTreeOnline will release Her Interactive’s first award-winning Nancy Drew franchise title for Mac on June 29, 2010.

These new releases complement two new Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games from Riot Games and LEGO®, League of Legends and LEGO Universe, respectively. The Mac enablement and deployment of high quality franchises, such as LEGO’s first ever MMO title, clearly define TransGaming’s leadership position and adds to the company’s growing collection of award-winning titles that have been enabled for the Mac community using TransGaming’s Cider Portability Technology.

“TransGaming’s announcement of these new games coming to the Mac, at this year’s E3 Conference, clearly demonstrates to the gaming community that leading publishers are pursuing the Mac platform and are focused on releasing a simultaneous PC/Mac hybrid product,” commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “We have maintained our commitment to giving Mac gamers the highest quality gaming content and we are bringing these incredible games to the Mac simultaneously with their PC counterparts, which is possible only through our portability technology. TransGaming is truly delivering on the promise of a low-touch enablement technology for simultaneous multi-platform releases.”

Propaganda GamesDisney Interactive Studios have released the E3 trailer for Propaganda Games‘ upcoming epic, action role-playing game Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, which will give gamers an entirely new experience within the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. The game takes place before the events of the blockbuster films. Players will take on the role of a pirate and embark on epic land and sea adventures. Numerous moral and character choices will need to be made that affect their character and the original story within the world. Players will explore a massive open world while fighting enemies, mystical creatures and Mother Nature, both to gain experience and stay alive. Supernatural elements familiar to the Pirates of the Caribbean world will also affect their character’s story and influence their choices. Armada of the Damned is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2010 for next-gen consoles and Windows PC.

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“Armada of the Damned is a dynamic action role-playing game that captures all of the franchise’s excitement, unpredictability and action while delving into narrative elements never before explored within this unique universe,” said Dan Tudge, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “Our team’s collective experience with industry-leading RPGs and action titles provides a strong foundation for us to create and build a compelling action role-playing title.”

Disney Interactive has also released a new and innovative E3 2010 trailer for the TRON: Evolution video game that connects the storyline of the game and the film. The piece features the voice of Bruce Boxleitner as the character TRON, who takes the player through their paces and prepares them for immersion into a world they’ve never seen. Read the rest of this entry »

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7th June 2010

Mafia Wars At 7-Eleven Stores

Mobile Game StudioMobile Game Studio Inc. has released a lite version of their iPhone game, The High Seas. This new action packed game will put you in the boots of a treasureThe High Seas on iTunes hunter fighting against the mighty pirates as you sail the seas in search of treasure chests. You set off on adventure to find hordes of gold and booty, but beware of the pirates who are determined to foil your efforts, as well as barrels full of gun powder that follow you as you pass them by. Take a stand against your enemies with your cannons which you can set off with the touch of a button while your ship’s wheel guides you across the seven seas.

Bioware CorpBioWare™ and FUNimation Entertainment, the leading distributor of Japanese animation in North America, announced today an agreement to create an anime feature film adapted from BioWare’s critically-acclaimed fantasy Action RPG franchise Dragon Age™. Production of the Dragon Age anime movie is slated to begin in May 2010, with a home video release in 2011. Executive producing the film are Bioware’s Executive Producer Mark Darrah and Creative Director Mike Laidlaw, as well as FUNimation’s Fukunaga and Director of Original Entertainment Chris Moujaes.

“Anime is a great medium for us to continue the robust Dragon Age story,” said Mark Dragon Age OriginsDarrah, Executive Producer for the Dragon Age franchise. “Partnering with FUNimation ensures that we are delivering the exceptional quality and entertainment value that our Dragon Age fans expect.”

“We are thrilled to be working with EA and BioWare on the production of the Dragon Age anime feature,” said Gen Fukunaga, President and CEO of FUNimation. “We are going to be bringing the classic visual and storytelling techniques found in anime to create a film that will extend the narrative of the world BioWare has created.”

Dragon Age has been selected as the first title in FUNimation’s slate of major anime movies to be developed through FUNimation’s Original Entertainment team since the announcement of the company’s co-production initiative in November 2009.

Vancouver developer Genius Factor Games is giving away their casual game puzzler Gravity Well for free for the next ten days (June 16th is the last day). Take this opportunity to grab it from the iTunes App Store and see how long it takes you to make gravity your slave. This was one of the first games I bought when I first got my iTouch last year, and I’m still trying to beat this game. It’s not easy.

Last week Digital Alberta announced the resignation of long-time contributor, Executive Director, René Smid, effective Aug 31, 2010.René Smid

“René has been paramount to the Digital Media industry in Alberta,” says Larry Jacques, President of Digital Alberta. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and our membership, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication Rene has provided to our organization. We wish her the best in the future and we are grateful she will support the transition to a new management team. Hers will be tough shoes to fill.”

As a succession plan, The Board will put a call out for replacement of the Executive Director position. Due to the growth of Digital Alberta and the demand of the upcoming programming year, there will also be a call for an Executive Assistant. These positions will be filled as soon as possible.

Heenan BlaikieNational business law firm Heenan Blaikie LLP has released an in depth guide that will be interest to all interactive media houses in the country. Producing in Canada – a guide to Canadian film, television and interactive digital media incentive programs is available for download on legal network & knowledge site Lexology. Sign up is required in order to download the guide.

Pixel to ProductTwo weeks ago at the mesh conference, the Pixel to Product research study was announced by 49 Pixels’ Justin Kozuch, lead researcher and founder of Refresh Events, when he issued a Call To Action and presented an outline of what is planned for the Pixel to Product project over the coming year. According to the Pixel to Product website, the purpose of this study is to create a classification system for Canada’s digital media industry and shed light on the industry’s size and scope.

Since the initial announcement at mesh, Justin has been working on setting the agenda and identifying the deliverables that will emerge from this working group. The first part of this research study is to convene a working session to help define digital media, and in order to make this working session as successful as possible, Justin is hoping to recruit volunteers to help out with the following tasks:

* Facilitator: I’m searching for a facilitator to help lead the event, set the context for the working session and assist with keeping the session on track.
* Photographer: I’m looking to capture photos of the event, attendees and the artifacts generated.
* Liveblogging: We’re using a ScribbleLive blog to capture conversations, photos and other elements.
* Wiki gardening: We’re employing the use of a wiki to capture the various definitions, along with other generated artifacts.

If you’re available to contribute your liveblogging, wiki gardening, or other gifts towards our working session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Many hands make light work and will help make this event a success.

In this 2 hour casual working session, which is being called The UnConversation: Defining Digital Media, registered attendees will help us define digital media and share ideas on how to promote this research study across Canada.

Currently the group  has not finalized a solid definition for digital media, and the Unconversation is an opportunity to gather industry professionals to have a conversation around defining our industry. This definition will help shape the creation of our classification system, as well as all future tasks related to this research study.

The Unconversation will be held on Monday June 21st, and will open with a pre-event networking session beginning at 5:30pm. Yahoo! Canada has graciously offered the use of their facility for this event, their offices are located in Suite 801 at 201 Queen’s Quay West in Toronto.

This event is being styled as a roll up your sleeves, break-out-your-moleskine working session with clear goals and deliverables. Expect a casual working session with smart and creative industry personalities like yourself working in groups towards a larger outcome.

1. Register online
2. Select the ticket type that best describes you in the list.
3. Add your contact information, and tell us what gifts you’re bringing to the table.
4. Check your inbox for email confirmation of your registration.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can still contribute to this conversation. There will be a liveblog of the event that you can follow and add your voice to.

dhx mediaDHX Media Ltd is pleased to announce that Super WHY!, its award-winning, literacy-based series, has been commissioned for a second season of 15 all-new episodes by PBS KIDS and Canada’s CBC.

The innovative, critically-acclaimed, animated preschool program which is a co-production by Out of the Blue Enterprises and DHX Media’s DECODE Entertainment subsidiary, also airs around the globe on channels including: Nickelodeon UK and Australia and OKTO TV in Singapore; Korea’s EBS, KidsTalkTalk and Tooniverse; ATV in Hong Kong; Astro TVIQ for Malaysia and Indonesia, and Thailand’s True Visions. DHX Media holds worldwide television rights to the series excluding the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th May 2010

United Front Games Has Their First Title On Store Shelves

ModNation Racers Happy Launch Day to everyone over at United Front Games – Congratulations on your first official “Game Now On Store Shelves” milestone, and we wish you every success with ModNation Racers as it karts its way into homes around the world – now on to True Crime!

Vancouver Innovation CampThe next Innovation Camp will be held on May 29th and 30th at Bootup Labs. Get your tickets now for a great workshop that will challenge assumptions, connect ideas, embrace failure and see problems as opportunities for creative solutions in order to take your entrepreneurial venture to the next step. Tickets for Innovation Camp are $119.00 and can be purchased online.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets are also still available for the Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation of Alice in Wonderland: Creating Underland. Taking place on May 25th at the Empire Theatre Granville, this session features two presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members. Please note that online ticket sales for the seminar are now closed, but you can still get tickets at the door.

ICAOur friends over at AnnexPro have just told us about two upcoming seminars for Final Cut Pro editors. Presented by the International Colorist Academy, these two courses will be taking place in Vancouver beginning on June 7th. The first course, Apple Colour, will be held on June 7 & 8th, while the Colourist Strategies session will be held June 9th through 11th.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) today announced the American Idol Star Experience game will be available as a free download on May 26th to coincide with the Season 9 finale of the smash hit American Idol™ TV show. The game enables fans to continue their Idol obsession as they unleash their creativity by producing jaw-dropping online performances for family, friends and the whole Facebook community to rate and compare against other players.

Idol enthusiasts simply use their existing Facebook login to create a game account to access the free Performance Creator download for PC. The Performance Creator enables players to design their own unique stage performance, including building a custom avatar from head to toe, choosing a song to sing from dozens of hits, choreographing dance moves, and directing a multitude of staging elements like camera angles and special effects. The player can then post the performance to Facebook with one click, to be rated to see how they compare to other performers in singing, styling and staging categories.Play American Idol

Members of the Facebook community can also enjoy the American Idol Star Experience game in a highly social context as members of the “audience” view and rate performances, choose favorites, leave comments for performers and discuss the best (and worst) of the performances- all within the Facebook environment.

“We are excited to release a unique game experience based on American Idol, one of the most important entertainment franchises in the world,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “American Idol Star Experience reinforces our existing multiplatform game strategy, now seamlessly integrated with robust social features.”

American Idol Star Experience features:

* A free downloadable Performance Creator, available via players’ existing Facebook account.

* Personal avatars that players build head to toe, including body type, face, eyes, hair and more.

* Dozens of hit songs available in a wide variety of genres to suit all musical tastes including rock, punk, pop, hip hop, disco, R&B and country.

Players can achieve further customization of all elements of a performance via a simple “drag and drop” interface, including:

* Recorded singing- Players can select pre-recorded voice tracks, or use their own voice to sing karaoke-style.

* Personal styling- Hundreds of hair styles, wardrobe items and accessories to choose from.

* Unique staging- Stages modeled after the famous American Idol stage, with special effects, lighting, camera angles, dance moves and props that players can craft to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

* Social interaction within the Facebook community as members of Facebook can visit the game’s page to view and rate performances based on singing, styling and staging criteria. Players have also the ability to invite select Facebook friends to a private viewing of their performance.

“After more than eight top-rated seasons on television, the Emmy-award winning American Idol is one of the most successful properties on TV,” said Olivier Delfosse, Director, Interactive, FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for the program. “We are pleased to extend American Idol to both the existing fan base and new audiences alike with a highly immersive game experience that further deepens consumer engagement with the franchise.”

Ubisoft Montreal has released the North American trailer for Shaun White Skateboarding, which is scheduled for release this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

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18th May 2010

And The Survey Says Canadian Software Companies Are Doing Quite Well

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario is pleased to welcome Max Berdowski to its growing team. In this new role, Max will be responsible for overseeing the growth of the organization’s many services in collaboration with partners in both the private and public sectors.

“We are tremendously excited to have Max join our team at IO,” said Ian Kelso, President and CEO, Interactive Ontario. “Max has a keen understanding of the Canadian entertainment industry and has a Max Berdowskitrack record for delivering high very quality services in the not-for-profit sector.”

Max will be leading the charge in building partnerships around IO’s flagship event IN 2010, as well as for a new business skills training programme specializing in interactive media and digital games entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining Interactive Ontario, Max Berdowski spent ten years in Ottawa as the Executive Director and CEO of the recently closed Canadian Screen Training Centre (CSTC) — presenter of the Summer Institute of Film and Television. The national film, television and digital media training institute trained 500 filmmakers each year with all of its programming led by top working professionals. Max was responsible for the STC’s strategic planning, branding and programming. He directed its sponsorship and business development efforts.

Before leading the CSTC, Max’s work aired on broadcasters including CTV, Global television, CBC, CHUM, TLC in the U.S. and TQS in Quebec. From lifestyle series to network specials his numerous credits included Creative Director, Senior Producer and Director. Max was Producer/Director for a number of award-winning station and news image campaigns, most significantly, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters – C.A.B. Gold Ribbon Award for the country’s top Television Station Promotion and the PROMAX International Silver Medallion for the Atlantic Satellite Network’s innovative on-air look.

Max received a Master of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Production from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema from Concordia University in Montreal.Women In Games Vancouver

Women in Games Vancouver have released a three part interview with Vancouver Film School student Shannon Lee. Shannon was the recipient of the first ever Women In Games Scholarship, which was awarded at the Game Design Expo in 2009. You can watch Part One of the interview here, while Parts Two and Three have been posted on the WIGeh! You Tube Channel.

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Based on the overwhelming success of their PC utility software launches, PC HelpSoft™ is pleased to be able to offer Smart System Info & Smart Toolbar Remover free to the public.PC HelpSoft

“We are so touched by the support and feedback we have received on our products that we felt as though we would like to say thank you to the public by making these next software applications free to the public,”  says Vancouver’s PC HelpSoft™ Director of Product Development, Matthew Foland.

Smart System Info is a free tool that complies all the information you need on installed hardware and software. Specific information includes computer ID, processor, BIOS, memory, disks, video, motherboard, monitor, and more. Smart Toolbar Remover deletes annoying toolbars with just a click of the mouse. No more fighting with unwanted toolbars that take up valuable space in your browser.Darkspawn Ogre

In breaking news from Felderen, the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC for Dragon Age: Origins is now available (and waiting in my 360’s download queue) from Bioware. As announced earlier this month, players will now be able to play as the evil (or just misunderstood) Darkspawn. Instead of saving Denerim, players can burn it to the ground and watch Alistair weep in despair.  The Darkspawn Chronicles expansion is rated M and costs 400 BioWare Points, 400 MS Points or $4.99 PSN.

Happy 6th birthday to Maid Marian Entertainment Inc.’s free browser-based MMO game Sherwood Dungeon and to celebrate, the company’s creator has launched the new Sherwood Dungeon: Prophecy of Bane quest series to players.

“Sherwood started out as a hobby while I worked in the console games industry and grew organically. It’sSherwood Dungeon been a game that’s in constant development while it’s live,” says Maid Marian founder, Gene Endrody. “Originally players came back just to see what I had added and this created an interesting player culture because their feedback affected my choices. It’s also a bit of an anti-corporate entity; more like the crazy guy who turned his house into a haunted castle and invited people in to make suggestions.”

In a massive and expanding MMO space, Sherwood Dungeon stands out from a long list of cookie cutter competitors by creating a high-quality 3-D retail-style game experience that’s easy to access for new MMO players with simple controls, runs in any browser and doesn’t require a log-in, monthly fee or sign-up process. It’s the type of formula that might make any seasoned business person cringe but for Maid Marian’s one-man team, the result equals a global fan base of more than a million monthly unique visitors without any marketing plan.

Sherwood Dungeon also deviates from the tenets of modern MMO games. Combat is based on twitch reaction skills with minimal leveling up required to be potentially competitive with any other player in the game. Relying on 100% melee combat with a mere eight actions (attack, five power moves, tally and block), battles with monsters and players is kept close by not including ranged weapons – thus giving it more of a Fight Club-style of play where respect is earned, not given. Unlike other MMO games, Sherwood Dungeon allows players to change their avatar and identity and since skill is the motivation Sherwood Dungeonhere, there are no classes.

Socially, Sherwood Dungeon players have also dictated how they communicate, even with 99 rooms that often serve as meeting areas for clans. Such behaviors make for exciting clan vs. clan wars as players merely move to their opposing clan’s room to get the battle started. A dominant chat interface also keeps communications flowing between friends and foes and with combat being Sherwood Dungeon’s primary goal, none of the chat keystrokes interfere with combat (and yes, there are still control keys for dancing).

Sherwood Dungeon grew from an underground secret to global success through basic word of mouth. And those words come in many languages as 29% of the game’s players live in Poland, 19% in Brazil, 8% in the United States, 6% in Turkey, 5% in France and 4% in Argentina, worlds away from Maid Marian’s humble and suburban Vancouver headquarters. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th May 2010

Darkspawn Possessed Players To Wreak Havoc in Ferelden

In just-released news from Bioware, players will be able to fight as the darkspawn in DarkSpawn ChroniclesBioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins. In the new downloadable content pack, Dragon Age: Origins Darkspawn Chronicles, players have the chance to experience life on the dark side, playing as the corrupted army of the Blight, are enslaved to the will of the Archdemon. In North America, Darkspawn Chronicles will be available for the Xbox 360 videogame system for 400 Microsoft points and PC for 400 BioWare points on May 18th, and on PlayStation Network for $4.99, with its launch date to be announced later.

DarkSpawn ChroniclesThe Darkspawn Chronicles offers players a look at an alternate history in the Dragon Age universe. Darkspawn Chronicles begins as your character dies during the Joining ceremony, and the Grey Wardens now march under Alistair’s command. As a hurlock vanguard, you alone hold the power to make thralls of their fellow darkspawn and drive them into the heat of battle as Denerim burns! This adventure gives you command of genlocks, hurlocks, shrieks, and even the mighty ogres.

 

Key features include:

o Imagine a world without heroes, where the greatest among you never became a Grey Warden
o Play through the Fall of Denerim from the perspective of the darkspawn
o Complete the module and unlock an epic darkspawn item for use in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
o Use the “Enthrall” ability – recruit any darkspawn you encounter into your party

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23rd April 2010

BC Early Stagers WaveFront AC Has A Programme For You

A reminder that there is a number of upcoming Autodesk events across the country. First up is “Seize the Opportunity” with Autodesk 2011 Digital Entertainment Creation Software for Games and Post Production presented on April 27th by our friends over at AnnexPro. There are three additional events being hosted by 3vis. Their P.I.M.P. My Pipeline events will be held in Toronto (May 11), Montreal (May 13) and Krabbit OnlineVancouver on May 4th.

Congratulations to KrabbitSoft Studios for their signing with Mac Games France, who will be distributing Krabbit World Origins to European Mac gamers. It’s always good to hear about the successes of our small indie studios – keep up the awesome work!IAB Canada

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada has released a paper on their views in regards to online advertising tracking practices and the PIPEDA. The Bureau raises several points in this 10 page PDF, and I feel it is well worth the read as Canada moves forward in dealing with many of the important issues surrounding technology, content, access and privacy in today’s technological society.

DreamCatcherToronto’s DreamCatcher Games and JoWooD Entertainment have released new screenshots from the up-coming RPG Adventure “ArcaniA: Gothic 4” which will be ArcaniAreleased on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The latest installment in the renowned Gothic series is set about 12 years after the events shown in “Gothic 3”, and again invites the player to a fantastic journey through a war-torn world. The ancient, nameless hero, who by now has been crowned King Robar the Third, commands a rigorous regiment over Myrtana and the Southern Islands. Luckily, not all subordinates live in fear and submission to the King and a new hero emerges, with the intention to settle an old score: A seemingly unimposing shepherd from the Isle of Feshyr sets out on the long and perilous journey to the King’s Palace.

wavefrontIf you are a wireless or new media early stage or start-up in the Vancouver area, you will be interested on two offerings from WaveFront AC – With financial contribution support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Wavefront is able to provide a program that offers cost-effective access to the following Wavefront wireless commercialization services:

Strategic Assessment: Utilize experienced wireless experts to assess and refine business strategy and determine actions for market entry

Technical Preparation and Consulting: Prepare and confirm mobile application/technology is commercially ready utilizing Wavefront’s testing resources (usability testing, handset rentals) and test engineers

Business Development Support: Foster company growth and global expansion by leveraging Wavefront’s existing mobile ecosystem connections and distribution channels

Each company will have different requirements depending on their product, distribution channels, funding, business maturity and business strategy. We encourage you to come in for an introductory meeting to customize your personal “Wavefront Accelerated Program”. If you qualify, NRC-IRAP will provide funds to support 50% of the program cost.

Wavefront also offers a unique wireless incubator environment where you have the opportunity to collaborate, learn and grow with other mobile developer entrepreneurs. Going beyond standard office space, Wavefront provides easy on-site access to a suite of services and shared resources that are critical to accelerating the development of your mobile applications, devices and content, including:

Advisory services from seasoned industry experts
Handset library containing 300+ phones for application testing
Fully equipped demo meeting rooms and usability test lab
Carrier-grade 3G network test bed and advanced test equipment
Global connections to key mobile ecosystem stakeholders
Waveguide executive and technical training sessions

Currently available are a variety of rental packages ranging from shared desk space ($350/month) to private offices for 4-5 people. We’re looking for the best and brightest new wireless companies to join our in-house community.

HumberHumber has partnered with the Toronto District School Board to lease the former Lakeshore Lions Arena for 20 years. The 53,000 square foot facility was renovated to house programs in the School of Creative & Performing Arts and the School of Media Studies & Information Technology, including the new four-year Film and Media Production bachelor’s degree program. Students will study in leading-edge studios centred by a “black box” theatre. The building will include acting, cabaret, dance, film, media and television studios, rehearsal rooms, technical labs, a scene shop, a carpentry shop, a lecture hall and offices. The facility will serve more than 700 students, and also includes a gymnasium, funded by Humber, which will be used by the college and the local community. Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd April 2010

Happy Earth Day Canada

Readers Digest Trusted Brands 2010Results of the annual Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands Poll are out, and for the techno-Canadians, Duracell topped the Battery category, while Canon is the most trusted Digital Camera, Sony won the broad and vague Entertainment Equipment Manufacturer category; Blackberry is the most trusted Mobile Communications Device and Apple wins for Mobile Entertainment.

This year’s list of Canada’s Greenest Employers was announced this morning by the editors of the Canada’s Olympic Gaming MixerTop 100 Employers project. Fifty organizations across Canada were recognized on this year’s list.

There’s another fun gaming-related mixer coming up in Vancouver – check out the Olympic Gaming Mixer, which will be taking place on the evening of Friday, May 7, 2010 at the Century Restaurant and Bar on Richards. Check out the event’s FaceBook page for the list of challenges to be had at the Olympic Gaming Mixer.

Siggraph VancouverDon’t forget to buy your tickets for the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver presentation of Designing Assassin’s Creed II featuring Lead Game Designer Patrick Plourde from Ubisoft Montreal, which is generously sponsored in part by AnnexPro and 3vis. He will discuss the challenges faced by the dev team: an enormous scope, one of the biggest development teams ever assembled and a limited time frame. This talk is about sharing our best practices to ship high quality games through a focused and rigorous Design Process while maximizing the output of production. Tickets for this May 18th event at the VanCity Theatre are only $15.00 for SIGGRAPH members and $20.00 for non-members. Annual SIGGRAPH membership is only 35.00 – and gets you special pricing at all of our great chapter events. You should join today.

DigiBCDigiBC has put out a call for speakers for its Vancouver Digital Week 2010 event which takes place May 25-28 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Please see their site for more details.

INplay 2010Interactive Ontario is pleased to welcome back Alexander Manu to give a keynote presentation at INPlay 2010. Manu, who delivered a keynote address at Interactive Ontario’s iSummit in 2006, is a strategic innovation practitioner, international lecturer and author. For over 20 years Alexander has enabled global companies as diverse as Motorola, LEGO, Whirlpool, Nokia, Navteq and Unilever, to develop policies and strategies that Goldtooth Creativeaddress emerging issues through strategic foresight and pre-competitive business models.

Goldtooth Creative has once again shown their video magic – check out the Cover Reveal trailer for EA Sports’ Madden NFL 11, developed by Florida’s Tiburon Studio. Goldtooth’s incredibly talented teams have produced trailers and cinematics for many of today’s top titles. Need a production team for your project? We recommend them.

BC indie developer Krabbitsoft Studio has released new features and specs for their RPG Krabbit World Origins. Featuring some very unique creatures, Krabbit World Krabbit OnlineOrigins has a very strong player community, and allows for single or multi-player modes. This is a game we’re going to be taking a look at in the coming weeks – look for it to be featured in our review section later in May 2010.

Banff World Television Festival has just released a call for entrants for the nextMEDIA Digital Hot List. This is a competition open to developers, Banff World Television Festivalcontent producers, and digital superstars. This is your chance to showcase your new, innovative digital property and grab the attention of advertisers who are looking for exciting brand integration opportunities. There are four available categories for entry:

*  Media (Does your website stand out amongst the rest?)
* Talent (Are you a proven online superstar with millions of followers?)
* Content Proposal (Got the best new idea for online content and branded entertainment?)
* Technologies (Are you creating the coolest apps, games and digital ad solutions?)

This contest closes on May 3rd, so if you’re interested in entering, you’d better get a move on!

googlyNew children’s mobile application studio Googly was delighted to find its first app, Alphabets in the Zoo featured yesterday in iTunes’ New and Noteworthy section, and amazed to see it reach number one on the education list.Alphabets In The Zoo

Alphabets in The Zoo features a charming new animated alphabet song and story to help children learn their letters as they look, listen, and sing-a-long. Children’s understanding of the alphabet is taught and reinforced as they enjoy Saad Rashid’s colorful animation, listen to the Fauzia Abbasi’s delightful lyrics, and enjoy Dave Klotz’s catchy tune. Googly plans to release an iPad version of Alphabets in The Zoo shortly, and three more original children’s apps in the next 30 days. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th April 2010

Busy Business People and Earth Day Happenings

CATA-WITJoin the CATA WIT BC Breakfast club in Vancouver for a session about building your personal brand in an online world. To be held at the Segal Graduate School of Business on May 5th, Jennifer Barron from High Road Communications will discuss the ins and outs of using social media-including best practices as well as pitfalls to avoid-as a way to build a personal brand that best promotes you. Tickets for this event are $15.00 and include a continental breakfast.

Province of BCI’m sure that many of you App developers out there are already aware of this, but the Province of BC is holding a contest challenging software developers to create web and mobile applications that build awareness and inspire action to reduce carbon pollution, announced Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap.

“Bringing together British Columbia’s data resources and the creativity of the software community opens up the potential for people to see climate change in entirely new ways,” said Yap. “The great prizes and support of our sponsors will give us web and mobiles apps that educate people about climate change and help motivate them to reduce their own carbon footprint.”

The launch of the “Apps4Climate Action” contest coincides with the creation of the Climate Change Data Catalogue, a data warehouse populated with provincial climate change data. The catalogue will house climate change data sources in a centralized location, giving software developers a one-stop access point to over 500 data sets and supporting documents to brainstorm, design and populate their applications.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us to take a new approach and use new technologies to engage citizens and help increase British Columbians’ awareness about climate change,” said Citizens’ Services Minister Ben Stewart.

The contest has more than $40,000 in cash and prizes spread across five categories: best mobile app, best web app, people’s choice, best of B.C. and overall best app. The submission deadline for the “Apps4Climate Action” contest is July 15, 2010, and the public is encouraged to register to vote for the People’s Choice award for their favourite app until Aug. 20, 2010. Contest winners will be announced mid-September 2010.

“SAP is proud to be a gold sponsor of the Apps4Climate action contest,” said Kirsten Sutton, managing director of SAP Labs Vancouver. “We believe we have a dual role with sustainability, as exemplar and as enabler. Internally, we have set our own aggressive goals to reduce SAP’s carbon footprint, and we also believe that our solutions can help identify real opportunities for positive climate action.”

Contest sponsors include: Microsoft Canada Inc, SAP Canada Inc., Analytic Design Group, David Eaves Inc., Netscribe Communications, TELUS Corporation, Harbour Air Ltd. and Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“At Microsoft we’re committed to developing technology that helps consumers and businesses reduce their environmental footprints,” said Barb Berg, director of the western public sector of Microsoft Canada Inc. “We are delighted to participate in the B.C. government Apps4Climate action contest, a very innovative contest to help encourage developers to create new green software applications and solutions for B.C. citizens.”

Ben & Jerry's Ice CreamFor a contest of a different flavour, Ben & Jerry’s is holding a Canada-only competition to name their newest offering. A combination of vanilla ice cream, fudge covered waffle cone pieces and a fudge swirl, the flavour has been temporarily named We are Waffling, until Canadians share the humour and wit they’re known for.

“We are excited to see some amazing suggestions,” says Shoshana Price, Ben & Jerry’s Brand Manager. “We want to empower our fans and give them the opportunity to show their creativity and wit, as well as their good taste.”We Are Waffling

Starting April 19th, Canadians can serve up their own name on a virtual pint on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page. Ben & Jerry’s fans can view and vote on their favourites at a gallery of pre-selected pints on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page between July 2nd to July 16th, 2010. The winner, to be announced in late July, will win a year’s supply of the soon to be re-named We are Waffling ice cream, enjoy the thrill of seeing their name on pints of Ben & Jerry’s across Canada and earn eternal bragging rights among friends and acquaintances.

Ben & Jerry’s We are Waffling in most grocery, drug and convenience stores across the country now. The winning name will start replacing We are Waffling on Ben & Jerry’s pints in the Fall of 2010. Plus, in order to ensure that Canadians have an opportunity to taste We are Waffling and make an informed name nomination, Ben & Jerry’s teams will be sampling the flavour in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal throughout the month of May.

Club PenguinKelownaClub Penguin and its millions of animated penguin inhabitants are going green. On April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the popular children’s virtual world will launch a special online party and new ways for its players to exercise their passion for making the world a better place. Read the rest of this entry »

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