17th March 2011

New Initiatives Designed To Save You Money

Orby - Proud to be CanadianAs the week draws nearer to a close, there is no sign of slow-down in Canadian digital media activity. Tonight Scott and Mike will be checking out an event at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre hosted by AnnexPro and Avid, while I’ll be over in Yaletown at a Women In Games Vancouver board meeting. Don’t forget that our Women In Games March Martini night (sorry guys, ladies only) is next Thursday, March 24th at Rogue.

Congratulations are due to the Ubisoft Montreal Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood team, who picked up the BAFTA in the UK last night for top Action Game and to the Bioware team who garnered the Best Game award for Mass Effect 2.

big book driveI keep forgetting to tell you all about the huge Book Drive that’s been going on in BC, so I left the page open to the site to remind myself because I tend to be forgetful. The next big event is this weekend, March 19 & 20th, at the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters located at 3833 Henning Drive in Burnaby. Drawing directly from the information on the Book Drive site:

The Big Book Drive is a two-day event aimed to help the less-fortunate and low-income families so that they may gain a better education in the future. Oftentimes after we’ve read a book, we leave it lying around without touching it for years. This is wasteful of Earth’s resources, and it does not have to be so. These books can be used to help others, so make The Big Book Drive your way of giving back to the community. Our goal is to collect as many books as possible. The books will either be sold at used bookstores to generate proceeds, donated to the charities we’re working with, or recycled to be remade into new books. Either way, 100% of the proceeds will be donated, because we want to help others just as much as you do!

I hope that if you are able to help out, you can. The organization is looking for textbooks, journals, comic books, novels, children’s books, magazines and catalogues. No adult material, newspapers or eBooks on CD/DVD, though.xna

Students in need of software should check out Microsoft initiative DreamSpark. Verified Microsoft Canadastudents can gain access to licensed Microsoft products, including XNA Studio 4, Visual Studio, Expression, Robotics Developer and more. You now have fewer reasons to not get out there and create something. Go, go, go!

Microsoft Canada also offers assistance to small-medium businesses with volume licensing programs designed to Hasbrosave money and get companies creating. It’s worth your time to check out what is available for you.

On Saturday March 19th, let the games begin as YTV WOW! Let it rip with non-stop action and adventure with Hasbro’s Beyblade: Metal Fusion Battle Zone. Beyblade fans can come out to the Real Canadian Superstore at 51 Gerry Fitzgerald Drive in Toronto and battle it out for prizes and gift packs from 10am until 4pm.

Government of CanadaSpeaking of availability, the Government of Canada has launched its Open Data Pilot Project, which is designed to improve the ability of the public to find, download and use Government of Canada data. You are invited to search the catalogue, download datasets and explore the possibilities of Open Data. This project could go a long way towards helping businesses gain access to research data they may require for such activities as market research or even finding new business partners.

As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to drive innovation and economic opportunities for all Canadians, the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway launched the pilot project for an online Open Data Portal following public consultations on the digital economy strategy which saw Canadians asking for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats.

“The Government of Canada is launching its Open Data Portal to make a large amount of data accessible through a single window,” said Minister Day. “With this portal, application developers can reuse data for commercial or research purposes to benefit all Canadians in a variety of ways. We want to continue to make Canada one of the best places to do business by ensuring that Canadian entrepreneurs, researchers, academics and voluntary organizations have access to government data in useful formats to help foster innovation, job creation and community services for Canadians.”

This pilot portal will make more than 260,000 datasets from the following ten participating departments available to all Canadians: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Environment Canada; Department of Finance Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Library and Archives Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada; Transport Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat. The pilot phase will take place over a 12-month period, during which the government will continue to increase the number of datasets available to users.

get georgeI just found out about this service today, when the company began following me on Twitter, so I haven’t really had a chance to look very deep into the site and get all of the details, but Get George, which is based in Vancouver, looks like it may be a program that is advantageous to smartphone users. Get George is a free download in the iTunes and Android shops, and looks like it could end up saving people some serious money – but as I don’t have a smartphone, and haven’t yet investigated the services offered, please be sure to read the application’s FAQs and service conditions before use.

square enixWith the August 23rd release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution drawing nearer every day, Square Enix is looking for a location to open another Canadian studio. Personally I’m rooting for Vancouver, but Toronto and a second Montreal location are also in the running. I imagine that the publisher will be looking closely at incentives offered by each province, and while another studio in Montreal would be convenient for the Eidos Montreal crew, I’m hoping that the proximity of Vancouver to the Square Enix headquarters in Tokyo will give the city an edge in the running. The time line for the new studio looks to be for a 2012 opening, with an initial staff of 100.Thumpies for Mac

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s original, award winning and massively fun rhythm game Thumpies is now available in Apple’s Mac App Store. Now Mac owners can test their skills in correctly matching the beat of bouncing Thumpies, and those with the beat skills can progress through songs and the current 15 game levels, unlocking new Thumpies along the way. Suitable for all ages and already available in the iTunes App store, Thumpies uses a mechanic of bouncing in time instead of just a series of notes. The game features a quirky art design accompanied by a unique musical score composed by award winning industry veteran David Kerr sets Thumpies in a genre all its own.

Big Sandwich GamesHoard™ from Big Sandwich Games will release via Steam for your PC and Mac on April 4th, and will retail for $9.99USD. Pre-sales will begin on March 21st with a limited time Hoard-knight“fire-sale” discount of 25%.  In addition, sharing with your friends is rewarded, as a 4-pack of HOARD™ can be purchased for the low price of $28.00.  Steam Play is supported, meaning Steam users who own both a PC and a Mac only need buy the game once.

The Steam version includes the same fire-breathing fun as the PS3 console release plus some brand new features.  The game has 4 modes, over 35 levels, leaderboards, full multiplayer suites (4-player co-op and competitive), and 100+ Steam achievements. In addition, never seen-before features such as Night Mode (for vibrant fiery goodness), a Winter tile set, and new maps are added as a reward for PC and Mac fans’ patience.  Finally, cross-play allows PC and Mac users to compete or cooperate in their quests for gold.

zincroezinc Roe’s latest release is now live. Created for the Family Channel, Hot Ticket is a game of musical and hot ticketeconomic strategy. Players drag and drop locations onto a map to create “Famburg”, a rocking little town that plays host to shows by a wide variety of fictional acts. “The Temper Tantrums”, “Vagablonde”, and “The Jazz Hands”, are among dozens of hilarious characters created to animate locations like “The Golden Cocoon Mall”, The Hideaway” and “Das Beats Dance Club”. The game features colourful artwork, catchy melodies and an appropriate level of economic complexity for school-aged children. There is a demo version available to try out, and if you like the game, you can register to play the full version. Judging from comments posted on the game’s page, Hot Ticket is on its way to becoming a hit casual title.

D-BoxD-Box has announced yet another expansion for this week, citing a new agreement with Germany-based FTT (the company’s first European distributor for its commercial theatre expansion) for two new theatres with Netherlands-based Jogchem’s Theatres known in the market as JT Bioscopen. JT Hoogezand and JT Arnhem will each equip its theatres with respectively 20 and 21 D-BOX MFX Seats. With the introduction of D-BOX at these newest locations, Jogchem’s Theatres will have a total of four movie theatres that offer D-BOX’s motion experience. In addition to the sale of these systems, this deal will also generate licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance with the systems’ utilization.

Conservatory Canada invites piano students from across Canada to put their compositional skills to the test for conservatory canadathe first annual Creative Composer’s Competition. Launched as a partnership between Conservatory Canada, Mayfair Music Publishing and Long & McQuade Music Stores, the contest is a unique opportunity for budding composers of all ages to let their talent shine, says Conservatory Canada national executive director, Victoria Warwick.

“There are many students across Canada who love to compose music in all styles,” says Warwick. “We hope this competition will inspire and encourage them in this creative pursuit.”

Piano students of all ages have until May 31 to submit entries through the Conservatory Canada website. Submissions should be written in a contemporary musical style – Jazz, Country, Latin, and Broadway – as included in Conservatory Canada’s Contemporary Idioms Syllabus for Piano.

All submissions will be reviewed by Conservatory Canada examiners with compositional skills, Warwick says. Winners will be announced at Conservatory Canada’s national convocation ceremony in November, and winning compositions will be included in a new Mayfair Music Publication.

“Composition is a natural part of our Contemporary Idioms program,” notes Warwick. “The Creative Composer’s Competition will allow students to showcase their fine work, and by compiling the best-of-the-best in a new publication, teachers and students across Canada will be able to enjoy them.”

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14th March 2011

Just Another Indie Monday

…and now that you probably have Manic Monday worming its way into your head…

Reminder to Developers: GameTreeTV is holding a competition with over $50 000.00 in prizes.

New: The National Film Board of Canada now has a free Android App to help you find, share and watch NFB productions.

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games has confirmed a release date for the Steam version of their critically acclaimed strategy arcade game Hoard™, which puts up to four players in control of powerful dragons hoarding gold, frightening villagers and ransoming princesses.

Hoard™ will release via Steam for your PC and Mac on April 4th, and will retail for $9.99. Pre-sales will begin on March 21st with a limited time “fire-sale” discount of 25%. In addition, sharing with your friends is rewarded, as a 4-pack of Hoard™ can be purchased for the low price of $28.00. Steam Play is Hoard-Screenshotsupported, meaning Steam users who own both a PC and a Mac only need buy the game once.

The Steam version includes the same fire-breathing fun as the console release plus some brand new features. The game has 4 modes, over 35 levels, leaderboards, full multiplayer suites (4-player co-op and competitive), and 100+ Steam achievements. In addition, never seen-before features such as Night Mode (for vibrant fiery goodness), a Winter tile set, and new maps are added as a reward for PC and Mac fans’ patience. Finally, cross-play allows PC and Mac users to compete or cooperate in their quests for gold.

“Hoard™ is a great fit for Steam’s vibrant player community,” says Tyler Sigman, the game’s designer. “We’re thrilled to finally confirm a date, and look forward to seeing a lot of dragons flying around on April 4!”

The game’s innovative design and addictive combination of action and strategy earned it a “Best Quick Fix” award and a nomination for “Best Competitive Multiplayer” in IGN’s Best of 2010 Awards. Joystiq says “Hoard’s gameplay shines,” and 1UP reports “the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy.” Ars Technica quips it “will keep you scorching villages for hours on end.” Village Gamer hasn’t played Hoard yet, but we’ll let you know what we think once we do.

Digital LeisureThere is now a Wii Demo Version for Digital Leisure’s Mix Superstar in the WiiWare store, with the full version available for 500 Wii Points. Mix Superstar lets you create, mix and Mix Superstarrecord your own royalty-free musical masterpieces right on your Wii console. There are more than 1,000 Dance, Hip Hop and Techno loops included across multiple instruments like Drum, Bass, Synth, Guitar and even voice tracks. Once you’ve got that next hit created, it’s time to show it off. Mix Superstar allows you to export your music creations, and download them to your computer so you can take them on the go. You can also use the WiiConnect24 service to send those hits to your Wii friends who own the game, and even collaborate on mixes. Also included is full support for both the Logitech® USB Microphone and the Wii Speak™ accessory (sold separately) so you can lay down your own vocals. Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play service even allows you to enhance your music creation experience with additional loop packs from a variety of genres. Mix Superstar is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB – now go on and make some noise.

fluik entertainmentFluik Entertainment is very excited to announce the release of Gunner Galaxies and Gunner Galaxies HD for iPad. The studio had earlier teased that the game would be cheap. Well, it is – so cheap, in fact, that the price vanished entirely. Yes, Gunner Galaxies is free, and packs a ton of gameplay and features. Gunner Galaxies

Activate weapon systems and blast your way to wealth and power in Gunner Galaxies, Fluik’s follow-up to the best-selling Gunner. Work your way up the ranks as you mine asteroid fields for the treasure and crystal buried within. It’s a dangerous business, of course, but you can always upgrade your ship to turn your ship into an unstoppable destructive force! Gunner Galaxies is classic arcade action updated for the 21st century and beyond. Strap yourself in, but don’t get cocky.

Game Features:

– 25 missions spanning 4 different galaxies
– Over 120 different upgrades for your ship and lasers
– Over 140 achievements for you to achieve
– Loads of power-ups and abilities to keep the rocks crumbling

behaviour gamesWe haven’t played this game yet either, but Behaviour’s Rango The Videogame has been hailed by critics as “visually stunning” (IGN) and “biggest surprise of the year” with 5/5 game score (Pixel Perfect). Now players can show their love for the Wild West with new Rango-themed Avatar Outfits and sidekicks which can be found on the Xbox 360 in the “Lifestyle” section of Avatar Marketplace.

Rango Hats and T-shirts for 80 Microsoft Points

  • Sheriff Hat
  • Mariachi Hat
  • Bucket Hat
  • Mr. Timms T-Shirt
  • Rango T-Shirt

Rango Props for 160 Microsoft Points

  • Sheriff Costume
  • Rango Hawaiian Shirt
  • Rango Hoodie

Rango Items for 240 Microsoft Points

  • Rango Head Mask
  • Rango Animation pet (character prop)
  • Owl Mariachi Band pet (character prop)
  • Rattlesnake Jake pet (character prop)

Rango The Videogame is an action-adventure game inspired by Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies animated feature film, Rango in theaters nationwide . The family-friendly game captures the spirit and humor of the movie, with an extended storyline that goes beyond the vivid world of Dirt. Players of all ages will interact with the residents of Dirt as they make their way through Rango’s all new tall tales of adventure, brimming with intense action and outlandish scenarios. Rango The Videogame is ESRB rated “E” for Everyone on Nintendo DS, and “E10+” on Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

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7th March 2011

Big Sandwich Games Announces Next Round Of Release Dates

Upcoming Event: Toronto Twestival on March 24th.

Great Canadian Appathon 2011Competition: Student App Coders, don’t forget that the Great Canadian Appathon, presented by XMG Studio and the National Post, is THIS weekend. Register before noon on Wednesday, March 9th for a chance to win an Xbox 360 Kinect package! This is an awesome opportunity to learn more about app coding from the professionals, as well as a chance to win some major cash and other prizes, not to mention getting your app published. Please see the web site for complete details.

Meetup: The Vancouver Indie Dev Meetup is tomorrow night at The Helm.

RatRod StudioFormer Playdom veteran Shohag Al-Mamun has joined Ratrod Studio Inc. as Chief Technology Officer. Shohag has several years of experience in video game development and held important roles for well established companies.

“With Shohag`s experience in various fields including games that launched on the social and mobile platforms, Shohag will be an important asset for Ratrod which will allow us to tap into a different type of market,” says Pat Toulouse, Ratrod Studio Inc. President.

After completing a bachelor degree in computer science and engineering, Shohag started his career at Deep Red Studio Ltd. where he was hired to develop triple-A social themed simulation games. He then worked at Playdom as lead developer where he was managing his team during the production of popular Facebook and iPhone social games such as TikiFarm, Verdonia, High School and MobAir, to name a few.

With a solid technical background, senior programming skills and plenty of experience in the gaming field, Shohag will be responsible for managing our day-to-day game development operations. His dedication, passion and knowledge of the industry will allow us to develop high quality content dedicated to the social and mobile space.

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games has announced the release dates for upcoming versions of their critically acclaimed strategy arcade game HOARD™, which puts players in control of an ambitious dragon bent on gathering large mounds of gold while burning medieval villages, kidnapping princesses and roasting thieves.Hoard-Screenshot

HOARD™ will release on PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system in North America on March 22, retailing for $9.99.  It will follow on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP system in Europe in early April.  Pricing is yet to be announced.  The PlayStation®3 system version is already available for purchase in North America for $14.99.  All versions feature over 35 levels and 100+ badges to earn.

The game’s innovative design and addictive combination of action and strategy earned it a “Best Quick Fix” award and a nomination for “Best Competitive Multiplayer” in IGN’s Best of 2010 Awards.  We haven’t had a look at the game yet, but Joystiq says “HOARD’s gameplay shines,” and 1UP reports “the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy.”  Ars Technica quips it “will keep you scorching villages for hours on end.”

Colba.Net Telecom Inc., through its Quebec subsidiary Colba.Net Inc.,  is proceeding to launch and offer in 2011 colbaits new Internet Protocol Television (“IPTV”) service. This follows a recent decision by the CRTC th approve the application by Colba.Net for a broadcasting license to operate a Class 1 terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertaking to serve the Montreal Island. Colba.net footprint currently covers approximately 400,000 households over the Island of Montreal – and on visiting their site, I see the company offers internet with no throttling and no limits. I wish we had that option in our neighbourhood, but instead we have a choice of Telus or Shaw.

At launch, the new IPTV service will offer several high-definition channels, some international channels, some of the most popular American channels as well as unlimited Internet access to websites of movies and TV episodes from NetFlix, AppleTV and TOU.TV for example. The new service will be offered at $19.95 per month for a 12 month fully paid upfront subscription.

“Once again, we are thrilled and proud to launch a new service such as IPTV at such a competitive monthly price. Our whole business model, core corporate values and reputation are based upon offering the best possible products and services at unbeatable prices. We strongly believe that both the industry and consumers stand to greatly benefit from increasing competition in our fast growing industry sector.” Said Mr. Joseph Bassili, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colba.Net.

Kik Interactive has closed an $8 million round of Series A funding with RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union kik interactiveSquare Ventures. Kik also announced that Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures) and Adam Ludwin (RRE Ventures) are joining the company’s Board of Directors.

The new funding positions the company for its next phase of development, which includes the launch of new group messaging and picture sharing features. Following its explosive launch in October 2010, Kik Messenger is being used by more than three million people due to its speed, reliability, and unique user experience.

“Kik is a fast, simple, and elegant solution to cross device mobile messaging which we think is one of the most exciting investment opportunities right now,” said Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures.  “We believe the Kik team has shown that they understand how to deliver the right set of features in the right package and we are excited about working with them to build the mobile messaging marketplace.”

Kik also released a new version of Kik Messenger today for iOS and Android devices that features real-time group chat and picture sharing. Kik’s group chat makes it extremely simple to add anyone to a conversation on the fly. Up to ten people can be included in a group.

Kik Messenger’s new picture sharing features allows users to share what they’re seeing with the click of a button.  Other picture sharing applications are essentially a file transfer, while Kik’s photo sharing capability is built around the idea of visually connecting people in real time. “It puts you right there with them, letting you see what they see as it happens,” Livingston added.

Kik will be a highly visible presence at the upcoming SXSW conference this week. Kik will be offering a free real-time concierge service for conference goers.  Users can add “SXSW” to their Kik contacts and ask any question they might have, from what time a panel is starting to how late Torchy’s Tacos will be open. A real person will respond with Kik and answer the question in real time.

voice mobilityVancouver-based developer and provider of carrier and enterprise messaging solutions Voice Mobility International, Inc. has closed the debenture financing that was previously announced on February 2nd and 15th, 2011, for proceeds of $580,000.

In connection with the closing of the financing, the Company is also pleased to announce that it has completed the acquisition of all of the assets of Tagline Communications Inc. for total consideration of $425,000 and the issuance of 1,000,000 common shares of the Company.

The debentures are secured, bear interest at 12% per annum, and have a term of four months. As consideration for the debenture financing, the Company issued 1,500,000 common shares to an arm’s length party. The Company has also settled $87,500 in outstanding debt through the issuance of 875,000 common shares at a deemed price of $0.10 per common share. The balance of the proceeds of the debenture financing are being used to settle existing indebtedness, and for working capital purposes.

“We are taking a step by step, methodical approach to executing on our stated strategy. With the strengthening of our balance sheet brought by the closing of the AVST transaction in February, 2011, we are now commencing our strategy of acquiring Cloud based unified communications (“UC”) service providers. Each acquisition will lead us further along the path to profitability and value for our shareholders,” commented Jay Hutton, CEO of VMI. “We are pleased that we were also able to take the opportunity to eliminate some of our debt in this transaction and will continue efforts to improve our financial position and grow our business through acquisition. The Tagline transaction is the first step in this acquisition strategy. We remain committed to the growth strategy that we communicated late last year.”

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4th March 2011

Great Opportunities For Digital Developers

Submit: This is the last week for Award Nomination Submissions for the BC Technology Awards. The deadline is March 11th.
Enter: The PayPal X Developer Challenge for Android. Cash and publishing up for grabs, see the Challenge Rules for complete details.
Enter: The Great Canadian Appathon, a 48-hour hackathon where students across the country will compete for some incredible cash prizes and publishing opportunities this March 11th – 13th. Register now. Great Canadian Appathon 2011The Great Canadian Appathon is primarily an online event, but there are 6 schools across the country who will be hosting in-house events with free food, representatives from the sponsoring companies and more! There will be expert developers from XMG Studio at each of these locations to help provide insight into the mobile game development process as well as free SWAG bags for the first 100 people to show up at a hub location. The six hosted locations are: triOS College, UBC, Carleton University, Nova Scotia Community College, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo, open mediaConcordia University and TELUS House Toronto.
Participate: OpenMedia will be talking with the Honourable Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, on March 8th and they would like to know if there are any questions you would them to ask regarding User Based Billing and Canada’s Digital Economy. Visit the OpenMedia site to find out how you can get involved.

TVOTVO has launched two free apps for BlackBerry® smartphones for early learners and school aged- kids. Both games support learning objectives from the Ontario school curriculum, have been teacher and classroom tested and are designed for BlackBerry® smartphone devices with OS 5.0 and higher.

Polka Dot Shorts is a sequence matching game for kids aged 2-5 that supports the early-learning and kindergarten math curriculum. The app features TVO’s beloved children’s character Polkaroo and challenges players to find a sequence of dots and rewards them for the correct answer.
flower frenzy
Flower Frenzy is an entertaining and educational game with three levels of progressive difficulty that uses pictures of flowers to help kids ages 6-11 learn to create sequences. Both Polka Dot Shorts and Flower Frenzy teach kids pre-cursors to patterning skills which help build the foundational knowledge required for mathematics in later years.

TVO is also a proud member of the BlackBerry® Alliance Program which gives TVO access to a wide array of benefits to help support, market and distribute their applications for BlackBerry smartphones. Both games were developed with the expert advice of TVO’s in-house educator, and BlackBerry Alliance Program partner Sweet Caesar.

Loud Crow InteractiveSpeaking of interactive entertainment for kids, Loud Crow Interactive has just released its latest eBook to the iTunes App Store. Sandra Boynton’s The Going To Bed Book is available now for the iPhone and iPod Touch ($1.99 USD) and the iPad ($2.99 USD).

The Going to Bed Book app has all the magic and appeal of a traditional pop-up book, offering lively interactivity and thoroughly mesmerizing discovery. Imagine! An ark that rocks. Characters that respond to touch with sound and movement. Tap water that turns on and off, and steam that fogs the screen. Can you write your name in the steam? Of course! There are teeth to brush, and a group exercise session with ten pajama-clad animals (big and small) each with its own unique exercise. Help the little piggy turn off the lights, then rock to sleep to the music box sound of twinkling stars. There’s something wonderful to discover on every page.

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The Going To Bed Book allows young readers to touch, pull, and turn animals and objects to make them move, or they can tilt the device to watch things slide and cascade. The ebook is narrated by Billy J. Kramer and features the same original text and illustrations as that found in the actual board book. Enable the “Big Guy Reads It” option with word highlighting to help improve reading skills, or use “I want to read it myself” and hear individual words pronounced with the tap of a finger.

kerberos productionsVancouver developer Kerberos Studios has unravelled more mysteries of the universe in a new video interview with Martin Cirulis, the lead designer of Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter, sequel to Kerberos’ hit 4X science fiction strategy game.

Cirulis gives an introduction to the dangerous Lords of Winter and underlines how the Sword of the Stars II universe has evolved since the first game. Learn how Kerberos uses mechanics to enhance narrative and get an introduction to what the new Mars 2 engine brings to the table. Cirulis also talks about the different ways to kill your enemies and how diplomacy has evolved to take into account the needs of an established empire.

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A Bigger, better, stronger, faster Sword of the Stars II will be coming to your corner of the galaxy this autumn.

battlegoat studiosAnother Canadian-made game in the Paradox Interactive stable is Supreme Ruler: Cold War, and BattleGoat Studios has released a new developer interview for this upcoming historical grand strategy title. In this latest video, BattleGoat Studios Lead Designer David Thompson gives players a bit of insight to what they can look forward to in the latest addition to the Supreme Ruler series.

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Supreme Ruler: Cold War is the next installment in the Supreme Ruler series and gives players control over a 1950’s United States or Soviet Union as they try to lead their country to glory. Players make economic, diplomatic, domestic, and military decisions to grow and modernize their nation to ensure its place atop the rest of the world.

scotiabankScotiabank, in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), have launched the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, which shines a spotlight on small business owners who are positively impacting their communities in the areas of employment, innovative products and services, as well as leadership.

“At Scotiabank, we recognize that small businesses play a vital role in building strong communities. Much more than just a place to purchase food or to get a car serviced, they contribute in ways which make our communities better places to live, for each one of us,” said Islay McGlynn, Managing Director and Head, Scotiabank Small Business. “With the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, we want to recognize and reward small business owners who have made an impact on their community by going above and beyond to meet not only the needs of their customers and employees, but the community at large.”

“Small businesses are small in name only,” commented Aron Gampel, Deputy Chief Economist, Scotiabank. “Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, providing big support to the nation’s G7-leading performance. Small businesses are not only big generators of jobs in goods and services throughout the country, but they are also big contributors to the investments and exports that are important drivers of growth.”

To qualify for the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, entrants must demonstrate how their business has made a difference in the community where they live and work in one of the following three categories:

  • Providing Employment: Implementing employment practices that reflect and support community needs as well as employment opportunities.
  • Offering Products or Services: Creating new industries or ways of doing business, or offering unique products or services that benefit their community.
  • Demonstrating Leadership: Taking a leadership role in initiatives for their community that ultimately makes it a better place to live and work.

Beyond their indispensable role as job creators and innovators all across Canada, small businesses start as the heart and soul of their neighbourhoods and have a hugely positive impact on community prosperity and identity,” enthused CFIB president, Catherine Swift. “In conjunction with CFIB’s 40th anniversary and during 2011, the federally designated Year of the Entrepreneur, we are delighted to be partnering with Scotiabank in support of those small business owners who stand out amongst an already outstanding group of peers.”

The challenge ends on April 30, 2011. All Canadians are encouraged to visit the website as everyone can vote for their favourite small business. The top 15 entries, five in each category, will be presented and evaluated by the Expert Small Business Judging Panel, which will then select the three finalists to be awarded $10,000 each.

The Expert Small Business Judging Panel consists of:

  • Islay McGlynn, Director and Head Small Business, Scotiabank;
  • Kaz Flinn, Vice-President Corporate Social Responsibility, Scotiabank;
  • Catherine Swift, CEO, CFIB;
  • Tom Sloan, Vice President Small Business and Commercial Markets, Export Development Canada; and
  • Greig Clark, PROFIT Magazine columnist, and founder of College Pro Painters.

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, welcomes the passage by Parliament of Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. The legislation will help protect children from online sexual exploitation.

“The creation and distribution of child pornography is an unspeakable crime which will not be tolerated in Canada,” said Minister Nicholson. “Our legislation will assist police in tracking down Internet sexual predators, The Honourable Robert Nicholson Minister of Justiceand rescuing children from sexual exploitation.”

In September 2008, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial ministers responsible for Justice agreed that Canada’s response to child pornography could be enhanced by federal legislation establishing mandatory reporting of online child pornography by providers of Internet services.

Bill C-22 applies to suppliers of Internet services to the public, including those who provide electronic mail services, Internet content hosting services, and social networking sites. It requires them to:

  • Report, to a designated agency, tips they receive regarding Web sites where child pornography may be available to the public; and
  • Notify police and safeguard evidence if they believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using an Internet service that they provide.

Failure to comply with the duties under the legislation will constitute an offence punishable by graduated fines. For individuals (sole proprietorships), the maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 for a first offence; $5,000 for a second offence; and for third and subsequent offences $10,000 or six months imprisonment, or both. For corporations and other entities, the maximum fines are $10,000 for a first offence; $50,000 for a second offence; and $100,000 for third and subsequent offences.

“We all have a role to play in the protection of children from sexual predators,” said Minister Nicholson. “This legislation will improve the collaboration between internet service providers and police to better protect children from online sexual exploitation.”

The Canadian Council of Learning (CCL) has launched a new online tool that allows users to measure the state of Canadian Council on Learningtwo crucial components of financial literacy—numeracy and document literacy—in more than 52,000 neighbourhoods and communities across the country.

The two new interactive maps produced by CCL, in partnership with DataAngel Policy Research Inc., provide literacy profiles for neighbourhoods across Canada, highlighting at-risk communities where residents lack the basic literacy skills needed in today’s knowledge-based society. The maps were produced using estimates generated by DataAngel Policy Research Inc. using data from the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS) conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the 2006 Canadian Census. These new literacy domains add to earlier maps CCL released on health literacy and prose literacy.

The results show that 55 percent of adult Canadians (aged 16 and over) had low levels of numeracy and 49 percent had low levels of document literacy. (This is based on the number of people who scored below Level 3 on the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS), a survey conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.)

Numeracy and document literacy are essential parts of what many consider “basic literacy” and provide a key foundation in developing a more sophisticated set of financial literacy skills.

“Canadians are increasingly faced with a complex array of financial decisions in their everyday lives—from choosing a mortgage and retirement planning to managing consumer debt and funding post-secondary education,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. “Yet, many Canadians do not have the financial literacy skills needed to make informed decisions related to money and investment.”

Numeracy is the ability to use basic math skills in everyday life. It includes such skills as calculating a tip at a restaurant, balancing a bank account or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement. Document literacy is the ability to find and use information in forms, charts, graphs and other tables. Financial literacy involves the use of multiple literacies—prose, document, numeracy—often simultaneously.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines five levels of literacy with level 1 being the lowest and level 5 being the highest. Level 3 is internationally accepted as the level of literacy considered necessary for meeting the demands of everyday life and work in an information-based society.

“The first step in any process of improvement is to be able to accurately measure change over time. CCL’s innovative maps help Canadian communities, and the country as a whole, determine current literacy levels,” says Cappon. “I hope that decision-makers and individuals throughout Canada will use these maps for the purpose of continuous improvement.”

 

Canadians should remember that they are not alone when they surf the Web, and that others may be using the Internet for malicious purposes. As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) reminds Canadians of the importance of protecting themselves from Internet and email fraud.“Fraud can take many forms. Nobody is safe from it, not even the most knowledgeable consumer,” says FCAC Commissioner Ursula Menke. One common form of fraud is called “phishing”, where a victim receives a fraudulent email that appears to come from a legitimate organization, such as a Government of Canada department or the victim’s own financial institution. The email instructs the consumer to visit a false website, download fraudulent content or provide confidential personal information.

With your personal information, such as your date of birth, passwords, Social Insurance Number, credit card or bank account information, fraudsters can use your credit card accounts or get new credit cards, and make purchases that you might be held responsible for. If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, you could even become a victim of identity theft.

How can you avoid falling victim to Internet or email fraud?

  • Never give out personal information over the Internet unless you trust the site you are on. Check that there is a padlock icon in the Web browser window and that the electronic address begins with “https://”.
  • Open a single browser window at a time when using online banking, and don’t forget to clear your computer’s memory cache when done.
  • Never allow your computer to remember your passwords; change passwords regularly and do not share them with anyone. You can be held responsible for unauthorized transactions on your bank account if you are found to have divulged information about your account, such as your password or personal identification number (PIN).
  • Make sure your computer’s antivirus protection is up to date and use the latest version of your Web browser.
  • Check to make sure that the Internet address provided in the emails you receive is related to the subject of the emails.
  • Access websites using the address bar. Never click on links provided in emails.

FCAC also publishes tip sheets to help Canadian consumers protect themselves against and prevent identity theft, credit card fraud, and fraudulent e-mails and telephone calls. In a video success story, Ken MacDonald, Crime Prevention Coordinator with the New Glasgow Police Service in Nova Scotia, offers some advice about preventing telephone fraud and identity theft. FCAC’s publications and tip sheets are available on the Agency’s website at moneytools.ca.

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2nd March 2011

Not All Of The Action Is At GDC 2011

Note: The Toronto International Film Festival (September 8 – 18th) is now open for submissions.
Event: WaveGuide™ Technical Workshop: Samsung Bada Code Camp presented by WaveFront. This free seminar takes place tomorrow in Vancouver from 1:30pm – 8:00pm. Pre-registration is required.
Event: Global Insights Conference is taking place in Victoria on March 17th.
Event: The Basics of Intellectual Property is a free seminar on March 10th presented by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and hosted by nGen.

Decapod StudiosVancouver’s Decapod Studios, creators of one of my favourite XBLIG games, Murphid, has released iStopwatch for Windows Phone 7. The free app is a simple, fast and elegant stop istopwatchwatch. It features a stopwatch timer, split timer, lap timer and countdown. It supports logging unlimited split and lap times and shares results via email.

The studio has also submitted an update for its measurement units converter app, Convert Units PRO for Windows Phone 7. The update includes faster application loading and adds in-app feedback options. The update will be available for free for all existing users once it receives Microsoft certification.

Convert Units PRO features include:

• U.S., Imperial and metric units.
• Convert length, mass, area, volume and temperature with ease.
• More than 100 measurement units are supported.
• Rarely used and old units are available.
• High precision conversion.

industrial brothersIndustrial Brothers has released a new 99 cent USD game on the iTunes Store. 2Bit is a challenging 2Bit The Gridretro-inspired puzzle game that will challenge your nerves and co-ordination as you try to navigate through The Grid, a landscape full of dangers. Yes, that’s right, The Grid is rife with shooting turrets, trip wires, hydraulic plugs, screwblades and more dangerous too frightening to talk about. At launch, 2Bit offers 20 challenging levels contained within 2 Grid areas, each with 10 levels of puzzles to negotiate.

2Bit’s current features include:

• Select between 2D or 3D views
• Personal High Scores and Global Leaderboard and Online Registration
• Original retro-themed sound effects and music
• Additional Grids and Levels to be released over the next few weeks at no extra cost

The Cavechild has released his first non-narrated gameplay video for Dawn of War II: Retribution by Relic Entertainment. His army is the one decked out in patriotic red and white, in Last Stand on The Anvil of Khorne as the Space Marine Captain.

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Strangeloop has partnered with Exclusive Concepts, Inc. to offer its proprietary Site Optimizer service to Yahoo! store merchants worldwide. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions is Strangeloop Networksthe largest hosted platform for ecommerce stores, with more Internet Retailer® Top 500 retailers using Yahoo! than any other hosted solution. Exclusive Concepts, the leading resource for online stores seeking to convert online shoppers into loyal buyers, provides a breadth of marketing services – from advanced search engine marketing to conversion testing – to more than 800 merchants around the world. As an authorized Yahoo! partner, Exclusive Concepts will be the exclusive provider of Strangeloop’s website acceleration technology to this market.

The Strangeloop Site Optimizer, utilized by companies such as Petco, Travelocity, Visa, Sodexo, and O’Reilly Media, is the only automated web performance optimization solution that functions at the scale demanded by global ecommerce sites and enterprise applications. Through partners like Exclusive Concepts, Site Optimizer can be offered as a hosted service, making Strangeloop’s advanced optimization technology accessible to businesses of all sizes.

vaencoCalgary tech company Vaenco, Inc. has officially launched its interactive media platform called ZoweeTV. An end-to-end multi-screen media platform that delivers movies, TV shows, music, games and other interactive media to Internet-enabled devices including TVs, Blu-ray players, media extenders, set-top boxes and game consoles for both ‘over-the-top’ delivery as well as integrated solutions for service providers and operators.

Key features include a fully integrated cross-platform user interface that includes a media management system for consumers as well as social networking capabilities through ZoweeTV’s proprietary system-wide network. zoweetvZoweeTV was built for content owners by content owners, offering a fully customizable content management system enabling dynamic ‘self’ distribution with a turnkey content management dashboard including asset management, metadata integration, windows, pricing, territories and other key policies with detailed ‘back-end’ reporting.

According to recently released In-Stat research, Web-to-TV Video content revenue will grow by 750% to $17 billion by 2014. “We built ZoweeTV from the ground up, built for complete customization for any platform, any video format on any device, anywhere in the world — ZoweeTV will optimize content distribution opportunities for content owners and deliver a robust, quality user experience to the end user” said Ronald Domes, CEO.

ZoweeTV will be widely available to consumers Worldwide by Summer 2011 through strategic partnerships with device manufacturers as an operating system or through stand-alone apps and web browsers. More announcements will be made in the upcoming weeks.

Government of CanadaFour initiatives that support northern innovation and knowledge will move forward thanks to investments by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor). The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, has announced an investment of $426,000 for research and training projects to help the Northwest Territories and Nunavut strengthen information technology (IT), energy, and educational sectors of the economy. With additional contributions from project proponents and the Territorial governments, the projects have a total value of more than $500,000.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that by investing in research and training, we are enabling the long-term sustainability of communities and businesses across the North,” said Minister Duncan, who is also Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

“Research has shown that there is a strong positive correlation between investments in IT infrastructure, capacity development and economic growth,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Regional Minister for the North and Minister of Health. “These investments will create new educational, social and business opportunities in both territories that will provide long-term benefits for northerners and northern businesses.”

CanNor’s funding will support four projects in the NWT and Nunavut, including new mining and remediation training programs, research into the potential to use local willow as biomass fuel, and two projects to assess and support the potential for establishing broadband internet in Nunavut.

Funding for these projects came from CanNor’s Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program, which provides funding for northern projects that contribute to long-term economic growth, economic diversification, and capacity building in the three territories. SINED is one of a number of economic development programs delivered by CanNor in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

RCMPOn this past Sunday, February 27th, members of the London RCMP Detachment Federal Enforcement Section seized thousands of pirated DVDs from a booth at the Gibraltar Trade Centre on Dundas Street East in London.

Pirated DVDs in flimsy plastic sleeves were openly displayed for sale at space rented by the accused at the Gibraltar Trade Centre, where it is alleged they sold the pirated movies. The accused were found in possession of approximately 4000 movies for sale including recently released DVD movies, movies still in the theaters and others yet to be released. Titles included: The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Black Swan, True Grit, and Inception amongst many others.

“This isn’t a victimless crime,” stated Inspector Dwight Blok, Officer in charge of the RCMP London Detachment. “We are committed in our efforts to combat this type of criminal activity.”

The accused, a 25 year old man and a 24 year old woman from Toronto, face charges under the Copyright Act for allegedly offering for sale an infringing copy of work where copyright subsists. If convicted the accused could faces fines not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.

bits republicBits Republic Technologies, Inc., a Vancouver-based developer of cloud security applications and licensed technologies, has unveiled the new name for its popular ultra-secure Document Management System. The application formerly known as MOnet has been renamed PrivyDocs in order to better reflect the complete privacy that this application provides.

PrivyDocs is entirely browser-based. Unlike past versions, PrivyDocs requires no software installation and can be run on Mac or PC through most major browsers. This represents a major unique advance in cloud computing in that security and privacy are so complete that neither the application host nor storage hosts have access to stored data, yet control by the user extends to file sharing with other parties replete with advanced file and folder permissions.

“PrivyDocs is designed to replace a key part of in-house systems; that part that deals with guarded data dissemination both within and outside the organization.” explained Charles Chung, owner and founder of Bits Republic Technologies, Inc. “In the past, placing such data online and managing it `through the cloud` has necessitated complete trust in the application provider – they can see your data. With our solution, professionals and enterprises retain control of their sensitive data and the providers have no access to it. Our solution enables the users to control advanced permissions by file, to track file access and versions, and even to customize the look and feel of the application for their particular needs”.

PrivyDocs uses the patent-pending Bits republic security engine which provides a very flexible platform for client-side encryption and server side ‘blind’ hosting and management. This technology assures that only authorized users are able to access secured data and metadata, and that not even the application or storage hosts have access to it themselves.

dhx mediaDHX Media Ltd has been authorized to purchase at market price up to 3,629,576 common shares of the Company being approximately 10% of its public float of 36,295,762 common shares as of February 28, 2011, and representing approximately 5.9% of its issued share capital, by way of a normal course issuer bid (the “Bid”) through the facilities of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). As of February 28, 2011, there were 61,617,565 common shares issued and outstanding. DHX is making the bid to reduce the number of outstanding shares in the corporation and to improve earnings per share. The Bid will commence on March 4, 2011, and end no later than March 3, 2012, observing the purchasing restrictions during ‘black out’ or ‘close’ periods.
Kid vs Kat
The Company intends to implement an automatic share purchase plan to allow it to purchase shares under the Bid while in such ‘black out’ or ‘close’ periods. The Bid will be funded from the Company’s existing cash resources. Any shares purchased under the Bid will be cancelled. The TSX rules permit DHX to purchase daily, through TSX facilities, a maximum of approximately 26,467 common shares under the Bid, being 25% of the average daily trading volume of 105,870 over the last six months.

In the opinion of the Company’s board of directors and senior management, DHX shares may occasionally trade in a price range which does not adequately reflect the value of underlying assets based on the Company’s business and financial position. Consequently, the Company may, from time to time, purchase common shares of the Company under the Bid. DHX has not purchased any shares of the Company pursuant to a normal course issuer bid during the preceding 12 months.

veerCalgary-based Veer, a provider of affordable visual elements that makes it easier to be creative, today announced the launch of an exclusive new font collection named Agency 26, as well as the addition of fonts from the Filmotype foundry and several other leading designers.

The new Agency 26 collection has 10 new typeface families and 23 fonts, all of which are Veer Exclusives.  The collection is inspired by the bold wood typefaces of 19th century America, and takes a modern slant on the traditional representations of these historical fonts with the addition of features like a full Western European character set, alternate widths, lowercase and other features not found in their historical counterparts.

All Agency 26 fonts are designed by Brian Jaramillo, who has been designing typefaces for more than 10 years, but typically kept them for his own custom projects. He is inspired by the graphic language of the surf and skate industries, and a childhood of drawing band logos on notebooks. Brian’s previous font designs for VersusTwin Foundry can be found in Veer’s Umbrella™ Collection. Brian is also the force behind the blog Lettercult, a showcase of hand lettering arts.  The Veer creative team has produced an animated short to help show off Agency 26.

Veer also welcomes Filmotype, a foundry that brings 16 new fonts evoking classic American lettering of the 1950s and 60s. At the historical crossroads between lead type and the computer revolution, the original Filmotype library grew to encompass several hundred fonts available to designers, providing typeface designs on 2-inch filmstrips. Filmotype initially manufactured a manual phototype machine enabling headline and display typesetting using a photochemical development process, helping to revolutionize the process of advertising layout and lettering.

In 2006, Stuart Sandler and Font Diner revived the Filmotype marque, intending to create high-quality digitizations of this historic collection, adapted for the modern age. A gallery of Filmotype fonts on Veer.com reveals that they have a retro vibe and contain lots of brush scripts and condensed gothic sans, particularly Filmotype Zanzibar and Filmotype Macbeth. The original designs have been brought up to date with the inclusion of a full international character compliment, automatic fractions, ordinals, and a set of automatic alternate contextual characters and ligatures.

“Agency 26 is a fun, playful font collection that evokes the days of wood type broadsides and wanted posters,” says Joe Newton, Product Manager, Type for Veer. “The fonts include playful details like alternate widths, lowercase and ornaments that are perfect for evoking the worn, weather look of vintage leatherpress, or for lending rustic charm to food packaging and signage.”

Other new additions to the Veer font collection include:

•   Steinweiss Script – Known as the father of the album cover, Alex Steinweiss’ distinctive “scrawl” has been faithfully recreated by Michael Doret in homage to the original. Available in three weights, each including a number of variations including simple, fancy and tilting. Steinweiss Script is part of the Umbrella Collection.
•   Yana – Designer Laura Worthingon set out to create a versatile, swashy serif usable in logos, headlines and body copy. Along the way it gained an old-style Victorian aesthetic, upper and lowercase characters, over 200 swash capitals, and regular, bold and italic variants. Yana is part of the Umbrella Collection.
•   Torino Pro – Originally designed in 1908 by Alessandro Butti, Torino is a modern italic Didone that has been revived, redrawn and expanded by Jason Walcott. It contains a large number of elegant swashes, discretionary ligatures and lining figures. Torino Pro is a Veer Exclusive and part of the Jukebox Collection.
•   Hiatus – This is a contemporary script that blends casual and formal elements with the warmth of hand lettering. Stephen Rapp’s low body height and full connection of the characters make for a versatile script. Hiatus, which includes a large number of swash alternates and ornaments, as well as extensive international language support, is a Veer Exclusive from the Umbrella Collection.

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28th February 2011

What’s New On This Monday Morning

Relic EntertainmentThe Cavechild has been doing an hourly countdown all weekend, waiting somewhat impatiently for the release of Dawn of War II: Retribution from Relic Entertainment. He pre-0rdered his special copy on Steam the first day they were accepting orders and he participated in the early beta as well. I will be so happy when Retribution is officially available in just a few more hours, because he is driving me crazy.

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Webcast: If you missed the Canada Media Fund webcast outlining the changes which have been made to funding guidelines, you can view the video in either French or English online. Note, registration and log-in is required to watch the video.Canada Media Fund

Event: The next MoMoVan will be held at the Granville Island Brewing Company on March7th. The topic will be Privacy and Security. Tickets are free for DigiBC members, sponsors, students and partners, $25.00 for non-members. Attendance is limited to 100, so register early.

xnaCompetition: Game developers take note, Dream Build Play 2011 is now open for registration. Once registration closes on May 17th, the game submission period will begin. Entrants will have until June 14th to submit their Xbox 360 creations built using XNA Game Studio 4.0. Winning game developers split Spring Bonus$75,000 USD in prizes and get a shot at an Xbox LIVE® Arcade publishing contract, and their games will be featured on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

grey alien gamesGrey Alien Games has announced its next title. Spring Bonus will be a Spring and Easter-themed match 3 styled game scheduled to launch on April 15th to several platforms including including PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, XBox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone 7 – possibly for Linux as well. Grey Alien’s founder Jake Birkett has released his first dev diary for the new title, you can read about the lead-up to Spring Bonus’ development on the Grey Alien blog.

vblankTrekking around the halls of GDC with Jake is Brian Provinciano, founder of Vblank Entertainment and developer of Retro City Rampage. Brian will be participating in a panel discussion titled The Next Steps of Indie: Four Perspectives during the Indie Games Festival within the GDC umbrella. Retro City RampageAttendees to this panel will get an inside look at the road Brian followed as he developed Retro City Rampage, from NES programming in 2002 right up to our current next-gen consoles. Retro City Rampage will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo WiiWare later this year. Retro City Rampage is also a finalist for the Excellence in Audio category at the Indie Games Festival Awards.

Sale: Endloop Systems has announced that their iPad app iMockups will be on imockups on itunessale for 30% for the duration of GDC. iMockups for iPad is a mobile wireframing and mockup app for your web, iPhone and iPad projects, combining a beautiful interface with intuitive functionality, taking full advantage of the breakthrough touchscreen device. With a comprehensive and growing list of pre-built dynamic controls (for Web, iPhone and iPad) help turn your ideas into full fledged designs at the office or on the go.

New Media Manitoba New Media Manitoba will be very active at this week’s Game Developers Conference, which is just getting underway in San Francisco. The association is leading a provincial delegation that will showcase the Manitoba digital media industry and offer start-ups and seasoned game companies the opportunity to grow their business. New Media Manitoba will be hosting a networking event at Thirsty Bear from 4-6pm on March 3rd.

One of the shiny new yet retro members of the Manitoba delegation is the Winnitron itself, making its first appearance at the GDC. The Winnitron will showcase exclusive Manitoba made games like Leap4Blue, Trash Pilot, C4ke, Sumo Topplers, and Robots Robots Everywhere, along with other high profile indie titles such as Canabalt 2-Player and Super Crate Box. Fans from all over the indie game circuit are already buzzed about playing classic indie games like Space Sushi, Indie Brawl, and N Arcade on the Winnitron for the first time ever. Winnitron Photo Credit: Chrissy Chubala

Four companies will be sharing space at our booth on the Expo Floor—Tomkorp Computer Solutions (creators of Clones ), Cube Force Media (creators of Aerrevan), Cogmation Robotics , and Project Whitecard, which is currently leading development on a multiplayer problem-solving game for NASA.winnitron Photo Credit: Chrissy Chubala

Representing the Winnitron at the booth will be Bit Collective (creators of the Winnitron) members Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo, Tom Rab of Reborn Games, Noel Berry, Marlon Weibe and New Media Manitoba’s own Kert Gartner. Manitoba game developers Red Reptile Studios and Complex Games, who recently won a Canada New Media Award for Best Web Game, will be making waves at the conference via some targeted meetings.

If you’ve been following news on Indie Game: The Movie, you’ll know that the Globe and Mail and major industry publications (including this site) have already been celebrating the pre-release footage Blink-Works has posted on their web site. The 2-person team behind the project, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, will be chatting about their film at Manitoba Booth #1137 on Thursday, March 3.

New Media Manitoba would like to gratefully acknowledge the amazing support from Manitoba Trade & Investment, Western Economic Diversification, and Red River College for their contributions toward growing the game companies in Manitoba and this Trade Mission, as well as: Complex Games, Agence nationale et internationale du Manitoba (ANIM), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), Industry Canada, Manitoba Innovation, Energy, and Mines (IEM), Economic Development Winnipeg, and Manitoba’s tireless game development community.

ie market researchVancouver-based IE Market Research Corporation has released its 1Q.2011 Global Mobile Entertainment Forecast, 2008 – 2015, which is available now for purchase. IEMR’s forecast provides our quantitative forecasts for Mobile Music, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Personalisation, Mobile TV, and other premium content. It covers 50+ countries and regions, and it is one of the most comprehensive forecasts of its kind in the world.

“We think that the global mobile entertainment market will see significant growth over the next five years. Globally, we are expecting mobile multimedia revenue to rise from $32 billion in 2009 to $52.8 billion in 2015. Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2015 will be 9.5%,” said Nizar Assanie, Vice President (Research) at IEMR. “Among different categories of mobile multimedia, we expect that Mobile TV will see the biggest growth in revenues over the next five years. We forecast that global mobile TV revenues (which are broadcast and unicast revenues) will increase from $2.52 billion in 2009 to $6.6 billion in 2015.”

To the comprehensive data set, we are adding a PowerPoint presentation which provides our clients with an overview of key trends in the global mobile entertainment market.

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has secured a new, exclusive membership benefit for members – an airline travel discount. Starting immediately, all IGDA members can get a 5 percent discount on Virgin America flights booked to attend GDC, E3, IGDA Summit, Casual Connect Seattle, PAX Prime and the IGDA Leadership Forum. Naturally, Virgin America appears to fly only out of Toronto on our side of the border, but I guess one could drive to Seattle or take the shuttle bus, and then fly down to the California events from there if the overall savings were substantial.

IGDA members in good standing can access the promo codes online. Please note that discounted tickets are limited and members should reserve their flights as early as possible. Remember to add your IGDA special promo code before purchasing your ticket in order to get the discount.

Your travel on Virgin Airlines must fall within these timelines:

GDC 2011: To SFO: 2/24 – 2/28 and From SFO: 3/4 – 3/8
E3: To LAX: 6/4 – 6/8 and From LAX: 6/9 – 6/11
IGDA Summit/Casual Connect Seattle: To SEA: 7/14 – 7/18 and From SEA: 7/20 – 7/24
PAX Prime Seattle: To SEA: 8/29 – 9/1 and From SEA: 9/5 – 9/9
IGDA Leadership Forum: To LAX: 10/22 – 10/26 and From LAX: 10/30 – 11/3

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25th February 2011

Follow Friday News

Reminder: Early Bird Registration for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference closes on February 28th.

Contest: Enflick, Inc. is holding a logo re-design contest for the PingChat logo.
Contest: Best Buy Canada and HP Canada have teamed up to revitalize someone’s home office
Contest: SteelSeries is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge giveaway.

Giveaway: The iPad HD version of Garage Inc from TransGaming Studios is free until February 28th. Get it now.

Pre-Order: Mac Gamers can pre-order Dragon Age 2 and The Sims Medieval from GameTree Mac. Release dates are March 8th for Dragon Age 2 and March 22nd Victor and Scottfor The Sims Medieval.

Appointment: Michael MacMillan has been appointed to the Fuse Powered Board of Directors. In his role on the company’s board, MacMillan will be responsible for working closely with Fuse Powered’s senior management team in solidifying and executing the company’s strategic direction.

Taking Over The World: Electric Playground is now available for American users of Hulu. Congratulations to everyone at the EP studio!

New Release: IUGO’s first music game Pricklees is now available on the App Store. It’s free so go download now! More characters and tracks may be unlocked for $1.99 USD.pricklees

“We see room for creativity and innovation in the music genre,” states IUGO’s VP of BD Sarah Thomson “What companies like Tapulous have done is incredible. They have proven their formula to be successful time and time again. But we feel there is so much opportunity to create a unique game mechanic and appeal to an even broader market. We wanted to combine the brilliance of music-based games such as the Tap Tap series with the cuteness and personality of broad appeal titles such as Angry Birds.”

Cinematic Intro: A preview of the opening moments from Dawn of War II: Retribution by Relic Entertainment is now live on YouTube. This latest chapter in the Warhammer 40 000 saga will be on store shelves on March 1st

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A special pre-launch event for Retribution was just announced on the Dawn of War community forums. A four hour game play special with members of Relic’s game test team facing off against members of the community. The fun begins at 2pm PST on Sunday, February 27th.

Yummy InteractiveYummy Interactive Inc. has announced a partnership agreement with BattleFront.com, worldwide publisher of wargaming and strategy combat video games. BattleFront.com has selected Yummy Interactive’s GameShield to securely manage licensing and activation of downloadable and mail order game products at its game portal.

“Delivering our games in an unobtrusive, simple download and mail order experience to our community members is paramount to us. With GameShield, we will be able to securely extend our digital products to new channels and also be able to offer game bundles and extra downloadable content, such as add-ons and expansion packs, with a smooth user interface for end users,” said Martin van Balkom, President of BattleFront.com.

“By selecting our complete DRM solution for their PC and Mac game downloads and mail order products, Battlefront.com can further expand their online distribution channel and storefront, confident they can support their partners and optimize digital sales with our flexible license management tools,” said Chris Hennebery, VP Software Distribution at Yummy Interactive. “The premium DRM technology that GameShield provides not only protects content but enables new and secured ways of bringing gamers downloadable games and post-sale content.”

Launch Trailer: Rango The Video Game, developed by Behaviour, will be released next week for  the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Here is the newest game trailer.

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Source Studio has released Proto Defense – free downloadable content (DLC) for their space shooter game ProtoGalaxy, on Steam for the PC. The downloadable content delivers a brand new level of play for ProtoGalaxy, enabling players to experience the game’s enhanced editor powers and map-building source studiofeatures.

The DLC will be downloaded automatically for anyone who owns ProtoGalaxy, and to celebrate the DLC launch, ProtoGalaxy is available for 50% off until March 2.  Proto Defense is a completely different genre than the previous levels. The original release of the game consisted of action and adventure levels, where the players were constantly on the offense. The new downloadable content consists of  a tower defense-style level, where players must strategically defend themselves against incoming attacks.protogalaxy

“We’re showcasing a brand new level of game play in ProtoGalaxy that gamers have yet to experience,” said Alex Brown, CEO and founder of Source Studio. “We have been gathering valuable feedback since we released ProtoGalaxy last October, and with the new level added, the game takes on a different dimension of play,” Brown added.

Proto Defense contains the following:

  • New level with tower defense tactics
  • Pick from a big selection of turrets.
  • Reposition your turrets at any time to deal extra damage.
  • Take down huge bosses.
  • Compete in leaderboards for the highest score.
  • Tackle 8 new challenging achievements.
  • Built using the ProtoGalaxy Editor.

In ProtoGalaxy, up to four players can team up, configure their ship and upgrade their weapons in order to defend earth from powerful alien invaders. Throughout the game, players brave fierce battles, solve challenging puzzles, and explore the far reaches of the galaxy in order to end the attacks and rebuild a home for the survivors.

Game features:

  • Level editor
  • Single and multi-player mode (up to 4 players)
  • Array of weapon choice
  • Ship customization with large selection of parts
  • Use physics to solve problems
  • Save progress online and play from anywhere

Source Studio will be attending the Games Developers Conference and will showcasing  ProtoGalaxy, along with the DLC at the Newfoundland and Labrador booth (booth #1924).

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24th February 2011

Short Bits Are Important Too

Reminder: Submissions for Digital Launch Pad at Banff World Media Festival Close April 22nd. ($100.00 entry fee)

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, will meet with representatives from the Waterloo-area information and communications technology (ICT) industry tomorrow morning to discuss issues of importance to the industry, including Canada’s forthcoming digital economy strategy. The meeting will be held at The Research Advancement Centre in Waterloo University’s Research and Technology Park.

TransGamingTransGaming Studios has released a new update for Garage Inc in the iTunes App Store. The time management strategy title now features an Endless Day mode and you can now compete against other players via the Game Centre Leaderboard, fixing as many cars as your mechanics possibly can. Battle for automotive supremacy and you help Angelo work towards his dreams and fend off the Mafia.

Big Bad BrushKung Fu Master for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad is now available at the iTunes App Store for 99 cents USD. Developed by Big Bad Brush, this Retina Display and Game Centre-enabled features the venerable Kung Fu Master, who has fallen victim to hordes of zombies and pandas intent on stealing his magic gems and shiny gold. Show them who’s boss by mastering the bamboo poles and gathering all your gold and gems back.

behaviour gamesGet set for some action-adventure play time with Rango The Video Game from EA and Behaviour Studios, because it will be on store shelves this March 1st. Based on the Paramount Pictures full-length animated feature film Rango, the video game invites players to continue on Rango’s wild journey through new adventures inspired by the movie. The game is set in the Old West town of ‘Dirt’ where players romp through a gritty, pint-sized, Wild West filled with wild rides, off-color characters and frantic shoot-outs.

Beenox StudiosThe Quality Assurance Division of Beenox Studio in Quebec City has launched an unprecedented recruitment campaign in order to fill 100 summer jobs for video game testers this summer. Interested candidates must submit their applications (French) before Friday, March 4th. Candidates chosen for the next stage of selection will be invited to the official recruitment day on Saturday, March 19th. These summer jobs are a great opportunity for gamers. We are seeking candidates with an excellent sense of observation, are energetic and who perform as a team.

Quebec Technology AssociationThe 11th edition of the CEO Vision Forum for CEOs of technology companies in Quebec ended on a high note on Saturday, February 19. Record numbers of company CEOs and their partners participated in the “Davos” of Quebec technology organized by the Quebec Technology Association, an indication of the interest it is generating and its importance in the IT and Communications industry. The 117 CEOs who registered took advantage of the opportunity to discuss issues and business practices, recharge their batteries by listening to the well-known conference speakers and meet potential buyers and partners in the industries present.

Decision makers representing major technology buyers and an American investor participated in the VIP Salons, an excellent networking opportunity. VIPs were invited from the following organizations: Aveos, CCSR (a group of purchasing departments for educational institutions in Quebec and Ontario), Cisco, Kirchner Private Capital Group, The Desjardins Group, RBC and Public Works and Government Services Canada.

On the evening of February 17, the 2011 SGF CEO of the Year, (Claude McMaster, President and CEO, D-BOX), was chosen by the CEOs in attendance by using of secret ballots; an article on the subject will appear this week in the newspaper Les Affaires, the media partner for the Award. A video clip of the 2011 SGF CEO of the Year and interviews with the three company heads vying for the title are also available in the file on the Award.

“The ever-increasing interest shown by Directors and the exceptional support for CEO Vision on the part of governments and private partners confirms the level of confidence they have in the role the AQT plays in representing ITC companies in Quebec and in supporting their growth. My warmest thanks to all who contributed to the remarkable success of the 2011 CEO Summit”, said Nicole Martel, Chief Executive Officer of the Quebec Technology Association. Attendance at the forum is limited exclusively to industry partners, the many 2011 CEO Vision sponsors and partners actively participated in the success of the summit meeting. They are as follows:

– Prestigious Partner: Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
– SGF CEO of the Year Award Partner: Société générale de financement
– Platinum Sponsors: BCF, BDC, The DynaVision Group, Heenan Blaikie, NATIONAL and RBC
– Gold Sponsors: Essor Insurance and GCWL-Desjardins Securities
– VIP Salons Pavilion: Public Works and Government Services Canada (partner) and Cisco (sponsor)
– Media partners: Direction informatique and Les Affaires

The Economic Development Agency of Canada and Développment économique, Innovation et Exportation Québec also provided financial support for the event. The 12th edition of CEO Vision will take place from February 23 to February 25, 2012, at the Fairmont Tremblant.

Robert HalfWith the business world being reshaped by mobile technologies, companies are moving to embrace the highly portable, Internet-linked tablet computer. Four in 10 (40 per cent) of CIOs in a recent survey said their companies will increase the use of tablets in the next two years.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CIOs from companies across Canada with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, “To what extent, if any, do you think your company’s use of ‘tablet’ computers will increase or decrease in the next two years?” Their responses:

Increase – 40%
Decrease – 6%
No change – 49%
Don’t know/not applicable/no answer – 5%

“More organizations are discovering that tablet computers offer yet another way to increase employee mobility, while maintaining & even improving productivity,” said Lara Dodo, Canadian regional vice president of Robert Half Technology. “It’s no secret that these computers have quickly gained popularity in the market over the last year, and CIOs have recognized the potential of these devices. However, the challenge that IT departments will soon encounter is providing enough support and security in the workplace. ”

Dodo adds that businesses will likely need to hire skilled IT professionals, either on a full-time or project basis, to help manage the implementation, maintenance, development and security of tablets. This will ensure companies makes greater tactical use of these mobile devices, in order to augment their customer service and profitability.

The 11th edition of the CEO Vision Forum for CEOs of technology companies in Quebec ended on a high note on Saturday, February 19. Record numbers of company CEOs and their partners participated in the “Davos” of Quebec technology organized by the Quebec Technology Association, an indication of the interest it is generating and its importance in the IT and Communications industry. The 117 CEOs who registered took advantage of the opportunity to discuss issues and business practices, recharge their batteries by listening to the well-known conference speakers and meet potential buyers and partners in the industries present.Decision makers representing major technology buyers and an American investor participated in the VIP Salons, an excellent networking opportunity. VIPs were invited from the following organizations: Aveos, CCSR (a group of purchasing departments for educational institutions in Quebec and Ontario), Cisco, Kirchner Private Capital Group, The Desjardins Group, RBC and Public Works and Government Services Canada.

On the evening of February 17, the 2011 SGF CEO of the Year, (Claude McMaster, President and CEO, D-BOX), was chosen by the CEOs in attendance by using of secret ballots; an article on the subject will appear this week in the newspaper Les Affaires, the media partner for the Award. A video clip of the 2011 SGF CEO of the Year and interviews with the three company heads vying for the title are also available in the file on the Award.

“The ever-increasing interest shown by Directors and the exceptional support for CEO Vision on the part of governments and private partners confirms the level of confidence they have in the role the AQT plays in representing ITC companies in Quebec and in supporting their growth. My warmest thanks to all who contributed to the remarkable success of the 2011 CEO Summit”, said Nicole Martel, Chief Executive Officer of the Quebec Technology Association.

Attendance at the forum is limited exclusively to industry partners, the many 2011 CEO Vision sponsors and partners actively participated in the success of the summit meeting. They are as follows:

    - Prestigious Partner: Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
    - SGF CEO of the Year Award Partner: Société générale de financement
    - Platinum Sponsors: BCF, BDC, The DynaVision Group, Heenan Blaikie,
      NATIONAL and RBC
    - Gold Sponsors: Essor Insurance and GCWL-Desjardins Securities
    - VIP Salons Pavilion: Public Works and Government Services Canada
      (partner) and Cisco (sponsor)
    - Media partners: Direction informatique and Les Affaires

The Economic Development Agency of Canada and Développment économique, Innovation et Exportation Québec also provided financial support for the event.

The 12th edition of CEO Vision will take place from February 23 to February 25, 2012, at the Fairmont Tremblant.

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23rd February 2011

Digital Developments

Note: The World Wide Short Film Fest has opened Screenplay Giveaway to submissions.
Note: Nominations now open to Canada’s emerging technology companies for PricewaterhouseCoopers 2011 Innovator of the Year Award.

Game Prototype ChallengeThe third Game Prototype Challenge ended earlier this week with a total of ten game submissions centering around the theme of Loneliness and Dimensions. There are some very cool ideas in this last round, and considering that they were all done as side projects between February 14th and February 21st just makes them even better. The Challenge just keeps growing with every iteration, and I am looking forward to seeing comes out in the next one in March.Hothead Games

The final installment of the Ask Dr. Mike video series has been released by Hothead Games. Check out the in-studio rivalry between Producer Joel DeYoung and Lead Designer Pete Low as Joel tries to trump Pete’s new high score in the upcoming platformer Swarm.

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Watch the gameplay carefully and listen closely to the commentary for some inside secrets on game-play and high scoring tactics. See how the sacrificing of squishy blue guys will lead you to multiplier supremacy and achievement completion.

University of WaterlooPost-secondary students these days have so many cool new specialty areas to study, sometimes I wish I could go back to school full-time. Yes, I liked school. Except for Math. And Science. History, Law and English – those were my favourites. There weren’t really any courses leading towards any specific type of creative career when I was in high school, not counting the classes for performing arts or traditional trades like welding and wood-working.

A new graduate studies programme has been introduced at Waterloo University’s Stratford Campus. The Master of Digital Innovation (MDI) is a one year project-based interdisciplinary degree programme. Students will work through the programme as they would if they were working for an employer, in teams, working on core projects. Throughout the process of completing these projects, students will consult with faculty and industry partners, gaining hands-on experience in many areas, including Team Building, Design Thinking and Business Modelling as well as Marketing Strategy and Critical Cultural Analysis. That last one sounds like it involves Math.

This new full-time program, which will be offered for the first time in Fall 2011 pending final Ontario Council on Graduate Studies approval, will take place over three consecutive terms: Fall, Winter and Spring.

The Fall Session will focus on Working in Teams, Principles of Marketing in a Globalized World, Digital Media Solutions Design and New Perspectives on Media History and Analysis.  During the Winter Session, students will continue Working in Teams as they look at Digital Media Solutions: Project Management, Media Innovation and Impact as well as Understanding the Consumer Universe. The Spring session focuses entirely on Projects.

Longbow GamesLongbow Games has launched the latest game in their Hegemony series of historical RTS wargames. Hegemony Gold: Wars of Ancient Greece expands upon last year’s PAX 10 finalist Hegemony: Philip of Macedon, adding two new campaigns and an all new diplomacy system plus an open sandbox mode with 26 playable factions and significant gameplay upgrades and refinements. The game is available online from Longbow, priced at $29.99 for the complete version or $9.99 as an upgrade from the original game.

“After spending the last year building a community and talking to fans about what they liked best in the first Hegemony, we’re really excited to show off all that we’ve added for Hegemony Gold,” said Jim McNally, President and Lead Designer of Hegemony Gold Wars of Ancient GreeceLongbow Games. “Not only do the new features significantly expand the range and depth of the tactics in Hegemony but the new campaigns and sandbox mode exponentially increase the amount of gameplay available.”

Conquer the ancient Greek world in Hegemony Gold: Wars of Ancient Greece, a real-time strategy wargame that expands and refines the award-winning Hegemony: Philip of Macedon with brand new content and features. Experience the full range of warfare from reconnaissance and raids to field battles and mountain blockades as you campaign across a continuous satellite-accurate map of ancient Greece. Siege and starve your enemy by cutting their supply lines or burning their crops, all the while building and protecting your own supply network to support your growing kingdom. Play as Macedonia, Athens, or Sparta in the three historical campaigns, or choose one of the 26 factions in the epic sandbox mode and forge your own empire. With a dynamic new diplomacy system and greatly expanded tactics, Hegemony Gold sets the new standard for ancient IUGOwarfare.

IUGO Mobile Entertainment has released a trailer for its latest announced title, Pricklees, which has been submitted to Apple for approval. Jump, duck and roll to the beat with the Pricklees in this new music game that features 3 adorable characters you wish you could cuddle, if they weren’t covered in prickles.

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There are 3 levels of difficulty in the game: easy, medium and hard for tons of replayability, with more unlockable content through IAP. Dead easy controls and intuitive UI in dynamic 2D/3D environments allow for unique rhythm-based gameplay with 7 Fresh Electronic tracks and more songs coming in future updates.

TVOTVO is pleased to announce the launch of its new digital Public Archive, a free online resource that unlocks four decades of made-at-TVO educational programming that stands the test of time. The centerpiece of TVO’s 40th anniversary celebrations, TVO’s Public Archive is full of rare moments in television history including:

* popular Saturday Night at the Movies host Elwy Yost’s conversations with film legends of the 70s and 80s;
* insights from some of the greatest minds in science and technology like Richard Dawkins, John Polanyi, Carl Sagan and Steve Wozniak;
* interviews with political leaders including every Ontario Premier since John Robarts;
* rare moments with Canadian icons like Mordecai Richler, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and John Candy;
* and Canadian heroes like Jane Jacobs, June Callwood and Roberta Bondar.

TVO’s Public Archive is a valuable resource for researchers, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and anyone who wants to learn more about the cultural history that has made Ontario what it is today, and features beloved TVO programs that have defined TVO over the years. It launches with over 375 programs and segments that would take more than five days to watch.

The site includes episodes of Polka Dot Door, Today’s Special, Prisoners of Gravity, Imprint, Realities, Studio 2, the interviews portion of Saturday Night at the Movies, The Education of Mike McManus, Between the Lines and more. It also includes the new “Think Again” podcast series where programs are re-cut and re-mixed, examining important issues and placing them in context of the world today. New content that can be searched by program title, year, guest, subject or playlist will be added to the Public Archive regularly.

OMDCThe Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) today launched a major international TV, print and online campaign to showcase Ontario’s thriving cultural media sector. The campaign encourages consumers and investors to “be part of it” by buying Ontario’s award-winning cultural media products and investing in the province’s dynamic companies.

The six-week television campaign, showcasing more than 80 Ontario companies and world-renowned cultural exports, features a soundtrack by indie band Metric, which won the 2010 Juno Award for Best Alternative Album. The campaign was created by Toronto ad agency Brandworks International Inc. and will be supported by print and online ads in a variety of Canadian, U.S. and U.K. publications, along with an interactive website.

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Ontario’s entire creative cluster includes: book and magazine publishing, film and television, interactive digital media, music, performing arts, radio, advertising, architecture and design. Together, they contribute more than $ 12.2 billion to the provincial GDP and employ more than 300,000 people.

ubisoftUbisoft is going on tour with its Kinect titles, but it seems BC is not on the list, at least not yet. One would think that BC would be on the list considering that Ubisoft has a development studio in Vancouver. The only confirmed locations thus far are for Halifax, when they will be visiting the Halifax Discovery Centre on February 25th and 26th before moving on to the Wal-Mart at Halifax Shopping Centre on February 27th. All other provinces are listed as “Coming Soon” with BC and all three territories not appearing on the schedule at all.

frima studioFrima Studio has earned two of the five nominations given out for the Best PS3/PSP Mini Game by Sony Computer Entertainment of America for its 2011 PlayStation®Network Gamers’ Choice Awards. Frima’s latest effort, the aptly named A Space Shooter for Two Bucks!, has recently crossed the 100,000 downloads mark, and Young Thor is one of the most critically-acclaimed Minis in history.

Voting will be open for one week until Tuesday, March 1st, with PSN users across North America choosing their favorite game in each of the four categories by downloading a free XMB theme corresponding to that game, voting for one game in each category. When the voting is over, the winning game from each of the four categories will go on sale for 30% off at the PlayStation Store and 50% off to PlayStation Plus subscribers.

NexonNexon America has kicked off the second round of the Nexon iNitiative, a million dollar program designed with the intent to seek out the most promising independent video game projects and provide funding to support the next generation of game developers from around the world. Open for submissions until April 30th, the Nexon iNitiative will award game developers a share of $1 million in development funds for projects that align with Nexon’s focus on community building and long-term user engagement.
antic entertainment
The first Nexon iNitiative was launched in March 2010, which saw Canadian developer Antic Entertainment and Polish developer one2tribe chosen from a pool of more than 100 candidates in 2010. Each of the studios earned a share of more than $1 million in development funding. Both companies are currently creating online game projects that will be co-developed and published through Nexon’s global distribution network, which currently services 30 games in more than 71 countries.

Through the Nexon iNitiative, Nexon is looking for potential games that have wide-ranging audience appeal and which encourage community and social interaction. Flash, client-based games or ports from other platforms are all welcome submissions. Games with strong online and multi platform elements will get serious consideration, as will game concepts that align with Nexon’s goals.

Rogers Digital MediaRogers Media (RMI) today announced the appointment of Jason Tafler to the newly created position, Chief Digital Officer.  A veteran of the U.S. and Canadian digital sector, Tafler comes to Rogers from PointRoll, a leading provider of innovative digital marketing solutions and technology based in Pennsylvania.Jason Tafler

Tafler will be responsible for strategic and operational leadership for the Digital division of Rogers Media with accountability for financial and operational targets.  Rogers Digital Media is responsible for over 250 Rogers Digital products including brand websites, mobile products and client microsites as well as pure digital plays such as Sweetspot.ca,  BRANCHEZ -VOUS!, PoolExpert and Canadian Parents.  The range of partnerships and acquisitions brings Rogers Digital Media over 16 million unique viewers per month and reaches 65% of Canadians online.  As well, Rogers Digital Media provides ad solutions and content for Rogers Communications and ad representation for foreign clients.

Tafler grew up in Toronto and has spent most of the past decade of his career in the U.S. building, advising and investing in entrepreneurial growth-oriented companies in the media, advertising and technology industries.  He joined PointRoll in 2005 and became CEO in 2008.  Prior to PointRoll, he worked in a boutique investment bank in New York and with Zoomer Media and First Marathon Securities in Canada.

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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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