3rd February 2011

New And Noteworthy

Relic EntertainmentCongratulations to the team at Relic Entertainment for cracking the Top Ten of 2010 sales list on Steam with almost $11 million dollars US with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, published by THQ, who yesterday announced that they have put the brakes on releasing Company of Heroes Online, citing a “reevaluation of its strategy of adapting certain Western content for free-to-play online games in Asian markets.”Hothead Games

There’s a new installment of the Dr. Mike tutorial video series about dealing with Swarmites. Watch closely and listen carefully as Dr. Mike teaches you how to score with a Swarmite in this upcoming action platformer from Hothead Games.

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For those unfamiliar with the game’s premise, you will take control of 50 utterly fearless Swarmites and drive them through an intense, entertaining and often suicidal battle of survival. Run, bash, huddle, boost, stack, jump, push and throw your way through gauntlets of death and destruction in an attempt to collect valuable DNA and ensure that at least one Swarmite survives.Garage Inc

Transgaming Studios has announced that the first update to the recently launched Garage Inc. is now live on the iPhone app store. This update includes Game Centre integration, Achievements and the ability to replay any completed day via a handy calendar. A second update is already in progress, which will include an Endless Day mode, which has been the most requested feature by both the press and gamers. The planned timeframe for the release of the second update is within the next 30 days.

psychicparrot gamesPsychic Parrot Games has released a new title on Kongregate. Built with Unity, MudFire is a 4×4 racing game that you can control with either your keyboard or USB Xbox gamepad. The game features options for setting the graphics and audio to your liking (or your computer’s specs) and starts you off in the 4×4 mudfireWander vehicle. Once you get into the winner’s circle, you can unlock the 4×4 Wander Paws, 4×4 Fire, the green Team Parrot 4×4, the Pink 4×4, Red Leader 4×4 and the Super Pickup 4×4. Recent improvements to MudFire include better in-vehicle cams and better vehicle handling.

Speaking of Unity, the Unity team has announced the continued Unityexpansion of its Asset Store. Announced at Unite 2010, the Unity Asset Store is a digital marketplace where developers can share and sell assets to each other to accelerate their workflows. It’s immediately accessible in the Unity editor under the Window > Asset Store menu so assets are at developers’ fingertips when they most need them.

Over the last two months, the Unity Asset Store catalogue has grown to more than 200 new items including a variety of assets such as free tutorials, open-source libraries, art packs and advanced script libraries. The majority of these assets have been produced by the Unity development community – who individually are bringing in revenues of thousands of dollars each month monetizing their assets. January’s top seller brought in more than $4,000. Top selling assets include:

· Unisky by Six Times Nothing
· GUIKit001 by Blackish
· EZ GUI by AB Software
· Sprite Manager by AB Software
· Shader Fusion by Kurt Loeffler

The Unity Asset Store features free assets that range from sophisticated terrain road and river tools to complete packages with learning materials. A popular release, C# Game Examples by Mark Hergaarden, includes five simple, but essential game examples to learn from and modify. Developers can spend hours programming obstacles to animate, swing, thump, follow paths and generally move around or accomplish the same thing in a matter of minutes with one of the top-downloaded free items, iTween, which brings intuitive and easy-to-use tweening animation to Unity.

“We’re getting great feedback from developers and it’s exciting to see content creators monetizing their assets and making thousands of dollars every month,” said Caitlyn Meeks, Asset Store Content Manager. “Our Asset Store user base has grown to more than 10,000 users in less than three months, and it’s quickly becoming the #1 marketplace of choice for Unity developers.”

Meeks continued, “An exciting growth area of the Asset Store can be found in the Editor Extensions category. The Unity editor is surprisingly extensible with editor classes so that the actual development environment itself can be customised to a degree that one would think only possible with source-level modification, including vehicle wizards, procedural sky systems, UI toolbars and added functionality to the workspace.”

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute® Software Corporation has launched a closed beta of Computrace® Mobile for the Android platform. This new solution will deliver asset administration, data protection and geolocation tracking for the popular Android line of devices, which generally includes tablets and smartphones.

Computrace Mobile for the Android platform will deliver:

* Reduced operational costs associated with managing mobile devices by leveraging the Computrace platform’s integrated Customer Center reporting for hardware, software and user information.
* An additional layer of data protection and increased compliance with government data breach laws through remote Data Delete capabilities.
* The ability to geolocate a device and display it on an internet map including current and historical locations (only performed with the prior consent of the device owner on corporate liable devices).

During the beta testing period, some of Absolute’s current commercial customers have privileged, pre-release access to Computrace Mobile for Android at no additional cost. Interested journalists and product reviewers may also request a demonstration of the solution prior to its general availability.

Computrace Mobile is supported on the following platforms: Windows Mobile® 5, 6, 6.1, 6.2, and 6.5 handheld devices; Symbian – S60 Third Edition and later releases; and BlackBerry® Mobile Versions 4.5 and later. Absolute Manage Mobile Device Management allows organizations to manage the Apple® iOS devices (iPad™, iPhone®, iPod touch®) in their deployment.

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27th January 2011

Step Into the Creatisphere

There is a ton of news coming out of the Canadian Creatisphere today. Grab a coffee and let’s take a look at what’s going on so far. Congratulations to the team over at Capcom Studios Vancouver whose Dead Rising 2: Case Zero game was the top selling title last year on XBLA with 689 000 units downloaded to Xboxes around the world. Congratulations also to the Assassin’s Creed team over at Ubisoft Montreal for being named as the Guinness world record holder with Assassin’s Creed II being featured on 127 international publications between April 2009 and April 2010.

The BallsA free version of The Balls! Extreme Sports Ball Busting has been released by Savant Inc. The Balls game is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; the paid version is listed at 99 cents USD. The free version offers OpenFeint and the same great graphics, audio, and frantic gameplay as the paid version, with a teaser for another mode coming in the future.

Riese Battle for EleysiaRiese: The Battle for Eleysia by Genius Factor Games has had an update to its features, along with a bug fix. Add features include the addition of Head-to-Head Multiplayer (via local wifi), stability improvements and aforementioned bug fixes, along with updates to the battle screens, How To Play help and screen-flow for editing decks. Riese: The Battle for Eleysia sells in the iTunes App Store for $2.99 USD.

Drift ManiaDrift Mania Championship is now available worldwide on the Mac AppStore for $2.99. This new high-resolution version includes all the in-app purchase items that are available as options in the iOS version. As with all previous platform versions, the Mac AppStore version is loaded with new features like real drifting, as well as the ability to compete with users who are on other iOS or Android devices. Experience longer burnouts, taking 11 different vehicles through 3 levels of difficulty on 8 tracks as you compete to take over the global leaderboards.

ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver has just announced its latest event, which will be held on February 8th in the Djavad Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterMowafaghian Cinema at the SFU Woodward’s campus on West Hastings. Tron – Cult Favourite to Franchise will feature two presentations that will take a look at this convergence of  Vancouver film and game development teams. The first presentation will cover the visual effects used in the making of TRON and TRON: Legacy. This session will be presented by TRON animator and programmer Frank Vitz and Darren Poe, Digital Supervisor at Digital Domain Vancouver.  In the second presentation, former Propaganda Games Technical Art Director Gary Snyder and Art Director David Patch will share their experiences working with the TRON: Legacy film team to recreate the TRON assets and storyline in the video game TRON: Evolution. Tickets for this event are $25.00 for non-SIGGRAPH members or $15.00 for members and include a pre-event social mixer.

Hothead GamesHothead Games has released part two of the Ask Dr. Mike video series with Dr. Mike Hayward. Watch this intense and dramatic documentary which studies the habits of Swarmites as they weave their way through diabolical and unrelenting gauntlets of death and destruction, attempting to be the last pudgy blue moron still standing. It is highly recommended that those who are planning to take over their own Swarm colonies study the video series closely, so that you will be prepared for any situation into which your Swarmites will undoubtedly  place themselves. If you have the opportunity to practice herding cats, I suggest you take advantage of the experience.

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As part of the PlayStation®Network “11 for 11” sale, players can grab Big Sandwich’s thrilling dragon-themed game Big Sandwich GamesHOARD™ for half-price until January 31st. With game play for 1 to 4 players, HOARD™ combines action and strategy elements to create an innovative gameplay mix unlike anything else on the store. The game features over 35 levels, 4 game modes, 100+ badges to earn, trophy support, leaderboards, and anyHoard-Screenshot combination of couch and online players. Best of all, HOARD™ puts the dragon in the hero’s role, where he must strive against cruel knights, fierce wizards, conniving burglars, and even rampaging giants.

Critics and consumers alike have appreciated HOARD’s unique design. IGN recently honored HOARD™ with the “Best Quick Fix” Best of 2010 award, and the game was also nominated in the “Best Competitive Multiplayer” category. Joystiq says “HOARD’s gameplay shines,” and 1UP reports “the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy.”

“If you’ve been keeping an eye on HOARD™ but have been waiting for the right time to try it, now’s officially that time,” says Glenn Barnes, Big Sandwich’s Creative Director. “For less than 8 bucks you get a proven, acclaimed game Technology Impact Awardswith over 20 hours of gameplay. It’s a no-brainer.”

Don’t forget to get your nominations in for The Technology Impact Awards. The BCTIA will be accepting submissions for BC’s top technology innovations, companies and individuals from all sectors until March 11th. The TIAs will be held on the evening of June 9th at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Award categories are as follows:

Technology Awards: Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology, Excellence in Product Innovation and Best Application of Technology

Company Awards: Most Promising Start-up, Emerging Company of the Year and Company of the Year

Personal Recognition Awards: Team of the Year, Community Engagement and Person of the Year

Canadian Marketing AssociationThe Canadian Marketing Association invites you to attend the 2nd Annual CMA Awards Case Study event, where attendees will join Master of Ceremonies Aldo Cundari in a close-up look at some of today’s top creative works and better understand how they came to be CMA Award winners. The Case Study event will be held in the Victoria Room at  Toronto’s Metropolitan Hotel on February 2nd from 3:30 – 5:30pm, with a networking social immediately following the session. All-inclusive tickets are $75.00 each for CMA members or $95.00 earch for non-members. Tickets for the cocktail party only are $25.00 each for CMA members or $30.00 each for non-members.

merging media conferenceMerging+Media has announced that there will be a Spring session featuring Anita Ondine-Smith, who will present an exclusive Transmedia Seminar + Lab on April 28th and 29th at the VanCity Theatre in Vancouver. The focus of this session will be a 1/2 day Seminar with a 1 ½ day hands-on in-depth lab on the full cycle of Transmedia development, writing, production and distribution from Conception to Consumption. Event participants will obtain a framework for production as well as Creative Toolkit and Business Strategies for Transmedia production. This Transmedia theory, Case studies and architectural workshop is designed to provide tools to create successful transmedia productions. The seminar portion of the event will be open to 100-150 people, while 20-24 producers, writers, broadcasters, commissioning editors will be selected to take part in the workshop.

Merging+Media has also confirmed that the next full conference and master class will be returning in October. Like the first conference held last fall, this event will feature world class speakers and experts who will present “Best in Class” case studies and high calibre discussions on the business of cross-media production. The two day programme will include a Masterclass + Conference, International B2B Matchmaking, Networking receptions, M+M Socializer + Digital Gallery to showcase our latest local technology. The Merging+Media 2011 Masterclass will include the Merging+Media Pitch and Development Prize. Keep an eye on the Merging+Media site for confirmed dates and speakers.

Canadian Telecom SummitThe Canadian Telecom Summit has early bird pricing available until February 28th, which means you can save $200.00 off the regular registration price. The 10th annual Canadian Telecom Summit will be taking place in Toronto on May 31st through June 2nd and offers three days of discussion regarding the key issues and trends surrounding the Canadian Telecom industry.

swarmjamGroup buying site SwarmJam, which launched across all Postmedia Network properties in December has expanded to the Winnipeg area through a partnership with the Winnipeg Free Press. The promotion-based system uses a platform through which consumers are connected with local businesses. SwarmJam’s group buying service offers savings of 50% or better, which for some deals can actually grow progressively better as more people sign onl For “progressive deals”, when the offer closes, the number of cumulative purchases determines the actual discount. So, these deals become better as subscribers share the promotion with friends, family and people in their social network. Users of the service simply sign up for a free subscription to get the SwarmJam Winnipeg Daily Deal emailed directly to their inbox. They can then click on deals they like, pay online, print the certificate and visit the business to redeem it. There are currently thirteen major urban and suburban areas which offer SwarmJam deals.

Wicked InteractiveWicked Interactive, publisher of Mission Against Terror, has launched Occupation Mode with a twist. Alongside the hotly anticipated new game mode which brings hardcore, capture-the-flag-style gameplay comes the chance to win the most unique and priceless weapon so far seen in the popular, free-to-play shooter – the Golden AK-47.

“We have been saving this announcement for just the right moment,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “With the frenzy of excitement over Occupation Mode, it seemed like the perfect time to blow everyone’s minds with this news. The Golden AK-47 is the ultimate showpiece for the M.A.T. community.”Golden AK47

The Lottery System enables players to take a break from a raw competition of Occupation Mode. Just like any other lottery, players step up, lay down their ticket and spin an actual wheel that appears right in the middle of the screen. The Golden AK-47 is merely the ultimate prize; there are plenty more for those who are feeling lucky.

“There are a whole assortment of weapons that the Lottery System offers,” added Ho. “Many, like the Golden AK-47, are one-of-a-kind items that cannot be purchased. We hope the M.A.T. Community enjoys the new System. It’s our way of helping them forget the winter doldrums.

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18th January 2011

Zombies Robots Aliens Heroes and Assassins Make For Busy Gamers

endloop xEndloop X has announced their game Please Stay Calm, and the studio claims that you have not played this type of game before. Not only will it amuse you and your online friends, it will also help prepare you for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Well, if not apocalypse, then at least a mild case of zombies.please stay calm

If this sounds like your cup of tea and you have an iOS device for the initial roll-out, feel free to here sign up here as Endloop X is taking applications for early access.

Here’s a sneak peak of some of the unique features we are building for Please Stay Calm:

* Innovative co-operative gameplay
* Unique location based exploration that lets you play on-site as well as remotely
* Immersive alternate reality

The team will be rolling out the title city by city, as well as platform by platform. On a side note, Endloop X is looking for a PHP developer to fill a contract position. Know anybody?

thandros mediaHoping to show that not all robots are purely cold and mechanical, Thandros Media presents “Fun With Thandros,” a playful new iPhone app featuring a fun-loving robot who is sure to thrill little ones and big kids alike. This delightful app features four classic games: Play, Maze Quest, Stories, and Twins.

Jeffrey Pierson, the creator of the characters featured in the app, worked with the programmers at Thandros Media and author Mike Jackson. The team understood that children love digital gaming and grasp it at a thandrosfaster rate than anyone else, but for their first app wanted to incorporate a classic style and varied gameplay mode that many apps seemed to be lacking – and thus, “Fun With Thandros” was born.

“I first drew Thandros for my nephew,” says Pierson, “and he really liked him, so I started to think about what he would act like, and who some of his friends could be. It was a lot of fun to come up with this world, and I’m looking forward to adding to it in the future.”

The new app introduces kids and their parents to Thandros, a happy, friendly robot who loves to go on adventures and isn’t afraid to undertake a quest or a challenge. Toddlers can enjoy meeting Thandros in the “Play” mode, where they can tap on the robot and see how he reacts. The preschool set and older can choose “Stories,” with their choices throughout the course of the tale affecting its ultimate outcome, or “Twins,” a matching game that reinforces memory skills. Finally, big kids are sure to love “Maze Quest,” which takes Thandros on a journey through simple to complex mazes in his efforts to halt the evil Professor Stouch’s dastardly plans.

With its colorful, hand-drawn graphics, cheerful music, and exciting sound effects, “Fun With Thandros” is sure to provide hours of entertainment for children of all ages, while teaching them important lessons about sharing, hard-work, and determination. Fun With Thandros 1.0 is $0.99 USD and available worldwide exclusively through the iTunes App Store in the Games – Kid’s section.

UbisoftUbisoft announced today that the Animus Project Update 2.0 downloadable content (DLC) for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system is now available on XBOX LIVE® and PlayStation® Network for download for free.

The Animus Project Update 2.0 includes a brand-new game mode and brand new map for Assassin’s Creed Assassin's Creed BrotherhoodBrotherhood Multiplayer. The Pienza Map provides the perfect free-running playground where predators and targets can blend and disappear.

In the new Chest Capture Multiplayer Mode, two teams, comprised of three players each, partner with fellow Templars to either defend or capture Chests. The “Capturers” must use their HUDs to locate and capture the chests, while “Defenders” must use their skills and quick reflexes to track down their foes and protect the chests.

Also included in Animus Project Update 2.0 is the new “Templar Score” feature. To achieve order and maintain competition, Abstergo created the Templar Grade. Updated weekly and based on the users scores of the previous four weeks, the Templar Grade splits recruits in 10 specific slices – each representing part of the hierarchy of the community. The goal is to reward diligent work by Abstergo recruits. Assassins’ Creed Brotherhood is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

Bioware CorpBioWare™ and Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that Mass Effect™ 2 is now available on the PlayStation 3 for $59.99 in North America at retail and on PlayStation® Network*. The PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2, which received a perfect 10 out of 10 score from PlayStation: The Official Magazine, will include six hours of bonus content, including ” Kasumi – Stolen Memories”, “Overlord” and the award-winning “Lair of the Shadow Broker”.
Mass Effect 2 for PS3
“The PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2 offers gamers a great entry point to the Mass Effect experience,” said Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect franchise. “We’re extremely excited and proud to now bring PlayStation 3 owners the opportunity to explore the rich and tumultuous universe of Mass Effect and shape the story and events within it by the individual choices they make.”

Mass Effect Genesis, an interactive comic from Dark Horse Comics and BioWare, will also be available today exclusively on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, giving players a high-level overview of the events of the original Mass Effect. The interactive comic offers players the chance to make critical choices that will affect their storyline in Mass Effect 2 and beyond. Mass Effect Genesis is included in the Cerberus Pack, a downloadable content pack included for first time purchasers of Mass Effect 2 on PlayStation 3. Players who do not have original access to the Cerberus Pack can purchase it for $14.99 on the PlayStation Network. Mass Effect 2 on the PlayStation 3 has a MSRP of $59.99 in North America and is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

reverie world studiosInternational publisher 505 Games and Ontario developer Reverie World Studios have penned a publishing deal for the studio’s upcoming massively multiplayer online real time strategy (MMORTS) title Dawn of Fantasy. Set in the massively multiplayer fantasy world of

Mythador which supports its own living economic, trading, development and diplomacy systems, players will be given the opportunity to leave their mark on the land’s already war torn history when Dawn of Fantasy for PC is launched on June 3rd, 2011.

Offering a fresh perspective on the fantasy RTS genre, Dawn of Fantasy will deliver a persistent world war experience like none before.Thousands of Players living, building, exploring and fighting together to crush with AI controlled strongholds and empires, in a rich tapestry of story-driven encounters that help to build upon the already weighty single player campaign experience. In a world that continues to trade and evolve even after logging off, Players will also be able to test their armies’ constitution in matched head-to-head, multiplayer encounters on their road to becoming the biggest city-state in Mythador.

Each of the three different races available to players – elves, men and orcs – offer a radically different playing style based on a carefully balanced system of strengths and weaknesses. With an in-game narrative driven by a dramatic historical background, Dawn of Fantasy will combine rich storytelling with compelling gameplay to provide a strategy experience to appeal to MMO and RTS fans alike.

Dawn of Fantasy“Dawn of Fantasy is nothing short of the next step in the genre, highlighting the best elements that MMORTS games have to offer with just the right level of considered innovation,” commented Ralph Pitt-Stanley, 505 Games. “In what we feel is an underrepresented genre, we’re confident that Dawn of Fantasy will have what it takes to stay in the hearts of MMO, RTS and fantasy fans for a long time to come.”

“As we catch a glimpse of the finish line after many years of development, we are thrilled to announce our partnership with 505 Games,” said Konstantin Fomenko, Reverie World CEO.“Their dedication, ambition, and extensive history in the strategy genre will prove indispensable as we work toward completing our upcoming MMORTS, Dawn of Fantasy.”

Designed with low system requirements in mind, the Dawn of Fantasy engine will nonetheless render armies of thousands of units and hundreds of terrain objects on screen for epic battle encounters. Once the dust settles on the in game campaigns, players can try exploring their creative side by using the powerful map editor to design the fantasy encounters of their dreams.

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14th January 2011

Garage Inc Now Available for PC Gamers

Garage IncGarage Inc., TransGaming Studio’s latest title, which launched to critical acclaim last week, is now available for the PC. The strategic time management game can be purchased at GamersGate for $9.99 USD. Now PC gamers can experience the challenge of operating an auto repair shop as Italian immigrant Angelo while dealing with finances, prohibition and the mob in 1920’s era Chicago. Earn money and live the American dream while keeping your customers happy, hiring new automotive specialists and dealing with special jobs for the local Mafioso.

Bioware CorpBioware has released information on another region in the Dragon Age 2 world. Sundermount is the highest mountain the range surrounding Kirkwall, and folklore gives the mountain a fearsome reputation. Legend says that Sundermount was the site of a vicious battle sundermountwhere both sides unleashed horrors into the waking world, and unholy creatures prowl the heights to this very day, unaware that the war for which they were summoned is long since over.

bnotionsbnotions is inviting people to sign up for the beta of their upcoming location-based squad espionage game Urban Ops. According to the game’s blog, bnotions is hoping for a Toronto launch around February 15th, when they hope to add some fun for the users of FourSquare and other location-based services. The premise behind Urb-Ops is to turn your city into a game board complete with teams, upgrades, competitions and prizes. The company also states that they have some cool long term plans built around: real-time, augmented reality, minigames, sponsorships, playing cards, social media integration.

Content 360Developers are invited to enter the Content 360 Digital Creativity Festival Competitive Showcase to pitch your newest concepts in audience engagement to the global TV & media industry at MIPTV 2011 in Cannes, France this April 4th – 7th. The competition features four categories and offers your company the unique opportunity to win international recognition, meet new business partners and secure development contracts from prestigious media groups. Entries will be accepted until February 14th 2011

Interactive & Cross-Media Digital Entertainment Formats: FremantleMedia and RTL Group are looking for ideas that are strongly anchored in the digital space and fully adapted to the all-digital, all-connected world of today. Ideas should go beyond a TV experience with an online extension, focusing on multi-platform implementation and transmedia consumption. Submissions can include online apps, mobile apps, social media and gaming concepts.The winner of this category will be awarded €10,000 (approximately $13 000.00 CAD) in funding to further development and jointly exploit the winning idea.

Smart Phone App For Youth Engagement: The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is looking for apps to be developed as a companions or standalone products in relation to the NFB documentaries “Sexy Inc.” and “Staying Real,” which explore sexual stereotypes and hypersexualisation of preteens and teens in media. The winning app should demonstrate that smart phones and rich media tablets can be effective educational tools while being entertaining and engaging through the use of the latest digital technologies. The winner of this category will also receive a €12,000 (approximately $15 000.00 CAD) development contract.

Online & Social Game: Showcase your original social and online gaming ideas with innovative game design and similarly creative business models. Submissions should employ interactive features, social media elements and in-game revenue sources that engage the player community, such as play-along or pay-along content. Ideas can be based on a TV programme, film, toy character, or an original concept with a strong focus on a social, online or mobile experience.

Rich Media Tablet & Social TV Apps: Showcase the latest rich-media applications for smartphones or tablets that create deeper interaction with TV content through dual-screen viewing. These TV Apps can be downloadable on rich media tablets and smart phones or can be accessed online through web browsers. Concepts can be innovative new TV/Web interfaces, ideas and apps that create communities around TV programmes.

Loud Crow InteractiveLoud Crow Interactive has announced that the studio has partnered with bestselling children’s author and illustrator Sandra Boynton to develop and publish digital interactive versions of Boynton’s popular children’s books. Boynton has written over fifty books including four that reached the New York Times best sellers list, and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

The partnership will see Loud Crow develop and publish interactive digital books under a new imprint, Boynton Moo Media. The digital books will be based on Boynton’s titles, which include the popular Moo Baa La La La, The Going To Bed Book, and Barnyard Dance. The book apps will be produced for a variety of Going to bed bookdevices such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Boynton is also a Grammy-nominated songwriter and record producer, with three gold record albums, and future plans also include musical apps that will feature Boynton’s well-known recordings.

Boynton Moo Media joins the PopOut! line of digital books including PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit which has earned industry awards for design and innovation. “As soon as I saw Loud Crow’s exquisite PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit, I knew I’d at last found the perfect collaborator for bringing my books into the digital realm, says Sandra Boynton. “It’s so exhilarating to work with Loud Crow’s elite team of wildly original developers. Plus they all have very cool Canadian accents.”

“Loud Crow has been seeking partnerships that would build upon the early success of our PopOut! brand of books. We’re extremely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Sandy and her team to bring her line of popular children’s books to the digital medium. The Boynton Moo Media imprint allows Loud Crow to further diversify its catalog with quality interactive content that will provide a unique and rich reading experience to Sandy’s already wonderful books,” says Calvin Wang, Founder and President.

The first Boynton Moo Media title that will be produced is The Going To Bed Book which Publishers Weekly names as being one of the best selling children’s books of all time. The digital book will feature innovative interactive elements including touch and gesture-based animations, audio, and narration. Like all of Loud Crow’s books, The Going To Bed Book app will offer the educational read-to-me mode and word-repeat-by-touch functionality and will be narrated by British invasion singer, Billy J. Kramer. The Going to Bed Book app is currently scheduled for release in February of 2011.

CIXThe Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) has announced that Chris Arsenault – Managing Partner at iNovia Capital Inc. – will become the third Co-Chair of Canada’s principal innovation conference. A veteran early-stage investor and technology entrepreneur, Mr. Arsenault will join standing Co-Chairs Rick Nathan and Robert Montgomery in overseeing the organization and execution of CIX.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chris Arsenault to our leadership team,” said Rick Nathan, Managing Director of Kensington Capital Partners Limited. “As an experienced technology investor and proven entrepreneurial success, as well as major figure in the Quebec Chris Arsenaultinnovation community, Chris brings an invaluable perspective and a wealth of expertise to CIX.”

“An active Advisory Board member for several years, Chris has already made a profound contribution to the success of CIX,” continued Robert Montgomery, CEO of Achilles Media Ltd. and First Maximilian Associates. “We’re looking forward to seeing Chris take an even more integral role in directing the conference. With his help, I am confident CIX will deliver an even greater value to the innovation community in the years to come.”

Chris Arsenault is Managing Partner at iNovia Capital and has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for seventeen years. In addition to CIX, Mr. Arsenault currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Airborne Technology Ventures, DFT Microsystems, Fixmo, Plastic Knowledge, Reflex Photonics, and Woozworld. Mr. Arsenault is an active board member of the Canadian Venture Capital Association and of the Silicon Valley-based C100 Organization (the Top Canadians in the Valley).

EA Sports FIFA World CupThe FIFA President had the pleasure of welcoming a special guest to the Home of FIFA this week when Nenad Stojkovic, FIFA Interactive World Cup Champion 2010, joined Joseph S. Blatter to celebrate the tournament’s entry into the latest version of the Guinness Book of Records.

The FIFA Interactive World Cup is now officially the largest gaming tournament in the world, with 775,000 competitors taking part in the 2010 edition of the event. This event climaxed in Barcelona in May 2010 when Nenad was crowned champion after defeating all challengers at the Grand Final.

“The FIFA Interactive World Cup is of great importance to FIFA’s portfolio of events” said Mr Blatter, “the tournament gives us the opportunity to engage with a wider target audience through a platform which is of high relevance to the next generations of football fans”.

These words were echoed by the Chief Editor of the Guinness World Records, Gaz Deaves, who congratulated FIFA and its Partners EA SPORTS™ and Sony Playstation, saying “The strength of the FIFA Interactive World Cup is a hugely impressive achievement and its 775,000 participants are a testament not only to the popularity of sports videogames but also to the incredible effort it takes to organise the biggest gaming tournament in the world. We are pleased to award this record to FIFA and look forward to seeing it broken in 2011.”

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This year’s edition of the FIFA Interactive World Cup now promises to be larger than ever, breaking its own record for the number of competitors. The tournament has a new format this year, with six online seasons making the event more accessible than ever. FIFA Interactive World Cup Champion Nenad has also committed himself to helping to improve the skills of fellow players all over the world. Every Friday a selection of Nenad’s favourite tips and tricks will be hosted on the FIFA Interactive World Cup section of the FIFA web site.

ipipelinePennsylvania-headquartered iPipeline®, a leader in on-demand software that supports marketing, selling, and processing solutions for the nation’s top insurance companies, has acquired the assets of Vancouver-based GaleForce® Solutions. GaleForce is a market leader in providing advanced CRM with client management, productivity, compliance and security tools, and industry-specific integrations to broker-dealers, banks, wealth management advisors, insurance agents, and other financial services professionals. The strategic acquisition establishes iPipeline’s immediate Canadian presence and brings additional key employees with CRM and related experience in financial services. iPipeline currently does business with a significant number of Canadian customers.

“The acquisition of GaleForce supports our strategy to establish a presence in Canada and penetrate the wealth management, banking and broker-dealer markets, while expanding our capabilities in the insurance industry. With diversified customers in Africa, Asia, Canada, Central America, Europe, Oceania, South America, and the US, we have taken the first step in creating a global footprint in the financial services industry,” said Tim Wallace, CEO, iPipeline. “GaleForce provides their target markets with comprehensive CRM solutions designed to enhance advisor and agent productivity, ensure regulatory compliance, and safeguard transactions, delivering a 360-degree view of all business activities with customers. GaleForce’s SaaS-based model and solutions portfolio mesh perfectly with iPipeline’s vision to transform ideas into solutions that revolutionize the financial services industry. The integration of their products with iPipeline’s Velocity platform will enable straight-through processing for Canadian as well as global financial services clients. We are thrilled to have the GaleForce team join the iPipeline family and are excited about expanding our solutions portfolio.”

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10th January 2011

Ontario Libraries Connect Users To Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you progress through the levels, you’ll encounter bugs crawling along the rope. Different bugs have different reactions to the flame. For example, the ant changes the color of the flame so you can access and burn different colored ropes, and the spider shoots out a web bridge so you can access parts of the level that you could not before. You will actually feel like you’re burning a rope, yet there’s no need for a fire extinguisher!

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

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

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

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6th January 2011

Garage Inc Is Open For Business

Garage IncThe news all over twitter today has been the announcement that Garage Inc. has officially launched into the gaming arena. As we revealed in yesterday’s preview, Garage Inc. is a dynamic, multi-platform time-management game featuring a visually vibrant and imaginative style that will take players into 1920’s prohibition-era Chicago. The game, which is already receiving 4 star+ ratings in iTunes, revolves around the life of Garage IncAngelo Marito, a car mechanic and recent Italian immigrant who is trying to make a life for himself by opening his very own car garage. Garage Inc. will deliver to players the excitement and challenges of managing a busy repair shop through core time-management gameplay as well as through minigames. The game also features colorful characters and an immersive story, revealed in part through an innovative online social media campaign.

Garage Inc. was developed by TransGaming’s Studio Division in partnership with Breakthrough Entertainment and is based on an original concept from GlobalFun. The iPhone version is made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

“Garage Inc. taps into the popular time management genre of the growing casual Garage Incgaming market, providing entertainment value in bite-sized pieces for gamers at home or on the go”, commented Wojtek Kawczynski, Managing Director of TransGaming’s Studio Division. “We are thrilled to be able to provide quality entertainment across multiple platforms quickly and easily by leveraging TransGaming’s own core technologies.”

“Our partners at TransGaming Studios have created a original gaming experience with the Garage Inc. property”, said Dorothy Vreeker, Director, Digital Media at Breakthrough Entertainment. “We are proud to have collaborated on this very immersive and entertaining game.”

Garage Inc. is now available for purchase in the Apple Mac App Store (Mac required), iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad, as well as GameTree Mac, as well as other retailers and distributors.

Big Blue BubbleNeed a room designed in High Definition? You’d better call the Home Sweet Home team! Big Blue Bubble Inc. is proud to announce the release of Home Sweet Home HD for the Apple iPad, available immediately!home sweet home HD

With the added luxury of bigger rooms and highly polished art, Home Sweet Home HD will give you the chance to unleash your hidden talents as an Interior Designer. You choose the furniture, patterns, and colors to create a masterpiece that will blow your client away.

With simple controls, fun graphical style, and an easy to use interface, Home Sweet Home HD allows you to nurture your creative side. Remember, a house is not a home until it is a Home Sweet Home!

THQ Inc. has announced that a collector’s edition as well as six individual race packs for its upcoming real time strategy game, Warhammer® 40,000®: Dawn of War® II – Relic EntertainmentRetribution™, currently in development at Relic Entertainment, are available now for pre-order.

Leading the charge, the Dawn of War® II -Retribution™ Collector’s Edition will give the most dedicated Warhammer® 40,000® fan access to all of the available bonus war gear for each of the six playable races in the game. It also includes an exclusive poster, six race dawn of war 2 Retributionart cards and a high-quality collector’s box all for $39.99. Gamers in North America can only get the collector’s edition by pre-ordering through the THQ store. Limited quantities are available.

Fans of a specific race can pledge their allegiance by pre-ordering one of the six available specific race packs for the same $29.99 suggested retail price as the regular version of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II -Retribution. These race packs are available for electronic distribution and are ONLY available at pre-order stage. Each race pack includes four unique ability and Wargear items that can be used to enhance the single player campaign. The Ork Race Pack is exclusive through STEAM Digital Extremesand the Tyranid Race Pack exclusive through THQ.com. The Space Marine, Chaos Space Marine, Eldar and newly announced Imperial Guard race packs are also available for pre-order through THQ.com, STEAM and other electronic distribution partners. After launch, gamers will have the option of purchasing the individual race packs digitally through STEAM for a nominal fee. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution is scheduled to be released for Windows PC in North America on March 1st, 2011.

In addition to the news about Dawn of War, THQ has released Part 3 of the Dev Diary videos for Homefront, which is scheduled for release on March 8th. The PC version of this title is under development at Digital Extremes.

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D-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed its first agreement with CineLux Theatres to equip its Morgan Hill, California theatre with 28 D-BOX MFX Seats. Cinelux Tennant Station D-BoxStadium 11 will introduce D-BOX’s technology January 14 with the debut of the 3D action-comedy, The Green Hornet. This is the first CineLux location to offer the incredibly, immersive movie experience and one of just a 49 auditoriums worldwide screening the new release in D-BOX format.

“The California market is our largest to-date worldwide with 14 theatres in the state offering D-BOX,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “As we continue to introduce moviegoers to our motion technology, expansion into new markets and demand in existing markets continues to rise at a steady pace. We look forward to announcing many more new theatres in 2011 and growing our global footprint.”

“Our theatres boast some of the most technically advanced features in the industry allowing us to provide a cutting-edge entertainment experience,” said Paul Gunsky, President of CineLux Theatres. “We’re always looking for new innovative ways to improve the movie experience and see incorporating D-BOX at our theatres as a natural progression of the future of movies”

Kik Messenger, the lightning fast, cross-platform mobile instant messaging service, has Kik’d off 2011 with its three millionth user, Kik Interactive Inc. announced today. kik interactiveRe-launched on Oct. 21, 2010, the Kik community continues to grow by 10-15,000 users a day. The growth rate, driven by Android and iPhone users, has held steady even though new BlackBerry downloads ended in late November.

“We are excited that so many people all over the world have embraced Kik and are more confident than ever of our future as the mobile community of choice for smartphone users,” said Ted Livingston, President and CEO, Kik Interactive, Inc. “We look forward to making the Kik user experience even better with new features and service enhancements.”

Over and above user growth, the number of messages sent by active Kik users continues to increase, from less than 10 messages a day in late November to almost 20 now, on average. Kik will introduce new features including picture messaging (very soon!) and group chat (soon-ish).  Service on iPhones will also be improved with a new version that makes it much faster to retrieve messages when users first open the app. As before, once the app is open, message delivery is real-time.

To the growing number of Windows Phone 7 users, Kik is coming soon! We are now putting the final touches on development, so it won’t be long before you can join the Kik community. KiK recently released an update that adds profile pictures and a feature that lets users easily find new Kik friends. The new address book feature not only lets users check for new Kik friends, but also provides much more control over users’ contact lists. The “Find more people on Kik” button scans user contacts and lets them choose whether or not to add newly identified Kik friends to their contact list.

We also recently improved Kik’s overall stability and reliability. Further out, we will unveil an incredibly powerful and unique technology that wirelessly connects users’ smartphones to any PC or TV. Hang tight for details. And, as promised, Kik’s much-anticipated mobile streaming music service is coming up soon.

Kik works with all iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch’s, and all Android devices – anywhere in the world. All you need is a mobile data plan. Each Kik message uses only a tiny amount of data – less than 1Kb per message. Kik Messenger provides lightning-fast delivery and receipts that tell users when messages are sent, delivered and read, and when friends are typing a reply. Every message appears in real-time, making Kik feel almost like a real conversation.

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5th January 2011

The Cavechild Previews Garage Inc From Transgaming Studios

Editor’s Note: The Cavechild does not believe in standard game reviews, and I try not to cramp his style. This review has been altered to correct his Cavechild English. 😉

Garage IncLast night I received an advance copy of Garage Inc., which I immediately took for a spin. This is a new title from TransGaming Studios that officially launches for the rest of you tomorrow, January 6th. Garage Inc. will be playable on the PC,  Mac and GameTreeTV as well as Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.TransGaming

First Impression: When starting up the game I had my doubts but I was slapped in the face right away by how visually awesome the game is, how classy the music sounds and how awesome the cutscenes are and how they describe the story.

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The story for Garage Inc is pretty awesome, opening up your own car shop in a mob filled city, trying to make an honest living, although being in a city of mobsters makes things quite difficult for your character, which makes things more and more interesting to me as a player. Also, I personally love it already and I’ve only gotten to the part where your cousin “Sal” is saying “Angelo, my cousin. Any luck on the job front?”

Personal Thoughts: Just completed the tutorial stage, was easy to learn and see how things are done, the game is Garage Incrunning VERY smooth and the graphics may seem cartoonish, but it is still a very fun game and I’ve only just finished the tutorial.

Just got my first worker in my Garage which I decided to call “Olde Iron” and the game got a bit more challenging by trying to throw in a second worker, but after a few cars I was able to keep a some what steady pace going and production became a little less intense.

Oh boy! A new type of customer! The old guy! It makes things a little more interesting, not as challenging but more coordination is needed. Adding this new type of customer is quite the change, because you need to think a little more on the pattern of how you get things done.

-Sal Vists-

Sal seems to have got his ass kicked and needs money back.. apparently Angie needs to help his cousin out of a jam.

Garage IncSecond service bay.. Oh boy. This adds more challenge, which I enjoy.

A new worker! These people are starting to love me! Except some customers, which I don’t fully understand yet as to why they get mad at me and next thing you know I”ve lost a customer.

WOO! Reputation! Yeah.. that’s right, Olde Iron is getting its name out there! So by fixing cars and being awesome like me, you get reputation. With this new reputation you get special guests which take a little longer to fix up and get them on their way.

Yay! A police officer stopped by and needed some work done.. no pressure.. right?

When you’ve completed each level, you then have a clipboard with paper that tells you:

1. Successful repais
2. Overtime Repairs
3. Missed Repairs
4. Sales

and deductibles such asGarage Inc

1. Parts
2. Labour
3. Overtime

and the best part

PROFIT!

You get money for your hard work but you also get things, I suppose they’re reward type achievements and unlocks such as Goal Reached, Perfect Day, New Worker and Reputation.

Hint! Apparently making people wait brings rep and sales down.. I wish this happened in real life so bad companies would close up.

CUTSCENE! -The Pitbull-

Yay the Mafia showed up.. *Gets my baseball bat* Im’a show them who the REAL king of auto repairs is!

Bloody Mafioso… think they own me! They want me to make their cars bulletproof and they will cut my debt down some.

The side jobs for the mafia guys are quite fun, I just did the first one to install the bulletproofing for the doors. Interesting stuff it is! It’s a step by step to make your own!

Garage IncNEW WORKER! Electrical worker dude works only with electrical stuff which is indicated by RED so this adds a whole new twist to what I am able to do. OH YEAH! MORE CHALLENGES!

Final Thoughts: This game is extremely addicting. Transgaming approached a different style of play and it has worked out really, really well in their favour! If anyone likes games like Bejeweled, Tetris, and other puzzle games where they build up in challenge then this is a game you will most definitely want to check out. This is a MUST BUY for everybody in my opinion, even hardcore gamers such as myself can sit down and enjoy this game. For those of you with iOS devices, Garage Inc. is definitely an entertaining way to pass the time on journeys.

Voice Acting: From the first cutscene I was pleased to hear how wonderful the voice acting is and how clear it sounded.

Graphics: Though they are cartoonish, I think the cutscenes make the game appealing to all ages, and they still look very 1920s and 1930s. When playing the game itself, the graphics may seem a little less cartoony but none the less the way it looks is definitely worthy of the game play.

Audio: The music is pleasant to listen to as you play this wonderful game – the sounds of the cars, the repairs , customers, bells and so on are all very authentic.Garage Inc

Gameplay: The gameplay is like a new form of RTS from what Im used to, as I usually play games such as Dawn of War or Dawn of War II or even Medieval II: Total War. For a switch like this it’s quite empowering.

Replay Value: Very replayable!

Suggestions: Multiplayer? It would be interesting to see how that could be intigrated into this type of game, where one person could possibly compete against another in a race to earn more money than the other, and the one with the least amount of money gets hammered by the mob? Other than that this game is perfect.

So… When can we expect Garage Inc. 2? 😀

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4th January 2011

Look Out 2011 Canadian Devs Are On A Roll

EA MobileEA Mobile has released new screenshots for Dead Space, giving mobile gamers a look at what’s coming for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. EA has not yet revealed a ship date for the title, but I am already imagining gamers on transit playing this game and having to explain to other transit passengers why they just screamed like a little girl and jumped in their seat.

Dead Space for iPad

“Sorry, playing a game. It’s got scary bits. It’s okay, I’m not having a psychotic episode. Really.”

EA Mobile will also be launching Tetris on the PlayStation Network for North America later today, according to a behaviour gamesTwitter post by game developer Behaviour Interactive. Playable on the PlayStation 3, this iteration of the all-time favourite casual game will have 12 Trophies to be earned, including some that reward teamwork in clearing levels. PS3 Tetris is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB and boasts these features:Tetris for PS3

  • Slide, rotate and drop your Tetriminos into place in Marathon Mode or any of 12 variants – you can even challenge the best Tetris replays worldwide.
  • 6 Multiplayer Modes: Up to 6 players worldwide can knock each other out in 2 minute Timed Battle or be the last person standing in Battle Mode. Play Marathon Mode or variants with up to 3 friends locally, as well.
  • Exclusive PS3 Content: Use power-ups in Battle Mode for even more fun. Clear lines together with friends worldwide in Shared Mode or experience Team Battle, the ultimate 2-on-2 competitive Tetris variant.
  • View Tetris leaderboards, watch replays of the world’s best players.

EA SportsEA Sports has released a new trailer for Fight Night Champions. Scheduled for release from EA Canada on March 1st, 2011, Fight Night Champions features a fully developed Champion Mode, which allows players to develop their character’s career while following a compelling storyline. Fight Night Champions will be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

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Transgaming Studios has just announced that its latest title, Garage Inc., will be launched on iTunes this January 6th. Garage Inc., a time management game set in 1920’s Prohibition TransGamingChicago, will be available for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and PC. Help Italian immigrant Angelo build his Garage Inc Mobster Carautomotive repair shop while avoiding the mob, all in pursuit of the American Dream. Garage Inc. is rated Teen for T as the game involves:

  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence

Last month, Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) and LucasArts, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., in collaboration with TransGaming, Inc. launched Star Wars®: Clone Wars Adventures™, a free-to-play family-friendly online virtual world, for Macintosh® Platform users. Clone Wars Adventures is an action-packed browser-based virtual world where fans can live out the thrills and excitement of Star Wars®: The Clone Wars™ animated TV series on Cartoon Network.

clone wars“The demand for game content on the Mac platform has increased significantly, and we are excited to bring our games to this growing audience,” said John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment. “Through our collaboration with TransGaming, Mac and PC players are able to play together seamlessly on both Free Realms™ and now Clone Wars Adventures, and we will continue to look for opportunities with future games to do the same.”

Clone Wars Adventures is the ultimate virtual destination for fans of the TV series where players go online to experience fun mini-games, daily activities, events, rewards, lively social environments, and competitions. Players can battle alongside their favorite Star Wars characters like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It is updated every week with new content pulled from that week’s new episode.

There will be a Game Jam happening at the New Media Manitoba offices over the weekend of January 29 – 30th. This New Media Manitobaweekend jam will feature a bit of a twist – each team will develop an idea as a separate 640×480 Flash game.The idea for this themed jam came from Interactive Developer Devin Reimer, proprietor of Almost Logical. Please see the Infinite Ammo blog for complete information and the registration link.

Other upcoming NMM events this month include a two day Apple Aperture 3 Certification Course ($325.00) on January 8th and 9th, a full day seminar on Google AdWords with Google advertising expert Perry Marshall on January 11th, a three day introductory course for Final Cut Pro 7 this January 15th through 16th ($495.00) as well as a three day introductory course for Adobe PhotoShop CS5 beginning on January 25th and running until January 27th ($495.00). Game Prototype Challenge

Game Prototype Challenge is holding an informal meet-up evening for Toronto-area participants on January 18th beginning at 8pm. This event is being held at The Spotted Dick (wow, that name doesn’t conjure up bad images at all), and is open to anyone who’d like to find out more about the Game Prototype Challenge or just meet some of the other developers who participate in the Challenge. RSVP to this event’s Facebook page if Fresh Finderyou’re interested in attending.

Subway Canada has a released a new Fresh Finder app for the iPhone. Developed in partnership by teams from Veritas Canada and Endloop Studios, this free app lets you find the closest Canadian Subway® Restaurants quickly & easily. Using Facebook, Twitter or email, you can invite friends to meet you for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Fresh Finder applications puts Subway® Restaurants in the palm of your hands with one tap of the screen. It also makes the latest Subway® Restaurant news, updates and special limited time offers easily accessible to you, even while you’re out and about.

More children around the world will soon have safe places to live, learn and play thanks in part to the support of kids Club Penguinwho play in the popular snow-covered virtual world, Club Penguin. The fourth annual Coins For Change event, conducted from December 17 to 27, 2010, allowed the children who play Club Penguin to help change the world by donating the virtual coins they earned playing games online to real world causes that matter to them.

Kids could donate virtual coins to provide medical help, build safe places or protect the earth. At the end of the event, the virtual donations to the three cause categories served as votes to determine how a $1M cash contribution from Disney Online Studios would be divided among charitable projects aimed at helping children, families and the planet.

Thanks to more than 3.4 million players who donated in excess of 12.2 billion virtual coins, Disney Online Studios will donate:

* $290,000 USD to support medical clinics in Malawi and Lesotho, Africa (conducted by Partners in Health).
* $50,000 USD to fund operations for sick and disabled children in Cambodia (conducted by Children’s Surgical Centre).
* $75,000 USD to provide school programs for kids displaced by war in Sudan, Africa (conducted by War Child).
* $75,000 USD to protect children from violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (conducted by War Child).Club Penguin Change The World
* $150,000 USD to fund projects to provide water to communities in India (conducted by Free The Children).
* $180,000 USD to teach kids and families to care for watersheds and rainforests (conducted by Rare).
* $180,000 USD to protect endangered animals in Columbia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Andes Mountains (Conducted by Wildlife Conservation Network).

“Our players work hard to earn virtual coins on Club Penguin, but when a need is expressed they give freely and generously, and I’m always blown away by their passion for helping others and protecting the earth,” says Lane Merrifield, one of Club Penguin’s co-founders and executive vice president of Disney Online Studios. “It was particularly exciting this year to see even more kids from around the world rally together as part of Coins For Change.”

Club Penguin is one of the largest virtual worlds for children with a reputation for providing fun for kids and peace of mind for parents. Millions of children and families in more than 225 countries play Club Penguin in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Word filters and live moderators monitor chat and activity on the site and work to prevent the sharing of inappropriate or personally identifiable information.

Club Penguin is free to play, however special features such as front-of-the-line access to game features, exclusive parties and opportunities to customize your penguin and igloo require a membership. A portion of the proceeds from each membership purchased supports organizations working to improve the lives of children and families around the globe. In recent years, the kids who play Club Penguin have helped more than two million people get medical care, enabled 200,000 children to go to school and helped protect more than a dozen endangered species and their habitats.

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23rd December 2010

Lots and Lots of Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New in AI Mode:

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

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

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

Features of the National Post Reader App include:

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

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

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

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

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

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22nd December 2010

Serious Fun and Serious Learning Now And In The Future

games for changeTwo Canadian-made serious games have made the short list for the 2010 Games For Change favourite social impact games. The titles were nominated to the list via Twitter, Facebook and the Games For Change Google Group. Voting is now open to pick the top favourite. The Canadian titles named to the list are Inside Disaster – The Experience about the Haiti earthquake and Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics.

Inside Disaster – The Experience was produced by PTV Productions in association with TVO. Funding was supplied in part by the Canada Media Fund, Bell Fund, the Canadian International Development Agency and Ontario Media Development Corporation. Inside Disaster was created to challenge “assumptions made about relief work in disaster areas.” Inside Disaster is not a game in the traditional sense – there is no score; instead, this very graphic and to-the-point experience allows you to work within the parametres of a relief helper, and then experience the outcome of any decisions you commit to. Note – this is not a game for sensitive people. The images are graphic and can be disturbing. Please heed the warning on the game’s site.

Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics. Apparently the game isn’t as scary as the name implies. According to its site, the game is “just an interactive game that lets you contribute to science.” Phylo was made with the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, McGill School of Computer Science, McGill Centre for Bioinformatics and the McGill Computational Structural Biology Group.

Discovery Channel Canada has a series of six videos from Popular Science’s: The Future Of…  that looks at innovation in the field of Play. I believe that the videos on Discovery Channel Canada are only viewable via the web for those with a Canadian IP address, so my apologies to our international readers. Here is a link to the show on Discovery.com (US), and a link to Pop Sci’s videos on Discovery.com, which may or may not work for international viewers. These episodes of the show feature information about a mixed reality lets you reach into the computer game and control it with your hands, a smart football that teaches us all how to play sports like the pros, pervasive games take over entire cities and discover siftables: kids’ alphabet blocks on steroids.

Relic EntertainmentTHQ and Relic Entertainment have released a new trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution™, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011. In this latest chapter, which takes place years after the events in Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising™, Retribution allows players to choose their perspective with the first multiple-race single player campaign in the Dawn of War II series. The first race to be revealed is the savage Orks, but no matter which race is chosen players will be taken on an epic journey through each story arc, revealing the answers to many questions left open in previous Dawn of War titles.

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As well as the single player campaign, Retribution will feature new multiplayer units, maps and an entire new playable faction when it ships.

Get Set Games has released Mega Jump for the Android platform. Available free of charge, Mega Jump can be Mega Jump For Androiddownloaded to your Android phone by scanning the game’s QR Get Set Gamescode on the Get Set page.

Mega Jump on Android is compatible with all phones running Android OS 2.0 and up, and “features the same great graphics, hilarious sounds and action-packed gameplay. It also has the same leaderboards and achievements as the iPhone version – thanks to OpenFeint – so you can compete against your friends who have the iPhone version.”

ParetoLogicParetoLogic’s staff has come together once again this holiday season to provide gifts and charity for those in need. The Salvation Army Christmas Angels campaign and the Mustard Seed food bank have both been long-time recipients of ParetoLogic charity activities. This year, staff managed to up their donation levels, to provide happier holidays for those in need.

The Mustard Seed collects non-perishable foodstuffs for the underprivileged, and feeds over 7000 people a month in the Victoria area. To collect food, an extra-large hamper has been a mainstay of the ParetoLogic offices for the holiday season. The 125-litre bin is full to the rim with donations from ParetoLogic employees and their families.

Marlee Wilson, ParetoLogic’s Office Manager and de facto co-ordinator of charities, was optimistic about donations. “I can tell you that we have a full bin and I’m going to drop this off and hopefully we can fill it again before Christmas.”

The Salvation Army Christmas Angels program collects donations of toys and distributes them to children in need. An estimated 6000 children will receive gifts through the Christmas Angels program this winter. Donators are provided a child’s age and gender, and then pick out an appropriate present. The gift is transferred to the child’s parents, so they may give their daughter or son a happy Christmas. ParetoLogic staff donated 33 gifts this year, for children aged between two and 18.

“Mustard Seed is a charity for life, but the Christmas Angels is a charity for the soul. All children deserve a merry Christmas, and we are delighted to help do that,” said Wilson.

Readers of Canada’s national current affairs magazine can now enjoy Maclean’s at their tech-savvy macleansfingertips with the Maclean’s App for iPad, now available on the App Store. The inaugural issue of Maclean’s magazine for iPad features content from Maclean’s Newsmakers 2010 special issue.

Each issue of Maclean’s comes complete with all the news, commentary, photography and columnists that have made the magazine the country’s most indispensable weekly read for more than a century. The content is beautifully rendered for iPad with an array of enhancements that bring the pages to life: embedded video, photo galleries, digital links, a live letters section, issue-at-a-glance and other navigation tools, and also gives readers the ability to save their favourite articles and share them with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

The inaugural Newsmakers 2010 issue features:

• an animated video cover
• dozens of beautiful photos/photo galleries
• video of Justin Bieber performing live
• video montage of newsmakers who passed away in 2010
• our regular columnists: Andrew Coyne, Scott Feschuk, Paul Wells and more

“Maclean’s is dedicated to bringing readers relevant and thought-provoking content on today’s latest technology,” says Maclean’s publisher and editor-in-chief Ken Whyte. “With the new Maclean’s App for iPad, our readers can now enjoy everything they love about Maclean’s from the convenience of iPad.”

While the Maclean’s App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, each downloadable issue is priced at $2.99. Maclean’s 6th annual and biggest-ever Newsmakers edition looks at the year’s winners and whiners, heroes and heartbreakers, sinners and saints. Among them: Newsmaker of the Year Sidney Crosby and other Canadian Olympic heroes; Justin Bieber and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the election of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president; and the exits of Michaëlle Jean, Simon Cowell, Lloyd Robertson and Cathy cartoons; the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners, the many setbacks of Barack Obama, the comeback of Conrad Black—and the triumphant return of Betty White.

ABI researchDriven by North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, online gaming continues its steady growth and the latest purchasable study from American-based ABI Research forecasts revenues of slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. Technology developments will mean new opportunities for connected devices beyond the computer.

The Asia-Pac region, especially China, will be the engine behind much of this growth. However, in China, due to generally lower levels of personal PC ownership, the business models are evolving a little differently. According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, “World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it’s more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’ or server-based games.”

Another difference in Asia is regulation. “In China, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere the rules are more exacting in what they allow. Some games for instance, have had to alter their content: using WoW again as an example, the developers had to remove the virtual blood.”

The increasingly varied and range of connected devices will also permit gaming on more platforms. For example Free, a French broadband and IPTV provider, has partnered with Intel to develop a very advanced set-top box (Freebox Revolution). The STB includes an Intel Atom processor, controller with gyroscopic inputs, Blu-ray player, powerline adapters, Wi-Fi, and a game controller. While these games might be more locally- based for now, they point to the potential for opening this up to multiplayer and MMO gaming.

There are challenges, though. Mobile gaming (eg. on smartphones) could be disruptive. The market is fragmented, with proprietary platforms the rule, posing difficulties for developers trying to serve a number of smaller platforms rather than a few big ones. And the growth of cloud gaming demands more and bigger servers and data centers.

ABI Research’s “Gaming in the Cloud” study examines the casual and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games markets and the potential role for connected consumer electronics. It contains regional revenue forecasts and discusses pressing technical issues and is part of the Digital Living Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 30+ research and advisory services.

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