9th December 2010

A Whole Lotta Indie News

AnnexProLast evening we had the pleasure of attending Annex Pro’s Expo 2011 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where we had a chance to catch up with a few friends Kerry Corlettas well as make new ones. The team at Annex Pro put together a great group of vendor booths – it’s a good thing that the CaveChild was not with us, or he would’ve tried to make off with the entire Avid Pro Tools display. As it was, I spent a fair bit of time talking with Bonnie from Wacom, and with a smoking hot sales deal from Annex Pro, my very dated Wacom Graphire 3 is now a medium-sized Intuos 4. Now I am just waiting on my registration emails from Wacom (how long does that take, anyway?) so that I can install the free software tools that purchasers of Wacom tablets receive, and then I can watch my Adobe PhotoShop Elements 4 upgrade to version 8 (oh wow, just learned that Adobe is now on version 9), and maybe in a few months’ time I can take advantage of the Wacom Buyer Privileges and upgrade my PhotoShop 7 to PhotoShop CS5 with the special purchase deal. Oh, and if you think my PhotoShop is outdated….I still use Bryce 5 and PaintShop Pro 8. I won a copy of Corel’s PaintIt on Twitter a few months ago, and have been playing a bit with it – watching the software’s conversion process is quite entertaining.

Annex Pro Expo SponsorsScott’s interest at the Annex Pro event was tweaked both by the keynote delivered by Technicolor Creative Services’ Tom Burns and by the offerings from Atempo, Aspera, Blue Arc, G-Tech, AJA and HP because he likes to geek out over the technical side of things, which are completely out of my realm. As long as our networks connect and the computers and server are working, I’m happy – although I do want the fancy computers & screens they have on CSI and Bones, just because they look cool.

I have always liked the software tools developed by Autodesk, who was also present at the expo, but as I can’t draw and haven’t even mastered Bryce 5, Maya and Max are far beyond my capabilities – I have a healthy respect for anyone who creates product with that software. Craft Animations was also displaying their wares, and I actually have one of their products, which I won at a previous Annex Pro event. Not a clue what to do with that, either. Perhaps we should come up with a contest and offer it as a prize; I’m sure there are some indie devs out there who would benefit greatly from having itGarage Inc.

Transgaming Studios has released the pre-game cinematic for their upcoming title Garage Inc on the game’s Facebook page. The cinematic introduces the player to the characters and sets the mood for this 1920’s Prohibition-era game. Watch as lead character Angelo talks with his cousin Sal during a family Christmas gathering about the garage he dreams of opening.

There are two new indie titles available today – Xona Games is burning up the dev pipe, releasing their second new title this week. Score Rush has Score Rushpassed Peer Review and is now out on Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points. Built on the Duality ZF engine, this 4-player shoot ’em up features overwhelming firepower, trailing options, full screen bombs, tons of enemies, an intimidating final boss and hundreds of crazy bullet patterns to survive. The 60 fps adrenaline-rush experience is complemented by a hard-rocking Dragon Music soundtrack.

Also out today is RatRod Studio’s Drift Mania Canadian Championship is now available in the Android Marketplace for 99 cents. Previously released in the iTunes App Store, Android users Drift Maniacan now get in on the racing action. Drift Mania Canadian Championships features Online Global Leaderboards with live events, variable throttle system and hydraulic handbrake with adjustable steering sensitivity, 7 uniquely spec’d vehicles, 5 different tracks, 2 acceleration modes and 3 levels of difficulty with 3 camera configurations. If you want to relive the moment, there is a highlights replay system, and you can also listen to either the included A Space Shootersoundtrack or your own music as you tear up the track.

A post made earlier today by Frima Studios‘ Executive Producer Martin Brouard on the official PlayStation blog announced that there will be a new title released by the studio on December 21st. A Space Shooter for Two Bucks will be available for free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers, and $1.99 for everyone else. According to the blog, A Space Shooter is of the classic arcade space shooting genre (in case you couldn’t guess that from the title), and “swarms of enemies filling the screens with hazardous bullets and missiles, heaps of upgrades for your ship and its arsenal, high-paced and constant action requiring deft reflexes, and hordes of alien baddies just waiting to be blown up by your superior space-faring skills.” Plus, to add to your gaming experience, there will be a myriad of interesting characters to encounter and in some cases control.

Kitchener-Waterloo developer Footloose Games has announced that they will be releasing a beta version of their Munchies LunchMunchies’ Lunch title on December 27th. Munchies’ Lunch is a fun adventure-puzzle PC-based game for the whole family. Simply download the game from the Footloose website to embark on an epic journey with the Munchie family as they say goodbye to their homeland and travel the world to find a peaceful place where they can settle down. Mr. & Mrs. Munchie will travel along with their children through far-away jungles, over steep mountains, and across the hot deserts in their journey. Along the way they’ll meet the ravenous Hungries, crafty bird-snakes and perhaps evNight Before Christmasen a tribal tiki or two.

Vancouver developer LoudCrow has released its latest iPad book. Available now, this pop-out version of The Night Before Christmas joins LoudCrow’s previous title, Pop-out Tales of Peter Rabbit in the iTunes store. In this new release, you can see William Denslow’s masterful illustrations brought to life with innovative pull-tabs, spin-wheels, and elements that bounce and spring with the touch a finger. Listen to “O Christmas Tree” beautifully performed on piano while you read and interact with each page of the book. Explore every scene and discover the many delightful life-like interactions at your fingertips.

Bioware has released the first in a series of “Making of” videos for Dragon Age 2. Here is Part One:

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koboKobo has launched Reading Life, an industry first social eReading experience. Readers can now track their personal reading history, check-in with characters and places inside books and earn achievements and awards for simply reading. Readers can also choose to share books, favourite passages, awards and more with their friends on Facebook. Kobo Reading Life is initially available on iPad, as a part of the latest iPad update in the iTunes store now.

Kobo Reading Life for iPad provides an unparalleled experience that enables users to engage in eReading in new ways, connect with friends, and earn awards just for reading: Read the rest of this entry »

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8th December 2010

Silverfish Have Infected The App Store

One of the best parts of being on Twitter has been learning more about the great independent developer community we have in Canada. There is an incredible camaraderie shared by these talented entities, and they are very prone to sharing their knowledge and experience with each other – something I don’t generally see with the bigger conglomerate studios, although I have seen such sharing amongst those designers who are employed by EA, Ubisoft and THQ studios (to name a few), it’s not to the same extent shared by the independents. Naturally, this could be due to contractual agreements and requirements put in place by the big studios, which is understandable for proprietary areas, but experience and knowledge never shared impedes the advancement of our digital industry.

Perhaps it is because in smaller, independent studios everyone is accountable for the success (or failure) of their creations, and this in turn leads to working at improving their publicity efforts as well as their end product. The sharing of opportunity is something else I see much of between the indies, and it’s because of this that I have been able to discover and share information about studios and Canadian-made products that I may have never found if it weren’t for the folks on Twitter passing on leads and links to me, because I, too am an independent, and appreciate the assistance I am given and battle daily to catch up on indie titles I need to play and review, as well as keep up on the news. One such discovery was sent my way yesterday by Celsius Game Studio.

Chaotic BoxChaotic Box touts itself as a one man game making machine. The man behind the machine is Torontonian Frank Condello, and true to the independent genre, he is Chaotic Box’s developer, 2D/3D silverfishartist, music & sound designer. Chaotic Box has released four titles for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad: Flooid, Pollywog, Pinch n Pop, and his newest title, Silverfish, which is currently on sale in the iTunes App Store for $1.99 USD.

According to the game’s info page, Silverfish pits the gamer against swarms of menacing space bugs that the player must weave through and defeat with powerful detonations, combining pure arcade action with stunning visual effects. Silverfish currently offers three game modes with more on the way, leader board and achievements, Retina Display graphics, intuitive swipe-anywhere controls and an original soundtrack.

DreamCatcherDreamCatcher Games is happy to announce the release of Learn Science for Nintendo DS™ just in time for the holiday season! Learn Science let‘s kids learn while having fun. Learn the basic LearnScienceprinciples of: Light and Sound, Physics, The human body, Biology and Geography while playing a variety of engaging mini-games. Unlock new mini-games by scoring high marks in Career Mode and then perfect your skills by mastering unlocked mini-games in Game Mode on one of 3 difficulty levels. Kids can challenge their friends in multiplayer mini-games, or they can co-operate and challenge the AI.

Features:

· Learn the basic principles of: Light and Sound, Physics, The human body, Biology and Geography
· Integrated age check with traffic light system offers gaming fun for every level of knowledge
· Two different in game guides to help with explanations and examples
· Multiplayer mode: Hot seat, Single card and Multi card for common learning with parents and friends through mini games

Learn Science is priced at $19.99 USD and is available in retail stores across North America. Rated ‘E’ for everyone.Mega Jump For Android

Get Set GamesGet Set Games has just announced that their hit title Mega Jump will be coming to Android in the next couple of weeks. Mega Jump is compatible with Android 2.0 and up and will be free to download. Mega Jump for Android makes use of OpenFeint’s great social gaming features including global high scores and unlockable achievements.

Mega Jump has been downloaded by more than 7.5 million people worldwide in the App Store, and the studio is looking forward to inviting Android gamers to join the mix. The exact release date has yet to be decided, but you can be sure that once I know, you’ll know.

Congratulations again to Vancouver start-up Ayogo Games Inc., who won the prestigious “Hottest Digital Media Company in Canada” title at nextMedia in Toronto last week.

Ayogo’s latest Facebook® game, called HealthSeeker™, was the entry that helped win the hotly-contested award. The game is built on Ayogo’s GoodLife Gamification Engine™, and aims to help people living with diabetes habituate healthier behaviour around diet and exercise. Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo, was excited to accept the award.

“Gamification is touching all areas of our lives, especially online,” said Fergusson. “I’m proud that Ayogo, and our GoodLife Gamification Engine™, is being recognized for being at the forefront of this exciting new trend, and for using the power of constructive play to help make people’s lives better.”

xona gamesXona Games, that very talented and award-winning indie team who has been creating some of the most critically-acclaimed indie arcade games to date, announced today that the first of its two Xbox LIVE Indie Games launching this week, Decimation X3, is now available for only for 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD)! Having been chosen to be a main title featured in the Indie Games Winter Uprising, Decimation X3 features intense shoot-em-up action in a ridiculously affordable package.
Decimation X3
Decimation X3 is the thrilling sequel to one of the most popular 2D-retro shooters on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, Decimation X, which is one of the top-rated Indie Games in Japan (currently #3 out of approximately 1,500). Get ready for intense local four-player action, never-ending waves of enemies and a continual rain of power-ups to significantly improve your offensive and defensive capabilities. Featuring decidedly retro pixel art graphics, an overload of explosion particle effects, normal and challenge game modes, 60 frames per second and a hypnotic trance beat soundtrack from Imphenzia, Decimation X3 is everything an arcade junkie could wish for and will put your reflexes to the ultimate test.

The Indie Games Winter Uprising is a celebration of the best that Xbox LIVE Indie Games have to offer, and was recently expanded from just the first week of December to the entire month. Orchestrated by a group of fellow developers longing to promote the higher-quality games that can be found on the platform, the Indie Winter Games Uprising takes place during December and features 14 top-tier games that they hope will elevate the impression of the Indie Games channel.

UbisoftUbisoft has announced that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will offer new exclusive workouts and fitness programs available on the Xbox LIVE® Marketplace for the Xbox 360®.

“When we started working on the development of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, we contacted several renowned fitness experts and trainers”, said Claudine Cézac, game’s producer for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. “Each trainer insisted on the fact that in order to keep people motivated, it would be important to consistently bring new varieties of exercise to the game. That’s why from the very start, we thought of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved as a comprehensive fitness program that players would be able to enrich at their will. There are many different ways to work out and get in shape, and that’s what we want to offer with the add-on content.”

The add-on content for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will include personalized workouts, dance-related fitness programs, and a variety of cardio and toning exercises, expanding the overall gameplay experience. The first installment of add-on content will become available in early December 2010 and will include:Your Shape Jump

• The “Toned Body Program”, to strengthen all your muscles and get a firmer body
• “Cardio Boxing Platinum”, a new advanced level of the Cardio-Boxing class

The second installment will come shortly after and include:

• “New Year New You”, a specific program to get back in shape after Xmas and New Year’s celebrations
• “Dance Workout: Bollywood”, a high impact dance workout using popular Bollywood dance moves.

All extra workouts and programs will be offered individually or in bundle packages. In the first half of the calendar year, over 12 new fantastic workouts for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will be released on Xbox LIVE. All of these extra workouts and programs will be offered individually or in bundle packages. In the first half of the calendar year, over 12 new pieces of add-on content for Your Shape Fitness Evolved will be released on Xbox Live. Pricing will range from 320 to 560 Microsoft points.

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2nd December 2010

New Releases Abound This Holiday Season

xona gamesXona Games, a talented and award-winning team creating some of the most critically-acclaimed indie arcade games to date, has announced its two newest offerings to the gaming world at large: Decimation X3 and Score Rush. Both titles will be launching on the Microsoft Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform with Decimation X3 going live on Tuesday, December 7 and Score Rush on Thursday, December 9, and both will be available for purchase for 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD).Decimation X3

Decimation X3 has been selected as part of the Indie Games Winter Uprising, a week-long celebration of the best that Xbox LIVE Indie Games have to offer. Orchestrated by a group of fellow developers longing to promote the higher-quality games that can be found on the platform, the Indie Winter Games Uprising takes place the first week of December and features 12 top-tier games that they hope will elevate the impression of the Indie Games channel.

Decimation X3 is the thrilling sequel to one of the most popular 2D-retro shooters on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, Decimation X, which is one of the top-rated Indie Games in Japan (currently #2 out of approximately 1,500). Get ready for intense, never-ending waves of enemies and a continual rain of power-ups to significantly improve your offensive and defensive capabilities. Featuring decidedly retro pixel art graphics, an overload of explosion particle effects, 60 frames per second and a hypnotic trance beat soundtrack from Imphenzia, Decimation X3 is everything an arcade junkie could wish for and will put your reflexes to the ultimate test.

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The spiritual prequel to Duality ZF and built upon the same engine that was a semi-finalist for technical excellence in the 3rd Independent Game Developer’s Competition, Score Rush is an intense 2D, four-player, dual-stick, bullet-hell, score-running shooter. It features unlockable difficulty modes, several mid-bosses and bosses, and tons of smaller enemies. It is visually intense with a hard rocking soundtrack created by Dragon Music Productions. Collect both types of power-ups – those that upgrade the main weapon and those that add deadly appendages to your ship – to rack up insane scores. The bigger the enemies are and the faster you kill them, the more points you get.

Big Bad BrushJust in time for the holiday season, Toronto developer Big Bad Brush Inc. has announced the launch of their much anticipated second game, Kung Fu Santa, which is available now for the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Kung Fu Santa is a unique concept with a fun factor of 100! This arcade style game features game center and retina display capabilities. Playing as the kung fu master himself, the user will have to jump between moving candy cane poles and save all the presents, while avoiding dangers such as poison goo, bombs, and evil elves!

The evil elves have stolen all of Kung Fu Santa’s presents and plans to sell them all for money. Greedy little things aren’t they? But alas, Kung Fu Santa is here with his superior Kung Kung Fu SantaFu moves!

Game Features:

* Game Center: Master the boards
* Retina Display: High Resolution Sharpness so you can see Santa’s skills
* In-Game highscores
* Collect presents and gold
* Beautiful and colorful illustrations
* Tap on candy cane poles or swipe left and right to move
* Collect presents and fill up Christmas bag!
* Avoid dangers and stop Evil Elves!

EA MobileEA Mobile™, Harmonix Music Systems Inc. and MTV Games have announced that Rock Band™ Reloaded is now available on the App Store. The iPad™-exclusive HD version and the version for iPhone® and iPod touch® offers players an initial powerhouse set list of songs from artists including Nirvana, Billy Idol, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails and Vampire Weekend. More than 20 songs will be available today with new tracks launching throughout the holidays. Plus, for the first time, Rock Band Reloaded players now have a “5th Way to Play” by singing directly into their iPhone, iPod touch and iPad utilizing new vocal recognition features.

Rock Band Reloaded is the experience fans have been waiting for, innovating on the popular franchise and bringing the entire band onto the iPad and iPhone for the first time,” said Travis Boatman, Vice President of Worldwide Studios for EA Mobile. “These games bring a deep Rock Band experience to mobile players in very cool and creative new ways. Innovative vocal recognition features, social integration connecting players to their friends and challenging gameplay modes will drive forward the mobile music genre and provide the best music experience to players.”

New vocal recognition features introduce players to a unique way to play by singing directly into their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to earn points. Players can showcase their inner rock star by picking from a setlist of songs that include “Hella Good” by No Doubt, “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, “Your Decision” by Alice in Chains, “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, “In Bloom” by Nirvana, “A-Punk” by Rock Band ReloadedVampire Weekend and many more. In addition to the songs included with the initial purchase, free (internet connection required. Data rates may apply) tracks are available in the Music Store along with Premium Packs by The All American Rejects, Third Eye Blind, Blink-182 and other top-selling artists available through In App Purchase.

For the first time on iPad, Rock Band Reloaded packs delivers device-exclusive features including a Multiplayer mode where players can challenge friends live in a head-to-head split-screen environment. Flexible controls provide for ultimate customization of all play styles. The iPad game’s new “Big Drums” layout increases the interactivity of this fan-favorite instrument. Songs are now more accessible to players with custom playlists in Quick Play and quick replay using an “Encore” feature.

Other game features include a new Expert mode for experienced players along with a World Tour mode that enables players to rock six cities and 36 events earning up to 50 awards and achievements all while living the Rock N’ Roll dream. By logging into Facebook, players have access to the News Center where they can find out when new songs launch, follow friends’ exploits and directly challenge their friends’ accomplishments with a simple touch of the screen. And for those just looking to jam, get “the band” together via local WiFi and Bluetooth and play live on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals with up to three bandmates using their own iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. (Vocals/voice feature not available on the 1st generation iPod touch. Microphone required to play vocals/voice on the 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch. Headset required to play vocals/voice on 1st generation iPhone)

padworxPadWorx Digital Media, Inc. is pleased to announce that you can now come face to face with a revolutionary new vision of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future in the most immersive edition ever of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic A Christmas Carol, available now in the iPad App Store for $4.99 USD – a portion of which will be donated to charity.
iPad Christmas Carol
“We’ve taken Charles Dickens’ most famous story and infused it with unique steampunk illustrations and animations,” said Jeffery Alan Schechter, CEO of PadWorx Digital Media, Inc. “As a visual style, steampunk conjures up images more usually associated with H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. By bringing this incredible style to ‘A Christmas Carol for iPad’ we’re giving readers and families a brand new way to experience the joy and wonder of this inspiring classic.”

Through 130 pages of lovingly abridged text, readers will help power the story forward. Whether turning the key in Scrooge’s door and watching as the door knocker changes into the deceased Jacob Marley, powering up and manipulating an assortment of wonderful steam powered devices, or just marveling at each chapter’s ‘mechanical‘ page-turning contraptions, A Christmas Carol for iPad’s animations, illustrations, original score, and sound effects will draw you into the story’s unforgettable lessons of darkness, despair, joy and life. As with PadWorx’s debut title Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition, A Christmas Carol for iPad includes hidden Easter eggs of bonus content: the complete 1910 silent movie version of A Christmas Carol by Thomas Edison Studios as well as the full 1938 Orson Welles radio adaptation of the holiday tale – and is fully endorsed by the Dickens family.

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23rd November 2010

Aliens Pocket Gods and Sharp Pointy Things

Rocket 5 StudiosRocket 5 Studios, an emerging independent game developer, today announced the release of their latest iPhone app, Alien Booth. The app features the ability to easily transform pictures of friends, family, coworkers and even pets into amazing looking aliens. Alien Booth is available on the iTunes App Store today for $0.99.

Using simple on-screen controls, create fun and realistic looking aliens from pictures taken with the iPhone camera or that are already stored in the iPhone, iPad or Touch photo library.
Alien Booth
Easily share aliens on Facebook, Twitter or email from within the app. Save aliens to the photo library and then send them via MMS. Shake the device to see before/after versions of the alien or toggle between before/after portrait and side-by-side views.

Alien Booth features a cool, interactive interface that includes a fingerprint scanner, animated laser image scanner, sound effects, detailed help screens with tips and more.

Alien Booth is fun at parties – it’s a great way to meet new people and share contact information. There’s virtually no limit to the wild alien effects that can be created with Alien Booth. And the aliens make great avatars for use on social networking sites.

How it works:

1. Take a picture or choose one from the photo library.
2. Position the markers over the eyes and mouth.
3. Press “GO” to see the face magically transformed.
4. Adjust the color of the alien.
5. Share with friends and family.

Alien Booth is available exclusively through the iPhone App Store in the Entertainment category.

frima studioQuebec’s Frima Studio and Bolt Creative, a San Francisco-based developer of original iPhone applications and games, have announced that the best-selling game Pocket God will officially make its way to Facebook later this fall.

Originally developed by Bolt Creative for iPhone and iPod Touch, the Facebook version of Pocket God is being developed by Frima Studio and will feature a brand new way to experience the colorful, death-inducing, all-powerful and hilarious universe of Pocket God across the world’s most popular social network. With all-new socially integrated features, episodic updates and a host of hilarious ways to both dispose of and resurrect the immortal pygmies of each island, the Facebook iteration of Pocket God will offer a fresh experience for both fans of the iOS versions, and those looking for an omnipotent new twist in online social gaming.

“There were very few partners who could truly understand the essence of what Pocket God has become to its legion of devoted fans,” said Dave Castelnuovo, CEO of Bolt Creative. “Frima knew exactly what needed to be done in order to take Pocket God from being an application for millions of individuals, to a shared experience for hundreds of millions more.”

Pocket God throws players into the role of an almighty deity, commanding a small island full of god-fearing followers who unquestionably bend to the user’s whim. Benevolent players can choose to feed and care for their subjects while vengeful gods will have more fun torturing the Pygmies in a variety of wacky ways that have entertained players since the title’s iOS debut.

“Working in the Facebook space, we simply could not have asked for a more exciting and irreverent franchise so perfectly suited for the world of social gaming,” said Steve Couture, CEO of Frima Studio. “What Bolt has created has become more than just a game or an application; Pocket God is a true pop culture phenomenon with millions of fans across the globe. Everything fans have grown to love about this game and its characters has been happily fed to the sharks and tossed into the volcano, only to be resurrected onto Facebook in a way that fans are truly going to love.”

Pocket God will officially move into a closed beta later this year on Facebook, with exclusive access being given only to some of the game’s already rabid fanbase.

Dragon Age 2Florida-based EPIC Weapons announced today that it has launched the auction for the Grey Warden Sword and Darkspawn Greatsword as seen in BioWare’s Dragon Age. Each sword is embedded with a Game-to-Gear RFID chip for easy identification and certification, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and wall mount. Each participant who registers will be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase a Grey Warden Sword or Darkspawn Greatsword (of their choosing) with delivery following the auction winners in the order of sign-up. All auction participant shipments will be completed prior to any Christmas or introductory offers.

Epic Weapons will be offering a Christmas introductory offer for the first 200 Grey Warden Swords and Darkspawn Greatswords.

Grey Warden Sword:Grey Warden Sword

The chantry teaches us that it was the mages who brought the horror of the blight down upon the world of Dragon Age. Twisted and corrupt, the magisters of the Tevinter Empire decayed into the malformed Darkspawn and were driven underground. There, they spread. The ancient dwarven kingdoms were all but obliterated, leaving their ancient empire a festering breeding ground for these twisted creatures. When they rose to the surface, in countless hordes, led by an undying draconic Archdemon, the first blight began, and the world stood on the brink of destruction.

That is, until the Grey Wardens. Men and women of every race, these battle-hardened veterans counted mage, warrior, commoner and king among their ranks, sacrificing all to turn aside the Blight, and restore some semblance of peace to the land. Blades much like this were forged with the Warden’s iconic gryphon symbol, remember the mighty flying mounts the Wardens once rode into battle. While the gryphons are extinct, the Wardens fight on, grimly remembering that in war, victory, in peace, vigilance and in death…sacrifice.

Darkspawn Great SwordDarkspawn Greatsword:

Of the brutal, corrupt “race” known as the Darkspawn, the Hurlocks are by far the most numerous. While they share some physical similarities to humans, their unnerving grin, pallid skin and beastial nature mark them as anything but. Constantly fighting amongst themselves like packs of animals, the Hurlocks pose less of a threat than they could, until the awakening of an Archdemon unites them under a single purpose.

Marching to the surface in endless swarms, these inhumanly strong creatures arm themselves with wickedly sharp blades, often coated with their own blood, blood that infects any who taste the razor sharp edge. The mighty greatswords wielded by the strongest of the Hurlocks makes for a terrifying sight on the battlefield. A single Darkspawn wielding one of these might blades can scythe through opponents, cleanly cutting through armor, flesh and bone while leaving a deadly infection that will finish off any unlucky enough to survive the initial assault.

gamerkraftToronto’s Game Bridger Entertainment has announced an update to their new free-to-play parkour racing game, FreeJack. The free update, which is available now, brings new character clothing items and “MyRoom” decorations, in addition to the all-new track “CosmosJack”, and an achievement system with more than 50 in-game achievements for players to collect.

Set in the dark recesses of space, “Cosmos Jack” lets players run along planetary rings, vault over orbiting satellites, and even grind through a wormhole! Upon their return from orbit, FreeJackers will be happy to discover that they can now unlock and collect more than 50 in-game achievements. The achievements are earned by completing various in-game tasks, with each one offering a valuable reward. This substantial free update is available now.

FreeJack is a free-to-play parkour racing game for Windows PCs supporting Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Players race head-to-head across the urban metropolis of New Jack City in high-octane foot races, chaining together stylish flips and tricks into combos to increase their speed and cross the finish line first!. Players can personalise their character with fresh outfits and running gear and even customise their own unique in-game living space with cool furniture and accessories to show off to friends! FreeJack also supports online leaderboards, a club/clan system, in-game friend lists, and more.

iStockphotoiStockphoto today announced that voting for the new “Stockys” award competition is now open to the entire iStock community. The Stockys were created to recognize excellence in stock photography, illustration, video and audio in 10 categories including Technical Achievement, Stockiest Stock and Coolest Abstract.
One of the finalists in the "Funniest" stock category for the iStock "Stockys" awards by artists mrPliskin. Credit: iStock/mrPliskin
Throughout the first part of November, iStock has collected more than seven thousand submissions and the company’s panel of judges has chosen 20 finalists for each category. iStock’s community of more than 6 million members will select the winners in each category by popular vote and everyone who votes will be entered for a chance to win $2,000 cash and 2000 iStock credits.

While iStock has held competitions to honor its artists’ work in the past, those awards were segmented by medium. The Stockys take things in a completely new direction and focus on the different aspects of great stock rather than the specific file type. This allows the competition to focus on what matters most – great content and the ability to help tell a story or define an idea, feeling or concept.

“The concept of stock has come a long way in the decade and we wanted to create a contest that would reflect that,” said Kelly Thompson, COO of iStockphoto. “We have fantastic artists and this is our way of showcasing their amazing talent and rewarding the best of the best regardless of how that talent is manifested.”

Each type of file available on iStockPhoto is eligible for every part of the competition. The complete list is as follows:

* Technical Achievement
* Artistic Vision
* Best Composition
* Funniest File
* Coolest Abstract
* Concept Execution
* Stockiest Stock
* Most Emotionally Evocative
* Story Telling
* WTH (What the H*ck?)

The results of the competition will be announced on December 13. The winning contributor from each category will be awarded a $2,000 cash prize. An additional $3,000 will be awarded for “Best in Show,” as selected by iStockphoto judges.

Inside Gaming Awards 2010Congratulations to all of the Canadian nominees in Machinima.com’s Inside Gaming Awards 2010:

Game of the Year: Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood
Best Trailer: Deus Ex: Human Revolution E3
Best MultiPlayer: Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood
Best Animation: Shank
Best Game Play Cinematography: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™
Most Compelling Character: Jack (Subject Zero) – Mass Effect 2
Best DLC: Lair of the Shadow Broker – Mass Effect 2 and Dead Rising® 2: CASE ZERO
Best Control: EA Sports MMA
Best Original Score: Mass Effect 2
Best Weapon: Chainsaw Bike – Dead Rising 2

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22nd November 2010

New Drum Studio Coming Soon

All Seeing Eye GamesVancouver indie studio All Seeing Eye Games is pleased to announce that its new game Drum Studio: Platinum Edition will be available this December on the Xbox LIVE indie games channel of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Record songs, share them online, and jam with your friends in real-time over Xbox LIVE in Drum Studio: Platinum Edition. The follow-up to the multiple award-winning Drum Studio expands upon the original virtual drum recording tool with all-new graphics, Xbox 360 Avatar support, and extensive online features. Players will be able to meet online, chat, share songs, listen to each other play, and jam together in real-time. Lead Programmer Darren Joe says, “Music has always been about sharing. Drum Studio put music creation in the player’s hands. Now, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition allows players from around the world to share their creations with each other.”

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Drum Studio: Platinum Edition also features all new art by graphic artist Terry Wong (Cirque Du Soleil, National Geographic, Electronic Gaming Monthly) and full Xbox 360 Avatar support, allowing players to turn their Xbox 360 Avatars into full-fledged animated virtual drummers. It features the same simple yet powerful song recording interface as the award-winning original and hundreds of high-quality drum sounds to choose from. Players can play with any combination of one to four Xbox 360 drum kits or controllers.

The original title in the series, Drum Studio, received widespread critical acclaim & multiple awards upon its release, including an Editor’s Choice Award from teamxbox.com, who declared that it “takes music games to a whole new level”. You can get the original Drum Studio game now from Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points.

desert bus for hopeOnce again the clock tells me that it is high time I head for my day job at “the salt mine” but before I go, I’d like to draw attention to two events currently underway – the first is Desert Bus for Hope – which, according to the event’s FAQ, is an “internet telethon by accident – you give donations to Child’s Play, and we play Desert Bus.  It’s really boring and mind numbing and generally unpleasant. The more you donate the longer we play. To keep you and us amused, and to increase the donations we auction off  and give away prizes, have celebrity guests stop by, and become your monkeys. Want us to sing “Still Alive?” Sure, we’ll do it for a $20 donation.  We play 24 hours a day until you stop donating.” Be sure to visit the site and check out their Challenges, Giveaways and Auctions.

The second event is happening at Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Start-Up Incubator. The 7 cubed Project involves a group of coders who, beginning on November 20th, locked themselves in for seven days with, to quote “food, energy drinks, and beanbag chairs” during which time they will attempt to write an app a day for seven days. The group has promised video summaries of each day, and according to the Project’s site, the participants firmly believe “that seven smart people with perfect communication, mutual trust, and an agile mindset can get more done in a day than anyone would believe. And if all that isn’t enough, we have no intention of being timid. We’ll choose difficult problems, and we’ll probably fail once or twice. If we didn’t, we would know we didn’t shoot high enough. We’ll work insanely hard, probing the limits of human creativity and team productivity.”

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16th November 2010

New EA Sports Active Titles On Store Shelves

EA Sports Active 2 EA Sports™ has announced that there are two new titles available today for the Sports Active franchise, which has become the top rated interactive fitness training title for the Wii (Metacritic.com, November, 2010).

EA Sports Active 2 is now available in North America and will be available worldwide on November 19th. EA Sports Active 2 is a new suite of digital fitness programs available on multiple gaming consoles focusing on improving muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, while providing an intense cardio workout.

Featuring the Total Body Tracking wireless control system that combines a heart rate monitor and motion tracking technology, EA Sports Active 2 provides an effective workout that delivers accurate, measurable results. Additionally, users will now be able to track and share their workout stats, including heart rate on the new EA Sports Active 2 online hub (Internet connection and EA account required). EA Sports Active 2

A recent study conducted by the University of Victoria in British Columbia concludes that EA Sports Active 2 workouts meet recommended exercise guidelines for exercise intensity and caloric expenditure put forth by public health guidelines, including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the leading authority on exercise science in North America.

EA Sports commissioned a study of the EA Sports Active 2 Mountain Gravity pre-set workout to determine the efficacy of its product line. The study tested 15 physically active adults between the ages of 23 and 33 to determine the relative exercise intensity and caloric expenditure of EA Sports Active 2. Results of the workout met both the ACSM guidelines for effective physical fitness, which recommend that individuals exercise at an intensity between 64 per cent and 94 per cent of their maximum heart rate or 40 percent to 85 percent of their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), as well as burn a minimum of 200-300 calories per session, five days per week, in order to maintain proper fitness and to aid in weight control.

“The EA Sports Active 2 Mountain Gravity pre-set workout met public health guidelines for an effective workout,” says Ryan Rhodes, Professor, University of Victoria, Behavioural Medicine Laboratory. “The results indicated that EA SPORTS Active 2, when used on a regular basis as part of a healthy, active lifestyle, can improve fitness and favorably affect body composition.”

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EA Sports Active 2 will feature more than 70 new exercises and fitness activities including exercises not possible before the Total Body Tracking wireless control system. Using heart rate data that is displayed on-screen, users will be able to capture the intensity of their workout, allowing them to optimize their performance and reach their fitness goals more quickly. A new 9-week program provides a fitness roadmap to keep users motivated and on track to achieving their fitness goals. Users will also have the ability to download new workouts and exercises to their online connected PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® systems to keep their workouts fresh and maintain motivation (Internet connection and EA account required).

EA SPORTS Active 2 is available on PlayStation®3, Kinect™ for Xbox 360® and Nintendo Wii™. The title will be available at a later date for the iPhone® and iPod touch®. EA SPORTS Active 2 has been rated “E” by the ESRB and has an MRSP of $99.95.

EA Sports™ has also announced that EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp for the Wii™ is available in retail stores across North America. EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp is a football-based training program that simulates the football drills and conditioning workouts of an NFL training camp. Developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches, users will experience the thrill of Sports Active NFL Training Campcompetition while challenging friends and family in authentic NFL football drills. EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp with Total Body Tracking includes a heart rate monitor and wireless motion tracking that delivers an accurate, challenging workout with measurable results. Users can also track and share training results via the EA Sports Active online hub.

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp delivers an authentic NFL experience that is fun and engaging, while providing a challenging workout. It includes over 70 drills and challenges designed to improve strength, power and conditioning, as well as reaction skills, agility and first step quickness – key areas of focus for NFL players. Users can train in the environment of their favorite team, as they step into their stadium and train alongside their favorite players.

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp provides a fun, competitive experience where users can go head-to-head in multi-player mode in NFL training camp drills such as the QB Window Challenge and Field Goal Challenge. For further challenge, users can get their game on in the NFL Combine 60 Day Challenge, a progressive exercise program that provides total body conditioning. In addition, as part of NFL PLAY 60, the NFL’s commitment to youth health and fitness, kids and families can choose NFL PLAY 60 drills and exercises, specifically designed for them.

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp joins the EA Sports Active 2 suite of interactive fitness products that focus on improving muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, as well as improving cardio. EA Sports Active 2 is in stores today in North America on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Kinect™ for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Wii.

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp is rated “E” by the ESRB and has an MRSP of $99.95.

Note – Both titles carry the following disclaimer: “This product is not a medical device and not intended to affect the structure or function of the human body beyond such affects normally associated with general fitness equipment and is not intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease.”

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28th September 2010

Two New Trailers Reveal Adventures Of Pixellatic Proportion

Those of you who are fans of The Sims and Army of Two will be pleased to know that Rios and Salem will be making a crossover appearance in MySims SkyHeroes. Here’s a sneak peek at their adventure:

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Relic Entertainment has released a new video for Dawn of War II: Retribution. This new video takes a look at the Eldar Race, which was revealed for the first time during last weekend’s Games Day UK.

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Montreal’s Audiokinetic Inc. has released the latest version of Wwise, its award-winning audio pipeline solution. Wwise 2010.2 introduces new features and enhancements.

Among the new features included in Wwise 2010.2:

* New Wwise effects: Tremolo, Flanger, Guitar Distorsion, Meter
* Side-Chaining
* Convolution Reverb
Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd September 2010

Ubisoft Partners With Nivea for Your Shape Fitness Evolved

UbisoftUbisoft has announced an exclusive partnership with NIVEA for the Your Shape: Fitness Evolved video game. The partnership brings together NIVEA, developers of the world’s best-selling body-care products, and Ubisoft, to offer a holistic, in-home program for consumers to sculpt their bodies leveraging Kinect™ for Xbox 360®. A NIVEA workout will be included in Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved when the game launches in November 2010. Two other special workouts, developed in collaboration with NIVEA’s fitness and lifestyle expert Sarah Maxwell, will be available as downloadable content throughout 2011.

“We’re delighted to partner with NIVEA on Your Shape: Fitness Evolved,” says Alain Corre at Ubisoft. “Video games offer the potential to reach diverse audiences and deliver tangible benefits to the consumer, going beyond pure entertainment. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is an innovative and efficient fitness program for men and women who are looking to get into better shape. The NIVEA workout provides additional values for female players looking for a complete inner and outer beauty experience.”
Your Shape Fitness Evolved
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will be the most innovative and complete fitness program available this autumn. Taking advantage of Microsoft’s Kinect, controller-free games and entertainment for Xbox 360 tracking capabilities and Ubisoft’s proprietary Player Projection technology, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved puts the player in the centre of the game, offering an immersive and rewarding fitness experience for men and women to stay in shape and reach their personal goals.

“At NIVEA we are very enthusiastic about this new and innovative partnership,” comments Jean-Francois Pascal, Director Global Business Unit Body Care at NIVEA. “With Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, our consumers will be encouraged to combine skin care with fitness in the most innovative and easy way, which will enable them to feel good in their body. For 100 years NIVEA, has been known and trusted by consumers for its skin care expertise and reliable products. NIVEA’s body-shaping products help make the most of your figure by improving the skin’s texture and firmness and reducing the visible signs of cellulite. However, we know that a holistic approach is required for best results: a combination of highly effective body care products, fitness training and a healthy diet. That’s why the integration of the NIVEA Work Your Body Fitness Room in Your Shape: Fitness Evolved completes the offer.”

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14th September 2010

Littlest Pet Shop Online Expands Product Line

HasbroHasbro and Electronic Arts today announced that big things are just around the corner for the millions of Littlest Pet Shop fans this fall. Hasbro will release an expanded Littlest Pet Shop Online (LPSO) toy line-up to retail this month. In addition, EA is set to launch a new virtual pet collection program within LPSO.com. Together, the growing Littlest Pet Shop Online experience will offer a blend of real-world and online play designed to capture the essence of the globally popular tween girl brand — collectability.
EA
Building on the success of the Frima Studio developed Littlest Pet Shop Online, an immersive online world launched by EA in September 2009, Hasbro has added two new Littlest Pet Shop Online toys to its fall line-up that will allow girls to extend their real-world Littlest Pet Shop collections while also giving them special LPSO.com virtual benefits when they enter special codes included with toy purchases. Landing on retail shelves this month, the LPSO Dancing Dog and the LPSO Starter Pack toys further integrate the two play styles and enable girls to collect their favourite Littlest Pet Shop pets, connect online with friends, play games, and embark on fun adventures. Additionally, EA’s upcoming LPSO.com collection program, “Collect- a-Pet”, will broaden the online play experience with a series of in-game activities and challenges that girls must complete to unlock new adorable “Reward” pets that can be added to their growing virtual collections.

TLittlest Pet Shop Onlinehe LPSO Dancing Dog is an interactive pet that plugs into the computer or an MP3 player and boogies to the music on girls’ digital playlists. It also functions as a speaker and lights up and flashes to the beat creating instant Littlest Pet Shop fun. In addition, the LPSO Dancing Dog comes with a secret code to LPSO.com that unlocks special virtual in-game gifts. The LPSO Dancing Dog will carry an approximate retail price of $24.99.

Also on retail shelves this month will be the LPSO Starter Pack, which will allow girls to collect toy versions of their beloved LPSO.com star characters. Girls can assemble up to six of their favorite in-game characters such as Felina Murchent, the fashion-forward kitty who purrs with style and sass and Woolma O’Chic, the charismatic artiste who creates the trendiest designs available in LPSO fashion. Each LPSO Starter Pack pet will also come with a unique LPSO.com code to unlock a 30-day Premium Membership subscription as well as virtual gifts for a girl’s in-game pet. The LPSO Starter Pack will carry an approximate retail price of $9.99 for each of the six characters including a one-month Premium Membership for each pet purchased.

“Hasbro and EA have created an integrated suite of Littlest Pet Shop Online products that takes girls’ affinity for collection, meaningful play and social engagement to a new level,” said Valerie Jurries, Global Senior Vice President of Marketing at Hasbro. “Whether listening to music, spending time on the Internet or just hanging out, these latest LPSO offerings have been designed to allow girls to have their Littlest Pet Shop pets tag along right beside them.” Littlest Pet Shop Online

Adding to the fun and excitement of Hasbro’s new LPSO toys, EA will roll out major enhancements in LPSO.com this month, including the new “Collect-a-Pet” feature which will allow girls to unlock “Reward Pets” when they complete certain in-game activities such as performing multiplayer pet tricks, starting dance parties, or completing a challenging level in one of the many games. The LPSO.com “Reward Pets” will be a very special stand-out addition to girls’ online pet collections as many are inspired by their adorable on-shelf toy counterparts. The LPSO.com “Collect-a-Pet” feature will debut with four “Reward Pets” that will be accessible to all LPSO.com players like the Spotted Dalmatian, inspired by the Dalmatian that comes with the Littlest Pet Shop Rescue Tails Centre playset, also arriving at retail this fall. Additionally, 15 special edition pets such as a Strawberry Hamster and a Candy Zebra will be available exclusively to Premium Members.

Littlest Pet Shop Online“We anticipate the ‘Collect-a-Pet’ feature to be a big hit with our Littlest Pet Shop Online players as it really speaks to the core play pattern of the brand, which is all about building a delightful collection of wonderful pets,” said Chip Lange, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Hasbro Division at Electronic Arts. “With collection as a main pillar of gameplay within LPSO.com, girls will now have the opportunity to add to their virtual Littlest Pet Shop family, just as they have enjoyed doing with their toy collection over the years.”

Littlest Pet Shop fans can create an LPSO.com account and play for free under Basic Membership or purchase a Premium Membership subscription with exclusive features and benefits for $5.95 per month.

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14th September 2010

Ubisoft and Rodale Partner Up For Fitness

UbisoftUbisoft and Rodale Inc., publisher of Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, have solidified a partnership to create workouts specifically tailored to men’s and women’s individual fitness goals and needs for the new video game, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Available exclusively on Microsoft’s Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system, the game will launch alongside Microsoft Kinect™ for Xbox 360® in November, 2010.

Bringing together gaming and fitness industry leaders, this partnership marks the first foray into the video game business for Men’s Health and Women’s Health and the first in-game magazine partnership for Ubisoft. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will deliver dynamic, interactive, customizable and convenient at-home workouts, created by Men’s Health and Women’s Health fitness experts.
Your Shape Fitness Evolved
The programs from Men’s Health include “The Sleeve-Busting Arms Workout,” and “The Ultimate Men’s Health Fat Loss Workout.” The workout programs from Women’s Health include “The Perfect Legs and Butt Workout,” “The Toned Arms and Shoulders Workout,” and “The Skinny Jeans Workout”. All workouts are designed so that users can integrate free weights into the programs.

“Microsoft’s Kinect platform allows us to deliver precise fitness instruction and form-based feedback into the home,” said David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health and Editorial Director of Women’s Health. “We’re excited to partner with Ubisoft to further expand the Men’s Health and Women’s Health brands beyond the pages of the magazines and give gamers everything they need to shape up.”

“Most people probably don’t associate killer abs and weight loss with video games, but, now they can,” said Tony Key, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing at Ubisoft, U.S. “The partnership between Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and Men’s Health and Women’s Health leverages their fitness know-how to develop the most effective workouts possible.”

As part of the partnership, the game will be co-marketed by Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Ubisoft. In addition, some of the featured workouts from Men’s Health and Women’s Health will be available as a free application on Apple’s iPhone and iTouch devices.

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