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  • DeathSpank Now Dispensing Justice To Evildoers Everywhere

13th July 2010

DeathSpank Now Dispensing Justice To Evildoers Everywhere

Hothead GamesLeading today’s news is the official release of Hot Head Games‘s justice-seeking, action-RPG blending epic storytelling, addictive gameplay, humor and evil chickens title DeathSpank on the PlayStation Network for $14.99. Xbox 360 gamers will be able to join the fight for justice on XBLA (for 1200 Microsoft points) tomorrow, July 14th. Developed under the direction of The Secret of Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, DeathSpank takes players through a heroic adventure in the boots of the titular hero DeathSpank as he hacks and slashes his way through epic quests in a vast world filled with vibrant, eccentric and terrifying characters.

“While DeathSpank is definitely one of the funnier games out there, it’s more than a one trick pony,” said Vlad Ceraldi, Director of Game Development for Hothead Games. “We’ve built a game with fast-paced, addictive combat set in a world that has a tremendous amount of depth that is filled with dynamic characters, colorful environments and tons of cool weapons and loot. And yes, we still have ponies too — trick ponies!”
Death Spank
“The team at Hothead has really made the perfect experience for the summer,” said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development for EA Partners. “DeathSpank is a high-end and fun game, yet incredibly accessible. It’s very easy to pick up and play, both in terms of its classic arcade controls, as well as the convenience of downloading it straight to your console.”

Players who download the game, which is rated T for Teen, will be placed in the boots of the mighty DeathSpank, “Dispenser of Justice”, “Vanquisher of Evil” and “Hero to the Downtrodden”, embarking on his life long journey is to search for and find a mysterious artifact known only as, “The Artifact”. Along his journey, DeathSpank will rescue orphans, defeat a local tyrant, help an aging adventurer, and dive headfirst into an even deeper mystery. The game’s accessibility makes for a fun, addictive experience where players will find themselves solving crazy puzzles, collecting massive amounts of loot and hearing witty dialogue. For those with friends, DeathSpank also features local co-operative gameplay, allowing friends to jump in and out of fighting through this adventure on the same console as both DeathSpank and his trusty, magical sidekick, Sparkles the Wizard.

CAPCOMDead Rising 2 Executive Producer, Keiji Inafune and Producer, Shinsaku Ohara, will be at Comic-Con in San Diego to unveil development stories and discuss the upcoming Zombrex Dead Rising Sun motion picture, with a Q&A session to follow. Their talk will take place on July 22 in Room 25ABC from 12:00-1:00 P.M. If you’re going to Comic-Con, Capcom will be in booth #4844, and the Capcom Store will offer items exclusive to Comic Con – including 10 of the Dead Rising 2 motorcycle jacket.

MIGSThe Montreal International Game Summit has officially launched their 2010 site and confirmed November 7th & 8th as the date for its 7th annual event. Taking place at the Hilton Bonaventure in Montreal, MiGS offers over 80 sessions and activities, addressing continuing professional training needs, fueling the five main themes of the video game industry: business, arts and visual effects, design, programming and technical aspects. In addition to two keynote speakers, there will be an invited speaker for each of the themes. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th July 2010

Apparently Not All Turtles Are Ninjas

Hothead GamesHot Head Games‘ justice-seeking personality DeathSpank has officially celebrated the grand opening of his auspicious new fan club and “spanking” new website, and he’s inviting everyone to join. He promises lots of announcements and pretty well anything else you will need to know before he takes his fight against evil to the realms of PSN and XBL next week. DeathSpank has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB and will sell for 1200 MS Points on the Xbox Live MarketPlace or $14.99 on the PlayStation Network.

Alien Concepts‘ newest project, At Risk: The Turtle Survivor Challenge, commissioned by the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Programme is now live. A downloadable free title, this flash game is aimed primarily at kids to teach them about turtles that live within city parks.At Risk

“It has lots of educational content about the threats that face turtles and turtle conservation efforts, but it’s fed to the player, we hope, in a way that’s not pedantic or intrusive upon the gameplay. The gameplay we tried very hard to make on par with other sidescroller-type games that kids and adults alike would be familiar with, and features high-end graphics,” said Alien Concepts Studio Director Jamie Richards. “All of the animations are pre-rendered frames from fully-3D scenes constructed in Maya, and there are even several short movie clips of the player’s turtle avatar performing various actions at different points in the game.”

The Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme provides teachers, students and community groups with information resources and educational opportunities to conserve, restore and create wetland habitats.

CorelCorel Software is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a contest. Enter your best illustration, painting or photo created with Corel software and you could win an Ultimate Design Studio or other great prizes – even those who vote on entries can win prizes. All entries must be submitted in the original Corel software format and must be received by August 31, 2010. There is a limit of one (1) entry per person, and the contest is open to residents of  Canada (excluding Quebec), the UK, USA and Germany only.

sysomosToronto social media analytics company and former MaRS client Sysomos has been acquired by Marketwire Inc. MaRS extends its congratulations to everyone at Sysomos, and is proud to have been a part of Sysomos’ success. MaRS’ influence on the “lab to market” success of the social media start-up is evidence of the centre’s ability to work with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders.

Sysomos became a MaRS client in 2006, following its birth in 2005 as an advanced research project for content aggregation and analysis at University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science. MaRSSpearheaded by then faculty member Nick Koudas and graduate student Nilesh Bansal, Sysomos took advantage of MaRS advisors and mentors to help with their business development and was introduced to other key Canada-based resources including Scott Vanderwel, Head of Monitor Canada’s Toronto office and volunteer advisor at MaRS; Vanderwel later joined the Sysomos board.

“We’re grateful for the work that MaRS did over the years to help us move the company forward,” said Koudas, President and Co-Founder of Sysomos. “We are also grateful for the counsel and high degree of engagement Scott demonstrated as a member of our board.” Read the rest of this entry »

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30th June 2010

CTV Series FlashPoint Announces Upcoming Online Game

Happy Social Media Day, Canada – a good warm-up for tomorrow’s National birthday celebrations. Speaking of Canada Day, don’t forget that if you’re in Vancouver, there will be an abundance ofPure Football activities happening at Canada Place on July 1st. If you haven’t tried Ubisoft Vancouver’s latest soccer title, Pure Football, stop by the the BC Soccer event area at Canada Place and give it a go. In celebration of Canada Day and the World Cup, we will be giving away a copy of Pure Football tomorrow, courtesy of Ubisoft Vancouver. Check back tomorrow for the details on this giveaway.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterAdvance tickets for our local SIGGRAPH chapter’s Spark Animation conference go on sale tomorrow. There isn’t very much information available yet, but word at last night’s Making of ModNation Racers event was that there will be Early Bird prices available, so check the site tomorrow for more details.

National Film BoardStarting today, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has its own iPad app, available free of charge at the iTunes Store or at the NFB’s download page. One of the first Canadian film apps for the iPad, the NFB app allows users to enjoy over 1,000 NFB documentaries, animated shorts and trailers, streamed over Wi-Fi and 3G wireless networks. It includes a selection of NFB-iPadfilms in 3-D and stunning high definition. Users will also be able to download and store a film for up to 48 hours, for off-line viewing.

The app has the same features as the NFB’s iPhone app but has been optimized to take advantage of the inherent qualities of the iPad:

• Watch over 1,000 free movies
• Access a kids’ channel with fun and educational content for children
• Store films for up to 48 hours for off-line viewing
• Browse films by channel/category
• Search for films by title
• Bookmark your favourite films
• Browse related content while viewing a film thanks to split-screen technology

The NFB’s iPad application builds on the success of its popular iPhone app, launched last fall. The NFB’s iPhone app was selected as one of the best apps of 2009 by iTunes Canada and named Best Use of Content in 2009 by TheAppleBlog. Since its launch in October 2009, the NFB’s iPhone app has been downloaded more than 235,000 times, with 821,000 film views, as of June 1, 2010. Dragon Age Issue 2

Fans of  Dragon Age: Origins will be pleased to know that Issue 2 of the Dragon Age comic book series  from IDW has been released and is now on store shelves. You can get an inside look over at Issuu’s web site.

CTVCTV announced today that the Gemini Award-winning series FlashPoint will present a special Season 3 sneak peek episode on Friday, July 16 at 10 p.m. on CTV. A quick-hit teaser of a third season locked and loaded with hard-hitting storylines, painful decisions, and Team One’s toughest adversaries yet, the mid-summer primer is a can’t miss target for FlashPoint fans. Earlier this month CTV announced the pick-up of a fourth season which will begin production in Toronto for the 2010/2011 season. Following its television broadcast, the Season 3 sneak peek will be available on demand on the CTV Video Player at CTV.ca.

In the Season 3 sneak peek, entitled “Unconditional Love” (July 16), Team One must resolve a standoff at a seedy motel with a fugitive whose shot two police officers and taken a teenager, Paul Wilder (Devon Bostick, BEING ERICA), hostage. At first, Paul seems like a good kid in a bad situation, but as the team digs deeper it uncovers chilling secrets that reveal Paul is far from FlashPoint's David Paetkauinnocent. What began as a standoff ends as a desperate chase through the city’s sewer system, and it’s up to Parker (Enrico Colantoni) to stop Paul from making a mistake that will change him forever. Meanwhile, Ed (Hugh Dillon) discovers that his cop brother Roy (Colin Cunningham, Da Vinci’s Inquest) might have been responsible for one of the officers getting shot… and that his wife is, unexpectedly, expecting.

Also launching on Friday, July 16 is FlashPoint: Training Day, an interactive, online simulation game that gives FlashPoint fans the chance to become virtual members of the Strategic Response Unit (SRU). Adopting the role of a rookie recruit, website visitors enter FlashPoint: Training Day and explore SRU training with tactical and strategic training modules, including real time negotiations with a hostage taker. FlashPoint: Training Day uses actors from the show to create a realistic training environment, bringing players inside the SRU. Players undertake a recruitment test and training modules and eventually the final tests to see if they have what it takes to become an SRU officer. Read the rest of this entry »

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29th June 2010

Tap Apps, Temperamental Bears and Digital Influence in Canada

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) has released the official guidelines for its Diverse Languages Program. The Diverse Languages Program, which forms part of the CMF’s Convergent Stream, ensures that Canadians have access to content that reflects the variety of languages they speak. The program will provide funding support for the creation of Canadian content for television and digital media platforms in languages other than English, French, and Canadian Aboriginal languages, which are served by the CMF’s other funding programs.

zinc RoeCongratulations are due to Tickle Tap Apps developer zinc Roe, the proud recipient of three Parents’ Choice Awards in the highly competitive Mobile Apps category. Sound Shaker and Sort Slider both earned Gold Awards for highest quality apps while Count Caddy was recognized with Silver Honors for excellence. These popular apps are educational iPhone games preschoolers love and parents can feel good about.

To celebrate the awards, zinc Roe will be giving away Bug Builder, the newest app in the Tickle Tap series, for free! Visit the iTunes App Store on Saturday, July 3 or Sunday, July 4 and type “Bug Builder” into the search to download your free app.

The venerable Parents’ Choice Foundation has been reviewing and recommending quality children’s media for more than three decades. This year it was inundated with entries for its new Mobile Apps category. Apps were judged based on overall ratings for how each app amusedTickle Tap and offered new ways to learn. The judges describe Tickle Tap Apps as “a charming introduction to learning anytime and anywhere.”

“zinc Roe design offers a suite of bright and colorful apps for the youngest users,” says the Parents’ Choice Awards review of the Tickle Tap apps. “With its welcoming continuity of voice and characters, this age-appropriate playful prologue is deliciously intriguing to those eager to learn.”

Tickle Tap Apps are attractive, simple games that help kids learn about numbers, shapes and patterns. The apps are developed by child gaming experts, vetted by educational researchers and tested by kids. These portable games help transform trips, line-ups and car rides into fun, educational experiences for young children.

A2MU.S. publisher 505 Games and Canadian developer Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M) have released the bears – Naughty Bear is now available for the Xbox 360™ and PlayStation®3 platforms. The game allows players to take on the role of the infamous Naughty Bear, who is driven to seek retribution after his fellow bears snub him one time too many times. After the other bears exclude him from Daddles’ big birthday party, Naughty Bear finally snaps and slashes a grisly path of revenge and destruction across the Island of Perfection.

Waging psychological warfare against all things cute and fluffy, as Naughty Bear, players engage in sadistic scuffles on all that crosses their path. Using a hilarious array of weapons, interactive objects and endless scare tactics, gamers create chaos on the Island of Perfection to earn Naughty Points as they inflict physical and psychological harm on Naughty Bear’s numerous enemies. This all-new scare-based points system allows players to win the most rewards for being truly deviant and maniacal. As the ill-fated bears become more difficult to harass and terrorize as the game progresses, the variety of scare-based attacks allow for a completely new experience each time players pick up a controller.

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Rated by the ESRB as “T” for Teens with a “Violence” content descriptor, Naughty Bear features more than 28 single player levels to unlock as well as competitive online multiplayer modes filled with unique characteristics and weaponry encountered at every stage. Players battle an endless barrage of bears recruited to wage war against Naughty, including Soldier Bears, Ninja Bears, Robo Bears and even an Alien Bear invasion. As they scour the Island of Perfection to unleash their naughtiness, players can collect all the hidden party items locked away by the other bears to win wearable items and unlock special Achievements and Trophies. Nancy Drew Trail of the Twister

TransGamingTransgaming has just announced that Her Interactive’s title Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister is now available on GameTree Online for Mac gamers. Download the game for only $19.99 and then go undercover as a storm chaser, immersing yourself in meteorology by studying clouds, reading Doppler data, and surviving tornadoes – all while trying to find a saboteur.

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25th June 2010

Rare Unibear Spotted and Captured on Film

A2MGlobal video game publisher 505 Games and developer Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M) today revealed rare footage of the elusive Unibear character found in the upcoming comic mischief title, Naughty Bear. In conjunction with the release of the film, the Perfection Island Herald today ran an investigative report (PDF) on whether or not the Unibear is a hoax.

According to sources that claim to have seen the mythical Unibear, the creature can appear at random on the Island of Perfection for a very short time. Given the amount of mystery surrounding the Unibear, it is likely that any player who manages to catch and scare the mysterious creature will win an exponential amount of Naughty Points.

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Naughty Bear’s reign of terror doesn’t stop at the shorelines of the Island of Perfection, however. As the resident bears call for backup, Naughty Bear takes on increasingly powerful waves of enemies, including Ninja Bears, Soldier Bears, RoboBears, ZomBears and even powerful Alien Bears from another planet. Naughty Bear can unlock costumes for each of these enemies as he defeats them, allowing players to create utter pandemonium on the Island as the bears try to distinguish friend from foe.

Nickelback, the 11th best-selling act of the 2000′s with more than 30 million records sold worldwide, will make their Rock Band debut in the Rock Band Music Store on June 29th. The band will make their debut in Rock Band next week with a six pack of songs.Nickelback

“Nickelback Pack 01” will include “Burn It to the Ground” and “This Afternoon” from 2008’s album, Dark Horse, which has held a place in the Top 100 of the Billboard 200 since its release last year. Also included are “Photograph” and “Rockstar” from 2005’s All the Right Reasons, which was certified eight-times platinum in the United States in October 2009, making it one of the best-selling albums in U.S. history. “Figured You Out” from 2003’s three-time platinum The Long Road and “Never Again” from 2001’s six-time platinum Silver Side Up will also be featured in “Nickelback Pack 01.” These tracks will be available for purchase as “Nickelback Pack 01” as well as individual tracks on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system, and as individual tracks only on Wii.

Be Green CanadaBe Green Canada today announced that it has joined the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing computer power consumption by 50 percent by the year 2010. Together, Be Green Canada and the other industry-leading members of the Initiative will work to increase the adoption of energy-efficient PCs and servers and increase awareness and use of computer power management.

“Be Green Canada is committed to reducing the energy consumption of information technology, both through actions, as well as driving awareness and development of energy-efficient technologies among customers. By working with Climate Savers Computing, Be Green Canada is helping lead the movement toward a more clean and sustainable future”, said Owner, Rich Dezso.

As a member of Climate Savers Computing, Be Green Canada is committed to reducing energy consumption from a majority of its computing equipment by:

* Pledging to purchase high-efficiency computer equipment that meets or exceeds Energy Star ratings
* Optimizing existing computer systems to use power management capabilities, such as hibernation and sleep modes
* Ensuring in subsequent years the company purchases computing equipment with increasing levels of efficiency

In a typical desktop PC, nearly half the power coming from the outlet never reaches the processor, memory, disks or any other computing components. The wasted electricity is dispersed as heat and increases the cost of powering a computer, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases. In offices, homes and data centers, the added heat from inefficient computers can increase the demand on air conditioners and cooling systems, making the computing equipment even more expensive to run. Servers are more efficient than desktops, but still typically waste 30 to 40 percent of the input power.

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada has announced the winners of the Golden Box Office Award, a newly-created award that recognizes the writers and director of the Canadian English-language feature film with the highest domestic box-office sales each year. The 2009 “Goldie” was handed to the director and writers of the film Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day at an auto-body shop in Halifax today. The second feature film in the Trailer Park Boys comedy franchise, the title grossed $2.9 million in domestic box office sales. The 2009 winners of the Goldie and accompanying cash grants totalling $40,000 are director and co-writer Mike Clattenburg and co-writers Timm Hannebohm, John Trailer Park BoysPaul Tremblay, Robb Wells and Mike Smith.

“We are very pleased to be presenting the inaugural Goldie Award to Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director, Telefilm Canada. “With two feature film hits and a TV series that was able to garner a cult following both here and south of the border, the team behind The Trailer Park Boys has achieved outstanding success. Telefilm strives to recognize the talent behind Canadian cinema, because it is these outstanding partners – the hardworking writers, filmmakers, producers and distributors – who keep our industry solid and vibrant,” she concluded.

“Telefilm took a huge chance investing in the Trailer Park Boys concept back in 1999 but it paid off with the success of our first and second features films,” said Mike Clattenburg, director and co-writer of Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day. “Without Telefilm’s unfailing support, we could never have made our two movies or the series,” he concluded.

“Congratulations to the Trailer Park Boys writing team, and a big thank you to Telefilm for the important recognition,” says Maureen Parker, Executive Director, Writers Guild of Canada. “A prize like this will help our talented writers stay in this country and develop the next winning Canadian film,” she concluded.

Helmed by writer-director Mike Clattenburg, Trailer Park Boy: Countdown to Liquor Day was co-written by John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, Mike Smith and Timm Hannebohm and produced by Barrie Dunn, Michael Volpe and Mike Clattenburg.  The film begins with Julian, Ricky and Bubbles newly released from jail and brimming with optimism about their prospects for the future. However, when they return to Sunnyvale, they encounter a leaner and much meaner Park Supervisor Jim Lahey who has some big changes in mind for the park, changes that don’t exactly go over well with the Boys, who then face their biggest test since Grade 10. Alliance Films distributed the film across Canada.

dougiedogJust in time for hot dog season, dougiedog the Dogumentary premieres in Vancouver this Monday, June 28th. Featuring celebrities Dave Grohl and Jason Alexander plus music from some of today’s finest acts, dougiedog the DougieDog the DocumentaryDogumentary is the inspirational story of a man (comedian, entrepreneur and hot dog fanatic dougieluv), who overcomes tremendous obstacles to achieve his dream of opening up a hot dog shop. What starts as a hot dog research expedition across America in a rusted-out Dodge Caravan turns into an incredible journey of self-discovery guided solely by the hands of fate.

The premiere will be held at the Cellar Nightclub directly across from the dougiedog Hot Dog Joint at 1011 Granville Street. The event will feature food, music, prizes, hot dogs, and a special appearance by the Ivy League Brawlers (an 8-piece live band). Tickets are $10 and available at the dougiedog Hot Dog Joint while supplies last. Admission includes a free cocktail and appetizers. Doors open at 6:30 pm, the movie screens at 8 pm. People who show up sporting their hot dog spirit will be granted free entrance.

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21st June 2010

Mentor Programs and Competitions Expand Futures for Young Canadians

bookriffLet me start the week by sending out a huge congratulations to our friend Rochelle Grayson on her new position as CEO at Vancouver startup BookRiff. Rochelle is an incredible lady, and I know that with her awesome talent and drive, great things will be happening for BookRiff and its parent entity D&M Publishing. Congratulations also to the Deus Ex: Human Revolution team over at Eidos Montreal for all of their nominations and awards from E3, including Best of E3 from Gamepro and 1up, plus Best E3 trailer from JeuxVideo.

CIXCIX, the Canadian Interactive Exchange has sent out their annual call for showcase presentations. Submissions deadline is October 1st, so companies who “consider themselves to be the very best in the fields of ICT, Digital Media and Cleantech should complete a profile in order to be selected to present live at CIX in the showcase of Complex GamesCanada’s Hottest Innovative Companies.” CIX takes place at Toronto’s at MaRs Discovery District on December 7th.

Complex Games has announced that BattleBears -1, a prequel to Skyvu Pictures’ BattleBear Zombies, has been sent off to iTunes for release approval. Check out this trailer for a preview:

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There are two Canadian creations out on Nintendo’s DSiWare today. First up is Puffins: Let’s Fish from Other Ocean Interactive. Available for only 500 Nintendo DSi Points, this E-rated title lets gamers dive into the deep blue sea and fill their virtual bellies with delicious fish. Puffins: Let’s FishOther Ocean Interactive is an action game that has you swimming the beautiful ocean in search of a puffin’s favourite meal: the elusive capelin. However, the ocean can be a dangerous place, and you’re not the only one hunting for food. Throughout 18 underwater stages and two game modes, you’ll be avoiding sharks, jellyfish and other fearsome predators who are very interested in making you their next meal.

Digital LeisureToday’s other new DSiWare title comes from Digital Leisure. Also available for 500 DSi Points and rated E (with cartoon violence) is Mega Words, where you need to put on your thinking cap and see how many of the hundreds of puzzles you can solve in Mega Words. Three classic puzzlers are included in this puzzle pack: Word Scrambler, Anagram Hunt and Hangman. There’s no need for erasers here! These portable editions feature extensive dictionaries to challenge novices and expert players alike. See how fast you can unscramble words, sharpen your vocabulary and stretch your mind with Mega Words.

EA SportsWinnipeg-born Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will be the new face of the NHL® 11 videogame from EA Sports™. With last year’s title featuring Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, NHL 11 marks the first time that EA SPORTS has put back to back players from the same team on the cover of the NHL franchise. The 22 year old’s image will be on the front of all packaging when NHL 11 is available in North American retail stores this September for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® with an MSRP of $59.99.

“I am really excited to be on the cover of NHL 11,” said Toews. “It’s been an amazing year for me and the team, and it’s nice to end it by being a part of a game I played growing up. The NHL games have always been great, so it’s an honor for me to be a part of the EA Sports family.”
Jonathan Toews
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary with NHL 11, the EA Sports NHL® franchise has won 22 Sports Game of the Year awards over the past three years and is poised to raise the bar yet again. With a revolutionary real-time physics engine that brings an unprecedented amount of realism to the franchise, gameplay innovations like broken sticks and a revamped face-off system, as well as the addition of the Canadian Hockey League, NHL 11 is set to be the most complete hockey videogame ever created.

After being selected third overall in the 2006-07 entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews has emerged as one of the most skilled centers in the NHL after just two seasons. After helping lead team Canada to a gold medal win during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Toews locked up the Conn Smythe, given to the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs, after playing a crucial role in leading the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. Toews is currently the youngest captain in the NHL, and has registered more than 65 points in each of his first two seasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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18th June 2010

Indie Game The Movie Project

Indie Game The MovieThis morning I found out about a movie project happening over in Manitoba (we live in a big country, sometimes it takes awhile for news to filter my way). The project, which is scheduled for a 2011 release, is called Indie Game: The Movie, and it is also listed on KickStarter, should you wish to support the movie project. According to the film’s site, the movie is “a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. It examines independent game developers as a way to understand the medium and the theory behind video games. Throughout, the film focuses on the human side of the creative process, EA Sportsand the connections between game and game-maker.”

Congratulations to EA Sports (Burnaby Campus) for being recognized with two Guinness Book of World Record awards. The first award was for Best Selling Soccer Video Game Franchise (FIFA with more than 68 million copies sold), and the second award was for the Earliest Console Sports MMO (NHL 09).

Canadian games did not get a lot of love from IGN in their 2010 E3 Awards. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood won for Best Action Game, defeating Vancouver-made Shank. NBA Jam won for Best Sports Game, beating out its studio mates NHL 11 and FIFA 11. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was nominated in several categories, but didn’t get the winning nod from IGN, and neither did Company of Heroes Online, which was beat out of the RTS category by Civilization V. GameSpot has yet to reveal their top picks for this year’s E3 – they won’t be revealing their winners until June 25th – but readers can nominate their favourite E3 games until June 21st, and then vote for the finalists for Reader’s Choice awards.

Government of CanadaThe Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is hosting a consultation with Canadians on the topic of cloud computing and its impact on the privacy of consumers. The consultation, the third in a series, will take place on June 21, 2010 in Calgary at the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. This event, which begins with registration at 08:00 MDT, will also be broadcast live on the Web, and media and the public will be able to submit questions via e-mail and Twitter with hashtag #priv2010 or follow @privacyprivee.

The aim of the consultations is to learn more about emerging technologies that touch on the privacy of consumers, and to stimulate further informed debate. Previous OPC consultations examined the privacy impact of online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by marketers and other businesses.

Even though the call for Cloud Computing submissions closed April 15, 2010, we would be pleased to receive additional written contributions in order to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to respond to what is said at the Cloud Computing consultation event.

UbisoftThere is a new republishing deal agreed between UK games publisher Focus Multimedia and Ubisoft which will further cement the long-standing partnership between the two publishing giants and will see key Ubisoft titles of recent years launched on PC in the UK under the Focus best-selling ‘Essential Games’ label.

PR & Marketing Manager for Focus, Alan Wild says, “Ubisoft has a well earned pedigree with some truly exceptional titles, and they are excellent to work with. Focus has an established reputation and a long history of success in the budget sector. In combining our areas of expertise we have created the perfect mechanic to deliver quality games to both retail and consumers, enhancing the purchasing experience with choice and value for everyone.”

With its masterful storytelling, sprawling environments and incredible set-piece moments in an experience rivaling the best blockbuster Hollywood movies, Prince of Persia® is the first of the newly agreed titles to be launched.

Further Ubisoft titles are destined to receive the Essential Games release treatment over the coming months. Amongst others, these include games from the multi-million selling Tom Clancy series, and the highly acclaimed gamer’s favourite, Far Cry® 2.

koboKobo has released their ebook app for Android-enabled smartphones. Just like other Kobo applications, Kobo for Android is designed to provide the best eReading experience to customers around the world. This announcement furthers Kobo’s goal of delivering any book on any device. The service’s open standards mean that customers can access and read their books from a variety of devices.

“Now the fastest-growing mobile platform, Android has many new devices that are great for eReading and we’re excited to deliver Kobo to the millions of Android users around the world,” said Kobo CEO, Michael Serbinis. “We’ve adapted the features our customers love and expect from Kobo to ensure that we provide the best reading experience for Android-enabled smartphones. In the near future, Kobo will support other Android-enabled devices such as tablets, netbooks and eReaders.”

Kobo is available for free on Android smartphones through the Android Market. Kobo supports the ePUB standard including rich text and images, offering a top-quality reading experience. Existing Kobo users can login to their Kobo account and start reading their books right away. Additionally, there are over two million eBooks available for download through the Kobo store, including hundreds of thousands of free titles, classics, and today’s hottest bestsellers.

mcafeeCanadian rock/metal band Three Days Grace is the most dangerous 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards nominee to search for in cyberspace, according to Internet security company McAfee, Inc. McAfee researched today’s finest musical talents to reveal the riskiest 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards-Nominated Artists. The latest McAfee research found that searches for teen sensation, Justin Bieber pose less threats compared to others.three days grace

Fans searching for “Three Days Grace” or Three Days Grace-related downloads, wallpaper, screen savers, photos and videos have a higher chance of landing at a Web site that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest music artist news and downloads can cause serious damage to one’s personal computer.

“Cybercriminals watch stars too – they follow popular celebs to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise,” said Ross Allen, Canadian general manager at McAfee. “The fan’s obsession with music artist news, while theoretically harmless, can result in lots of computer damage at a mouse click.”

The MuchMusic Video Awards air Sunday, June 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET on MuchMusic. Cybercriminals are using popular music icons’ names and images, like Beyoncé, Jason Derulo, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry and Adam Lambert, to lure surfers searching for the latest stories, screen savers and ringtones to sites offering free downloads laden with malware.

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16th June 2010

Meanwhile Back In Alberta

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

DLC Features:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Rockie Awards for Fiction:

Entertainment Categories:

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

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14th June 2010

DrinkBox Studios Announces its First Original Title

drinkbox studiosToronto indie developer DrinkBox Studios has announced that its first original console title will be coming to the PlayStation®3 system via the PlayStation®Network toward the end of the year.

Tales from Space: About a Blob is a game about an innocent little creature that grows and grows until it eats the whole world. In development since January of 2009, the game features a monster movie setting and theme, a retro-inspired art style and puzzle-focused platforming gameplay.

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“Players will interact with the game environment using unique growth and absorption control mechanics, experiencing the world at vastly different scales as they progress. Both single-player and co-op play will be supported.” said Ryan MacLean, CEO of DrinkBox Studios. He continued: “We’re extremely excited to be releasing the game on the PlayStation®3 system.”

49 Pixels has announced plans for an open forum which will allow for the gathering of Pixel to Productpeople and facilitate an open conversation in regards to Canada’s digital economy. Please see the the Pixel to Product blog for complete conversation details. The first online conversation is scheduled for Friday June 18th at 4pm ET.

United Front GamesGrammy Award winning recording artist, producer and musician Pharrell Williams brings his unique blend of pop, hip hop and soul to headline the soundtrack for United Front GamesTrue Crime: Hong Kong, the company’s forthcoming open-world/action game. Also on the soundtrack is up and coming R&B, pop and jazz singer Rhea who frequently collaborates with Williams and has performed with N.E.R.D. With orders to “do whatever it takes to become one of them,” players assume the role of undercover detective Wei Shen as he engages in visceral, fast paced martial arts combat, explosive gunfights, high-octane action driving and acrobatic free-running chase sequences in order to infiltrate and bring down one of Hong Kong’s most notorious Triad organizations. In order to survive, Wei must think like them, fight like them, and even kill like them.

Bioware CorpThe Mass Effect™ 2 phenomenon rages on! BioWare™has launched a demo for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox Live® and PC. Designed to help introduce the rich Mass Effect fiction to all-new players, the demo features the first two missions of the game as well as one bonus mission, totaling over 90 minutes of the action-packed game play and rich storytelling that have made Mass Effect 2 one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. BioWare is releasing the demo with a “Story-so-far” video, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, that provides a recap of past events aMass Effect 2 Overlordnd plot twists in the Mass Effect universe.

In the demo, players step into the role of Commander Shepard and must escape from a Cerberus space station under siege. Players can jump ahead to a later mission where they must rescue Subject Zero, a hardened, dangerous criminal from a heavily guarded prison ship. Once they play the demo, players will be able to create a save and carry over their character along with the experience points, story decisions, achievements and weapons earned into the full version of the game – picking up right where they left off, on both PC and Xbox 360.

BioWare also announced today that the new DLC chapter “Overlord”, which will add five new areas and two new achievements will be available on June 15th for 560 Microsoft points and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Also on June 15, BioWare is releasing a new premium theme based on Omega and new avatar items for Xbox Live will follow on June 17.

“Mass Effect 2 is one of our greatest achievements to date at BioWare,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and Group General Manager of the BioWare Group, and Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts. “The Mass Effect team continues to deliver on our promise to add exciting new content to the universe for our loyal fans, and we’re also excited to be able to give all gamers a chance to experience this amazing game through a free demo!”

Down at E3, Target and Ubisoft have teamed up for an exclusive preview of four upcoming Ludiafamily fun games. Target’s Bullseye Lounge will feature two upcoming video game adaptations of the hit television game shows, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?™ and Hollywood Squares™. Playable on Wii™, these demos will offer Expo attendees a chance to engage in competitive gameplay. The new Who Wants To Be A Millionaire video game is created by Ludia and is based on the Disney-ABC Domestic Television hit game show, which will premiere its ninth season in syndication this fall. The Millionaire video game, on display in the Bullseye Lounge at E3, will put the brains of expo attendees to work as they compete against one another to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions. Visitors to the Bullseye Lounge will be able to experience the drama and intensity of the pop culture game show sensation first-hand, as they test their trivia knowledge and give their “final answers.” Read the rest of this entry »

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11th June 2010

Playboy Appears Amongst The Zombies

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have confirmed that there is a new partnership in place with Playboy magazine to have content from the iconic publication featured in upcoming title Dead Rising® 2, scheduled for release later this year for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and PC platforms.

Players who discover the Playboy magazine in the game will receive a unique and special upgrade for Chuck Greene, the main character in Dead Rising 2. Furthermore, players will come across Playboy ads and billboards that will feature specially selected issues from the magazine’s Playboy in Dead Rising 257-year history.

The new magazine system for Dead Rising 2, which will feature Playboy along with various other publications, is an evolution of the popular book system from the original Dead Rising game. Along with the special Playboy issue, there will be a variety of different themed magazines that Chuck will be able to pick up for bonuses to use to help fend off the zombie hordes along the way.

“The Sin City-type environment in Dead Rising 2, Fortune City, is a natural playground for the Playboy Bunnies,” said Seon King, Senior Director of Licensing for Capcom Entertainment, Inc. “We have integrated the Playboy brand throughout the game in ways that bring even more life to Fortune City and add to the user experience.”

Dead Rising 2 Playboy BunnyFor those unfamiliar with the premise of Dead Rising 2, former motocross champion Chuck Greene arrives at Fortune City, America’s latest adult playground, to participate in the zombie game show Terror is Reality, a gruesome test of strength and agility through excessive and imaginative  elimination of hundreds and hundreds of zombies. While in Fortune City, a zombie outbreak occurs and Chuck must survive the onslaught of the undead for 72 hours. Pitted against bosses and psychos – tens of thousands of zombies and the constant countdown of the clock – while potentially rescuing other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, players must also unravel the greater conspiracy behind the outbreak.

The Dead Rising® series is renowned for letting players pick up and use everyday items to fend off hordes of the undead, but Dead Rising 2 adds a new twist with combination weapons. Take Dead Rising 2 Playboy Magazinetwo objects, add a roll of tape plus the inventiveness and skilled hands of Chuck Greene and an innocent water gun and a can of gasoline become a deadly flamethrower, while a garden rake and car battery combine to create an electrified zombie prod. Using combination weapons to fend off hordes of the undead in fun and grotesque ways is only just the beginning as the more combo weapons a player uses, the more Prestige Points (PPs) they will rack up. Earn enough PPs and Chuck levels up which will helps him along the way.

Equally important is Chuck’s need to to find Zombrex, a drug that stops his infected daughter Katey from turning into a zombie. Players will decimate thousands and thousands of zombies in an increasingly outrageous manner in order to beat the clock and survive 72 hours in the darkly comedic, no-holds-barred confines of Fortune City.

June is also the month when we 360 players are supposed to get a prologue look at Dead Rising 2 with the availability of Case Zero, which was announced in February as being in the XBL Marketplace on June 30th (I am awaiting confirmation on the release date). Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, will introduce gamers to Chuck Greene and provide a link between the original game and the events that await players in the gambling paradise of Fortune City.

frima studioJune has been an incredible month thus far for Quebec’s Frima Studio. On June 1, Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec, Mr. Sam Hamad, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Minister of Labour and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, and Mr. Steve Couture, CEO of Frima Studio, have announced an investment of  two million dollars in the training of the Québec-based studio’s personnel, specialized in the development of video games. Half of this sum will be invested by the Government of Quebec via Emploi-Quebec and its envelope destined to large-scale economic projects.

“Quebec has become a destination of choice for many multinationals in the interactiveQuebec Government at Frima
entertainment industry. We are known around the world for our creativity and dynamism in that field. This fairly recent reality is owed to people of vision and passion; to people who get involved, and who dare take the necessary risks to build the companies that will, over the years, become symbols of pride for us all,” declared Mr. Charest.

The development of a video game requires the participation of experts in various fields. To ensure coherence and cohesion within the teams of artists, game designers, interface designers, animators, programmers and testers, each employee must develop a certain level of versatility within the framework continuum, which this training plan will enable. Read the rest of this entry »

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