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1st June 2010

Canada Will Digitize The Globe One Pixel At A Time

VFSVancouver Film School has awarded the second annual Women in Games Scholarship to Anne Dickerson, a former 4th grade teacher from Washington, DC.

Established as a means to encourage aspiring female game designers and provide them with greater opportunities for a career in the game industry, the scholarship is valued at $49,250 and covers the full tuition to VFS’s acclaimed one-year Game Design program, named by L.A. Times as a Top 10 school “favoured by industry recruiters”.

A worthy recipient, Anne was an elementary school teacher at a challenging city school when she first began designing games in an effort to increase literacy and math skills, address behavioural issues, and encourage a love of learning amongst her students. The scholarship to VFS will allow Anne to experience one intensive year learning every facet of game design, from game theory to level design to game interface design, and help further Anne’s ambition to create educational games.

“I am beyond thrilled to receive this great honor,” says Anne. “As an elementary school teacher, I realized the significant impact games can have on student achievement, and since leaving the classroom, I have aspired to create effective educational games. I am confident that this award, along with the excellent education I will obtain through the VFS Game Design program, will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of effecting systemic change in the field of education through games.”

“Anne was the clear winner, despite intense competition with an increased number of applications compared to last year,” says Benjamin Colling, Director of Admissions at VFS. “Anne applied to VFS’s Game Design program with the intent of expanding her storytelling ability and game design skills so that she can learn how to make groundbreaking educational games that rival titles across all genres, including popular blockbusters. We are pleased to support her, and are confident that with her talent and drive she will be successful in accomplishing this goal.”

Female VFS Game Design graduates have gone on to work successfully in the industry, from Tara Mustapha and Charmie Kim of Microsoft Game Studios to Pamela Livara of Vancouver’s Slant Six, and Melanie Genereux of Longtail Studios in PEI.

In addition to the Women in Games Scholarship, VFS also awarded three other scholarships, thanks to the contributions of a number of Game Design Expo 2010 sponsors.

Congratulations to the following scholarship winners:

Aubrey Tennant (Ontario) – $7,000 G4TechTV scholarship
Jie (Jacky) He (British Columbia) – $5,000 Annex Pro scholarship
Brooke Fargo (British Columbia) – $2,500 Radical Entertainment scholarship

ThoughtFarmerThoughtFarmer 3.7, a social intranet application from OpenRoad Communications has been released with many new features guaranteed to not make your IT staff pull their hair out. According to the product’s website, ThoughtFarmer 3.7 opens up new deployment options, introduces Active Directory password management, improves cut & paste from Word, and includes several other useful enhancements.

dimeRockerVancouver’s dimeRocker has also released a product update today. Version 1.3 of the dimeRocker API is now available for download via their website. Also recently announced their Game Tune-up Programme, where developers can submit their best ideas, prototypes or finished games and dimeRocker will provide the support and expertise to help the project grow. Check out the programme’s information page for more details.

The World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications is an annual AACEconference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). The event serves as a multi-disciplinary forum for the discussion and exchange of information on the research, development, and applications on all topics related to multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications/distance education. The Conference will take place June 29th through July 2nd in Toronto, and there is still time to register.

TO JamIf you  missed TO JAM #5, held recently in Toronto, but would like to try out the fruits of labour produced by Toronto’s indie game developers, then you need to head out to the Imperial Pub at 54 Dundas Street East this Saturday and check out the super-showcase TO JAM Arcade event. Sponsored in part by Tall Tree Games, Big Blue Bubble and Notebook Empire, the To Jam Arcade is guaranteed to be lots of fun.

Modeling and simulation are becoming increasingly common in our corporate, educational and personal CeLEA - ACEeLlives. From video games to flight simulators, we are becoming accustomed to these new and powerful tools that entertain and educate us. To better understand where the world of modeling and simulations is going, CeLEA has invited the Mr. Jacques Hamel (President, Artifact Software), to join us in a webinar on Thursday June 3 at 12:00 PM Eastern, to chat about this growing and important field, and to talk about the upcoming MODSIM WORLD Canada conference that begins on June 14 in Montreal.

The webinar is designed to provide you with an overview of the kinds of technologies that are driving this field, and how modelling and simulation are being applied in many different contexts and sectors. There is no charge for attending this event, but you must register to receive additional information on how to access the webinar site.

TransGamingToronto’s TransGaming Inc. has announced a new partnership with Netherlands company Metrological, which will see TransGaming’s GameTreeTV Games Platform globally deployed  to cable operators and managed service operators, as part of Metrological’s Mediaconnect TV. Through this partnership, Metrological’s customers around the world will have the ability to offer video games to their subscribers as part of a fully integrated digital entertainment solution.

The GameTreeTV Games Platform delivers a unique and compelling interactive entertainment video games experience to consumers from the comfort of their living rooms. Consumers will have access to a rich catalogue of games through an easy to navigate on-demand service model. With GameTreeTV consumers can browse, download, and play their favorite video games from leading content creators, through an on-demand business model of games purchase, rental, or subscription.

Mediaconnect TV, a next generation hybrid consumer TV entertainment platform based on Intel CE Media Processing technology and powered by the Metroconnect Operating System, provides consumers with a wide range of high-value applications and services. The GameTreeTV Games Platform will be integrated into Metrological’s master catalogue of services, thereby offering TV viewers a broad set of on-demand games.

“Metrological has developed a comprehensive and highly interactive turn-key digital home entertainment solution that advances the consumption of interactive services and applications for consumers”, commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “Mediaconnect TV is transforming the living room experience and we are thrilled to announce Metrological as a strategic deployment partner for GameTreeTV. Video games are the primary source of leisure entertainment around the world and this partnership will make high quality video games available to million subscribers over the next few years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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31st May 2010

Pur Futbol Launches In North America Tomorrow

UbisoftUbisoft Vancouver will be releasing its second sports title to the North American audience tomorrow, June 1st. Already released to the European market, Pur Futbol (also known as Pure Football) is a knock-down, drag-out, no refs allowed soccer duel. Gamers are offered the choice of Quick Pure FootballPlay, Exhibition Mode or Campaign Mode with no penalties and no coloured cards. You will, however, still have to mind your manners on the field.

Quick Play is exactly what it says – you are tossed into a randomly chosen match and expected to hold your own. Exhibition Mode will let you chose your teams, but don’t expect the game to be an easy trouncing of your opponent. Meanwhile, over in Campaign Mode, you can customize your pixelated self to your heart’s desire before heading off for a play-through of 18 tournament matches with varying challenges which you must successfully complete if you want to take part in the ultimate tournament and become the Pur Futbol champion. Take a look at the European launch trailer for the game to check out how it’s done.

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Pur Futbol is not meant to be a technical round of sanctioned world cup soccer. It’s meant to be fun, challenging and rewarding in that there is somewhat less structure than the more rigid, rule-following Pure Football Player Mapsoccer titles out in the game market. You will be granted special team management privileges by completing the challenges set out for you; this means you can upgrade your character, trade or steal other players, building your team up to the ultimate playing machine required to dominate the world on the soccer pitch.

Pur Futbol offers 230 players, 17 of the top teams from the international leagues, as well as 3 legend-status teams. The Hometown Champions feature on the Pur Futbol site lets other players view local Uplay Pure Football Rewardand global leaderboards as well as search for future opponents. With Xbox Live or PlayStation Network accounts, players will be able to challenge friends, families and foes to some fierce online play, further extending Pur Futbol’s replay attraction.

As we saw with Ubisoft Vancouver’s first title Academy of Champions, the game’s environment is full of rich graphics with recognizable locations and fantastical backgrounds. Pur Futbol also ties in with Ubisoft’s Uplay system, where you can get bonus actions and rewards as you earn Uplay points. As shown here, you can get a special Ubisoft team uniform set with 30 Uplay points. Pur Futbol is rated E for Everyone and is available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Pur Futbol is listed at GameStop Canada for $39.99.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets for SIGGRAPH Vancouver’s next event are now on sale. The Making of ModNation Racers, which will feature presentations by Clint Hanson, Lucas Granito and James Grieve from United Front Games, this panel presentation will take place on June 29th at the VanCity Theatre. Tickets will be available to members for $10.00 and $20.00 for non-members.

Chapters will be hosting two book signing sessions with author Neil Pasricha for his  newly published work “The Book of Awesome“, which was inspired by the Webby AwardBook Of Awesome winning blog 1000 Awesome Things, where he posted one awesome thing in life each day. The Book of Awesome reminds readers of little things that make everyone smile. You are invited to join Pasricha as he signs copies of this universal high five for humanity at these Chapter’s outlets:

Chapters Macleod Trail – 9631 MacLeod Trail S.W., Calgary on Thursday June 10th at 5:00 pm
Chapters Robson – 788 Robson Street, Vancouver on Saturday June 12th at 2:00 pm

Crank SoftwareCrank Storyboard Suite 1.1 is now available from Crank Software Inc., an innovator in embedded user interface (UI) solutions. Compared to older, traditional electronic design automation tools, Storyboard enables R&D teams to quickly and collaboratively develop rich and dynamic graphical user interfaces while optimizing hardware performance. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th May 2010

Today We Honour, Share, and Learn

Vancouver’s Genius Factor Games has published a seven point article laying out the company’s current and future involvement with the social media culture. The seven points denoted in this article can easily provide a starting point for any company who has not yet plunged into the massive and constantly changing world of social media. While I encourage you to visit the Genius Factor Games blog to read the article in its entirety, here are the seven points the company raises:

1. Connect With Players
2. Leverage Technology
3. Connect With Customers on their Terms
4. Word of Mouth/Viral Marketing
5. Connect with Investors and Strategic Partners
6. Lead the industry forward
7. Encourage Positive Change

UbisoftUbisoft Canada has announced that several of its upcoming titles will be featured at E3, along with several yet-to-be-announced titles from across the Ubisoft network. Games exhibited at the Ubisoft booth will include the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed™ Brotherhood, Shaun White Skateboarding, Tom Clancy™ ’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier™, the next iteration of the blockbuster franchise Driver®, and many other titles that are yet to be announced. Ubisoft’s website will host select information sent directly from Ubisoft’s booth at E3 as well as the press conference, giving fans access to exclusive interviews and trailers of Ubisoft games.

To kick-off its E3 activities, Ubisoft will host a press conference at the Los Angeles Theatre on Monday, June 14, 2010 at 5 pm (doors open at 3.30 pm). Ubisoft is thrilled to announce that Joel McHale, star of NBC’s “Community” and E!’s “The Soup.” will return as the host of its E3 press conference. The press conference is by invitation only to Ubisoft partners, investors, retailers and select media. Attendees will be treated to live demonstrations of Ubisoft’s upcoming releases and special guests in this not-to-be-missed event that will set the tone for one of Ubisoft’s most impressive line-ups to date. Toon Boom

Toon Boom Animation has put many of their creative software titles on sale – check out their limited time specials – they will be ending soon. Also available today is a very cool “how-to” article on rotoscoping for beginners – a process that could even help me make an animation, and I definitely can’t draw.

Electronic Arts Inc. and Black Box Studios have announced that Need for Speed™ World, the massively multiplayer online action racing game, will go live on July 20, 2010. Need for Speed World thrusts gamers into an enormous, socially-connected white-knuckle Need for Speed experience featuring an all-new power-up system and deep RPG style progression. Need For Speed World

Beginning July 20th, Need for Speed World will be available as a free client download, which will give gamers a taste of the action with access to all races, pursuits and career progression up to level 10.

Players looking for the ultimate experience can purchase the Need for Speed World Starter Pack which includes a credit for $20 worth of SpeedBoost, full access up to level 50, a bundle assortment of power-ups like Nitrous and Traffic Magnet to help you get started, and an exclusive limited edition vehicle – all for MSRP $20.00 (*Conditions and restrictions apply. See details at point of purchase). Owners of the Starter Pack also get the added benefit of being able to purchase items like power-ups, double XP periods and even rental cars starting at just a few cents.

Players who pre-order Need for Speed World will have a one-week headstart to the game on July 13th, Need For Speed Worldwith increased Rep (XP) gain for the duration of the headstart event and guaranteed access to all upcoming Need for Speed World beta events. Finally, players will also be able to reserve their driver names in advance of the game going live and have VIP status permanently displayed in their driver profile. Pre-orders are available now at EA’s Online Store or at participating digital retailers nationwide.

Need for Speed World brings together best in class action racing with an unparalleled social experience. Players can compete against any one of their friends, family or pick from thousands of top ranked players to challenge in intense online battles and police pursuits across 150 miles of sprawling open world. Need for Speed World combines new content with the most popular cities from Need for Speed Most Wanted and Need for Speed Carbon to create the biggest, most exciting race world ever released in the Need for Speed universe.

TransGamingLos Angeles-based Riot Games have announced that they are working with TransGaming, Inc. to expand their debut title, League of Legends™, and releasing a version for the Mac that will be available for download this summer. The new Mac version of the session-based online multiplayer strategy game, powered by TransGaming’s Cider™ Portability Engine, will bring millions of Mac owners the same fast-paced gaming action that more than one million PC gamers have enjoyed since the game launched in October, 2009.Cider Portability Engine

“Millions of gamers across the world are accessing their gaming content on Macs but until now they have not been able to play League of Legends,” said Brandon Beck, co-founder and CEO of Riot Games. “The first competitive phase of the game will be kicking off this summer, and we’re excited that Mac gamers will also be able to participate and have a chance to vie for top prizes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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21st May 2010

International Awards and New Releases

Digital LeisureDigital Leisure has officially announced Mix Superstar for the Wii. Expected to be available on WiiWare in 2010, and according to the game’s site, you’ll be able to create, mix and record your own royalty-free musical masterpieces right on your Wii™. Mix Superstar will allow you to export your music creations or download them to your computer so you can take them on-the-go. You will also be able to use WiiConnect24™ to send those hits to your Wii Friends or collaborate on mixes. Mix Superstar has full support for both the Logitech® USB Microphone and Wii Speak so you will even be able to add your own vocals.

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Wired WomanWired Woman Vancouver invites you to discover the value and learn effective strategies for Building a Community Through Social Media, a one-evening seminar taking place on June 14th at UBC Robson Square. Tickets for this event are $35.00 for members or $40.00 for non-members. Wired Woman costs nothing to join, so save a quick $5.00 by joining the network.

What is community in relation to the web? Community is beyond a blog, and a few people following you on Twitter. This evening will help you realize what the new meaning of an online community is, and why it holds an important spot at the new marketing table. Find out how the experts are building, engaging, and managing their communities.

Session Speakers:

Briana Tomkinson – Tenth to the Fraser and Fjord West
Carisa Miklusak – SoMedios
Chris Breikss – 6S Marketing
Mhairi Petrovic – Out-Smarts Marketing
Sibylle Tinsel – Club Fat Ass

If you are in Toronto, Wired Woman is hosting an evening event on June 1st titled Social Networking Your Way to Better Work with guest speaker Mark Swartz, author of Get Wired, You’re Hired.

This interactive session covers social networking techniques that are proven to increase your marketability. Get up to speed, find work faster and enhance your employee worth. During this brief but informative session you will learn how to:

* Leverage your virtual contacts for networking into the hidden job market
* Increase your visibility and presence
* Research employers for the inside scoop, giving yourself the competitive edge
* Build your professional brand online and merge this with traditional marketing material
* Boost your value as an employee using Web 2.0
* Differentiate yourself from your peers

namcoNamco Networks is excited to announce its ‘Win a PAC-MAN-themed smart car’ sweepstakes to celebrate the video game icon’s 30th birthday.

“Over the last 30 years, PAC-MAN has continued to evolve and be relevant with his fans—no matter the pacmandemographic or generation. Giving away a smart car that commemorates his 30 years is a way for us to show our appreciation to one of the many fans out there.”

From May 21 through August 20, participants from the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to visit PAC-MAN’s official site and fill out the electronic entry form. No purchase is required to enter but you must be at least 18 years of age. Further information on the sweepstakes, including official rules and regulations, can also be found there. The winner of the brand new 2010 PAC-MAN-themed smart car will be selected on September 3, 2010. *Note: At press time, the electronic entry form was not visible on the site. I haven’t been able to speak with anyone from Namco yet, but perhaps the form will become available on May 22, which Namco has stated online is the “official” birthday for Mr. PacMan.

According to Kenji Hisatsune, CEO of Namco Networks, “Over the last 30 years, PAC-MAN has continued to evolve and be relevant with his fans—no matter the demographic or generation. Giving away a smart car that commemorates his 30 years is a way for us to show our appreciation to one of the many fans out there.” Read the rest of this entry »

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14th May 2010

Decapod Releases Debut Title Murphid

DecapodDecapod Studios, an independent game development company in Vancouver, is pleased to announce the release of their first title. Murphid is now available for download on XBOX Live Indie Games channel. In Murphid players must use their puzzle solving skills and fast reaction to withstand attack of gorgeous marble hordes and bring those beasts under control. MurphidDeep, yet simple core game mechanics coupled with astonishing graphics, immersive sound effects and adaptive gameplay result in intense climatic moments that modern gamers have come to expect. Murphid has been optimized for XBOX Live platform, works flawlessly with XBOX controllers, and looks dazzling in high definition.

Among the game’s features are:

• Engaging Campaign spawning more than 70 levels of marble blasting madness
• Three game modes for players to choose from to suit their playing style.
• More than 10 powerups to help players redefine the game field and wreak havoc in a blink of an eye.
• 8 Exclusive Awards to boost the replay value further by throwing extra challenges at the player.
• Pre-filled Leaderboards to give the game nostalgic, old-school touch.
• Awe-inspiring 720p HD visuals with full widescreen supportMurphid
• Charming sound effects to create the ambience.
• Adaptive gameplay technology for challenging and fun gaming experience for players of all ages.

“We are very excited to share the joy of Murphid with gaming community and hope everyone will have as much fun playing Murphid as we had developing it. I hope you dig it!”, says Dennis Brandis, Decapod Studios’ Managing Director.

Murphid is available on XBOX Live Indie Games channel for 240 MS points (approx $2.99) in the following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

EA SportsEA Sports™ is giving its fans an opportunity to create their own one-liners for the upcoming EA Sports NBA Jam videogame (no purchase necessary). Fans can submit and vote for their favorite lines to be read by the original voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, who reprises his role as the legendary announcer.

Fans can submit their one-liners the game’s Facebook page, and 64 finalists, as chosen by the EA Sports NBA Jam team, will go head-to-head in a single elimination bracket with fan votes determining the winners. The four finalists will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have their one-liners included in the game and heard by millions of people around the world. Eligibility restrictions do apply, please see the Contest Rules for complete details.

Contest Schedule:

May 13th – Contest Submissions Open
May 19th – Contest Submissions Close
May 24th – 64 Finalists Announced
May 25th – Fan voting begins
June 23rd – Winners Announced

“NBA Jam is one of the most popular and culturally influential arcade basketball games ever made, and is widely known for its one-liners like Boom-Shaka-Laka and He’s on Fire,” says Kitzrow, the original voice of NBA Jam. “I am really excited to be a part of the remake and for fans to create the expressions that could become culturally iconic in the years to come.” Read the rest of this entry »

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10th May 2010

Summing Up GDC Canada 2010

Howard DonaldsonI met many new and interesting people at last week’s GDC Canada in Vancouver. My pick for top seminar session was a tie. Disney’s Howard Donaldson, co-founder of Propaganda Studios,  gave a very informative talk about Tax Incentives, a subject which is on the minds of many studio owners these days. As a leader on the BC Interactive Task Force, which was a major force in bringing Game Development Tax Incentives to BC, Howard definitely knew his subject well, and he conveyed the pertinent information in such a way as to invite both a better understanding and further research on this important aspect of today’s game development industry. By the way, Propaganda is hiring.

The other session which I thoroughly enjoyed was given by Zach Hanks, who, forgive the pun, presented a very animated and entertaining seminar. Character Voices – Conceptualization, Casting, Recording, and the Cultural Reference Point covered topics which should be presented at every studio which has voice acting in its games. While covering the many challenges and details of voice acting for games, one of Zach’s main points was that “nothing will disengage your players faster than bad voice acting.” This is very true, and any game developer who doesn’t think so, isn’t paying attention. For example, Arenanet has taken some pretty harsh criticism from its Guild Wars community for really bad voice-over work, primarily in Guild Wars: Factions (and as a GW player, I have to agree with the criticisms). Guild Wars - Danika

Making your character voices familiar and believable is a huge part of improving the player experience, and even many of today’s blockbuster titles are lacking in the voice-over department. For example – in Mass Effect 2, Bioware missed the mark on how females really talk. The female Shepard character often feels very stilted and hard-toned when she is supposed to be seducing crew members or even when she is supposed to be expressing empathy/sympathy during a scene. There are moments in Dragon Age when I want to rip out my female rogue’s vocal chords – or at least mute her. These moments arrive when she successfully unlocks a chest or door. Her “I’ve done it!” and “Complete” lines drive me batty. There were also times in Assassin’s Creed 2 where the characters spoke too fast in their Renaissance Italian accents, and I didn’t catch what was said. There is usually no rewind for an in-game cinematic (unless one dies and gets to re-live the scene), so audio people, please ensure that your character’s lines are easily understood.

The GDC Canada session Managing Your Love-Hate Relationship with Playtests presented by Ubisoft Quebec Game Lab’s Andree-Anne Boisvert covered such areas as expanding your playtest groups to include non-traditional gamers, and how important that feedback can be. This is particularly applicable for games looking to expand their horizons in finding a home amongst families where there may be many non-traditional core gamers. Is your game truly family-friendly? Will it draw grandparents into the mix? Will they enjoy interacting digitally with their gamer grandchildren or will are they being led to the proverbial slaughter, not enjoying the experience at all? Like game development, your audience is changing almost daily; what is your studio doing to ensure financial success with its market?

I also had a chance to speak with Kay Gruenwoldt about a new school hoping to open in GDC-Games AcademyVancouver this fall. Games Academy Vancouver is currently going through the provincial accreditation programme, and will be finalizing its location once that step is complete. Games Academy has been operating in Europe for ten years, and when the Vancouver campus opens, its new students will have access to an established global community through its international pipeline which will offer an internal support system of peers and fellow students.

Games Academy will focus solely on computer graphics and game development, with instructors who are currently working or have worked in the industry. Mr. Gruenwoldt said that Vancouver was a natural location in campus choice because our local industry is simply a “huge pool of awesomeness.”

Another newcomer to GDC Canada was Edmonton’s SnakeTakes Studios, which is developing a complete brand around an original IP. The End of the Beginning began as a screenplay, and has since grown to include a game, a comic book series, action GDC-SnakeTakes Studiofigures, merchandise and soundtrack. The End of the Beginning game for the Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 has been in development for about seven months, privately financed by its team of six designers outside of their regular jobs. Set far in the future in a surrealistic world, the premise of the game is a race of very mean aliens who are trying to obliterate those pesky humans. The End of the Beginning, which promises to be a fun-to-play title featuring very combative play in a possibly open-ended franchise, hopes to advance to beta in just a few weeks. This looks like a title we at Village Gamer will most likely enjoy playing, especially if there is as much mayhem and destruction in the game as was talked about at their expo booth.

Overall we had a great time at GDC Canada, and really wouldn’t expect any less. Of course, being a writer, a I would have liked to have seen some sessions on writing, as well as sessions on how studios can better utilize the media in their marketing plans and better prepare their web sites for those in the media who are looking for information about their studios and titles. I believe that GDC Canada could have a bright future if a few things were to happen, such as making it more GDC-Expo Flooraffordable for the Canadian development community to attend by taking some of the philosophy in play at big box stores – lower prices, go for volume and still meet your profitability marks.

It was a shame that Vancouver Digital Week did not pair up with GDC Canada this year, because the abundance of sessions and events in 2009 made the event that much bigger. It was promised during the Canadian Videogame Awards that all of the events would be held over one week again in 2011, and I truly hope that this comes to fruition. While it’s generally understood that GDC San Francisco is the flagship event, I feel it is of utmost importance to have quality development events in Canada for those who may not have the funds to travel around the continent to attend such conferences. While the east coast has MiGS, INplay and DIGS London to name but a few, it is essential that the west coast build on its events such as the Game Design Expo, SPARK and GDC Canada as annual events. As a person with event management in my past, I can appreciate the amount of time and hard work which goes into producing such large conferences, and while I in no way wish to belittle the efforts of those behind the scenes at any of these Canadian conferences, it is simply my wish that each of these events grows to its full potential through the continued co-operation and support from government, industry, associations, schools and of course, the trench-workers.

Gemini Awards 2010The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is pleased to announce that five Digital Media categories will be introduced for the 25th Annual Gemini Awards. The new awards will honour both cross-platform projects, developed to enhance enjoyment of a television program or series, and original productions, the first broadcast of which is intended for a medium other than television. Additionally, a Gemini Special Award – Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in Digital Media – has been added. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th May 2010

Who Will Take Home The Hardware At The Canadian Videogame Awards

Canadian Video Game AwardsTonight’s the night when we will all find out which game has been chosen as the Canadian Game of the Year as the Canadian Videogame Awards kicks of its inaugural celebration at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Finalists for Game of the Year are: Assassin’s Creed II; Dawn of War II; Dragon Age: Origins; FIFA 10 and Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes. As you can imagine, making a choice in this category was extremely difficult, and now we’re wondering which Village Gamer resident picked the winner.

Welcome to Vancouver, Canon! Canon Canada has expanded its Vancouver presence, and will be celebrating the opening of its new Business Division Western Regional Sales Office on May 11th. According to a report on Business In Vancouver, Mayor Robertson and Olympic Gold Medalist Maelle Ricker will be in attendance at the official opening ceremonies.

SES 2010Ever wanted to have a professional review of your website, landing page, or paid campaign? Then you’re in luck, because Search Engine Strategies Toronto has announced the inclusion of site clinics to their programme. In these two 1-hour, hands on, classroom style sessions top consultants will deconstruct and reconstruct your website offering critiques – free of charge. SES Toronto takes place this June 9 -11. Be sure to get there early, because the clinics are first-come first-served sessions with limited attendance.

Audiokinetic has announced bundle discount pricing for their wide range of production software. Purchasing two products will net you a 5% discount, three will get you 10%, four earns 15% and the Power Bundle of five or more products will get you a 20% discount.

Autodesk has announced their 2011 Education Suites. Need help getting started? Are you a teacher with students who are interested in digital design careers? Check out the Autodesk Education Community to see how you can help someone get started. If you’re a commercial designer, please visit our friends over at AnnexPro (a major sponsor of Women in Games Vancouver) to see how they can help you with all of your Autodesk software needs.

National Film BoardFrom May 4 to 17, you can vote online for your favourite short among the finalists of the 6th NFB Short Film Contest – Cannes 2010. Now in its sixth year, the contest is organized by the National Film Board of Canada in collaboration with the Cannes Short Film Corner and in association with YouTube. It features ten short films from Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Iran, the United States, the Czech Republic, Algeria and Italy, selected from the numerous Short Film Corner entries. The Short Film Corner is the meeting place for young creators at the Cannes Film Festival, attracting entries from around the world. The ten films from last year’s contest were viewed close to 180,000 times on the NFB’s English and French YouTube channels.

The NFB contest is your chance to join in the fun and frenzy of Cannes by voting online for your favourite short. The winning film – determined by the number of Likes chalked up on YouTube – will be announced during the Short Film Corner Happy Hour, in Cannes, on May 20. The winning filmmaker will receive a digital camera/HD video camera and a laptop computer.

Short film expert Danny Lennon has assembled a fascinating selection this year. The finalists are The Technician, by Simon-Olivier Fecteau (Canada), Love & Theft, by Andreas Hykade (Germany), The Story of My Life, by Pierre Ferrière (France), Crash! Bang! Wallow?, by Jon Dunleavy (United Kingdom), Crash! Bang! Wallow?, by Emma Lazenby (United Kingdom), Forbidden Tree, by Banafsheh Modaressi (Iran), Annie Goes Boating, by Noel Paul (United States), Awake, by Thaid Dhi (Czech Republic), The Last Passenger, by Mounes Khammar (Algeria), and The Report Card, by Alessandro Celli (Italy).

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is also honouring the memory of André Lamy, former NFB commissioner and independent producer, who passed away at the age of 77.

Lamy served as Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson from 1975 to 1979, following a term as Assistant Commissioner under Sydney Newman from 1970 to 1975.

Only the second francophone NFB Commissioner, Lamy played a key role in strengthening the NFB’s ties to the Quebec film sector. He also ensured the release of the then-controversial NFB French program films On est au coton, 24 heures ou plus and Cap d’espoir. He was Commissioner during the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics and was involved in the creation of the official Olympics film, Games of the XXI Olympiad.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to get to know André Lamy better during the filming of The Commissioners, a short documentary by Philippe Baylaucq created to mark the NFB’s 70th anniversary. It was clear that André Lamy was not well during the filming, but he was determined to take part, and his commitment to the NFB, to filmmaking and, in particular, Quebec cinema, was undiminished. Everyone at the NFB is deeply saddened by his passing,” said Tom Perlmutter, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB. Read the rest of this entry »

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29th April 2010

Events and Programmes For an Educated and Interactive Canada

GDC Canada 2010GDC Canada has revealed a new set of sessions and networking opportunities tailored to game developers managing established franchises, developing new global titles, and looking to take advantage of new distribution models. GDC Canada 2010 will also present content for professionals looking to develop successful franchises for consoles, iPhone and digitally distributed platforms. The second annual conference is returning to the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC from May 6-7, 2010 and kicks off with the official opening night party at 8pm on May 5, which is being sponsored by Epic.

The newly-announced sessions from the 2010 GDC Canada are geared towards established studio as well as first time publishers who are grappling with legal and business development strategies needed to identify commercially successful projects in emerging game spaces.

These featured sessions include:

Bringing Your Game to the Web – 73 Practical Tips with Bjarne Rene (Managing Director, Vostopia.com), Tore Birkeland (Technical Director, Vostopia.com)

Console Games – New Realities Require New Strategies to Win with Howard Donaldson (Vice President – Studio Operations, Disney Interactive), Kelly Zmak (Former GM, Radical Entertainment), Adel Chaveleh (TimeGate Studios, Inc.), Dan Tudge (VP and General Manager, Propaganda Games), Dan Winters (VP Developer Relations, Activision Blizzard)

Funding for Game Developers – Do’s and Don’ts with Glenn Entis (Founder and General Partner, Vanedge Capital)

One Year in the App Store: A Case Study of Backflip Studios with Julian Farrior (CEO / Founder, Backflip Studios)

Tax Credits: How Does This Affect My Decision on Where and How to Produce a Game? with Howard Donaldson (Vice President – Studio Operations, Disney Interactive)

In addition to the two days of sessions, GDC Canada offers the ideal venue for studio heads, developers and investors to come together and discuss business. Towards that end, GDC Canada 2010 is introducing the Business to Business Lounge, supported by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The lounge is a place for industry business development professionals, fellow developers and leading tool vendors to make deals and network. To help further initiate these important business connections, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service can facilitate introductions between investors and domestic and international developers.

Vancouver Innovation CampTomorrow is the last day to benefit from the Early Bird ticket price for the next Innovation Camp which takes place May 29th & 30th in Vancouver. Innovation Camp offers hands-on learning opportunities which engage learners through real life situations and challenges their assumptions, connects ideas, embraces failure and sees problems as opportunities for creative solutions in order to take any entrepreneurial venture to the next step.

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) is proud to support HotDocs 2010, and you are invited to join them at the festival on Monday, May 3rd at 4 p.m. ET for a micro session on CMF programs and funding with Policy Analyst Neal McDougall. The session will be held in Room 323 at Victoria College in Toronto from 4 – 5pm.

The CMF has also announced that the English POV Programme Application Form is now available for those who wish to apply for CMF funding, and an outreach session will be held in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13th from 1:00pm – 3:30pm to provide applicants with details regarding the 2010-2011 guidelines for funding and to answer questions.

The May 13th meeting will be led by Nathalie Clermont, Director, CMF Program Management, along with Roxane Girard, Director, CMF Program Administrator | Telefilm Canada, Francesca Accinelli, Director, English Market, and Stéphane Cosentino, Interim Director, French Market.

INplay 2010INPlay has announced two preschool-focused sessions for the May 18-19th conference. Joining the schedule is Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, whose topic Preschool Play and Games, will take attendees into the minds of pre-schoolers and show how to incorporate developmental psychology research into the games we build. This session will provide an overview on how preschoolers develop, why research is important when designing for this age group, and will give provide examples of how to design games for this age group.

Building Apps for Preschoolers: Case Study of Tickle Tap Apps, presented by Jason Krogh, Founder & Director, zinc Roe design will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the design and development of Tickle Tap Apps – a series of iPhone apps designed for young children. Jason Krogh will share his studio’s experience diving into the world of iPhone development. The discussion will highlight of some of the challenges unique to working in this new and rapidly evolving space as well as some of their insights and refinements that came about through many hours of play testing with kids.

Don’t miss the next iteration of Mentor Speed Dating 2.0, which takes place on Friday, May 7th at 3:30pm. Check out the event’s info page for details on how to participate.

Canadian Film CentreThe Canadian Film Centre has several program application deadlines approaching. The five-month CBC Prime Time Television Program is open for applications until May 12th, and the TELUS Interactive Art and Entertainment Program application deadline is June 4th. Please check out the full list of available programs and deadlines at the Canadian Film Centre’s site. Read the rest of this entry »

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27th April 2010

Showcasing Canadian Talent and Innovation On All Levels

VFS Impact AwardsVancouver Film School will be holding the VFS Impact Awards at the Biltmore Ballmore on the evening of May 3rd. For the very affordable ticket price of $10.00, attendees will receive a buffet-style dinner, be entertained by performances of international artistry from greener grass gamesFlamenco to Electric Violin & DJ and share in the celebration as awards are handed out to some very talented students.

If you have some extra time slots to fill, check out I Am The Night, a free Unity-built browser game from Greener Grass Games. It’s an easy-to-play cute game, and comes complete with a comedic twist at the end.

Canadian Video Game AwardsDo you want to win two tickets to the Canadian Videogame Awards? Make a crazy fan video, upload it to the CVA FaceBook page, cross your fingers! Check out all the details here from that crazy social media guy Ryan (aka @CertainlySocial). The Canadian Videogame Awards take place in Vancouver on the evening of May 5th and feature a performance by Video Games Live. By the way, Ryan…we need to have a talk about stuff in your video clip backgrounds…

CATAPlease take a few minutes to cast your votes for the CATAAlliance Innovation and Leadership Awards. The CATAAlliance will tabulate the results from Canada’s high tech sector and the winners will be announced at the CATAAlliance Innovation Awards Dinner on May 19, 2010 at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa.

Banff World Television Festival has released more information about the Kids and Animation portion of this year’s Festival. BANFF Kids and Animation will feature invaluable sessions such as “View from the Top”, “Co-Ventures in Kids TV” and “The Anatomy of a Successful Kids Franchise” plus meetings and networking opportunities where you will have the chance to meet with – and learn from – the most influential industry leaders in kids & animation. Attracting the industry’s most highly renowned executives, producers and broadcasters from Canada and across the globe to discuss the newest programming trends and developing international and multi-platform markets, Banff Kids and Animation is the place to be for those in kid’s programming.

Confirmed speakers thus far include:

* David Levine, VP, Worldwide Programming Strategy, Acquisitions & Co-Productions, Disney Channels Worldwide
* Vince Commisso, President & CEO, 9 Story Entertainment
* Joe Godwin, Director, BBC ChildrenScrap Metal Game

Slick EntertainmentCongratulations to the dev team over at Slick Entertainment! During the recent XBLA Block Party Games promotion, their massively fun title, Scrap Metal sold 15000 units during the event. If you haven’t checked out Scrap Metal yet, you definitely need to do so, particularly if you like to race, crash, drift and generally blow a few things up. If you have a 360 and an Xbox LIVE® Silver or Gold membership, add this title to your download queue – it’s only 1200 MS Points and it delivers on the fun factor.

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal currently has several career positions which the studio needs to fill. With a recently hinted-at project, the studio now has three titles in various stages of development, including Thi4f and the long-awaited Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

The chance for everyone to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ became a reality today after Electronic Arts announced that EA SPORTS™ 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ is in stores now throughout North America with eight new celebrations for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system. It will be available throughout Asia and Europe beginning April 30, 2010 in anticipation of the real-world tournament which begins in June. The videogame is also available on Wii™, PSP® (PlayStation® Portable), iPod® touch and iPhone® and is rated as “E” for Everyone by the ESRB.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa videogame will feature all the emotion and passion of the fiercest national rivalries battling on the world’s biggest stage, with all 199 national teams that took part in qualification and all 10 official stadiums to be used in South Africa. Gamers will be able to play as their home nation from qualification right through to a virtual reproduction of the FIFA World Cup Final™ and feel what it is like to score the goal that lifts a nation. New players to the FIFA Soccer franchise can also compete for the 2010 FIFA World Cup utilizing new Two-Button controls designed to enable new gamers to pass and shoot with an accessible control scheme that utilizes just two buttons. Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd April 2010

Happy Earth Day Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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