15th August 2011

Canadian EA Titles At GamesCom

EA GamesElectronic Arts will showcase the best of interactive entertainment at this year’s gamescom in Cologne, Germany. The company’s top intellectual properties are set to delight visitors, highlighting this year’s blockbuster launches and offerings for console, mobile phones, tablets and the Web. The publisher will also be providing 350 gaming stations at the EA booth allowing more consumers than ever before to get hands-on play with each game.

Jens Uwe Intat, Senior Vice President of EA European Publishing, said, “The old model of making games every few years to coincide with new hardware launches is gone. We have a very powerful set of games for today’s consoles, and now we offer that IP to players as year-round entertainment across all of their devices and platforms. We’re looking forward to our fans’ response when they get hands-on with our line-up at the show – we think they’ll like what they see”.

Canadian-made games at the show include:

  • FIFA 12: Huge space that puts players on the pitch to experience the gameplay action.
  • Need for Speed™ The Run: Get behind the wheel in a race for your life from the Golden Gate to the Empire State.
  • Mass Effect™ 3: Bioware’s high octane alien invasion adventure explodes in an all-out galactic war. The time has come to join the war effort and experience the industry’s most critically acclaimed RPG first-hand.
  • The Secret World: Funcom producers will be showing an exciting live demo in one of many dungeons, highlighting combat, progression and boss fights.
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12th August 2011

What Did We Miss

It appears that there were loads of news announcements made while we were at SIGGRAPH with very sketchy wireless. The media room where we could have had a wired connection was two floors and a long walk away, but we wouldn’t have had long enough on the wired connection to catch up on everything. Here are just a few of the stories that broke during the past few days:

MIGSThe Montreal International Game Summit announced its keynote speakers. The conference will open with Jason Rohrer, an independent Game Designer, and Richard Lemarchand, Lead Game Designer for Naughty Dog, on November 1st and 2nd respectively. Yves Guillemot, Co-Founder and CEO of Ubisoft, will have the honour of delivering the conference’s closing keynote.

Other featured speakers at MiGS 2011 include David Hego, Artistic Director for Rocksteady Studios, who will be presenting in the Arts & VFX Track. Alain Tascan, President & CEO at Sava Transmedia will be participating in the Business track while Lee Perry, Senior Gameplay Designer for Epic Games will be on the Design track. Over on the Technology track, attendees will find a presentation by Stefan Boberg, Technical Development Director at EA DICE, while the Production track will feature a presentation by David Anfossi, Producer – DX: HR at Eidos Montreal. A new track has been added for 2011, and Tom Salta, Music Composer known for producing scores featured in popular franchises such as R.U.S.E. and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands will be the featured presenter for the brand new Audio track. Please visit the MiGS site for an up-to-date speaker list.Assassin's Creed Revelations Constantinople

ubisoft canadaUbisoft announced that PlayStation® gamers will be able to test their assassination skills beginning on September 3rd with a multiplayer beta of the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Revelations that will run until September 11th. PlayStation®Plus members and Uplay members will enjoy exclusive access to the multiplayer beta on PlayStation®3. The multiplayer beta offers access to nine characters – The Sentinel, The Vanguard, The Guardian, The Vizier, The Thespian, The Deacon, The Bombardier, The Trickster and The Champion, three maps – Knight’s Hospital, Antioch, Constantinople, and four playable modes – Wanted and Manhunt, as well as two new modes, Deathmatch and Artifact Assault. The rest of us will apparently have to wait until the game’s release on November 15th.

BiowareBioware’s Dragon Age franchise has expanded to Google+ games. Dragon Age™ Legends, the Dragon Age Legendspopular dark fantasy Play4Free® RPG developed by BioWare San Francisco (formerly EA 2D) has launched, and is the only game of its kind on Google’s new real-life social project. Dragon Age Legends extends the award-winning Dragon Age franchise and reinvents it for social play on Google+. The game blends accessible and engaging tactical combat, progression and exploration in the Dragon Age universe, and is perfect for co-operative and competitive gameplay across players’ Google+ Circles and Hangouts.

wordlogicVancouver’s WordLogic Corporation, a provider of advanced predictive text software for smartphones, PCs and other devices, has announced the availability of WordLogic Intelligent Input™ technology for licensing to manufacturers and software developers. The technology is ideal for mobile app developers, search providers, and device OEMs looking for the best possible predictive text or search technology.

WordLogic Intelligent Input™ helps make text input on touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and other consumer electronics devices faster, more accurate and helpful. Devices like smartphones, tablets, automotive infotainment systems, Internet TV, and game consoles are proliferating by the billions. They enable the Internet and employ touchscreens, body motion, infrared controllers or other non-mechanical keyboards to enter text, search and control applications. WordLogic Intelligent Input™ brings next generation text input to these text-hungry devices.

Current predictive text methods, which rely upon adjacent key prediction or misspellings, are frequently so inaccurate use that people simply turn them off. Alternatives require too much of a learning curve for mass adoption. Voice input has improved, but even server-based voice recognition is frequently insufficient in environments subject to background noise, such as groups where conversation is taking place, in vehicles, and on the street.

gorilla nationGorilla Nation Media Canada has announced that it will exclusively represent the online advertising sales for European news site Figaro Medias in the Canadian market.

“Group Figaro is enthusiastic to join the Gorilla Nation family. We share the same vision of the digital business, which is to guarantee premium, innovative and engaging contents (video, chat session, etc.), to join our audience on all devices and platforms and to respond with care to our advertisers the same way we care about our content. The adaptability and the service quality of Gorilla Nation bring a new dynamic to the Figaro Medias offer in Canada,” says Eileen Lemuet, International Commercial Director at Figaro Medias.

“With the addition of Figaro Medias to our roster of sites, it shows our commitment and seriousness in increasing our offer in the French Canadian market, while complementing some of the new business sites we have recently added,” says Jean-Sébastien Tremblay, Director of sales, East of Canada, at GN Media Canada.

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10th August 2011

Activision and GameStop Launch PROTOTYPE 2 Get in the Game Promotion

Radical EntertainmentGamers now have a chance to win their ultimate fantasy with Activision Publishing, Inc.’s and GameStop’s, “Get in the Game,” pre-order promotion for Radical Entertainment’s highly anticipated PROTOTYPE® 2.

U.S. and Canadian players, 18 and older, who pre-order PROTOTYPE 2 at GameStop between now and September 1, 2011 will have the opportunity to go online and enter a random drawing to win a trip for two to Radical Entertainment in Vancouver and become a character in the upcoming open-world action thriller.  To enter the drawing, and for full rules and regulations, go to www.gamestop.com/collection/prototype-2.  The press release said that Canadians who want to enter the contest should go to www.gamestop.ca/prototype-2, however at press time, that link resulted in a 404 error. In fact, GameStop’s Canadian site didn’t mention the contest at all. prototype 2Conspiracy?

“Thanks to this great partnership with Activision and GameStop, we have an incredible opportunity to offer gamers something truly unique,” said Ken Rosman, Studio Head, Radical Entertainment.  “In addition to just seeing themselves in the game, the winners will actually be able to locate their virtual selves and shape-shift Sgt. James Heller into their likeness.  Radical wouldn’t be where it is today without our fans, and this is just another way for us to thank them for all their support.”

The sequel to Radical Entertainment’s best-selling open-world action game of 2009, PROTOTYPE 2 takes the unsurpassed carnage of the original PROTOTYPE and continues the experience of becoming the ultimate shape-shifting weapon.  As the game’s all-new infected protagonist, Sgt. James Heller, players will cut a bloody swathe through the wastelands of post-viral New York Zero (or more simply… NYZ) with unparalleled locomotion, building up a vast genetic arsenal of deadly, biological weapons and abilities as they hunt and consume their way toward the ultimate goal — to kill…Alex…Mercer!

PROTOTYPE 2 is currently in development for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and the Windows PC.  The game is currently rated “RP” (Rating Pending) by the ESRB, with an expected “M” rating.

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4th August 2011

Brawl Busters Moving To Beta

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions and partner Weezor have announced today that the closed beta test for Brawl Busters will begin next week on Thursday, August 11th. You can apply to receive a beta key by signing up on the game’s web site.

Brawl Busters is a Free2Play dynamic new action brawler that features competitive and co-operative battle modes all in a unique third person view.  With its simple and intuitive controls, this easy to pick up and play game makes team strategy a must as player’s battle against each other or team up against computer controlled enemies.

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“Our fans ask us every day when they will get their hands on Brawl Busters so we are excited to finally be able to let them know the countdown has started and they only have to wait one more week!” said Howard He, President and CEO of Rock Hippo Productions.  “We invite players to go to the website now and sign up so they can make sure to get one of the coveted closed beta invites, and while they are there they should make sure to check out the weekly video lessons we have posted teaching them about Brawl Buster’s gameplay features. This way, they can be ready to jump in and be one of the best Original Busters next Thursday.”

The gameplay lessons help players to learn more about what to expect when they enter the world of Brawl Busters. The video lessons can be found on the front page of the Brawl Busters website and feature a breakdown of each of the five character classes, the missions, the customization, environment and items and much more!

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3rd August 2011

Space Marine Soundtrack Scored By Celebrated Composer Team

Relic EntertainmentCelebrated composer duo Cris Velasco (God of War Series) and Sascha Dikiciyan (TRON: Evolution) have created an epic original score for Relic Entertainment’s upcoming 3rd person action/shooter, Warhammer® 40,000®: Space Marine® published by THQ. Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe created by Games Workshop®, Space Marine is scheduled to be released for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and Windows PC on September 6th 2011.
Space Marine
In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine you are Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, humanity’s last hope for survival in a war-ridden future. Step into the armor of this superhuman warrior and use a lethal combination of deadly weapons to crush overwhelming alien forces. Fight against the savage Orks and the unholy forces of Chaos in a brutally violent world based on one of the most popular science fiction fantasies.

Inspired by the stunning cinematic visuals and visceral gameplay of Space Marine, the renowned duo of composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan crafted an expansive emotional score featuring anthemic orchestral compositions and contemporary Hollywood music production, reflecting the epic scale of this rich, sci-fi fantasy.

Glenn Jamison, Audio Lead at Relic Entertainment commented, “Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan have composed a world-class, emotionally intense original music score for Space Marine that exceeded all of our expectations. We were blown away by the inspired music they wrote for our game and can’t wait to share their epic score with everyone when Space Marine releases this September.”

Composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan commented, “Space Marine has been one of the most creatively satisfying projects of our scoring career. This being the first third-person shooter in the Warhammer franchise, we were honored to write an original score that lives up to the games’ prestigious history and also pushes the series forward with a bold and fresh sound.”

The Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine original soundtrack will be included in the Collector’s Edition now available to pre-order exclusively from the THQ store – which has many Warhammer fans around the world (including the Cavechild) very unhappy with THQ.

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2nd August 2011

Hands On With Kula Blox

Finally. TransGaming

I’ve been waiting for months to have a go at TransGaming Studio’s upcoming title Kula Blox, in part because the studio staff have been taunting me mercilessly with each new iteration and character reveal. They haven’t been playing fair, to say the least – but I got my chance to try it on not just one, but two platforms at Casual Connect Seattle. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely. I really didn’t want to put it down, and I feel that this will be one of the top Canadian-made casual game titles of the year.

gametreetvMy first go-round with the game was on TransGaming’s GameTree TV platform, which puts games right on your smart TV. We don’t have a smart TV (we just got an LCD HDTV a few months ago – can’t rush these upgrades), so I was also getting a first look at this interesting new way to play. GameTree TV gives players the option of trying, renting, or purchasing casual game titles. Adding to the challenge was using the uWand controller, so this first play-through was a trifecta of new things to wrap my mind around.

I am impressed with the GameTree TV interface, which works via a set-top box to offer gamers a wide variety of titles. I watched many Casual Connect attendees pick up the controller and easily figure out how to pick and launch titles, as well as play them – no previous experience required. While I did get to spend a fair bit of time playing Kula Blox on GameTree, the title is still in development so the GameTree version was not yet fully optimized for the platform. Kula BloxEven still, the game has an over-all high appeal – the graphics are crisp and clear, the music is not annoying, and the sounds, while somewhat repetitive, were original and fit in well with the game’s environment.

When Kula Blox is released, it will be available for GameTree TV, Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Not that a release date has been confirmed as of yet; TransGaming Studios’ Creative Director Jason Azevedo would only commit to “late Summer but definitely by Fall” no matter how many times I tried to reword the question and get a confirmation from him. Unfortunately, if we go by this year’s west coast weather patterns, “late Summer” could be virtually never.  Although, it does appear to be summer today. Tomorrow could be a different story.

Kula Blox is an arcade-style game with a diverse cast of characters who have a habit of falling to Earth from some unknown skyward region. Perhaps they’ve been evicted from the Cloud. I’m not really sure. During this losing battle with gravity, players will use their animal character to eat up the other animals who are also Kula Blox The Junglefalling through the air. There is a catch to this feeding frenzy, though. The player’s animal can only lunch on those animals which are smaller in stature while carefully avoiding those which are bigger. The bigger animals are rather persistent though, shadowing the player through the air, hoping for an easy meal.

Watching out for the big bullies isn’t the only obstacle, either. That would be too easy. There are branches and rock outcrops (depending on which map you’re playing through) to avoid – and while the developers were nice enough to put arrows on the screen to let you know that an obstacle is forthcoming, we gamers have been trained to believe that arrow paths are where we are supposed to go. Wrong. Don’t go there, you’ll get splatted and lose health.

There are also power-downs in addition to the traditional power-ups. Each animal has its own special power that you can use once it’s charged up, giving you a distinct advantage over the enemy. The universal power-ups give you things like a turtle shell helmet to keep the big bullies from turning you into a lunch entree while power-downs such as bear poop (yes, you read that correctly) do things like make your animal character smell. If you are unlucky enough to have fallen through the bear poop, the smaller animals will avoid you, making it harder for you to consume them so that you can grow big enough to take on the bullies. However, in my mind, this is somewhat illogical because poop is a fertilizer…

When you do finally reach ground you will land with a resounding crash, breaking several (or at least one) wooden crate. These crates contain different types of prizes such as gold coins to reward you for losing Kula Blox monkeyyour battle with gravity. These coins can then in turn be used in the game’s store to purchase unlocks, which can also be accomplished through micro-transactions. None of the price points have been announced yet, which includes the purchase price as well as those for the in-game upgrades. I considered torture but I have a feeling TransGaming Studio’s Managing Director has ensured that the creative staff have a high tolerance to such measures, so I let that idea go.

Kula Blox gives gamers of all types and ages a challenge that is fun to pick up and play, whether it’s just for a few minutes or a few hours. The controls are very intuitive and allow the player to use either tilt mechanics or side-to-side pinball-styled touch controls. With GameTree TV, you could use either the controller’s side-to-side buttons or motion detection in place of touch control; they work in the same way. I found the pinball touch controls on the iPad easier to use, but that is just because I am rather inept with tilt and motion controls. Yes, I am one of those players; I prefer the Wii’s classic controller over the Wiimote.

I asked Jason where the concept for Kula Blox came from, and he told me that it actually started out as an Kula Blox Eagleentirely different game that was pitched during one of the studio’s “Pitch Your Game Day” events. These pitch days are often held at the end of a development cycle, and Kula Blox has retained some of the original ideas from that initial introduction. The quick, fun casualness of the concept stuck with the creative staff, and like their recent Garage, Inc. game release, Kula Blox feels fresh and new. It definitely has some of the characteristics of a casual game that I like – scores to beat, things to collect (or not collect, in the case of bear poop) and many levels to unlock and revisit.

I also tried to pin Jason down in trying to get him to choose between Garage, Inc. and Kula Blox, naming one of them as his favourite, but he wouldn’t commit to that either. He stated that the titles are like children, and he likes them both equally, but for different reasons. Not hard to tell he’s a parent – and he was a real trooper, too – he’d endured probably one of the worst flights from Toronto to Seattle ever, with a Kula Blox Jaguarlong flight delay and late luggage, but that didn’t put a dent in his humour or enthusiasm. In fact, everyone I met from TransGaming was very friendly, and as some of us had been conversing back and forth on Twitter for some time now, it was much like meeting up with a long-time friend. My only regret (aside from not getting away with the iPad & game) was that I couldn’t have stayed at Casual Connect for longer than one day, because I really wanted to play more Kula Blox and talk with everyone more about the studio and all of its aspects.

At launch, Kula Blox will have three distinct map areas – The Forest, The Jungle and The Savannah, each with its own characters, prizes and themes. I did pry a little bit of information out of Jason – there will be post-release updates with more items and levels. The only other pre-release information I could get out of him is that they are still working hard on some power balancing as well as polishing sounds and mechanics. Through my incessant pestering, TransGaming is also working on a video trailer for the game, which we will be showing in our booth (1018) next week at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, along with trailers from several other Canadian studios.

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29th July 2011

EA Sports Unveils Global Stars for FIFA Soccer 12

EA SportsEA has revealed an iconic lineup of international stars that will help launch EA Sports™ FIFA Soccer 12, winner of 20 “Best Sports Game of E3” awards, including the prestigious E3 Game Critics award.* Headlining the group of players is Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Real Madrid’s Kaká, who will be joined by stars Philippe Mexès in France, Gerard Piqué in Spain, Giampaolo Pazzini in Italy, Mats Hummels in Germany, Jack Wilshere in United Kingdom and many others all over the world to launch FIFA Soccer 12 on September 27 in North America and September 30 worldwide. The international stars will grace the cover of FIFA Soccer 12 packaging, be integrated into marketing and advertising campaigns, and utilized in social media activities around the world.

“This is an iconic group of players who all passionately play our game, and we are excited to have them speak to fans around the world about their own personal experiences playing the best sports game on the planet,” said Matt Bilbey, Vice President and GM of Soccer, EA Sports. “With all the accolades FIFA Soccer 12 has received so far we are confident we have the most authentic and highest quality game we have ever created, and these superstars will play an integral role in sharing their excitement for its highly anticipated launch.”FIFA 12 Global Stars

For the first time ever, Rooney will appear on the cover of FIFA Soccer 12 in North America. Rooney has won the England Player of the Year award twice, in 2008 and 2009, and played for the England national team in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup. Today is the first of a series of announcements as the complete FIFA Soccer 12 player lineup is unveiled leading to the game’s launch. Rooney will be joined on the cover of FIFA Soccer 12 in North America by two additional players, and other stars will be revealed in other countries around the world.

FIFA Soccer 12 brings to the pitch the game-changing new Player Impact Engine, a physics engine built to deliver real-world physicality in every interaction on the pitch. Revolutionary gameplay innovations inspired by the real-world game make FIFA Soccer 12 deeper and more engaging. All-new Precision Dribbling creates a higher fidelity of touch on the ball for better control in tight spaces, more time to make decisions on attack, and more control over the pace of the game. FIFA12 Rooney

Innovations in attack are balanced by a re-designed defending mechanism called Tactical Defending, which fundamentally changes the approach to defending by placing equal importance on positioning, intercepting passes and tackling. Plus, players have been infused with Pro Player Intelligence, the next generation of player intelligence and performance.

FIFA Soccer 12 also introduces EA Sports Football Club—the heartbeat of FIFA Soccer 12. This live service is available at no additional cost and connects players to the real-world game with fresh, new content all the time, enabling them to support their favorite club and connect and compete with their friends, and millions of players around the world.

Not yet rated, FIFA Soccer 12 will be localized into 18 languages and available in 51 countries. It will be available for PlayStation®2 and PlayStation®3, PSP®, Xbox 360®, PC, Wii™, , Nintendo 3DS™, iPhone®, iPad™, and iPod® touch. The game will also be available for digital download on PC at Origin.

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29th July 2011

Rock Hippo Titles Now On Steam

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd. has officially partnered with Valve’s Steam platform to distribute its two popular free-to-play games, MicroVolts and the upcoming Brawl Busters.  Both action-packed games will soon be available to Steam users and will offer all of the exciting benefits of Steam’s strong community features to a vast worldwide audience. Steam just began hosting free-to-play games this summer, and players can look forward to adding two more high-quality titles to their library.

“The online gameplay of MicroVolts and Brawl Busters make them a perfect fit for Steam, and we are thrilled to be among the first free-to-play games to launch on the platform,” said Howard He, President and CEO of Rock Hippo Productions. “We look forward to introducing both games to the millions of Steam users so they can experience all of the fun, excitement and non-stop action our games offer with all the ease of use that Steam provides.”

MicroVolts features fast paced, third person shooter action and pits players against each other in a secret microvoltsbattle that has been waged and going unnoticed right in our own backyard for years.  No one knows for sure when or where the first toy declared war but rumor has it that the uprising began with four original limited edition figures, code named MicroVolts. Battle lines were drawn when Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P.-the prototypes -were soon joined by an endless number of modified versions. Now, toy figures around the world are engaged in an all-out war for valuable battery resources and supremacy of the Micro World.  All we can do now is stay out of their way and wait for a champion to be declared!  Featuring a ton of weapons, fresh character designs, and a huge list of customization features,

Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, Zombie Mode and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept. Players can also check out the recently released Summer Recharge patch that includes a brand new map, Magic Paper Land, new weapons and hot summer items such as a Pink Polka Dot Bikini that is sure to heat up the battlefield.

Brawl Busters is an upcoming action brawler that features competitive and co-operative battle modes all in a unique third person view. With its simple and intuitive controls, this easy to pick up and play game Brawl Bustersmakes team strategy a must as player’s battle against each other or team up against computer controlled enemies.

Players will find five unique character classes including the Slugger, the Firefighter, the Rocker, the Boxer and finally, the Blitzer. With its signature funky visual style, the game will offer tons of exciting maps and will also feature a huge variety of customization options including body type, gender, weapons, costumes and accessories along with the ability to upgrade weapons and costumes with new abilities. Brawl Busters will feature an intense training mode, challenge missions, leaderboards and persistent stat tracking.

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28th July 2011

Kickin Momma Wants Your Babies

Hothead GamesFrom the incredibly warped minds at Hothead Games comes Kickin Momma, a hilarious new game coming to iPhone ($1.99) and iPad ($3.99) this August 4th. In this latest title, players control Momma as she aims and drop-kicks her babies into a shiny field of jewels and gems. Once launched into the air, Momma’s helpful children will hit, bounce and ping off pegs like pinballs.

You may well ask why do these youngsters put up with this, and where are Child Protective Services? Well, in the classic cliche of overbearing mothers, Kickin Momma’s children will do anything to make her happy, including being kicked into fire, ice and explosive pegs and being booted around 36 fun-filled levels to find all the gems in the game’s 3 dynamic worlds, all because Momma wants a shiny new necklace.

Players can also earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals upon completion of each level, as well as unlock fashionable accessory items to dress up Momma. Momma can be pimped out with costume items such as kicking boots, a mustache, a crown, and even a monocle while questing for Momma’s most-wanted prize piece: a gem-encrusted necklace.

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Game Center encourages masterful Mommas to compete with their friends for achievements or bragging rights to the highest place on the leader board. Prepare to kick the kids, collect the shiny gems and wear the necklace as everyone’s favourite Kickin Momma.

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27th July 2011

Discover Toon Boom Harmony 9 and Storyboard PRO 3D at Siggraph 2011

Toon BoomToon Boom will be unveiling Toon Boom Harmony 9 & Storyboard PRO 3D at SIGGRAPH 2011, Booth 708. These ground-breaking applications skyrocket animation styles to untapped creative realms, offering mind-blowing digital capabilities to creators.

Toon Boom Harmony Highlights:

• Draw with pencil lines supporting textures and variable line thickness. • Deform images and drawings animated over time using advanced bone and curved deformers.
• Built-in particle effects and dozens more!
• 2D-3D import integration, 3 axes object transformation Toon Boom

Storyboard Pro 3D Highlights:

• Work with 3D space with Camera View, Top and Side Views to position your 2D drawing.
• Build your own 3D Library for reuse.
• Export project to 3D software using FBX format.
• Take advantage of Digital Storyboarding capabilities

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