10th June 2010

Patrick Beaulieu Launches Animation Insiders

Just a reminder that if you haven’t already, time is running out on your chance to have your say about Canada’s digital economy strategy. This incentive is meant to benefit our Canadian digital industry, so get involved in the discussion today. digiBC has released the 2010 BC Digital Media and Wireless Survey report (PDF) which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report covers key sectors of British Columbia’s rapidly developing Digital Media and Wireless industries.

dabble dbTwitter announced earlier today that it has purchased Vancouver company Smallthought Systems, the powers behind Dabble DB and Trendly. A message on Dabble DB’s landing page about the sale of the company reads:

“Obviously this represents a new chapter in the life of Dabble DB, both for us as a team, and for the product itself. We’d like to assure you that, for now, we will continue to provide our software and technical support to current Dabble DB customers. However, we will be disabling new account signups effective immediately.

There will be further changes to Dabble’s ongoing operations, and when those happen, we want to do right by you. We will provide you with 60 days advance notice of any major change. We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that, at any time, you can export all of your data, including attachments, in a structured format suitable for import into other systems.”

animation insidersPatrick Beaulieu, Animation Artistic Director at Ubisoft Quebec City, has launched his first 3D animation collection book Animation Insiders. A rich and complete work of knowledge sharing, this collection of testimonials gives a lot of tricks and hints as well as anecdotes from renowned animators at Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Pixar, to name a few. The book is now available worldwide on sstudiopress.

“Gathering all these people from all over the world and putting together all of these testimonials was a lot of work, says Patrick Beaulieu, but the result gives us a privileged vision on what is going on back stage in animation. Each collaborator had a clean slate to share his experiences, works, methodologies, philosophy, etc…. even if some aspects are more technical, Animation Insiders remains open to a wide audience, from the animation fan boy to the experienced animator. Everyone passionate about animation, movies and video games will find himself in this book, he will also find details and insides about his favorite animation movies or games” he adds.

You will find testimonials, visuals and illustrations from 13 renowned animators such as:

Jason Ryan (USA, Dreamworks, Shrek 4)
Andrew Gordon (USA, Pixar, Nemo)
Jason Martinsen (USA, Animation Mentor, Ice Age)
Jason Schleifer (USA, Dreamworks, LOTR)
Anthea Kerou (USA, Dreamworks, Bolt)
Victor Navone (USA, Pixar, The Incredibles)
Ana Maria Alvarado (USA, Sony Image Works, Spiderman)
Mike Nguyen (USA, Rainplace, Iron Giant)
Pedro Blumenbaum (Spain, Nocturna)
Pablo Navarro (Spain, Nocturna)
Emilio Ghorayeb (Canada, New Breed VFX, Madagascar)
Matt Stangio (USA, Pixar, Toys Story 3)
Reno Armanet (France, Tigobo Animation)

gamesauceThe schedule for the GameSauce Conference has been posted to the web. This conference takes place on July 19th, immediately prior to Casual Connect Seattle (July 20 -22). Registration is $100.00 USD or is free to those registered for the Casual Connect Seattle conference. There are some great topics, panels and roundtable discussions on the slate, so plan to be in Seattle one day early in order to take advantage of this event. Along with the great topics being offered through the GameSauce Game Development Track, the following areas may also be of interest to you, and like me, you will need a clone in order to take it all in.

The Leadership & Professional Development Track, produced in partnership by Women In Games International, Women In Games Vancouver and Women In Games IGDA offers some great panels and roundtable discussions about career building and talent nurturing.

If game audio is your thing, The Audio Track, produced by Game Audio Alliance, has much to offer, and the Nvidia Tegra Mobile Game Development Track, which is making its debut at this year’s GameSauce Conference is a must for those looking for opportunities in the mobile market. The Alternative Funding and Exit Strategies Track, produced by The Corum Group is a four hour crash course discussing the positives and negatives of funding as well as what to do with your company once you are successful.

trainyardiPhone developer Matt Rix has released his first title in the iTunes App Store. Trainyard is a challenging puzzler that requires the safe movement of coloured blocks (trains) from one station to the next. Each of the 100 puzzles ramps up in difficulty, adding colour and track-changing blocks into the mix while you try to draw tracks from one locale to the next, hopefully avoiding train pile-ups. There are no set solutions to the puzzles, so you are free to try as many options as you like. Trainyard also includes bonus levels as well as the ability to share solutions that worked for you on the game’s web site. Trainyard is available now for only $1.99. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th June 2010

Congratulations to the 2010 Technology Impact Award Winners

EA SportsElectronic Arts Inc. has revealed that its top-selling franchise from EA Sports™ will redefine player authenticity when FIFA Soccer 11 launches this Fall. FIFA Soccer 11 reinvents player authenticity – on and off the ball – for every player and at every position on the pitch with Personality+, an all-new feature that sees individual abilities reflected in game, enabling clear differentiation for every player.

“Personality+ is the evolution of individual distinctiveness that sees a player’s abilities on the pitch mirrored authentically in our game, creating individual personalities in FIFA Soccer 11,” said Executive Producer Kaz Makita. “We have reached a level of sophistication within our game engine where players in our game will behave and perform as true individuals.”FIFA 11

Personality+ distinguishes individual players from one another by utilizing a database that evaluates and grades each player’s skill-set over 36 attributes and 57 traits. The EA Sports FIFA Soccer franchise utilizes a network of 1,700 scouts, editors and reviewers positioned around the world to evaluate each player, creating one of the world’s most comprehensive databases to drive its market-leading soccer engine. Personality+ will be integrated everywhere in-game. Elite players are now empowered to showcase their world class skills. Real Madrid’s Kaka will deliver crisp, creative passes, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta will utilize tighter turns and close control to dribble through defenses, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney will hold off defenders and strike shots from distance with pace, and top-flight defenders like Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus will anticipate, predict and react to offensive players to win back possession. New body types and player models will further distinguish each player on the pitch. In addition, goalkeepers have also been injected with Personality+. The real-life personality of the keeper, whether acrobatic or traditional, will dictate his style in game. Dive attributes will determine the keepers with the ability to reach for further shots while reflex attributes determine reaction times, so a keeper like Petr Cech of Chelsea FC will be able to showcase world-class skills.

FIFA Soccer 11 introduces new Pro Passing where pass accuracy is determined by a gamer’s ability on the control pad, and player skill, situation and urgency on the pitch, yielding a deeply rewarding passing system. Poor decisions or over/under striking the ball will mean error-prone outcomes. New types of passes such as swerve passes will enable players to make a safer and more effective play.

Building on FIFA Soccer 10 gameplay that won 50 sports game of the year awards, FIFA Soccer 11 continues to listen to its growing legion of EA Sports FIFA fans around the world to refine gameplay in ways that matter most to fans.  FIFA Soccer 11 will be available in stores world-wide this Fall for the PlayStation®3, Xbox 360®, Wii™, PC, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS™, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system and mobile.

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario has announced that ‘Open Mobile’ Author Ajit Jaokar, Founder of futuretext in London, UK will keynote the iP3 Forum on June 21st in Toronto. During his keynote presentation, Ajit will explore the future of mobile and web technologies, and how an open ecosystem could drive innovation in technical and business strategies.

“As member of the Economic World Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet, and with his intensive experience and research into open mobile strategies, Ajit will provide key insights into the world of technological innovation past and future,” says Sarah Baird, Co-Chair of the iP3 Forum Advisory Board and VP, Programmes and Operations at Interactive Ontario. “We are thrilled Ajit will kick-start the iP3 Forum with mind-expanding ideas of where we’re all headed.”

realtech vrrealtech VR has released Beware of the Bad Seed 1.0, a new fast-paced arcade game for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (in high resolution) where players must protect the magical garden and save the daisy against never ending waves of naughty carnivorous plants. Beware of the Bad Seed is an addictive and sweaty revamped version of the arcade room classic “Whack a mole” with a 3D, vegetable twist. Use your finger to hit all the carnivorous plants and make sure not to hit the daisies that appear on the screen.

Feature Highlights:

* Includes universal version with full realtime 3D rendering for iPhone, iPhone 3GS and iPad with high resolution support.
* Three game modes: Time attack, Arcade and Tic-tac-toe.
* Landscape and Portrait orientation with auto-rotation.
* Personal scoreboard and ever increasing challenge.

Future updates with iOS 4 Game Center integration coming this summer with leaderboard, friends and more. To celebrate this release, realtech VR will be offering a discount on their other titles from June 10th through June 12th.

* Iron Fist Boxing Prestige Edition (with up to 200,000 download on the App Store) for 0.99$ instead for 4.99$
* Iron Fist Boxing Lite Full Version Upgrade for 0.99$ instead of 3.99$
* SkyORB 3D Premium Upgrade for 0.99$ (with up to 200,000 download on the App Store) instead of 2.99$
* Laserlink for Free instead of 0.99$

Tecagora SolutionsVictoria’s Tecagora Solutions is pleased to announce that Snapact Photo Manager is now available through the Intel AppUp Center.

The Intel AppUp Center allows netbook users to browse, purchase, download, and install software applications that have been optimized to operate on netbooks and the Intel Atom processor through the AppUp Center on their netbook. The AppUp Center is specifically designed for netbooks as a mobile store font that is launched as an application on the netbook. When launched, users can search for netbook software applications based on category type, or they can view featured software titles, “Staff Picks,” “What’s Hot,” or “New Releases.”

“Snapact Photo Manager has been designed to be fast and light on system resources,” states Bruce Kwan, President and CEO of Tecagora Solutions. “When installed on a computer hard drive, Snapact is less than 6 MB in size. Therefore, the software does not use up a lot of hard drive space making more room available for other software applications and files. Because of its speed and file size, Snapact is a great fit for netbook users looking for a photo viewer, manager, and sharing tool. We are excited to offer our solution for all netbook users to use through the AppUp Center,” says Kwan.

The AppUp Center is a tool for netbook users to quickly search for and find software applications that have been optimized, quality tested, and verified to run on netbooks and the Intel Atom processor. Netbook users can download, install, launch, uninstall, and purchase software applications directly through the AppUp Center on their netbook. Many of the netbooks shipped in 2010 will include the AppUp Center pre-installed, however, the AppUp Center is also available for direct download from Intel.

Manic With more than 200,000 applications available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, more and more companies are reaching their customers through iPhone apps – a trend that is expected to grow rapidly following the recent release of Apple’s iPad touch-tablet.

Push notifications allow companies to stay in touch with app users or to allow them to interact with each other. Manic’s server software puts companies tapping the burgeoning market for iPhone and iPad apps in full control of theiiir push messaging, allowing for unlimited messages without additional cost.

“Our idea for the Manic APNs came out of our experience developing our unique multi-player gaming network,” says Randy Byers of Ottawa-based Manic Networks. “But we quickly realized that a way to reach millions of users within a matter of minutes at no additional cost would have huge appeal to many types of companies doing business on the iPhone/iPad platform.”

Manic’s Linux-based server software runs on company-owned servers or on hosted cloud servers for a fraction of the cost it would take to develop in-house – and with no limits or per-message cost. Depending on hardware and connectivity, Manic APNsServer can send 400,000 messages per minute or more – close to 25 million messages an hour. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th June 2010

Ryerson University Students Assist Paris Transit Patrons

Wired WomanWired Woman Vancouver is presenting Building Community with Social Media on June 14th at UBC Robson Square. Starting at 5:30pm, this education session will assist attendees discovering the value of effective strategies for building a community through social media in an exciting, interactive round table discussion with five experts.

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 for themselves and their clients. Tickets for this event are available online at a cost of $35.00 for Wired Woman members and $40.00 for non-members. It is worth noting that you can save $5.00 by signing up for free and becoming a member of the Wired Woman network.

Panel:
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

wavefrontWaveFront has partnered with the Mobile Computing Promotion Consortium (MCPC) of Japan, and they are inviting Canadian mobile developers to take part in a unique opportunity for facilitated access to the Japanese wireless market. This two-part programme begins with one-on-one coaching sessions to be held at Discovery Park in Vancouver this June 21st through 23rd.

Following the information session on June 21st, selected participants will meet with visiting MCPC representatives for product assessments and structuring assistance, as well as an overview of marketing strategies over the remaining days of the visit. The information sessions are free to interested companies, but do require registration. If you are unable to attend in person, you can attend via the virtual event which will be hosted on Mingleverse. Part 2 of this partnership will offer those selected companies the opportunity to participate in the 8th annual MCPC Solutions Fair in Tokyo in November 2010.

Ryerson UniversityParis Metro passengers have a new way to navigate the transit system in the palm of their hand. Developed expressly to assist passengers with special needs, the Mobile Transit Companion, a made-in-Canada mobile application, uses context-aware self-adaptive computing to deliver live, customized data to passengers en route. The inclusive application, complete with useful information for all passengers, was created through a partnership between Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and Sweden’s Appear Networks.

Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) commuters can now download the free software and set up their user profile. Information is then automatically sent to their mobile phones according to their profile and contextual information. For example, they can receive notifications such as the location of station elevators and Metro transfer points; facilities and nearby businesses; updated schedules for connecting trains; and availability of services at each station. For blind and low-vision passengers, the Mobile Transit Companion uses a speech-enabled, gesture-driven user interface. For other user groups, including the elderly, deaf or hard of hearing, or passengers with reduced mobility, the application offers an intuitive and easy-to-use visual interface.

“At Ryerson we see a very niche use for context-aware computing in public transit and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS),” said Hossein Rahnama, project leader, Ryerson postdoctoral student and DMZ Steering Committee Member. “We are specializing in context-aware consumer applications in airports, airlines, trains, subways, buses, etc. and will be working with Metrolinx on a project for GO Transit here in the fall. With RATP, our focus was on passengers with special needs because those communities could really benefit from such applications, even though they are often not considered when developing apps.”RATP

The Mobile Transit Companion’s positioning function is integrated with a web-based monitoring service so that public transit staff can easily locate and assist passengers with special needs. The only existing social tracking application for public transit passengers, this monitoring service has the capability to be shared with friends and family. Using the interface, the transit authority can message selected passengers, which is particularly helpful for Deaf or hard of hearing passengers who can’t hear announcements made over the PA. Messages are communicated to each passenger according to the information on his in her profile, e.g.: the message will be interpreted from text to speech if s/he has indicated Low Vision.

The project was part of European research consortium developing an open-source middleware platform. Ryerson was the only North American player. “There are a lot of advantages to research collaboration with international partners in the Information and Communications Technologies sector,” said Rahnama. “In fact, one of our key objectives in this project is to demonstrate those advantages, such as combining the smartphone popularity and development of North America with the digital mobile telephony advances of Europe. The success of the MUSIC platform has inspired another project with Europe, slated for fall 2010.”

The Mobile Transit Companion is currently being piloted on Android phones in 10 stations along Line 14 of the Paris Metro. Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone at Yonge Dundas Square provides Ryerson University students with the opportunity to develop their digitally based ideas into consumer products with help from mentors and industry. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th June 2010

Deus Ex Human Revolution E3 Trailer Debuts Worldwide

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal has released the E3 2010 full trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The trailer, which draws from the game’s characters, environment and storyline, was produced by Vancouver’s Goldtooth Creative in partnership with Eidos Montreal and Square Enix’s Visual Works (Tokyo). The trailer promises strong writing, a large cast of important characters, intrigue and destruction. Deus Ex 3 is scheduled for release in 2011, and it is definitely on our list of Games We Must Have.

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If you are a fan of Studio B’s animated offerings, The City of Vancouver Archives is holding a special event which will chronicle the legacy of a local company that has become a leader in kids’ entertainment. Studio B’s popular animated series include Kid vs Kat, Martha Speaks, George of the Jungle and Class of the Titans, among many more.Studio B

Taking place at the VanCity Theatre on the evening of June 10th, the presentation will relate the studio’s rapid development from a two-man operation into its current status as a world-renowned production house composed of more than 200 artists and staff. Studio B has been donating its records from 12 original productions and many examples of its service and other work to the City Archives since 2006, preserving these records for generations to come. Tickets for this screening are very reasonable, with the most expensive ticket priced at $10.00.

Peace Arch EntertainmentFor fans of the Ireland-Canada series The Tudors, it is now possible to create your own intrigue on your iPhone. The Tudors, developed by dTales and Slitherine in conjunction with TV production giants Showtime and Peace Arch Entertainment, is an intriguing and exciting adventure game based on Season 1. Follow in the footsteps of King Henry VIII at the beginning of his epic 40-year reign or choose the path of Anne Boleyn, and realize your dream to become Queen of England. As the story unfolds, you will meet over 20 characters from the series, including Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas More and roam the corridors and staterooms of the Palace of Whitehall, the main residence of the King.

In an evolving sequence of dramatic events, you will be faced with danger, treason and intrigue. As King Henry VIII, you will be challenged by your closest friends and threatened by the menace of war with France. As Lady Anne Boleyn, you will pursue your dream to wear the crown of England no matter the cost. Only you can decide the course of history.

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The Tudors Game is currently only available for purchase from the US and Canadian App Store.

Main Features

- Two characters to choose from: King Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn
– Explore over 30 rooms at the Palace of Whitehall
– More than 20 historical characters to meet and talk to
– Play engaging mini-games to solve mysteries and progress in the game

Black BoxEA Black Box has announced the first downloadable content pack for the critically acclaimed skateboarding game SKATE 3 – The Maloof Money Cup 2010 NYC Pack. The content pack hits Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on June 8 for 400 MS points or $4.99 and an additional 100 achievement points and 5 trophies.

The all new DLC lets players compete in the largest pursed event and one of skateboarding’s biggest annual contests – The Maloof Money Cup. For the first time ever, this year’s competition will be traveling east to Flushing Meadows, New York, where the site of the 1964 World’s Fair maloof money cuphas been converted into one gnarly skate mecca. Gamers will have the opportunity to compete against some of the biggest names in skateboarding as they shred an all-new custom built street park for the ultimate cash purse.

The award-winning SKATE franchise breaks new ground with SKATE 3 and shreds the streets of the all-new skaters’ paradise, Port Carverton. Delivering the definitive co-op skateboarding experience, it’s up to players to build the ultimate team and change the face of the city with their brand by taking on unique team challenges and competing against rival crews online. The game also features the ability to create and share custom built skate parks and a revamped Thrasher Hall of Meat mode that will have players spending countless hours pulling off bone-crushing carnage.

EA SportsAlso announced today was EA SportsFIFA Online, the first downloadable FIFA soccer game designed for PC (A broadband internet connection and an average spec laptop computer or desk-top personal computer required), is available to soccer fans everywhere around the world to play for free (Internet connection required). EA Sports FIFA Online will be released around the world in stages. The UK English language Beta version is available now, with plans over the next 12 to 24 months for FIFA Online to launch in other languages across the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd June 2010

Balancing The Canadian Copyright Act Is Like Walking A Tightrope

Government of Canada…and trying to understand it all is like standing in a tornado. There is so much going on right now in regards to Canada’s copyright reform (Bill C-32) that it is almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, there are an abundance of online resources available so that we can learn more about the processes which have MP James Moore on Twitterbeen followed up to this point, as well as keep current with what is going on right now. The Canadian government has been maintaining a site called Balanced Copyright, and it holds a wealth of information. Naturally, the Pirate Party has grabbed the domain balancedcopyright.ca, but there is no site yet launched for that URL. I imagine that the group will probably use the domain to counter MP Tony Clement on Twitterthe one run by the government, and will count on the public not knowing the location of the government’s site. Speaking of government, both MP James Moore (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages) and MP Tony Clement (Minister of Industry) have been engaging the public, media and industry groups on Twitter since the Bill was announced yesterday. I recommend following both MPs, along with copyright expert Michael Geist for continuing updates about Bill C-32’s progress.

Fair Copyright for Canada (administered by Michael Geist) also has an active Facebook group which carries updates and opinions relevant to Bill C-32. One point which seems to be an area of contention is the Digital Lock, and CBC News has written a very comprehensive look at what it could Michael Geist on Twitterentail. I freely admit that I have not had time to read and process all of the information about C-32, and while I will endeavour to do so, I would like to invite someone more expert in the ramifications of C-32 to write a guest editorial explaining the good and the bad of our copyright bill. While many of what we could deem as special interest groups are voicing their opinions about Bill C-32, the most relevant to both us and our readers is what those in interactive media are saying. All of the sites and Twitter accounts above contain links to opinions and press releases from groups such as ACTRA, AFM and the Documentary Organization of Canada, and I invite you to check them out. Here is what ESAC has to say about the reforms:

esacThe Entertainment Software Association of Canada has released a statement about Bill C-32, congratulating the Government of Canada on its introduction of copyright reform legislation which will help protect Canadian content creators and digital media companies. ESAC believes that protecting the intellectual property of industries that contribute to Canada’s prosperity is not only good public policy, but is essential as our economy transitions to more knowledge-based jobs.

“We applaud the government for showing leadership on this complex issue and we look forward to studying the bill more closely,” said Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC. “Without strong protection for our intellectual property, we’re basically operating in a digital Wild West. Promoting piracy under the guise of ‘user rights’ does nothing to defend the livelihood of thousands of Canadians who rely on turning great ideas into world class entertainment,” she added.

“Piracy fundamentally undermines the integrity of the marketplace. It forces creators to compete against black market versions of their own products, affecting their ability to recover the considerable investments associated with digital media production. A strong bill – one which prohibits hacking of digital works, trafficking in hacking tools and that makes those who facilitate digital piracy clearly liable for their activities – is critical to the success of Canada’s digital economy,” says Parr.

In the industry’s view, a bill with clear protection for intellectual property will enable creators to decide how and at what cost their products can be accessed and in turn allow consumers to decide which products succeed and fail by voting with their pocketbook. Further, by supporting a diverse range of business models, strong copyright will facilitate increased competition, which ultimately leads to greater pew internetconsumer choice and lower prices.

In related news, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a report about The State of Online Video. While this study was conducted in the USA, the information can be useful to those Canadian companies and individuals who produce web-distributed products. The study is available as a downloadable PDF, or it can be read online.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Canadian game industry news and updates:

THQ has confirmed in an official press release that Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes Online will Relic Entertainmentindeed be released to the North American market this fall. Building on the frenetic Real-Time-Strategy action of the original Company of Heroes, Company of Heroes Online is free to play and offers army specialization, commander customization, and persistent progression, allowing players to strategize on and off the battlefield. Players will also have the opportunity to earn or purchase special units and upgrades and improve their army with each and every multiplayer victory.

Vice President of Global Brand Management Travis Plane commented that, “We are delighted to bring this award-winning franchise to gamers in a whole new way with the online version of the Company of Heroes experience. Players will benefit from the persistent upgrades and the ability to tailor their armies to really suit their play style making this a unique experience for everyone.”

Capcom MobileCapcom® Mobile and Classic Media, whose portfolio includes of some of the world’s leading kids, family and pop-culture brands such as Where’s Waldo?®, Casper the Friendly Ghost® and Lassie®, have announced the release of Where’s Waldo?® In Hollywood, the sequel to last year’s top-selling mobile phone game.

“The first Where’s Waldo? game was a run-away mobile hit with its addictive mini games and classic search and find puzzles,” said Midori Yuasa, President, Capcom Interactive, Inc. “For theWaldo In Hollywood sequel we’ve built on the winning mix with a whole new crop of puzzles, achievements and even more Waldo fun.”

“Capcom Mobile has done a terrific job translating the search and find experience of Where’s Waldo? for mobile and we are excited to partner with their team on the second game,” said Nicole Blake, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Consumer Products, Classic Media. “With its crowds of celebrities and celebrity-spotters, Hollywood is an exciting place for fans to take up their search for Waldo.”

Based on the international publishing phenomenon, Where’s Waldo? in Hollywood, developed by Capcom Interactive Canada, chronicles the world-famous traveler through a series of tinsel-town themed adventures. Players can join the search with multiple search and find games that are based on classic scenes from the book series, as well as five mini games, including Tic-Whack-Wizard, Odd One Out, and Slide Puzzles. As players progress, they will be able to unlock bonus content and earn in-game achievements. Where’s Waldo? In Hollywood is currently available for download on most North American carriers. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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28th May 2010

Yes The iPad Is Now In Canadian Stores

Well as many of you are well aware, today is launch day for the iPad in Canada. While it’s easy to want one, the iPad is not something that I will be purchasing in the near future. I have a netbook which I really like, and while the battery life could be better, it is functional for the purposes I require of it, and really, other than the tablet-styled type pad, I don’t see many advantages for an iPad over my iTouch other than the bigger screen. Besides, I need a PS3 more than I need an iPad. Then again, it would be easier to read books on the iPad than it is on my iTouch…

quickmobileBCTIA and QuickMobile are pleased to announce the “mobilization” of this year’s Technology Impact Awards (TIAs) taking place on June 8th, 2010. In collaboration with BCTIA, QuickMobile has developed an iPhone app and mobile website which provides information about the awards dinner real time on any mobile device.

BCTIAThe community will be able to access the awards program, list of attendees, and finalist profiles on their SmartPhone. Other major features of the mobile solutions include online ticket purchasing, past history of TIA winners presented as cover flow graphics, as well as the evening’s seating plan.2010 TIA app

David Snell, EVP of QuickMobile stated ”we are very pleased to provide the first ever mobile solutions to enhance and extend this year’s TIAs experience. The iPhone application and mobile website benefits both the attendees and organizers by including an interactive mobile program guide with access to real-time features, which in turn provides leading edge interactive tools for all attendees and reduces printed material.”

“We are very excited about using these innovative mobile solutions to differentiate our 2010 TIAs celebration“said Pascal Spothelfer, President and CEO of BCTIA. “QuickMobile has created these mobile tools for us within an extremely short time frame and incorporated features we know will improve our attendees’ experiences at the 2010 TIAs.”

Licensing Executives SocietyThe Licensing Executives Society (USA and Canada) Inc., are holding some educational events in Toronto on June 7th. Commercializing Technology through the Power of IP Licensing is an introductory course designed for those with no prior experience in licensing. According to the event’s information page, it is specifically aimed at:

* non-licensing professionals about to enter the field
* those who are considering a career in licensing
* entrepreneurs who need to understand the value of their IP
* professors of entrepreneurship
* students interested in learning the basics of Intellectual Property (IP) and how to commercialize IP through licensing

Essential Principles & Tools of Licensing is the next step in the Society’s educational programme, and it is also running in Toronto, with a given date of June 7 – 10. This course is much more in-depth and is also more costly to attend than the introductory session mentioned above. Please see the Society’s web site for all of the pertinent information. The intended audience for this educational programme are intellectual asset management professionals, including those responsible for licensing and business development, who want to increase their knowledge of licensing and raise their professional skill level.

kerberos productionsKerberos Productions and Paradox Interactive are happy to announce that Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection which includes the original Sword of Stars game as well as its’ expansions: Born of Blood, A Murder Crows, Argos Naval Yard as well as a brand new scenario, has been released today with a recommended retail price of $29.99

Developed by Kerberos, Sword of the Stars is an epic space 4x Strategy game set in the year 2405 that allows players to play as one of four distinct galactic races, research over 150 distinct technologies, design and build ships across three size classes and wield over 40 weapons from six different weapon groups. Players can also choose from a variety of single-player scenario campaigns along with up to eight player multiplayer.

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The first expansion, Born of Blood, unveils the merciless Zuul Slavers with over 90 brand new ship sections and their unique drive system, the Tunnel Drive. It also introduces a variety of new game features including slavery, trade routes and diplomatic communications, as well as 25 additional technologies, 15 more weapons, new ship sections for the original four races as well as new scenarios, maps and galactic encounters.

A Murder of Crows introduces a sixth new race in the form of The Morrigi with their unique ‘Grav Flock’ Drive System, 27 additional technologies, 15 more weapons along with construction ships, orbital stations, spy ships, police cutters and more.

The third and final expansion, Argos Naval Yard, completes Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection with 19 more new technologies, over 75 additional ship sections to build, 10 weapons, three scenarios, as well as single player/multiplayer with co-op scenario maps.

blitwareBuilding on the success of their popular software utility applications, Blitware is happy to announce the latest addition to their lineup, Undeleter. As the name implies, the application helps computer users rescue documents, photos, and folders that have Undeleterbeen deleted and were previously thought unrecoverable. Though Undeleter joins similar software applications in its category, Blitware developers have designed a unique functionality to prevent overwriting and the ensuing permanent damage that is a common risk with such software applications.

Scanning the PC and any attached storage devices such as cameras, USB drives, and external hard drives, Undeleter searches for deleted files and folders and displays them for selection and recovery options. Unlike most data recovery software applications Undeleter Screenshotthat recover files one at a time, Undeleter utilizes a unique technology that Blitware has termed “DataStream”. Recovering all retrievable files to RAM, encrypting them so that only the host computer can read them, and temporarily storing them until the entire batch is safe and ready to be written back to disk, Blitware’s DataStream technology protects against overwriting and damage to files that is problematic with other data recovery solutions. Undeleter is compatible with the following Windows operating systems: Windows XP Home/Professional, Windows Vista (32-bit & 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit & 64-bit).

The latest in Blitware’s suite of utility software products, Undeleter joins Blitware’s Driver Fetch, File Helper, and the ever-popular PC Medkit as part of the company’s lineup of electronically downloadable software applications. As a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Vancouver Island Technology Association (VIATeC), Blitware is committed to providing user-friendly, effective utility software to PC users and is confident that Undeleter, their latest application, will serve their customers well and far surpass industry expectations. 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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25th May 2010

United Front Games Has Their First Title On Store Shelves

ModNation Racers Happy Launch Day to everyone over at United Front Games – Congratulations on your first official “Game Now On Store Shelves” milestone, and we wish you every success with ModNation Racers as it karts its way into homes around the world – now on to True Crime!

Vancouver Innovation CampThe next Innovation Camp will be held on May 29th and 30th at Bootup Labs. Get your tickets now for a great workshop that will challenge assumptions, connect ideas, embrace failure and see problems as opportunities for creative solutions in order to take your entrepreneurial venture to the next step. Tickets for Innovation Camp are $119.00 and can be purchased online.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets are also still available for the Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation of Alice in Wonderland: Creating Underland. Taking place on May 25th at the Empire Theatre Granville, this session features two presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members. Please note that online ticket sales for the seminar are now closed, but you can still get tickets at the door.

ICAOur friends over at AnnexPro have just told us about two upcoming seminars for Final Cut Pro editors. Presented by the International Colorist Academy, these two courses will be taking place in Vancouver beginning on June 7th. The first course, Apple Colour, will be held on June 7 & 8th, while the Colourist Strategies session will be held June 9th through 11th.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) today announced the American Idol Star Experience game will be available as a free download on May 26th to coincide with the Season 9 finale of the smash hit American Idol™ TV show. The game enables fans to continue their Idol obsession as they unleash their creativity by producing jaw-dropping online performances for family, friends and the whole Facebook community to rate and compare against other players.

Idol enthusiasts simply use their existing Facebook login to create a game account to access the free Performance Creator download for PC. The Performance Creator enables players to design their own unique stage performance, including building a custom avatar from head to toe, choosing a song to sing from dozens of hits, choreographing dance moves, and directing a multitude of staging elements like camera angles and special effects. The player can then post the performance to Facebook with one click, to be rated to see how they compare to other performers in singing, styling and staging categories.Play American Idol

Members of the Facebook community can also enjoy the American Idol Star Experience game in a highly social context as members of the “audience” view and rate performances, choose favorites, leave comments for performers and discuss the best (and worst) of the performances- all within the Facebook environment.

“We are excited to release a unique game experience based on American Idol, one of the most important entertainment franchises in the world,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “American Idol Star Experience reinforces our existing multiplatform game strategy, now seamlessly integrated with robust social features.”

American Idol Star Experience features:

* A free downloadable Performance Creator, available via players’ existing Facebook account.

* Personal avatars that players build head to toe, including body type, face, eyes, hair and more.

* Dozens of hit songs available in a wide variety of genres to suit all musical tastes including rock, punk, pop, hip hop, disco, R&B and country.

Players can achieve further customization of all elements of a performance via a simple “drag and drop” interface, including:

* Recorded singing- Players can select pre-recorded voice tracks, or use their own voice to sing karaoke-style.

* Personal styling- Hundreds of hair styles, wardrobe items and accessories to choose from.

* Unique staging- Stages modeled after the famous American Idol stage, with special effects, lighting, camera angles, dance moves and props that players can craft to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

* Social interaction within the Facebook community as members of Facebook can visit the game’s page to view and rate performances based on singing, styling and staging criteria. Players have also the ability to invite select Facebook friends to a private viewing of their performance.

“After more than eight top-rated seasons on television, the Emmy-award winning American Idol is one of the most successful properties on TV,” said Olivier Delfosse, Director, Interactive, FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for the program. “We are pleased to extend American Idol to both the existing fan base and new audiences alike with a highly immersive game experience that further deepens consumer engagement with the franchise.”

Ubisoft Montreal has released the North American trailer for Shaun White Skateboarding, which is scheduled for release this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

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