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  • Balancing The Canadian Copyright Act Is Like Walking A Tightrope

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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21st May 2010

International Awards and New Releases

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

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

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

Session Speakers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20th May 2010

News As Diverse As Our Country

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund’s business policies are now available. This document, Appendix B: Business Policies (PDF), includes the following information:

Default Policy
Accounting and Reporting Requirements
Producer’s Fees and Corporate Overhead Policy
Completion Protection Policy
Production Insurance Policy
Standard Recoupment Policy
Treatment of Tax CreditsMIGS

The Montreal International Game Summit has unveiled its web site for 2010. Although much of the content is still focused on last year’s conference, more information will be available soon for the November 8 & 9th event.

IUGOSince the launch of Implode XL’s latest update which brought the level editor to the iPhone on May 11, 2010 (a little over a week ago), new levels have exploded into the game. IUGO is happy to share some exciting stats about the accumulating user-generated content:
Implode XL
There is now over 10x the amount of content for users to play. IUGO has done updates providing users with 170 levels to play, and there are now over 550 levels are being downloaded and played every day. In total over 100,000 levels have been downloaded and played to-date and over 2,300 levels have been rated by players.

“We are beyond pleased with the reception and engagement that our users have had with the newly launched level editor for Implode XL,” beams Sarah Thomson, IUGO’s Director of BD. “There are some incredibly challenging and creative levels being built and we’re excited that Implode XL fans now have fresh puzzles to solve all the time. We will continue to create games with compelling features that encourage user interactivity and a meaningful social layer. We’re just getting started!”

Implode XL featuring the new level editor for all iDevices is available on the App Store for $2.99 US.

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal is recruiting playtesters for its new PlayTest facility. If you live in or near Montreal, this could be a great opportunity for you to put all those hours of gameplay experience to good use. For those looking for other employment in the game development industry, Eidos Montreal also has a number of career positions open.

Need For SpeedThis morning on Twitter, Team Need For Speed announced a new build project with Vaughn Gittin Jr. This project involves a 1969 Mustang which Vaughn has been working on since December 2009. Team NFS unveiled a first look at the classic muscle car, which will be unveiled at SEMA 2010 as well as making an appearance in a future Need For Speed title. Check out the details and picture on the Team NFS blog.

MaRSMaRS, a Toronto-based not-for-profit innovation centre, is the newest addition to the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). The collaboration will enhance levels of technology commercialization and help develop successful companies in the digital media sector. The announcement follows on the Canada 3.0 2010 digital media forum in Stratford held May 10-11 where Industry Minister Tony Clement emphasized the importance of digital media to Canada’s economy.

“Bringing together MaRS and the collaboration network of the CDMN will enable powerful progress for digital media in Canada,” said Kevin Tuer, Managing Director of the CDMN. “Helping more start-up digital companies bring products to market and creating opportunities for growth in the Information and Communications Technology field is critical both for Ontario and all of Canada.”

MaRS advisors have been helping tech companies with advice, education, market insight and access to capital since 2006.

“At MaRS we are dedicated to furthering growth in the ICT sector by enabling the success of emerging technology companies,” said advisor Krista Jones, ICT Practice Lead. “We’re located in the heart of Toronto and have worked with hundreds of early-stage companies across Ontario to help them build their ventures into global successes.”

Together MaRS and the CDMN, which is headquartered in Waterloo Region and now connects nodes throughout Canada, will share and develop knowledge through surveys, data-mining and reports; develop programs to enhance entrepreneurial skills; promote the capabilities of digital media industries in Canada; and more. The CDMN was the organizer, with the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, of the Canada 3.0 2010 forum.

wavefrontWavefront and SFU Present Developing Apps for Symbian. This seminar is targeted at developers who would like to learn the basics about developing apps on the Symbian platform. According to ABI Research, more than 330 million cell phones run Symbian OS with a 48% global market share for smartphones. Developers will learn how to leverage the Symbian Horizon Program, an application-publishing platform that allows developers to write an application once and publish it in dozens of Symbian app stores worldwide, and how to port apps from other platforms to Symbian. This seminar will take place on the morning of May 28th at Discovery Parks in Vancouver. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Social Media ClubCurious about how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to enhance your business? Wondering what your competitors, customers, and prospects are talking about? Or unsure of how to tell what’s working and what isn’t? Join the Social Media Club Vancouver at Social Media 101 where the answers to all of these questions will be explored.

With three light-speed presentations: 20 minutes for lecture, 10 minutes for Q&A, join Guacira Naves, Kemp Edmonds, and Tris Hussey, the clutter will be cleared and you will gain the critical information you need to advance your social media plans. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th May 2010

Designing Assassin’s Creed II With Patrick Plourde

Many thanks to Patrick Plourde, Lead Game Designer at Ubisoft Montreal for an in-depth look at Patrick Plourde - Photo Credit: GDC 2010Designing Assassin’s Creed II. Presented by the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter last evening, Patrick’s presentation covered the main design focus followed to cram all of the great features and improvements we saw in Chapter Two of this very successful franchise.

The amount of development that went into Assassin’s Creed II is mind-boggling. With over 230 features and a dev team of over 300, just the massive amounts of data to keep a rein on would bury the uninitiated. Patrick stated that through the entire development process, the most Ezioimportant things to pay attention to are your game play pillars and the need to keep an honest perspective. He said that your game play pillars are used to create the challenge, while your supporting features give meaning and depth to the core, while exotic features are used to change the pace of the game.

Patrick also drew attention to the importance of play tests and making the most of the test feedback in the development of your title. Using a two-fold process of Qualitative and Quantitative Reporting will give developers a very good perspective of what gamers like or do not like, as well as how they are playing your game. The Quantitative portion focuses on data tracking and usability reports, which provide concrete information to orient discussion on data instead of personal opinions. Meanwhile, the appreciative, or Qualitative reports, give context to the data you’ve collected, and you can see what is working, what isn’t, and what changes need to be made so that the gamer can more fully experience (and enjoy) the mechanics of the Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodgame.

Patrick also touched briefly on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and how everything learned in the two previous Assassin’s Creed development processes helped the team work quickly through a very short ten month production window. A big part of this was the strength, scope and depth of the team’s design documents. He stated that it is very important to keep your documentation up-to-date right through until the end of the project. Paying attention to your development documentation will cut down on needless questions and distractions, as well as force you to think and keep track of the vision for your title. As has been stated in many, many game dev seminars – it is cheaper to fail on paper than in production – and Patrick reiterated this by saying how important it is to challenge every feature you want in your game on paper first. This is not a perfect process, but it will reduce risk to your bottom line. In reply to a question asked from the audience, Patrick noted that features drove a large part of the story, and have a big part in the future of where the Assassin’s Creed franchise is heading in the future. Too bad he wouldn’t expand on that future…just where is Assassin’s Creed III going to take us? Curious gamers want to know.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterSIGGRAPH Vancouver has two more upcoming events which may interest you. The first is Alice in Wonderland – Creating Underland on May 25th at the Empire Theatre on Granville. This session features Alice In Wonderlandtwo 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.

The other upcoming SIGGRAPH Vancouver event, just announced last night, will focus on The ModNation RacersMaking of ModNation Racers. Featuring 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. As of press time, this event had not yet been added to the SIGGRAPH Vancouver web site, so you’ll have to check the association’s site later for ticket availability.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) have announced the availability of The Price Is Right game ($9.99) for the Sony PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on the PlayStation®Network. Players can now “COME ON DOWN” for their shot in Contestant’s Row, bid on items in 19 different pricing games, test their luck with spinning The Big Wheel, and experience the winner-takes-all tension of the Showcase.

“We are pleased to extend our tremendously successful The Price Is Right game to PlayStation 3 systems via the PlayStation Network,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This first game release is just the beginning for Ludia games on PS3™, and further reinforces our multiplatform game strategy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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18th May 2010

And The Survey Says Canadian Software Companies Are Doing Quite Well

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario is pleased to welcome Max Berdowski to its growing team. In this new role, Max will be responsible for overseeing the growth of the organization’s many services in collaboration with partners in both the private and public sectors.

“We are tremendously excited to have Max join our team at IO,” said Ian Kelso, President and CEO, Interactive Ontario. “Max has a keen understanding of the Canadian entertainment industry and has a Max Berdowskitrack record for delivering high very quality services in the not-for-profit sector.”

Max will be leading the charge in building partnerships around IO’s flagship event IN 2010, as well as for a new business skills training programme specializing in interactive media and digital games entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining Interactive Ontario, Max Berdowski spent ten years in Ottawa as the Executive Director and CEO of the recently closed Canadian Screen Training Centre (CSTC) — presenter of the Summer Institute of Film and Television. The national film, television and digital media training institute trained 500 filmmakers each year with all of its programming led by top working professionals. Max was responsible for the STC’s strategic planning, branding and programming. He directed its sponsorship and business development efforts.

Before leading the CSTC, Max’s work aired on broadcasters including CTV, Global television, CBC, CHUM, TLC in the U.S. and TQS in Quebec. From lifestyle series to network specials his numerous credits included Creative Director, Senior Producer and Director. Max was Producer/Director for a number of award-winning station and news image campaigns, most significantly, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters – C.A.B. Gold Ribbon Award for the country’s top Television Station Promotion and the PROMAX International Silver Medallion for the Atlantic Satellite Network’s innovative on-air look.

Max received a Master of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Production from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema from Concordia University in Montreal.Women In Games Vancouver

Women in Games Vancouver have released a three part interview with Vancouver Film School student Shannon Lee. Shannon was the recipient of the first ever Women In Games Scholarship, which was awarded at the Game Design Expo in 2009. You can watch Part One of the interview here, while Parts Two and Three have been posted on the WIGeh! You Tube Channel.

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Based on the overwhelming success of their PC utility software launches, PC HelpSoft™ is pleased to be able to offer Smart System Info & Smart Toolbar Remover free to the public.PC HelpSoft

“We are so touched by the support and feedback we have received on our products that we felt as though we would like to say thank you to the public by making these next software applications free to the public,”  says Vancouver’s PC HelpSoft™ Director of Product Development, Matthew Foland.

Smart System Info is a free tool that complies all the information you need on installed hardware and software. Specific information includes computer ID, processor, BIOS, memory, disks, video, motherboard, monitor, and more. Smart Toolbar Remover deletes annoying toolbars with just a click of the mouse. No more fighting with unwanted toolbars that take up valuable space in your browser.Darkspawn Ogre

In breaking news from Felderen, the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC for Dragon Age: Origins is now available (and waiting in my 360′s download queue) from Bioware. As announced earlier this month, players will now be able to play as the evil (or just misunderstood) Darkspawn. Instead of saving Denerim, players can burn it to the ground and watch Alistair weep in despair.  The Darkspawn Chronicles expansion is rated M and costs 400 BioWare Points, 400 MS Points or $4.99 PSN.

Happy 6th birthday to Maid Marian Entertainment Inc.’s free browser-based MMO game Sherwood Dungeon and to celebrate, the company’s creator has launched the new Sherwood Dungeon: Prophecy of Bane quest series to players.

“Sherwood started out as a hobby while I worked in the console games industry and grew organically. It’sSherwood Dungeon been a game that’s in constant development while it’s live,” says Maid Marian founder, Gene Endrody. “Originally players came back just to see what I had added and this created an interesting player culture because their feedback affected my choices. It’s also a bit of an anti-corporate entity; more like the crazy guy who turned his house into a haunted castle and invited people in to make suggestions.”

In a massive and expanding MMO space, Sherwood Dungeon stands out from a long list of cookie cutter competitors by creating a high-quality 3-D retail-style game experience that’s easy to access for new MMO players with simple controls, runs in any browser and doesn’t require a log-in, monthly fee or sign-up process. It’s the type of formula that might make any seasoned business person cringe but for Maid Marian’s one-man team, the result equals a global fan base of more than a million monthly unique visitors without any marketing plan.

Sherwood Dungeon also deviates from the tenets of modern MMO games. Combat is based on twitch reaction skills with minimal leveling up required to be potentially competitive with any other player in the game. Relying on 100% melee combat with a mere eight actions (attack, five power moves, tally and block), battles with monsters and players is kept close by not including ranged weapons – thus giving it more of a Fight Club-style of play where respect is earned, not given. Unlike other MMO games, Sherwood Dungeon allows players to change their avatar and identity and since skill is the motivation Sherwood Dungeonhere, there are no classes.

Socially, Sherwood Dungeon players have also dictated how they communicate, even with 99 rooms that often serve as meeting areas for clans. Such behaviors make for exciting clan vs. clan wars as players merely move to their opposing clan’s room to get the battle started. A dominant chat interface also keeps communications flowing between friends and foes and with combat being Sherwood Dungeon’s primary goal, none of the chat keystrokes interfere with combat (and yes, there are still control keys for dancing).

Sherwood Dungeon grew from an underground secret to global success through basic word of mouth. And those words come in many languages as 29% of the game’s players live in Poland, 19% in Brazil, 8% in the United States, 6% in Turkey, 5% in France and 4% in Argentina, worlds away from Maid Marian’s humble and suburban Vancouver headquarters. Read the rest of this entry »

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