14th May 2010

Decapod Releases Debut Title Murphid

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

Among the game’s features are:

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

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

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

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

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

Contest Schedule:

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

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

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13th May 2010

Stimulate Your Brain with Canadian Digital Media Offerings

Canada Media FundLeading our News Briefs today, the Canada Media Fund’s Experimental Stream Application Form is now available for download from the CMF web site. Also announced today were the winners of the CMF Hot Docs Contest.  The two winners were Mark Montague of Saskatchewan, Producer and Director of Minds Eye Entertainment, and Agata Ivanna Pogorelsky of Toronto, Creative Assistant at South American Vision. Both won passes to the 2010 Hot Docs Festival, giving them access to all films and festival events. Super Mario Galaxy2

Nintendo CanadaToronto-area Mario fans of all ages will be among the first Canadians to get hands-on play time with the sequel to the 2007 debut Super Mario Galaxy. A special guest will make a surprise landing during the event, where participants will be able to enjoy on-site entertainment, receive exciting Nintendo giveaways (while supplies last), and have the chance to win 1 of 50 copies of the new game. The Canadian launch party for Super Mario Galaxy™ 2 will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday, May 23rd from 12 noon until 8pm.

Fit BrainsFor those who may not already know this, Reader’s Digest Online teamed up with Fit Brains to bring some of their popular word games to the Word Power Rechargedinternet, your PC and yes, your iPhone. Word scrambler Word Power: Brain Sparks is available in the iTunes store for $2.99, while Word Power: Recharged is playable on your PC at the Reader’s Digest site or at Fit Brains, and will be available through other game portals as well. A third game, Word Power: The Green Revolution is downloadable to your PC for only $19.99 from either site. All three games are linked to the Word Power Network, which allows players to see their placing on the leaderboards and share in-game awards.

IUGOToday is the last day that you can grab IUGO’s Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet for the iPhone for free. You’d best hit the iTunes store now and grab this crazy earth-based alien-shoot-em-up while you can, because tomorrow you’ll have to pay for it. This offer is brought to you in part by OpenFeint’s Free Game of the Day programme. The aliens don’t stand a chance, because last Saturday, over 125 000 earth defenders joined Daisy Mae and her cause to rid the planet of hostile inter-planetary immigrants.

Bioware CorpBioware has announced new DLC for Mass Effect 2. Overlord will be available in June for 560 MS (or Bioware) points and will offer five new action packed levels Mass Effect 2 Overlordand two new achievements. The action in this next DLC expansion will centre around an experimental and dangerous Virtual Intelligence creature that has been unleashed and is taking over any technology it finds to serve its purposes, including the Geth. Commander Shepard and his (or her) squad must infiltrate the VI’s heavily guarded fortress and shut it down before it can beam itself off planet, continuing its wave of havoc across the galaxy.

innovacorpDartmouth’s Innovacorp will be presenting a breakfast seminar on the morning of May 26th at the Innovation Boardroom, starting at 8:45am. The seminar’s topic is Building Effective Distribution Channels and will feature an expert panel who will discuss insights and advice on distributors and distributor agreements.

The panel will be moderated by Innovacorp’s interim president and CEO, Stephen Hartlen, and will feature Ian Lucas, executive vice president of innovation and strategy, Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., Robert Nadeau, a partner at law firm Kerr & Nadeau, and Mike Flynn, director of business development at Tether.

PricewaterhouseCoopersAfter six weeks of heated debate from online discussions about Canada’s future in the digital economy, three winners emerged from the ‘crowdsourcing’ competition called Canada’s Digital Compass, hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). The dialogue was spread among contributors from all parts of Canada and included more than 1,200 site visitors and overall, 70 ideas were submitted for voting.

The categories were judged by a panel from a wide range of industry backgrounds as well as community participation. Each week, starting on March 16, a new subject competition was launched and the five topics were: technology, education, media production, connectivity and policy development.

The winners were:

- First place: Brady Gilchrist for his ideas on “World Leadership in Digital Health Care.” In his summary, Brady believes that digital health care is the merger of traditional healthcare with new ideas born of digital technology to aid in solving complex problems and infusing “net style innovation into solving complicated problems.”

- Second place: Russell Fordham for his thoughts on “Digital Literacy for All Canadians.” Russell suggests that for Canada to be a global leader in the digital economy, all our citizens need to have the basic abilities to function and thrive in this environment, supported with the partnership of government, educational institutions and businesses.

- Third place: Alan Sawyer for “Implementing Temporary Advertising Tax Credits to Stimulate Canadian-based, On-line Video Distribution.” Alan notes that implementing tax credits for allowable expenditures on advertising at Canadian-owned, new media content sites would stimulate the development of new Canadian sites and increase Canadian content available for Canadian-owned media distribution.

The winners all received tickets to the Canada 3.0 Conference in Stratford, Ontario which took place May 10-11. The event featured leaders from across the country who continued the conversation on the future of digital media in Canada. “We created Canada’s Digital Compass to encourage new discussions to a broad audience on this topic and our goal was certainly accomplished,” says Tracey Riley, partner and national leader of the Technology, Information, Communication and Entertainment (TICE) practice of PwC.

Riley was happy with the turnout of participants to the crowdsourcing event and the wide range of topics that were being debated. During the last day of the competition, voting became more frequent and the leader-board changed hands several times. “We had lots of submissions on mobile and wireless project ideas but we were a bit surprised there wasn’t more discussion on cloud computing and green tech which are very popular topics at the moment,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

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12th May 2010

Social Media and MicroBlogging Reflects on Business Partnerships

CNIE-RCIÉThere are some upcoming events whose registration deadlines are fast approaching. If innovation in educational technology is where your interests are focused, check out the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education conference which takes place this May 16-19 in Saint John, NB. Registration deadline is May 12th (that’s tomorrow). Another education-based conference which is rapidly approaching is ModSim World 2010, which takes place in Montreal this June 14 -17th. If you’re a freelancer, I’d like to remind you about FreelanceCamp which will be held at The Network Hub in Vancouver on May 29th.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterVancouver’s SIGGRAPH chapter has confirmed that there will be a very limited number of rush tickets available for the May 18th presentation of Designing Assassin’s Creed 2. If you missed out on buying an advance ticket, I recommend getting to the VanCity Theatre early for your chance at one of the rush tickets. There are still advance tickets available for the May 25th presentation of Alice in Wonderland – Creating Underland, which will be held at the Empire Theatre.

Tungle.meWhen Vancouver’s Boris Mann recently tweeted that he’d like to see an integration between social CRM product BatchBlue and appointment scheduling application Tungle, both companies were there to hear it.

Start-up investor Boris Mann uses both services to help run BMann Consulting, and as “BatchBook and Tungle have become my go-to tools for contacts and calendaring,” says Mann, Boris Mann“Individually, they’ve both been impressive with their customization and integration capabilities, so I thought it would be really great to see them work together.”

Mann’s brief Tweet suggesting a dream of product integration became a reality as the two companies traded a few more Tweets and phone calls and joined forces to make it so. By the time a second BatchBook customer tweeted about a possible BatchBook/Tungle connection just a few days later, talks between the companies were already well underway.

“BatchBlue does a terrific job of pulling together a complete social profile of contacts and shares our vision of connecting the dots in the social graph to bring people together for meaningful conversations,” said Richard Zeidel, Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Tungle. “The Tungle.me integration with BatchBook makes a lot of sense because now, businesspeople can easily view their contacts’ availability and schedule meetings right within the same tool they use to manage their contacts and conversations.”

The Tungle product was a good fit from Rhode Island-based BatchBlue’s perspective as well, and something they knew their customers would love. The fact that the deal was sparked on Twitter underscored both companies commitment to using social media tools in new and exciting ways.

“When we discover a cool product, we want to share it with our customers. And if we hear a great idea coming in via Twitter or other social media channels, we’re definitely quick to explore it,” explains Pamela O’Hara, President of BatchBlue Software. She added that the BatchBlue On-Boarding Team was already using Tungle to schedule consultations with customers. “We took it a step further and integrated the Tungle.Me scheduling widget into BatchBook. Now, the BatchBook/Tungle integration makes scheduling meetings as easy as pushing a button.”

Tungle also just announced a WordPress Plugin – and yes, it just popped up on Twitter. Literally. This is an edit to the orginal post, so that I could get in the news about the plugin. According to the plugin’s description, Tungle can now instantly become an integral part of your blog and facilitate the connection between you and your audience.

The benefits to bloggers are wide reaching. For example:

  • An entire team can be set up with personal scheduling pages to make it easy for readers to book time with them.
  • An organization of more than one publisher, all working from different locations, can easily get the entire team on Tungle.me.
  • New contributors can instantly be brought into the scheduling loop.
  • Issues of double bookings and time zone mishaps can be handled easily, at no cost, and in a way that really helps bloggers save time for the important stuff – creating content.
  • Bloggers can gain back all lost productivity due to back-and-forth emailing and phone calls of trying to find a time to meet, all without leaving their blog space.

CanadaThe Government of Canada has formally unveiled its national consultation process for the new Canadian Digital Economy plan. Aimed at building consensus among governments, the private sector, academia and the Canadian public in developing a digital economy strategy for Canada, the development of this strategy was outlined in both the government’s Speech from the Throne and Budget 2010, with its goal set as positioning Canada for leadership in the global digital economy.

The announcement was made jointly by the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development at the Canada 3.0 Forum in Toronto.

“Canada can and should be a leader in the global digital economy,” said Minister Clement. “Now is the time for the private sector to step up and contribute their ideas for a digital strategy and, when that strategy is in place, to implement the plan.” Read the rest of this entry »

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11th May 2010

Prepare the Dojo – Digital Kung Fu Returns

The Centre for Digital Media will once again be hosting Digital Kung Fu, a day of intensive training and professional development workshops, on May 28th at the Great Northern Way Campus in Vancouver.

Digital Kung Fu offers a full day of interactive sessions to help inspire new ideas and develop them into realizable goals. Participants will be treated to insider techniques for the conceptualizing, visualizing, prototyping and pitching of ideas, as well as insights into current industry trends and technologies. The day will open with registration at 8:30am and sessions will carry out through the day until 5:00pm. Cost to attend the event is $125.00 or $75.00 for students and professionals who are between contracts.

Speakers include Adrian Crook, Jake Birkett, Shane Neville, Kerry Corlett, Sean Murch and Earl Hong Tai. Topics include Biz Dev – Tips, Tricks & General Advice, If you’re not Indie…Stories From The Front Line, How to Boot-Strap a Successful Digital Media Start-Up: 101 and more. We attended some of the sessions last year, and highly recommend your attendance.

A video recording of  yesterday’s Canada 3.0 Forum’s Keynote Address from The Honourable Tony Clement,  Minister of Industry is now available for viewing, along with a text transcript of his presentation, is now available on the Digital Economy Consultation site.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Digital LeisureDigital Leisure’s latest game title is now available for download to your Wii (500 Wii Points) or DSi (500 Nintendo DSi Points). Chess Challenge will try your patience quotient as you perfect your chess skills by playing against the computer in multiple difficulty modes, or play against your friends in either shared or wireless play via DS Wireless Play or Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection.Chess Challenge

Start by practicing with some casual games, then work your way up in fully Elo-rated matches. You’ll even be able to track all of your game-play stats – win, lose or draw. Chess Challenge! will keep both novice and expert players glued to the screen for hours.

With the Wii version of Chess Challenge, you can play online matches and see how your rating stacks up against competitors around the world by viewing the online Leaderboard. If you don’t have time to play your friends in a live chess game, Chess Challenge! also lets you play with up to five different Wii Friends using WiiConnect24™. With full Mii™ character support you can really bring your games to life. Start by practicing with some casual games, then work your way up in fully Elo-rated matches. With all of these game-play options, you’re in for some serious chess action. Chess Challenge is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Ubisoft® Canada has officially announced new product details for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, the next iteration of the critically acclaimed, multi-million unit selling franchise. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood will ship Holiday 2010 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and the PC. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is a worldwide production effort led by the Ubisoft Montreal Studio in collaboration with Ubisoft studios in Singapore, Bucharest, Québec City and Annecy (known for developing Splinter Cell Chaos Theory’s Multiplayer).

The critically acclaimed single player experience of Assassin’s Creed is back and better than ever as Ezio returns in a powerful struggle against the powerful Templar Order. Now a legendary Master Assassin, he must journey to Rome, center of power, greed and corruption to strike at the heart of the enemy. Defeating the corrupt tyrants entrenched there will require not only strength, but leadership, as Ezio commands an entire Brotherhood that will rally to his side.  Only by working together can the Assassins Assassin's Creed Brotherhooddefeat their mortal enemies.

And for the first time, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood offers a never-before-seen multiplayer layer.  Players can help the Templars by using Abstergo to train in the art of Assassination to eliminate the Assassins once and for all. Players can choose from a wide range of unique characters, each with their own signature weapons and assassination techniques, and match their skills against other players from all over the world in different game modes.

·    Master The Possibilities – As Ezio, a legendary Master Assassin, experience over 15 hours of single-player gameplay set in the living, breathing, unpredictable city of Rome
·    Lead a Legendary Brotherhood – Recruit and train promising young Assassins.  Deploy them across the city as you see fit, or call upon them to aid you in your quests
·    Experience A Rich Historical Tapestry – Collaborate with real historical characters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Caterina Sforza
·    Win The Heart of a City – Use your hard-won currency to revitalize the crumbling capital city.  Rally the citizens to your cause and unlock extra factions and missions
·    Deploy Secret Weapons – Swiftly eliminate your enemies using tools such as poison darts, parachutes, double hidden blades, hidden guns, and an advanced flying machine at your disposal.
·    Memorable Multiplayer – Choose from multiple authentic character classes, each with their own signature weapons and killing moves.  With richly-detailed maps and a wide variety of unique multiplayer modes, you’ll never fight the same way twice

quickmobileQuickMobile and The Canadian Film Centre’s (CFC) Worldwide Short Film Festival (WSFF), have partnered to create both the 2010 Worldwide Short Film Festival App for iPhone and iPod Touch, and a new mobile website to enhance and extend this year`s Festival for attendees and fans worldwide. The 2010 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival presented by TELUS, will take place from June 1st to 6th in Toronto, Canada.

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10th May 2010

Summing Up GDC Canada 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7th May 2010

Another Glorious Game Dev Day in Vancouver

The sun is shining, it’s Friday, GDC Canada 2010we’ve been enjoying ourselves at GDC Canada, and will be heading over there shortly to catch a few more sessions and make some new friends before heading over to the Women In Games Vancouver mixer tonight at the Century Restaurant and Bar (432 Richards Street), which was made possible in part by our very supportive friends over at AnnexPro. I can’t head out to the conference though without sharing this video with all of you. Social Media crazy guy Ryan has been helping us garner a little more attention at this year’s GDC event, and I think he’s doing a great job, don’t you?

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I’ll be posting a GDC Canada wrap summary over the weekend, but I just wanted to say that I attended one of the most entertaining sessions ever yesterday – but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what it was. Want a hint? It had to do with a game dev staple that has the power to either fully engage or completely disconnect your audience from your title. This seminar should be compulsory at every studio who has this important aspect in their games.Alice In Wonderland

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterThe SIGGRAPH Vancouver Chapter May 18th presentation of Designing Assassin’s Creed 2 is now completely sold out. The group has also announced that tickets for a special May 25th presentation of Alice In Wonderland: Creating Underland are now on sale. This session will feature Sony Pictures Imageworks’ lead animation director David Schaub, who will give you an inside look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.

INplay 2010Interactive Ontario has announced that the full schedule for INplay, the brand new conference about the business and art of kids digital media and interactivity, is now available online for your perusal.

On May 18 and 19 at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, INplay will feature keynote presentations, panel discussions and lectures from leaders in the kids entertainment industry, covering a range of sectors including video games, online platforms, and mobile properties, and how they relate to toys, books, and TV/Film. INplay will examine these topics through three conference streams: Business, Creativity and Content, and Research.

Here are some speakers and session highlights for INplay 2010:

Keynote Speakers:

· Paul & Peter Reynolds, Co-Founders, FableVision
· Jon Berrett, executive producer & Christian Jacobs, co-founder, director and writer Yo Gabba Gabba
· Alex Manu, Sr. Partner and Chief Imaginator, InnoSpa International Partners

Panel Participants, presenters and lecturers:

· David Glen, Executive Producer of Children’s Multiplatform TV, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
· Chris Muscarella, Public Relations and Production, Do Crew
· Gerry Gouy, Senior Director, Business Development, International Digital Media at MTV Networks International
· Susan Rich, Editor-at-Large, Little Brown Books for Young Readers & HarperCollins Children’s Books NY
· William Weil, Co-Founder & CEO, Tales2Go
· Michael H. Levine, Ph.D., Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center
· Jeremie Bernard, Founder / President, Emerging Playgrounds
· Nicole Rustad, Kids Helping Kids Manager, Disney Online Studios Canada
· James Jones, VP, Digital Media & Gaming, Hasbro, Inc.
· Judy Perry, Research Manager, MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program

Session Highlights:

· The Future of Reading
· Life is Tweet: A primer on youth and social media
· Navigating the Mobile Matrix: Learning your mobile ABC’s
· Game Design: What makes effective online play?
· Cutting Edge Research: Virtual & Augment Realities
· Preschool Play and Games
· Writing for the Digital Future
· Toys, Toys, Toys: product design in a digital age
· Kids and Privacy: What are you doing with my stuff?
· Getting the Word Out: A look at social media and the parent blogger community Read the rest of this entry »

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6th May 2010

Now Playing In Vancouver And Across The Country

Mike Playing ModNation RacersWe had a great time yesterday afternoon over at United Front Games with PlayStation Canada’s Matt Levitan.  We were able to get a more in-depth view of ModNation Racers, and our venerable CaveChild got some hands-on time with the upcoming title. He had plenty of fun roaring around the track and seeing many of the little details that UFG included in the game to make it even more fun and entertaining than it seems at first glance. While we don’t yet own a PS3, Mike said that ModNation Racers is a game he could see himself playing with his sister, which I think was a big part of UFG’s goal in developing the kart title – attracting core gamers and casual gamers in fun family play.  Congratulations again to the entire dev team at United Front Games on their big win last night for Most Promising Game at the Canadian Videogame Awards.

We’re looking forward to a great day at GDC Canada in Vancouver – so many sessions to take in and people to meet! Be sure to stop by the Women In Games Vancouver booth and say hi – that’s where we’ll be when not in a session, talking to people or checking out the cool sights on the expo floor.

Just a final reminder that Video Games Live will be performing tonight in Vancouver, BC at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at 7:30pm.

Aside from updated favorites like Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Warcraft & Halo, they will be playing a lot of new music that hasn’t been played before in Vancouver such as Shadow of the Colossus, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed II, MegaMan, Bioshock & Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and much more – except for some music suites, which were showcased at last night’s Canadian Videogame Awards, that is – Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed II are fantastic additions to the show. If you’ve never seen a Video Games Live performance before, you will not be disappointed.

Due to VGL’s generous sponsors, 3 new sections of seating have just opened back up this morning and they are some of the best seats in the house!  So if you were thinking about catching the performance tonight, now is a great time to get tickets!

Make sure to go early for the pre-show festival presented by Future Shop, which will include the latest game demos, prize give-a-ways, a costume contest and Guitar Hero: Van Halen competition (with the winner to perform with the orchestra on stage!).  You are also invited to stick around after the show for a composer meet & greet.

Canada 3.0 2010Attendees at next week’s sold-out Canada 3.0 2010 digital media forum will be living proof of the benefits of going digital when they tap into the power of Open Text Corporation’s latest mobile and social workplace solutions using their BlackBerry and iPhone devices. As a key sponsor and supporter of the forum, Open Text is providing the software capability and content so that forum attendees can network, communicate and have access to a full suite of information available regarding the forum including schedules, breakout room locations, speaker data and more. Open Text is Open Textthe preeminent provider of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software and Canada’s largest software company.

“We announced our Open Text Everywhere mobile platform this spring and we’re pleased to have an opportunity to support a leading digital event with our solutions,” said Eugene Roman, Chief Technology Officer at Open Text. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase the power of mobile applications as a great way to deliver rich content to users in real-time.”

Roman said that smartphones have the potential to take over the role of laptops as technology enables more and more sophisticated capabilities for BlackBerrys, iPhones and other devices.

“They offer an entirely new platform to extend the productivity of workers and change the way people collaborate,” said Roman. “Seeing this empower people at a digital media forum really ‘walks the talk’ of a digital nation.”

Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at Open Text, chairs the Advisory Board of the Canadian Digital Media Network which is the organizer of Canada 3.0 2010 with the support of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. Jenkins is a fervent supporter of the Canadian digital media sector and will be leading a forum breakout stream on ‘Imagining’ what Canada’s role in digital media is and should be – and how to get there.

“We want all Canadians to have anytime, anywhere connectivity and equal access to content, and our mobile and social media application showcased at Canada 3.0 is a great example of why that’s important,” said Jenkins. “This is going to help to enhance how people collaborate and will have a positive impact on overall productivity.” Read the rest of this entry »

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5th May 2010

Who Will Take Home The Hardware At The Canadian Videogame Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4th May 2010

Departures And The Canadian Entrepreneurial Outlook

Clint HockingAs many of you have probably heard by now, Clint Hocking has resigned from his position at Ubisoft Montreal. He made the official announcement yesterday on his personal blog, and while he does not state where he is going on his new journey, I will always remember the incredible Rant Keynote he delivered at the 2009 Game Design Expo here in Vancouver. It was one of the best keynotes I’ve ever attended – entertaining, educational and insightful. I wish Clint all the very best as he begins the next stage in his life, and I hope that we in the Canadian game development industry are far from done hearing from Clint and playing games he’s helped put on our game shelves.

Lotusland StudiosLotusland Studios has released an update to Truck Modz on Apple iPhone™ and Apple iPod touch®. In case you didn’t know, Truck Modz is an interactive 3D truck-building game for kids of all ages. The premise is simple: build, paint and hit the road with your very own truck! This game goes beyond any other mix-and-match title by allowing you to build your ideal vehicle from a huge collection of fronts, backs, and wheels, and then being able to interact with your creation: from snow plows to squeaky toys, everything is animated. Everything is triggered by a touch or a swipe, simple enough for everyone to get addicted!Truckmodz Dump Truck

In this updated version, audiences of all ages will enjoy even more mix-and-match fun with the introduction of a new cab to the collection, as well as an animated Easter-themed surprise.
Truck Modz is essentially an entire pocketful of toy trucks: creative, non-aggressive play is the emphasis of the game, and the user interface is wordless and simple enough for a child of 18 months to understand, while adults will enjoy the CB banter, cool sirens and endless combination of trucks.

Truck Modz Update Highlights:

* Totally intuitive, easy enough for a toddler to enjoy
* Mix and match parts at any time, the combos are endless!
* Cruise down the highway through an endless ever-changing landscape
* Listen to hilarious trucker banter on the CB radio!
* Shake device to check out your ride from 4 different camera angles
* Rocking soundtrack by Billy Joe Huel

Toronto Pinball and Gameroom ShowNow in its fourth successful year, the Toronto Pinball and Gameroom Show remains the only show of its kind in Canada. Aimed at both enthusiasts and the general public, the show features pinball machines, classic arcade video games, console game systems, home theatre, jukeboxes, slot machines, soda machines, billiard tables, shuffleboards, Pachinko games, vintage 1950′s diner memorabilia and other coin operated and home Gameroom equipment and antiques.

Machines, games and accessories will be available for sale to collectors, hobbyists, restorers and gamers looking for that certain cool piece of gear for their gameroom. The show also offers free play on over 100 pinball, classic arcade and other games. Even if buying a game is not in the cards, guests can still get the best deal in town playing all day or all weekend for one low entry fee.

Although pinball machines aren’t easy to find these days, they continue to hold their iconic status in pop culture and have maintained popularity with game fans both young and old. “There’s no way to truly simulate the analog experience of flipping a ball on a computer or video game” says Nick Angel, organizer of the event. “Pinball has always been the anchor attraction of the show and this year’s venue will be jam packed with more games from the past and present than all of our previous shows combined”. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd May 2010

Canada 3.0 Open To Public

Canada 3.0 2010“Canada needs to act swiftly to ensure we can participate and prosper in the future economy driven by innovation, becoming a ‘Launch Lab’ attracting investment and intellectual capital,” says Tony Chapman, Canadian media entrepreneur and a keynote speaker at the upcoming Canada 3.0 2010 digital media forum May 10-11 in Stratford.

“Technology is the primary enabler for capitalism to seek the Holy Grail of being faster, better and cheaper and it’s touching every aspect of society – from what we consume to what we experience. To participate in the new economy, Canada needs to carve out the means to compete, ideally lead and defend our position at all cost,” said Chapman, who is also known as a social catalyst and futurist.

“Canada in many ways is a microcosm for the world, and can therefore create the appropriate climate — a Launch Lab — for the world’s innovators to germinate, validate and commercialize their ideas and gain the increasingly important first-mover advantage,” said Chapman.

Chapman cautions, however, that this is not an easy feat, as other countries and multi-national companies have vast access to necessary talent and investment, often not encumbered by the same level of bureaucracy as a developed nation like Canada.

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“It will require our Private, Public and Educational sectors to act in unison, so that we can attract and develop the intellectual capital, technology and processes to lay claim to innovation leadership – and that’s why forums like Canada 3.0 2010 and its ‘Moon Shot’ goal for anyone in Canada to do anything on-line by 2017 is so crucial,” Chapman said.

One of the key elements of the Canada 3.0 2010 forum is to enable alignment so that attendees can act in unison to advance digital media, making it a unique event. The forum attracts people from all walks of life, from the general public and students, to business and industry leaders, to entrepreneurs, academics, government representatives and media. Read the rest of this entry »

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