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22nd February 2011

Relic Names Intern and Open Media Turns Up The Heat

Reminder: IGDA Vancouver soft-launch and Global Game Jam Post-Mortem takes place tonight. More info on the event’s Facebook page.
Reminder: Ontario companies, get your submissions in for the INplay Ontario Show & Tell Kids Interactive Showcase, the deadline is April 1st. Also note that the INplay Kick Off registration rate for attendees will end tomorrow.
Reminder: There is one week left to get your nominations in for the Canadian Video Game Awards. I nominated at least a dozen, is your favourite Canadian-made-in-2010 game nominated? No? Make it so – nominate it today.

Congratulations to VFS Game Design graduate Zach Williams, who has been named as the very first recipient of the Zach and Jonathan Photo Credit: VFSBrian Wood Memorial Internship, an internship that will be awarded three times annually to celebrate the life of Relic employee Brian Wood, who was killed in a tragic car accident last year. Zach, who has previously worked in the local industry as a QA Tester, will begin a four-month internship at Relic Entertainment.

Relic’s General Manager Jonathan Dowdeswell stated on the VFS blog that “Zach’s personal drive to become a great game developer, his broad skill base across a number of the disciplines, as well as his passion for Relic and knowledge of the culture and practices that we maintain were the things that made him stand out as a clear choice for this internship, he even had a Relic shirt ready to put on when we announced the winner to the class!”

Unless you have absolutely no interest gaming, you will be well aware that today is the launch of the demo for Dragon Age 2, available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Bioware will, as we told you last week, unlock two perks should the demo be dDragon Age 2ownloaded and played by 1 million gamers before March 1st. The key to answering this Call To Arms, as the demo phase has been dubbed, is that you must sign in to your EA account. So in our house, at least, that has been achieved by two of us on two separate Xboxes. I’ve played a few minutes of the demo, and thus far Dragon Age 2 looks awesome – the only part I’m concerned about is that the text is awfully small and sometimes difficult to read on a CRT television, even with a large screen.

Of course downloading two demo files also burned up 3.96gb of our new lower monthly cap of 100gb, and upon checking our nifty new Shaw Bandwidth Monitor we are now at 80gb with two weeks still to go on our billing cycle. Yes, we’ll be over – again. We are such bandwidth hogs – especially since Shaw decided we could do with 25gb less per month, but still pay them the same amount of money. Good thing that Shaw is holding off on charging for overages until after they hold their Customer Consultation sessions. I know there will be one in Langley next month, and Shaw has confirmed that my request to attend a session, but I have not yet been emailed about the exact location and time.  open media

Speaking of User Based Billing, Open Media is still fighting the good fight, and have issued their own call to arms as Rogers and the other obese telecoms meet to find ways to defeat the right of Canadian consumers to have access to fair and affordable internet services. In a post on their site, Open Media asks for the support of consumers in continuing the fight for our rights, and yes, this fight will require funding. We don’t have a huge amount of disposable income in our house, but honestly I would rather help Open Media with a $20.00 donation than pay it to any telecom for an already overpriced cable plan. If Open Media can raise $15 000.00 in the next 48 hours, indie ISP providers TekSavvy and Acanac will match those funds. Please help if you can.

What really, really irks me – besides the high prices for less service, that is – is that the telecoms are telling the CRTC how we internet hogs are clogging up the interwebs so steps must be taken to curb our overuse, yet they continually come up with new “limited special deals” to sign up new customers. If those of us already using the Net are clogging it up, stop trying to sign up more people, because they’re just going to clog it up even more!

While I want to direct you over to Open Media’s site to read their plan in full, here is a quick look at their initial plan of action:

1. Unleash the creativity and ingenuity of Canadians. People from all walks of life — innovators, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and everything in between — are getting together on February 26th for a Day Of Action to educate our fellow Canadians about Internet metering.

2. Put together a united front of public interest groups, creators, indie ISPs, online service providers and half a million Canadians to put forth a well-researched, evidence-based submission to the CRTC.

I would like to add to this plan of action by asking all of you to write your MP and Industry Canada – don’t just accept the bullying of the telecoms as a done deal. We can fight back – we’ve already shown that with the delay of User Based Billing – and we can make a difference. I found an old flyer the other day when I was making an attempt at cleaning up the clutter in my office. This flyer was from our local MP, Mark Warawa (Conservative) and the CIRAheadline phrase on this flyer is that the Conservatives stand up for Canadian consumers. Well? Let’s see some action behind that statement. Not sure how to contact your MP? Check here. And don’t forget – the CIRA-hosted Canadian Internet Forum being held in Ottawa on February 25th will be available via webcast (yup, burning up more of those gigabytes), so remember to tune in and watch the discussion about the future of Canada’s internet and digital economy. There is also an active discussion group on the CIF site, registration is required to view and post on it.

ubisoftUbisoft has finally confirmed a release date for the PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Those of you who prefer to battle the Templars and Borgia on your computers will be able to do so beginning on March 22nd.  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for PC will be available at retail stores and for digital download in two different versions:

Retail and Digital Standard Edition:

Main game + Abstergo Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 and The Da Vinci Disappearance

Digital Deluxe Edition:Assasins Creed Brotherhood for PC

·Main game + Abstergo Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 and The Da Vinci Disappearance

o Assassin’s Creed® Lineage: discover the story of Giovanni Auditore, Ezio’s father, by watching this three episodes short movie.

o Exclusive additional content featuring the Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood original soundtrack, galleries, Making-of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood…

o Exclusive unlockable content:

* One Multiplayer Character: The Harlequin, a deadly assassin lying behind a gaudy costume and a twisted smiling mask
* One Multiplayer Character: The Officer, a stealthy assassin who can assassinate his targets with a swift and powerful attack
* One exclusive single player indoor map: The Trajan Market
* One exclusive single player outdoor map: The Aqueducts map
* Ezio “Drachen Armor”

Both the Standard Digital Edition and the Deluxe Digital Edition can be pre-ordered at the Ubiworkshop Store.

Microsoft CanadaMicrosoft has announced that it will release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit from Microsoft Research later this spring, followed by a full commercial version of the SDK later in the year. This “starter kit” for application developers is intended to make it easier for academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology. Through its collaboration with the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), Microsoft Research is hoping to support a growing community of academic researchers and enthusiasts who are exploring potential applications built using Kinect.

The starter kit will give academic researchers and enthusiasts access to deep Kinect system capabilities such as audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor. Microsoft has deep investments in R&D in natural user interfaces (NUI), which is a part of the company’s long term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us. The fruits of those investments manifesting across many of Microsoft’s products, including Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Surface 2.0, Bing for Mobile and Office 2010 Mini Translator.

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3rd February 2011

For Every Door That Closes

Reminder: Vancouver SIGGRAPH Convergence event TRON – Cult Favourite To Franchise is on February 8th – get your tickets now.

Our condolences to everyone at Frozen North Games, the latest Canadian studio to shut its doors. I have been criticized in the recent past for having a bias and not covering the news of studio lay-offs and closings. Perhaps its my innate desire Frozen North Gamesto try to focus on the positive events in our industry, or it’s the fact that bad news often travels much faster than good and in the midst of the negative, perhaps by accenting the good things going on we can all move past that “gutted” feeling and find more positive aspects on which to direct our focus and ambitions. It doesn’t mean that the recent closing of Propaganda and the lay-offs at other studios such as EA Canada, United Front Games and others don’t touch me, they do, because I have friends employed at those studios, it just means that I would rather find the news about who is hiring or announcing new projects, so that I can pass that information along to those who have been affected by downturns in the industry. If you know who’s hiring or of upcoming events that would be great for introductions and the passing along of career interests, please let me know and I’ll get the information out there. Our audience grows with each passing week, and we’re always getting fresh eyes on the site who just may be looking for that next opportunity.

Microsoft CanadaMicrosoft has updated the Windows Phone 7 Developer Training Kit. According to the Developer blog, this update includes a refresh to almost all the labs along with a bug cleanup and the ability for the labs to run on real phone devices as well as the emulator. Two new labs, Accessing Windows Phone 7 Devices and Multi-touch Game Development XNA Framework, have also been added to the Kit. The Using Push Notification lab has also been updated so that it uses the latest Windows Phone Push Notification Library.

Toronto Screenwriting ConferenceEarly Bird registration is now open for the second annual Toronto Screenwriting Conference, which will take place this coming April 9th and 10th at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto. Professional writers, producers, directors, and executives will benefit from this gathering of the best creative talent, authors and speakers in writing for screen-based media.

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference offers attendees extraordinary key-note sessions with high-profile show-runners and screenwriters along with breakout sessions lead by international screenwriting academics, book authors and industry execs as well as the opportunity to participate in a level of education and skills development unparalleled by any other screenwriting event.

Confirmed speakers thus far include Christopher Vogler, Pen Densham, Sheldon Bull, Dara Marks, Christine Zander and one writer whom I would really like to meet and hear speak, Kevin Shortt, scriptwriter and story designer at Ubisoft Montreal. The Toronto Screenwriting Conference is sponsored by Meridian Artists and the National Screen Institute. Early Bird tickets are priced at $279.00 (+HST) and are available until 5pm EST, February 28th.

CeLEA - ACEeLCanadian eLearning Enterprise Alliance executives Claude Martel Ph.D. (chairman) and Jay Bahlis Ph.D. (director) are co-chairing the Distributed Learning conference track at MODSIM World Canada 2011, being held this June 20th – 22nd in Ottawa.

In the Distributed Learning conference track, the CeLEA will be seeking to present a range of speakers who will describe the training and learning challenges they face, and discuss how they are applying new tools and technologies to meet the challenges in an increasingly digital world. A decade or so ago, computer and web-based learning technologies were limited in their scope and capabilities. Since then we have seen the emergence of social networks and collaboration tools, mobile learning, virtual worlds, Internet television, simulations and games, all enabled by increasingly available bandwidth, computers and mobile devices. Educators and trainers are adopting these solutions to create new, hybrid ways to distribute knowledge, both in the classroom and at a distance.

To that end, the CeLEA directors are seeking proposals for 8 session speakers for the CeLEA track. If you are interested please contact Claude Martel immediately and request the Speaker package. All proposal must be in by February 21st.

This stream will showcase innovative training solutions and blends that have lead to practical, adaptive and innovative learning environments and resolved specific challenges – including:

* E-Learning
* Collaborative learning
* Mobile learning
* Web television
* Serious gaming
* Virtual reality and
* Electronic performance support tools
* Hybrid programs

We urge you to participate, share your expertise and innovative solutions. MODSIM offers a unique opportunity to showcase Canadian innovation in learning technology and network with buyers and colleagues in the educational and training field in North America. MODSIM is also looking for speakers for other tracks, please see the conference web site for more information.

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28th January 2011

Canadians Like Hippos In Their Digital Media

koboKobo Wireless eReader is now available at Best Buy Canada, both in-store and online. You can pick up the Onyx, Pearlized Lilac or Metallic Silver eReaders for $149.00 each from Best Buy, Chapters-Indigo or Walmart stores across Canada.

Canada 3.0The 2011 Canada 3.0 conference has opened registration for this year’s event, which will take place in Stratford on May 2nd through 5th. The Early Bird rate of $495.00 + taxes and service charge will be available until midnight on March 3th, when ticket prices will go up to $695.00 + taxes and processing charge. There is a StartUp/Small Business/Non-Profit price available for $225.00 + taxes and service charge as well as ticketing options for students. If you register before February 18th you will automatically be entered for a draw to win a copy of MacroWikinomics, personally addressed and signed by author Anthony D. Williams. Please see the Canada 3.0 web site for this year’s confirmed speakers.

bug trackerMonde Media and Bug Tracker have made two personnel announcements this morning – Jean-Robert Michel, Monde Media’s former General Manager has moved into the dual role of Production Director for both Bug-Tracker and Monde Media, while Monde Media’s former COO has become the new Client Relationship Director for both entities.

In other comings and goings, the BC Technology Industry Association announced today that its President, Pascal BCTIASpothelfer will leave the organization June 30th to return to the corporate sector. Spothelfer was appointed President & CEO of the BC Technology Industry Association in November of 2007, and since that time has successfully raised the level of recognition of the organization and BC’s technology industry through his leadership, commitment to collaboration, and tireless advocacy efforts.

“My past three years at the BCTIA have allowed me to get to know our technology community on a very different level. It has been most rewarding both personally and professionally,” said Spothelfer. “I have met and worked with incredibly smart, engaged and inspiring people – experiences that will fuel my passion to assist in the further growth of BC’s technology industry not just until my departure from the BCTIA, but in whatever role I pursue in the future. “

Paul Gorton, Chair of the BCTIA commented, “We will greatly miss having Pascal’s passion and vision. On behalf of the Board, I thank Pascal for his commitment to the BCTIA, and we wish him the utmost success in the future.”

Pascal will continue to lead the BCTIA and work with the board on the leadership transition until his departure at the end of June. A formal search has been initiated by the BCTIA and will be facilitated by Odgers Berndtson. Please contact Caroline Jellinck at 604 602 2556 for more information.

Canadian developers seem to have a thing for hippos – here is some info from three Canadian enterprises which contain “hippo” in their names.

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd has launched the second closed beta for its cartoon-style third person action shooter, MicroVolts. This second phase of testing will continue for approximately two weeks in preparation for the official release day. In addition, the company has released all-new screen shots of the game and is holding a special “Free-for-All” tournament which will kick off Saturday, February 5th. Winning players will be awarded their choice of any weapon they want to use with the launch of the Open Beta. Players who visit the game’s website will be able to learn more about the game and the events as well as register for a beta key.
microvolts
MicroVolts features fast paced, third person shooter action and pits players against each other in a secret battle that has been waged and going unnoticed right in our own backyard for years. No one knows for sure when or where the first toy declared war but rumor has it that the uprising began with four original limited edition figures, code named MicroVolts. Battle lines were drawn when Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P.-the prototypes a-were soon joined by an endless number of modified versions. Now, toy figures around the world are engaged in an all-out war for valuable battery resources and supremacy of the Micro World. All we can do now is stay out of their way and wait for a champion to be declared!

With a ton of weapons, inventive character designs, and a huge list of customization features, MicroVolts is destined to invigorate and re-energize the Free2play space. Intuitive controls and a third person view make the game easy to play and fun for both newcomers and veterans of shooter games. Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept.

tiny hipposTiny Hippos, a start-up based in Waterloo, has a product which will be of interest to all of you mobile developers out there. According to its site, this product, which is named Ripple Emulator, is a multi-platform mobile environment emulator that runs in a web browser and is custom-tailored to HTML5 mobile application testing. Ripple aims to reduce the challenges being faced by mobile developers caused by today’s platform fragmentation in the marketplace.

Ripple is built as a Chrome extension, running as part of the Chrome browser and takes advantage of our back-end services to perform some of the more complex operations. It offers the ability to look under the hood of your mobile applications, gaining full visibility into what your it is doing. It also allows for the use of existing tools to perform JavaScript debugging, HTML DOM inspection, automated testing, as well as multiple device and screen resolution emulation in real-time without having to redeploy the mobile application or restart the emulator.

mercury groveMeanwhile, just down the highway a bit from Tiny Hippos is Mercury Grove, an Ottawa-based developer who has an enterprise called Network Hippo, which according to network hippoMercury Grove’s site connects to users’ email, address books, and social networks to consolidate all of their professional contacts, remind them to stay in touch with important people, and makes it easy to connect online or through email. Mercury Grove also offers a service called Web Collaboration, which is an online workspaces for internal teams, partners, and clients. Unlike other team sharing services, Web Collaboration can be setup in minutes and requires no download, installation or administration.

JostleAnother collaboration-style service I stumbled across is Vancouver-developed Jostle. I found this site because the person behind Jostle’s Twitter account retweeted one of my Game Design Expo live tweets. According to the Jostle web site, a People Engagement Platform™ that glues enterprises together. This platform enables innovative companies to clarify their organization, reveal hidden expertise and engage their employees. Jostle is enterprise software that is accessible from any web-enabled device and works like a website, without the need to install software.

blue74Toronto’s Blue74 Labs has released a statement announcing that IIA, the studio’s critically acclaimed real-life massively multiplayer “outdoor” role-playing game sold tens of thousands of memberships in the first 48 hours of its release, making it the fastest-selling ARG game of all time. The IIA Spy Game is being compared to blockbuster hits “The Game”, “Spy Game”, and “Halting State”, a book by Charles Stross.

The IIA (International Intelligence Agency) is a real life multi-player game that gives players a real life, real feel, “off computer” role-playing game. Players don’t know about the actual game play until they are engaged in the game, which was made globally available on January 24th via a small posting on the popular “Ycombinator: Hacker News”, a web site for Internet start-ups. Expectations were less than 100 memberships to be sold the first day, Mike Curry noticed a very heavy load on his web server – realizing the game had gone viral. Registration for the game is $5.00, which interested players send via PayPal.

The company does have an official site for the game, however they are not releasing the information until its members exercise a critical classified mission. It’s believed that the mission entails a Remote Controlled UAV helicopter taking aerial photographs of the building that houses their website. It’s believed they are doing this to antic entertainmentensure the security of the building.

In an article released yesterday on Gamasutra, Nexon America VP of Business Development Won Il Sue spoke with reporter Chris Nutt about the million dollar Nexon iNitiative, during which the publisher asked for game dev submissions from studios around the world. Coming out at the top of heap with signed deals: One2Tribe from Poland, and Ontario studio Antic Entertainment. Nexon did not reveal exactly what type of game the London, ON Antic team is working on, other than to say one of the studios is working on a Facebook game and that both games, while somewhat of an unusual nature for Nexon, will be of the social media genre. In the meantime, check out Antic’s free to play Junk Battles, a teletoon retrobrowser-based free-to-play fast-paced vehicle combat game.

All’s fair in love and war in cartoon-land as TeleToon Retro couples pursue the love of fans and a spot in TeleToon Retro’s Hall of Fame as the Top 5 Sweethearts in honour of Valentine’s Day. Starting today and running until Sunday, February 6, viewers can vote online for their top 5 favourite cartoon love matches, for a place in TeleToon Retro history.

TeleToon Retro has narrowed the field to 18 classic animated admirers and is inviting fans to select which couples are the Top 5 Sweethearts of all-time. The list of nominees for the Top 5 Sweethearts is made up of the following cartoon couples:

  • Smurfette and Hefty Smurf
  • The Baroness and Destro (G.I. Joe)
  • He-Man and Frosta
  • Pepe Le Pew and Penelope cat
  • Fred and Wilma Flintstone
  • Batman and Catwoman
  • Barney and Betty Rubble
  • Alvin and Britney
  • George and Jane Jetson
  • Shaggy and Scooby-Doo
  • Clark Kent and Lois Lane
  • Granny and Tweety
  • Fred and Daphne (Scooby Doo)
  • Optimus Prime and Elita One
  • Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm Bamm Rubble
  • Josie and Alan M (Josie and the Pussycats)
  • Wonder Woman and Superman (Superfriends)
  • She-Ra and Pirate Sea Hawke

Following the voting period, the Top 5 Sweethearts will be announced on Friday, February 11 and a special programming marathon featuring all five couples will air as part of the “Retro Rewind” programming block on Sunday, February 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. These winners will be inducted into the TeleToon Retro Hall of Fame, joining the Top 5 favourite cartoon characters of all-time as chosen by the fans in December 2010.

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22nd December 2010

Serious Fun and Serious Learning Now And In The Future

games for changeTwo Canadian-made serious games have made the short list for the 2010 Games For Change favourite social impact games. The titles were nominated to the list via Twitter, Facebook and the Games For Change Google Group. Voting is now open to pick the top favourite. The Canadian titles named to the list are Inside Disaster – The Experience about the Haiti earthquake and Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics.

Inside Disaster – The Experience was produced by PTV Productions in association with TVO. Funding was supplied in part by the Canada Media Fund, Bell Fund, the Canadian International Development Agency and Ontario Media Development Corporation. Inside Disaster was created to challenge “assumptions made about relief work in disaster areas.” Inside Disaster is not a game in the traditional sense – there is no score; instead, this very graphic and to-the-point experience allows you to work within the parametres of a relief helper, and then experience the outcome of any decisions you commit to. Note – this is not a game for sensitive people. The images are graphic and can be disturbing. Please heed the warning on the game’s site.

Phylo – A Human Computing Framework for Comparative Genomics. Apparently the game isn’t as scary as the name implies. According to its site, the game is “just an interactive game that lets you contribute to science.” Phylo was made with the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, McGill School of Computer Science, McGill Centre for Bioinformatics and the McGill Computational Structural Biology Group.

Discovery Channel Canada has a series of six videos from Popular Science’s: The Future Of…  that looks at innovation in the field of Play. I believe that the videos on Discovery Channel Canada are only viewable via the web for those with a Canadian IP address, so my apologies to our international readers. Here is a link to the show on Discovery.com (US), and a link to Pop Sci’s videos on Discovery.com, which may or may not work for international viewers. These episodes of the show feature information about a mixed reality lets you reach into the computer game and control it with your hands, a smart football that teaches us all how to play sports like the pros, pervasive games take over entire cities and discover siftables: kids’ alphabet blocks on steroids.

Relic EntertainmentTHQ and Relic Entertainment have released a new trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution™, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011. In this latest chapter, which takes place years after the events in Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising™, Retribution allows players to choose their perspective with the first multiple-race single player campaign in the Dawn of War II series. The first race to be revealed is the savage Orks, but no matter which race is chosen players will be taken on an epic journey through each story arc, revealing the answers to many questions left open in previous Dawn of War titles.

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

As well as the single player campaign, Retribution will feature new multiplayer units, maps and an entire new playable faction when it ships.

Get Set Games has released Mega Jump for the Android platform. Available free of charge, Mega Jump can be Mega Jump For Androiddownloaded to your Android phone by scanning the game’s QR Get Set Gamescode on the Get Set page.

Mega Jump on Android is compatible with all phones running Android OS 2.0 and up, and “features the same great graphics, hilarious sounds and action-packed gameplay. It also has the same leaderboards and achievements as the iPhone version – thanks to OpenFeint – so you can compete against your friends who have the iPhone version.”

ParetoLogicParetoLogic’s staff has come together once again this holiday season to provide gifts and charity for those in need. The Salvation Army Christmas Angels campaign and the Mustard Seed food bank have both been long-time recipients of ParetoLogic charity activities. This year, staff managed to up their donation levels, to provide happier holidays for those in need.

The Mustard Seed collects non-perishable foodstuffs for the underprivileged, and feeds over 7000 people a month in the Victoria area. To collect food, an extra-large hamper has been a mainstay of the ParetoLogic offices for the holiday season. The 125-litre bin is full to the rim with donations from ParetoLogic employees and their families.

Marlee Wilson, ParetoLogic’s Office Manager and de facto co-ordinator of charities, was optimistic about donations. “I can tell you that we have a full bin and I’m going to drop this off and hopefully we can fill it again before Christmas.”

The Salvation Army Christmas Angels program collects donations of toys and distributes them to children in need. An estimated 6000 children will receive gifts through the Christmas Angels program this winter. Donators are provided a child’s age and gender, and then pick out an appropriate present. The gift is transferred to the child’s parents, so they may give their daughter or son a happy Christmas. ParetoLogic staff donated 33 gifts this year, for children aged between two and 18.

“Mustard Seed is a charity for life, but the Christmas Angels is a charity for the soul. All children deserve a merry Christmas, and we are delighted to help do that,” said Wilson.

Readers of Canada’s national current affairs magazine can now enjoy Maclean’s at their tech-savvy macleansfingertips with the Maclean’s App for iPad, now available on the App Store. The inaugural issue of Maclean’s magazine for iPad features content from Maclean’s Newsmakers 2010 special issue.

Each issue of Maclean’s comes complete with all the news, commentary, photography and columnists that have made the magazine the country’s most indispensable weekly read for more than a century. The content is beautifully rendered for iPad with an array of enhancements that bring the pages to life: embedded video, photo galleries, digital links, a live letters section, issue-at-a-glance and other navigation tools, and also gives readers the ability to save their favourite articles and share them with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

The inaugural Newsmakers 2010 issue features:

• an animated video cover
• dozens of beautiful photos/photo galleries
• video of Justin Bieber performing live
• video montage of newsmakers who passed away in 2010
• our regular columnists: Andrew Coyne, Scott Feschuk, Paul Wells and more

“Maclean’s is dedicated to bringing readers relevant and thought-provoking content on today’s latest technology,” says Maclean’s publisher and editor-in-chief Ken Whyte. “With the new Maclean’s App for iPad, our readers can now enjoy everything they love about Maclean’s from the convenience of iPad.”

While the Maclean’s App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, each downloadable issue is priced at $2.99. Maclean’s 6th annual and biggest-ever Newsmakers edition looks at the year’s winners and whiners, heroes and heartbreakers, sinners and saints. Among them: Newsmaker of the Year Sidney Crosby and other Canadian Olympic heroes; Justin Bieber and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the election of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president; and the exits of Michaëlle Jean, Simon Cowell, Lloyd Robertson and Cathy cartoons; the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners, the many setbacks of Barack Obama, the comeback of Conrad Black—and the triumphant return of Betty White.

ABI researchDriven by North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, online gaming continues its steady growth and the latest purchasable study from American-based ABI Research forecasts revenues of slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. Technology developments will mean new opportunities for connected devices beyond the computer.

The Asia-Pac region, especially China, will be the engine behind much of this growth. However, in China, due to generally lower levels of personal PC ownership, the business models are evolving a little differently. According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, “World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it’s more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’ or server-based games.”

Another difference in Asia is regulation. “In China, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere the rules are more exacting in what they allow. Some games for instance, have had to alter their content: using WoW again as an example, the developers had to remove the virtual blood.”

The increasingly varied and range of connected devices will also permit gaming on more platforms. For example Free, a French broadband and IPTV provider, has partnered with Intel to develop a very advanced set-top box (Freebox Revolution). The STB includes an Intel Atom processor, controller with gyroscopic inputs, Blu-ray player, powerline adapters, Wi-Fi, and a game controller. While these games might be more locally- based for now, they point to the potential for opening this up to multiplayer and MMO gaming.

There are challenges, though. Mobile gaming (eg. on smartphones) could be disruptive. The market is fragmented, with proprietary platforms the rule, posing difficulties for developers trying to serve a number of smaller platforms rather than a few big ones. And the growth of cloud gaming demands more and bigger servers and data centers.

ABI Research’s “Gaming in the Cloud” study examines the casual and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games markets and the potential role for connected consumer electronics. It contains regional revenue forecasts and discusses pressing technical issues and is part of the Digital Living Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 30+ research and advisory services.

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10th December 2010

Follow Friday

Today I want to share a few sites that I’ve found by following links and recommendations, usually from the Twittersphere. But first, thank you to womanzworld, Big Bad Brush, Cybele Negris, Roddie Kieley, Wojtek Kawczynski and Savant Games for the #FF today on Twitter.

Here is a reminder that Game Prototype Challenge v2 will be announcing the themes on Monday December 13th, as well as a teaser look at some of the games from version 1.

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If you are a professional, student or hobbyist, I recommend that you take part in the Game Prototype Challenge – because hey, you never know where that next great idea will come from.

disruptive publishersOne of my recent new followers on Twitter is Disruptive Publishers. Based in Vancouver, this Washington State University Shirtgroup creates licensed avatar gear for platforms such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. They have created themes and avatars for groups such as American universities, as well as partnered with companies such as Capcom, Sega, EA, Ubisoft, and the NBA for personalized gear that can be purchased in the respective console marketplaces. Creating user-customization gear for avatars is a great way to get your company’s image out into the main stream, broadening its presence to areas you may not have previously considered. According to their site, Disruptive Publishers is “an end-to-end solution for all production, licensing, approval, accounting and marketing disciplines throughout the entire process.”

Raw Sugar PRToronto-based Raw Sugar PR, owned and operated by Juli Strader, is a company whose philosophy is very similar to our own, to quote their site: “Raw Sugar PR is Juli Straderdedicated to developing and establishing a star system of directors, producers, screenwriters and actors so that Canadians across the country will proudly boast about our talent in the film & TV industry. Film & TV publicity opportunities abound from all stages, from development to casting to production to theatrical debut and to multi-platform distribution. Each stage offers new opportunities to build industry awareness and consumer recognition of your project.”

Blatant StudiosAnother Twitter-find is Vancouver’s Blatant Studio, whose specialty is animation and motion-graphics. They have done work for clients such as Piranha Games, MTV, MuchMusic, 20th Century Fox and many more. While watching their show reel, I saw something very disturbing. Scott Baio is 45? I feel really old now. Thanks, Blatant.

premium beatI followed a link posted by Toon Boom, which led me to their Christmas ecard application. A link on that page led me over to Premium Beat, a royalty free music provider founded in 2005 by father-son creatives Giles and Francois Arbour. Based in Quebec, Premium Beat offers high quality Royalty Free Music for all new and traditional media, including websites, online videos, slide shows, DVDs and CD-ROMs, television, radio and films. The company also offers a variety of Flash Media Players for websites: Flash mp3 Players, Flash Video Players and Flash Slideshow Players.moderation town

Moderation Town from Stitch Media had its premier yesterday. Airing as a web series on Showcase.ca, Moderation Town is a comedy series about a small Maritime town after the local factory folds and is replaced by an Internet moderation company. Local residents become not-so-internet-savvy content moderators, responsible for filtering the most offensive content off of the Internet.

situwareKelowna studio Situware has released Pigeon Drop, a kind-of-location-based game available now in the iTunes App Store for $2.99. According to the game’s Pigeon Dropinfo, Pigeon Drop is a revolution in interactive game play, physically integrating players into an online world where they command an army of pigeons capable of launching real-time attacks against other online players around the globe.

Pigeons have united in a worldwide effort to help humanity avoid total self-destruction. After years of practicing on statues and monuments around the world, pigeons have finally perfected the art of high altitude bombing and are ready to offer their services to humankind. It appears pigeon poop is a great alternative to weapons of mass destruction and pigeons are willing to partner with humans in an effort to avoid a worldwide disaster and offer a new way of achieving total global domination.

Complex GamesToday seems to be the day for finding out about games with questionable titles. New from Winnipeg’s Complex Games is Monkey Poo, available now in the iTunes store for 99 cents. This game, according tomonkey poo its store description, allows you to fling your way to victory by covering unwary zoo-goers with mounds and mounds of monkey poo, awarding bonus points for finishing off your targets with multiple hits, while nailing mystery celebrities brings massive rewards. Another game objective is to avoid the zookeeper, as he will apparently put your poonami to an early end.

Microsoft Game StudiosMicrosoft’s Vancouver game studio launched an online beta of their newest title last night. Neosaurs is an MMORPG free-to-play PC browser game, and it appears that there will be purchasable upgrades. I did find information about charges and charegbacks in on the game’s site, but could not find any mention of what could be purchased or any prices. Perhaps this feature will be enabled once the beta phase has concluded.neosaurs

The game’s description is as follows: “deep below Earth’s surface, Inner Earth is in trouble and needs your help! Raise your very own Neosaur to be protector for the forces of good. Play with your friends and explore the extensive lore and endless adventure in the magical land beneath. You can evolve your Neosaur into a ferocious Rex, strong Cera, or agile Ptera.”

behaviour gamesBehaviour Studios has a new title on XBLA – Doritos Crash Course is a fast-paced, funny, obstacle course game show for your Avatar to compete against your friends and family over XboxLive. Play through 15 exciting platformer levels across 3 different countries. Compete against your friends and family up to four players over XboxLive and local split-screen. Technically, this free game was developed by Wanako Studios in Chile – but – Wanako is a wholly-owned division of Quebec’s Behaviour Studio, which, in a round-about kind of way, gets it in through the Canadian Content Door.

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9th December 2010

A Whole Lotta Indie News

AnnexProLast evening we had the pleasure of attending Annex Pro’s Expo 2011 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where we had a chance to catch up with a few friends Kerry Corlettas well as make new ones. The team at Annex Pro put together a great group of vendor booths – it’s a good thing that the CaveChild was not with us, or he would’ve tried to make off with the entire Avid Pro Tools display. As it was, I spent a fair bit of time talking with Bonnie from Wacom, and with a smoking hot sales deal from Annex Pro, my very dated Wacom Graphire 3 is now a medium-sized Intuos 4. Now I am just waiting on my registration emails from Wacom (how long does that take, anyway?) so that I can install the free software tools that purchasers of Wacom tablets receive, and then I can watch my Adobe PhotoShop Elements 4 upgrade to version 8 (oh wow, just learned that Adobe is now on version 9), and maybe in a few months’ time I can take advantage of the Wacom Buyer Privileges and upgrade my PhotoShop 7 to PhotoShop CS5 with the special purchase deal. Oh, and if you think my PhotoShop is outdated….I still use Bryce 5 and PaintShop Pro 8. I won a copy of Corel’s PaintIt on Twitter a few months ago, and have been playing a bit with it – watching the software’s conversion process is quite entertaining.

Annex Pro Expo SponsorsScott’s interest at the Annex Pro event was tweaked both by the keynote delivered by Technicolor Creative Services’ Tom Burns and by the offerings from Atempo, Aspera, Blue Arc, G-Tech, AJA and HP because he likes to geek out over the technical side of things, which are completely out of my realm. As long as our networks connect and the computers and server are working, I’m happy – although I do want the fancy computers & screens they have on CSI and Bones, just because they look cool.

I have always liked the software tools developed by Autodesk, who was also present at the expo, but as I can’t draw and haven’t even mastered Bryce 5, Maya and Max are far beyond my capabilities – I have a healthy respect for anyone who creates product with that software. Craft Animations was also displaying their wares, and I actually have one of their products, which I won at a previous Annex Pro event. Not a clue what to do with that, either. Perhaps we should come up with a contest and offer it as a prize; I’m sure there are some indie devs out there who would benefit greatly from having itGarage Inc.

Transgaming Studios has released the pre-game cinematic for their upcoming title Garage Inc on the game’s Facebook page. The cinematic introduces the player to the characters and sets the mood for this 1920′s Prohibition-era game. Watch as lead character Angelo talks with his cousin Sal during a family Christmas gathering about the garage he dreams of opening.

There are two new indie titles available today – Xona Games is burning up the dev pipe, releasing their second new title this week. Score Rush has Score Rushpassed Peer Review and is now out on Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points. Built on the Duality ZF engine, this 4-player shoot ’em up features overwhelming firepower, trailing options, full screen bombs, tons of enemies, an intimidating final boss and hundreds of crazy bullet patterns to survive. The 60 fps adrenaline-rush experience is complemented by a hard-rocking Dragon Music soundtrack.

Also out today is RatRod Studio’s Drift Mania Canadian Championship is now available in the Android Marketplace for 99 cents. Previously released in the iTunes App Store, Android users Drift Maniacan now get in on the racing action. Drift Mania Canadian Championships features Online Global Leaderboards with live events, variable throttle system and hydraulic handbrake with adjustable steering sensitivity, 7 uniquely spec’d vehicles, 5 different tracks, 2 acceleration modes and 3 levels of difficulty with 3 camera configurations. If you want to relive the moment, there is a highlights replay system, and you can also listen to either the included A Space Shootersoundtrack or your own music as you tear up the track.

A post made earlier today by Frima Studios‘ Executive Producer Martin Brouard on the official PlayStation blog announced that there will be a new title released by the studio on December 21st. A Space Shooter for Two Bucks will be available for free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers, and $1.99 for everyone else. According to the blog, A Space Shooter is of the classic arcade space shooting genre (in case you couldn’t guess that from the title), and “swarms of enemies filling the screens with hazardous bullets and missiles, heaps of upgrades for your ship and its arsenal, high-paced and constant action requiring deft reflexes, and hordes of alien baddies just waiting to be blown up by your superior space-faring skills.” Plus, to add to your gaming experience, there will be a myriad of interesting characters to encounter and in some cases control.

Kitchener-Waterloo developer Footloose Games has announced that they will be releasing a beta version of their Munchies LunchMunchies’ Lunch title on December 27th. Munchies’ Lunch is a fun adventure-puzzle PC-based game for the whole family. Simply download the game from the Footloose website to embark on an epic journey with the Munchie family as they say goodbye to their homeland and travel the world to find a peaceful place where they can settle down. Mr. & Mrs. Munchie will travel along with their children through far-away jungles, over steep mountains, and across the hot deserts in their journey. Along the way they’ll meet the ravenous Hungries, crafty bird-snakes and perhaps evNight Before Christmasen a tribal tiki or two.

Vancouver developer LoudCrow has released its latest iPad book. Available now, this pop-out version of The Night Before Christmas joins LoudCrow’s previous title, Pop-out Tales of Peter Rabbit in the iTunes store. In this new release, you can see William Denslow’s masterful illustrations brought to life with innovative pull-tabs, spin-wheels, and elements that bounce and spring with the touch a finger. Listen to “O Christmas Tree” beautifully performed on piano while you read and interact with each page of the book. Explore every scene and discover the many delightful life-like interactions at your fingertips.

Bioware has released the first in a series of “Making of” videos for Dragon Age 2. Here is Part One:

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koboKobo has launched Reading Life, an industry first social eReading experience. Readers can now track their personal reading history, check-in with characters and places inside books and earn achievements and awards for simply reading. Readers can also choose to share books, favourite passages, awards and more with their friends on Facebook. Kobo Reading Life is initially available on iPad, as a part of the latest iPad update in the iTunes store now.

Kobo Reading Life for iPad provides an unparalleled experience that enables users to engage in eReading in new ways, connect with friends, and earn awards just for reading: Read the rest of this entry »

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8th December 2010

Silverfish Have Infected The App Store

One of the best parts of being on Twitter has been learning more about the great independent developer community we have in Canada. There is an incredible camaraderie shared by these talented entities, and they are very prone to sharing their knowledge and experience with each other – something I don’t generally see with the bigger conglomerate studios, although I have seen such sharing amongst those designers who are employed by EA, Ubisoft and THQ studios (to name a few), it’s not to the same extent shared by the independents. Naturally, this could be due to contractual agreements and requirements put in place by the big studios, which is understandable for proprietary areas, but experience and knowledge never shared impedes the advancement of our digital industry.

Perhaps it is because in smaller, independent studios everyone is accountable for the success (or failure) of their creations, and this in turn leads to working at improving their publicity efforts as well as their end product. The sharing of opportunity is something else I see much of between the indies, and it’s because of this that I have been able to discover and share information about studios and Canadian-made products that I may have never found if it weren’t for the folks on Twitter passing on leads and links to me, because I, too am an independent, and appreciate the assistance I am given and battle daily to catch up on indie titles I need to play and review, as well as keep up on the news. One such discovery was sent my way yesterday by Celsius Game Studio.

Chaotic BoxChaotic Box touts itself as a one man game making machine. The man behind the machine is Torontonian Frank Condello, and true to the independent genre, he is Chaotic Box’s developer, 2D/3D silverfishartist, music & sound designer. Chaotic Box has released four titles for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad: Flooid, Pollywog, Pinch n Pop, and his newest title, Silverfish, which is currently on sale in the iTunes App Store for $1.99 USD.

According to the game’s info page, Silverfish pits the gamer against swarms of menacing space bugs that the player must weave through and defeat with powerful detonations, combining pure arcade action with stunning visual effects. Silverfish currently offers three game modes with more on the way, leader board and achievements, Retina Display graphics, intuitive swipe-anywhere controls and an original soundtrack.

DreamCatcherDreamCatcher Games is happy to announce the release of Learn Science for Nintendo DS™ just in time for the holiday season! Learn Science let‘s kids learn while having fun. Learn the basic LearnScienceprinciples of: Light and Sound, Physics, The human body, Biology and Geography while playing a variety of engaging mini-games. Unlock new mini-games by scoring high marks in Career Mode and then perfect your skills by mastering unlocked mini-games in Game Mode on one of 3 difficulty levels. Kids can challenge their friends in multiplayer mini-games, or they can co-operate and challenge the AI.

Features:

· Learn the basic principles of: Light and Sound, Physics, The human body, Biology and Geography
· Integrated age check with traffic light system offers gaming fun for every level of knowledge
· Two different in game guides to help with explanations and examples
· Multiplayer mode: Hot seat, Single card and Multi card for common learning with parents and friends through mini games

Learn Science is priced at $19.99 USD and is available in retail stores across North America. Rated ‘E’ for everyone.Mega Jump For Android

Get Set GamesGet Set Games has just announced that their hit title Mega Jump will be coming to Android in the next couple of weeks. Mega Jump is compatible with Android 2.0 and up and will be free to download. Mega Jump for Android makes use of OpenFeint’s great social gaming features including global high scores and unlockable achievements.

Mega Jump has been downloaded by more than 7.5 million people worldwide in the App Store, and the studio is looking forward to inviting Android gamers to join the mix. The exact release date has yet to be decided, but you can be sure that once I know, you’ll know.

Congratulations again to Vancouver start-up Ayogo Games Inc., who won the prestigious “Hottest Digital Media Company in Canada” title at nextMedia in Toronto last week.

Ayogo’s latest Facebook® game, called HealthSeeker™, was the entry that helped win the hotly-contested award. The game is built on Ayogo’s GoodLife Gamification Engine™, and aims to help people living with diabetes habituate healthier behaviour around diet and exercise. Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo, was excited to accept the award.

“Gamification is touching all areas of our lives, especially online,” said Fergusson. “I’m proud that Ayogo, and our GoodLife Gamification Engine™, is being recognized for being at the forefront of this exciting new trend, and for using the power of constructive play to help make people’s lives better.”

xona gamesXona Games, that very talented and award-winning indie team who has been creating some of the most critically-acclaimed indie arcade games to date, announced today that the first of its two Xbox LIVE Indie Games launching this week, Decimation X3, is now available for only for 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD)! Having been chosen to be a main title featured in the Indie Games Winter Uprising, Decimation X3 features intense shoot-em-up action in a ridiculously affordable package.
Decimation X3
Decimation X3 is the thrilling sequel to one of the most popular 2D-retro shooters on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, Decimation X, which is one of the top-rated Indie Games in Japan (currently #3 out of approximately 1,500). Get ready for intense local four-player action, never-ending waves of enemies and a continual rain of power-ups to significantly improve your offensive and defensive capabilities. Featuring decidedly retro pixel art graphics, an overload of explosion particle effects, normal and challenge game modes, 60 frames per second and a hypnotic trance beat soundtrack from Imphenzia, Decimation X3 is everything an arcade junkie could wish for and will put your reflexes to the ultimate test.

The Indie Games Winter Uprising is a celebration of the best that Xbox LIVE Indie Games have to offer, and was recently expanded from just the first week of December to the entire month. Orchestrated by a group of fellow developers longing to promote the higher-quality games that can be found on the platform, the Indie Winter Games Uprising takes place during December and features 14 top-tier games that they hope will elevate the impression of the Indie Games channel.

UbisoftUbisoft has announced that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will offer new exclusive workouts and fitness programs available on the Xbox LIVE® Marketplace for the Xbox 360®.

“When we started working on the development of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, we contacted several renowned fitness experts and trainers”, said Claudine Cézac, game’s producer for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. “Each trainer insisted on the fact that in order to keep people motivated, it would be important to consistently bring new varieties of exercise to the game. That’s why from the very start, we thought of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved as a comprehensive fitness program that players would be able to enrich at their will. There are many different ways to work out and get in shape, and that’s what we want to offer with the add-on content.”

The add-on content for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will include personalized workouts, dance-related fitness programs, and a variety of cardio and toning exercises, expanding the overall gameplay experience. The first installment of add-on content will become available in early December 2010 and will include:Your Shape Jump

• The “Toned Body Program”, to strengthen all your muscles and get a firmer body
• “Cardio Boxing Platinum”, a new advanced level of the Cardio-Boxing class

The second installment will come shortly after and include:

• “New Year New You”, a specific program to get back in shape after Xmas and New Year’s celebrations
• “Dance Workout: Bollywood”, a high impact dance workout using popular Bollywood dance moves.

All extra workouts and programs will be offered individually or in bundle packages. In the first half of the calendar year, over 12 new fantastic workouts for Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will be released on Xbox LIVE. All of these extra workouts and programs will be offered individually or in bundle packages. In the first half of the calendar year, over 12 new pieces of add-on content for Your Shape Fitness Evolved will be released on Xbox Live. Pricing will range from 320 to 560 Microsoft points.

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6th December 2010

New In Canadian Games And Apps

Digital LeisureDigital Leisure Inc. has launched Space Ace, the follow up title to Dragon’s Lair, designed space aceexclusively for Nintendo’s DSiWare™ service. Available today for 800 Nintendo DSi Points, Space Ace is a fully animated classic arcade game from legendary animator Don Bluth. In this completely arcade authentic adventure, you’ll journey to rescue the beautiful Kimberly by using your Nintendo DSi™ to move and fire your lasergun. This is the first time the stunning 2D animation has been seen on a Nintendo® handheld format – No pixel graphics here!

In Space Ace you play the heroic Ace who must stop the evil Commander Borf from taking over the Earth! Borf plans to reduce all of humankind to infants and take over the planet. Only two people have the courage and strength to stop Borf and save Earth: the beautiful Kimberly and the heroic Ace. But as they approach Borf’s stronghold, Ace is hit by the Infanto Ray, changing him into a child, and Kimberly is kidnapped by the evil madman! The fate of Earth is in your hands!

source studioSource Studio has released a demo for their space shooter game, ProtoGalaxy, on Steam for the PC ($9.99 USD). ProtoGalaxy is a multi-genre, independent game that features arcade action, smart puzzles and space exploration with a built-in level editor.

Up to four players can team up, configure their ship and upgrade their weapons in order to defend earth from powerful alien invaders. Throughout the game, players brave fierce battles, solve challenging puzzles, and explore the far reaches of the galaxy in order to end the attacks and rebuild a home for the survivors.

“ProtoGalaxy is an action game, but it has growing appeal with arcade and shooter fans,” said Alex Brown, CEO and founder of Source Studio. “The game includes a built-in editor which allows players to easily create entirely new levels. Players can share their creations online and download other people’s levels for endless game play,” Brown added.

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ProtoGalaxy Game Features:

· Level editor to create new galaxies
· Single and multi-player mode (up to 4 players)
· Array of weapon choice
· Ship customization with large selection of parts
· Use physics to solve problems
· Save progress online and play from anywhere

going loud studiosFrom somewhere in Canada, Going Loud Studios is proud to announce that its debut action side-scroller game “Zombie Accountant” is now available on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. Download it today for just 80 Microsoft Points. also available on WP7. zombie accountant

In 2010, a terrifying zombie outbreak threatens to consume humanity and you fall victim to the undead curse, doomed to hunger for human flesh. In a startling turn of events, the army actually manages to contain and eliminate the threat. Life quickly returns to normal.

Except you’re still a zombie. And it’s tax season. Complete tax returns as fast as possible without eating your coworkers! With any luck, you can still make it to zombie partner.

Zombie Accountant Features:

* Run to the right! With increasing speed!
* Dodge your coworkers and collect tax returns to increase your multiplier and achieve a high score
* Rise through 8 ranks on your way to becoming zombie Partner
* Wonder if a zombie working for a corporation is symbolic

Celsius GamesCelsius Game Studios has released a new trailer for its upcoming epic inertial space shooter Red Nova, which I first told you about last week. Episode 1, First Contact, opens with the player taking on a routine mission to test a number prototype fighters destined to replace the Earth Colonial Fleet’s aging Starhawk. While on this mission, your carrier, the ECF Red Nova, comes across an unknown alien fleet preparing to stage a sneak attack on the human colonies.

In order to give the Red Nova a chance to escape and warn the rest of the fleet you have volunteered to attack the aliens head-on. With a choice of any of the fighters on deck, you have to use your wits, your guns, and your ample supply of homing missiles to survive for as long as you can.

Take a peek at the video – this game is scheduled for release on iOS this month:

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xmg studioStyle Studio, a fashion design app from XMG Studio now has a Lite version of the only App that lets you create, customize, and share your own fashions. Tops, jackets, dresses, skirts and pants with an endless array of material and accessories. Now with both male & female models and fashions. Personalize designs with your own graphics and even use photos right from your device. The full version of Style Studio is also available on iTunes for $2.99 USD.

Style Studio: Fashion Designer has been featured by Apple as “New & Noteworthy” and a week later made the “What’s Hot!” Also featured as part of Apple’s “Fashion — Apps for the Clothes Minded” feature alongside Top Designer’s such as Chanel, D&G, Gucci, Dior, Fendi and Hugo Boss.style Studio Lite

Have you dreamed of designing your own fashions and seeing them on a magazine cover? With Style Studio you can create your own line of custom designs from casual chic to haute couture. Dress one of the models with your designs, add some props, and lay out your very own magazine cover. Show off your talent by sending your fashions and layouts to friends on Facebook, Twitter or email.

This App Features:

* Lots of clothing items to choose from including dresses, tops, skirts and pants
* Personalize your fashions with a huge variety of materials and prints which can be customized
* Add buttons, belts, bows, pockets and more.
* Import photos and images to make one-of-a-kind designs!
* Try your design on the male and female models or dress up a photo of your friends
* Lay out your own magazine ads and covers using fashions and dressed up models
* Promote your very own fashion label by sharing your designs on Facebook, Twitter, and Email

Also related to fashion, modifaceToronto’s ModiFace has announced the availability of “MakeUp Live” — a new iPhone application that is the world’s first Augmented Reality (AR) virtual makeover tool. MakeUp Live ($0.99 USD) creates a true virtual makeup mirror by using the iPhone camera to apply cosmetics in real time directly onto the user’s own face. The application also gives step by step instructions on how to achieve one of eight trendy beauty looks, including smoky eyes, down to the brush type and shade brand and name. modiface

“MakeUp Live is the next best thing to having your own personal makeup artist in the room with you,” said Nikkie Gatto, mobile project manager and resident beauty expert at ModiFace. “Many magazines offer ‘how to’ guides from beauty experts around the globe, and many virtual makeover tools allow women to see different products on their own photo. However, MakeUp Live takes the beauty guide and makeover tools to an entirely different level by enabling women to work alongside the tool to get it exactly right.”

“Our goal is to consistently push the boundary of what is possible when you apply state-of-the-art computer vision technology to beauty and fashion applications. MakeUp live is a perfect example of advanced technology applied to make a virtual mirror possible right on your iPhone,” said Dr. Parham Aarabi, president and founder of ModiFace.

MakeUp Live is based on ModiFace’s patent pending facial recognition technology that powers the number one virtual makeup application on the iPhone, “MakeUp.” Originally launched in November of 2009, MakeUp is a free beauty tool that allows users to virtually try on different types of makeup, including mascara, foundation, blush and eye shadow, in hundreds of shades from leading brand names like Revlon, Cover Girl, Lancôme and Clinique. On the newest version of MakeUp, users can now use their own Facebook, iPhone album, or iPhone camera photo to test out the most popular cosmetic looks on themselves.

CitytvThe Citytv video iPad app which launched earlier this fall, has released another Citytv daytime favourite LIVE on the free iPad application. As of this morning, fans of CityLine hosted by Tracy Moore, can watch CityLine LIVE on their iPad between 9am-10am ET Monday thru Friday. This new addition on the iPad is yet another first, making CityLine the only Canadian daytime talk show available LIVE on iPad. Full episodes of new and past CityLine programs will also be available on the iPad, in addition to Citytv.com. The Citytv app also includes a number of convenient features, such as a TV schedule and a notification service that allows users to be reminded when their favourite shows are available on the app and on TV. Other features include the ability to share video links on Facebook, Twitter and via email. The app also saves your viewing history and favourites.

“Giving fans of CityLine the ability to watch Tracy and her team of experts every day, LIVE while commuting or at the gym is just another way Rogers is engaging audiences on multiple screens,” says Claude Galipeau, SVP & GM, Digital Media, Rogers Media Inc. “Fans no longer have to miss their favourite morning show once they leave the house — they can take CityLine with them.”

CityLine is the longest running and most successful daytime show for women in Canadian history. Host Tracy Moore brings her energy and enthusiasm along with her charismatic personality and flare for style – making her a perfect fit for Canada’s top source for the latest in home decor, food, fashion, health and beauty. CityLine engages, entertains and informs viewers across Canada with its unique live format and daily themed approach. As familiar and trusted guest experts visit the set, viewers are treated to professional tips covering such topics as décor, entertaining, fashion, beauty, home and gardening.

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6th December 2010

Canadian Technology Continues to Expand

Open TextOpenText provided the social software that helped world leaders, diplomats and policy makers collaborate at the recent G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, the second time this year that its solution played a role in the event.The software was first used at the G-20 summit in Toronto in June, marking the first time social media tools had been used at a G-20 to help participants work together during the forum.

The confidential and secure social application has provided a singular, consistent knowledge platform for the G-20 summits this year and, more importantly, offered a way for officials to continue discussions on policies impacting fiscal reform and the global economy between the summits.

As with the Toronto G-20, delegates in Seoul were also able to access the OpenText application from their BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads. The application supported multiple languages to enhance the ability of participants to collaborate and use the social software productively.

“At the G-20, officials wanted to bring continuity to the way people from around the world work with each other and share knowledge over time,” said James Latham, Chief Marketing Officer at Open Text. “The ongoing international work of the G-20 requires the kind of strong social-collaborative platform we’ve created, and we’ve seen the success so far through two G-20 summits this year.”

Given the heightened focus on security and privacy around the globe, G-20 organizers avoided use of consumer-grade social media tools, which lack enterprise-strength security controls. At the same time, social media offers better ways for people to connect, share and collaborate, than email, so a solution that combined the benefits while reducing the risks was needed. In Toronto, G-8 and G-20 summit participants who used the OpenText social networking application reported that it required minimal training and provided an intuitive web-browser experience tailored to their needs.

The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy, in response to financial crises of the late 1990s.

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, today announced that the Harper government is fast-tracking innovations from the lab to the marketplace through grants to five new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). This investment will create jobs and help to foster environments where researchers are able to commercialize their findings to the benefit of Canadians. The five new centres will respectively support microelectronic businesses, regenerative medicine technologies, medical imaging innovations, monitoring technologies used in Canada’s North, and the wireless industry.

“Our government understands that an innovative society and economy depend on creative thinkers whose potential is encouraged and supported,” said Minister Clement. “That’s why we are investing in the ideas, products and technologies generated by these Centres of Excellence to create jobs and businesses, help develop highly skilled people, strengthen our economy and position Canada for long-term prosperity.”

The MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (Bromont), the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (Toronto), the Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization and Research (London), Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North (St. John’s) and the Wavefront Wireless Commercialization Centre (Vancouver) will share $61.1 million over the next five years to pursue major discoveries and product innovations and bring them to the marketplace. Each of these new centres was selected following a rigorous peer review process involving expert panels and a private sector advisory board.

Dr. Suzanne Fortier, Chair of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Steering Committee and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), said the CECR program plays an integral role in the government’s science and technology (S&T) strategy for a more prosperous, advanced and competitive Canada.

“We welcome these five Centres of Excellence into the NCE family,” said Dr. Fortier. “The centres help translate leading-edge research into practical solutions for Canadians, addressing many of our country’s greatest health, environmental, social and economic challenges.”

The CECR program is a cornerstone of Canada’s science and S&T strategy, launched by Prime Minister Harper in 2007. The goals of the strategy are to encourage more private sector investment in research and development, to ensure that discoveries are translated into practical applications, to build upon our strong research base to position Canada at the leading edge of discoveries, and to develop, attract and retain the highly skilled people that Canada needs to thrive in the global knowledge-based economy.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed its first agreement with theatre chain Les Cinémas RGFM, to equip its Drummondville location with 24 D-BOX MFX Seats. The Cinéma RGFM Drummondville will be able to offer motion effects just in time for the release of Walt Disney Pictures’ Tron: Legacy. The auditorium will combine 3D with D-BOX’s motion technology, thus widening the offer to moviegoers.

“We are pleased to be announcing a fourth theatre in Quebec, building up our Canadian presence,” said President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “In the last few months, we have made numerous theatre announcements in North America, a demonstration of the popularity our motion systems have on moviegoers.”

“We are thrilled to be offering our moviegoers D-BOX’s motion technology. This innovation blends in perfectly with our company’s philosophy to serve the public the latest technologies. On top it’s a Quebec-based company”, said Marcel Venne, president of Les Cinémas RGFM

gottaconCon fans may want to check out GottaCon, which celebrates its third anniversary this February 4 – 6th at the Pearkes Recreation Centre in the Field House Room in Victoria, BC. GottaCon will run 24 hours a day starting at 5pm Friday and will continue with non-stop gaming until 7pm Sunday night. The convention, which covers 24 000 square feet of space, has a variety of ticket options available at reasonable prices and tournament registrations are open. GottaCon is also looking for volunteers to help out during the event.

GottaCon will have all you need to survive such an adventure; contests, tournaments, vendors, demonstrations, food, drinks, entertainment and of course all types of games:

- Warhammer 40K North American Championships Qualifier
- Warhammer Fantasy North American Championships Qualifier
- Warhammer War of the Ring North American Championships Qualifier
- Warmachine Steamroller GottaCon ChampionshipsTournament
- Miniature Painting Contest
- Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Black Ops tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
- Xbox 360 Halo Reach tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
- Xbox 360 Rainbow 6: Vegas 2 Tournament (4vs4)
- Xbox 360 Gears of War 2 Tournament (2vs2)
- Xbox 360 Super Street Fighter 4 Tournament
- PC Starcraft 2 Tournaments (2vs2 and 1vs1)
- PC Call of Duty: Black Ops Tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
- PC Counter-Strike Source Tournament (5vs5)
- PC Left 4 Dead 2 Team Surviaval Challenge
- PC Team Fortress 2 Tournament (5vs5)
- PC Unreal Tournament Game of the Year Edition Team Death Match with Deathmatch Final
- Magic: The Gathering – VIMC M:TG Open (2011)
- World of Warcraft TCG Ashenvale Forest Realm Qualifer
- Costume Contest
- GottaCon 2011 Gamers Silent Auction

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1st December 2010

TransGaming Announces New Partnership

TransGamingTransGaming, Inc. and UK-based Amino Communications have announced a collaborative partnership to provision TransGaming’s on-demand video game platform, GameTree TV, into Amino Communications’ Freedom hybrid/OTT media centre. The addition of GameTree TV enhances the Freedom media centre by offering a comprehensive and powerful interactive consumer entertainment experience that will address a broader consumer market for operators through a single platform.
gametreetv
Amino Communications is among the world’s leading IPTV and hybrid/OTT (Over the Top) innovators. The award-winning Freedom media centre, based on the Intel® CE4100 Media Processor, offers Managed Service Operators (MSOs) a powerful platform for the seamless delivery of TV, movies, home media, and a new world of television apps to the consumer.

The GameTree TV Platform is the premier on-demand video game solution for consumers, optimized for the next generation of set-top boxes and connected consumer electronic (CE) devices. GameTree TV delivers to consumers an ever-growing catalog of video games that can be transacted through a variety of flexible pricing models. The Platform provides operators with an interactive gaming solution that will enhance their current entertainment portfolio and generate new and sustainable revenue streams by catering to the broad family demographic represented in their subscription base.

“The Amino Freedom platform is an exceptional next generation device that delivers a wealth of media and entertainment options to consumers”, commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “The GameTreeTVaddition of GameTree TV enriches the Freedom media center even further and allows consumers to enjoy all forms of entertainment, linear and interactive, through a singular experience. This collaboration allows both Amino and TransGaming to access a broader consumer marketplace and deliver an even more compelling value proposition to operators and consumers globally”.

The GameTree TV Platform supports the MeeGo™ operating system, a collaboration between Intel® and Nokia®, that is quickly becoming the operating system of choice for a range of next generation devices, including media centers, set-top boxes, net-books, tablets, or smart phones. GameTree TV is being optimized to support MeeGo and a variety of embedded Linux platforms, making it a highly versatile gaming solution for a range of consumer electronic devices.

“We are delighted to work with TransGaming to bring their GameTree TV Platform to the Amino Freedom”, stated Andrew Burke, CEO of Amino Communications. “GameTree TV will bring a rich entertainment experience to the Freedom media centre, by offering consumers a high quality gaming platform, and providing our business partners with a great new revenue stream that also aids in reducing churn within their retail operations.”

TransGaming and Amino Communications are both members of the Intel® Consumer Electronics Network (CEN), a community of hardware, software and services providers that accelerates the development and time-to-market of Internet-connected CE devices.

Budge StudiosBudge Studios invites you to experience Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure like you never have before! This interactive episode brings the experience of reading, watching and playing together in one fun-filled App. Join Dora as she helps Swiper get on Santa’s nice list and as they travel through time to learn the true spirit of Christmas. The app features activities, animation, songs, and is narrated by Dora herself!
Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure
*Play several interactive activities and mini-games designed for preschoolers
*Supports reading and listening comprehension and Spanish vocabulary
*Teaches wonderful lessons on sharing and the spirit of Christmas
*Features a special Christmas song sung by Dora that users can interact with
*Preschoolers can listen to Dora’s narration of the story or turn narration off and read together with their parents.
*The iPad version features stunning HD graphics

Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure is available now in the iTunes App store with a special launch price of $1.99 USD.

Microsoft CanadaDevelopers interested in Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform should register for (and attend) AzureFest, which is taking place at Microsoft Canada’s Mississauga campus on December 11th. Presented in Open House format, there are two sessions, one at 9:00a.m. and the other at 1:00p.m. The event is free and includes refreshments. Windows Azure

By attending AzureFest, you can learn how developing and deploying Azure Applications is fast and easy. You will learn how to set up your Azure account and how to take a traditional ASP.NET application and convert it for Azure. Publishing Applications to the Azure Developer Portal is a breeze. You’ll learn how to set up the Azure SDK and Azure Tools for Visual Studio right on your laptop.

Digital Hot ListCongratulations to the six companies named to nextMEDIA’s 2010 Hot Digital List as the hottest emerging online properties, the most innovative new apps, games and tech solutions, and the freshest ideas from online content creators:

Hot Online Property

Hot Technology

Hot Video Content

VantrixMobile video optimization and delivery solutions developer Vantrix has been awarded the 2010 Frost & Sullivan Mobile Video Optimization Solution of the Year Award for Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer. Vantrix was selected as this year’s recipient for its solution’s unique approach to improving mobile operators’ economics, while preserving the end-user experience.

“It is an honor to be recognized, for the second year in a row, by Frost & Sullivan. This award further validates our leadership in mobile video optimization for mobile operators,” said Patrick Lopez, Chief Marketing Officer of Vantrix. “As mobile video continues to take a dominant place in our daily lives, mobile networks are challenged to handle the increasing demand. Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer alleviates this strain and maximizes the mobile operators’ network capacity by making on-the-fly adjustments to the way videos are delivered to end-users. This solution not only stops the ‘waste’ incurred by operators in delivering Internet videos to smartphones, tablets and laptops, but also effectively doubles the capacity of existing network infrastructure, while reducing the OPEX and CAPEX necessary to increase the networks capacity.”

Thanks to iPads, iPhones and Android, people are watching mobile video more than ever before. In fact, it is predicted that by 2015, video will represent more than 70 percent of all mobile traffic. As mobile video becomes ubiquitous, mobile networks are challenged to handle the increasing demand. Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer optimizes all video content and delivers it in real-time to the recipient, while maintaining the best quality of experience. To highlight the benefit of bandwidth optimization, Vantrix has created an interactive tool called the Vantrix Bandwidth Savings Calculator. This tool enables mobile carriers to calculate the savings they can experience by implementing Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer in their network.

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