Vancouver – Congratulations to the entire Vancouver Film School  team for another successful and educational Game Design Expo , and thank you to all of the esteemed speakers for sharing their knowledge and experience with both current gen and next gen designers. The day featured insight into what has worked in game design, what hasn’t worked, and ideas for the future in the world of game development. I have a massive amount of mostly-deciphered notes from the expo, and I will be sharing them throughout the week, as there is simply too much information for just one wrap article.
The day was opened by William Ho from United Front Games , whose presentation was themed around the processes UFG went through in the development of ModNation Racers. This may be THE game which forces the purchase of a PS3 for the Village Gamer household, although it will require some very creative budgeting to do so.
Armando Troisi, Lead Cinematic Designer over at Bioware  was next up, and he discussed how cinematics and gameplay were melded together in one of my favourite franchises, Mass Effect. As a non-designing gamer, it is always interesting to hear about how choices in regards to the user experience are made at the development level, and Armando’s session answered many questions I hadn’t even considered about the dialogue tree and character choices we as gamers make throughout the game.
Rounding out the morning session was Chris Whiteside, Design Director for Propaganda Games . Chris spoke about how teamwork is very important in today’s game design process as he expanded on the relationship of the “in the trenches” designer to other team members as well as to the studio, the stakeholders (money holders) and the end user market. He touched on how important it is to be in touch with your audience, and to make sure that the studio’s relationship with that audience is given voice as games go from concept to store shelf.
Josh Bridge and Jason Leigh from Blue Castle Games  opened the afternoon with a perfect post-lunch topic – zombies and their return in Dead Rising 2. The CaveChild has been salivating over this game since its announcement, and all I can say is…combo weapons! Capcom generously permitted the screening of unannounced and non-public information about Dead Rising 2’s progress, and this session was very revealing about the care and attention being put into the Dead Rising sequel.
Obsidian Entertainment’s  Lead Systems Designer Matt MacLean lead expo attendees through a session on Crafting the Perfect Challenge. I feel that this was one of the most valuable sessions in regards to getting into looking at the minute details which must be considered when developing a game concept. The goal of playing a game, at least for me, is overcoming the challenges thrown in my way as I journey to the game’s conclusion. Matt covered a variety of ways to craft those challenges in ways to both reward and engage your audience without alienating them.
The final single session of the afternoon was presented by Tyler Sigman, Design Director for Big Sandwich Games . Tyler’s topic was about game mechanics – another very important aspect of game crafting. The mechanics are what you as the developer put in place to both assist and challenge gamers as they try to win their way through your game’s environment. The proper balancing of these mechanics can often make or break a title’s appeal to the mass market, and is something that more than just a handful of studios need to revisit. Good game mechanics can make a player’s experience totally awesome or totally horrid. Which would you prefer – multiple play-throughs of your game, or multiple copies sitting unsold on the back shelf of a game store because gamers don’t like the mechanics?
Ending the day was a panel discussion of The Future of Gaming. Moderated by Reviews on the Run  co-host Scott Jones, the panel featured Josh Bridge, Jason Leigh (both from Blue Castle ), Ted Nugent (Genius Factor Games ), Jay Balmer (Big Park ), David Bowring (Volition ) and Trent Shumay (FingerFood ). This panel, as expected, was highly entertaining while still being highly informative. It’s always interesting to hear where our industry veterans feel the future will lead game design and distribution, and how technology is shaping what we play.
Vancouver – Foreign Affairs and International Trade  has partnered with GDC Canada  to provide a B2B Lounge at the upcoming May 6 & 7 conference here in Vancouver. The Lounge will provide an off-the-floor area to make deals and network with industry business development professionals, fellow developers and leading tool vendors. There is also space if you want to have a private lounge area at the show, details for the private rooms  are available on the GDC Canada site.
GDC Canada has also revealed their line-up for the Game Career Seminar , and judging from this line-up, the Seminar, which is a one day event held on May 7th in conjunction with the main conference, this is a must-attend event for anyone trying to build a future for themselves in the game development industry. Tickets for the Game Career Seminar portion of GDC Canada are $149.00, with a limit of 125 seats available. Also added to the GDC Canada schedule  is a Main Conference panel featuring Disney’s Howard Donaldson and ex-Radical head Kelly Zmak,on the harsh ‘new realities’ of making major console games.
The Game Career Seminar keynote will feature ‘From Air Guitar to Video Games Live (and PBS!): A Conversation with Tommy Tallarico’, veteran video game composer and Video Games Live co-creator Tommy Tallarico will talk to Victor Lucas about his career in the industry, from Earthworm Jim through the present day, and his work to popularize video game music.
In a practical Game Career Seminar lecture, ‘Preparation (Don’t Give Us a Reason to Reject You!)’, Obsidian Entertainment’s Jim Rivers, the hiring manager for the Fallout: New Vegas and Alpha Protocol creators, explains of his lecture description: “Every convention, college or job fair people ask me one question. How do I get my foot in the door? I always answer ‘Preparation!’… So I invite you to learn what to do to become prepared, and not give us a reason to reject you.”
St. Catharines – Speaking of careers, Silicon Knights  will be filling many more positions following the announcement  of their 4 million dollar federal grant to assist in the development of a Triple A cross-console game. This grant, from the Community Adjustment Fund , could lead to the addition of 65 career positions at the studio, whose last major release was the 2008 title Too Human. Please see the article on the Welland Tribune  for the rest of the details and discussion around the grant.
Montreal – The National Film Board of Canada  (NFB) and Radio-Canada  will join forces to showcase over 2,000 hours of new stock footage online at NFB Images , the NFB’s web destination for stock footage professionals. NFB IMAGES clients will begin to notice big changes starting this fall, with the arrival of 500 hours of Radio-Canada footage. There will be 2,000 hours of Radio-Canada footage online at NFB Images by 2011.
With today’s announcement, these two public organizations are pooling their resources to ensure that filmmakers and their audiences have unparalleled access to the audiovisual history of Canada and Quebec, including a vast selection of francophone stock footage.
“When we started NFB IMAGES in 2008, our goal was to use the latest online technology to give filmmakers greater access to the best of Canada’s images, as selected from the NFB’s archives. Along the way, we’ve added partner archives and improved the site – but nothing matches the significance of this new partnership. The addition of Radio-Canada’s archives will make NFB IMAGES an even more indispensible destination for film professionals. We are delighted to extend the ways in which we are working with Radio-Canada.” said Tom Perlmutter, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board of Canada.
“Radio-Canada has always been aware of its critical role as an instrument of democracy and French-language culture, a role it continues to fulfill on a daily basis. In this spirit, public television has tended its archives with the utmost care. The NFB’s Images website is ideal for showcasing these invaluable documents; it puts our collective memory within reach of journalists, filmmakers, and designers. Radio-Canada is proud to contribute to this effort,” said Radio-Canada Executive Vice President Sylvain Lafrance.
Today’s announcement covers a wealth of archival material dating back to Radio-Canada’s creation in 1952, including one-of-a-kind footage about Canada and the world from Radio-Canada’s news and public affairs departments, as well as iconic dramas and cultural and variety programming that have played a key role in reflecting and defining French-Canadian and Quebec culture for over 60 years.
This new material joins over 1,000 hours of NFB footage already online, including almost 200 hours of High Definition footage, rare images from Canada’s past and a wealth of contemporary footage. It’s also the latest addition to the NFB’s growing list of international partnerships in high-quality film and video archives, which already includes the National Geographic and Gaumont-Pathé archives in Canada as well as high definition footage from independent productions.
Launched two years ago, NFB IMAGES gives researchers, producers, directors and editors the power to view, edit and share stock footage from a century’s worth of cinema – all online. Advanced research tools make finding the shots easier than ever; free downloads allow immediate offline editing. A bilingual team of stock footage experts is also available to help filmmakers meet tight deadlines, providing superb research assistance and rights clearance support.
Waterloo – Open Text Corporation  has launched Open Text Media Management 7 , a major upgrade to its industry leading digital asset management solution, including a completely new user interface that makes finding, accessing and managing large volumes of digital media assets fast and easy. Media Management 7 also delivers powerful new process automation capabilities designed to help companies optimize media operations, improve business agility and increase control over digital media content.
With Media Management 7, Open Text is delivering a platform designed for the digital media era, where the technology to create and consume digital media – for example on tablets or mobile phones – far exceeds the ability of organizations to manage, control, and efficiently distribute the rich media assets involved. The new solution allows an entire organization to produce, use, and publish digital media and automate the associated processes. In turn, this lowers costs and puts the media to use more profitably, with reduced liability stemming from inappropriate use or distribution of content.
As digital media has become pervasive, the need for media management is expanding from roots in the media and entertainment industry to encompass many additional market segments including marketing organizations, publishing, museums and historical archives, manufacturing and distribution as well as industries that require storage of media evidence, such as insurance, legal and healthcare.
Forrester Research noted this trend in an October 9, 2009 report entitled “Adaptive Brand Management” on the marketing use case for media management: “In a truly adaptive organization with global scale, however, the need to share and protect assets becomes paramount. Brand strategists will find asset management systems critical for delivering approved strategy assets out to the field for use while brand advocates will love the availability of usable assets at their fingertips that are approved and ready for deployment instantly.”
To enable it to step into this expanded role, Media Management 7 delivers an intuitive user experience that makes digital media tasks straightforward and convenient. The user experience was shaped based on work with top UI designers and extensive testing with multiple target user groups and sets the bar for enterprise software design and usability.
Open Text will further enhance the user experience in Media Management 7 by integrating content analytics technology from recently acquired Nstein Technologies. Using patented technology, Nstein’s software creates a “semantic fingerprint” for content to unlock its inherent value, making it more findable, visible, understandable, organized and analysis-ready.
And this next story just really makes me mad, because these items were probably purchased for the school through the hard work of parents, students and teachers.
Langley – On March 29th Langley RCMP  responded to a complaint of break and enter at James Anderson School located in the 20300 block of 66 Avenue.
The complainant witnessed two males running from the school carrying unknown items. The investigator noted entry to the school had been gained by breaking a window.
The following property was taken:
• 18 MacBook Laptop Computers
• 8 Handheld Calculators
• 5 Scientific Calculators
• 2 Computer Storage Carts
The suspects were seen leaving in a small SUV.
Police are asking anyone with information that might assist in this investigation to please call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200. Should you need to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers  at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).