Attention Indie Developers – the Indie Fund  has just announced that it is now open for business. Get yourself over to their website (after you finish reading today’s news) and check out what is required of you and your project in order to apply for funding from this great group of people who would like to see you succeed. The Indie Fund was created by successful indie developers  Jonathan Blow, Kellee Santiago, Ron Carmel, Kyle Gabler, Aaron Isaksen, Nathan Vella and Matthew Wagner. According to the Fund’s web site, it was established as a serious alternative to the traditional publisher funding model. Our aim is to support the growth of games as a medium by helping indie developers get (and stay) financially independent.
After eleven years of making PC games, Quebec-based ApeZone  has released its first iPhone game, SoliScare . Use the solitaire skills you’ve honed while killing time at work on your Windows PC to whack Zombies, smack Ghosts, and mash Monsters on your iPhone. As you work your way through the game, you will travel to graveyards, haunted castles, and other spooky locations. Put the beat down on things that go bump in the night, collecting all 37 ghosts, zombies, and classic movie monsters by making extraordinary card runs. As your skill level increases, you can unlock 100 unique, hand-crafted levels and use coins to purchase in-game enhancements, giving you a new experience each time you play. SoliScare is available in the iTunes App Store for 99 cents.
Frima Studio announced today that the Summer of the PlayStation Mini is officially here with the arrival of Widgets Odyssey on the PlayStation Store in North America for only $1.99 USD. As a PlayStation Mini title, playable on both the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, Widgets Odyssey takes players on the first of two interstellar puzzle-platforming adventures that will continue in Widgets Odyssey 2, also releasing later this summer. 
“The launch of Widgets Odyssey marks an exciting day for puzzle-platforming fans everywhere, and we’re also happy to be kicking off a series of summer releases for the PlayStation Minis platform from Frima,” said Steve Couture, CEO and co-founder of Frima Studio. “The Minis platform has allowed us to deliver our proudest creations to players on both the PSP and PS3 without them having to break the bank. We couldn’t be happier to continue the tradition this summer with both installments of Widgets Odyssey, as well as our upcoming action-epic, Young Thor.”
In Widgets Odyssey, five robots aboard their space vessel have just one simple mission: to save the universe from the tyrannical Yagor and his evil henchmen! Armed with the abilities of Spad, Cosmo, Bruce, Helmut, and Monk, players will guide each robot along their exciting adventures filled with puzzles, mazes and minigames. Players can also look forward to the continuing adventures of the ‘S-Space’ crew in Widgets Odyssey 2 when it launches later this summer.
Ratrod Studio Inc. is proudly announcing their latest iPhone game title “Drift Mania Championship ” which has been developed in collaboration with the official Drift Mania Canadian Championship league  (DMCC). This exciting video game will be available worldwide in mid July 2010 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game is rated 4+ (for everyone) and can be purchased on the Apple App Store . 
Already entering its 5th season, DMCC is the only professional drifting series and sanctioning body in Canada developing over 600 drivers, hosting 10 competitions from Vancouver to Quebec and capturing hundreds of thousands of fans every year. Like real drifting, the Drift Mania Championship video game is a combination of driving skills, style and showmanship. It’s all about loss of the rear wheel traction while keeping the race car in total control.
“It was very exciting to collaborate with Ratrod Studio on this project. We have been able to develop this adrenalin-packed drift game that everyone has been waiting for!” says Eric Belec (DMCC, President).
Drift Mania Championship includes a global online leader board which keeps track of everyone’s best scores and season point totals. Challenge your friends by submitting your high scores for each circuit and expose your achievements to the world. Play often to increase your overall career score and become the next Drift Mania world champion. The top 100 positions for each category are displayed on the official Drift Mania website (Leader boards).
The game features stunning 3D graphics with realistic drift controls including a variable throttle system and hydraulic handbrake. Users will be able to select between 5 vehicles, each with their own performance specs and the ability to personalize their car. The game includes 3 different circuits to master and 3 levels of difficulties. So whether you are a casual or advanced gamer, you will be able to enjoy hours of challenging game play to suit your skill set.
Drifting is a very unique Motorsport where points are allocated on 4 main criteria: speed, line, angle and impact. Players will need to qualify on the podium to unlock different circuits and cars. They will also be able to choose between 3 different camera views and watch their performance highlights using a replay system that shows off their best combos. The game soundtrack features bands from the Good Fight Music label including “I Am Abomination” and “Conditions” latest albums. Users also have the ability to listen to their own songs from their personalized music library.
Ratrod Studio also announced an upcoming update for their popular iPhone game “Mike V: Do or Die – Skateboarding ” that was nominated at the “2010 IMGA Awards” and a free “Do or Die Lite” version which will also be available mid July 2010.
EA Sports  has unveiled a new feature for FIFA 11  called Creation Centre, which will provide football fans with the tools to customize content in FIFA 11 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 in new ways. Craft your own football player and create the team of your dreams using the online web-based application , choosing his appearance, accessories and attributes and then create an original team with a distinctive crest and kits, complete with home stadium. 
Fans will be able to share their created players and teams with friends and download into their console to play online, in Tournaments and in Kick-Off matches in FIFA 11. In addition, fans can choose player attributes and manage their created team’s formations and tactics right from the web. Creation Centre will launch when FIFA 11 is available in stores on Sept. 28 in North America and Oct. 1 in Europe and Asia.
“Having the ability to customize content in FIFA 11 to the degree where you are creating players and teams, choosing player attributes and managing team tactics effortlessly from the web opens up a world of possibilities of original content that fans will be able to create,” said David Rutter, Producer of FIFA 11 on Xbox 360 and PS3. “Creation Centre will perfectly compliment the official league and team licenses that are the hallmark of the FIFA franchise.”
Also new this year in FIFA 11 is Custom Audio, which enables fans to assign chants for every team and league in the game. Fans can set their home club’s chants to play during player introductions, halftime, and after goals – even hearing their name echo in the stands of Old Trafford or San Siro with created chants for their Virtual Pro. Plus, fans now have the ability to play music from their hard drive in game. FIFA 11 will be available in stores for the PlayStation3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PlayStation2, Nintendo DS, PSP and mobile on Sept. 28 in North America
Kudos Coins, a revolutionary new way to transmit money online while expressing approval or gratitude, is now available to the public. Developed by a graduate of Waterloo University’s prestigious Computer Science program, Kudos Coins allows users to offer congratulations and monetary rewards to others via the web. With Kudos Coins, web users may send and receive money while staying in touch with one another. Kudos Coins offers other features as well and is geared toward social networking and creative-content websites.
With Kudos Coins, users may send rewards to anyone they please using a simple interface. The service can be accessed from any computer or web-capable mobile device. The user purchases the desired number of Kudos Coins and sends them to whomever he or she pleases. The recipient is then able not only to enjoy the esteem his or her work has earned, but also to redeem the coins for real money. Recipients may exchange one thousand Kudos Coins for one dollar (US).
Kudos Coins is primarily marketed toward social networking websites and owners of creative content published on the World Wide Web. The Coins provide customers a way to reward others for their services or creations. Content creators will find this a new and convenient way to earn support for their works. If, for example, a Kudos Coins account holder were to see a video he enjoyed on YouTube, he could express his approval by sending the video’s creator a certain number of Coins, along with a personalized message of support. The coins are then transferred from the viewer’s “Bucket” to the creator’s.
Another feature of Kudos Coins is the “Leaky Bucket,” which allows account holders to request information or services and set aside a selected sum of Kudos Coins to be transferred upon completion of the request. The “Kudos Maps” feature allows users to be notified when new offers are available near them. The “Linked Account” system permits Kudos Coins accounts to be linked with other social networking accounts.
Kudos Coins aims to integrate payment and social networking for the convenience and enjoyment of its users. In addition to the functions described above, the application may also be used as a voting or rating system, a means of spreading product awareness, or a way of collecting funds for charitable causes or group events.
Kudos Coins is currently capable of being embedded in any webpage, and accounts may be linked to accounts for a number of popular social networking, creative-content, or commercial websites, including AOL, Blogger, eBay, Facebook, Flickr, GMail, ICQ, MySpace, Slashdot, Twitter, Vimeo, Windows Live, and YouTube. Kudos Coins hopes to add accessibility to other sites in the future. The Kudos Coins application is indicated by a green “thumbs-up” symbol.
There is no charge to sign up for a Kudos Coins account or to send or receive money, however a small fee is applied when purchasing or redeeming the Coins and a PayPal account is required to use the Kudos Coins system. Software indexer Softpedia has certified Kudos Coins’ software to be free of any adware or spyware.
Strategic mobile consultant and developer Xtreme Labs  is celebrating the 10 millionth recorded download for their clients’ Blackberry-exclusive apps. As the creator of over 100 mobile applications for an array of clients, Xtreme Labs has dozens of additional apps currently under development. “We’re extremely busy at the Labs,” says Farhan Thawar, VP of Engineering at Xtreme Labs. “Our reputation is preceding us when it comes time for potential clients to choose a strategic partner for mobile applications.”
Their membership in RIM’s Elite Alliance program has added even more cache to Xtreme Labs’ already stellar reputation for building exceptional Blackberry mobile applications. “Being part of RIM’s Elite Alliance enables Xtreme Labs to receive specialized technical, marketing, and sales support as well as insight into upcoming innovations in the BlackBerry ecosystem,” says Thawar.
Some of Xtreme Labs’ clients include Microsoft, NBA Digital, Dictionary.com, AccuWeather, and Urbanspoon, “With the increasing popularity of mobile platforms, companies want to be a part of the latest trend, in this case company-specific mobile applications,” says Sundeep Madra, Co-founder of Xtreme Labs.
In keeping with this demand, Xtreme Labs has launched a practice focused on tablet platforms, including the Apple iPad. With 3 million iPads sold in 80 days, and 11,000 iPad apps already in the App store, Xtreme Labs is embracing Apple’s latest creation. Says Madra, “The iPad has caused an even greater surge in popularity of the development and use of mobile applications. We see the iPad as a growth platform not just for Apple, but for us as well.”
Waterloo’s Desire2Learn Incorporated  is expanding its client-focused commitment with the establishment of its newest subsidiary, Desire2Learn Australia Pty Ltd., providing local presence for both clients and prospects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Brisbane Grammar School, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School, Curriculum Council of Western Australia (CCWA), amongst others, are part of the growing list of clients in the region who will benefit from having direct access to Desire2Learn personnel in the area.
The Desire2Learn Australia Pty Ltd. team, who have extensive backgrounds in international education and eLearning, has been hired within the region. Heading up these efforts are: Chris Jones – Regional Sales Director and Ian Smissen – Director, eLearning Strategies.
“We are very pleased to be announcing the establishment of our subsidiary in the Asia-Pacific region,” states John Baker, President & CEO, Desire2Learn. “This region has demonstrated its leadership in adopting eLearning technology. We are looking forward to the continued growth of our local teams and helping clients achieve their goals and vision.”
A new global survey commissioned by global workplace solutions provider Regus  revealed that 34 percent of Canadian businesses have successfully used social networks to win new business, reinforcing the impact that social media has had on corporations. That said, Canada lags slightly behind the global average in this regard, with 40 percent of businesses globally having successfully leveraged social media tools for business development.
Up to now, relatively little analysis has been available regarding the real use businesses are making of social networking and whether true revenue potential can be generated through this channel. To glean whether businesses globally believe that social networking is ready to take its place among an array of marketing tools, the Regus survey asked business leaders not only whether they had achieved any customer wins using social networking, but also whether they believed the channel was effective enough to be awarded its own portion of marketing budget. Proving the faith businesses have in the social networking medium is seen in the revelation that more than a quarter of businesses worldwide (27 percent) have set aside a proportion of marketing budget specifically devoted to social networking activities.
Globally, social networks are still used for their original purposes. The most popular use of social networks is staying in touch with business contacts, with 58 percent of respondents globally declaring they use networks in this way. Joining special interest groups is also popular (54 percent). 
Although a number of skeptics (34 percent) believe social networking will never become a significant method of connecting to customers and prospects, 51 percent of companies globally organize, connect to or manage customer groups via social networks. Fifty four percent of firms use social networks to find useful business information. Surprisingly, however, only 22 percent of respondents had found new employment through social networking, in spite of the specific job search functions of networks such as LinkedIn.
In Canada specifically, although 28 percent of businesses have set aside a proportion of marketing budget devoted to social networking activities, results deviate marginally from the global average. Fifty three percent of respondents used social networking to keep in touch with contacts, slightly below the global average of 58 percent. Only 49 percent declared that they used social networks to source relevant information (globally 54 percent), while five percent fewer respondents than average (51 percent) declared that the main usefulness of social networking in business is to organize, connect to and manage customer groups.
Wes Lenci, Regus regional vice president for Canada, comments, “Our global survey has revealed that social networking has finally become a mainstream business tool. Although there is a core group of sceptics globally, who do not believe that social networks will become a significant method of reaching customers and prospects, a significant proportion of firms are devoting real marketing budgets through the medium to acquire new customers and keep existing ones.
“While the most popular function of these networks remains that of keeping in touch with contacts, businesses are also successfully acquiring new customers, supporting their retention efforts and interacting with customer groups. With approximately 33 percent of the country logged onto Facebook and more than two million Canadians on LinkedIn, reservations towards using social networks professional seem misplaced. This survey indicates that organizations who have not yet ventured into the world of social networking may be missing out on sizeable business opportunities. This is particularly the case in the Netherlands (48 percent), India (52 percent), Mexico (50 percent) and Spain (50 percent), where the highest level of new customer acquisition via social networking was reported.”
The survey also analyzed company size differences and found that overall small companies were a little more likely than average to use social networking. In Canada, 60 percent of medium and 34 percent of small companies successfully found new customers through social networks, compared to only 15 percent of large companies. More small companies (30 percent) also actively devote marketing budget to this activity than the global average (27 percent). Bucking the global trend encountered by the survey, employees of larger firms were the least likely to have found employment via social networking (15 percent) compared to small (17 percent) and medium (20 percent) firms.
On a sector basis, consultancy businesses were exactly on average, with 40 percent of respondents having found new customers through social networking. In this sector 29 percent of companies also actively devoted a part of their marketing budget to social networking activity and 56 percent used social networks to find useful information. Unsurprisingly, fewer skeptics than average were found in the consultancy sector (23 percent) than average (34 percent).