22nd June 2010

Cities Named for Monopoly Canadian Version

Longbow GamesLongbow Games has announced that the studio will be launching a boxed version of their innovative new historical wargame Hegemony: Philip of Macedon at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio from June 24-27, 2010. Recently called “the most in depth ancient world strategic simulator on the market,” by Greg Wild of The Reticule, the boxed version of Hegemony which includes a full-colour printed manual will launch exclusively at the show for $30 (reg. $39.99 + shipping).

“We’d like to invite all fans of history and strategy to come out to our booth at Origins and give Hegemony a try,” says Rob McConnell, lead programmer at Longbow Games. “We’re going to have multiple game stations available where guests can play the full game as well as free demo cds to take home and big discounts for those who purchase Hegemony at the show.” Hegemony Philip of Macedon

Hegemony: Philip of Macedon lets you conquer the ancient Greek world in this PC RTS war game that follows the rise of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Players campaign continuously, unfettered by load screens, across a satellite-accurate map of ancient Greece encountering the full range of warfare from reconnaissance to raids to field battles to mountain blockades. The game also features:

* Innovative supply system – Siege and starve the enemy by cutting their supply lines or burning their crops, all the while building and protecting your own supply network to support your growing empire.
* Steeped in history – In-game pedia and 100+ historical objectives recreate the rise of the Macedonian empire.
* Detailed and Stylized World and Map – Transition smoothly between the detailed 3D world and the stylized board-game map while maintaining complete control over your empire.
* Subjugate your enemy – Chase down and capture routed enemy units to create slave gangs to work your mines or build your forts. But don’t leave them unguarded or they could rebel and wreak havoc in your empire’s heartland!
* Conquer the seas – Build or capture a fleet of triremes to protect your coastlines, raid enemy merchants, or drop an army at your enemy’s backdoor.

HasbroAfter passionate campaigns across the country and more than one million votes from Monopoly fans from Kelowna to Kawartha Lakes, 22 of Canada’s favourite cities now have a home on the new Monopoly: Canada Edition game board. Chatham-Kent, Ontario now represents the coveted Boardwalk spot, with Saint-Jean-Sur Richelieu Quebec capturing Park Place to round out the prestigious dark blue property group in the popular game invented by Charles Darrow in 1935.

“We are thrilled to celebrate Canada Day with this new all-Canadian edition of the world’s favorite family game brand featuring cities voted by Canadians!” said Michelle Sinclair, Brand Manager of Games & Puzzles for toy and game-maker Hasbro Canada. “We hope that Canadian Monopoly fans will enjoy playing on a game board that includes an interesting mix of our cities featuring all of the dynamic cultures, sights and history of this country.”Monopoly Canada

Votes were cast during a six-week period in early 2010. The first four weeks of voting determined 20 of the 22 cities featured in the game, picked from 65 pre-selected cities based on the population size of the province in which they resided. The remaining two spots were reserved for a wildcard vote for any city across Canada. Ten cities with the most nominations for the wildcard faced off for two weeks in February 2010 and Beauceville, Quebec and Banff, Alberta earned the brown property spaces on the game board, traditionally occupied by Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue.

The following 22 cities earned spots on the Monopoly: Canada Edition game board, and are listed with the highest rent properties first:Mr. Monopoly

– Dark Blue: Chatham-Kent, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu
– Green: Calgary, Sarnia, Edmonton
– Yellow: Windsor, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres
– Red: Medicine Hat, Gatineau, Shawinigan
– Orange: Kawartha Lakes, Chilliwack, Montreal
– Magenta: Kelowna, North Bay, St. John’s
– Light Blue: Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver
– Brown: Beauceville, Banff

Along with the 22 property spaces featuring great Canadian cities, the game will include updated Chance and Community Chest cards that highlight events and culturally relevant scenarios from Canada. Players may take flight at the International Balloon Festival in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, skate along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa or win big at the casinos in Niagara Falls. The new Monopoly: Canada Edition also features an Electronic Banking unit with cards instead of cash. Players can collect rent and buy their favourite Canadian cities with the touch of a button! Read the rest of this entry »

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21st June 2010

Mentor Programs and Competitions Expand Futures for Young Canadians

bookriffLet me start the week by sending out a huge congratulations to our friend Rochelle Grayson on her new position as CEO at Vancouver startup BookRiff. Rochelle is an incredible lady, and I know that with her awesome talent and drive, great things will be happening for BookRiff and its parent entity D&M Publishing. Congratulations also to the Deus Ex: Human Revolution team over at Eidos Montreal for all of their nominations and awards from E3, including Best of E3 from Gamepro and 1up, plus Best E3 trailer from JeuxVideo.

CIXCIX, the Canadian Interactive Exchange has sent out their annual call for showcase presentations. Submissions deadline is October 1st, so companies who “consider themselves to be the very best in the fields of ICT, Digital Media and Cleantech should complete a profile in order to be selected to present live at CIX in the showcase of Complex GamesCanada’s Hottest Innovative Companies.” CIX takes place at Toronto’s at MaRs Discovery District on December 7th.

Complex Games has announced that BattleBears -1, a prequel to Skyvu Pictures’ BattleBear Zombies, has been sent off to iTunes for release approval. Check out this trailer for a preview:

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There are two Canadian creations out on Nintendo’s DSiWare today. First up is Puffins: Let’s Fish from Other Ocean Interactive. Available for only 500 Nintendo DSi Points, this E-rated title lets gamers dive into the deep blue sea and fill their virtual bellies with delicious fish. Puffins: Let’s FishOther Ocean Interactive is an action game that has you swimming the beautiful ocean in search of a puffin’s favourite meal: the elusive capelin. However, the ocean can be a dangerous place, and you’re not the only one hunting for food. Throughout 18 underwater stages and two game modes, you’ll be avoiding sharks, jellyfish and other fearsome predators who are very interested in making you their next meal.

Digital LeisureToday’s other new DSiWare title comes from Digital Leisure. Also available for 500 DSi Points and rated E (with cartoon violence) is Mega Words, where you need to put on your thinking cap and see how many of the hundreds of puzzles you can solve in Mega Words. Three classic puzzlers are included in this puzzle pack: Word Scrambler, Anagram Hunt and Hangman. There’s no need for erasers here! These portable editions feature extensive dictionaries to challenge novices and expert players alike. See how fast you can unscramble words, sharpen your vocabulary and stretch your mind with Mega Words.

EA SportsWinnipeg-born Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will be the new face of the NHL® 11 videogame from EA Sports™. With last year’s title featuring Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, NHL 11 marks the first time that EA SPORTS has put back to back players from the same team on the cover of the NHL franchise. The 22 year old’s image will be on the front of all packaging when NHL 11 is available in North American retail stores this September for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® with an MSRP of $59.99.

“I am really excited to be on the cover of NHL 11,” said Toews. “It’s been an amazing year for me and the team, and it’s nice to end it by being a part of a game I played growing up. The NHL games have always been great, so it’s an honor for me to be a part of the EA Sports family.”
Jonathan Toews
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary with NHL 11, the EA Sports NHL® franchise has won 22 Sports Game of the Year awards over the past three years and is poised to raise the bar yet again. With a revolutionary real-time physics engine that brings an unprecedented amount of realism to the franchise, gameplay innovations like broken sticks and a revamped face-off system, as well as the addition of the Canadian Hockey League, NHL 11 is set to be the most complete hockey videogame ever created.

After being selected third overall in the 2006-07 entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews has emerged as one of the most skilled centers in the NHL after just two seasons. After helping lead team Canada to a gold medal win during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Toews locked up the Conn Smythe, given to the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs, after playing a crucial role in leading the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. Toews is currently the youngest captain in the NHL, and has registered more than 65 points in each of his first two seasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th June 2010

Hamilton Institute for Interactive Digital Media Announced at E3

GlitchSoftOttawa startup GlitchSoft Corporation has launched their first title for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch platforms. BarStar is a casual, time management, bartending game similar in gameplay style to Sally’s Spa and Diner Dash, that allows the user to enter the world of owning their own bar.

The goal of the game is to quickly serve as many customers and collect tips and bonus points in each of the 35 timed levels. Using the bonus points earned from each level, players are able to barstarpurchase items to upgrade the bar and their bartending skills. By the end of 35 levels, the small, one roomed bar the game starts with will be transformed into a full fledged bar. Featuring an original score, stunning graphics and a deep story line, BarStar is an immediately addictive and engaging game.

“The gameplay is obviously something we have strived to keep engaging and entertaining throughout the entire experience,” says Wes Tam, founder and CEO of GlitchSoft. “Our biggest accomplishment was the innovative, multi-touch approach to mixing drinks that brings you deeper into the game.”

Features include:

– 35 levels of frantic bartending gameplay
– Mix drinks using our innovative multi-touch system. Drinks include beer and wine in the early levels and cocktails including Screwdriver, Caesar and Strawberry Daiquiri in the advanced levels.
– 12 unique customers and 4 secret guest stars with different styles and tastes
– Bar and skill upgrades based on performance with over 200 upgrades (??)
– Made especially for your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

BarStar is available internationally, and is currently on sale at an introductory price from the App store for $2.99.

Silicon KnightsToday at E3, Ontario game developer Silicon Knights announced its exciting collaboration with McMaster University, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) and Mohawk College. The partners will work to create a new research institute around interactive digital media that will pioneer and shape cutting-edge advances in the interactive entertainment arena. The initiative, called “Eight: The Hamilton Institute for Interactive Digital Media,” will be located at McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton and will debut in 2011.

The joint venture centers on the development of the “8th Art,” art that develops technology and creativity beyond the moving image, i.e. film, and adds interactivity. The Institute’s focus will be on the creation and integration of new technologies, new design and innovative artistic concepts for digital media applications. “Eight” will provide a nucleus where staff of Silicon Knights and the AGH and faculty and students at Master University and Mohawk College can move seamlessly between organizations on shared research projects and digital media development. Staff of Silicon Knights and AGH could participate in research, course development and teaching at the new Institute.

“By adding interactivity to moving images such as film (the ‘7th art), we are creating what Silicon Knights’ has dubbed for many years as the ‘8th Art’,” said Silicon Knights President Denis Dyack. “We have been promoting the ‘8th Art’ for many years, and are beyond excited to have aligned with three outstanding partners – McMaster University, AGH and Mohawk College – that share the same vision, and understand the need to grow the talent and resources in this arena.

The partnership brings together several prominent groups whose talents and synergies will result in a groundbreaking initiative. Silicon Knights brings its development and creative expertise, which complements the talented faculty at McMaster, a leading research-intensive university with a track record of world-class research and education capabilities. AGH, a leading public art gallery that positions digital art as one of its key artistic activities through research exhibition and education, has a solid track record of engaging, stimulating and enriching the community through art, and this expertise will be compounded by talented faculty and staff at Mohawk College, with its keen focus on and responsiveness to industry and market trends.

McMaster University’s President, Peter George, believes the partnership will be a catalyst in developing a critical mass of expertise in digital media. “We want to be known as the “8th Art” university, but to achieve that distinction will depend on effective collaboration with great partners,” he said. “Capitalizing on one another’s strengths will create unlimited opportunities for research commercialization, education and training, and economic development and job creation for our region.”

The council of Canadian Academies has identified new media as having the greatest momentum and the highest growth prospects of Canada. Worldwide the digital media sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the knowledge economy, projected to be valued at US $2.2. trillion over the next five years. This program will help grow the innovation and commercialization efforts in this key strategic sector of the new knowledge and creative economy.

“Mohawk College is pleased to be a part of this exciting new initiative that will bring together the best and brightest in the field of digital media,” says Mohawk College president, Rob MacIsaac. “It’s an initiative that will build on Mohawk’s long-standing partnership with McMaster University, draw on our college’s strengths in applied learning and research and leverage our ability to stay responsive to employer needs and industry trends.”

“Many innovative art forms today already incorporate practices and techniques from other disciplines, said Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of AGH. “A key difference here is this partnership extends to the entire process from research, production, dissemination, training and marketing of the end product. It will be most enriching for artists, students and the community to have the opportunity to work closely with world renowned researchers in science and technology and for the AGH to present their accomplishments as it proceeds in the context of an art gallery.”

creativemixCreativeMix is offering the chance for you to promote your creative project or venture this November 4th at CreativeEX, the exhibition at CreativeMIX – Vancouver’s annual ideation and creative collaboration conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th June 2010

More Canadian E3 Goodness

Canada Media FundConfused about the Canada Media Fund? There’s a conversation going on over at Christine Lim-Labossiere’s site, Pentimento Productions. Christine is working on an initiative to assist Digital Media companies who would like to access the new Canada Media Fund-Convergent Stream, and she invites all interested parties to share their thoughts. As announced earlier this month, the CMF has extended its deadline for applications to its Experimental Stream has been extended from June 21 to July 5, 2010.

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have released a new trailer for Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which is scheduled for release on June 30th. A unique and stand alone piece of content, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero will introduce players to the main protagonist, Chuck Greene, and game play features of Dead Rising 2 ahead of its release. Available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners via Xbox LIVE, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is set two years after the Willamette incident chronicled in the original Dead Rising and three years before the action of Dead Rising 2. Players purchasing Dead Rising 2: Case Zero who then go on to buy Dead Rising 2 will be able to carry over character attributes earned such as Player Level, to a maximum of five, Prestige Points alongside skills, Combo Cards and a number of alternate outfits. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is not yet listed in the XBox Marketplace.

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TransGaming, Inc. has announced the redesign of its Mac digital distribution portal, GameTreeOnline, as well as the release of exciting new Mac games. As at E3 this week and on our site yesterday, GameTreeOnline features two new Disney Interactive TransGamingtitles, Toy Story 3 and Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey. Both titles are available immediately and only from GameTreeOnline as digital downloads. In addition, GameTreeOnline will release Her Interactive’s first award-winning Nancy Drew franchise title for Mac on June 29, 2010.

These new releases complement two new Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games from Riot Games and LEGO®, League of Legends and LEGO Universe, respectively. The Mac enablement and deployment of high quality franchises, such as LEGO’s first ever MMO title, clearly define TransGaming’s leadership position and adds to the company’s growing collection of award-winning titles that have been enabled for the Mac community using TransGaming’s Cider Portability Technology.

“TransGaming’s announcement of these new games coming to the Mac, at this year’s E3 Conference, clearly demonstrates to the gaming community that leading publishers are pursuing the Mac platform and are focused on releasing a simultaneous PC/Mac hybrid product,” commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “We have maintained our commitment to giving Mac gamers the highest quality gaming content and we are bringing these incredible games to the Mac simultaneously with their PC counterparts, which is possible only through our portability technology. TransGaming is truly delivering on the promise of a low-touch enablement technology for simultaneous multi-platform releases.”

Propaganda GamesDisney Interactive Studios have released the E3 trailer for Propaganda Games‘ upcoming epic, action role-playing game Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, which will give gamers an entirely new experience within the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. The game takes place before the events of the blockbuster films. Players will take on the role of a pirate and embark on epic land and sea adventures. Numerous moral and character choices will need to be made that affect their character and the original story within the world. Players will explore a massive open world while fighting enemies, mystical creatures and Mother Nature, both to gain experience and stay alive. Supernatural elements familiar to the Pirates of the Caribbean world will also affect their character’s story and influence their choices. Armada of the Damned is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2010 for next-gen consoles and Windows PC.

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“Armada of the Damned is a dynamic action role-playing game that captures all of the franchise’s excitement, unpredictability and action while delving into narrative elements never before explored within this unique universe,” said Dan Tudge, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “Our team’s collective experience with industry-leading RPGs and action titles provides a strong foundation for us to create and build a compelling action role-playing title.”

Disney Interactive has also released a new and innovative E3 2010 trailer for the TRON: Evolution video game that connects the storyline of the game and the film. The piece features the voice of Bruce Boxleitner as the character TRON, who takes the player through their paces and prepares them for immersion into a world they’ve never seen. Read the rest of this entry »

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15th June 2010

Ubisoft Montreal to Develop Titles for the New Nintendo 3DS

Propaganda GamesPropaganda Studios is at E3 in full force, with both of their currently in-development games being showcased at the Disney Interactive Studios booth. Oh and by the way, Propaganda is hiring.

The TRON universe is coming to additional platforms than previous transmissions revealed. Tron EvolutionDisney Interactive Studios today announced the development of TRON video games for Wii™, Nintendo DS™ and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. These games complete the TRON video game portfolio this year from Disney Interactive Studios, joining the previously announced TRON: Evolution for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

Set during the era between the two TRON films, TRON: Evolution conveys a story of significant events within the TRON mythology. The game features an epic adventure across the massive digital TRON world filled with high-mobility disc-based combat and light cycle action. The TRON: Evolution games will be released in Holiday 2010 before the “TRON: Legacy” film hits theaters on December 17 in Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.

TRON Evolution – Battle Grids (Wii), TRON: Evolution (DS) and TRON: Evolution PSP are action packed games set within the combat arenas and mysterious cities of the TRON world. All game versions give fans a unique way to battle and explore the TRON universe alone or with friends and family.

“These games offer unique experiences within the TRON universe that are ideal for their individual platforms,” said Craig Relyea, senior vice president of global marketing, Disney Interactive Studios. “TRON is an exciting, dynamic property that appeals to interactive entertainment fans of all ages.”

The TRON games for Nintendo platforms (TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids for Wii and TRON: Evolution for DS), include games and art styles appropriate for a wide audience, including families and kids. While Propaganda is the primary developer, the studio has partnered with n-Space Inc. and SuperVillain Studios, both located in the USA, to deliver this wide range of games for the new generation of TRON titles. Armada of the Damned

Propaganda’s other new title, Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned (2011) is an epic action-role playing game that lets players decide what type of pirate legend they want to become. Will they become Legendary, or Dreaded? Set before the blockbuster films, the game is a deep action-RPG that lets players carve out their own story in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. In development for the PS3, Xbox 360 and the PC, Armada of the Damned casts players off on a journey where they will encounter numerous memorable characters, both original and familiar.

TransGamingTransgaming has just announced that new titles for the Mac are now available at GameTree – Disney fans can now pick up Toy Story 3 and Disney Princess Enchanted Journey at GameTree Online for $29.99 and $21.99 respectively.

Here is a look at the E3 2010 trailer for Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, coming to the 360 from Relic Entertainment.

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UbisoftA new 3D version of Assassin’s Creed will be released by Ubisoft for the just-announced Nintendo 3DS. Ubisoft has also announced that the following titles will be available when the new handheld units go on sale: Hollywood 61; Battle of Giants™: Dinosaur Strike; Driver® Renegade; Assassin’s Creed™ Lost Legacy; Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory™ and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon™.

As one of the top independent publishers on the Nintendo DS™ and Wii™, Ubisoft is also one of the first major publishers to invest hieavily in development for 3D. “Nintendo has created a new portable console that will allow easy and affordable access to 3D technology,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “The portability and freedom from glasses of the Nintendo 3DS™ allows our creative teams to craft unique new and immersive games for all types of gamers.”

Ubisoft’s Nintendo 3DS line-up spans different genres of video games, allowing early adopters of the new console to find the style of games that they most enjoy:

* Hollywood 61 (code name): Live the thrill of mastering tailor-made mind games and become the obsession of a criminal mastermind in the first interactive 3D movie. Solve the deadly mystery with 150 classic and 3D puzzles.
* Battle of Giants™: Dinosaur Strike: 150 million years ago, Nature’s fury was unleashed, forcing Dinosaurs to fight for their survival. Dive into spectacular battles and deal powerful blows to your worst enemies. Master your fierce dinosaur and rule the cataclysmic Jurassic world!
* Driver® Renegade: The first and exclusive action driving game on Nintendo 3DS that lets you experience the intensity of urban car chases. As former cop John Tanner, you work outside the law to fight crime in the gritty streets of New York and defeat the 5 crime lords who own the city.
* Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory™: Sam Fisher, the renowned secret agent is back in this redesigned version of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Experience one of the most acclaimed games in the Splinter Cell franchise for the first time in 3D.
* Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon™: Lead the Ghosts, the most elite special forces unit in the US Army, across multiple tactical missions to prevent a war from breaking out.
* Assassin’s Creed™ Lost Legacy: Driven by curiosity and a desire to understand the origins of his Order, Ezio Auditore travels East in search of the lost castle at Masyaf, the ancient seat of the Assassins.

Ubisoft has also released more information about Shaun White Skateboarding, which will bring skateboarding to a wider audience, allowing players to transform a dull, lifeless city into their own extraordinary skating playground. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th June 2010

DrinkBox Studios Announces its First Original Title

drinkbox studiosToronto indie developer DrinkBox Studios has announced that its first original console title will be coming to the PlayStation®3 system via the PlayStation®Network toward the end of the year.

Tales from Space: About a Blob is a game about an innocent little creature that grows and grows until it eats the whole world. In development since January of 2009, the game features a monster movie setting and theme, a retro-inspired art style and puzzle-focused platforming gameplay.

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“Players will interact with the game environment using unique growth and absorption control mechanics, experiencing the world at vastly different scales as they progress. Both single-player and co-op play will be supported.” said Ryan MacLean, CEO of DrinkBox Studios. He continued: “We’re extremely excited to be releasing the game on the PlayStation®3 system.”

49 Pixels has announced plans for an open forum which will allow for the gathering of Pixel to Productpeople and facilitate an open conversation in regards to Canada’s digital economy. Please see the the Pixel to Product blog for complete conversation details. The first online conversation is scheduled for Friday June 18th at 4pm ET.

United Front GamesGrammy Award winning recording artist, producer and musician Pharrell Williams brings his unique blend of pop, hip hop and soul to headline the soundtrack for United Front GamesTrue Crime: Hong Kong, the company’s forthcoming open-world/action game. Also on the soundtrack is up and coming R&B, pop and jazz singer Rhea who frequently collaborates with Williams and has performed with N.E.R.D. With orders to “do whatever it takes to become one of them,” players assume the role of undercover detective Wei Shen as he engages in visceral, fast paced martial arts combat, explosive gunfights, high-octane action driving and acrobatic free-running chase sequences in order to infiltrate and bring down one of Hong Kong’s most notorious Triad organizations. In order to survive, Wei must think like them, fight like them, and even kill like them.

Bioware CorpThe Mass Effect™ 2 phenomenon rages on! BioWare™has launched a demo for Mass Effect 2 on Xbox Live® and PC. Designed to help introduce the rich Mass Effect fiction to all-new players, the demo features the first two missions of the game as well as one bonus mission, totaling over 90 minutes of the action-packed game play and rich storytelling that have made Mass Effect 2 one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. BioWare is releasing the demo with a “Story-so-far” video, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, that provides a recap of past events aMass Effect 2 Overlordnd plot twists in the Mass Effect universe.

In the demo, players step into the role of Commander Shepard and must escape from a Cerberus space station under siege. Players can jump ahead to a later mission where they must rescue Subject Zero, a hardened, dangerous criminal from a heavily guarded prison ship. Once they play the demo, players will be able to create a save and carry over their character along with the experience points, story decisions, achievements and weapons earned into the full version of the game – picking up right where they left off, on both PC and Xbox 360.

BioWare also announced today that the new DLC chapter “Overlord”, which will add five new areas and two new achievements will be available on June 15th for 560 Microsoft points and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Also on June 15, BioWare is releasing a new premium theme based on Omega and new avatar items for Xbox Live will follow on June 17.

“Mass Effect 2 is one of our greatest achievements to date at BioWare,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and Group General Manager of the BioWare Group, and Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts. “The Mass Effect team continues to deliver on our promise to add exciting new content to the universe for our loyal fans, and we’re also excited to be able to give all gamers a chance to experience this amazing game through a free demo!”

Down at E3, Target and Ubisoft have teamed up for an exclusive preview of four upcoming Ludiafamily fun games. Target’s Bullseye Lounge will feature two upcoming video game adaptations of the hit television game shows, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?™ and Hollywood Squares™. Playable on Wii™, these demos will offer Expo attendees a chance to engage in competitive gameplay. The new Who Wants To Be A Millionaire video game is created by Ludia and is based on the Disney-ABC Domestic Television hit game show, which will premiere its ninth season in syndication this fall. The Millionaire video game, on display in the Bullseye Lounge at E3, will put the brains of expo attendees to work as they compete against one another to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions. Visitors to the Bullseye Lounge will be able to experience the drama and intensity of the pop culture game show sensation first-hand, as they test their trivia knowledge and give their “final answers.” Read the rest of this entry »

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11th June 2010

Playboy Appears Amongst The Zombies

Blue Castle GamesCapcom and Blue Castle Games have confirmed that there is a new partnership in place with Playboy magazine to have content from the iconic publication featured in upcoming title Dead Rising® 2, scheduled for release later this year for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and PC platforms.

Players who discover the Playboy magazine in the game will receive a unique and special upgrade for Chuck Greene, the main character in Dead Rising 2. Furthermore, players will come across Playboy ads and billboards that will feature specially selected issues from the magazine’s Playboy in Dead Rising 257-year history.

The new magazine system for Dead Rising 2, which will feature Playboy along with various other publications, is an evolution of the popular book system from the original Dead Rising game. Along with the special Playboy issue, there will be a variety of different themed magazines that Chuck will be able to pick up for bonuses to use to help fend off the zombie hordes along the way.

“The Sin City-type environment in Dead Rising 2, Fortune City, is a natural playground for the Playboy Bunnies,” said Seon King, Senior Director of Licensing for Capcom Entertainment, Inc. “We have integrated the Playboy brand throughout the game in ways that bring even more life to Fortune City and add to the user experience.”

Dead Rising 2 Playboy BunnyFor those unfamiliar with the premise of Dead Rising 2, former motocross champion Chuck Greene arrives at Fortune City, America’s latest adult playground, to participate in the zombie game show Terror is Reality, a gruesome test of strength and agility through excessive and imaginative  elimination of hundreds and hundreds of zombies. While in Fortune City, a zombie outbreak occurs and Chuck must survive the onslaught of the undead for 72 hours. Pitted against bosses and psychos – tens of thousands of zombies and the constant countdown of the clock – while potentially rescuing other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, players must also unravel the greater conspiracy behind the outbreak.

The Dead Rising® series is renowned for letting players pick up and use everyday items to fend off hordes of the undead, but Dead Rising 2 adds a new twist with combination weapons. Take Dead Rising 2 Playboy Magazinetwo objects, add a roll of tape plus the inventiveness and skilled hands of Chuck Greene and an innocent water gun and a can of gasoline become a deadly flamethrower, while a garden rake and car battery combine to create an electrified zombie prod. Using combination weapons to fend off hordes of the undead in fun and grotesque ways is only just the beginning as the more combo weapons a player uses, the more Prestige Points (PPs) they will rack up. Earn enough PPs and Chuck levels up which will helps him along the way.

Equally important is Chuck’s need to to find Zombrex, a drug that stops his infected daughter Katey from turning into a zombie. Players will decimate thousands and thousands of zombies in an increasingly outrageous manner in order to beat the clock and survive 72 hours in the darkly comedic, no-holds-barred confines of Fortune City.

June is also the month when we 360 players are supposed to get a prologue look at Dead Rising 2 with the availability of Case Zero, which was announced in February as being in the XBL Marketplace on June 30th (I am awaiting confirmation on the release date). Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, will introduce gamers to Chuck Greene and provide a link between the original game and the events that await players in the gambling paradise of Fortune City.

frima studioJune has been an incredible month thus far for Quebec’s Frima Studio. On June 1, Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec, Mr. Sam Hamad, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Minister of Labour and Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, and Mr. Steve Couture, CEO of Frima Studio, have announced an investment of  two million dollars in the training of the Québec-based studio’s personnel, specialized in the development of video games. Half of this sum will be invested by the Government of Quebec via Emploi-Quebec and its envelope destined to large-scale economic projects.

“Quebec has become a destination of choice for many multinationals in the interactiveQuebec Government at Frima
entertainment industry. We are known around the world for our creativity and dynamism in that field. This fairly recent reality is owed to people of vision and passion; to people who get involved, and who dare take the necessary risks to build the companies that will, over the years, become symbols of pride for us all,” declared Mr. Charest.

The development of a video game requires the participation of experts in various fields. To ensure coherence and cohesion within the teams of artists, game designers, interface designers, animators, programmers and testers, each employee must develop a certain level of versatility within the framework continuum, which this training plan will enable. Read the rest of this entry »

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10th June 2010

Patrick Beaulieu Launches Animation Insiders

Just a reminder that if you haven’t already, time is running out on your chance to have your say about Canada’s digital economy strategy. This incentive is meant to benefit our Canadian digital industry, so get involved in the discussion today. digiBC has released the 2010 BC Digital Media and Wireless Survey report (PDF) which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report covers key sectors of British Columbia’s rapidly developing Digital Media and Wireless industries.

dabble dbTwitter announced earlier today that it has purchased Vancouver company Smallthought Systems, the powers behind Dabble DB and Trendly. A message on Dabble DB’s landing page about the sale of the company reads:

“Obviously this represents a new chapter in the life of Dabble DB, both for us as a team, and for the product itself. We’d like to assure you that, for now, we will continue to provide our software and technical support to current Dabble DB customers. However, we will be disabling new account signups effective immediately.

There will be further changes to Dabble’s ongoing operations, and when those happen, we want to do right by you. We will provide you with 60 days advance notice of any major change. We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that, at any time, you can export all of your data, including attachments, in a structured format suitable for import into other systems.”

animation insidersPatrick Beaulieu, Animation Artistic Director at Ubisoft Quebec City, has launched his first 3D animation collection book Animation Insiders. A rich and complete work of knowledge sharing, this collection of testimonials gives a lot of tricks and hints as well as anecdotes from renowned animators at Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Pixar, to name a few. The book is now available worldwide on sstudiopress.

“Gathering all these people from all over the world and putting together all of these testimonials was a lot of work, says Patrick Beaulieu, but the result gives us a privileged vision on what is going on back stage in animation. Each collaborator had a clean slate to share his experiences, works, methodologies, philosophy, etc…. even if some aspects are more technical, Animation Insiders remains open to a wide audience, from the animation fan boy to the experienced animator. Everyone passionate about animation, movies and video games will find himself in this book, he will also find details and insides about his favorite animation movies or games” he adds.

You will find testimonials, visuals and illustrations from 13 renowned animators such as:

Jason Ryan (USA, Dreamworks, Shrek 4)
Andrew Gordon (USA, Pixar, Nemo)
Jason Martinsen (USA, Animation Mentor, Ice Age)
Jason Schleifer (USA, Dreamworks, LOTR)
Anthea Kerou (USA, Dreamworks, Bolt)
Victor Navone (USA, Pixar, The Incredibles)
Ana Maria Alvarado (USA, Sony Image Works, Spiderman)
Mike Nguyen (USA, Rainplace, Iron Giant)
Pedro Blumenbaum (Spain, Nocturna)
Pablo Navarro (Spain, Nocturna)
Emilio Ghorayeb (Canada, New Breed VFX, Madagascar)
Matt Stangio (USA, Pixar, Toys Story 3)
Reno Armanet (France, Tigobo Animation)

gamesauceThe schedule for the GameSauce Conference has been posted to the web. This conference takes place on July 19th, immediately prior to Casual Connect Seattle (July 20 -22). Registration is $100.00 USD or is free to those registered for the Casual Connect Seattle conference. There are some great topics, panels and roundtable discussions on the slate, so plan to be in Seattle one day early in order to take advantage of this event. Along with the great topics being offered through the GameSauce Game Development Track, the following areas may also be of interest to you, and like me, you will need a clone in order to take it all in.

The Leadership & Professional Development Track, produced in partnership by Women In Games International, Women In Games Vancouver and Women In Games IGDA offers some great panels and roundtable discussions about career building and talent nurturing.

If game audio is your thing, The Audio Track, produced by Game Audio Alliance, has much to offer, and the Nvidia Tegra Mobile Game Development Track, which is making its debut at this year’s GameSauce Conference is a must for those looking for opportunities in the mobile market. The Alternative Funding and Exit Strategies Track, produced by The Corum Group is a four hour crash course discussing the positives and negatives of funding as well as what to do with your company once you are successful.

trainyardiPhone developer Matt Rix has released his first title in the iTunes App Store. Trainyard is a challenging puzzler that requires the safe movement of coloured blocks (trains) from one station to the next. Each of the 100 puzzles ramps up in difficulty, adding colour and track-changing blocks into the mix while you try to draw tracks from one locale to the next, hopefully avoiding train pile-ups. There are no set solutions to the puzzles, so you are free to try as many options as you like. Trainyard also includes bonus levels as well as the ability to share solutions that worked for you on the game’s web site. Trainyard is available now for only $1.99. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th June 2010

Congratulations to the 2010 Technology Impact Award Winners

EA SportsElectronic Arts Inc. has revealed that its top-selling franchise from EA Sports™ will redefine player authenticity when FIFA Soccer 11 launches this Fall. FIFA Soccer 11 reinvents player authenticity – on and off the ball – for every player and at every position on the pitch with Personality+, an all-new feature that sees individual abilities reflected in game, enabling clear differentiation for every player.

“Personality+ is the evolution of individual distinctiveness that sees a player’s abilities on the pitch mirrored authentically in our game, creating individual personalities in FIFA Soccer 11,” said Executive Producer Kaz Makita. “We have reached a level of sophistication within our game engine where players in our game will behave and perform as true individuals.”FIFA 11

Personality+ distinguishes individual players from one another by utilizing a database that evaluates and grades each player’s skill-set over 36 attributes and 57 traits. The EA Sports FIFA Soccer franchise utilizes a network of 1,700 scouts, editors and reviewers positioned around the world to evaluate each player, creating one of the world’s most comprehensive databases to drive its market-leading soccer engine. Personality+ will be integrated everywhere in-game. Elite players are now empowered to showcase their world class skills. Real Madrid’s Kaka will deliver crisp, creative passes, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta will utilize tighter turns and close control to dribble through defenses, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney will hold off defenders and strike shots from distance with pace, and top-flight defenders like Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus will anticipate, predict and react to offensive players to win back possession. New body types and player models will further distinguish each player on the pitch. In addition, goalkeepers have also been injected with Personality+. The real-life personality of the keeper, whether acrobatic or traditional, will dictate his style in game. Dive attributes will determine the keepers with the ability to reach for further shots while reflex attributes determine reaction times, so a keeper like Petr Cech of Chelsea FC will be able to showcase world-class skills.

FIFA Soccer 11 introduces new Pro Passing where pass accuracy is determined by a gamer’s ability on the control pad, and player skill, situation and urgency on the pitch, yielding a deeply rewarding passing system. Poor decisions or over/under striking the ball will mean error-prone outcomes. New types of passes such as swerve passes will enable players to make a safer and more effective play.

Building on FIFA Soccer 10 gameplay that won 50 sports game of the year awards, FIFA Soccer 11 continues to listen to its growing legion of EA Sports FIFA fans around the world to refine gameplay in ways that matter most to fans.  FIFA Soccer 11 will be available in stores world-wide this Fall for the PlayStation®3, Xbox 360®, Wii™, PC, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS™, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system and mobile.

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario has announced that ‘Open Mobile’ Author Ajit Jaokar, Founder of futuretext in London, UK will keynote the iP3 Forum on June 21st in Toronto. During his keynote presentation, Ajit will explore the future of mobile and web technologies, and how an open ecosystem could drive innovation in technical and business strategies.

“As member of the Economic World Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet, and with his intensive experience and research into open mobile strategies, Ajit will provide key insights into the world of technological innovation past and future,” says Sarah Baird, Co-Chair of the iP3 Forum Advisory Board and VP, Programmes and Operations at Interactive Ontario. “We are thrilled Ajit will kick-start the iP3 Forum with mind-expanding ideas of where we’re all headed.”

realtech vrrealtech VR has released Beware of the Bad Seed 1.0, a new fast-paced arcade game for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (in high resolution) where players must protect the magical garden and save the daisy against never ending waves of naughty carnivorous plants. Beware of the Bad Seed is an addictive and sweaty revamped version of the arcade room classic “Whack a mole” with a 3D, vegetable twist. Use your finger to hit all the carnivorous plants and make sure not to hit the daisies that appear on the screen.

Feature Highlights:

* Includes universal version with full realtime 3D rendering for iPhone, iPhone 3GS and iPad with high resolution support.
* Three game modes: Time attack, Arcade and Tic-tac-toe.
* Landscape and Portrait orientation with auto-rotation.
* Personal scoreboard and ever increasing challenge.

Future updates with iOS 4 Game Center integration coming this summer with leaderboard, friends and more. To celebrate this release, realtech VR will be offering a discount on their other titles from June 10th through June 12th.

* Iron Fist Boxing Prestige Edition (with up to 200,000 download on the App Store) for 0.99$ instead for 4.99$
* Iron Fist Boxing Lite Full Version Upgrade for 0.99$ instead of 3.99$
* SkyORB 3D Premium Upgrade for 0.99$ (with up to 200,000 download on the App Store) instead of 2.99$
* Laserlink for Free instead of 0.99$

Tecagora SolutionsVictoria’s Tecagora Solutions is pleased to announce that Snapact Photo Manager is now available through the Intel AppUp Center.

The Intel AppUp Center allows netbook users to browse, purchase, download, and install software applications that have been optimized to operate on netbooks and the Intel Atom processor through the AppUp Center on their netbook. The AppUp Center is specifically designed for netbooks as a mobile store font that is launched as an application on the netbook. When launched, users can search for netbook software applications based on category type, or they can view featured software titles, “Staff Picks,” “What’s Hot,” or “New Releases.”

“Snapact Photo Manager has been designed to be fast and light on system resources,” states Bruce Kwan, President and CEO of Tecagora Solutions. “When installed on a computer hard drive, Snapact is less than 6 MB in size. Therefore, the software does not use up a lot of hard drive space making more room available for other software applications and files. Because of its speed and file size, Snapact is a great fit for netbook users looking for a photo viewer, manager, and sharing tool. We are excited to offer our solution for all netbook users to use through the AppUp Center,” says Kwan.

The AppUp Center is a tool for netbook users to quickly search for and find software applications that have been optimized, quality tested, and verified to run on netbooks and the Intel Atom processor. Netbook users can download, install, launch, uninstall, and purchase software applications directly through the AppUp Center on their netbook. Many of the netbooks shipped in 2010 will include the AppUp Center pre-installed, however, the AppUp Center is also available for direct download from Intel.

Manic With more than 200,000 applications available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, more and more companies are reaching their customers through iPhone apps – a trend that is expected to grow rapidly following the recent release of Apple’s iPad touch-tablet.

Push notifications allow companies to stay in touch with app users or to allow them to interact with each other. Manic’s server software puts companies tapping the burgeoning market for iPhone and iPad apps in full control of theiiir push messaging, allowing for unlimited messages without additional cost.

“Our idea for the Manic APNs came out of our experience developing our unique multi-player gaming network,” says Randy Byers of Ottawa-based Manic Networks. “But we quickly realized that a way to reach millions of users within a matter of minutes at no additional cost would have huge appeal to many types of companies doing business on the iPhone/iPad platform.”

Manic’s Linux-based server software runs on company-owned servers or on hosted cloud servers for a fraction of the cost it would take to develop in-house – and with no limits or per-message cost. Depending on hardware and connectivity, Manic APNsServer can send 400,000 messages per minute or more – close to 25 million messages an hour. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th June 2010

Ryerson University Students Assist Paris Transit Patrons

Wired WomanWired Woman Vancouver is presenting Building Community with Social Media on June 14th at UBC Robson Square. Starting at 5:30pm, this education session will assist attendees discovering the value of effective strategies for building a community through social media in an exciting, interactive round table discussion with five experts.

What is community in relation to the web? Community is beyond a blog, and a few people following you on Twitter. This evening will help you realize what the new meaning of an online community is, and why it holds an important spot at the new marketing table. Find out how the experts are building, engaging, and managing their communities for themselves and their clients. Tickets for this event are available online at a cost of $35.00 for Wired Woman members and $40.00 for non-members. It is worth noting that you can save $5.00 by signing up for free and becoming a member of the Wired Woman network.

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

wavefrontWaveFront has partnered with the Mobile Computing Promotion Consortium (MCPC) of Japan, and they are inviting Canadian mobile developers to take part in a unique opportunity for facilitated access to the Japanese wireless market. This two-part programme begins with one-on-one coaching sessions to be held at Discovery Park in Vancouver this June 21st through 23rd.

Following the information session on June 21st, selected participants will meet with visiting MCPC representatives for product assessments and structuring assistance, as well as an overview of marketing strategies over the remaining days of the visit. The information sessions are free to interested companies, but do require registration. If you are unable to attend in person, you can attend via the virtual event which will be hosted on Mingleverse. Part 2 of this partnership will offer those selected companies the opportunity to participate in the 8th annual MCPC Solutions Fair in Tokyo in November 2010.

Ryerson UniversityParis Metro passengers have a new way to navigate the transit system in the palm of their hand. Developed expressly to assist passengers with special needs, the Mobile Transit Companion, a made-in-Canada mobile application, uses context-aware self-adaptive computing to deliver live, customized data to passengers en route. The inclusive application, complete with useful information for all passengers, was created through a partnership between Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and Sweden’s Appear Networks.

Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) commuters can now download the free software and set up their user profile. Information is then automatically sent to their mobile phones according to their profile and contextual information. For example, they can receive notifications such as the location of station elevators and Metro transfer points; facilities and nearby businesses; updated schedules for connecting trains; and availability of services at each station. For blind and low-vision passengers, the Mobile Transit Companion uses a speech-enabled, gesture-driven user interface. For other user groups, including the elderly, deaf or hard of hearing, or passengers with reduced mobility, the application offers an intuitive and easy-to-use visual interface.

“At Ryerson we see a very niche use for context-aware computing in public transit and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS),” said Hossein Rahnama, project leader, Ryerson postdoctoral student and DMZ Steering Committee Member. “We are specializing in context-aware consumer applications in airports, airlines, trains, subways, buses, etc. and will be working with Metrolinx on a project for GO Transit here in the fall. With RATP, our focus was on passengers with special needs because those communities could really benefit from such applications, even though they are often not considered when developing apps.”RATP

The Mobile Transit Companion’s positioning function is integrated with a web-based monitoring service so that public transit staff can easily locate and assist passengers with special needs. The only existing social tracking application for public transit passengers, this monitoring service has the capability to be shared with friends and family. Using the interface, the transit authority can message selected passengers, which is particularly helpful for Deaf or hard of hearing passengers who can’t hear announcements made over the PA. Messages are communicated to each passenger according to the information on his in her profile, e.g.: the message will be interpreted from text to speech if s/he has indicated Low Vision.

The project was part of European research consortium developing an open-source middleware platform. Ryerson was the only North American player. “There are a lot of advantages to research collaboration with international partners in the Information and Communications Technologies sector,” said Rahnama. “In fact, one of our key objectives in this project is to demonstrate those advantages, such as combining the smartphone popularity and development of North America with the digital mobile telephony advances of Europe. The success of the MUSIC platform has inspired another project with Europe, slated for fall 2010.”

The Mobile Transit Companion is currently being piloted on Android phones in 10 stations along Line 14 of the Paris Metro. Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone at Yonge Dundas Square provides Ryerson University students with the opportunity to develop their digitally based ideas into consumer products with help from mentors and industry. Read the rest of this entry »

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