7th June 2010

Mafia Wars At 7-Eleven Stores

Mobile Game StudioMobile Game Studio Inc. has released a lite version of their iPhone game, The High Seas. This new action packed game will put you in the boots of a treasureThe High Seas on iTunes hunter fighting against the mighty pirates as you sail the seas in search of treasure chests. You set off on adventure to find hordes of gold and booty, but beware of the pirates who are determined to foil your efforts, as well as barrels full of gun powder that follow you as you pass them by. Take a stand against your enemies with your cannons which you can set off with the touch of a button while your ship’s wheel guides you across the seven seas.

Bioware CorpBioWare™ and FUNimation Entertainment, the leading distributor of Japanese animation in North America, announced today an agreement to create an anime feature film adapted from BioWare’s critically-acclaimed fantasy Action RPG franchise Dragon Age™. Production of the Dragon Age anime movie is slated to begin in May 2010, with a home video release in 2011. Executive producing the film are Bioware’s Executive Producer Mark Darrah and Creative Director Mike Laidlaw, as well as FUNimation’s Fukunaga and Director of Original Entertainment Chris Moujaes.

“Anime is a great medium for us to continue the robust Dragon Age story,” said Mark Dragon Age OriginsDarrah, Executive Producer for the Dragon Age franchise. “Partnering with FUNimation ensures that we are delivering the exceptional quality and entertainment value that our Dragon Age fans expect.”

“We are thrilled to be working with EA and BioWare on the production of the Dragon Age anime feature,” said Gen Fukunaga, President and CEO of FUNimation. “We are going to be bringing the classic visual and storytelling techniques found in anime to create a film that will extend the narrative of the world BioWare has created.”

Dragon Age has been selected as the first title in FUNimation’s slate of major anime movies to be developed through FUNimation’s Original Entertainment team since the announcement of the company’s co-production initiative in November 2009.

Vancouver developer Genius Factor Games is giving away their casual game puzzler Gravity Well for free for the next ten days (June 16th is the last day). Take this opportunity to grab it from the iTunes App Store and see how long it takes you to make gravity your slave. This was one of the first games I bought when I first got my iTouch last year, and I’m still trying to beat this game. It’s not easy.

Last week Digital Alberta announced the resignation of long-time contributor, Executive Director, René Smid, effective Aug 31, 2010.René Smid

“René has been paramount to the Digital Media industry in Alberta,” says Larry Jacques, President of Digital Alberta. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and our membership, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication Rene has provided to our organization. We wish her the best in the future and we are grateful she will support the transition to a new management team. Hers will be tough shoes to fill.”

As a succession plan, The Board will put a call out for replacement of the Executive Director position. Due to the growth of Digital Alberta and the demand of the upcoming programming year, there will also be a call for an Executive Assistant. These positions will be filled as soon as possible.

Heenan BlaikieNational business law firm Heenan Blaikie LLP has released an in depth guide that will be interest to all interactive media houses in the country. Producing in Canada – a guide to Canadian film, television and interactive digital media incentive programs is available for download on legal network & knowledge site Lexology. Sign up is required in order to download the guide.

Pixel to ProductTwo weeks ago at the mesh conference, the Pixel to Product research study was announced by 49 Pixels’ Justin Kozuch, lead researcher and founder of Refresh Events, when he issued a Call To Action and presented an outline of what is planned for the Pixel to Product project over the coming year. According to the Pixel to Product website, the purpose of this study is to create a classification system for Canada’s digital media industry and shed light on the industry’s size and scope.

Since the initial announcement at mesh, Justin has been working on setting the agenda and identifying the deliverables that will emerge from this working group. The first part of this research study is to convene a working session to help define digital media, and in order to make this working session as successful as possible, Justin is hoping to recruit volunteers to help out with the following tasks:

* Facilitator: I’m searching for a facilitator to help lead the event, set the context for the working session and assist with keeping the session on track.
* Photographer: I’m looking to capture photos of the event, attendees and the artifacts generated.
* Liveblogging: We’re using a ScribbleLive blog to capture conversations, photos and other elements.
* Wiki gardening: We’re employing the use of a wiki to capture the various definitions, along with other generated artifacts.

If you’re available to contribute your liveblogging, wiki gardening, or other gifts towards our working session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Many hands make light work and will help make this event a success.

In this 2 hour casual working session, which is being called The UnConversation: Defining Digital Media, registered attendees will help us define digital media and share ideas on how to promote this research study across Canada.

Currently the group  has not finalized a solid definition for digital media, and the Unconversation is an opportunity to gather industry professionals to have a conversation around defining our industry. This definition will help shape the creation of our classification system, as well as all future tasks related to this research study.

The Unconversation will be held on Monday June 21st, and will open with a pre-event networking session beginning at 5:30pm. Yahoo! Canada has graciously offered the use of their facility for this event, their offices are located in Suite 801 at 201 Queen’s Quay West in Toronto.

This event is being styled as a roll up your sleeves, break-out-your-moleskine working session with clear goals and deliverables. Expect a casual working session with smart and creative industry personalities like yourself working in groups towards a larger outcome.

1. Register online
2. Select the ticket type that best describes you in the list.
3. Add your contact information, and tell us what gifts you’re bringing to the table.
4. Check your inbox for email confirmation of your registration.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can still contribute to this conversation. There will be a liveblog of the event that you can follow and add your voice to.

dhx mediaDHX Media Ltd is pleased to announce that Super WHY!, its award-winning, literacy-based series, has been commissioned for a second season of 15 all-new episodes by PBS KIDS and Canada’s CBC.

The innovative, critically-acclaimed, animated preschool program which is a co-production by Out of the Blue Enterprises and DHX Media’s DECODE Entertainment subsidiary, also airs around the globe on channels including: Nickelodeon UK and Australia and OKTO TV in Singapore; Korea’s EBS, KidsTalkTalk and Tooniverse; ATV in Hong Kong; Astro TVIQ for Malaysia and Indonesia, and Thailand’s True Visions. DHX Media holds worldwide television rights to the series excluding the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th June 2010

Deus Ex Human Revolution E3 Trailer Debuts Worldwide

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal has released the E3 2010 full trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The trailer, which draws from the game’s characters, environment and storyline, was produced by Vancouver’s Goldtooth Creative in partnership with Eidos Montreal and Square Enix’s Visual Works (Tokyo). The trailer promises strong writing, a large cast of important characters, intrigue and destruction. Deus Ex 3 is scheduled for release in 2011, and it is definitely on our list of Games We Must Have.

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If you are a fan of Studio B’s animated offerings, The City of Vancouver Archives is holding a special event which will chronicle the legacy of a local company that has become a leader in kids’ entertainment. Studio B’s popular animated series include Kid vs Kat, Martha Speaks, George of the Jungle and Class of the Titans, among many more.Studio B

Taking place at the VanCity Theatre on the evening of June 10th, the presentation will relate the studio’s rapid development from a two-man operation into its current status as a world-renowned production house composed of more than 200 artists and staff. Studio B has been donating its records from 12 original productions and many examples of its service and other work to the City Archives since 2006, preserving these records for generations to come. Tickets for this screening are very reasonable, with the most expensive ticket priced at $10.00.

Peace Arch EntertainmentFor fans of the Ireland-Canada series The Tudors, it is now possible to create your own intrigue on your iPhone. The Tudors, developed by dTales and Slitherine in conjunction with TV production giants Showtime and Peace Arch Entertainment, is an intriguing and exciting adventure game based on Season 1. Follow in the footsteps of King Henry VIII at the beginning of his epic 40-year reign or choose the path of Anne Boleyn, and realize your dream to become Queen of England. As the story unfolds, you will meet over 20 characters from the series, including Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas More and roam the corridors and staterooms of the Palace of Whitehall, the main residence of the King.

In an evolving sequence of dramatic events, you will be faced with danger, treason and intrigue. As King Henry VIII, you will be challenged by your closest friends and threatened by the menace of war with France. As Lady Anne Boleyn, you will pursue your dream to wear the crown of England no matter the cost. Only you can decide the course of history.

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The Tudors Game is currently only available for purchase from the US and Canadian App Store.

Main Features

– Two characters to choose from: King Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn
– Explore over 30 rooms at the Palace of Whitehall
– More than 20 historical characters to meet and talk to
– Play engaging mini-games to solve mysteries and progress in the game

Black BoxEA Black Box has announced the first downloadable content pack for the critically acclaimed skateboarding game SKATE 3 – The Maloof Money Cup 2010 NYC Pack. The content pack hits Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on June 8 for 400 MS points or $4.99 and an additional 100 achievement points and 5 trophies.

The all new DLC lets players compete in the largest pursed event and one of skateboarding’s biggest annual contests – The Maloof Money Cup. For the first time ever, this year’s competition will be traveling east to Flushing Meadows, New York, where the site of the 1964 World’s Fair maloof money cuphas been converted into one gnarly skate mecca. Gamers will have the opportunity to compete against some of the biggest names in skateboarding as they shred an all-new custom built street park for the ultimate cash purse.

The award-winning SKATE franchise breaks new ground with SKATE 3 and shreds the streets of the all-new skaters’ paradise, Port Carverton. Delivering the definitive co-op skateboarding experience, it’s up to players to build the ultimate team and change the face of the city with their brand by taking on unique team challenges and competing against rival crews online. The game also features the ability to create and share custom built skate parks and a revamped Thrasher Hall of Meat mode that will have players spending countless hours pulling off bone-crushing carnage.

EA SportsAlso announced today was EA SportsFIFA Online, the first downloadable FIFA soccer game designed for PC (A broadband internet connection and an average spec laptop computer or desk-top personal computer required), is available to soccer fans everywhere around the world to play for free (Internet connection required). EA Sports FIFA Online will be released around the world in stages. The UK English language Beta version is available now, with plans over the next 12 to 24 months for FIFA Online to launch in other languages across the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd June 2010

Balancing The Canadian Copyright Act Is Like Walking A Tightrope

Government of Canada…and trying to understand it all is like standing in a tornado. There is so much going on right now in regards to Canada’s copyright reform (Bill C-32) that it is almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, there are an abundance of online resources available so that we can learn more about the processes which have MP James Moore on Twitterbeen followed up to this point, as well as keep current with what is going on right now. The Canadian government has been maintaining a site called Balanced Copyright, and it holds a wealth of information. Naturally, the Pirate Party has grabbed the domain balancedcopyright.ca, but there is no site yet launched for that URL. I imagine that the group will probably use the domain to counter MP Tony Clement on Twitterthe one run by the government, and will count on the public not knowing the location of the government’s site. Speaking of government, both MP James Moore (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages) and MP Tony Clement (Minister of Industry) have been engaging the public, media and industry groups on Twitter since the Bill was announced yesterday. I recommend following both MPs, along with copyright expert Michael Geist for continuing updates about Bill C-32’s progress.

Fair Copyright for Canada (administered by Michael Geist) also has an active Facebook group which carries updates and opinions relevant to Bill C-32. One point which seems to be an area of contention is the Digital Lock, and CBC News has written a very comprehensive look at what it could Michael Geist on Twitterentail. I freely admit that I have not had time to read and process all of the information about C-32, and while I will endeavour to do so, I would like to invite someone more expert in the ramifications of C-32 to write a guest editorial explaining the good and the bad of our copyright bill. While many of what we could deem as special interest groups are voicing their opinions about Bill C-32, the most relevant to both us and our readers is what those in interactive media are saying. All of the sites and Twitter accounts above contain links to opinions and press releases from groups such as ACTRA, AFM and the Documentary Organization of Canada, and I invite you to check them out. Here is what ESAC has to say about the reforms:

esacThe Entertainment Software Association of Canada has released a statement about Bill C-32, congratulating the Government of Canada on its introduction of copyright reform legislation which will help protect Canadian content creators and digital media companies. ESAC believes that protecting the intellectual property of industries that contribute to Canada’s prosperity is not only good public policy, but is essential as our economy transitions to more knowledge-based jobs.

“We applaud the government for showing leadership on this complex issue and we look forward to studying the bill more closely,” said Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC. “Without strong protection for our intellectual property, we’re basically operating in a digital Wild West. Promoting piracy under the guise of ‘user rights’ does nothing to defend the livelihood of thousands of Canadians who rely on turning great ideas into world class entertainment,” she added.

“Piracy fundamentally undermines the integrity of the marketplace. It forces creators to compete against black market versions of their own products, affecting their ability to recover the considerable investments associated with digital media production. A strong bill – one which prohibits hacking of digital works, trafficking in hacking tools and that makes those who facilitate digital piracy clearly liable for their activities – is critical to the success of Canada’s digital economy,” says Parr.

In the industry’s view, a bill with clear protection for intellectual property will enable creators to decide how and at what cost their products can be accessed and in turn allow consumers to decide which products succeed and fail by voting with their pocketbook. Further, by supporting a diverse range of business models, strong copyright will facilitate increased competition, which ultimately leads to greater pew internetconsumer choice and lower prices.

In related news, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a report about The State of Online Video. While this study was conducted in the USA, the information can be useful to those Canadian companies and individuals who produce web-distributed products. The study is available as a downloadable PDF, or it can be read online.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Canadian game industry news and updates:

THQ has confirmed in an official press release that Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes Online will Relic Entertainmentindeed be released to the North American market this fall. Building on the frenetic Real-Time-Strategy action of the original Company of Heroes, Company of Heroes Online is free to play and offers army specialization, commander customization, and persistent progression, allowing players to strategize on and off the battlefield. Players will also have the opportunity to earn or purchase special units and upgrades and improve their army with each and every multiplayer victory.

Vice President of Global Brand Management Travis Plane commented that, “We are delighted to bring this award-winning franchise to gamers in a whole new way with the online version of the Company of Heroes experience. Players will benefit from the persistent upgrades and the ability to tailor their armies to really suit their play style making this a unique experience for everyone.”

Capcom MobileCapcom® Mobile and Classic Media, whose portfolio includes of some of the world’s leading kids, family and pop-culture brands such as Where’s Waldo?®, Casper the Friendly Ghost® and Lassie®, have announced the release of Where’s Waldo?® In Hollywood, the sequel to last year’s top-selling mobile phone game.

“The first Where’s Waldo? game was a run-away mobile hit with its addictive mini games and classic search and find puzzles,” said Midori Yuasa, President, Capcom Interactive, Inc. “For theWaldo In Hollywood sequel we’ve built on the winning mix with a whole new crop of puzzles, achievements and even more Waldo fun.”

“Capcom Mobile has done a terrific job translating the search and find experience of Where’s Waldo? for mobile and we are excited to partner with their team on the second game,” said Nicole Blake, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Consumer Products, Classic Media. “With its crowds of celebrities and celebrity-spotters, Hollywood is an exciting place for fans to take up their search for Waldo.”

Based on the international publishing phenomenon, Where’s Waldo? in Hollywood, developed by Capcom Interactive Canada, chronicles the world-famous traveler through a series of tinsel-town themed adventures. Players can join the search with multiple search and find games that are based on classic scenes from the book series, as well as five mini games, including Tic-Whack-Wizard, Odd One Out, and Slide Puzzles. As players progress, they will be able to unlock bonus content and earn in-game achievements. Where’s Waldo? In Hollywood is currently available for download on most North American carriers. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th May 2010

United Front Games Has Their First Title On Store Shelves

ModNation Racers Happy Launch Day to everyone over at United Front Games – Congratulations on your first official “Game Now On Store Shelves” milestone, and we wish you every success with ModNation Racers as it karts its way into homes around the world – now on to True Crime!

Vancouver Innovation CampThe next Innovation Camp will be held on May 29th and 30th at Bootup Labs. Get your tickets now for a great workshop that will challenge assumptions, connect ideas, embrace failure and see problems as opportunities for creative solutions in order to take your entrepreneurial venture to the next step. Tickets for Innovation Camp are $119.00 and can be purchased online.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterTickets are also still available for the Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation of Alice in Wonderland: Creating Underland. Taking place on May 25th at the Empire Theatre Granville, this session features two presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members. Please note that online ticket sales for the seminar are now closed, but you can still get tickets at the door.

ICAOur friends over at AnnexPro have just told us about two upcoming seminars for Final Cut Pro editors. Presented by the International Colorist Academy, these two courses will be taking place in Vancouver beginning on June 7th. The first course, Apple Colour, will be held on June 7 & 8th, while the Colourist Strategies session will be held June 9th through 11th.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) today announced the American Idol Star Experience game will be available as a free download on May 26th to coincide with the Season 9 finale of the smash hit American Idol™ TV show. The game enables fans to continue their Idol obsession as they unleash their creativity by producing jaw-dropping online performances for family, friends and the whole Facebook community to rate and compare against other players.

Idol enthusiasts simply use their existing Facebook login to create a game account to access the free Performance Creator download for PC. The Performance Creator enables players to design their own unique stage performance, including building a custom avatar from head to toe, choosing a song to sing from dozens of hits, choreographing dance moves, and directing a multitude of staging elements like camera angles and special effects. The player can then post the performance to Facebook with one click, to be rated to see how they compare to other performers in singing, styling and staging categories.Play American Idol

Members of the Facebook community can also enjoy the American Idol Star Experience game in a highly social context as members of the “audience” view and rate performances, choose favorites, leave comments for performers and discuss the best (and worst) of the performances- all within the Facebook environment.

“We are excited to release a unique game experience based on American Idol, one of the most important entertainment franchises in the world,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “American Idol Star Experience reinforces our existing multiplatform game strategy, now seamlessly integrated with robust social features.”

American Idol Star Experience features:

* A free downloadable Performance Creator, available via players’ existing Facebook account.

* Personal avatars that players build head to toe, including body type, face, eyes, hair and more.

* Dozens of hit songs available in a wide variety of genres to suit all musical tastes including rock, punk, pop, hip hop, disco, R&B and country.

Players can achieve further customization of all elements of a performance via a simple “drag and drop” interface, including:

* Recorded singing- Players can select pre-recorded voice tracks, or use their own voice to sing karaoke-style.

* Personal styling- Hundreds of hair styles, wardrobe items and accessories to choose from.

* Unique staging- Stages modeled after the famous American Idol stage, with special effects, lighting, camera angles, dance moves and props that players can craft to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

* Social interaction within the Facebook community as members of Facebook can visit the game’s page to view and rate performances based on singing, styling and staging criteria. Players have also the ability to invite select Facebook friends to a private viewing of their performance.

“After more than eight top-rated seasons on television, the Emmy-award winning American Idol is one of the most successful properties on TV,” said Olivier Delfosse, Director, Interactive, FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for the program. “We are pleased to extend American Idol to both the existing fan base and new audiences alike with a highly immersive game experience that further deepens consumer engagement with the franchise.”

Ubisoft Montreal has released the North American trailer for Shaun White Skateboarding, which is scheduled for release this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

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24th May 2010

Murphid Addiction Alert

Decapod StudiosI’ve spent the past week or so playing Murphid, the debut title from Vancouver-based Decapod Studios. Murphid’s game play is, to an extent, a mix of the Tetris and Collapse 3 styled games. It is also quietly addictive. Released on the XBox Live Marketplace on May 13th, Murphid is priced at a very reasonable 240 MS Points. In my opinion, it’s worth the price – plus there is a free demo available, so you can try Murphid before putting your points on the line.Murphid Arcade Mode

Murphid has a very short learning curve and does offer on-screen tutorial hints for the first few minutes of play – this is the game’s sneaky way of drawing you into its clutches. Don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy playing Murphid, and I think Decapod did a fantastic job with its development. I particularly like that there is no annoying music, just the game’s sound effects for audio. I can’t count the number of arcade-styled games in which I turn the music completely off because it grates on my nerves. Not so with Murphid. The sound effects fit pleasantly into the game play, and even losing sounds okay. This is nice when playing at the end of the day, winding down and trying to enter some semblance of relaxation mode. Jarring arcade music just doesn’t seem to help with that.

The UI for Murphid is bright and colourful, and there are really only two things that I would like to see added – a time counter for Survival Mode and for Microsoft to enable achievements for indie titles. Survivor Mode does tell you how many lines you’ve survived, but in my opinion, a timer would be better. Murphid also rewards players with the following eight awards:Murphid Awards

Me Not Noob – Break 600 marbles
Take The Red Pill – Complete the 1st stage in Campaign Mode
Anabolicious – Earn 300 power ups
Another Brick Off The Wall – Break 1000 blocker marbles
Serious Pam – Survive 30 minutes in Arcade Mode
Captain Darwin – Survive 60 minutes in Survival Mode
New Way To Say Hooray – Break 100 000 marbles
Friends Call Me Puffy – Earn 99 lives in Campaign Mode

In true “level up” fashion, each award has a progress line which shows you how close you are to winning it, and the awards fly out from the right whenever you hit a milestone. There is also a High Score board and there appears to be some very interesting characters who have been playing Murphid. I do believe that I have now taken over every spot on the board – at least on my screen.

Murphid Anabolicious ProgressMurphid’s game play differs from all of the others in that you are unable to rotate your game pieces. You can switch over to the next piece if it is more advantageous to your strategy, but there’s no rotating, and you cannot “slide” your pieces to the left or right, either. Unless you’re in Arcade Mode. Then you can “slide” – but only if you’re quick. Campaign and Survival Mode do not allow “sliding” but they do offer shadowy arrow tracks to help you place your pieces. To add to challenge, some of the marbles are “stapled” to each other, which means you must eliminate one marble to free the other. If you plan your strategy well, this can often work out quite well for you and result in some very large matches and resulting chains.

Campaign Mode has 12 stages, with each stage divided into 6 levels. The game saves automatically as each Campaign stage is cleared, with difficulty ramping up the further you get into the game. Difficulty comes with shortened room for clearance, a slightly faster Murphid Campaign Modemoving wall of marbles, and the addition of more colours to clear. The only time I had any difficulty with the additional colours was in the closeness of hue for the two variations of red.

Arcade Mode offers endless play – unless you fail to clear the marbles – again, with increasing difficulty the longer you play. Survival Mode is just what it sounds like – it starts off challenging and gets harder the longer you survive. For the curious, no, I have not won the Captain Darwin award yet. But I will.

There are several power ups to assist you with your game play. These randomly generated power ups include the standard row (fireball) or column-clearing (lightning bolt) bombs, as well as the non-discriminatory marble-blasting WMD (weapon of marble destruction) bomb. Another useful power up is the Chainsaw, which will clear a few marbles out of a column. This comes in handy for getting rid of overhanging marbles or X-blockers. Another power up will clear all of the X-blocker marbles, while the paint drop power up will convert several marbles, including the X-blockers, to match the colour of the paint drop. If you place this power up right, you can convert a very large number of marbles to one colour, allowing for an easy and large area clearing. Another power up will clear all marbles of one colour from the screen, which can also lead to some very nicely chain matches, and the multi-coloured Joker power up will Murphid Survivor Modecomplete a matched set for you, getting rid of more pesky marbles.

Rounding out your power arsenal is the coveted power medallion. Interspersed throughout various Campaign Mode levels, these medallions come in a variety of colours. Match its colour to capture the medallion, which then be iheld for you on the left side of the screen. These medallions come in very handy as they will clear half the screen for you should the marble wall advance past your defenses to the top of the screen. Players are also rewarded with bonus points for combo matches. Your current bonus multiplier is always displayed to the right of your screen.

According to Decapod’s dev blog, the studio is working on Murphid’s first update which will be available in a few weeks. One thing that I hope they do not change is the non-rotation of marbles. Some may see this as a fault, but I do not. I believe that the non-rotation factor makes the player (namely, me) pay more attention and come up with plans which I must deploy in rapid succession in order to stop the advancement of the Coloured Marble Liberation Army. Grab the demo, buy the game – either way, I recommend giving Murphid a go. I rate this title at 5/5 on the scale of puzzle games I will play over…and over…and over…

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20th May 2010

News As Diverse As Our Country

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund’s business policies are now available. This document, Appendix B: Business Policies (PDF), includes the following information:

Default Policy
Accounting and Reporting Requirements
Producer’s Fees and Corporate Overhead Policy
Completion Protection Policy
Production Insurance Policy
Standard Recoupment Policy
Treatment of Tax CreditsMIGS

The Montreal International Game Summit has unveiled its web site for 2010. Although much of the content is still focused on last year’s conference, more information will be available soon for the November 8 & 9th event.

IUGOSince the launch of Implode XL’s latest update which brought the level editor to the iPhone on May 11, 2010 (a little over a week ago), new levels have exploded into the game. IUGO is happy to share some exciting stats about the accumulating user-generated content:
Implode XL
There is now over 10x the amount of content for users to play. IUGO has done updates providing users with 170 levels to play, and there are now over 550 levels are being downloaded and played every day. In total over 100,000 levels have been downloaded and played to-date and over 2,300 levels have been rated by players.

“We are beyond pleased with the reception and engagement that our users have had with the newly launched level editor for Implode XL,” beams Sarah Thomson, IUGO’s Director of BD. “There are some incredibly challenging and creative levels being built and we’re excited that Implode XL fans now have fresh puzzles to solve all the time. We will continue to create games with compelling features that encourage user interactivity and a meaningful social layer. We’re just getting started!”

Implode XL featuring the new level editor for all iDevices is available on the App Store for $2.99 US.

Eidos MontrealEidos Montreal is recruiting playtesters for its new PlayTest facility. If you live in or near Montreal, this could be a great opportunity for you to put all those hours of gameplay experience to good use. For those looking for other employment in the game development industry, Eidos Montreal also has a number of career positions open.

Need For SpeedThis morning on Twitter, Team Need For Speed announced a new build project with Vaughn Gittin Jr. This project involves a 1969 Mustang which Vaughn has been working on since December 2009. Team NFS unveiled a first look at the classic muscle car, which will be unveiled at SEMA 2010 as well as making an appearance in a future Need For Speed title. Check out the details and picture on the Team NFS blog.

MaRSMaRS, a Toronto-based not-for-profit innovation centre, is the newest addition to the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). The collaboration will enhance levels of technology commercialization and help develop successful companies in the digital media sector. The announcement follows on the Canada 3.0 2010 digital media forum in Stratford held May 10-11 where Industry Minister Tony Clement emphasized the importance of digital media to Canada’s economy.

“Bringing together MaRS and the collaboration network of the CDMN will enable powerful progress for digital media in Canada,” said Kevin Tuer, Managing Director of the CDMN. “Helping more start-up digital companies bring products to market and creating opportunities for growth in the Information and Communications Technology field is critical both for Ontario and all of Canada.”

MaRS advisors have been helping tech companies with advice, education, market insight and access to capital since 2006.

“At MaRS we are dedicated to furthering growth in the ICT sector by enabling the success of emerging technology companies,” said advisor Krista Jones, ICT Practice Lead. “We’re located in the heart of Toronto and have worked with hundreds of early-stage companies across Ontario to help them build their ventures into global successes.”

Together MaRS and the CDMN, which is headquartered in Waterloo Region and now connects nodes throughout Canada, will share and develop knowledge through surveys, data-mining and reports; develop programs to enhance entrepreneurial skills; promote the capabilities of digital media industries in Canada; and more. The CDMN was the organizer, with the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, of the Canada 3.0 2010 forum.

wavefrontWavefront and SFU Present Developing Apps for Symbian. This seminar is targeted at developers who would like to learn the basics about developing apps on the Symbian platform. According to ABI Research, more than 330 million cell phones run Symbian OS with a 48% global market share for smartphones. Developers will learn how to leverage the Symbian Horizon Program, an application-publishing platform that allows developers to write an application once and publish it in dozens of Symbian app stores worldwide, and how to port apps from other platforms to Symbian. This seminar will take place on the morning of May 28th at Discovery Parks in Vancouver. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Social Media ClubCurious about how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to enhance your business? Wondering what your competitors, customers, and prospects are talking about? Or unsure of how to tell what’s working and what isn’t? Join the Social Media Club Vancouver at Social Media 101 where the answers to all of these questions will be explored.

With three light-speed presentations: 20 minutes for lecture, 10 minutes for Q&A, join Guacira Naves, Kemp Edmonds, and Tris Hussey, the clutter will be cleared and you will gain the critical information you need to advance your social media plans. Read the rest of this entry »

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19th May 2010

Designing Assassin’s Creed II With Patrick Plourde

Many thanks to Patrick Plourde, Lead Game Designer at Ubisoft Montreal for an in-depth look at Patrick Plourde - Photo Credit: GDC 2010Designing Assassin’s Creed II. Presented by the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter last evening, Patrick’s presentation covered the main design focus followed to cram all of the great features and improvements we saw in Chapter Two of this very successful franchise.

The amount of development that went into Assassin’s Creed II is mind-boggling. With over 230 features and a dev team of over 300, just the massive amounts of data to keep a rein on would bury the uninitiated. Patrick stated that through the entire development process, the most Ezioimportant things to pay attention to are your game play pillars and the need to keep an honest perspective. He said that your game play pillars are used to create the challenge, while your supporting features give meaning and depth to the core, while exotic features are used to change the pace of the game.

Patrick also drew attention to the importance of play tests and making the most of the test feedback in the development of your title. Using a two-fold process of Qualitative and Quantitative Reporting will give developers a very good perspective of what gamers like or do not like, as well as how they are playing your game. The Quantitative portion focuses on data tracking and usability reports, which provide concrete information to orient discussion on data instead of personal opinions. Meanwhile, the appreciative, or Qualitative reports, give context to the data you’ve collected, and you can see what is working, what isn’t, and what changes need to be made so that the gamer can more fully experience (and enjoy) the mechanics of the Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodgame.

Patrick also touched briefly on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and how everything learned in the two previous Assassin’s Creed development processes helped the team work quickly through a very short ten month production window. A big part of this was the strength, scope and depth of the team’s design documents. He stated that it is very important to keep your documentation up-to-date right through until the end of the project. Paying attention to your development documentation will cut down on needless questions and distractions, as well as force you to think and keep track of the vision for your title. As has been stated in many, many game dev seminars – it is cheaper to fail on paper than in production – and Patrick reiterated this by saying how important it is to challenge every feature you want in your game on paper first. This is not a perfect process, but it will reduce risk to your bottom line. In reply to a question asked from the audience, Patrick noted that features drove a large part of the story, and have a big part in the future of where the Assassin’s Creed franchise is heading in the future. Too bad he wouldn’t expand on that future…just where is Assassin’s Creed III going to take us? Curious gamers want to know.

Vancouver SIGGRAPH ChapterSIGGRAPH Vancouver has two more upcoming events which may interest you. The first is Alice in Wonderland – Creating Underland on May 25th at the Empire Theatre on Granville. This session features Alice In Wonderlandtwo presentations, the first with animation director David Schaub (Sony Pictures Imageworks), who will give you a look behind the talent and tools that were used to create Alice In Wonderland. Mr. Schaub will focus primarily on the standard creative elements of the show, but he will also provide insight into the surprising challenges and innovative technical solutions that were used to breathe digital life into over 30 inhabitants of Underland including the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat.

The second Creating Underland session will be presented by freelance Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, who will focus on the process of photographing the “live-action” component of the film, as well as the many challenges that he and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Ken Ralston faced in post production while creating the visual and stereo 3D effects. A screening of Alice in Wonderland will follow the technical presentations. Tickets for this event are $20.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members.

The other upcoming SIGGRAPH Vancouver event, just announced last night, will focus on The ModNation RacersMaking of ModNation Racers. Featuring Clint Hanson, Lucas Granito and James Grieve from United Front Games, this panel presentation will take place on June 29th at the VanCity Theatre. Tickets will be available to members for $10.00 and $20.00 for non-members. As of press time, this event had not yet been added to the SIGGRAPH Vancouver web site, so you’ll have to check the association’s site later for ticket availability.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) have announced the availability of The Price Is Right game ($9.99) for the Sony PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on the PlayStation®Network. Players can now “COME ON DOWN” for their shot in Contestant’s Row, bid on items in 19 different pricing games, test their luck with spinning The Big Wheel, and experience the winner-takes-all tension of the Showcase.

“We are pleased to extend our tremendously successful The Price Is Right game to PlayStation 3 systems via the PlayStation Network,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This first game release is just the beginning for Ludia games on PS3™, and further reinforces our multiplatform game strategy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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17th May 2010

Canada 3.0 Forum Wants to Keep The Conversation Going

Canada 3.0 2010Although the two-day forum has ended, the conversation continues. Get involved as Canada’s digital nation plans move forward – read the Wrap-up Session summary notes and reply with your thoughts on the paper. The Canada 3.0 Interactions team is also venturing out here to the west coast. They will be stopping in Calgary on May 26th for a panel presentation at the Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market on Barclay Parade S.W., where a panel will discuss how connectivity relates to collaboration and competitiveness. Panel members include Peter Singendonk, Alberta Director for Systems Engineering, Cisco Systems Canada, Claudia Moore of Charodix, and Patrick Lor, President of Fotolia North America. A tentative date of May 28th has been set for Vancouver, but further details have yet to be announced.
Bioware Corp
Check out the latest Mass Effect 2 showcase video featuring an interview with ME2 Executive Producer Casey Hudson and the upcoming DLC expansion Overlord.

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

Trend MicroAccording to threat data collected by the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network infrastructure, cybercrime is thriving in Canada: Per million people, the country is just behind the U.S. in the number of customers targeted by malware. In addition, Canada ranks fourth in the amount of malicious files and URLs originating from the country – right behind Japan.

Trend Micro’s first Canada Threat Awareness Week, May 17-21, will raise awareness on what these data-points mean to citizens and how cybercrime is impacting Canadian businesses and consumers. Trend Micro CTO, Raimund Genes will start his tour in Quebec, where he will be speaking this evening at the Montego Resto Club in Quebec City. He will then visit Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, delving into the Canada threat landscape and sharing his investigative findings that compare how Canada sits in relation to international trends and independent security metrics.

A special bonus session that includes VMware will outline how virtualization is dramatically changing IT organizations, from small business to very large enterprise. This session will highlight the factors driving the need for virtualization security and will provide guidance on approaches that can be taken to secure today’s virtualized and cloud environments in the future.

“Trend Micro Canada is excited to introduce its first Threat Awareness Week, kicking it off with a multi-province tour to educate and raise awareness on how cybercrime is affecting our citizens,” said Ian Gordon. “Internet safety is more than just technology products – that’s only half the story. Education andSCC-InsurgencyPack awareness are key and our goal is to help the citizens of Canada get smart about online safety.”

UbisoftUbisoft has announced new DLC for Splinter Cell Conviction. The Deniable Ops “Insurgency Pack” will deliver brand-new missions for Archer and Kestrel on four additional maps for Deniable Ops modes. Achievements hunters will be glad to know that 250 new points can be unlocked in this DLC. The Insurgency Pack will be available for download on May 27th, for both the Windows® PC and the Xbox 360® versions, for 800 points or $9.99USD.

Don’t forget that Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands will hit store shelves tomorrow. Here’s a look at their launch trailer:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video Read the rest of this entry »

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14th May 2010

Decapod Releases Debut Title Murphid

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

Among the game’s features are:

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

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

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

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

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

Contest Schedule:

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

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

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13th May 2010

Stimulate Your Brain with Canadian Digital Media Offerings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The winners were:

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

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

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

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

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

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