10th February 2010

Canadian Innovation and New Releases

Congratulations to the teams of Assassin’s Creed 2 and FIFA 10 for making the shortlist in the BAFTA Game of the Year nominations. The public are invited to vote in this category, so I hope you’ll head over to the vote page and support our Canadian products. The Awards ceremony will take place on March 19th at the London Hilton.

IUGOVancouverIUGO‘s fantastical and ridiculously fun dual stick shooter, Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet is now available in the App Store for the introductory price of $1.99 USD.  Daisy Mae’s peaceful, simple life in her little desert trailer park will never be the same. A full scale alien attack on earth has begun and Daisy becomes the unlikely heroine outta nowhere. Take hold of the steering wheel and help Daisy Mae shoot and blast her way to victory in this fun and quirky dual stick shooter. Aliens: you have been served!

Features:

* More aliens than you can shake a stick at!
* The baddest selection of weapons known to folks ’round these here parts
* Purty graphics and fancy sounds effects
* Sassy costumes to unlock for Daisy Mae’s alien hoedown
* Daisy Mae “taunt” moves to kill the aliens dead in their tracks
* Control options to suit every varmint’s needs
* VIP points to be earned towards an additional costume
* Global leaderboards
* Auto save

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OMDCToronto – The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) proudly announces that it has invested $2.9 M in funding support through its Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund (PDF) to leverage an additional $7.1 M from 94 partners to support 17 innovative projects.

The Partnerships Fund was designed to help Ontario’s entertainment and creative industries invest in smart ways to grow and increase their competitive advantage in the global marketplace. The industries eligible for funding include book and magazine publishing, music, film, television, interactive digital media and commercial theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th February 2010

New DLC for Mass Effect 2, EA Announces Perspective 2011 Titles, VX2010

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has added to the Normandy’s armory. According to the Mass Effect 2 web site, the new Cerberus Assault Armour and M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun DLC are now available for free through the Cerberus Network on both the PC and Xbox 360.

Cerberus Assault ArmorCerberus Assault Armor
Cerberus assault armor is designed for shock troops, who are expected to turn the tide of battle against creatures or forces that would decimate normal soldiers. The troops demanded three things in its design: shields, armor thick enough to last against a superior foe, and a rechargeable pack to extend a heavy weapon power cell. The only drawback of the armor is its weight, which the troops carry as a point of pride. They have a saying: “Out of shape going in, in shape coming out.”
Increases heavy weapon ammo capacity by +10%
Increases shields by +10%
Increases health by +10%

M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun
The M-22a Eviscerator Shotgun is a longer-range shotgun with armor-piercing loads. This design also violates several intergalactic weapons treaties, so the M-22a is not distributed to militaries.

EA GamesEA has released their Key Titles Schedule for Fiscal Year 2011, and while this is only working schedule, there were some title announcements that mean our Canadian EA studios are going to be busy, busy, busy.

As expected, there will be new additions to the EA Sports franchises – FIFA 11, NHL 11, EA Sports Active, NBA 11, NBA Jam and of course Need For Speed – but what gave me the happy gamer warm fuzzies is the announcement that there will be a new Dragon Age chapter in Q4 2011. There will also be additions to the Monopoly family plus a few genre-only announcements, such as a news sports title. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th February 2010

Lotusland Studios Announces New iPhone Title

Lotusland StudiosVancouverLotusland Studios has announced their latest project, Truckmodz, which is completely intuitive with no need for tutorials or menus – the fun starts instantly! As stated on their web site, even the littlest drivers will quickly discover how to build trucks and play with them. Just touch, swipe and shake! Kids of all Truckmodz Dump Truckages will enjoy hundreds of vehicle combinations, complete with fully animated accessories and realistic sound effects.

Truckmodz encourages cognitive development in younger children by strengthening motor skills and refining early learning exercises like sorting, matching and decision-making. The unstructured game play gives kids a feeling of control and independence, and parents can rest assured knowing that no points or time-limits make for a relaxed, no-pressure experience.

But let’s face it – driving a giant rubber ducky down the highway is just plain awesome. Players will be able to mod their little big rigs in their garage, where they do things like add a snow plow and a sweet new paint job. They can then kick back, crank up the tunes, and enjoy the scenery as their creations roll on down the highway.

Featuring:

* completely 3D environment and models
* vast amounts of colors and combinations
* tons of animated accessories including horns, sirens, headlights, exhaust pipes and much more
* ever-changing endless environment
* realistic sound effects
* CB radio
* drop down garage to customize and spray-paint your vehicles
* smoke and sparks
* four different camera angles – shake device to check out your ride from all sides
* awesome original soundtrack
* totally intuitive, fun for all ages

No launch date or expected price point information has been released, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we know.

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4th February 2010

A Great Turnout For Women In Games Vancouver Social

Women In Games VancouverVancouver – Approximately 50 ladies and gents attended the Women In Games Vancouver networking event which took place last evening in the HarbourviewWIGeh! 2010 Room at Steamworks Brew Pub. This event was held to introduce the group’s mandate, representatives and committees to members of the interactive industry, and many attendees signed up to participate in those committees.

It was great to see so many studios represented, including Fit Brains, Radical Entertainment, Hothead Games, Microsoft, Propaganda Games, Ubisoft Vancouver and 80 Elements to name but a few. Many thanks to event sponsors AnnexPro and Ubisoft Vancouver who provided nibblies and prizes. If you were unable to attend but would still like to get involved, please contact the WIGeh! group through their web site.

hotdocsTorontoHotDocs has launched the HotDocs Library, making hundreds of Canadian-made documentaries available to the viewing public. The Library is completely searchable, and there are also reference playlists which have been compiled by experts. The HotDocs Library is an excellent resource for students and researchers, and is free to use. The 2010 HotDocs Festival will be taking place from April 29 through May 9 in Toronto. The Festival will present over 170 films from more than 35 countries and welcome hundreds of visitors from around the globe. Festival passes are available online, but the official selection will not be announced until March 23rd, which is also when advance show tickets will go on sale.

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft has confirmed that April 13th will be the release date for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction. For those not already familiar with this latest iteration of the Splinter Cell franchise, Sam Fisher finds himself doing battle from the outside after an investigation into his daughter’s death unwittingly leads him to discover he’s been betrayed by his prior agency, the Third Echelon. Now a renegade, Fisher finds himself in a race against time to thwart a deadly terrorist plot that threatens millions.

Uniting revolutionary gameplay enhancements with a high-octane, no-holds-barred storyline, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction arms you to the teeth with all the high-tech weaponry and lethal skills of an elite operative and invites you to enter a dangerous world where justice means making your own rules.

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3rd February 2010

Updates from FreshTV, Bioware and Fuel Industries

FreshTVTorontoFresh TV Inc., an award-winning family entertainment company, is pleased to announce that they have been awarded three Pixie Awards for their animated tween TV series, Stoked. Fresh TV took home awards for Opening Title Effects, Animation and Atmospheric Effects and was given an impressive score of 9.5 out of 10 for the series. The Pixie Awards – sponsored by the American Pixel Academy – honour outstanding creativity in Motion Graphics, Effects and Animation.

“It is an honour to receive accolades from such an esteemed group of industry peers,” said Tom StokedMcGillis, President, Fresh TV Inc. “I would like to especially thank our amazing team at Fresh TV as these awards embody the team’s continued dedication to creating quality, engaging shows.”

Stoked is an animated situational comedy about teens who come together one summer to work at world renowned Surfer’s Paradise Resort, home of the best surfing in the country. For twelve weeks they will spend their first summer away from home, work hard, and most importantly, have the opportunity to surf on their days off.

The series (26 x 30’) broadcasts Monday-Friday on Cartoon Network in the US and on TELETOON in Canada.

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has released several new screenshots for the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins expansion chapter Awakening. These new images focus on Vigil’s Keep in Amaranthine, which had previously served as the base of operations for the Howe family and their troops. .

Amaranthine was the first of the Fereldan arlings to fall to the Orlesian occupation. As the port Vigil's Keepcity burned, its ruling family, the Howes, fled to the countryside to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders that lasted for generations. No matter how enormous of a bounty the Orlesians promised, they could not rid themselves of the wily Howes and their ever-growing number of sympathizers.

The Howes chose the ancient fortress of Vigil’s Keep as their primary base of operations, hiding the entire rebellion within the vast complex of storage rooms and caves beneath “The Vigil” — right underneath the noses of their oppressors. When the Orlesians were finally ousted, it was at Vigil’s Keep that the flag of Amaranthine was first raised again, amidst cheers of victory. Vigil’s Keep became the new home of the Howes. Following the downfall of the Howes in Origins, Vigil’s Keep and arling of Amaranthine came under the control of the Grey Wardens. If you want to learn more about the rise and fall of the Howes, you’ll have to pick up a copy of Dragon Age: Origins, because I’m not saying anything about how they betrayed their allies and friends.

Bioware has also released a short trailer to introduce of one of the new party NPCs you will meet when you play Dragon Age Awakening, Anders. According to the video’s description, many mages chafe under the Chantrys control, and Anders is no exception. Its a lucky thing that Anders despises blood mages as much as the Chantry does, else he might have been executed as a suspected maleficaru.

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Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC on March 16, 2010. And yes – I have already placed my pre-order. Dragons, magic, spies, blood and gore – too much goodness to miss.

Fuel IndustriesOttawaW!LDBRAIN, the award-winning entertainment company and one of the world’s foremost producers of animation, has entered into a partnership with Fuel Industries, the Ottawa-based digital agency and producer of popular interactive brands, including AllGirlArcade.com, to develop television, motion picture, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products utilizing the existing popularity of Fuel Industries’ entertainment properties.Clik Stars From All Girls Arcade

“Fuel has a great body of characters and stories with limitless creative possibilities,” said Michael Polis, CEO, Wildbrain. “As a company, we will strategically integrate the proven Fuel Industries branded properties and characters into our studio’s content and distribution businesses. Under this agreement, we are looking at a number of properties that have the potential to become sustainable franchises and growth drivers on a number of media platforms,” he continued.

“Our development deal with W!LDBRAIN, combined with their successful portfolio of world-class animation and family entertainment, is a major step in our company’s efforts to realize the full potential of our Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd February 2010

OCRI Releases Annual Knowledge-Based Industry Survey

Women In Games VancouverVancouver – A brief reminder that the Women in Games Vancouver (WIGEH) Networking Event takes place tonight at the Wine Room, downstairs at the Steamworks Brew Pub. We invite you to join us at 7pm for an evening of socializing and information.  This event is open to both women and men, and we hope to see you there.

OCRIOttawa – The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) has released its annual Knowledge-based Industry Survey. The study indicates that as of December 31, 2009, the number of companies in Ottawa’s knowledge-based sectors has increased by nearly half of one per cent while the number of employees has decreased by 1.3 per cent. The most current data, garnered from 13 industry sectors, indicates a slight increase of 0.4 per cent in the total number of companies to 1,857 up from 1,850 last year. The survey garnered responses from 88 companies whose primary business focus is in cleantech, contact centre/customer centre, convergent medical devices, defence and security, eBusiness, health and drug discovery, knowledge-based support services, photonics, semiconductor, software, telecommunications, wireless and digital media.

“We certainly expected 2009 to be challenging so we are not surprised by the decrease in employment but we also know that the best time to start a new business venture is during tough economic times. With 222 companies added to the database and a notable increase in employment for small and medium sized businesses we see that the support programs and tools available to new companies and entrepreneurs here in Ottawa are having a positive impact,” says Claude Haw, President and CEO, OCRI. “The entire city has rallied to provide support to help our companies become successful and there are examples of great collaboration all around us. Of course, we must continue to create an environment that is attractive to investors and actively leverages the various funding programs available for small and medium sized companies in order to fuel innovation and propel our economy forward.”

Ottawa’s cleantech sector demonstrated the greatest growth for the third year in a row, with several companies adding more than 50 employees to their staff base. This translates to a 25.2% increase in job positions for this industry sector. Also of note is Ottawa’s recent designation as one of the world’s top seven intelligent communities by the Intelligent Community Forum.

The OCRI report also points out the strength of the region’s digital media industry, stating that “the digital media sector has been gaining traction in our region. In October, Ottawa hosted the International Animation Festival, proving to many who weren’t already aware that Ottawa is a hotbed for digital media creativity. The cluster features 63 companies that have identified digital media as their primary industry and more than 120 others see digital media as their secondary industry. As a result, a formal digital media cluster, GENERATOR, was launched in December.”

Lotusland StudiosVancouver – Hive is a board game originally designed by John Yianni and released by “Gen Four Two Games” in 2001. Independent developer Lotusland Studios has developed Hive as a mobile game, and it is now available in the iTunes App Store for the iPhone™ and iPod touch®. Hive is categorized as an abstract strategy game and is highly unique as the pieces are simply placed on a flat surface without the limitations and constraints of a traditional game-board.

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29th January 2010

IUGO Serves Up An Alien Buffet

IUGOVancouverIUGO’s latest adventure on the iPhone, Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet, offers over-the-top alien slaying. Daisy Mae’s peaceful, simple life in her little desert trailer park will never be the same. A full scale alien attack on earth has begun and Daisy becomes the unlikely heroine outta nowhere. Take hold of the steering wheel and help Daisy Mae shoot and blast her way to victory in this fun and quirky dual stick shooter.

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Aliens: you have been served! Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet is slated for release in February of this year for the iPhone.Daisy Mae's Alien Buffet

Features:

* More aliens than you can shake a stick at!
* The baddest selection of weapons known to folks ‘round these here parts
* Purty graphics and fancy sounds effects
* Sassy costumes to unlock for Daisy Mae’s alien hoedown
* Daisy Mae “taunt” moves to stun the aliens silly
* Control options to suit every varmint’s needs
* VIP points to be earned towards an additional costume
* Global leaderboards
* Auto save

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20th January 2010

HappyUFO Releases Debut Title, Assassin’s Creed 2 Infiltrates the iPhone Market

HappyUFOCalgaryHappyUFO has released their debut title, DungeonSHIFT: Secret of the Blood Chrysanthemum. A casual game for those seeking to sink their teeth into a bitdungeonshift more of a challenge than the average, DungeonSHIFT combines an engaging story with a unique “Jigsaw Riddle” style of puzzling. Search through clues and create the key to opening doors that get in your way all the while following the story of Joachim, a hero who left his family behind in search of a cure that would save mankind from a mysterious plague. Unlock your way through 20 brain bending levels, featuring hand drawn environments from the artist who brought Illutia to life. DungeonSHIFT: Secret of the Blood Chrysanthemum is available for download directly from HappyUFO for $10.24 CDN.

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft has released a bit of news and a few screenshots for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 2 iPhone title. Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery for iPhone and iPod Touch lets players discover an exciting chapter of the Assassin’s Creed® II storyline. They follow Ezio as he travels to 15th-century Spain to rescue fellow assassins being held under the guise of the Inquisition, only to uncover a Templar plot to sail west and discover the New World. ”

Assassin's Creed 2 Discovery iPhone

vanilla forumsMontreal – On the community building front, Vanilla Forums has closed a $500,000 (CAD) Round A funding for its innovative, open source community forum software. Vanilla also released its forum hosting platform and additional premium features for its rapidly growing customer base. Both this funding and the new forum hosting platform and business oriented premium features solidify Vanilla’s position as a leading open source community forum solution.

Vanilla Forums closed a Series A funding round led by Montreal Startup, with a significant investment also made by Denver, CO based eonBusiness. Silicon Valley based Klein Venture Partners and Denver, CO based Norseman Capital also contributed to the round. Vanilla, located in Montreal, will use the investment to expand its marketing, development, and sales efforts. “Montreal has a vibrant entrepreneur community and is a hot-bed for open-source software,” said Mark O’Sullivan, Vanilla’s CEO.

Vanilla Forums also announced the immediate availability of their forum hosting platform. The Vanilla Forum hosting platform enables customers to quickly and easily deploy a community forum solution without having to write a single line of code. Vanilla also released two new premium features, custom domains and ad-removal, that enable seamless integration with a customer’s existing web presence. Vanilla plans to release additional premium features including custom css, single sign-on, and forum analytics in the near future.

“With over 19 million forums on the internet, forum software is more relevant than ever,” said John Stokes, Managing Partner at Montreal Startup. “Vanilla were the first to recognize that forum solutions must evolve into proactive tools that help businesses to both grow and interact with their customer base and we are excited to help facilitate Vanilla’s growth in this market.”

“Vanilla proves that forums are much more than the origin of social media – they’re an important and compelling part of its future,” said Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Director of Design and User Experience at Digg.com.

“It’s been amazing to watch Vanilla grow since they participated in TechStars this past summer. They’ve got great technology and are a super team. We’re thrilled to see them put together this round with some great investors.” said Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group and one of the co-founders of TechStars. “Vanilla is already one of the most popular forum solutions on the Internet, and I’m excited to watch their continued growth.”

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15th January 2010

Get Your Tickets Now for SparkFX 2010

SPARK FX 2010VancouverSpark FX 2010 is fast approaching, and they have a full slate of events happening. With 8 films, more than 30 speakers taking part in 17 presentations, a party, a mixer, hundreds of industry attendees and, of course, T-Shirts! SPARK FX 2010 is helping to start the year off with a bang (along with that other winter party). Taking place January 27 – 31 at VanCity Theatre on Seymour, full event tickets are $200.00 for members, $250.00 for non-members – it is also possible to purchase tickets to individual sessions and films which may better suit your schedule or areas of interest.

The films are almost fully confirmed – a mix of classic films and recent blockbusters – and there is an unbelievable line-up of industry speakers led by ILM veteran John Knoll. There will be film makers talking about their work on virtually every big effects film of the past year including Avatar, District 9, Transformers 2, GI Joe and half a dozen more. If you’re eager, you can buy a pass now for full access to all the main speaking sessions. Full passes include the 3-day conference, 2 party tickets and an event T-shirt.

Brought to you by the SIGGRAPH Vancouver Chapter, SPARK FX 2010 is sponsored in part by Telefilm Canada, Vancouver Economic Development, BC Film, Digital Domain Vancouver, Annex|Pro, MPC, 3vis, Visual Effects Society, Visual Effects Association of BC, Graphic Designers of Canada – BC Chapter, and Women in Games Vancouver. If you need a place to stay, the Sheraton Wall Centre is the official partner hotel of SPARK FX 2010.

ODD1MontrealCatch Me! If You Can is an iPhone and iPod Touch game from ODD1 that pays tribute to a classic arcade game. Available in both free and premium ($1.99 usd) versions, this chasing game through colorful mazes presents a thief fleeing from three guards who try catch him to… take his place and get rich!Catch Me If You Can

As player, you first take on the character of the thief and must collect a maximum of gold nuggets. If you’re caught, the roles are reversed and you become one of the guards who each have a unique special power. Your goal, then, is to catch the thief and switch back to your original role – starting again to get rich! But be careful… the rules can change and you might need to catch all of the thieves who keep appearing out of nowhere!

The game features a “Story” mode with progressive levels to unlock, and a “Challenge” mode for more fast-paced action. Players can also join the “Band of Thieves” community to send their gold into the collective “Treasure Vault.” The faster players accumulate and share gold, the faster new Grossologylevels and content will be unlocked!

The free version includes the first three levels of the “Story” mode as well as the “Band of Thieves” community feature, which is key to the release of new, generally free content. All levels and the “Challenge” mode are available in the premium version.

ODD1 also recently released a game based on the TV show Grossology for Tribal Nova and Nelvana. Kids become special agents and dive into the Grossology universe to play four gross missions or to use the level editor to create their own mini games to challenge their friends. There is also a free version which can be played online.

TerraceRusty Axe Games has released the Financial Guru Value Pack for Windows based PC home computers. Financial gurus rejoice as they can now show their financial acumen playing Rusty Axe financial strategy games… and at the cash register by picking up all of our most Rusty Axe Gamespopular games bundled together for one low price! Real Estate Empire 2, Real Estate Empire and Big$hot have all been bundled together into the Financial Guru Value Pack for $29.99.

Real Estate Empire 2 is a goal based game that is easier to pick up and play than it’s predecessor. Big$hot is a turn based property management game featuring simple game mechanics that allow for complex business property management strategies. Real Estate Empire is the classic house flipping game that teaches people how and when to buy, fix up and sell houses through an ever changing economic climate and against cutthroat AI adversaries.

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11th January 2010

New From EA Sports, Deep Fried Entertainment, Digital Leisure and Little Guy Games

BurnabyEA Sports™ is developing one of the most popular and culturally influential arcade basketball games ever made — NBA JAM — for the Nintendo Wii™. EA Sports NBA JAM revives the classic franchise with vintage NBA JAM gameplay, and all-new features that deliver a fresh new take on the game. Featuring the sights and sounds that fans of the franchise will instantly recognize, EA SPORTS NBA JAM mixes the old school with the new, to deliver a one-of-a-kind sports presentation on the Wii. Not yet rated by the ESRB, NBA JAM is scheduled for a 2010 release.

“NBA JAM is one of the most recognizable franchises in videogame history,” said Peter Moore, President, EA Sports. “Diehard fans of the original game have been asking for a remake for more than a decade. We’re very excited to give them their wish this year with the return of this iconic franchise.”

Featuring gameplay that is true to the original, NBA JAM will have players spinning with ankle breaking moves to the basket and on the way to high-flying, backboard-smashing dunks. In addition to the classic experience, EA Sports NBA JAM will also introduce new game modes, characters and gameplay depth.

NBA JAM brought an all-new visual style to the sports videogame genre when it debuted in 1993. Now, the new EA Sports NBA JAM re-defines the visuals for a sports game yet again by bringing true-to-life body types, updated physics, and visible player emotion to the over- the – top experience.

Deep Fried EntertainmentVancouver – As announced last week on Village Gamer, Deep Fried Entertainment’s WiiWare title ShadowPlay is officially available for download for the Wii today.  Let your imagination run wild when light meets everyday objects to create fascinating shadows. Play and experiment, make a ShadowPlaymonster out of a pineapple, a dolphin out of a banana – the only limit is your imagination. ShadowPlay challenges players by transforming shadows into more than 100 exciting, unique puzzles. As more challenging puzzles are unlocked, players will have to find more creative ways to solve problems. You will never look at a slice of pizza the same way again! Winning a round will allow players to advance to the next level as well as score another item to use in the Free Play Mode, where you can unleash your imagination and create your own shadow art. Family and friends can also jump in to help tackle a puzzle at any time using Local Co-op Mode. ShadowPlay will provide tons of brain-racking fun for 1 or 2 players of all ages for 800 Wii points. Rated E by the ESRB.

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