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8th March 2010

Parties, Departures, New Releases and Upcoming Events

Massive BearVancouver – Last Friday evening we attended Massive Bear Studio’s Launch Party at the Granville Room – your new website is awesome – and I see some upcoming news that looks quite exciting, as well. Massive Bear’s projects have included work on Microsoft-Big Park’s Joy Ride, 2k’s Mafia 2 and Day 21 Studios’ Sky Pirates of Neo Terra. Thank you again to Tim Lewinson for a fantastic time and the invitation to celebrate with you – all the best as you set off for a full slate of meetings and seminars at GDC!

It’s not generally our policy to cover the employment downside of game development, particularly with the way the economy has been over the past year or so and the adverse effect it has had on many Canadian Kelly Zmakstudios. While we will always let you, our readers, know about new studio openings and career positions, we feel that other media outlets provide more than enough coverage about job losses and we don’t really need to add to the mix.

That said, I cannot let a recent development pass without comment. For those who have not yet heard, Kelly Zmak formally announced his departure from Radical Entertainment this past Friday. This truly saddens me, as Kelly has been (and will continue to be, I hope) an integral part of the Vancouver development community. A powerful and motivational speaker, Kelly has worked hard on various Advisory Boards and industry committees. He has many times played host and emcee, and he has given me more encouragement and inspiration than he is perhaps aware. I have the utmost respect for Kelly as a business person, teacher and perhaps most important of all, friend. Kelly leaves some big shoes (or should that be hat?) to fill for his successor at Radical, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him well with his future projects. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th March 2010

Award Deadlines, EA NFS Beta Test and Student Presentations

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – A reminder that nominations are open for the Canadian Videogame and Digital Arts Awards, which will be held May 5th, 2010 here in Vancouver, BC. This event will honour and celebrate the best and brightest in Canadian games, computer animation and visual effects. It will be a great, fun, fast paced night featuring Canadian hosts and presenters, as well as internationally renowned musical talent VideoGames Live! You only have until midnight, Wednesday, March 17th to get your submissions in – all nominations must be made on-line at the Canadian Videogame and Digital Arts Awards website.

All awards are for work completed in Canada by December 31st 2009. This includes products that were certified gold during the 2009 calendar year. Please note: videogame upgrades, expansions and mission packs are not eligible.

Technology Impact AwardsVancouver – We’d also like to remind  you that the Technology Impact Awards also has a nomination deadline of March 17th. The BCTIA Technology Impact Awards celebrate the successes of our industry and the companies, people and innovation that continue to put British Columbia on the map and who serve as role models for others in our province. The Technology Impact Awards will be presented at the BCTIA dinner on June 8th. The dinner will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre beginning at 530pm.

Masters of Digital MediaVancouver – Last evening we stopped in at the Masters of Digital Media portfolio presentations, as always we were very impressed with all of the projects going on. The instructors, mentors and administrators at the campus have much to be proud of, and we foresee a very bright future for all of the innovative students in the current class. We invite you to check out the industry projects which we got a look at last night. We were particularly impressed with the innovative eLearning application Wound Care as well as with the Rainforest Project and the Bateman Centre Visualization Project.

 

Vancouver – Following the portfolio presentation we went over to the Pacific Space Centre to attend the VANarts graduation ceremony. VANarts also has many students to be proud of, as witnessed in the many student reels which were presented for 2D and 3D animation, Visual Effects, Game Art and Design and Digital Photography. We wish the graduating class all the best as they venture out into the wonderful world of digital media. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th February 2010

XBOX Live Arcade is Having A House Party

XBOXGlobal – Xbox LIVE presents the biggest, baddest bash in town: The Xbox LIVE Arcade House Party! Throughout March, Xbox LIVE will launch a new downloadable blockbuster game every Wednesday that is sure to ramp up the multiplayer action (Gold Live subscription required). Today, Xbox LIVE is excited to announce the final details of the hottest party in town offering you some really great deals! Whether you’re sitting on the same couch, or on the other side of the globe… invite your friends because this is one party you don’t want to miss!Game Room Screenshot

* Thank You Gift: Xbox LIVE would like to say thank you for coming to our party! Buy all three House Party titles and download the free “Game Room” app and receive 400 Microsoft Points back to your account**! And for Xbox LIVE Gold members, the deal gets even sweeter, by purchasing all three House Party titles and downloading the “Game Room” app for free, you will not only be credited with 400 Microsoft Points, but you’ll also get an extra month of Gold membership absolutely free++!

* Extra Tickets: We don’t want anyone to miss out on the great multiplayer action House Party will bring you and your friends! From 12:00 EST March 26 – 12:00 EST March 29, House Party is making it easy for you to play together with a special Xbox LIVE House Party Multiplayer Unlock weekend! For this weekend only, we’re unlocking the online multiplayer features of all House Party titles for Xbox LIVE Silver Members to play for free.

* Attire for your Avatar: Starting on March 3rd, stop by Xbox LIVE Avatar Marketplace to ensure your avatar is decked out in the best House Party attire! From cola hat dispensers and plaid shorts, to plastic jelly shoes, your Avatar will party in style this March. You can even pick-up a BBQ grill so your Avatar won’t go hungry over the course of the month-long party.

* Guests of Honour: Most parties only have one star of the show, but Xbox LIVE Arcade House Party has four blockbuster guests we’re celebrating them in style!

Get the lowdown on the featured titles below: 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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8th February 2010

Ferrari Races into Need for Speed SHIFT

EA GamesMontreal Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that after a seven year hiatus, the venerable automaker and elite racing brand Ferrari is returning to Need for Speed. On February 16th, players of Need for Speed™ SHIFT will be able to download a content pack that delivers 10 extraordinary Ferrari cars including the 430 Scuderia and the ultra-rare FXX and F50 GT. Now, Need for Speed SHIFT players will feel the rush of being in the driver’s seat, realizing the true driver’s experience of being behind the wheel of a Ferrari car.

The Ferrari Racing pack is the latest downloadable content for Need for Speed SHIFT and will be available worldwide today exclusively on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system for $10.00 or 800 Microsoft Points (Need for Speed SHIFT and Xbox LIVE® account required).

In addition to 10 new cars, the Ferrari Racing Series will also extend SHIFT’s career mode with 46 new Ferrari specific challenges designed for the Ferrari cars to participate in including hot laps, eliminators, endurance races and a world tour. Completing the perfect Ferrari package are an additional 125 gamerpoints as a reward for undertaking various exciting challenges. All Ferrari cars can also be taken online where players can prove who has the skills to master these high-performance Italian racing machines.

The Ferraris available include:

1. 1996 Ferrari F50 GT
2. 2005 Ferrari F430 Spider
3. 2005 Ferrari FXX
4. 2005 Ferrari Superamerica
5. 2006 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
6. 2006 Ferrari F430 Challenge (Online/Quick event only)
7. 2006 Ferrari F430 GTC (Online/Quick event only)
8. 2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
9. 2008 Ferrari California
10. 2008 Ferrari 16M Scuderia Spider

“Need for Speed is recognized globally for showcasing amazing cars, including some of the world’s most desirable high-performance vehicles,” said Keith Munro, vice president at EA. “We are thrilled to be partnering again with Ferrari.”

Need for Speed SHIFT features an intense first-person crash dynamic and a signature cockpit view that delivers a true driver’s experience. The game further personalizes the experience through the all-new driver profile — a unique persona based on the driving skill and style of each player. With a perfect ‘10’ score from GameSpy.com and G4TV.com, and 90+ scores from IGN.com, Official Xbox Magazine, PlayStation: The Official Magazine, Team Xbox.com, Game Daily.com, Gametrailers.com and more, Need for Speed SHIFT is the highest rated Need for Speed game in years.

Need for Speed SHIFT is now available on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360, PC, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, mobile and the iPhone™.

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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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1st February 2010

New Titles From Digital Leisure and Slick Entertainment

Digital LeisureGormleyDigital Leisure’s 5 in 1 Solitaire game for the Nintendo DSi is available today for 200 Nintendo DSi Points. 5 in 1 Solitaire features the always-popular Klondike, Spider and FreeCell games as well as the unique Golf and Gaps versions of solitaire. Each of these versions has a unique style of play that’s easy enough for novice players to enjoy but will also challenge experts. You can also view tutorials for each game, track your scores and view gaming stats to see your progress.

Slick EntertainmentVancouverSlick Entertainment has announced that their latest title, Scrap MetalScrap Metal, has passed certification at Microsoft, and will be released on Xbox Live Arcade this Spring. Scrap Metal had a great showing at this year’s CES, where attendees had the opportunity to check out this new fast-paced, top-down racer. Players can drift around corners with guns blazing fight their way through explosive, action-packed missions and defeat cunning bosses to win their vehicles. Customize newly-acquired cars and return to the track to blast through more enemies. Then, jump online with Xbox LIVE® to race against friends and crush their cars with the wheels of a massive monster truck in pulse-pounding online multiplayer matches.

Contact NorthOntarioContact North has released an important new study and challenge paper titled Strategic Directions For e-Learning In Canada. In the paper’s introduction, Contact North President and CEO Maxim Jean-Louis states:

“One of the three components of Contact North | Contact Nord’s mandate is to support innovation in education and learning through testing and applied research of new modes of “delivery” using technology, and to share information in Northern Ontario, as well as nationally and internationally.

In keeping with our mandate, Contact North | Contact Nord developed this challenge paper, Strategic Directions for e-Learning in Canada, to encourage a thoughtful and intellectual discussion on the future role of technology in learning.

Our goal with this paper is to inform, to think about what the future will look like, and to see how we can best use technology to ensure Ontarians and Canadians have quality access to the education and training opportunities that are critical to our future prosperity.

We call it a ‘challenge paper’ because some of the ideas outlined here are challenging, both in terms of accomplishments in this field, as well as the challenges ahead. Again, our intention is to stimulate a conversation by exploring both the opportunities and acknowledging the challenges.”

Interested parties can view the full PDF report on Contact North’s web site.

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25th January 2010

Upcoming Titles, VEF Reminder and Dell Denied Arbitration

IUGOVancouverIUGO Mobile Entertainment has announced a brand new title for Blackberry and iDevices. Escape is a tranquil game which offers limitless EscapeZen puzzles. The objective is to help your character jump from stone to stone to eliminate all of the stones and solve the puzzles.

According to the game’s information page, Escape will feature:

* Endless levels and gameplay
* 3 difficulty levels for replayability
* Simple controls for all ages
* Minimalist graphics for maximum appeal
* Unique cerebral game play complimented by relaxing audio and visual effects
* Surprisingly addictive!

Exalt StudiosAlbertaExalt Studios, and indepedent game studio operated by one-man development team William Sworin, is pleased to announce its debut title, Silas – a kart racing game for the PC. Silas delivers an immersive and fast gameplay experience that brings much needed innovation to the kart racing genre. Silas is scheduled for release on May 20, 2010. Silas

Silas is the name of the planet the game takes place on and around. There are many different characters and creatures from this planet and others. In the fast paced gameplay you will discover many unique weapons and possibilities to win the races. There is also a great deal of gameplay options, customization and modes beyond racing.

Looking to fire 10 rockets into the air, control them in-flight, then bring them down on your enemy? You can do that. Or maybe you just want to grab a glider, take it to the skies, and chain gun someone to death? You can do that too. Or, switch into Silasturret mode, and shoot a barrage of lasers 360 degrees? Why not and while you’re at it, deploy stationary guns, launch projectiles, blast cannons, place ice traps, and escape it all with a well timed boost! This is Silas. Get ready for one of the most fun and addictive multiplayer and single player experiences you will ever have!

Play online or through your LAN with up to 12 players. With 18 weapons to choose from, Silas really packs a punch. Use infinite strategies, plan your attacks, or just go in guns ablaze. Take the battle to the skies, form teams, capture flags, or just duke it out in classic deathmatch, whatever you’re into, Silas has it all! And if you like to race, yes, you can do this online as well. Or go solo, and chase after golden trophies all by yourself. Of course, this just scratches the surface of what Silas has to offer. Silas is a large game, with 20 different levels, a full 26 song soundtrack, hundreds of sound effects, 13 characters, and much more.

Info-TechLondonInfo-Tech Research Group has launched a nationwide contest to recognize and reward both Canada’s smartest and greenest mid-market IT departments.

“In the true spirit of community, we’re issuing a challenge to Canadian IT professionals to share their stories, best practices, tips and aha moments through our website and social networks so that departments across the country can get smarter,” says James Alexander, Senior Vice-President for Info-Tech Research Group and one of the campaigns resident ‘Smart People.’

During the four month campaign the research firm will comb the country searching for and interviewing Canadian IT departments with a smart story to tell. The interviews can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook as well as at our Smartest IT web site.

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8th December 2009

United Front Games’ Modnation Racers To Enter Beta

United Front GamesVancouver – Sony Computer Entertainment has announced that Modnation Racers, United Front Games’ PS3 title, will enter a limited online beta from December 18th through January 10th. Gamers who purchased LittleBigPlanet™: Game of the Year Edition and Qore Subscribers have received beta code vouchers, but Sony is offering others a chance to win vouchers as well. Registration for the random voucher draw ends on December 13th, and all who register will receive an exclusive Modnation PS3 theme.

ModNation™ Racers is exclusive to the PlayStation®3 system and is a thoroughly fresh take on classic kart racing that empowers the player to personalize their entire game. Enjoy endless karting fun, where you can shoot, boost & drift your way to the finish line.

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

Create your unique racing experience with the same tools used by the development team. Express yourself by creating your own Mod character, quirky kart and imaginative track, and share your unique racing experience with the rest of the world.

Race It

ModNation Racers is fun and competitive kart racing re-imagined. Redefining the kart racing genre, the processing power of PS3 allows for interaction with dynamic obstacles in the surrounding environment, the fun of real-time physics and handling in a speedy kart, free online play and more. Drive your kart against enemy AI, friends in your living room, or friends and foes online on the PlayStation®Network. The team at United Front Games’ successful history with racing games ensures the core racing game play is best in class.

Mod It

Players can express themselves in ModNation Racers by designing an imaginative Mod character and crafting a cool kart that insures a stylish drive around the track. Additionally, players are given simple and accessible tools to create any track they can dream up. They can spend mere minutes designing a circuit or hours perfecting it with the same tools the developers used to design the pre-made tracks. To start creating, players simply drive their kart and watch the track created in real-time behind them. They can add hairpin turns, rickety bridges or other elements to the race track, or even include environmental components like a stunning sunset, full mountain ranges and more.

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28th November 2009

NFS Nitro Facebook Edition In Public Beta

Need for Speed Facebook EditionVancouverEA has announced the online beta version of Need For Speed Nitro – Facebook Edition. Developed by Vancouver social media studio Ayogo, this new addition to the NFS Ayogofranchise features car collecting, sharing, and competing with your friends to see who will be first to win the Bronze, Silver and Gold Cups. Ayogo and EA are looking for beta testers who can provide feedback which can then be used to improve the application. All you need to do to get involved is give the Need for Speed app access to your FaceBook profile, hit the track to rack up points and then report back to the app’s FaceBook page with feedback about your game play experience.

Vancouver – Congratulations to Adrian Crook on the release of Disney Interactive’s The Princess and The Frog, a title The Princess and The Frogwhich he helped design for Amaze Entertainment’s Wii and PC iterations. In this new title, players can experience Tiana’s exciting world set in the jazz-infused era of 1920’s New Orleans with the official video game inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures release of The Princess and the Frog, which opens everywhere on December 11th. Celebrate favourite moments from the movie and take on new challenges with Tiana, as she pursues her dreams in a fun adventure. Meet favorite characters from the film and new friends, triumph over enemies, play frog games in the bayou, create music, cook New Orleans style and so much more. Along the way, discover what it takes to make Tiana’s dreams come true! This game is also available for the Nintendo DS.

Nintendo Wii™ Key Features

* 30 replayable Wii-exclusive mini-games for 1-4 players
* Play & move to music, cook New Orleans cuisine, and try on multiple outfits with Tiana & her friends
* Collect Mardi Gras beads to trade for new dresses, fabrics, ingredients and recipes
* Explore quest hubs with drop-in/drop-out Multiplayer
* Discover five beautiful New Orleans hub locations including the French Quarter and the Bayou
* Have fun with eight playable characters and multiple NPCs

Vancouver Interactive Night OutVancouver – Thank you to everyone who came out to our first Vancouver Interactive Night Out at Yagger’s on West Pender – it was a great social evening, and we’re looking forward to the Holiday Event on December 18th. We hope you can join us in the back room at Yagger’s and share the holiday cheer. In celebration of our first event we held a business card draw for two Canadian-made game titles. (We may continue to do this at future events, as well).

Congratulations to our winners:

Dragon Age: Origins (360 version donated by Village Gamer) went to Roger Mitchell from Dropship Studios
FarCry 2 (360 version donated by Wendy Boylan from Ubi YVR) went to Stéphane Morichére-Matte from Catchy Consulting.

Music In Media AwardsLos Angeles – Congratulations to all of the Canadian Studios, Projects and Artists who won awards at the recent Hollywood Music In Media Awards, which were held on November 19th at the Kodak Theatre Complex in Hollywood.

Best Original Score – Video Game: Jesper Kyd – “Assassins Creed 2” (Ubisoft)

Best Original Song – Video Game: “I Am the One” from Dragon Age: Origins (Bioware) Written by Inon Zur and Aubrey Ashburn / Performed by Aubrey Ashburn

Best Original Song – Commercial Advertisement:2 Scoops” (Canada Credit) Written by Peter Holmes / Performed by Michelle Harding

Outstanding Music Supervision – Video Game: Simon Pressey – Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare)

Best Contemporary Christian Song: This Day Is Mine (remix) – Janyse

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