10th February 2010

VFS Grad Presentations and Game Design Expo 2010

VFSVancouver -Last night we attended the GD14 Pitch ‘n’ Play Presentation at Vancouver Film School, and as always, we were impressed with the talent and innovation shown by the school’s Game Design Programme students.

Two of the games were built using the Unity engine, while two were built using the Unreal Developer’s Kit. Nerves and glitches aside, all four teams did very well with their presentations and follow-up play sessions. It’s also good to see so many industry people attend the presentations to provide valuable feedback to the students.

The first game presented was Premonition, which was built using the UDK. Premonition is a third person action adventure game featuring a hero who has the ability to see one second into the future. The premise of the game is to complete challenges utilizing this ability to avoid traps and defeat enemies and ultimately triumph over the evil forces who have taken over the game’s world. The trailer for Premonition was very well done, and with some further polish I believe that this title has good potential.

The second game to be featured was I Don’t Know How Not To Be A Robot. This game, in the words of the team, is a “twisted retelling of the story of Pinocchio” featuring a very cute little robot named Pin. The trailer for this game was also very well done and through the antics and easily understood expressions of Pin was quite engaging. The environment design for this game was very rich and made good use of depth and advance lighting features available in the Unity engine. Again, we feel that with more polish and design correction, this game has good potential, although I prefer to attack enemies outright, and would like to be able to put Pin’s talents and power-ups to better use and not have to depend so much on avoidance mechanics.

Title number three was Smart Shopper and is a multi-player game built using the UDK. Smart Shopper is a fast paced food fight which takes place in a grocery store. With over 60 different items to use as weapons, the design team assign a calorie count value to the store’s items based on size and weight. The higher your calorie count, the better your game standing. This first-person-thrower was highly imaginative and I believe that the team met their goal of creating a visually silly, easy to play game.

 

Eat Em Up

Eat Em Up

The final title to be showcased was Eat ‘Em Up, and I have to say that this is the presentation which we chose as our personal winner for the evening. The team built their game on the Unity engine, and in our opinion made the best use of their short development period. Their presentation was polished and well thought out with well-placed injections of humour. Eat ‘Em Up is a colour matching strategy game done in the style of a 1950’s TV show. The objective of this game is to turn buildings into yummy treats for your evil minions to devour while avoiding the cops who will beat your minions and steal your cash. This game also had a very well-done trailer and does a good job of getting the viewer to want to try the game.

Congratulations to all of the students for their efforts and presentations.

Game Design Expo 2010Tickets for Vancouver Film School’s very popular Game Design Expo will go on sale to the public on February 16th. Tickets to the Expo, which takes place April 10 & 11 will cost $75.00 (+ applicable service fees) for the Saturday Industry Day, with the Sunday Open House at Vancouver Film School being free. I have attended every year since the first Game Design Expo, and in my opinion this is a great event to attend and as it always sells out, I recommend getting your tickets as soon as they go on sale. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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2nd February 2010

Assassin’s Creed 2 Discovery Now in The App Store

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery App is now available for purchase ($9.99USD) in the iTunes App store. Assassin’s Creed II: Assassin's Creed 2: Discovery in the App StoreDiscovery is the first in a series of gaming franchises, from hard core to casual games, that Ubisoft plans to develop and publish for the App Store.  iPhone and iPod touch users are invited to discover an exciting chapter of the Assassin’s Creed II storyline. Players 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.

IUGOVancouverIUGO has just announced that Cliffed: Norm’s World is now Cliffed: Norm's Worldavailable on the iTunes App Store, and it’s free. Cliffed: Norm’s World is the Lite version of the highly addictive title Cliffed ($1.99USD), and allows players to experience  unlimited game play as the Cliffed character Norm. This lite version also allows for full-featured multiplayer experiences.

Bioware CorpEdmonton – Another special on iTunes involves Bioware’s Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 2 Redemption 1Dark Horse Comics will be releasing Mass Effect Redemption #1 for free for one day only, on February 3. After the initial 24 hour period, Redemption #1 will then sell for $0.99USD. Redemption #2 is also scheduled for release in comic book stores on February 3. In Redemption #2, Liara T’Soni searches Omega — the most dangerous space station in the galaxy — for clues that could save humanity’s greatest hero, Commander Shepard. Redemption #1 is also included in the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 2.

Relic EntertainmentVancouverRelic has released some early looks at the Chaos multiplayer units Chaos Space Marinefor the upcoming Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising. Head over to the Relic Blog to get a closer look at the Space Marines, Havocs and Heretics who have fallen to the Dark gods of Chaos. Relic also recently released the full soundtrack for Company of Heroes, which is available for free on the game’s Steam page, where you can also purchase all three Company of Heroes titles for a special packaged price of $49.99USD.

Absolute SoftwareVancouverAbsolute® Software Corporation has launched Absolute Manage, the rebranded version of the Company’s recently-acquired cross-platform IT asset management solution. The new solution from Absolute complements its Computrace® family of data security, tracking and theft recovery solutions with full-featured computer life-cycle management capabilities.

Absolute Manage, formerly LANrev, provides organizations with an easy and automated way to manage PC and Mac® computers, as well as iPhone® devices, from a single interface. IT administrators using Absolute Manage can efficiently manage all their assets by automating time-consuming IT processes such as software distribution, patch management, asset inventory and imaging. Additionally, it helps organizations save money by allowing them to track installed applications and licenses, redeploy under-used licenses and hardware to maximize inventory, and avoid non-compliance fines. The MSRP for a standalone one-year license is $24.95 USD.

Some of the capabilities of Absolute Manage include the following:

– Application & License Management – Deploy software and manage licenses across the network.

– Security, Change & Configuration Management – Remotely monitor and adjust configurations, and execute files.

– Automated Patch Management – Centrally manage and install patches, and report on patch status for all managed systems.

– Computer Imaging – Install a complete OS plus all standard applications onto Mac computers while in use or just out of the box.

– Power Management – Comply with green initiatives and lower total cost of ownership by remotely enforcing power saving policy profiles.

– Asset Inventory – Collect hardware and software data points from devices over the network and analyze the information for timely and fact-based asset management decisions.

CalgaryICEsoft™ Technologies, Inc. has announced the release of ICEpdf 4.0, an open source PDF rendering technology for Java.

ICEpdf is a lightweight Java rendering library that can be easily integrated within any Java-based client application or deployed on a server in headless mode as a PDF Servlet (JSP or JSF). ICEpdf is ideal for providing PDF viewing and navigation as well as PDF content conversion and extraction without the hassles of Java-to-native integration issues.

This latest version of ICEpdf contains numerous product improvements, bug fixes, and is now capable of:

* PDF document editing and saving for Link Annotation edits.
* Text selection and clipboard actions.
* The search API has been completely revamped allowing for search result highlighting, and more.

“Since ICEpdf was open sourced 8 months ago, the product has experienced unprecedented adoption”, says Robert Lepack”, VP of Marketing and Business Development at ICEsoft. “This latest release of ICEpdf adds important new features and capabilities that our customers, as well as community members, have been asking for.”

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1st February 2010

Record Attendance for Spark FX 2010 and Other Vancouver Event News

Vancouver – It was a very busy week and weekend here on the west coast. Last Thursday evening was the Help Haiti Pub Night which saw $6000.00 raised for to assist UNICEF’s Clean Water Initiative. Many thanks to all of the great sponsors and donors who helped make the silent auction and Pub Night a great success.

Siggraph VancouverCongratulations to our Vancouver SIGGRAPH chapter for a very successful Spark FX event. With the highest attendance ever, there was much for the hardworking crew to be happy about. The Avatar post-mortem sessions were so popular with attendees that a closed circuit broadcast was presented in the common area for those who could not get seats in the theatre. In attendance at this episode of Spark FX was a committee from the SIGGRAPH conference, and they were very happy with the event as well, according to Sly Provencher. As many of you are already aware, SIGGRAPH 2011 will be held in Vancouver – the first time this conference has ever been awarded to a city outside of the United States, and I am definitely looking forward to being able to attend this great conference on “home turf.” SIGGRAPH 2010 will be held at the Los Angeles Conference Centre this coming July 25-29.

Global Game Jam 2010This weekend was also Global Game Jam, and we checked in with the teams over at UBC on Sunday afternoon. There were some great ideas happening, and co-organizer Vidya Kotamraju said that “The jam went extremely well and we have been very pleased with the turnout and the games. We have not ranked any games as the main aim is to foster creative collaboration. We asked each of the teams to present their games and judges from a few local game companies critiqued them.”Global Game Jam 2010

The majority of the participants were new to Global Game Jam, but there were a few veterans in attendance, including Brennan Massicotte and Miko Wilson. Several of the local digital media schools and programmes were represented, including BCIT, Emily Carr, SFU, UBC and Masters of Digital Media, as well as a few local studios including United Front Games and Propaganda Entertainment.

The organizers would like to thank this year’s sponsors for contributing to a very successful event, as well as mentors Andy Moore, Pat McGee, Victor Cameron and Brian Vidovic, and of course the local developers who came out to view and critique all of the games.

For this year’s Jam, the weekend developers were given the theme of Deception, which had to be worked into their game, along with key words punk, skunk and monk. There were some very creative ways which these were being worked into the games, including completely misleading the player and going against many of the “game mainstays” of how a gamer is lead through a level. Global Game Jam 2010Other challenges included making it possible to play the entire game in 5 minutes or less, using a maximum of 16 different colours including light and shading, using only sound effects which could be produced by the human body and several others. One other interesting fact to note is the increase in female participants this year, which more than doubled over last year’s event.

Vancouver had two Game Jam locations this year, but we unfortunately did not have time to visit the participants over at Vancouver Hacker Space, but you can check out all of the games here: UBC teams – 8 games and Vancouver Hacker Space – 1 game

We closed out our weekend at the 3D Animation Workshop which was held Sunday afternoon at the 221A Studios. I was invited to talk to the Workshop participants about Village Gamer, and while I’m not overly skilled at public speaking, the experience was enjoyable and another opportunity to meet people who work, teach and support our local interactive media industry. The 3D Animation Workshops are an informal platform for artists and other creatives to share experience and knowledge, and is hosted by the CG Movement community.

Events for this week include the Women In Games Vancouver Networking Night on February 3rd, which is taking place in the Wine Room at Steamworks Brew Pub, starting at 7pm. Then on Thursday evening it’s the League of Kickass Business People panel “Get in the Game: Gaming Isn’t Just For Gamers Anymore” featuring panelists Steve Bocska, McElroy Flavelle, Victor Lucas, Mark Magnusson and Ian Clark, with moderator Eric Brooke. The aim of this panel is to investigate and discuss the many ways which gaming is revolutionizing your business and your world. Learn how gaming trends are shaping everything from customer experiences to community building, leadership training to team collaboration, simplified interfaces to communicating complexities – and how gaming’s impact will accelerate in the next decade.

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27th January 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and a Sword of the Stars Sequel

EA SportsBurnabyElectronic Arts will celebrate the single largest sporting event on the planet with the only official and exclusively licensed videogame for the EA Canada-developed 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Now everyone can play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, Wii™, PSP® (PlayStation® Portable) and mobile in April 2010 in anticipation of the real-world tournament which begins in June. EA Sports FIFA World Cup

EA SPORTS™ 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa will feature all the emotion and passion of the fiercest national rivalries battling on the world’s biggest stage, with all 199 national teams that took part in qualification, all 10 official stadiums to be used in South Africa and stadiums from each qualifying region. Gamers will be able to play as their home nation from qualification right through to a virtual reproduction of the FIFA World Cup Final™ and feel what it is like to score the goal that lifts a nation. Everything fans love about the World Cup will come to life in spectacular detail, including confetti rain, streamers, & fireworks—just like the official tournament.

For the first time ever in a videogame compete in a full and authentic online World Cup tournament. Carry the hopes and dreams of a nation into battle against fans from rival countries, from the group stage through the knockout rounds to the chance to be crowned 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa TM champion. For fans of nations that failed to qualify for South Africa this is the chance to replay and re-write history. Plus, gameplay innovations capture the journey from qualification to the final tournament with home and away strategies for every nation, situational tactics in-game, and altitude effects that fatigue players faster and even impact the flight of the ball.

Presented in an art style that celebrates the cultural vibrancy of the first FIFA World Cup TM to be held in Africa, EA SPORTS 2010 FIFA World Cup on the Wii is an action-packed soccer game that brings friends together in their living rooms to compete for the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM. Travel around the world virtually to take on all 32 nations competing in South Africa in head-to-head challenges in Zakumi’s Dream Team mode. Start the journey with random players and then build your team by stealing an opposition player after each victory. Win a challenge and pick a player until you have conquered the world. Plus, take your team to a friend’s house on your Wii Remote.

Kerberos ProductionsVancouver – At the Paradox Interactive Convention in New York last week, Kerberos revealed that their next project is the much awaited sequel to the critically hailed Sword of the Stars 4X franchise. Today, Paradox Interactive summarizes some of the details revealed.

In Sword of the Stars 2, gamers will be reacquainted with the original six races from Swords of the Stars I and its expansions as well as reveal the dark secret of the original series, the Suul’ka – an ancient race that is responsible for tampering with the Liir, Zuul, and other races in the SotS universe! Sword of the Stars 2 is in early production and is scheduled for release in 2011.

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26th January 2010

Innovacorp Announces I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition Winners

innovacorpHalifaxInnovacorp today announced the first and second place award winners in the provincial I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition, an innovative competition to identify and support high potential Nova Scotia knowledge-based businesses.

“The start-up businesses chosen as first and second place award winners are excellent examples of the types of high potential Nova Scotia companies that have the opportunity to compete globally,” said Dan MacDonald, president and CEO of Innovacorp.“The I-3 finalists are all targeting high growth industry sectors, including clean technology, life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”

The first and second place zone winners each receive $100,000 and $40,000 respectively in a combination of cash and in-kind business building services from professional services firms located in their zones to be used for the further development of their start-up ventures. The first place winners will move on to the provincial round happening February 9, to compete for a $100,000 seed investment from Innovacorp.

The first and second place award winners in each zone are:

Zone 1 (Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties)

1st Place – LST Energy – Jim Trussler, Gus Swanson and Philip Landry – Pictou – has developed an innovative patented technology that will enable efficient burning of grass and hay biomass pellets. While grass and hay biomass is plentiful and renewable, until this innovation it has been impractical to use as a fuel because it caused furnace and stove maintenance issues that required continuous intervention. LST Energy will first target commercial heating applications.

2nd Place – X-Flux Environmental Technologies – David Risk – Antigonish – has developed an innovative system for real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide emissions from underground carbon capture and storage facilities. The patented technology enables a network of ground level CO2 monitoring probes, network management and validation of carbon storage for public safety and containment integrity. X-Flux is positioned to enter the global market and will begin pilot installations in 2010.

Zone 2 (Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties)xona games

1st PlaceXona Games – Matthew and Jason Doucette – Yarmouth – is an independent game development studio targeting Xbox 360 and PC gaming platforms. The company concentrates on intensifying retro-style games and has already gained international recognition, placing 7th in the world and 2nd in Canada in Microsoft’s 2009 Dream Build Play competition. Xona’s game Decimation X is the number one rated Xbox LIVE Indie Game in Japan.

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26th January 2010

Mass Effect 2 Day, VFS Teams Up with Pixelogic, IUGO Releases More Escape Details

Bioware CorpEdmonton – It would be only natural to begin with the biggest game release news of the day – Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 hits store shelves across the nation today, and already the title is getting raves from every corner of the continent. I will be picking up my Collector’s Edition today, and I am really looking forward to the awesome goodness that I know will be contained in that special tin box. While EA did send an advance copy to Village Gamer, it hasn’t yet arrived (watch it be sitting in the post office box today), and while I certainly appreciate the opportunity the publisher is trying to extend to me, I never receive the titles they send until after the games have been released, and as I like to log a number of hours in a game before writing a review, well…gotta love our postal system. Not. Mass Effect 2 Collector Armour

Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA commented on the launch of Mass Effect 2 saying, “Rich, immersive worlds, compelling characters and stories, and intense action are some of the hallmarks of BioWare games, and Mass Effect 2 truly raises the bar in every area. I’m incredibly proud of our team, who worked passionately to deliver a very high quality game for our fans. This epic sequel in the stunning Mass Effect universe is an extraordinary accomplishment, one which we can’t wait to get into the hands of a world-wide audience!”

The Mass Effect trilogy is an epic science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players will once again step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, commanding their crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense shooter action, a rich futuristic storyline, space exploration and emotionally engaging character interaction, the game delivers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

Gamers who purchase a new copy of Mass Effect 2 will also be able to activate the ‘Cerberus Network’, an in-game portal in Mass Effect 2 that will keep fans engaged with the Mass Effect universe through downloadable content (DLC) and news at no extra charge. The first piece of DLC is available today, featuring a new mission around the Normandy crash site. For players who do not buy the game new, the ‘Cerberus Network’ can be unlocked through a one-time, in-game purchase of an activation code for 1200 MS points on the Xbox 360 and $15 on the PC. BioWare will release additional news on future ‘Cerberus Network’ content in the coming weeks. Activation is tied to a specific EA Online account and is non-transferable. Mass Effect 2 is available for the Xbox 360 and the PC and is rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB

VFSVancouverVancouver Film School (VFS), Canada’s premier entertainment arts institution, and Pixologic, maker of the award-winning 2D/3D sculpting, texturing, and painting application ZBrush, today announced an official partnership agreement to provide VFS with full access to educational licenses for Pixologic’s cutting-edge software, ZBrush.

The partnership is the first of its kind for Pixologic in Canada. The agreement will primarily benefit students of VFS’s Animation & Visual Effects programs, respected worldwide for their graduates, including District 9 director Neill Blomkamp among many others. VFS students will have access to the latest innovative tools available in ZBrush, upgrades and technical support.

“Pixologic enthusiastically supports education and is committed to providing artists with the ZBrushmost innovative cutting edge tools of their craft,” says Pixologic Chief Operating Officer Jaime Labelle. “From illustration to animation and visual effects to game design, we at Pixologic recognize the standard of excellence that comes from the entire VFS community and are thrilled to partner and support them in their creative process.”

ZBrush’s place within the Animation & Visual Effects curriculum means that students are provided with skills and experience in a tool that is widely used on top films like Avatar, Watchmen, and District 9, and games like Gears of War 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, all properties on which VFS Animation & Visual Effects graduates have worked. The partnership gives students at VFS a crucial advantage as they begin their careers.

“This partnership really allows us to take advantage of what Pixologic brings to the table with their products,” says VFS’s Managing Director Marty Hasselbach. “It also allows Pixologic to benefit from what VFS does, and that is create fantastic work using their cutting-edge software, ZBrush.”

IUGOVancouver – Mobile game developer IUGO has announced that their latest title Escape, which we announced a few days ago, will be going to the EscapeBlackBerry platform before it becomes available for the iPhone, with pricing to be revealed upon launch. This newest puzzler promises the following features:

*Endless levels and gameplay
*2 additional unlockable difficulty modes introduced through DLC (iPhone only)
*Simple controls for all ages
*Minimalist graphics for maximum appeal
*Unique cerebral game play complimented by relaxing audio and visual effects
*Surprisingly addictive!

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