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29th September 2009

Chocolate Liberation Front Gets Interactive With High-Profile International Projects

Chocolate Liberation FrontToronto – Cutting-edge independent production company Chocolate Liberation Front (CLF) is rapidly establishing itself as the interactive developer and producer of choice, securing a number of key multi-platform projects with international partners in Australia and Canada.

Since launching only a few months ago, CLF has opened a studio in Toronto and has already been commissioned to create the interactive strategies for some high-profile projects, working with major international producers and broadcasters.

CLF is currently in production with the multi-platform extension of the new 8-part television series, Death Comes To Town, from well-loved Canadian comedy troupe, Kids in the Hall. Accent-KITH Productions has engaged CLF as the strategic interactive partner for this property, airing on CBC Television in 2010.

CLF is also developing the interactive strategy for Mark Lewis’ feature-length theatrical documentary, Cane Toads, a follow up to the 80’s cult classic. Shot in 3D, the film is being produced for Participant, Discovery Network US and ABC Australia by Radio Pictures. In addition, CLF is co-developing a linear TV series alongside interactive content for Vishus Productions’ original property Figaro Pho, based on the Logie award-nominated shorts originally created for ABC TV.

CLF’s Frank Verheggen says: “We are excited to be working with these brilliant partners. Each of these projects allows us to explore innovative new tools and technological approaches. We hope to continue to attract international partners looking for our unique cross-platform expertise.” These interactive partnerships follow hot on the heels of CLF’s first major development project, The World of Infinite Curiosity, which is a far-reaching multi-platform project for family audiences, currently in development as a triple-A videogame with funding from Telefilm Canada and Screen Australia and also as a prime time television series.

The star of The Infinite World of Curiosity is 11 year old Decklin, who is fascinated by Leonardo DaVinci. Toronto’s C.O.R.E. Digital will be providing artwork while other members of the development team include Vancouver’s Adrian Crook who has worked on titles such as The Outfit, Tony Reed, MD of Reed Interactive of Australia, who worked on Earthworm Jim, the Star Trek franchise as well as Command and Conquer. Naomi Janzen, a TV writer and producer for Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and 7th Heaven will be contributing to the project, as well Australian Morgan Jaffit, founder of The Impossible Changing Brain Foundation. He has worked on such titles as Happy Feet and Teen Titans.

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29th September 2009

Pug Pharm’s Snoget Enters Closed Beta

Pug PharmVancouverPug Pharm Productions Inc. (Pug Pharm), a Canadian online video game developer, today announced that it has started accepting closed beta sign-ups for Snoget, a new social networking online game. The game will redefine what players expect from social networking games by giving them the ability to collect and interact with items and brands that define their interests. Beta sign-ups are limited and will be accepted on the game’s official site.

“Snoget players will experience a new form of interactive entertainment that combines the best elements of both social networking sites and online games,” stated Steve Bocska, CEO of Pug Pharm. “We believe Snoget is the world’s first true social networking online game and picks up where games on Facebook or Twitter leave off.”

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For those who are interested in participating, a select number of closed beta keys will be given away through the website allowing testers to join other invited players in the game. Players who take part in the beta will provide valuable feedback to producers during development and gain access to limited edition items that will only be available in the best phase.

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12th September 2009

Saturday Shorts

IUGOVancouverIUGO Mobile Entertainment has announced another upcoming game title for the iPhone and BlackBerry platforms. Slated for release this fall, Cliffed will allow you to challenge your friends to the most addictive race to the bottom! IUGO presents its latest sensation in casual gaming with this frantic 2D Cliffedscrolling racer.

Features:

• 10 unique and playful characters to choose from
• Pick up and play! Great for all ages
• Endless game play
• Online multiplayer! Race up to 8 players in real time over 3G and wireless networks
• Local and global leaderboards
• IUGO’s new VIP program: Tell your friends, earn points and unlock an exclusive mystery character sooner
• Stylized, clean graphics
• IUGO’s signature quality and polish

UbisoftUbisoft Montreal has released three new videos for their highly anticipated titles on their YouTube channel. Gamers can get their twitch on with a commented walk-through for Assassin’s Creed 2, featuring a variety of game play scenarios with narrative from AC2 Production Manager Jean-Francois Boivin. The only disappointment I have experienced thus far in regards to AC2 is the planned product releases for the Master Assassin Limited Editions. I want the Black version, but it is apparently only being released in other parts of the world, not North America. Those of us in North America are getting the White version, which does not appear to contain all of the same perks as the Black Version, such as Ezio in black and the same number of bonus quests. The North American White version only has one bonus quest while the Black version has three, and at this time it is unknown if the Black version will be region locked. There are also rumours circulating that the Black edition is sold out. Maybe Ubisoft will have a change of heart and at least give those of us in North America the opportunity to obtain the additional two bonus quests.

Shaun White fans can see a new video dev diary for Shaun White World Stage, due for release on November 8. Featuring members of the dev team and Shaun White, gamers get an advance look at how it feels like to be in the boots of a pro snowboarder. After watching the dev diary for Splinter Cell: Conviction, we have added it to our list of “must play” games. The development team gives an excellent explanation of what gamers can expect from the latest iteration for the Splinter Cell franchise, and you can get a look at the dev video on Splinter Cell’s site.

IMC VancouverIMC Vancouver – As the Internet grows in importance as a communication channel for business, it’s important to understand how to move away from the diminishing returns that TV, Radio and Newspapers are delivering. IMC Vancouver provides the venue for businesses, government, social activists, agencies, consultants and students to take advantage of the new, and rapidly changing, way media is being consumed. Also economic pressures are making change in the marketing world even more urgent than before.

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12th September 2009

Cascada Mobile Announces iPhone and Android Support For Breeze

Cascada MobileToronto – Mobile application development pioneer, Cascada Mobile has announced iPhone and Android support for its popular Breeze mobile development platform, adding to its existing support for BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones. Now developers and publishers can use the Breeze Platform to easily create and distribute rich mobile applications that work on billions of mobile phones around the world, including iPhones and Android handsets, without having to rewrite their apps for each individual platform.

Using Cascada Mobile’s Breeze Platform, even the most novice web programmers and content publishers can write innovative rich mobile applications that can be installed on phones and sold in app stores. The Breeze Platform eliminates the enormous cost and complexities of writing mobile applications for thousands of different handset models and provides developers a one-stop shop for distribution across hundreds of wireless operators worldwide.

The combination of smartphones and useful and entertaining mobile applications has sparked a technology revolution, changing the way that consumers interact with and use their mobile phones. Downloads from all app stores will reach 6.67 billion applications by 2014, up from two billion this year, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan. As of August this year the Apple App Store boasted more than one billion downloads with 65,000 mobile apps available. Most smartphone users (62 percent) download one to five applications per month, and the share of iPhone users in the same category is even higher, at 82 percent, according to Goldman Sachs.

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11th September 2009

Greedy Productions Unveils New Site

Greedy ProductionsVancouver – It is safe to say, I believe, that every Canadian gamer is very familiar with Greedy Productions, the company behind the very popular TV shows Electric Playground and Reviews On The Run. It is also safe to say that everyone knows the face behind the studio – Victor Lucas. But what many may not know is that Greedy Productions is also responsible for many of the “Behind The Scenes” extra features available on game discs.

Greedy Productions has created and produced documentaries for such games as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, Batman Arkham Asylum, The House Of The Dead: Overkill, Iron Man and more. Now Greedy Productions is giving fans and future clients the opportunity to look at all of their their “Behind the Scenes” documentaries in one place with the launch of their new site, Greedy Docs. Visitors to the site can also get the lowdown on many of the key people who work on the front lines at Greedy Productions. We have visited the Vancouver studio, and we can safely say that Greedy Productions is staffed with some great people – it’s no wonder that they continually produce awesome shows, including the longest running video game review show in the world.

Behind the Scenes documentaries are more than just a chance to learn more about the development of a game; they also offer excellent insight into the industry itself and the motivations behind a game’s development. Greedy Docs also serves to show yet another aspect of game production work which could be a career choice for those who want to work in the game industry but are not artists, designers or programmers. To everyone at Greedy Productions, congratulations on the new site!

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2nd September 2009

How to work with an Audio Provider 101

I speak to this from my own experience, and hope that it may be helpful to other audio designers and game aficionados all around.

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Audio is an integral part of a video game. In fact, even a simple score can create a very large impact. Take the classic: Space Invaders. The music is 4 tones, but is considered by many to have one of the most successful scores.

1978
Space Invaders
Midway imports Space Invaders from Taito. A great example of simple, effective sound design, Space Invaders owes a large part of its appeal to its menacing, paranoia-inducing soundtrack. Not music per se, the thumping audio track actually accelerates in tempo as the enemy invaders draw nearer (and move faster). The effect: sweat, panic, and increased blood pressure in a generation of gamers.
From “A History of Video Game Music” on http://www.gamespot.com/features/6092391/p-2.html
As the music speeds up, so too does the heart rate of the player; this is so much so, that if one plays Space Invaders with the TV on mute,  s/he will find the game to be much easier. (give it a try! PLAY HERE).
Clearly audio has a great role to play, even on the most basic levels. Audio plays a very visceral role in game immersion and great audio will enhance your game, bringing it to the next level.

So now that the WHY is covered, we will move on to the HOW.

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Using an in-house audio provider will surely create a tighter product as the audio designer is involved in and surrounded by all aspects of the game. Of course, budgets do not always allow for in-house audio, and so many game companies choose to farm out the audio to a wide slew of providers of which I am one.

From environmental sound design and SFX to custom compositions and interactive scores, there are many types of audio assets that will add to a game. What all these types of audio have in common is they are all best approached through the five guidelines below.

1) Bring the audio designer into the game development cycle early.

Audio is often thought of as something that can be dropped in last minute, and as an audio person myself, I can often tell this to be the case when playing the finalized game. If the audio provider was brought in early, s/he can give many creative ideas of how to use the audio in a game to not only react to the game, but even advance the story (such as interactive music that gives feedback to the player letting them know they are moving in the right direction). If the audio designer is made aware of the story and game mechanics nearer to the beginning of the production cycle, a more interactive, interesting, and polished sound track can be created.

2) Relate some examples of what you like via links/samples.

Producers, programmers, artists and audio designers are not always speaking the same “language.” If a producer is looking for a sound to be more “sad“, I can easily modify the sound to be so; yet, descriptions are not often that simple. The complications arise when words of more depth are thrown around, or

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28th August 2009

Habib Zargarpour Joins S-3D Gaming Alliance Advisory Board

S3DGAToronto – What began as a surprise announcement at SIGGRAPH 2009 has quickly become an industry-wide movement to ensure the adoption of stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) gaming in consumer homes around the world.

“When I saw ‘Need for Speed SHIFT’ in stereoscopic 3D at SIGGRAPH, I was impressed. The audience was blown away by how well ‘SHIFT’s’ immersive cockpit was represented by the 3D tech, and we see a great future for S-3D in

Habib Zargarpour

Habib Zargarpour

games. We need an industry-wide standard for S-3D gaming, and S3DGA has the drive and experience to push this forward. All developers and manufacturers should participate,” said Habib Zargarpour, Senior Art Director for Electronic Arts Inc.

As a Senior Art Director for “Need for Speed,” Habib Zargarpour’s game development credits also include “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” “James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing,” and “Need for Speed Underground.” His diverse film background includes work with IMAX 3D, and a whole range of visual effects work for projects such as “Star Wars: Phantom Menace,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Twister,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “The Mask,” and several more memorable films.

Neil Schneider, the President and CEO of S3DGA, is best known for his pioneering work on Meant to be Seen, the world’s leading website focused on stereoscopic 3D gaming and entertainment.

“When game developers purposely support just one or two S-3D solutions, the message is that stereoscopic 3D gaming is just a technology demo. We can do better! With XBOX, PS3, and PC gaming now available in S-3D, our industry has grown large and diverse enough to get well beyond this stage. It’s an honour that Electronic Arts is helping S3DGA fulfill its mandate, and with the industry’s backing, the S-3D gaming standard will happen,” said Schneider.

An introductory S3DGA meeting will be held 5:30PM PST September 17th at the 3D Entertainment Summit being held in Los Angeles this September 16-17.

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27th August 2009

Tim Curry and Kate Mulgrew Add Voices To Dragon Age: Origins

BioWare CorpEdmontonBioware has secured a star-studded voiceover cast for its upcoming Tim Curryblockbuster game, Dragon Age™: Origins. Featuring Tim Curry, star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Broadway’s Spamalot, as well as Kate Mulgrew, well-known for her role as Capt. Kathryn Janeway in “Star Trek: Voyager”, Dragon Age: Origins also Kate Mulgrewincludes notable cast members Tim Russ (“Star Trek: Voyager,” “Samantha Who?”), Claudia Black (“Stargate SG-1,” “Pitch Black”) and Steve Valentine (“Estate of Panic,” “Crossing Jordan”). Dragon Age: Origins marks BioWare’s return to fantasy, created from the ground up to take players through a dark epic tale filled with violence, lust, and betrayal.

Tim Curry will play the villainous Arl Rendon Howe. Howe is the calculating villain, Steve Valentinecultured and charming, with an insatiable lust for power, who never hesitates to harm anyone who gets in his way. Kate Mulgrew will lend her vocal flair to Flemeth, a powerful witch who maintains her immortality through the darkest of means, and who plays a pivotal role in the player’s survival. Both roles provide the actors with the opportunity to bring their considerable talents to bear in their portrayal of these characters.

“Dragon Age: Origins has the largest cast of characters of any game BioWare has ever made,” Tim Russsaid Mark Darrah, Executive Producer, BioWare. “By working with an incredibly talented cast of actors we are able to bring reality and depth to the characters, their back stories, motivations, and dreams that our talented writers have created for them.”

In Dragon Age: Origins, players take on the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians who have served as protectors throughout the centuries. Only Claudia Blackthey have the power to unite the shattered lands, defeat the Archdemon and drive back the darkspawn that threaten to destroy the world. Players will interact with many interesting characters who may join them in their quest, and they will choose whether these characters become friends, foes, or even a romantic interest. Featuring a deep and compelling story where every choice can have a dramatic impact on the game, Dragon Age: Origins is scheduled to release on November 3, 2009 in North America, for the PC and Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and later in November for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system.

Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB.

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19th August 2009

Danny Wallace Signed To Voice AC2 Character Shaun Hastings

UbisoftMontreal – Well-known British humorist and author Danny Wallace will be cast as one of the key roles in Ubisoft’s upcoming title Assassin’s Creed 2. The voice and likeness of Wallace will be cast for the character of Shaun Hastings. A pivotal character in the game, Shaun will serve as a historian, guide and source of information for the player as he proceeds through the game.

Danny Wallace is most recognized as the author of critically acclaimed books including Join Me and Yes Danny WallaceMan. The latter was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Jim Carey in 2008, whilst more recently this year his latest book Friends Like These has been released in paperback. In recent years, Danny has also been involved in a variety of different ‘projects’ from searching the globe for robots and creating his own country in central London, to more sedate celebrity activity such as appearing on the Jonathan Ross show and writing a regular column for award-winning lifestyle magazine ShortList.

“When the UK suggested Danny to us, we were completely open to the idea. Danny has been fantastic to work with, and his manner and particular style of humor has worked out perfect for the role of Shaun” said script writer Corey May. Speaking on his own involvement in the game, Wallace said “Going right back to my days of working on Sega Power, I’ve always been a keen gamer, and being involved – and actually being in a game like Assassin’s Creed II is amazing! I have to say, I’m rather excited”

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12th August 2009

IUGO To Pull A.D.D. Lite In Response to App Store Delays

IUGOVancouver – In the midst of IUGO’s A.D.D. (Another Dumb Distraction) iPhone game of over 100 frantic and controversial mini games sitting in Apple’s review queue for almost 3 months, IUGO has decided to take down the Lite version of the game. “The idea, of course, was to have both apps launch around the same time” states Sarah Thomson, Director of IUGO A.D.D.Business Development for IUGO. “There is such a disparity in the release dates now that the Lite version holds no real purpose at this point.” IUGO has even gone on to suggest that they most likely will not release the Lite version again, even if and when the full version launches on the App Store.

So what is the fate of A.D.D.? “We’ve received 3 identical emails from Apple stating the game is taking an unusually long time to review and that they apologize. That’s all we know. It seems the game is neither rejected nor has it been approved,” says Sarah. She goes onto to explain their thoughts on the substantial delay, “Sure we’re frustrated and wish we’d hear either way. If the content is too hot then we’re happy to go back in and re-work it,” suggests Thomson.
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