19th April 2010

Busy Business People and Earth Day Happenings

CATA-WITJoin the CATA WIT BC Breakfast club in Vancouver for a session about building your personal brand in an online world. To be held at the Segal Graduate School of Business on May 5th, Jennifer Barron from High Road Communications will discuss the ins and outs of using social media-including best practices as well as pitfalls to avoid-as a way to build a personal brand that best promotes you. Tickets for this event are $15.00 and include a continental breakfast.

Province of BCI’m sure that many of you App developers out there are already aware of this, but the Province of BC is holding a contest challenging software developers to create web and mobile applications that build awareness and inspire action to reduce carbon pollution, announced Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap.

“Bringing together British Columbia’s data resources and the creativity of the software community opens up the potential for people to see climate change in entirely new ways,” said Yap. “The great prizes and support of our sponsors will give us web and mobiles apps that educate people about climate change and help motivate them to reduce their own carbon footprint.”

The launch of the “Apps4Climate Action” contest coincides with the creation of the Climate Change Data Catalogue, a data warehouse populated with provincial climate change data. The catalogue will house climate change data sources in a centralized location, giving software developers a one-stop access point to over 500 data sets and supporting documents to brainstorm, design and populate their applications.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us to take a new approach and use new technologies to engage citizens and help increase British Columbians’ awareness about climate change,” said Citizens’ Services Minister Ben Stewart.

The contest has more than $40,000 in cash and prizes spread across five categories: best mobile app, best web app, people’s choice, best of B.C. and overall best app. The submission deadline for the “Apps4Climate Action” contest is July 15, 2010, and the public is encouraged to register to vote for the People’s Choice award for their favourite app until Aug. 20, 2010. Contest winners will be announced mid-September 2010.

“SAP is proud to be a gold sponsor of the Apps4Climate action contest,” said Kirsten Sutton, managing director of SAP Labs Vancouver. “We believe we have a dual role with sustainability, as exemplar and as enabler. Internally, we have set our own aggressive goals to reduce SAP’s carbon footprint, and we also believe that our solutions can help identify real opportunities for positive climate action.”

Contest sponsors include: Microsoft Canada Inc, SAP Canada Inc., Analytic Design Group, David Eaves Inc., Netscribe Communications, TELUS Corporation, Harbour Air Ltd. and Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“At Microsoft we’re committed to developing technology that helps consumers and businesses reduce their environmental footprints,” said Barb Berg, director of the western public sector of Microsoft Canada Inc. “We are delighted to participate in the B.C. government Apps4Climate action contest, a very innovative contest to help encourage developers to create new green software applications and solutions for B.C. citizens.”

Ben & Jerry's Ice CreamFor a contest of a different flavour, Ben & Jerry’s is holding a Canada-only competition to name their newest offering. A combination of vanilla ice cream, fudge covered waffle cone pieces and a fudge swirl, the flavour has been temporarily named We are Waffling, until Canadians share the humour and wit they’re known for.

“We are excited to see some amazing suggestions,” says Shoshana Price, Ben & Jerry’s Brand Manager. “We want to empower our fans and give them the opportunity to show their creativity and wit, as well as their good taste.”We Are Waffling

Starting April 19th, Canadians can serve up their own name on a virtual pint on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page. Ben & Jerry’s fans can view and vote on their favourites at a gallery of pre-selected pints on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page between July 2nd to July 16th, 2010. The winner, to be announced in late July, will win a year’s supply of the soon to be re-named We are Waffling ice cream, enjoy the thrill of seeing their name on pints of Ben & Jerry’s across Canada and earn eternal bragging rights among friends and acquaintances.

Ben & Jerry’s We are Waffling in most grocery, drug and convenience stores across the country now. The winning name will start replacing We are Waffling on Ben & Jerry’s pints in the Fall of 2010. Plus, in order to ensure that Canadians have an opportunity to taste We are Waffling and make an informed name nomination, Ben & Jerry’s teams will be sampling the flavour in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal throughout the month of May.

Club PenguinKelownaClub Penguin and its millions of animated penguin inhabitants are going green. On April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the popular children’s virtual world will launch a special online party and new ways for its players to exercise their passion for making the world a better place. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th April 2010

Spies Freelancers Awards and Great Canadian Events

Do you want to learn more about Deep Packet Inspection in Canada and who is using it? Deep Packet Inspection Canada is a website which is meant to be the largest repository of publicly accessible information concerning the use of deep packet inspection in Canada, so that Canadians gain insight into how the technology is used by Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and why they are using the technology. I recommend this site if you want to learn more about service throttling and the hot issues being discussed around it.

Breaking Into Freelance IllustrationLate last year, I was a participant in a conversation with game design students regarding freelance work. I came across a book today in my morning email travels which, while I haven’t read it (but I probably will), was written by Canadian freelance illustrator and author Holly DeWolf. While many students are lucky and easily find work at established studios, it has been a topic of conversation about how schools don’t really prepare their graduates for the freelance world.

Holly agrees with this line of thought, stating that “many institutions are not preparing students for the realities of the work world. It’s important for freelance creative types to see themselves as a business in order to make it. There is a real need for recent graduates, freelance illustrators and designers plus self-taught artists to have the proper resources they need to make it as a self-employed creative”.

To that end, Holly filled that need in the artistic community with her 2009 book, Breaking Into Freelance Illustration: The Guide For Artists Designers and Illustrators. This book helps readers to develop skills in the business side of artistic practice, addressing many questions which Holly found being asked throughout her many years as a post-NSAD graduate and mentor. This book has received some very good reviews on Amazon.ca, so I can feel confident in recommending this title even though I haven’t yet personally read it. I have a huge stack of books already waiting for my perusal, and I feel that this one needs to shared with students and grads now, not when I have time to finally buy it and read it – especially as someone else just recommended another title I should read.

Don’t forget that the Early Bird discount period for the Banff World Television Festival ends on April 20th – the Banff World Television Festivalfestival is about far more than just television – check it out. Dentyne Gum has launched their new interactive site with a new AR contest – you could win $25 000.00 with the symbol on the pack of Dentyne gum you’ve purchased. Canada 3.0 Forum has just announced that David Usher (ex-Moist) has joined the great line-up of speakers for this year’s event which will be MC’d by Global TV news anchor Kevin Newman. Taking place in Stratford on May 10 & 11, Canada 3.0 offers a unique opportunity to engage in seminars and discussions about Canada’s future in the tech industry.

DejeroCongratulations are due to Waterloo tech company Dejero – creator of the new Dejero LIVE Platform, the company has been awarded a Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit award at the 2010 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) international tradeshow in Las Vegas. The Dejero LIVE Platform is a ground-breaking new way to broadcast live high-quality video without the high cost or complexity of satellite or microwave transmission. Dejero was selected from 1,500 companies that exhibited at NAB for their introduction of the Dejero LIVE Platform that is set to transform live television. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th April 2010

ESA Canada Sends Recommendations To The Federal Government

esacESA Canada has submitted ten recommendations to Canada’s federal government for a national digital economy strategy in a paper entitled Game On, Canada! Playing to Win in the Digital Economy (PDF). This paper covers a number of issues critical to Canadian competitiveness. Taken together, these solutions would not only benefit the Canadian video game industry, but would position Canada as a more competitive jurisdiction in which to invest.ESAC Game On Canada 2010

This 22 page report outlines not only the importance of talent development and improving the digital literacy of current and future generations, it also speaks to the very important issue of access to capital and widening the scope of such areas as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development grants. The recommendations also include suggestions in regards to current copyright laws and access to affordable, high quality broadband nationwide. There are many excellent points raised in this ESAC paper, and is an excellent springboard for further discussion about the future of the interactive digital media industry in Canada.

Good luck to the three Canadian-developed games which were named to the 2010 Microsoft XNA Dream Build Play competition: The Shadows in the Underworld, DualityZF and Capsized. Finalists should be announced by Microsoft in the next few weeks. Congratulations to EA Sports’ FIFA 10 on being named to the World Cyber Games official tournament list for the 2010 season.

If you’re going to be in the Toronto area on June 4th, the Branded Content Summit is something you may want to Northern Voicelook at attending. The Branded Content Summit (BCS) will bring people together from marketing, advertising, content production and media to better understand trends, share ideas and learn how to profit from the shift towards branded content. Also of interest is Northern Voice, which will be held out here in Vancouver on May 7th & 8th. The Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference has released its schedule of speakers and registration is now open.

EXPIf you’re an over-19 gamer in the Vancouver area, check out EXP’s first big event this coming Friday night at the VFS Cafe. There will be several gaming stations set up and tournaments will abound. There will be some great prizes offered – but only those who RSVP via the event’s FaceBook page will gain admittance.+

IGLOO Online CommunitiesKitchenerIGLOO Software today announced the launch of the industry’s first Social Media Playbook. This free resource is an invaluable tool for anyone implementing social software solutions – inside the organization, to improve employee productivity, or outside, to enhance stakeholder engagement. The Playbook offers four core community building resources:Social Media PlayBook Read the rest of this entry »

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12th April 2010

GDX 2010 Wraps and GDC Canada Ramps Up

Game Design Expo 2010Vancouver – Congratulations to the entire Vancouver Film School team for another successful and educational Game Design Expo, and thank you to all of the esteemed speakers for sharing their knowledge and experience with both current gen and next gen designers. The day featured insight into what has worked in game design, what hasn’t worked, and ideas for the future in the world of game development. I have a massive amount of mostly-deciphered notes from the expo, and I will be sharing them throughout the week, as there is simply too much information for just one wrap article.

The day was opened by William Ho from United Front Games, whose presentation was themed around the processes UFG went through in the development of ModNation Racers. This may be THE game which forces the purchase of a PS3 for the Village Gamer household, although it will require some very creative budgeting to do so.

Armando Troisi, Lead Cinematic Designer over at Bioware was next up, and he discussed how cinematics and gameplay were melded together in one of my favourite franchises, Mass Effect. As a non-designing gamer, it is always interesting to hear about how choices in regards to the user experience are made at the development level, and Armando’s session answered many questions I hadn’t even considered about the dialogue tree and character choices we as gamers make throughout the game.

Rounding out the morning session was Chris Whiteside, Design Director for Propaganda Games. Chris spoke about how teamwork is very important in today’s game design process as he expanded on the relationship of the “in the trenches” designer to other team members as well as to the studio, the stakeholders (money holders) and the end user market. He touched on how important it is to be in touch with your audience, and to make sure that the studio’s relationship with that audience is given voice as games go from concept to store shelf.

Josh Bridge and Jason Leigh from Blue Castle Games opened the afternoon with a perfect post-lunch topic – zombies and their return in Dead Rising 2. The CaveChild has been salivating over this game since its announcement, and all I can say is…combo weapons! Capcom generously permitted the screening of unannounced and non-public information about Dead Rising 2’s progress, and this session was very revealing about the care and attention being put into the Dead Rising sequel.

Obsidian Entertainment’s Lead Systems Designer Matt MacLean lead expo attendees through a session on Crafting the Perfect Challenge. I feel that this was one of the most valuable sessions in regards to getting into looking at the minute details which must be considered when developing a game concept. The goal of playing a game, at least for me, is overcoming the challenges thrown in my way as I journey to the game’s conclusion. Matt covered a variety of ways to craft those challenges in ways to both reward and engage your audience without alienating them.

The final single session of the afternoon was presented by Tyler Sigman, Design Director for Big Sandwich Games. Tyler’s topic was about game mechanics – another very important aspect of game crafting. The mechanics are what you as the developer put in place to both assist and challenge gamers as they try to win their way through your game’s environment. The proper balancing of these mechanics can often make or break a title’s appeal to the mass market, and is something that more than just a handful of studios need to revisit. Good game mechanics can make a player’s experience totally awesome or totally horrid. Which would you prefer – multiple play-throughs of your game, or multiple copies sitting unsold on the back shelf of a game store because gamers don’t like the mechanics?

Ending the day was a panel discussion of The Future of Gaming. Moderated by Reviews on the Run co-host Scott Jones, the panel featured Josh Bridge, Jason Leigh (both from Blue Castle), Ted Nugent (Genius Factor Games), Jay Balmer (Big Park), David Bowring (Volition) and Trent Shumay (FingerFood). This panel, as expected, was highly entertaining while still being highly informative. It’s always interesting to hear where our industry veterans feel the future will lead game design and distribution, and how technology is shaping what we play.

GDC Canada 2010Vancouver Foreign Affairs and International Trade has partnered with GDC Canada to provide a B2B Lounge at the upcoming May 6 & 7 conference here in Vancouver. The Lounge will provide an off-the-floor area to make deals and network with industry business development professionals, fellow developers and leading tool vendors. There is also space if you want to have a private lounge area at the show, details for the private rooms are available on the GDC Canada site.

GDC Canada has also revealed their line-up for the Game Career Seminar, and judging from this line-up, the Seminar, which is a one day event held on May 7th in conjunction with the main conference, this is a must-attend event for anyone trying to build a future for themselves in the game development industry. Tickets for the Game Career Seminar portion of GDC Canada are $149.00, with a limit of 125 seats available. Also added to the GDC Canada schedule is a Main Conference panel featuring Disney’s Howard Donaldson and ex-Radical head Kelly Zmak,on the harsh ‘new realities’ of making major console games. Read the rest of this entry »

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6th April 2010

Plan Your Conference Calendar Canada

There is a plethora of expos and conferences coming up right across the nation that will be of interest F5 Expoto many of you – I’m highlighting a few right here, but you can check out a more detailed list on our Upcoming Events page. First up is the F5Expo which takes place tomorrow (April 7th) in Vancouver. There are still tickets available, and I highly recommend this event to anyone who is involved in, or is thinking about getting involved in, social media.

AnnexProAlso in Vancouver is “Seize the Opportunity” which is a free event being presented by AnnexPro. This is your chance to check out the new Autodesk® 2011 Digital Entertainment Creation (DEC) software — and discover how upgrading to DEC can open up new opportunities for creativity in game development, film production and television entertainment creation. Canada Media Fund

Register now for the Canada Media Fund outreach seminars which will be taking place in several Canadian cities over the coming weeks. The first events take place in Victoria and Vancouver on April 12th, and then bounce around the country. Don’t miss this opportunity to get more in-depth information about how the CMF can help with your production costs and grow your projects.

Wired WomanWired Woman is holding an educational session on April 27th at the YWCA Hotel in Vancouver. This seminar, which is titled “Don’t Go Home From Work Exhausted” features speaker Karen McMullan, an expert on dealing with professional burn out. Tickets for this seminar are $25.00 for members, $30.00 for non-members. (Note: membership in Wired Woman is free.)INplay 2010

The Early Bird rate for Interactive Ontario’s upcoming INplay 2010 has been extended until April 8th, so if you haven’t yet registered for tickets, now is the time. The conference takes place in Toronto on May 18th and 19th and features three tracks: Insights, Inspiration and GDC Canada 2010Investment. Early Bird tickets are $489.00 for IO members and $699.00 for non-members.

Don’t forget to get your ticket for GDC Canada, which is taking place in Vancouver on May 6th and 7th. This is your chance to investigate new business opportunities available in today’s digital media world with sessions addressing Digital Distribution, Social Games, and iPhone Games alongside tracks on Game Design, Business/Production, and Programming.

Taking place the night prior to GDC Canada is the first annual Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards. The Canadian Video Game Awardsnominations are in, so all that’s left is for you to get your show ticket. The evening will feature a performance by Video Games Live along with a fun-filled evening honouring the best in Canadian interactive media.

Speaking of Video Games Live – don’t miss their public performance on May 6th over at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy decades of the video game music we’ve come to know well – and a great way to introduce the younger generation to the world of BCTIAsymphonic music in a way that is very family-friendly.

The BCTIA Technology Impact Awards will be held on June 8th at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Hosted by the BCTIA, the Technology Impact Awards celebrates the achievements of BC’s technology industry in a gala event.

We’re only a month away from the second Canada 3.0 Forum, which is slated for May 10-11 in Toronto. This conference will set an ambitious target for Canada’s digital media industry – that of making Canada 3.0 2010it possible for “anyone to do anything on-line in Canada – by 2017?. The second annual forum will bring together the people who can make that happen from industry, government and academia for a two-day event intended to boost Canada’s ability to lead in the digital economy.

MIGS 2010Also, a reminder that the Montreal International Game Summit is looking for speakers. The seventh annual summit will take place November 8th and 9th at the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel. Don’t miss this opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with your fellow developers.Banff World Television Festival

Looking for a reason to visit the Rockies? The Banff World Television Festival takes place in Banff this June 13th – 16th. BWTF is much more than “just a TV Fest” – check out the incredible schedule of events and then register today for a great experience in a very scenic city. Early Bird pricing is in effect until April 20th.

EA GamesBurnabyBlack Box has announced that the demo for the highly-anticipated SKATE™ 3 will be available on Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network this April 15th. The demo will give players a taste of the University District in the all-new skater’s paradise of Port Carverton. Players will shred through a series Skate 3of single and multiplayer challenges including Domination, Own the Lot, and the bone-crushing Hall of Meat.

In addition to the modes and challenges, players can learn the ropes or perfect their skills in the all-new Skate.School featuring Coach Frank. Gamers can also sample the all-new object dropper by using 24 different items to tweak and alter the University District to create a personalized demo experience. Once players have that perfect trick nailed, they can capture the moment with the in-game Replay Editor and upload footage of themselves with the Skate series’ immensely popular Skate.Reel.

SKATE 3 is the definitive co-op skateboarding experience as players build the ultimate team to take on unique team challenges, compete against rival crews online and shred the streets. In the end, SKATE 3 takes skateboarding to a new level with more tricks, improved off board actions, and gnarly Hall of Meat carnage. Read the rest of this entry »

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31st March 2010

Is Your Spidey Sense Tingling?

Quebec City – Activision Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Entertainment have released the first details of Spider-Man™: Shattered Dimensions, the newest entry of non-stop heroic action toSpiderman Shattered Dimension star the iconic wall-crawler. In development at Beenox, the video game is scheduled for release in September 2010 and will allow players to travel through four different worlds as distinctly different versions of Spider-Man from four universes across Marvel lore, two of which are announced today: The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir.

As Spider-Man, players will experience a wide variety of gameplay and dramatic environments. The Amazing Spider-Man experience delivers innovative web combat and visuals in a world that pays tribute to the classic era of the legendary Super Hero. In contrast, Spider-Man Noir features a cunning and covert depiction of Spider-Man, who utilizes shadows to perform stealth takedowns in a 1930’s-Spiderman Shattered Dimensioninfluenced, black-and-white cinematic environment.

“Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions delivers an original storyline that bridges four unique worlds,” said Rob Kostich, Head of Marketing, Activision Publishing, Inc. “Each action-packed universe will have its own detailed art design and thrilling missions, challenging gamers to use new skill sets to defeat enemies as they unlock powerful new moves and progress through the game.”

Penned by acclaimed Marvel comic book writer Dan Slott, the story takes players on a mission to capture the magical energy of the Tablet of Order and Chaos, which has been shattered and scattered across parallel universes. Gamers are challenged to battle fan-favorite villains such as the lethal Kraven and a custom, never-before-seen Noir version of Hammerhead, in a quest to restore the fabric of reality.

UbisoftMontreal Ubisoft has released a video wrap-up from their live Splinter Cell: Conviction competition which was held this past weekend in Toronto. By the looks of it, a good time was had by all, especially the winners, who got to leave the competition Sam Fisher style, in a helicopter. Splinter Cell: Conviction is rated M by the ESRB and is slated for release on April 13 2010.

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Rogers Digital MediaTorontoRogers Digital Media and Brightcove Inc., the leading online video platform, today announced they have partnered to deliver a newly re-designed Citytv.com video theatre, which features a variety of locally-produced Citytv content along with exclusive full-length episodes of popular television shows including 30 Rock, The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser.

The new Citytv.com video theatre also utilized search technology from Endeca Technologies to improve the site’s overall search and navigation capabilities and the speed at which content is delivered.

“Brightcove and Endeca have enabled Citytv.com to rapidly introduce a scalable and flexible video experience that meets the evolving needs of our online audiences and deepens consumer engagement with our video content,” said Claude Galipeau, senior vice president of Rogers Digital Media. “At the same time, our new video theatre has furthered our video-related sales product offerings for advertisers.”

In re-launching on the Brightcove platform, Citytv.com now provides viewers throughout Canada with exclusive access to HD-quality full-length episodes of popular U.S. and Canadian television programs. With Brightcove, Citytv.com is able to deliver the highest quality user experience possible, as well as to extend the reach of its video content through Brightcove’s advanced social sharing capabilities. Brightcove’s ease of integration with leading advertising networks and servers also enables Citytv.com to introduce new monetization opportunities for its long and short-form video content. Read the rest of this entry »

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30th March 2010

New Games, Conferences, Roadshows and Interactive Museums Show That Canada Has It All

GDC Canada 2010Vancouver – Bill Mooney, a Vice President at Zynga and General Manager of FarmVille will deliver a keynote address at the 2010 Game Developers Conference™ Canada (GDC Canada). Additionally, a new set of featured speakers has been announced for the upcoming conference, which will address several key focal points for the event, including new distribution models, developing new global titles, and managing established franchises. Attendees will gain insights into new business opportunities with sessions addressing iPhone Games, Digital Distribution and Social Games alongside tracks focused on best practices in Game Design, Business/Production and Programming.

GDC Canada will return for a second year to the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC from May 6-7, 2010. The Game Career Seminar also returns to GDC Canada as a one-day event for students and individuals who want to break into the videogame industry. GDC Canada is presented by Reboot Communications and UBM TechWeb Game Network, the organizers of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference. Early registration discounts end tomorrow, Wednesday, March 31st.

A veteran game developer from such major game publishers as Activision and LucasArts, Bill Mooney joined San Francisco-based social games developer Zynga in 2008 and quickly became a Vice President at Zynga and GM of FarmVille. Mooney’s experience extends beyond the realm of videogame development, having worked for 5 years as a trial lawyer, as well as stints writing for television programs, both animation and live-action. At Zynga, Mooney helped develop the wildly popular Mafia Wars and FarmVille titles, helping to establish both franchises as pioneering social games.

Mooney’s keynote, entitled, “Building Social Games: Games at the Speed of Light,” will touch on the development of FarmVille and Mafia Wars, and the growing popularity and fanbase that has quickly ballooned to over 85 million active users. Attendees will walk away with a deeper understanding of the rapidly evolving social gaming space and where it is poised to go, and with insight into viral propagation across the world, the low barriers to entry which create agile competition, and the rapidly changing and imperfectly understood marketplace.

“Bill’s keynote is a perfect fit for GDC Canada,” said Izora de Lillard, event director. “Zynga is at the forefront of an exciting gaming space, and the over 85 million players of FarmVille and Mafia Wars can attest to the future prospects of this genre. Mooney’s keynote illustrates the need for continued industry innovation that not only applies to the social gaming space but to the traditional gamer experience as well. GDC Canada will be a great opportunity to learn more about these trends along with how this thinking applies to the core tenets of game development.”

GDC Canada features a roster of speakers that are on the front lines of the technical innovation and business strategies needed to lead their studios to continued success. These featured speakers include:

— Jason Bailey, GM of Virtual Currencies, Adknowledge
Session: Social Games – 85 Million Farmers Can’t All Be Wrong

— Sinjin Bain, V.P. EAP – Worldwide Biz Dev, Electronic Arts
Session: Ask The Decision Makers -Find Out What Publishers Want and How to Get What You Want

— Stephen Hill, 3D Technical Lead, Ubisoft
Session: Rendering with Conviction Read the rest of this entry »

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26th March 2010

The Canada Media Fund Webcast Made My Head Hurt

Orby - Proud to be CanadianI listened to the Town Hall webcast of the official launch and question period earlier today, and to be honest, as a non-developer, all of the policy is making my head hurt. Kudos to those of you who work with policies and documents such as the Canada Media Fund and understand all of the application processes. Please read on to learn more about today’s CMF announcements – I put it at the end of today’s post so that your minds wouldn’t be frazzled before you could take in the rest of the day’s news from our great Canadian digital media industry. See? There is a method to my Gemini madness…

CanpagesVancouverCanPages has extended their API contest deadline to April 12 2010, so all of you developers out there still have time to enter. All entered applications must be showcased in a video for judging and four finalists will be decided by popular vote. Those final four app entries will be judged by an internal panel of Canpages.ca executives who will determine the $5,000 Grand Prize winner. All applications will be showcased on Canpages.ca, and the final application winners will showcase their app video at DemoCamp Vancouver. dimeRocker

If you haven’t tried the dimeRocker site yet, or want to know how to get started on games using it in conjunction with Unity3D, check out dimeRocker’s PDF Getting Started tutorial. If you are working on a Facebook game but aren’t sure how to get it published, the folks at dimeRocker can help you with that too. Yesterday they published a deployment tutorial which is so easy to follow even I understood it. Now if I could just draw and animate…

Untold EntertainmentUntold Entertainment recently opened a new site dedicated to the best in free flash word games. Enter Word Game World. What makes this new portal different from other free Word Game Worldgame portals is that each game is curated. Speaking on the Untold blog, Ryan Creighton said that every game is tested and properly classified in a word game sub-category. Visitors to the site can choose their favourite type of word game to play and easily find a free, quality title to enjoy. The games even work properly. Untold Entertainment is also developing a new word game title SpellCaster which, according to their site, will combine word-building with a fantastic story, packed with colorful characters, humour, danger, and a magical menagerie of monsters. I was privileged to get a look at an earlier title that Untold had been working on and had lots of fun with it, so I am definitely looking forward to having a go at SpellCaster.

Canadian Video Game AwardsDon’t forget that nominations for the Canadian VideoGame and Digital Arts Awards close on March 31st. Nominations for 2009 titles are free, so what’s holding you back? Get your nominations in today! In related news, GDC Canada has announced more speaker sessions for the May 6 – 7 conference taking place in Vancouver. A sample of the newly added GDC Canada 2010sessions:

* Evolving Episodic for a Growing Digital Audience with Dan Connors (CEO, Telltale Games)
* Forza Motorsport 3 Audio: Design, Process and Pipeline with Greg Shaw (Audio Director, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft) and Mike Caviezel (Audio Designer, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft)
* Social Games – 85 Million Farmers Can’t All be Wrong with Jason Bailey (GM of Virtual Currencies, Adknowledge)

Early Bird passes are only available until March 31st, so if you haven’t reserved yours, you should ideally do so within the next few days. Check out the session schedule (note that more sessions may yet be announced) Stir Fry Gamesand then make plans to attend the second GDC Canada conference in Vancouver this spring.

Stir Fry Games has released a new trailer for the PC version of their XBox Live Indie Games title SFG Soccer, an arcade-style sports game featuring 64 customizable teams and tournament play. Both PC and 360 versions of SFG Soccer are available now for purchase, plus you can try the demo before buying the full game. Read the rest of this entry »

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24th March 2010

Mobility Is The Keyword Of The Day

Mass Effect 2I spent part of last evening playing through the new Firewalker DLC pack for Mass Effect 2, and overall I am very happy with it. I like once again having a vehicle to race around in, and I’m hoping that these five new missions was a test drive for more yet to come. Being able to use the Hammerhead hover tank to gather minerals and elements is much more engaging than scanning planets from the Normandy and lobbing probes at said planets.

While the new missions were not terribly interactive in regards to characters and were lacking in battle scenes, one cannot argue against there being value for the money. The Firewalker pack is free to those who have the Cerberus Network option, and really, any chance to experience more game play in Mass Effect 2 is a bonus. I am aware that some gamers felt that the Hover TankHammerhead didn’t have enough tank armour, but as far as I’m concerned, it was just fine. I am notorious for having my vehicles blow up, and I only lost my tank once – apparently it cannot hover over lava pits. Oops. The tank’s light armour simply means that the player must be smarter about picking fights and defeating the Geth, which to me adds another level of game play and strategy. I think that Bioware’s DLC mission team did a great job with this pack; now all they need to do is make it so that more planets can be visited with the tank and keep adding more DLC. I am definitely looking forward to the next pack, Stolen Memory, which will be available in just a couple of weeks.

CG ConMontréalEd Hooks will be presenting his one day course “Acting for Animators” at CG Con – The White Conference in Montréal on Friday, April 23rd. CG Con features 3 days of master classes by world-leading masters in film and video-game in areas such as Digital Animation, Digital Modeling and Digital Painting & Concept Art. The Early Bird conference price of $299.00 (students $239.20) is available until March 28, when ticket prices will go up to $399.00. The conference takes place April 23 – 25 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

CG Con will also be presenting The North American Roadshow in Vancouver on Saturday, May 8th. The venue and speaker list have not yet been announced, but tickets will be $100.00 each, or $80.00 for students and CG Society members.

StyleTapTorontoStyleTap Inc. today announced the release of StyleTap Platform for iPhone®, which allows over 30,000 applications originally written for Palm OS® to run on iPhone and iPod touch® devices.StyleTap iPhone App

“We have found that many users and businesses have made very large investments in acquiring and developing mobile applications, and these applications have been enhanced and refined to fit their needs like a glove,” said Gregory Sokoloff, CEO of StyleTap. “With all the new smartphone platforms, users are reluctant to lock themselves into one platform or to make the same investment over and over for each new platform. StyleTap’s cross-platform family of products can help make these problems go away.

“Naturally, we would prefer to be able to offer this product through the App Store, but unfortunately this is not currently possible due to Apple’s restrictive policies, and instead this version of StyleTap will run on jailbroken devices. Although there are many useful and entertaining applications available through the Apple App Store, we continue to receive a flood of emails from users telling us that they need StyleTap in order to keep running the applications, not available on the App Store, that are critical to their lives and businesses.”

StyleTap Platform for iPhone supports standard features that include TCP/IP networking, audio recording and playback, the ability to use the multi-gigabyte storage as a virtual memory card, and cut/copy/paste of text between native and Palm OS applications. It also provides innovative capabilities such as giving Palm OS applications access to the iPhone GPS by providing location information in standard GPS NMEA format. Read the rest of this entry »

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18th March 2010

Opportunities Abound for Intrigue and Global Domination

Global – Gamers are an enthusiastic bunch when it comes to the latest gaming technology, but it’s the developers that make the technology come to life. For Intel’s Level Up 2010: Intel® Visual Adrenaline Game Demo Challenge, independent developers around the world will be pushing the limits to create new experiences and breakthrough game concepts for 2010.

The competition, in its fifth year, invites professional, hobbyist and student game developers to submit their original game concepts for a chance to win prizes such as a trip to the Tokyo Game Show (for professionals and hobbyists), and a trip to the 2010 Austin Game Developer conference (for students). Other prizes include cash, the latest hardware systems, the newest software packages, and agency engagement packages to help developers market and promote their winning game.

Game developers can submit their concepts for judging in three categories:

* Best Game for a Desktop
* Best Game for a Laptop
* Best Game for a Netbook

Judge’s Choice Awards will also be given for Best Art Design, Best Graphics Performance, Best Sound Design, and Best Character Design.

For the first phase of the competition, developers will be asked to submit their game concept by June 22 2010. The game concept must describe an idea that will make for an incredible game. In addition to the brief description, developers are invited to include screen shots, visuals or videos of the idea — these materials will help provide context for the judges to review and see the complete vision of the game.

Finalists will be selected by July 11 and will have until August 31 to provide detailed game demo abstracts and game executables. From there, the finalist entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges made up of industry experts. The winning game demos will be announced during the Austin Game Developer’s Conference on October 5. Winning demos from Levelup 2009 are also available to play online. Oh and for those interested, Intel is hiring for its Vancouver location.

UbisoftMontreal – The demo for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction is available now for download to your Xbox 360. Splinter Cell: Conviction, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, opens with our hero Sam Fisher working off the grid trying to solve his daughter’s murder. We find a changed Sam back in Washington, where he must work with old friends he can no longer trust, forced to save a country he no longer serves. Left without any choice, Sam has to defeat both a vast, faceless enemy and the shadows of the past to find out what happened to his daughter – and himself. Splinter Cell: Conviction is scheduled for full release exclusively to the Xbox 360 in April, and is rated M by the ESRB.

Just a few of the key features that gamers can look forward to in this latest Sam Fisher adventure include:

* New level of action: A full arsenal of cutting-edge innovations allow you to outflank foes with the Last Known Position™ system, tag and eliminate enemies using the Mark and Execute™ feature, and much more.
* Blockbuster experience: A unique storytelling style keeps you on the edge of your seat as you navigate the explosive world of a renegade agent where trust is impossible and justice requires you to go above the law.
* A new level of immersion: A revolutionary new graphic direction delivers an utterly seamless gameplay experience that’ll keep you totally engrossed in the story of Sam Fisher.
* Explosive Xbox LIVE play: Brand-new addictive multiplayer modes amp up the dramatic intensity like never before.

EA GamesMontrealEA Montreal has released an all-new co-op campaign map pack titled ‘Chapters of Deceit’ on Xbox Live for their award-winning title, Army of Two: The 40th Day. Available immediately on Xbox Live Marketplace (800 MS Points), the map pack will be available on April 1 on the PlayStation Network ($9.99). Army of Two: The 40th Day – Chapters of Deceit puts players back amidst the disaster in Shanghai where they will stumble upon new information that could help end the invasion by Jonah and his 40th Day Initiative army. However, they quickly learn that everyone is out for themselves and no one can be trusted. The lives of this iconic two-man private military team are at risk, forcing players to rely on each other to get out alive.

Originally released in January 2010, Army of Two: The 40th Day boasts a robust playbook of co-op moves. The game features one of the most extensive and varied weapon customization systems ever found in an action/shooter game. Players can mix and match weapon parts and execute strategic two-man tactics that create a one-of-a-kind co-op action experience. Army of Two: The 40th Day is rated “M” by the ESRB and is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the PSP.

TransGamingTorontoTransGaming, Inc. has announced that it is working with Google to develop ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine), an Open Source project to provide improved hardware and driver compatibility for the upcoming WebGL™ web graphics standard for systems running Windows®. The ANGLE project aims to achieve this broader compatibility by layering the OpenGL® ES 2.0 API on top of Direct3D®. The result for developers working with the WebGL standard will be a more consistent experience for their applications and a larger potential audience of users. Read the rest of this entry »

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