8th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part 3

OrbyWelcome to Part Three of our look at Canadian women who game. This section will probably interest those of you who are developers the most and give you some clear insight about these gamers’ thoughts about the products you develop. If you missed previous entries for this series, you can find them here:

The Other Side of the Coin Part One and The Other Side of the Coin Part Two

Today’s installment will look at the benefits we gain from gaming, how we choose the titles we do, and what we’d like to see in the games we play.

Probably one of the most foremost reasons for gaming is the entertainment factor and the escapism many of us seek when we game. That said, as gaming becomes more and more social with multiplayer components, forums, groups and events, gamers are able to enter new worlds of possibility with their games. Without a doubt, one of the most-mentioned gains achieved through gaming was the social aspect, as shown in the replies below.

Question: What do you feel is your greatest gain from being a gamer (friends, community, challenges, learning)

Rachel: Definitely making new friends, and being a part of a community, but also gaming has really forced me to think differently. There’s a lot of thinking outside the box that goes on in games and I like that challenge.

Annette: I feel that the gaming community is one of the best out there. So many of the communities out there work well together and have great people.

Megan: Probably the community. I’ve benefited a lot from the gaming community, particularly GamerchiX. I’ve met a lot of great gamers and have learned a lot around the GamerchiX forums.

Chloe: Oh man, toughest question yet. Friends and community are definitely among my top gains. From my clan, I have some amazing girl friends I NEVER would have without having met them through gaming, and I have learned an INCREDIBLE amount about leadership and the challenges that come with it from the same sources at times! My best friend and I would never have met without gaming, and I can’t imagine my life now without his influence and seemingly unending ability to listen to me rant. Community is so huge though, I think it’s got to be the #1. Because it’s a result of this community that I have these experiences, that I have these friends. So having been a part of PMS Clan and helping to build the community of the GamerchiX was super important to me.

Jenny: I think the greatest gain is the ability to interact with the online community. I’ve met some really great people on Live, and it’s a blast playing with them all.

Lee: Friends and community.

Jen: I love the social aspect of gaming. I’ve made so many friends from playing on Live, some of which I feel closer to than my “real life” friends. I love sharing the sense of accomplishment of finishing a game with a co-op partner, working your team to reach that objective point, or finishing that instance with your guild. It really does enhance my gaming experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th October 2009

Ghoulash Bash To Support Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society

Gaming Gives Back: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society and Vancouver Video Game Industry Team Up to Hold Halloween Fundraiser Ghoulash Bash

Vancouver – This October 29th from 7 PM to midnight, the Metropole Pub at 320 Abbott Street will be hosting Vancouver’s first annual “Ghoulash Bash“, a Halloween fundraiser to
benefit Vancouver’s hungry.

The event is organized by a group of game industry volunteers on behalf of the Greater Greater Vancouver Food Bank SocietyVancouver Food Bank Society (GVFBS) and is sponsored by corporate donations from members of Vancouver’s video game industry. It is being promoted as an opportunity to raise money for and awareness of the GVFBS, as a chance for Vancouver’s game industry to give back to the community, and as an opportunity for members of industry and interested parties to network with others in Vancouver’s diverse video game industry.

The theme of this year’s Ghoulash Bash is “Retro ReAnimated”. Guests are encouraged to come dressed up as their favourite “retro” video game character – zombified. Activities will include a retro game costume contest, prize giveaways, retro game competitions and
networking opportunities. Party-goers will have opportunities to win prizes contributed by video game companies, including 1-hour mentorship sessions donated by influential members of the game industry, such as Genius Factor Games‘ Ted Nugent and Ross Young,
Cowbell Games‘ James Johnson as well as Industry veteran Adrian Crook.

Guests will be able to buy tickets at their desired level of contribution. Higher-priced tickets will come with prizes, special offers, or additional drink tickets. Corporate sponsorship will also be graded, with higher contributors being offered special billing and
other benefits. Participating companies are encouraged to form employee teams to compete with each other to see who is able to raise the most money.

For more information about the Ghoulash Bash, contact Ryan Arndt at 778.988.7780, email at ryan@ghoulashbash.com or visit the event’s web site. More details will be announced soon!

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8th October 2009

BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins to Feature Premium Downloadable Content at Launch

BioWare CorpEdmontonBioWare™ has released details about special bonus content crafted for Dragon Age™: Origins to be released on launch day. The award winning developer will release several packs of downloadable content (DLC) for the highly anticipated RPG including The Stone Prisoner, the Blood Dragon Armor and Warden’s Keep. Dragon Age Origins

“BioWare is dedicated to delivering at high quality for our fans, and we’ve created something quite special here, some really cool new downloadable content. A brand new party member, fresh adventures and environments to explore, plus powerful new items and abilities – together these will enrich and extend the core game experience, and enable our fans to dive even deeper into the dark, heroic fantasy universe of Dragon Age,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder of BioWare and the Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group at EA.

In Dragon Age: Origins, players take the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians. Now, as a rising evil threatens to destroy all life, it is up to players to unite the shattered lands and slay the corrupted dragon known as the Archdemon. To restore peace, players must make ruthless decisions and be willing to sacrifice their friends and loved ones for the greater good of mankind. On this journey, players will need to make critical choices that affect the various members of their party.

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7th October 2009

Congratulations to VFS GD13 Graduates

VFSVancouver – The thirteenth graduating class from Vancouver Film School has much to be proud of. We attended their Pitch and Play Presentation last evening, and it’s evident that they all worked very hard on their projects. I liked the new format for the show, and it was nice to see so many industry people turn out to take a look at work and put some hard questions to the development teams. We participated in five pitches, each unique in its own way. The presentations were quite well done, but something we missed that had been done in the past was the availability of game demos or other promotional materials for the projects to bring back to the office for later perusal.

The first presentation of the evening was from Fully Cooked Games, who presented their project titled Courtney CorcoranHighMoon Express. This game was the first of two built using the Unity Engine. HighMoon Express was described by the development team as “a tongue-in-cheek western arcade-action game. Built on the concept of a tower defense styled game, the heroes consisted of Doc, The Priest, The Showgirl and The Gunslinger. The enemies were Trolls, Ghosts, The Cubs and The Feral. The character artwork sort of reminded me of the old Scooby Doo villains (not a bad thing), and the game play required some quick thinking on the part of the gamer. Power-ups were available in the game’s shop, and each player also had its own unique special move to defeat the onslaught of enemies.

Second to present was Team Heist with their flash-based game The Perfect Job. The presentation opened with a very humorous animated cut scene showing the game’s “hero” in his jail cell being presented with a lChristopher Worboys arge cake by the prison guard. Our hero has been broken out of jail by the local mob boss, and now must break into buildings to steal things for the boss, in order to pay him back for breaking the hero out of jail. In order to commit these heists, our thief must avoid security guards and cameras while picking locks, cracking safes and stealing the treasures – all within a set time limit. The player has the ability to hack the camera computers and turn them off as well as use some of his funds to bribe the guards, however there are bonuses for not adding bribery to his list of offenses. Should our thieving hero be caught, a large set of prison bars close with a clang over the screen, and the player has to start the level over again.

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7th October 2009

Certified ScrumMaster Training Vancouver BC – November 4th – 5th

Certified ScrumMaster Training, November 4th – 5th – EXTENDED DISCOUNTS!

SolutionsIQ Certified ScrumMaster Training gives you all the tools and information you need to get started with Scrum and Agile. Delivered by SolutionsIQ’s world-renowned Certified ScrumMaster Trainers, this course shares time-tested practices for managing Product Backlogs, planning your releases and iterations (Sprints), and tracking and reporting progress. You’ll learn how to lead Sprint Planning meetings, Daily Scrum meetings, Sprint Review meetings, Sprint Retrospectives, and much more.

When: November 4th – 5th, 9:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m. each day
Where: MicroTek – Vancouver BC, Canada
Cost: Limited number of seats left for discounted price of $960
Also, 5th Seat Free!

When registering 5 or more, registration for 5th student is free

Who should attend:

All software team members, including project managers, team leads, development managers, product managers, architects, developers, testers, as well as executives (e.g. CIOs and CTOs).

Note: This course provides a ScrumMaster certification through the Scrum Alliance.

PMI Credits: This course can be claimed for 14 PDUs with the PMI institute.

Direct Questions and Concerns to:
SolutionsIQ Agile Training Team

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6th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part Two

OrbyIf you missed Part One of this editorial, you can read it here.

In this installment, the ladies and I will be discussing gaming and families, being a gamer parent, competitive gaming and “gaming in a boys’ world.”

Our first area of conversation today will be regarding our families and video games. It’s no secret that in some families, video games are considered to be a waste of time and a bad influence; I’ve experienced that within my own family, often to our own amusement. Those who know me know that I am not one for jewelry and trinkets. My tastes are simple. I like computers, games, books and photography. My sister-in-law likes trinkets. Expensive trinkets. Two years ago, Scott bought me the Legend of Zelda limiited edition gold DS Lite for Christmas. When we were at my parents that morning, my sister-in-law was happily showing me the latest diamond and gold trinket my brother bought her for Christmas. I just as happily pulled my shiny new DS out of my hoody pocket and said “Here’s the gold I got for Christmas.” She looked at me, completely aghast, and said “You wanted that?” I replied with “well, yeah.” Plus, I have to give Scott a lot of credit – he supports my gaming activities, and has often heard the “yes, I’ll be up to bed in a bit, I just want to finish this mission. And the next one…and the next one…”

To find out about other gaming families across the country,  I put these questions to our focus group: Do you game with family members and does your gaming cause friction in the family?

Rachel responded that for her household, the majority of their family members have no problem at all with video gaming, as most of them enjoy watching game play, however there is one cousin who feels that video games are evil. He considers Rachel and her husband to be losers and bad parents, especially as they permit their son to play and often play as a family. Megan also grew up in a family that has no problem with gaming. She stated that the only time there were problems was when she and her Dad stayed up too late playing. Allyson doesn’t game with family members other than her fiance’s younger brother, but her being a gamer doesn’t cause any problems with relatives.

While Chloe doesn’t have any close relatives who game, she does play with her boyfriend and his son. While she was still living at home, she would have disagreements with her Mom over gameplay, but these days the only conflicts are when there is a single copy of a game in the house and more than one person wants to play it. I can relate to that in a big way. We have been a two-360 house for about a year now, and sometimes problems arise when there is only one copy of a game. I finally went and got a second copy of Assassin’s Creed because I got tired of rescuing it from the Cavechild’s domain.

Being a night owl, Jenny tends to game late in the evening; her husband isn’t a gamer, but she’s still coaxed him into playing a few tunes on Guitar Hero. Her parents introduced her to gaming with the Atari 2600, so there wasn’t a problem in her house when she was growing up.  Lisa’s family doesn’t have any problems with the playing of video games, and they often compete in the LIPS karaoke game. She does say that her sister can get quite competitive, though. Jen games with her daughter, and the only conflict which arises within her family is that they think she spends too much money on her hobby.

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6th October 2009

EA Sports NBA Live 10 in Stores Now

EA GamesBurnabyNBA LIVE®10 is now available in stores for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. Developed by EA Canada in Burnaby, BC, the NBA LIVE franchise has graced multiple generations of consoles for over 15 years, and hasNBA Live 10 sold more than 35 million units in its lifetime according to NPD Data. NBA LIVE®10 brings an unprecedented level of user control to the long running series, putting gamers in command of dribbling, passing, shooting and driving the lane, replicating the athleticism and agility that real NBA players display on the court.

In addition to gameplay and available to online connected users only, game visuals and in-game presentation have also received an overhaul in NBA LIVE 10. 90 throwback jerseys and more than 500 shoes will update throughout the course of the year. All new player models will elevate the look of each individual player in the game to reflect their real world counterparts. Authentic lighting and design for all 30 NBA arenas, and commentary that evolves throughout the season to reflect big trades, key match-ups, and injuries, will work together to deliver the most authentic presentation in an NBA LIVE videogame to date.

Evolving on the genre-defining Dynamic DNA, NBA LIVE 10 introduces a premium service called Dynamic Season to this year’s offering. Dynamic Season allows users to play along NBA Live 10with the regular season as it happens. Powered by Synergy Sports Technology – the premier analytics provider for more than 25 NBA teams – Dynamic Season will update your game daily with the real results, injuries, statistics, trades and tendencies that happen in the NBA. As users play each game, their results are merged with the real NBA season, giving players the opportunity to alter reality and make their own 2010 NBA Finals. Dynamic Season and Dynamic DNA is free with all new copies of NBA LIVE 10. Consumers who purchase a used copy of NBA LIVE 10 can access the service for 1200 MS Points or $14.99 on Xbox Live and the PlayStation® Network, respectively. Available to online connected users only.

The game has been rated “E” by the ESRB

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5th October 2009

Catching up with Ubisoft

UbisoftMontreal – Hot off the news desk today is the announcement that Ubisoft has acquired development studio Nadeo, creator of TrackMania®, the cult multiplayer car racing video game.

Set up in 2000 in Paris and comprising a highly talented team of developers, the Nadeo studio has won Trackmaniaacclaim for the quality of its multiplayer technology which offers one of the best available on-line gaming experiences and has already notched up 10 million registered players. Its flagship game – TrackMania® – has 700,000 unique players a month and is a pioneer in the sharing of creations (almost 15 million custom tracks created since 2008). It is also the first eSport franchise for racing games.

“The acquisition of Nadeo is an important step in our expansion within the on-line gaming sector”, said Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft. “Through Nadeo, Ubisoft will gain an expert team, one of the best on-line technologies around as well as a flagship multiplayer game that enjoys an unrivalled reputation among a loyal and committed community. We are excited about the idea of introducing TrackMania® to an ever-wider audience and sharing the expertise of Nadeo’s teams with our Group’s other developers”.

“Joining Ubisoft is a huge opportunity for us to develop and innovate and take Nadeo to new horizons”, said Florent Castelnérac, Chief Executive Officer of Nadeo. “Nadeo’s team was keen for this acquisition to happen. Like players in a community, we see ourselves as being a complementary fit with Ubisoft and believe that we can share and quickly move ahead together”.

On the home front,  Ubisoft Montreal has released a question and answer session with Avatar game script writer Kevin Shortt.

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5th October 2009

XNA Game Studio Concept Project City Rain Now Available

City RainMontrealOvolo Corporation, Inc., a newly formed interactive game publishing company that brings ‘games-with-purpose’ to market, today announced the availability of “City Rain”. Created as an initial student concept project, City Rain is a puzzle and simulation game based on urban planning and sustainability. Players must rescue cities that are being ‘black listed’ from the World Environment Protection Agency (WEPA) by quickly making decisions to establish and re-organize urban developments that will make cities more sustainable and ‘green’. City Rain is available now as a free trial and for purchase on Ovolo’s web site. The game sells for US $9.95 as a PC download, and is expected to be available soon for Xbox Live Indie Games.

City Rain was originally a concept game, built on the Microsoft XNA Game Studio platform by Mother Gaia Studio, Brazil. The strategic urban-planning game quickly captured the attention of game developers and players, winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008 (Paris), and becoming a finalist in the 2009 Independent Games Festival at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2009 in San Francisco, Calif.

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“As a fan of both SimCity™ and Tetris®, I immediately fell in love with City Rain based on its fun reference to those two classic games, but also because it introduces a meaningful and relevant purpose that educates players on how to think about creating ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ cities and communities,” said Alexandre Renaud, founder of Ovolo Corporation and executive producer for City Rain. “The entrepreneurial and creative spirit I witnessed when I visited Brazil convinced me that City Rain was the first game I wanted to produce,” added Renaud.

City Rain Synopsis

Best described as “SimCity-meets-Tetris”, City Rain produces buildings that fall from the sky, which must be quickly place on a grid. Players are challenged to master the art of urban planning on the fly, requiring quick reflexes and a logical building placement that ultimately helps the community thrive and the ecology survive.

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5th October 2009

Army of Two and Dragon Age Comics from EA and IDW

EA GamesElectronic Arts Inc. has signed a deal with IDW Publishing to expand two of its intellectual properties, Army of Two™ and Dragon Age™, into comics under a new EA™ Comics imprint with IDW beginning in January. EA and IDW will launch monthly, ongoing series for both Army of Two and Dragon Age. Each issue will be published in print and distributed nationally at comic book outlets, with digital versions released for iPhone™ and iPod® Army of TwoTouch and other emerging digital platforms.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of video game tie-ins with comics over the last few years. This marks another step in our strategy for extending EA’s wholly-owned game properties to new media. It is exhilarating to be working with the comic book creators directly,” said Mike Quigley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, EA Games Label.

Under terms of the agreement, EA will fund and manage the creative aspect of the comic book series, while IDW will be responsible for printing and distribution. IDW is the leader in digital comic book distribution and the nation’s third largest comic book publisher overall.

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