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  • Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Ships To Stores

5th October 2009

Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Ships To Stores

LudiaMontrealUbisoft has announced the retail availability of a new interactive adventure video game titled “Where’s Waldo?® The Fantastic Journey.” Created by Ludia Inc., “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” is the ultimate search-and-find adventure for the entire family, as players explore the unique and wondrous lands in search of Waldo, his friends and other hidden objects.The game is now available for the Wii™ system from Nintendo, the Nintendo DS™ system, Windows-based PC and Mac at North Where's Waldo?American retailers.

In the game, players look for Waldo and friends, in addition to hundreds of hidden items in twelve different magical worlds that unlock via a central map that becomes increasingly animated as players progress. “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” can be played in single- or multiplayer mode, in Easy and Normal challenges to suit players of all ages and skill levels. Gameplay is enhanced through a variety of power-up features where players unleash different special effects to gain an advantage over opponents or enhance their own search capabilities.

Power-ups include:

* Wacky Paint: Splatter colorful paint onto your opponent’s screen to obscure the view.
* Thunder Clap: Cast thunder onto your opponent and make the screen shake.
* Frosty: Freeze the search window by encasing it in ice.
* Sparkly: Keep your eyes on the twinkle and glitter effects to detect items.
* And many more!

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5th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part One

The first installment of a multi-part editorial look at gaming.

The world of video gaming has seen a mass exodus over the past few years, leaving the darkened Canadabasements and exclusive realms of the geeks to become a primary form of personal entertainment around the globe and across generations. The industry has also seen a big shift in demographics, one which many of the big boys in the industry barely gave a second thought to just a few short years ago. What has caused this big change? The answer is simple – girls game too. Guys who game know this, and many developers know it, yet girl gamers remain somewhat of an anomaly in the industry, and while the majority of game developers have been focusing on the young adult male audience, the girls have been moving in on the flank and kicking boy butt.

Over the past year we have seen the game industry redefine the long-standing terms of casual and hardcore play. There has been a distinct blurring of the lines between these definitions, and it is no longer a stretch to say that even those who play games in the casual genre can be considered hardcore gamers. Personally, I think that if there must be definitions and lines, then it is far easier to label gamers as either casual or pro, because even those who play games which fall into the “Casual” genre can be considered hardcore.

GamerchiXSome will argue that putting this focus on girl – or women – gamers will do more harm than good. There have been many, many features written about female gamers in general, some arguing that clans and groups are purely in it for the attention and the money. Certainly there are some companies who may, to some extent, be considered to be exploiting the whole female gamer/sex sells marketing aspect with such groups as the Ubisoft sponsored American clan Frag Dolls.  Using female appeal to sell products is not a new concept, and it was well established long before the formation of Frag Dolls, The CaveGirls, Team Foxy, DSO, or even the PMS (Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers) clan. The point is not exploitation of females and their marketing value. The point is that we are gamers, and just like the males who are the primary target audience of many game developers, we spend our hard earned dollars on the games we like to play – and at least in my focus group, these don’t include Barbie Princess or Charm Girls.

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3rd October 2009

Business Development, Events, Hearings and Awards

Digital Alberta has put a call out to its members for submissions for the MEDIAfresh 2010 Awards which aredigital alberta dedicated to the recognition of those Alberta Digital Media Professionals and Post-Secondary students who have created outstanding projects and programs between September 2008 and November 2009. There are 13 categories and two divisions (post-secondary and professional) for you to submit to. Nominations are also open for the people’s choice Award: Innovation and Leadership in Industry or the Best Entrepreneur – Creative/Business/Technology. Submissions are open until November 30 2009, with the finalists to be announced on February 5 2010. The MEDIAfresh awards ceremony will take place February 26, 2010 in the Glen Ross Hall at Mount Royal University. The Awards will include a VIP reception, Awards Gala and After Party.

igdaThe IGDA has announced the dates for the second Global Game Jam 2010. The three day game development competition will take place January 29 – 31 in a massive number of locations around the world. 2009’s inaugural event saw 370 games developed in 23 countries by over 1600 participants. Registration is now being accepted for GGJ locations, please see the GGJ Wiki for further information on participating in the Jam. So far the only registered GGJ locations for Canada are Ottawa, Calgary and Hamilton.

Young Women In Business presents Leadership Lessons from Influential Women in Business. Join Business Young Women In Businessin Vancouver, Professional Women’s Network and Young Women in Business for this unique half-day event. Talk candidly in roundtable sessions led by 15 senior business women and learn about their own personal lessons in leadership. Stay for a panel discussion with three influential business women who are helping shape the future of the local business community, followed by a networking luncheon.

YWIB is also presenting Beyond P!nk, a 2-day conference taking place November 13 & 14 in Vancouver. The conference will host 350 energetic young women over an action-packed weekend. This unique, high-impact and eco-friendly conference will create a space for young women to engage in intimate workshops, partake in interactive roundtable discussions, engage with industry professionals, build lasting personal connections, and celebrate inspirational women in busbeyond pinkiness. Beyond P!nk inspires through action, enriches through connection, and empowers through ideation.

This year, the conference features an interactive workshop series with extraordinary speakers, an All-Men’s Panel Lunch, the Connect! Women in Business Tradeshow, a break-out luncheon with cross-industry mentors, and a celebratory Gala dinner and Silent Auction. The goal of Beyond Pink is for delegates to walk away having been inspired with knowledge, enriched with ideas and resources, and empowered with new-found connections and friendships.

The British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) has launched the 2010 Business Outreach Program to successfully introduce, promote and connect our industry to the world through a focused BCTIAB2B matching program, supported by the 2010 Pitch Book.

The Pitch Book serves as instant promotional material that includes technological overview, key markets, benefits and corporate contact information for each participating company. Being part of the ‘who’s who’ guide to BC Tech companies means:Pitch Book Sample

* Broad promotion of your technology, product or solution’s expertise and ingenuity
* Benefiting from a large-scale promotion campaign to business and media
* Access to BCTIA 2010 Business Outreach Programs including business matching and corporate hosting programs
* Potential one-on-one meetings with new customers, partners and investors

If you are interested in the 2010 Business Outreach Program and in order to help the BCTIA coordinate and support promotional activities capitalizing on the 2010 Olympic Games, please take 2-3 minutes to complete the following questionnaire. Questionnaire input deadline is Friday October 9 2009.

Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) are proud to announce their latest collaboration in the form of an innovative training program that focuses on CFTPAproviding guidance to up and coming new media producers engaged in content creation for multi-platform delivery.

Telefilm CanadaThe CFTPA’s National Mentorship Program (NMP) is Canada’s launching pad for the next generation of film, television and interactive media production talent. Our five chosen interns train with the best independent producers in Canada in every facet of production – from development to post, drama to documentary. Through its diverse slate of mentorship programs, the NMP provides CFTPA members with enthusiastic and cost-effective production personnel. In return, our mentors provide one-on-one training to a dazzling new crop of emerging producers and filmmakers. The deadline for applications is set for November 2, 2009.

CRTCThe CRTC is asking for public input in regards to televised programmes, carriage fees and digital media. The general public are invited to submit comments and concerns up until November 2, with the CRTC hearing scheduled for December 7 in Gatineau. Canadians can participate by filling in an online form, writing or faxing the CRTC, or by presenting at the hearings themselves. It is believed that consumer concerns regarding package choices, particularly the ability to select pay and specialty services on a stand-alone basis will be an important side issue for this session.

“We are examining various facets of the Canadian broadcasting system as it adapts to an environment that is rapidly changing,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “We are discussing a number of regulatory changes with the industry to ensure the system’s future health. It is important that consumers make their voices heard on the issues that affect them the most.”

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2nd October 2009

Dragon Age Origins Updates

BioWareEdmontonBioware has announced that they will be releasing the Character Creator from Dragon Age: Origins on the 13th of October. This will give players three weeks to experiment and get their Player Character just right before launch of the game on November 3rd – 6th. While this feature will only be transferable to the PC version of the game, those of us who are console gamers can still download the Creator and preview the different character choices.Dragon Age Origins

Downloadable as a separate application, The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator will allow gamers to create numerous different characters before launch and experiment with the different classes, races, and create multiple faces for the six Origin stories and save them to their hard drives for safe keeping until the game is released. The Character Creator will be available for download from the Dragon Age: Origins web site and will be available in English, German, French, Polish and Russian, as well as in Czech, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish with English Voice Over.

Bioware’s Community Coordinator Chris Priestley also announced that “we are extending the BioWare community with a new social community site for Dragon Age: Origins. The great news is when we launch the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator we will also be launching an open beta of the new social community site. You will be able to log into the new Social community site with your existing BioWare forums account name and password, and update it to the new social site account. Characters created with the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator can also be uploaded to your account from within the Character creator. Once logged in to the social site, one of the first things you will be able to do is use one of your uploaded characters as your social website avatar for your profile on the new social website forums.”

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video
Bioware also recently released a new video introducing story character Zevran, an Elven assassin who was sent by the Antivian Crows to kill the player in Dragon Age: Origins. Luckily for the player, he had a change of heart and now fights with the Grey Wardens. At least, until the Crows come along to investigate about the apparent good health of the player.

I just finished reading the first novel in the Dragon Age series, The Stolen Throne, and I was very impressed with the story. In my opinion, David Gaider’s writing is easily on a par with that of David Eddings and Robert Jordan. The Stolen Throne had me hooked by the end of the first chapter, and while IDragon Age: The Stolen Throne binge-read the whole book, I didn’t want the story to end. Thankfully the next installment in the series, The Calling, is due for release on October 13, so I don’t have long to wait. Bioware has placed the first chapter of The Calling on the Dragon Age: Origins web site, but thus far I have resisted the temptation to read it. I haven’t even peeked. Yet.

As an added bonus, I realized after getting The Stolen Throne home, that the book had been signed by the author. Out of curiosity, I went back to my local Chapter’s store to check and see if the other volume on the shelf was also signed, and it wasn’t. This is when I am grateful for being left-handed and picking the one copy of Dragon Age: The Callingthe two available that was signed. I have tried searching the web to see if there was any significance to the randomly signed copies, but couldn’t find any information. If the writing in the novel series is anything to go on, I think that Dragon Age: Origins the game is going to reward players with an amazingly deep and highly developed world full of lore, something that I know many of us who RPG really appreciate.

The only area I am confused about in this pre-release period is the Pre-Order and Collector’s Edition bonuses. For those keeping track of what I have on pre-order, yes, I have Dragon Age: Origins Collector’s Edition for the 360 on pre-order. The Bioware forums do impart information about the bonuses, but they speak of pre-order codes, and I didn’t receive any type of pre-order bonus information from our EB Games outlet. Hopefully I can get some type of confirmation from Bioware about the different bonuses and how to obtain them – otherwise I will have to try to glean the information from the 110 pages of Collector’s Edition discussion on the Dragon Age forum.

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2nd October 2009

Alien Concepts’ Debut Title Night of the Scarecrows Set for Pre-Halloween Release

Alien ConceptsToronto-based developer Alien Concepts is excited to announce the launch of its first casual game Night of the Scarecrows. The rookie developers recently announced the release of the web and downloadable game through distribution portals Big Fish Games, MSN Games, Real Night of the ScarecrowsArcade, GameHouse and Wild Tangent among others.

With its striking cinematic sequences and an art style inspired by the likes of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, this addictive puzzle game stands apart from its genre counterparts in the casual games space. The dark yet quirky art and design work by artists Jamie Richards and Bruno Amezcua are complemented by the moody soundtrack by composer Patrick Blakely. The game’s development team is rounded out by producer/co-designer Kala Ramachandran and Programmer Mike Darmitz.

“We were thrilled with how well the game demo was received at Casual Connect Seattle and at GDC San Francisco this past year”, said Kala Ramachandran, Alien Concepts co-founder and President. “We’re hoping to carry this momentum to our upcoming projects currently in the works.” The studio is currently hard at work on an iPhone version of Night of the Scarecrows, which is scheduled to hit the Apps Store just before Christmas 2009, as well as on an educational adventure game slated for release in late October.

*Mini Review*

I gave Night of the Scarecrows a quick play – okay I confess, the game is still open in another tab, I’m on level 3 and have a score of 16440. So far I am impressed with the game; it is a nice twist on the match three genre, with some very cute and comical characters who do a funky scary shuffle dance across the garden. I like watching the creatures almost gasp in horror when they realize they are about to be eliminated by a rampaging goat and clearing the garden with a burning torch appeals to the pyro in me. The death cringes of the characters as they ignite only adds to the amusement. Gee, that sounds just a tad sadistic, doesn’t it? It’s okay – they may be animated, but they are inanimate objects. No harm done, they’re only burning pixels. When the mystical power that pushes forth these Hallowe’en invaders fails to play nice and won’t give you any matches, you can call on the Power of the Crow. You can store up to three Crows by matching groups of seven creepy creatures or more, and when needed you can clear similar Scarecrows from one column. You can eliminate full rows by letting the Goat out of the pen. You can collect up to three Goats at any one time. Beware though – your Goat and Crow collections reset with each new level. The music and sound effects are well done and the audio is very clear. With the level of quality in this first title, you can be assured that I will be looking forward to more game products from Alien Concepts.

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1st October 2009

Consulting Firm Nordicity Calls for a National Digital Media Strategy

NordicityToronto – Countries around the world are recognizing the need for a National Towards A National StrategyDigital Strategy, but Canada has not yet embarked on this process. Digital technologies are bringing about transformative change in society; and, according to a new issues discussion paper released today from Nordicity, Canada must develop our own strategy to remain competitive.

“Without a national digital strategy, there will be no overall vision to guide such a social and economic transformation in the interest of all Canadians,” says Peter Lyman, Senior Partner at Nordicity. “Rather, debate will be mired in the arcane and fragmented languages of broadcasting regulation, copyright revision, technological innovation, cultural subsidies, and broadband infrastructure.”

According to the issues discussion paper, Towards a National Digital Strategy, a unified vision of Canada’s digital future is crucial. To make sure the debate is not fragmented, policymakers will need to shift their perception to a more constructive, collaborative and holistic one. Otherwise, solutions will continue to be piecemeal, and decisions will continue to be reactive and narrowly defined.

The paper attempts to sort out the different issues, and identify what a national digital strategy should address. The paper groups the relevant issues in three parts:

1. An overarching societal need for digital literacy and skills in the modern world.
2. The need for a transformation of our support for the creation and distribution of cultural content.
3. The need for appropriate investment in our broadband and communications infrastructure to provide Canadians access to broadband services. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st October 2009

Upcoming Digital Media Events

Vancouver Innovation CampVancouver Innovation Camp is a series of four workshops which will take place on October 13, 15, 17 and 19 at the Kontent Creative office in Gastown. The workshops are “an opportunity to learn and practice creativity and entrepreneurial skills through a series of hands-on activities – no lectures.”

This series of workshops are very reasonably priced at $75.00, with a limit of 24 seats available per session. Evening sessions include sandwiches and beverages provided by Social at Le Magasin.

Themes covered during the workshop:

* Identifying opportunities
* Learning from failure
* Creativity – developing then expanding upon ideas
* Seeing problems from fresh perspectives
* Innovation – implementing and iterating ideas

momovanA reminder that MoMoVan is happening this October 5th, and registration closes tomorrow. With a focus on the Monetization of Virtual Goods, MoMoVan will take place at the Local History Lab and patio at the Museum of Vancouver. This event is free to members of WinBC and New Media BC or $25.00 for non-members at the door.


-5:30pm-6:00pm: Registration and networking (pizza and beer)
-6:00pm-6:30pm: 3-minute fast pitches from:
– Work at Play (Jordan Willms, Sr. Analyst)
– Utherverse (Brian Shuster, CEO)
– REIXL (Roger Graham, CEO)
– Super Rewards (Chris Koziak, CEO)
– Backstage (Alex Mendelev, VP, Business Development)
-6:30pm-7:15pm: Panel Discussion (Moderator: Jordan Willms, Sr. Analyst, Work at Play)
-7:15pm-8:00pm: Networking

PlaydiumPinball players from all across North America will compete for over $10,000 in cash and prizes, including the grand prize of a new NBA STERN pinball machine and the title: 2009 Canadian Pinball Champion. The tournament will take place this October 23 – 25 at The Playdium Store in Toronto. Gary Stern, president of the only pinball manufacturer in the world, Stern Pinball will be on hand to present awards to the winners. There will also be a Donkey Kong Challenge & Arcade Auction Sale held on Saturday October 24th along with a free pinball tournament for kids and a Masters Tournament for competitors over the age of fifty.

Alliance numérique has unveiled updates for the first SPIN event, a digital entertainment celebration SPINopen to the general public. SPIN attendees will have the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes view of the video game industry. The event will not only highlight gaming in Quebec, but also focus on all aspects of the industry, including the work of game developers and other gaming professionals. The event is also designed to promote rising talent and e ncourage future recruitment and employment in the industry. From November 13th to 17th, Montrealers will discover the hidden face of games through four activities: Cinematics, D3D, Portfolios and Open Doors.

SPIN will be held in parallel with the MIGS’ sixth edition, an event dedicated to gaming industry stakeholders that will take place on November 16th and 17th.

SPIN highlights the videogame industry’s strength: an industry that combines culture, arts and technology. SPIN’s aim is two-fold: making the industry more accessible to the public and encouraging interaction between the industry’s stakeholders and the recruits.

SPIN will include four activities:

D3D: A friendly competition between training centers, CEGEPS and universities. Visitors are invited to discover the major steps in game development.

Open doors: Video game industry virtual and on-site tours to give attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the industry.

Portfolios: This meeting ! with vid eo game industry professionals offers a showcase for people looking to make their mark in the video game industry. Developers, programmers, designers, animators, engineers, project managers and others will be able to mingle.

Cinematics: Unlike video games, cinematics are non-interactive animated sequences (trailers, animations, etc). During the whole evening, cinematics will be shown, promoting the talent of creators from Montreal and around the world.

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1st October 2009

Ubisoft Game Shorts

UbisoftUbisoft Montreal has released another Game Dev video walkthrough for the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed 2. This video highlights several new game play components, such as the weapons dealer and new weapons like the smoke bomb, as well as Ezio’s ability to swim and use gondolas. I’m grateful for the new Ezio at the Arms Dealerswimming ability, because in Assassin’s Creed 1 I seemed to spend a fair amount of time falling into the water and drowning. Also new to AC2 is the hiring of thieves and other unsavoury characters to do some of the dirty work like distracting guards. According to the new video, which was created for the Tokyo Game Show, the missions are extensive and somewhat unpredictable. One of my favourite components of AC1 was game environment exploration. Players can look forward to an even more rewarding system for exploration in AC2, as Ezio hunts the city for treasure which will help him upgrade his armour and weapons. Slated for release in mid-November, this is one title that will be in hot contention in the Village Gamer household. Thankfully, I am the one with the vehicle and the ability to pick up our pre-order at the store – and the “your order is in” call goes to my cell – thereby enabling me to beat The Cavechild to the game.Battle of Giants: Dragons

In other Ubisoft news, Battle of Giants™: Dragons has hit store shelves. Battle of Giants: Dragons is the very first DS game that will allow young gamers to play with the most impressive creatures they have always dreamed of – Dragons.

Developed for younger gamers by Ubisoft Quebec, players can feel the adrenaline rush of creating, controlling, customizing and battling with their very own fierce creature. Combat of Giants: Dragons offers a full immersion into the fantastic and mysterious universe of magic Dragons. Feel overwhelmed by exciting combat views and realistic fighting scenes! Battle of Giants: Dragons is rated E10 by the ESRB.

Key Game Features:

* Realism of fight as a key for immersion, pushed by a real-time innovative and intuitive combat gameplay.
* Customize your creature to make it your very own: 4 elemental dragons within their natural land, 5 different attack possibilities per Dragon, up to 125 different gems find and choose from!
* Land exploration through ground seeking or aerial traveling!
* Multiplayer: organize duels or tournaments, up to 4 players, to see which dragon will be the strongest of all.

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1st October 2009

Roundhouse Interactive launches The Game Cartel

Roundhouse InteractiveTorontoRoundhouse Interactive (new site under construction) has taken the first step towards the release of the first player-developed console game with the launch of The Game Cartel.The Game Cartel

The Game Cartel is the world’s first demographically driven game development co-operative. Utilizing a web portal and a fee-based membership; the Game Cartel empowers gamers and other interested parties alike, to develop next generation games for the retail market. Roundhouse Interactive President, Mike Montanaro says, “For less than the price of your average video game, users will have input into — and voting rights on — each and every aspect of game development, from genre through character development and game play.”

According to Roundhouse Interactive, The Game Cartel membership will also benefit from special “insider” offers from a select and growing list of partners and affiliates such as Alienware and HiTech Tattoos. In addition, every member will get their name listed in the credits and receive a copy of the final product.

The Game Cartel HomeMontanaro says, “Gamers are a very vocal group who pride themselves on knowing each and every detail of current and upcoming games titles. They are equally quick to decry the games they feel fall short of expectation. They take a sense of ownership in the games they play so it only seemed natural to give them a real voice in the games developed by making them a vested partner. I see it as a new direction for the industry, and a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

All member concepts submitted by the membership will be passed before an advisory board of industry professionals. All submissions will be reviewed to determine their viability and originality, selecting those that will go back to the members for voting and final inclusion in the game.

The membership will have exclusive previews of finished game play, be included in beta testing, and will get a special packaged version of the final game prior to the general retail launch scheduled just in time for Christmas in 2010.

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1st October 2009

World Cyber Games Announces International Online Trackmania Tournament

WCG LogoThe National Finals may be over, but there is still one more opportunity to participate in the World Cyber Games 2009 Grand Final in Chengdu, China. The recognized leader for global video game competitions, WCG is running a supplementary competition for the international smash hit TrackMania Nations Forever at this year’s Grand Final. From now thru October 14, gamers will battle online in TrackMania Nations Forever to determine two Global Preliminary Champions. Each champion will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Chengdu, China this November to partake in the largest and most prestigious eSports tournament in the world – the WCG Grand Finals. Once there, they will take center stage to race each other for World Championship title, as well as cash and other prizes.

Open to players from all WCG participating countries, the online competition will have two one-week rounds consisting of two tracks per round. For a complete list of participating countries and rules please visit the TrackMania page of the WCGZone.

“Through competitions like this, WCG will continue to explore the vast possibilities that are provided through the Internet,” said Hyoung-Seok Kim, CEO of World Cyber Games, Inc. “WCG will continue to strengthen its online channel WCGZone so that even more people from more countries can enjoy the competition.”

Those fans who are less racing inclined can show off their design skills in the WCG TrackMania Global Track Design Contest, which is open to participants worldwide. Held at the same time as the WCG TrackMania Global Preliminaries, artists who wish to join the contest should go to the WCG web site or WCGZone and TrackMania Exchange for more information.

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