Vancouver – Last Friday evening we attended Massive Bear Studio’s  Launch Party at the Granville Room – your new website is awesome – and I see some upcoming news that looks quite exciting, as well. Massive Bear’s projects have included work on Microsoft-Big Park’s Joy Ride, 2k’s Mafia 2 and Day 21 Studios’ Sky Pirates of Neo Terra. Thank you again to Tim Lewinson for a fantastic time and the invitation to celebrate with you – all the best as you set off for a full slate of meetings and seminars at GDC!
It’s not generally our policy to cover the employment downside of game development, particularly with the way the economy has been over the past year or so and the adverse effect it has had on many Canadian studios. While we will always let you, our readers, know about new studio openings and career positions, we feel that other media outlets provide more than enough coverage about job losses and we don’t really need to add to the mix.
That said, I cannot let a recent development pass without comment. For those who have not yet heard, Kelly Zmak formally announced his departure from Radical Entertainment  this past Friday. This truly saddens me, as Kelly has been (and will continue to be, I hope) an integral part of the Vancouver development community. A powerful and motivational speaker, Kelly has worked hard on various Advisory Boards and industry committees. He has many times played host and emcee, and he has given me more encouragement and inspiration than he is perhaps aware. I have the utmost respect for Kelly as a business person, teacher and perhaps most important of all, friend. Kelly leaves some big shoes (or should that be hat?) to fill for his successor at Radical, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him well with his future projects.
Montreal – Logic Pretzel  has released its first game title on the iTunes App Store . A new twist on the match three/tetris genre, Letter Drop requires the player to form words from the falling letter tiles. Naturally, the higher your score, the faster the tiles drop – and if you don’t use a tile, you lose a life. You can make more than one word from the tiles as they float down your touch screen, and challenge you to think very fast. According to the game’s site, Letter Drop contains over 30 000 words from abacus to zymurgy, all three to seven letters long. I haven’t purchased Letter Drop yet, which is available in the iTunes store for .99 cents – but I have a feeling that this game is going to be highly addicting and a huge impediment to my ever-growing tasks list.
Vancouver – Speaking of new titles, this is just a reminder that Scrap Metal  will be available in the Xbox Live Arcade this week. Developed by Slick Entertainment , Scrap Metal is part of the Xbox Block Party promotion and will be downloadable for 1200 Microsoft Points.
In Scrap Metal, gamers can fight their way through explosive, action-packed missions and defeat cunning bosses in order to collect their vehicles. Customize newly-acquired cars and return to the track to blast through more enemies. Then, jump online with Xbox LIVE® to race against friends and crush their cars with the wheels of a massive monster truck in pulse-pounding online multiplayer matches. 
If you’re attending the Independent Games Summit at GDC  in San Francisco, you can catch Slick Entertainment’s Nick Waanders and Kees Rijnen’s presentation, Scrap Metal: Pushing the Envelope with a Team of Two on the morning of March 9th. Nick and Kees will explain how “a lot of choices had to be made to get the biggest bang for the buck, while maintaining the high polish level we wanted” — discussing tools, the game’s deferred shading engine, design choices, and more.
Victoria/Toronto – The Centre for Digital Story Telling  will be bringing its Digital Story Standard Workshop  Series to Canada for three dates this spring and summer. Two of the Standard Workshops will be held at The Centre for Community Learning and Development, located at 269 Gerrard St. East in Toronto. These Workshops will be held on April 16 – 18 and July 16-18 and will be facilitated by Jennifer LaFontaine. The Victoria Workshop will take place March 26 – 28 at Royal Roads University and will be facilitated by Suzanne Ahearne and Surya Govender.
The Standard Workshop programme assists participants in designing and producing a three to five minute digital story. Participants craft and record first-person narratives, collect still images, video, and music with which to illustrate their pieces, and are guided through computer tutorials that enable them, with teacher support, to edit their own stories.
Workshops are held as contiguous, three-day intensives (9 am-5 pm each day), involving eight to 12 participants. Participants are given materials prior to the workshop to assist them in preparation, including suggestions about script writing, image selection, and use of video clips. Please see the Workshop Information page  for registration information.
Toronto – In the era of exploding social and mobile networking, the future of traditional media is just too big an issue for a bunch of geeks to tackle on their own. Have no fear – at the third annual GeekFest  being held on Wednesday March 10, they’ve called in social and technology commentators to debate the future of the media. Is print dead? Will we recognize journalism 10 years from now? Is there a viable business model for professional journalism in the digital world? Is new media filled with too much clutter and not enough substance?
On the panel will be one of the country’s leading columnists, award-winning Globe and Mail writer Margaret Wente; CBC.ca technology reporter Peter Nowak who recently published his first book about the origins of technology called Sex, Bombs and Burgers; and Mike Dover, a pop culture critic and co-author of Wikibrands: How to Build a Brand in a Customer-Controlled Marketplace. The panel will be moderated by techno thinker Krista Napier, a senior analyst with IDC Canada, a global leader in IT market intelligence.
“The Vancouver Olympics is the latest example of the changing role of media,” says T4G President Geoff Flood. “Millions of people in Canada were watching events live, getting scores, video clips and commentary on their wireless smart phones. It makes you wonder about the future role of newspapers, broadcasters, even cable TV delivery in the wireless world. This GeekFest panel is sure to give us lots to think about.”
GeekFest is sponsored by T4G Limited, a national project-based technology company. GeekFest is the annual showcase of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism. It is held at the Hot Zone of the Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road in Toronto, on March 10, 2010 beginning at 6 p.m.
Open to media, GeekFest begins with individual T4G employees and teams exhibiting some of their most creative ideas for using technology to make life and business better. After friends, customers and invited guests have informally met participants and seen their geeky ideas, the media panel discussion will take place under the Leading Thinkers banner.
Leading Thinkers is an ongoing T4G initiative about exchanging ideas aimed at making a difference in so many areas; from business organization, competitiveness, and research and development to sustainability and a greener environment.
The role media plays – and its future – is worthy of inclusion when it relates to the day-to-day lives of Canadians. Naively or not, the so-called geeks at T4G believe they can help foster changes to improve life in Canada, already the best place in the world to live.
“As they say, some people are born on third base and think they’ve hit a triple,” Mr. Flood says. “We know we’ve been fortunate in Canada, but we’ve got to keep scoring runs when it comes to leadership, sustainability, innovation, international competitiveness and social responsibility. And if you examine last week’s federal budget, you’ll see that Ottawa is getting the message with an emphasis on investing in innovation, which in turn creates high-value jobs for Canadians.”
After the media panel, the Top 3 geeks from the showcase portion of GeekFest will present to a jury of “Supreme Geeks” who, under a format similar to the CBC’s popular TV program Dragon’s Den, will evaluate each and award the title of Ultimate Geek 2010.