22nd March 2010

Awesome United Front Feature on Game Trailers

United Front GamesVancouver – As stated in the title, Game Trailers has published a very nice look inside at United Front Games. We have a few friends who work there, and it’s always great to see their talent getting recognized out on the world stage. We don’t yet have a PS3 because it would put a huge dent in our meager budget, but if we did, UFG’s debut title Modnation Racers would definitely be at the top of our Want list.

Warner Brothers Interactive EntertainmentMontreal – As announced this morning by Québec Premier Jean Charest and the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, Clément Gignac, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) will establish a development studio in Québec. The announcement was made in the presence of Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal; Martin Tremblay, President of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; and Jacques Daoust, President and CEO of Investissement Québec. The Premier also announced a $7.5 million non-refundable contribution from Investissement Québec for the creation of the studio.

This new studio will gradually grow to include more than 300 people by the end of 2015. This approach, which privileges the company’s progressive development, will facilitate the recruiting of new graduates for the Montreal studio and will maintain the labour balance in the Québec video game industry.

“We are proud that Warner Bros. has chosen Québec. We have done a lot of work to position Quebec as an essential place to invest that is competitive, and possesses an exceptional and highly qualified workforce. Warner Bros. has acknowledged this and we are very excited to welcome them”, stated Premier Charest.

The Montréal subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which is headquartered in Burbank, California, will house various departments in the same studio, such as high-end interactive gaming product development, digital and cinematographic animation, quality assurance of products developed by the Montréal studio, as well as the adaptation and translation of its products
into various languages.

“With our workforce’s outstanding skill and creativity, Warner Bros. will distribute all around the world multilingual products developed, translated, and adapted right here in Québec. The establishment of this studio will certainly contribute to the consolidation and the integration of Quebec’s videogame industry, which is always ready to take on new challenges” noted Minister Gignac.

“With its creative workforce specialized in digital media and its renowned universities, Québec is the perfect place to develop our new products and technologies. The Government of Québec’s tax credits and other incentives made Montréal the right location for our studio at this time. Montréal, with its wealth of talent and highly affordable operating costs, is a wonderful place to continue to expand our growth in gaming. Martin Carrier, a local industry veteran who has been involved in the creation of WB Games in Montreal from the start, will assume for the coming weeks the role of coordinating the studio’s implementation. WB Games Montreal’s management structure will be
announced shortly.” said Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The Government of Québec boasts a range of measures to support the growth of the multimedia industry, which holds great promise for Québec’s economy. Financial partners for this project include Emploi-Québec and Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC). With this major investment, Warner Bros. will be able to take advantage of these measures and will notably be eligible for tax credits for the production of multimedia titles.

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22nd March 2010

Canadian Technology Taking Off In The Global Market

MIGS 2010The Montreal International Game Summit has put out its call for speakers. The seventh annual summit will take place November 8th and 9th at the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel. More congratulations are in order for the FIFA 10 development team, as the game picked up two BAFTA Game Awards this past Friday evening – one for Best Sports Title and the other for Best Use of Online. DreamCatcher Games and The Adventure Company have announced the release of new content on an updated website for Sherlock Holmes VS. Jack the Ripper for the Xbox 360. You can check out new screenshots and a new trailer on the site, as Sherlock Holmes vs Jack The Ripperwell as put in your pre-order at GameStop. Sherlock Holmes vs Jack The Ripper will be in stores near the end of April and is rated T by the ESRB.

Kasumi GotoBioware has released more details about Kasumi Goto, the newest member of the Normandy’s crew in Mass Effect 2. Kasumi,  the galaxy’s most enigmatic and cunning master thief, will be introduced in the DLC pack Stolen Memory. In addition to being able to recruit Kasumi in all new missions, players will be able to utilize her special skills as a member of Commander Shepard’s squad throughout the entire game. In return for her help, Kasumi has asked for Commander Shepard’s help on a dangerous heist to infiltrate the vault of a deadly master criminal named Donovan Hock. Players must gain Kasumi’s loyalty on the planet Bekenstein, where Hock is throwing a party for some of the galaxy’s richest and most deranged criminal minds. The mission: recover data of great importance to Kasumi and the galaxy at large. In addition to this new mission, players will also receive a new research upgrade, one Hover Tanknew weapon, and a new achievement in this PDLC pack. The Kasumi – Stolen Memory PDLC pack will be available this April for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system at a cost of 560 Microsoft points, and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Don’t forget that tomorrow (March 23rd) will be the release date for the Firewalker DLC pack, which includes five heart-pounding missions taking place on five uncharted worlds. Players will be able to explore planets and engage in combat in the new Hammerhead hover-tank. The Firewalker pack will be available via the Cerberus Network console. Mass Effect 2 is rated M by the ESRB.

Toronto Comic ConToronto – Fans 10 and under attending Toronto Comic Con, March 26-28, 2010, at the Direct Energy Centre will receive a free Gogos Crazy Bones toy, courtesy of Toronto-based Irwin Toy. The popular items will be distributed while supplies last at the Registration area upon arrival.

Gogos Crazy Bones are a collectible, mini game toy sensation. They are small, colorful figures whose gaming origins date back to Ancient Greece, where children played by bouncing and throwing knuckle bones. These more refined, plastic characters are available in the hundreds, each one having a unique face and name.

“We are pleased to be providing free Gogos Crazy Bones right in our backyard at Toronto Comic Con,” said Gogos Crazy BonesPeter Irwin, Irwin Toys. “It is extremely special for Irwin Toys to participate in the inaugural show here, since Gareb has been a family friend for as long as my father and I can remember.”

Gogos Crazy Bones was named the 2009 British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) Collectible Toy of the Year. The characters have recently been hugely popular in Europe and Australia and were first a big hit in the U.S. more than a decade ago, when 31.5 million packages were sold from 1998-2000.

“Having an international sensation like Gogos Crazy Bones available free to kids is a great bonus for Toronto Comic Con attendees,” said Gareb Shamus, Wizard Entertainment CEO. “It’s particularly gratifying to be partnering with Irwin Toy, which in addition to being based in Toronto, has been a leader in the industry for more than 80 years.” 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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12th March 2010

Deus Ex Human Revolution Updates and INplay 2010 Keynotes Announced

Eidos MontrealMontreal/Vancouver via GDCEidos Montreal has unveiled the first trailer for Deus EX 3: Human Revolution. The trailer, developed in conjunction with Visual Works and Vancouver’s Goldtooth Creative, has made its debut at the Game Developers Conference. Comments from gamers around the globe reflect the growing anticipation for this next chapter, which will go back to the roots of the original Deus Ex and meld the FPS genre with RPG. As with a number of different recent titles, the player will be able to choose from multiple paths and outcomes, which in my opinion, increases the re-playability for the game.

The development team is also striving for a more open world feel, which will also give the player a bit more freedom in respect to game play. Human Revolution will be a single player title and a prequel to the previous two Deus Ex games. Eidos Montreal has stated that there will be areas to explore, treasures to find and of course weaponry to master.

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According to information on the Human Revolution web site, the “lead character is Adam Jensen, a security response specialist who’s been handpicked to oversee the defensive needs of one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms. You, playing as Adam, are all-human, all organic…. for now, that is. You start pure, but as the story unfolds you are forced to augment yourself in order to survive and achieve objectives. Adam has a history leading up to the events that start the game, so his background is well fleshed out and we will learn more about him and his past, and his future, as the game progresses.”

Team members from Eidos Montreal have previously told me that E3 2010 will be a very important show for Human Revolution – and the end of the teaser trailer promises that more will be unveiled. The concept arti which I’ve seen on their site is very impressive, and the revealed (thus far) weaponry looks like there will be all kinds of opportunities for massive mayhem.

Eidos Montreal General Manager Stephane D’Astous states on the the studio’s site that “GDC 2010 marks the first part of our communications campaign for Deus EX. We have a lot to unveil and we’re excited to get started; there will be a lot more to come.”

Deus EX 3: Human Revolution will be available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, but no firm release date has been announced, but I can safely say that Human Revolution is on our Wanted list.

INplay 2010TorontoInteractive Ontario today announced the first keynote speakers for INplay 2010, a conference about the art and business of kids interactivity. Jon Berrett, Executive Producer and Christian Jacobs, Co-creator, Director and Writer of the hit kids TV show, Yo Gabba Gabba, will be keynote speakers at the conference, taking place on May 18 & 19, 2010, at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th March 2010

Kesler Gets a Cover and Yahoo Canada Partners with CBC for More Hockey

Klei EntertainmentVancouver via GDC – Coming out of last week’s exciting announcement of a publishing deal with EA Partners to bring Shank to XBLA, PSN and PC this summer, Klei Entertainment has released a new video of its upcoming 2D cinematic brawler. Showcasing new levels, new moves and new bosses coming to the game.

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This video supports its showing at this year’s Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, Calif. March 11-13, 2010. As one of the 2010 Independent Game Festival (IGF) finalists (and recognized for its excellence in “Visual Art”), Shank will be on display at the IGF Pavilion during regular Expo Hall hours.

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft has released a new game play trailer for Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands. In Forgotten Sands, the developers are using the setting to take the Prince back to the roots which were a big part of Sands of Time. Our hero will travel to his older brother Malik’s kingdom, which is under attack by the Sand Army. Those gamers who played Sands of Time will be able to make use of the Prince’s signature moves and acrobatics in The Forgotten Sands. Using the same Anvil Engine which was built for Assassin’s Creed, The Forgotten Sands will feature a rich environment with massive battle scenes. Just from watching the trailer, I know that my Prince character will be facing certain death a good amount of the time, however – The Forgotten Sands looks to me like another beautifully crafted historic time piece with lots of room to explore and details to take in.

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8th March 2010

Parties, Departures, New Releases and Upcoming Events

Massive BearVancouver – 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 Kelly Zmakstudios. 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th March 2010

Canadian Companies Ink Publishing Deals and Release Great New Products

EA GamesVancouverElectronic Arts has announced two new partnerships involving local studios. First, EA announced that it has inked an exclusive deal with Klei Entertainment to bring the studio’s provocative new game Shank to Xbox LIVE® Arcade, PlayStation®Network and PC this summer. Featuring a unique art style inspired by graphic novels and golden age comics, Shank Klei Entertainmentblends the intensity of classic 2D side-scrolling action games with a gripping and mature storyline. The cinematic brawler is a finalist for “Excellence in Visual Art” at this year’s Independent Games Festival and will be featured at the IGF Pavilion during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.

“Our mission at EA Partners is to work with the best talent across the game industry, and we are thrilled to extend our expertise to the leading creative developers in downloadable indie games,” said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development at EA Partners. “The team at Klei Entertainment is among the best in the world at developing fun and engaging titles for digital distribution platforms, and Shank is an amazing experience.”

“As an independent development studio, we always focus on creating great, authentic experiences for players. Working with EA Partners expands our distribution and allows us to bring Shank to a much wider audience,” said Jamie Cheng, CEO of Klei Entertainment. “They have been a fantastic partner and their understanding of the space is incredibly exciting.”

Taking place in a stylized, modern-Western setting, Shank tells a classic betrayal story directed through a sophisticated cinematic lens, with addictive action gameplay found in classic 2D side-scrolling games.

EA’s second announced deal today is another exclusive publishing deal, this time with Hothead Hothead GamesGames and their newest title DeathSpank, which will be coming to Xbox LIVE® Arcade and PlayStation®Network in 2010. Developed under the vision of The Secret of Monkey Island creator and industry icon Ron Gilbert, DeathSpank blends a story filled with Gilbert’s unique humor and wit with classic and addictive action RPG gameplay. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd March 2010

Clicktoy The Meadow Now Available in the Apple Store

Clicktoy InteractiveVancouverClicktoy Interactive is pleased to announce the release of its software “The Meadow“for the Apple Mac. The award winning interactive software for children ages 1 to 5 is now available for purchase at local Canadian Apple Stores and select US Apple stores, and online at store.Apple.com.

Colourful 3-D graphics, nature sounds and original music bring nature to life on screen where children can join Mr. and Mrs. Bunny as they visit their friends living in The Meadow. With the simple press of a key, your child can guide the animals through the beautiful meadow environment.

“Any parent can tell you that when they’re working on their computer, the little one will come along and want to sit on their lap and press buttons,” said Ken Kavanagh, developer of The Meadow and president of Clicktoy Interactive. “As every key has a function, children are free to interact with the computer without worry.”

With The Meadow, parents and children can explore this charming and peaceful place together, featuring:

* Four detailed scenes
* ClickSafe locks the keyboard, prevents your child from exiting the application
* Stunning graphics and immersion in a virtual nature-walk
* Make up your own stories and imagine together

Available on the PC since 2008 “The Meadow” is now available for the Mac OS. Offered in over 17 languages the game sells for $24.95 and is available now for the Mac or PC.  Village Gamer congratulates Ken Kavanagh and Clicktoy Interactive with this new release – and fully recommends “The Meadow” to anyone who has a toddler and/or pre-schooler in their family.

VFSVancouverVancouver Film School is pleased to present the $30,000 Women in Games Scholarship for the second straight year. This Scholarship covers the full tuition for a female aspiring game designer to attend VFS’s acclaimed one-year Game Design program, named by L.A. Times as a Top 10 school “favoured by industry recruiters”.

With International Women’s Day on March 8 highlighting the achievements of women and the need to create a more equal and rewarding future for girls, the announcement of the Women in Games scholarship is timely. In an industry traditionally dominated by men – around 90%, according to Game Developer Magazine’s 2009 Salary Survey – the scholarship was established as a concerted effort by VFS to encourage greater opportunities for females wishing to pursue Game Design as a career. Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd March 2010

Splinter Cell Contest, Stoked Interactive is Live and HootSuite Expands To Android

TorontoMicrosoft Canada has a sweet contest going for Splinter Cell: Conviction fans. Check out the Contest Information page at GameStop (yes, this is a campaign to get gamers to pre-order SCC). The full rules for the contest, which is open to Canadians aged 18+ (or age of majority in their province of residence) only, can be found right here, but the idea is that 40 entrants will be randomly drawn from all pre-order registrants on March 18th, and those 40 entrants (along with a companion of their chosing, who must also be of majority age) will then be transported to Toronto on March 27th, where they will be hosted at a local hotel and given $100.00 in spending money. The 40 entrants and their guests will then become teams of two, and take part in a “scripted but realistic pure-skill challenge competition.”

According to the rules, each Team will travel through multiple checkpoints testing their skills against challenges inspired by the video game Xbox® Splinter Cell:  Conviction®.   The Team which most accurately and quickly completes all checkpoint challenges in the shortest period of time (thereby accumulating the highest number of game points) will be declared the winner. The winning Team will then stay another night in Toronto before traveling to Montreal for an overnight stay followed by a private tour of the Ubisoft offices and visit an EB Games or GameStop retail location. Please check the full rules page for more information.

marblemediaToronto – Working together with long-time collaborators Fresh TV Inc. and TELETOON Canada Inc., marblemedia has launched Stoked Interactive – to coincide with the March 4 premiere of new episodes of the series and push to the second season premiere in September 2010. With increasing interest in the program, the new site offers a tidal wave of new activities and experiences for fans around the globe. For fans of the French version of the series, teletoon.com has launched a French version of the site. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st March 2010

Yummy Inks New Deal, Bioware and Ubisoft Release A Little Information

Yummy InteractiveVancouverYummy Interactive, Inc., developer of premiere digital distribution technologies, has partnered with Metaboli, Europe’s leader in digital distribution of PC games, to improve and enhance Metaboli’s class-leading online video game subscription services in Europe and in North America with GameTap.

“We’re very delighted to have partnered with Metaboli and to be helping them expand their subscriber base across the globe, especially with their many telecom partners in Europe and GameTap’s service in the United States. There is a strong fit between both companies regarding our culture and goals. Core to both of our company’s philosophies is creating the best experience possible for users playing games online,” says Nick Mellios, CEO of Yummy Interactive.

By integrating the Yummy Games delivery platform and associated APIs into its on demand service platform Metaboli has increased compatibility, download speeds and added more games to deliver exceptional value and ease of use for their customers such as British Telecom and France Telecom, along with their 50+ other white-label services.

Metaboli now offers support for games on 64-bit processors along with Microsoft Windows®7 compatibility. A variety of games will also support mods, patches, and custom maps adding even more value to Metaboli’s services.

“By partnering with Yummy we have been able to make a leap forward in our Games on Demand services. Because Yummy’s solution is so easy to integrate and feature-rich, we have been able to innovate for the next generation of online PC gaming, and we are now even better positioned to take advantage of the paradigm shift to downloadable game content,” said Olivier Decrock, CEO of Metaboli.

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has updated the Dragon Age wiki with new information about Dragon Age: Awakening. Players can get more advance information about the enhancements coming when Awakening is released in two weeks for Mages and Rogues. It appears that there will also be new information coming soon for Warriors, Armour and Weapons, but those pages have not yet been added to the Wiki. In the meantime, here is the latest trailer which introduces Mhairi, one of the newest Grey Warden recruits. Read the rest of this entry »

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