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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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15th April 2010

Canadians Not Using Their Smartphones Smartly

Our ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter will be presenting Designing Assassin’s Creed 2 on May 18th. Tickets will be on sale next week for this session. And speaking of Assassin’s Creed 2, Ubisoft® has received confirmationEzio from Guinness World Records that Assassin’s Creed II now holds the Gamer’s Edition Guinness World Record for being the most cover-featured video game. Assassin’s Creed II was used as a lead cover story on 127 different publications in 32 countries, between April 2009 and April 2010.

“Assassin’s Creed is one of our most well-loved brands,” said Alain Corre managing director EMEA at Ubisoft. “The worldwide interest for the brand, coupled with the energy and creativity of our press team made for a winning combination and I am proud of receiving this Guinness World Record.”

Gaz Deaves, Editor of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, said: “The evidence submitted by Ubisoft was extremely thorough, with full details of every publication that featured the game. It’s been a pleasure researching this category and we were pleasantly surprised that Assassin’s Creed II took the record – I’m sure plenty of commentators (including myself) would have predicted another well-known game winning the title instead, and this achievement is even more impressive in view of the other 2009 releases that Assassin’s Creed II was able to beat”.

Canadian Video Game AwardsAssassin’s Creed II also leads DigiBC’s upcoming Canadian Video Game Awards with seven nominations – and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite title in the Game of the Year category.

“The lineup of finalists is a stunning collection of global blockbusters,” said Victor Lucas, host of Electric Playground and one of the award show’s producers. “These are among the biggest games in the world and they represent the best in this country’s innovation and creativity.”

The Canadian Video Game Awards (CVAs) will be held just prior to the second annual Game Developers Conference (GDC Canada) in Vancouver this May 5th and will feature musical entertainment by the internationally renowned Video Games Live. Tickets start at $22 andGDC Canada 2010 are on sale now at the event web site. The show will also be broadcast across the country on G4 Canada through the Rogers Network, and are sponsored by G4, XBOX 360, Sony PlayStation and the Canadian Studios of Electronic Arts.

“These awards recognize the significant contribution of BC and other Canadian companies to the global videogame industry,” said DigiBC president Michael Bidu. “DigiBC’s mandate is to promote the success and sustainability of BC’s digital media and wireless industry and to elevate worldwide awareness of our sector. These Canadian Videogame Awards will attract a lot of attention, both inside and outside of Canada. Ultimately, our industry will grow by attracting talented people, and we’ll do that by telling the world about Vancouver’s strong creative class and BC and Canada’s competitive tax environment and friendly business climate.”

“I’m delighted that DigiBC is onboard with us for the launch of these awards,” said Greg Spievak, founder and principal of Reboot Communications, co-producer of the CVAs. “They have a strong vision for the industry and a successful track record for producing exciting events, such as VX Showcase, their 2010 Winter Olympics event, Skate 3as well as their upcoming VIDWeek 2010.”

The Skate™ 3 demo is now available on XBox Live, with both a single and multi-player experience. Learn the ins and outs of skating with the all-new Skate School or team up and throw down in co-op or competitive gameplay. Featuring new challenge types like Own The Lot and Domination, the ability to save and upload clips using the Replay Editor, and to drop objects to personalize your demo experience, the Skate 3 demo has a little something for everyone.

F5 ExpoDid you get the chance to see Malcolm Gladwell speak at F5 Expo on April 7th? Did you like what he had to say? Many people, including F5 Expo’s own TechLinz, disagreed with Gladwell’s perspective on social media. His mile wide and inch deep philosophy may be accurate, but he failed to look at the benefits of a mile wide network for business transactions. Stressing the need for deep relationships, Gladwell feels these are essential for revolutions, but building a business isn’t necessarily about a revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th April 2010

Awards Shows Are The Topic of the Day

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – The Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards has released its list of finalists for the inaugural awards gala which will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre this coming May 5th in conjunction with GDC Canada, which will take place May 6th and 7th, also at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Game of the Year:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Console Game:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Handheld Game:

Battle of Giants: Dragons – LEGO Battles – MySims Racing – Pandemica and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Downloadable Game:

Critter Crunch – Implode! – Osmos – Pandemica and Super Monkey Ball 2

Best Game Audio:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Skate 2 and WET

Best Game Design:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Game Technology:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – FIFA 10 – Fight Night Round 4 – Prototype and Skate 2

Best Visual Arts:

Academy of Champions – Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Fight Night Round 4 and Punch-Out!

Best Writing:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Prototype and WET

Most Promising Game:

Dead Rising 2 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution – TRON: Evolution – ModNation Racers and Need for Speed: World

Best Animated Short:

EcoBuddies – Ormie – Splinter Cell: Conviction E3 2009 Trailer and The Oracle of Aveon

Visual Effects Movie:

Angels and Demons – Assassin’s Creed: Lineage – District 9 – Invictus and Watchmen

In-Game Cinematic:

LEGO Battles – Ghostbusters: The Video Game – NBA Live 10 and Prototype: Web of Intrigue

Voting for the awards is now open – these are going to be some very difficult choices for me to make, because almost all of my favourite Canadian-made games are on these lists. Decisions, decisions.

Georgia StraightSpeaking of awards, the Georgia Straight has published an article by journalist Blaine Kyllo about The Elans, an award show formerly held in Vancouver and now attempting to relocate to San Diego. This article is a must-read for anyone involved in the digital and interactive media industry.

Business In VancouverVancouver – Also in the awards category today, Cybele Negris, Co-Founder of webnames.ca, is one of six women to be honoured at BIV’s Influential Women in Business awards. This is the 11th year BC’s most influential business women have been honoured. Cybele, former president of Wired Woman Vancouver launched the successful mentorship program members have benefited greatly from. Hear from Cybele, along with 5 other honourees April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront.

Being honoured on April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront are:

Janet Austin, CEO, YWCA Vancouver
Ida Goodreau, Corporate Director and former CEO LifeLabs and Vancouver Coastal Health
Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chancellor, University of British Columbia
Cybele Negris, Co-Founder, webnames.ca
Janine North, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust
Lifetime Achievement Award – Julia Levy, Corporate Director and Co-Founder QLT Inc.

Event Details:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Fairmont Waterfront
Waterfront Ballroom
Reception: 11:30am
Awards Luncheon 12:00pm – 2:00pm
BIV Subscribers: $75, Non-subscribers $95

The Influential Women in Business Awards are presented by Business in Vancouver to recognize successful British Columbia business women in British Columbia. The honourees are selected based on their outstanding achievements in business, contribution to their industry, and influence in the local business community.

mob4hireCalgaryMob4Hire, the world’s largest mobile testing and market research community, today announced a significant new platform release. In development for a year, Mob4Hire Version 4.0 offers mobile functional and usability testing, as well as product and market research using it’s crowd of over 40,000 mobile users in 150 countries. This provides valuable opportunities for mobile app and website developers, advertising executives, product managers, market researchers, marketing teams and developer networks / app stores of handset and network operators to reach global users and include user feedback in the mobile development cycle. This results in a good user experience which in turn drives recommendations, top store rankings, discoverability, and ultimately, viral revenue growth.

Mob4Hire Version 4.0 replaces the old system that has been live since Autumn 2008. Since then, Mob4Hire’s crowd-sourced community of 40,000 mobile testers in 150 countries on 364 network operators, have been helping the almost 1,000 mobile developers registered from 81 countries make better mobile apps through functional testing. Testers (also known as “Mobsters”) have already made thousands of dollars for doing quality assurance work while at the same time helping mobile developers save up to 90% in traditional testing costs.

With this announcement, Mob4Hire is also introducing Basic, Premium and Managed Service pricing tiers to accommodate mobile firms of all shapes and size who need to create and run projects using its crowd-sourced methodologies. Managed Services offers efficient and cost-effective project management; using Mob4Hire’s community can save up to 65% in costs over traditional testing methods and has already been used to manage several multi-national and multi-device tests that would have been cost-prohibitive to run using traditional testing techniques.

netsweeperTorontoNetsweeper, a global provider of Internet Content Filtering and web threat management solutions, is excited to announce a series of core feature enhancements, uniquely designed to further protect children from inappropriate content and other web based threats. Read the rest of this entry »

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7th April 2010

Avoid Stress Play Games April is Stress Awareness Month

Hothead GamesIn today’s news leads, many of you probably already know that Ron Gilbert has left Hothead Games. On his blog, he stated that with DeathSpank‘s production winding down and heading for certification, his task is complete, although he will still be working closely with EA and Hothead to help promote the game. Ubisoft

Ubisoft Montreal will be holding a world exclusive autograph session with the Splinter Cell core team at the Montreal Future Shop on Ste Catherine Street next Tuesday, April 13th from 10am to Future Shop1pm.  Celebrating the release of Splinter Cell: Conviction, Alexandre Parisot (producer), Maxime Beland (creative director), Patrick Redding (game director/coop mode) and Steven Masters (lead game designer) will be present to meet the fans and autograph the games.

I played through the new DLC for Mass Effect 2 last evening – the availability of Kasumi – Stolen Memory was Kasumi Gotoplagued with server problems yesterday, which made for many unhappy ME2 players who were waiting to purchase the expansion. The new expansion, which adds Master Thief Kasumi Goto to the Normandy squad took me about an hour or so to play through, and while at first glance the 560 Microsoft Points price doesn’t really seem to give much value for the points, it’s important to remember that now an extra squad member and a new SMG will be available for subsequent re-plays of ME2. I guess that will even out the price and the shortness of the required missions. I would like to note, however, that there are areas where your character can (or in my case, will) get stuck. Without giving away the DLC plot – stay away from the chairs in a certain building during Kasumi’s loyalty mission. They act like a one way ramp and you’ll have to reload the game.

Burnaby – Turn up the music, raise your hands and voices and join the celebration! Electronic Arts today EA Sportsrevealed the 28 artists across 20 countries who will usher in the EA SPORTS™ 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with an international soundtrack that celebrates the cultural vibrancy of the first FIFA World Cup™ to be held in Africa.

EA SPORTS 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ captures the sounds and history of the musical landscape in Africa with a rhythmic, tribal blend of 28 songs that, through mass exposure to soccer, videogame and music fans, will become synonymous with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ worldwide. Somali-born poet, musician and rapper, K’NAAN, headlines the soundtrack with his song “Wavin’ Flag Coca-Cola Celebration Mix”.

EA Sports FIFA World CupA full playable demo of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system will be available for download at the PLAYSTATION Store, and for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system on Xbox Live Marketplace, beginning April 8 worldwide. Play as Spain or Italy and discover a soccer experience that brings to life the passion and emotion of the actual tournament. New players to the FIFA Soccer franchise will be able to choose to play the demo utilizing new Two-Button controls designed to enable new gamers to pass, shoot and compete for the 2010 FIFA World CupTM with an accessible control scheme that utilizes just two buttons. In addition to playing a match soccer fans and gamers will be able to upload their replays from the demo to EA Football World for other fans to watch.

“2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa is a landmark project in the evolution of world music and its African heritage,” says Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music and Marketing at Electronic Arts. “We’ve brought together such legendary African artists as Nigerian drummer/activist Babatunde Olatunji, Senegal icon Baaba Maal, and ‘The Bob Marley of Ghana’ Rocky Dawuni, with global superstars like Sergio Mendes and Nas & Damian Marley. But we’re perhaps most proud of K’NAAN, the unsigned Somali artist we discovered in 2004 whose music has now appeared in five different EA SPORTS video 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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5th April 2010

Marketing Winners And iPad Title Releases

Toronto – Game devs, get your creative game on for TOJam 2010, being held this April 23 – 25th at George Brown College. The theme for this year’s Toronto Independent Game Jam is “Missing” – no – really, that’s what it is. Please check out Ryan’s blog over at Untold Entertainment for more details about TOJam, then go, dev crunch, create, have fun.

Mi6 Conference 2010As someone who has a marketing and PR background, I pay close attention to the marketing aspects of Canadian studios and titles, and I would like to extend my congratulations to the Canadian titles recognized with medals and certificates at the MI6 Game Marketing Awards held last week in San Francisco:

Gold Medal Winners:

Outstanding TV or Theatrical Ad: EA Sports for “Joy”
Outstanding TV or Theatrical Ad Campaign: Assassin’s Creed 2: 2009 TV Campaign
Best Long Format Promotional Content: Assassin’s Creed 2: Lineage Episode 1 (Segment)
Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign- Integrated: Assassins Creed 2 Integrated Campaign
Thinking Outside of the Box Award – Marketing: Assassin’s Creed 2 – Twitter Experience
Standout Print Advertisement: Assassin’s Creed 2: Rip Your Head Off
Standout Print Campaign: Assassin’s Creed 2: 2009 Print Campaign
Standout Overal Pop Display Single or Double Campaign: Prototype
Best Use of Online Media: Assassin’s Creed 2: Teaser Campaign
Best Key Art: Dragon Age: Origins

Silver Medal Winners:

Best Key Art: Assassin’s Creed 2
Don’t You Wish You’d Thought of This – Miscellaneous: Assassin’s Creed 2: Lineage Intro Trailer
Outstanding Promotional Trailer: Assassin’s Creed 2 E3 Trailer (2009) and WET “Shot At Love”
Best Showing At a Trade Event: Assassins Creed 2: E3 Outdoor Banner
Best Online Takeover/Roadblock: Assassin’s Creed 2: Big Bang Unit

Bronze Certificate Winners:

Outstanding Promotional Trailer: Assassin’s Creed 2 – TGS Trailer and WET “Shot at Love”
Best Co-Branding In A TV, Theatrical Ad or Video Asset: Assassins Creed 2 UFC Integration
Standout Print Outdoor/Environmental/Transit Advertising:Assassins Creed 2 E3/PAX Environmental Advertising
Best Product Packaging: Prototype
Best Limited Edition, Special Edition or Collector’s Edition Packaging: Assasin’s Creed 2 Limited Edition and Dragon Age: Origins Collector’s Edition
Best Use of Online Media: Guitar Hero Smash Hits

Other Ocean InteractiveCharlottetownOther Ocean Interactive, has partnered once again with SEGA® of America to bring you Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition available exclusively for the highly anticipated Apple iPad. Super MonkeyBall 2

“We are very excited to be part of the iPad launch with this great franchise,” said Andrew Ayre, Other Ocean CEO. “And are very proud to be one of the first developers to have shipped an iPad exclusive title.”

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition brings all the fun of the immensely popular console and iPhone hit to the iPad plus 4 new mini-games: Monkey Bowling, Monkey Target, Monkey Golf and the iPad exclusive mini-game Monkey Base. Monkey Base lets up to 4 players fight it out on the same iPad by launching orbs at each other to try to be the last monkey standing. And if all that wasn’t enough, players can now experience 10 iPad exclusive levels from the Far East World, in stunning graphics! Read the rest of this entry »

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1st April 2010

Surely You Jest

Digital LeisureGormleyDigital Leisure today announced the upcoming release of the “Plasti-Copter” accessory for its successful WiiWare™ title Copter Crisis. Claiming that it’s most certainly the largest accessory to ever be released for a gaming console, Digital Leisure predicts it might revolutionize the way consumers play video games.Copter Crisis Chopper

“We’ve heard nothing but great reports from those playing Copter Crisis” states David Foster, Digital Leisure’s president, “but we really felt there was more we could do to enhance the gameplay experience. So we turned the problem over to our engineers and this is what they came up with.”

With a Wii Remote in-hand, the player enters the Plasti-Copter. Once comfortably seated and Copter Crisis started, the player will instantly feel they’re part of the action as they guide the on-screen copter with their remote. Copter Crisis available exclusively on WiiWare for 500 Wii Points™.

“Life-Size is actually a bit of an exaggeration” says Paul Gold, V.P. Operations. “We reduced the size a little so that it will fit snugly into most family rooms”. And to the suggestion that once in production, the Plasti-Copter will consume more petroleum products than many developing nations, Mr. Gold replies “no worries, we’ve been in touch with several oil-producing countries and they assure us they can ramp up production.”

While some claim that an accessory of this scope is better suited for a disc-based title, Digital Leisure points out that “Really, WiiWare is where the action is – digital downloads are the future.”

The price may be a bit of a stumbling block for some but for those who can afford it but, it’s guaranteed to be the experience of a lifetime. As an added bonus for those who preorder Plasti-Copter today, Digital Leisure is offering a special shipping option – helicopter airlift delivery to your back yard!*

Morrigan with her voodoo doll

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has released new DLC for Dragon Age: Origins to celebrate Thedas, the great holiday of Satinalia. This special day is marked by sumptuous feasts, wild celebration, and naming the town fool as ruler for a day. Amid the feasting, it is customary for friends, lovers, and traveling companions to exchange gifts and pranks.

Feastday gifts and pranks offer the player a chance to explore the approval system in Dragon Age: Origins at greater depth by making your companions despise or adore you. Feastday gifts and pranks packs are available for purchase individually or as a combo pack containing both the Gifts and Pranks.

Now for just 160 MS Points, you can pull a prank on your party members with the Feastday Prank Pack, or you can give Morrigan the coveted Alistair voodoo doll from the Feastday Gift Pack (also 160 MS Points). If you are undecided, you can get both packs for only 240 MS Points – that’s a savings of 40 points if you buy them separately. These packs are only playable in Dragon Age: Origins.

Extreme Ease SoftwareDeltaExtreme Ease Software Inc., announced the immediate availability of a completely redesigned and significantly improved HelpConsole 2010. Technical writers have the ability to host all product documentation on one central web server enabling design and maintenance of help systems from any office using a standard HelpConsole 2010browser.

HelpConsole represents the next step in the evolution of user assistance. In addition to formats such as web-help and PDF, HelpConsole provides the unique ability to publish ‘dynamic help’ systems that can be uploaded to an existing website, allowing authors to quickly add content and make changes from anywhere in the world using a standard web-browser.

“We’ve revolutionized help authoring software by providing the ability to host dynamic help systems on a local or remote web server”, says James Dean, President of Extreme Ease Software. “Developers and authors can update product documentation from anywhere using a standard web browser. HelpConsole was designed to be used with little or no training required. Many of our customers have told us that they’ve tried other Help Authoring solutions and found HelpConsole to be the most advanced, yet easy to use. We’ve built upon our previous success and have released a more feature-rich product that will suit the world market.” 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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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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19th March 2010

It’s Friday Let’s Rock

First up, our congratulations to Bioware and Dragon Age: Origins for picking up a Swedish Games Industry award for RPG of the Year and to EA Burnaby for picking up Sports Game of the Year for FIFA 10. Also, a reminder that the Early Bird price deadline for GDC Canada is fast approaching. Take advantage of the ticket discounts and get your passes before March 31 for this May’s great event at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

IUGOThere’s lots going on over at IUGO Mobile Entertainment as well. Earlier today the studio announced that several of their game titles will be released for the iPad. On the list are Cliffed, Zombie Attack Second Wave and Implode, along with their brand new game, Escape: Norm’s World. We also found out today that IUGO’s Director of Business Management, Sarah Thompson, will be one of two featured speakers at the upcoming Appy Hour, which is presented by The Social Agency. Appy Hour will be happening on March 26th at the Revel Room from 4 – 6pm. Also speaking at Appy Hour will be Jesse MacFayden, a developer over at Nitobi.

Vancouver TwestivalThe Vancouver Twestival will be taking place at the CBC Vancouver Audience Lounge this March 25th, and tickets are now on sale.  The Twestival is part of a global day of fundraising which will involve thousands of Twitter-users around the world who are gathering together to raise money for Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing suffering and ending extreme poverty.

Your $20 Twestival ticket includes:

– Admission (donation to Concern Worldwide)
– 1 Wine ticket (more available for purchase)
– 1 Raffle ticket (more available for purchase)
– Food (sushi & canapes)
– Official souvenir YVRTwestival button
– Entertainment (Rob Cottingham, live DJ, Mojave)
– Socializing with Twitter friends (although that’s priceless!)

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has announced the release dates for the next round of new DLC for Mass Effect 2. The Firewalker pack will be available beginning on March 23, and Alternate Appearance PackKasumi Goto will join the crew of the Normandy on April 6. Kasumi’s DLC expansion will be titled Stolen Memories. Also coming on March 23 are new appearances for crew members Thane, Jack and Garrus. The Alternate Appearance pack will be available for 160 MS Points. The Firewalker DLC pack will include the brand new M-57 Hammerhead Hover Tank as well as five brand-new missions and locations to explore. This expansion will be free to those gamers who have the Cerberus Network option enabled. The Cerberus Network game add-on code included free to all those gamers who purchased the game new; if you bought a previously-played version, you can add the Cerberus Network option for 1200 MS Points through the XBL Morrigan DisapprovesMarketplace. In my opinion, the Cerberus Network offers much value in return and is well worth the points if you didn’t purchase the game new.

There are also plenty of new items over in the Bioware store. Today’s new product announcement is the “Morrigan Disapproves” Dragon Age shirt. If you have a Bioware, Mass Effect or Dragon Age fan in your house, then the Bioware store is a great place to find some cool gift items from shirts and hats to lithographs and music.

The CFTPA has made the National Digital Strategy Prime Time panel videos and several PowerPoint presentations available online. To download the presentations and speeches, scroll down through the schedule list and click on the links for the presentations you would like. I think that by making these videos and presentations available to those who were unable to make the February conference is a great way to continue a national dialogue for the Toby - Guitar Herodevelopment of a Canadian digital strategy, and I appreciate the efforts by those at the CFTPA for taking strides to keep those of us in the digital media industry informed and talking.

I’m going to leave you on this Friday afternoon with a music video from the young English rock group Jonny Black. Now, you may ask yourself why a Canadian digital media news site is promoting an English group, and I would answer, “because the young men who make up this group are friends of ours and they deserve some extra promotion. Plus, they’re gamers, too.”

Formerly known as Mendella, Jonny Black’s band members are among those who have a dream and work hard to forge their path in the achievement of that dream. This video in particular is an endeavour by the group to have one of their songs chosen as the UK soccer team’s anthem for the 2010 World Cup. We hope that you enjoy Jonny Black’s music as much as we do, and will help their video go viral (watch it, fave it, share it) thereby playing a part in the achievement of their goals. You can read more about our involvement with Jonny Black and learn more about these young men here, here, and in our gallery, right here.

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