10th March 2010

Chaos Rises Today

Relic EntertainmentVancouver – The highly anticipated expansion to Dawn of War 2 has gone live today. Chaos Rising is now available for download on Steam – although on the game’s Steam page, there is a message (as of 12 noon PST) which says the game will unlock in ten hours. Also, if you purchase the game right now for $29.99 usd, you will also get a free copy of Saints Row 2 for PC.Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising - Sorcerer

In Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising you will take command of the Blood Ravens and defend the sector against the Chaos Space Marines of the Black Legion. Purge the chaos filth and hold the chapter together as traitorous forces work from within to try bring down the Blood Ravens.

* New Single Player Missions – Continue your fight against the enemies of the Emperor and use your squads’ wargear, abilities, and experience to battle Chaos in 15 new missions
* New environment and Multiplayer Maps – New ice planet graphics set will increase the visual diversity and adds 7 new PVP maps
* Aspire to Glory – Build your existing squads up to level 30 and unlock even more devastating abilities
* Chaos Corruption Mechanic – New single player mechanic allows you to equip incredibly powerful equipment that corrupts your squad and will guide the story towards or away from the corrupting influence of Chaos
* New Multiplayer Race – Swear loyalty to the Chaos Gods and play as the bloodthirsty Chaos Space Marines in multiplayer battles against both Chaos Rising and Dawn of War II owners
* New Units – New units for the Space Marines, Ork, Eldar, and Tyranid armies in multiplayer.
* 2 New Last Stand Heroes – Face off against the relentless horde as either the Chaos Sorceror or Tyranid Hive Tyrant

VIATeCVictoria – Nominations are now open for the 2010 VIATec Awards. Nominations close at 4:30pm on Friday March 19th. Recognizing technology companies in the Greater Victoria (BC) area, there are several award categories open:

* Technology Company of the Year
* Emerging Technology Company of the Year
* Product of the Year
* Innovative Excellence
* Online Strategy of the Year
* Executive of the Year
* Employee/Team of the Year
* The Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion
* Environmental Excellence
* VIATeC Member of the Year
* Member’s Choice for Service Provider of the Year
* Employer of the Year Award

The VIATeC Awards Gala will be held on May 13th at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Toon BoomMontreal – Emmy® Award-winning Toon Boom Animation Inc. today announced the upcoming release of Toon Boom Animate 2, a new version that provides professional animators with more power and flexibility for creating traditional, digital, cut-out and Flash-style animation. Toon Boom has listened to the animation community and is now delivering a new Animate version that reflects its requests. Animate is totally dedicated to animators and takes care of their needs from start to finish of their animation projects.Animate 2

New feature highlights include:

• Fast distribution of character parts to layers
• Easy adjustment of velocity on multiple character parts
• Efficient creation of richer-looking ambiance
• Full-fledged SWF export with effects
• Direct import of scanned drawings (TWAIN)
• Convenient text capability

Key benefits
Whether preferring traditional or digital methods, animators will greatly benefit from Animate 2‘s superior feature set throughout their entire production process. Read the rest of this entry »

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9th March 2010

Ontario Technology Corridor at GDC 2010 in San Francisco to Attract New Or Expanding Gaming Companies

Ontario Technology CorridorOntario via GDC – Executives from the Ontario Technology Corridor are attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2010) in San Francisco to show digital entertainment companies that Ontario is the best place in North America to expand or relocate their businesses. The Canadian province offers a deep talent pool, strong and stable economy, and targeted incentives.

Ontario’s fast-growing entertainment and creative cluster produces $15 billion in revenue and over 200,000 jobs, contributing $12.7 billion to the province’s GDP. In addition, gaming and digital media graduates from Ontario colleges and universities have proven to be prized employees at companies like Pixar Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Walt Disney and Microsoft.

“Our job now is to add to our tremendous home-grown crop of companies. 35 Ontario gaming companies are at GDC 2010 to showcase their world-class creations, make business connections, and help demonstrate that Ontario is a prime destination in North America for gaming investments,” said Larry MacKinnon, Director, Business Development, Technology with the London Economic Development Corporation, an Ontario Technology Corridor partner. The list of companies based or with operations in Ontario and attending GDC 2010 includes Digital Extremes, Ubisoft, FileCatalyst, and Frozen North Productions. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th March 2010

Award Deadlines, EA NFS Beta Test and Student Presentations

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – A reminder that nominations are open for the Canadian Videogame and Digital Arts Awards, which will be held May 5th, 2010 here in Vancouver, BC. This event will honour and celebrate the best and brightest in Canadian games, computer animation and visual effects. It will be a great, fun, fast paced night featuring Canadian hosts and presenters, as well as internationally renowned musical talent VideoGames Live! You only have until midnight, Wednesday, March 17th to get your submissions in – all nominations must be made on-line at the Canadian Videogame and Digital Arts Awards website.

All awards are for work completed in Canada by December 31st 2009. This includes products that were certified gold during the 2009 calendar year. Please note: videogame upgrades, expansions and mission packs are not eligible.

Technology Impact AwardsVancouver – We’d also like to remind  you that the Technology Impact Awards also has a nomination deadline of March 17th. The BCTIA Technology Impact Awards celebrate the successes of our industry and the companies, people and innovation that continue to put British Columbia on the map and who serve as role models for others in our province. The Technology Impact Awards will be presented at the BCTIA dinner on June 8th. The dinner will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre beginning at 530pm.

Masters of Digital MediaVancouver – Last evening we stopped in at the Masters of Digital Media portfolio presentations, as always we were very impressed with all of the projects going on. The instructors, mentors and administrators at the campus have much to be proud of, and we foresee a very bright future for all of the innovative students in the current class. We invite you to check out the industry projects which we got a look at last night. We were particularly impressed with the innovative eLearning application Wound Care as well as with the Rainforest Project and the Bateman Centre Visualization Project.

 

Vancouver – Following the portfolio presentation we went over to the Pacific Space Centre to attend the VANarts graduation ceremony. VANarts also has many students to be proud of, as witnessed in the many student reels which were presented for 2D and 3D animation, Visual Effects, Game Art and Design and Digital Photography. We wish the graduating class all the best as they venture out into the wonderful world of digital media. 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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24th February 2010

Awards, Rewards and New Title Releases

spongelabTorontoSpongelab Interactive has earned its third major international award – first prize in the Interactive Media category from the Journal of Science and National Science Foundation’s 2009 Visualization Challenge. This is the second consecutive year which has seen Spongelab Interactive named as the winner.

Spongelab Interactive’s Genomics Digital Lab (GDL) is an integrated on-line learning environment where users experience the world of biology through discovery-based learning. GDL (version 4) is currently being used in over 50 countries around the world, illustrating a demand for new technology-based and game-based teaching tools. Spongelab continues to promote the use of immersive learning technologies to school boards and districts across Canada to increase funding commitments for the use of leading-edge interactive digital learning tools in their secondary schools and in the mean time plans to continue to keep costs minimal for individual users and classrooms. “At the high school level, one of our biggest problems across North America is that enrollment in science & math is tanking, especially among girls,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedberg, one of the founders of Spongelab Interactive. “Well-designed educational games are an amazing way to reconnect with students in an engaging and relevant way.”

GDL, was developed as the first part in a series of modular, curriculum-aligned games and interactive simulations covering an array of topics in biology. To meet the needs of students, teachers, and schools, GDL is designed to be fully accessible online from home or school through a web browser, with no downloads, or installation, and provides teachers with class management tools and integrated real-time assessment. Built around a custom learning environment, GDL employs rich, high-quality- 3D graphics designed to captivate and immerse users in the biology they’re studying.

Encompassing varying levels of difficulty, one of the many games engages students in a discovery process to ‘save’ a dying plant by identifying the correct air, light and soil conditions. GDL is built around discovery-based and self-directed learning where users are highly engaged and learn by ‘doing’ and by “playing the biology.” For example, students can choose to feed their plant water, salt water, vinegar, or soda to discover the impact on their plant: will it flourish or shrivel?

In other games, students use their imagination to come up with an “artificial leaf” or they can learn about how plants are the source of our food, fuel and everything in-between. ‘Transcription Hero’ allows students’ to take on the role of an enzyme to transcribe DNA.

Reading RewardsMontreal – Twelve months ago, Montreal mom Michelle Skamene was unhappy about the fact that her two boys, then aged 8 and 9, spent very little time reading. Video games and computers were too much competition for their books. She and her husband, Emmanuel Greciet, decided to put a system in place whereby their kids had to earn TV or game console time by reading: 1 minute TV time for every minute of reading. An IT consultant working in field of website design, Mrs. Skamene set up a program for them to log their reading and TV time to help everyone keep track.

When friends asked if they could use it for their own children, Mrs. Skamene expanded the website to allow parents to set up their own rewards for their kids, and included a number of mini-games and features that the children could activate by reading and reading alone. The kids loved it, and it worked! They are no longer the reluctant readers they once were. “The thing is to get them started. We just needed that little extra motivation to get the ball rolling, and turning their TV time into a reward was the key. Once they made reading a regular part of their routine, and found books they liked, the incentives, really, were no longer necessary.” says Mrs. Skamene, who also created a page to help kids choose the right books. Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd February 2010

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising Goes Gold

Relic EntertainmentVancouverRelic Entertainment’s Warhammer® 40,000™: Dawn of War® II – Chaos Rising™, the highly anticipated standalone chapter in the critically acclaimed RTS series, has reached the gold master stage of development and entered manufacturing. Chaos Rising features the traitorous Chaos Space Marines army as a playable race, a new single-player campaign, a level cap increase from 20 to 30, more powerful war-gear and a suite of innovative multiplayer options. Scheduled for a nationwide release at all major retail and online outlets on March 11, 2010, Chaos Rising will be available as a Games for Windows LIVE® PC title for a suggested retail price of $29.99.

“Chaos Rising is the perfect follow up to Dawn of War II, 2009’s RTS Game of the Year, offering an incredible amount of new content for an amazing value,” said Travis Plane, Vice President of Global Brand Management, THQ. “Relic Entertainment is the industry’s leading RTS developer and will once again deliver bone-crushing action, breathtaking visuals and unprecedented innovation in the genre.”

“Chaos Rising builds on the success of Dawn of War II to create a truly epic and memorable experience for fans and newcomers alike,” said Jonathan Dowdeswell, General Manager, Relic Entertainment. “The game features an intense single player campaign with 15 new action-packed missions and our most brutal multiplayer army yet, the Chaos Space Marines.”

CNIE-RCIÉ St. John – The CNIE-RCIÉ Awards Festival, which recognizes excellence in the innovative educational practice and use of learning technologies in all educational settings has issued a call for Submissions and Jurors. Distributed learning, open/distance education, and institutional contexts including government, commercial and or industrial sectors, both nationally and internationally, are invited to participate in the competition which will be adjudicated by a committee of professional peers from across Canada.

A total of approximately 20 Awards are available for presentation in English and French.

Two different CNIE-RCIÉ categories are open to competition:

· Awards Festival

· Graduate Student Stipend Award

The deadline date for submission for the Awards Festival program is February 25th, 2010, with the Awards presented at the Festival which takes place in St. John NB this coming May 16-19. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th February 2010

Happy Anniversary Propaganda

Vancouver – With a focus on Vancouver throughout February as the world’s best athletes compete in winter sports, Propaganda Games, Disney’s Canadian video games studio, is celebrating its fifth anniversary as a key part of the thriving Vancouver interactive entertainment community. The studio is also participating in the BC Canada Pavilion, an innovative exhibit open to the public, in downtown Vancouver.

Exclusive in-game development models and images from Disney Interactive Studios’ upcoming video game TRON: Evolution are part of an interactive touch screen exhibit in BC Canada Pavilion during the Winter Games, through February 28.

The province of British Columbia is hosting the BC Canada Pavilion on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery. As part of the province’s celebration site at Robson Square, the Pavilion features state-of-the-art exhibits and interactive displays showcasing the best of British Columbia innovation and culture. The exhibit expects to host more than 250,000 visitors from Canada and throughout the world.

Propaganda Games, located in downtown Vancouver, employs more than 200 professionals between two teams. The studio is currently developing two major video games — TRON: Evolution and Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. Both games are scheduled to be released for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

“Propaganda Games is poised to deliver two of the industry’s prominent video games,” said Dan Tudge, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “As part of Vancouver’s flourishing video games development industry, Propaganda Games has tapped into the enormous talent pool and represents Disney’s commitment to the community.”

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15th February 2010

1st Annual Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards Coming This May

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – Canada will celebrate its world-class video game and digital art developers at the 1st Annual Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards ceremony to take place in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 5, 2010 at the beautiful, award-winning Vancouver Convention Centre.GDC Canada 2010

As the third largest producer of video game entertainment in the world, it’s only fitting that Canada launch the Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards with the second annual Game Developers Conference (GDC Canada), to celebrate this impressive designation. The show will also be broadcast across the country on G4TV through the Rogers Network, and tickets for the event will be available to the public in the coming weeks.

“Canadians are masters of their craft when it comes to making games, visual effects and computer animation,” said Victor Lucas, head of Greedy Productions and host of Electric Playground, Canada’s national video game and electronic entertainment show. They work tirelessly to build some of the world’s best entertainment, which then becomes a world-class export that the entire planet consumes. It is time to let everyone know where this amazing work comes from.”

To add to the event, Video Games Live will provide the entertainment for the evening. This musical convergence of sound, games and effects has garnered fans across the globe, and is the first and most successful video game concert tour in the world.

Sponsors for the event have begun to come onboard with notable participation from Microsoft’s Xbox Canada, Electronic Arts, AnnexPro & Rogers.

Nominations opened today for the Awards and are welcome from all parts of Canada’s digital media industries. The Call for Nominations will close on March 7, 2010. Seven awards will be presented for Visual Effects and Animation and nine awards will be given for Video Games.

Finalists in all categories will be announced March 15, 2010.

The Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards are co-produced by Reboot Communications, Greedy Productions and Seven Group. The producers are joined by a national industry committee of developers and leaders of the Canadian digital entertainment industry.

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15th February 2010

Award Nominations, Demo Reels and Product Announcements

Orby - Proud to be Canadian

Village Gamer is Proud to Be Canadian

GO CANADA GO!


appboyEdmonton – A Smartphone as an x-ray machine? “There’s an app for that.” This phrase is starting to become as commonplace as saying “hello” when answering the phone. According to Gartner Research, Smartphone consumers are estimated to spend more than $6 billion and download over 4.5 billion mobile applications this year. With the mounting popularity of this phenomenon, AppBoy launched an easy-to-use, revolutionary social network that aims at connecting mobile app developers and users.

“AppBoy was developed to help developers get their apps discovered and to help users navigate through the thousands of available apps to find the ones they like,” says Thorren Koopmans, Director of Operations for AppBoy.

With more than 100,000 apps on the market, it’s difficult for app entrepreneurs to stand out. AppBoy gives app developers of multiple platforms (Android, iPhone, Palm and Blackberry) an opportunity to easily showcase their work and market their creations to mobile app lovers. Through personal developer profile pages created on the site, developers can share their ideas and even create their own app store. Apps sold through the social network also earn the developer a share of the profits.

AppBoy also has a lot to offer for those who aren’t building their own apps. Any user with ideas that are useful, smart or just plain entertaining can submit them to the website. Visitors to the social network have the ability to vote and comment on submissions. If the ideas generate enough votes, AppBoy rewards the user $250 and creates the app.

“We already have a great value proposition for both developers and end users, but we’re just getting started. There are big updates coming that are going to make AppBoy that much better.” Read the rest of this entry »

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12th February 2010

Points of Reference

Orby - Proud to be CanadianWith the opening of today’s Winter Olympics it’s a busy day in the city, and with all of the great things we’ve been hearing about the Opening Ceremonies, I might even be persuaded to take a break from the Xbox to watch them on TV. Later this weekend we’ll be taking a look at Mass Effect 2, Dante’s Inferno, Army of Two: 40th Day and Assassin’s Creed 2: Discovery for the DS. In the meantime, here’s a bit of the game play that’s been going on in the cave. I didn’t know that Mordin could sing. Interesting. Must investigate.

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The IGDA is conducting an ARG SIG demographic and salary survey; if you are involved in the field of Alternate Reality Games, the IGDA would like a few moments of your time.

PsychometricsFor today’s article, I would like to draw attention to a study of leadership in the Canadian workplace which was done by Edmonton’s Psychometrics Canada. An assessment publisher and consultant for the development and selection of people in business, government and education. There is a quick form to fill in prior to viewing the complete study, but I feel that the information which this study contains is worth the time.

In many cases strong leadership has resulted in dramatic effects on work engagement, team performance and innovation. However, the report also shows that poor leadership has negative effects on employee morale, project success and working relationships. I feel that in today’s Psychometrics Studybusiness climate, good leadership is important not only in the success of a company, but also in the development of employees and their quest for career and creative satisfaction.

The study, which involved a poll of 517 human resources (HR) professionals across Canada, confirms that leadership is seen as an important area of organizational functioning and development. The majority (63.2%) see leaders as having a lot of influence over their organizations’ success, with only 2.5% reporting that leaders have very little influence. The most common effects of good leadership are increased motivation (85.5%), improved working relationships (85.1%), higher team performance (80.7%), better solutions to problems (68.9%), and major innovations (41.6%).

Leadership does have its downside, however. When not properly used, leadership can have negative effects. HR professionals have witnessed good people quitting and a lack of morale (91.7%), employees’ skills not being utilized (87.2%), feuding staff members (68.3%), and failed projects (60%). Three-quarters (76%) have also witnessed a disconnection between the organization’s goals and its employees’ work. Read the rest of this entry »

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