Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Game Developers opt for Conference in Vancouver

Having just returned from the annual whirlwind that is the Game Developer’s Conference (typically held in either San Francisco or San Jose), I’m ready for a nap, even three days later. But, part of me is looking forward to mid-May, when the GDC comes to Canada. Recent years have seen a lot of shuffling in tradeshow circles, particularly video games, as several large, annual gatherings hustle to attract attendees, and GDC is in like a dirty shirt, splitting itself into the usual US show and adding shows in Austin, Europe, China, and Canada.

The shows, in short, are open to anyone and are designed to facilitate the opportunity to learn various tracks. There are seminars and sessions for artists, programmers, designers, sound engineers, management, business devleopment, and so on and so on. Shows are often an eclectic mix of established developers and publishers, along with students looking to make contacts and learn some things their curriculum won’t cover.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a basic expo pass, something that just allows people to wander the show floor, talk to companies, and see a few things they’re working on. However, the pricing, particularly the early pricing, for the fuller access passes is quite good. It’s still a ways off, but as mentioned, the pricing is better for early birds than waiting until we get to May.

This is a bit of an experiment – there hasn’t been a GDC Canada before, but it’s long overdue.

Music, Movies, and Madness!

Saturday December 6th, there’s a lot going on at The Rio Theatre (Broadway and Commercial), all of it part of Cthulhupalooza (kuh-too-loo-pah-loo-zah) – I’ll see if I can break it down for you.

For starters, there’s a Rock Band contest, sponsored by the game creators, Harmonix – if you’ve got some pals, and think you can rock it out, the contest is open to all attendees. Finalists get to rock it out on stage, and the winners, besides winning sweet prizes, can perform with The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. The Thickets have a track on Rock Band, so that’s the connection.

Then later there will be a screening of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s Call of Cthulhu (which is done as an old-school, silent movie) along with other visual fun.

And then the evening is capped by a performance by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets! Lead singer and chief instigator Toren was recently a guest-host on CITR’s We All Fall Down, helping to get the word out and drive some funds for CITR’s on-going funding donations (listen here.)

Besides being a barrel of monkeys, the event is helping to raise money for Child’s Play, which helps provide hospitals around the world (including BC’s Children’s Hospital) with video game systems, toys, and other fun things that make time spent in a hospital that much less sucky.

There’s a website for the event, which has information on where to pick up tickets (RX comics, Elfsar comics, Scratch, Red Cat, Zulu, and Neptoon records, etc. plus online sales via PayPal), how to enter the Rock Band contest, and more as the day of the event gets nearer!

Please spread the word, as the event benefits from having as many people as possible in attendance!

Full disclosure – I am helping to organize this event. It’s a charity event, so I’m not sure if you give full disclosure on that sort of thing. But let’s just say I a lot of my heart invested in this event, and I wish it to go well. Hope to see you there.

Krazy! comics come to the Vancouver Art Gallery


Vancouver Art Gallery Exhibition

KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art

May 17 to September 7, 200

I went to see Krazy! last week. It’s the first showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) that I’ve been to in awhile, and as someone who spends far too much of their monthly income on video games, comic books and graphic novels it’s right up my alley.

The exhibit takes up two floors of the gallery, with the main floor being dedicated to comics and graphic novels along with anime and magna with the second floor turned over to video games and film. The show is curated by some of the big names of the featured industries including Art Spiegelman most famous for his Holocaust retelling Maus and Will Wright who created the Sim games such as Sim City and The Sims. The show offers an interesting examination of animation from cartoon stips in the newspaper with Krazy Kat to video games and modern computer animated movies.

It does not, however offer any context, something that is actually too bad since this is a rare opportunity to bring outsiders into the world of animation, and graphic storytelling.

Below the jump is my critique of the exhibit. It might sound negative, but really in total this is a good show and well worth your time. It’s certainly not perfect, but there is a chance that I’m being overly critical of it. I enjoyed my time going through the exhibit quite a bit, and would certainly recommend it to anyone regardless of their interest level in animated storytelling.


Anthony Bourdain’s Vancouver visit


Former chef Anthony Bourdain is famous around foodie circles both for his books, the most notable being Kitchen Confidential, and the niche he’s carved for himself as a travel food journalist with his show No Reservations which is shown on the Travel Channel down in the States. The most talked about shtick on the show is when Bourdain will eat something stomach turning, presenting audiences with a reality television version of the monkey brains scene from Temple of Doom.

Vancouver seems an odd destination for the show, since it’s neither one of the major food capitals of the world nor a place where one is likely to find something quite so unusual as a cobra heart like he ate in Vietnam. Still our city was one of the destinations for the show on this season, and while you won’t find it on Canadian television thanks to YouTube we can watch the episode online (for now).

I’ve said before that having outsiders come to Vancouver is a great way to get a new perspective on the city, and see just how much other people appreciate what we have there. Granted some of the eating that he does in the episode is way beyond a lot of people’s pocket books (mine included) but it’s still a great indication of what we have in our city.

The first three parts of the episode after the jump.


The English are coming for our video games

NHL08x360SCRNpitVan2, originally uploaded by gamertagradio.

There could be trouble on the horizon for the local video game industry. Like our movie industry software developers get pretty good tax breaks for bringing their studios to Canada, and Vancouver along with Montreal have been the big winners. Electronic Arts is the major studio in town, but there’s quite a few other ones that have been drawn here by tax credits.

The British are taking a closer look into these sorts of government incentives, and thinking of bringing a case against Canada up in the WTO.

From Wired’s Game\Life blog [wgl]:

The Brits are up in arms over the numerous tax breaks and financial incentives that are offered to game developers in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. As Paul Jackson, head of the ELSPA put it, “The Canadians have driven a tank over the French Citroen and have now parked on our lawn. It is becoming very challenging to keep core development studios here.”

The new investigation is meant to determine whether Canada’s financial breaks for game developers is compatible with World Trade Organization principles.

You know what I say? I say fuck off limeys, we totally beat you at negotiating our Confederation and then Trudeau totally patriated the Constitution from your/our Queen.  Why don’t you go cry in your tea?  Suckers.

Vancouver made game turns children into tiny terrors

Wii Bully

As you all remember the world ended in 2006 with the release of Rockstar’s Bully [mbv].  It had gay kissing, fighting, running from teachers and some more fighting and we all knew that it would destroy civilization, as it did.  Add to that the fact that it was made at Rockstar’s Vancouver studio and you had a recipie for disaster.  I for one have been living in a cave defending my stash of food with a stick and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s lives have been just as devestated.

Or perhpaps nobody’s lives were affected other than those people who saw a chance to get themselves some attention and appear on the television.  Now the teachers unions are wanting to get their screen time as Vancouver’s teachers are joining with seven other teachers’ unions from around the world to have the game banned [cbc].  Not just banned from schools, but banned from existing. 

Which of course is the best advertising that Rockstar can buy, better in fact from their own PR.  I mean until I read about their attempt to have it banned I didn’t know that Rockstar had released a special edition version of the game this month.  It also proves that local teachers are shockingly stupid and kind of mini-Nazis. 

Stupid in that the game’s not going to be banned, because at its core Bully is a fairly innocent game.  Compared to most games it’s so light hearted, I mean you get into trouble you go to detention.  You fight bullies.  You don’t murder, kill or cut anything off of anyone.  These people are supposed to teach our children, and part of that is to teach them about freedom of speech and not that freedom of expression is only meant for when we agree with what’s being said.

Vancouver teachers, enjoy your time on television.  I won’t be watching, I’m in my cave trying to survive the apocalypse brought forth by a game with kids punching each other.

Mega Man parody video outrages a nation

From Wired’s Game | Life blog [wm]:

Recently appearing on YouTube was this pardoy of the classic video game Mega Man, where Mega Man runs through Vancouver Airport and then tasers Robert Dziekanski to death. Of course the RCMP are outraged, as is pretty much everyone else despite the fact that the creator Mike Greenway is saying it’s a statement on taser use by police as opposed to making fun of the recent death at YVR of Dziekanski.

I find it hard to be more outraged by a video game parody than I am at the actual death. However whether or not this will be at all useful for getting the public to demand the use of tasers in police procedure be reviewed will be for history to decide.

Edit: Thanks to Andrew for pointing out my spectacular spelling mistake in the title.

NHL08 is some kind of greatness


Originally uploaded by gamertagradio.

Loads of great video games are developed in local studios, but nothing impresses our fellow Canadians like the fact that Electronic Arts’ Vancouver/Burnaby studios do the bulk of the work on their NHL franchise. If you’re like me you don’t get truly excited for a new season of hockey until you’ve lost a few hours of sleep trying to guide your team into the playoffs.

Critics, such as my former (freelance) employer IGN, have generally been a bit hard on the series for being overly arcade-y, especially when compared to the NHL2K series. This year though IGN is loving the EA [ign] and the game scored slightly better than NHL2K8.

Having picked it up last night and spent a few hours already, I must say the game is so much better this year than it’s ever been. The on-ice experience is splendid, and for the first time I feel like I’m actually playing a hockey game. Sure you can score the odd breakaway goal, but for the most part it’s about cycling the puck around the offensive zone before taking a shot instead of just setting up the glorious one-timer.

Oh and the Canucks’ much hated new jersey? It’s in there, but you’ll have to unlock it (and the other 2007-2008 shirts) with a code. Thankfully the code is after the jump.


Elfsar brings Halo Heroclix alliteration to Vancouver

Halo: Uprising

Originally uploaded by Danh TX.

//begin nerdness// I once tried to get into Heroclix [wp] the comic themed table top board game that builds on the Pokemon type collection gaming that’s popular right now. The trouble is I don’t quite understand the rules, and like hockey I just feel like I’m too old to ever start playing it now. I mean just like it would be shameful to me and my family if I showed up at a hockey game for six year olds wanting to join the team, being whumped at Heroclix by twelve year olds is kind of shockingly loserish too.

Still it’s a pretty popular thing, as is the XBox game Halo. Ah Halo, with a new comicbook written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Alex Maleev and of course the wildly anticipated Halo 3 due out soon for the XBox 360 it’s hard to look one way or another without Wired [wm] running a feature on the franchise or someone trying to get you to pre-order the game.

So what happens when you combine these things? Can we call it Funvana? Or maybe Dorkmecha? Or maybe just $$$. Either way if you’re into either Halo or Heroclix, and especially if you’re into both, you might be excited to know that local comic book shop Elfar will be having a preview of the new Halo Heroclix series of figures September 5th at 6 pm [efs].

More nerdery after the jump.


Penny Arcade game nearly done

Penny Arcade

Originally uploaded by BlueBeetle.

Wired [wm] has a photo feature preview up of the new Penny Arcade [pa] computer game. The game looks fun in an old-school RPG sort of way, and the PA strips are always funny so if some of the humour can get translated to the game I’ll be happy.

Why the mention here? Well the game is being developed by local developer Hothead Games [hg]. It’ll be sold as episodic downloads for Windows, Mac, and Linux which means that even me and my OSX centric world will be able to enjoy it.

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