Category Archives: Blog

Ontario Government Backs Up the Money Truck

BEEP BEEP BEEP … that’s either the sound of a Tenacious D concert playing on Family Channel, or the sound of the OMDC MONEY TRUCK backing up to your door sometime soon.

Money Truck

Er – excuse me, Ma’am … where do you want all of this here money?

The Ontario Media Development Corporation announced last week its Screen-Based Content Initiative, aimed at putting cash in the pockets of Ontario corporations to develop content for film, television, the Internatz, cell phones, handheld gaming devices – anything with a screen. Note that the money is for developing something. You don’t have to actually arrive at a finished product. This is great news for those of us in the (ambiguously-named) media industry, because most often, paid work takes a back seat to developing new products, as new products are often researched and developed at a loss.

Given the choice between taking a work-for-hire contract to build someone else’s games for someone else’s property, and running on fumes while we create an original product that might become economically viable and could possibly break even … or turn a profit … or not … the survival instinct kicks in, and we sign the work-for-hire contract. We’re very optimistic that we’ll end up in the running for this funding. It’s amazing to think that we’ll have something to call our own.

Everyone and His Dog

The OMDC itself admits that this initiative will stir fierce competition. i’m even wondering how far certain people will try to stretch the “screen-based” requirement. Maybe silk-screen artists will try to make a grab at the funding? Or screen door manufacturers? Or people who screen their phone calls?

The screen-based development activities that the OMDC lists as elligible include:

Sally Struthers ICS

Sally Struthers recommends TV/VCR Repair

The top prize is $100 000, up to 75% of the project budget, until the OMDC burns through up to 2 million dollars. The rest of the details are on the OMDC site.

Word.

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Enter the Chumby

Chumby Logo

We were very excited to receive our Chumby today in the mail. Chumby is an adorable, squeezable bean bag with a cuddly creature-shaped charm on it. You can hold it, cuddle it, or toss it around the room, though that might not be a great idea because it has a computer inside.

Chumby

It’s full of beans. Literally.

The device pulls wireless Internatz content through the ether to display a chain of Flash Lite 3 displays, called “Widgets”, that can do anything from displaying the time and weather to updating you on the latest Chuck Norris legends. The designers built Chumby so that owners can very easily develop content for it, which is then uploaded to the Chumby network to enjoy privately or to share with other Chumby owners. Chumby Industries even actively encourages its userbase to hack the device, providing Chumby schematics and specs on their site.

Long before the Chumby was released, i knew it was right up my alley. i’ve long been looking for a device that will run Flash that i could show off to my friends, and the fact that this thing is encased in a cozy beanbag drove it way beyond “Daddy Wanty” on my “Vapid Materialism Metre”. Unfortunately, the Chumby isn’t the answer to my portable device fantasies that i was hoping for.

Crumby

No device is perfect, and i hate obsessing over the flaws of a device once it’s in my hot little hands, so let’s get this part over with quickly. The trouble with the Chumby, as most online reviews attest, are as follows:

  1. Unresponsive touch screen
  2. No hardware volume control
  3. Wall power required.

This last point absolutely killed me. The Chumby has to be plugged in via its AC adapter and cable to function. My dreams of running through idyllic meadows, spinning my battery-enabled Chumby around in my arms and collapsing into a bed of fluffy dandelions was shattered. The need to plug in your Chumby precludes all kinds of interesting uses, not least of all carrying on a polite conversation with someone about all the magical things you can do, and then proving it by pulling a bizarre touch screen-enabled beanbag out of your pocket and demonstrating your software.

i haven’t owned the Chumby long enough to comment on the missing volume dial, but i immediately noticed that the touch screen was not very sensitive. Regardless, folks with meatfingers like mine are probably best off using a stylus. i can’t even wrap my sausage-digits around the P2 interface to play a lousy song or two.

Samsung P2

Damn you, P2, fer caterin’ to wee FAIRY FOLK fingers!

Untold Entertainment

So with its mandatory wall-tether, the Chumby makes for an expensive, gadget-lover’s alarm clock replacement. i’ll wait until the hardware hackers come up with a cool Chumby Mech Suit that lets your little beanbag walk around the house shooting tiny layzzor beams at your cats. Until then, the Chumby can download and play Widgets for free from the Chumby Network.

i’m still in the process of reviewing the 50-odd games available on the Network to figure out where my Chumby ambitions lie. i am excited to exploit the more unusual features of the device, like the squeeze sensor and the accelerometer.

The Cure for the Common DJ

Even if the Chumby is destined to sit dutifully by my bedside for the rest of its life, i was more than thrilled to unplug my old alarm clock and all but hurl it out the window. For the past few months, i’ve been enduring Toronto radio DJ Bill Carroll talking about how much he hates cyclists. Just this morning, he was talking about the current Toronto police campaign to improve cyclist awarness, and complaining about the fact that he’ll now have to signal before making turns in his car just for the benefit of cyclists, because the police are watching. A few weeks ago, after a cyclist was killed when someone opened a car door in his path, Carroll put the blame on cyclists.

As a cyclist who commutes with his 2-year-old daughter to day care every morning, i don’t enjoy waking up to this guy dangerously misinforming his listeners, tacitly defending motorists who maim and murder adults and children on bicycles. Good riddance, Carroll! Say … perhaps the Chumby could use a “Punch Your Detested Morning DJ in the Face” app?

But no! i must not use my Chumby for evil. i will most likely tool up a quick little game get my feet wet with the Chumby, before embarking on something more ambitious.

If i develop anything that can be played properly on your computer, i’ll be sure to make it available on the Untold Entertainment Games Page. If i build stuff that uses the squeeze or motion sensors, you’ll have to consider getting a Chumby!

Pimp My Game Part 2: Kongregate

i’m taking Two by Two from the Untold Entertainment library to see how various online monetization methods for Flash games pan out.

Introduction
Part 1: Armor Games
Part 2: Kongregate
Part 3: MochiAds
………./\……….Update: MindJolt

Kongregate


Part 2: Kongregate

Pimp My GameThis is a website hailing itself as “the Youtube of video games”. Upload your game to the site to participate in their revenue share split – as the developer, you earn a portion of the advertisting money. Kongregate also has weekly and monthly contests to attract new games on a regular basis. The site offers a bigger portion of the revenue pie to developers who integrate their more “hooky” features like high scores and statistics, as well as making your game exclusive to their site.

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Earth Rangers seeks Web Coordinator

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Reduce. Reuse. Rrrebbit.

A gaggle of Corus ex-pats went on to start something big at Earth Rangers, an enivronmental education centre for kids. They’re looking for a Coordinator for their Interactive team.

The drawback is that they’re all the way up in Woodbridge. Perks include a Captain Planet lunchbox and free eagle rides.

Company: Earth Rangers (Toronto area)
Job Title: Coordinator, Interactive
Description: Earth Rangers is an innovative, dynamic and fast-growing organization which mandate is to inspire kids to act to protect the environment.

The Coordinator, Interactive will be responsible for regular updates to the Earth Rangers web sites (corporate and kids sites), researching and writing new material, and understanding and maintaining a connection with the users and kids that are visiting the site. The ideal candidate will be creative, possess excellent organizational and communication skills and is aware of online trends and culture specific to our audience.

See the full posting here.

Pimp My Game Part 1: Armor Games

i’m taking Two by Two from the Untold Entertainment library to see how various online monetization methods for Flash games pan out.

Introduction
Part 1: Armor Games
Part 2: Kongregate
Part 3: MochiAds
………./\……….Update: MindJolt

Addicting Games


Part 1: Armor Games

Pimp My GameArmor Games is a Flash portal that will sponsor games on a case-by-case basis, with a game’s worth being determined by the site’s moderators. The site owners appear to be very efficient at pimping out games themselves; the Armor Games splash screen seems to pop up in every conceivable corner of the Internatz.
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