October, 2014

  1. The Ultra-cool ROV Technologies of Tectoria

    October 29, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    Not many people know it, but the Saanich Peninsula is the home of one of Canada’s largest marine technology clusters.

    Cutting-edge local companies like AXYS and ASL Environmental, while not necessarily household names here in Victoria, are well-known from San Diego to Scotland for producing innovative technologies.

    While local ocean tech companies specialize in everything from contributing technologies to offshore wind farms to helping measure fluctuations in the polar icecaps, remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV’s) are one particularly cool technology that everyone gets pretty quickly.

    Victoria’s ROV technologies are so compelling that the upcoming TEDx conference on November 22nd will feature a speaker from the United States whose passion is ROV’s.

    OpenROV Project

    David Lang, who hails from Berkeley, leads the OpenROV Project.

    David Lang is a maker who taught himself to become an amateur oceanographer — or, he taught a robot to be one for him.

    He is traveling here to Victoria on November 22 to show how he and a network of ocean lovers teamed up to build open-sourced, low-cost underwater explorers.

    If you’re into ROV’s, then OpenROV is well-worth checking out. David is part of a community dedicated not only to pushing the boundaries of ROV development, but also showing everyone how they can be part of this exciting emerging technology.

    David Lang will be in good company when he travels to Tectoria on November 22nd to present at TEDx Victoria.

    Cool Marine Technology in Tectoria

    There are a number of companies producing highly sophisticated ROV’s here in Victoria, including Triton Logging, which developed its own ROV technology to harvest submerged forests, with the goal of selling the world’s most eco-friendly wood.

    Advanced Subsea works offshore in such diverse environments as Hibernia, Sable Island, Russia, the Caspian Sea, China, India, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.

    There’s even a Marine Technology Park at Pat Bay (just west of the airport) that features a 62,500-litre saltwater pool to test ROV’s before they are assembled, tested and delivered before going to sea.

    The Marine Technology Park is also home to the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility, which helps ocean scientists to conduct research on the ecology of hydrothermal vents, sponge reefs and cold-water corals, and the geochemistry and economic potential of sulphide mineral and gas hydrate deposits, and to perform pioneering work on cabled deep-sea observatories.

    NOAA Ocean Explorer: Submarine Ring of Fire 2002: Explorer Ridge

    Most people in Victoria will at least have heard of these deep-sea observatories. UVic’s NEPTUNE and VENUS projects are well-known around the world for providing an amazing look at what is happening far below the surface of the sea in real-time.

     

     


  2. The Blossoming Board Game Culture of Tectoria

    October 22, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    Spending a night out playing tabletop games is now part of popular culture, in no small part thanks to influencers like Wil Wheaton (Wesley, from Star Trek: the Next Generation) who even hosts a popular and hilarious YouTube channel called TableTop.

    And playing tabletop and board games is building critical mass here in Tectoria too.

    If you ever stroll around downtown Victoria you’ll know there is a stretch of Johnson Street right around Broad that is crammed with comic book and game shops.

    This vibrant cluster of colourful storefronts is home to a dedicated group of gamers playing tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer, and with drop-in sessions of the Magic card game thrown in for good measure.

    The gaming community’s ongoing efforts to facilitate meetups and a space to hang out is a great way to ensure downtown Victoria is a destination for people of all ages and interests – it’s part of the glue that binds our Tectoria community together.

    500 Board Games for Five Bucks

    And who doesn’t like playing board games?

    That’s the premise behind Interactivity Board Game Cafe on Yates Street. Neighbouring the newly-launched Meat and Bread, the Interactivity Board Game Cafe is a great place to meet up with friends and family to play board games.

    It costs five bucks a person, and you can play as long as you want. Did we mention they offer milkshakes, sandwiches, and other snacks?

    Five dollars will go a long way at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe, which boasts about 500 different board games lining the shop’s shelves from floor to ceiling. You can spend an evening playing different games with family and friends, or find one to purchase and take home.

    Day of Board Games (November 2)

    If you love to play tabletop games, then you really ought to know about the Day of Board Games on November 2, the Sunday right after Halloween.

    This is the sixth annual event, where participants can play boardgames with new folks, and enjoy beer or wine while doing it. Apparently it’s the same plan as ever: turn up, bring games you want to play, and play them.

    The Day of Board Gamers will be hosted at the Hideaway restaurant. The Hideaway is located in the Tally-Ho Hotel on Douglas Street, just near Campus Honda, Mayfair Mall and “that bed shop which is always having a closing down sale for the past eight years.”

    Says the organizer, “Feel free to share the invite with your friends, enemies and frenemies. We have space for 80 at this venue!”

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    Parkour, by Victoria game designer Delek Turner

    Tickets are $10, and are available via the event’s Facebook page, Interactivity Board Game Cafe on Yates Street, and Skyhaven Games, close to Tillicum Mall.

    Everyone attending will also be getting Parkour for free. Parkour is a game designed by Victoria resident Delek Turner. It’s an incredibly cool 3D game that’s all about running up buildings and not falling off.

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  3. Super Mega Baseball

    October 14, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    Ever-increasing development costs for major game studios and the rise of the mobile gaming market have meant there are fewer entertaining sports games to play these days.

    One indie game developer based on Broad Street in Victoria aims to change that.

    “There was once an era when a variety of new sports games came out every year,” says Scott Drader, co-founder of Metalhead Software.

    Metalhead is part of Victoria’s rapidly-growing indie game cluster that includes startups like TinyMob Games, which just TinyMob Games which just launched Tiny Realms to a global audience.

    “We once had titles ranging from casual, to ridiculous, to arcade, all the way up to simulation. A lot of these games lived at this nice overall level of complexity where you could plop yourself on the couch with friends, even if they weren’t huge sports fans, and go from having no idea what you’re doing to having a blast in just an hour or two. It was a very cool era for the genre.”

    Thanks to technological leaps and bounds over the past decade, there are now more expectations about what game should be able to do. While for gamers the results are fantastic, these high expectations, Drader says, has meant that it has become more difficult to produce games, and now there are fewer of them each year.

    So Drader decided to do something about it.

    The ShipConstructor alumnus combined his software engineering, rendering and graphics, game development, and content creation creation chops with a seemingly latent ability to successfully launch and start and build a small business to create Metalhead Software.

    The result?  Super Mega Baseball.

    With its retro name, Super Mega Baseball harkens back to the 1990s golden era of arcade sports titles. It’s meant to be a fun, accessible baseball game that still hefts enough weight so that more experienced players will still be engaged. Read an advance review here.

    The game is due to be released on PS4 and PS3 this fall.

    Check out the Metalhead Twitter feed to stay up to date.

    The Rapid Rise of Victoria’s Video Game Sector

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  4. Victoria Will Host 2015 BreakOut West and Western Canadian Music Awards

    October 8, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    Years of work by local fans and supporters have resulted in another stage in Victoria’s evolution as one of Canada’s hottest emerging music scenes.

    In September 2015 Victoria will host both BreakOut West and the Western Canada Music Awards.

    Timed to coincide in September with the massively popular Rifflandia festival, BreakOut West is a 3-day music conference and a 2-night music festival combined with the Western Canadian Music Awards.

    It’s a 3-day party all about celebrating the best indie up-and-comers and established acts from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, NWT and the Yukon.

    BreakOut West is the perfect and natural compliment to Tectoria’s innovative Rifflandia festival, which itself brings in top bands from all over the world while showcasing local talent.

    These events will invite an amazingly diverse group of musicians and members of the music scene to Victoria.

    The crowd descending on Victoria will include festival producers from all over the world, publishing companies, record labels, funding agencies, booking agents, songwriters and producers, as well as the musicians and their fans themselves.

    This is a great chance for our community to show off our amazing late summer weather, architecture, the burgeoning local food scene, fashion, and everything else that makes Victoria such a special place.

    The 2014 BreakOut West lineup  in Winnipeg in early October showcased everything from Edmonton metal bands to Vancouver blues guitarists to unclassifiable western Canadian talent “stuck somewhere between They Might be Giants and Fred Penner.”

    The Western Canadian Music Awards will also be timed to be held during Rifflandia next September. Members of the six western music industry associations including MusicBC, Alberta Music, SaskMusic, Manitoba Music, Music NWT and Music Yukon are eligible to vote on the winners.

    The awards are presented in front of a crowd of hundreds of people as part of a gala evening. The 2014 Western Canada Music Awards were presented on October 5 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    The winners were announced here.

    A ton of different groups around Victoria helped to entice BreakOut West to come to our city in September 2015.

    These groups include:

    • Government of British Columbia
    • City of Victoria
    • CRD Arts Committee
    • Capital Region Music Awards Society
    • Downtown Victoria Business Association
    • Atomique Productions Ltd.
    • Tourism Victoria
    • Norgaard Kratofil Professional Group
    • Rifflandia Festival,
    • VIATeC
    • Phillips Brewing Co.
    • LA Limousines, Infinity Law
    • Hartwig Industries
    • The Zone 91.3
    • 100.3 The Q
    • Young Entrepreneurs Society of Victoria

    Stay tuned for more announcements about this event!