Fort Tectoria

  • VIATEC posted an article
    Submissions for challenges are now open for Victoria's first ever Health Hackathon see more

    The Victoria Health Hackathon – Call for Challenges!


    The first ever health and regenerative medicine themed Hackathon will take place in Victoria September 28-30, 2018. Health Hackathons are focused events that bring together interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative solutions to front-line healthcare problems. This event is being held with support from the Centre of Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria, the B.C. Regenerative Medicine Initiative, Starfish Medical, and Island Health.

    Call for Challenges: The Hackathon’s organizers are seeking a diverse array of health related challenges that can be addressed by groups of hackers in a one month time period as part of our Hackathon! These challenges can be addressed through a variety of engineering disciplines, including biomedical, electrical, mechanical, and software engineering. See below for the event timeline. Preference will be given to projects with strong in-kind support through either mentorship or donation of supplies or resources. The challenges should be no longer than 750 words in length.

    Please email Stephanie Willerth ( with your potential challenges for consideration with subject line “Health Hackathon Challenge” and you will be notified by mid-August if yours has been selected for the competition. Those wishing to serve as judges or mentors are invited to provide their interest via email as well.

    Deadline for submissions: July 31st, 2018.

    Dates / Format:

    Summer: Hackers, mentors, and judges will be recruited to participate

    September 7: Kick-off, to be held at the University of Victoria, where the challenges will be presented to the hackers, enabling them to create teams. The teams will have until the hacking weekend to think about their approach to challenges. During this period, we will have a team of mentors who will answer questions about the challenges during that time.

    September 28-30: The Hackathon itself will take place at Fort Tectoria, with the solutions being judged on Sunday, and an awards ceremony to follow.

    November 2: A status update on the hacks has been tentatively scheduled during the University of Victoria’s Biomedical Engineering Day on November 2nd, 2018.

    Register: Registration for the Hackathon will open in July


    Still puzzled about what a Hackathon is?  Check out the following links to similar events for inspiration!

    Questions can be directed to Stephanie Willerth (

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    It seems Victoria has its entrepreneurial wings at last... see more

    Source: Douglas Magazine
    Author: Pamela Roth

    Victoria Is a City of Entrepreneurs

    With angel investors arriving en masse this spring, and startups, popups and meetups infusing our lingo, it seems Victoria has its entrepreneurial wings at last. But don’t expect a copycat of Silicon Valley. This city has its own vibrant attitude...

    [Click to read more]

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.” see more

    Source: Capital Magazine
    Author: Andrew

    Victoria’s tech industry breathes life into downtown

    Victoria’s downtown core, which has been much maligned over the years as a dead zone where retail went to die, is very much alive and thriving these days — and it owes a portion of its renaissance to the region’s soaring technology sector.

    The high-tech sector, which boasts annual revenues in excess of $4 billion and is considered the city’s most valuable industry, has found a solid fit in the city’s downtown, filling in upper-floor and hard-to-rent offices. And the city seems to have responded in kind, flourishing with new retail offerings, cafes, pubs, restaurants, services and a host of new residential buildings.

    While no one in the tech sector is about to claim full responsibility for the life breathed into the downtown, it’s hard to avoid linking the fortunes of the two.

    “Tech has been a huge economic boon to downtown,” said Marc Foucher of Colliers International Victoria. “There are 380 tech firms operating in downtown Victoria alone and they are employing people who walk out for coffee every morning, eat lunch downtown, shop after work, go to yoga.

    “I’m not at all surprised that retail is coming back downtown. There are more shops, more vacant retail fronts are being leased up and following on that are the number of condos and rental buildings going up in Victoria. Tech is not responsible for all of it, but it plays a role.”

    According to Colliers’ most recent retail market overview, tech, tourism and increased downtown residential building have resulted in the retail vacancy rate dropping to 5.45 per cent at the end of last year compared to 8.53 per cent at the end of 2015.

    And Colliers’ last office-tenant demand profile study in 2015 showed that of all lease deals done in the region, tech and digital media accounted for 49 per cent, with government deals accounting for just 23 per cent.

    In the downtown core, tech accounted for 90,000 square feet of space leased in 2015 while government leasing accounted for 111,000 square feet.

    Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, known as VIATEC, said tech companies have been downtown a long time, but they are just now starting to make their presence felt by the sheer weight of their numbers.

    “The difference is the success they are having now and the size they are now,” said Gunn, noting there were more than 300 firms in the core five years ago. “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.”

    He believes the establishment of VIATEC at the highly visible Fort Tectoria (777 Fort St.) and shared-space tech buildings such as The Summit (838 Fort St.), 844 Courtenay St., 955 View St. and SpaceStation (517 Fort St.) have provided natural hubs where tech workers can get together and experience a sense of community.

    “We wanted a retail street-level presence so people could identify and see the evidence of the tech sector,” said Gunn of VIATEC’s return to the downtown core in 2014. “Until then, tech had been largely invisible.”

    There’s no missing them now, and Gunn said that will continue as young companies who want to succeed have learned they need to be in desirable locations, close to amenities and on transit routes to attract and retain talent.

    “Having a good place to go for lunch or a beer, the amenities for day-to-day life are key considerations,” he said. “Downtown cores are appealing to tech companies and staff because of all they have to offer.”

    Tobyn Sowden, chief executive at software developer Redbrick, said they have always been a downtown company, starting in Market Square and now occupying a large open-floor space on a second floor on Store Street.

    “We were attracted to this building because we knew we could really customize it to meet our needs, and we worked with some amazing local designers and contractors to do just that,” said Sowden. “We are adamant about helping to promote a great work-life balance, and with so many of our team members walking, cycling and sometimes even running to work, being centrally located downtown is extremely important to us.”

    Sowden said the company feeds off the new energy downtown and the downtown seems to be doing the same in reaction to the influx of tech companies.

    “The amenities around us have multiplied and expanded since we opened up shop in 2011, and though we have a weakness for the amazing coffee shops and pubs nearby, we can't take full credit for their growth,” he said. “That said, I don’t think we can live without them; at the very least, our productivity would suffer without all of the coffee and lunch options at our doorstep.”

    Catherine Holt, chief executive of the Greater Victoria Chamber, said the tech sector has played a big role in creating the new vibe downtown. However, she is quick to point out it’s not the only factor.

    “Visitors and new downtown residents is what is re-invigorating downtown and absolutely the tech sector is a big part of that,” she said, noting the tech sector may not sell a lot of product or service here, but its workers do spend a lot of money in the city.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    My mission at Agog Labs today is to find out whether SkookumScript is really as easy to learn as... see more

    Author: Ania Wys

    Zero to coding hero? Putting SkookumScript to the test

    In a world where video games constitute a nearly $100B annual market and there are 1.8 billion self proclaimed gamers (plus we all know a closet-gamer or two), it’s surprising to learn that there still isn’t a widely used programming language created specifically with video games in mind. The team at Agog Labs want to change that. Over the past 13 years, they have developed SkookumScript, a new programming language and tool suite that they hope will become the new industry standard.

    As I rush into Fort Tectoria on a rainy Thursday afternoon, past the rocketship that greets me at the entrance, I mentally review the notes I read about SkookumScript before making my way downtown. SkookumScript is a scripting language dedicated to the creation of gameplay, the overall experience of playing a game. Conan began developing SkookumScript in 2004 and officially released it in 2016, successfully integrating it with the Unreal Engine, which is used by 25% of game developers worldwide. It was used at United Front to author all gameplay on Sleeping Dogs and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition and Agog Labs plans to integrate SkookumScript with the rest of the major game engines.

    My mission at Agog Labs today is to find out whether SkookumScript is really as easy to learn as Conan and the team say it is. Having spent the past five years in graphic design and branding, I have experience working with the Adobe Creative Suite as well as using basic HTML and CSS. The closest I have ever been to programming anything like the gameplay I’m about to be presented, however, is in making 30 to 40-second animations. As such, I’m a unique user case for SkookumScript. Realistically, most people on a game development team will have at least some experience using an integrated development environment (IDE). This includes the sound engineers, artists, and QA testers — roles you wouldn’t traditionally associate with coding. For a list of typical roles on a game development team, click here.

    The first thing I see once I get to the Agog office are two incredibly wide monitors filled with an incredible amount of code. Conan Reis, Agog Labs founder and creator of SkookumScript, approaches me to shake my hand and offer me some water. I first met Conan at a pitch event during VIATEC’s annual Experience Tectoria. With his kind and gentle mannerisms he’s just how I remember him from then, minus his awesome mad scientist costume. (Quite frankly, I didn’t know mad scientists even did office casual.) Conan’s background in artificial intelligence and developing AAA games for 24 years is what has led him to his current specialization — devising gameplay and AI aspects of game development.

    As soon as I sit down, Shadi Dadenji, who Agog Labs recruited from Amsterdam, introduces me to the different windows that appear on the screens. We start by taking a quick look at C++ code in Microsoft Visual Studio, which is what Conan and Shadi use to create and perfect the SkookumScript Integrated Development Environment (SkookumIDE) itself. We then take a look at the user-facing side of the IDE and see how it plugs into the Unreal Engine 3D World Editor. Shadi tells me I’ll actually get to create a few commands and script actions myself using the demo world that Conan created for first-time users: a metallic multi-room area including a hero character and three robots, which I can only assume are the bad guys.

    What intrigues me most about the lines of code we are plugging in is the readability. Though I lack reference to other scripting languages, the code seems to read like a very rough sentence. For example, the code below is used to move one of the robot characters towards the hero:

    Similarly, this code sends a random robot to the character:

    (It’s confirmed: the robots are the enemies)

    So now I can’t help but wonder: if SkookumScript really is so integrable, easy, and efficient, then why hasn’t this been done before? In an industry as enormous as video games, there are sure to be other mad scientists devoting their time to finding a viable solution, if they haven’t already.

    In response, I’m told that another scripting language popular for game scripting is Lua, which was created for the Brazilian petroleum industry in 1993. While Lua is simple and portable, it lacks built-in game concepts, a native editor or debugger, and a single, unified company that provides updates and support. Furthermore, to use Lua, each studio needs to essentially create a custom copy of Lua technology which they keep private. As such, when someone who’s familiar with Lua starts working for another studio, they need to learn their new studio’s unique way of using it. Agog Labs wants to make up for Lua’s shortcomings by ensuring SkookumScript is both universal and fully supported.

    Popular video game languages in 2009

    As my grand finale, Shadi lets me take charge in the SkookumIDE. I write a few lines of commands that set up each of the robots to run simultaneously towards the hero and make the hero explode once all their destinations are reached:

    Typed up with *minimal* help from the mad scientists

    So while SkookumScript likely isn’t for complete newbies to IDEs and 3D world editors, one is able to pick up the general principles with relative ease. This makes me suspect that those working in a video game studio could totally own the experience, no matter what their role happens to be. Using a language that all team members can follow means each member doesn’t have to wait for the engineers to assist them in making small changes. This can result in enormous time and cost reductions.

    I can’t help but think of another unique aspect of SkookumScript beyond the realm of video games: its potential for academic use. Though I was only able to spend two hours in the SkookumIDE, it’s easy to imagine what a room full of enthused kids could do given free reign. Over the past few years coding literacy has become a priority in schools around the world. A language like SkookumScript, which Conan says can be used in virtually any area that requires real-time control (such as interactive automation, robotics, aeronautics, Internet of Things, or big data), could prove an awesome and engaging learning tool.


    So it turns out the behind-the-scenes of video gaming can be pretty interesting, too. The next time you’re hours deep into an intense gaming session, you might find yourself wondering if the science behind what you’re playing is just a little bit… mad.