“Satellites and Startups” by Nick Allain, Spire – Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series at Becker College: September 15, 2014 – Worcester, MA

Satellites and Startups: How we went to space and why you should too

- Monday, September 15, 2014, 5:30 p.m. –

nickJoin Spire’s Nick Allain for a first-hand look at how Silicon Valley’s space race is heating up and how satellites, the size of a large coffee, are changing the way we listen to signals from Earth. Nick will speak about what it’s like to join a space startup like Spire, the process of building a cubesats, and how you can get involved – and, maybe even get hired.

Nick, from Charlton, MA, is an alumnus of Becker College. He graduated in 2009 with a bachelor of arts in interactive media. He has spent time working in the game industry and higher education. He now lives and works in the Bay Area.

This special talk is co-sponsored by MassDiGI. Light snacks and refreshments will be available. Free and open to the public.

Location: Becker College, Weller Academic Center, Room 210, 61 Sever St., Worcester

Click here to download the event flyer.

Spire

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Boston Festival of Indie Games: September 13, 2014 – MIT, Cambridge, MA

Drop by our panel or visit our table (S64)! For more information on BostonFIG at MIT, please click here.

Panel Info:

When: 10:00am- 10:30/45am

Where: Classroom 2 – Stata Center Room 144

What: “Game Devs: The Next Generation”

Description: Games, the final frontier. These are the continuing tales of five college students. Their mission: to explore strange new titles, to seek out new genres and platforms, to boldly go where no one has gone before. In this episode, the young developers learn the black art of making a game over eleven weeks at MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program. Hear them tell the story of how they met their goals and overcoming giant bugs, terrifying teamwork, diabolical daily builds, stale pizza and zombies.

Featuring a conversation among MassDiGI SIP ’14 alumni Paige Coblentz (RISD), Andrew Krischer (Northeastern), Pat Roughan (WPI), Loren Sherman (MIT) and James Spavold (Becker College) along with MassDiGI’s, Tim Loew and Monty Sharma. 

 

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Why analytics matter – 7/22/14

Why analytics matter

By Benji Smith, sophomore, Northeastern University

As game developers, we often tell ourselves stories when making games. Not the ones that you see in a script, but ones about the people who will play the game. “Okay, so this part will introduce the player to mazing, and then they use that to defeat the boss, and then they’ll feel awesome.” Every pixel, line of code, or variable changed all has a purpose, and we tell ourselves that the player will interact with it in a particular way and get a specific reaction out of it.

In reality, things aren’t that easy. Our stories about our games are often as fictional as the stories within them. That’s why we playtest. But playtesting isn’t an exact science; it’s often much more qualitative. And that’s good! There are a lot of changes that require qualitative feedback more than raw data. But there are also a lot of risks that come with it. We tend to gloss over feedback more easily. Every piece of info we receive gets contorted into our story. It’s all too easy to assume that the tester is an anomaly, that most players will play the game ‘properly.’

Splyt_Scrnshot_01.fw

But with quantitative feedback collected from all players, the illusions disappear. It’s no longer, “I didn’t see the button,” but rather “Out of 100 players, 63 didn’t see the button.” Likewise, it’s no longer “This player just doesn’t understand,” instead “63 percent of players just don’t understand.” This summer, we’re using Splyt Analytics to help drive our decision making on Midnight Terrors.  It’s hard to argue with the data, because data doesn’t tell a story. Data is the story.

That’s not to say data is infallible. It can be outdated or incomplete, and it can certainly be misinterpreted. But it can never be wrong. That’s because data is just what happened. It doesn’t carry any analysis of its own, it’s just a series of numbers and events.

In some ways, it’s a bit intimidating to use analytics.  It’s effectively handing off your game, and letting whatever will happen, happen. You can’t coach people, and you can’t hide from the results. In some ways, it’s like launching a title (just with a quarter the stress). But it’s absolutely necessary, because polishing a game can’t just be an art. It needs to be an art and a science. And for that, we need data.

 

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A farewell to arms: Making Limbs – 7/11/14

A farewell to arms: Making Limbs

By James Spavold, senior, Becker College

Colors

 At this point it is safe to say that many people have played a match three game (cough, cough Candy Crush Saga), or a variant of the genre. Match three was the idea given to us to brainstorm about at the beginning of MassDiGI’s SIP, so we took it as far as we could. Starting with “we should throw ragdoll limbs at a wall; that could be fun”, and from then on that was the idea that we embraced. Eventually taking on a mad scientist feel and a more friendly robot zombie limb approach, after much debate, Limbs moved forward out of the planning phase.

Limbs features a little alien kid named LAK, but he has a few problems. He came to your planet to make some friends, but those friends eventually turned against him and you must protect him. Of course, you do this by throwing limbs at those that turn against LAK. Combat isn’t just simply matching three colors; you need to plan ahead for certain limb combinations that make combo creatures. Limbs tries to break the boring routine of match threes and offers interesting battle mechanics that effect the game board as a whole. Plus, throwing ragdoll limbs at an enemy is extremely satisfying.

background_concept_developmentThe team that is making Limbs become reality consists of five students from five different colleges, and we had never met each other before this.

  • Renzo Heredia – Audio Engineer and Composer – from Berklee College
  • Andrew Krischer – Producer and Programmer – from Northeastern University
  • Sienna McDowell – 2D Artist – from WPI
  • Catherine Shen – Art Director, 2D Artist and UI Designer – from RISD
  • James Spavold – Lead Programmer and Build Manager – from Becker College

Working in the team has been a great experience for all of us. Personally, I have worked in a handful of teams in my college career, and they have been on both ends of the spectrum. This has definitely been the most motivated team I have ever been on. At first SIP’s eleven weeks seems like a large amount of time, then you start and get halfway through the process and it feels like no time is left. Even when our team hit that point, we didn’t lose much motivation, and this was the first time that one of my teams has powered through that.

It feels great to be working in this environment. Meeting my team, and also the other teams working alongside us, was a great opportunity. Not only to make games and extend your network, but also to make some great friends with similar interests and feelings towards games. With this great atmosphere, working forty hour weeks isn’t that bad at all. In fact coming into work feels great knowing that by the end we will have a fun and interesting game to show our friends, family, and future employers that we made start to finish.

You can follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LimbsTheGame or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/LimbsTheGame

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