First impressions – 6/13/18

First impressions

By Nick Carbonara, NYU ’19

Hey there! I’m Nick Carbonara, an associate production and programming intern at the Summer Innovation Program (SIP). For anyone interested in joining the program in the future, here are a few things that strike me about my first few weeks in SIP:

1. SIP is focused on professional techniques and goals. Our task is to design tablet-based iOS games for release next year that get high download and retention rates. To produce these games, we’re taught project management techniques such as the Kanban method, and use tools like Reflection.io to do market research. These are just a few examples of the many “real-world” considerations that we’re taught to consider in SIP.

2. The development process in SIP is different than what one might have encountered in game design courses in school. Having spent the first few weeks researching to find game genres that would be profitable and feasible to make, my five teammates and I settled on creating a side-scrolling endless runner. At this stage we’re not building the game, but rather playtesting a handful of “whitebox demos” showcasing different possible game features to determine which ones will be the most fun. If all goes well, next week we’ll know which of these we’ll be expanding into a full game.

3. This may seem daunting, but you have support! Monty Sharma and Walt Yarbrough, the Managing Director of MassDiGI and the Producer of SIP respectively, are there to help you. When I deviated from the system Walt required us to use for project planning, he took the time to help me understand why we use his method instead. And last week Monty sat down with every member of SIP individually to discuss how they were handling SIP so far. On top of that, they encourage everyone to take time to rest after hard work. In short, they want to see you do well, and they believe that you can get the job done.

Hanging out in Merrill Hall

4. Every intern here is awesome. All 30ish of us live together in Becker College’s Merrill Hall, and we’ve had little trouble bonding. We find camaraderie talking about work, our overstuffed communal fridge, Forged in Fire (a show about people who make swords, win cash prizes, and quench their blades too early), and our interests and passions. Overall, I’m thankful to have colleagues who are as kind and friendly as they are excellent game developers.

In the limited time I’ve spent here so far SIP has presented me with challenges, but it has also given me the support to face them. With any luck, the rest of the summer will be successful for myself and all of my fellow SIP interns.

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GAME LAUNCH: Get a groove on with Raise the Bass – 5/1/18

Get a groove on with Raise the Bass

Raise the Bass, a free, fun music-themed arcade game where you defend your turntable from corrupted sound waves is available for download now at the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile game was created during the 2017 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Amber Skarjune from Wellesley, Emily Ryan from Becker, Ty Enos from Tufts, Veneta Cholakova from Mt. Holyoke, Wenley Shen from RISD, Paul DeSimone from RIT and Lisa Jeong from Berklee College of Music.

Tyley from Raise the BassWorking over the summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’17 and spring ’18 semesters. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines, including business students, had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Raise the Bass today for iOS and Android.

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GAME LAUNCH: Fight robots, save the world in Hyper Thunder Run 198X – 4/26/18

Fight robots, save the world in Hyper Thunder Run 198X

Hyper Thunder Run 198x, a free, fun, endless runner where only the most radical hero can win, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile game was created during the 2017 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Natasha Kononenko from WPI, Joey Pagano from Pratt Institute, Josh LaFrance from Becker, Ryan Higgins from Swarthmore, Yijia Chen from RPI and NYU, Amanda Stockman from Becker and Lisa Jeong from Berklee College of Music.

Hyper Thunder Run 198XWorking over the summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the and from there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’17 and spring ’18 semesters. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines, including business students, had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch.  Watch the trailer here and for a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Hyper Thunder Run 198x today for iOS and Android.

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GAME LAUNCH: Little Grimm, big fun – 4/17/18

Little Grimm, big fun

Little Grimm, a free, fun, cute and spooky take on the classic game Snake, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile game was created during the 2017 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Ellen Chen from RIT, Emmanuel Mallea from Becker, Emily Ramirez from MIT, Dean Faulkner from LYIT (Ireland), Tung Vu from Becker, Jenny Sun from RISD and Lisa Jeong from Berklee College of Music.

Working over the summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’17 and spring ’18 semesters. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines, including business students, had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Little Grimm today for iOS and Android.

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SIP18 team selected – 4/11/18

SIP18 team selected

By Tim Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

Since 2012, applications to our annual Summer Innovation Program (SIP) have grown year over year in terms of quality, quantity, geographic reach, major, and diversity. This year we received applications from a record 305 undergraduate and graduate students representing an astounding 79 colleges and universities from around the world – making it our most competitive year yet.

Choosing only 25 as interns was very challenging. After many long hours of discussion, the committee selected a really talented group. This summer’s SIP18 team will be made up of interns from 17 institutions including Becker College, Berklee College of Music, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Colby College, Letterkenny Institute of Technology (Ireland), Mt. Holyoke College, New York University, Northeastern University, Pratt Institute, RISD, RIT, Swarthmore College, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College and WPI.

SIP18 begins on May 15 and concludes on August 12.  Over those 12 weeks or so, with guidance from staff and industry mentors, SIP18 teams will be responsible for all the work necessary to prepare a game for launch. Simply put, there is no internship program like it in the world.

As in prior years, SIP18 interns will receive housing courtesy of Becker College as well as a modest stipend. Most importantly they will all receive the greatest game development experience of their lives. Sure, it may be a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun – we can’t wait to get started.

UPDATE – In addition to the SIP18 interns, we’re also please to welcome 7 more to SIP18 Extension (SIP18X). These 7 come from CMU, Pratt, Hampshire College, RISD, RIT, University of Massachusetts Amherst and WPI.

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GAME LAUNCH: Jump to it with Leap A Head – 4/5/18

Jump to it with Leap A Head

Leap A Head, a free, fun, puzzle-platform game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile game was created during the 2017 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Abdealaziz Ben Yahia from WPI, Ryan Maloney from Northeastern, Tiffany Chiu from RISD, Kuan-Chi Chen from Mt. Holyoke, Ashley Hyre from Becker, Joseph Kane from LYIT (Ireland) and Lisa Jeong from Berklee College of Music.

Working over the summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’17 and spring ’18 semesters. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines, including business students, had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Leap A Head today for iOS and Android.

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Open for business – 3/26/18

Officials speak with students at NVCWith our New Ventures Center up and running, we’re now accepting applications for development teams interested in setting up in our space for limited time periods. Depending on your pitch and project, we expect to run renewable 30, 60 and 90 day cycles, depending on your pitch, project and progress. Of course, along with the space, successful applicants will receive advising and business assistance services as mutually agreed upon – all at no cost. So, if you have a great idea and just need a little space and support to get it off the ground, drop us a line at infoatmassdigidotorg with your deck and we’ll go from there!

 

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Fur takes grand prize in seventh annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest – 3/6/18

Fur takes grand prize in seventh annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest

Worcester, MA – March 6, 2018 – Fur by Grind Games won the Grand Prize in the seventh annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest this weekend.

Fur, a first person puzzler, where players save cute furballs then nurture and use them to explore and solve problems was created by Grind Games, a team made up of three Becker College students, Tung Vu, Matt Venezia and Jared Braun.

The game, which also won the College & University Beta Category, Best Business Model and Best Audio at the contest, edged entries from student teams representing other institutions such as Champlain College, WPI, Quinsigamond Community College, Northeastern University and Harvard University.  Fur will be released on PC later this year.

Fur game screenshot

“We are excited Fur won the Game Challenge,” said Vu, a junior in game design. “If you have a passion for making games then you really must attend this event. You learn so much not only from the judges but the other competitors, too.”

The MassDiGI Game Challenge helps indie and student game developers and entrepreneurs shape their ideas and products for launch. This year 31 teams from across the northeast competed in front of a packed house at the new $7.3 million Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Becker College in Worcester.

“MassDiGI’s focus on fostering new, business-focused talent is what the local game industry needs. They’re an important part of the regional games community,” said contest judge Oleg Brodskiy, a past Game Challenge competitor and COO of the Boston Festival of Indie Games. “Game Challenge alumni have opened their own studios, found jobs at larger studios, or landed in related careers.”

Since the MassDiGI Game Challenge began seven years ago, over 250 different teams from around New England and beyond have pitched games and taken home prizes valued at over $100,000. Top past winners include titles such as Salad Hunt, Intern Astronaut (VR), PWN, Catlateral Damage, Depression Quest, Wobbles and Starlot Derby.

The annual event is a showcase for the expanding game development cluster in the region. Over the event’s two days, dozens of game industry veterans served as mentors and judges.

As the Grand Prize, College & University Beta Category and Best Business Model winners, the Grind Games team won cash and other prizes valued at about $5,000.

“This year’s contest was the tighter than in any previous year,” said Monty Sharma, managing director of MassDiGI, “Every team was impressive in its own right. The creativity and skills on display improves every year as do the games.”

Keeper game screenshotOther top winners include Burlington, VT-based Micropup from Champlain College which won the People’s Choice Award for its game Keeper as well as the Serious Category.

“Winning the Serious Category and the People’s Choice Award exceeded our expectations in a big way,” said Alex Frey, Micropup’s team captain. “This is our first trip to the Game Challenge and the experience was incredible.”

Keeper is a 3D platformer with gardening mechanics and is focused around raising awareness for declining bee populations. Through an engaging narrative complete with wildlife friends, the game communicates actionable, real-world tactics to aid local pollinators.

Psychoactive Entertainment, another team made up of Becker College students, won the College & University Alpha Category with a game codenamed Project Boynton where you play as a punk witch and obliterate monsters, harvest their guts and use those guts to craft potions to obliterate more monsters.

Garden, an augmented reality (AR) gardening app, by Sunshine Committee won the Indie Category.

The Best Art award went to Fire Frame with Atlas Excel (Pratt Institute), Best Technical Dystrophic with Hexile (Harvard).

Runner-up awards went to:

Indie Category – Runner-up

  • ML Studios with Mythicast Arcane Academy

Serious Category – Runner-up

  • Dystrophic with Hexile (Harvard)

College & University Alpha Category – Runner-up

  • Team RGB with Data Strain (QCC)

College & University Beta Category – Runner-up

  • Jinboz with The Palace of Monarch (WPI)

Best Art – Runner-up

  • Jinboz with The Palace of Monarch (WPI)

Best Business Model – Runner-up

  • ML Studios with Mythicast Arcane Academy

++++

Read the full press release on Gamasutra here.

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2018 MassDiGI Game Challenge winners! – 3/3/18

2018 MassDiGI Game Challenge winners!

Best Art

Fire Frame with Atlas Excel – winner (Pratt)

Jinboz with The Palace of Monarch – runner-up

Best Design

No winner

Best Technical

Dystrophic with Hexile – winner (Harvard)

Best Business Model

Grind Games with Fur – winner (Becker)

ML Studios with Mythicast Arcane Academy – runner-up

Best Audio

Grind Games with Fur – winner (Becker)

Serious Category

Micropup with Keeper – winner (Champlain)

Dystrophic with Hexile – runner-up (Harvard)

Indie Category

Sunshine Committee with Garden – winner

ML Studios with Mythicast Arcane Academy – runner-up

College Alpha Category

Psychoactive Entertainment with Project Boynton – winner (Becker)

Team RGB with Data Strain – runner-up (QCC)

College Beta Category

Grind Games with Fur – winner (Becker)

Jinboz with The Palace of Monarch (WPI)

People’s Choice

Micropup with Keeper – winner

Grand Prize

Grind Games with Fur – winner

 

Stay posted for more information.

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2018 MassDiGI Game Challenge finalists announced – 3/3/18

2018 MassDiGI Game Challenge – Finalists

Indies

  • Sunshine Committee with Garden
  • ML Studios with Mythicast Arcane Academy
  • Zen Dragon with Neon Bullet
  • Weeping Witch Studios with Ice and Bone

Serious

  • Micropup (Champlain) with Keeper
  • Dystrophic (Harvard) with Hexile
  • Obliti (WPI)

College – Beta

  • Grind Games (Becker) with Fur
  • Starflight Studios (Becker) with Defenders of Atlantis
  • Jinboz (WPI) with The Palace of Monarch

College – Alpha

  • Psychoactive Entertainment (Becker) with Project Boynton
  • Team RGB (QCC) with Data Strain
  • Skerter Industries (Becker) with Exploding Cube

++++

Honorable Mentions

  • Ill Teteka (Becker)
  • Disco Drop (Becker)

Stay tuned for more updates!

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