GAME LAUNCH: Knock ’em out in Clock Out!! – 8/5/21

CC screenshotClock Out!!, a free, fun arcade-style fighting game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Unpaid intern fights bosses – literally!! Wreak havoc, cause chaos, climb the corporate ladder and fight the system!

The mobile game was created during the 2021 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Connie McGinnis from RIT, Daniel Narvaez from Parsons – The New School, Georgia Liu from Brown, Miquel Sans Cornet from WPI, Nicole Strubinski from RISD, Tristan Sistare from Becker–>Clark and Calvin Tillman from Berklee.

Watch the trailer here and download Clock Out!! today for iOS and Android!

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GAME LAUNCH: Bust ghosts in House Haunters – 8/5/21

HH screenshotHouse Haunters, a free, fun turn-based strategy game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Hunting ghosts in haunted houses for profit!

Battle your way through haunted houses to make a quick buck in House Haunters. Rid each house of the ghosts haunting the furniture, sell the property, and fight through the neighborhood!

The mobile game was created during the 2021 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Jen Bourke from NYU, Brandon DeLuso from Becker–>Clark, Brandon Mallory from Becker–>Clark, Liam Cristello from Northeastern, Shirley Liu from Swarthmore, Matthew Spahl from UMass Amherts and Calvin Tillman from Berklee.

Watch the trailer here and download House Haunters today for iOS and Android!

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GAME LAUNCH: Tap, tap, tap away in Bewitching Boba – 8/5/21

BB screeenshotBewitching Boba, a free, fun and magical idle game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Tap to watch your boba fall!

In Bewitching Boba, use your witch powers to magically create boba and run your shop! Tap to generate drinks and watch your sales rise!

The mobile game was created during the 2021 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Jack Hill from Becker–>Clark, Darren Chen from Temple, Mikey Schubert from Becker–>Clark, Dorothy Zhang from RISD, Sarah Madar from Becker –>Clark, Niko Olivo from Northeastern and Calvin Tillman from Berklee.

Watch the trailer here and download Bewitching Boba today for iOS and Android!

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GAME LAUNCH: Face your fears in Trials of Midnight – 8/5/21

ToM screenshotTrials of Midnight, a free, fun and deck-building game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Play as a nightmare trying to escape from a child’s dream world!

In this deck-building, roguelike, you take on the role of Midnight, a lost nightmare trying to escape a child’s dream world. With minions at your disposal, battle your way through legions of dream protectors.

The mobile game was created during the 2021 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Courtney Manbeck from Cornell, Dylan Valev from WPI, Justin Gaborit from Becker–>WPI, Frank Liu from RISD, Mac Li from SVA, Fergus Ferguson from Tufts and Calvin Tillman from Berklee.

Watch the trailer here and download Trials of Midnight today for iOS and Android!

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NEWGROUNDS LAUNCH: Get your revenge in Roller Riot – 8/3/21

Roller Riot, a free, fun and fast-paced beat-em-up game, is now available on Newgrounds. Get it here now!

NG screenshotCrazy cyborgs are causing chaos in the city and have made their way towards the Roller Derby District. You are the last one standing. Punch, kick and roll your way through a frenzy of different enemies hell bent on taking you down. Show them that you are a force to be reckoned with and that they chose the wrong street. And, don’t forget to use your cyber upgrades to take down more enemies!

The mobile game was created originally during the 2019 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Oriana Carletto from SVA, Denis Gillespie from LYIT, Ben Aube from Becker, Jason Gertner from Becker, Amanda Saker from MECA, Sarah Ke from Mt. Holyoke and Ethan Reese from Berklee.

Working over that summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the game. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’19 and spring ’20 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. Jason Gertner took the lead on launching the game on Steam in the spring’20 and Newgrounds in the summer of ’21. For a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Roller Riot today as well as on iOS and Android.

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SIPBLOG: Just one more push! – 7/26/21

Making a game is no easy task, especially in such a short timespan as one summer. We here at Team Custard know this firsthand. All of us, Liam, Matt, Shirley, Jen, Cal, and both Brandons, have felt the crunch of such a short timeframe. We’ve had to constantly reassess where we’re at with our game, establish new deadlines, do our best to meet them, continue communication, and generally try to keep everything intact and as bug-free as possible. It has not been an easy balancing act, and one that has pushed us to our respective limits in many cases.

On a more positive note, our game is coming along well! From humble beginnings, House Haunters has flourished into a turn-based strategy game with multiple different special abilities to unlock and equip, different enemy types to fight with distinct behaviors, and lots of cute art and gorgeous music to take in! Our core gameplay loop has been nailed down for some weeks now, so we’ve had our heads down polishing as much as we can. It has not been easy, and we end up having to readjust as deadlines come and go and not everything we want has been ironed out (including this blog post). But we do our best, keep respect for one another, and soldier onward with determination to create the best game we can with the time remaining.

House HauntersWith the time we have left, we are sprinting through as many finishing touches as we can. Solving bugs, adding in last-minute artwork and pizzazz to our animations, and making the player feel as involved and invested as possible. With our deadline right around the corner, I can certainly say we’ve learned a lot from this whole experience. Managing scope, working through solutions as a team, and the difference between discussing something at length vs. launching into prototyping and testing have been the biggest teachable moments for our team over this summer.

MassDigi SIP has been such an eye-opening experience for all of us, and one I think many of us will remember vividly for years to come. The decisions we’ve had to make and skills we’ve had to master have accelerated us more as game developers than perhaps any experience in our past. From all of us at Team Custard, thank you for reading, and we’ll see you on the App Store!

-By Liam Cristello

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XPBLOG: Instant metaphor, just add title screen – 7/19/21

Hi there! We’re Team Napoleon, part of MassDigi’s XP2 program. We’re making a heartwarming bubble shooter about a teddy bear protecting a child from nightmares. Team Napoleon is a ragtag band of coders, artists, and Greg (the wonderful sound dude). We’re striving to create puzzles you can solve quickly in a dreamlike-yet-cozy atmosphere. 

Team Napoleon

Clockwise, from the top left: 

  • Hannah Kim (Rhode Island School of Design, Illustration, 2021) – an enigmatic artist who won’t show us her doodles
  • David Wu (Fitchburg State, Game Design, 2023) – a programmer who works too darn hard
  • Taylor Feld (Northwestern University, Theatre, 2021) – a sleepy gremlin of an artist
  • Liam Day (Quinnipiac University, Game Design & Development, 2021) – a programmer with an endless collection of relevant images
  • Sean Fan (Becker College, Game Development, 2021) – a man who will soon achieve world domination through programming

Concept sketchFor our artists, this week has been all about sharpening our metaphor. In other words, we’ve been concepting and re-designing assets to instantly convey the “story” to the player. For example, our title screen began with this concept sketch from Hannah.

The sketch evolved into this rough pass from Taylor, with help from Hannah’s nightmare bubble concept art. (The nightmare designs have already undergone several revisions at this point.)

The title screen is particularly important, as we’re aiming for no opening cutscene, just immediate gameplay. This means the title screen is our only shot at establishing the situation before the player starts the game. In the second image, Taylor chose to draw the nightmares descending from the top of the screen, like the nightmare bubbles do in gameplay. However, this caused them to read more as monsters or germs than nightmares. Additionally, the kid shouldn’t be smiling if they’re having nightmares! With that feedback from our XP peers, we revised.

Monsters

Now the nightmares are ascending from under the bed, like in Hannah’s original sketch. Additionally, Taylor added a thought cloud (also visible during gameplay) to indicate that these are creatures of the child’s imagination.

After some polishing by Hannah, here’s the current version:

And that’s the trajectory of one asset, which isn’t even final yet. Wow, it sure does take a lot to make a game!

– By Taylor Feld

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SIPBLOG: Sprinting towards the finish line – 7/16/21

Our firsthand experience as fiery and motivated interns at SIP has been transformed into a fighting game about climbing the corporate ladder and fighting your bosses – as a very cute raccoon. Team Creme, made up of Nicole, Connie, Georgia, Tristan, Daniel, Miquel and Cal, has spent the past months working through the question of what makes a fighting game fun. These games take so much more than balanced numbers and punches that feel juicy. Our biggest struggle has been progression, as we constantly asked ourselves what we could do to incentivize the player to not only learn the mechanics of our game, but want to experiment with them multiple times? We found, through playtesting with friends, family, and various industry mentors, that slowly introducing attacks and blocks to the player through fights that increased in difficulty made for the most effective feeling of player exploration and excitement about what mechanic they would unlock next.

Team CremeAt this stage in development, we have a core loop that is fun to play. Now our game requires some extra pizazz to make it feel incredible. While we don’t want to distract the player from the main action with major bells and whistles, things like the health bar shake when a punch lands and the thud of a stamp marking your grade for the round enhance the overall experience and give the player something to remember. Finalizing these details while polishing our overall product is the last task on our to-do list.

As we prepare to leave SIP and jump right back into our academic careers, all of Team Creme is excited about our future as game developers. One summer is miniscule amount of time to build a complete and rich game. Creme handled this difficulty by keeping each other in check and learning what unique limitations exist for artists, programmers, and designers. Every time we found ourselves on a new imaginative tangent about additional features and play modes, we would recenter and reference our previously established goals. We found that, through establishing our own criteria for success early, we can achieve our late stage goals with fewer distractions.

MassDigi has taught us how to respect scope as we simultaneously explore concepts, mechanics, and artistic modes of expression that enrich us to our core. We are all so grateful for the space that this program has allowed for us to grow and look forward to our race to the finish line! See you there!

– By Nicole and Connie

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SIPBLOG: Two steps forward, one step back – 7/9/21

Game making continues here at SIP this week. Team Chiffon is now deep into development as we deliver bug fixes and find new ways to teach players about our game. Our team is composed of 7 game developers: Dylan, Courtney, Frank, Fergus, Mac, Cal and, of course, myself (Justin). After some much needed feedback from our playtesters, we decided to go back to the drawing board and devise a plan to better teach the players how to play our game.

Team ChiffonFrom the beginning of the team’s development process, we were faced with the challenge of communicating our game’s rules to our players in a meaningful and effective way. After a long week of playtesting and demoing our app with different people from around the greater Boston area, we came to the conclusion that most players were struggling to understand what exactly was going on in our game. Luckily, this is just one of the simple setbacks that a team might face during any form of healthy game development. We gathered around the drawing board and after some back and forth discussion, we were able to devise a plan for how best to develop a set of steps that our players could follow in order to better understand the game.

Our decision, to better explain the rules of the game, came after a series of sessions in which our playtesters couldn’t tell which characters were their friends or foes. Naturally, this poses a large problem for us from a gameplay standpoint. Without an understanding of which characters belonged to the player, very little is possible which makes the game significantly less interesting. In addition to this, playtesters told us on multiple occasions that they didn’t understand the reason for the grid layout which our game makes use of. To solve this problem we integrated an upgrading mechanism to add an additional layer to gameplay.

Over the span of this next month, our team will be hard at work as we finish the final weeks of SIP. In this time we plan to finish the larger introductory segment of the game and implement many additional enemies and characters. Had it not been for our willingness to take risks and swap out design decisions, we would likely be in a much different stage of development. Thankfully, our team feels confident that we have what it takes to deliver a great game.

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XPBLOG: Sun, sand and scope – 7/8/21

Team BlondieHowdy! Team Blondie here, from MassDigi’s world-famous (probably) Experience Program. If you’re reading this, you probably know that the Experience Program (or XP) is an eleven-week internship program in which college students and recent graduates collaborate in teams to develop and publish their own mobile game. Team Blondie has been working on a brick-breaker game in which sea creatures fight back against rowdy beach-going spring breakers. 

Wanna meet us? Too bad, here we are anyway!

Left to right, beginning at the top

  • Mya Labrecque (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 2022), Artist – sporting aviators to confirm that she is the coolest person in the group
  • Robert Marzec (University of Michigan 2021), Producer/Programmer – winner of the 2021 “Least Tan” competition 
  • Stanley Zheng (Becker College 2021), Programmer – serving us baywatch lifeguard realness
  • Jay Lam (Bridgewater State University 2020), Artist – would really like to go home, please
  • Jeff Katz (Brown University & Rhode Island School of Design 2021), Artist – lost his hands in a tragic green screening accident
  • James Nunes (Becker College 2021), Programmer – currently plotting his next pun 
  • Gregory Bonini (Becker College 2021), Auditory Magician – not pictured because clearly he cannot stand us

Blondie GameSettling on our current game idea (in which crabs, whales, and sea urchins do their best to rid their home of messy vacationers) was a matter of analyzing several different game models to understand what made them tick, then building test versions of those models to see if we could capture exactly what made them fun. We whittled away at our options by debating which ideas were most interesting and within the scope of our time frame and current abilities. By the end of the summer, would we be able to complete this particular game, and more importantly, would it be good? So many times, we had to break through our delusions and realize that our incredibly cool, unique idea was just too big to complete in our limited amount of time.

But at this point in the process, we’re confident that the answer to both of these questions is yes. Choosing an achievable genre like a brick-breaker has given us ample time to work out the various kinks in our build, to balance and refine our work so that it is compelling, unique, but not daunting to complete. Team Blondie’s programmers have been hard at work refining the physics and difficulty of our brick-breaker, making sure that gameplay is challenging yet intuitive. The artists have been designing and drawing several iterations of the game’s assets, from blocks to backgrounds to pause screens to power-ups, making sure that the visuals are juicy while still being clear and precise.

We’ve learned so much about how to plan and execute the huge collaborative project that is a game, and we couldn’t be more excited to share our work with the world. It’s tubular, dude.

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