Ballroom Banter, a free and super fun card game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Work your way through the hierarchy of a high society masquerade ball. Gossip and discuss a path through various social circles, powering up your deck of social cards!
The mobile game was created during the first-ever 2021 MassDigi Experience Program (XP) by Becca Malcolm, Bret Halkyard, Glenn Morris, Casey Urso, Toto Lin, Annie Higgins and Andrew Beaulieu.
In addition to the XP development team students in our Becker-based digital marketing lab helped to launch the game. You can watch the Ballroom Banter trailer here and download it today for iOS and Android.
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Street Shuffle, a free and super fun card game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Play as a group of Dunkopolis street performers trying to out-battle anyone standing in their way to stardom! Level up, gain popularity and face your biggest foes!
The mobile game was created during the first-ever 2021 MassDigi Experience Program (XP) by Sarah Applebaum, Dain Woods, Theodore Scontras, Miranda Juncos, Megan McLaughlin, Qihuan Aixinjueluo and Casey Urso.
In addition to the XP development team students in our Becker-based digital marketing lab helped to launch the game. You can watch the Street Shuffle trailer here and download it today for iOS and Android.
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The unyielding dream idea and the reality of game design
By Theodore Scontras
Working on a team is an eternal debate I’ve toiled over many times, worrying that by bringing other people onto a game, would have me sacrifice my creative visions. In practice though, the opposite is true. Not only did I greatly over-estimate the worth of my solo ideas, but greatly undervalue the importance of having different people workshop the same concept. I think my greatest fear was that in communicating an idea to someone else was the possibility that it might be misconstrued, and ending up with something in the end that did reflect my original vision.
That being said, that’s not really what happens in game design, while a central focus or vision is possible, it is just not realistic to have a thorough idea of what every nook and cranny of a game will look like before a line of code has been written. And that’s where the importance of a team comes in. Around every corner of designing our game when new problems came up, we explored each unique idea that anyone had. Back in my days of solo-devving I think I would have just tried out “what made the most sense to me,” which in retrospect pales in comparison to the variety of solutions that other devs on a team could come up with. While it’s important not to compare yourself to others, the lens in which others view life through makes for a great way to pass ideas through and see them in a completely new way.
There is a saying in game development that goes something like “anything will take twice or three times as long to finish as you think” it is not elegant but it is very true. My first game I expected to be done in a month, and took three, and then my second game in 2020 I expected to take about 3 months and would take the entire year, and even with that time there were so many underdeveloped concepts, with my team at MassDigi XP, in a little under 100 days we have made a game that I could not have made with 5 years of time alone.
I think the allure of game development, and most creative endeavors is that you, as a creator, will make something in your own vision. And while that can be true, and we could be here all day talking about the financial difficulties of that, it may be important to start teaching incoming devs about the benefit and reward of helping a cause that is greater than the self.
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UI from the perspective of a 3D artist
By Emi Jenkens-Drake
I came into the MassDigi Experience Program (XP) as a 3D artist, but after managing director Monty Sharma assigned me the ‘Lead Artist’ role on Team Custard my job quickly expanded past 3D. One of my new responsibilities was the UI of the game in Unity, something I knew absolutely nothing about. As someone who went to a design school I did have a lot of the fundamental design principles under my belt so it wasn’t a huge shock. But what I didn’t expect was how much I enjoyed doing the UI design.
After the initial phase of learning how to implement everything correctly it was a blast to do. I think moving between 3D and 2D is really valuable and helps with assessing a game. How does this box work with the 3D space we are looking at? What’s the shape language like? Et cetera.
I really enjoyed it and I am looking to do more of it in the future. I think I would not have learned about UI or how much I enjoy it if not for XP. I think it forces people to try out different things in a good way. I would advise anyone taking part in any MassDigi program in the future to get out of your comfort zone because you never know who you might find.
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By Glenn Morris
Hard realities set in after graduating college, and 2020 was a year of reality setting in on multiple levels. For game careers in particular, there’s an awkward transition between the academic approach to game design and development, and the insight gained through practical experience. A graduate picks up quickly on the two being fundamentally different, but these things can exist in concert, rather than conflict. MassDigi XP is an opportunity to bridge those two worlds, and whether it’s there, or some program akin to it, spending some time on that bridge is essential before crossing it.
For me, it was also about getting back on the horse. Those wild adjustments between college and career were coupled with quite a few other personal ones, and though I will never regret my time at Northeastern University, which was beneficial, I did feel trapped. I saw myself stuck in a career choice that I wasn’t ready for, having been prepared for something that doesn’t exist outside the walls of academe, and also trapped in my passion for research and broad understanding, despite my need for practical skills becoming more immediate.
Through MassDigi XP, I’ve been able to spend time on that bridge between two worlds, instead of trying to jump the wide crevasse between them, instead of rejecting whatever lies on the other side. It’s proven to be one of the better choices I’ve made, and I recommend we build more bridges like it.
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As we stated a few weeks ago, MassDigi is part of the Becker family. Today’s news,
though expected, was still difficult and sad to see on many levels. Over the ten years since our establishment we have called Becker home – and it has been a fantastic experience. Where we go next has yet to be determined. We have been flattered by the outreach and, as mentioned in our previous statement, the work we do at MassDigi is the work we do and our expectation is that it will continue. We will share more information when we can.
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Game Challenge results
What a year! Amazing people, amazing games!
Grand Prize Winner
People’s Choice Winner
- GigaSword by Hybrid Games – an action-puzzle metroidvania in which you wield a huge sword that weighs you down. By sticking the sword in the ground, you’re able to jump higher, but you become unable to attack. Many of the puzzles revolve around sticking the sword into interactive objects that transport it around the room to areas you wouldn’t have been able to reach while holding it. With cataclysm on the horizon, it’s up to you to ascend the ancient tower and recover the God Crystal, Gnosis.
- Don’t Take It Personally, I Just Don’t like You by Christian DeCoster et al – A dating sime where not everyone wants to date you.
- Betty & Earl by Giant Light Studios – a puzzle game where you move the heroes, enemies, obstacles, and everything else, all at the same time. You will explore the tragic and hilarious nature of interconnectedness by crashing enemies into each other, using them to open doors and disable traps, and then sacrificing them to the ever growing flames and clear a path to reunite the disconnected couple. Discover what it means to live in a world where we depend on each other, and learn how growth and destruction are both collaborators and adversaries.
College & University Category
- The Camera That Bleeds (RIT) – a horror mystery game with a noir graphic novel visual style where you play a ghost-hunting detective, solving ghostly mysteries using an instant camera that can see into the invisible, supernatural world. Follow footprint trails, look through drawers and cabinets, “manifest” supernatural evidence with your camera, and figure out what happened at the crime scene. Be careful to avoid the monster, however – don’t make too much noise if it’s nearby, lest it hear you and chase you down!
- Out of CTRL (Tufts & Northeastern) – A haunted chatbot on a decrepit old computer. You can only form sentences by cleverly Copy/Pasting it’s text back to it in this creepypasta inspired interactive fiction game.
- Isogirl (Becker) – an action platformer roguelike in which you delve deep into the world to determine its secrets.
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Learning from others
MassDiGI’s Experience Program (XP) has passed its midway point and the teams are buckling in for the final stretch towards releasing their games. I wanted to give perspective on why meeting new people and working on projects with them is a fantastic opportunity, and how it allows everyone involved to grow as developers.
I am a part of Team Cake, a group of seven people who have never met before, given the task of developing a completed mobile game in eleven weeks. Every person on the team came in with a strong set of skills, yet each of us has grown in new and exciting ways by learning from one another. This growth not only enables us to make our game better, but also gives us experience that we can take forward to our future projects.
The classroom can teach basic skills, and online resources are an incredible tool, but the greatest learning opportunity comes from the people you work with. Being able to absorb all the lessons that your colleagues have learned in a fraction of the time is an amazing benefit of working on a team. Working with the incredibly skilled people here at the XP program has given me the experience of working on dozens of different games, all in less than three months.
In the coming weeks Team Cake, as well as Team Pie and Team Custard, will be finalizing our ideas and releasing our games. It will be a bittersweet moment, and one that will be upon us far too quickly. My advice to my peers at XP and to everyone interested in improving themselves is to squeeze out every drop of knowledge you can from those around you, and not to be shy about spreading your own skills and ideas to others.
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MassDiGI is part of the Becker College family. Yesterday’s update regarding the college was tough to read. We appreciate the messages of support we have received and welcome any questions though we may not have any answers – not yet, at least. That said, from our perspective, the work we do at MassDiGI is the work we do and our expectation is that it will continue. We will share more information when we can.
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XP1 team selected
Late last year, after running a pilot effort in the fall, we announced the MassDiGI Experience Program (XP). Designed with recent college and university graduates as well as current students in mind, XP is an internship opportunity for folks who have had their early career or academic path disrupted by the pandemic and are interested in a high quality, virtual game development experience to bolster their resumes and add to their portfolios.
The first cycle of XP received almost 100 applications from recent grads and students representing 29 different colleges and universities. After the challenging process of reviewing each application, 22 interns were offered positions. These interns come from WPI, University of Maine, University of California Santa Cruz, Rutgers, RIT, Quinnipiac, Pratt, Northeastern, MassArt, Hampshire, Fitchburg St., Brown and Becker.
Similar to SIP, MassDiGI XP is a competitive eleven-week program that includes the mentoring, guidance and stipends to help teams advance. XP1 will run from January 26 to April 16. Applications for XP2 will open on March 8.
XP is funded in part through a CARES Act grant from US EDA through its University Center program. XP is expected to run three more times.
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