SIPBLOG: Making progress – 6/14/21

Hello! My name is Daniel Narvaez, and I’m a fourth year game design student at Parsons School of Design. We’re now at the end of our fourth week of the 2021 MassDigi Summer Innovation Program. While none of us have yet to see the fruits of our labor bloom, I can say for certain that we’ve been appreciating all the progress made as we go along.

My primary role om my team is as our designer, and I’m joined in-person by my five, very talented teammates. Nicole Strubinski, an animation student at Rhode Island School of Design, is our team’s producer and main 3D artist. Connie McGinnis is a game design student at Rochester Institute of Technology and she’s our main technical artist, with strengths in 2D illustration, animation and coding. Georgia Liu is the team’s main 2D artist with strengths in character design and concept art, and she is currently an English major at Brown University. A Game Programming student transferring from Becker College to Clark University, Tristan Sistare is one of the team’s two main programmers. Our other programmer, coming all the way from Spain, is none other than Miquel Sans Cornet, and he’s an Interactive Media and Game Development graduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. And, of course, Cal Tillman from Berklee College of Music is our un-pictured sound star. Together at MassDigi we are SIP21’s Team Crème!

So, where are we right now in our development process? Well, we’ve all agreed our game is going to be an arcade-style fighting game. To keep things in scope as we go along, we’ve asked ourselves a lot of questions about the genre. On the programming side, I’ve guided the steps necessary to build the “fun” of fighting games starting from the most fundamental pieces of them. As we enter the fifth week, our next step includes integrating the art with the basic code.

Every day has been trial and error. From my own experience, my teammates are giving it their all, and it encourages me to do the same. I learn a lot from them; not only about the iterative design process, but also about my own strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to continuing working on the project with them in the coming weeks!

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SIPBLOG: Getting going – 6/4/21

Hi! My name is Mac Li and I’m a 2D animation major at the School of Visual Arts. It has been almost about three weeks since the MassDigi Summer Innovation Program started, and each team is currently working really hard!

Team ChiffonAt SIP, we began with a few days of orientation and then we were assigned teams. So far the summer has been especially interesting due to the hybrid format of the program since some people are working remotely while others are in person. I’m on Team Chiffon along with Dylan Valev from WPI, Frank Liu from RISD, Fergus Ferguson from Tufts, Courtney Manbeck from Cornell, and Justin Gaborit from Becker->WPI! As someone with very limited knowledge of game design, I have definitely been learning quite a lot about it these past couple of days and my teammates have been extremely helpful with that. This is my first time being able to work on a game, so I’m very excited to learn even more about design and also how to contribute art to this project!

For the first few days in teams, we mainly focused on looking at different types of genres of games and we chose three that we’d like to focus on. Then, we came up with a bunch of different metaphors to go with these genres and started to develop some game ideas. Currently we have been building on these ideas and have been able to narrow our choice to the genre of “deckbuilding roguelikes” and mainly focus on that.

On the art side of things, we have been creating concept art for each of the three metaphors. We spent a couple of days just doing free for all concepts where we designed characters, environments, cards, user interface designs, and mock-ups of what the games could potentially look like in different art styles we thought that could fit the metaphors and genres. We also have been playing around with animation too! We came up with the idea of doing puppet or rigged animation and have been experimenting with that. In addition to that, we’ve now started to look at how we could potentially combine our art styles and settle on one that we can all replicate effectively and efficiently for smooth sailing in future production.

So far working on this team has been great! It’s a little challenging when some people are remote and some are in person, but we’ve been getting by and communicating as best as we can. I can’t wait to continue working with them and see where we go from here!

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Happy Birthday! – 4/26/21

Ten years ago, on April 26, 2011, MassDigi was established and yesterday we celebrated that milestone with a little event at the Barrett Center to commemorate the occasion. They say time flies when you’re having fun and that’s certainly true in our case. For the last ten years we’ve had the great honor and pleasure of working with people of all kinds who all share a common passion – games.

We were very thankful that joining us at the celebration were some of the many folks who have been, and will continue to be, so instrumental to our growth, development and success. Becker College President Nancy Crimmin, Petricore Founder and CEO Ryan Canuel, Western New England University President Robert Johnson, WPI President Laurie Leshin, Congressman Jim McGovern, Lieut. Governor Karyn Polito, Mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, UMassD Dean Lawrence Jenkens, Clark University President David Fithian, WPI Senior Emma Lowry, The Deep End Games Creative Director and CEO Bill Gardner, Beamable CEO Jon Radoff and Founder, Vivox CEO and Chairman Rob Seaver all took the time to share some kind words with the small audience.

Amongst all those kind words President Leshin made the first big announcement that MassDigi would be moving to WPI over this upcoming summer – exciting news! After a fantastic run at Becker, we’re thrilled to be joining WPI. We’ve had a great relationship with WPI since MassDigi was established a decade ago – folks from WPI have been with us since day one – and count ourselves lucky to have found our new home just across Highland Street.

Lt. Governor Polito made the second big announcement that our longtime friends at MassTech will be working with us to launch a $100,000 Game Prototype Matching Fund, the first of its kind in the country.

Below are some links to various stories about the move, the matching fund and the celebration.

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GAME LAUNCH: Choose your Digi Fighter – 4/26/21

Digi FightersCelebrate our 10th birthday with this action-packed arcade game featuring characters from past MassDigi games! Digi Fighters is available now on the Apple App Store and the Google Play.

The free mobile game was developed by Shattered Journal Games which is led by Jason Gertner, a LiveStudio and SIP19 alum. Ethan Reese, also a SIP19 alum, produced a medley soundtrack, too, which can you listen to here.

In addition to characters from our past games, Shattered Journal as well as our friends at Petricore, Hybrid Games and Snoozy Kazoo also contributed to the title.

Watch the trailer here and download Digi Fighters today!


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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – 4/23/21

With our 10th birthday around the corner we thought it was a good time to make a couple of changes.

First, we’re moving away from MassDiGI and going to MassDigi. The reason is pretty obvious.

Second, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and Tom Brady has won four since we updated our look. So, over the next several months – thanks to some talented Lesley students – you’ll see us start to roll out our new kit.

We have another big change coming but you’ll have to wait until April 26 to hear about that one!

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SIP21 team selected – 4/21/21

SIP21 team selected

By Timothy Loew, Executive Director

Since 2012, applications to our Summer Innovation Program (SIP) have grown year over year in terms of quality, geographic reach, major and diversity. This time around we received applications from 232 undergraduate and graduate students representing 83 colleges and universities from around the world making it one of our most competitive year ever.

SIP21Choosing only 25 as interns was very challenging. After many long hours of discussion, we selected a really talented group. This summer’s SIP21 team will be made up of interns from 15 institutions including Becker, Berklee, Brown, Cornell, NYU, Northeastern, Parsons, RISD, RIT, SVA, Swarthmore, Temple, Tufts, UMass Amherst and WPI.

SIP21 begins on May 18 and concludes on August 15. Over those 12 weeks or so, with guidance from staff and industry mentors, SIP21 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.

Like last year, there’s still a pandemic on so some interns will stay remote while others will join us on campus at Becker for the last time. The world may be a bit messy right now but we are adjusting to create the best program and greatest experience ever – and we can’t wait to get started.

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GAME LAUNCH: Scratch your way to the top in CatThroat Kitchen – 4/16/21

CatThroat KitchenCatThroat Kitchen a free and super fun card game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

An intense baking competition between Mother Nature’s finest! Use ingredient cards to match your pie to the theme of the challenge or sabotage your opponent by messing with their flavors. Whoever’s bake matches the challenge best when time is up and judging starts will earn Marshmallow’s approval and win delicious pie points!

The mobile game was created during the first-ever 2021 MassDigi Experience Program (XP) by Dan Robinson, Emi Jenkens-Drake, Casey Urso, Katherine Harrison, Jeb Atkinson, Andrew Agen, Hughe Vang and Demmy Mangusso.

In addition to the XP development team students in our Becker-based digital marketing lab helped to launch the game. You can watch the CatThroat Kitchen trailer here and download it today for iOS and Android.

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GAME LAUNCH: Chat it up in Ballroom Banter – 4/16/21

Ballroom BanterBallroom 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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GAME LAUNCH: Reach for the stars in Street Shuffle – 4/15/21

Street ShuffleStreet 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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XPBLOG: The unyielding dream idea and the reality of game design – 4/15/21

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.

Team PieThat 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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