Watch MassDiGI Executive Director Tim Loew discussing the business of video games and esports along with SIP19 Intern Valeria Yang and Becker Studio Intern Justin Duclos on NECN’s CEO Corner. The show aired on June 23, 2019.
Playtesting, playtesting, playtesting
Hello, I’m Dana Hsiao, a Masters of Engineering in Computer Science student at Cornell University – and a Wellesley College alumna. All our SIP teams have been hard at work in the early production stage of our games.
I am the producer of Team Apple, and we’re making a “merge game,” a game is where you take two like things and combine them into one better thing (eg 2048, Cat Condo, Merge Tower Bots). In our game, you are in command of a legion of cute critters as they battle back an invasion of demons from hell.
One of the most interesting things we have done at SIP was to show our whiteboxes and early production builds to both young kids and professional game developers. This has given us a variety of feedback on our game to inform our decisions moving forward.
Earlier this month during TouchTomorrow, an event to introduce STEM to young kids, we showed our whiteboxes to a bunch of kids. While they couldn’t give us technical game development advice, we could observe their behavior to infer how good our game was. For Team Apple’s game in particular, we noticed that kids would play the game for long periods of time and actually had to be dragged away by their parents!
Recently, we got to tour WB Games Boston, the Indie Game Collective, and Demiurge Studios. In addition to looking around their studios, we were able to playtest our current production builds alongside our whitebox with the developers working there. We got a wide range on input on our art style and how to make our game better. It was interesting to see the range of suggestions, from making our game simpler, to keeping it like it was, to making it more strategic. We deliberated over our notes the next day and decided on a slight change in how our game will work, which we are busy working on right now.
I’m honored to work with the great artists and programmers on my team and in SIP. It’s been a blast working with them, and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone’s games come out!
By Griffin Beels, Brown University ’21
Hi! I am a rising junior at Brown University, participating in SIP, MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program. We’ve been in session since the middle of May, so we’re starting to get into the meat of game production!
Within these last three weeks, we’ve been moving very fast-paced (while having ample opportunities to ask questions), and truly have accomplished a lot already.
First, we split off into groups — all of the developers were placed on teams for the rest of the summer. I’m on Team Cherry, and am actually the producer! This means that I seek to coordinate within our team to determine how we want to progress. That is, asking questions about our goals or knowledge, and using that to recognize an ideal path. I have an extraordinary amount to learn, and I hope to improve as much as I possibly can as a producer this summer, to make sure my teammates and I are working together with synergistic efficiency.
Next, we determined as a group what type of game we wanted to pursue. Our group chose to look at “endless runners,” or games wherein you keep playing forever until you hit an obstacle (e.g., Jetpack Joyride, Temple Run, Subway Surfers). We conducted market research to construct a taxonomy of endless runners, which was in essence a massive guideline of what goes into an endless runner.
After we constructed our taxonomy, we constructed 3 “white boxes,” or essentially rough drafts of a few ideas that we had — and got to present our white boxes to elementary school students in the Worcester area, which was an awesome experience. One student in particular made me smile extremely hard when he celebrated after making it to the next platform in one of our white boxes.
Finally, we have officially moved onto production; as such, we are refining our code bases, art styles, and designs to start building an awesome game from the ground up.
Everyone’s incredible, and I am super excited to not only work with such talented artists and programmers, but also get to know everyone and learn from them! I hope the summer keeps being great!
SIP19 team selected
By Timothy Loew, Executive Director
Since 2012, applications to our annual Summer Innovation Program (SIP) have grown year over year in terms of quality, geographic reach, major, and diversity. This year we received applications from over 250 undergraduate and graduate students representing an 66 colleges and universities from around the world – making it one of our most competitive years ever.
Choosing only 25 as interns was very challenging. After many long hours of discussion, the committee selected a really talented group. This summer’s SIP19 team will be made up of interns from 16 institutions including Becker College, Berklee College of Music, Brown University, Cornell University, Emerson College, Lesley University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology (Ireland), Maine College of Art, MIT, Mt. Holyoke College, Northeastern University, RPI, RIT, School of Visual Arts, Wellesley College and WPI.
SIP19 begins on May 14 and concludes on August 11. Over those 12 weeks or so, with guidance from staff and industry mentors, SIP19 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, SIP19 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 SIP19 interns, we’re also pleased to welcome 3 more to SIP19 Extension (SIP19X). These 3 come from RISD and Becker.
It’s on! Lead the Light takes off
It’s the dawn of a new day, and Alpy the sun spirit is on a mission to bring warmth and light to the world. In his way is Auster, a vengeful winter spirit who wants ice and snow to rule the land. Block falling ice, fend off Auster, and keep Alpy safe as he rises to the top!
The mobile game was created during the 2018 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Caroline Pasyanos from Northeastern, Adrian Michalowski from LYIT, Yukon Wainczak from Becker, Kate Olguin from WPI, Brittaney Chang from NYU, Matt Surka from Brown and Maxime Gautier from Berklee College of Music.
Working over t he 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 ’18 and spring ’19 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 Lead the Light today for iOS and Android.
Slide, slide, slippity, slide with Line Slider
Paint and slide your way around as Bip, a mischievous vandal intent on mayhem! Paint and draw your way through foreign lands where the villagers can’t stand you and the bigger the mess you can make, the better! Cruise through rolling green hillsides and quaint villages, but be sure to escape the grasp of the angry villagers! Forget about being a hero, bad guys have all the fun! How many villages can you leave you vandalize before you get caught?
The mobile game was created during the 2018 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Dain Woods from Brown, Victoria Yong from Becker, Alice Li from Wellesley, Nick Carbonara from NYU, Zena Abulhab from Colby and Maxime Gautier 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 ’18 and spring ’19 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 Line Slider today for iOS and Android.
Double, double, toil & trouble! Spell Strike hits the stores
Play as a magical witch who must defend her town from destruction at the hands of evil monsters! Hone your skills and tap your way to victory! Cast your spells against the demons and monsters crawling their way out of the underworld through dangerous portals! Do you have what it takes to be the guardian of your town?
The mobile game was created during the 2018 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Leo Bunyea from WPI, Xijie Guo from Mt. Holyoke, Chloe Tibets from Becker, Aaron Kang from Swarthmore, Tolga Sen from UMass Boston, Melody Cheng from RISD and Maxime Gautier 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 ’18 and spring ’19 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 Spell Strike today for iOS and Android.
CyberDrive 2077 blasts off
Race your car through a neon digital landscape at breakneck speeds and drive through endless and challenging obstacles that block your path. The system is trying to stop you, but can’t hold you forever. Break the firewall, infiltrate the system, enter the mainframe. You’re the last hope of society. Can you survive?
The mobile game was created during the 2018 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Trisha Surve from CMU, Eva Khoury from Pratt, Bert Calderon from Becker, Reuben Heatley Mulhall from LYIT (Ireland), Andrew Rogers from Becker, Tori Rossini from RIT and Maxime Gautier 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 ’18 and spring ’19 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 CyberDrive2077 today for iOS and Android.
Worcester, MA – February 25, 2019 – Sliptime Sleuth by Sunburst Studio won the Grand Prize in the eighth annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest this weekend.
Sliptime Sleuth, an isometric, neo-noir puzzle game where the player, a time-traveling detective, slides through time in order to uncover clues and solve a crime, was created by Sunburst Studio, a team made up of six Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students Tyler B Marcus, Mari Endo, Dylan Valev, Jasmine Duerk, Mackenzie Goldschlager and Karen Hou.
“It was like a dream come true for all of us when Sliptime Sleuth won the Game Challenge,” said Marcus. “If you love making games then this is a must-attend event. You learn so much from the judges and all the other competitors, too.”
The game edged entries from top independent game developers as well as other student game developer teams representing other institutions such as Northeastern University, Champlain College and Becker College. Sliptime Sleuth (gameplay video) will be released on PC next year.
“The feedback we received at the event was outstanding,” said Endo. “We have a much clearer sense of the direction we need to go to produce the game we want to make and how to make it successful.”
The MassDiGI Game Challenge, in its eighth year, helps indie and student game developers and entrepreneurs hone their business focus, shape their ideas and products for launch. This year 37 teams from across the New England registered to compete in front of a packed house at the Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Becker College in Worcester.
Other top winners included Feral Frontier (teaser video) which won the Indie Category and People’s Choice Award. The game was created by Beverly, MA-based Dirty Beast Games, a team made up of three independent game developers Josh Cheney, Felicia Santos and Ken McHugh.
“Earning the Indie and People’s Choice honors for Feral Frontier exceeded our expectations,” said Cheney, “This was our first time at the Game Challenge and the experience was amazing.”
Feral Frontier is a retro side-scrolling platformer game for PC featuring an all animal cast in a world where primal nature meets advanced technology. Vibrant pixel art graphics accompany an eclectic synth soundtrack to create an environment where fast paced action, exploration and adventure await.
Since the MassDiGI Game Challenge began, nearly 300 different teams from around northeast 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 community in the area. Over the event’s two days, dozens of game industry veterans served as judges and mentors.
As the Grand Prize and a College & University Group winner, the Sunburst Studio team won cash and other prizes valued at about $5,000.
“This year’s contest was as close a competition as I’ve seen,” said Monty Sharma, managing director of MassDiGI, “Every team was really very impressive and the creativity and skills on display improves every year as do the games.”
The other College & University Group winners were Basic Witch from Becker with Project Birchtree, a mobile game about a laid-back, enchanted latte-throwing barista witch trying to save her town from being overrun by demons. FPS from Northeastern with Fruit Postal Service, is a battle racing game for PC where you play as a member of the FPS and try to pick up and drop off the most packages to become the employee of the month. And, Team Disco*Vision from Champlain with Blood to Ink, a narrative-based murder mystery game for tablet.
CrypticCHAD, a team of Nashua (NH) North students, won the High School Category with Soul Mates, a dating simulator mixed with a role-playing game.
Runner-up awards went to:
Indie Category – Runner-up
- Snow Pumpkins with Sole Iron Tail
College & University Groups – Runners-up
- Shatter Journal Games with Floaty Fighters (Becker College)
- Hard Hats Studio with Maximum House/Property Damage (Becker College)
The complete results are posted here.
The Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) is the statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Commonwealth’s games ecosystem. Established in 2011 and based in Worcester at Becker College, MassDiGI has launched several initiatives that support entrepreneurship and strengthen the talent pipeline between higher education and the game industry. Well-known initiatives include the Summer Innovation Program LiveStudio and the Game Challenge – all of which bring students and professionals together to work on real projects. For more information, please visit www.massdigi.org.
Post also on Gamasutra here.
The 2019 MassDiGI Game Challenge winners are:
- Winner – Dirty Beast Games with Feral Frontier
- Runner-up – Snow Pumpkins with Sole Iron Tail
College & University Division A – Pie Category
- Winner – Team Disco*Vision (Champlain College) with Blood to Ink
- Runner-up – Shattered Journal Games (Becker College) with Floaty Fighters
College & University Division B – Donut Category
- Winner – Fruit Postal Service (Northeastern University) with Fruit Postal Service
- Runner-up – Hard Hats Studio (Becker College) with Maximum House/Property Damage
College & University Division C – Brisket Category
- Co-winner – Sunburst Studio (WPI) with Sliptime Sleuth
- Co-winner – Basic Witch (Becker) with Project Birchtree
- Winner – CrypticCHAD (Nashua (NH) North HS) with Soul Mates
- Feral Frontier
- Sliptime Sleuth
Honorable mention recognition: Best Technology – Wrong Warp Games (Champlain) with Arachnotron, Best Art – Bone force Games (Northeastern) with Deadboy, Best Business Plan – Project Birchtree, Best Design – Sliptime Sleuth
More information to be posted soon.