Here’s to one hell of a summer
By Ethan Reese, Berklee College of Music ’19
As SIP is coming to an end, everything seems a little bittersweet and surreal. After almost four months of living and working with so many amazing humans, normal life back at school will certainly be a wild change.
My favorite experience during SIP was definitely being able to work with every team here. As the sole audio representative, it is my job to make all of the music and sound effects for every game this summer. Each team had a different game that required its own style of audio which made every day full of a variety of work. It was great fun being able to record and write in so many styles and even record some of my co-workers for some of the sound effects. This was extra fun because all of the people here are incredible, not just as co-workers but also as friends.
Each day is filled with many ideas being thrown around, everyone asking for critique on their work, people learning form one another, many laughs, and (after work) maannnyyy games of Super Smash Bros.
In the beginning of this summer I was worried about being on so many teams because I was afraid that no one team would truly see me as a member; that I’d be seen as my own team. This worry quickly dissipated due to the spectacular people and I couldn’t imagine a better way to work with my fellow SIPers! However, being on so many teams was an interesting task too as I had to juggle many equally weighted responsibilities. Over the summer we all used a method called Kanban to manage tasks and track progress. Although this was great for each team individually, I found that I needed to develop my own way of keeping track of my progress on a macro level so that nothing was forgotten.
Overall, my time here at SIP has been absolutely incredible and has taught me more than I imagined I would learn about games, problem solving, collaboration, and just being a decent human being.
P.S. I second Denis and Toby. Don’t let Brandon cook steak.
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From across the pond
Hi, we’re Denis Gillespie and Tobias Maclure-O’Reilly from Letterkenny Institute of Technology in Ireland. We are both programmers who have just finished our final year and are taking part in the Summer Innovation Program at MassDiGI.
L-R: Denis Gillespie, John Conaghan (LYIT lecturer), Tobias Maclure-O’Reilly
We were gifted the great opportunity to participate in the programme and jumped at the chance to come to the states. So far, we have been introduced to the inner workings of a game development studio, met industry professionals, and experienced American culture. While we have been working here, we have been able to enhance our ability to work with a team of artists, programmers, and an audio designer (shout out to Ethan Reese). Over our time here so far we have met industry professionals from WB Games Boston, the Indie Game Collective, Demiurge Studios and past SIP alumni. These meetings provided us with the opportunity to learn about the industry and playtest our games, which gave us valuable feedback to further the development of our games. But it is not all work, we have also been able to enjoy national parks taking in the sights, experience our first 4th of July, American food and nightlife.
We are part of two seperate teams, Team Banoffee and Team Cherry. Banoffee consists of three artists – Amanda Saker, Ben Aube and Oriana Carletto, three programmers – Jason Gertner, Sarah Ke and myself (Denis), and the audio designer Ethan Reese. The working title of our game is Roller Riot – a mobile arcade brawler with a futuristic Roller Derby theme. Cherry is made up of three artists – Angel Ortiz , Emma Lowry , Savannah Gaspar three programmers – Griffin Beels, Sebastian Schindler, myself (Tobias) and the always busy audio designer, Ethan. We are developing a mobile endless runner about a young hero, Omar, that must save his people from the diminishing light. The game has the working title of Save the Flame! Both team Cherry and Banoffee are reaching the end of their development goals for the summer program. With the aim of a soft release this autumn.
Here’s a sneak peak of what our games currently look like:
For both of us this was our first time across the pond. It has been a once in a lifetime experience, that we are sure we will never forget.
P.S. Don’t let Brandon cook steak
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Hi, I’m Benjamin Aube, an Interactive Media in Game Art student from Becker College. SIP is beginning to wrap up, and I wanted to look back on how much of an impact it’s had on our skill sets. I am part of Team Banoffee as an artist and lead designer on Roller Riot. I am primarily a 3D artist, but I really wanted to improve my illustration skills this time around and agreed to make it fully 2D. And I’m so glad I made that decision because I absolutely love how our game looks and plays right now.
On the art side, my teammates Oriana Carletto and Amanda Saker and I all pitched multiple concepts and mood boards and spent a long time deciding on an art direction. We were worried that our team was falling behind, but that extra time paid off so much. We took inspiration from roller derby, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Blade Runner, and vaporwave aesthetics. I distinctly remember Amanda saying she hated the word aesthetic, and since then it has become our favorite word. In just the first week of concepting, I saw significant improvement to my art skills. I’ve learned a lot from my teammates showing off concepts to each other and asking for critiques on our assets. We all have different strengths, and so far its made for an interesting experience. We’ve all been able to teach each other things that we never would have learned otherwise.
I’ve been able to delve into animation and have been able to make rough animations for an enemy character. Amanda has been incredibly helpful through the animation process, she provided invaluable feedback on my animations and how to improve them. Oriana taught me a lot about anatomy and lining, and helped me finally figure out how to draw hands. They also helped me gain confidence in my art and taught me how to deal with impostor syndrome.I feel like I am no longer restricted to just working on 3D games, and it feels great. SIP has been an unforgettable and life changing experience for me, and I am so grateful to have been given the chance to work with such talented people. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates, I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and I hope to work with them again some day.
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SIP Jam round-up
Hey! My name is Jordan Kegler, I’m a VFX and environment artist here at SIP – and a Becker College student! This year we tried something a little different from what normally happens in the off time during SIP, we decided to have a game jam!
Game jams are basically quick little spans when you make a game, either as a team or as an individual! My friends and I from Becker constantly participate and plan different game jams, but we thought it would be a cool idea to do one with all of the people in SIP, too! I even started programming my first game during this jam which was a wild experience! Altogether, 7 games were launched after SIP Jam, all made in 24 hours, and updated slightly afterwards!
Here are links to all of the games! Overall, we’re really happy with how everything came out, and hope this can be a tradition going forward!!
Siren Serenade (Mobile) – https://jasoonmargoon.itch.io/siren-serenade
SQUIFA 2019 (PC) – https://gavin-camlin.itch.io/squifa
Bird Go Up (PC) – https://dialupnoises.itch.io/bird-go-up
Bullethell (PC) – https://tbmarcus.itch.io/bullethell
Crab Smash (PC) – https://dnos.itch.io/crabsmash2
Blame the Controller (PC) – https://demmydev.itch.io/btc
Love Hunt (PC) – https://elijahcobb.itch.io/love-hunt
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Creating a consistent art style
Hi, I’m Julia Krawiec, an Electronic Arts and Games Simulation Arts and Sciences major attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as the lead artist on Team Blueberry.
We’re already past the halfway point of SIP and all the teams have made significant progress on their projects! Team Blueberry is making a “Match 3 Game” (similar to games like Candy Crush, Bejeweled, and Juice Jam) where you play as Cyp, a cat selling plants from their plant van all over the world.
One of the biggest challenges Team Blueberry encountered was how to keep our art style consistent. Blueberry’s art team is pretty large, having 4 artists to 2 programmers, each with a unique art style, so we wanted to make sure everyone’s art looked cohesive. On top of that, each of our artists had different strengths, ranging from animation, to 3D modeling, to 2D illustration, and we wanted our game to make the most out of everyone’s area of expertise while also making room to pick up new skills.
We tackled this problem by drawing a couple iterations of our main character, Cyp. Then, we decided which version worked the best, fit the feel we intended, and was in a style that others could easily replicate. This image became our reference from there on so everyone could stay consistent and have a visual to look at when creating any assets for the game. We also went through similar processes for other game components like icons and game boards. After we had an art style set, we looked through all the assets we needed to create and decided what could be created in 2D and what could be 3D.
These early concepts and planning were essential for us. It has given all the members of Blueberry a solid idea of what the feel of our game is and how to create cohesive looking art assets. We’re over 7 weeks in and our unified vision of what we’d like our end product to look like has made the process go rather smoothly.
SIP has been a blast for Team Blueberry so far and ourselves and all the other teams are working hard to produce some awesome games this summer! I’ve learned so much from my fellow teammates and all the other SIP members and can’t wait to get even more out of it!
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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.
Click here to view Part 1 and Part 2.
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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!
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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.
Griffin Beels celebrating National Donut Day during SIP19.
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!
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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.
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It’s on! Lead the Light takes off
Lead the Light, a free, fun and exciting physics-based arcade game, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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.
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