SIPBLOG: Welcome to the MassDigi-verse – 6/11/20

Published on Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Welcome to the MassDigi-verse

By JD Calvelli, Brown University ’21

Hey there MassDigi-verse, my name is JD Calvelli, a rising senior at Brown University participating in this year’s Summer Innovation Program. This is the first of many blog posts to come from our SIP20 teams; we’ll be using this platform to keep everyone updated on our thoughts, feelings, and, most importantly, our progress on our games throughout the summer.

As for me, I’m the producer on Team Pork Dumplings, which are coincidentally one of my favorite foods. My fellow Dumplings are assistant producer Jasmine Duerk from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, programmer Andrew Knollmeyer from Northeastern University, programmer Sam Shapiro from Clark University, programmer/artist Jack Breen from Framingham State University, artist Lexis Harvey from Becker College, and Primrose Kirk from Berklee. As producer,  I’ll be responsible for making sure the team runs efficiently and effectively while being respectful of everyone’s needs and opinions, facilitating our progress through obsessively taking notes and organizing our tasks while keeping our goals and limitations in mind. This is my first time assuming a role like this in game development specifically (usually I’m writing stories, designing systems, or making music!), and, although I’m a little nervous, I’m excited to think I know what I’m doing only to find out the absolutely unreal amount of stuff I don’t know! But, in all seriousness, I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to grow as a producer and programmer; I have a lot to learn, but I have an incredible team supporting me throughout the process.

Miro screenshot

Our team’s Miro board

Before we even got to the challenges inherent to game development, our SIP teams as a whole have had to struggle with the reality of working in a COVID-19 world. Our internship this summer is being held digitally, with the hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to spend a week or so together on site at the end of the summer. A lot of what former SIPers have mentioned as the most impactful part of SIP are the passing conversations, dorm gaming sessions, and impromptu student on student mentorship that went on in between official team meetings. We’ve been doing our best to recreate that experience over Discord (we even started our own SIP Minecraft Server!) and the incredible Team Yogurt is working on new ways to build a SIP20 community culture everyday. Our team, Team Pork Dumplings, has been trying to hold weekly game nights. Last week, we played Broken PicturePhone, and learned first hand why I am decidedly not an artist!

Currently, all of the development teams are in the process of finalizing our concepts before entering official production. Last week, we were able to meet with some awesome members of SIPs past to get feedback on our initial concepts, and we’re excited to meet even more mentors this Friday. This time, we’ll be presenting some playable tests, or “whiteboxes”, of our ideas, in the effort to finally choose what game idea we’ll be pursuing for the rest of the summer. We’ve all put so much work into cutting, changing, adjusting, and reflecting on all of our preliminary designs up to this point that we’ve settled on some game ideas that we really love. It’s going to be hard to have to say goodbye to the ones we don’t choose! Up next is finalizing pre-production on the idea that we choose, and starting actual production. It’s still a long road ahead, but we’re all fired up and ready to hit the ground running.

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to join such an impressive community of people, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings. JD signing off!

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