Feature

NERDSummit Announces Sessions!

[Once again full disclosure the folks at NERD give me some money in exchange for marketing stuff, but fuller disclosure it’s not like this isn’t basically what I’d write for free regardless so they’re kind of paying me just to remind me to do that thing I meant to do anyway PLEASE no one tell them that.-Ed.]

NERDSummit is coming up March 18th – 19th at the UMass Integrated Sciences Building! It’s going to be no cost, a heck of a time, and it’s going to have food for attendees but some people say even more importantly than the food they are also going to have some really excellent speakers! We’ve chosen to highlight a few of the ones for each day that caught our eye.

Saturday, March 18th

First off is the one we’re most excited about, Richard Stallman & Micky Metts! They’re going to be giving a talk called The JavaScript Trap about how horrible JavaScript can be and we are interested in hearing knowledgeable people explain that to us. We already kind of hate JavaScript because people toss it about like it’s necessary for every danged button but we also know there are some more technical reasons that ubiquitous JavaScript isn’t a great idea from a useability or security perspective. Richard Stallman is one of the founders of the Free Software movement and the GNU project, so you 100% used something he helped create when you were in college and first found out that Photoshop costs $800. Micky Metts is a free software activist who has done a lot of great work cooperatively developing using free software for you, personally! Very kind of her.

Mike Miles will be giving a talk called Inclusive Design: Thinking Beyond Accessibility. What’s interesting about this talk is the fact that it goes further than just how to make your work functionally accessible to people who aren’t exactly like you. Thinking about how to include other folks to the extent that they actively find your work easy to use and joyful is important and it’s easy to let it slide because you don’t necessarily think about how other people are going to interact with your creations every time you make something.

Finally The Modern Woman in Tech with Christina Gleason seems like a good chance to look beyond specific technologies and to think about the culture surrounding a lot of the work that folks at NERDSummit will be discussing. What barriers exist for women, and what unique challenges do they face? How can we handle the current environment while working to break down walls? All important questions that deserve a lot of attention!

Sunday, March 19th

Thomas Dodson will discuss DIY Digital Signage, something that we’ve noticed more often recently. Lots of organizations buy expensive signs that are kind of both ugly and not all that flexible. Thomas has some solutions that are cheap and flexible, and shares some lessons that the folks at the Harvard Library learned implementing a DIY signage system.

Anne Merritt will be talking about Visual Programming with Scratch, a great way to introduce coding concepts to folks without requiring a lot of syntactical expertise early. Scratch uses literal building blocks of code to create basically anything you can think of, making it a lot easier for people new to programming concepts to start and finish useful projects quickly.

Finally Jeremy Kauffman will be giving a presentation called Content Freedom: An Introduction to LBRY which is appropriately enough about LBRY, an open-source protocol that’s supposed to make it easy to find, distribute, and purchase content. As we’re always really happy that we have a ton of comic photos we don’t need to attribute because we took them, the idea of finding a nice way to actually find content from other people sounds delightful!

So that’s a rundown of a few really neat sounding sessions out of a whole bunch! There are a total of 42 sessions on the site so if the above don’t catch your interest something probably will!

The Second Anniversary!

Hello! My name is James and I am the person who writes these newsletters and posts!

I actually kind of got distracted and forgot that the anniversary was on the 8th but hey whatever I got the month right!

I want to thank you, my loyal readership, for giving me a reason to keep writing because I really enjoy it. I’m also just generally happy to see that people are getting something out of them!

I don’t really know what to say about the second anniversary. I guess mostly what I feel like is that after two years of doing this and a year and a bit of helping with Nerd Nites I have been able to do a little bit to give back to a community that I appreciate.

Also it feels really nice to have written hundreds of thousands of words that were mostly useful or REALLY excellent jokes.

I still have plans for the site that are yet to come to fruition but that’s mostly because there’s a lot of other interesting stuff pulling on my time which is not the worst problem to have!

One thing I’m really invested in figuring out is how to provide a better of picture of the experience of attending a lot of different events. A consistent thing that’s arisen with folks I’ve spoken to is that they wish they could have a better idea of how to approach events that they’ve never been to. I figure I can do something to alleviate that if I work on it. Obviously I can’t do all of them personally, but I think I can figure out something useful.

At this rate a full site redesign will be coming in like a decade but hey what can you do.

If you like this site and this newsletter, I would really appreciate it if you gave me feedback about what all you’d like to see done to improve the layout and formatting or whatnot. Or if you have any feature suggestions, let me know! I’d also love to be alerted to interesting happenings around the Valley that I can post!

Also if you want to toss me money on Patreon I will appreciate it because it’s nice to have extra money to do things I feel are interesting and useful.

You’re great, thank you! Have a wonderful year! Look at the Valley Creators page and find new people whose work you’ll love!

Check Out These Copper Bookmarks Made at Goodwin Memorial Library!

Local Creator, metal-smith, and all-around nice person Heather Beck went to Goodwin Memorial Library yesterday to help some great folks make excellent copper bookmarks! They look cool as heck and we’re kind of annoyed we didn’t have a chance to produce one ourselves. It looks like a fun time making them, and the final products look legit as heck.

But don’t take our word for it, check them out below!

Not only do the final products of their work look awesome (The Empress is a personal favorite of ours) it’s also clear that the folks who were at the event have top-notch taste in books. We’ve got to go back and read all the Loki stuff…

Keep an eye out for further events at Goodwin Memorial! They do excellent stuff with regularity. And take a look at Heather Beck for more excellent work and training! Maybe commission a ring?

The Mass DiGi Open House

We went to the Mass DiGi open house yesterday! It was really cool and we want to tell you about the games we saw. They’re not all available to play for you yet, but you can see some of the excellent games of past years here!

Slime Break:

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  • Adorable
  • Like Breakout
  • Also an infinite runner kind of
  • High scores!
  • Very pretty

We had a ton of fun trying this out, it’s an idea we cannot believe hasn’t been done a hundred times because it works so well. Basically it’s like Breakout, the game where you hit a bouncy ball with a paddle to break blocks at the top of the screen, but the blocks scroll in infinitely from the right-hand side of the screen.

This basically turns it into the best version of Breakout ever, because it removes the worst part of breakout which is trying to get like 2-3 little leftover blocks on a screen you’ve mostly cleared. The one thing we didn’t love is that there are often “bombs” that clear a bunch of stuff instead of allowing you to watch the ball bounce around a bunch and the levels are a bit short and a bit repetitive. With even a tiny bit of tweaking though, this could be a really amazing game instead of just a fun one!

Comet Cats:

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  • Cats
  • Sticky cats
  • Collectible cats
  • Physics!

We were very bad at this game but it was clearly a very neat game. It’s about tossing a bunch of cats into a box and trying to build your stack of cats high enough to grab sparkles which give you more time to stack more cats to grab more sparkles!

The cats stick together if they’re the same color, and the magical nega-cat can stick to any cat, making it an exceptionally useful kitty. The gameplay is straightforward and moreish, with just enough control to make the odd accidental toppling of a precarious cat-stack hit that much harder. It needs a little bit of tweaking with the cat-generator, though! They said that the reason we were terrible might have been that too few nega-cats spawned in our games, in addition to our just being bad at it.

Takeover Trail:

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  • Realpolitik
  • Clever plans
  • A map

We lost this one real bad without completely noticing which maybe points to the win/loss condition being a bit more hidden than it needs to be. The basic play is you’re on a 4-color map where every country has a number, you start as one country generating a bit of money, and you takeover others by basically buying the “propaganda” that allows you to take over countries if you have an equal or greater amount of propaganda than they do… countryness? So buy 1 yellow propaganda, take over any yellow country with a 1 on it. Buy 2, take over any yellow 1 or 2 countries, etc.

As you take over countries you generate more cash and you occasionally need to squash rebellions. The thing that caught us out was that there’s never really push-back on the map itself to your takeover, you just keep advancing. The opposing forces are represented by a steadily ticking meter in the top of the screen, which is a bit of a difficult thing to focus on while you’re tapping about. Still, this is an interesting take on the map-takeover genre, we were a fan of the idea of doing away with combat-type stuff entirely.

Colosseum Coach:

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  • Monsters
  • Gary
  • Sunglasses
  • Flirting

We’ve got a real thing for games where you put together a little team of people, regardless of whether there’s any real effect of their being individuals on the action. Colosseum Coach lets you build a little cadre of gladiators and outfit them in cool clothes to fight monsters.

The game is absolutely charming at the moment, with evocative artwork that really gets you into the mindset of how cool sunglasses look with gladiator sandals. Unfortunately it’s also a little basic. You basically just fight/block/do an effect that lasts the entire fight. There’s something here, and we’re interested in seeing where it goes, but at the moment it definitely feels a little too much of a foregone conclusion that your fighters either win or die, because you’re kind of just going -5, okay monster did -2, we’re winning this thing in a couple taps. Still there’s a lot of room to grow in terms of adding some equipping or positioning tactical stuff, and it does look practically perfect visually.

So that’s that! The open house was fun and the folks were all really nice and we got to pet a dog. It was amazing to see what these hard-working young people managed to put together in 3 danged months, and we absolutely can’t wait to see what these games become and see what else the people on these teams make! Check out Mass DiGi for games from prior years or to get involved yourself!

New Local Webseries: Dank Dungeons!

Local heroes Dan Ouellette, Lizzy Dorrell, Lance Vincent, and Davis Hall are are exploring dark Dank Dungeons for fun and profit in a brand new local webseries!

You can meet them and hear their own explanations of their respective characters and roles in this little video series below! They’re pretty quick! In what we can only imagine was intentional editing, all of them have a real awkward like half-second or so at the end where people don’t know what they’re supposed to say.

When we spoke to the Danksters, they were anticipating their premiere episode and getting ready to shoot another in the lovely NCTV studios located in the dank dungeons of the Northampton High School.

They’re an interesting crew! Davis, the one we feel is most likely to un-ironically describe himself as a bit of a troublemaker, is studying astrophysics at UMass Amherst. Lance, a friendly if slightly quiet fellow, often works crew for local filmmakers. Lizzy, the one who told the best jokes during the interview, works admissions at Hampshire. Dan, the Dank Master (DM), has been DMing D&D sessions since he was eleven years old.

All of them were brought together by a mutual friendship with Lex Mandrake, a local who’s doing the hard work of producing the series and bringing everyone together. Most of the cast and crew of Dank Dungeon pointed to their enduring friendships with Lex as the primary reason they showed up every session, with the additional inducement that Dan is a good DM. Davis also mentioned that his life is empty of meaning between semesters,  a sort of sickening void from which any escape is relief. He didn’t use exactly those phrases but we’re pretty sure we picked up what he was putting down.

A lot of who the Danksters are seems to be reflected in their characters. Davis is the one that “role-plays” not being able to stop himself from poking and prodding and lighting on fire every object or person the team encounters. Lance is the one that calmly attempts to figure out whether or not a course of action makes any sense. And tries to wrangle his wolf, usually poorly. And finally Lizzy gravitated to a character suited to comedy, both because Wizards in Dungeon World come with a myriad of opportunities to trip over their own glass cannon status in interesting ways but also because she explicitly designed a wizard who’s trying to fit in with the cool kids by pretending she thinks reading and studying is lame.

The world reflects both the Dan as a DM and the direction he thinks his players will be interested in heading. Which is to say it’s goofy as heck. It takes place in a world that suffered a cool-pocalypse, with all of the really neat and magical stuff like dino-people and goblins and wizards banished in the aftermath to the Radlands. The players, some from the deepest Un-Cool, some from the edges of the Radlands, are tasked with entering the deepest, most awesome parts of the world in order to save it from your standard extra-double apocalypse.

Both Dan and the players said there’s little different about playing under the hot lights excepting the fact that the lights make them kind of warm. They quickly forget the fact that they’re playing for a crowd and focus on the immediate issues presented in the game. Although they’re all new to Dungeon World, they’re all veterans of other RPG systems.

Although we do think that based on the first few episodes it seems a bit tough for them to get completely immersed in their characters, despite the fact that they’re clearly comfortable playing for the cameras. We tend to see the players and the DM interact more as people playing a game than as actual inhabitants of the world.

That’s also a style thing, we think. Some people really dig into roleplay as a chance to play-act as a different person, while others are a bit more comfortable keeping themselves at arm’s length from the proceedings and focusing more on the tactical elements of the game, solving puzzles and defeating monsters with the stats they have available.

Part of what’s interesting about seeing them play is that while they seem much more comfortable with the tactical element than the role-playing one, Dungeon World is Powered by the Apocalypse. That means it’s based on local creator Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World system. This involves mostly role-play-heavy experiences based on a sort of question-and-answer mutual storytelling with much less in the way of direct tactical combat. So for instance, bad rolls involve “drawing unwanted attention” or “messing with the fabric of reality” and they’re open to a lot more interpretation by both players and the DM than simply “you missed” or “you did less damage”.

But as much as there are some early role-playing jitters, the inherent silliness of the world makes for entertaining viewing. The first episode features a Legasaurus, which is a Stegasaurus made entirely out of legs and absolutely bonkers for kicking, as well as a bunch of bumbling mummy/dinosaur fights and some classic poking the beehive by Davis/Dula.

There’s a mildly obvious DM intervention at one point via a mystical, probably evil goat that players unleash while immediately determining they’ve made a terrible mistake. It becomes a great running joke when it turns out that Lance’s character Todd the Ranger can speak with animals. Which means that all of a sudden a portentous immortal goat mystic needs to start explaining itself to the group. Also, Todd’s got some explaining to do to his wolf, who he doesn’t really realize he can speak to until late in the third episode. They also fight a huge mummy that flexes a lot and mostly attacks via power-bombs and suplexes.

There are currently three episodes, each an hour long, and we can say that it’s worth a look if you’re into actual-play RPG shows that focus on the fun. It’s also a great way to get a look at first-timers playing a game of Dungeon World! Give it a look starting at Episode One!

 

Father’s Day

You may have read a bit about my dad in the anniversary post, or in the about page. If you have, you know that due to the fact that he kicked the bucket several years ago I won’t be celebrating father’s day with him.

Which honestly, isn’t that big of a change. We didn’t really celebrate father’s day even before he croaked. He usually told us that any gifts we could manage to buy were either things he could also buy on account of having enormously more money than a couple of children, or things he didn’t really want which was why he had not bought them.

I think the only gifts he ever legitimately loved were the times when my sister and I scribbled on a t-shirt in fabric markers.

My sister and I spent a lot of time hanging out with my dad.

We used to go to the basement, which had a bit of a shorter ceiling, and stack up a big bunch of wooden blocks until we had a nice open tower with some wedges to keep it up. Then we’d huck a rubber ball at it, knocking off bricks we’d balanced on it, and trying to knock out the tougher support blocks and bring the tower crashing down, so we could have fun building a new one. It’s still one of my favorite games, I wish it was something amenable to apartment play.

He’d talk for hours about whatever thing it was we thought was important. I have fond memories of back-and-forth about whatever the Daily Show was about that night, or walking through the suburbs talking about what sort of Terran build beats a Zergling rush most effectively (I taught him to wall off the entrances with supply depots) or whether he thought we were ready to take on Diablo with the Sorceress.

It was never a mystery what my dad thought of us or what his priorities were. He loved us unconditionally, and was never happier than when we confirmed that we thought he was pretty great as well.

He never took credit for us. He always said that he was just lucky his kids were so wonderful, and not assholes like him. He’d say he stepped in mostly to prod us to keep doing more interesting things, and to remind us to respect the effort and the expertise of other people no matter how smart we thought we were.

My dad was a nerdy kid when being a nerd meant nothing particularly good. But dealing with ostracism didn’t make him bitter. He was never afraid of new people getting into his hobby or jealous that they didn’t have to deal with what he had to. He was excited to see the things he loved resonating with more people. Seeing Blade and Spider-Man and Iron Man and the Lord of the Rings and everything he’d ever thought was cool when he was 11 delighting millions of new people was an unqualified good in his mind.

I still get a bit teary-eyed whenever a new superhero flick comes out, knowing that as neat as I find them I’m never going to be as ecstatic about their mere existence as he was. I try to channel that excitement into this site, and I hope it comes through.

Every header image you see on this site is a photo of comic that my dad collected.

I’ve spent my time in the Valley meeting a lot of wonderful people. If I have met you since moving here, there are very good odds my dad would have thought you were excellent and that you would have tolerated him. I’m sad you won’t get to meet him.

I hope you have a good father’s day, whatever your situation.

Speaking with Isaiah Mann and Chandra Hughes of GlowLime Games

Recently I made my way to a local watering hole to interview the two minds behind Hampshire College’s own independent game development studio, GlowLime.

Specifically, I made my way straight past the two kind folks I was planning to interview, which I blame on Isaiah recently having cut his hair and my own natural tendency to avoid eye contact with anyone in public. Eventually, I found my way to their table and sat down with the two of them to talk about what GlowLime is and what it’s doing for Hampshire students.


 

James Olchowski: Thank you both for meeting with me!

Chandra Hughes: Thank you for having us.

Isaiah Mann: It’s nice to be here!

JO: What is GlowLime?

IM:  GlowLime Games is a collective of student game developers that just formed last semester, and the goal is that we’re a matchmaking service that gets people paired into teams working on student concepts. We try to be a mock industry process for game production, they’re accountable to deadlines and they work in a hierarchy and bring the builds back to us. We’re trying to simulate real workflow.

JO:  So GlowLime isn’t a development studio, it’s a publisher?

IM:  We’re both, the main goal is providing student teams the resources. We have our own management team to provide support but they have their own teams.

CH:  All the students that work do work as ‘collaborators’ under GlowLime, so technically they do develop games for us, but they are separate teams.

JO: So is this a Hampshire organization? A club? An independent company?

IM: The goal is to integrate it with Hampshire as a student group, it’s not a profit-making enterprise. Any money just goes toward providing people with more resources. Long term we’re trying to get student groupship at Hampshire and to expand to the rest of the five colleges.

JO: So what’s the end goal here? How many more years are you here?

IM: This is my second to last year, so two more semesters for me, three more for Chandra.

JO: So what makes this not implode after two or three semesters?

IM: We try to stagger people across years so that as people leave we have other students waiting to replace them. We’ve got everything from seniors to first years as collaborators, and we have people from multiple years on the management team.

CH:  The goal is to have younger students, freshman, come on and act as assistants so that eventually they’re ready to take over management tasks. We did start up last October and established the management team from October to January and just started dev work this semester, so it’s hard to say exactly what the plan is at the moment but the goal is to have GlowLime exist without us.

Isaiah

JO: Is the goal to continue as an exclusively student organization? As a curriculum piece?

CH: Right now anyone on the team can get credit for it, a lot of people are doing it as an independent study and some people are doing it as community engagement. One of the goals is to have advisors from the community, like Pat King and Ira Fay, and we have some people helping us who aren’t students. Ideally we’re trying to bring in people from the academic community in the five colleges, but we’re open to anyone with experience.

IM: We’ve talked to Hampshire’s school of Cognitive Science about getting a course together using GlowLime, too. Really the reason we started was because we noticed a gap in terms of game development classes available. We’ve got Ira Fay and we have Rob Daviau and Pat King, and then we’ve got Joshua Newman at UMass, but not much else.

CH: For our Fall semester classes, there’s no game project class.

IM: Right there’s no class that involves getting a team together with the goal of making a finished product.

JO: So why did you start GlowLime instead of just working on your own independent work outside of school? If you have an interest in developing games, why not pursue that exclusively instead of trying to insert it into the curriculum?

IM: There’s just not enough of an integration of the local game development community. I’ve met so many great people by bringing together this group that I’d never have met solo, and we’re meeting a need for other students by bringing together this broader network.

JO: So I know Chandra is already hip-deep in Chisa Studios. What brought you two together to found GlowLime?

IM: Well, I was the person who initially had the idea while I was at MassDiGi this past summer, and brought together the initial management team, but I credit Chandra as being a co-founder alongside the rest of our excellent management team.

CH: And well, Isaiah and I have been friends for years.

JO: Well yep that’ll do it I suppose!

CH: I’ve also always been interested in the production and management end of things more than strictly development work, and this was a way to get more deeply involved in that across a wide variety of games and teams.

JO: So I know you’re specifically interested in producing games, Chandra. Are you finding a lot of people come to GlowLime interested in management and production rather than development work?

CH:  A lot of our collaborators are interested in a specific field and also interested in management which is hard for me. I’ve dabbled in audio and took an animation class – never doing that again – but not really much development.

All of our teams have leads, too. We have a producer, assistant producer, and then leads for art and programming. The people who are producers are also usually interested in another field. Like Isaiah is the producer for Lex The Wizard but is also involved in development. We have Noah, who’s the producer for Winter Break. Joel and Sean are producers for The Experiment, and Sean’s really interested in design and Joel’s a programmer, but they’re also really interested in management. Currently I’m the only one interested solely in production.

JO: Is the goal to eventually have producers who aren’t directly involved with projects? An actual external producer rather than people working on their own games?

IM:  This semester the teams were set up by our excellent hiring manager, Grace Barrett-Snyder, from Smith College. All the teams and roles assigned were carefully set up by her, Chandra, and myself based on their skills and interests. We have a two-tiered setup. Chandra is specifically the Operations Manager who serves as the liaison between the management and development teams.

It can also depend on the size of the project. People working with a smaller team need more direct help. I’m producing Lex The Wizard, created by Marcus Maulucci which is a cross between Harry Potter and Hearthstone, and I’ve  worked with the game’s code as well.

JO: So are you only looking for students? Is GlowLime designed specifically for students from the Five Colleges to take their projects?

CH: Explaining MassDiGi might help a lot.

IM: The basic concept of MassDiGi is that they’ve identified a gap between what colleges teach and what companies look for in terms of professionalism. One of the main inspirations behind  GlowLime was their Summer Innovation Program, which I was involved in last summer. It takes teams of five students from colleges around the world and tasks them with developing a mobile game. MassDiGI also do run a similar program during the school year, more part-time. We’re imitating that model more closely. MassDiGI is  currently based out of Becker College, and they’re looking to expand to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and Hampshire.

We do have a lot of students involved with GlowLime, but we have also have a few developers who aren’t associated with a college. We have advisors from local industry and local game developers like Marcus  the creator of Lex, and Timothy Adan one of the audio designers for Lex.

download

JO: What’s the life cycle of a game that gets produced via GlowLime? Once someone gets a game accepted, where will it be in a year?

IM: That’s kind of variable. Right now we’re working on a semester-by-semester timeline. We started with a deadline of April 22nd, but we’re revising that.

JO: [audible laughter]

CH: Well, we’ve actually got a couple games on track to hit that deadline.

JO: Really? That’s impressive!

CH: Well, we did make Word Snack in a semester during the game dev course at Hampshire. It’s doable, it’s just hard.

JO: So once you’ve hit that deadline and shipped in a semester, what’s the end state? Do you publish to Steam or what?

IM: Well we try to keep people on their goals, and those goals can be varied. We want people working with deadlines that work for them. In terms of a final product, we’re trying to get published through the App Store, Google Play, and Steam Greenlight. But we’re a non-profit, so there’s no actual revenue to distribute. If individual teams want to go to a for-profit model all we ask is that they give a nod to GlowLime in some way.

JO: So the non-profit status allows you to simplify a bit, there’s no reason to deal with revenue, you’re just getting grants and working through the colleges.

IM: Exactly, yeah.

JO: So releasing doesn’t necessarily net you any profit. What about the people who work with you? What if they have a big success, do they get anything out of it?

CH: I don’t know if this completely answers your question but for example GlowLime just brought 13 people to the MassDiGi Challenge, to get funding via grants. It was a game pitch competition, and there was a first prize award of $2,000 on the table. And we had a conversation about where that might go. Now we weren’t planning on selling the game, but if we got this money we felt like it should be distributed by the winning team as they see fit.

JO: So if any individual team is responsible for some windfall, the team is responsible for figuring it out? Including “never mind, we’re going to go for-profit instead”?

IM: Yeah, if someone is ready to move into the next phase and develop professionally, we’re happy to let them fly free with that. Even if that’s a bit beyond our scope as an organization.

JO: So do you have official measures to deal with copyright?

IM: We set up a pretty simple copyright agreement. Basically just “we have rights to work on the games you bring to us”.

CH: We’re also looking to get things set up as open source.

IM: Yeah we’re not really looking to take any rights away from anyone, just making sure that we can work on and publish the game without issue. If they want to do something else with it afterward they can go for it.

JO: So after speaking with Chandra, I know she’s mostly into production. What got you interested in gaming, Isaiah?

IM: Well I did play a lot of Age of Empires, but as far as game development it was mostly Ira Fay’s course at Hampshire. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed programming in Unity and I really wanted to pursue that.

JO: That’s interesting. I know very few people who weren’t aware they enjoyed programming until college, it seems like most people I know either get into it early or avoided it altogether. When you got to Hampshire what was the plan?

IM: Actually I was into theater. The plan was to be a playwright and actor, and it just turned out I was terrible at that. I liked coding so I’ve been pursuing that.

JO: So you guys each have a few semesters left at GlowLime. What’s the plan after that for you two?

IM: For me I’m definitely looking to go into software development. I’d like to start as a software engineer at someplace larger so that I can get used to working with other developers. Maybe after I’ve got some experience under my belt I can go for something smaller and more independent.

JO: So is your ultimate goal to stay in games? Or are you interested in software engineering in general?

IM: Preferrably game development, but I’m not picky.

JO: Has Hampshire prepped you for that sort of work well?

IM: Hampshire really stresses independence. That can be a perk, and it can make you a bit of an odd duck. But I feel like I’ve had a wide variety of practical experiences that mean I’ll be ready to work somewhere after college.

JO: So what about you, Chandra?

CH: Well, I have 3 semesters left, so I still have Div III to work on.

JO: And what’s Div III?

CH: Well, at Hampshire your entire last year is big sort of senior project. Isaiah’s using GlowLime as his Div III, and I don’t know what I’m doing. So that’s step one. As of right now I’m looking for a production internship, and I’ve applied to the Summer Innovation Program at MassDiGi. But because the projects are so small, production experience alone isn’t enough. So I’m interested in trying to learn the bare minimum of UI design to be able to apply and have a better chance of getting into the program.

Overall, I’m interested in being a producer for a smaller studio. I feel like in larger organizations it’s a bit too profit-focused to offer interesting decisions. Also, just applying to a lot of jobs post-graduation.

JO: Yeah there’s sort of an understanding that included in any post-graduation plan is “try to not starve to death via getting some job somewhere”.

JO: So the thing is what I usually hear as the story of an independent studio is ‘I’ve paid myself $10,000 a year for 5 years to get this out’, not necessarily having a producer. Do you think Kickstarter/IndieGoGo stuff has altered this, made it more necessary for even small studios to have a producer?

CH: I actually think for games Kickstarter is kind of on the way out. As for me personally the thing I’ve noticed for smaller companies is that there’s a more homey environment. Petricore, for instance, is a pretty successful company that I got to see some of and they seemed to work well.

IM: Yeah I actually interned at Petricore. They came out of the Summer Innovation Program as well, and they were just a few months out of college when they created their studio. They’re a team of five developers who are close friends and actually live together. They’re really pleasant to work with and it’s impressive how hard they’ve worked to release games. Barely six months out they’ve already released two titles, Mind the Arrow and Gelato Flicker.

JO: So is GlowLime exclusively digital, or is it platform-agnostic?

IM: So far we’ve gone all-digital because that’s my wheelhouse. But Sean Billson, our Projects Manager is really pushing for analog games. Joshua Newman has also spoken to us about hybrid games, for example adding some digital component to a boardgame.

JO: Sort of like the XCOM boardgame?

IM: Exactly yeah. We’re interested in trying to expand as far as we can while keeping our scope reasonable for a team our size.

JO: So Chandra, are you interested in analog games?

CH: Not really. I’m taking a course about narrative in boardgames right now, because narrative is important to me. That’s why I’m so into visual novels. I couldn’t see myself doing tabletop as a career. The whole time I’m just like ‘but if you could CODE this…’, it’s just frustrating.

JO: So to both of you, are there any games that you think people should see that they haven’t yet?

IM: Well I haven’t really been keeping up, but I’ve seen some impressive stuff done with VR. There was a team, Intern Astronaut that won at a MassDiGi competition: Games Challenge 2016. The title was very impressive. There’s also Flora Fiora by Zephyr Workshop which another winner at the same pitch event. And then there’s new a game from Petricore: Travelling Merchant,  selling items to heroes in a fantasy world that’s looking very neat.

CH: Clannad, again!


Thank you for speaking to the Valley Nerd Watch, GlowLime! Best of luck to everyone on the team. Right now you can check out glowlime.com  to see the full lineup of games GlowLime is developing and you should make sure to attend their Pitch & Interest  meeting tomorrow, April 9th if you’re interested in pitching them a game or learning more about the organization!