Pioneer Valley Game Developers

August 29th – September 4th

The Valley Nerd Watch!


Hello again for another lovely edition of the Nerd Watch! We’re so happy to have you all here. We saw John Carter (John Carter of Mars [JCM]) recently and we have to say that we totally recommend you all watch that very odd movie that we still cannot believe was made. We get the sort of assumptions underpinning the idea it’d be a big franchise hit, but we’re having trouble understanding how it got so far into such an expensive process without anyone turning around and saying OH WAIT NO of course this won’t be a huge hit what were we thinking putting hundreds of millions into this?

Our dad was a huge fan of the whole John Carter series as a kid because he was 13 and we’re pretty sure that was the most prurient material it was possible for him to get his filthy little hands on. The movie vibrates with the intensely odd energy of the sort of things science fiction writing thought made sense a hundred years ago, though with fewer naked people than the book.

On a more local note: Holyoke Codes has been doing a ton of really amazing events recently! You should definitely check them out.

Oh! And this week is your last chance to get this awesome dog boy from KC Green to help you feel fine!

Want to tell us what to do, make us dance for your amusement? Check out our Patreon! You also get stickers!

Go check out the Valley Creators page! As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Wednesday, August 31st
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Knitting Creatures Continued
Did you knit up something neat last time? Keep at it! Did you not get to knit a cool creature? Now’s your chance!
Thursday, September 1st
Emily Dickinson Museum [280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Amherst Art Walk and Poetry Night
See great art and listen to great poetry at the Art Walk! Featuring DM Gordon, author of Fourth World and Nightly, at the Institute of the Possible. She’s a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award and the International Book Award, an MCC Artist Fellow in fiction, and a freelance editor at dmgordoneditorial.com! Also featured will be reader Paul Richmond! Featured art will be by Ann Knickerbocker!

Board Games:

Sunday, September 4th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Sunday Heroclix!
This sunday we want you to focus on only people who have at one point or another officially become professional wrestlers. That includes She-Hulk, The Thing, Hellboy, and Spider-Man at the least!

Entertainment:

Monday, August 29th
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art [125 West Bay Rd., Amherst, MA 01002] at 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Summer Reading Buddies with Bright Spot Therapy Dogs
Children ages 4-11 are welcome to read out loud to Reading Buddy dogs, who provide gentle and comfroting audiences for practicing reading and also have the added effect of being so frigging adorable that it’s impossible to even deal with the fact that you’re seeing these puppies helping young readers get better because dogs are so wonderful.
Goodwin Memorial Library [50 Middle St, Hadley, MA 01035] at 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Bake Sale to Suppor Goodwin!
Support your local library, and get some popcorn, cakes, jello, cookies, brownies, cake, pie, really any of the things that we make primarily out of sugar and butter and that sort of thing. It’ll be delicious, guaranteed!

Movies:

Wednesday, August 31st
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Cinema Nothampton Presents: The Muppet Movie
A classic presented on the lawn of Forbes, when the sun goes down. It’s a great location for a picnic with pals! Picturesque as all get out.
Sunday, September 4th
Yiddish Book Center [1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
FILM: Sholem Aleichem: A Conversation with Ruth Wisse and David Roskies
The premie of a special film that was recorded live last fall AT the Yiddish Book Center! On the hundreth anniversary of the death of Sholem Aleichem, two of the world’s most engaging Yiddish Scholars retell discuss and debate their favorite Sholem Aleichem stories in a lively conversation! Students are $4, Members $6, General Admission is $8.

RPGs:

Saturday, September 3rd
Amherst Unitarian Universalist Church [121 North Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Changeling: the Lost LARP – Mind’s Eye Society
No site fee charged for new players or for students of the Five Colleges! Sit fee donates do count as donations to the domain and may be eligible for prestige! This game’s about climate change and the fae folk being all interested in your business, check it out for a fun time LARPing without needing to head to a forest!

Video Games:

Sunday, September 4th
The Quarters [8 Railroad St., Hadley, MA] at 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
MAKE TALK PLAY – Let’s talk collectives, co-working, and incubators
Oh dang those buzzwords are getting our entrepreneural spirits up! Opening the floor to discussions of a PVGD headquarters and where it should be/what services should be provided in the coming year and how the PVGD could improve in general! There are a ton of issues involved, and there are also going to be a ton of amazing people there to talk about them! Come give your input, then eat tiny hot dogs while playing Gauntlet!

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August 8th – August 14th

The Valley Nerd Watch!


We’re excited for this week! So many fun events. Obviously Nerd Nite is the best, but there are others! We’ve loved every Drink and Draw so far and we don’t imagine it’ll change this week.

Also we got Pokemon Y this week after being real into Pokemon Go and wanting the Real Deal and oh gosh Pokemon Go is fun but it can’t compete with a game that gives us the fuzzy lovekins that is the Bidoof! We’re going to talk to everyone at the PVGD meetup/potluck today about how great they are, and they will nod in agreement!

Also we’ve had a couple articles this week you should totally check out! Dank Dungeons is a funny, KC Green should by all rights be able to cartoon in peace forever off his meme money so make that happen, and Mass DiGI has produced some amazing games this year!

Also Legends of Fomora is back on, check that out! Local Creator Pat Nietupski is doing good work.

Also also check out Mother of Beasts! She makes incredible work and you need a familiar. You need a little goat-person to help you with your spells, that’s gonna up your combat potential and your ability to heal your pals a lot. You can get these awesome dolls made to order!

The end! Take a look at our Patreon folks, thank you!

Go check out the Valley Creators page! As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!

THIS WEEK


Art:

Wednesday, August 10th
The 121 Club at Eastworks [116 Pleasant St, Easthampton, MA 01027] at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
TopatoCo Presents Drink and Draw!
Drink and Draw has been nonstop excellent, so come to this Drink and Draw! It’s amazing! The special guest for August is Danielle Corsetto! Best known for her long running comic Girls With Slingshots, Danielle has also written Adventure Time comics for Boom! Studios. This is so much fun regardless of your capacity to draw well, check it out!
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Tiny Tour with tinydance
Join tinydance as they present their newest work – still we climb – during their tiny tour! This is a free performance! We hope the no-caps thing is what they actually want and it’s not just a mistake on the part of the Forbes listing!
Friday, August 12th
Historic Northampton [46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060-2406] at 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
The Norwood Engineering Building: A Florence Landmark
Built in 1870 by the eccentric artist Anthony Sheffield, the building has been occupied by business people and local entrepreneurs for 150 years! Photographers Paul Griffin and Peter Norman have documented the current community of artists, artisans, teacher, craftspeople, skilled tradespeople, business people and secret magicians! Reprints of historic images and documents from Historic Northampton and Forbes Library will give historic context! Learn about Florence!
Smith College Museum of Art [20 Elm St, Northampton, MA 01063] at 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Free Second Friday
See the museum for only the amount of money they can guilt out of you! But for real it’s a great museum and if you didn’t have a couple bucks to see it before, no excuse not to check it out now!

Board Games:

Saturday, August 13th
Burger King Community Room [344 King St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Tabletop Game Day
Check out tabletop games with some very fun people! They tend to like Euro-style games with all those little cubes but they’re up for whatever you want to bring! Also the community room is actually a decent space it’s not like just everyone in the middle of the Burger King, it’s a separate place!

Books:

Friday, August 12th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Summer Reading Closing Ceremony
Everyone is invited to join the librarians at Forbes in celebrating the last days of summer reading! There will also be Knucklebones games and activities and the Oasis Puppet Theater!
Saturday, August 13th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Terry Tempest Williams, Hour of the Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks
National Parks are breathing spaces in a world where such spaces are disappearing rapidly, which is why so many people visit and love the US National parks. Williams writes lyrically about the grandeur and special character of each part of the park system while also discussing what it means to shape these wild spaces into something of our own making. Memoir, history, social critique, this has it all!

Card Games:

Saturday, August 13th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Eldritch Moon Game Day
On this the day of the Eldritch Moon we will gather to play probably Magic: the Gathering? It’s a $10 sign-up feed with standard decks, Dragons of Tarkir – Eldritch Moon. You can probably expect some fabulous prizes as well!
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant St., #B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Eldritch Moon Game Day Saturday
Standard format, FREE event event entry. All participants also get a free game day promo with the top 8 getting additional promos! The champion gets a Game Day Champion playmat! Also for this day, around half of the magic cards with just be standard cards like from a poker deck for added difficulty.
Saturday, August 14th
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant St., #B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:30 AM to 7:30 AM
Eldritch Moon Game Day Sunday
Standard format, FREE event event entry. All participants also get a free game day promo with the top 8 getting additional promos! The champion gets a Game Day Champion playmat! Also for this day, no one is allowed to open their eyes while playing, making for an exciting game of imaginary Magic!

Comic Books:

Sunday, August 14th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Comic Creator’s Jam
Talk to your fellow comic fans and creators and fans of creators and play some games about making comics and getting better at your work on your comics! It’s a top-notch opportunity to talk to people who have skills you’ll envy and who will envy your skills!

Computers:

Monday, August 8th
MYSTERY LOCATION at 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
AWS Lambda – Monthly Full Stack Meetup
Jim Chevalier, who works as Rails team lead at Common Media will be here to discuss Lambda, an environment he uses for small isolated tasks. He’s going to show you how to go from zero to full Lambda-backed API endpoint!

Entertainment:

Wednesday, August 10th
Palmer Public Library [1455 N Main St, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
I See You Have Studied Your Agrippa: The Princess Bride Sword Demonstration
Jeff Goodhind and Jeff Lord, the TOP JEFFS will show off the real historical techniques presented in The Princess Bride during the duel between Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black! They’re from the Association for Renaissance and Medieval Swordsmanship and they know their stuff.
Friday, August 12th
Emily Dickinson Museum [280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Free Fun Friday
You’ll get free self-guided tours of the museum, garden and grounds! You’re welcome to eat food and drink on the grounds but not in the Homestead! Take a look around the home of this artist who probably would not have wanted to hang out with you when she was alive because she just generally didn’t like hanging with most folks it’s not really a value judgement about you specifically.
Saturday, August 13th
The David Ruggles Center [225 Nonotuck St, Northampton, MA 01062] at 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Walking Tour with Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Statue Committee
This tour will teach you about the history of the Valley!

Kids:

Tuesday, August 9th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Duct Tape Bags – Summer Crafts
Make a duct tape bag out of some duct tape and then use it as a bag to carry things around! No problem for duct tape, the most versatile material on the planet!
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Camp Odyssey – Grass Hair Funny Face Jars
Decorate jars filled with seeds with mustaches, boys, googly eyes, google mustaches, google bows, bow eyes, etc! As the hair grows, you’ll see the face get funnier and funnier! There’s a nonrefundable $5 supply fee or a book purchase for two children to attend. Pre-register TODAY! Call 413-534-7307 or email kids@odysseybks.com
Wednesday, August 10th
Palmer Public Library [1455 N Main St, Palmer, MA 01069] at 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
The Toe Jam Puppet Band
Puppets will play instruments! People will also play instruments. Toes will get jammed!
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Drive-In Movie: Zootopia
Bring a little cardboard box to sit in because that’s your car and then you can decorate it and then they can watch a cute movie and they’ll make you popcorn and aaaaaaaaw this is the most danged adorable thing in the world aaaaw dang.
Thursday, August 11th
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art [125 West Bay Rd., Amherst, MA 01002] at 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
We Heart Books + Art
Pack a lunch to experience a full day of experiments and fun! Join the friendly staff at the Carle to get into some great picture books like Inside/Outside by Lizi Boyd, Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, and Papa, Please Get Me the Moon by Eric Carle! Then make some artwork! Books, art, creativity, the best day!
Saturday, August 13th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Ed the Wizard: Reading is Magic!
Interactive magic performance with an emphasis on the true power of the wizened wizard: reading! Spells all gotta come from somewhere, right? Lots of volunteers will have the chance to participate! Grades K-12 are all invited! Free, no RSVP required!

Movies:

Wednesday, August 10th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Movie Night @ GPL – Mockingjay PT 1
See this classic YA novel adaptation on the semi-big screen at the GPL! The surrounding books give it extra power!
Saturday, August 13th
Jones Library [43 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Hot Summer Saturday Movie Matinee: Chariots of Fire
Chariots of Fire is a historical drama about the Olympics! It’s about Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, both running for their own reasons. It explores the motivations of the men who ran incredibly fast after an enormous amount of training.
Sunday, August 14th
Yiddish Book Center [1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Film: The Wandering Muse
This movie explores the kaleidoscope of Jewish identities through the ever-changing music of the Jewish diaspora. Taking the music beyond the concert hall, the documentary shows us artists in their daily lives and in performance, highlighting the spontaneous magic of the creative process that transcends the struggles of a musician’s life. Featuring musicians Basya Schecter. Daniel Kahn, Enosh Marinag, Vanessa Paloma, Socalled, and others. Students for $4, Members for $6, General Admission for $8.

Science:

Monday, August 8th
The World War 2 Club [50 Conz St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Nerd Nite NoHo
This month will be awesome! You should come. It’s about both race relations and software debugging! Also we’ll have special prizes for you this month just like last month!

Video Games:

Monday, August 8th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Minecraft Group
Minecraft is the game your child is already spending more time on than any other single activity so you might as well try to get them to talk to some other danged children in the process.

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!

Speaking With Woodpenny’s Pat King

Untitled3Today we were lucky enough to speak with the very nice local game developer and founder of Woodpenny studios, Pat King! Pat has lived and worked in the Valley for years, first with Hitpoint Studios and now with his own Woodpenny studios!

Woodpenny makes digital and physical objects and all of them are really neat. Right now, they’re working on a great VR music-video thing. Like, basically VR is a real functional interesting thing now, and that’s neat. So what Woodpenny did is team up with excellent musician Ben Sollee and create this awesome VR sort of music video/theme park ride called “Vanishing Point”. We got to try an early version and it is both trippy as heck and a heck of a trip!

You should fund it on IndieGoGo so that it becomes a Virtual Reality and we can all see how neat it is!

James Olchowski: Hello, thanks for speaking with me.Untitled4

Pat King: Not a problem!

James Olchowski: So, what drew you to our Happy Valley?

Pat King: Short answer – the mother of my 2 little girls.  Longer answer – My wife grew up in Northampton. I’m a Kentucky boy. When I was 25, I took on a short term contract as tour manager for a chamber orchestra in Ireland. My (now) wife was getting her masters degree at the University of Limerick. We met in Ireland through mutual friends and ended up kind of liking each other. My plan after Ireland was to attend the Vancouver Film School. Her plan was to do something other than that, preferably closer to New England.

At this point, I really liked her…and you know, Vancouver is really far away and it’s more school debt and Northampton has this place called Herrell’s Ice Cream. After weighing those options, I decided to move to the area! Now I have a beautiful family and a fantastic community. [This is adorable, readers – Ed.]

JO: Is it difficult to work on game development in such a relatively small area? I’m used to hearing about development shops being set up in major cities.

PK: Tricky question, from a studio’s perspective, there are key advantages to running a studio in both the Pioneer Valley and larger cities such as Boston.

Larger cities (especially ones with an established game, tech or other creative media presence) usually generate more resources for studios. Typically there are multiple established game studios, more experienced game professionals, more money and investment opportunities, creative agencies, culture, community, etc.

That said, the Pioneer Valley does have some stunning talent, longtime industry professionals and general resources that you find in larger cities. Game Industry Studios such as HitPoint, Anzovin, and HappyGiant have been chugging along for a number of years. Additionally, we have a huge tabletop game design community as well as numerous software, hardware, graphic, web and other creative development teams. There are other tech and software communities that offer networking events and forums. There are more colleges than you can shake a stick at that offer a constant flow of new talent to the area.

So far, I’ve found living in the Pioneer Valley works well with my style of game development. I’ve been lucky to have made some great contacts along the way that allow me to work away from the larger cities. Part of that is also attending larger events in Boston and New York and building those connections.

The most difficult part of game development is just knowing where to start. You could be a killer programmer, artist or designer, but without the experience of an active studio, it’s most likely very difficult to connect all the pieces and make a full studio.

JO: Is that why you set up the Pioneer Valley Game Developers (PVGD) group? To bring together people who might be too dispersed to meet up without an excuse?

PK: Exactly. After leaving HitPoint Studios, I found that those interested in game development were pretty dispersed throughout the Pioneer Valley. While I was able to connect with tech industry leaders, there weren’t many people being proactive in the gaming community at large. John Tuttle and I had both worked at HitPoint and wanted to find other developers interested in digital game development. We formed the PVGD in order to find others with similar interests to help make games and hopefully create the community that our area had been lacking.

JO: How do you make certain PVGD is a welcoming place for new people?

PK: Our format so far has been to offer monthly networking events called MAKE TALK PLAY. We usually host them at a “barcade” called The Quarters. We have presentations by local industry leaders covering a broad range of development topics in order to appeal to the largest range of developers in the region. Then after the presentations we hang out, talk about game development and encourage people to demo their own projects.

We’re also working on a number of events other than our monthly meetup such as our game jam we hosted at TopatoCon last month. Anyone interested should join our meetup group at www.meetup.com/pioneer-valley-game-developers or visit our webpage at www.pvgd.org

JO: You left work at a local studio to found your own – Woodpenny. Why did you set out on your own?

PK: HitPoint Studios was a beautiful place to grow as a developer. I was there from the beginning and it was probably one of the best work experiences of my life. I completely respect Paul Hake and Aaron St. John for all they have accomplished and the process they’ve gone through to create a successful studio in the Pioneer Valley. About four months before I left, my wife had started a full time job and we had been struggling to figure out how to balance our work and family schedule. The ultimate decision to leave wasn’t to start a studio, but to take some time off to let me wife focus on her work and be a part-time stay at home dad.

However…I’m not one to stay still. I had a couple days throughout the week to myself and started testing my skills as a woodworker recreating a game my father built when I was a child called penny basketball. This is where I came up with the name Woodpenny. Soon, I started taking on some graphic and sound design projects and then I was approached by an old friend about creating a simple mobile game for his marketing agency. I wasn’t really looking to start a game studio at the beginning, but at that point the work was just kind of finding me, so I decided to roll with it.

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JO: What has been your biggest challenge so far putting Woodpenny together?

PK: I think the hardest part so far has been trying to figure out exactly what to focus on. I really want to make wooden board games, but after about 9 months of experimenting, I realized that in order to make the boards efficiently, I would need a proper workshop. I’m currently working from my home basement, which is damp and dusty. This makes me constantly fear about inventory and my health. I have recently started looking into sharing space with established woodworking shops.

Since we also do the digital game development, I’ve been looking for opportunities that set Woodpenny apart from other studios. Lately I’ve been experimenting more with audio inspired digital media and games. I would love to build the studio with a focus on sound design and music which isn’t as prominent in the industry with the exception of a few great games, such as (but not limited to) Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I want to make games where music is what drives the game.

JO: What’s the most satisfying moment you’ve had working on building Woodpenny?

PK: Hard question because it’s all satisfying: Selling my first board, landing my first project, completing my first project, receiving my first paycheck and figuring out a team. All of this is worth a thousand years of education. Every project is satisfying in its own right.

I just love my work and the people I work with. I love learning new tools and playing with new technology and approaches. Probably the most satisfying aspect is that now I can still make cool projects and have a flexible schedule to spend time with my family. I’ve made that a priority from the start.

JO: Can you give our readers some hints about what Woodpenny is working on? I mean Digital AND Physical? Are you developing the Matrix?

PK: So after making the board for Ben Sollee, he ended up reaching out about game development and was interested in looking for ways to connect his music, merch or stage show with different approaches to gaming or interactive media.

Which brings me to my current project. I’m extremely excited about a Virtual Reality music app we’re making with Ben Sollee! Since August, we’ve been developing a Virtual Reality animated music video choreographed to new music by Ben called ‘The Vanishing Point’. We launched our IndieGoGo campaign about 2 weeks ago and deep in the crowdfunding campaign madness.

When we started, I thought developing the app would be the tough part, but it’s not! It’s the constant push of balancing social marketing, creating videos, tweaking the campaign, pestering friends and family and mainly educating people about what we’re actually making. Explaining VR is extremely difficult to people who haven’t tried it as it’s one of those things that you need to experience to “get”. It’s such a powerful medium for games, but also music and cinema. I’m really excited to see how VR (and Augmented Reality) will influence the various forms of digital media out there.

For those interested, please check out our IndieGoGo campaign! We need your help!

I am still working on the Woodpenny boards and hope to release them in a greater capacity at some point in the near future.

While we’re also just trying to get our act together, we just applied to the Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator program and are looking for recommendations and support. If you’re interested in helping us succeed please click this link and support what we’re doing!

JO: We got a chance to watch people play Woodpenny at a PVGD meetup. It was interesting, and the board was super pretty! We’re now getting the impression from your Facebook page (we are snooping but it is for journalism) that each board is unique. Is this a made-to-order board game?

PK: I make about 4 boards a year (again slow process). Each time I learn something new about the process. The game is called Woodpenny basketball. It’s based of a game my Dad made that my family had growing up. I still have and cherish the original board. The idea is simple, it’s a 2-player game where all you need is the board and a penny to play. Like basketball rules, players take turn flicking the penny toward their goal to score points (2 and 3 point shots like basketball). The first one to 21 wins.

About 6 years ago, I decided to make some as gifts for friends and family and realized just how much fun they are to make. Also, as a parent I realized how important it is to have non-digital or plastic toys and games. My goal is to make the boards attractive, durable and fun for families for years. I feel like I’m on the right path there, now just to figure out how to improve my process (and maybe take on less digital work for a few months).

JO: Wait wait you made Ben Sollee a custom game board? We just saw that. Ben Sollee is great, he’s so nice. Why did he want a custom Woodpenny board?

PK: Haha, yeah. I met Ben in March after seeing him perform at the Iron Horse. I brought one of my boards for our table to play while we waited for the show to start. After the show, Ben saw the board and we got to talking. He asked for my business card, I thought out of courtesy. Well about 3 weeks later, he reached out and asked about getting a board!

Here’s Ben’s board!

unnamed1

JO: Is Woodpenny your sole project at the moment?

PK: Financially yes? I have a lot of hobbies. I have a family. I own a house. I have the Pioneer Valley Game Developers. I have a lot going on, but that seems to be the way I function best. Mainly just trying to make Woodpenny the most flexible and satisfying experience I can for myself, team and family.

JO: Do you remember what got you interested in playing games?

PK: Honestly, patterns & sequences. My brain loves searching for patterns that connect at an emotional level. Maybe it’s the rewiring of my brain that occurred playing Atari and Nintendo at a young age, and if so I’m very grateful. I know a lot of game developers / enthusiasts that like analyze the games they play. They like to pick them apart in a more academic approach to understanding the mechanics. Which is totally cool, but not how my brain works.

For me, I let the experience drive the games I play and develop. When working at HitPoint, often times our clients would request game designs that were similar to other popular games. We want Angry Birds, we want Bejeweled, we want a Hidden Object game like this, etc. So “for research” I would completely dive into these game examples that weren’t my usual cup of tea. But over the course of a week or two, I would have either completed the game or conquered the mechanics, again looking to connect to the emotional patterns in the design. After fully understanding the experience as a consumer, I felt completely comfortable designing a similar game, in our own style with subtle differences.

JO: Is there any one game you can remember that got you interested in the idea of making your own?

PK: Sam & Max Hit The Road – I’ve wanted to make a unique point and click adventure for a long time. I was blown away when I first played that title. The concept was so weird, the story and art so humorous and the puzzles at many times very frustrating, but super satisfying. I’ve wanted to recreate most of that experience since I started developing games.

JO: If someone was just getting into games, physical or digital, what would you recommend they play?

PK: I’d start them at Atari for a few years. Let them play Colecovision at their friends houses and the arcade once in a while. I’d move them up to Nintendo and run them through the standard titles. After a few years of blowing on NES cartridges I’d move them up to Sega and make them play Toe Jam & Earl and Earthworm Jim. They’d have to save up their money if they wanted the SNES also.

Then I’d sit them down and tell them not to invest their money in the Dreamcast even though it’s going to be wicked awesome. I’d move them on to the Nintendo 64 where they would play Golden Eye, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When they were ready, I’d put them in a dark room at night and make them play Resident Evil by themselves on the Playstation while filming them poop themselves with a VHS camera when they encounter their first zombie or zombie dogs breaking through the windows in the effing hallway. After getting them into the Tony Hawk series, I feel like they’d be ready to fly on their own.

JO: Getting back to the PVGD, have there been any notable local games developed since you started meeting up?

PK: We’ve seen a lot of great projects under development and quite a few that have been released. The most prolific group putting out new games and being active in development has been from the members of the Owl & Raven. Hannah Shaffer, Evan Rowland and Joshua A.C. Newman have been cranking out so many great games among evangelizing their work.

It’s quite impressive to see. I’ve seen a number of great titles from other members mid-development, but am really hoping more people will start showcasing projects where we can start helping each other out whether it’s feedback, testing or collaboration. We have some great talent in the Pioneer Valley.

Untitled2

JO: Are there any local creators you think more people should be paying attention to (besides yourself, obviously)?

PK: Same answer with the above group members from the Owl & Raven, I would love to see more support for what they’re doing. There’s also a few new experimental studios starting up in the area. One to keep an eye on is led by Isaiah Mann. He’s organizing a student run game studio to start in the Fall of 2016 that will be located at Hampshire College. They’ll be presenting at the next MAKE TALK PLAY on November 1st. People should definitely come out and see what that’s all about.

JO: Have you seen any collaborations develop between people who met at a PVGD event?

PK: I’ve seen some collaboration and heard discussions about people wanting to do more. For Woodpenny, we met Jess Winter who runs misclabs at one of our meet-ups early in the year. He’s the lead programmer for the VR project we’re working on. He’s been absolutely fantastic to work with and a complete surprise for finding a local game dev in the area who has been a vital part of this project. We’re working towards fostering more connections and opportunities to encourage collaboration throughout this next year.

JO: Do you have any advice for someone interested in creating games?

PK: Just do it. Use the tools available to you whether it’s Scratch, Unity, Unreal engine or just an analog prototype. Just start with a game mechanic that you would enjoy playing, give yourself some rules and just start exploring. Start talking to people. Ask as many questions as possible. Start thinking about why you like the games you play. Just start. If you want to do this, you have to be able to learn through experience and make great connections along the way. It’s Woodpenny’s philosophy and the Pioneer Valley Game Developers are here to help!

JO: Thank you for your time!

PK: Thank you James!

Remember, support Woodpenny’s IndieGoGo campaign and their entry into the Valley Venture Mentors program! They’re a nice local studio and we can never have too many of those. And be sure to make it out to a MAKE TALK PLAY event! They’re always good times, and there are a ton of intelligent people to talk to at each. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll make fast friends. It will be distressingly delightful.

September 21st – September 27th

XMen150CoverThe Valley Nerd Watch!


First of all, Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day! You should definitely register to vote. It’s not that hard, and until you can enact your brilliant scheme to become ruler of this foolish planet it’s probably the most effective way to work your will on the nation. Remember to vote in small local elections! They seem unimportant right up until you realize some real jerk of a person is in charge of some vital local resource for another four years.

Second: Oh goodness TopatoCon! It’s here! It’s finally here! It’ll be so delightful. Lots of great people have come from all over to show you their wares and generally chat a bit. We highly recommend that if you have funds available, you purchase as much as you are able from people who produce art that you like. Not only is it helpful for things like making sure they can eat and live indoors, it also allows them to experience some relief from the crippling anxiety that can arise from doing a bunch of cons.

“Aaah.” they sigh contentedly as you leave their table “I made like, lots of money. I can relax.” Help these gentle artists achieve a state of relaxation, won’t you?

There are far too many people attending to list here, but suffice to say there will be a lot of great people you will enjoy. Anthony Clark is one of our favorites for instance, and local hero Joshua A.C. Newman will be there exhibiting his fabulous games.

Finally, we’re doing a fun thing! A Towerfall Tournament at The Quarters with the help of the nice folks at the Pioneer Valley Game Developers! It’s going to alter slightly based on the number of participants, but you can expect several pulse-pounding rounds of competitive arrowing each other to death!

What is Towerfall, you might ask? One of the best local competitive multiplayer games since Super Smash Bros is what! It’s a fast-paced one-hit-kill free-for-all single-screen deathmatch starring a colorful cast of pixelated pincushions! Not an expert? No worries! Come early and we’ll have a bit of freeplay practice to acquaint people with the basics. It’s also very, very simple to play. Sign up on our Facebook page!!

As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!

THIS WEEK


All Interests:

Saturday, September 26th
Eastworks [116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA, 01027] at 10:00am – 6:00pm
Too much is going to be happening to really cover here but how about listening to the brilliant Evan Dahm talk about world-building? Why not check out neat old things with funny person host David Malki? Why not check out extremely cool person Kate Leth record one of her Kate or Die podcasts? There’s so much! That’s not even the exhibit hall, that’s just panels!
Sunday, September 27th
Eastworks [116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA, 01027] at 10:00am – 6:00pm
Gosh or you could see Kate Leth along with fellow awesome artists Jess Fink, Danielle Corsetto, and Spike discuss women, their bodies, and comics while being moderated by local nerd and author Emily Nagoski! Or head to a Comic Jam! Or a Game Jam! We’re so excited everyone it’s all happening!

Board Games:

Thursday, September 24th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Board Game Night: Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is an award-winning classic about trying to control train routes across North America. Complete routes in complex patterns to gain the most points and wrest victory from your friends. Players of all experience are welcome, though children under 15 will be asked to play at the same table as their parents or with peers.

Books:

Monday, September 21st
Hooker Auditorium [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 6:00pm
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare: The Copper Gauntlet
Join the Odyssey Bookshop in welcoming these two wonderful authors and celebrating their latest collaboration! The second in the bestselling Magesterium series, it sounds pretty neat! Magic and the nature of good and evil and a healthy mistrust of authority figures.
Thursday, September 24th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 10:00am – 12:00pm
What’s Your Story? Memoir Writing Group
Memoirs! Everyone’s got memories, only a select few have memoirs. Join that elite group! Presidents, kings, the titans of our time… and you! This program explores memoirs in many forms and uses exercises to help spark memories and encourage writers to experiment!
Saturday, September 26th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Quidditch Club for Kids
Quidditch! The sweet science. The most dangerous game. The game where really, doesn’t the golden snitch basically invalidate most play? It seems difficult to balance. You can play the Muggle variant of Ground Quidditch and take Hogwarts Extension courses with Professor Minerva “Hardcastle McCormick” McGonagall!

Card Games:

Friday, September 25th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 11:59pm – 4:00am
Battle for Zendikar Midnight Pre-Release
A new 2-set block of Magic: the Gathering cards! Come check out new full art lands, brand new dual lands, and amazing Eldrazi! You know what they say about Eldrazi: “Their nature is ceaseless hunger”! Check out the latest MtG set a week before it goes on sale in a sealed deck tournament. Build the best 40-card deck you can, and compete for promo cards! It’s $27 in advance, $30 at the door!
Saturday, September 26th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Battle for Zendikar Saturday Pre-Release
Are you the sort of person who doesn’t want to stay up until four in the danged morning playing in a MtG tournament? Try doing it on a sunny Saturday afternoon instead! Grab lunch at the Roost first. Same as above, $27 in advance, $30 at the door.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] 11:30am – 4:00pm
Battle For Zendikar Pre-Release Morning Slot
Battle for Zendikar! We think this means you’re battling in order to possess Zendikar, not that you’re a Zendikarian patriot attempting to promote the interests of Zendikar. That is, assuming Zendikar is a geographic area. This is a $25 sealed-deck tournament that includes a Pizza Lunch!
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Battle For Zendikar Pre-Release Evening Slot
Have something besides MtG to do in the morning? Try the evening! It is essentially the same except that everyone in this tournament has bargained with one of the fey folk to gain perception beyond mortal ken. Again, $25 sealed deck, and a Pizza Lunch dinner.
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant Street B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00am – 10:00pm
Battle for Zendikar Pre-Release
Another one! Jeez. Well, this one has a few more details. It’s $25 to register for a four-round sealed tournament with free pizza as supplies last. Players with a 4-0 record get $50 in store credit in addition to lots of prize packs!
Sunday, September 27th
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] 11:30am – 4:00pm
Battle For Zendikar Pre-Release Morning Slot
Ah, you unlucky fool. You couldn’t make it on Saturday. Saturday was… well. It’s cruel to discuss it with you. You’ll never see the golden shores of that happy day. Again, a $25 sealed deck tournament with a Pizza Lunch brunch.
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Battle For Zendikar Pre-Release Evening Slot
This one is interesting, actually. For the final pre-release event they’ve secretly replaced all the cards with standard playing cards. Lets see you incinerate your foes when all you’ve got is a 1/1 Club! Again, $25 sealed deck tournament, with a Pizza Lunch second breakfast.
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant Street B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00am – 10:00pm
Battle for Zendikar Pre-Release
Is the handsome guy in armor Zendikar? Are we battling for him? Possible for his hand in marriage? We’re really not certain what MtG lore is all about. Either way, yet another tournament with again a $25 entry fee plus a ton of prizes and free pizza. This is a busy weekend for people who play Magic!

Entertainment:

Thursday, September 24th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 2:00pm
Cookies with a Curator
Stop by Forbes for some informal conversation and show and tell with also cookies that you can eat! This Thursday, see Lost Northampton with Dylan Gaffney. Lost Northampton consists of images of buildings and homes that are no longer standing, trapped in the mists of time. Professionals are on hand in case anything breaks out into our era during the viewing.
Friday, September 25th
Academy of Music [274 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:30pm
TopatoCon Presents: The Doubleclicks featuring Molly Lewis
Two excellent musical acts! The Doubleclicks sing stuff that’s often nerdy and comedy. They wrote the theme song for Cards Against Humanity, in defiance of the fact that why does a card game need a theme song. Molly Lewis won “Ukulele Video of the Year” from UkuleleHunt.com. She also sang to Stephen Fry a song she wrote about wanting to have his children. Fun stuff! Tickets are $15.
Sunday, September 27th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Avtivated Story Theatre
Two folktales from Eastern Europe will be presented! The Dragon of Krakow, from Poland and Something from Nothing, from the Jewish tradition. Apparently the Krakow dragon might be due to people finding some fossils that they mistook for Dragon bones! Neat! For Children 4-10 and their families.

RPGs:

Friday, September 25th
Chesterfield Scout Reservation [22 Sugar Hill Road, Chesterfield, MA] at 7:00pm
Magestry LARP Autumn Game 2
Live Action Role Playing! The most intense and interesting experience you’re likely to have playing an RPG! Magestry has just altered some rules to make things easier for new players, too! The fee is $30 for first-timers, including a Saturday dinner, and it’s free for volunteer staff! Email Info@Magestry.com to get a free account for the online character generator.
Saturday, September 25th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Public RPG: Pathfinder Pirates
Piracy, a life consisting primarily of exactly the things you do not want, plus scurvy. But not in fiction! In fiction, mostly you get to swash on a good day and buckle on a great day. We recommend playing a pirate whose sole motivation is to possess the most exciting warddrobe. New players are welcome to join at any session! Pre-made characters and dice are provided, and host Tim Shields knows what’s what.
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Public RPG: Mutants and Masterminds
Super-heroes! They’re great fun to observe, because their small interpersonal conflicts tend to lead inevitably to visually impressive brawls. Play one in a monthly RPG! New players are welcome, pre-made characters are provided. Hosted by the enigmatic and possibly super-powered Crispy/Nola.

Science:

Wednesday, September 23rd
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Science Cafe
Gut Feeling: A diverse and healthy microbiome, with Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard. Have you considered that you’ve got millions of tiny creatures living in you? Human gut bacteria outnumber your own cells ten to one! Life is a parade of horrors! These bacteria determine a lot about your and how you live. This cafe will explore how our lifestyle influences and is influenced by gut bacteria! Free and open to the public.

Video Games:

Friday, September 25th
The Quarters [8 Railroad St, Hadley, MA 01035] at 6:00pm
The VNW/PVGD Towerfall Tournament!
Towerfall! A great gem of a game that everyone loves or WILL love. Challenge your friends and some friendly strangers to a match, and win fabulous prizes! It costs $5 to enter, and two winners will split the entry fee pool 60/40. The two runners up will receive prizes as well! Be sure to sign up on the Facebook event!
Saturday, September 26th
Eastworks [116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA, 01027] at 10:00am
TopatoJAM!
Want to hang out at TopatoCon BUT ALSO make a game in a stunningly short period of time? You may! You must! TopatoJAM will let you do that! Open to developers of any skill level with a suggested $5 donation. You MUST REGISTER

August 3rd – August 9th!

XMen57CoverThe Valley Nerd Watch!


As always, be sure to check out the ~*Weekly Events*~ page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week!

Two things defined this weekend for us: playing the Game of Game of Thrones with friends and getting to check out the lovely cookout at the top of Mount Sugarloaf that the Pioneer Valley Game Developers put on to celebrate their successful first year!

The Game of Game of Thrones was an interesting time. We’d had a chance to play at one of the previous Board Game Day at the Deuce events, and found it an interesting hidden-orders game with a setting that got a charge out of people. Playing it with only three players this weekend definitely introduces some cracks to it. For instance entire areas of the game are cut off from play in an attempt to make things fair for the Starks if you’re only playing with three people.

Still, it’s a good time for you Game of Thrones fans. We also found out while playing that the Lannisters could not be considered “the good guys”, even if we were playing them!

The PVGD cookout was amazing! Sugarloaf is surprisingly beautiful and the food was plentiful and delicious. The people were also real excellent! We spoke at length with a lot of wonderful folks who we will definitely bug for interviews in the future! We can’t recommend the PVGD events enough if you’re the sort of person interested in designing any sort of game. They put you in touch with a great community.

Remember that the Nerd Nite for this month is NEXT Monday, the 10th! It’s going to focus on jailing and rehabilitation and the danger of insidious technological creep. Should be neat!

Remember, the ~*Weekly Events*~ page exists! It loves you and it misses you! Also look at the Book Club list!

THIS WEEK


Board Games:

Saturday, August 8th
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at Mystery Time
Star Trek Attack Wing Event
??????? It is a Mystery ???????? but presumably you will in some way play Star Trek Attack Wing, a miniatures game where you boldy go destroy people with laser beams in order to further the Federation quest for peace in the galaxy.
Burger King Community Room [344 King St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:00pm
Tabletop Gaming Day
Join the lovely people in the Pioneer Valley Geeks and Gamers/Western Mass Sci-Fi Meetup Group for a day of tabletop games! Bring a game that you’re interested in playing if you’d like! We recommend Cosmic Encounter, it’s amazing. Also, we’ve had fun with Roll for the Galaxy. Space!
Sunday, August 9th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday Heroclix!
Heroclix, the fun miniatures game about that moment in comics when all the dialogue is focused exclusively on explaining to other people in the fight what various characters can do and why. Play at Comics N’ More with host Jaimie!

Books:

Wednesday, August 5th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00pm
First Wednesday Speaker Series: Barry Dietz
Join the fine folks at the Greenfield Public Library and presenter Barry Dietz for an interesting discussion of Lewis Carroll and the writing of the classic weird-fiction horror story for children, Alice in Wonderland!

Card Games:

Friday, August 7th
Greenfield Games [228 Main St Greenfield, MA 01301] at 6:00pm
Magic The Gathering August Friday Night Magic
Every Friday at 6pm in August, there will be two tournaments with two formats! Standard and Modern, Swiss pairing, three or four rounds. There’s a $5 entry fee and a lot of prizes! Booster packs plus a promo card! Fun times with magical magic cards!
Saturday, August 8th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Magic Origins Game Day
Magic! The game with those cards that have pictures and sometimes quotes on them! It’s fun, say a lot of people. Come to Modern Myths to play Standard Constructed Deck, each participant gets a full-art promo card, and each player in the top 8 receives a premium full-art promo card. Winner gets a playmat! There’s a $10 entry fee!
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at 12:00pm
Magic Origins Game Day
Magic! The game we probably bought about 14 decks worth of cards for without playing more than twice. Dang, what silly kids we were. Anyway! This is a free event, standard format!
Greenfield Games [228 Main St Greenfield, MA 01301] at 1:00pm
Magic Origins Game Day
Magic! A game that you probably either play obsessively or not at all! Standard format, Swiss pairings followed by top player elimination rounds. Conclave Naturalist extended art promo card just for participating! Languish extended art promo card for the top 8, and a special champion playmat for the ultimate winner!
Sunday, August 9th
Greenfield Games [228 Main St Greenfield, MA 01301] at 1:00pm
Magic Origins Game Day
See above! It’s basically the same. BUT this game day will take place in the future of that previous event! If you go to this event before the Saturday one, you’ve time-traveled and you need help.

Comics:

Thursday, August 6th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Anime Club
Watch, read, discuss, and enjoy anime and manga! Open to Teens and young adults ages 14 and up!
Sunday, August 3rd
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Comic Creator’s Jam
Monthly discussion with a group of both veteran and aspiring comic creators! Talk about the process of creation, talk about writing, talk about art, talk about lettering, talk about kerning, talk about fonts, talk about serifs! Woah no wait, probably focus less on typography we got off track there. Anyway, it is hosted by Kat Cahill and also it is a nice time!

Computers:

Tuesday, August 4th
The Foundry [24 Main St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm
Northampton Webdive – After Work
Are you a cool sort who likes to make web related stuff? You should talk to more people in your line of work! We don’t really know precisely how freelance work works but we’re almost certain that the more people you know the better! Meet with nice fellow coders of NoHo WebDev and have a drink!

Entertainment:

Thursday, August 6th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Talking Hands Theatre Company Puppet Show
Celebrate the end of Summer Reading with a special puppet superhero story presentation! Watch Ruby Raccoon and Benny Bunny go from being little superheroes in training to little superheroes in action! They will need to prove they’re super helpful, super fearless, and want to save the world! Spoiler it pretty much will likely go well? Though if this winds up being Little Watchmen we would kind of respect that.

RPGs:

Thursday, August 6th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm – 10:30pm
Indie RPG Night
Come play interesting RPGs at Modern Myths! Are you tired of the same-old? Are you not remotely familiar with RPGs? In either case, this is your time to try out interesting new games in a low pressure environment! It was at one of these events that the Nerd Watch fell in love with the Apocalypse system! Which is less sinister than it sounds. There’s a $5 fee for entry, immediately converted to store credit!
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Pathfinder Pirates
Pirates! Scourge of the Seven Seas! Or however many your GM chooses to put in we suppose. Consult with your GM about the number of seas! This is a 5th level game of Pathfinder, but feel free to join in at any session! Pre-made characters and dice are provided! You don’t have to make your own dice! Hosted by Time Shields!
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
RPG Club
Join lovely people at Palmer Public Library to play role-playing games! What type? Who knows! It could be a lot of things! Maybe they’re playing something you don’t like? Use rhetoric to change their opinions! You have the power! All ages are welcome, no experience necessary!
Saturday, August 8th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Public RPG: D&D Planescape
Planescape! Essentially the fanfic universe of the D&D cosmos. It’s a fun place to be. Christian Haining will host this game for 5th level characters. Feel welcome to drop in at any point, there are pre-made characters provided! You will need to chisel your own dice out of stone, unfortunately.