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April 21 2014 Meetup: Working With Composers

At MIT Stata Center Building 32, room 32-155.
6pm – 9pm

Working with Composers

 Li Xiao’an presents a primer for developers regarding process, communication and common problems/solutions in working with composers. He will detail the steps involved in creating a soundtrack, and reveal industry figures and practices relating to music production for video games.

 Li Xiao’an is the founder and music director of Boston Scoring, the first one-stop full-service music production company in Boston with a full roster of on-call recording musicians (60+ and growing). He has written for casual, mobile and PC titles, commercial spots and educational videos, and also recorded guitar over the last 6 years for platinum and chart-topping producers and artists in Asia and the USA.

Learn more at www.bostonscoring.com and www.xiaoanli.com

 

March 10th, 2014- Postmortem on Codename Cygnus

At MIT Stata Center Building 32, room 32-155.
6pm – 9pm
POSTMORTEM – ACOUSTIC STORYTELLING
Interactive radio drama Codename Cygnus is the result of reviving elements of old time radio drama with contemporary sound and narrative design techniques. Jonathon Myers of Reactive Studios will provide a postmortem of the past year of development. This session will cover some of the challenges, limitations, and discoveries that emerged while focusing entirely on acoustic storytelling. It will also cover some lessons learned about the ups and downs in the early stages of starting up and growing an indie studio.
Jonathon specializes in the use of narrative elements for casual audience engagement. He was responsible for the writing and narrative design of titles such as Indiana Jones Adventure World by Zynga Boston, Game of Thrones Ascent by Distruptor Beam, and Jack Lumber by Owlchemy Labs.
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January 20th – Legal Issues in Indie Game Development

Our January 20th talk will be at a different time and place than usual!

Where: Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, Commons area

When: 6pm-9pm, Monday, January 20th, 2014

What: Liz Surette will be giving a crash course in legal issues in indie game dev. Topics may include:

Copyright
Trademarks
Contracts / Work For Hire / NDAs
Business formation and structure
Parody
Censorship
…and/or all kinds of things in between.
The talk will be for informational purposes and is not meant to be legal advice, bear in mind!
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December 2013- Holiday Festivus!

December is always a rough month with travel and holidays abound, so last year we tried something new. We threw a holiday party instead of our normal talks/demo nights, and it was a great success!

It’s a chance to play games that you may have missed this year, catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and toast to the new year.

So put on your best ugly reindeer sweater, grab some hot cocoa (or a beer) and a game or two, and head on over to our Boston Indies Holiday Festivus meet up on December 16th at 7pm.

See you then!

– Michael and Caroline

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September 2013 Boston Indies – David Rangel Tech Demo of Corona SDK

Hi Indies,
We’re excited to announce a very awesome technical talk for September’s Indies, as well as drinks and snacks sponsored by Corona Labs!

Talk Title: Building a Candy Crush Style Game in Under 1 Hour

Casual mobile games, such as King.com’s Candy Crush Saga, are setting monetization records and attracting a huge audience. This month, David Rangel of Corona Labs, will show mobile developers how they can use Corona SDK to build a Candy Crush-style game, with sophisticated effects and gameplay, in under 1 hour!

David will do a code walkthrough and cover how to work with a physics engine, handle touch events, implement game logic, provide score keeping, and make use of in-game audio. He’ll use only 9 functions and just over 500 lines of simple code to create an impressive end result.

As background, Corona SDK is a popular development platform for building cross-platform 2D games for mobile. Blockbusters include Fun Run (20M+ downloads), Blast Monkeys (12M+ downloads) and more. Check out the Corona Hall of Fame for more app/game spotlights.

david-rangelSpeaker: David Rangel, COO of Corona Labs

Bio: David Rangel is the COO of Corona Labs and a seasoned technology and startup executive. Rangel oversees marketing, business development and operations for Corona Labs’ flagship product, Corona SDK, a development platform used by over 250,000 developers. Corona SDK allows developers around the globe to create rich, graphical multi-platform mobile apps, games and eBooks. Previously, Rangel was Founder and CEO of Daily Gourmet, Head of Merchant Services at Groupon, a Principal at MK Capital and a Group Manager in the Corporate Strategy Group at Microsoft. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Economics from Northwestern University.

As always, we’ll be at Bocoup Loft, 355 Congress St, Boston MA, 7pm-10pm. For more info visit our Meetups Page.

July 2013 Boston Indies – Jenna Hoffstein on Usability (Mon, July 15th)

This month we have our own Jenna Hoffstein giving us a whirlwind tour through the exciting world of usability.
 
Her quick pitch:
 
 
Usability: a Whirlwind Primer
 
Jenna will be giving a whirlwind tour through the many different aspects of usability in games, approaching it through the lenses of psychology, physical product design, and visual design.
 
 
It’s this coming Monday the 15th, 7pm – 10pm at Bocoup Loft, 355 Congress Street, Boston, MA.
 
BYOB
 
Moar infoz about our meetups: http://www.bostonindies.com/meetups/
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The February 2013 meetup writeup: Games As Art

Anthony Montuori, our February 2013 Boston Indies speaker, approached an infamous question – you know, the one involving “games” and “art,” dreaded by all who lack ert-fon diagrams – and, in an enlightening talk, took stabs at this question with the intent to kill. Anthony is an artist who makes video games, and as an employee of Boston’s ICA who studied painting and performance art in graduate school, he brings a valuable frame of reference to the questions: are games art? And so what if they are(n’t)?

Art and entertainment are indistinguishable, Anthony argued. Whether or not games are art is moot – the more important point is that in any expressive medium, the vast majority of art is crap. Yet since the judgment of quality is bound up in issues more thorny than we’d like to handle – taste and education, for example – a more useful metric is whether a cultural artifact (a game, an oil painting, or Fifty Shades of Grey) has entered, or can enter, a critical discourse so that its value as a work of art can be assessed.

To demonstrate his ideas, Anthony showed the games he created for his master’s thesis exhibition. Under the guise of a fictitious company called One Line® Games, Anthony created these five games in Processing and installed them in arcade cabinets for the exhibition:

The Adventures of Sisyphus – the player must push a boulder up a hill, forever
Ragz – dress up your avatar (or leave him naked) and navigate a mostly empty platformer world. Coins (the artist’s funds!) are either beyond reach or require you to jump to your death.
Into the Void with Yves Klein – Jump into the void, and stay there as long as possible
Debtris – a Tetris clone in which you pay off the artist’s student loan debt
Peer Pressure – battle your aspiring artist friends for precious gallery space

With each game came a short explanation of the intent of the piece and the critical discourse it enters – Debtris, for example, speaks to the endless struggle to rid ourselves of existential and material burdens, and Peer Pressure satirizes an uncomfortable reality that Anthony has surely come up against. To my mind, spamming the spacebar to cause the boulder to roll up the hill resembles the lever-pressing in a Skinner Box, as others have observed – a Sisyphean existence if there ever was one.

Anthony gave a brief outline of modern art history, starting with Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain (championing the idea that anything can be art as long as it’s put forward by an artist in that context and analyzed in critical discourse), and traced through minimalism, performance art (in which the artwork is a phenomenological experience, rather than an object – with obvious connections to video games), and conceptual art.

This outline of modern art’s history serves to show the artistic environment video games enter – one in which artworks are, rather than objects, schemes for experience devised by an artist, actualized only when consumed by the audience. Game designers work within this paradigm, obviously, and their medium also has the trait of interactivity, inseparable in a way that’s unique to the medium – something Anthony tried to demonstrate with his five-game project.

To those keeping score, that means that yes, video games are art, and yes, let’s please move on. Anthony has little patience for the debate – he prefers to talk about how the bar to entry has been lowered, although it was unclear to this listener whether the “lowered bar” refers to the flattening of the high-culture-low-culture distinction (and thus the “bar” on which the game of prestige hinges is revealed as illusory), or literal obstacles to artistic creation, or both. In any case, the latter is an important point – Anthony talked about how the artform flourishes as the technology needed to create it becomes more accessible, as indie developers are empowered today. Thus Anthony’s pessimistic assessment of most art — as “crap,” that is – brightens.

Anthony ended his talk with a list of games he thinks have successfully entered a critical discourse and lived to tell the tale – successful works of art, in other words, with reasons for each.

Metroid – sparked a discussion about the game designers revealing, contrary to the norm, that the leading character was a strong female, non-sexualized.
Katamari – overabundance of material things can be put to use to create something beautiful.
Braid – about relationships; countered criticisms that video games can’t speak to serious subjects.
Minecraft – gets people to think about the world and how to interact with it and create.
Portal – the player simultaneously authors the game experience and is embedded in the narrative.
Dear Esther – questions what a game is.
Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving
Passage – captures what it is to be human.
Every day the same dream – captures mundane life.
Run, Jesus, Run
Shadow of the Colossus – visually stunning; asks player to consider her/his motivations; questions the medium – nothing but boss fights.
Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery – compelled me to act despicably and then question why I did so.
Proteus – another “non-game.”
Home – even if not the greatest story, encourages player to go online and discuss with community afterwards.

Some questions arose after the talk that I feel deserve more debate:

  • Can we leverage games being acknowledged as art to constructive ends?
  • What are the alternatives to Anthony’s position that come out on the same side of the debate? And what reasonable positions come out on another side?
  • Can efforts such as the Smithsonian’s “Art of Video Games” exhibition and MoMA’s addition of video games to its permanent collection (although as “design objects” and not art objects) be counterproductive?
  • Why haven’t you read Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives yet?

Sound out in the comments section if you’d like to discuss these topics here.


See Anthony Montuori’s work and contact information on his website: http://www.onelinergames.com/


Boston Indies is a community of dedicated independent game developers in Massachusetts and the surrounding area. We define ourselves in connection with our community spirit and our group objectives. We gather in person once a month to talk about the art and craft of making video games, and to share our work with each other.

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February 2013 Meet-up Announcement

The February 2013 Boston Indies meetup will be on Monday, February 18th @ 7pm.

We have a speaker this month:

Leveling Up: Video Games as Art

An avid gamer and artist, Anthony Montuori will discuss his own works as well as open the floor for a discussion about the current status of video games and their legitimacy as an art form. Looking at the history of what is acceptable as a working artist, and what is acceptable as a working game developer, this meet up will try to establish a dialogue about the way the two fields have more recently begun to overlap, as artists begin to make games, and game developers begin to make art.

The meeting will be at the Bocoup Loft — 355 Congress Street, Boston, MA — from 7pm – 10pm. BYOB and BYOFood. You can find more info about our meetups on the Meetups page.