|10:00||Jeremy Shopf – Lead Graphics Engineer, Firaxis|
|11:00||Ching Lau – Artist, Zenimax|
|1:00||Ben Walsh – CEO, Pure Bang Games|
|2:00||Carrie Gouskos – Lead Producer, Bioware Mythic|
|3:00||Michelle Menard – Designer|
|4:00||Alex Hachey – Game Design Lead, Mindgrub|
Yesterday President Obama held a Google+ hangout with a group of bloggers. Limor Fried, the CEO of robotics firm Adafruit Industries asked the President
"When I attended high school, I had to take a foreign language requirement. Can we make it a national effort to also add a computer programming language requirement?
The President, responding very positively, said "I think it makes sense, I really do" and talked about a conversation he had with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to explain his thinking.
"Look at Mark Zuckerberg. I was sitting next to him at dinner a couple of years ago, and he said he taught himself programming primarily because he was interested in games. If we set programs in high schools that engage kids because they get it, they won’t be just sitting there slouching in back of rooms while someone is lecturing. Given how pervasive computers and the Internet is now, how integral it is in our economy, and how fascinated kids are with it, I want to make sure they actually know how to produce stuff and not simply consume stuff."
UMBC will once again host the Global Game Jam. The weekend-long game development event will be held this year from January 25-27. UMBC is one of hundreds of host sites around the world. Other local sites include College Park, the Universities at Shady Grove, and George Mason.
“I expect an exciting mix of students, friends, alumni, and game developers for a weekend of creative fun,” says Dr. Olano, director of UMBC’s Game Development Track. Last year he and Visual Arts professor Neal McDonald ran the event out of UMBC’s GAIM Lab where game developers of all levels gathered to conceive and create video games around a common theme.
Last year the theme was Ouroboros, a symbol of perpetual renewal. The theme inspired games like Bit Exhaust, a space-invaders-esque Windows phone game and Snake ‘N Bake (pictured above), a two-player game where a snake must help a cupcake make it to the oven before the tasty confection gets hit by a fireball.
The theme for this year’s competition will be announced at 5 p.m. on January 25th so that all parts of the game development process—from coming up with a game concept to finishing a playable video game–will have to be carried out during one single adrenaline-filled weekend.
Visit globalgamejam.org to register for the event. Thanks to support from Next Century Corporation, registration for the UMBC site is free and open to anyone 18+.
If you're interested in what's going on in Baltimore's gaming scene, check out Baltimoregamer.com.
The site covers local gaming events in the Baltimore and D.C. area, as well as developments in the game industry, and career tips for aspiring video game developers. The site also includes features articles, like its three-part series called "So You want to Build a Video Game: A Guide to Get You Started."
The site welcomes local game enthusiasts to join their team. "Joining the BaltimoreGamer team is a fantastic opportunity to network within the game development industry," says the website. "We can utilize a wide variety of skills, and we will also help you learn new skills if you would like and we are able."
For those of you who always show up at local LAN parties, game conventions, tournaments, or other video-game related events, writing for the website might be a great chance to share your experiences with the world wide web.
What do The Legend of Zelda, Halo 2, and Super Mario World have in common?
They're all featured video games in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's latest exhibition The Art of Video Games.
The exhibition–which celebrates 40 years of video game history–takes a look at 80 video games that pushed the artistic and technological boundaries of their era. The ubiquitous Atari VCS classic Pac-Man makes the list, along with standbys like Tomb Raider, Fable, and Myst. Games were chosen by a public vote from a list of 240 titles compiled by exhibit curator Chris Melissinos, and come from twenty gaming systems ranging from the SNES to Playstation 3. In an NPR interview, Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and an avid video game collector, demystifies why Mario resembles an Italian plumber, and offers a theory about how Pac-Man was conceived.
A select five games can be played during the exhibit: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower. The exhibition also features video interviews with video game developers and artists, historic game consoles, and photos of in-game screen shots.
Catch the exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until September 30, before it heads out on an across-country tour. On May 4, the museum is hosting Beyond Play: Video Games at Work, a series of free exhibition-inspired talks. At 1 p.m. "Video Games at Work" looks at the influence of video games on areas like health care, education, civics, journalism, and national defense. At 3 p.m. "Game Change: Society and Culture" looks at the impact of video games on our society and culture.
For more information about The Art of Video Games, visit www.americanart.si.edu
Game enthusiasts of all stripes hunkered behind computer screens in the UMBC GAIM Lab for the 4th annual Global Game Jam—a fast-paced weekend where teams around the world conceive and creative video games around a common theme. The three-day event, which took place Friday, January 27th through the 29th, drew nearly forty participants ranging from undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and even current game developers.
Dr. Marc Olano, professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Neal McDonald, assistant professor of Animation & Interactive Media, have been running the jam at the UMBC site since its inception four years ago. “It’s intense but I think people have a lot of fun,” says Olano, who is also the director of the Computer Science Program’s Game Development Track.
The weekend follows a strict itinerary. At 5 p.m. on Friday, a video keynote kicks off the competition and the secret theme is announced. From that point on, participants have until 3 p.m. on Sunday to complete a game from start to finish. Factor in eating and sleeping, and it’s not much time. “Three days is an extremely short period of time,” says Olano. “In terms of wall-clock time,” he says, “it’s a little less than two days.”
In previous years, themes included “As long as we’re together, there will always be problems,” or more simply, “extinction.” But this year, a theme was chosen that could be equally relatable to the nearly 11,000 participants from countries like Canada, Sweden, Brazil, France, Italy, Hungry, Israel, and Japan (to name a few). Instead of a phrase, this year’s theme was apicture: Ouroboros–a snake eating its own tail–which Wikipedia describes as a representation of “the perpetual cyclic renewal of life.”
Some teams were inspired by this idea of reincarnation, including the team responsible for Bit Exhaust, a game developed for the Microsoft Windows Phone platform. Reminiscent of Space Invaders, though graphically and conceptually more sophisticated, Bit Exhaust turns conquered foes into allies and visa versa. “What we took from the theme was rebirth and cyclic life,” reads the game description on the Game Jam Website. “Enemies and allies are constantly switching sides as you kill them and they die.”
Bit Exhaust was the recipient of an award from Next Century Corporation, whose sponsorship allowed the Global Game Jam to be a free (and catered) event for all participants.
Even Microsoft sweetened the deal with the promise of a free phone for teams who chose to develop games for their windows phone platform (not surprisingly, six of the ten teams opted to do just that). In addition, Microsoft offered up two prizes to phone-based games: second place to Bit Exhaust, and first place to Survive the Serpent, a literal take on the event’s theme. The 2-D maze game features a character who must escape being eaten by a snake by outsmarting it into biting its own tail.
Each year the People’s Choice Award is given to the game that’s voted the best overall by its peers. This year the winner was Snake ‘N Bake, a two-player game where a snake must help a cupcake make it to the oven before the tasty confection gets hit by a fireball.
Though individual sites—like UMBC—can offer prizes, Olano stresses that the Global Game Jam is not a competition. “They really want it to be more about cooperation than about competitiveness,” he says of the event’s sponsor, the International Development Association (IGDA). It’s not uncommon, he says, for teams to help each other out during the three-day fest.
Olano says he is definitely planning to host the Global Game Jam again next year, which will again put UMBC among other local hosts including Shady Grove, American University, and George Mason University. The Global Game Jam is the largest gam jam event in the world, according to its website. “This year there were 246 locations around the world,” says Olano, and the number will only grow.
A group of nearly 40 participants assembled yesterday afternoon at the UMBC 2012 Global Game Jam site. The Global Game Jam is an annual event where small teams design and create computer games over the course of one weekend. The teams will upload their final games to a central site by 3:00pm EST Sunday. Here’s a video stream live from the GAIM lab in 005 ECS.
If you are on campus tomorrow around 3:00pm, stop by the GAIM lab and see the final UMBC games demonstrated.
UMBC has been named an NVIDIA CUDA Teaching Center following the submission of a proposal by Dr. Marc Olano, professor, and Dr. Shujia Zhou, research associate professor of the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department. The NVIDIA CUDA Teaching Center Program will provide UMBC with enough high-end GPUs to upgrade the UMBC GAIM (Games, Animation and Interactive Media) Lab, as well as a Tesla GPU-based computing processor.
Dr. Olano was familiar with NVIDIA’s grant programs through previous equipment grants, and last February, he spoke with David Luebke, Director of Research at NVIDIA, about the CUDA Teaching Center Program. His decision to submit a proposal weighed heavily upon the increasing interest in GPU computing around the UMBC community.
“It’s an important skill for game programming,” says Dr. Olano, who is the director of the Computer Science program’s Game Development Track. He adds that UMBC’s Multicore Computational Center (MC2) and High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF) are also moving toward nodes with GPU computing capability and could benefit from the upgrade.
UMBC is now one of thirty-six NVIDIA CUDA Teaching Center within the U.S., joining schools such as Florida A&M University, Hood College, Purdue University and UCLA. Apart from the generous equipment donation, UMBC’s distinction as a NVIDIA CUDA Teaching Center provides the university with recognition on NVIDIA’s website, access to teaching materials, and the opportunity to receive discounts on some NVIDIA equipment purchases.
Dr. Olano predicts that the newly-enhanced GAIM lab will be usable by the beginning of the Spring semester. The new equipment will enhance game development and parallel programming classes in upcoming semesters, such as CMSC 483: Parallel and Distributed Processing, which will be taught by Dr. Shujia Zhou in the upgraded lab this Spring.
Dr. Marc Olano is the director of the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department's Game Development Track and has been pursuing research in computer graphics and computer hardware for more than twenty years. Currently, he is working at Firaxis Games on texture compression for the Civilization V video game and collaborating with Dr. Erle Ellis of the Geography and Environmental Systems Department on a project dubbed Ecosynth.