Congratulations to Jen and Brian! I don’t know whether I’m the first sale or not, but they got my dollar!

The IRC fellows class that I am teaching has been collaborating with me on “GeoMelee,” a real-time strategy game that uses iPhone GPS to let you play in the real world.

COaP has accepted our game; we’ll be running a few sessions June 4th or 5th up in Brooklyn.

All game pieces have a latitude and longitude; you see them by running the game on your iPhone and looking at a map of your location.

credits page

Ericson Crystal Field

game screenshot

Other than that, it’s a simplified version of StarCraft: there are “crystals” on the map. You build “extractors” to harvest them, which allows you to build more things. To build in a location, you have to stand there with your phone. There is fighting.

The map editor is online at http://userpages.umbc.edu/~brt1/app/map/.

The rest will be on the app store as soon as humanly possible.

UMBC’s Game Developers’ Club had their annual Digital Entertainment Conference last weekend. The highlight for me was watching UMBC students demoing their games for Tom Fulp, the founder of Newgrounds.com. How I wish I’d taken a picture! Dang.

Katie Hirsch (UMBC ’04) started at 9 –sharp– with her excellent “So You Wanna Get Into Games” presentation. Other presenters included Tom Fulp, Eric Jorden (UMBC ’08, and GDC’s founder), Helen Zhang (UMBC ’09, now at Zynga!), Young Vo, Matt Berner, and Ian Frazier. Tom Truong (’09) was there, he’s at Firaxis Big Huge now– maybe next year, we’ll get him to talk.

Congratulations to Gini Bailey, Jonathan Moriarty, Matt Song, Jon Schubbe, and the other GDC members who helped make the day a success.

Plate VI, Part I. p.52, Fig. 3 from Clerk's Essay on Naval Tactics

John Clerk was a Scottish businessman who studied many things, among them, naval warfare. His book, “An Essay on Naval Tactics,” changed how the British Navy fought Napoleon, and contributed to his defeat.

It was written without naval experience, but with a good understanding of how ships can move and damage each other. So: accurate movement restrictions, realistic measurements of giving and taking damage– it’s a game. It changed the world.

Google Books has an original edition of the book, as a PDF, free for download, at : books.google.com/books?id=LsdPpUcYxD4C. This version was printed in 1827.

“Slug” is a game being developed in our team-based game class. It just won 2nd place at the 2010 West Virginia Animation Festival.

Link to the announcement: link.

Link to the game: link

Way to go, Team SLUG!

There’s a long interview on Gamasutra with local game designer Brian Reynolds (co-founder of Big Huge Games, now with Zynga) about what it’s like to transition from big strategy games to facebook and social games. Worth the read.

Ms. Baumel is working with many people to make “Weaver,” an XNA/ XBox game where you build worlds. This is the UMBC Game Developers’ Club’s 3D project for Spring 2010. weaver screenshot

Web Site to come! More pending! Elizabeth, please keep us posted.

Mr. Lau has been working in the Baltimore games industry for several years, has spoken at UMBC many times (usually about how to get a job in the industry), and will be teaching Art 384, “Introduction to 3D Computer Animation” this Fall. He is a ZBrush master.

In addition to working at Zenimax Online for the past few years, he has also worked at Breakaway Games and done some architectural rendering.  He also has a side business making small sculptures in ZBrush that get printed via rapid prototyping. One is shown below; more at www.launch3d.com.

Ching Lau's Dragon

This weekend, I was honored to be a judge for the Imagine Cup National Finals. They have two competitions for students, one for Software Design and a new one this year for Game Design. Of course, I was there as a Game Design judge, as was UMBC grad and adjunct faculty member Katie Hirsch of Firaxis Games. This year’s theme was to create a game reflecting one the UN Millennium Development Goals: hunger and poverty, universal primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and malaria, environment, and global partnership.

Of the 269 entries, ten games made it to the finals. I was on one of the two judging panels that met on Saturday to select the final four games to advance to the final round on Monday at the Newseum in DC. Monday included a presentation of the final four games, a showcase of all ten finalists, and keynote addresses by director James Cameron, Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie, DOE Director of Educational Technology Karen Cator. The winners were:

  • Grand prize and $8,000
    Sixth by team “To Be Announced”, a puzzle game in which you play a child in a slum, trying to find drinking water for your family. You find items you can use or trade in your quest and meet people in the slum who can help you along the way. The goal is to educate players about the struggles of the worlds poor.
  • First prize and $4,000
    Alterra by team “Coffee Powered Altruism”, a strategy game ambitiously addressing all of the UN Millennium goals. For each one, you are shown a map of a real country with dots representing population (above and below poverty, educated vs. uneducated, etc.), and you attempt to drag in job training centers or other tools to change the makeup of the population without exhausting your budget.
  • Second prize and $3,000
    RoboRecycler by team “Ifrit Salsa”, a kids game where you are a robot collecting items and getting points for depositing them in the correct recycling bin.
  • Third prize
    Antitoxin Squad by team “LeveL13”, a cooperative two-player game where you plant seeds to defeat the pollution blobs.

Teams ranged from High School students to PhD students, and games from 2D sprites to full 3D FPS. Overall, an excellent set of games and a great experience. I’d certainly encourage some of our students to try next year.

Marc Olano

portrait of M. Bradley

M. Bradley

There really was a Milton Bradley, and he received patent #53,561 on April 3, 1866, for a board game, in which one strives to avoid various character flaws and reach “Happy Old Age.”

From the drawing provided in the patent application, you could make a pretty authentic board. Here’s the link.

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