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Cambridge’s Fina Technologies, machine-learning tools provider, raises $4.5 Million December 14, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Startups, Venture Capital.
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Cambridge’s Fina Technologies, a maker of machine-learning tools, has announced that it has raised $4.5 Million in new equity financing from a group of investors led by Reed Elsevier Ventures and Excel Venture Management

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Waltham’s Skellig Pub hosts the Boston Postmortem Video Game Developers Meeting on Video Game AI Programming November 19, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in events, Software, Video Gaming Video Games.
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Wednesday night in Waltham was the November monthly Boston Postmortem networking event, held at the Skellig Pub on Waltham’s Moody Street, next to the Charles River.

As regular readers of The Hub Tech Insider will doubtless already know, I attend this event regularly and blog about it on these pages. It is a super event I highly recommend. In addition, Boston Postmortem is one of my favorite Boston tech networking groups because the crowd is unpretentious, the topics are interesting and the presenters and presentations are well prepared and excellent, and you can sit at the bar in the huge back room where the event is held at the Skellig Pub on Moody Street in Waltham, and order bangers and mash or fish and chips or a bacon cheeseburger while you drink beers and schmooze.

The Boston Postmortem Networking Group is for Video Game Developers, Animators, Designers, Digital Artists of all kinds, and people interested in Video Games and Video Game Development. Admission is Free.

The talk on Wednesday was about Artificial intelligence (AI) programming in video games.

There was an august panel of subject matter experts who fielded questions from the audience:

Christian Baekkelund (moderator)
Christian Baekkelund has worked games-related jobs in the areas of design, programming, and QA, at Electronic Arts, for the British school system, briefly at Harmonix, and most recently at 38 Studios. Between various jobs, he attended MIT, studying computer science and Comparative Media Studies, focusing on games and AI. Christian has also spoken at the Game Developers Conference and written in the AI Programming Wisdom series of books about AI, learning methods, and game design.

John Abercrombie (panelist)
John Abercrombie was the AI Lead on BIOSHOCK and SWAT 4 and is now the Lead Programmer on 2K Boston’s unannounced title. He graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in Computer Science in 2000, and has worked at Irrational Games / 2K Boston ever since.

Damián Isla (panelist)
Damián Isla has been working on and writing about game technology for almost a decade. Recently, he helped found Moonshot Games, a studio dedicated to the creation of downloadable games with triple-A production values and technology. Before Moonshot, Damián was AI and Gameplay engineering lead at Bungie Studios, where he was responsible for the AI for the mega-hit first-person shooters Halo 2 and Halo 3.

An expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence for Games, Damián has spoken on games, AI and character technology at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), at the AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference (AIIDE), and at Siggraph, and is a frequent speaker at the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Before joining the industry, Damián earned a Masters Degree at the M.I.T. Media Lab, where he did research on learning and behavior for synthetic characters. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science, also from M.I.T.

Jeff Orkin (panelist)
Jeff Orkin is a PhD candidate in the Cognitive Machines Group at the MIT Media Lab. Jeff’s research focuses on Artificial Intelligence for characters that learn to communicate and collaborate by observing humans playing online multiplayer games.

Prior to enrolling at the Media Lab, Jeff developed several generations of AI systems in the game industry. As a Senior Engineer at Monolith Productions, Jeff focused on goal-oriented autonomous character behavior and planning, while developing AI systems for the award winning titles No One Lives Forever 2 and F.E.A.R.

Jeff is a Contributing Author and Section Editor of the AI Game Programming Wisdom book series, has presented at the Game Developer’s Conference, the AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment conference (AIIDE), and the Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Sytems (AAMAS) conference, and holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Washington and Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Tufts University with a minor in Studio Art.

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