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Boston Post Mortem Video Game Developers meeting: December 8th at 7pm, The Skellig Pub in Waltham November 30, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in events, Gaming, Video Gaming Video Games.
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The Skellig Pub - Waltham

The Skellig Pub - Waltham

The December Boston Post Mortem Video Game Developers meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 8th at 7pm at The Skellig in Waltham. In addition to the usual year-in-review (or Post Mortem Post Mortem), it has been announced that IGDA (Independent Game Developers Association) Executive Director Joshua Caulfield will be the special guest speaker! He’ll be providing an update on the IGDA in general, what to expect for the coming year, and will be taking any IGDA-related questions attendees may have.

Tuesday, December 8th
7pm-10pm @ The Skellig, Waltham

So please show up with your best questions and comments about the IGDA or about the Boston Post Mortem. If you see me there, please come up and introduce yourself!

What is Theory X? How is it used as a management style? November 27, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Staffing & Recruiting.
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I needed to write a few short pieces on some of the different management styles I have encountered in my corporate and professional travels. I want to define each of these management styles so that I can compare and contrast them, as well as serving as reference points for the longer articles on this topic which I am in the process of drafting.

I will begin with some of the “Letter Management Styles”, of which there are several. The purpose of this litany of alphabetic management styles is not to promote one over another; in fact, I don’t recommend adopting any of these naively. But nevertheless, many individual team members and managers will exhibit some behaviors from one of the above styles, and it is helpful to know what makes them tick. Finally, certain individuals may prefer to be managed as a Theory X or Theory Y type (Theory Z, which I will write about at a future date, is less likely in this case), and it is good to be able to recognize the signs. Moreover, some companies might be implicitly based on one style or another.

The first management style about which I will write is one which will be recognizable to every person, regardless of professional or personal background: “Theory X”.

Theory X is perhaps the oldest management style and is very closely related to the hierarchical, command-and-control model used by military organizations (of which I am intimately familiar).

One thing I can personnally attest to in regards to the Theory X management style is that it maintains the military organizations’ faith in the fact of the necessity of this approach, as (in the view of Theory X proponents) most people inherently dislike work and will avoid it if they can. Hence, in the Theory X management style, managers should coerce, control, direct, and threaten their workers in order to get the most out of them.

A statement that I recall from a conversation with a prototypical Theory X manager with whom I worked (in a prototypical Theory X organization) with was “people only do what you audit”.

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About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

The Video Game Orchestra at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center, Saturday, December 5th, 2009 7:00pm November 19, 2009

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Video Game Orchestra Flyer

Video Game Orchestra Flyer

The Video Game Orchestra will perform their production “Awakening” at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center, Saturday, December 5th, 2009.

The doors will open at 7:00pm, and the performance will begin at 7:30pm.

136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

The Video Game Orchestra was Founded by Artistic Director and Arranger Shota Nakama, is Conducted by Musical Director Yohei Sato, and the performance on December 5th will feature Special Musical Guest Wataru Hokoyama, who created the music for video game titles “Afrika” and “Resident Evil 5”.

The Video Game Orchestra’s performance of “Awakening” on December 5th will feature music from smash hit video games Super Mario Brothers, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Silent Hill 2, Afrika, Chrono Cross, and many more!

Students, 18 and Under: $10 ($15 The Day of the event)

General Public: $15 ($20 The Day of the event)

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

More information is available online at www.vgo-online.org and the Video Game Orchestra’s Founder and Artistic Director is Shota Nakama, shotanakama@gmail.com

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

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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.

Zeemote, a Chelmsford, MA-based startup that developed a handheld game controller for use with games on mobile handsets, has closed its doors November 11, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Ecommerce, Hardware, Telecommunications, Venture Capital, Video Gaming Video Games.
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Zeemote, a Chelmsford, MA-based startup that developed a handheld game controller for use with games on mobile handsets, has closed its doors and is putting its assets up for sale. Founded in 2005 by famed Boston-area entrepreneur Beth Marcus, the company worked with handset manufacturers Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, and RIM to make its Bluetooth-based device compatible with their phones. A partner from Waltham, MA -based Zeemote backer Commonwealth Capital Ventures confirmed the closure but offered no further details.

I was lucky enough to have met in person the CEO of Zeemote, Beth Marcus. Beth is a famed entrepreneur in the Boston area, and I met her at the time of her involvement with an Internet retailer named Glow Dog. Beth is active in the MIT Enterprise Forum and some 128 Networking and entrepreneurship circles, and after attending one of Beth’s talks on company valuation one early morning at the Newton Marriot in Newton, MA (a well-known and heavily traveled local hotspot for technology and software, hardware startups’ networking and professional group meetings in the area) Beth and I struck up a conversation, which was followed by Beth granting me a private tour of Glow Dog’s facility and retail store along Great Road in Bedford center and lunch at a local Japanese Restaurant.

Beth was generous with her time and expertise and the time she graciously spent with me that day not only provided me with several nearly priceless insights about my business plan and company (I was working on an ecommerce company at the time, TSN Corporation), but also provided a blueprint of how a successful entrepreneur should give back to the community. Beth Marcus is the real deal and I thank her heartily for her time and knowledge sharing.

Beth Marcus has been Founder and CEO of several successful startups, most notably EXOS, Inc., which was venture capital backed and sold to Microsoft in 1996. Since then she has been involved in 12 start-ups in a variety of fields as a founder, investor, or advisor. One of the companies Beth founded was called Glow Dog and was based on Great Road in Bedford. The company was an Internet retailer and sold pet products with a pet safety orientation both at retail and wholesale to many large pet-oriented retail chains both online and off. She has raised equity numerous times and has also done angel investments herself. Several of these ventures have been acquired by public companies.

Part-time between then and now, Beth has worked as a consultant providing patent strategy, litigation support, and other strategic technology-related consulting services. Beth is an acknowledged expert in the hand-device interface space and has been an expert for several of the major players in the industry in support of prior-patents litigations. That knowledge and the clear problems in using a cell phone keypad for anything but number entry led her to invention, filing of a patent application, and the founding of Zeemote, Inc.

Beth has SB and SM in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a PhD in Biomechanics from the Imperial College, London, where she was a Marshall Scholar. She has more than a dozen patents to her name and numerous publications and public speaking engagements. She has served on the faculty of MIT in the department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Marcus has been member of the Board of the MIT Enterprise Forum and the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee in Mechanical Engineering. She is also a current member of the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Zeemote JS1 Product Profile and Interview with Beth Marcus, CEO of Zeemote from Ablegamers

Zeemote Hands-On Review from Ubergizmo with Pictures of the Remote Unit for Cellular Telephones

Beth Marcus Profiled at Mass High Tech Magazine

Online Music Video Game Developer Conduit Labs, based in Cambridge MA, raises $3 Million in equity funding October 30, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Gaming, Venture Capital, Video Gaming Video Games.
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Conduit Labs, the Cambridge, MA-based maker of music-driven online games such as Loudcrowd, has collected $3 million in new equity financing, SEC Regulatory documents filed September 15 reveal. Conduit founder and CEO Nabeel Hyatt has publicly stated to a leading technology publication, Mass high Tech, that the funding came from Charles River Ventures of Waltham, MA, and Prism VentureWorks of Westwood, MA; Prism VentureWiorks also provided Conduit’s $5.5 million Series A round concluded in August 2007.

Double Tap Games: Nintendo DS-oriented game studio sprouts up in Cambridge April 16, 2009

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Two primary executives formerly of THQ’s now-defunct Helixe studio have formed an exciting new game company in Cambridge, oriented to the white-hot Nintendo DS platform. Helixe created the movie-themed DS games Wall-E and Ratatouille, among many others including a Star Wars-themed game, The New Droid Army, for the Nintendo GBA. Double Tap Games, headed by Kurt Bickenbach and Richard Corredera, is aiming for “new games and franchises” with a fresh approach, appearing in the second half of 2009.

The company has a developer staff with over nineteen years and 10 million units of collective experience on the Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance, having worked in such outfits as Sony Online Entertainment, Looking Glass Studios, and obviously, THQ.

Director of Business Development Richard Corredera, formerly of Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego and most recently Technical Director at Helixe, has stated that the new company is working on a few titles that have been slated for development, although no specific details or release schedules have been announced. From the company’s website:

“Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the DoubleTap team carries extensive experience in crafting online games of varying scale, as well as movie and TV licensed based games such as WALL•E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Tak, Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Odd Parents, Scooby Doo, Star Wars, and many others, with an understanding of a licenser’s ever-changing properties.

DoubleTap Games is committed to redefining online multiplayer experiences available on the Nintendo platforms. DoubleTap is confident the online Nintendo market will continue to grow and transform, and strives to speak to its audience in an uncommon way, with uncompromising quality.”

An exciting aspect of Double Tap’s intentions in the marketplace appears to be their emphasis on the online gameplay component of the Nintendo DS. This burgeoning new point of emphasis for Nintendo DS games, which as a platform has been relatively slow to adopt the online gameplay approach, could indeed deliver big success to the Cambridge-based Double Tap Games.

Click here for information on Double Tap’s Boston-based Development Team

Click here for information on Double Tap’s Development Team’s History in Nintendo Gaming

Portfolio Show at The New England Institute of Art, Friday, April 17th, 1-5pm April 16, 2009

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New England Institute of Art: Portfolio Show

New England Institute of Art: Portfolio Show

There will be a portfolio show at The New England Institute of Art, Friday, April 17th, from 1 to 5 pm. The event will take place at the Courtyard by Marriott, 777 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please call 800-903-4425.

Independent Game Conference East is in Boston – May 7-8 at Northeastern University April 15, 2009

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The IGC East is for developers of console, flash and casual games who want a leg up on the competition and for the publishers who want to see the hottest games in development by the rising stars of the industry.

The IGC Game Demo Night is the place to show your game off to the game publishers is a setting where your game is not one of thousands. By limiting the number of people who can register for the Game Demo Night we make certain that your game is not lost, but has the space to shine.

Publishers can find the next big game at the Game Demo Night where independent developers bring their skills and commitment to the show.

The sessions at the IGC focus on the business of being an independent developer as well as the technical demands of game development. With our three track approach the IGC is the place to be no matter what stage of development your company has reached.

The business track will give you a leg up on the completion with information on how best to leverage your IP.
The technical track focuses on the latest technology and how to take your game to the next level.
The IGC has helped publishers spot the next hot game or game developer and game companies get their name out to the publishers. The IGC has lead to successfully brokered deals in the Southern United States for the past two years and now we are bringing our proven success to the East Coast.

There will also be a IGC Job Fair held at the event!

For more information on the event, please contact Mark Chuberka.

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Boston Game Developer’s Meeting Tonight (Tuesday, April 14th) in Waltham! 7-10pm @ The Skellig Pub April 14, 2009

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There will be a meeting tonight (Tuesday, April 14th) of the Boston Post Mortem Game Developer’s Group in Waltham, at the Skellig Pub on Moody Street, from 7pm to 10pm. http://www.bostonpostmortem.org

From Their Web Site’s Post regarding tonight’s event:

“For our April meeting, we have Steve Meretzky doing his talk, “Bring Back the Fun”:

“Is game development less fun than it used to be, and if so why and what can we do about it? The answers, it turns out, lie in the birth of the American industrial revolution and the Australian wine industry. Intrigued? No? Well, then stay home and work on your taxes, you last-minute slackers.”

As a side note, Steve will soon be moving out of our great state of Massachusetts, so this will also be your final chance to throw rotten vegetables at him for the foreseeable future. Don’t miss out!


Tuesday, April 14th @ 7pm – 10pm
The Skellig, Waltham

Our sponsors are the Independent Game Conference East, which is coming to Boston May 7-8, and Mary Margaret Network! We’re not completely finalized on whether it’s food, drink. or both being sponsored, but we’ll keep you in the loop.”

In order to sign up for the Boston Post Mortem Group’s Email List, Click Here

If you loved, as I did, the 80’s text-based adventure games from Infocom like Planetfall, Zork Zero, and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, then you won’t want to miss this event:

Some quotes regarding Steve Meretzky, most recently of Blue Fang Games, creators of Zoo Tychoon, and headquartered in Waltham’s Reservoir Place office park on Trapelo Road:

“Meretzky’s resume reads like the contents of a ‘Best Of’ compilation.”
— PC Gamer

“The funniest man in the business.”
— Zero

“Seeing the words ‘Steve Meretzky’ on a game box is akin to seeing the words ‘The Beatles’ on an album.”
— Compuserve Online Reviews

“The Steven Spielberg of adventure games.”
— Compute’s PC & PCjr

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