Half Presentations were on October 26th. There was a great turnout of ETC Alums, EAers and people from other companies including Zynga and DreamWorks.
Archive for October, 2011
This past Friday our class had the honor and pleasure of going on our school trip with the director of our program Don Marinelli. Our group toured the Winchester House in San Jose and the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. Along the way we stopped for lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant.
The Winchester House, also known as the Winchester Mystery House was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester and heiress of the Winchester fortune. The house was continuously under construction for 38 years and is reported to be haunted by the ghosts of the people who fell victim to Winchester rifles.
The house is shockingly large; the only way to really understand how large the house is to look at a photograph of the house from above. The other thing that can be observed when from the aerial view is the odd construction of the house.
The Mystery Spot features a tour which lasts about one half hour. The operators of the small site claim that it is a place where the laws of physics and gravity do not apply and provide a number of demonstrations in support of these claims.
The tour guide offered several theories as to what caused the “special properties” of the Mystery Spot: extraterrestrials buried unearthly metals or a spacecraft beneath the Spot, or that carbon dioxide seeps out of the earth or that an underground magma whirlpool somehow causes it.
On October, 20, 2011, Lyndsay Pearson, a producer on the Sims team, visited us as part of ETC SV campus’ elective class to talk about her experience as a producer.
Lyndsay has worked on many Sims titles such as The Sims 3, My Sims, The Sims 2, and many expansions for the franchise. She started her career at EA in QA but soon became part of the production team. She is a very cheerful and outgoing person which she says is almost mandatory for a producer because the producer must have the people skills to motivate the team and inspire them to do their best on the project.
Lyndsay’s talk was very insightful and conversational. Instead of preparing a presentation like most of our guest speakers, Lyndsay’s talk was a long Q&A session. The format of her talk allowed us to ask her the questions that we care about and to learn more about her passions and experiences as a producer.
We asked her tough questions such as “If you had a team member on your team who was great at doing his job but terrible to get along with, what would you do?” Lyndsay believes that team communication is essential but the severity of the problem depends on how important it is for the troublesome team member to communicate with others. From her experience, she finds programmers the hardest to talk to because she has no technical background so she establishes early on in the project that programmers should try harder to explain what they’re working on. This helps programmers develop technical communication skills which are very important when working in multidisciplinary environments.
Lyndsay also told us a story about how she started a weekly email update to the project she was working with she first started out at EA. The weekly email update would include information about what her team was working on. People on the team really liked Lyndsay’s emails because it was a very large project and it can be difficult to keep track of what everyone is doing. Soon all the producers on the project started sending out email updates. This shows Lyndsay’s passion about communicating her team’s progress and initiative.
Overall, Lyndsay’s talk was very informative and her outgoing and cheerful personality really brightened our day.
On October 10th, the ETC Silicon Valley campus had the pleasure of being visited by Arnold Blinn, a development manager from Microsoft. Arnold Blinn is no stranger to the ETC as he received his math degree from Carnegie Mellon and has sponsored several projects between Microsoft and the ETC. Arnold has worked in Silicon Valley for several years before joining Microsoft where he has spent has past 15 years. Specifically, Arnold has worked the past 3 years on the Kinect for the Xbox team.
As a way to give back to the ETC, Arnold has been visiting ETC’s campuses in Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley to provide technical advice for projects hosted there. He met with each of the three teams here for about an hour each and provided lots of feedback technology-wise to each of our projects. For our project, Arnold started, to our surprise, by looking directly at our source code. He gave us lots of advice about communication between the Arduinos and our backend.
We were also given a presentation on Arnold’s work, the Kinect. Arnold went through the reasoning behind the development of the Kinect and the technology inside the Kinect. He explained to us some of the challenges his team faced in getting the Kinect to market. We were also shown videos of applications for the Kinect such as Air Band.
Arnold has provided us with great feedback and has given us many suggestions for directions to take for our projects. His technical feedback is very unique for the ETC and we thank him for his visit.
Way, a collaborative 2 player puzzle platformer developed at the ETC Silicon Valley campus, was just named Indiecade’s Developer’s Choice Award. Way was developed by the ETC team, Coco & Co (Chris Bell, Walt Destler, Katherine Rubenstein, Hugo Shih, Cynthia Jiang and Paulwei Wang).
The team was at Indiecade 2011 to show support for the game. The team is excited as winning the award means that you’ve gotten recognition from indie developers everywhere (and even some professional game developers). There’s even some press about our game.
Nerdreactor puts it as their standout game of Indiecade – http://nerdreactor.com/2011/10/11/indiecade-2011-winners-announced/
Indie Fix’s Award for Best Damned Co-op of Indiecade – http://bnbgaming.com/2011/10/12/the-indie-fix-indiecade-review-of-games-part-3/
Turnstyle’s flattering review of Way – http://turnstylenews.com/2011/10/11/indiecade-2011-roundup-games/
Great review of way (with some awesome comments) – http://indiegames.com/2011/10/freeware_game_pick_way_coco_co.html
It’s a great game that’s strictly two player. Why not try it out yourself? http://www.makeourway.com/
Btw, we rock! Thanks for all the support from the ETC, ETC alumni and indie developers everywhere.
Coco & Co