Indie Tech Talks

The Game Innovation Lab in collaboration with Babycastles hosts a series Indie Tech Talks. Pioneers and influential developers in the field of gaming talk to the audience about their work, followed by an informal talk with our host and Assistant professor at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Andy Nealen. Stay tuned to our website for more exciting events happening in the Game Innovation Lab.

Indie Tech Talk 27 – Jim Crawford: Preserving a Sense of Discovery in the Age of Spoilers

For a child in the 1980s, playing a video game meant entering a world operating under confusing and effectively unknowable rules, in which anything could happen. This context lent enormous weight and mystery to every game, with no additional effort on the part of the developer. Nowadays, anything you might wonder about a game, you can look up online. Developers must work hard to make a game mysterious, even for players who are willing to play along. This talk will cover a number of techniques for doing so, and attempt to create a unifying philosophy for them.

Indie Tech Talk 26 – Itay Keren & Julia Detar Keren: Teaching with Puzzles: Tutorial Design in Mushroom 11

Making the tutorial for mushroom 11 was a challenging task. With its new mechanics and controls, the game had to teach players the basics, such as moving, shaping and splitting, before ramping the difficulty up. The developers chose to avoid text and hand-holding almost entirely, in favor of using puzzles to teach first time players. Itay and Julia will go over these puzzles, demonstrate their design and evolution, and discuss the lessons they learned (and relearned) as designers.

IIndie Tech Talk 25 – Andy Wallace: Walk Away For Six Months And Then Remove Something. Minimalism and Iteration in Designing PARTICLE MACE

Beginning as a homework assignment in late 2011, PARTICLE MACE went through many iterations before finally being released in January of 2015. Throughout this time, a driving goal of minimalism and accessible challenge was used to continuously shape and direct the game. This talk will explore how the long time frame and considerable time away form the project combined with these design goals to carry the game in unexpected directions.

Indie Tech Talk 24 – Nina Freeman and Emmett Butler "Bending Tech to Cibele's Will"

This pair of indie game developers discuss the in-process development of Cibele, a game they are working on as a part of the Star Maid Games team. Cibele is a game about two young people who have a relationship in an online game and decide to meet up to have sex in real life. Freeman and Butler will discuss the early stages of Cibele's development, specifically focusing on the technical challenges they've encountered in making a multi-media game with support for multiple platforms. 


Indie Tech Talk 23 : Robert Yang – "Cheeky Designs: How to Make a Video Game About Spanking The Heck Out of a Dude"

This talk discusses the design development of "On Your Knees", one of the very few video games ever made about spanking men. How do you adapt concepts from BDSM culture into a game? How do you translate the politics of consent and power exchange into game code, 3D animation, and motion interfaces? What if video games imagined sex as an interactive process instead of a cutscene "reward" dispensed by a talking vending machine?  Here is a post from his blog about it.

Bio: Robert Yang is an indie game developer, academic, and writer, based in New York City. His work often focuses on first person level design, architecture as narrative, and game modding as a radical design practice. He regularly teaches game development and design within NYU Game Center at New York University, IDM at NYU Poly School of Engineering, and MFADT at Parsons the New School for Design. He also occasionally writes about games for Rock Paper Shotgun and other British things. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from UC Berkeley, and an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design.

Indie Tech Talk 22 : Deidra Kiai – "Coffee: A Misunderstanding"

Deirdra "Squinky" Kiai presents an interactive play wherein two audience volunteers are called up and asked to read from a mobile device, which dynamically displays dialogue lines and stage directions. Meanwhile, two additional audience volunteers are given a mobile device on which they can select from a menu of choices that appear at key decision points in the story. It’s a combination of multiplayer Choose Your Own Adventure and improv theatre, resulting in a play experience that’s every bit as awkward as the story it’s trying to tell.

Indie Tech Talk 21: Matthew Wegner – "Hurt Me Plenty: Implementing Beat-em-up Combat Systems in Unity"

This talk covers the underlying move and effects systems that power the beat-em-up combat in Matthew Wegner's game Aztez, including design considerations, specific physics issues, and Unity editor-based workflows for programmer-free content creation.

Indie Tech Talk 20 : Jane Friedhoff – Flailing, Screaming, and Laughing

Jane Friedhoff talks about how her upbringing in riot grrrl culture influenced her technological practice. While recognizing the movement’s flaws, she discusses how its embrace of deliberate grunginess, obvious awkwardness, and unapologetically and joyfully taking up space have shaped her body of games across platforms and genres.

Games that chase the bleeding edge of technology suddenly feel less akin to film than to roller coasters, while a cornucopia of new tools empowers a new generation of non-technically focused game developers to push the expressive bounds of the medium. What does the changing role of technology and the engineering discipline in games mean for today's programmer?

Indie Tech Talk 18: Anna Kipnis- Dialog Systems in Double Fine

Anna Kipnis, gives a broad overview of how dialog gets into a Double Fine game, from the moment a line is written, to hearing and seeing the line in the engine, even in a foreign tongue, and what tech is required to make it all happen.


Indie Tech Talk 17: Andy Hull – Freefalling Through the Goldilocks Zone

Designer and programmer Andy Hull will discuss developing with just the right amount of tech, allowing for reckless and rapid exploration without crippling limitations. He will venture to discover how to identify the sweet spot where the process of programming can be treated as art instead of science.


Indie Tech Talk 16 : Eddo Stern – Three Games.

Eddo discusses his working process behind three recent games. Wizard Takes All (2011), a performance / game / rock-show, Money Making Workshop (2012), a get-rich-quick-seminar / sculpture / tabletop-role-playing/ strategy – game, and Vietnam Romance: Entertainment System (2013/14 in-progress) , a dinner theatre / adventure videogame.

Indie Tech Talk 15 : Doug Wilson – Accelerometers, How Do They F*cking Work?

Douglas Wilson worked on a failed, motion-controlled Wii game about dueling wizards. In this talk, he shares the tech and design lessons he learned along the way – lessons that served him well when he developed subsequent physical game projects like Johann Sebastian Joust, Tower No Tumble, and a crazy trampoline-controlled version of Bennett Foddy's Get On Top.

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Indie Tech Talk 14 : Janet Gilbert – Fat Fingers

Janet talks about her career and the hurdles she has encountered trying to give gameplay a familiar, classic feel, no matter the limitations of the hardware, or the expectations of a platform’s audience.

Indie Tech Talk 13: Marc ten Bosch: Games, Exploration and Abstractions (The Toy Ball and the Moon)

Marc ten Bosch demos his game Miegakure, which takes place in a world with four spatial dimensions. He also talks about what he believes it is best at teaching, and the different ways people play it. He discusses the exploratory nature of designing such a game and the challenges in building the most consistent abstractions possible within the constraints of a game.

Indie Tech Talk 12 : Ramiro Corbetta – Making Hokra

New York-based game developer and member of The SportsFriends Ramiro Corbetta discusses the development of his local multiplayer abstract sports game Hokra, transitioning from being a game designer to an all-around game creator as a mostly self-taught programmer.

Indie Tech Talk 11: Adam Saltsman – Humanist Game Design

Independent game maker Adam “Atomic” Saltsman will talk about his evolving relationship with “Mainstream Game Culture,” and what “Mainstream” even means these days. Saltsman will explain what factors are changing the Indie and Mainstream scenes, and break down what that means to him in practical terms.

Indie Tech Talk 10:  Don Miller- The 6502 and You

Don Miller discusses the 6502, the 8-bit microprocessor responsible for your fondest childhood memories: the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and Apple IIe. More than just a tech talk, he will covers the beauty of Assembly Language programming and why having a low-level understanding of hardware is awesome.


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Indie Tech Talk 09 : Dona Bailey – Centipede +30

Game developer and educator Dona Bailey discusses how she created the classic arcade game Centipede at Atari in the early 80's, how she came to leave the company afterwards, and how these experiences have informed her thoughts on education and technology.


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Indie Tech Talk 08 : Zach Gage – Conceptual Art as Technical Practice

Zach Gage is a game designer, programmer, educator, and conceptual artist from New York City.His work often explores the power of systems, both those created by social interaction in digital spaces,and those that can be created for others, through the framing of games.

Brooklyn-based game developer and musician Noah Sasso discusses the interesting challenges that come with building and tuning a competitive multiplayer fighting game, as compared to the other types of games he has worked on. He also demonstrates the effects of tuning by modifying the source code live, and discusses how his musical background has influenced his approach to game development.

Indie Tech Talk 06 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy

Indie Tech Talk 05 : Cindy Poremba – Games That Capture

Cindy Poremba is interested in the intersection between creation practices and technology– specifically how meaning is read through digital technologies. Her research explores documentary in videogames and digital media, art and independent videogames (particularly the new arcade movement), emerging artistic/cultural practice related to photography, videogames and robotic technologies, and research-creation methodology in interactive art and design. 

Indie Tech Talk 04 : Ivan Safrin – Engines, Frameworks and the means of Production

Ivan Safrin takes a look at the motivation behind writing a cross-platform development framework from scratch, discusses why open source tools are key to the future of independent game development and attempts to answer once and for all if it's a really good or a really terrible idea to spend years reinventing the wheel.

Indie Tech Talk 03 : Kevin Cancienne  – Punks Not Thre3D

Kevin talks about his work, why he thinks it might be time for a 3D revolution in the indie scene, and the benefits of being a mediocre programmer.

Indie Tech Talk 02 : Kaho Abe

Kaho Abe is currently the Artist in Residence at the Game Innovation Lab at NYU Poly, where she researches and builds games that utilize technology to bring people together face to face.

Indie Tech Talk 01 : Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson, creator of Shadow Physics, spoke about using technology for game-play innovations, specifically signed distance fields.