Category Archives: Teaching

Reflecting on summer; big things extremely effing nigh.

Ah, keeping a blog active… never a strong suit of mine.  But, I thought I’d take a few moments to update anyone who stops by my corner of the Internet.

Reflecting on a busy summer, gone too soon…

Mostly heavy-hearted, I returned from Japan at the very end of May, having spent the whole first half of the year living there with Hanna (my girlfriend), who’s on a contract working for an English school, and NHK, the huge BBC-style public broadcasting organization of that country.  If you’re wondering, there’s no hidden bad news here; I couldn’t stay any longer without getting a work visa (which I considered).  Living there (again and for real this time) was an incredible experience that I still haven’t taken the time to really document and share, partially out of busy-ness, and partially out of attempted modesty: I’m very grateful to have the crazy opportunity to jaunt off to Japan for significant chunks of time, and do my best not to rub it in peoples’ faces.  But at some point when I’m feeling calm and have no big deadlines looming (hah!) I’ll get some of my favorite photos and moments together for anyone interested.

Anyway, I got back to the States and went literally straight from the airport to the Boston VR Bender, a VR game jam put on by Owlchemy Labs, Boston VR, Valve, and Unity.  It was nuts, and I’m very proud of my jetlag-conquering abilities (stay up all night, get on a noon flight, sleep for 12 hours, arrive at exactly the same time the plane took off (time (zone) travel is weeeird), wake up in East Coast Time!).  I worked with Danger Donaghey (of Defective Studios), Iain Barrett-Byrnes, and Michael Schenck on a little flocking AI / time-freezing project, and had a great (if not a little stressful) time doing that, and experiencing Valve’s VR hardware.

The biggest chunk of the summer went to teaching Unity (my curriculum) and Maya classes at Digital Media Academy, in Los Angeles and Cambridge, which was a total blast.  One of the Unity classes in particular was a real joy to teach, full of bright and hungry young people.  I continue to wonder how teaching fits into the life plan.  On one hand, it takes a lot of time and energy away from my Defective work.  On the other hand, when it’s good, it’s great, and has been increasingly fulfilling.  I’ve been talking with DMA about designing some very interesting classes this year, so we’ll see where that goes.

There’s also been a new website contract project on Defective’s plate, giving me the opportunity to brush up again on my CSS and JQuery skills.  Good to keep those somewhat updated, even if that’s not my bread and butter.

And somewhere in the midst of all this stuff, despite the long quiet on the Defective devblog, I’m happy to say that I’ve been working on two new games, one for VR (ie Oculus Rift) code-acronymed “VRMT,” and the other for touchscreens (watch / phone / tablet), codenamed “SSSC.”   Which bring me to….

Jumping into an even busier fall

In less than a week, I’ll be debuting VRMT at the Boston Festival of Indie Games.   Only a few days after that show, the demo and I are off to Los Angeles for Oculus Connect, their first developer conference, for which I’m obviously quaking with excitement.  I’m not gonna say too much about VRMT for now, other than that anybody who knows me and what I’m into making won’t be too shocked — it feels in a lot of ways like the culmination and distillation of a lot of the ideas I’ve been working on since founding Defective (and holy crap that’s been five years…). It’s very early right now, and it’ll be a sneak-peak that I show at FIG and Connect, but I’m extremely excited about this project, and think that it’s the container in which many of my long-time goals will come to fruition.  Not to hype it too hard or anything 🙂

And whenever there’s downtime on VRMT, or an abundance of help, I’ll be finishing up the touchscreen project, SSSC, and getting that out to the world.  Again, I won’t say much for now, but I love playing it, and most people who’ve tested the early iterations have been between mildly and fully obsessed with it, so I’m feeling very optimistic about its eventual (sooner than later) release.  Especially on smartwatches, which I’ve been holding my breath for, for I don’t even know how long, and am really ready to start working with.

And just to be clear, CosmoKnots hasn’t seen an update in a while, but that’s set to change soon.  VRMT is actually, in my scheme, a huge component of the next steps of CosmoKnots.


I feel that “it”, the elusive goal-cloud to which I’ve dedicated myself for as long as I can remember, is extremely fucking nigh.

Hired Project: Unity course curriculum

Another marathon work session last night saw me putting the finishing touches on a one-week (40-hour) course on desktop and mobile game programming and level design in Unity I’ve created for Digital Media Academy, a summer program for middle & high school students.  The course will be taught at 10 locations this summer, with me teaching at one or two of them.  This is actually an update / upgrade to a curriculum I first wrote for them last year in which, in a nutshell, students use a library of modular level pieces to design whatever sort of interior/exterior level they want, and we script a very flexible Minecraft-redstone-inspired action sender and receiver framework to stitch together all the interactivity in the levels.  I’m actually really fond of that action sender and receiver system and the method has begun to work its way into CosmoKnots and my other projects.  Last year’s version of this curriculum had a first person walker character controller, and this year I’ve added a rolling ball character controller, and students can select which they want to use in the game (or per level).  There’re still plenty of improvements that could be made (always, always), but for the time being, the project is done and I’m feeling plenty happy about it.

I’m still not sure where teaching fits into my life scheme, but I’ve enjoyed teaching programming and digital media skills to kids for at least 12 years now (I’ve totally lost count).  I’ve always wanted to do online tutorials and such, and I’m looking forward to doing more of that on the Defective devblog and elsewhere.  If I’m lucky maybe DMA will even feel like letting me publish some of my video demos and lectures from this course 🙂