Ian MacLarty


Ian MacLarty

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an independent game designer, artist and programmer from Melbourne. I make a lot of small experimental games often with a visual focus. You can find my portfolio here: http://ianmaclarty.com. I'm currently working on an abstract puzzle game.

What hardware do you use?

I mainly use a MacBook Pro (2017, 13", no touch bar). I don't use any external keyboards, mice or monitors. I dislike having to plug and unplug things and I like working in the kitchen where there's plenty of natural light. I also have an older desktop (Intel i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, GTX660 GPU, 1TB mechanical HDD, 23" monitor) with Linux and Windows 7 that I use less often, mainly for testing or playing games.

I have an iPhone 6 that I use for testing and sometimes for music production. I also have an older iPad and some older iPhones and a cheap Android phone that I use exclusively for testing. I have a pair of KRK KNS-8400 headphones and a Behringer C-1U microphone for audio work.

And what software?

I mostly work in the terminal and use vim as my editor. I use the standard Terminal app on Mac and whatever the default terminal on Linux Mint is. On Windows I use MSYS and rxvt. I often write bash or node.js scripts to automate repetitive tasks.

I use my own game engine called Amulet which is written in C++ and uses GNU make as its build system. I use the Clang, GCC and Visual C++ compilers. I've found Valgrind very useful for tracking down memory errors and leaks. I rarely use a debugger, preferring print statements (this is somewhat ironic, because I did my postgraduate research on debuggers). I write my games in Lua and use LuaJIT on desktop and vanilla Lua on mobile and browser.

For 2D graphics I'm currently using Acorn, but will sometimes use GIMP when I'm working on Linux. For audio I use Audacity on Mac and Linux and on my iPhone I've used Figure to produce music and Animoog to produce sound effects. I've also used SFXR.

I occasionally use Blender for 3D modelling or trailer production. Sometimes I'll also use iMovie for trailers, though it doesn't give as much control as Blender. I use GIF Brewery 3 and QuickTime to record GIFs and gameplay footage respectively and Handbrake to transcode between video formats.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm pretty happy with what I've got. I'd like to get more into music production so if I could afford it I'd purchase Ableton Live and maybe get one of those fancy Ableton Push devices.


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Jenny Jiao Hsia


Jenny Jiao Hsia

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, my name is Jenny Jiao Hsia and I'm an independent game developer based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2014, I collaborated with AP Thomson on a small game about smooching and loneliness in space. The following year, we worked together again and released a game about computers, magic, and insecurity.

Some of my solo projects include games about doing your makeup in 10 seconds or less, putting a noodle-limbed through a serious yoga workout, and feeding your hungry buddy on a date!

When I'm not making games, I like prototyping with microcontrollers and sewing plush dolls called Bedtime Buddies.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 13-inch MacBook Pro (early 2015) to make my games. My computer isn't equipped with a lot of storage space, so I keep my files on a portable external hard drive. For drawing, I use a small Wacom tablet and this mouse — it's cheap, but reliable… and I really like how it fits in my hand.

I always carry a notebook with me so I can jot down ideas and designs wherever I go. I really like how the pages are dotted instead of gridded. It provides enough of a guide to draw in straight lines, but doesn't constrain me too much if I want to scribble freely. I using pens instead of pencils, and this one is my favorite to write with!

For non-digital crafting, I've been using this small sewing machine from Janome. It doesn't come with a lot of fancy buttons or options, but this basic model gets the job done for me. I like the color and size a lot, but I wish it could handle thicker fabrics. Sometimes it even chugs a bit. If you're a beginner to sewing and you're looking for something fun to play around with — I would recommend it. However you might want to make an investment and upgrade to something sturdier if you're looking for a machine for long-term use.

I find a lot of my textiles from the thrift store — I'd recommend checking out the curtains and blankets because you get a lot of quality fabric for a really low price. Just throw them in the wash before cutting and sewing with them! I pick up my other materials (like embroidery thread, buttons, ribbon, beads, key rings, etc.) at Flying Tiger and Michael's. It's fun to browse those stores because you can find really neat materials that will add a lot of character.

I've been using a Makey Makey to prototype the hardware portion of my controllers and I create the final version with a FLORA microcontroller and conductive thread. I'd recommend checking Tinkersphere and Adafruit if you're looking for more sewable electronic parts.

I take photos using an iPhone 6S and my workspace consists of a small IKEA table and one of those heavy-duty folding chairs from Costco.

And what software?

I use Unity to make games and Bitbucket for source control. For art, I make 2D assets in Photoshop and 3D models in Maya. I edit sound effects in Audition and I record gameplay footage with QuickTime Player and Soundflower. Sometimes I use LICEcap to capture gifs — the framerate can end up looking sort of choppy and slow, so I will occasionally resort to Photoshop to create better quality gifs. I use Google Drive on a regular basis, and recently I've been experimenting with the Arduino IDE. My favorite app to edit photos with on my phone is VSCO and I like doodling on these pictures with Facebook's Messenger app.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would include a big sturdy desk, a nice comfy chair, an enormous bulletin board, a more serious and robust sewing machine, a powerful Mac Pro with tons of storage, and a couple of extra monitors!


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Jillian C. York


Jillian C. York

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Jillian C. York, and I'm a writer and activist whose work explores the impact of surveillance and censorship on marginalized communities. Most of that work is with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and my main project there, Onlinecensorship.org, and I also do quite a bit of writing and public speaking.

I've been based in Berlin for the past three years, and I don't think I'll ever love a city more than this one. You can be whomever or whatever you want in Berlin. I love my communities here, and the fact that I can carry a beer wherever I want, and the fact that the city is really pretty diverse when you delve into it.

What hardware do you use?

I just got a souped-up, gently-used 13" MacBook Pro Retina from 2015 and I love it. The screen is amazing, such an upgrade from the ca. 2012 13" Air that I'd been using. The speakers are also decent, which is important to me – I spend a lot of time traveling and a lot of time listening to music… and I don't have the space to carry a speaker.

My phone is a 1-year-old iPhone SE (rose gold); I switched over after years of using Androids. My last two were Sony Xperia Z1s, and I loved them for their ability to take strange night photos, but the screens stop working if you crack them, and I'm clumsy. I really like small phones, though, and wish more designers thought about people like me who have small hands!

At work, I do my listening on a pair of aged Harmon Kardon SoundSticks with a USB-only connection. I love them, and I wish more things were so oddly crafted. I use Apple's standard earbuds, ever since Phillips discontinued my favorite in-ear headphones. Ideally, I'd use over-ear noise-cancelling headphones, but my sometimes-angry ear piercings won't let me.

I'm also a really big fan of paper. My partner and I are both really into Post-Its, which you can find all over my walls, inside my notebooks, and on pretty much every inappropriate surface you could imagine. My notebook is a Leuchtturm1917 – dotted and hardcovered. It's apparently great for bullet journaling, which I always try to start but end up just scribbling things in my usual way. And I'm very picky about pens: The Uni-ball Vision Elite has been my go-to for a decade now.

My house is mostly pretty low-tech… no microwave, television, or sound system. If it weren't for my Bluetooth-enabled smart lightbulb, you might be able to enter my flat and imagine yourself in a different decade entirely 🙂

And what software?

I talk a lot about privacy and occasionally teach people how to use privacy-enhancing technologies, so I'm pretty attached to Tor for safer browsing, KeePassX for secure password storage, and Signal and Wire for communications… Wire in particular is so much fun – there's one friend with whom I play tic-tac-toe pretty frequently with the doodle feature.

I travel a lot, so staying organized is really key – I use Bear for on-the-go writing and note-taking, TripIt Pro for keeping my travel details in one place, and I sync up necessary documents with iCloud.

I've spent a lot of the past couple of years writing music, and have to give some love to GarageBand… I find most of Apple's default software pretty useless, but for an amateur composer with a background in music theory and performance, this is a beautiful piece of software.

What would be your dream setup?

Ooooh – Is it weird that the first item that I think about in my dream setup is the table? I want a huge, handcrafted wooden table in a sunny, window-filled room, with lots of plants (that someone else is in charge of keeping alive) and some sort of fantastic built-in surround sound.

I could (and probably should) integrate some ergonomics into the situation – a better chair, a keyboard to stave off the carpal tunnel, perhaps even a mouse. I don't know why, but these feel like luxury items.

But the pièce de résistance would be the teleportation device tucked into the corner that would allow me to meet with anyone whenever I want… and would allow me to avoid flying forevermore!


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Michael McMaster


Michael McMaster

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Michael McMaster, and at the moment I do a few things. I make videogames with House House, a very small studio that I co-direct – last year we released a game called Push Me Pull You and we recently announced our second project, which is called Untitled Goose Game for the time being.

I'm also working on a PhD, which I started this year at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, where I'm researching the position of videogames within art and design museums. I also work on-and-off as a sessional tutor at RMIT, where I teach game design practice to undergraduate students.

That sounds like too many things, when I write it out like this, and it probably is.

What hardware do you use?

For my game development work, I have a big heavy PC that I put together a long time ago, with two monitors raised up to eye level on big books. I have a Microsoft Sculpt ergonomic keyboard that I ought to use, but its wireless receiver drops in and out a lot so right now I'm typing on a very plain Logitech keyboard. My mouse looks like a plain matte-black mouse, and it's very nice to use, but it is unfortunately called a Razer DeathAdder. I sometimes draw using an Intuos Pro Medium. My desk is usually cluttered with game controllers – right now there are two DualShock 4's and an Xbox 360 controller.

For my research, I use a 2015 MacBook Pro, and a pair of Urbanears Zinken headphones. Lately I've started doing some audio interviews, too, so I bought a Sony ICD-PX470 digital voice recorder, though I always end up doing a backup recording on my phone (a Nexus 5X) because I'm paranoid of the voice recorder failing and wasting my subjects' time.

And what software?

Our current videogame is being developed in Unity, and though I've never felt all that comfortable using it, I'm learning slowly (much slower than the others on our team, who are very patient and nice about it). My main contributions to the game are asset production, art direction, and graphic design: I use Blender for 3D modelling, Photoshop for concept art and various sketches, and Illustrator for mocking up things like UI elements. Blender is a very strange program in a bunch of ways but I've been using it for years and I really like it. Although the four of us work in the same office, we all keep different work hours, so we use Slack a lot to communicate when we're not in the one room.

My research is done across a heap of Google Docs and a lot of notes in Google Keep – I think a lot about switching to something more fully-featured and useful for long-term projects, like Scrivener, but this is what works for me at the moment. I also use a Chrome plugin called Strict Workflow that acts as a pomodoro timer, and blocks out sites like Twitter and Slack for 25-minute periods so that I can focus on work (I struggle a lot with distractions, so this helps a lot).

What would be your dream setup?

It depends how dreamy I'm allowed to get! I have three desks – one at home, one at university, and one at my studio's office – and a lot of the time I feel like most of my life is spent moving in vectors between these three spaces. I'd really love two rooms right next to each other – one with all my research books and a clean desk, and another with all my game development equipment – so that I could switch between work modes more easily. Also, a big lazy dog that follows me between the rooms and sits with me while I work. And a standing desk, I guess.


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