Tech Valley Digital Gaming Hub

Level UpState Summer Program

Level Upstate 2019 Summer Program

RPI’s summer program empowers participants with key knowledge, networks, tools, and resources to take their game to the next level. This year 8 teams developed innovative game projects and ventures during our 7 week program.


Our teams

Bales of Amber

Imagine you’re in a Kafka story

Imagine the world has ended

Imagine humans have gathered the last of the animals

Imagine you live inside a whale

Now you are part of the animal factorization initiative

In a dream like near future apocalypse,

Humans have gathered all the animals that are left,

To form the Animal Factorization initiative

Now you live inside a whale


Bork Bork Studios


Bork Bork Studios is a small independent games studio based in Troy, NY. The studio aims to create lighthearted fun experiences and foster a respect and love for the animal kingdom with the games they create. They are currently working on the studio’s first game, Doggo Unleashed.

Team & Repeating Collaborators

  • Brittany Wendzel – Art Director, Bork Bork Studios
  • Camron McCormack – Lead Programmer, Bork Bork Studios
  • Amanda Howanice – Story and Sound, Bork Bork Studios and Branch FX

No! Studios


In No! Studios, we share a love of games of all types, and have a variety of gamers on our team. With our varied knowledge base available to us, we are well positioned to research various games for the sake of innovation and study, and to learn and be inspired by the industry around us.

Our current project is Dungeon on the Move, a single-player, fast-paced, dungeon crawler for casual players on mobile devices. The main feature of interest is the procedurally generated dungeon, that appears and disappears as you traverse the game. With a simplistic art style, and humorous writing, we have a game that is different every time you play.


Maurice Suckling – Executive Producer and Creative Director

Maurice Suckling is an industry veteran, with over 40 published titles and 20 years of experience as a writer, designer, producer, and creative director, as well as a variety of other roles. His current profession is as a Professor of Practice in Games, Simulations, Arts, and Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he is heading up the writing concentration. Some of his key titles include Driver, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, Killing Floor 2, and Fortnite.

Fanghong Dong – Producer and Designer

Francys Dong is a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is finishing her degree in Games, Simulations, Arts, and Sciences with a concentration in Writing. She has participated in a number of game jams, and has won a number of contests such as the 2018 NYS Game Development Challenge, and the 2017 Game Narrative Review competition. She also had the opportunity to show her game Mastery at GDC 2019, where it received a number of positive reviews.

Rachel E. Mailhot – Producer and Writer

Rachel Mailhot is a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is finishing her degree in Games, Simulations, Arts, and Sciences with a concentration in Writing. She has also taken a multidisciplinary approach towards her schedule, and has studied in a variety of specialties such as digital art, physics, communication, and coding. Rachel has been a participant and award winner in the McKinny writing contest, as well as self-publishing a number of smaller games on Currently, Rachel is working as a Production Assistant for the game Burden of Command, by Green Tree Games. She is known among her peers for her dark humor and 4th wall aware narratives inside of her works, and her flexible workstyle.

Kirsten Pilla – Programmer

Kirsten Pilla is a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is pursuing a Dual major in both Computer Science and Games, Simulations, Arts, and Sciences. She has worked in close partnership with Francys on a number of games, including the award winning game Mastery as the lead programmer on the team. Currently, Kirsten is participating in an internship with Unity. With a strong background in both art and coding, she works efficiently with designers around her towards implementing ideas into gameplay.

Samuel Gould – Programmer

Sam Gould is a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he is pursuing a Dual major in both Computer Science and the Programing Concentration inside of Games, Simulations, Arts, and Sciences. Sam has worked on the team responsible for CureQuest in partnership with Mt. Sinai Hospital, as well as working on several independent projects. He is versed in the use of Unity, which is a common tool for many starting game designers.

Yi Ning – Environmental Artist

Yi Ning is a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he is pursuing a degree in Games, Simulations, Arts and Sciences, focusing on Electronic Arts. Yi specializes in environmental art, and is a skilled user of several different art programs such as Photoshop, Maya, and Paint studio. He specializes in texturing and painting, and is an efficient and self-driven team member.

Omiya Games

A prolific, award-winning experimental game studio operated by one person, Omiya Games pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with games by challenging the player with strange and enduring experiences.

Since its formation, Omiya Games has produced over 20 games (and counting!) on PC, Mac, Linux, Web, and mobile. The company still organizes and participates in events and game jams at the TVGS regularly, including Global Game Jam and Ludum Dare. Finally, Taro still hates programming. Omiya Games is currently developing Air Flip Drive.

For the competitive speed demon in you, Air Flip Drive provides a fast-paced, score-based arcade game for everyone, 10 and up. Imagine a world where speed is the name of the game, and gravity is just a suggestion. In this reckless universe, players compete by driving as far as possible on a high-velocity, anti-gravity vehicle. But there’s a catch: the vehicle has limited fuel, and it’s always draining! Players must steal fuel from other rivals by attacking them. Race through an ever-changing, infinitely long track; dodge obstacles, soar through the skies, collect power-ups and destroy other vehicles. How far can YOU go before running out of fuel?

Queenship Game Studio

Queenship Game Studio, LLC  is a female-founded company focusing on games about mental health, social interaction, and relationship building. Its current game roster includes Open Spaces, a visual novel about anxiety and agoraphobia; Return to Self, a mobile app that aims to aid users in anxiety and panic attack disorder and management; and House of Echoes, a 3D exploration game about hallucinations.

Representing a diverse array of academic study, skill, and backgrounds, the team at Queenship is working hard to bring gamified mental health management tools to as many people as possible around the world. To that end, they are working with mental health professionals to inform their games and preparing to work with mental health organizations, clinics, agencies, and schools to license their games for free or low-cost use by clients and students, particularly those facing sociopolitical and economic disadvantages.


Ruckus Games

Ruckus Games develops wacky action destruction games with fantastical storylines for the child in all of us.


Voxel Fight, their first title,  is an online and local multiplayer chaotic 3d sports brawler with whacky powerups, a dynamic field, and an unreasonable use of cartoon force.

Spoony Bird

Spoony Bird is an independent game studio devoted to creating bite-size works of playful fiction that are accessible, innovative, and emotionally resonant.


Spoony Bird is a new game studio dedicated to creating playful fiction in bite-size portions. We make accessible, story-rich experiences that can be enjoyed in five minute increments, or binged in longer sessions at any time. Our games enable players to interact with imaginative worlds and characters in novel ways, without the need for a novel-length time investment.


Ding Dong Ditch, their current project,  is a humorous point and click adventure game for PC and Mac that draws inspiration from the lighthearted tone of classic adventure games like Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. The game takes place in Dinger’s Ditch, a suburban environment inspired by early ’90s sitcoms, Nickelodeon cartoons, and classic children’s books. In the world of Ding Dong Ditch, ringing someone’s doorbell and running away isn’t just a childish prank – it’s a way of life. When a mysterious entity known only as “The Ringer” challenges you to a Ditcher’s Duel, you find yourself embroiled in a high-stakes game of ring-and-run. To win the duel, players must ditch every house in the neighborhood by ringing the doorbell, and then escaping without getting caught. Each house presents a unique scenario, with its own obstacles to overcome and puzzles to solve. Do you have what it takes to win the Ditcher’s Duel? Can you uncover The Ringer’s true identity and thwart their dastardly designs before it’s too late? Find out the answer to these questions and more when Ding Dong Ditch launches later this year!

Team & Repeating Collaborators

Jamey Stevenson
Creative Director
Vid Alliger
Art Director

Toothpike Studios

ToothPike Games seeks to break into the competitive video game market by delivering short, deeply replayable experiences across a wide spectrum of genres. Each game will combine engaging gameplay with a systematic story, meaning each experience will be completely different from the last, with the goal of forging communities and bonds with the stories players tell each other.

Grave Shadows, their first game,  is a third person mystery adventure game following Colton Graves, a mysterious private eye seeking revenge for the death of his partner. Caught in a blast, Graves becomes imbued with ability to merge into his own shadows. Hide, investigate, and traverse as you unravel the corrupt crime syndicate controlling the city. Steeped in noir visual and narrative tropes, Grave Shadows combines challenging shadow based puzzles with a player driven investigation.

Grant Doney – Artist and Project Manager

Grant Doney is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, earning a BS in Game Simulation Arts and Sciences and a BS in Electronic Arts. With a passion for 3D art and level design, Grant has become a skilled 3D generalist, working on a wide assortment of games. Grant has exhibited games with RPI at GDC 2019, as part of the Student Competition at Gamefest 2019, and as part of the College Game Competition at E3 2019.

Jordan Faas-Bush – Programmer

Jordan Faas-Bush is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), earning a BS in Computer Science and a BS in RPI’s Games and Simulations, Arts and Sciences program. Jordan’s other games have had hundreds of downloads from Jordan has exhibited games at the Rensselaer Game Showcase, RPI’s GameFest 2019, GDC 2019, and E3 2019 and was president of the RPI Game Development Club.