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Shalin Shodan

This guy’s such a gizmo geek that Tom could only meet him online. A game developer and an upcoming musician (check out Shalinshodhan.com), Shalin Shodhan is the underdog slowly realising his dreams. Thomas ‘tom’ Koshy engages in a tete-e-tete with the gizmo kid (he’s done an M.E.T in Carnegie Melon University & B.S. in computer engg from LD COE, India0) cum a flute Sangeet Visharad winner about the start, the journey and the games …

You’re like some Swiss knife , how’d you go about doing all this? Can you share some history? Was it a dark stormy night when you started?
It was indeed a dark and stormy night. 1982 had just begun when I was born, and a fiery moon had set the sky ablaze. As soon as I was conscious, I picked up an old abandoned guitar and played the saddest blues riff in the world. Unfortunately, I was too young to remember how it went, so I can’t play it anymore. I have decided to spend the rest of my life finding it. The strategy is to be slightly obsessive in the pursuit of things that I’m genuinely interested in and to ignore everything else as much as possible.

Tell us about working with Disney and Panda 3d?
I did a summer internship at Disney’s Virtual Reality Studio and worked on adding cool graphics technology to Panda3D. The people there are like rocket scientists who deeply understand the process of making entertainment experiences. Panda3D is an open source game engine which they have gifted to the community. A team of graduate students works on it at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). I got to do some fun stuff on that team while pursuing my Master’s degree at the ETC. It is very powerful and easy to get started with. I recommend it to anyone looking to develop 3D games on their own.

Tell us about your game God blaster. What does it connote?
In GodBlaster you fight it out with other players over whom God loves the most. It is a simple triangular game with 3 units, kind of like rock-paper-scissors. The theme comes from the evil mind of the very talented Mr. Kyle Gabler ( www.kylegabler.com) whom I developed this game with. We wanted to poke fun at religious fanaticism. The main game mechanic is “converting” the opponent to your religion and of course suicide bombing. Kyle and I later put together the experimental gameplay project with a couple of other guys. Check it out at www.experimentalgameplay.com .

Tell us something about your music and your influences.
I feel like my influences are growing up with me, which is not to say that I don’t continue to draw from what inspired me as a child, but the palette to choose from is getting broader everyday. As a kid it was mostly the music at home, my mum and grandma singing devotional songs. When I was 10, I started learning the flute. As a teenager I really got into rock and metal and picked up a guitar, to never ever put it down again. Now, in my twenties, I find myself drawn by blues and jazz. Exploring different forms of music that inspire you is an amazing process. The ultimate objective is to try and weave them all seamlessly into your “style”.

While we’re at music. Can you tell us about your software, M.I.N.X (Musical Interactive Networked eXperience) (online jamming software)?
MINX was a fun little project I did to support a paper on “New Mediums of Musical Performance” or something like that. I basically took the code for a multiplayer game and retrofitted it to send musical information between multiple computers. I think it supports up to 16 people jamming simultaneously with each other using simple MIDI notes. I would love to do more work in this direction and develop a compelling interactive and networked musical experience for non-musicians and musicians alike. By the way, check out “Ninjam” ( www.ninjam.com)

Would you want to contribute to the animation scene?
I think we have a lot of really talented people coming out of our film schools and media related programs who are interested in animation. There’s also a lot of us who have gone abroad to learn and work with the cutting edge of animation. So I’m very upbeat about our prospects. I personally dream of returning some day and teaching cool stuff in India while having a small studio on the side that makes unbelievably awesome things. It would most likely be games, but an animation studio is equally tempting.

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