Interview with Wulves team leader Julia Voortman

Check out the following interview with Wulves team leader Julia Voortman – and see Julia demo Wulves live at DemoCampHamilton18 this Monday September 29th at McMaster!

Wulves has also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finish and improve the game!


How did you get into indie video game development?

When I was 10 years old, a friend introduced me to, which was/is a horse simulation game where you could breed and race virtual horses. I was absolutely crazy about horses at the time and spent hours playing, but eventually got bored and decided what I wanted to do was make a horse sim game myself. I knew absolutely nothing about game development at the time, but started writing down my ideas and looking for people to learn from and partner with. A girl from another sim game I played at the time could code and we found a couple of artists and after a few months we had a game: The Ultimate Horse. It was very simple and the graphics were terrible, but by the end of the summer we had about two thousand players and a little community of people who actually enjoyed playing what we made. I’ve been hooked making games ever since!




What is Wulves?

So Wulves is primarily a virtual pet simulation, the goal is to successfully raise your wulf pups to adulthood by training and feeding them. It’s a creative game as well; players design their wulves themselves, choosing from the (currently) dozens of marking and body modification options and any colour available in a hex code. Eventually we’d like to release a feature giving players the ability to draw their own markings directly onto their wulves in the browser, and give them the option to save and share their new markings with other players. Wulves that make it to adulthood can then be bred with other wulves to create new wulf pups that draw characteristics from their parents (and grandparents, great-grandparents, etc). We have a pretty cool genetic system that make for some interesting offspring outcomes.

Secondarily, it’s a capture and collect game. The game currently has about sixty ‘wild wulflings’ that can be battled and captured while exploring. Wulves also has a few RPG elements; players enter the world of Elm, create their own citizen, join a professionhood to earn currency and level up through it’s ranks, interact with NPC’s, and participate in hidden object quests.




Who is working on Wulves and how long has it been in development?

The ideas for Wulves have been kicking around for quite awhile, but we started actively developing about two years ago. A number of people have contributed over that period, but the main team has been myself and two developers from Albany, Patrick Warner and Beau Breedlove, as well as two really talented artists, Rennie Florence and Isabel Baele, from the US and Belgium respectively.




What is new and exciting about Wulves compared to other browser-based pet games?

I think what’s cool about Wulves is that it gives players the fully fleshed out fantasy world of Elm to explore, with it’s own history and lore and a cast of characters to interact with. The focus is still definitely on the pet simulation aspect of the game, but I think it lends a special extra dimension you don’t find in a lot of games in the genre.




How are you planning to monetize Wulves?

Wulves will be completely free to play; our plan is to monetize micro-transactionally by offering small upgrades and special items.




Can you tell us about the Kickstarter campaign for Wulves?

Sure thing! We’ve just launched a Kickstarter to help fund us on the way to our first beta release. Our goal is to raise $6500 over the next 30 days to help cover the cost of developing our battling system, as well as any additional art assets, and a server upgrade. We’re aiming for a Wulves 1.0 in mid-February.



What advice do you have for people creating indie video games?

I feel like I haven’t been doing this long enough to be a giver of advice, so these can be taken with a grain of salt. But these are a couple things I’ve learned along the way,

1. At the outset, define the absolute necessities for your game to function, and then finish that before touching anything else. This is something I wish I’d been more disciplined about while developing Wulves, instead of letting myself get carried away polishing little side details, or redirecting development efforts toward cool new features as we thought of them or alpha players suggested them.

2. This one is equally applicable to projects other than game dev. Try not to make announcements about what you’re working on or plan to make, until you’ve made it. This was an eye-opening article for me: I break this one pretty consistently, but I’m working on it. :)

Editor’s note: woah, totally fascinating read!

3. Do your best to always be refuelling your ‘creativity bank’ by reading, watching movies, taking nature hikes, playing every game you can get your hands on. Sometimes the best game ideas or solutions to a problem come from really unexpected places.




What is your long term plan for Wulves?

See #2, haha! A couple shorter term plans would be increased interactivity between the player and their wulves, and taking the game mobile.




How has Hamilton and Platform 302 worked out for you as a place to create Wulves?

Platform 302 came for me at a point where I just could not go on working in my pajamas, feeling constantly like being ‘at work’ while at home, and chair-hogging at Starbucks just to get out of the house. I really can’t say enough about the value of being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs; the people there are just incredibly supportive and encouraging, and it’s very motivating to watch the growth of other young businesses. Currently I’m working for a company in Oakville as a web/graphic designer, but I’d love to eventually come back to Platform. We’ll see how things go! :)


REfficient Takes on Mexico’s Telecom Market with CDMN Funding

refficientlogoHamilton, Ontario – September 2, 2014 – REfficient will participate in the Canadian Digital Media Network’s (CDMN) Outbound Soft-Landing Fall 2014 Program to help forge the partnerships and connections it needs for international expansion.

REfficient is an online marketplace to source quality telecom and AV equipment affordably and sustainably. Companies get access to other business’ surplus inventory, manufacturers’ surplus and new product with environmental designations. Founded in 2010, REfficient now has customers in 12 companies and in the last year has ensured over 30,000 products were reused. All of Canada’s major cable/telecom companies are now customers.

As telecom operators in Latin America go through technology upgrades, REfficient’s refurbished equipment enables these companies to save money on quality equipment. “We already have customers in Latin America, but we have literally scratched the surface. The market potential in Mexico alone is at least ten times that of Canada,” says REfficient CEO Stephanie McLarty. REfficient applied to the Soft Landing program because of the resources needed to be successful in these markets. “The key is not only to have potential customers know you, but also to build relationships and trust. This is a critical part of doing business in Latin America and this requires resources.”

CDMN’s Soft-Landing Program helps mature startups and SMEs kickstart their international growth by helping them access a foreign market. For a period of up to three months, the participating company can take up residence in a partnered facility that provides the regional support required to help grow its business, as well as receiving up to $4,000 in travel and hotel costs.

“The Soft-Landing Program has already resulted in millions of dollars in new business and investment for our participating companies and generated more than a 30x return on CDMN’s investment of funds and resources,” said Kevin Tuer, CDMN’s Managing Director. “International expansion is more important than ever as a driver of wealth and job creation for the Canadian economy. Our success to date demonstrates the tremendous impact that even a modest investment in global business development can have.”

About the CDMN Soft Landing Program

The Outbound Soft Landing Program runs three times a year and companies must meet a range of criteria, including having a technology product or service that is market ready and has foreign market potential. CDMN also operates an Inbound Soft Landing Program for non-Canadian companies looking to break into the Canadian market. For more information, please visit

About REfficient

REfficient’s transactional marketplace is built on a “triple-win” model, providing large telecom and AV companies a trusted and efficient platform for deriving value from surplus inventory, while offering buyers reliable, often new equipment at savings of 20-50% over traditional sources. This innovative new green model benefits everyone by reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency. You can follow REfficient at @REfficient and

Media Contact
Mindy Tweedle
Tweedle Productions Inc.

Introduction to HTML & CSS by HackItMac



When: Thursday September 25th 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Where: IAHS Room 103 @ McMaster University



Join HackItMac for our first free workshop!

If you are looking to get started with coding, then this is the workshop for you!

HTML and CSS are the backbone of all websites, and knowledge of them is a necessity if you are interested in things like web development, creating marketing emails, or even blogging! The web without HTML and CSS would be would be a world without colourful, pretty websites, not to mention the web applications we all use daily. It’s easy to learn, and was designed so that everyone – even non-programmers – can do it. No fancy programs are needed, just Notepad and a web browser!

This workshop has been designed for absolute beginners. If you know absolutely nothing about coding or computer programming, you’ve come to the right place!

Workshop Format
This workshop will not have an instructor teaching it. Instead we have prepared lessons that you can go through on your own or with a partner at your own pace. We recommend pairing up with some of a similar experience level. There will be mentors around, so feel free to ask questions!

Don’t forget to bring your own laptop and power cord!

Questions? Email us at


DemoCamp Hamilton 18 full demo line-up announced

When: Monday September 29th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Where: Twelve Eighty Pub @ McMaster University – 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.





Demo 1
Getting your McMaster meal plan balance, adding more money, and looking up recent transactions can be difficult to do and time consuming. The experience is not a fun one. Mu Wallet gets all this done in one simple app. Mu Wallet is a simple way for McMaster University students to track their meal plan balance, recent transactions, and analytics of their day to day usage.

Demo 2
QReserve is a research equipment and services database that connects research institutions and commercial R&D service companies. We help researchers and students find and access the tools they need within their own campus or across the globe.

Demo 3
Wulves is a browser-based pet game that allows players to design and breed their own pack of fantasy wulves. Julia will be demoing our dynamically generated pet images and the genetic breeding system.

Demo 4
Ranggo is a social marketing platform for restaurants based on real-time menu item rating by their customers. Customers are rewarded with instant coupons for providing their feedback. Ranggo users can use it to find the best food in their local area.

Demo 5
We believe taking multiple perspectives is the ultimate human resource. Stepping out of your own perspective to take on another is a very powerful skill we naturally use to solve problems and make confident decisions. VistaShift is an easy 3 step repeatable process / software app that enhances our natural perspective taking ability by engaging individuals and organizational teams in a series of simple questions requiring answers from multiple points of view. Comparing answers for contrast, themes and new patterns identifies blind spots, uncovers hidden knowledge and ultimately helps to solve any challenge, quickly and confidently. This demo will be performed with the assistance of Orbital, VistaShift’s app development partner.

Demo 6
A simple but powerful WordPress plugin to take your events calendar feed and turn it into a newsletter-friendly format, so you can copy into your MailChimp, Constant Contact or other newsletter sending service.


Keynote Speaker



Malgosia Green




Chief Product Officer at Top Hat




Malgosia Green (@HeyGosia) is the Chief Product Officer at Top Hat (@TopHat). Malgosia has over 10 years experience working in the consumer internet and education industries. Her most recent positions held include CEO of Savvica Inc. and Director of Product at Affinity Labs (acq. by Monster Worldwide). Malgosia has been featured in Canadian Business Magazine’s “20 Young Women in Power”, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and Toronto Life. Malgosia holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in System Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.





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Business Model Canvas talk at this week’s Spectrum event

This week McMaster University’s new Spectrum program (@Mac_Spectrum) will be hosting a talk on how to build your own business model canvass by Tammy Hwang (@TammyHwang) of Innovation Factory (@itbeginswithIF).

WHEN: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
WHERE: Twelve Eighty Bar & Grill – McMaster Student Centre
1280 Main Street West
McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8S
COST: Free
FOOD: Free Pub Grub (ie. chips, nachoes, etc.) and Soda / Water

Learn about the most efficient way to structure your business with the Business Model Canvas. Make sure you bring a pen and some paper to this event!

Tammy Hwang of Hamilton’s Regional Innovation Centre – Innovation Factory – will be explaining to you how to build your own business model canvas. She’ll go over some examples, and help you with your own business ideas.




McMaster engineering and management capstone seeking project applications

mcmastercampusEditor’s note: I was forwarded the below from Paul Grunthal at the McMaster Industry Liaison Office about the opportunity for local firms to propose capstone projects for the Engineering and Management Program at McMaster. Fill out this project description template and contact Paul at grunth at mcmaster dot ca if you are interested in the program.

I would like to tell you about a unique resource that you can use to help you solve engineering/business problems. The Engineering and Management Program at McMaster University is a unique 5-year program in which students receive a fully accredited Engineering degree and the core learning of a fully accredited business degree.

The 5th year capstone course in this program requires multi-disciplinary teams of 5 or 6 of these students to add value for external clients by carrying out a project at the intersection of business and engineering. These students are well equipped to develop and execute projects related to new product development, manufacturing process improvement, supply chain analysis, environmental compliance, ergonomics, health and safety issue resolution, and much more.

You don’t pay for their labour, only for project related expenses. There is also the possibility of securing additional government funding (a couple of thousand dollars) for your project.

This is a great opportunity to get a look at some of your potential future hires.

The attached template will help you describe your project so that you can be matched up with the right team come September.

I would encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity for your business while also supporting the development of our future engineering business leaders.

Very best regards,

Paul Grunthal, BDA
McMaster Industry Liaison Office(MILO)
Tel: 905.525.9140 X26548

The grown-up table



During his DemoCampHamilton15 keynote Adrian Duyzer (@adriandz) made an argument that Hamilton’s future as a tech city was threatened by a lack of leadership. Most of Adrian’s criticism was directed at city hall, essentially arguing that while the community in Hamilton was doing its part, our political leadership was not doing its part.

I’m a “grassroots guy” in the sense that it’s my go-to-strategy for doing anything. It’s my comfort zone. Grassroots organization is just a matter of bringing people together with a common purpose in mind, after which they will make great stuff happen with no further intervention. You’re essentially playing the role of facilitator, and leaving the rest to the community.

Because grassroots is my go-to strategy for getting things done, I kinda resisted the point Adrian was making. I respected the opinion mind you, it’s just not something that I could personally identify with or relate towards.

At the end of the day though, Adrian was correct in the sense that political leadership and institutional support is necessary.

Hamilton’s bedrock institutions and the policies they pursue, support and enact matter. As an example, we absolutely need to give every child in Hamilton a great chance to pursue a career in software development. But right now, we don’t. No opportunity is bigger or more important than giving every child this opportunity. There have been numerous attempts to make this happen at the grassroots / community / non-profit level (CoderDojo, hack jams, coding days, etc.).

But the most expansive and successful attempt thus far has been “institutional” – the McMaster software outreach program. The program has reached thousands of children per year in Hamilton to encourage them to pursue software development. While other efforts in this regard have been important and worthwhile, none has had the scope and scale of the McMaster software outreach program.

When it came time to pursue economic support for this program via government grants (NSERC PromoScience), Keanin Loomis at the Chamber of Commerce, amongst other institutional leaders, was quick to write a letter of support for this program. I strongly suspsect that these letters of support put the decision to fund the program beyond any doubt of the funding agency. And now, as a result, thousands of children in Hamilton each year are being encouraged to pursue software development through fun McMaster-run workshops. That’s amazing.

Keanin asked me to chair the Innovation & Technology committee at the Chamber of Commerce. I said yes, because I believe the Chamber is an institution with potential. It’s 168 years old, older than the city itself. Committees on Chambers of Commerce tend to get pegged as “lunch clubs”. But Chambers are also strong at: measuring / assessing the current state of things, creating reports on the current state of things, and advocating for policies that improve the current state of things.

They have the potential to play the role of moving grassroots enthusiasm into a plan, and action. I truthfully have no idea if I’ll be any good at the role – this is a whole new ball game for me. I’ve been showing up to the meetings for the last few years, and it feels like the grown-up table for lack of a better term. But I’m very excited to give it my best shot, because Adrian was right, and the potential is there.


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