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Archive For February, 2006

Manifesto's Bloggers Set Up Shop

February 26, 2006 12:04 PM | Simon Carless

bm2k6.jpg Over at Greg Costikyan's weblog, the veteran game designer and co-founder of the still very nascent, pre-production Manifesto Games indie game distribution website, has announced new weblogs from the other principals.

It's noted: "[veteran ex-CGW editor] Johnny Wilson will be blogging at Game Gospel; essentially, he's been cobbling together reviews and articles about some games we want to offer, and I figured we should put them out there ahead of time. They'll eventually be reformatted for the Manifesto Games site, but for now, you'll find some timely discussion of at least the sorts of games he likes--strategy games, for the most part." In addition: "Eleanor Lang, our publicist, will be blogging at Comrade Lang's Little Red Blog."

Wilson's first posts deal with a game Manifesto will apparently be carrying, hardcore stat sim Baseball Mogul 2006, of which it's explained: "To the statistics-oriented fan, Baseball Mogul 2006 offers a fabulous laboratory for testing their Sabremetrics approach to front office management." It remains to be seen if Manifesto's funding and infrastructure can be put in place, but at least they're thinking carefully about the kind of games they want to promote.

Brand Consultants, Gaming Produce Unholy Child

February 26, 2006 6:10 AM | Simon Carless

brandgame.gif Game theorist Matteo Bittanti has a new post up pointing out a soon-to-debut book on brand management and video games.

According to the blurb for 'Brands And Gaming: The Computer Gaming Phenomenon and the Impact of Brands on Gaming', which is published by Palgrave Macmillan next month: "The computer gaming industry is bigger than the film and music industries and is growing faster than both of them put together. The industry is also changing fast. The typical computer gamer is in his mid 20s and female gamers make up one of the faster growing parts of the market. New developments in sociability and interactivity are also transforming the industry. This is the first major study of brands and gaming and shows huge opportunities for brand development." Bigger than film _and_ music? Not bad!

So, yep, if you want to know how to market your product or license in the apparently ripe for exploitation gaming world, there are chapter headings like 'Will Gaming Replace TV?', and 'Strategies for Your Brand to Enter the Gaming Space'. If anyone gets hold of a copy, send us some choice extracts.

Driving With WoW Power Levelers

February 26, 2006 12:01 AM | Simon Carless

wowoo.jpg We at GSW have been chatting to Kaiser Kuo of Red Herring's Chinese bureau recently, regarding some MMO-related stories they're doing, and in the process spotted some fascinating World Of WarCraft-related 'power leveling' messageboards.

As you might/might not know, you can pay for a WoW 'non-stop power leveling service', during which "your character will be leveled by 2-3 [of] our master players almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for lunch, dinner and restroom." After you hand over your character, it'll take $125 and 6-9 days to get from Level 1 to 40, and $300 and 13-18 days to get from Level 1 to 60 in WoW, after which, you can have your buffed-up char back. There's even a 'Power 1-60' option for $600 which includes: "two professions, first aid, fishing and cooking 1-300, epic mount, good equipment and 600+ gold." Tasty!

Anyhow, the afore-mentioned messageboards, which are public, are a chance for the people who have paid to get updates on how their character is doing, and a couple of the threads are rather amusing: "They are using my other Charactors in the Game. I paid for you to level only one Guy Tillamook... I have checked and found out that all of my charactors are next to mail boxes and not all in the Inns where I left them." Next to mailboxes? Oh my god! Actually, this mini ruckus got sorted out, and it seems that the vast majority of users are happy with the insane work that Power-Leveling's WoW grunts put in.

Kenta Cho Returns With Mu-cade

February 25, 2006 6:12 PM | Simon Carless

mucade.jpg So, all you really need to know is that ABA Games' Kenta Cho, creator of such greatness as rRootage and Torus Trooper, has released a new Windows PC freeware action shooter, Mu-cade.

Fortunately, though we haven't had a chance to try it yet, The2Bears have already fired Mu-cade up, and notes that Kenta Cho describes it as “The Physics Centipede Invasion", before explaining of the game: "The goal is to knock and bump the enemies out and avoid the same for your centipede."

Evidently, there's some interesting new tactics in this title: "There’s some classic “snake” element going on, your centipede body seems to grow. This tail is apparently a weapon also, as ‘X‘ causes your tail segments to explode. ‘Z‘ is the usual main weapon." As always, Cho's neat visuals are also in full effect, and well - why haven't you downloaded it yet? We heart you, Kenta.

Casual Game Creators Spill On Sales Stats

February 25, 2006 12:11 PM | Simon Carless

cactus.jpg Intriguing indie/casual related blog GameProducer.net has just posted the latest in its 'Sales Statistics' series for casual games, this time dealing with PC adventure/RPG game Morning's Wrath.

The feature is notable because it gets casual PC developers to reveal actual sales, a rare thing indeed. It turns out Morning's Wrath has sold just 100 units from October 2005 to February 2006, somewhat of a disappointment, but previous casual titles profiled have done significantly better.

For example, improved over those stats somewhat is the info on Cactus Bruce And The Corporate Monkeys, which reveals 555,000 downloads and 4993 units units thus far sold in a year or so, despite being a relatively obscure title developed in just two and a half months. No precise dollar figures are given here, though, rats - but some great info!

Developers, Modders Discuss The Joy Of Creation

February 25, 2006 6:07 AM | Simon Carless

mod.jpg Ziff Davis' 1UP.com has posted an excellent new feature from PC mag Computer Gaming World described as 'an all-angles roundtable talk on the art of modmaking'.

In the first section, representatives from Valve, DICE, Id Software, and Epic talk about the advantages and disadvantages of modding, with Epic's Jeff Morris being particularly well-spoken: "Player-created content keeps products on store shelves, no doubt about it. It pretrains potential hires, can generate great mainstream press, and is a wonderful feedback mechanism for fans. The downsides, however, are pretty potent. One is opening your game up to vulnerabilities. You also have the potential of copyrighted material showing up 'in your game'..."

Elsewhere, both modders turned game professionals and current modders weigh in, with Robert Crouch of the Dystopia Half-Life 2 mod noting: "Investors and publishers see innovative product as a massive financial risk. Without a proven market, they're hardly going to sign big contracts and give developers free reign to create anything out of the ordinary. As modders, we risk only our own spare time, and even if our projects fail to pick up players, we've still gained valuable experience."

OMG, BlingGames Gets Lil Jon Crunked-Up

February 25, 2006 12:12 AM | Simon Carless

crunkgolf.jpg Really, the mobile game market is the only place you can get press releases which are 'jaw-gaping experiences'. Such is the case with this Lagardere Active North America release GSW just got, touting BlingGames.com, a mobile game site from the U.S. division of the big French firm that "thoroughly incorporates hip-hop culture with one of the premier games, “Lil’Jon Crunk Golf,” featuring the superstar rapper/producer playing his own version of golf on New York City rooftops."

Oh, but Lil 'Jon Crunk Golf is only the beginning from BlingGames, which is the sister site of the apparently popular Blingtones hiphop ringtones hub. Other games include 'Hot Secretary', in which "the player is the head of a major rap company seeing how far his female assistant will go to get the job done" (uhh, excuse me?), and, wait for it, 'Stackin’ Bling' "an addictive puzzle game that involves colorful, jeweled blocks - a blinged-out twist on the puzzle/action games of the past." Sounds totally blinged out.

Of course, it probably helps that "Behind the launch of BlingGames is a team of industry veterans composed by Nicolas Gaume, who previously founded Kalisto Entertainment at the age 19 in 1990." See, from Nightmare Creatures to Lil' Jon's pimp cup isn't the six degrees of separation we previously reckoned on.

2006 IGF Audience Award Voting Opens

February 24, 2006 3:23 PM | Simon Carless

saints.jpg Oop, this one almost slipped under the radar, but a story from sister site Gamasutra relays the opening of the IGF Audience Award voting for 2006, as kindly hosted by GameSpot, with great PC indie demos galore available.

As the Gama story explains: "From February 22nd through March 17th, gamers are encouraged to vote for their favorite indie game from a pool of 19 IGF Main Competition finalists which are hosting PC demo versions online at the official IGF Audience Award page... The overall winner which receives the most votes will receive a $2,500 prize and the IGF Audience Award for 2006."

You need a free GameSpot reg to vote and download, but you can then grab some great indie trials, including some being made available for the first time, like Large Animal's neeto Saints & Sinners Bowling and Black Mountain Games' putt-putt game Putt Nutz. There's also demo version of Dofus, Weird Worlds, Darwinia, Professor Fizzwizzle, and all manner of easily leechable PC indie games, so have at it!

Futuristic Sex Robotz Do WoW, High Nerdcore Geekery

February 24, 2006 11:45 AM | Simon Carless

robotz.jpg Oh my. You may have heard of the, uhh, nerdcore hiphop phenomenon, as highly rated by the Penny Arcade chaps and geeks (not necessarily of the gaming variety) worldwide. Well, the latest addition to the overall genre is the freely downloadable 'Hotel Coral Essex' album from the colorfully named Futuristic Sex Robotz (site NSFW, music v.v.v.NSFW).

The Creative Commons-licensed 15 track album [.ZIP, also see BitTorrent link], is well, as nerdcore as it gets, and is chock full of piracy and profanity-laced game references - the track 'Back In The Day' includes as its chorus: 'Back in the day, Shufflepuck Cafe', and drops rhymes about '..hours and hours making Marathon maps', even referencing ZZT and cancelled PlayStation slasher Thrill Kill. It's powerfully juvenile, y'all, and again, _not for minors_, esp. the uber-misogynistic non-game related tracks. Wethangyou.

And, of course, the coup de grace is 'WoW', which is, yes, about World Of Warcraft, and includes such couplets as: "I got one of those things that they call a job, so I can't spend all day running a mob", and: "We started out life in the Valley of Trials, now we stack gold in big-ass piles". Needless to say, you will either be horrified or delighted, and quite possibly both.

Gamezebo Gets Casual With Game Coverage

February 24, 2006 6:33 AM | Simon Carless

gamez.jpg While perusing Phil Steinmeyer's site the other day, he turned us on to Gamezebo.com, a new, professional-looking website that is specifically designed around casual game reviews, previews, and features - a very neat idea.

One notable recent addition is a new editorial by gameLab's Nick Fortugno on 'Platformers For The Masses', commenting: "There are games coming out all the time that don’t fit into the traditional casual game genre. Some quickly disappear into the archives, but some succeed, and a few go on to become genre defining themselves. Casual gamers don’t just want a new face on the same old. They want something new."

There are also some refreshingly direct reviews of casual titles that may not get reviewed on the GameSpots of this world, most recently for Sandlot Games' Tradewinds: Legends, which "lets players take to the Arabian seas in a game that thrillingly combines nautical battles with good old fashioned capitalism." Ar-harrrr! All in all, a neat idea, and we wish 'em luck.

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