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GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

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Archive For June, 2006

Everything You Know About Community Management Is Wrong

June 30, 2006 10:10 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/scock.jpg At the ever-fun Broken Toys, long-time MMO observer Scott 'Lum The Mad' Jennings is discussing community relations, as sparked by an Aeropause article which claims: "The World of Warcraft forums are a good place to go if you’re feeling pretty good about life, and you decide you need that attitude adjusted."

Jennings notes that: "Stardock and Penny Arcade (huh? When was Tycho’s last patch?) are held up as paragons of successful community management, mainly from getting rid of the middle man." He then goes on to basically suggest that comparing the most rabid MMO-playing fan to the kind of relatively relaxed people who play games via TotalGaming.net or read comics at Penny Arcade is probably gently unfair - something we tend to agree with.

He concludes: "MMOs are special. MMO communities are special. They require a special, deft hybrid form of public relations, rapid response, and disinterested ombudsman. That is what an online community relations team SHOULD be. Whether or not it is in practice can be an issue. But if you feel that your game isn’t giving you enough feedback on what you find important, it isn’t because community relations is an inherently bad idea; it’s because that team specifically is falling down on its job."

Mutant Storm Empire Looms Into Majestic View

June 30, 2006 7:09 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/msempire.jpg Handy media-ish news site Xboxyde has just posted a heap of screenshots from Mutant Storm Empire, the Xbox 360 Live Arcade sequel to one of our favorite games of the past few months, PomPom's Mutant Storm Reloaded - and oh my, it's salivatin' time.

The pictures clearly show scrolling levels (as opposed to the single-screen mayhem of Mutant Storm Reloaded), as well as simultaneous multiplayer (likely/hopefully across Xbox Live!), and there are all kinds of weird beasties such as octopi, fish, and gigantic spaceship turret madness crazies sprawled all over the place - yay! As commenters note, it has elements of PomPom's previous PC title Space Tripper in it too.

Looks like the pics originated in the PomPom Games official forum, where staffer Mike links to hi-res screens, explaining: "Theres a bunch of shots in this directory. Alot of em are in the current 360gamer mag. Some of them are a bit old tho, so certain beasties and stuff have change. Still, its close enough! " Yes, it is - this may be our most-awaited X360 title of the year, now, cos we're weird like that.

GameSetCompetition: Metal Gear Saga DVD Winners!

June 30, 2006 4:08 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/mgssaga.jpg Many thanks to all who entered our recent competition to win Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 on DVD - and thanks again to Konami for providing the DVDs for us to give away! We had a record amount of entries (way over 100!), and the following people have emerged victorious:

Alex Bailey, Brett Dunst, Edmond Tran, Jesse Farrell, Justin Tremont, Michael Teague, Pheener, Ryan Schreyer, Steven Randolph, Tyler Rowe

For those wondering what the actual answer was (hopefully, you used your memory to find it, rather than a Google trawl - good news is that only one person actually got it wrong!):

"Q: In Konami's original Metal Gear Solid, what CODEC frequency is used to contact Meryl Silverburgh?
A: 140.15"

This explains why Frank's hint for the original question was 'back of the case!', of course, since, as Wikipedia explains: "Early in the game, the Codec frequency for Meryl (140.15) can only be found on the back of the game's box or jewel case. This was initially commissioned in an effort to curb piracy, as without contacting Meryl, the player cannot progress in the game. However, this trick could be side-tracked (possibly for those who lost their case) by calling Campbell via Codec five times in a row (or by doing it the slow way and running through each possible frequency until she answers)."

Also mentioned, and something I didn't know, actually: "This puzzle is not original to Metal Gear Solid however, as its predecessor Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on the MSX2 also required the player to look behind the game's packaging [EDIT: FrankC says it's a sekrit code in the manual and Wikipedia is WRONG WRONG!] when Campbell changes frequency number." Congrats again to the winners!

Trip Hawkins: Back Off, Bing Gordon, I'm The Daddy!

June 30, 2006 1:10 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/triph.jpg One of our favorite avuncular game journos, Paul Hyman, has a conducted a HollywoodReporter.com interview with Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins, who is notable, of course, as the EA founder and 3DO's big bad daddy, and the piece starts with a hilarious interchange about Bing Gordon's status as EA 'co-founder'.

Hawkins notes, not unvitriocally: "Just a quick aside ... there's been some confusion these last few years because (chief creative officer) Bing Gordon over at EA has taken to publicly calling himself the co-founder of EA. That seems to have confused people. I'm the founder -- period, end of story. Bing was the seventh employee that we hired and he started working for EA about six months after I incorporated it. So he was a little late to be a co-founder and to create the illusion now that we founded the company together."

We seem to remember that Hawkins has written in to Gamasutra before to correct stories along these lines, and am amused to see him still at it. Away from this sideshow, his views on mobile gaming are pretty interesting too - he's very anti-license, and claims: "Games need to be designed for cell phones, not converted from other platforms", also noting: "By the time those brands map over to a mobile phone, so much is lost in the translation. Do you think the gamer is going to continue to buy mobile games when all they get is second-rate versions of what the brands are supposed to be about?"

Fist Of North Star Arcade Endings Summarized

June 30, 2006 10:15 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/fatalko.jpg A truly gargantuan, random post on Matt 'Fort90' Hawkins' weblog clues us in to a YouTube video featuring all the Fist Of The North Star endings - very neat for those who haven't seen much of the Arc System Works 2D arcade fighter.

Arc, of course, are the chaps behind the Guilty Gear series, thus 'Hokuto No Ken', as it's known in Japan, has some seriously lush 2D art, and this compilation of finishing moves is a delight to behold, even if it isn't announced for any home systems (we're dreaming of an Xbox 360 online-playable release alongside Senko No Ronde Rev. X - at least, in our 'people care about Microsoft in Japan' dreams!)

Anyhow, Matt has some fun commentary on the fatalities: "Truth be told, most are lame, but a few are funny, like one where you just basically rip the clothes off a woman, another where you play a woman who tries to shoot something with a crossbow but ends up hitting the opponent in the face (for some Dick Cheney action), along with a weird Sears portrait studio-esque floating head in the background, and the final one where I think someone decided to jump off a cliff and slit his wrist at the same time. Plus the over-dramatic music adds to the funny."

COLUMN: 'Bastards of 32-Bit' - Death Tank Zwei

June 30, 2006 7:06 AM | Danny Cowan

deathtank1.jpg['Bastards of 32-Bit' is a weekly column by Danny Cowan that focuses on overlooked, underrated, and inexplicable titles from the era of the PlayStation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64. This week's column covers Death Tank Zwei, a hidden game found within Duke Nukem 3D for the Sega Saturn, published by Sega and released in the United States in 1997.]

Minigame as star attraction.

There are rarities, there are obscurities, and then there's Death Tank Zwei. Death Tank Zwei can't be bought, nor can it be downloaded. Its mere existence is not known to many, and earning the right to play it involves following a precise set of instructions, none of which are at all obvious or even hinted at. As elusive as it may be, however, Death Tank Zwei is easily the Saturn's best multiplayer game, outclassing even Guardian Heroes and the legendary 10-player Saturn Bomberman.

To play Death Tank Zwei, you'll first need to own copies of the Sega Saturn ports of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake. Boot up Quake, then create a save file in your Saturn's internal memory. Then start up Duke 3D and Death Tank Zwei should be accessible on the main menu.

Alternately, Death Tank Zwei can be unlocked by playing through Duke Nukem 3D and destroying every single toilet in the entire game.

Yeah, you're probably going to want to go with the save file method.

deathtank2.jpgNuts to your dated FPSes!

It's definitely worth the trouble, though, as Death Tank Zwei is one of the most fun multiplayer games available on any platform. Think Scorched Earth with up to seven players and you've got the basic gist of it. Unlike Worms and other Scorched Earth-alikes, however, Death Tank Zwei is not turn-based, and allows for every player to move and shoot at all times. The gameplay is more fast-paced and frenzied as a result, which makes an excellent pick-up-and-play party game.

All action takes place on a single screen, where up to seven player-controlled tanks are initially dropped onto a randomly-generated battleground. This terrain will change as the battle unfolds, as player shots will quickly blow away large chunks of the field. Players have access to a number of weapons, each of which have their own tactical uses and strengths, and all of which can be purchased with points earned by destroying opponents in previous rounds.

There would be more players in these shots but SOMEONE had to go and take his multitaps back to Florida!Death Tank! Death Tank! Death Tank!

This all may sound taxing at first, but Death Tank Zwei is beautifully simple in concept. The game is built on a foundation of quick multiplayer action -- there's no storyline, or even a single-player mode. The object is simply to humiliate up to six of your friends with your superior aiming skills. Or, failing that, your ability to stockpile weapons. Nothing beats hoarding an arsenal for several turns in anticipation for that one round where you'll suddenly use a combination of airstrikes, nukes, and Death's Heads to destroy your opponents before they even realize that the game has started.

Death Tank Zwei may at first glance appear to be nothing more than a throwaway minigame, but it contains all sorts of little touches that show that it was a labor of love. The occasional intrusion of rule variations like Blitz Rounds keep gameplay sessions fresh for extended periods of time, and the game even goes so far as to keep track of win/loss statistics for dozens of player profiles via the Saturn's internal battery. Hell, the title screen features its own thrash-metal theme song! With vocals! You can almost feel how bored the game's programmers must have been during the development of Duke Nukem 3D.

Really, if you're at all into multiplayer games, there are none I'd recommend higher than Death Tank Zwei. It was a hit at my last party, and I can see myself playing it for hours at a time with the right crowd. Just make sure you have plenty of jumpjet fuel on hand for when you call in the airstrikes.

[Danny Cowan is a freelance writer hailing from Austin, Texas. He has contributed feature articles to Lost Levels Online and 1up.com, and his writing appears monthly in Hardcore Gamer Magazine.]

On... Cricket-Based AIDS Safety Cellphone Games?!

June 30, 2006 4:08 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/cricket.jpg Sister site Serious Games Source posted such an odd story yesterday that we felt we had to pass it on - the announcement of a cricket-based AIDS awareness cellphone game for India.

It's explained: "The report noted that one of the games, Demons XI and Safety XI, is a “cricket-based game involving balls in the form of condoms, faithful partners, information on HIV and the symbolic AIDS red ribbon.” In order to win the game, a player must avoid “googlies and doosra balls - unsafe sex, infected blood transfusions, infected syringes and the company of bad friends.”"

So: "'The games will educate mobile subscribers and create awareness while reducing stigma and discrimination,' noted Hilmi Quraishi, ZMQ's chief technology officer. Other similarly themed games released by ZMQ include Ribbon Chase, Messenger, and Quiz with Babu." AIDS is indeed a major problem in India, so it's good to see someone trying to do something about it, but packaging AIDS and cricket makes us boggle a lot. Still, good for them - no weirder than Puyo Puyo and AIDS, right?

GameTap Peeks At Lord British's Crossbow Collection

June 30, 2006 1:34 AM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/rgarr.jpg If it's 4pm in Bangkok, it must be time for a GameTap update on GSW, and since this one involved Richard 'Lord British' Garriott, whose medieval tunics are the talk of any party at which he arrives (and again, isn't really covered too much elsewhere), we must relate it in some detail!

We briefly noted the upcoming Ultima Week on the site, but now it is upon us, uhoh. It's explained: "To celebrate and honor this amazing series of titles, GameTap is giving serious ‘props’ by hosting ‘Ultima Week.’ As a special treat for GameTap subscribers, Ultima’s creator Richard “Lord British” Garriott will be adding his own personal touch to many of the activities taking place on GameTap including:

- A “Tapped In” documentary on Richard Garriott and the Ultima Franchise
- An exclusive tour of his castle, including a look at the bones in the basement and his crossbow collection
- Each time a subscriber loads an Ultima game, Richard will provide a personal introduction about that specific title
- The latest trailer for Tabula Rasa, the... MMO game being developed by Richard Garriott and NCSoft, with an exclusive behind the scenes sneak peek at the game in development.
- Then in July, Richard will occupy the hot seat and go a round with everyone’s favorite ghost host on Space Ghost Coast to Coast

Oh, and just to confirm - the featured games available for play are: "Ultima™ 1, Ultima™ II - The Revenge of the Enchantress, Ultima™ III - Exodus, Ultima™ IV - Quest of the Avatar, Ultima™ V - Warriors of Destiny." No titles in the series later than Ultima V just yet, but I'm sure (ok, not _sure_) if everyone is good, the weird spinoffs and later sequels may eventually make it to the GameTap summer wonderland, yay. Anyhow, there's the scoop.

Cool Hunting Concludes '8-Bit Gods' Video Series

June 29, 2006 11:02 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/mdenardo.jpg A few weeks ago, we spotted one of the video entries in Cool Hunting's '8-Bit' series, profiling bleeptastic music creators who often use Game Boy and NES consoles to create their goodness.

Well, the concluding part of the video series has recently been posted, in which they "discuss the sampling processes of artists who re-imagine the possibilities of lo-fi technology", talking to Mike Rosenthal, Experimental Music Curator at the NYC performance space 'The Tank', and Montgomery Knott, director of MonkeytownHQ.

The previous entries (selectable on the menu on the left) are one-on-one artist interviews, with a recent highlight including a chat with Mark DeNardo, who "incorporates electronic sequences from both his Gameboy and PSP into deeply soulful and original folk songs" - he also talks about his music for the Gamma Bros game, which we recently covered. Also interviewed are Bit Shifter, noteNdo, and Nullsleep!

GameTunnel Tunnels Its Way Into June Titles

June 29, 2006 8:04 PM | Simon Carless

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/wearth.jpg So, if Game Tunnel was a lady, we think it'd be a really comely, intelligent lady, because its end of month indie game round-ups are _just that good_. And the latest round-up, for June 2006 is no exception.

This time, the coveted 'Game Of The Month' goes to the long, long-delayed Wild Earth, for which GT editor Russell Carroll explains: "I've been waiting for Wild Earth since it won the 'Game of the Year' at the 2003 IGF... Playing as a photo-journalist in the beautiful African landscape is a lot of fun for my scientific senses. Players will learn as they play watching their photos turn into the images used in the magazine stories created within the game. This game is a such wonderful simulation that it seems a shame that it is often compared to Pokemon Snap." Sounds neat, though Mike Hommel comments that "the FPS gameplay is too complex for the broad market this should be for."

Also getting a Gold Award is the oft-GSW discussed Armadillo Run, for which Carroll comments: "If you miss out on this one due to the screenshots not looking that pretty you don't deserve the chance to play it. This physics sim is a blast with lots of options to make your own contraptions." However, more than one of the reviewers question whether it's a real armadillo in the game or just "a basketball". Clearly, it's an armadillo, because games never lie to us.

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