Our Properties: Gamasutra GameCareerGuide IndieGames GameSetWatch GDC IGF Game Developer Magazine GAO

Top Posts

Features

Recent Comments

  • creath: Not quite free, as it is ad-supported. read more
  • nerd: The analog version built? Nice work. read more
  • xot: Sort of funny coming from a guy whose original work was funded by the military and revolved around light gun shooting games. To call today's read more
  • umiopi: so who decided ralph baer was the father of videogames now?, I'm sick of history rewriting read more
  • creath: There are so many "Fathers" of gaming. What about Higginbotham? Or is he the grandfather? read more

About GameSetWatch

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.

Read More

Archive For February, 2007

ACME's Xbox-Modding Halfway House Strangeness

February 20, 2007 11:23 AM | Simon Carless

-Over at Gamasutra, we ran a story on video game piracy back in January 2006: "Two Hollywood video game store owners and a third man who were charged in December for allegedly pirating video games and installing them on modified Microsoft Corp. Xbox consoles were indicted on Thursday, according to the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles."

Well, now LAist has a post about one of the convicted, Jason Jones, who "...was pinched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who raided his store wearing full body armor and brandishing shotguns because Jones was suspected of selling “modded” Microsoft Xboxes that played pirated games."

He got 6 months of probation, and "His current home is The Vinewood, a Hollywood halfway house for federal cons about to transition back to civilian life", and apparently, his fellow probationees are a bunch of bank robbers: "There’s one other white collar guy. He’s in here for medical fraud. An Armenian dude."

Jones further explains: "I’m running an antique store on La Brea until I get out, then I’ll go back to video games. I can’t be involved in video games because that’s my crime. Everyone in the house is allowed a television and a Playstation except me! They consider that a part of my crime, like I’m gonna be in a halfway house modding Playstations." This is... deeply strange. [Via Stay Free!, though Looky Touchy had it too.]

Gamers Quarter Issue 8, Ahoy!

February 20, 2007 6:22 AM | Simon Carless

- Hey, just got a relevant email, passing it on: "The Gamer's Quarter is quarterly journal dedicated to printing personal, insightful, and introspective videogame writing. We've just finished The Gamer's Quarter Issue #8 and it is now available for download at The Gamer's Quarter website in PDF form."

What's more: "Hard copies are more book than magazine, and at $5 plus shipping each issue is an incredible value available for pre-order at our store: http://shop.gamersquarter.com/." One suspects these will be nice and collectable in a few months/years. For ultrageeks.

The contets? "Within the 77 pages of Issue #8 you'll find 18 articles covering Capcom games, special Tokyo Game Show coverage, The Secret of Mana, Metroid II, Wii Line antics, Rule of Rose, a guest appearance from the writer of Game Time With Mister Raroo, and much, much more! You'll also find tons of original artwork, including a CAPcomic and a very blue cover by Toronto artist Benjamin Rivers!"

Click through for the full line-up for the issue! It's one of the smartest alternative looks at game culture around, I say.

Balanced Worlds Try Chinese Approach

February 20, 2007 1:19 AM | Simon Carless

- Nice to see completely original reporting from blogs, with Kotaku's story about new Chinese-headquartered developer Balanced Worlds, founded by two ex-Insomniac developers who "decided to pack their bags, depart Insomniac and form their own studio".

Not quite sure whether they're going for original from-scratch console titles or just insourcing art/code elements from Western studios, with Chris Pfeiffer commenting: "US game companies will be increasingly focused on 'iteration time'. The lower the time it takes to test, modify, improve, test...the less expensive games will be to create... there is no doubt in my mind that successful US/Japanese game companies will have to heavily rely on outsourcing large portions of their games to companies like us".

When I checked out the Chinese game biz last year, it was clear that outsourcing from the West - and to a minor extent, original game creation for the West - is very swiftly on the rise in China, since artists there can produce modeling/texturing work of a similar quality at salaries of closer to $5,000 per year. And programming and QA is rapidly getting big for outsourcing, too.

The establishment of Epic China and this latest announcement is just another example of the trend - and notable names like American McGee and Paul Steed are also making for Shanghai. Look for the Western-centric game scene out there to only get denser and more interesting over time - and the native game biz also continues to be fascinating, as our 'China Angle' column at Gama regularly examines.

Japanese Game Company Naming, Demystified

February 19, 2007 8:19 PM | Simon Carless

- Another excellent post on the Japanmanship blog deals with naming reasons behind major Japanese game companies, and rightly points out: "In Europe and America game companies, especially recently, like to go for, what I call, the “double-barrel comedy misfire”; i.e. vaguely naughty or silly names that mean nothing and are often instantly forgotten; things like “Mollusk Pants” or “Simian Nuts”."

He continues: "The Japanese, with a few notable exceptions, take their naming a little more seriously, and though there can be occasions for hilarious Engrish and more recently pretentious and sometimes misused Latin, their motives are often pure." Some of the obvious but well-explained ones include Capcom: "Capsule Computers, another good example of the Japanese desire to cut words short."

But a cute one I didn't know - Sega's Overworks division: "Previously Sega’s AM7 team they took on the name “Overworks” after their boss Mr. Oba, which sounds pretty much identical to the Japanese pronunciation of “over”. I wonder if he intended to advertise the working conditions so openly."

Also, Koei! "The old “splice two names together” trick perpetrated by Kou Shibusawa and Eiji Fukuzawa; except, of course, these people don’t exist and the name is simply a joke anagram of Keio University where husband and wife founders Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa studied." Hah - rawk - lots more if you click through.

@ Play: Tips For Travel In Gridland

February 19, 2007 3:17 PM |

Roguelike column thumbnail ['@ Play' is a bi-weekly column by John Harris which discusses the history, present and future of the Roguelike dungeon exploring genre.]

While there are around a half-dozen major roguelikes, and dozens of minor ones, there are a good number of attributes they all share. They almost all focus on exploration of a regular grid with spaces blocked by walls and doors, and with opposing characters who also travel through the grid through mostly the same mechanism as the player. Sometimes either side may find objects with which to aid them in their goal, or they may have innate abilities that help them, but they all tend to follow the pattern laid down in that ancient game, Rogue.

Because of this, there is a basic body of information that can help players play any roguelike they may find. This week then, we present a travel guide, a document that may aid you in your journey no matter where you might end up, whether it be the Dungeons of Doom, the Mazes of Morgoth, or the Caverns of Chaos, any alliterative complex of rooms, items and monsters you might find--in short, any place worth being.

Remember: always find out the dollar-to-zorkmid exchange rate before embarking.

Game Lawsuits, From Here to Timbuktu

February 19, 2007 10:14 AM | Simon Carless

- Wandering over to Ross Dannenburg's Patent Arcade blog, we note that they've updated their gigantic Video Game Lawsuit list, adding more summaries to what is already the most impressive list of its kinda on the Internet.

There are some brand new lawsuits too, but I found myself going over some old lawsuits which I'm not sure have been picked up on too much yet, for example Capcom v. Data East (N.D. Cal. 1994), in which: "Capcom filed a motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin Data East from distributing the video game “Fighter's History,” which Capcom alleges infringes upon its copyrights for the “Street Fighter II” series of video games" - and which was denied!

Also neat is Ahn v. Midway (N.D. Ill 1997), in which: "Plaintiff Malecki modeled the character Sonja Blade for MK (see above screenshot). Plaintiff Ahn modeled the character Shang Tsung in the coin-operated version of MKII, while plaintiff Zamiar modeled for three characters, Kitana, Mileena, and Jade, all of whom appeared in MKII."

They basically claimed that, since they were motion captured doing particular moves: "The crux of the plaintiffs’ argument with respect to copyright infringement was that each plaintiff was a joint author of both MK and MKII, and defendants therefore owed an accounting to each plaintiff."

Turns out not so much - "In analyzing the plaintiffs contributions, the court stated that “it is apparent to the court, in viewing videotapes of the actual games, that the superhuman gyrations and leaps high into the air of the characters, including plaintiffs' characters, are fanciful products of the imaginations of the creators of the source codes.”" This is fascinating stuff.

GameSetLinks: Aggregating The Weekend News

February 19, 2007 5:08 AM | Simon Carless

- Well, OK, not just the weekend news, rather all kinds of random tidbits we've been storing up over the past few days, but there's plenty of neat stuff in here for the gaming cognoscenti:

- MMO veteran Damion Schubert has pointed out Daniel James giving out "some pretty hard numbers about Three Rings, which are interesting" - and indeed they are, since the cited Red Herring article reveals: "As silly as it may sound, Puzzle Pirates has been a surprise hit with 2 million registered users, 30,000 of whom have signed up as subscribers—worth a tidy $3.3 million in revenue last year for Three Rings." Don't often see hard numbers like this for indie MMOs.

- Via Jiji, a GameFaqs post translating a French revelation about the Metal Slug Anthology series - specifically: "Where it begins to be funny it's that the roms used to emulate Metal Slug 5 are in reality those from the first dump released on the net, it means the bootleg dump! Yes you've read right, SNKP has used bootleg roms with the watermarked Vx and a P1 which has bankswitches." Wacky stuff.

- 1UP's latest Retro Round-up column has all the usual good Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, and so on smartness, and the bonus video is especially fun: "In this week's Bonus Stage, journey back to the dim and distant era of September 2006 when 1UP skipped out of Tokyo Game Show to meet up with Wired's Chris Kohler to comb through the wonders of Akihabara, Japan's highly specialized nerd district."

- Adventure Classic Gaming has an excellent interview with Jonathan Boakes, the UK native who "single-handedly produced and published commercially the adventure hit game Dark Fall: The Journal", and appears to be a bit of a Renaissance man all round - looks like the game is a surprisingly well-adored re-imagining of those '90s CD-ROM adventures, too - so a niche well worth looking into.

- MMO blog Aggro Me has detailed impressions of Sigil's MMO Vanguard: Saga Of Heroes, and his comments on the game are, even to a MMO neophyte like me, interesting - he criticizes a LOT, but then ends with: "The reality is that Vanguard is the first fantasy MMO worth wasting my time in since EQII and WoW launched. And that's been a while... Even though it's unfinished and I don't agree with some of the decisions made, the fact is that you can be online playing Vanguard right now."

- Over at YouTube, the latest Line Rider video to get feted by all is 'LineRider "Discarded" A Line Rider Short by TechDawg': "This track contained 13,028 lines, yet is only around 2 minutes in length... This movie, "Discarded", the 7th Line Rider Short released by TechDawg, includes the song 'Hero' (feat. Josey Scott) by Chad Kroeger." So, the Chad Kroeger bit is unfortunate, heh, but as Kottke and others note, some of the design is majestic - particularly when it loops around the same jump multiple times at multiple velocities.

- Jason 'Textfiles.com' Scott has a great post about Peter Hirschberg, who is "...true modern renaissance man, combining art, programming, and industrial design. His style is impeccable and pervades all his work, and at various times he has lit up my online life with his craft and creation." And if that sounds a bit gross, check out his history - from Vectro Dream through RetroCade to LEDHEAD, all the way to his superdupercool basement arcade, pictured therein.

- Finally, Grand Text Auto has an extended post called 'Some Joe Schmo Was First to Experience True Interactive Drama', and including some fun comparisons of reality, interactive, wackiness: "But — it turns out that a satirical reality TV show has gone the furthest towards fully enacting this vision of interactive drama, at least once, for a single real person." Anyhow, it's very entertaining, and it's kinda sorta about ARGs and games. So I linked it!

The Face Of Doom

February 19, 2007 12:14 AM | Simon Carless

- Matteo Bittanti's v.useful Videoludica has just posted news of Damiano Colacito's "Face of Doom" art exhibit, as projected onto the ruins of the Hotel Europa in Sarajevo as part of an art exhibit.

Bittanti explains: ""Face of Doom" opened the XXIII International Festival of Sarajevo. The once majestic hotel was heavily damaged during the civil war. The "Face of Doom" video shows the changing states of Flyn, also known as "The DoomGuy". As the energy level decreases from 100% to 14%, Flyn's expression becomes increasingly tormented and anguished, a metaphor for a city that suffered so much destruction during the war."

He continues: "Luckily for Flyn, the video ends with the energy level restored to 100%. Flyn, like Sarajevo itself, is the proverbial phoenix that rises from its ashes. "Face of Doom" is an itinerant project that will evolve and change in the upcoming weeks." And Colacito is interviewed, revealing his pitch: "The projection of an health-bar in a public space of Sarajevo transforms the simple display of an energy level of the player immersed in a videogame into the symbol of a collective health status." Sure, it's a little artsy, but it's also kinda smart.

Perplex City: How The Cube Was Found

February 18, 2007 7:12 PM | Simon Carless

- My favorite Alternate Reality Game site, ARGN.com, has updated with an absolutely fascinating article on how the Perplex City cube was found, written by... the guy who found it.

We covered the story over at Gamasutra, noting: "The ARG asked participants to follow numerous clues in the search for the "Receda Cube" and win the prize of $200,000, and according to Mind Candy, over the last two years, Perplex City had been played by more than 50,000 registered individuals from 92 countries."

And honestly, the first-person narrative from winner Andy Darley is incredibly readable, and it starts like this: "I'd like to say the reason I found the Cube was because I solved all the meta puzzles, cracked the number strings, and have all the answers. Alas, no. None of us did. As far as I'm aware, the reason all of us who were involved in the endgame found ourselves in Rockingham Forest is because cjr22 and Chippy nailed the amorphous blobs as being the Jurassic strata, which led by a series of inevitable steps to the Jurassic Way and the red kite centre on Forestry Commission land at Fineshade Wood." And yeah, Mr. Amrich, it's a little bit Masquerade.

GameDev.net Goes IGF Interview Crazy

February 18, 2007 2:09 PM | Simon Carless

- Wandering over to game programming dev site GameDev.net, I spotted their multitude of interviews with 2007 Independent Games Festival finalists - it's great to see them going to the trouble to find and chat to most of the final 20 or so. [Obvious disclaimer: I'm the Chairman of the IGF, but you knew that.]

Anyhow, any number of the pieces are informative, but to pick a couple of random examples: Armadillo Run's Peter Stock talks about his inspirations:

"One of my friends showed me a couple of physics-based games back in 2001 and I really liked the idea of using physics as part of a game's gameplay. It seemed pretty novel and it can make the gameplay less linear and more freeform. The first game we found was Stair Dismount, which is great fun - all from just pushing a rag-doll man down a flight of stairs. We later found Bridge Builder, which we also spent a lot of time playing. I'd say that these two games helped me come up with the idea - combining the 2D design-test concept of Bridge Builder with some dynamics."

Also, the Armada Online chaps discuss the project's history, as follows: "My name is Mark Jordan. A long time ago Roger Fang and I made a game called Armada for the Dreamcast. We recently acquired the rights to our old game, and started EvStream in early 2005 to make Armada Online... Armada DC is a 4 player action game."

"Armada Online drives more like an RTS, though you are still controlling just one ship, and you can hold down the mouse button to continuously move, make tight turns, and dodge. Both were about exploring the universe and fighting biomechanical aliens, and both owe a lot to Starflight, but Armada DC skewed more toward Gauntlet, and Armada Online is closer to the core feel of Starflight."

Click Here for All Archives

twitter RSS


Our Sites

game career guide Gamasutra Indie Games