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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 April, 2007

Physics Give Me Sumotori Dreams

April 24, 2007 4:33 PM | Simon Carless

- Matthew Wegner's Fun-Motion has updated with news of a brand new demo-scene impelled physics game for PC, called Sumotori Dreams [87kb ZIP download link], and which looks like lots of stumbly fun to me.

Wait, 87k? As explained: "Sumotori Dreams is a small demoscene game created by Peter Sotesz for the Breakpoint 2007 96k game competition (it took first). The premise is simple: two self-balancing physics rigs face off in a sumo ring. The first rig to fall over loses. The implementation is simple but satisfying, and is well supported by solid physics, decent lighting, and good camera work."

Wegner concludes of the free-to-download game: "Sumotori is awfully impressive - self-balancing bipeds are a very difficult domain, even in the scope of “serious” research. Granted, a video game can tweak the rules of physics where a physical robot cannot, but it’s still a great achievement. I’d love to see Peter keep tweaking the physics to massage the gameplay to a more advanced state, but even now Sumotori is a fun party game." The demo-scene wins again!

GameCareerGuide.com Launches Forums, Marc Mencher Q&A

April 24, 2007 11:32 AM | Simon Carless

- A quick cross-post, then, to mention that we've set up some brand new discussion forums over at education site Game Career Guide, and for those who want to get into the game biz, we're hoping they will become a throbbing hive of information - or at least real people who aren't spambots! You get added Marc Mencher, too. Here's the info:

"Gamasutra's game education sister site GameCareerGuide.com has launched new forums to facilitate the discussion of topics related to getting into the game industry, game career paths, game education, and game studies. Readers are encouraged to create accounts, specialize their profiles with avatars, and start up conversations.

As apart of the new forum kickoff, game career specialist Marc Mencher of GameRecruiter.com is appearing as a guest poster to answer questions from forum users.

Mencher is a specialist in game industry careers who previously worked for such game companies as Spectrum Holobyte, Microprose, and 3DO, and is the author of “Get In The Game!” - an instructional book on careers in the video games industry. He has been an Executive Producer on several games, and is also a curriculum advisor to colleges offering game development degrees.

To register and jump into a discussion, interested parties can visit the new Game Career Guide Forums area. Please note that the forums currently require a new user login, separate from existing Gamasutra/Gamasutra Jobs registration."

COLUMN: 'Roboto-chan!': Super Ultimate Power

April 24, 2007 6:28 AM | Ollie Barder

['Roboto-chan!' is a fortnightly column by Ollie Barder which covers videogames that feature robots and the pop-cultural folklore surrounding them. This week's column covers the effect of the animated series Ideon on the future of gaming.]

ideon_waveleader1.jpgIt's safe to say that ninjas are suitably potent. In the aeon old conflict with their natural adversaries, the eyepatch wearing pirates, ninjas have a distinct advantage due to their ability to channel real ultimate power. However, much like with mecha, you have two sides to ultimate power; real and super.

To commemorate my final entry into the Roboto-chan pantheon, I feel it necessary to cover the arbiter of super ultimate power and its effect on gaming as a whole. For those who are concerned about my imminent departure, fear ye not! Similar to the super robot shows from the 70's, I have sourced a plucky replacement with hot blooded fists of justice. He will pilot the column with equal skill and insight (think Hot Rod rather Ultra Magnus in terms of competence). Naturally, as of the column's next edition he shall light our darkest hour.

Anyway, on with my final contribution to the column...

La La, La La Katamari Wallpaper-y!

April 24, 2007 1:26 AM | Simon Carless

- Thanks to Tale Of Tales' Auriea Harvey for pointing out that there's a Flickr account which is posting all the official Katamari Damacy wallpapers that were available on the Namco Japan website at various points.

As is noted: "The Katamari wallpapers were taken from the official Namco Katamari Damacy website before it was taken down. I have/will posted the ENTIRE wallpaper collection (82 total) that was ever offered by Namco!" There's been 57 posted so far - some of my favorites include this almost folk art-esque entry, as well as a slightly surreal red carpet-pushing effort, and, uhm, Namco's office building (as seen on the Japanese cover of We Love Katamari) making another appearance.

Now, with Namco announcing Beautiful Katamari, a "...next-gen version for PS3 and Xbox 360 featuring online multiplayer modes and downloadable content expansions", will the series flow to new heights, or hang out as a bit of a pale pseudo-sequel, as the PSP version (the first without Keita Takahashi) did? We can only hope.

Toribash Adds Virtual Limb Transactions

April 23, 2007 8:19 PM | Simon Carless

- Now this is the kind of press release I appreciated, since it's headed: "Toribash adds virtual market for blood, body parts and user created content." Uh, what? Well: "The online fighting game Toribash now has a active virtual marketplace. The most popular items are custom head textures and the talented Photoshop artists creating them are already the richest members of the community."

We've previously covered the extreme oddness of IGF 2007 finalist Toribash, and this just about takes the cake: "If buying heads is not your thing perhaps some Vampire or Acid Blood from the blood shop is just what your Tori Fighter needs... The market place also has a Clan Story shop, first five stories are free and the merchant promise to tweak the stories until you are happy with them. Signatures, rotating heads, secret Toribash moves are other what to appears to be popular commodities."

What's more: "The ingame currency is called ToriCredits and are earned by winning matches or deposited using premium SMS." I notice the official Toribash community is getting pretty crowded now - '2765 Posts in 7403 Topics by 3376 Members' - so it's good to see an indie title take off online and get a good micro-community going. Here's a couple of new YouTube videos of uber-carnage, too.

Game Informer's McNamara Talks Print Pluses

April 23, 2007 3:14 PM | Simon Carless

- I'm sometimes surprised at just who reads GameSetWatch, and Kevin Gifford's latest Game Mag Weaseling column has just turned up a most interesting comment from Game Informer EIC Andy McNamara.

To remind you, Mr. Gifford praised the front news and analysis section of Game Informer, but was a tad disapproving over the longform previews of Grand Theft Auto IV and the new 2K Sports football title, noting: "Both articles are interesting if you are interested in the game in question in the first place. They are glorified feature lists enhanced with developer quotes and insulated by hundreds of words of filler."

McNamara says a little more than this, but here's the meat of it: "I fail to see how getting world exclusive content that you can't get anywhere else isn't offering our readers something unique and worth the price of a magazine.

We also work very hard to make sure that those 16 to 20 pages of previews have as much unique content as possible, including many exclusive details and screens that aren't available online (I would say about 60 to 80% on average). Our reader feedback has always shown great support for our cover stories and features.

Saying that the magazine isn't completing its goal because the previews will be online months later seems an unfair judgment. By that same logic you would say those online sites shouldn't do the previews because Game Informer did it months before."

Kevin also weighs in, and indeed, here's the crux of his reply: "Speaking as a reader and a guy who loves print media and wants to see it stay as relevant as possible, once the next big exclusive reveal comes around, the way I'd like to see it approached is "All right, I have some screens and some features I'm allowed to talk about -- now what can I do to make the 6-8 pages I need to fill honestly interesting, to the point where people would want to read the feature even if they didn't care at all about the game/genre it was talking about?""

I have to say that I agree with Mr. Gifford here - I was disappointed in the GTA IV preview because it felt so 'managed' from the Rockstar end. It's clear that a very small amount of information was made available besides the screenshots, so there was nowhere to go from an actual reporting point of view.

Having said that, as Kevin also notes, I feel that Game Informer is building a strong base of well-researched, well-thought out pieces outside of the previews and reviews coverage, where they don't have to play ball with restrictive PR/marketing types. Which is great - they could sit on their laurels thanks to the subscription base they've built up, and they're certainly not. So it's just a question of getting Rockstar to play ball, eh? (As if!)

What Game Design Can Learn From 300

April 23, 2007 10:14 AM | Simon Carless

- Ubisoft's game design supremo Clint Hocking has posted an excellent new in-depth blog post called 'Hollywood’s Bloody Ballet – What Game Design Can Learn From 300', and it's a dense, meaty read.

I can't really do it justice by excerpts, but here's a key couple of paragraphs for a taster: "If 300 proves that filmmaking is ultimately, at its core, about low-level visual storytelling, and that the lofty high-level plotting of a movie, while often important, is simply not central to a film, then there can be no real or meaningful convergence between the two mediums."

He continues: "Music is about the low level sequencing of tones. Cooking is about the low level blending flavors. Film is about the low level sequencing of images. Games are about the low level interaction between player and system... Saying that games can learn from film and vice versa – while not entirely untrue – is only as true as saying convergence between cooking and ballet would make ballet taste better and would make meals better express the beauty of the human form. Ridiculous."

[On this subject, actually, the whole convergence thing is being discussed by the 2nd Hollywood and Games Summit, being organized by my compatriots in the CMP Game Group alongside The Hollywood Reporter for later in June. There's some pretty interesting speakers announced thus far, including Jordan Mechner of Prince Of Persia fame, and TMNT director Kevin Munroe, plus Heroes exec producer Jesse Alexander. Not plugging - it's just relevant.]

Sucked Into The Undertow For XBLA

April 23, 2007 5:10 AM | Simon Carless

- Via XBLArcade, news of an IGN preview revealing Xbox Live Arcade title Undertow from Chair Entertainment, and it's a 2D underwater multiplayer shooter from the creators of Advent Rising. Blimey.

According to IGN, the gameplay of the title" ...is best described as Geometry Wars meets Battlefield. Movement is mapped to one analog stick with attack on the other. Shots come in a constant stream a la Geometry Wars and depth charges can be activated with the pull of a trigger... The goal is to destroy your enemies and take control of their bases, with victory coming from a similar system to the flag and ticket system Battlefield is famous for."

A glance at Chair Entertainment's website reveals that their other projects include work with Orson Scott Card on Empire, "...a chilling look at a near future scenario of a new American Civil War. Chair is now simultaneously developing a feature film, and a future comic book series and video game all inspired by that same universe."

(Some may recall that the Mustard brothers worked on Advent Rising with Scott Card, hence the continuing connection. In the meantime, good to see an underwater 2D shooter for XBLA - continuing the proud tradition of In The Hunt by other means!)

Kohler Takes Up Baton For Responsible Game Blogging

April 23, 2007 12:08 AM | Simon Carless

- I'm absolutely delighted to see Wired News' Chris Kohler make a post about an untrue Square Enix news story that's recently been splashed across a bunch of major blogs - from Joystiq to Destructoid and beyond, with a complete lack of fact-checking when passing on the report.

All together, now - 'Responsible game blogging does not absolve you from factchecking!' I don't care who you are: If you're paid to blog, and fresh news comes your way, you should go find the primary source to make sure the story is true before posting it. It's as simple as that.

As Kohler notes of the claims (of a major change in Square Enix's business model!): "First off, a cursory examination of Square Enix's Japanese web page reveals absolutely no news stories, site updates, press releases, or investor relations updates regarding a shift in platform strategy." And I also noticed that an earlier version of this same story made it to the front page of Digg, with only a limited amount of complaints from commenters.

Anyhow, I've been accused of anti-blog bias before, since I also have a bee in my bonnet about this type of thing, so I think I have to be quite clear here. The problem is people not doing their homework before posting a story - and would be true whether it was the case on Gamasutra, or GameSpot, or any outlet for news about games.

In other words, it's not a game blogger thing, or a game journalist thing - it's an information thing. Everyone makes mistakes - heck, I made one earlier today when trying to divine the company affiliation of a LJ poster - but some are more fundamental and in larger arenas than others. Now if you'll excuse me, you'll find me down the pub, in the corner with Kohler, scowling at the other patrons, quaffing snakebite and black, and grumbling to ourselves under our breath.

Wanna Be In The Star Wars Galaxies Wrecking Crew?

April 22, 2007 7:06 PM | Simon Carless

- Michael over at MMOG Nation points out something interesting going on in SOE's MMO title Star Wars Galaxies - the opportunity for players to act as in-game demolition experts, thanks to an overproliferation of abandoned player housing.

It's explained: "If your account has been inactive since April 17, 2006, any of the following structures on your account will be CONDEMNED, marked as abandoned and demolished beginning June 5, 2007: Houses, Harvesters, Factories, Player Associations.... Starting on June 5, 2007, those structures that have not been reclaimed will be marked as abandoned."

So what? Well: "An abandoned structure will then be subject to demolition by your fellow citizens. Citizens will be rewarded for each structure demolished... For each successful destruction of an abandoned structure, you will recieve one reward point. Reward points are redeemable at the Luck Despot for cool in-game items that you can use to decorate your own structures."

Not sure if this is tragic or incredibly clever - likely a combination of the both - but Michael notes: "The obvious reason to do this is to clear out the worlds a bit in anticipation of a server merge... Player housing is (I imagine) one of the stickiest wickets to tackle when it comes to considering bringing SWG player together."

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