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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

Girls, Girls, Girls - We Want 'Em For Their Mage Staffs!

April 22, 2007 2:03 PM | Simon Carless

- Over at the LiveJournal of 'Bonuspoints', there's a neat/depressing story about evaluating games for publishing which shows the kind of issues with content developed by (possibly foreign) nerds, for nerds that can often dog low-budget games - both in terms of cheesiness and misogyny, unfortunately.

It's explained: "Among the numerous titles we received today was a Crazy Taxi clone. Upon selecting ‘New Game’, we were greeted with the game’s default character: a very large, muscular man wearing a kilt and brandishing a wrench. This was certainly not what we expected to see, and the three of us got a decent chuckle out of it. Stranger still was the next character who appeared to be a female mage complete with revealing ‘robes’ and a metal staff. Again, we laughed.

Sadly, the following two characters (a stereotypical Pakistani cab driver and a prostitute) were nowhere near as entertaining as the first two. Clicking the ‘Next’ arrow brought us back to the default character and thus crushed our hopes for further wackiness. Having made up my mind to vote for the most ridiculously out of place character however, I was quick to inform my coworkers of whom I felt they should select.

Me: “Come on guys, you have to pick the mage!”
Coworkers: “Wait, who? There was a mage?”
Me: “Yeah, the girl with the staff!”
Coworkers: “Ummmm, Nick? That’s not a staff.”

Upon taking a closer look I realized that what she was holding onto was actually a pole. It was at that moment that the rest of the details clicked into place and my error became crystal clear. I had just taken a stripper to be a female spell caster."

Oh dear - let's draw a veil over that whole incident, shall we? There's also another postby the same author discussing and explaining an interesting PC puzzle game called DNA - there's a demo if you click through, looks worth a peek! [EDIT: Apparently, the LJ author doesn't work for 5th Cell, though, as I previously guessed - apologies for confusion.]

Starting Things Up In Game Journalism

April 22, 2007 9:00 AM | Simon Carless

- The latest Media Coverage column over at GameDaily has Kyle Orland discussing how to become a game journalist, and he interviews a bunch of professionals about it, including Gamasutra Podcast producer Tom Kim - I appreciate well-crafted articles with multiple points of view like this.

Here's a couple of key paragraphs: "But there are always other outlets, right? Some think the explosion of games writing on the Internet and mainstream publications has made it easier than ever to break into the field these days. "There are a lot more outlets for videogame writers now," Wired's [Chris] Baker said. "There may be tons of competition to write for EGM and GameDaily, but your hometown newspaper may be open to pitches.""

An interesting quote from IGN's Peer Schneider, also - he thinks that breaking in to game journalism today is harder because games are "more than just the little brother of the movie biz. ... Even though the means of publishing things online have become more accessible thanks to video-sharing sites and blogs, it's tougher for a hopeful candidate to stand out as games and entertainment journalism are now much more in the public eye."

Superman N64's Unholy Spawn For.... PlayStation?

April 22, 2007 3:57 AM | Simon Carless

- The curator of the PlayStation Museum pinged me to point out that he's now posted full details on the Superman game for the PlayStation 1 - an unreleased title that was going to be published by Titus (creators of the infamous N64 version.)

As is explained: " In 1998, BlueSky Software began working with French developer Titus to bring Superman, based on the WB animated series, to the PlayStation. At that time Titus had almost finished work on the N64 version of the game in France with their own team. Originally, the plan was to take the N64 game and port it over to the PlayStation. All that was to be done was to take the art and reformat it to run in a PlayStation engine. Then the Superman N64 game was released. One reviewer stated" "This game exists for the sole purpose of firmly establishing the bottom of the barrel”."

So what happened? The game was extensively redesigned, but it's claimed: "Unfortunately the license from Warner Brothers had expired. Essentially, Superman continued to be developed with no assistance from DC comics or Warner Brothers. The plan was to surprise everybody with a finished product." Wait, was this really the plan?

Anyhow: "After almost 2 years of development, Superman reached a milestone: it received approval for release from Sony and issued a product code of SLUS-00712. Many retail outlets were accepting pre-orders for the game and advertisements were created... By the time the game was completed, Titus was unable to secure the license. Superman for the PlayStation was officially laid to rest." There's video linked on the page, too, and the Museum folks claim that it's actually quite a playable game.

But, uh - I think you can tell that this wasn't completely licensor-approved: "Superman is littered with secret codes in the game such as clearing kryptonite or showing coordinates. There are even codes to select a level, language, or start a demo. But the one Easter egg that shows the developer has a sense of humor is the ability to change the splash screen to a picture of Lois Lane ripping her shirt off revealing her bra and the words "Keep your shirt on.""

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 4/21/07

April 21, 2007 10:53 PM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which covers video game magazines from the late '70s all the way up to right now.]

Very few new US mags hit shelves the past couple weeks, but that's all right because everyone was too busy dissecting GI's GTA4 feature anyway. I have the entire magazine on my mind, though, and click on to read my views on how the world's top-circulation game mag is doing in its quest to keep itself relevant...

Game Informer May 2007

gi-0705.jpg

Cooper's Flash Spawns Boxhead Carnage

April 21, 2007 5:50 PM | Simon Carless

- While researching for some new Gamasutra columns, Alistair Wallis pointed me to UK-based game designer Sean Cooper, specifically because of his awesome Boxhead: More Rooms game currently up and running on Flash game aggregation site Kongregate.

It's basically a 'kill lots of zombies with Lego-style characters' shooter, as the official plot explains: "Jon Bambo is back and a new beast is out to get him. Equipped with even more weapons and equipment, the Zombie has become cannon fodder and the new Beast will take you down unless you get all the 90+ upgrades and perfect your skill!"

Just had a chance to play through a few levels, and it sure has some fun physics (zombie recoil!) and switchable weapons - commenter Kyriva notes: "Very addictive. Worst thing is to shoot a barrel after you’ve laid it and it switched to pistol. Brilliant to scatter barrels so they all go off at once when the demons attack them."

Sean's official website has a big list of the titles he's worked on - Alistair summarizes: "Former Bullfrog artist, programmer and producer. Assistant producer on some of the earlier games like Syndicate, Populous II and Magic Carpet. Lead designer on Dungeon Keeper 2." Cooper also worked on a number of big EA titles (including initial concepts on The Godfather and James Bond titles) before leaving in 2005 to do the indie Flash thing. Yay.

GameSetLinks - A Korea Move To Cute Knights

April 21, 2007 12:47 PM | Simon Carless

- A little early weekend GameSetLinks, then - this one mainly compose of stuff I found during the week which was just a little small, weird, or otherwise darling to make it to a standalone post. Here we goes:

- via Dearest Copernicus, a new linkblog by GameSpy veteran Joost Schuur, Korean game-themed blog GameStudy.org has info on how well Korean MMO game firms are doing overseas, showing that in most cases, non-Korean divisions of Webzen, NHN, etc are apparently not profitable. Not particularly surprising, particularly because they're trying to break into new markets, but one does wonder whether we'll see a retreat at any point.

- Game Of The Blog points out an interesting 'Best Of Rockstar Games' official video, set to The Who's 'Eminence Front'. GotB's Joel notes: "It's interesting to note the games that aren't shown. From what I can tell (I haven't played them all), it's pretty much just The Warriors, the GTA 3s, Bully, Red Dead Revolver, the Midnight Clubs, the Max Paynes, and Manhunt. No 2D GTAs, State Of Emergencys, Smuggler's Runs...hell, not even freakin' Oni for God's sake!."

- I'm presuming most of you read it anyhow, but Game Developer editor Brandon Sheffield's Insert Credit has been a bit more active recently and I wanted to point out a couple of posts in particular - info on a new Korean PC 2D fighting game called 'CHOSUN MUSA : Chosun Hokeouk Geumlok', and the 'Typing Of The Dead'-style title Typing Mania 4, which is actually a free Flash game - nice.

- A blog to watch out for is Inside Xbox Live, since, as the author notes: "I will be a visiting researcher at the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington between July and December 2007, primarily looking at online gaming." He's hoping to get access to varying amounts of Xbox Live data and analyze it for the good of all - which is great! Just a couple of posts up so far, and I'm not sure whether Microsoft types are aware of this blog yet - but hopefully MS can work to make this happen.

- I can't not link The New Gamer, so here's their review of THQ's S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a title that I was sent, but have sadly not had a chance to check out - it's in the hands of our Counter-Strike-lovin' sales guy right now, actually. Anyhow, The New Gamers' conclusion sums up well what I've been hearing about the game: "There are a dozen reasons you could truthfully use to call Stalker a bad game, but there are likewise a dozen reasons why it's the best game you'll play this year."

- Tale Of The Rampant Coyote has pointed out the release of female friendly RPG upgrade Cute Knight Deluxe, and he explains handily: "I tend to think that even though this is a very "girl-friendly" game, it is just good fun, and has a significant ... "guy friendly?" ... good ol' fashioned dungeon-delving hack & slash component. Hit the dungeon, bash monsters, gather loot, upgrade your equipment with magical treasure... good classic stuff. Just do NOT forget to change out of that bloody, dented plate mail before attending the ball, because it is just SO unbecoming!" There's a good interview with the creator here, and a fascinating story in how female-friendly RPGs (also see: Aveyond) have gotten onto casual portals, incidentally.

- Future U.S. (publisher of GamesRadar, OXM, PC Gamer, etc), has a semi-public marketing blog, and I'm going to have to call out their video of WWE Diva Ashley promoting GamesRadar by, uhm, being completely unable to string a series of words together to actually do so. Wait, is this marketing, or just hilarious?

Duelin' Firemen - All You Ever Wanted To Know!

April 21, 2007 7:45 AM | Simon Carless

- Apparently, Frank mentioned this game in the 1UP Retronauts podcast from this week, which is possibly why it popped up again, but Metafilter has an informative post on insane 3DO vapoware game Duelin' Firemen.

Here's the wisdom of the original MeFi post: "Duelin' Firemen was originally conceived as a 3DO game. According to this old subgenius post (Rev. Ivan Stang was apparently part of the cast), it was slated to be completed in July of 1995. It never saw the light of day. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), some of the game's video sequences survive, edited together in all their seizure-inducing glory [YouTube link]."

As the post ends: "Watch for cameos by Rudy Ray Moore, Mark Mothersbaugh, Tony Hawk, Timothy Leary, Steve Albini, David Yow, and a whole bunch of others... if you can actually bear to watch it."

There's also a very informative comment on the MeFi thread from 'eatyourlunch': "A few years ago, Grady [Sain, also one of the folks behind Urban Yeti alongside a slightly deranged old friend of GSW's] told me they'd hoped to revive the game, but then 9/11 happened. Planes+WTC and Space Shuttle+Sears Tower were too close for their comfort so, barring a rewrite and reshoot, this is all we're ever going to see of Duelin' Firemen."

He concludes: "But the spirit of runandgun is still alive and well with their alumnus Dave Foss (you certainly don't want to miss Horned Gramma or his alter-ego, TV Sheriff.) Other amazingly creative folks from the early 90s Chicago video scene include VJV2, Brian Dressel and Brien Rullman at OVT Visuals, and of course the inimitable H-Gun." All crazy, all the time.

The Game That Changed The World

April 21, 2007 2:42 AM | Simon Carless

- Regular GSW readers may recall that Vinny Carrella's column for Gamezebo is one of my favorite pieces of game writing on the web, and his latest, 'The Game That Changed The World', is no exception.

He explains: "There are these magic moments in life when a work of art seems as if it's sent to you by the gods. It hits you in just the right way at just the right time, and usually when you need it the most - Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye - and it's cathartic, it's life-altering. After you see them or hear them or read them, you look at things differently. You change. It happens most often to me with music or books, but in games it's rare. Yet it did happen. Twice."

And? "The first time was in 1992 and that moment is tattooed on my brain. I remember it so clearly. It was a little-known adventure game called Out of This World [aka Another World], from a French studio named Delphine. It came on five floppies. There was no manual and no tutorial. The box was cryptic and offered little in the way of assistance to my understanding of game-play or plot. I had no idea what I was about to play. I was taking a chance. Little did I know I was pulling the cover off a masterpiece."

Now, the second game that changed Vinny's world is Snapshot Adventures: Secret Of Bird Island, a brand new game that a) nobody has really spotted so far and b) Vinny helped produce, but I actually think that the Large Animal-developed title looks pretty darn interesting (a Pokemon Snap-styled bird photography casual game!), so I'm pretty convinced that this is genuine conviction on his part, rather than hyping. Nice.

Inside The Metrics Of Quake 3 Arena

April 20, 2007 9:30 PM | Simon Carless

- Semi-via game metrics blog We Can Fix That With Data, we spotted the homepage of Orbus Gameworks, a newly founded game metrics analysis firm set up by Darius Kazemi and friends to help game developers make better design choices.

Anyhow, they have a blog featuring some neat visualizations of metrics info they're working on, most recently trying things out using Quake 3: "Green dots are health/armor pickups, blue dots are ammo, and red dots are weapons. The white lines you see represent frags: we draw a line starting at the position the killer was in, and ending where the victim was killed. And then we put a little triangle where the player died, so it makes a kind of wonky arrow."

There's also another newer visualization, and in this one, using a Java app to display the results: "We visualize 5-second windows of time during a deathmatch involving 7 bots on the map q3dm3. Within each window, we plot where a bot was when it fired a weapon. The point is color-coded by bot. If a bot successfully fragged another bot, we draw a line from the killer to the target, putting a big circle on the target. The circle is color-coded to the target bot’s color, and the line we draw is the color of the killer." Pretty neat stuff for game design purposes - also for fetching patterns.

COLUMN: 'Cinema Pixeldiso' – The King Of Kong

April 20, 2007 4:28 PM |

['Cinema Pixeldiso' is a semi-regular column by Matt 'Fort90' Hawkins that takes a look at movies that are either directly based upon or are related to video games, with a focus on the obscure and the misunderstood. This week’s selection is another documentary that chronicles a world record attempt, but this time we get to take a look at the most famous video game record holder of them all.]

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/kingofkong1.jpg

Last time we examined the story of a man vs. machine - Bill Carlton vs. Missile Command. This time we have Steve Wiebe vs. King Kong, but the true heart of the story is man vs. man, Steve Wiebe vs. Billy Mitchell. And who's Billy Mitchell? Why, he's "gamer of the century" of course.

The King Of Kong

Cinema Pixeldiso's previous entry, on 'High Score', and this latest one, on 'The King of Kong', might seem identical, since both tell the same tale, of one man's mission to be immortalized as the greatest player of a particular classic video game. Both even feature a normal, everyday kind of person on such an absurd quest. But that's where the similarities end.

Whereas in the case of Bill Carlton's journey, the key difference is the person he was also going after, the man who held the high score that Bill was determined to shatter. In High Score's case it's Victor Ali, a nice, mild-mannered man who felt that his achievement, which attained during his youth, was something that he was proud of, but it hardly defined or dictated his life. It was ultimately some silly little thing, and High Score did a great job illustrating that hardcore gamers are usually normal folks that have a quirky obsession, and that's about it.

The King of Kong, on the other hand, goes the opposite route, by showing how much ego, absurdity, and insanity can come into play as a record holder for video game playing. How? By taking a close look at a man whose entire persona, even existence, is built around the fact that he plays video games very, very well.

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