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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, 2007

Target Toss Pro Arcades Up The Bar

June 17, 2007 11:35 AM | Simon Carless

- Of course, U.S. arcade firm Incredible Technologies has made a mint out of its Golden Tee Golf series, which shrewdly (or fortunately!) anticipated the move of new arcade titles in North America from massive arcade centers to smaller add-ons to bars and drinking establishments.

Anyhow, Arcade Heaven has commented on Incredible's latest arcade launch, the amusingly named Target Toss Pro. As they note: "As usual it was good to see something different from the coin-op norm but at the same time I have never thought of playing bag toss as a video game." (Incredible's other popular product of late is Silver Strike Bowling, another American favorite gone digital.)

Of course, like Golden Tee, Target Toss Pro is another trackball-controlled game, since alcohol and trackballs seem to produce positive feedback loops in many players - it's explained: "Like beanbag toss, the object of Bags is simple: toss a beanbag into the hole of a platform, or box. If you “put it in the basement,” as the players say, you get three points. Land the beanbag on the box, and you get one point. Of course with Bags, the beanbags and box are virtual.” And trackballs are still 'unique arcade experiences', most of the time, too!

Should Publishers Have Demographic Advocates?

June 17, 2007 6:30 AM | Simon Carless

- At his Game Tycoon blog, Xbox Live Arcade portfolio planner David Edery has been discussing the idea of 'demographic advocates', asking if "...video game publishers might be well served by having an internal advocate for different demographic groups."

Edery explains: "The idea came to mind when I was thinking about Marble Blast Ultra, one of our XBLA games. I have heard it said on more than one occasion that “if Marble Blast Ultra included a sandbox mode in which there were no penalties, no timers, etc, it would be a perfect kid’s game.” Conversely, when playing Pokemon Diamond, I’ve often thought 'if only there were a way to speed up the rather slow and repetitive feeling of battles (among other related issues), this game might have some chance of appealing to more adults.'"

He also makes suggestions on how other ethnic and gender groups can be better served, explaining: "Theoretically, the marketing arm of a publisher would be responsible for these observations. But it seems to me that, while this kind of thinking does take place in the industry, it does so sporadically. I think we’re a mature enough industry to justify a more consistent approach. When relatively minor changes or additions to a game could result in a significantly larger target market, to be anything less than vigilant seems wasteful." Thoughts?

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 6/16/07

June 17, 2007 1:29 AM |

['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.]

beckettcheats-card.jpg

Oh, drat! Beckett Spotlight: Cheat Codes has ceased publication with Issue 17, June/July 2007, and now I (as a subscriber) will get yet more copies of Beckett Massive Online Gamer crammed into my mailbox every other month. Not that anyone, even me, will miss it much -- there was absolutely nothing inside of it that online wasn't doing better 12 years ago.

When a magazine ceases publication, that's usually my cue to try to collect every back issue I'm missing. But I don't know where to begin with this one. I didn't start buying it until Issue 12 last fall, and it had been going for two years previous. Does anyone actually have any back issues of this title they'd be welling to sell? For that matter -- hey, Beckett writers! I know I've said a lot of bad things about your mags and all, but c'mon, how 'bout we let bygones be bygones? I mean, here's a guy who actually wants a complete collection of all your cheat-code mags. How many other readers do you think were that dedicated to your publications? Not many, I can tell you that.

With that bit of sad news behind us, let's take a look at all the US mags that hit mailboxes and bookstores the past fortnight. Game Informer leads the pack with Fallout 3 coverage, but one gets the idea GI's editors had other games on their minds...

Finding Nemo At Three Rings' Offices

June 16, 2007 7:24 PM | Simon Carless

- We've briefly mentioned it before, but Wired News has now posted some awesomely in-depth pics of Three Rings' office in San Francisco, showcasing the awesome-o office design from the Puzzle Pirates/Bang! Howdy folks.

As the intro notes: "From the outside, the offices of San Francisco game company Three Rings Design look like any small game studio, but the building's bowels are leagues from ordinary. The company's loft, in the trendy South of Market district, has been painstakingly outfitted to resemble The Nautilus from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The offices have an attacking octopus couch, a secret lounge hidden behind a bookcase, captain's quarters and a steampunk bike rack, plus a ton of other Victorian details."

[BONUS: Random fact - when Three Rings boss Daniel James last visited the CMP Game Group digs here in SF, he spotted that my office window could see directly into his office window - albeit from a couple of blocks away. Now I can't see it at all, thanks to a posh new skyscraper being erected in between the two. So no more Rear Window shenanigans for me, then!]

Playing Zork On... A Messageboard?

June 16, 2007 1:20 PM | Simon Carless

- Over at Idle Thumbs, they've just set up a 'Text Adventure' subforum, and indeed, they've set up a really neat concept - people can collaboratively play classic Z-machine text adventures on a normal messageboard, thanks to some neat coding.

As the FAQ post explains: "Our resident super computer Ziggy serves up the current move, and all you have to do is reply to the thread with the next move, such as “Go north”. Ziggy will then respond. It's basically an MMO text adventure."

Here's the current post, for Zork, and it's pretty cool how the various participants are using # comments among themselves to discuss their tactics: "Ack, no! We needed the lunch for the cyclops... Oh didn't know that. isn't there an other way past him? like telling a long story so he'll fall asleep?... We can use the sack to put on the cyclops's head." [Via Andy Baio.]

How Killing People With My Dad Improved Our Relationship

June 16, 2007 7:15 AM | Simon Carless

- Since it's Father's Day this Sunday, we kinda blew things out on Gamasutra yesterday with two notable features. The first finished up talking to game developers about their kids, revealing that Sid Meier likes rawking out with his 16-year-old son ("Right now, we're playing Guitar Hero II which is just an incredible, fun game. ")

But the other feature, by veteran game animator Erik Van Pelt, is called 'How Killing People With My Dad Improved Our Relationship', and it's a neat look at why family dynamics can actually be enhanced by games, as opposed to politicians' sometimes lazy claims that they're the "...social evil of choice to rally against in brandishing their family values."

Van Pelt particularly notes: "I am the kind of person that when I find something I enjoy I like to share it with friends, especially if it makes the experience more enjoyable for me. Video games are no different. It’s just more enjoyable to play with people you know and like than strangers who often don’t even speak the same language and sometimes can be just plain offensive. Additionally, it is unquestionably much more enjoyable to own bragging rights over friends and family." Totally pwned.

World's Greatest Shmupper Officially Crowned

June 16, 2007 1:15 AM | Simon Carless

- Posty passes on his in-depth report on the recent Midwest Gaming Classic, where they officially crowned the previously GSW-mentioned 'World's Greatest Shmup Player', and it sounds like a pretty intense shooter game experience was had by all.

He notes of the 'contest to end all contests' for shooter fans: "There were five games in the qualifying round: 1943 (PS2 Capcom Classics), Fire Shark (Genesis), River Raid (Atari 2600), Radiant Silvergun (Saturn), and Parodius (Snes import). $5 got you one play on any game, and $10 got you three plays on any games. The highest scoring player for each game received the most tournament points, and the top nine players advanced to the official tournament."

Of course, Posty advanced to the finals, and reveals: "With the pressure on, the games are now: Aerofighters (Snes), Demon Attack (Atari 2600), Blazing Lasers (Turbografx 16), Raiden 3 (ps2), and Mega SWIV (Genesis)." This was the third set of games played (!), and the competition seems to have been spectacularly hardcore all round - the wonderfully named 'DJ Incompetent' won out. Oh, and here's a wonderfully geeky sidenote: "By now the event is running very late since Blazing Lasers is holding everyone up. We actually had to procure a handheld Turbografx console so the final two competitors could play at once!"

2008 Independent Games Festival Gets Started

June 15, 2007 8:01 PM | Simon Carless

- Though the press release on this is coming next week, just wanted to point out that the official Independent Games Festival website has been updated to open submission for 2008, and here's the rather neat new info revealing what's happening this year:

"The IGF is pleased to announce that we're opening up submissions for the historic 10th Annual Independent Games Festival, for which the awards will be handed out in February 2008 at Game Developers Conference.

The 2008 IGF Main Competition will again be open to all independent developers to submit their games - whether it be on PC, console digital download, Web browser, or other more exotic formats. The prizes again total nearly $50,000, with a $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize, and the deadline to enter the Main Competition is Monday, October 1st 2007.

The 2008 IGF Student Competition will once again award the best student games, and this year will also include student 'mods' to existing games. As a result, the number of Student Showcase winners has been increased to 12. The deadline to enter the Student Competition is Monday, October 15th, 2007. [The 2008 IGF Mod Competition will not be taking place for GDC 2008, though we still very much appreciate the work of the mod community (hence the inclusion of mods in the student category), and are considering further competitions for this sector.]

In addition, the IGF is pleased to announce that it has appointed Matthew Wegner and Steve Swink as joint Content Directors for the Independent Games Festival, to help shepherd the expansion of the increasingly successful IGF. Matthew and Steve collectively helped organize the successful Independent Games Summit at GDC 2007, and together work at the multiple IGF finalist and 2005 IGF Project Goldmaster award-winning Flashbang Studios (they’ve retired from IGF competition to help run the festival.) Simon Carless will also continue in his role as IGF Chairman, but with significant help from the dynamic duo.

If indie developers out there have any queries about the competition this year, please don't hesitate to contact us with your questions, suggestions, or concerns - the IGF staff can be reached collectively at the chairman@igf.com email address." Awesome stuff, I hope - really looking forward to this year's competition.

Game Magazines And Their Punt Ratio

June 15, 2007 2:51 PM | Simon Carless

- OK, I mean punt as in passing around from person to person, which is probably a bizarre English monstrosity that nobody will understand, but GameDaily.biz has an excellent 'Media Coverage' round-up article which touches on video game mags and exactly how many people read them.

As Kyle Orland notes: "The Audit Bureau of Circulation does a pretty good job of estimating how many actual copies of a magazine get out into the market each month. But that's only part of the story. To get the full measure of a magazine's impact, you have to look at how many people read the magazine by borrowing it from a friend, browsing it in a waiting room, picking it up from a gym's magazine rack, and so forth. MediaMark Research's Survey of the American Consumer uses in-home interviews to generate an estimate of that pass-around rate, and the results show just how little circulation matters to a game magazine's actual reach."

How so? Well: "Game Informer's massive 315 percent lead over its nearest competitor in circulation falls to a paltry 18 percent lead when you look at readership. The magazine bringing up second place changes too -- while Electronic Gaming Monthly is the second most-circulated game mag, in readership it falls to fourth behind the Official Xbox Magazine and GamePro (a fact the latter magazine was quick to trumpet)." Lots more interesting stats (and some other fun story round-ups) if you click through, guv'nor. [Thanks for pic, Jason Scott!]

Arcade Games, From Start To Finish

June 15, 2007 9:40 AM | Simon Carless

- There's been a few of these 'whole experience'-themed gaming blogs recently - Blogging Ultima, for one - and The2Bears was nice enough to point out another, in the form of the 'So You Want To Be An Arcade Champion?' blog, which has just started up.

It's explained: "Rockwaldo’s going to go through [the Twin Galaxies official arcade record book], it’s laid out in alphabetical order, and play over 4000 arcade games on MAME. He’ll see just how feasible it is to get the record, he’ll give his impressions of the games, and generally have a lot of fun."

As you'd expect, a bunch of the games are pretty obscure, such as Sega's '005', from 1982 ("Keeping with the age old 80’s arcade tradition the game makes absolutely no attempt at explaining to you what to do at any stage - crazytown"), but moving on to more obvious stuff such as, say, 1943: The Battle Of Midway [EDIT: Yes, I put '1984' before. HAH!] ("DON’T crash into bigger planes - really, it’s not a good idea. I did, and my energy bar pretty much disappeared from full to nowt immediately.") Anyone wanna bet which letter he can get to?

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