- So, still trying to work out whether this redesigned, 'cut down' GameSetWatch is actually taking me more time than the old one, heh. It's certainly more, fun, though, and judging by the enthusiastic response to a couple of the opinion pieces I posted, people seem to dig it. Onward and upward with a nice smattering of random links:

- Aquaria Edits Things Up: An official Aquaria blog update has revealed video of the level editor that will now ship with the IGF Grand Prize-winning title - and it looks remarkably intuitive. Alec Holowka [EDIT: Oops!] notes: "We recently decided to work on including our editor tools in the game as well as a Mod framework... What else are we doing? Working on the end of the game, secrets and various details… and unfortunately we can’t show any footage of that yet, for obvious reasons." Neat!

- The Compleat Gold Farmer: This is actually from last weekend, but it's well worth pointing out, since we didn't - Julian Dibbell released a longform New York Times Magazine piece entitled 'The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer', and the result of a great deal of first-person research inside China: "For every 100 gold coins he gathers, Li makes 10 yuan, or about $1.25, earning an effective wage of 30 cents an hour, more or less. The boss, in turn, receives $3 or more when he sells those same coins to an online retailer, who will sell them to the final customer (an American or European player) for as much as $20."

- Quick, EA, Hyde!: Over at Pocket Gamer, British freelancer du jour Jon Jordan has written a cute little blog post pointing out Electronic Arts' UK headquarters being used in new BBC drama: "We’ll assume it’s not because the giant publisher is falling on hard times, but keen-eyed viewers of James Nesbitt-vehicle Jekyll, on BBC1 this Saturday, would have noticed EA’s publishing UK HQ standing as a swanky-looking hospital [pictured above, or at lleast someone loitering in front of it]... The Lord Foster-designed building used to be pretty busy, but last year EA Europe’s senior management buzzed off to a Swiss low tax haven, while all the developers got shunted down the road to Guildford, so maybe filling up the entrance hall with film crews makes sense." Hah!

- Developer, Academia Clash?: Well, not totally, but a Santa Cruz Sentinel article discussing the new UCSC game degree, co-run by Grand Text Auto-er Michael Mateas, has a couple of quizzical quotes from local developers about game education. Gish co-creator Josiah Piscotta: "I think schools are a little behind the times" - though I think he's implying it's a good thing that they are starting degrees now. Cryptic's Jack Emmert is a lot more vociferious: "I think these programs are stealing money... It's premature for universities to sell degrees when the industry hasn't even figured out what the skill set is to be a successful game designer." Though I think many schools train artists and programmers too, but - interesting. (via VH1 Game Break)

- Blow Hits Indie Podcast: Must say that I didn't know about the Indie Game Developer's Podcast, but the latest edition has Jon Blow, "...founder of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC and developer of the game Braid talking about game design" - GBGames explains that "...near the end, he talks about story in games, specifically saying that games can tell a story without resorting to the methods used in media such as books and movies." Blow also popped up on Arsecast recently, which is less painful than it sounds.

- Oh God, The Metaverse: Finally, Raph Koster points to a MIT Technology Review cover story called 'Second Earth', and subtitled: "The World Wide Web will soon be absorbed into the World Wide Sim: an environment combining elements of Second Life and Google Earth." Sure, it's breathy stuff, but it turns out the whole online worlds thing (often involving penguins!) is a big deal, despite the Second Life hype bubble distorting many viewpoints. In fact, we have something rather smart to announce in this general area (hopefully next week!), which I think will make Koster happy, for starters. And no, it's not a virtual beard grooming machine.