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Archive For November, 2007

GameSetGuest: 'Crispin's Interniversary'

November 21, 2007 8:00 AM |

deutsche_woche.jpg My name is Crispin Frosch, and today, I will have been an intern at Schadenfreude Interactive for ten years.

There will be a small celebration later. Ulrike (our VP of sales) has a special cake planned. Hopefully I will not even have to stay late to make up for the time spent at my party, or the time spent writing this blog post because Karsden is busy today.

Whenever I tell someone about my job here, they are jealous -- everyone wants to work at a game company. They want to be game designers. They always tell me of the dream game* they want to make.

also Snape dies

This dream game is always an RPG about an orphaned boy who is given a special magical sword and goes out to fight an evil man and meet a wizard and rescue a princess. Sometimes the evil man turns out to be his father. Sometimes the princess is in another castle. Sometimes the wizard turns out to be gay. There is nothing wrong with this, it is just not very original, no?

These same people imagine an internship at a game company to be very exciting. You must have a big desk, a huge flat-screen monitor, and a foosball table! Most of the day must be spent tightening up the graphics on various levels and eating delicious pizza while playing Xbox.

Bizarre Guestblogging Epidemic Reaches VintageComputing.com

November 21, 2007 1:01 AM | Simon Carless

- While I've been away cavorting on Kotaku, it's been great to see Karsden and his friends holding the crowd with tales of the office goat.

However, just wanted to pop back to mention a note I got from former GSW columnist and VintageComputing.com owner Benj Edwards:

"Since you're guest editing Kotaku this week, and someone is filling in for you at GSW, I figured I'd take a break and get my old friend and some-time VC&G contributor Ulaf Silchov to fill in for me at VC&G while I enjoy Thanksgiving." Ulaf's first post is certainly illuminating, isn't it?

Ulaf has been around for a while, and while I'm pretty sure he's not related to Karsden, he seems a little like an endearingly bizarro version: "PLEASE PATIENCE MY MIND THIS WEEKS, AS ULAF EDUCATE TO WRITE MORE OF THE ENGLISH LUNG WITHOUT TRANSFORMERS AND ENVISION MORE OF THE COMPUTERS IN THE GARAGE OF THE BENJ FOR MY PERSONS TO ENJOY. ALSO ULAF MIGHT TELLS THE FEW SPOOKY GHOST ESSAYS IF YOUR MIND FEELS LUCKY." Ouch, my mind!

GameSetGuest: 'Trap Door Envy'

November 20, 2007 2:30 PM |

deutsche_woche.jpgI recently watched this video on the YouTube about Richard Garriott’s house and it made me quite jealous. I did not realize how much I longed for secret rooms and hidden trap doors.

Now, I have a fine house here in Ludvigshafen, and my house is not without its own bizarre and unusual features. I have a very large linen closet that is not in a place you would ordinarily expect. I have several electrical outlets that are improperly wired.

I also have a bidet, but that is only bizarre and unusual to Americans.

All very good and well, but as the owner of a relatively successful game company, I felt my house was now somewhat lacking in comparison.

I have read that Richard Garriott wanted his house to look like a castle. We have so many castles here in the Black Forest! I would not want my house to look like a castle -- it would be like wanting your house to look like a petrol station. He calls this estate Britannia Manor, as he is called "Lord British" and rules Britannia in his Ultima games.

The only in-game name I have is for our multiplayer game Hannibal Crossing: "Legatus Liebchen", but obviously I am not called this in real life (unless you know me intimately, and perhaps have seen my linen closet). And as Legatus I do not "rule" the land in Hannibal Crossing, although I do know where the best places are to dig for fossils and what trees to shake for gold.

hannibal crossing

GameSetGuest: 'Something Offal'

November 20, 2007 8:00 AM |

deutsche_woche.jpg I am so far behind in the times. I have just heard of this party that Sony held to market God of War II last May, featuring topless ladies in body paint and a headless goat on a buffet.

It is a strange industry we have, where serving food out of a dead goat on a buffet is part of your average game marketing plan.

Is a buffet really necessary to sell games, anyway? I purchased World Of Warcraft despite the fact that Blizzard never offered me a buffet. But now, every time I visit the Burning Steppes I think of those delicious tiny corn-on-a-cob and all-you-can-eat crab legs you have in America, and I feel somehow cheated.

Also, if you are going to serve a buffet of any kind you should really have a sneeze guard around it -- or Schleimschutz, as we say here. It is an issue of hygiene. I do not understand why the gaming press was not more outraged over this matter.

lol_goat.jpg

What ever happened to complimentary T-shirts? I believe the young lady on the left could use one.

2008 Worlds In Motion Summit Announces New Speakers

November 20, 2007 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Just a quick non-Karsden aside to note that we've announced some more speakers for the Worlds In Motion Summit, which is organized by GSW columnist Leigh Alexander over at sister site WorldsInMotion.biz, and is all about where games meet online worlds - a pretty important and emerging market. Here's the skinny:

"We're pleased to announce more of the speakers who'll be participating in the upcoming Worlds In Motion Summit! Nexon's Min Kim, Millions of Us' Reuben Steiger, Rmbr's Gabe Zichermann and GoPets' Erik Bethke will be joining the event; previously-revealed speakers include Areae's Raph Koster, Worldwide Biggies CTO and Nicktropolis co-creator Chris Romero, Conduit Labs' Nabeel Hyatt and Relic Labs studio head Adrian Crook.

GameSetGuest: 'All Squeezed Out'

November 19, 2007 3:30 PM |

deutsche_woche.jpg How do you like my graphics? Deutsche Woche = German Week. It is as your “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel but with slightly less blood in the water.

Ah, but wait until I get going!

There is an old story often quoted in blog posts and game reviews that goes, “if a shark stops moving, it dies”. When people ask me, why will there be no more sequels to your hit game Accordion Hero II? I say, because my company, Schadenfreude Interactive is like a shark. Perhaps not in a cunning predatory way, but in the way of that bus Sandra Bullock drove in Speed. The point being, we keep moving on to new things. Also, in the end we will probably all get away safely before the whole thing explodes, which is more than we can say for the employees of Microprose.

accordion_II_poster_sm.jpgYes, we did make a sequel to Accordion Hero. But only one. I am generally against sequels. I have an idea for a new game every fifteen minutes, so why make sequels? Sequels are rarely good. The thought of watching Indiana Jones 2 or Faraway, So Close again fills me with despair.

We definitely enjoyed making Accordion Hero II, and when I say that, I mean it was much less work than the first. Otto, our lead programmer, went off to visit his girlfriend in Canada and was away most of the project. Our intern, Crispin, did much of the programming (I did not even know he knew C++, and apparently neither did he, but this is what internship is all about).

GameSetGuest: 'Who Watches The Game Set Watchers?'

November 19, 2007 10:00 AM |

[Since GSW boss Simon Carless is away guest-editing Kotaku this week, only popping in occasionally to collect the milk, GameSetWatch has its own special guest blogger.... legendary Accordion Hero creator Karsden Mörderhäschen from Schadenfreude Interactive. And you're in for a treat.]

Furcht nicht -- I, Karsden Mörderhäschen, CEO of Schadenfreude Interactive GmbH, shall be watching over you! Not in a creepy, obsessive Alan Moore’s Rorschach way, but more of a charmingly naïve and brutal Sergio Aragonés’ Groo way.

Simon Careless has kindly asked me to guest-edit while he spends the week with the clever hot-pink-and-chartreuse set over at Kotaku.

Of course I have been asked to guest-edit not because of my fine English or my intimate connections with the game industry (we are rather isolated here in the Black Forest region), but because we Germans do not traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving. We will be here at the work all week while you, our American friends, eat pie, watch parades and dare each other to drink turkey-and-mashed-potato flavored soda without vomiting (oh, look, this year there is Ham soda -- truly America is a Wunderland).

hold das picklesWe also do not traditionally hide a glass pickle on our Christmas trees. I do not know where you Americans got that idea from. If anyone would be hiding vegetables in shrubbery, it would be the Belgians.

I will, however, authenticate the existence of the traditional Gold Sh*tter. In fact, our lead programmer had one that was made to look like Richard Garriott, little fringed boots and all. It sat on his desk for many years, until it was eaten by Ziggy, our office goat (I was at first blamed, but all know I do not care for marzipan and also Ziggy afterwards smelled of almonds pleasantly, which I can say is not usual). I am not superstitious by any means, but perhaps this explains the slightly underwhelming performance of Tabula Rasa.

Off Down The Kotaku Brick Road, Back Friday

November 19, 2007 4:02 AM | Simon Carless

- As you may recall me mentioning, I'm going to be guest editing that cornucopia of every-20-minute updated gaming goodness Kotaku this week - from Monday to Friday, more precisely, with a brief break for Thanksgiving if I'm feeling particularly lazy.

Though I'll be posting over there quite a bit, I will be popping back into GameSetWatch to say hi during the week. But thanks to a joking comment by Kyle Orland, we've gone and done it - we've got a guest editor for GameSetWatch while I'm otherwise employed as a guest editor for Kotaku. It's fresh guest editors all around!

You'll see who it is in just a few hours, but all I can say is - you're in for an interesting and informative time, thanks to fascinating input from one of the leading European game developers of all time. Oh boy.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': PTOM: OPM But Newer?

November 19, 2007 12:02 AM |

ptom-0713.jpg

The first issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine arrived in the mail a few days back, and since it's the first major US mag launch in a while, I thought I'd devote a full column to it.

Future Publishing's PTOM (the replacement for PSM) is grossly divided into five sections:

- System Update: The news section, encompassing a couple interviews, Blu-ray movie reviews, Adam Warren's comic (formerly on the back page), and a digest of the latest happenings. The two main bits this month are a piece on the PlayStation Eye (with Dr. Richard Marks extensively quoted) and a post-Tokyo Game Show talk with Kaz Hirai.

- Previews: Your typical magazine previews section. This one kicks off with three pages on Soul Calivur IV and continues with large looks at MGS4, Haze, Crisis Core: FFVII, and so forth. A "PlayStation Gallery" at the end fills out the section with some capsule previews.

- The feature well: The cover story on Gran Turismo 5 takes us to Polyphony Digital HQ in Japan, where Kazunori Yamauchi discusses his goals with the new game and shows off all the incredible detail going into the models. A holiday buyer's guide (titled "Holiday Buyer's Guide," which should offer some insight to its originality) is the typical game and gadget-themed Xmas gift roundup.

- Reviews: PTOM rates its games on a five-star scale with three stars set as "okay" and five signifying "exceptional" and earning the game an Editor's Choice award. No review is larger than two pages (as opposed to the multi-page cover features reviews sometimes earn in PSM and OXM), and there's a small page of hardware reviews in the rear.

- PlayStation Network: The "miscellaneous" section of PTOM, similar to the one GamePro has in the back of its book. This issue has multiplayer strategies for Warhawk (online tips will be an ongoing part of this section, it looks like), letters, and quick reviews of PSN titles. A welcome-to-the-mag piece by SCEA head Jack Tretton fills up the back page, which you can tell was written by a true PR aficionado because the name of Sony's current top console is spelled out as "PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™)" in the article, a custom the rest of the magazine thankfully avoids.

And that's the long and short of it, basically. The mag is 132 pages, 30 of which is the AT&T cell-phone game "special advertising supplement" appearing in all Future game mags this month, so it seems safe to expect the usual book sizes and ad ratios here as in most other titles.

PTOM is about what you'd expect from a US game-mag publisher. The mag has a very clean look, making it look like a cross between EGM and Future's PlayStation Official Magazine UK, and many pages and reviews feature small captions on the sides with some random piece of trivia related to the article it's near, a nice little touch. (The mag is also about half an inch wider than PSM, although it's still got nothing on Ziff's super-wide OPM.) On the writing and coverage end, however, not a great deal has changed from the PSM days -- the text style is authoritative, if not all that excited, and it's not terribly different from the way a lot of online game sites are written.

The biggest surprise might be that the Blu-ray demo disc promised in Future's press release is not included or mentioned, something the editors confirmed on the psmonline.com blog (PTOM doesn't have its own website yet for some reason). There's some confusion in the blog comments about whether the mag will ever have a demo disc, but I'm willing to bet it'll get one as at least a special bonus once in awhile eventually. Otherwise, where's the major, killer advantage in being Official? Or is it more the case of Future saying to themselves "Well, we're the only PS mag left in America now, might as well bite the bullet and pay the licensing fee"?

It's also worth noting that the "FREE Two-Sided Poster" touted on the cover isn't quite accurate, unless it's referring to something available on newsstands only. [ADDENDUM: The newsstand PTOM does come with a real double-sided poster. Odd that it still got advertised in both the newsstand and subscriber editions, though.]

Overall, PTOM is a nice leap forward from PSM visually and undoubtedly serves the needs of its PlayStation-fan subscribers well, but those expecting something revolutionary will have to go expect somewhere else for now.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]

GameSetNetwork: Winter In The Halo

November 18, 2007 4:03 PM | Simon Carless

- Ah, worth a brief GameSetNetwork to round up some of the neat stories from our sister sites this week - from Gamasutra through Worlds In Motion to Game Career Guide and beyond.

There's some fun stuff in here - Tom Kim's trip to Iceland and Todd McFarlane's action figure world dominance plans among them:

- The Strange History Of Gamecock's Mike Wilson (Gamasutra)
"Gamecock co-founder Mike Wilson has a vital business role in game history over the past 15 years - working at id, setting up the influential GodGames, and now running his upstart publisher (Dementium, Hail To The Chimp); in a transcript of the latest Gamasutra Podcast, he talks about his storied career and intriguing plans.

- Winter In Reykjavik: EVE Fanfest 2007 Report (Gamasutra)
"The 'sleeper hit' of the MMO business in the last few years has been space trading game EVE Online, now with 200,000 active subscribers - and Gamasutra visited the EVE Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland to analyze the event and talk in-depth to CCP CEO, Hilmar Pétursson."

- The Game Design Portfolio: Is There Such a Thing? (Game Career Guide)
"Artists have portfolios. Programmers have code samples. What do game designers have? Brenda Brathwaite, a game designer and professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, names exactly what aspiring game designers should have ready in their hip pockets when looking for a job."

- - Game Design Cognition: The Bottom-Up And Top-Down Approaches by Rafael Kuhnen and Gilliard Lopes (Gamasutra)
"In this in-depth article, designers Lopes and Kuhnen look at two major approaches to video game design - from the bottom (in-game actions) up, and from the top (story) down - and discuss the pluses and minuses of creating a game with both methods."

- Toying With Games: Todd McFarlane On Halo And His MMO (Gamasutra)
"Spawn creator Todd McFarlane has lent his designs and IP to multiple games, but right now, his two major projects are 2008's Halo 3 action figures, and his co-founding of 38 Studios to produce an MMO with Curt Schilling and R.A. Salvatore - and Gamasutra sat down to discuss both with him."

- IGDA Forum: Torpex's Fristrom On How Not To Schedule A Game Project (Gamasutra)
"Why is the idea of delivering a game "on time, on budget, 90% on Game Rankings, to original spec" laughable? Addressing the recent 2007 IGDA Leadership Forum, Torpex technical director Jamie Fristrom used his experiences on Tony Hawk 2 and Spider-Man 2 to answer this and other tough questions about scheduling development."

- Analyze This: Will There Ever Be One Console To Rule Them All? (Gamasutra)
"With Denis Dyack and EA's Gerhard Florin recently calling for a single console platform, we asked analysts from Screen Digest, Wedbush Morgan, Creative Strategies and IDC if the idea is feasible, who would benefit, and whether the PC already qualifies, in Gamasutra's latest exclusive 'Analyze This' column."

Also: Q&A: Kaneva's Hannah and Klaus Talk Dance Party 3D (Worlds In Motion)... IGDA Forum: Epic's Mike Capps Talks Team Building (Gamasutra)... Q&A: Killaware's Yamao On Japan's Upstart Dev Scene (Gamasutra)... Road To The IGF: Atman's Kuriakose On His Own With Io (Gamasutra)... and lots more, check archived Gamasutra news for the lowdown.

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