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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 March, 2008

GameSetLinks: Playing With Affect's Toolbox

March 25, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Yeehah, all kinds of goodness in this particular caboodle of GameSetLinks, with a whole weekend of web-based exploration to lay out in the course of a week of glorious http referrals.

These include a postmortem of the intriguing but ultimately underexploited indie title Play With Fire, and some thoughts on creating emotional response as game designers. Here goes with some linkaaage:

Ian Bogost - Private Eyes / They're Blogging You
More Kotaku iconography!

Moogle.net » Blog Archive » Little Change, Big Consequences
'No matter what we do, sometimes the wants need to wait for next time.'

Multiple:Option: Game Melody Oratorio
More awesome homebrew: 'Game Melody Oratorio teaches simple game melodies via a virtual piano.'

The Independent Gaming Source: GDC-inspired 'Owl Country' game
All kinds of ridiculous in-joking, but such delightful indie zeal.

Tale of Tales» Blog Archive » We made a new game!
'The Graveyard' - from the makers of The Path.

Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars: I am big. It's the pictures that got small.
Some interesting L.A. Noire gossip in here.

The Indie Gaming Primer « Thank You For Playing
A slick set of six.

Only a Game: Play with Fire: Post Mortem
'This post examines the many things that went wrong with this project – and also the many things that worked out nicely.'

The Plush Apocalypse » Blog Archive » The Toolbox of Affect
'At the simplest level, you need to feel what you want the player to feel - if you don’t, you’re in trouble.'

Press The Buttons: Miistery Science Theater 3000
Two of my favorite tastes!

COLUMN: 'Jump Button': Future Hairy Racers — WipeOut Pure Artist Neil McFarland

March 25, 2008 8:00 AM |

-[Jump Button is a new weekly column by Drew Taylor, written specially for GameSetWatch, that focuses on the art and substance of video game culture.]

'Passing through the mouth of Venus,' says Neil McFarland.

'Passing through... the driver is riled and beguiled by a procession of gigantic beauties,' he says to me. The 34-year-old illustrator describing his contribution to what is arguably the best piece of free downloadable game content ever made.

'Gripped with paranoia and fear in the all-seeing eye tunnel,' he adds. 'Blinded by Medusa, and reborn anew at the completion of each circuit.'

His word-images, this should be the way all video games are reviewed. In narrative. In dialogue. In fan fiction. Using words soft as breasts that when caressed leak all over the screen or page in a myriad of colored pixels and ink. Purples. Oranges. Mauves. Crimsons. Cyans and blonds.

At the very least, it should be how the Omega Pack is described. A four track wonderland (YouTube videos) for the futuristic PlayStation Portable racer WipeOut Pure, made free in 2005 to everyone in Europe, Australia and New Zealand as a giant suck-up, featuring the unique work of UK artists and designers. Jon Burgerman, 123Klan, Mark James, Neil McFarland.

Jon's circuit—complete with chimpanbees, dancing sausages and sheer character design genius is the reason I download the pack; I've always been a fan. But it's Neil's Paris Hair track that gives me the Flash Gordon moment.

A sense of flinging oneself into the void, only to become trapped in an off-world sideshow recreated from drug-induced visions of hair, melancholy and Barbarella-like pleasure tortures. An uncomfortable memory of sitting in a car with a mate (who would later become a youth pastor) as he confesses to having recently cheated on his girlfriend by fingering a woman in the very seat I'm occupying.

2008 Austin GDC Announces Call For Submissions

March 25, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

-[Aha, we've announced a call for submissions for the 2008 Austin Game Developers Conference this September - if you like MMOs, audio, or writing (also pina coladas and... oh, forget it!) you might want to consider submitting a lecture, yay.]

The call for submissions is now open for the 2008 Austin Game Developers Conference (AGDC). Submissions to present lectures and roundtable sessions will be accepted for review by an advisory board until Monday, April 14th.

Presented by Think Services, a division of United Business Media, organizers of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference (GDC), the Austin GDC is a three-day event taking place at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas September 15-17, 2008.

The Austin GDC focuses on three main tracks: Game Audio, Writing for Games and the largest Online Games section of the conference. The Online Games track goes even further in depth, featuring five sub-tracks of its own, including:

- Business and Marketing
- Design
- Social Networking & Community
- Technology & Services
- Worlds in Motion (Virtual Worlds)

The Austin GDC advisory board includes two new members, Raph Koster from Areae, and Mark Terrano from Hidden Path Entertainment. The advisory board also includes 18 other industry experts, including: Midway’s Marc Schaefgen, Dolby’s Lori Solomon, Multiverse’s Corey Bridges, BioWare’s Rich Vogel and Gordon Walton, writer Susan O’Connor, and several others.

“We are excited to embark on the next chapter of the Austin GDC,” says Izora de Lillard, Event Director of Austin GDC, “Our theme this year ‘Evolve to Win’ reflects the need for developers to challenge themselves to think ahead in terms of community, online games, writing and audio for games. This year’s conference program will not only reflect new trends and technology in the immediate future of digital entertainment, but also include thought leaders with unique insight towards the long term evolution of game development and the industry.”

Submissions are also being accepted for the Game Career Seminar which will be held in conjunction with the Austin conference.

For a detailed list of topics and to submit a speaker proposal, please visit the official Call For Submissions page at the Austin GDC website.

Opinion: Writers And The Game Industry - A Rebuttal

March 24, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [Adam Maxwell stirred up a hornet's nest with his argument against writers in the games industry - an editorial Maxwell has since commented on further on his personal weblog - but the IGDA Game Writers SIG isn't going to stand for it. In this rebuttal, Brainstem Games' Ron Toland aims to put the "well-circulated myth" that "writers are nice to have, but completely dispensable." to rest.]

In his op-ed piece, “The Case Against Writers in the Games Industry,” Adam Maxwell articulates a well-circulated myth: to make a good game, writers are nice to have, but are completely dispensable.

It is time for this myth to be laid to rest. It needs to find its place in the graveyard of outdated truths, along with the line that “you don't need artists to make good games,” or “you don't need designers to make good games.”

As we can see from Maxwell's article, he is completely in thrall to this myth:

"Had I been hired simply as a writer that would have been the end for me. You see, that studio imploded very shortly thereafter, but it’s not that implosion that would have doomed me -- as a designer I survived. No, what would have doomed me is the simple, and some would say sad, truth: There is no places for writers in our industry."

I suspect that Maxwell survived because he carried the label of designer, even though what he was doing was (technical) writing. Why would the label "writer" have hurt him? Because of the myth about writers in the games industry that he still believes.

GameSetLinks: From Falcon To Fallout

March 24, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Ah yes, a little more GameSetLink-age to start the week, and there's some fun stuff in here - including some of the post-fury discussion on the Metanet comments on Xbox Live Arcade, of course.

But also in there - qDot working towards an open-source driver for the Novint Falcon, which is one of the most fascinating pieces of game peripheral hardware ever offered, but has had some serious game adoption problems - with even the games it ships with being less-than-awesome demonstrations of the tech, I'm afraid. Still, haptics! Onward:

The Problem with Experience-Based Writing (Magical Wasteland)
'We still need articles like Rogers’ passionate, plausible and consequential interpretation of Mother 2, but we also need something more.'

Top 5 Botched PC Gaming Launches from 1UP.com
'Installing a new PC game can be something like a blind date.'

GameOfTheBlog.com: Is this really necessary?
'This' would be 3 different chicken-themed DS games. I blame Europe, randomly!

Dispatches: No More Heroes, Part Two; Or: A Perfect Day For Bloodfish at Game Design Advance
This game seems to be inspiring a lot of intriguing articles.

Flash Of Steel: 'Tom versus Bruce Online'
These are some of my favorite pieces of writing ever (from Games For Windows mag), great to hear they're coming online.

Rockstar slow to release in-game GTA IV screens | Xbox 360 News | GamePro.com
Racist user comments aside, this is headslammingly bad as an angle for a story.

Nonpolynomial Labs News: "That thingy that feels"
Using the Novint Falcon for hacked-up good, perhaps?

David Hellman » Blog Archive » The Art of Braid, Part III: World 2 Comes First
Gonna keep linking these, since they are great.

NeoGAF - View Single Post - N+ Developers talk XBLA: "There's like 100 games, and they're all shit." (plus more!)
A fair point, following up on Metanet, about XBLA releases being of variable quality in any given month!

In Defence of the Apparant Shitstorm | metablog
Metanet follows up on the Gamasutra interview - some amelioration, perhaps, but just a bit.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Brazilians Need Action Now

March 24, 2008 12:00 AM |

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I had the intention of writing this week about Hard Drives, the greatest magazine that Larry Flynt Publishing ever produced (I kid, I kid, but it's close), but I can't find my sole example in the bookshelves. So, how about a little Brazilian programming instead?

Collectors of obscure old video games know that Brazil was an extremely unique game marketplace during the 8 and 16-bit eras. The Odyssey2 somehow emerged as the top console of the classic era, Tec Toy produced all kinds of Brazil-exclusive Sega Master System and Genesis titles, and the marketplace until approximately the mid-90s was mainly occupied by the SMS, the MSX computer, and half a dozen NES-compatible pirate consoles.

There was no dedicated game mag in Brazil during the 80s, when arcades and pinball was where the main action was in the country. (Odyssey Aventura, the locally-produced newsletter for Philips' console, lasted eight issues.) This changed in 1990 when publishing outfit Editora Abril produced Ação Games, a special one-off edition of kids' sports magazine A Semana em Ação (The Week in Action) devoted entirely to console stuff. One more one-off was produced in 1991, and then Abril went out of business. The Ação name was bought by rival publisher Editora Azul, and beginning in October 1991, Ação Games became a monthly publication.

Ação was arguably the most influential game mag of the era in South America. It had an officially translated edition (called Action Games) in Argentina, and before a year had passed, it had no less than four monthly rivals in Brazil: Games, VideoGame, Supergame (Sega-exclusive) and Game Power (Nintendo-exclusive). The latter two combined into a single multiplatform title, Super Game Power, in 1995.

Thumbing through these mags, one gets the idea that Brazilian editors and publishers really loved GamePro. Supergame and Game Power both had official licenses to translate content from IDG's mag, and Ação's visual design was basically a clone as well -- the difference, of course, being that instead of ads for the TG16 and Super NES games, these titles had spots for pirate NES consoles and shady-looking mail order places.

What makes Brazil mags unique, though, is their art -- unlike most other countries where the game industry mostly revolved around pirates, the magazines here were pretty high-quality productions, with lots of original articles and artwork (most of which is actually good, remarkably).

Sadly, most of these mags went belly-up in the late '90s once the Internet took over as the chief source of game info. I admit to not knowing much about modern Brazilian mags; titles I'm aware of currently in existence include EGM Brasil, Official Xbox Magazine, PlayStation (a homegrown PS mag), Gamemaster (another homegrown multiplatform mag), and Nintendo World (which appears to be Nintendo Power in translation). If you know of any more publishing right now, I'd love to hear about them.

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

GameSetNetwork: From N Plus Drama To Stapler Plus Jello

March 23, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Ah yes, plenty of goodness in this week's links from Think Services' suite of B2B-ish game sites, including Gamasutra, Game Career Guide, Worlds In Motion, Indie Games, and more.

In particular, we have the controversy over N+ rubbing shoulders with a really fun Ian Bogost column on pranks in games, as well as some analysis of EA's marketing muscle, a neat Foundation 9 interview, and a plethora of other pieces, some obscure, some not so. All good output, I think - here we are:

N+: Beyond The Postmortem
"What's it like getting a game onto Xbox Live Arcade? N+ creators Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard of developer Metanet - and Nick Waanders, president of XBLA N converters Slick Entertainment - don't mince words in this discussion of the service."

Sounds Of The Snow
"In one of the more unconventional Gamasutra articles we've ever published, Finnish game sound designer Tapio Liukkonen (Broken Alliance) writes passionately about the need for authentic winter sound recording in games."

Q&A: CDC's Williams Talks East Meeting West With Lunia, EVE
"CDC Games has found success operating the Korean MMO Lunia in the U.S., and also runs CCP's EVE Online in China. Given recent U.S. successes for Lunia, Gamasutra spoke to CDC's Ron Williams about the interesting particulars involved in making the East-to-West connection from both ends."

Persuasive Games: Video Game Pranks
"In his regular 'Persuasive Games' column, designer/writer Ian Bogost looks at the history of the prank in video games - from Easter Eggs through Sim Copter and Syobon Action, with particular reference to Gareth's stapler."

The Divnich Tapes: Why EA's Marketing Brawn Should Entice Take-Two
"Concluding his Gamasutra-exclusive assessment of February's hardware and software trends, simExchange analyst Jesse Divnich analyzes Army of Two's retail success through marketing, and argues Take-Two should reconsider Electronic Arts' takeover offer because of its sheer marketing muscle." Also see Divnich on hardware sales compared for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, why the video game industry is outperforming expectations despite our slowing economy, and software predictions for March.

Focus On Korea: Ntreev's Kang Talks Pangya, Westward Moves
"Continuing its examination of the Korean game biz, Gamasutra speaks to Jamie King of online game developer Ntreev about their titles, including Pangya (Super Swing Golf) and Trickster, and discusses the difficulty for Korean companies to break into the international console game market."

U. Mich's 48-Hour Development Contest: Stephen Colbert Games!
"The University of Michigan hosts an annual game development challenge, in which small teams of students have just 48 hours to develop a video game. GameCareerGuide.com is running an exclusive five-part series written by the contestants about their experience making a game in just two days." Also see - Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Also... Stephen Colbert!

A Coalition Of Developers
"Foundation 9 (Death Jr.) is likely the biggest developer conglomerate in the world, with more than 800 employees - so how is it doing in 2008, and what on earth is its 'Total Quality Initiative'? Gamasutra finds out..."

COLUMN: 'The Aberrant Gamer - Auto-Neurotic Asphyxiation'

March 23, 2008 8:00 AM | Leigh Alexander

-[The Aberrant Gamer is a weekly, sometimes NSFW column by Leigh Alexander, dedicated to the kinks and quirks we gamers tend to keep under our hats – those predilections and peccadilloes less commonly discussed in conventional media.]

We throw around lots of insults on message boards and comment threads, but there is perhaps none so common – and so virulent as fanboy.

What does that word even mean? Dictionary.com has no idea, but UrbanDictionary.com has several definitions. “A passionate fan of various elements of geek culture… but who lets his passion override social graces.” “A person who is completely loyal to a game or company reguardless [sic] of if they suck or not… a pathetic insult.” “An arrogant person… [who takes] the console war very seriously, as if it were a real war.”

Perhaps only in games does being a passionate fan become a negative. In film, hobbyists might have loyalty to certain directors or screenwriters, and comics has its Marvel versus DC – but is this sort of aggression so prevalent on movie or comic book websites?

This column has been quick to evaluate mob psychology in gamer behavior and condemn it as one of the major elements restraining games from attaining widespread social legitimacy. But fanboyism is a much more complex issue – particularly because none of us is immune. Not even the press.

GameSetLinks: My NES Must Go On

March 23, 2008 12:02 AM | Simon Carless

- Ye gods, the blogosphere is wide and long and full of slithy toves, and that's why, dear reader, you need GameSetLinks to navigate you through an extremely large amount of websites in an extremely short amount of time.

This time out - more Street Fighter HD game balancing goodness, the bootleg Titanic NES RPG, indie game goodness galore, and a terribly headlined but not unreasonable overall Daily Yomiuru game book review. All this in one short post! And go:

Capcom US - The Blog: Behind-the-Scenes: Rebalancing Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (part 8, Sagat)
This whole David Sirlin-written series is excellent, from a game-balancing perspective.

Arcade Renaissance: What is really going on with Tekken 6 and US arcades?
Looks like cabinet price may be stopping a Western release?

CinnamonPirate.com : Prepare yourself, for tonight we board IN HELL!
Gigantic, neat review of the bootleg Titanic RPG for the NES.

Akihabara Channel » Best Bishojo Game of 2007
'Getchu-ya’s online website, Getchu.com announced the result of their online poll that was conducted during the month of February, voting for the best 2007 Bishojo games' - some links NSFW, interesting subgenre peek.

Knut Müller - Interview - Adventure Classic Gaming
Another nice subgenre interview, for the Rhem creator - Myst-like artgame fun.

TheStar.com | entertainment | Pilgrim's progress for graphic novel fans as Cera touted to star
Lot of video game references in the book too, obviously. Good news all round!

The Independent Gaming Source: Video of 'Glitch Racer'
The next game by Toribash creator Hampa - freeform racing physics fun, looking v. intriguing.

insertcredit.com: 'News: Obscure fighter emulation roundup'
And sure enough, there's a lot of obscure 2D fighters here!

Video game designers not the pasty-faced geeks of old: The Daily Yomiuri
Ouch, what a terrible headline. Still, actually not a terrible review of a neat book we've extracted on Gamasutra.

IGN: RetroCity Podcast Episode 1
Blimey, Paul Norman - everyone's going retro (good page views!)

Being Kotaku: Crecente's Hidden Smash Bros. Review, Site Stats

March 22, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

A couple of interesting tidbits related to the biggest game weblog in the world which I feel GSW must compile together into a coherent, slightly cheeky Kotaku-filled whole. So we will!

Firstly, you may have seen Kotaku EIC Brian Crecente debating silly game-related child predator stories on Fox News. But it turns out that awesome new game blog Eegra has unearthed a previously unknown pilot for a Crecente video game review show.

It's a review of Super Smash Bros Brawl - and it's so amazing, so theatrical, and therefore so YouTube-d below (make sure you hang on for the 'Day Note' writing at the end!)

On another Kotaku-related tack entirely, there's an interesting Portfolio.com article about Gawker Media (via Nelson) is discussing pay for Gawker.com writers based on their pageviews. I think it might be possible, extrapolating from that discussion, to have a go for Kotaku, but it's the weekend, and that's a bit much even for stats hogs such as me.

Still, the interesting thing about the article is that it points out a somewhat uncommented on Kotaku stats page, which actually lists total page views per writer for the past 6 months - including me, from my guest stint in November, even (yes, not many page views, shh, my 'appeal is becoming more selective', to cite Spinal Tap).

Anyhow, there are some bugs resulting in duplication (and who knows, it could additionally be busted!), but getting out the calculator for a minute to smoosh them together, we can work out the following. In February, the Kotaku massif managed to scare up the following total and per-editor page view score (remember this was GDC month, so extra kerfuffle!):

TOTAL FOR SPECIFIC AUTHOR PAGES, FEB 2008 = 13,258,100 page views
Brian Ashcraft = 2,317,874 page views
Michael McWhertor = 2,270,321 page views
Luke Plunkett = 2,186,295 page views
Brian Crecente = 1,697,596 page views
Mike Fahey = 1,617,459 page views
Mark Wilson = 1,603,039 page views
Flynn DeMarco = 848,035 page views
Maggie Greene = 248,775 page views
[+ various other legacy folks under that.]

[NOTE: That isn't the overall page view total for Kotaku, of course - just for individual pages. If you take into account indexes and other things, according to Sitemeter, looks like the entire site did 33.8 million page views in February 2008. That ratio (individual author page views to whole site page views) doesn't seem right to me, but hey.]

So, obviously, page views don't necessarily denote quality of coverage and vary widely based on when people post and what kind of 'breaking' stories come their way in that time. And heck, I don't mind admitting that GSW gets but a couple of hundred thousand page views a month, which is why it's an unmonetized editor blog and not our sole source of income.

But stats are fun! And we're pretty sure Brian's page views will surge after he does more of those video reviews!

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