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Archive For March, 2008

GameSetLinks: Cactus Broke My Brain

March 19, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Yikes, time for more calamitously collected GameSetLinks of peril, and this time we're poking at indie fave Cactus (he of Clean Asia!) and friend's new company, Lo-Fi Minds, as well as wandering around the innermost thoughts of David Jaffe.

Elsewhere in this set of oddness - Metaplace launches in mini-form on MySpace, David Hellman shows off some more Braid art, the original progenitor of Gauntlet has a related prototype unearthed, and many others. On to ze linkz:

Lo-Fi Minds - Work in progress
Cactus and Villek's new games, looking awesomely abstracty (one pictured!).

davidjaffe.biz: SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!....or,er. don't....unless I earn it.
Making a lot of sense here, through the slightly mangled grammar, hee.

Metaplace - (A piece of) Metaplace Launches!
'Today we’ve released the very first Metaplace world on MySpace: Metachat.'

David Hellman » Blog Archive » The Art of Braid, Part II: No Shame in Tracing
Awesome series showing the visual evolution in... visual forms!

Avant Game: The Lost Ring - the alternate reality game for the 2008 Olympics
Official announcement from Ms. McGonigal.

The Brainy Gamer: The Brainy Flamer
And Future just invested in N4G, didn't they? Sigh.

AtariProtos.com - Dark Chambers (Atari 7800)
Interesting because it's an update of the original inspiration for Gauntlet, Dandy - which I didn't know about.

8bitrocket.com: Review: Pinball Hall Of Fame:Williams Collection for the Wii
Just grabbed this for PSP, worth re-iterating - this game is awesome, despite not even being stocked at GameStop.

Eegra: Feature: Kenichi Nishi and Archime-DS Interview (Part One)
The folks behind Chibi Robo and LOL (the American name!) for DS - they're pretty unconventional, in a good way.

Sex & Games: Lighting Warrior Raidy Goes Gold
English-language hentai games get more sophisticated.

Trends: Intel's Larrabee To Combat Nvidia, ATI In PC Game GPU Market

March 18, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [As you may have noticed, GameSetWatch daily posting has settled happily into 'one original GSW story, one notable Gamasutra story you might have missed, one link compilation. I like this, and I will beat you up if you do not.

This newly filed Gamasutra story - from Christian Nutt - is notable because, blimey, Intel is coming out blazing against the traditional graphics card folks, and I'm not sure many people have noticed yet - could have next-next gen console ramifications too.]

Intel recently held a key press briefing in San Francisco on its upcoming processor architecture, discussing several of its current and upcoming technologies, including its upcoming Larrabee graphics tech (due in 2009-2010), which has significant ramifications for PC gaming.

Patrick P. Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager, digital enterprise group, delivered the presentation and took questions from the media gathered there as well as over the phone.

He began by discussing the breadth of Intel's ambitions for its IA architecture and "expanding its range further and further" by taking it "much more aggressively into high end computing... to solve scientific problems that have never been addressed before".

The most relevant topics to gaming discussed at the briefing are Intel's new Nehalem microarchitecture, its Visual Computing initiative, and its Larrabee architecture, which will deliver its high-end graphics products to compete with NVIDIA and ATI's products.

Intel's Nehalem architecture, which will begin to ship this year, will eventually form a core of products that will range from notebooks to high-end servers. It's scalable from two to eight cores and compatible with Intel's integrated iGraphics. According to Gelsinger, it has been "designed so that we can produce, very rapidly, different solutions for different market segments."

At this point, Gelsinger began to talk about graphics more concretely. In his (and Intel's) opinion, "as graphics moves away from a traditional polygon model to light physics, global illumination... it needs to not be just a traditional rendering of graphics but the integration of media as well... video and media elements." This shift is answered by Intel's Visual Computing initiative.

COLUMN: 'Jump Button': Beyond Pong — 'Hacker' Allan Alcorn

March 18, 2008 8:00 AM |

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

He's done non-stop interviews, Q&A sessions and media press conferences, but in the three days that IT entrepreneur Allan Alcorn has been in Melbourne to take part in ACMI's Game On exhibition, this is the first time I've seen him physically withdraw from a question.

In a small, crowded Japanese restaurant, Al closes his eyes and places his thick-set hands over his face; and for a long moment he's silent.

It's evident that Al's revisiting a time in his life that has haunted him for the last five decades; a memory so personal that out of simple respect I already know I'm not going to ask him to describe it.

'Honestly,' he says, slowly opening his eyes, and pulling away his hands. 'What scares me is running out of money. I come from a poor family and actually going broke and having to go back to [that] lifestyle...

'I don't want to do that.'

Al's reply confirms something I've long suspected. By creating Pong—the 'world's first successful video game'—Al may well be relegated by media to a particular slice of gaming history and culture, but as far as he's concerned, the achievement and its significance is but a blip on a much larger screen, and neither defines nor motivates him. Al is not a video game designer, a cultural beacon for all things retro and gaming. He is a hacker, a finagler, a ring master and a businessman.

He always has been. And he always will be.

GameSetLinks: If You're English, And Dead

March 18, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Then you'll be wanting English Of The Dead, Sega's latest adorable attempt to extend the franchise beyond breaking point. And that's why it works, really!

Elsewhere in GameSetLinks, there's a little less conversation and a little more action, including an interesting conversation on graphical fidelity in games, a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at game developers popping sprogs, and Italian arcade dreams. So yay:

Seven Degrees Of Freedom: The Breeding Edge
'Yes, you heard right, game developers are not only having sex, they are actually breeding.'

Tale of Tales» Blog Archive » Audio Games for DS Homebrew
We all need a Hyena in our DS.

Ste Pickford's Blog - 'Documentation'
You just can't design a game on paper. You have to actually make the game to design it.

Big Bear Entertainment, animated music video creator, raises $550,000 » VentureBeat
The MTV2 game mod animators - odd that things like this get VC.

NCSX: Zombie Shiki - Eigo Ryoku Sosei Jutsu: English of the Dead for DS
Sega should do language learning in the West this way, too!

NCSX on Edo Culture History - Tokyo educational non-game for DS
'By plugging the Edo Culture card into an NDS, users may take virtual tours, learn about the culture, visit the Edo Museum, and view important landmarks.'

YouTube - Johan Agebjörn featuring Nintendo - Mega Man II
Neat remix video alert - via The New Gamer.

The Ludologist » Blog Archive » Better Graphics, Diminishing Returns
Interesting jumping-off point (a Game Developer article) to discuss graphical fidelity.

Insomnia | Commentary | Untold Tales of The Arcade: Mission Secret
Italian arcade reminiscences: 'It should be clear by now that I'm a bit of a Taito fanboy. I'm also a martini fanboy.'

Short and sweet game | MetaFilter
Cecropia's post-'The Act' Flash game work discussed - also via TNG.

MIT's Jenkins On Gamers, Youth Culture, Brother Leeroy

March 17, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [It's always worth listening to what Henry Jenkins has to say, so our correspondent Jessica Maguire was at SXSW recently to transcribe his keynote with 'Everything Bad Is Good for You' author Stephen Johnson - there's some game references but a lot of important wider issues raised here. And sorry, despite the headline, Leeroy isn't actually in here - just playing with y'all. Enjoy!]

Amidst accusations of the dumbing-down of American youth, Henry Jenkins stands as a profound defender of popular culture, and a notable commentator on media and video game-related issues.

The Co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, author of numerous books including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture, shared the stage with Steven Johnson, author of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and other popular books about emerging technology, for the opening remarks at SXSW 2008.

The Decline Of Youth Culture?

To begin their conversation about the impact of new media and gaming culture, Johnson asked Jenkins about the emergence of books like The Dumbest Generation and the big NEA report about the decline of reading among kids today.

GameSetLinks: Easy Like Monday Morning

March 17, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Ah, yeah - a week's worth of RSS concatenated into the latest GameSetLinks, and the colorfully titled Grand Theft Childhood book - actually expressing some sane views, we've heard - is one of the things discussed below.

Also notable is Capcom being relatively honest about Xbox Live Arcade costs and suggesting that $10 is a _big_ rough to actually make money with its 2D update of Bionic Commando. It may be too late to change the price up, but we can at least make everyone aware that it's an issue, mm? Links are here:

EngRish Games blog
A Japanese indie gamer trying to point out/translate Japanese titles for us non-native speakers - via The2Bears.

Capcom reveals price for Bionic Commando | XBLArcade.com
'The poll says $10 so that’s what it will be. Since the title will have to do quite well at that price point to break even... I guess we have to roll the dice and see where they land.'

IndieGames.com - The Weblog - Flash Game Pick: Questionaut (Amanita Design)
Amanita Design (Samorost) + BBC + education = wonderful Flash game.

Valiant Entertainment - Brett Ratner working on 'Harbinger' movie
Interesting because Valiant used to be owned by Acclaim (see: Shadowman, though not Turok), was bought out after Acclaim's bankruptcy.

Pro Wrestling Roundup: John Cena Has His Own NES Pro Wrestling Shirt
Cena is known to be a video game geek, I believe - this seals the deal.

PC World: Game Myths Debunked: Grand Theft Childhood
Discussing a new Harvard-authored book on the subtleties of video game consumption and kids.

Brand Week: Pontiac Evokes Nostalgia in New Campaign
Some of the reasoning behind that new Spy Hunter-inspired ad.

Vancouver Sun: 'Inside the EA Magic Factory'
Apparently it's a factory where they make magic!

Jim Flora :: Fine Art Print :: Manhattan
Completely random, but wouldn't it be cool to see a game using this art style?

Retro Sabotage: Dysfunctional time machine - Flash Games [ver.9.0 req.]
This is very surreal Flash game pastiche territory.

Trend: The Late Blooming Of The PS2 For Hardcore Gamers?

March 17, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Having just got the new issue of Game Informer magazine with Alpha Protocol on the cover, I was very interested to spot an ad for O3 Entertainment's Chaos Wars, which SiliconEra has been discussing for a while.

It's coming out in April now for PS2 - there's a pre-order page on GameStop's website. This is actually a pretty obscure product - as the Wikipedia page explains:

"Chaos Wars is a crossover between several companies' console role-playing game series: Aruze's Shadow Hearts, Atlus's Growlanser, Idea Factory's Blazing Souls, Gakuen Toshi Vara Noir, Spectral Force, Spectral Souls and Hametsu no Mars, and RED Entertainment's Gungrave and Samurai Police/Shinsengumi Gunrouden."

But yet it's managed to get a U.S. release on PlayStation 2, and that's part of an interesting trend. As the PS2 hardware has matured, but continued to sell (heck, it managed 350,000 units in the U.S. in February), we seem to be seeing SCEA relax its concept approval on casual titles and Japanese niche games alike.

Time was it that standalone 2D games wouldn't make it out on PlayStation 2 - difficult to work out what was actually permitted, since there are some extravagant rumors, but it certainly seems that titles like Arcana Heart wouldn't have made it out previously. And now it has.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 3/15/07

March 16, 2008 4:00 PM |

cyoa049.jpg Being a packrat is a dangerous thing. Don't worry -- my place is not a mess, overrun with stacks of magazines to the point where you can't navigate it anymore. Everything's still nice and neat; I can still keep a facade of normalcy as long as I don't show guests my home office/ferret habitat/magazine room.

But I've worried that I'm picking up a new hobby, one that I don't really need right now. I stop by used bookstores almost whenever I pass one, and lately I've been buying whatever $1 Choose Your Own Adventure books they have.

I do this for the same reasons I collect magazines and collected video games before that -- part nostalgia (I devoured these things as a grade-schooler), part gotta-catch-em-all psychology, part sheer nerddom. Now I'm even starting to peruse eBay and AbeBooks for deals on CYOA and other gamebook series. (I have a strict policy -- don't pay more than a buck for anything -- and so far it seems workable.)

Is this the plight of the geek? The desire to collect stuff of no vital value? Where does it end? In my case, it ends once I run out of shelf space -- which, sadly, I still have a lot of. Could be worse, I suppose -- I could have a taste for all those $60-and-up anime figurines I write about all the time for my magazine. As shelf filler, gamebooks give you far more bang for the buck. (PS: You got any extras, drop me a line at kevin@piqmag.com. Wait, don't. You'll just be encouraging me if you do!)

Anyway, click on for my views on all the new US game mags of the past fortnight. Big things are happening this month (except to book sizes, those are still small) -- nearly all the mags are livid with GTA4 coverage, but one stood out above the rest...

GameSetLinks: Good Lord, It's Pu-Li-Ru-La

March 16, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- More GameSetLinks then, and I was pretty astounded to read the link below which has Hardcore Gaming 101 discussing the completely surreal (and rather obscure) Pu-Li-Ru-La from Taito - talk about hidden dada art action, hm?

Anyhow, very annoying that it's left off the U.S. version of Taito Legends 2 (which I just picked up, and is a great archive of classic Taito titles) - guessing it's something to do with the bizarre 'legs akimbo' art pictured in the HG101 article, which was altered for the U.S. arcade version. Oh well. Onward with plenty of other esoterica:

chewing pixels » The Golden Compass: Blame It on the Reviewer
Interesting follow-up on the Gamasutra interview with the Golden Compass game scripter.

Hardcore Gaming 101: Pu-Li-Ru-La
Again, some awesome screenshot-heavy researching from the HG101-ers - Kurt Kalata from the site has an article or two forthcoming on Gamasutra, by the way.

EvoTab » Keeping tabs on game news
GameTab evolved, from the mercurial Reed.

Lost Levels :: View topic - K-Project (Rez Beta) Dumped
Wow, I wonder what the music tracks used are - via SiliconEra.

PiQ Entertainment Magazine Hits Newsstands - Anime News Network
Mr. Gifford's magazine, he of Mag Weasel fame.

Creator of Eliza, Joseph Weizenbaum, Dead at 85 - Boing Boing
Indeed, a v.appropriate eulogy - via Waxy.

insertcredit.com on the Tower Of Druaga MMO
Check out the last video - it's Benny Hill: The MMO!

PlayStation.Blog » thatgamecompany’s 24hr Game Jam
Cute! Now I wanna play it.

Bob Ostertag's 'w00t' experimental music album - free download.
'w00t was composed entirely from fragments of music' from games - from Balloon Fight to World Of Warcraft! Via The-Inbetween.

Kotaku: Did Konami Inspire Gibson's Patent Suit?
Meh, how about looking at the Gibson patent? Seems to be some kind of crazy VR headset silliness not inspired by Guitar Freaks.

The Art Of Play Makes CMU Into ArtGame Central

March 16, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Over at Carnegie Mellon University, they've announced they're doing a two-day festival called 'The Art Of Play', starring art-game neeto folks like Jason Rohrer (Passage, Gravitation), Heather Kelley (Kokoromi kru), and even former Ion Storm-er and current Spielberg co-conspirator Randy Smith.

It takes place on March 31th and April 1st, and here's the vision:

"The Art of Play brings together creators and researchers of games from multiple contexts - large AAA productions from major corporations, mid-sized developers completing work-for-hire projects, indies developed by small teams and released for free on the internet or for a small price on one of the many alternative distribution channels, and experimental games produced within an academic context."

What's more: "The aim of this Symposium and Arcade is to survey the games that brought us to this moment with their unique creative vision, and to frame the field moving forward, as game makers finally abandon the question "CAN games be art," and begin to ask ourselves in how many ways they WILL be."

Not really clear how open this event is to the public, but there's a PDF brochure, an afterparty (!), and the website art is by Cactus, so hey - the more events like this, the better.

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