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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 May, 2008

GameSetLinks: I Am A Robot, I Am A Robot

May 19, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Hurray, some marvellous and complementary GameSetLinks, starting out with the N creators talking about their from-scratch re-engineering on the 'mythical' next Metanet game, Robotology.

Also in here - discussion on the Sony-commissioned PS3 demo, as well as 'the 8 online design commandments' from HDRLying and Stephen Colbert battling Asian idols on Dance Dance Revolution.

Cha cha URL:

Robotology: Back to the Drawing Board | metablog
'As with physics, we’re developing our own animation technology from scratch.' Invented tech custom fun!

Music Bounce: walkthrough, review, discussion, hints and tips at Jay is Games
An odd but v.interesting music-oriented bouncing puzzler - via The New Gamer.

GameSpite: 'Metal Gear Solid 4-play'
Parish gets a little doomy, aww. 'Seriously, guys, do something better with your life than write about video games. Let me your living cautionary tale.' Also see next post.

Make It Big In Games » Blog Archive » An Itch That Can’t Be Scratched"Make It Big In Games"
Interesting, GarageGames's Jeff Tunnell is leaving - wondering if InstantAction's lack of buzz (not saying lack of success yet, just buzz) has played a factor.

[UPDATE: Jeff Tunnell responds in our comments: "Your speculation about why I left GarageGames could not be further from the truth. Instant Action has hundreds of thousands of users already in its early Beta state. I am leaving to MAKE games for IA among other things." Fair enough, then!]

SCEA Pre-E3 Judge's Day: Linger In Shadows Impressions
Yep, the Sony-funded PS3 demo, with some 'playable' bits, oddly!

YouTube - Dance Battle: Rain VS Stephen Colbert
Yes, they play Dance Dance Revolution. Yes, I am disturbed.

The 8 Online Design Commandments « High Dynamic Range Lying
'Gameplay is not the only death sentence an online competitive game can contract.'

Level Up : 180 Degrees: How Vic Davis Forged a Template For Indie Success With Armageddon Empires, Part I
Previously skipped this because I thought it was an interview, but it actually has some of the best sales data on indie games and online notoriety that I've seen - you can compare outlet comments and sales spikes.

Art and Entertainment: Exclusively and Mutually Inexclusive « Desert Hat
'So the perceived barrier between art and entertainment is something that some would say is a result of our Puritan culture.'

damned vulpine » Helix
J. tested a new WiiWare game which is another example of the intriguing but honestly slightly iffy-looking Wii downloadable output - a lot of the upcoming games look like oldskool PC shareware, and I have no idea why. Might play great tho!

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 5/17/08

May 18, 2008 4:00 PM |

It's another exciting installment of my biweekly look into the beguiling world of video-game magazines! Huzzah! Except -- hang on -- there are only three mags to cover this time around. Curse Future Publishing for putting out all four of their mags at once and wrecking any sense of balance I had with these updates!

Still, this update is still remarkably interesting for one important reason: Edge and Game Informer both have the hot world exclusive etc. scoop on the new Prince of Persia, and since each mag wrote their coverage off largely the same access, it's the perfect opportunity for me to compare how the USA's top-circ game mag's approach to game features differs from the world's smuggest most dedicated game publication.

Edge June 2008

edge-0806.jpg

Cover: A new Prince of Persia

Out of all the Edges I've read in the past few years, this is probably the cover story with the least amount of meat to it -- a far cry from the GTA feature of two months ago, which had enough content to write an entire coffee-table book with. Meanwhile, this eight-page feature is illustrated with six screenshots, a couple pieces of concept art, and some glamour shots of the development team.

GameSetNetwork: The Weekend Edition

May 18, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Sorta a selfish version of RPS' 'The Sunday Papers', time to round up the remainder of the original articles we've published this week on sister sites like Gamasutra and Game Career Guide, yay.

Some of the highlights - WildTangent's Alex St. John is still grumpy as all get-out, we analyze Konami's epic Gamer's Day presentation, and a wannabe developer rages against the game industry machine for not letting him play, or similar.

Ready, steady, cook:

Interview: High Impact's Lesley Matheson On New Studios, Tech, And More
"Los Angeles-based High Impact Games are behind Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and the upcoming Secret Agent Clank - and Gamasutra chats in-depth to design director Lesley Matheson on the PSP, game engines, and the LA dev scene."

ION: WildTangent's St. John Declares Consoles Dead, Claims PC Renaissance
"Console gaming is dead, declared typically brazen WildTangent CEO Alex St. John at his ION conference closing keynote, telling his audience how to harness what he claims is online PC gaming's renaissance with statistics and advice on maximizing ad-supported play."

Op-ed: From the Outside Looking In
"Brian Nathanson attended a game school and feels it left him underprepared to apply for jobs in the game industry ... or is he not getting interviews for jobs because game studios won't take a chance on an inexperienced candidate? In this op-ed, he airs the conflict as he sees it."

Analysis: Konami Gamer's Night - Business As Usual?
"As recently reported, Konami has unveiled its lineup for the remainder of 2008, including new peripheral-based rhythm title Rock Revolution, and Gamasutra was at its pre-E3 Gamer's Nights to evaluate the company's line-up - from Iga to Kojima and beyond."

Building a Mindset for Rapid Iteration Part 2: Some Patterns to Follow and Pitfalls to Avoid
"Following his initial take, EA veteran and Emergent VP Gregory completes his look at rapid iteration by examining methods for seeing asset change swiftly in your games."

Games For Health: Casual Gaming's Effects on Mood, Stress
"Surveys have suggested that gamers play certain casual games to reduce stress and improve mood, and a PopCap-funded East Carolina University research team presented research results at the 2008 Games For Health conference - Gamasutra has full specifics."

Q&A: Pogo's Kerpelman On The State Of Casual Gaming
"How can casual developers stand out in a crowded field? Todd Kerpelman, creative director for the EA-owned Pogo.com, talks in-depth to Gamasutra, giving his thoughts on casual business models, Facebook gaming, and the swift cloning of game concepts in the casual industry."

Educational Feature: Three Novice Mistakes In Game Design
"Inexperienced game designers are prone to making certain mistakes, says DeVry University instructor David Sushil, and in the latest feature for educational site GameCareerGuide, Sushil compiles three favorite repeat offenders of fledgling designers."

ION: BlackStar Designer Reinhart On Design Doc Alternatives
"Particularly for large scale projects like MMOs, design documents can be an ineffective way to convey vision, said Spacetime lead designer Brandon Reinhart at his ION conference session, suggesting, in addition, new tools to focus both development teams and players."

Q&A: FlowPlay's Morton Talks ourWorld Online Environment
"FlowPlay recently launched its youngster-targeted online world ourWorld in an open beta, and the company claims ourWorld differs from competing virtual environments, with players not only able to build customized avatars, but take in-game jobs, play games from "leading online game developers" and even view YouTube videos in an in-world theatre - we talked to FlowPlay co-founder Derrick Morton about what it is that sets ourWorld apart."

Interview: Crackpot's Ahern Sprays You With Insecticide

May 18, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- [Crackpot Entertainment's Curse Of Monkey Island alumnus Larry Ahern has just debuted DS detective action-adventure Insecticide as part of an intriguingly decentralized and outsourced development effort - and our very own Brandon Sheffield has been chatting to him about how he pulled it off.]

Like many other members of the decade-long LucasArts adventure game veteran diaspora, Larry Ahern has been involved in a number of freelance projects since leaving LucasArts.

But he recently served as creative director on Insecticide, a Gamecock-published action/adventure detective title that shipped for Nintendo DS in March and is planned for downloadable release on PC.

During his ten years at LucasArts, Ahern worked on numerous games including Sam & Max Hit the Road and Day of the Tentacle as an artist and animator, and is probably best known as the co-designer of 1997's fondly-remembered Curse of Monkey Island before leaving in 2000.

Insecticide was developed by Crackpot Entertainment, an outsourcing-heavy studio that reunited several former Lucas adventure developers including concept artist Peter Chan, technical artist Mike Levine, and, briefly, designer Dave Grossman (now at Telltale Games with numerous other Lucas vets).

Ahern sat down with us to discuss Insecticide's odd platform pairing, how Crackpot and its decentralized structure work, and why the studio probably won't have another project for a while.

You recently released Insecticide. Hooray! It's an unusual target, PC downloadable and DS. What made you go that route?

LA: It's interesting, we hear that a bit. But for us, given that we are doing some puzzle-y adventure-style stuff in the detective sections, it actually makes a lot of sense on the DS.

The stuff that you can do with the mouse makes sense with the touchscreen and the stylus, so I think it's a good combo. It definitely seems that DS the market has taken a liking to a lot of the adventure-style products recently anyway.

GameSetLinks: The Tao Of The Rochdale Balrog

May 17, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Ambling into the GameSetWeekend, we're proud to debut some new GameSetLinks - starting off with some more discussions from the makers of 'Grand Theft Childhood' on the new instalment in the series - at least from a theoretical standpoint!

Elsewhere in this particular parcel of joy - Gnome's Lair talks to a gloriously homebrew adventure game veteran, Boing Boing Gadgets busts out a neat exergaming history, and we learn something useful from Nordic Game, fermentation-wise.

Ready, set, gone:

Grand Theft Childhood Author Weighs in on GTA IV — Open Education
'This is strikingly similar to the concerns over and editorials against comic books, radio, gangster films and—back in the late 19th century—the evil influence of paperback novels on teenage girls.'

the random Gnomes' random Lair: 'a few gnomish questions / The Balrog of Zenobi'
'Zenobi Software, the Rochdale Balrog, the Cat and the Cockroach were responsible for over two hundred excellent -nay, classic- ZX Spectrum text-adventures' - interview ensues, the Zenobi site also worth checking for awesome British text adventure oddness!

GameTap : [Playlist of the Week] - Randy Pitchford
Gearbox's Pitchfork (haha!) digs uber-cult Mechner title The Last Express, intriguingly.

Don't fear the Mutant photoblogs Ste Curran at Nordic Game
...featuring an important equation!

auntie pixelante › change ain’t cheap
Dessgeega and Guildhall@SMU part ways, due to design differences - some interesting discussions in the comments about 'grinding' on traditional games vs. alternatives.

From Atari Joyboard to Wii Fit: 25 years of "exergaming" - Boing Boing Gadgets
Nice - quite similar (but more web-specific!) to Noah Falstein's recent Games For Health Conf lecture! Via der Waxometer!

Space Invaders 360 @ZKM Besucherfest [Update] | toblux blog a.k.a. toblog
Neat art alert: 'Space Invaders 360 is a tribute to the ’70s and ’80s where a good video game didn’t need a 3D-Shader or a 256bit rendering-pipeline to spend hours of joy and fun.'

Last Exit Magazine « Love in Game-space
Aw, Animal Crossing - via The-Inbetween.

Origin Systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Didn't know that Britt Daniel (lead singer of Spoon) used to work as a composer for Origin - wacky.

Twitter / N'Gai Croal: 14:59 Watch: Recognized by ...
Journalist or... celebrajournalist? Ascending into Keighley-space!

Quiz Me Quik: 'NeoDS - 100 Meg (Portable) Shock!'

May 17, 2008 8:00 AM |

NeoDS1.jpg['Quiz Me Quik' is a new weekly GameSetWatch column by journalist Alistair Wallis, in which he picks offbeat subjects in the game business and interviews them about their business, their perspective, and their unique view of life. This time, an examination of Nintendo's portable system running a much more heavyweight vintage console.]

There’s kind of a weird mythical nature to the Neo Geo – in my mind, at the very least. I think it applies to other people, though, simply because of the price associated with the console throughout its lifetime: US$649 at launch, with games going for $200 or more.

And as time has gone on, it hasn’t got much better. Games for the system – rare ones, that is – have a tendency to go for over $1,000 on eBay. I’ve always thought of it as a highly regarded system, though it’s obviously one that was never hugely successful in a commercial sense.

I’ve only played one – only even seen one – in the wild once, and that was at an import store on Melbourne’s notoriously expensive Toorak Rd. I can’t remember what I played, as I think I was about 12 at the time. I know it had grenades in it, but that really doesn’t narrow it down for the Neo Geo, does it?

I do remember the controller, though; that thing was super sturdy, and really a joy to use. And I think that I knew from reading GamePro that it was a far more powerful machine than what I was used to (although given I was used to a 286 at the time, that’s not saying much).

And now Neo Geo games are playable on DS, with Ben Ingram’s NeoDS emulator, which has just been released, and is currently at version 0.1.0. It's funny how quickly technology moves. I've just replayed Monkey Island 2 on my mobile, for example. That game wouldn't even run on my 286 growing up.

Naturally, there’s a few bugs with it right now, but that makes for some interesting discussion – how many people really know about the processes involved in writing emulation software, and how to deal with strange issues? There’s no better time, then, to actually talk with Ben and ask about the emulator as he works to iron out the bugs and implement new features.

GSW: What made you think, initially, that the DS would be powerful enough to support a Neo Geo emulator?

Ben Ingram: I didn't know if it would work initially, but looking at the Neo Geo specs, it seemed like if I can stream data fast enough, everything else would be doable. So I gave it a shot.

Best Of Indie Games: Evolutionary Games

May 17, 2008 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days, as well as any notable features on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top titles released earlier this week - including new games from two IGF finalists, a puzzler, an arena shooter, an action game and a little something from the developer of Passage.

Game Pick: 'Evolution Shmup' (Kloonigames, browser)
"A new experimental project by the developer of IGF finalist Crayon Physics Deluxe, in which players are invited to participate in creating the perfect shooter, by tracking the amount of time that a player spends on each random iteration of a new game. Every refresh creates a different result, using elements from versions of Evolution Shmup which players have spent the most time on."

Game Pick: 'Debrysis' (OUEO factory, freeware)
"An arena shooter with fancy graphics, destructive weapons, power-ups and lots of explosions. Comes with an online high score table. This freeware title uses a combination of both keyboard and mouse for its Geometry Wars-style controls."

Game Pick: 'Kryzta' (cactus, freeware)
"A new action game from IGF finalist cactus (Clean Asia!), created in under six hours. In Kryzta, players have to direct shots from enemies toward each other to damage them, thus generating small units to collect for points."

Game Pick: 'Putty Puzzle' (Kevin Glass, browser)
"A charming puzzler with brightly-colored blobs of putty to play around with... the objective of Putty Puzzle is to shift the correct coloured blocks and rest them on marked areas in each screen, achieved by breaking up and merging blobs of putty piece by piece."

Game Pick: 'Crazy Bound 2' (CraftM, freeware)
"An action game in the style of Nifflas' Within a Deep Forest, in which players have to guide a bouncing object past obstacles and dangers placed haphazardly in the underground caverns."

Game Pick: 'Police Brutality' (Jason Rohrer, freeware)
"Jason Rohrer's new game, created for his monthly Escapist column - the Game Design Sketchbook. In the words of Passage creator Rohrer: 'Police Brutality is a game about fear, collective motivation, ad hoc organizing, self-sacrifice, and non-violence. First and foremost, though, it's a game about shouting.'"

COLUMN: @Play: Roguelikes And OD&D

May 16, 2008 4:00 PM |

Roguelike column thumbnail ['@ Play' is a kinda-sorta bi-weekly column by John Harris which discusses the history, present and future of the Roguelike dungeon exploring genre.]

As you may have figured out by now, roguelikes are one of my favorite types of computer games. It's not that I hate other kinds of games, or even other RPGs. But roguelikes, good ones at least, provide essential gaming nutrients unavailable nearly anywhere else. They're games of skill instead of patience, which is rare for CRPGs. They are difficult but, once one knows how to play, often fair. And they and are set in a world of wonder and amazement balanced by great danger.

The possibilities there seem endless. You could play Rogue a hundred times and not experience two games that are similar to each other. You could play Nethack or ADOM for years and still encounter a new aspect of the game from time to time. Dungeon Crawl is more than just a game: it is dozens of games, each class and race playing surprisingly differently from the others. Just being a roguelike doesn't make a game good, of course, but the best are among the greatest games ever made.

I believe that, someday, eventually, the tide will turn in the public perception of roguelike games, or at least the core ideas that drive them. This is not due to any magical quality bestowed by turn-based movement or grid-based game worlds, which are a superficial determination of roguelikeness but doesn't get to what makes them interesting. No, one plays a roguelike to explore an unknown world, relying on uncertain resources, figuring the rules out along the way, and learning the underlying logic of the game. And of course, when people start talking about procedural content generation, they are unknowingly calling upon the ancient monster-deities of the Dungeons of Doom.

But these ideas did not originate with roguelikes. It must be remembered that approximately half of what makes roguelikes interesting as computer games was invented years before, in a pen-and-paper game created back when teletype machines roamed the earth.

Platinum's Madworld, Infinite Line, Bayonetta: The Transcript

May 16, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- [GSW's Brandon Sheffield was at the PlatinumGames/Sega kickoff bash the other day, and so he was kind enough to grab an entire audio recording of the presentation. We have interviews with all the primary players coming up - but in the meantime, thanks to Matt 'Fort90' Hawkins' transcription power, here's what everyone said - Kamiya's comments are particularly interesting.]

As we've just reported, Sega has officially announced a four-game deal with PlatinumGames, the group made up of former Capcom alum behind Okami, Devil May Cry, and God Hand.

The line-up will include ultraviolent Wii title Madworld, DS space exploration RPG Infinite Line, next-gen action title Bayonetta, and one unannounced title in the works from Resident Evil and God Hand creator Shinji Mikami.

Gamasutra attended the Sega/PlatinumGames showcase in San Francisco, and, following our earlier more brief report, we now bring you the full transcript of the presentation from Sega U.S. president Simon Jeffery, Platinum CEO Tatsuya Minami, producer Atsushi Inaba, and the creators of each of the three showcased titles:

Simon Jeffery - The Sega Angle

Simon Jeffery: These guys are some of the most talented, some of the most respected guys in the entire gaming business. Their portfolio is incredible, they're revered, they're almost worshipped in some parts of the game community. We're truly honored to have been working with them.

Let me talk a little bit about where Sega is right now. The last three years or so of Sega has spent an enormous effort revitalizing its business -- changing its strategies, completely embracing the life as a multi-platform publisher instead of a hardware company.

GameSetLinks: Consoles? Controlled By Controllers!

May 16, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Hurrah, a good chunk of GameSetLinks for the almost-weekend, and there's a whole bunch of neat stuff in here - starting with some interesting diagrams of the history of console controllers.

Also in here - some more commentary on Guitar Hero IV and the Devecka patents, a good set of WiiWare articles, me whining about the spelling of Grand Theft Auto IV's lead character, and much more!

Avant and avast:

the-inbetween.com [ Revisionist Gaming History ]
'I like this illustration showing the (incomplete) history of videogame console controllers.' Me also - from a MoMA exhibition.

Game Informer snags first pic of Guitar Hero IV drums - Joystiq
Most interestingly, the GI article (scan, sorry!) specifically mentions the Devecka patents that I uncovered last October. Iiiiinteresting.

Nintendo Taps U.S. Talent in Search of WiiWare Hits | Game | Life from Wired.com
Good summing up of pluses, minuses of WiiWare to date for indies.

Niko Bellic is a Serbian name? - Yahoo! Answers
The spelling of the GTA IV protagonist's name really bothers me - I think it should be Niko Belic, it looks 'wrong' to me with two 'l's. Anyone else? Bueller?

Kotaku: 'Rumor Smash: SNK USA Is So Not Closing Down'
This SNK Japan quote is hilariously, deliciously unfiltered.

chewing pixels » A Cautionary Tale for the Young Games Writer
Some addition commentary by Simon Parkin on his recent GSW column (if you scroll down) that's worth reading: 'This is no industry for old men.'

Sightseeing in Liberty City - a set on Flickr
'A side by side comparison of a photo tour in New York City and Liberty City.'

pixelate environment - Mr. Bounce Trailer
The 'Understanding Games' guys are preparing a pretty trippy physics-y Arkanoid-style Flash game for Kongregate.

Wired's WiiWare Launch Guide | Game | Life from Wired.com
Kudos again to Kohler for going the extra mile and giving useful game impressions.

GameSpot News: 'PressSpotting: Rockin' out with MTV's Stephen Totilo'
Heartily agreed on the comments about journalists going into development.

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