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About GameSetWatch

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 June, 2008

The Dobbs Challenge Contest Winners Announced

June 18, 2008 4:00 PM |

[GameSetWatch's sister programming mag/website Dr Dobb's Journal has been running the Dr. Dobb's Challenge game competition in association with Microsoft Visual Studio, with $10,000 in prizes for modding a Windows and Windows Mobile sample game. Here, contest organizer Mathew Kumar is kind enough to outline the winners - go check em out!]

It's been an intense few days of judging and we'd like to congratulate all of the entrants for their remarkable work in modding Dr. Dobbs Challenge into a variety of striking and very different games!

We'll be making our critic's choice of all the entrants available for download on the Dobbs Challenge website starting tomorrow, but we'd like to first announce the winners of the inaugural Dobbs Challenge, selected by our panel of judges.

Best One Button Game
Wobble Bob
(Lukasz Lesicki)

The one button category was a challenging category that entrants had to "give their all" to in the hope of winning, and although there were many amazing entries, Lukasz Lesicki's Wobble Bob came out of nowhere to win it by virtue of its unique game design. Though our judges are au fait with many different kinds of one-button game, they had never played one with a character who "wobbled" backwards and forwards allowing movement in two directions with a subtle, timing-based gameplay.

In addition, both graphics and level design offered a unified pleasant feel, and as a result Lukasz Lesicki walks away with the $1,000 prize. [Download Now!]

Design Lesson 101 - God of War: Chains of Olympus

June 18, 2008 8:00 AM |

God_of_War_Chains_of_Olympus_psp.jpg['Design Lesson 101' is a regular column by Raven game designer Manveer Heir. The challenge is to play a game from start to completion - and learn something about game design in the process. This week we take a look at Ready at Dawn's PSP prequel, God of War: Chains of Olympus]

The God of War series is known for its massive scale and fast paced, adrenaline fueled combat. When Sony announced a version of the series would be coming out for the PSP, many fans were worried. Luckily, the developer Ready at Dawn has done a great job of keeping all the core elements of the God of War series intact, and the series' antihero Kratos is back once again.

One of the core elements of the series has been the interactive events, where the player engages in scripted sequences by pressing buttons on the controller when prompted. Some of these sequences rely on timing (quick-time events), where one false move will force you to start over or die.

Other sequences allow you to interact at your own pace. For example, one sequence has the player make clockwise circles with the analog stick in order to pull down a statue and progress. You do not have to do this immediately, but you won't progress forward until you do so.

It seems that these events are either loved or loathed by most people. While they allow for scripted, specific events to occur within the game, the interactivity is limited to binary input (you either hit the button or you didn't). There is also the issue of the button to press appearing on the screen, something that can pull the player out of a state of sensual immersion. Even so, these events are capable of still drawing the player deeper into the narrative, thereby becoming effective plot devices.

At this point, I must mention that the remainder of this column contains a major plot spoiler for the game. Please do not continue reading if you would get upset at having major parts of the story revealed.

GameSetLinks: A Rolling Uzi Gathers No Moss

June 18, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Ah yes, the GameSetLink-age, it does continue, and today we're starting out with Peter Travers actually devoting a lot of his Rolling Stone film column to why Grand Theft Auto is important, even to, uhh, the film column.

Of course, why games can't have their own big column in Rolling Stone every week is another issue altogether, but let's just content ourselves with checking out the other links, which include a Chicago Tribune look at the arcade industry as it is today, a pretty amusing Gamasutra job posting, and a plethora of other videos, text links, and ephemera.

Stumbling towards OK-ness:

Is Grand Theft Auto IV Actually the Best Popcorn Movie of the Summer? : Rolling Stone
This was printed over 1 and a half pages in the latest Rolling Stone - so somewhat of a big deal.

Kokoromi Collective - Cum on feel the game
Steve Swink's book cover - from meh to yay, thanks to Fez co-creator Phil Fish!

Gamasutra Jobs: Unscripted Ventures' random job ad that made me boggle
Nice job title, at least, for effect: 'Wanted: Part Patton, Part Elvis (If either were alive and fronting as a senior game executive)'

GameDaily: 'Media Coverage: The Seven Deadly Sins of Video Game Reviewing'
Ah, Mastrapa launches into the fray.

Hell's Kitchen PC casual game review: Jay is Games
As some commenters note, a CG Gordon Ramsay is seriously disturbing.

Siliconera » Origins of Agetec’s Women’s Volleyball
I wonder how this will sell in the West.

Zune gets in tune with L.A. - Los Angeles Times
Much as Nokia has a theater in New York, some interesting attempted hipster event branding for Zune.

Video arcades' last gasp -- chicagotribune.com
Well-written from an outsider's point of view - via GBGames.

Independent Creator: 'Designing Your Respawn System'
A mini-post with a really cute lolcats-y illustration (pictured) from an ex-Doublefine indie blogger I was unaware of - ta Brandonnn.

YouTube - "Green Blues" The Incredible Hulk Video Game
Industry music veteran, Captains Of The Chess Team band member (and my old co-worker) Scott Snyder goofs off with a grunge-y music video about the Hulk's new game incarnation. 'Hulk Smash', etc.

Column: Welcome to the GameSetWatch Comic - 'Welcome to the Persona 3'

June 17, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Welcome to the GameSetWatch Comic' is, once again, a weekly comic by Jonathan "Persona" Kim about the continuing adventures of our society, cultural postdialectic theory, and video games.]

Aha, this latest GameSetWatch Comic references the Atlus-created cult PS2 title Persona 3, and for those not aware of the general conceit, here's Wikipedia explaining neatly of the RPG:

"The player uses weapons and magical abilities gained by the use of "Personas" to defeat foes in a turn-based combat system. An iconic feature of the game is the method by which the members of SEES release their Personas: by firing an Evoker, a gun-like object, at their head, which does no damage but causes sufficient emotional stress to cause the Persona to appear."

So there. Commenters, explain the other references for the unworthy/insufficiently geeky.

I choose you, Bulbasaur!

[Jonathan "Persona" Kim is a character animation student at the California Institute of the Arts. When not working on doujinshi material, he continues the Mecha Fetus revolution on the Mecha Fetus Visublog.]

Castlevania's Igarashi: '2D Is Still Somewhat Alive'

June 17, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [Considering the GameSetWatch Comic was just last week poking fun at Castlevania, thought it might be neat to reprint Christian Nutt's brand new Gamasutra interview with whip-totin' franchise overseer IGA - the Konami is designer enigmatic, wacky, but still actually likeable! We claim! Also, there's an N+ plug in here, hee. Onward.]

Veteran publisher Konami recently announced Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, the third Nintendo DS title in the twenty-year-running action platformer series.

Following the announcement, Gamasutra sat down with series producer Koji Igarashi, who is well known to fans by his nickname IGA and who has a tendency to appear in public somewhat theatrically wearing a cowboy hat and wielding a whip.

Igarashi, who has shepherded the popular series for the past few years, touched on his outspoken passion for the 2D format, his thoughts on experimenting with the Castlevania formula, his love of Bionic Commando, and why he harbors a fear of fans yelling at him.

Obviously, you're keeping the 2D fight alive on 2D with the Nintendo DS. You said last year you're the last hope for 2D games at Konami. Tell me how that's going.

Koji Igarashi: I did that speech over a year ago, and I'm glad that 2D is still somewhat alive. It's been fun.

More than one developer that I've talked to has said that they found your speech was inspirational.

KI: I'm glad.

Did you play N+ for Xbox Live Arcade?

KI: No, I have not.

You should check that out. It's a 2D ninja action game, and I think the creators like your stuff too.

KI: I will definitely try it.

Opinion: Boss Design - Trial & Punishment

June 17, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this editorial, game commentator Nayan Ramachandran lays out the dynamics of a hallowed gaming convention -- the boss fight -- categorizing the various design approaches to boss fights: Metal Gear's lateral thinking, Zelda's tool-based fights, and Ninja Gaiden's mercilessly 'archaic' forfeitures.]

Western developers and media have been, for the last several years, foretelling the fall of the era of boss battles. In an industry that, in years past, was dominated by a simple level structure, the very designers of these games are turning their back on this tradition in favor of a more asymmetrical and perhaps more beneficial pattern.

Asian developers still bother to design evil and devious boss creatures for their games, sometimes spreading them through the game at a rate higher than a single one in each level. Japanese roleplaying games are famous for gauntlets of boss fights, while Capcom has become famous over the years for having players replay boss fights later in the adventure.

With all this talk of “bosses” and “level structure” though, perhaps we are alienating a portion of our readership; a portion more attuned and connected to modern Western game design than the games of my childhood. Likely after reading the last two paragraphs, a single question leaves their bewildered lips: “What is a boss?”

GameSetLinks: The Speed And The Noise

June 17, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Well, time for some new GameSetLinks to usher in the new week, headed by the neat idea of having audio commentary to explain your super-speedy game speed runs - thanks for sorting that one out, Speed Demos Archive.

Also in here somewhere or other - a totally adorable (pictured) new Steve Purcell illustration on the Sam & Max tip, plus confessional games, types of testing, and 'games as poetry', indeed.

And it's on:

Speed Demos Archive: 'Audio Commentary' thread
Great idea - speed runs with commentary to you can understand how/why the ninja speed is cool.

Steve Purcell: 'My obscure bookplate, lovingly painted and aged to perfection for the Sam & Max Surfin' the Highway Limited Edition Hardcover.' Weiner Sam!

Heroine Sheik » Blog Archive » Click Me: “Video Game Sex Beyond Grand Theft Auto”
Slightly NSFW cover, discussing a new book on sex/games I wasn't aware of.

The Escapist : Immortality
"If you had an immortality pill right there in front of you, would you take it?" Jason Rohrer tries a game about it.

Nintendo's Mixed WiiWare Messages : Edge
'Because of the structure of the initiative, WiiWare developers are wholly responsible for having their titles rated, translated and legally checked for each of these regions.'

Confessional Games | The New Gamer
'Why are confessional games so scarce when the genre thrives in other mediums?'

Types of Testing | Gamelab
'I found 16 different kinds of testing that might happen all in the course of a single game's development.'

Q Entertainment's Tetsuya Mizuguchi Interview // None /// Eurogamer
Nice wide-ranging Rob Fahey interview with the Miz.

Ludus Novus :: Phyta: Games As Poetry
'This is a game about growth. Growth at the expense of all else. It’s sad and beautiful.'

Japanmanship: Futurama
JC Barnett goes all predictoid - I think he does a good job. If serious. Which it is. I think.

Column: The Game Anthropologist: Team Fortress 2: Radical Departures

June 16, 2008 4:00 PM |

TF2_Group.jpg [The Game Anthropologist chronicles Michael Walbridge's ventures into gaming communities as he reports on their inhabitants and culture. This time round, he takes a look at Valve's seminal Team Fortress 2.]

Darn FPS Kids And Their Language

It is no doubt or secret that the first person shooter genre and its communities are highly steeped in the competitive spirit. If playground basketball has its ball hogs, FPS has its kill hogs. The team, for all its necessity, can shove off. This usually isn’t considered a problem, though; it’s what we expect, right? We’re shooting at each other. FPS servers are, after all, playgrounds. A player being the Kobe Bryant of the team is the least of your worries.

In concrete life, when an adult goes to observe children in their element, the children do not act the same. Social science research is often rife with hand-wringing—“how can we study people scientifically when the object of study changes simply because of its being studied?” More than one researcher has lamented. Plunk down a random adult in the back of a high school classroom and the kids act differently. In the digital realm, though, kids don’t care that you are there.

Those who look for scapegoats blame the games. Those of us who play games have a better memory of our childhood; young males, adolescents, children are depicting animalistic humanity and lack of development while online and on Xbox Live because they’re just that: kids. While research and artistry can show us much, we don’t have to look far to see it for ourselves.

All Grown Up

In Team Fortress 2, a game which has been sold to at least 2 million people, showboating, kill-whoring, and brazen, crass insults are a rare sight (on non-modded servers with standard maps, anyway). This is puzzling for many reasons. Not only is it an FPS, it’s a quality, competitive one that is only available from Steam. (Counter Strike kids are different from Halo kids, but not in the way you would hope—many of them are hopelessly vulgar.)

Each character has a taunt for each weapon; that’s 27 animated taunts available, including the verbal ones your character automatically utters upon killing. Not to mention the fact that any time someone kills you 3 times in a row a big “NEMESIS” gets planted next to that person’s name.

When you die, the game zooms in on the person who killed you. Big fists appear over him so you can tell who keeps shoving you back to observing your teammates. Failing to get revenge? Here’s the third shot of your ass being handed to you by some kid from Iowa. But the kid says nothing. Rarely does.

Exploring Online Worlds: Gaia Online

June 16, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Over at virtual worlds site WorldsInMotion.biz, we're continuning with the Worlds In Motion Online Atlas, penned by Mathew Kumar - looking at the rapidly advancing free-to-play online game biz. This time round, it's the much advertised-on Gaia Online, and worth noting that I think it's awesome how Mr. Kumar is cutting cleanly through the hype and pointing out what works - and what doesn't - in these environments.]

Here's an overview of Gaia Online, from Gaia Interactive. Gaia Online began as a linklist for anime fans, and has since expanded hugely to feature customizable avatars, an online world with user-owned homes, virtual currency and games. Its core is still based around a huge forum (which averages a million posts a day according to some commentators), but we're taking a look at its MMO aspects.

2008_06_02_gaia.jpgName: Gaia Online
Company: Gaia Interactive
Established: February 2003
How it Works: Gaia Online is experienced on the web through a combination of html, Flash, Java and Shockwave. It requires no installation. Navigation and gameplay are accomplished via mouse and keyboard input.

2008_06_02_gaia2.jpgOverview: Gaia Online's community originally solidified around its forums, and the majority of Gaia Online users still spend most of their time there. However, the site has a massive range of other community options, with customizable avatars and home pages, an online world with towns full of user-owned homes that are just as customizable as the avatars, and games to play (with or against other members of the community).

Payment Method: Gaia Online is free to play, and earns revenue through microtransactions (users can purchase limited-edition items each month, and Gaia Cash), advertising/corporate sponsorship and licensed clothes and accessories.

Key Features:

- Unique avatar with a huge variety of dress-up options
- Customizable home and car for your avatar
- Full social network with a massive forum community
- Games to play with and against other community members
- Items can be bought, sold and traded within the community

Missus Raroo Says: 'A Baby, A Loveseat, and the Wii: How Nintendo Helped a New Mom'

June 16, 2008 12:00 AM | Mister Raroo

-[Missus Raroo takes the lead and brings her unique perspective on gaming to this week's Game Time With Mister Raroo column. She discusses how during her initial time as a new mother recovering from a cesarean section, the Nintendo Wii provided an unexpected source of support. The Wii proved to be more than just a way to play games. Rather, it was a way to access the world beyond the loveseat she was confined to most of the day.]

When Mister Raroo went gaga over purchasing a Wii at launch, I was a good supportive wife. I listened to all of the pre-release hype and even helped him hone down his list of games to buy at launch. Upon getting the Wii set up in our home, I participated in Mii-making and even gave some games a run.

In those early months, I attempted some Monkey Ball mini games, shot my way through a few Elebits levels, and joined in some Wii Sports and Wii Play action. Truth be told, though, I never had the urge to independently power on the Wii until after the birth of our son, when I suddenly found myself clocking more hours on the Wii than my gamer husband. I was using the Wii for everything but gaming, but I was in love with the Wii all the same.

-Prior to our son Kazuo's birth, my image of motherhood did not involve me strapped down to our little loveseat of a couch with a Wii-mote in hand. I had seen too many black and white photos of that woman with a newborn nestled in her arms, dreamily staring out at the world through a window.

I always imagined that woman must be thinking, "Ah, I have this precious new life in my arms and the world is simply amazing!" Don't get me wrong, as I find myself entering my second year of motherhood, I do find myself watching Kaz in awe all of the time and feel that being a mother is truly amazing. All the same, those first weeks after his birth were far from the idealistic image I had stored in my mind.

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