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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 August, 2008

GameSetLinks: The Legions Of Galaga

August 26, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Yoo hoo, the GameSetLinks are back, starting out with some weird random graphics created by messing with NES save states - something you've probably seen when incorrectly blowing on NES carts, I know, but hey!

Also hanging out in here - Mega64 riffing in a rejected Guitar Hero-ish ad, comments on the (pictured) Galaga Legions, the 15 most expensive arcade games of all time, the jam that will be TIGJam, and lots more.

Gotta gotta gotta:

selectbutton :: View topic - Saving a state in one ROM then loading it in a different ROM
Some pretty 'art' created by trashing NES game saves.

Technology Review: TR35 2008
Jenova Chen from ThatGameCompany one of the top 35 tech innovators under 35, yay.

The Independent Gaming Source: First Ever TIGJam in Arizona next month
The Flashbang Studios folks and TIGSource doing the live indie jam thing, rawk.

ScottishGames.biz: EIF 2008 - I did it my way
Good coverage of the multiple tracks at Edinburgh, an interesting melange.

GameSpite: 'Legion of super excellence'
Parish explains why Galaga Legions for XBLA is worth careful attention - which it is, it's cunning and really well thought-out, just like Pac-Man CE, if much riffier/different than the original.

YouTube - Mega64: Rejected Ad for Undisclosed DS Guitar Game
This was rejected by the... ESRB? That's what the message implies at the end. Someone go do some follow-up on this.

Alt Text: 'World of Warcraft' Masters In-Game Bribery
'Just this week I've been fighting in battlegrounds -- special areas where armies clash and 12-year-olds question each other's sexuality -- over and over just for a chance to win a tiny little flying dragon.'

Sega Superstars Tennis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Just picked this up for $20, it really is pretty adorable fan service, and the minigames are fun, even if it's a little unsophisticated.

15 most valuable classic arcade games of all time | Rotheblog - Arcade Game Blog
Really nicely researched countdown, with some gorgeous early Atari cabinets featured.

2theadvocate.com | Business | La. sweetened pot for EA testing site — Baton Rouge, LA
Really excellent local newspaper reporting on game developer tax incentives re: EA, of all things - via GP.

COLUMN: Vox Populi - 'Three is a Crowd'

August 25, 2008 4:00 PM |

[Vox Populi, a somewhat unexpected new development for GameSetWatch, is a new bi-weekly column discussing things we've heard - and things you've told us - about video games today, and video games in the future.]

Well, there was a first Vox Populi column, and shortly thereafter - there was a second. And now, somewhat inevitably, there's a third column - more precisely, this column. Let's see what we've dug up:

- Factor 5's long-term relationship with Nintendo consoles - before its move to PS3 with the disappointing Lair - is well known. Well, Factor 5 president Julian Eggebrecht has previously confirmed that the company is developing a Wii game, sure.

But Vox Populi has confirmed that the company has two Wii titles in development - a Wii game for Nintendo (might be Kid Icarus, right?), as well as Wii title for another publisher. The San Rafael studio's 2010 title for Brash will also be ending up on the Wii, in addition to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Also confirmed: that Turrican revival is not in active development and Factor 5 is seeking a publisher for the title, which they intend to aim at next-gen platforms.

- Vox Populi has been keeping tabs on Renegade Kid, the Austin developer that created last year's rather neat DS horror title Dementium: The Ward, and is making Moon for DS right now. Now, we hear they're working on something mysterious called Son of the Dragon - might this be the moniker for the Wii game the studio has under development?

- Sony's portable machine seems to be getting another original, first-party exclusive - part of its attempted Western renaissance. Vox Populi found a job listing citing that the Sony Liverpool studio needs people to "work on an original IP PSP project." Previously, the only PSP games out of the veteran first-party studio have been entries in the Formula 1 and Wipeout franchises.

- According to Vox Populi's sources, sometimes un-noticed - but increasingly large - Montreal developer Artificial Mind & Movement (Monster House, WET, Happy Feet), traditionally console-centric, is starting planning on some un-named massively multiplayer titles. In fact, the studio's headcount of around 450 makes the notion of developing multiple MMOs at the same time plausible. Let's see what eventuates, hm?

- Vox Populi stumbled upon an interesting statutory filing by Electronic Arts, for a game mysteriously called Gunhead. Very blunt name for an EA project - maybe tipsters can help us out with what this title actually is? For what it's worth, we do not believe that this is the Redwood Shores M-rated action-adventure mentioned in the last column, though.

[DISCLAIMER: Vox Populi is the voice of the people. Literally. So it lives on what it hears. Please send it information. It endeavors to ensure that the information in this entertaining missive is correct, but, citing an excellent, similar column in another medium: "All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals. But I urge you to use your judgment and remember, context is everything."]

Call for Votes: Game Developer's Top 20 Publishers

August 25, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

-[Since I know a number of game developers do (hopefully!) read GSW, a quick call to arms - maybe you'd like to anonymously comment on your reputation and direct interactions with the top publishers for our sister mag's annual countdown? Sure you would.]

The editors of Game Developer magazine are asking all game professionals to complete a brief anonymous survey which will help decide the rankings of this year's renowned 'Top 20 Publishers' feature.

For this year's sixth annual Top 20 Publishers countdown, following last year's Nintendo-topping chart, the magazine is looking for two sets of feedback.

The first part is a reputational section, where all participants can rank and, optionally, comment on all major publishers.

The second part is open only to those game industry professionals who have managed or participated in relationships with specific publishers, either as employees or as third-party developers. Both are part of the same survey form.

This feedback will be combined with a multitude of other stats such as revenue, average game review percentages, and release SKU amounts, to determine the final Top 20 to be revealed in the October 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine.

All of the survey feedback is completely anonymous, and this year, alongside the in-depth magazine article and information disseminated on Gamasutra.com, full, canonical data will also be available in a forthcoming report from Game Developer Research.

The Top 20 Publishers survey will remain open until Wednesday, August 27th.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': How to Spend $12,000 on A PC

August 25, 2008 8:00 AM |

retrogamer24.jpg

I am feeling morose. Yes, morose. Morose at the long summer heat, morose by the fact that I can't seem to make people pay me money without doing any work, morose because I just marathoned Ken Burn's The Civil War, and morose at how I am out $550 since I needed to replace the notebook PC I use to write Game Mag Weaseling after its horrible death last week.

So I've spent the afternoon getting to grips with Vista, washing all the crap off the hard drive, and generally realizing why nobody buys low-end Vista laptops. Wanting to find some solace, any solace, I picked up off the shelf the premiere copy of onComputing, a magazine originally from the Byte folks that ran seasonally from 1979 to around 1982.

Byte was always a heavily nerd and tech-oriented hobbiest mag, so onComputing was the editor team's shot at making a title for more casual, applications-oriented users -- the sort who were buying TRS-80s and Apple IIs because they wanted to accomplish something via software, not tinker with circuit boards.

This first issue of onComputing has something that caught my fancy -- a complete buyer's guide to the personal computer scene as it existed in the summer of 1979, complete with retail prices. They say the good old days were never actually good -- if I was a writer in 1979 and I wanted a computer to help me with my work, would $550 be enough?

GameSetLinks: The Sauna Connection

August 25, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Gosh, another week, another dollar or two, and another set of GameSetLinks - headed up XKCD doing its deliciously surreal thing with a sorta Google Maps classic text adventure crossover.

Also hanging out in here - the Resident Evil 5 sound team, Irish music and Japanese game soundtracks, and the very silly (pictured) Sauna Dismount -- from the same folks who gave us Stair Dismount and Truck Dismount, of course.

Mee mee mee:

xkcd: 'Google Maps'
Some text adventure riffing by the excellently surreal Webcomic - via Alice.

Music 4 Games interviews the Resident Evil 5 sound team.
Interesting piece - M4G doesn't get much link love from anyone, for some reason - it's v.useful for game music composers, though the owners of the site also manage a lot of the featured artists, which can be a bit confusing.

Siliconera » Everyday Shooter PSP bundled with PSP-3000
Didn't spot this - Jon Mak's indie title bundled with Sony hardware? Indie rise is complete.

1UP: 'Retronauts Talk Up Nintendo's Famicom'
Ah, this is a better round-up post (linking the articles, not just the podcast!) on the Faminsanity.

Irish Music for Videogame Music Fans | Game | Life from Wired.com
One of the more bizarre game-related weblog posts I've ever read - but packed with great information, also!

Indie Game Panel Reviews [August 08 Edition] by Game Tunnel
'The 10 games reviewed for August include the quirky freeware adventure game Ben there Dan That!, the 'funky' dating sim Summer Session and Vega, a game that one reviewer called "the least fun game I've ever played."'

IndieGames.com - The Weblog - Sauna Dismount
Haha, those dismount guys!

Mister Raroo Reviews MLB Power Pros 2008 - Gaslamp Ball
Raroo moonlighting hilariously on a San Diego Padres baseball blog.

Halo.bungie.org: 'Link4044's Legendary Crest'
Wow, nice art, if you're a hardcore Halo player.

YouTube - Tiger Woods 09 - Walk on Water
Game bugs spawning actually funny commercials - more tragic proof that EA is cool nowadays.

Interview: GRIN's Viklund On Rearming Capcom's Bionic Commando

August 24, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

-[Aha - in honor of Bionic Commando: Rearmed's debut, our own Brandon Sheffield had a good chat with its creative director - whose name is Simon, so really, his majesty is established - about Scandinavians reinterpreting classic Japanese arcade titles for digital download. With bonus commentary about the upcoming 3D-gameplay version, too, which has some pretty interesting swing mechanics.]

When Capcom decided to refresh the Bionic Commando franchise with a next gen title for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 alongside the Bionic Commando: Rearmed downloadable remake, it tapped Sweden-headquartered GRIN for the job.

As Rearmed's creative director, GRIN's Simon Viklund had some interesting decisions to make in reviving the original for XBLA, PSN, and PC. And as lead sound designer on the next-gen Bionic Commando, Viklund also had a key role in deciding how much of the game's aesthetic should echo its predecessor.

Here, Viklund talks about GRIN's experiences along the way, from selection by Capcom to the final aesthetic choices in both versions of the game, plus the challenges unique to a franchise reboot.

GameSetNetwork: Atari, Atari, Atari - And More!

August 24, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

-Aha, may be time to pick the best posts of the week from big sister site Gamasutra and elsewhere on our Think Services sites/blogs - and probably the most obvious post of the week is the 23,000+ word Atari retrospective from Steve Fulton.

Decided to pick my favorite three quotes from the magnum opus as a way of kicking off - scroll down for the other GameSetNetwork links. Oh, and we'll miss you, Jamil.

That Atari Special

Atari: The Golden Years -- A History, 1978-1981
"Following his article on Atari's genesis, game historian Fulton returns with an amazingly detailed piece on Atari's 'golden years', from the rise of the Atari 2600 through Asteroids and Battlezone."

"A funny story from this time that Al Miller likes to tell has to do with the Atari BASIC cartridge that was to ship with the system. Atari had contracted with a young programmer named Bill Gates to modify a BASIC compiler that he had for another system to be used on the 800. After that project stalled for over a year Al was called upon to replace him with another developer. So, while Al is the only person I know ever to have fired Bill Gates, I suspect that rather than work on Atari BASIC, Gates was spending all his time on DOS for IBM. Probably not a bad career choice for him, do you think?" (David Crane)

"Video Chess was created when a consumer from Florida sued Atari because there was a chess piece pictured on the system's box, but no game was available. The VCS programmers did not think a chess game would be possible on the VCS, but with some alternating scan-line tricks they got it to work." (Steve Fulton)

""My model in creating the secret room was the secret messages hidden in Beatle records ('I buried Paul') in the late Sixties, where you had to play the record backwards to hear the message... Atari manufactured several hundred thousand Adventure cartridges, sent them to stores all over the world, and sure enough, some kids here and there did discover the secret room." (Warren Robinett)

Gamasutra Features

David DeMartini on the Renaissance of EA Partners
"EA Partners has quickly become a publishing powerhouse -- now working with Valve, Epic, id, Crytek, Harmonix, and Grasshopper -- here, GM David DeMartini explains the state and future of EAP."

The Code/Art Divide: How Technical Artists Bridge The Gap
"In this intriguing technical article, originally published in Game Developer magazine, Volition's Jason Hayes discusses how the Saints Row franchise developer integrates the technical artist into its development pipeline."

Gamasutra News, Other Features

GCG: Zimmerman and the Systems Approach
"Eric Zimmerman, co-founder and chief design officer of Gamelab (Diner Dash), believes in taking a systems approach to game design. Sister site GameCareerGuide.com has just posted a new interview with him on what that really means -- for game design, resume writing, and understanding how people cross the street."

Crytek's Yerli On The Road To A Graphics 'Renaissance'
"Year-over-year graphical gains appear to be decreasing, yet Crytek's Cevat Yerli has been talking about how art direction, sophisticated AI and physics will help determine the successful game creators -- also discussing his predictions for the PS4's debut and CryEngine 3's planning stages."

EA's DeMartini Talks Hellgate: London Failure
"Following the near-shutdown of Hellgate developer Flagship Studios, EA Partners' David DeMartini, who co-published Hellgate, has been discussing the game's failure, revealing EA had staff "actively working" on the title and suggesting that the game "lost the fanbase" by the time it improved sufficiently, post-release."

GCG: Students, New Developers Dream Up Game Hero
"Game dev students and newcomers to the industry have voiced their thoughts on the next big video game hero. They were asked to develop an original character; the three best ideas for a new game hero have been posted on GameCareerGuide.com."

[Want to get RSSed-up with all Think Services' game sites? Quick list goes like this: GameSetWatch's RSS (editor.blog), IndieGames' RSS (indie.games), WorldsInMotion's RSS (online.worlds), GamerBytes' RSS (console.downloads), GamesOnDeck's RSS (mobile.games), Gamasutra's RSS (main.site), and GameCareerGuide's RSS (edu.news).]

Opinion: Meretzky Lets Loose On Stagnant Creativity

August 24, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

-[Mathew Kumar was kind enough to cover GCDC in Leipzig for us, and here's another notable write-up, with current Blue Fang-er and generally smart guy Steve Meretzky discussing what we need to do to get the mainstream industry, uhh, innovate-ier.]

Designer and industry veteran Steve Meretzky broke precious ground in the 1980s, heading up Infocom's Planetfall, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and other classic titles known for innovation.

While the modern game industry heralds its broadening audiences, Meretzky now feels that the industry's actually narrowing its focus on teen and young adult males, and innovation is suffering.

"I believe the problem is institutional -- that individually, almost everyone in the industry would rather do something very original than something imitative, but the huge budgets and corporate decision-making structures push us into the same narrow alleys," says Meretzky, talking recently at a GSW-attended talk at GCDC in Leipzig.

Best Of Indie Games: Space, The Final Frontier

August 23, 2008 4:00 PM | 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 independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The delights in this latest version include a murder mystery adventure set in space, a frantic arena shooter, a cute Flash-based game development toolkit, and a fiendish platformer that will have many tearing their hair out in frustration.

Game Pick: 'The Vacuum' (David Proctor, freeware)
"The Vacuum is a sci-fi adventure game which tells the story of a couple traveling home inside a cargo ship, when a pair of explosions set off a chain of events that will forever change their lives. An admirable first effort by David, coded with the popular AGS engine and bears more than a passing resemblance to Yahtzee's 7 Days a Skeptic."

Game Pick: 'Torque' (Jesse Venbrux, freeware)
"A new arena shooter by the developer of Frozzd and the Karoshi series, where players get to pilot a rotating ship engaged in an intergalactic war with a nameless alien race. Plays a bit like Paperblast, but with entirely new graphics and gameplay modes."

Game Pick: 'OmniLudiCon' (Zara Tustra, browser)
"A browser-based development toolkit consisting of a fully-featured editor and a host of example games for users to test out or experiment with - no programming skills required."

Game Pick: 'Breaking the Tower' (Markus Persson, browser)
"A strategy game which involves careful resource management as you attempt to destroy the stone tower located at one end of an island. This solid coffee-break game was created in less than two days for the twelfth Ludum Dare competition."

Game Pick: 'Jumper 3' (Matt Thorson, freeware)
"The much-awaited sequel to Matt's series of frustratingly difficult platformers, where players will once again be able to assume control over Ogmo and his various forms while taking on the challenges presented by carefully-placed traps and obstacles in each area."

Column: The Game Anthropologist: The World Behind The World Of Warcraft

August 23, 2008 8:00 AM |

[Regular GSW column 'The Game Anthropologist' is all about gaming communities. This week, Michael Walbridge attempts to summarize the world of the World of Warcraft in its entirety.]

"Oh no, not another article about World of Warcraft. Tired of hearing about it." If you've ever thought that, stop reading. You won't find this interesting.

Some of you still are reading, though, and we both know why that is: because the topic is humongous. There is the universe, and there are galaxies, solar systems, and planets. There are development platforms and genres, there is World of Warcraft, and there are individual games and their communities.

World of Warcraft has spawned at least two books of published essays. One of them has an entire chapter on the most mundane of the most mundane--fishing. World of Warcraft spawns entire blogs and sites that are dedicated to the many, many corners of WoW. To the experienced gamer, games have the ability to be an entirely different experience from person to person.

To the beginning gamer who plays WoW as one of his first games, this is understood quickly instead of gradually. This leads to an opportunity for intelligent observation, the scale of which equals insight into an entire country. Take a comment from a non-official WoW forum: "At 70, you can choose from one of three factions: Raider, PVP, and Casual. You then blame the other two factions for 'ruining the game.'"

Only in an MMO that is as large as World of Warcraft is it made clearly apparent that there are all kinds of players (people) and that video games can be a setting for social interaction, larger than life. You can meet another player and that player can feel, unlike the ones you regularly play with, like someone from another country, another world, another clique.

Even the division of the players into over 100 server still leaves your own cities populated with people who make themselves authority figures, public artists, savants, professionals, entrepreneurs, professors, thieves, beggars, preachers, and thugs. All who play it, know it.

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