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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 September, 2008

Design Lesson 101 - Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People - Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

September 24, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Design Lesson 101' is a regular column by game designer Manveer Heir. The goal 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 Telltale's episodic Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People, which recently commenced with Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner.]

Dialogue trees are a standard part of many RPG and adventure games. These games usually narratively center around interactions with characters, so allowing the player to at least choose what to speak about with the character is important.

Often the designer will present the options to the player in a verbose text format, then have the other character in the conversation respond. Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People – Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner (which I am just going to call Homestar Ruiner from now on) chooses a different approach that made me consider the execution of dialogue trees in games and features that could be useful.

Design Lesson: Homestar Ruiner presents iconic representation for its dialogue trees, which fails to inform the player what he is going to talk about and if he has exhausted the conversations on that topic

Best Of GamerBytes: Kick Ass, Go Retro and Burn Out

September 24, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Every week, Gamasutra sister weblog GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley will be summing up the top console digital download news tidbits from the past 7 days, including brand new game announcements and scoops through the world of Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.]

It's a big week in downloadable games -with Duke Nukem 3D debuting for the Xbox Live Arcade, Mega Man 9 for WiiWare, and WipEout HD for the PlayStation Network.

Despite these debuts, there hasn't really hasn't been a whole lot of big news this week. Still, there have been a few great bits and pieces that have allowed us to understand the ways the downloadable game market is going - companies getting into the business, companies getting out, and companies trying to figure out what went right and wrong on their first attempt at it.

Xbox Live Arcade

- Duke Nukem 3D Is Your XBLA Game Of The Week
It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum against your friends online in glorious Dukematch! Coming this Wednesday to Xbox Live Arcade.

- Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection Getting Disc Release on PS3 and 360 - The End Of SEGA XBLA Games?
A new disc-based collection of Genesis games appears to be on the horizon. Will we ever see Xbox Live Arcade Sonic 3 & Knuckles?

- 2K Sports Officially Announce MLB Stickball
A new kids Baseball game is coming to the XBLA through 2K games. With MLB '09, MLB Power Pros and Fantasy All-Stars, will it break into the casual market? And how will it stack up to the RBI Baseball game for XBLA?

- XBLA Postmortem: Little Boy Games' Go! Go! Break Steady
Gamasutra let the fellows over at Little Boy Games throw it all out there - the good and the bad sides of working on an Xbox Live Arcade title.

PlayStation Network

- Mega Man 9 Release Dates Revealed
While WiiWare has just got the game, the PlayStation Network will also be getting Mega Man 9 this week.

- Burnout Paradise Releasing This Week On PSN
If Mega Man 9 and WipEout HD weren't enough - you can also buy Burnout Paradise over the PlayStation Network starting this week.

- New Features Of Geon: Emotions For The PlayStation Network
Geon, a game previously available for the XBLA, is coming to the PlayStation Network sometime this year - and with a ton of new features and modes.

WiiWare

- NA WiiWare Update - Mega Man 9 Is Out, As Is Plattchen: Twist & Paint
Mega Man 9 is out right now! Are you up for some classic, frustrating platforming? Then this game is for you.

- A New WiiWare RPG - Sorcery Blade?
It seems that some Japanese companies are pushing WiiWare to its very limits - a new RPG is on the horizon, and it's looking pretty swank.

- Sand Castle Creation Coming For WiiWare
Sand Castle Creation? Seems so - Frozen Codebase are hard at work at Sandy Beach - a tool that allows you to build your very own sand castle without it being ruined by the waves.

Opinion: Cahiers Des Jeux - The Press/Developer Relationship

September 24, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- [In this editorial, originally printed in Gamasutra's sister print publication Game Developer magazine and extended with further material here, magazine EIC Brandon Sheffield comments on the precarious nature of the developer/journalist relationship, and argues that game journalism shouldn't be a one-size-fits all endeavor.]

Developers and game journalists have a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, writers for the enthusiast press can drum up interest in a game among the hardcore. BioShock is a notable example, wherein the dev team used an exclusive GameSpot preview to drum up interest in the game, which was as-yet unfunded.

This was a response to publishers thinking they didn't need to spend money on a successor to System Shock 2, which was not the greatest financial success. In this case, the developer/journalist relationship worked quite well for the developers.

But then there are review scores. Developers often feel that journalists harp too much on one point or another, or that the score doesn't represent how they really feel, and myriad other misunderstandings. At the same time, developers seem to respect the journalists, insomuch as they often will feel that Metacritic ratings are an actual arbiter of quality, or in fact read reviews to influence a purchase.

Journalists, for their parts, often aspire to be developers, and possess a certain idolatry for anyone in a respected company, though they rarely understand exactly what it takes to do the job.

GameSetLinks: Apple Say, Army Do

September 24, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Time to return with some timely GameSetLinks, headed by T-Machine's Adam Martin discussing some of the realities (or at least, perceived realities!) of the current publisher/developer split in the game biz, and exactly what to do about it.

Yet also hanging out in here - a v.disturbing and/or silly Newtonica iPhone ad, an original Apple I, a heads-up on Dr. Phil going after games, the U.S. Army and schools snuggling up uneasily, some game history geekiness, some Nelson style blog linking 'ha ha!', and more.

Pyjama rama:

T=Machine » Publishers are from Mars, Developers are from Venus
'How could a Developer ever make a profit? The answer can be found most easily by looking to the one place in the world where R&D laboratories make more money than anywhere else: Silicon Valley.'

Vintage Computing and Gaming | Archive » Apple I For Sale
'It’s not every day that an original Apple I goes up for sale. In fact, it’s not every year that an Apple I goes up for sale.'

What They Play - Blog - Wife of game designer on Dr. Phil
'This week I had the delightful experience of being accused of bias towards the game industry by Dr. Phil. I’ve been accused often of bias against the industry, but never towards it!'

The Top 10 Most Influential Educational Video Games from the 1980s « Educational Games Research
'Educational games from that decade in particular taught teachers, parents, students, and designers things that are still influencing titles today.'

My Childhood Heroes « Game Haus
Early shareware gurus: 'I know the names of these people probably don’t mean much to any of you. But they sure as heck mean a lot to me.'

Water Cooler Games - US Army Invades Schools
'The US Army has announced a "partnership" with a group called Project Lead The Way to "to enhance student curriculum by using a variety of Army technologies to promote student interest in the engineering and technical fields."'

The Secret of Monkey Island [PC - Beta] | Unseen 64: Beta, Unreleased & Unseen Videogames!
Linking to a gigantic website of micro-analysis of various LucasArts beta obscurities/differences - the kind of thesis-level craziness that the Internet helps to enable in microniches, I guess!

Eegra: Updates five times a week. Usually. : Video: Newtonica (part three)
That Newtonica (pictured) iPhone promo ad at the bottom of that link, is, uhh, yeah.

YouTube - SierraMultimedia's Channel
An excellent archival channel for all kinds of obscure Sierra-related video (King's Quest, etc), linked to an even better site I didn't know about - via GDRI.

Kotaku, Joystiq et al get punk'd. - Quarter To Three Forums
Of course, I will point out that GiantRealm (and apparently the entire rest of the world) ran that poorly sourced Google/Valve story - which makes Eric Schild's sanctimony in the GR comments a little painful. Nonetheless, the Internet train rides along, and trolls are an important ingredient!

COLUMN: 'GDRI Wisdom': The Wisdom Of The Sloper

September 23, 2008 4:00 PM |

-['GDRI Wisdom' is a bi-weekly column presenting highlights from select interviews with overlooked game developers of years past, as seen on Game Developer Research Institute (GDRI).]

Tom Sloper is a long-time veteran of the game industry. For the bulk of his career, he worked for Activision as a producer, involved with the popular Shanghai series and other titles.

Prior to that, he had stints designing games at Western Technologies, Datascan, and Sega Enterprises and was Director of Product Development at Atari Corporation as that company tried entering the post-NES video game market with the 2600 and 7800 systems.

Today, he works as a freelance game development consultant under the name Sloperama Productions. He also teaches a game design and production class at the University of Southern California. GDRI chatted to him about his fascinating history in the game biz.

Exclusive: Ensemble Studios' Canceled Project Was Halo MMO

September 23, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Following the recent announcement that Microsoft-owned Age Of Empires creator Ensemble Studios would close after the completion of Halo Wars, GSW big sister site Gamasutra has discovered that a now-canceled Halo MMO was in development at the studio, unearthing prototype UI and level screenshots of the Ensemble-developed project.

The prototype art, which was at one point made available on an Ensemble-linked online artist portfolio website, further confirms previous rumors that the studio was working on an MMO based on the Bungie-created sci-fi franchise.

[UPDATE: The 'Gone Is Gone' weblog has posted a full Flickr gallery of the concept art and UI mockups for the canceled prototype, sourced from the same art portfolio as Gamasutra's original story.]

Notable, rumors reported in Game Informer magazine in early 2006 claimed that Bungie and Ensemble were teaming up to make a Halo-themed MMO. And, although it was not clear that it was Halo-specific, websites such as 1UP did point out that Ensemble was hiring for an MMO project as early as April 2006.

Great Scott, Pt. 2: Infocom's Numbers Graphed, Curmudgeonly

September 23, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Of course, when we ran those Infocom sales numbers at the weekend, it got a bit of a delighted response from geeks all over the place.

Principal among those was Matt Matthews, whom you might know as co-curmudgeon at Curmudgeon Gamer - or more likely as the stats-crunching fiend behind a bunch of neat analysis articles for Gamasutra, Edge, and other business outlets.

Anyhow, his interest having been piqued by the statistics for the seminal text adventure firm, he went ahead and drafted some fun graphs and pie charts based on them. Infocom infoporn! Here we go:

GameSetLinks: Amused By Obama For DS

September 22, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Some more GameSetLinks, then - headed by some more interesting DS homebrew, this time Obama-related, intriguingly enough. Can Nintendo condone this? Yes they can?

Also in here - Mega64 takes on Parappa with predictably charming results, The Silver Case coming to PlayStation Network, a v.neat Yoshiki Okamoto interview, the Street Fighter IV U.S. experience, and plenty more, really.

Vegetable man:

French game magazine Amusement releases 2nd issue
Incredibly stylish, quite French, game mags as art books is still awesome - via MBF.

The United States of Street Fighter IV | Jared Rea
This is our united states of whatever, sadly.

Multiple:Option: Obama Says: Yes We Can
An Obama-themed DS rhythm-y game thing? Waaacky.

YouTube - Mega64: Parappa The Rapper
'Derrick takes the role of the hip-hop-hero and spreads the joy of rapping about everyday life.* *not for people on cell phones.'

1UP: Game Republic's Yoshiki Okamoto Interview
'Street Fighter creator talks about Game Republic, Microsoft, Wii, and more.' I think Ziff is more Japan-obsessed than some of my co-workers nowadays!

> 100% NINTENDO SUPER FAMICOM FULLSET!1500 GAMES CIB! < - eBay (item 280253330747 end time Oct-04-08 07:23:12 PDT)
The seller, Adol, has a bunch of other fullsets, too - this is pretty insane in collecting terms.

Christian Allen's Corner: McDonald's Warns Kids About Video Games...
'I didn’t see any messages that said “Don’t eat the fries here.” Or “Take a break from your junk food and only eat here once a month.”'

auntie pixelante › the jesse venbrux interview
'if you saw me complaining about playthisthing’s interview with jesse venbrux recently, you probably expected i would get around to conducting my own.'

1UP: 'Suda51's PS1 Game The Silver Case Coming to PSN'
Suda's culture jamming style is really important to global game design understanding, innit?

A Short History of Game Manuals | Edge Online
Neat Edge mag article - I'd like to know who writes these, since Edge online credits and offline doesn't and oh headache.

The Armature Interview: The Full Enchilada

September 22, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- On Friday, Gamasutra ran highlights of an interview with the founders of new EA Blueprint-backed Austin studio Armature, formed by high-profile departees from Metroid Prime creator Retro Studios.

As we explained at the time, the company "...is in many ways an experiment intended to demonstrate a different type of development: keeping a small in-house staff to conceive ideas and rapidly prototype gameplay concepts and technology, then working with external contractors and outsourcers for full production."

This approach sparked a notable response from Gamasutra readers, so we're now printing the entire, unexpurgated interview with former Retro principal technology engineer Jack Mathews, game director Mark Pacini and art director Todd Keller (plus Electronic Arts PR representative Tammy Schacter) on the foundation of the studio, their ethos, and their notably different approach.

Why leave Retro and try this kind of fairly unusual idea?

Jack Mathews: Now that the Prime trilogy was up, it felt like a good time to be looking around, and this is an opportunity to branch out more and reach a lot more people with the types of games we like to make. Plus, the venture is one that really fits with our thinking about how games should move forward. It's becoming costlier and costlier, and it's becoming unsustainable for current-gen development to continue this way, moving into the future.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': I Survived A Hurricane And All You Get Is This Stupid Book

September 22, 2008 12:00 AM |

kougien.jpg

Well, readers, you're in luck -- I got power back post-hurricane just a few hours ago, so I can submit a column safely and soundly after all! Sadly, I don't have much to write about at the moment, chiefly because I'm busy cleaning up my pad and trying to get the week-old mildew smell out of my putrefied, possibly self-aware bedroom carpet.

Without the wherewithal for a magazine update, I thought I'd instead profile a somewhat related Japanese book -- the fall 2000 edition of Kougien, a Japanese catalog of console games and cheats/passwords/info on unlockables (referred to collectively as urawaza in Japanese).

These volumes, released twice a year, are published by Mainichi Communications, which at one point had five or six regular game mags in Japan but nowadays has whittled them down to only one, Nintendo Dream.

The name "Kougien" is a pun on Koujien, one of the definitive dictionaries of the Japanese language (the equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary), with the character for "word" replaced with the one for "skill" or "technique" -- i.e., secret cheats.

Kougien is sold mainly as a collection of cheats in Japan, but at one point it was also a complete listing of every console game ever released in the country from 1982 forward, complete with release date, publisher, a short description, and cheats.

This fall 2000 edition, a book roughly the size of the Houston white pages that weighs in at a head-spinning 1540 pages, was the last one to have a full entry for every game ever; later editions include only those consoles that're still actively sold in the Japanese marketplace and are quite a bit smaller in size. A total of 9982 games and 15,100 cheats are listed in this book.

If you know Japanese and collect old games, this edition of Kougien is practically a must-have, an instant reference on nearly every system that Japan saw in the 20th century. (The Sega Mark III/Master System is the only major omission, a somewhat odd one considering that Kougien includes listings for systems as obscure as the 3DO, Virtual Boy, PC-FX and Neo-Geo CD.)

Even today, when all the info in Kougien can be found on the net if you look hard enough, I still refer to this volume at least once a week, part of the reason it's in such "well-loved" shape.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]

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