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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 September, 2008

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

September 21, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

-Well, despite the plethora of AGDC crossposts from Gamasutra and elsewhere on our Think Services sites/blogs this week, we still actually had a full week of non-show related features on both Gama and Game Career Guide, so wanted to pass them along.

I particularly enjoyed the mammoth GameStop interview, since it's not often you get to see opinions and views from the folks who sell a _lot_ of the total retail games -- particularly on the core gamer end of things.

But the Go! Go! Break Steady postmortem is also neat for pointing out an underdiscussed XBLA title, and why it wasn't talked about, and Boutros' game difficulty piece is neato, also, among others.

Onward to the links:

Gamasutra Features

- GameStop in 2008: The Mega-Interview
"In an exceptionally wide-ranging interview, two top GameStop executives talk to Gamasutra about the business of the world's biggest standalone game retailer -- from hardware through used games to demographics and beyond."

- Postmortem: Little Boy Games' Go! Go! Break Steady
"In this exclusive Gamasutra postmortem, the developers of XBLA title Go! Go! Break Steady pointedly detail the trials and tribulations of making an original IP console title as a two-man indie dev."

- Building a Great Team: Communication
"When you've hired a great game development team, how do you get them to work together efficiently? Game HR veteran Mencher has a plethora of pointers in this in-depth Gamasutra article."

- Difficulty is Difficult: Designing for Hard Modes in Games
"In this in-depth article, designer Boutros takes a close look at difficulty in games, asking how creators can add unique, high-end challenges which excite, but don't frustrate skilled players."

- Learning From Crysis: The Making of Crysis Warhead
"As Crytek ships the PC-only Crysis Warhead, Gamasutra gets producer Bernd Diemer to analyze the structure, design underpinnings and creation of the intriguing pseudo-sequel."

GameCareerGuide Features

- Super Growing Pains: Are Video Games Bad for Comics?
"The licensing of superhero stories has spawned a slew of comic-based movies and games, but in doing so, has created a limited take on itself. More often than not, marketing the IP takes precedence over delivering a good game. Are bad game spinoffs hurting comics?"

- Student Postmortem: NJIT and Bloomfield College's The Forgotten War
"When a team of students snagged a group of professional game developers to work with them on a game project, they knew they were in for a treat. Making ‘The Forgotten War’ was a first-of-its-kind teaching project pioneered by Coray Seifert, adjunct professor at Bloomfield College and The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and a game designer at Kaos Studios/THQ."

Column: Diamond In The Rough: 'Far Enough Away to See Clearly'

September 21, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Diamond In The Rough' is a new column by Tom Cross focusing on an unusual innovation that a game makes on an old, tired aspect of game design -- an innovation that contributes to the advancement of video games as a medium, but that might get overlooked because the game is not otherwise remarkable or is hindered by major design flaws. This column? All about distance and Prince Of Persia.]

As gamers, we are often asked to identify with some pretty rough-and-tumble characters, and often, those characters are cruel and violent, not just tough. Whether the hero of a game is good or bad, dumb or smart, we are asked to be that person, control them, and hopefully like them (or at least like being them).

In the previous installment of this column, I lauded games for using certain techniques to increase the sense of immersion and connectivity with one’s in-game avatar.

That got me thinking about the games that head in the exact opposite direction: games that, for whatever reason, choose to divorce you from the settings, characters, or events that unfold before you. Why do these games present themselves in this fashion, and what are the results?

GameSetLinks: Hunting Monsters & Renting Heroes

September 21, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Time for some GameSetLinks, then, starting out with a really excellent series of interviews on the Japanese game scene, thanks to the good Japanophile folks in the Ziff Davis Game Group, chatting to folks including the Monster Hunter (pictured!) makers.

Also in this compilation - the re-appearance of Rent-A-Hero No.1, a mash-up of Gauntlet and Bomberman, and George Lucas' appearance to not-promote Vampyre Story, some post-NGJ silliness, and quite a few other things.

Busted by the cops:

1UP: 'The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Japan'
Completely vital Parish and Mielke interview series chatting to Famitsu, Monster Hunter, NCSX (!!), LocoRoco creators...

John Davison: Do game reviews help you?
Maybe game reviews, pre-Internet, were information and visual disseminators as much as reviews?

Lost Levels: 'English Rent-A-Hero No. 1 for Xbox Leaked'
Interesting - as a bit of a Sega quirk fan, I was looking forward to this.

Alex Litel's Lackluster Emporium: New New Post New Games Journalism Manifesto
“So essentially New Post New New Games Journalism is silver-tongued nonsense?” Litel goes wild.

IndieGames.com - The Weblog - Preview: Blast Passage (Notch)
A direct mash-up of Gauntlet and Bomberman - cute.

GameSpite: 'The Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It Files #2: Mazes of Fate'
The cosmically odd Patrick Dugan just started working for Sabarasa, actually - they seem to be mysterious Argentinian Japan-ophiles.

Shawn's 1UP Blog: Goodbye
Shawn Elliott was responsible for the 1UP feature content I was starting to dig a lot... oh well. He's off to 2K Boston, apparently. And the consumer game journalist position as the equivalent of the portal drug is increasingly the norm.

Bill Tiller - Interview - Adventure Classic Gaming - ACG
Aha, the Vampyre Story guy again, with hilarious 'not George Lucas really but actually it is' promo photo.

Opinion and Links - September 18 | Edge Online
Amusing Campbell meltdown on GI.biz's use of exclusive - and I agree with him, for what it's worth. We (at Gamasutra) do use exclusive a little bit too much, as is tempting on the web, but it's always when the article is actually, uhm, exclusive.

Games are serious business for Apple - Citizen Gamer- msnbc.com
Some neat quotes from Matt @ our new FingerGaming iPhone site in there.

Interview: Beatnik Games on Plain Sight and Dealing With XNA

September 20, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [Over at sister console digital download site GamerBytes, editor Ryan Langley has been doing a neat interview or two recently, and I wanted to highlight this one because it's a chat with a neat micro-indie about a PC and potentially XBLA-bound robot-jumping combat game with some nice leftfield gameplay ideas integrated into it.]

With the recent announcement of Plain Sight, a new game being created using Microsoft's XNA tools, Gamasutra sister site GamerBytes got in contact with Robin Lacey over at Beatnik Games to ask get to know more about this game, how it all works, and how they've been working with XNA - the ups and the downs.

First of all, thank you for doing this interview. Straight up - who are you and what is Beatnik Games?

Robin Lacey: My name is Robin Lacey. We don’t really have job titles at Beatnik Games, but I suppose the closest match for my role would be ‘producer.’ The way I see it, my job is to make certain that this game is finished on time, on budget and is fun to play. Everyone here has a heavy hand in the game creation process. For this reason no one has taken the title of ‘designer’.

Beatnik Games was set up by me and an old friend, Damien Cerri, about a year ago; we moved into our office in January and started working on Plain Sight a few weeks later. Additionally there are four others guys currently working with us full time: two programmers (Lawrence Bishop and Alex Ashby), and two artists (Hin Nim and Sam Jacobs).

What’s unusual about Beatnik Games is that we’re not hardened industry veterans (the age range in the office is between 24 and 26). The way I see it, everyone here knows how to do their job and do it to a very high standard – as long as people can do that, age and experience is immaterial.

Great Scott: Infocom's All-Time Sales Numbers Revealed

September 20, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- While at NVision a few weeks back in San Jose, I got a chance to chat in detail to Jason 'Textfiles.com' Scott (pictured, left, in his natural habitat), who was at the event ahead of wandering off to Penny Arcade Expo to shoot MC Frontalot videos.

After that he is probably jetting around the world, maybe to grab interviews for the 'Get Lamp' documentary he's currently working on, chronicling the history of the text adventure. [EDIT: Oh, he really is jetting round the world, though merely to present computer history talks in Europe.]

Anyhow, Jason specifically mentioned to me that his Flickr account had some gems on it related to his interactive fiction research, and then showed me something spectacular - a set of Infocom scans revealing the sales numbers for the Zork creator's games from 1981-1989, in two parts:

Best Of Indie Games: Aliens, Sea Creatures and a Knight in Shining Armor

September 20, 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 independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The delights in this latest version include a new release from the creators of the DROD series, an action game set under the sea, two space shooters and a 2D 'demake' of the PSP puzzle-platformer Crush.

Game Pick: 'DROD RPG - Tendry's Tale' (Caravel Games, commercial indie - demo available)
"A new game by the developers of the Deadly Rooms Of Death series which mixes puzzle and RPG elements together, while retaining the tile-based movement that has made Caravel Games' flagship title one of a kind."

Game Pick: 'Bounce Shot' (Nigoro, browser)
"A cross between Breakout and Space Invaders. Walls and ceilings in each stage are padded with barriers that bounce shots fired from both your ship and from the enemies. This calls for the practice of prudence when firing shots, else you'll find yourself dodging a hail of bullets in no time."

Game Pick: 'Squish' (Terry Cavanagh and Josiah Tobin, freeware)
"Another entry in TIGSource's Bootleg Demakes competition (voting now open), and inspired by Zoe Mode's Crush for PSP. Your character onscreen is endowed with the ability to reduce multiple levels of platforms into a single flat line - a useful trick which can be used to grab the marbles required to open the exit door."

Game Pick: 'Alien Assault' (The Games Page, freeware)
"An homage to classic vertical shooters created by the developer of Super Bubble Blob and the Hurdler series. Each stage only lasts for about a minute long, and power-ups left behind by defeated bosses are crucial items that should be acquired if the player has any serious intentions of surviving for longer than five minutes in space."

Game Pick: 'Kaleidoscope Reef' (Trickysheep, browser)
"A new action game by Jeff Nusz, developer of Sprout and Anika's Odyssey. This particular effort features art by Tom Robinson in a style neatly reminiscent of Derek Yu's work in the IGF grand prize winner Aquaria."

Austin GDC Wrap-Up: The Top Ten Lessons

September 19, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Having returned from the online-centric Austin GDC, Gamasutra publisher and GSW editor Simon Carless takes a close look at the event and the top ten lessons he personally discovered about the state of MMOs, free-to-play games, writing, and the local scene - the good, the bad, and the ugly.]

This week's Austin Game Developers Conference (organized by Think Services, which also created this website - I helped AGDC out by helping pick the IGF Showcase winners and some Worlds In Motion Summit content) was the first that I'd attended, somewhat surprisingly.

So it was a great opportunity for me to take a look at the state of online games in 2008 -- as well as the other diverse submarkets that AGDC services, spanning writing and audio professionals through virtual worlds creators and game students/neophytes.

The show, which took place at the Austin Convention Center (pictured below), had as many as 8 or 9 lectures and roundtables simultaneously. These were split across the central Online Game Summit alongside Writing and Audio Summits and the Game Career Seminar for aspiring developers. But it still had a somewhat intimate feel, certainly compared to the frenetic grandeur of San Francisco's GDC.

The organizers seem to have split up the thousands of attendees fairly well. The top keynotes were still attended by a good 750-plus people, even while the show floor and other informal get-togethers went on.

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': The Reflective Leather Hood of Character Depth

September 19, 2008 8:00 AM |

Monster%27s%20Den.png['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist.]

Confronted with a new game with minimal narrative trimmings, my instinct is to ask: how could we do a story with this mechanic? How do we make it good? Sometimes I have to conclude that we really can't -- that the game is so abstract or so essentially lightweight that the elements of narrative can't be convincingly hung on that hook.

But sometimes I can imagine what the story would be -- except that it would fundamentally change the nature of the game.

Take "Monster's Den: Book of Dread": it's a dungeon-crawling game, with a party of four who can engage in tactical battles with assorted monsters.

I've had a guilty fondness for this genre since Wizardry, though Monster's Den is slicker and easier to handle than the versions I tried in the 80s, and it's free, too. Monster's Den offers a little bit of framing narrative for each of the three campaigns available (one of which is a survival mode where you face wave on wave of attackers until you and the city you defend finally collapse).

GameSetLinks: Soulja Sterling To The Rescue

September 19, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- There seem to be a frighteningly large amount of RSS links awaiting my return from Texas, so here's a few I accidentally saved up in the meantime - starting with the full text of Bruce Sterling's AGDC speech (with Rudy Rucker illos!), which I am enjoying tremendously.

Also hanging out in here - that Soulja Boy/Braid thing, the Smithsonian on game experts, Japanese robots causing chaos, and a v.interesting critique of that game whose title is slightly unrepeatable in company.

Go go Beckham:

Bruce Sterling, "Computer Entertainment," Flurb #6
Aha, the full text of his AGDC speech - read and decide!

Llamasoft's Space Giraffe info/FAQ page
Holy crapola, somebody (the creators and their associates!) explained properly how the game works, in a FAQ stylee. Probably should have had that for launch.

YouTube - Soulja Boy reviews Jon Blow's 'Braid'
Mind. Officially. Blown.

Gameheads, web experts help Smithsonian go digital - 16 Sep 2008 - NZ Herald: Gadgets and electronics news
'Clough, 66, who was president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years, says he's working to bring in video gaming experts and web gurus to collaborate with curators on creative ways to present artefacts online and make them appealing to kids.' Interesting.

The Real World meets The Virtual World: Evacuees and AGDC « Applied Game Design
The presence of evacuees was/is a bit surreal, yes - Brenda sums up well.

best ebay auction ever - NES CLASSIX! - NeoGAF
Yes, yes, linking GAF will get me kicked off the journalism bus, but this is cute.

The PixelVixen707 Zombitacular Fall 2008 Preview » PixelVixen707
Kinda not GSW-y, because it's actually populist and witty, but hey, Kotaku/GiantRealm or other aspirants, good writer alert!

wakamaru USA | NEW YORK – TOKYO
A Japanese robot runs amok in New York! Play is a game, too.

Acid for Blood: C*nt (the Game): Gynophobia and Misogyny
Really interesting critique of the game, past the explicitness (and yes, there's explicitness).

Infovore: TIGSource Bootleg Demake Competition
Good round-up of the competition Tim has been featuring highlights from on IndieGames.com recently.

AGDC: Area/Code's Lantz On Creating Parking Wars For Facebook

September 18, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

-[Almost the final AGDC lecture write-up, woo, and in this case, I was really stoked to see Frank Lantz speaking about Parking Wars, since it's possibly the best originally-designed Facebook game so far, and I keenly follow him and his developer.]

In a Worlds In Motion Summit panel at AGDC, Area/Code co-founder Frank Lantz has been discussing the creation of Parking Wars, the Facebook game sensation created as a promotion for the A&E TV show, and pinpointing the "core values of good games" along the way.

Area/Code, the New York-based developer which recently made Gamasutra 20 list of Breakthrough Developers, saw Parking Wars turn wildly popular, with 400,000 people signing up in two months.

Another Area/Code-designed title, Sharkrunners, promoted Discovery Channel's 20th Anniversary of Shark Week by having a game where the shark movements in game were determined by the actions of real sharks out in the ocean using GPS.

Lantz, who formerly worked at Diner Dash creator Gamelab, explained of the company's philosophy: "We make games for the cloud", explaining that games are really a "stylized form of social interaction".

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