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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 October, 2008

COLUMN: @Play: Ten Years Of The devnull Nethack Tournament, Part 1

October 31, 2008 4:00 PM |

Roguelike column thumbnail ['@ Play' is a monthly column by John Harris which discusses the history, present and future of the Roguelike dungeon exploring genre. This time, he presents a Halloween special in honor of devnull's Nethack tournament, which begins at midnight!]

The most impressive thing about devnull's Nethack tournament is its longevity. This is the tenth consecutive year it's been run. It's old enough that it's spanned multiple Nethack versions. It's been said that it could be the oldest-running computer gaming tournament in existence. It's a difficult claim to prove, but it may will be true.

logoDespite the great obstacles to making roguelikes work as multiplayer games they have long had a substantial online presence, and a big part of this is the relative ease in setting up terminal-based, ASCII games for playing over the internet via telnet, SSH, or some other form of remote console.

IGF Debuts 2008 Awards Video, Reminds On Nov. 1st Deadline

October 31, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[A final IGF reminder is here alongside a neat Easter Egg for those who want to see prominent indies looking sheepish and/or triumphant in front of a few thousand people - the 2008 IGF Awards video is now online.]

The Independent Games Festival has debuted the full streaming video of its 2008 IGF Awards ceremony, also reminding interested possible entrants that the final deadline to enter the 2009 IGF Main Competition is Saturday, November 1st at 11.59pm PST.

The 2008 IGF Awards Ceremony was held in February 2008 during Game Developers Conference. It was presented by Venture Africa/Arctic designer Andy Schatz, alongside IGF content directors and Offroad Velociraptor Safari creators Matthew Wegner and Steve Swink.

With the ceremony accompanied by interstitials from comedic video troupe Mega64, the 2008 IGF victors included $20,000 Seamus McNally Grand Prize winner Crayon Physics Deluxe, Kloonigames' 2D physics puzzle game that allows players to experience what it would be like to transform drawings into physical objects.

Other major winners at the IGF ceremony included physics-based puzzle action game, 2D Boy's World of Goo, which won the awards for both Design Innovation and Technical Excellence, and Audiosurf. As well as the streaming video, there are also now pictures of the IGF Pavilion and Awards available on IGF.com.

The organizers are also giving a final reminder about deadlines for the 2009 Independent Games Festival, which is already seeing a very strong set of entries ahead of this weekend's initial deadline.

Games selected as finalists in the Main Competition (due November 1st) or Student Showcase competition (due November 15th) will be available in playable form on the 2009 Game Developers Conference show floor, with their creators given complementary passes to attend the event, which includes the third annual Independent Games Summit.

Entrants will compete for nearly $50,000 in prizes, including awards for Innovation, Excellence in Design, and the coveted $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the IGF Awards, held in March 2009 during GDC.

In addition, the IGF Mobile entry deadline is on November 17th, with $30,000 in total for those indie creators making games for iPhone, cellphone, and other handheld devices.

More information on the competitions are available at the official IGF webpage and the official IGF Mobile webpage.

Game Time With Mister Raroo: Mister Raroo's Top Picks for Halloween 2008!

October 31, 2008 8:00 AM | Mister Raroo

Bee Raroo[Happy Halloween, GameSetWatch readers! After a short hiatus, Mister Raroo returns to discuss some of the games he’s been playing this Halloween season. As is par for the course in Raroo’s articles, other topics manage to find their way into the mix, including embarrassing Halloween costumes, scurrying cats, The Puberty Fairy, and more!

Halloween Time With Mister Raroo

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, going back to my earliest memories of childhood when my mom wouldn’t allow me to buy pricey costumes, opting instead to settle for budget-priced fare that was, in her opinion, just as good. “Just as good” didn’t cut it when I was a Return of the Jedi-obsessed elementary school kid in 1983 and had my heart set on dressing up as one of the pig-like Gamorrean Guards from Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

Since my mom wouldn’t fork over the cash for an expensive costume, I had to don a cheap plastic mask and body suit that made me look more like a Gamorrean Janitor than anything else. Such a get-up effectively made me a subject of mockery for some of the hooligan junior high kids who also chose to dress as Gamorrean Guards but were lucky enough to have realistic-looking rubber masks. But, I forgive her! Now that I’m a parent, I understand that there’s not always money available for frivolous expenses like costly Halloween costumes.

Still, even something like the Gamorrean Guard embarrassment wasn’t enough to deter my love of Halloween. I don’t think there’s been a year yet when I haven’t dressed up, and between chaperoning my niece Autumn and my son Kaz, trick-or-treating has continued to be an annual ritual for me. This year will be no different; Kaz and I will be dressing up as bees and Missus Raroo will be taking on the role of beekeeper. I’m hoping that having such a cute theme will score us extra candy when we make our trick-or-treat rounds!

Mister and Missus Raroo's WeddingHalloween was the first major holiday Missus Raroo and I celebrated together, and the memory was so special that we decided to make it our wedding date. Having our anniversary on Halloween makes it feel like the world is celebrating right along with us. Instead of a cheesy romantic dinner over candlelight, Missus Raroo and I will be carving pumpkins, eating candy, and watching Kaz take in the wonder of his second Halloween.

But when all is said and done, one of my favorite ways to wind down after a long evening of Halloween festivities is to kick back and play some video games. Over the years there has been no shortage of game releases perfectly suited for a creepy Halloween night, and this year has been no different. So, without further ado, I present you with Mister Raroo’s Top Picks for Halloween 2008!

GameSetLinksDump: From ZZT To Game Over

October 31, 2008 12:16 AM | Simon Carless

OK, still trekking across the universe with plenty of RSS-related GameSetLinkDump goodness in tow - and this episode starts out with MTV Multiplayer discussing the state of game over with some smart developer types.

Also hanging out in here - hidden-ish characters from Grand Theft Auto 3, the best ZZT games ever, the MUD's birthday, Crispy Gamer's cash injection, new shooting game figures, LBP fun and games, and... some other things!

Link 'em up:

MTV Multiplayer » Are ‘Game Over’ Screens A Thing Of The Past?
'I recently spoke to three developers who’ve all been making dying in games a little less painful.'

QBlog: XXX
Richard Bartle: 'Today is the official 30th birthday of MUD. This anniversary has been reached without causing a ripple of interest. There are no articles in newspapers, no radio interviews, no podcasts, no blogs:'

Essex Girl | Technology | guardian.co.uk
'The animated electro-pop artist RiK has launched a new single called Essex Girl, and simultaneously launched this game as a 'game single'.'

The Independent Gaming Source: Recommended ZZT Games
Tim Sweeney's ASCII make-your-own adventure tool has spawned a lot of good stuff.

Hidden beta characters have been found in GTA3 | Unseen 64: Beta, Unreleased & Unseen Videogames!
Interesting, some game characters that got dropped before the final version and still have on-disc assets.

Game journalism sucks: So Crispy Gamer raises money for an alternative voice » VentureBeat
Interesting... only $2 CPM? I love Crispy Gamer conceptually but I think something like Giant Bomb is a lot closer to the future (for the Wiki awesomeness, not just Jeff, sorry Jeff!)

Shoot The Core: Gashapon Shooting Game History volume 3
Just picked up Vol.2 in Tokyo, is yummy.

The anatomy of the first video game - On the Level- msnbc.com
'“Tennis for Two” created in 1958, was a science experiment'

Media Molecule - we make games. » Blog Archive » Creator Pick - Geosautus
Already some super-impressive LBP stuff coming up, despite network/holy book-related problems.

Lost Levels - Happy Camper for NES discovered
'Game collector “NationalGamesDepot” has recently discovered, via his collection of various Color Dreams memorabilia and development assets, a copy of the unreleased action-adventure game Happy Camper for the NES.'

Hands-On: Xbox Live Community Games Make Splash In San Fran

October 30, 2008 8:00 PM | Simon Carless

[So Christian Nutt was kind enough to attend this event for us in SF, and here's a write-up of what Microsoft is planning with Xbox Live Community Games. Looks to me like there's some strong indie goodness going on here, though as remarked later, it'll be interesting to see how the wheat/chaff separation is done - maybe we can help on GamerBytes. Overall, looking forward to it!]

At an invite-only event in San Francisco last night, Microsoft execs Chris Satchell and Boyd Multerer welcomed the press to play and enjoy a slate of the most promising early examples from its XNA Community Games lineup, at the same time introducing some of the key developers of these games.

The event, held in a San Francisco nightclub with a lounge atmosphere -- plenty of comfy couches and HDTVs -- was a showcase for some of the most promising, professional-looking games in the Community Games lineup.

These drew from the top entrants to Microsoft's 2008 Dream-Build-Play competition, as already showcased in video form on Gamasutra.

Those most notable titles gave the press a roadmap to which games are likely (but not assured) to be included in the launch lineup for the service. The titles will come online for Xbox 360 alongside the New Xbox Experience update on November 19th.

XNA Community Games As 'Sea Change'?

Satchell and Multerer praised the efforts of Microsoft internal staff in getting the service ready, and the developers in creating their games -- noting that this project had always been part of the Xbox 360 roadmap since the beginning of the console.

Multerer, in particular, believes that this will lead to an "sea change" in game development, with indie game development finding a truly wide audience. This is, according to him, thanks to the easy access to a built-in console audience and simple, standardized monetization of the titles. (It's worth noting that, unlike with Xbox Live Arcade, there's no expensive or excessively lengthy submission process, other than a peer review.)

Design Lesson 101 - Fallout/Fallout 2

October 30, 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, in honor of Bethesda's release of Fallout 3 we take a look at Interplay's classic post-nuclear apocalyptic role-playing game Fallout and its sequel, Fallout 2.]

Every single day of my life I make choices. I choose what clothes to wear. I choose what food to eat. I choose who to be friends with. These choices I make affect my life and the lives of those around me. My choice to eat yogurt this morning probably doesn't have huge consequences, beyond how hungry I am later. However, my choice many years ago to work towards being a game developer has has major consequences on not only my life, but the lives of others around me.

These consequences and the choice that fuel them are the heart of the Fallout games and the focus of this week's design lesson.

Design Lesson: Fallout and Fallout 2 use choice and consequence to deliver a world of enormous opportunities to the player and give the player agency over the type of character they develop.

GDC 2009 Opens Registration, Debuts New Summits

October 30, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Well, it's incredibly early in the cycle, but hey, the GDC website is open, there's some new summits announced, and I'm looking forward to seeing what my colleagues at the conf come up with for this year's event - should be mega.]

Game Developers Conference organizer Think Services has opened registration for next year's GDC event, to be held in San Francisco's Moscone Center from March 23 to 27, 2009.

Also announced was the addition of new summits falling under the GDC umbrella. These summits, which take place on the Monday and Tuesday of GDC week, are aimed at providing specialized coverage for various crucial development categories and practices.

In addition, the traditional Wednesday to Friday main conference, including major keynotes and existing Audio, Business, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts tracks will continue for 2009.

Newly established Monday-Tuesday summits include the AI Summit and Localization Summit, bringing the total summit count to nine, as follows:

- AI Summit
- Casual Games Summit
- Game Outsourcing Summit
- GDC Mobile
- Independent Games Summit
- IGDA Education Summit
- Localization Summit
- Serious Games Summit
- Worlds in Motion Summit

Longstanding GDC initiatives such as the GDC Career Pavilion, the Independent Games Festival, the Game Developers Choice Awards, and the Game Career Seminar will also continue.

"You can expect more specialized content through our new and existing summits in conjunction with compelling talks in our main conference," said event director Meggan Scavio, a 10-year veteran of the conference.

"The Game Developers Conference prides itself on continually improving the conference experience based on the needs of our attendees and the industry. With the help of feedback from the community, our advisory board, and editorial staff, we've crafted a conference this year that speaks to the changing landscape of the games industry."

More information on next year's GDC line-up, hotel details and registration specifics are available on the official Game Developers Conference 2009 website.

Opinion: On Far Cry 2's 'Slow Burn'

October 30, 2008 8:00 AM | Chris Remo

[In this in-depth analysis, Chris Remo looks at fan and critical reaction to Ubisoft Montreal's Far Cry 2 to examine the emergent gameplay elements in its 'slow burn' structure that make initially frustrated gamers later become enthralled.]

Ubisoft Montreal's just-debuted Far Cry 2 is not an inviting game. Like the war-torn (and presumably fictional) African state it depicts, Far Cry 2 is brutal, sparse, and often gives you little guidance.

Right from the start, your vulnerabilities are made clear: weapons you find on the ground rust and jam; you periodically suffer the effects of malaria; damaged vehicles require basic engine maintenance; and serious injuries demand improvised surgery, often with pliers.

On top of that, combat encounters (often approached with those rusted, jamming-prone guns) are fairly straightforward FPS affairs, and with the amount of mission-to-mission driving required in the game's enormous open world, their frequency can grate.

Many gamers have gone online to post initial frustrations with the game -- an understandable reaction from the perspective of somebody unaccustomed to its structure and design ethic, particularly in the context of an FPS.

But in the week since its release, there has been an interesting phenomenon unfolding. I have seen more and more posts by people announcing that Far Cry 2 finally "clicks" with them, that they have internalized the game's structure and systems, and have been rewarded with unique, memorable moments.

GameSetLinkDump: From Lead To Kondo

October 30, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

As the week wends its happy way along, another GameSetLinksDump appears in your RSS, and lo, everything is alright with the world - or at least not terrible, if you like odd homebrew Atari 2600 games with psychedelic visuals.

Also hanging out in here - a profile of Koji Kondo, Jane Pinckard on picking your mate in Fable II, Tom Chick on Starcraft Deux, some good game fiction, Simon Parkin on playing different games without tripping over your shoelaces, and a good sight more besides.

In for mer:

Infinite Lives » Lead: synesthasia homebrew for the 2600
'Lead is a music shmup from programmer Simone Serra, designed for the Atari 2600. It boasts unforgiving gameplay and a catchy ‘glitch’ soundtrack.'

Hit Self-Destruct: Murder Charge
Some really interesting, well-written game-related fiction - I once tried to do something similar with Graves & MacGuffin and an early IC-related piece of fiction, to less effect, I think.

::: C o r e T a l e n t G a m e s :::
Bit of a 'grassroots' approach to game development here. Complex, but will it work? It's interesting, nonetheless.

Greenspeak: A blog about gaming.
Yikes, Jeff Green's EA project (which was early in production) got canned 4 weeks after he joined, he's on SimAnimals now helping to finish it before moving onto something else he will be more instrumental in.

A New Game for Super Mario's Maestro - WSJ.com
Good profile of Koji Kondo - via GameCulture.

game girl advance: Missing: One Husband-to-Be
'It took me a long time to find someone who wasn't a laughable buffoon or a stuck-up prig.'

Why Deus Ex Is Important « Double Buffered
'The element that elevates Deus Ex from a great game to a brilliant one is the way the choices in gameplay complement the plot choices.'

Crispy Gamer - Column: Rush, Boom, Turtle: The Game So Nice They Made It Thrice
Talking StarCraft II-y things: 'But the actual real-time strategy gameplay doesn't lend itself to storytelling, because -- and I almost hate to tell you this -- it's a puzzle.'

chewing pixels » The Videogame Bends
'Move too quickly from one game to the next and you’ll trip up, like a multilinguist moving too fast from one country to another, mixing-up their vocabularies in transit.'

Gamestop.com - Buy Ultimate Shooting Collection - Nintendo Wii
Don't forget about this, 3 Milestone Japanese arcade shooters for $30, including the neat-looking graphically Radio Allergy, Karous, and Chaos Field. Good deal.

Opinion: Two Years In - How The Wii Has Failed

October 29, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Following his ebullient first installment praising Nintendo's Wii, designer Brice Morrison looks at the flip side - discussing just how the console "has failed to deliver on the magic it promised."]

Released in November, 2006, the Nintendo Wii is revolutionary to say the least. With its innovative user interface, it has completely taken the world by storm by reinventing what video games are and who they are made for.

With nearly 30 million sold worldwide and over 160 million lifetime sales predicted (more than twice that of the Xbox 360 or PS3), Nintendo has clearly hit the ball out of the park.

Critics are raving, the crowds are cheering, it seems as though the once sagging console industry has been rejuvenated and ready to run at a blistering pace for years to come.

To this day, two years after launch, you still have a hard time finding a Wii in stores. But what consumers are lining up to buy isn’t the Wii, what they are buying is the idea and the dream of the Wii.

Consumers, many of whom have never played games before, have been picking up a Wii, enjoying it for a few weeks, and then watching it collect dust by their TV. They can’t explain why, but for some reason they just don’t play it anymore.

This is because the Wii has failed to deliver on the magic it promised.

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