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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 November, 2008

GameSetInterview: 'Bleep To Gold - Remixing The Mega Man 9 Soundtrack'

November 30, 2008 4:00 PM | jeriaska

[We're pleased to introduce a new set of GameSetWatch-exclusive interviews with game musicians, conducted by Jeriaska. He starts things out with a great chat to the Inti Creates folks behind the Mega Man 9 remix album.]

Following the release of Mega Man 9, the Inti Creates sound team developed an arranged music album composed of remixed songs from the NES-style platformer.

Produced by Ippo Yamada, who participated in a Siliconera interview last month on the subject of the original soundtrack, the new album includes the participation of composers from Capcom’s 8-bit era and other musical guests.

Here Yamada offers an introduction to the arranged album and the process behind its creation, this time joined by Inti Creates composer Ryo Kawakami and guest arranger Akari Kaida, whose songs can be heard on the Breath of Fire III and Luminous Arc soundtracks, among others.

The discussion offers an informal look at how videogame composers consider the context of their music and the process of adapting in-game tunes to other genres, including classical, hard rock, fusion and jazz.

In-Depth: The Difficult Birth Of EA's Army of Two

November 30, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[EA Montreal's Army of Two had a high-profile delay before its early 2008 release, and as Gamasutra noted, executive producer Reid Schneider was at the Montreal Games Summit recently to talk about it - as Schneider noted: "Your feature list is not a measure of success."]

The production history of EA Montreal's Army of Two is an interesting one, with the company's decision to delay the game just before its release widely covered in the media.

And during a Gamasutra-attended lecture [thanks, Mathew Kumar!] at the Montreal International Game Summit, executive producer and franchise manager Reid Schneider delved deeper into the game's development.

He shared a postmortem imparting lessons on quality, process and execution for the game, which garnered mixed reviews on its early 2008 debut, but has nonetheless reportedly sold robustly.

Refreshingly, Schneider opened his talk not by focusing on his own personal successes, but by describing his biggest failures -- from working on the "first Game Boy Color game to feature partial nudity," Little Nicky, through Batman: Gotham City Racer, which he called "little more than a mod of Dukes of Hazzard Racing, which did not ever need to be modded."

Exploring Online Worlds: The Oddness Of Trukz

November 30, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Over at sister 'online worlds' site Worlds In Motion, Mathew Kumar continues to expand the Worlds In Motion Atlas, and I really like the way he goes off the beaten track to cover online games that, well, other folks don't. This time - the browser-based trucking game (yes, really!) Trukz.]

Here's an overview of Trukz, a persistent browser-based trucking simulation.

2008_11_14_truckz.jpgName: Trukz

Developer: Trukz

Established: May 2007

How it Works: Trukz is entirely browser-based and runs in HTML. Navigation and gameplay are accomplished via mouse and keyboard input.

2008_11_14_truckz1.jpgOverview: Trukz is a largely text based game where players create a driver, buy a truck and earn money by hauling loads from real-life cities around the world. Cities have distinct supplies and demands, and with cash earned players can buy upgrade and new trucks. Players have to deal with issues such as fatigue, gas prices and weather, and players can cooperate with other drivers by joining "companies" and talk to other players via "CB Radio."

Payment Method: Trukz is free to play; players can make a donation (starting at $5.00) to receive in-game cash bonuses.

Key Features:
- Real-world set trucking simulation
- Active community with player-run "companies"

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

November 29, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

Even this Thanksgiving week ended up having quite a lot of neatness posted on big sister site Gamasutra and various other sites - including a reprint of the The Graveyard's (pictured) postmortem.

Let's go through a few of these, complete with some brief personalized GameSetWatch-specific comments for those still recovering from Turkey Day:

- The Last Express: Revisiting An Unsung Classic
Based on some chance interviews conducted after Jordan Mechner's Comic-Con lecture, Chris Remo has done an excellent job of documenting The Last Express, a beautiful late '90s Mechner-authored adventure game that was roundly ignored at the time - but can be played via GameTap now, for the intrigued.

- Postmortem: Tale of Tales' The Graveyard
I believe we already linked to a version of this on GSW, but the story of the making of short/neat art-game The Graveyard - including funding info and download stats - is painstakingly well-documented here by Michael Samyn. Bravo.

- Emotions And War: The Valkyria Chronicles Interview
Some people claim that Sega's Valkyria Chronicles is one of the most under-rated games of this holiday season. The PS3 strategy game has some beautiful visuals and some interesting ideas about mixing real-time and turn-based action. Personally, it's not my kind of thing, but Brandon Sheffield did a great job talking to the developers about the intricacies of the game.

- The Designer's Notebook: The Moral Panic Isn't Over Yet
Possibly the most controversial Designer's Notebook opinion piece thus far - let's just quote the description for this one: "After Barack Obama's U.S. election victory, do we still have to worry about game censorship? IGDA co-founder Ernest Adams looks at an Obama administration, games and 'moral panic'."

- Gameplay Fundamentals Revisited, Part 2: Building a Pacing Structure
An in-depth design article from an EA and THQ veteran - and there's some really good point made in here about how to pace the level design of games correctly to keep people guessing, but still have a neat ratcheting-up of tension/difficulty - without the designers having to redo things 8 times.

Interview: Inside Naruto's Video Game Timewarp

November 29, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Manga/anime license Naruto is a surprisingly popular game franchise in North America - but what can you do when the Japanese TV show is airing two years ahead of the West? Tomy decided to get creative with exclusive new Western-specific characters and stories, producer Nobi Matsuo explains to big sister site Gamasutra - an interesting solution.]

Tomy's titles based on the internationally popular anime series Naruto is a surprisingly popular game franchise in North America -- and notably, they're also known for solid quality.

But Tomy's latest fighting game title, Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 for Wii, was now faced with an interesting challenge: how to bring North American players the next adventure when the TV series in Japan is as much as two years ahead of what's airing in the West?

Clash of Ninja Revolution 2's Tomy producer Nobi Matsuo decided to leverage the gap by filling it in with original characters and storylines made specifically for the game.

But how does this work with a game licensed from a Japanese cartoon, developed for a U.S. audience, requiring permission from a Japanese IP-holder? It gets complicated, and Matsuo explains the process in an interview with Gamasutra.

How did this game come to be chosen and conceived?

Nobi Matsuo: It was a timing thing. Everything fell in place. We've been localizing [the Japanese titles] for the GameCube; as you know, the Japanese TV shows are as much as a year or a couple years ahead of the U.S. TV show. So a lot of the characters have grown up and everything, so we can't usually use any of the assets from the Japanese side and bring them over to the U.S. side.

Especially when we made the transition to the Wii -- by that time, all the Japanese games that, for Tomy, used all the characters, which were prohibited for us to use. So we basically used that opportunity to start from scratch and put in all our characters, because they didn't exist for the Wii.

Best Of Indie Games: Stars, Moon and Night Skies

November 29, 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 goodies in this edition include two Gamma 3D game submissions right out of Montreal, a sequel to Newgrounds' popular adventure game Miestas, a 3D application created by the inventor of Sony's Echochrome, and a 2D adventure game developed with the aging but still versatile AGS adventure game creation engine.

Game Pick: 'Paper Moon' (Infinite Ammo, freeware)
"A short 3D glasses-enabled platformer which lasts for only five minutes, featuring artwork by the developer of Nano and Gravity Hook."

Game Pick: 'Super Hypercube' (Kokoromi, freeware)
"A puzzle game based on the concept of fitting 3D shapes into a hole in the wall, simply by rotating the cluster of cubes around until the correct orientation is found. One of the two 3D glasses-using games featured this week to be created specifically for the Gamma 3D event in Montreal."

App Pick: 'theRelativity' (Jun Fujiki, freeware)
"A funky little 3D application created by the developer of OLE Coordinate System, the engine in which Sony's Echochrome was originally based on. Virtual characters are now placed inside cubes instead of above them, and selecting any of the four modes will affect the shape of the corridors from the autonomous character's view."

Game Pick: 'Pragaras' (Jurgis ,Teshla, and Jurgis, browser)
"A new 2D exploration adventure game by the developers of Menulis and Miestas, where a small piece of the story is revealed as reward for each puzzle solved by the player. This sequel features a new shapeshifting ability, more colour, and inventory item slots for the purpose of carrying stuff around."

Game Pick: 'Loftus and the Sky Cap' (Ivan Dixon, freeware)
"A surprising departure from Ivan's previous works, who happens to be best known for a series of comics and adventure games based on Sydney Claywood and his friends. The story is about an apprentice named Inessa who discovers that her teacher has disappeared without a single trace, so she sets off on an epic journey in hopes of finding the current whereabouts of the great inventor Loftus."

Interview: How Ensemble Gets Halo Fans To Appreciate Halo Wars

November 28, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Four years into Halo Wars's development, Ensemble Studios feels like it's succeeding in bringing the RTS to consoles. Christian Nutt of big sister site Gamasutra recently spoke to the studio's Graeme Devine and Bill Jackson - and we thought it intriguing enough from a design/ethos context to reprint here on GSW.]

The Halo series is in a period of rapid expansion. The first title outside of the mainline numbered installments will be next year's Halo Wars, a console-oriented realtime strategy title for Xbox 360.

Unfortunately for Ensemble, Halo Wars marks the final game from the Dallas, Texas-based Age Of Empires studio, with the Microsoft-owned developer set to close in early 2009 following the game's completion.

Nonetheless, Gamasutra recently had the chance to speak to lead designer Graeme Devine and Bill Jackson, the game's campaign producer.

The interview focuses on the challenges of bringing an original realtime strategy title to consoles, what focus tests taught them about Halo fans and grenades, project origins, and why one of their job titles is simply 'Game Developer'.

Prototyping and Testing Functional Controls

So, you guys are pretty far along in development, then, on this title, and it's gotten to the point where everything is pretty much set completely, at this point.

Bill Jackson: Oh, yeah. We're four years into the title, so...

Really? Four years?

BJ: Yes. Four years. Four long years. The first year was some R&D work -- controls, and things like that -- so I'd say three solid years of production.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of Nov. 28th

November 28, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

In this round-up, we highlight some of the notable jobs posted in sister site Gamasutra's industry-leading game jobs section, including positions from 2K Marin, Insomniac, Recoil Games, Relic Entertainment, NCsoft and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted in each market area this week include:

Game Time With Mister Raroo: "Get High: The Return of the Score"

November 28, 2008 8:00 AM | Mister Raroo

Game Time With Mister Raroo logo[For those of us old enough to remember arcade gaming during its peak, Mister Raroo takes us on a trip down memory lane, recalling the beauty of the high score. Though their importance may have been diminished in the more recent past, his GameSetWatch column examines how in some ways, they may be more popular than ever.]

Pizza Grease Memories

During my formative gaming years of the early- to mid-1980s, I spent much of my free time at the local Straw Hat pizza parlor. Located less than 10 minutes from my house by bike, Straw Hat featured a special area of the establishment that was dedicated to arcade games. Crammed with the hottest new cabinets, Straw Hat’s makeshift arcade drew a menagerie of gamers from the local area, each with pockets full of quarters and one goal in mind: high scores.

Straw Hat’s arcade games not only attracted nerdy little kids like me, but it was also a hangout for some of the seedier teenagers and adults from the surrounding neighborhoods. Hyperactive, long-haired, pimple-faced rockers with faded Ratt t-shirts, 30-something go-nowheres still living at home and getting an allowance from their mothers, and burned-out stoners zoning out and forgetting where they are at and what they are doing are but a sampling of Straw Hat’s rogues gallery of gamers.

A Bad Day For GauntletI quickly discovered the optimal times to visit Straw Hat during which I could steer clear of the shadier patrons. Still, there were those few unavoidable times when I’d end up playing shoulder to shoulder with some pretty questionable fellows.

I’m still filled with fear when I think back to being yelled at by one particularly fierce Gauntlet player. I wasn’t necessarily appreciative of the swearing that was blasted in my direction and in my honor, but at least I picked up a few choice combinations of curse words that I’d never heard before.

No matter whom it was that frequented Straw Hat on any given day, there was nary a person immune to allure of being able to permanently make a mark of their gaming prowess by scoring enough points to enter their initials on a game’s high score screen. There were a handful of diehard Straw Hat regulars who continually jostled for the number one position, proudly putting their initials on display.

And, on the other side of the token, there were jokers who took the golden opportunity to perform electronic graffiti by entering their initials as FUK, DIK, ASS, or any other number of clever three-letter profanities. I only managed to claw my way to the bottom of the high score charts on a few rare occasions, but it still was enough to make me feel like I was riding on air as I peddled my bike back home.

GameSetLinks: No More Wii-ning About Wii Music?

November 28, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

The post-Thanksgiving lull is delightful, but that's not an excuse to slow down with the GameSetLink-related goodness, this time commenced with Vice Magazine's fruity LittleBigPlanet-ness.

Also in here - Russell Carroll on the delights of Wii Music (which is, yes, an excuse to print THAT picture), plus Julian Dibbell on the gold farming kings, what Statestats thinks of the videogame demographic, and the small things on the Vorpal Bunny Ranch.

Ka tan ga:

Wonderland: VICE magazine and Little Big Planet = LittleBigVice
Alice @ Wonderland points out LittleBigPlanet's takeover of hipster mag Vice, with supercute pictures - of course, hipster and mass market are not always intersecting, which might be one of LBP's issues?

Video Games Business & Marketing: In defense of WiiMusic
GameTunnel and Reflexive's Russell Carroll is a smart guy, which makes his passionate defence of Wii Music all the more interesting: 'Some games can change the way you think and act by giving you information that you can only learn by experiencing it. WiiMusic did that for me.'

Wired Magazine: 'The Decline and Fall of an Ultra Rich Online Gaming Empire'
Gold farming veteran Julian Dibbell takes on the 'legend' of gold farming titan IGE, in some style.

Xboxlive.com: My 'beautiful' Xbox Live avatar
You can show people your own at http://avatar.xboxlive.com/avatar/GAMERTAG/avatar-body.png, I guess. Feel free to add yours in the comments and say how true to life they are, relatively - I think mine is reeeasonably accurate.

StateStats For 'Videogame'
Interesting tool that lets you crossreference U.S. states with search queries - for videogames, looks like there's good correlation with high income, high population areas, and bad correlations with suicide and 'voted for Bush'. So there you go!

Vorpal Bunny Ranch: Seven for a secret never to be told.
Mr. Bunny has some good points on some of Xmas' blockbusters like Fallout 3, and the small, evocative things: 'What I'm interested in for this post is not the narrative told by gameplay, optional quests, or personal investment; what I am interested in is the story told in the nooks, crannies, and little details. Those moments that I just pause and think about what was or could have been, particularly in a post-apocalyptic world.'

1UP Zine Issue 4 preview - 'FunSpot Trip'
Raina Lee's zine (unrelated to the Ziff Davis site of the same name) is pretty seminal in that it's humanistic and cultural and smart, rather than OCD gamegeekish, and here's a preview of Issue 4, due out Spring 2009, about a trip to the legendary FunSpot Arcade.

Level Up : The Big Idea: Are Videogame Reviewers Missing the Forest for the Trees When It Comes to Assessing Important and Innovative Titles?
Painful erudition seems increasingly to be N'Gai's MO recently - though I may obviously be biased, working with Leigh, etc - here's her response, and Ben Fritz's rejoinder. [EDIT: I've actually just been persuaded that all three posts are equally meta/confusing. Hurray! Bonus points for anyone who can explain what the argument is to dunderheads like me.]

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