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Archive For December, 2008

GameSetLinks: The Strong Saints Bad Row Experience

December 23, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Wow, we really are edging up on the holiday season, aren't we? Along the way, we've got a bumper set of GameSetLinks to unspool this week, starting out with Chuck Jordan discussing how you tell the player what to do in adventure games - always a bit of a problem, to be honest.

But there's plenty of other good material here, include a silly game publishing brand-skewering from 1UP, a neat analysis of the design complexities of Beatmania, a chat to the inventor of the Speak & Spell, and other eruditions from varied RSS feeds of interest.

Take it away:

Spectre Collie » Blog Archive » Feedback’s a bitch
Telltale's Chuck Jordan discusses Manveer Heir's Design 101 article on Strong Bad for WiiWare, since Jordan helped create the game: 'His main observation is dead-on accurate. Adventure games suck at giving feedback to the player.'

g-mixer . mark cooke . blog: Japanese Saint's Row 2 Commercial
Grasshopper's Cooke points out a truly odd SR2 Japanese commercial: 'I'm not sure what market this advertising appeals to, though I enjoyed it.'

Top 5 Silly Names for Game Brands from 1UP.com
How come there isn't a website trying to do timely game news pastiches, like a more direct Onion-y version of this fun Sharky pastiche on the execrably named Surge? Poochie FTW!

Wired.com: Games Without Frontiers: Why We Need More Torture in Videogames
Clive Thompson: 'I'd like to see games that had more torture — and better torture — in them. In this alarming chapter of American history, they might wind up fueling the best public debate yet.'

Welcome to Special Round: The home version of IIDX 15 is completely absurd
A really interesting game design analysis of Konami's Beatmania and its super-high difficulty levels - I haven't seen it explained as well as this before.

Vintage Computing and Gaming | Archive » VC&G Interview: 30 Years Later, Richard Wiggins Talks Speak & Spell Development
Benj Edwards: 'Thirty years ago last June, Texas Instruments introduced Speak & Spell at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago' - and he managed to find and interview its creator for his always excellent VintageComputing blog.

Game recommendation: 5th Cell's 'Lock's Quest' for DS
5th Cell are helping to judge IGF Mobile, too, and I just checked out this 'Rampart vs. Tower Defense' title, which is one of the unsung DS games of late 2008.

Xemu's Long-Winded Game Industry Ramblings :: Bittersweet
Ensemble's Rob Fermier links to Crispy Gamer's Ensemble coda posts, which are excellent, also sighing: 'In the end I actually spent more time working on games that eventually got killed for MS political reasons than actual shipped products (though punctuated with helping get our other games out the door)'

The Best Of 2008: Top 10 Controversies

December 22, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Are we done with big sister site Gamasutra's myriad of year-end countdowns, yet? Of course not - this time, News Director Leigh Alexander takes a delighful dig through the controversial moments of the year in gaming.]

Throughout December, Gamasutra will be presenting a year-end retrospective, discussing notable games, events, developers, and industry figures of 2008, from the perspective of our position covering the art, science, and business of games.

Previously: 2008's top disappointments, downloadable titles, overlooked games, gameplay mechanics, indie games, surprises, PC games, trends, handheld games and developers.

Next, we'll look at this year's ten biggest controversies, the public issues that fueled the big disputes and blog hits, alongside the industry moments that drew enough attention for their impact to resonate into the coming year:

Video Games and the Music Biz: Who Needs Who More?

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick went to war with words against Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman over whether games like Guitar Hero are helping keep music artists afloat -- or whether the games would sink without the songs.

Bronfman stated that, given that band games depend on their track lists, the amount of royalties the industry pays is "far too small", while Kotick retorted that such comments were not "respectful of how much we’ve done to bring new audiences into the market."

Although the long-term outlook for the popularity of band games continues to be in dispute, it's inarguable that neither party can do without the other. Kotick points out, however, that Activision's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith generated more revenue for the band than any individual Aerosmith album.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 12/20/08

December 22, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


Ho ho ho! Are you in a jolly holiday mood yet? No? Well, neither am I, actually, thanks to looming tax deadlines and the thought of dealing with my entire extended family in a few scant days. But even my hearts' frigid cockles were warmed by the above print ad for Nyko's Wing wireless controller for Wii -- a page almost certainly modeled after NES-era accessory ads, one which gave me flashbacks to the Freedom Stick and the seemingly dozens of controllers Beeshu released. Bravo! (I don't mind the cord on my Classic Controller that much, though...)

This is the last Mag Roundup of the year, and it's a packed one thanks to all the specials and such. Let's see what's out on stands right now...

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

December 22, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Finishing up the weekend with the best of last week's long-form posts on Gamasutra and our other Gamasutra Network site which publishes multi-page features, GameCareerGuide.com, we start off with Christian Nutt's interviews providing a neat tech look at Monolith's (pictured) F.E.A.R 2.

But also in here - Matt Matthews dissecting NPD for November, the latest Game Design Challenge results, sound concepting with Spider-Man, the return of Analyze This for year's end, plus an intriguing student serious game interview.

Here we go:

The Technology of F.E.A.R. 2: An Interview on Engine and AI Development (Gamasutra.com)
"What puts the F.E.A.R into game technologists? This Gamasutra interview with a Monolith duo discusses F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin's tech underpinnings, from workflow to AI and beyond."

Analyze This: Looking Back at the Year in Gaming 2008 (Gamasutra.com)
"Ending the year, Gamasutra's regular 'Analyze This' column sees analysts from OTX, Wedbush Morgan and EEDAR looking back on the hits and misses of 2008, from Wii Fit to Too Human and beyond."

Results from the Game Design Challenge: Cut the Cutscene (GameCareerGuide.com)
"Cutscenes provide an easy way for game designers to tell a part of a story or convey information, but they do it in a way that is not integral to playing games. In a recent game design challenge, we asked you to think of ways to give the same information, but through gameplay rather than a cinematic."

Sound Concepting: Selling the Game, Creating its Auditory Style (Gamasutra.com)
"This audio feature has Shaba's Meyer explaining how sound concepting plays a vital role in a game's creative direction, with real-life examples from Spider Man: Web of Shadows."

Inside the IGF 2009: Sneak Peek at De Menezes International (GameCareerGuide.com)
"In this series of interviews, GameCareerGuide is talking to student game-makers who have submitted projects to the IGF student competition. Here, the students at the IT University of Copenhagen who made De Menezes International talk about the serious game, which deals with the anti-terrorism movement."

NPD: Behind the Numbers, November 2008 (Gamasutra.com)
"In this exclusive analysis, Gamasutra's Matt Matthews looks in-depth at November's NPD U.S. results, revealing the real economic picture, Sony's challenges and much more."

Interview: Grasshopper's Suda Talks No More Heroes 2, Time Travel

December 21, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Game Developer magazine EIC Brandon Sheffield recently caught up with Grasshopper Manufacture boss Suda51, who has a little of the buzz about him recently, thanks to his new projects - here's a fun interview about No More Heroes and targeting the Western market, among other things.]

Grasshopper Manufacture's always interesting CEO Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) has a lot on his plate, what with No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle slated for 2010 and an untitled EA Partners project in the works with Q Entertainment (Lumines) and eminent designer Shinji Mikami.

His company's visually unique titles like Killer7 and the original No More Heroes have kept Suda and Grasshopper in high demand.

In particular, Marvelous Entertainment noted the studio's growing popularity and published a Nintendo DS remake of Flower, Sun, & Rain, one of its older PS2 games, earlier this year in Japan. Marvelous' U.S. branch plans to bring the game stateside next month.

In this candid interview, Suda talks with Gamasutra about where the No More Heroes sequel is going, why that destination isn't away from the Wii, and what he'd tell himself about Flower, Sun, & Rain if he could go back in time:

GDC 2009 Announces Molyneux, Harmonix Sessions, Summit Keynotes

December 21, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[As we wander into the holiday season, our buddies at GDC just announced a lot more interesting lectures for the March event. We'll be covering this more track by track soon, but in the meantime, here's a basic, delicious overview.]

Game Developers Conference organizer Think Services announced several speakers and sessions for next year's GDC event, to be held in San Francisco's Moscone Center from March 23 to 27, 2009.

As part of the Game Design track, Lionhead Studios CEO Peter Molyneux will present 'Lionhead Experiments Revealed', a lecture on a range of experimental ideas and technologies at his company, and how they might might be incorporated into new Lionhead projects.

Other highlighted design sessions include "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Design Lessons Learned from Rock Band" with Harmonix senior designer Dan Teasdale, and "Player's Expression: The Level Design Structure Behind Far Cry 2 and Beyond?" with Ubisoft's Jonathan Morin.

Other notable speakers in the Production track include Maxis producer Caryl Shaw on 'Spore: Fulfilling the Massively-Single Player Promise - How'd We Do?', Bungie producer Allen Murray presenting "a brutally honest look at the evolution of production at Bungie from Halo-s 1 to 3".

COLUMN - Chewing Pixels: 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

December 21, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Chewing Pixels' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column written by British games journalist and producer, Simon Parkin.]

“Wow. This is excellent wine.”

She is exactly right. This is excellent wine.

In fact, that’s not the half of it. This is an excellent restaurant. The excellent food we are about to order will have been cooked from excellent ingredients by an excellent chef and we’ll eat it to the soundtrack of an excellent jazz trio (whose standards we’ll pretend to know by name).

The waiters, perfectly poised between attentiveness and professional detachment will provide us with excellent service. The loud bits of conversation that float over from our neighbours’ tables will be spoken by an excellent clientele, one that brims with that cozy warmth that comes from relaxing in excellent surroundings.

Outside it is cold and slush, a city returning home from a day’s Christmas shopping, shivering and spent in service to capitalism. But inside, here at this table, in this glass, all is peace and excellence.

GameSetLinks: The Parallel Peggle Problem

December 21, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

The weekend is upon us, and in between watching slightly dodgy CG whales play volleyball on the reliably chilled Mixmasters DVDs, we're whacking through the latest RSS-impelled GameSetLinks for your reading pleasure.

Some of the notable ones in here - Tuna Technologies on the appeal of Peggle, Matthew Wasteland on the PS3's odd journey, Mark Cooke on Linger In Shadows, a cute Atlus production diary, and other things that seem to fit into our 'smart games writing you maybe didn't see' remit nowadays.

Space invaders smoking:

Serial Missteps on the Parallel Road (Magical Wasteland)
Game Developer mag columnist Matthew Wasteland wanders thigh-deep into the history of the PS3: 'One day, deep in crunch, I finally realized that PlayStation 3 games would be about as good as Xbox 360 games, in the grand scheme of things– that there were more similarities than differences in the two consoles’ relative power for typical video game software.'

g-mixer . mark cooke . blog: The significance of Linger in Shadows
Cooke on Sony's PS3 demo-scene crossover neatness: 'The two significant and unusual things about Linger in Shadows are first, that the group was funded and published by Sony, and that second there are a number of interactive elements in the demo.'

Constance Steinkuehler» Blog Archive » NYT article & funny backstory
Cute piece about stolen credit cards and gamer nerds, and not what you might think.

Tuna Snax Features - Peggle, it's a love hate thing
Intriguing design analysis of PopCap's awesome psychedelic pachinko sim: 'I’m a terrible chess player, but I’m aware of the need to look ahead, and make presumptions about actions and reactions. Peggle is not that different; it’s not a case of firing your ball at a single peg and then letting fate decide the rest, it’s about trying to direct the ball into a series of events that benefit you.'

auntie pixelante › tower re
Anna Anthropy continues to be the premiere anthropologist of the ROM hack subculture: 'Seemingly modelled after the tower that connects the earth and sky of super mario bros. 3’s fifth stage... tower re is organized into twenty floors of abstract platforming.'

Shawn Elliott: Symposium Part One: Review Scores
It's.... long. And much-discussed on the Internet already. But, as an attempt by 2K Boston AP Elliott and an all-star pundit cacophany to work out where things are going, I think it's worth looking at.

Andrew P. Mayer » Blog Archive » The Edges of the Sandbox
An interesting piece on gamers breaking through in-game boundaries: 'Gaming is about turning thoughts into action, and if you’re not keeping them busy with planned entertainments they’ll always find a way to overcome the limits of the system.'

:::: Atlus.com :::: Production Diary fun from a U.S. translator.
Amusingly twisted stuff: 'We don't have to deal with all of the headaches that a project lead has to deal with, so we are pretty stress-free. After translation is finished on one game, we get put on another project, or shred CDs in the warehouse, or dance through the aisles, so work is pretty versatile.' Via NichM.

The Best Of 2008: Top 5 Developers

December 20, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Continuing big sister site Gamasutra's year-end retrospective, Editor At Large Chris Remo looks back on 2008's top five developers demonstrating outstanding achievement this year, from Bethesda Game Studios to Media Molecule and beyond -- also including ten honorable mentions along the way.]

Throughout December, Gamasutra will be presenting a year-end retrospective, discussing notable games, events, developers, and industry figures of 2008, from the perspective of our position covering the art, science, and business of games.

Previously: 2008's top disappointments, downloadable titles, overlooked games, gameplay mechanics, indie games, surprises, PC games, trends, and handheld games.

Next, we'll look at this year's top five development studios and ten honorable mentions. Included developers released at least one title during the 2008 calendar year.

They also demonstrated uncommon achievement with that release and/or exhibiting significant dedication to community, innovative business models, frequently-unheralded genres, or other noteworthy areas. Only specific development teams, offices, or divisions were eligible; entire publishers were not:

COLUMN: Bell, Game, and Candle - 'The Top Fifty Press Release Quotes Of 2008'

December 20, 2008 8:00 AM |

['Bell, Game, and Candle' is a regular GameSetWatch-exclusive column by writer Alex Litel, discussing stuff that happens - or doesn't happen - in the game business. This time, he is here with his own year-end round-up.]

Here is my contribution to the reflective canon, a look back at the best in things said in press releases in this fine year.

Over the past few days, I have scoured through more than 1,500 press releases, and I am certain that I have found the very best of the best.

Also, I should probably note I have excluded Mark Jacobs, as his contributions are so far and beyond anyone else that his inclusion would simply turn this into a countdown. In his absence, the top quote will be awarded an award with his namesake.

(Really, including statements like "We want any and all interested players to be able to join the ranks of Order and Destruction, regardless of location or language. The battle between Realms can only get better as more warriors join the fight for the Age of Reckoning." or "In three days the real battle begins -- we have declared September 18th the 'Day of Reckoning,' and WAR will soon be upon us!" would make things unfair.)

The Mark Jacobs Award for Corporate Communicative Achievement

“The game All Star Cheer Squad was designed with the growing number of girls on Wii and Nintendo DS in mind. We strived to deliver an authentic cheer experience for those players and believe this partnership with CoverGirl is a unique opportunity to do just that. The CoverGirl brand and its spokespeople are instantly recognizable among our target demographic and will further immerse players in the competitive cheerleading world.”
Jim Huntley, director of global brand management, THQ

Expressing approval of indoctrinating imperfection into malleable minds without inciting even the slightest indignation in the blogosphere is nothing short of top-flight cunning. If I could give this award to more than one person, I would give it to all the those in the industry—seemingly universally male—who have used their empiricism to speak on the interests of young girls. But I cannot, so I honor the sheer epitome.

Read on for the next, uhh, 49 quotes:

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