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Archive For December, 2008

Best Of Indie Games: Raging Minotaurs and Evil Ronins

December 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 edition include a time-management game from Flashbang Studios, an original game with C64-style sprites and music, a remake of The Graveyard, a puzzle game inspired by Daniel Benmergui's I Wish I Were the Moon, and a visual novel recommendation by colleague Brandon Sheffield.

Here are the picks:

Game Pick: 'Devil Ronin' (Howard Kistler, freeware)
"An original C64-style game created for the Retro Remakes 2008 competition, where players assume control over a rebel oni who has sided with humanity and seeks to rid Japan of the demon scourge plaguing the entire country. This will involve travelling from one prefecture to another as he makes his way north for the final showdown with the Demon Shogun."

Game Pick: 'Minotaur China Shop' (Flashbang Studios, browser)
"A new physics-based time management game from the folks who made Off-Road Velociraptor Safari and Jetpack Brontosaurus. In it, players can choose to either serve the needs of their customers by fetching the goods they request for, or destroy as many fragile objects in the shop as they can before the local enforcement arrives to arrest our protagonist for misbehaviour."

Game Pick: 'I Fell in Love With The Majesty of Colors' (Gregory Weir, browser)
"A short puzzle game created by GameSetWatch columnist Gregory Weir, where players can arrive at any of the five separate endings by experimenting with different action (or inaction) for each scene."

Game Pick: 'The Eggyard' (Yxxa Zu and Monochrome, freeware)
"A single-screen art game mashup of Custer's Revenge featuring Dizzy as the main character. In it, players attempt to guide our old buddy to the end of a short level without being hit by coffins falling from the sky."

Game Pick: 'Crimsoness' (Porn, freeware)
"A visual novel which tells the story of a girl with plenty of bottled up rage caused by pressure of studies. A tense exam pushes her over the edge, and players are given a total of three minutes to help our protagonist with crucial decisions on how to go about wrecking havoc in her school premises."

The Best Of 2008: Top 5 Handheld Games

December 19, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Yep, we're still going with big sister site Gamasutra's year-end retrospective, and this time, our own Eric Caoili looks back on 2008's best handheld games across all portable platforms -- from The World Ends With You to Patapon -- along with ten notable handheld titles that get honorable mentions.]

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, and trends.

Next, we'll look at this year's top five handheld games and ten honorable mentions, the portable titles that managed to overcome their small-screen limitations to steal a big chunk of our time. The games picked are the editor's choice, and are chosen from the handheld titles released in North America during 2008's calendar year to date.

Here are our choices:

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of December 19

December 19, 2008 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

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 Rockstar San Diego, Mind Control Software, Namco Networks America, ArenaNet, 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:

COLUMN: Pixel Journeys: The Magic Of dnd5

December 19, 2008 8:00 AM |

Pixel Journeys thumbnail['Pixel Journeys' is a new GameSetWatch-exclusive monthly column by @Play creator John Harris, discussing games with unusual design attributes that have lessons to teach modern game designers.]

Subject: dnd, a.k.a. "The Game of Dungeons," a remarkably devious game that also happens to be one of the first computer RPGs made.

Welcome class, if you'll be seated....

dnd2.pngBefore we discuss the game of dnd, allow me to describe the old networked computer system known as PLATO. It's strange, really, how little-known it is today*. While UNIX systems, buoyed by the strength of its foremost ambassadors Linux and FreeBSD, are, numerically-speaking, more popular than they've ever been, its early contemporary PLATO lies mostly forgotten except by those who used the system in the day.

PLATO systems did many things that most PC users didn't get until 1993 or later. Online bulletin boards? Had them, in the form of notesfiles. Email? Personal notes. Chat? Talk-o-Matic. Instant messages? Term-Talk. MMORPGs? Surprisingly many, most of them older than MUD.

Our focus this month is not a MMORPG, but it is an RPG, one of the first computer RPGs ever created. It is called dnd, and if its title seems a little generic, it should be remembered that, at the latest, its first version was created in 1974, the same year Dungeons & Dragons itself saw publication.

GameSetLinks: Back Once Again, Unwell Behavior

December 19, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Well, you may have noticed a slight lack of GameSetLinks this week, and plenty of cross-posting, to boot. This is because I've been at the Global Online Game Awards in South Korea, and only just got back yesterday.

There will be a picture-laden 'this is what South Korea is about re: gaming' post in due course, but in the meantime, we'll be massively catching up on RSS feeds. Thus, here's some transitional links, including Takahashi, soundtracks, Carroll prescience, and lots more.

Hat brim top:

EA: Henry Hatsworth official website
The downloads section for Kyle Gray's 'indie'-ish EA Tiburon DS title (pictured!) has the entire OST available for download, a GSW reader points out - v.neat!

Noby Noby Boy Preview for the PS3 from 1UP.com
Keita Takahashi is as clipped as ever, but hey, it's interesting. Namco aren't exactly gonna make much money off this title with 3+ years of development and being sold for <$10, tho!

chewing pixels » The Best Games Writing of 2008: Part 1
GSW columnist Simon Parkin's excellent, heartfelt thoughts on the best game writing this year - here's Part 2.

NeoGAF - View Single Post - Gamasutra's top 5 surprises of 2008
The interesting part of this thread points out that Reflexive/Amazon's Russell Carroll was eerily correct back in 2005 in predicting the Wii's success. He's a smart cookie!

Kotaku: 'Farewell: Maggie Has Left the Tower'
Sad to see that Maggie Greene left Kotaku - her weekend posts were always some of the most erudite on the site, and we definitely appreciated all the links along the way. Look forward to seeing her post-Kotaku output, tho!

2008全球最强游戏制作人大排榜-levelup.cn 游戏城寨 | PS3 PS2 PSP X360 Xbox Wii NGC NDS GBA PC
About the 'Top Deck' from Game Developer we ran on Gamasutra recently, from a leading Chinese website: '结果,硅骑士公司的Denis Dyack,由于公开在欧美游戏圈最有影响力的论坛NeoGAF'. Nuff said!

Wolfire Blog - Gish design tour
These are very neat - this is the third in the series.

While !Finished » The Importance of Leadership on Gaming Websites
'The point of all of this is that, despite claims by games bloggers that they have no control over what random people say on the internet, they actually do have a lot of control over the community on their sites, without even getting into moderation: it’s all about tone.'

2008 Game Developers Choice Awards Opens Nominations

December 18, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Over at big sister site Gamasutra, we've just opened nominations for the 2008 Choice Awards, so if you're a developer and would like to vote on the best games of the year, with winners showcased at the big GDC ceremony in March - now's the time.]

The 2008 Game Developers Choice Awards has now opened nominations for the best games of 2008, with awards given out at GDC 2009 and Gamasutra members able to help decide nominees.

Next year’s 9th Annual Award Ceremony, will be hosted on March 25th, 2009 in the Esplanade Room in the South Hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center, as part of Game Developers Conference 2009.

The Choice Awards, the most prestigious honors in video game development, are now available for you to nominate, after logging on with your main Gamasutra.com user ID. (You can register for free if you do not currently have one.)

The Game Developers Choice Awards recognizes excellence in the art of game creation in any genre or platform. Last year's event saw Valve's Portal the recipient of three major honors, including Game of the Year, with three awards also going to 2K Boston/2K Australia's BioShock.

The 2009 award categories currently open for nominations until January 5th, 2009, are:

GameSetInterview: Kplecraft & luvtrax's Retro Game Chiptune Madness

December 18, 2008 8:00 AM | jeriaska

[Our latest Japanese video game-related music interview from Jeriaska chats to a chiptune video game techno duo including quad/luvtrax and Kplecraft - who actually and coincidentally released an EP on my net.label a few years back. And hey, Gradius chiptune remixes!]

Kuske of the Tokyo-based chiptune group Kplecraft and quad of the sound studio luvtrax performed together at the 2008 EXTRA Hyper Game Music Event.

Their sets involved techno arrangements of classic videogame series like Gradius, accompanied by vocal performances and 8-bit console sounds. Both musicians work in chiptunes and their songs will be appearing in the XBox 360 port of the sidescrolling shooter Otomedius G.

Luvtrax is a music production studio run by quad, who has written NES-style music along with compositions for acoustic instruments that have been featured in videogames and anime titles. An experienced sound designer, he has mastered a number of videogame soundtrack albums for 5pb Records, including the 2007 EXTRA Live album, Etrian Odyssey II Original Soundtrack, and Yuzo Koshiro Best Collection Volumes I & II.

Kuske specializes in chiptune music, employing Famicom sound cards and Game Boys, accentuating these retro sounds with saxophone accompaniment. He has collaborated with the chiptune collective 8bitpeoples and has performed at the Blip Festival in New York.

This interview, taking place the night of the EXTRA event, touches on the cultural differences between the videogame industry and the chiptune music scene. In the views of the two musicians, there may in fact be fewer cultural factors separating the music of East and West as there are barriers to the integration of videogame and chiptune music scenes, regardless of location.

The Best Of 2008: The Top Trends

December 18, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[The latest countdown on big sister site Gamasutra, and this time it's Christian Nutt and the other editors banding together to work out the top trends of the year - with 5 listed here, and 20 if you click through to the full feature. Fun!]

It's been a year of exciting evolution for the game industry that can only be expected to continue. In fact, there are so many changes going on that Gamasutra was hard-pressed to choose just 20 major trends.

The final list was pared down from an initial selection of over 40, and we probably could have thought of many more -- especially as the industry expands to encompass everything from casual online games to Facebook apps, alongside three dedicated consoles and two handheld platforms.

There's so much diversity that choosing isn't simple, but we've identified and explained 20 trends that have risen to the level that they cannot be ignored -- and here are just five of them:

In-Depth: Building IncrediBots With Some Grubby Geezers

December 17, 2008 4:00 PM |

[Starting out a new series of GameSetWatch interviews on buzzed about and/or overlooked games and personalities conducted by the excellent Todd Ciolek, we talk to the Grubby Games folks about their excellent Flash-based physics sim IncrediBots.]

Calling IncrediBots a “physics game” may sell it a little short. True, Grubby Games’ new Flash-based title revolves around building and maneuvering machines in a 2-D world where everything reacts with realistic motion. Yet it’s also a puzzle game, a movie-maker, and anything else that players can pull off within the game’s highly versatile confines.

IncrediBots walks first-timers through the art of crafting various simple machines, and it's easy to turn them into robots, cars, Rube Goldberg contraptions, obstacle courses, and, using the game's movie-recorder, short films.

Everything is made from basic ideas and simple visuals, but IncrediBots has proven popular enough to overload three servers since its beta launched in November. It’s not the first success for the Grubby Games developers, as their Professor Fizzwizzle PC puzzle game was the 2005 GameTunnel Casual Game of the Year and a finalist for the 2006 IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

We interviewed IncrediBots designer Ryan Clark to find out where IncrediBots came from, where it’s going after the beta, and just how far its user base has taken it:

The Best Of 2008: Top 5 PC Games

December 17, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Continuing to cross-post the 'best of the year' pieces from our big sister site for GSW readers' delectation, in a year which saw the PC become his main gaming device, Gamasutra's Chris Remo takes a look at 15 of 2008's notable PC releases.]

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, we tallied up 2008's top disappointments, downloadable titles, overlooked games, gameplay mechanics, indie games, and surprises.

Next, we'll cover this year's top five standalone (non-expansion) PC games and ten honorable mentions, highlighting fifteen standout titles from 2008, including both exclusive titles and multiplatform or ported releases. The games picked are the editor's choice, and are chosen from the titles released in North America during 2008's calendar year to date.

This was an encouraging year for gaming's longest-running platform. Despite quite a few online explosions surrounding piracy and digital rights management controversies, the PC continued picking up more multiplatform support from major publishers, and produced a number significant exclusives.

Perhaps most rewardingly for longtime PC gamers, 2008 spawned many games that seemed to build heavily on the PC's heritage of game design built around player freedom, as seen not only in exclusives like Crysis Warhead, Spore, and Sins of a Solar Empire but also multiplatform games like Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3.

And as GameStop and other specialty retailers progressively marginalize PC shelf space, the ongoing growth and substantially increasing relevance of digital distribution platforms like Steam and Impulse has been welcome. Here's our countdown:

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