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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 January, 2009

2009 IGF Mobile Reveals Competition Finalists

January 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[This is the final set of Independent Games Festival finalists announced this year, following the IGF Main Competition and IGF Student Showcase - congratulations to all finalists, and we'll see you at GDC.]

The Independent Games Festival Mobile (IGF Mobile), an event that celebrates innovation in games for handheld devices, including mobile phones, DS, PSP, iPhone and iPod touch, has named the finalists for the second annual competition.

The number of entries more than doubled – to over 100 – compared to last year’s inaugural competition, bolstered by a strong showing from the emergent iPhone and iPod touch platform – so much so that a special ‘Best iPhone Game’ category has been designated for the titles which best use the unique possibilities of the device.

Winners of the 2009 IGF Mobile competition, who will get a share of $30,000 in prize money, will be announced at a special ceremony during the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Mobile conference on March 24, and additionally honored during the main Independent Games Festival Awards on March 25, 2009.

Some of the leading finalists for this year’s competition include stylish iPhone cube movement puzzler Edge (3 nominations), the technologically cunning Wardive on Nintendo DS, which uses local WiFi hotspots to generate enemies (3 nominations), and elegant iPhone ‘tower defense’-style title Fieldrunners (3 nominations).

Games also nominated multiple times include Secret Exit's touch-controlled iPhone rope wrapping game Zen Bound and iconic tilt-controlled iPhone puzzler Dizzy Bee, with a number of Flash Lite and Java cellphone games, including the innovative Cubic Republic, also finalists. Read on for the full list:

Opinion: The New Old Wave of PC Games

January 26, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[With claims of the decline of the PC gaming, commentators seem to lose sight of the platform's historic strengths and its place in the world -- Gamasutra's Chris Remo looks at companies like Valve and Stardock to define 'the new old wave' of PC gaming.]

Amidst the neverending talk about how the PC is changing or declining as a market for hardcore games, outside of perennial chart-crusher World of Warcraft, commentators seem to lose sight of the historic strengths of the platform and its place in the gaming world.

Meanwhile, studios like Valve and Stardock -- successful, independent companies comprised of staffers whose memories seem to go back a little further -- understand some key principles that have always defined the PC platform in a positive way.

These include ongoing, direct contact with their audience; agility and responsiveness in development and support; and smaller teams that can afford to take interesting design risks and thus foster a loyal niche (not to mention thrive on sales that are less than astronomical).

The 'Game Gods'

It's easy to forget that some of the PC's industry-changing success stories are more than just high sales numbers. The archetypal such case is id Software's Doom. Our recently-reprinted profile on the game serves as a reminder that it wasn't truly record-breaking sales that made Doom a success so much as it was a combination of a small, dedicated team, a business model that connected directly to consumers and allowed for higher margins, and a fresh gameplay concept.

GameSetLinks: The Achievement Of Thought

January 26, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

A relaxing Sunday evening and a bit of Mojave 3 will help usher in a new week with plenty enough GameSetLinks to go around - starting out with another 2K Marin staffer helping out those wanting to get into the game industry with some genuine, helpful tips.

Also hanging out in this batch of links - a high-profile MSNBC article that talks about IGF and indie games with some positivity, someone you wouldn't expect gets excited about achievements, changes at Joystiq, and interesting multimedia game-ish project via Channel 4 and Alice, and lots more.

To whom should I write:

vector poem » Getting Into Level Design
Another of those incredibly useful posts: 'This sounds simple, but making something you actually want to play makes it much easier to get over the hump of getting started.'

Tale of Tales» Blog » Achievements will save us all!
It's eye-opening to see who will get the bug, however unlikely: 'Achievements are a very simple mechanic. They require hardly any design, are easy to implement and instantly provide the player with motivation and goals.'

Wonderland: Routes
New multimedia thing thanks to Alice's commissioning at the UK semi-public broadcaster: 'Channel 4 education, in association with the Wellcome Trust, and conceived of and delivered by Oil Productions. Getting stuff to teens that's useful to them: in this case, we're going after the genome, DNA testing and other hot-button topics of the near future.'

Joystiq announcement: change is coming - Joystiq
The 'Fanboy' sites (DS, Xbox 360, etc) are being merged back under the Joystiq brand, which is interesting. Some peripheral contributors may have got cut, despite comments here, I think?

Broken Toys » The Real Hitler Problem
'The problem, though, that everyone seems to be dancing around: what, exactly, is *wrong* with depicting evil in gaming?'

Is this the future of video games? - Citizen Gamer- msnbc.com
Really, really awesome mainstream coverage of indie games and the IGF, yay.

GameSetInterview: The Dangerous Audio of Penny Arcade Adventures' On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

January 25, 2009 4:00 PM | jeriaska

[Continuing a set of interviews with neat folks who make video game audio, Jeriaska sits down with Canadian musician Jeff Tymoschuk to discuss the soundtrack to Hothead's episodic Penny Arcade Adventures game series.]

Fusing elements of the macabre horror of H.P. Lovecraft with the irreverent humor of the titular webcomic, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness maintains a precarious balance between the grim and hysterical.

The series, by developer Hothead Games, inhabits a gritty 1920's urban landscape called New Arcadia, whose musical atmosphere comes courtesy of composer Jeff Tymoschuk.

The soundtrack for the episodic RPG (available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, XBLA and PSN) is the latest game project by the Vancouver-based musician, who maintains GreenWire Music and Audio.

Having contributed to dozens of films and interactive media, his previous game projects include co-composing James Bond: Nightfire for Electronic Arts, and more recently Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice for BigBig Games/ Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

In this discussion, the musician offers his perspectives on the debut of Gabe and Tycho as proprietors of the Startling Developments Detective Agency. The conversation offers a unique perspective on scoring video game narratives, and a closer look at the making of Penny Arcade Adventures:

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

January 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

The end of another busy week, so time to break down some of the week's top features on Gamasutra - plus bonus features from our excellent student site GameCareerGuide - there's a bunch of neat analyses, interviews, and so on posted over the past 7 days.

Hanging out in here - the ever-intriguing Jon Blow quizzed on post-Braid life, plus Matt Matthews' stat-hungry trawl through U.S. console trends for 2008, a useful postmortem of American McGee's Grimm, a look at U.S. legislation on games, Ian Bogost's thesis on what we should call the new wave of gaming, and more.

Here are the stories:

Jonathan Blow: The Next Phase
"After the success of the time-disrupting Braid, Number None's Jonathan Blow sits down with Gamasutra to discuss the state of indie gaming, his next projects, and 'meaningful' games."

Postmortem: American McGee's Grimm
"In this Gamasutra-exclusive postmortem, the creators of American McGee's Grimm honestly analyze the creation of the Chinese-developed episodic PC adventure series."

Persuasive Games: The Proceduralist Style
"'Games as art' is a tired conversation, says writer and designer Ian Bogost, who instead proposes 'proceduralism' as the new phrase to describe innovative indie titles from Braid to Passage and beyond."

Analysis: The Gears of War Franchise - Behind The Data
"The eight most-played Xbox Live games of the holiday season were all sequels, according to gaming social network GamerDNA -- and the first part of this Gamasutra-exclusive data analysis reveals player usage trends around both titles in the Gears of War franchise."

Sponsored Feature: An Interview with Havok's Jeff Yates
"Havok, long known for physics, now has a reach that extends into other crucial middleware areas. In this sponsored feature that's part of the Intel Visual Computing section, the company's Jeff Yates speaks about the present and the future."

Video Game Regulation: Where We Are Now
"How does the government regulate video games? Researcher Clark looks worldwide for perspective on U.S. game censorship, addiction, and piracy law in an Obama administration."

NPD: Behind the Numbers, December 2008
"In a Gamasutra-exclusive analysis, we analyze U.S. game hardware and software numbers for the whole of 2008, discovering surprising multi-year growth comparisons and marketshare changes."

Bonus GameCareerGuide.com highlights: Results from the Game Design Challenge: Gravity Game; Inside the 2009 IGF: Dark Room Sex Game; GameCareerGuide.com's Game Design Challenge: Why Did Frogger Cross the Road?.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Some Good News About Print Mags

January 25, 2009 12:00 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.]


I am in the midst of madly preparing for a long vacation. Everything always seems to happen last-minute when you've got one of these vacations, so my mind is frazzled right now.

Fortunately, I don't have to say very much in order to introduce Amusement, a French mag that's perhaps best described as a mixture of Edge and a European fashion magazine.

I'm surprised I haven't read a lot more about Amusement before now (although it's been mentioned on prominent blogs once or twice).

This is especially true because it does a lot of things that I think print-based game media needs to start doing right now -- be more visual, take angles that nothing else on the market approaches (online or off), and keep readers excited instead of bored and uninspired to continue reading.

Amusement EIC Abdel Bounane did an online interview last month where he lays the mag out bare for English speakers. Bounane says in the piece that an English-language version will get US and UK distribution in 2009, and already I can't wait for that moment. Hopefully, the English version is as well crafted as the French.

That's not the only good news in print land -- I've heard from a couple of industry people that Future U.S. has something new going on in '09, printwise. What, I don't know precisely, and it may not be quite as exciting as a standalone independent-editorial mag launch, but I'm looking forward to it regardless.

Or, that is, I'll be looking forward to it once I'm done packing and getting the ferrets situated for my vacation. Oh God, all these loose ends...

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]

GameSetLinks: Indie? Indie? Schmindie!

January 24, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

Rolling right into the weekend, and this set of GameSetLinks appears to be a little heavy on the indie side - it's headed by something on the indie film side of things which is still fascinating to translate to what's happening in independent game media.

Also in here - totally retro Guitar Hero geekouts, NPR on indie, Dylan Fitterer on surfing with audio, a postmortem of a moody title with plenty of zombies, and much more.

Ka ka ka:

Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily » Sundance Film Festival Director Geoff Gilmore Talks ‘Evolution vs Revolution’
Running an independent-minded festival, it's interesting to see the trials and tribulations of the leading indie film fest outlined like this.

TRUE CHIP TILL DEATH » Chipstar Heroes unite
'With all the hype around Guitar Hero and Rockband (following the successful trail of the “DDR-type” games), the oldschool machines feel kind of left out of the loop.' C64 _and_ Amiga versions, natch.

My NPR piece on independent videogames - The Cut Scene - Video Game Blog by Variety on Variety.com
Another indie piece, by Variety's Ben Fritz, no less. And Dark Room Sex Game ahoy!

Charge Shot!!!: BestRideEver: A Talk with Dylan Fitterer
Neat new site has a pretty fun interview with the Audiosurf creator on music, games, and all things inbetween.

Zombpocalypse Postmortem - Buro-kun Developer Blog
Nice postmortem of a VERY individual, oddly atmospheric indie title.

IGN: Ten Trends That Are Saving Videogames
Indie games (with a prominent IGF mention) being one of them, hurrah.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of January 23

January 24, 2009 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 this week, including positions from Nintendo of America, Square Enix, N-Fusion Interactive, Redtribe, 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:

Opinion: The Emancipation Of Lara, Or Why 'Female-Friendly' Fails

January 24, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Eidos has revealed its intentions to make iconic Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft more "female-friendly", but is that really what the franchise needs? In this opinion column, Gamasutra news director Leigh Alexander tackles the issue -- and why Lara's much-critiqued sexuality is largely a straw man.]

By now you've probably heard somewhere or another that Eidos would like to make the Tomb Raider franchise and its heroine more "female-friendly."

"Female-friendly" is a well-intentioned but faintly gruesome marketing phrase that's come to be perceived as shorthand for "let's make everything pink so women will buy it."

It's almost inherently offensive -- so in order to treat this concept of a female-friendly Tomb Raider fairly, the phrase first asks us to get some words out of the way.

As a female journalist in a majority male industry, perhaps I'm owed a deck in the face from Gloria Steinem when I confess that, whenever we as a society discuss gender issues and "what women want," I get a pang of concern for the men.

Best Of Indie Games: Walking To The Beat

January 24, 2009 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 triple-nominated 2009 IGF finalist, an offbeat side-scrolling beat 'em up, a uniquely different exploration game with minimal aesthetics, and a physics-based action game from the developers of Puzzlegeddon and Fret Nice:

Game Pick: 'The 24-Hour Police' (Desire Factory, freeware)
"A 2D side-scrolling beat 'em up in the style of the Final Fight series, where players step into the shoes of a vigilante cop on a mission to take down the local mob boss and his henchmen. This translates to three stages' worth of goons who can be punched, kicked, thrown, or shot at, as you make your way towards the final showdown with the leader of the criminal organization."

Game Pick: 'Mirror Stage' (Stephen Lavelle, freeware)
"An exploration number where every stage is divided into small areas, featuring a variety of objectives that usually requires highlighting all rooms or stepping into a certain spot to clear the level. The game is available for both Mac OS X and Windows platforms."

Game Pick: 'Walkie Tonky' (Pieces Interactive, freeware)
"A physics-based action game where players get to guide a giant robot around a city and engage in the act of smashing buildings, vehicles, and all manners of defensive measures that the Earthlings have set upon you."

Game Pick: 'Osmos' (Hemisphere Games, game demo available)
"In this serene and elegant orbital osmosis simulator, players navigate through an indigo sea of wandering motes, absorbing smaller bits while avoiding collisions with larger motes. The triple-nominated osmosis sim from Hemisphere Games, which now has a demo version available, is in the running for the 2009 IGF Technical Excellence award, Excellence in Design, and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize."

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