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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 February, 2009

GameSetLinks: Tiny Arcade Machines, Oh My

February 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.]

Still not out of the GameSetLinks, thanks to some particularly industrious weekend RSS-trawlin', and we start out with some completely adorable Sega arcade cabinet mini-figures, which I fear I must own some time fairly soon.

Also in here - Turkish political games, classic Resident Evil revisited, hidden bits of Shadow Of The Colossus, uhh, unhidden, plus Emerald City Confidential explored, and lots more.

It is over for youuuu:

NCSX Import Video Games & Toys: Sega Taikan Game Collection - Import Preorder
'The Sega Taikan Game Collection from Organic looks back at Sega's custom sit down coin-ops which rocked and veered from side to side to simulate the onscreen action.'

"Huys"/"Hope" - Turkey's first political game - News Games: Georgia Tech Journalism & Games Project
Excellent continued work on this blog: 'Besides the speeches and a documentary film, for the first time in Turkey an editorial game was introduced to the audience: "Huys", meaning "Hope" in Armenian.'

Richard Cobbett > Richard's Online Journal > Emerald City Confidential
Definitely underdiscussed thus far, this one: 'It’s an interesting release, and arguably the first old-school adventure to really be built as casual game.'

TOKYOMANGO: RPG gadget tells you whether you're spending too much $
'This handy digital device is kinda like Mint.com, a Nintendo DS, a MMORPG, and your mother all bundled up into one little white box.'

GAMBIT: Updates: The Pleasures of Old School Resident Evil - Sherry Birkin
A nice look back at a sometime-maligned early part of the series: 'I played RE2 so long ago (back in 1998) I'd forgotten all the subtle touches that make Sherry and Claire's relationship endearing.'

Shadow Of The Colossus: unused eastern area discovered! | Unseen 64: Beta, Unreleased & Unseen Videogames!
An interesting find by hacking Shadow Of The Colossus - they've 'discovered an huge, unused architecture hidden in the Eastern area of the game map.'

Sound Current: 'A Beautiful Flight - Creating The Music For Flower'

February 25, 2009 4:00 PM | jeriaska

[In the latest 'Sound Current' audio interview column for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska sits down with freelance composer (and friend of GSW, actually!) Vincent Diamante to discuss his work on the deliciously ambient soundtrack for ThatGameCompany's new PSN title Flower.]

A Playstation Network downloadable title for the PS3, Flower invites players to soar through the air as an adventurous petal, alighting on flowers to cause them to bloom. It is the latest title by ThatGameCompany, a design team that traces its roots back to the University of Southern California Interactive Media Division. The controls are handled by steering the Sixaxis controller and a single button allows the player to accelerate in flight.

Important to the experience of Flower, which was sound designed by Sony Santa Monica's audio lead Steve Johnson, is the music by USC alumnus Vincent Diamante, whose subtle score is nevertheless designed to make an impact.

Previously the musician behind ThatGameCompany's PC title Cloud, Diamante has selected layers of acoustic instrument samples that rise and fall depending on the actions of the player.

In this discussion with the composer, Diamante explains how the layers of audio that make up Flower's score came together, both through his own independent decisions and by way of a dialog with artists, illustrators and level designers.

Microsoft's Mattrick To Keynote GDC Canada 2009

February 25, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Since Don Mattrick has been part of the Canadian game scene since, oh, 1982 (Distinctive Software, yay), my colleagues at GDC Canada thought him a good choice to keynote May's GDC Canada in Vancouver. Lots of Test Drive questions, please!]

Don Mattrick, Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business SVP, will deliver a keynote at the inaugural Game Developers Conference Canada taking place May 12-13th in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The keynote will be presented in the form of an extensive on-stage interview, with games journalist Victor Lucas, creator and co-host of “The Electric Playground,” asking Mattrick a series of questions exploring the changing landscape of Canadian game development and Mattrick’s own role in expanding Canada’s role in the industry.

Previous to his work at Microsoft, Mattrick helped bring to life such successful game franchises as Need for Speed, Harry Potter, and The Sims during his tenure at Distinctive Software and Electronic Arts.

Opinion: 'Quake Live's Vault Into Immortality'

February 25, 2009 8:00 AM |

[We originally - and accidentally - ran this 'Game Anthropologist' column on Quake Live before the embargo was up. Now that the game is officially launched - and we have comments from John Carmack over at Gamasutra, with a bigger interview to follow, we're re-running Mike Walbridge's piece.]

“Man, it has been a long time since I played THIS game,” I wrote, hoping to break the ice.
“Welcome to 1999,” someone replied.
“The crazy thing is...some people never left,” another said.

We were all dead, waiting our turn; we're playing Quake Live's clan arena, a mode where the teams square off and each player's death merits no respawn until the next round. We call get maximum armor, health, and weapons, pounding each other into oblivion.

There's also duel, which pits players one on one while the rest wait in line to face the challenger. The list of spectators is a virtual list of quarters lined up on arcade machine. The atmosphere of the site, with its ladders and stats, is almost like a chess club. Quake Live is a bold and new move—it is absolutely free, and it is better than the Quake 3 I repaid twenty dollars for about five years ago.

The download did not take very long; while I waited for the full installation I was offered to do the tutorial level. A woman with a calm mellow voice introduced herself as Crash, whom I recognized from Quake 3.

She walked me through a small level and explained all the weapons and powerups. She was talking in the tone an elementary school teacher might take with a child who tries hard but is failing and needs extra attention and explanation.

“Okay, now let's practice!” Crash said. “You shoot me, I shoot you. Simple, right?”

GameSetLinks: The AGS, The EBA, Go, Go

February 25, 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.]

Forging valiantly onwards, this midweek GameSetLinks starts out with David Edery putting forth some interesting points of view on Gabe Newell's DICE speech, and particularly how the industry has taken Newell's discussion of Left 4 Dead and price drops. I think Edery is at least partly right - numbers can always be deceptive.

Also in here - the best PC AGS graphic adventures of the year are honored, some approximate (but still interesting) WiiWare charts are exposed, Mega64 are extremely silly as per normal, the creator of IGF Mobile finalist Smiles explains his journey thus far, and much more.

A la ka zam:

Game Tycoon»Blog Archive » Console Game Prices
'I simply reject the flawed assertion that a big bump in revenues from a long-delayed price cut equals “proof” that launch prices are too high. It isn’t proof. It may be the opposite of proof.'

Gnome's Lair: The spectacular 2008 AGS Awards ceremony
The best PC freeware graphic adventures of last year, as voted by the community.

Channel Surfing: Virtual Console/WiiWare Sales Chart, W/E Feb 8th, 2009 | VG Chartz.com
These numbers are still basically invented (esp. compared to XBLA), but it's interesting to see at least some estimates for them.

YouTube - Mega64: Elite Beat Agents (HD)
This is silly, even for Mega64, but hey, it makes me grin.

A Tree Falling in the Forest: Citizen Kane of Games: Poisoning Young Developers' Minds Edition
'For years, scores of games designers worship at the false altar of film and emotion as measures for their art. Enough is enough.'

A Cheerfully Blunt Road Map « tooNormal
The creator of IGF Mobile finalist Smiles talks about his path so far, quiet success in the iPhone store, and what's next.

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Almost, Almost, Almost

February 24, 2009 4:00 PM |

Wasabi2.png['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she considers the interaction between fiction and gameplay in the latest Chocolatier game for PC.]

The Chocolatier series of casual games is a favorite of mine, as I've written about elsewhere before. So I was excited to see PlayFirst announcing the launch of their latest, "Chocolatier: Decadence by Design".

The new version is fun in many of the same ways as the originals: you get to command a growing chocolate empire, buying ingredients and selling products, and playing small arcade games to establish the baseline productivity of your factories. The arcade elements this time around were a little less challenging than in "Chocolatier 2: Secret Ingredients", but in a way that made them less distracting from the overall game structure. They've also smoothed out a few other little game-design hiccups. It's no longer possible to strand yourself someplace without money and without chocolates to sell, because another character will offer you a loan. So there's good stuff here.

I was even more pleased to see that this version of Chocolatier was branching out to allow the player to design her own chocolates to sell. That idea was a logical extension of the gameplay in the second game, where the player has a chocolate tasting lab, but can only experiment to discover recipes previously intended by the designers. In "Decadence by Design", the player gets the opportunity to combine ingredients freely, then create an appearance for the new confection and provide it with a name and a description.

Best of FingerGaming: From Primrose to iDracula

February 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Every week, we sum up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by guest editors Danny Cowan and Mathew Kumar.]

This week's notable items in the iPhone gaming space, as covered by FingerGaming, include the release of the horror-themed shooter iDracula and the debut of Jason Rohrer's second App Store title Primrose.

Here are the top stories:

- iDracula Debuts in App Store
"iDracula includes six different weapons, an experience-based 'perk' system, and two game modes. The developer will continue to support the release after launch, as new levels, enemies, weapons, and modes are planned for free future upgrades."

- Jason Rohrer Releases iPhone Puzzler Primrose
"Indie game designer and Passage developer Jason Rohrer has released his second iPhone title, Primrose. In a departure from his earlier arthouse PC titles, Primrose is a comparatively straightforward puzzler, though it does feature an intriguing set of mechanics all its own."

Opinion: Where Do Fighting Games Go From Here?

February 24, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this personal opinion piece, Japan-based journalist Nayan Ramachandran considers Capcom's challenges with making Street Fighter IV more approachable for casual gamers, and why fighting game enthusiasts often reject those accessibility efforts.]

My head hurts, and my stomach is empty. It’s nine o’ clock in the morning and everyone seems a lot more awake than me. I finally get to the front of the line for the play I wanted to see, only to find out it has been sold out for almost two months.

My friend and I walk to Denny’s for a pick-me-up breakfast, both of us despondent and still feeling the effects of the party the night before.

When I finally finish my grilled cheese sandwich and scrambled eggs, I mutter to myself "Well, at least Street Fighter IV comes out tomorrow." My friend says nothing, and we continue eating. It was not a great start to the day.

On the way to the train station, my friend peels off down another street for a separate engagement, and I take the train one stop back to my neighborhood, my belly full but my head still throbbing.

Instead of taking the usual walking route from the station back to my apartment, I decided to swing by a tiny game and DVD store in the open air mall close by to have a see what they had in stock.

To my surprise, they had Street Fighter IV in stock, but it was selling for ¥1000 more than the store I had the game reserved at nearly five blocks away. I walk to the other store, past my apartment, in hopes they might be holding my copy, ready to buy a day early.

When I realized they were going to stick strictly to the street date for the game, I walked back another five blocks to the first store and snapped Street Fighter IV up, aware that plenty of people in the neighborhood would want a copy just as badly if they knew it was already available.

This was the real start of the day: my re-introduction to the world of Street Fighter, and my re-activated status in the secret club of fighting game players.

GameSetLinks: Bless, Thank The Death Tank

February 24, 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.]

Continuing the week's RSS-derived GameSetLinks goodness, firstly, Ian Bogost points out a new award specifically for news games - a good thing, if you believe that timely games about news events are one of the areas that video games can bring insight and gain credibility.

Also in this set - What They Play on violent media and aggression, Tom Chick on why Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansion aren't doing things right, Leigh Alexander on Dangerous High School Girls and censorship, and lots more besides.

Beau tee ful:

Water Cooler Games - Knight News Game Award
'Games for Change has announced plans to offer the Knight News Game Award at the 2009 Sixth Annual Games for Change Festival in May of this year.' Most interesting.

What They Play - Violent Media and Aggression
'Studies suggest that the most effective method to combat the aggressive effects of violent media is parental involvement' - and the ratings system is (basically) working already to help parents.

Why I won't be playing Grand Theft Auto IV: Lost and Damned | Fidgit
'It would be nice to see a modicum of social conscientiousness in what is arguably the face of videogaming presented to the world at large.'

Ironic Sans: Idea: The Blogosphere Adventure Game
Lazyweb but darn cute concepts: 'The opening animated narrative would introduce you to the protagonist “Dave” who was staying up late reading blogs instead of going to bed. Some sort of mishap (energy drink spilled on the computer?) was going to start a chain of events that digitally teleports him into the internet.'

Sexy Videogameland: Big Trouble For Dangerous High School Girls
Leigh continues the subject of taboo in video games by discussing the casual portal woes for Dangerous High School Girls.

Death Tank's Ezra Driesbach Interview - Eurogamer
The former Lobotomy staffer talks about the Saturn and the new XBLA Death Tank in a most edifying chat.

GDC 2009 Reveals New Suda, Ueda, Nintendo DSi Talks

February 23, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[It's a month til GDC 2009, but the lecture announcements are continuing to come in, and there's some really interesting stuff here rustled up by my colleagues - especially Ueda, Suda, and Pagliarulo on game design, as well as the DSi insights lecture.]

Organizers of next month's Game Developers Conference are continuing to add major talks, this time revealing a panel featuring ICO creator Fumito Ueda alongside Suda51 and Fallout 3's Emil Pagliarulo, plus DSi hardware lead Masato Kuwahara on making Nintendo's new handheld.

Firstly, in a newly revealed panel called 'Evolving Game Design: Today and Tomorrow, Eastern and Western Game Design', Sony's Fumito Ueda, creator of ICO and Shadow Of The Colossus, will be making a rare Western appearance to discuss the state of Western and Eastern game design.

Appearing alongside him is Goichi Suda, aka SUDA51, the creator of titles including Killer 7 and No More Heroes at Grasshopper Manufacture, as well as Bethesda's Fallout 3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo, with 8-4's Mark MacDonald moderating the panel.

As the description explains: "What are the most important recent trends in modern game design? Where are games headed in the next few years? Drawing on their own experiences as leading names in game design, the panel will discuss their answers to these questions, and how they see them affecting the industry both in Japan and the West."

Secondly, in a talk named 'The Inspiration Behind Nintendo DSi Development', Masato Kuwahara, who is Project Leader for the Nintendo DSi hardware group, will discuss the creation of Nintendo's enhanced DS handheld.

According to the lecture description, Kuwahara, who led the team adding features like flash memory and downloadable games to the DSi, "will explain how the company came to develop the system with all these new features, and what kind of new software development opportunities the team had in mind."

Game Developers Conference 2009 takes place at the Moscone Center from March 23rd to 27th, and more information on the event and registration is available at the official GDC website.

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