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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 March, 2009

GameSetLinks: The Queen Of Wishful Thinking

March 22, 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.]

This'll be my latest set of GameSetLinks before GDC, and I'll actually be a couple of weeks behind on RSS when I get back to it next weekend, but hey, needs must as the Moscone Center rides, or whatever.

In the meantime, here's a marginally bumper link round-up that includes, among other things, a great chiptune history, 1UP's new indie blog in full effect, Charlie Brooker on the British games industry, and lots more besides.

Clunk click clack:

Journal Of Transformative Works: 'Endless loop: A brief history of chiptunes'
Completely brilliant history of chiptunes article - via Grand Text Auto.

GDC Heads Up: Prove I Was There » PixelVixen707
Some ARG-related weirdness here!

1UP's Free and Indie Gaming Blog
Sharkey joins the Parish and Barnholt niche blog dream team for a stab at an indie games blog, HURRAY.

Joystiq: Weathering the economic storm: Start-ups speak out
Nice piece by ex-Gama editor Jason Dobson on how developers are faring in the rough economy.

Charlie Brooker: If videogames are to become as popular as TV they need to exploit our humblest fantasies | Comment is free | The Guardian
'The resulting lack of mainstream coverage means that, despite being about 10,000 times more successful than the British film and TV industries combined, the British videogames industry continually balances a pathological inferiority complex with a wounded sense of pride.'

The Plush Apocalypse » Blog Archive » You got some narrative in my system. Hold on, I’ll get a paper towel.
'It’s interesting to me to think about how to build systems that encourage the player to narrativize their experience - to view their play as an exciting story that they have had, at least in part, some hand in creating.'

Roflopolis - NCSoft Europe's Xmas 2007 ARG
Wow. This is insane, and cool, but quite over the top. But COOL!

GDC: Independent Games @ GDC 2009 - The Round-Up

March 21, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Having prepped this information to update IGF.com, thought it might be useful to GSW readers - here's one of the reasons that updates may be a little sluggish this week, even with our still-sekrit 'special guest' blogging from GDC.]

We're all very busy preparing for this week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, but here's all the information you'll need to know about the awards, summits and showcases taking place this week:

- The Independent Games Summit takes place on Monday and Tuesday, March 23rd-24th from 10.00am to 5.30pm, during GDC 2009 at the Moscone Center, with some of the top independent game creators talking about the art and business of making indie games.

- The IGF Mobile awards ceremony takes place on Tuesday, March 24th at GDC Mobile, from 10:45am to 11:30am, immediately following the morning keynote. (The ceremony's winners will also be highlighted at the main IGF Awards on Wednesday night.)

- Starting Wednesday, March 25th through Friday March 27th (Wed and Thur, 10am-6pm, Fri, 10am-3pm), the IGF and IGF Mobile Pavilions will be open on the show floor in the Moscone Center. All GDC attendees will be able to play the Independent Games Festival Main Competition, IGF Student Showcase and IGF Mobile finalists, and the developers will be on hand to talk and demonstrate the year's leading independent games.

- Finally, on Wednesday, March 25th, the Independent Games Festival Awards will be held in the Esplanade Room starting at 6.30pm, with thousands of developers on hand to see this year's IGF Awards given out, before the Game Developers Choice Awards take place.

Once again, Pocketwatch Games' Andy Schatz (Venture: Dinosauria) will be giving out the IGF Awards, with video skits from Mega64, introductory comments from IGF co-content directors, Flashbang Studios' Matthew Wegner and Steve Swink, and last year's Grand Prize winner, Crayon Physics' Petri Purho, giving away this year's $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

- BONUS: other indie happenings at GDC that I'll note in this blog post include Student IGF Postmortems on Tuesday as part of the IGDA Education Summit, plus Experimental Gameplay Sessions, Jon Blow's unmissable 'extending the boundaries of games' session on Thursday 26th from 3pm-5pm (check out the speaker list!) And LOTS more, I'm sure.

Sound Current: 'Traversing Castlevania's Musical Timeline with Noisycroak'

March 21, 2009 8:00 AM | jeriaska

[Continuing the prolific GameSetWatch-exclusive output of Jeriaska, he sits down with the folks at Noisycroak for an interview about the soundtrack for the latest in the seminal Castlevania series, fighting game Castlevania Judgment.]

Since its inception in 1986, the Castlevania series has witnessed its fair share of lasting musical creations. Joining us for a discussion of this auditory history are two members of Noisycroak, the videogame music studio responsible for original compositions and rock arrangements found on Konami's Castlevania Judgment soundtrack.

With a score directed by Hideki Sakamoto, the game features remixes from prior titles in the series for such game consoles as the 8-bit NES, Super Famicom, original Playstation, and Nintendo DS, arranged for the Nintendo Wii by composer and guitarist Yasushi Asada.

The familiar melodies are a reminder of past encounters with Simon Belmont, Maria Renard, Shanoa and Dracula. This discussion centers on an artist's personal rock music signature, an approach to the challenge of unifying selections from the long-running adventure series' musical timeline.

Best Of Indie Games: Inside Pandora's Box, Indie Games

March 21, 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 three roguelike picks from the recent 7DRL Challenge, a new seven-day project from up-and-coming developer Alex Vostrov, a collection of minigames in the style of WarioWare, a unique puzzle platformer, a strategic arcade game by the creator of the Advance Wars-styled Battalion, and a puzzler based on the idea plucking leaves from trees.

Game Pick: 'Pandora's Gearbox' (IndieBird, freeware)
"A physics-based puzzle game in which players must work their way through darkness, finding paths and moving machinery. At your disposal is a small flying robot which can shine a light through the pitch-blackness, allowing you to see the surrounding walls. Using this source, a ball must be guided through a maze and into the drop zone. It's interesting to see just how much the lack of light is a factor in these puzzles - simple switch flipping, bridge building solutions become so much harder when you can't see what you're doing."

Game Pick: 'Tiny Trials' (TinyMania, browser)
"A fast-paced minigame bonanza in which lots of small games are thrown at you, and the speed at which they are each completed will determine how good a score is achieved. At the end of each minigame you're given a star rating and a score and clearly the better you do, the higher you'll fly on the scoreboard. It's all wonderfully fun and definitely worthy of your free time."

Game Pick: 'TetRLs' (John L. Greco, freeware)
"TetRLs is a roguelike take on Alexey Pajitnov's classic puzzler, where players assume the role a prisoner forced to participate in a series of experiments inside the laboratory of a mad Soviet scientist. A new block is dropped at the starting point in each room with the press of a button, and it is up to you to shuffle it downwards and arrange them so that there is enough space to place the next one."

Game Pick: 'Fruits of the Forest' (Ido Yehieli, browser)
"Created for the 2009 edition of the friendly 7DRL challenge, Fruits of the Forest is a simple roguelike based on the idea of foraging food for the villagers in your town. Purple berries have to be collected and passed on to hungry villagers to feed them, but watch out for the bandits who are roaming around the forest in search of wanderers to murder and loot."

Game Pick: 'The Favored' (Joseph Larson, freeware)
"A loose remake of robotfindskitten with some changes to the original rules, created by Joseph for the 7 Day Roguelike Challenge. The game involves collecting rabbits by walking over them, then depositing enough of the creatures at the exit point so that the passage to the next level can be opened. Of course, there's an element of danger as one rabbit has the ability to strike you down if you accidentally attempt to catch the all-powerful creature."

Game Pick: 'Bloody Fun Day' (Urbansquall, browser)
"A strategic arcade game where players control the Reaper as he ploughs his way through little critters. Everytime Death sticks his scythe into one of the creatures, he gains points but loses health. Destroying red creatures will bring his life back up. It's all about bagging as many points as possible before you run out of life."

Game Pick: 'Leaf Blight' (Terrapin Games, browser)
"A puzzle game where picking dead leaves off trees is the order of the day. Gameplay starts off fairly easy with only a couple of different colours to begin with, but the puzzles start to become more tricky as certain sets of leaves need to be removed at specific points to stop bad ones spreading. It's a nice little thought-shaker with some great ideas, there's plenty of levels to plough your way through, plus a level editor is included so you can make your own tree puzzles."

Game Pick: 'Transmover' (Polygon Gmen, browser)
"A platform puzzler based around the classic 'grab the key, take it to the door' scenario. Our little stickman can walk over obstacles which are just one block in height or depth, but to get past bigger problem areas, the zapper must be used. When the zapper is fired at one of the moveable blocks in a level, our hero and said zapped block swap places."

GameSetPlaying: Mister Raroo's Moments

March 20, 2009 4:00 PM | Mister Raroo

Game Time With Mister Raroo logo [Mister Raroo's been a very busy man in the past few months, which means his regular GSW column has been a little on the sparse side a of late. However, anyone looking for a Raroo fix should note that he has been quietly chronicling the games he's been playing on his relatively new blog, Moments. Here's some highlights...]

Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
As my party and I approach the Presidium on our way to the Wards, we encounter an argument between a Turian officer and a Hanar evangelist. The poor officer seems at wit’s end trying to dissuade the Hanar from continuing to preach without a license. Even though I’ve got more important business to take care of, I decide to step in and see if there’s anything I can do to help.

The Hanar claims to have no money but feels it’s wrong to have to pay to spread its message. The Turian, on the other hand, is just trying to do his job and obviously would rather not be dealing with such a trivial issue. After hearing both parties out I decide to pay for the Hanar’s permit and everyone is happy. I linger for just a moment to take in the strangeness of the jellyfish-like Hanar’s appearance before continuing on my way.

In-Depth: Successful Indies Discuss Routes To Success

March 20, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[We had some neat coverage of the recent SXSW Interactive show in Austin, thanks to local journo N. Evan Van Zelfden, and here's his report on an indie summit starring a lot of the obvious, but obviously cool indie types.]

Games like Alien Hominid, Flower, and World of Goo all have a certain level of name-recognition -- so it's no surprise that the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas featured a panel on not just indie games, but successful indie game developers.

When first asked how to define being indie, Kellee Santiago, president of thatgamecompany (flOw, Flower) says, "I do think that’s an important distinction to make in some circles." Because of the business relationship with Sony, they’re not financially independent. Santiago sees indie as process, or content, or both.

For John Baez, producer at The Behemoth (Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers), it’s the company itself that defines it, but adds that many companies calling themselves indie actually have two-hundred employees. "It’s really all about the mindset," he says.

And Ron Carmel, half of the team at World of Goo developer 2D Boy, remarks: "I don’t know how to define indie per se, but I do notice a lot of things that indies have in common."

GameSetLinks: Casual, Hard, Magical, Wasteland

March 20, 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.]

Catching up with some notable GameSetLinks from earlier in the week, here's the results of our RSS machinations, headed up by Matthew Wasteland discussing lyrically why games "help us postpone the end of childhood" over and over.

Also in here - Hardcasual continues to get funny, games and music videos compared, Clive Thompson on Peggle's goodness for both the casual and hardcore, and plenty more.

Chuckle brothers:

The Madeleine in Eight Bits (Magical Wasteland)
Just beautiful writing from the Game Developer magazine columnist and mysterious auteur.

Fan Petitions For More Innovative Games He Won’t Buy « Hardcasual
HC is really hitting the spot on parody, recently - nice idea to relaunch with that bent.

Experience Points: Video Games Should Watch the Watchmen
Kinda an unholy combo of Watchmen and top list, but I liked it!

Daniel Primed:: Gaming Analysis, Critique and Culture » Likening Games to Music (Videos)
A nice idea, and something I've meant to get round to - Mr. Primed does a good job here.

Vorpal Bunny Ranch: You're brilliant, gorgeous, and ampersand after ampersand
An interesting discussion of romance in games.

Wired.com: 'Getting Lucky: Hard-Core Gamers Penetrate Peggle's Physics'
'Bejeweled, PopCap's single biggest hit with casual gamers, is in reality far more luck-based than Peggle.'

Gamasutra Expert Blogs: DS Game Insights, Engine Specifics

March 19, 2009 8:00 PM | Simon Carless

In our weekly Best of Expert Blogs column, we showcase notable pieces of writing from members of the game development community who maintain Expert Blogs over on Gamasutra.

Member Blogs -- also highlighted weekly -- can be maintained by any registered Gamasutra user, while the invitation-only Expert Blogs are written by development professionals with a wealth of experience to share.

We hope that both sections can provide useful and interesting viewpoints on our industry. For more information about the blogs, check out the official posting guidelines.

This week's standout expert blogs are as follows:

Five Years, 20 Lessons, 20 DS Games
(J.C. Connors)

Everyone making a Nintendo DS game will want to read this excellent compilation of mini-postmortems from Griptonite Games studio head J.C. Connors -- and, for that matter, so will anyone making a game for pretty much any platform, because nearly all of the lessons learned can be applied to development at any scale. (Griptonite's Spore Creatures is pictured above.)

Interview: Fallout Co-Creator Anderson Goes inXile

March 19, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[A treat for you RPG and Fallout fans - after being named creative director at inXile, Fallout co-creator Jason Anderson spoke to sister site Gamasutra's Chris Remo about his career history and plans -- and Fallout 3 impressions. Neat.]

In 1997, Interplay shipped the post-apocalyptic RPG Fallout, which received considerable acclaim and established a reputation that only increased over the years.

Now, inXile Entertainment -- headed up by Interplay founder Brian Fargo -- has hired Jason Anderson, one of Fallout's original leads, to serve as creative director on a new game to "push the boundaries of RPGs."

Before the completion of Fallout 2, Anderson and fellow leads Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky departed to form Troika Games, which existed from 1998 to 2005 and developed the ambitious Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magic Obscura and Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines.

More recently, Anderson was briefly reunited back at Interplay with another Fallout designer, Chris Taylor, on the company's MMO codenamed Project V13 -- widely speculated to be the Fallout MMO to which Interplay retained rights after selling the franchise to Bethesda Softworks.

Following the inXile announcement, we sat down with Anderson for a chat about his plans on the new team, what he learned at Troika, and what he thinks about Bethesda's recent Fallout 3:

IGF, Direct2Drive Announces $10,000 D2D Vision Award Finalists

March 19, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

[As well as the >$50,000 we're giving out at the IGF Awards next week, download partner Direct2Drive are kicking in another $10,000 for their own special award, which is nice of them.

Oh, and check out their indie games section if you haven't seen it, we helped A&R games for it and it has pretty decent stuff in it.]

IGN's digital retail store Direct2Drive announced the four finalists for the Independent Games Festival's D2D Vision Award, which seeks to celebrate independent developers exemplifying innovation in design coupled with excellence in game-play.

The sponsored award will be presented at 2009’s Independent Games Festival on March 25 in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

The team behind the winning title will take home a $10,000 cash prize and will be recognized during the 11th Annual IGF Awards show taking place in conjunction with the Game Developers Choice Awards at GDC.

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