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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 March, 2009

Interview: Metalocalypse Animators Birth Titmouse Games Division

March 19, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[We're running just a prodigally large amount of interviews on big sister site Gamasutra right now, and here's a fun little one I conducted with the Metalocalypse animators at Titmouse, who are teaming up with an ex-Neversoft dev to do their own neat-looking console game.]

Los Angeles-based Titmouse, the animation studio "creative force" behind Adult Swim's Metalocalypse animated series, has started its own game studio, Titmouse Games -- and Gamasutra had a chance to talk to Titmouse Games creative director Aaron Habibipour about its plans.

Animators at the studio have worked on series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Afro Samurai and the Amazing Screw on Head, but this won't be their first outing into the game world. Titmouse also created the cartoon rock cinematics for the last four Guitar Hero series, and most recently finished work on the upcoming Guitar Hero: Metallica.

As Neversoft veteran Habibipour is announced as the new division's creative director, Titmouse also announces its first project: Seven Haunted Seas, an original console action-RPG.

Described as "...a mixture of steam-punk and graphic novel-like artwork", the game is a dark comedic tale about an undead pirate, Scurvy Pete, that "returns from hell to find a dark, post-apocalyptic future where he must right all his wrongs to restore the world."

We sat down with Habibipour to discuss the forming of the division, their first title, and whether a Metalocalypse game might possibly be on the horizon:

Best Of GamerBytes: Astro Tripping Beats

March 19, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

bittripping.png[Every week, sister site GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley passes along the top console digital download news tidbits from the past 7 days, including brand new game announcements and scoops through the world of Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.]

This week on GamerBytes, it was all about the special features. We chat with Steve Fawkner on Galactrix, stroke our beards about the future of the Xbox Live Marketplace, and become armchair analysts with the XBLA and PSN sales ranks. We would track WiiWare numbers, and others certainly try, but without completely certain data, it's a difficult task.

This week on XBLA we've got Connect 4, Battleship, Scrabble and Yahtzee now available for 800 MSP each. The PlayStation Network got Astro Tripper, Buzz Jr. and Red Baron Arcade, while they will also be getting Wheel of Fortune this week. European Wii owners can now grab Jungle Speed and Family Table Tennis, while North America now now enjoy BIT.TRIP BEAT.

Here are the top stories for the week:

GamerBytes Specials

GamerBytes Interview: Traveling The Galactrix With Steve Fawkner
We speak with the head of Infinite Interactive about their upcoming Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network puzzle action game, and what they'll be working on in the future.

GamerBytes Analysis: Top 10 XBLA Games For February 2009
We grab the official lists of Xbox Live Arcade sales and see what's hot and what's not.

GamerBytes Analysis: Top 10 PSN Games For February 2009
The 10 best selling games of February were released through Sony's Pulse program, and we dig into it to see how the latest releases are faring.

GamerBytes Analysis: NCAA Basketball MME - The Beginning Of Something More?
NCAA Basketball breaks all the rules, and doesn't even consider itself to be an Arcade title. Is this a look at the future of Xbox Live Arcade and the Xbox Live Marketplace?

GameSetInterview: 'The Maw's Deleted Scenes - A Twisted Pixel Approach to DLC'

March 18, 2009 4:00 PM | jeriaska

[Continuing a series of exclusive interviews for GameSetWatch from Jeriaska, this one strays out of his normal audio-specific territory, and into downloadable content for the IGF-nominated indie studio Twisted Pixel, which is trying DLC for its digitally distributed game, with some interesting results.]

Game company Twisted Pixel captured the attention of Xbox 360 owners when their action adventure title The Maw was chosen for the 2008 Audience Choice Award at the Penny Arcade Expo. The Xbox Live Arcade game has since been named a finalist of this year's Independent Games Festival.

Following up on previous coverage, this interview with Twisted Pixel CEO Michael Wilford focuses on the approach to recently released and upcoming downloadable content, which will debut on both XBLA and PC, the latter thanks to the Steam service. In addition we hear about some of the core audio design concepts, including the minimalistic yet effective use of voice acting and the score by composer Winifred Phillips.

The discussion centers on how the game company has gone about building on the framework of The Maw's core experience by introducing the movie metaphor of "deleted scenes" for DLC.

Game Developer March Issue Showcases Far Cry 2 Postmortem, Dirty Coding Tricks

March 18, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[We've just debuted the bumper GDC issue of Game Developer magazine, which you can pick up at the show next week, and has also shipped to subscribers - lots of goodness in here, and the 'dirty coding tricks' article is particular fun.]

The March 2009 issue of Game Developer magazine, the sister print publication to Gamasutra and the leading U.S. trade publication for the video game industry, has shipped to print and digital subscribers and is available from the Game Developer Digital service in both subscription and single-issue formats.

The cover feature for the issue is an exclusive postmortem of Ubisoft Montreal's open-world first-person shooter Far Cry 2. The article offers insight on the challenges and successes experienced by Ubisoft Montreal while developing the ambitious title. The piece is described as follows:

"Far Cry 2 had extremely lofty goals. The aim was to create a first-person shooter with an engaging and truly dynamic narrative, in a vibrant persistent living world. After three and a half years of development, creative director Clint Hocking shares the hits and misses of this fascinating and rather under-discussed franchise reboot."

COLUMN: Pixel Journeys: 'Corewar - The Ultimate Game?'

March 18, 2009 8:00 AM |

Pixel Journeys thumbnail['Pixel Journeys' is a monthly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by John Harris discussing games with unusual design attributes that have lessons to teach modern game designers. This month covers the competitive programming game of Corewar.]

When we think of computer games, what is the image that comes to mind?

Often, these days, it is something that involves a control pad or analog stick. It might instead have a keyboard and a mouse. There’s usually some kind of 3D graphics involved and some kind of soundtrack, and to facilitate those you’d need a monitor and some speakers.

At a deeper level, there’s the presumption of interactivity, that something you do is countered by the machine, and then you do something to counter it, back and forth in an iterative fashion. And after all that, many people then go on to claim that the game requires some degree of something called immersion.

But how many of those things is actually necessary? This month, we talk about an essentially computer-oriented game that relies upon absolutely none of these things: the awesome and unique game of Corewar.

GameSetLinks: Pimp My... Blockparty?

March 18, 2009 12:04 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 return to GameSetLinks then, even in this super-hectic pre-GDC time, oh, and look out for a special guest blogger on GSW next week, related to a special Game Developers Conference-related project that is wacky, hopefully cool, and... you'll find out about soon!

Hanging out in this round-up, we see game quality over time discussed, demo-scene goodness explored in not one, but two posts, and PSP indies sharing time with Clay Shirky on the future of journalism.

Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah:

Man-Months to Quality - Zack Hiwiller
The claim - if you spend too long on a game, the quality goes down again. No 'real' stats, but some fun graphs!

How the 2600 forged the home video game future. - By Michael Agger - Slate Magazine
'What still amazes me, in spite of my scholarly concerns here, is the nostalgic punch of early video games—how transporting the blocky sounds and sights can be.'

8bit today: SCENE.ORG AWARDS 2008
Good explanations of the retro finalists in the demo-scene category - always worth checking out for bleeptastic inspiration, even for gamegeeks.

No Gravity - The Plague of Mind: Indie PSP space shooter hotness - NeoGAF
Download-only, and this is pretty interesting overall.

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky
Tremendously important in the game biz, too: 'Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.'

ASCII by Jason Scott / Blockparty! April 16-19th. Be there.
U.S. demo-scene party goodness, next month in Cleveland - don't forget!

Interview: Loudcrowd's Alternate Approach To Music Games

March 17, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Seems like a lot of the music-themed games out there so far have been either classic rock or J-Pop/K-Pop themed. So it's interesting to see Gamasutra's Christian Nutt interviewing Loudcrowd on their music game/social network hybrid that caters very much to the hip Pitchfork-y music crowd.]

Today, Conduit Labs launched the public beta of Loudcrowd, its online music game-social networking hybrid.

Developed by a staff with a mixed web and game development background, Loudcrowd hopes to blend the social aspects of a music site like Pandora or Last.fm with the gameplay appeal of a Rock Band -- while leveraging the design concepts behind hardcore MMOs, Conduit Labs' CEO Nabeel Hyatt says.

"I would call it more of a music games channel than I would a single game," says Hyatt. While the Loudcrowd dance game is a "a very quick 30-60 seconds" of gameplay, according to Hyatt, "the DJ game has a competitive leaderboard mode similar to the way you might be competitive in Rock Band or Guitar Hero or any Xbox Live game."

Tracks from artists like Cut Copy, Santigold and The Twelves are included, and special items can be unlocked and stored with the player's persistent character. While there is no navigable virtual world in this version of the game, players can network and exchange info, tracks, and playlists. The game will support microtransactions for both music tracks and character items.

Best of FingerGaming: From Eliss to The Oregon Trail

March 17, 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 editor Danny Cowan.]

This week's notable items in the iPhone gaming space, as covered by FingerGaming, include a port of the classic PC educational title The Oregon Trail, a review for the abstract space puzzler Eliss, and the debuts of free titles like One-Dot Enemies and Anamusu!

Here are the top stories for the week:

- Review: Eliss
"Eliss's vector-styled graphics work incredibly well in its space setting, and every sound effect and musical cue is perfectly suited to the on-screen action. It creates a soothing vibe similar to the kind you feel in games like Katamari Damacy and the WiiWare title Art Style: Orbient; it's the sort of game that just feels good to play."

- Top Free Game App Downloads for the Week
"Tap Tap Revenge 2 tops the free app charts for the second week running, achieving daily download numbers that surpass those of all competing titles in every App Store category. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Lite also makes an impressive showing this week."

Game Time With Mister Raroo: Gaming in the Now

March 17, 2009 8:00 AM | Mister Raroo

Game Time With Mister Raroo logo[Returning to his GameSetWatch-exclusive column after a break, gaming's very own Garrison Keillor, the permanently sunny Mister Raroo looks at why, although many gamers are accustomed to certain types of structure in games, the moment-to-moment enjoyment of playing may be even more important.]

Just Noodling Around

Recently I was trying to describe the Playstation 3’s delightfully odd Noby Noby Boy to some of my friends, but the same question kept coming up: “What do you do?”

I tried to explain how basically you control a kind of a stretchy noodle that can make itself longer and shorter, and you can direct the noodle to eat objects in its environment only to expel them out of its rear end. Noby Noby Boy is certainly more of a plaything than a game, and this concept was difficult for many of my friends to grasp.

As for me, some of my favorite video games are those in which there really isn’t a point to them. I can lose myself for hours in a title such as Electroplankton on the Nintendo DS.

Though many people may not understand the appeal of what is essentially a musical toy, Electroplankton’s allocation for seemingly infinite sound combinations is like heaven for me. There are no levels to complete, no Achievements to unlock, no story to keep track of. Some gamers may get frustrated and ask, “How do I win? When does the game end? What am I supposed to be doing?” Instead, I can just have fun with musical experimentation.

GameSetLinks: Which Mountain? That Mountain!

March 17, 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.]

If we're known for anything here on GameSetWatch, apart from strange columns from odd, wonderful coves, it's for lists of links from RSS-land - and this latest set of GameSetLinks is headed by strange video game songs from actually not Chris Remo this time.

Also hanging out in here - strange Vienna-based residencies for game historians, further explanations of the Dr. Dobbs Silverlight platformer we helped to make, competition in gaming, strange game-related Dwayne Johnson CG from the movie _before_ Witch Mountain, and, uh, more.

Up up up:

the doyouinverts: New Track: "Fingers Turned Into Fists"
Our own Kumar + video game band + One Life Left = excellent.

subotron.com » Blog Archive » open call : SUBOTRON artist in residence fall 2009 wanted
'As part of the air-program of MuseumsQuartier´s quartier21, SUBOTRON invites international artists in residence to work here in Vienna on a regular basis. Artists get a studio at the Museumsquartier for free and money to cover expenses.' And it's 'the history of digital game culture' this time - neat.

dobbschallenge2.com - Getting Started Creating Your Own Levels
A handy guide to Adam Atomic's Silverlight-based platform game creator/UCC thing that I produced, and Mathew Kumar is community managing. Includes some stuff I didn't know! Here's my amazing level, if you haven't seen it.

Tony Hawk :: Official Website
Hey, nice, the official Tony Hawk site linked Barton and Loguidice's history of the skating game franchise.

Strange Horizons Articles: Playing Fair: A Look at Competition in Gaming, by Mark Newheiser
'Unless they bet large sums of money on the outcome of every game they participate in, most people will probably end up playing video games and tabletop games just to have fun. Since there's no end goal in mind other than the game itself, a person's willingness to play a game depends on whether it's enjoyable for them.' A great point!

It's in the details: Utah's Sandman Studios contributes to 'Witch Mountain' - Salt Lake Tribune
Funny game-related sidenote here: ' Sandman landed the "Witch Mountain" gig after impressing Disney and director Andy Fickman with its work on "The Game Plan." For that movie, Sandman created a realistic copy of the Madden '07 video game, featuring Dwayne Johnson's character.'

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