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Archive For April, 2009

Jab Strong Fierce Artwork Now Online, For Sale

April 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Now that Jab Strong Fierce -- the Street Fighter tribute exhibition in Alhambra, CA -- is running and will be up until May 11th, the Nucleus gallery has posted all 62 of the pieces from the show online and made them available for purchase.

A lot of the paintings that I previously shared with you have sold since Jab Strong Fierce opened on Saturday, but you can still grab this Dutzy sculpture shown above, titled "Blaunkius, the Protector".

Here are a couple of favorites from the posted paintings that I haven't featured yet:

Opinion: Forget 'Games As Art' -- Try A New Approach

April 27, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Gamasutra's Christian Nutt argues that the road to improving the cultural currency of games lies not in wishing you're making "art", but making small changes to improve products already in development.]

The "games as art" debate is tiring me out. At GDC, after a tiring week, I was at a post-show party. Standing in a circle of developers, the topic arose naturally, as it does.

I didn't catch the name of the guy who spoke up first, but I inwardly sighed as I realized that I was in for another completely naive discussion of the subject. There's nothing wrong with earnestness and naivete; it's just that there's something at least bordering on wrong with not harnessing this intellectual energy and actually turning it into something more meaningful.

Jim Preston, in his Gamasutra essay cheekily entitled "The Arty Party", made light of game developers' pretensions towards art. But he also made a really relevant point that doesn't quite seem to be penetrating:

"The problem with [the idea that there's an art establishment to aspire to] is that it isn't even remotely close to reflecting the state of art in 21st century America. To think that there is a single, generally agreed upon concept of art is to get it precisely backwards. Americans' attitude towards art is profoundly divided, disjointed and confused; and my message to gamers is to simply ignore the "is-it-art?" debate altogether."

Kojima's Path to Game Design Resumé

April 27, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

"I'd like to continue being on the scene making games until I die," Hideo Kojima wrote in a faux resumé, presented during a Q&A session at the Apple Store in Tokyo's Ginza District.

The Kojima Productions head and Metal Gear creator shared with his fans glimpses from his early childhood, which he spent sitting around all day watching television (he learned how to eat spaghetti by watching TV). Despite his wasteful youth, he emphasized that he did have a girlfriend named Yoshiko.

Displayed on a projector was Kojima's "Path to Game Design" resumé, a timeline of significant points in his life that led to his thriving career at Konami. According to Anoop Gantayat, who attended and reported on the event, one of those milestones was the 1970 Osaka World Fair, where he first encountered foreigners. At some point during the Q&A, Kojima brought up a dream of working with an ethnically diverse group of people, describing the envisioned crew as a "Team Star Trek".

Another dream he had, marked on the resumé by his watching of the Apollo 11 moon landing's live broadcast in 1969, was to one day go into space. He still holds onto this dream, and even joked that the only thing he'd give up video games for is a chance to go into space. Tempting Kojima, one of the event's attendees revealed that he has a friend who works for Virgin Galactic, a company planning to one day offer sub-orbital spaceflights to the public.

You can read Kojima's translated "Path to Game Design" resumé here.

GameSetLinks: Never, Ever Look Back

April 27, 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.]

End of the weekend, it is, and time to hop back on the GameSetLinks train, and, as you folks know, we really try to scout the Internets for the best intelligent, longer-form blogs and writing about games - no matter what the source.

This time, we span everything from bizarre Wired mag puzzles to indie star Terry Cavanagh being quizzed on Don't Look Back and his other blocky, stocky titles - with a side order of that man Meretzky again.

An amazing race:

Wired.com: Game Changers: Brainteasers for Hardcore Videogame Fans
Wow, supergeekiness here - from the rather amazing J.J.Abrams guest-edited issue of Wired. Via Chris Baker!

Technology Review: Author of Play
Hey, more Steve Meretzky interviews - this one quite MIT-related, for obvious reasons.

Charge Shot!!!: Real Time Simplicity: A Talk with Rudolf Kremers and Alex May
The Dyson duo are further quizzed, oh yes.

An Exclusive Excerpt from Friends, Fans and Followers | Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation
'Scott Kirsner, Variety writer and editor of the invaluable CinemaTech blog, breaks it down in his new book by offering case studies of thirty visual artists, comedians, animators, documentary filmmakers, musicians and writers.' Super-relevant to games, too, though I'm not sure any game creators were interviewed... nonetheless!

Wonderland: Commissioning for Attention: games, education and teens
'Public service gaming is wonderful. There should be more of it. There will be more of it.' Amen to that.

Interview with Terry Cavanagh, creator of Don't Look Back | GameCritics.com
Nice indie interview over at the sometimes forgotten GameCritics.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': The Lost Ultimate Entertainment Experience

April 26, 2009 4:00 PM |

['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.]


For the first time in about three years of writing Game Mag Weaseling, I'm going to not talk about magazines at all. Hopefully you will forgive me; I've been on vacation in the lovely CA Bay Area for the past few days, largely basking in the nostalgia, and my mind hasn't been on the subject.

I lived in San Francisco from '01 to '05, working first for GamePro then Ziff Davis, and as a result I spent a lot of time in SF's downtown district, home to some of America's most expensive real estate...and, also, some of its most vacant presently.

I was particularly interested in revisiting the Metreon, the urban shopping center established by Sony in 1999, for the first time in a few years. I always sort of saw the Metreon as the most unique symbol of the PS2/GC/Xbox era of console games, chiefly because I went there all the time for industry events.

Konami and SOE held their big video presentations for their Gamers Day events in the "Action Theater" upstairs; Square Enix and Bandai held big public game launches in the PlayStation Store on the street corner. There is the Walk of Game, a catwalk on the second floor with some tiles that say "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "EverQuest" on them.

For a while in '03-'04, game press and developer rank-and-file gathered in the bar/lounge area for semi-regular industry networking events, which I went to mainly 'cos a new kind of liquor would be half-price every night.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of April 24

April 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

In this round-up, we highlight some of the notable jobs posted in big sister site Gamasutra's industry-leading game jobs section this week, including positions from Activision, Ubisoft 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:

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

April 26, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

Once again, the weekend's here - so time to recap some of the week's top full-length features on Gamasutra, plus some bonus original news stories and interviews from the site and sister educational site GameCareerGuide.

Some really neat stuff out here - a v.neat Emil Pagliarulo interview about Fallout 3, an in-depth title on the state of iPhone games, a pretty interesting highlights reel for postmortems, Peter Dille on the state of PlayStation, and lots more.

Hey yay hurray:

Exploring A Devastated World: Emil Pagliarulo And Fallout 3
"Fallout 3 lead writer and lead designer Emil Pagliarulo on the creative process of everything from the main game to DLC to understanding and implementing user desires -- and how people saw the game as an Oblivion sequel."

The Three Rs of Audio Leadership
"What are the key things you need to work as a video game audio lead? LucasArts' Jesse Harlin picks the 'three Rs' that he thinks game audio managers need to have."

iPhone Devs: Rethinking the Art of Making Games
"In a Gamasutra special feature, we talk to five leading iPhone game developers, including the makers of hit titles Rolando, iShoot and Flick Fishing, on the state of making games for Apple's explosively popular platform."

What Went Wrong? Learning From Past Postmortems
"Gamasutra sister magazine Game Developer decided to round up every "what went wrong" entry from the last three years of game postmortems, and compiled the most frequently made mistakes (usually over five times each) into this cautionary feature."

Custom Tools: Environment Artists and Game Editors
"In this art-centric article, originally published in Game Developer magazine, Bungie's Steve Theodore discusses visualizing game environments, and why 'an upgrade to your tool chain is a great opportunity to upgrade the relationship between artists and designers'."

Catching Up With PlayStation: Peter Dille On Sony In 2009
"Sony is the company that perhaps popularized the post-cartridge console generation. But running into mixed press and PS3 pricing issues, how does the company itself view its progress? How does it see its business? Gamasutra spoke to Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America."

Bonus: GameCareerGuide features & Gamasutra news originals: 'It Was A Good Time To Make A Change,' Says Ex-Dragon Age Director; Analysis: Mature Titles On DS -- Is The Audience Just Not There?; GameCareerGuide Feature: What I Learned As An Indie; Exclusive Analysis: Console Tie Ratios Reveal Market Dynamics; GCG Feature: Big Hadron Games Mega-Postmortem -- 16 Flash Games In Three Months; Scratch Lawsuit: $6 Million Dev Costs, Legal Battle Over Source Code Revealed; Analysis: On The Wii And DS, Game Ratings Matter.

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Complex Style

April 26, 2009 12:00 AM |

Jojos2_screen1.jpg['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 looks at Jojo's Fashion Show 2, by Gamelab.]

I do love Gamelab.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Since Gamelab laid off employees and seems to have de-emphasized or even ceased its casual game production (its site just redirects to the Gamestar Mechanic website now), this article might be a bit of a stealth eulogy for them. Anyone know if they are still making casual games?]

Jojo's Fashion Show 2 starts off with an obvious handicap, viz. being a numbered sequel. Reviews focused on the repetition and lack of technical innovation from the first installment in the series, and I would have to agree that those are fair complaints.

Several things make it stand out, though. First, the writing is unusually perky for a casual game. I would have said "surprisingly", but in fact this does not surprise me, since several of the people working on this project also worked on Gamelab's Miss Management, a piece so successfully written that I still remember the major characters with amusement and rueful affection many months after playing. The characters in Jojo's Fashion Show 2 aren't quite such a bundle of neuroses, but they are unusually distinct and opinionated.

Jojo also affords a rather larger cast than the average frame-story cast in a casual game. The Diner Dash episodes usually get by with Flo, Quinn, and other cookie-cutter gal pals assembled from various Dash variations, with perhaps Flo's grandma thrown in for color; but I'd have a hard time naming any way in which Flo and Quinn differ in personality (for instance), and adding more members to their posse would just make it bigger, not more interesting.

Besides which, Flo has become such a franchise that we can be safely assured nothing remotely interesting will ever happen to her again. Jojo's Fashion Show 2 does borrow a few popular stereotypes in order to distinguish its characters -- the fashion magazine editor courtesy of The Devil Wears Prada being the most obvious. They've even given her Meryl Streep's hair, lest there be any question about the intended casting.

Nonetheless, there are more distinct personae, and they're more fun, than you'll see in any other game of the same ilk.

Game Design Legends: Meretzky On The Evolution Of The Medium

April 25, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Game designer Steve Meretzky has spent nearly 30 years designing video games, from Infocom classics like Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to his current social network-based titles, and Game Developer magazine's own Jeff Fleming recently sat down with him for an in-depth chat.]

Steve Meretzky began his career by creating games for seminal interactive fiction firm Infocom, creating landmark titles such as Planetfall and Leather Goddesses of Phobos, as well as working with Douglas Adams on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

As the creative director at WorldWinner, he was an early innovator in the casual games space and is currently designing social network-based games for startup Playdom.

Sitting down with us for an in-depth interview, Meretzky reminisces on his first experiences with what we'd today call casual gaming -- back in the early nineties -- and shares insights from the progression of the casual game space over the course of his career.

He explains how having a "house style" may help distinguish casual titles in a crowded space, and opines on the role of the writer in games today:

The Community Manager Interviews: 2K Games` Elizabeth Tobey

April 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[The second in a four-part Chris Remo-authored series on community management features 2K Games' Elizabeth Tobey on defining her role, the success of the "Cult of Rapture" portal for BioShock, and more.]

Over the next two weeks, we are presenting a series of interviews with community managers from four different companies -- publishers, publisher-owned studios, and independent studios.

As a field that is relatively young and frequently loosely-defined, community has not always gotten the amount of coverage that might be due such an integral part of operating in the modern, interactive world of promotion and communication.

The second interview in the series, following our chat to Naughty Dog's Arne Meyer, is with 2K Games' Elizabeth Tobey, who joined the company in 2006 to build community initiatives around BioShock from a "blank slate."

It was actually her first such role -- she'd never worked in the game industry before, and having no diagram on what a community manager ought to be, she invented her own definition.

Tobey created the popular "Cult of Rapture" community site, which in addition to acting as a communications hub, has served visitors and registrants with extras like concept art, music files and even podcasts.

Although she has a background in marketing and PR, Tobey clearly defines her priority is fans first, game second -- recognizing the "blurry line" that often appears between community management and marketing, she here explains why it's important to keep a specific focus, how The Cult of Rapture gained legitimacy and traction, and how she defined her own role.

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