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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 June, 2009

MeggyTwit: 64 LEDs To Display 140 Characters

June 30, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Accessing Twitter with a Commodore 64 was impressive, but Dan Nichols has managed to hook up an even more unlikely system with limited capabilities to the social networking/micro-blogging service -- the Meggy Jr.

To display Twitter, the 8x8 RGB LED handheld is hooked up to a computer running a "Processing application" via a USB-TTL cable. The display then scrolls through the five more recent tweets from people you're following. According to Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories's (the company behind the Meggy Jr.) Windell Oskay, who posted the above video, "The camera fails to capture how smooth the animation looks."

While this MeggyTwit application is a neat idea, the setup limits the Meggy Jr.'s portability, and the scrolling tweets lose their novelty before the first user's name finishes running across the screen. Next Twitter/console project I hope to see: displaying tweets on a Thumb Stadium.

Opinion: Don't Hate The Game - The Developer Game-Playing Malaise

June 30, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In this opinion piece, originally published in Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer magazine, EIC Brandon Sheffield takes on a common industry ailment, and reminds game developers to take the time to sit down and play some video games now and then.]

In a previous column published in Game Developer magazine, I mentioned that it would be beneficial for developers to look outside games for inspiration. This is something I believe strongly, but on top of that, how many of you out there actually have the time to even play games, let alone consume other media?

It seems that nine times out of ten, when I ask a working developer what games he’s played recently, he’ll honestly admit he doesn’t have the time to play any games but his own.

Those who say they have played contemporary titles, if pressed, often admit only a cursory familiarity with the recent games they’ve tried. Some actually seem to be proud of the fact they don't actively play games but their own. This is a worldwide phenomenon, and not a particularly awesome one.

Crystal Castles Tribute Gives Bentley Bear A Makeover

June 30, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Artist Sosima (Vertico's Puppets) illustrated this origami-like re-interpretation of Atari's arcade classic Crystal Castles as a commission for an upcoming publication from Über Books, which will presumably feature many other re-imagined video games.

Other talented artists slated to contibute to the book include Jon Burgerman, Drew Europeo, Stuntkid, Buff Monster, Kid Gaucho, Angry Woebots, Kanardo, TV Boy and Lysergid.

The full Crystal Castles piece is below, but you can see more of Sosima's artwork on her Vertico's Puppets MySpace page.

Godzilla, Totoro, And Adventure's Dragon All On One Shirt

June 30, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Chop Shop, the only online shirt store I know of with a theme song provided by They Might Be Giants, has a new WeScare series of shirts featuring popular monsters from movies, television shows, comic books, video games, and more.

This first tee features silhouettes for Pikachu, Q*bert, a Fygar from Dig Dug, Lizzie, and several others. Its available in a variety of colors for both Men and Women.

The store also has similar silhouette-filled shirts for popular robots and aliens, and though they might not include as many video game sprites as this first WeScare tee, they have glow-in-the-dark versions!

Best of FingerGaming: From Mass Effect Galaxy to Annie's Wild Shot

June 30, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Every week, Gamasutra sums up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Louise Yang and Jonathan Glover.]

This week, FingerGaming highlights notable titles like Mass Effect Galaxy and Annie's Wild Shot, and details the upcoming release of Touch KO and Timeloop.

- New and Notable Free App Releases
"This week's free releases include demo editions of Eliss and Castle of Magic, along with free full versions of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Bent It!"

- EA's Mass Effect Galaxy Hits App Store
"Galaxy's gameplay is a familiar mix of action and narrative, modified to fit the iPhone's capabilities. Players will take on enemies from an overhead perspective, choosing targets and firing via a touch-based interface. Dialog sequences feature a new narrative wheel mechanic."

Mini Ludum Dare Competition Takes On Domestic Violence

June 30, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Organizers for Mini Ludum Dare, a monthly version of the tri-annual Ludum Dare competition challenging developers to create a game around a particular theme in 48 hours, held its tenth event last weekend, and the entries are now uploaded and online for everyone to try out for free. Mini Ludum 10's theme: domestic violence.

As depressing as that theme sounds, Noonat managed to produce a fun platformer with Queens, though he admits that he did work on it a bit longer than the allotted time. The game has you controlling a series of queens through a dungeon filled with traps (perhaps a dungeon built specifically by the Henry VIII-esque king for the easy disposal of his wives?).

Having to restart the game each time after you die can get annoying, but it's a really short experience, and once you've trained your finger when to hit X, you should be able to run through Queens in less than two minutes.

As with every other game I've seen built with Adam "Atomic" Saltsman's Flixel engine, Queens' minimal graphics are charming and efficient. You can see a bit of it in this video I recorded (this was before I figured out how to get through that dangerous hall!).

Interview: Seeing Stardust With Housemarque's Kuittinen

June 30, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Another illuminating interview from Game Developer magazine EIC Brandon Sheffield's recent trip to Finland, he talks to veteran studio Housemarque about the challenges -- and rewards -- of surviving as an indie in today's game market.]

Housemarque is the most venerable of Finnish game developers, having been around in some form or another since the 80s, and the era of the Commodore 64. The company was formed by a meeting of two Finnish developers, Bloodhouse, known for the Amiga shooting game Stardust, and Terramarque, which made a fighting game called Elf Mania among other titles.

The two merged to form Housemarque, which has gone on to do a wide range of work, from mobile games on the N-Gage and Gizmondo, to Xbox snowboarding games, to a downloadable golf title, and even a casual online world. Housemarque faltered for a few years.

It tried to establish itself as a PS2 developer, but created a demo that was too large to pitch in 2003, and indeed, worked with the Gizmondo and N-Gage platforms, which clearly never took off. Then, perhaps most famously, the company created Super Stardust HD on the PlayStation Network, and found itself back in the positive popular view.

As a company, Housemarque is currently working on two orginal IPs with publishers, and a third game to be self-published, called Rope, which Gamasutra covered in an earlier story.

In this interview, we talked to CEO Ilari Kuittinen about the company's Maya-based pipeline, in which they use the art suite as a game editor, as well as Housemarque's lack of producers, and the new push toward self-publishing.

Professor Layton Tweeting Riddles

June 30, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In anticipation of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box's release this August, Nintendo of America has setup of a Twitter account for the top hat wearing sleuth, dispensing bite-sized riddles for followers to solve. It's a cute idea, and it almost makes up for the long delay since Diabolical Box's Japan release nearly two years ago.

The professor is quick to admit the silliness of the affair, though. "Frankly... I'm ashamed," he discloses in his first tweet. "I have made myself a Twitter page and officially joined the world of technology. Perhaps Luke may help me update."

[Via GoNintendo]

GameSetLinks: All About Sex And Education

June 30, 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.]

Phew, and Tuesday is upon us, and some more GameSetLinks, including GSW co-editor's site TinyCartridge continuing to document the chances of Retro Challenge 2 coming to the States -- shame that DSiWare can't take big games like this easily. (Or can it?)

Also in here: XKCD, a documentary featuring Chris Crawford and Jason Rohrer, a new TIGSource competition of interesting provenance (see the post title!), iPhone game sales, the top architecture used in games, and lots more.

The foals:

XSEED: Retro Game Challenge needs to sell at least 20,000 more copies [before it will consider localizing the acclaimed title’s sequel, Game Center CX 2] - Tiny Cartridge
'The publisher’s president Jun Iwasaki says that still isn’t enough, though, predicting XSEED needs to see a total of 100,000 units sold.' That's a fairly high number, from what I know about niche-ish DS release.

xkcd - A Webcomic - Game Theory
The slightly precocious webcomic gets game-related from time to time - like this!

YouTube - INTO THE NIGHT WITH CHRIS CRAWFORD & JASON ROHRER
The first 5 minutes of a documentary filmed at GDC this year with indie creator Rohrer, seminal CGDC founder/Balance Of Power creator Crawford - really amazing to see such high-quality cultural programming targeting games.

TIGSource: Adult/Educational Compo
V. interesting new indie game competition on TIGSource: 'The fact is that most game designers shy away from sex and education. They're difficult topics to sell directly in mainstream entertainment. But why not sex and education in games?'

Wolfire Blog - Black Shades iPhone Breaks 1000
Nice stats, also references my GDC slides... I wonder if I was too harsh on what the average iPhone game sells (I don't _think_ so, Wolfire has a fan base already.)

Top 10: The architecture of computer games (part I) | News | Architects Journal
This is very silly, and as such, I heartily approve.

Jamming To The Super Mario Fruit Snacks Jingle

June 29, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Before there was the Soulja Boy Dance, the Stanky Leg, or even the Crazy Frog Bros., there was this three-year old tearing the club up at one of Nintendo's early 90s Powerfest events. The festival apparently promoted Mario-themed fruit snacks by providing a small set where attendees could make their own music video.

The kids would dance along to a hip-hop song about the fruit snacks, as the rapper name dropped popular first-party characters like Zelda and Shyguys. Afterwards, the children would receive a free VHS tape of their performance.

Those of you who feel rap music has lost its way, that it's obsessed with violence, material wealth, and misogyny, will be happy to hear that this song has a positive, hopeful message buried in its shilling for artificially colored junk food. "Listen to the words I say. There's going to be a brighter day," the young rapper promises.

Thanks to the wonders and ease of video uploading/sharing, there are actually several of these performances online. You can watch a couple more below:

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