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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 June, 2009

Column: 'Lingua Franca' – Mapping The Gamer Dialect

June 29, 2009 4:00 PM |

pocket-oxford.jpg['Lingua Franca' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Daniel Johnson which discusses the relationship between language, culture and video games. This time he sets a charter in search of the mystical gamer dialect.]

A few weeks ago, just after my last column, the Global Language Monitor, a company specialized in tracking new English words, declared “Web 2.0” as the millionth word in the English language. “Web 2.0” was running in competition alongside other contemporary words such as “slumdog”, “Jai Ho!” and “n00b”.

Scrutinizing these words as to whether or not they're legitimate enough to be christened as ummm....words, is about as silly as it sounds. If I say a word and you understand my meaning that should be enough to qualify it as a word. At least they're the rules I play by.

What this company does is track the use of new words in the media, and once the usage reaches a certain frequency, the word is popular enough to be officially welcomed into the English language. If there's anything we can take away from this headline grabber, it should be the mass acceptance of the gaming term “noob”.

A Peek Into The Sketchbook Of Little King Story's Creator

June 29, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Similar to Gamasutra's feature article with Keita Takahashi last month, which featured delightful marker art from the Katamari Damacy creator, gaming fansite N-Sider's recent interview with Little King's Story's director and producer Yoshiro Kimura offers a peek into the his sketchbook, or as the Lovedelic vet calls it, his "Zone Notes."

The piece includes two photos from the dozens of detailed sketches of other games Kimura has headed or worked on, such as Chulip and Rule of Rose. In addition to sharing art of Little King's Story, the Wii-exclusive real-time strategy title releasing next week, the director showed off a drawing of what looked like Little Red Riding Hood antagonized by a scraggly wolf.

"This is the next game I want to make," Kimura said, though it's unclear if he's serious about tackling that project. Another sketch that he showed off but N-Sider didn'capture was "an almost gruesome image of a Ferris wheel with tiny stick-people being wildly thrown off of it to the bottom where others struggle to catch them."

Dark Presence Resurrects Digitized Fighters

June 29, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

I don't think I know anyone who pines for the days of fighting games with digitized actors like the early Mortal Kombat titles and Pit Fighter, but independent developer Galloping Ghost believes there's an audience for that type of arcade experience, and is bringing back that style with Dark Presence.

Originally slated to release last year, this 2D fighter will feature eight playable characters with over 15,000 frames of animation per character (filmed in high definition and running in 1080p).

The studio says that it has implemented "unique finishing moves based on how the characters relate to each other", resulting in a total of 437 finishing moves. Not counting the finishing moves, Dark Presence has over 150,000 frames of animation.

Galloping Ghost spent almost two years on the greenscreening process alone, admitting it's "easy to see why other companies just go with 3D characters". The company plans to show video for the game soon and also tour arcades around the U.S. to show off Dark Presence once it's later this year.

You can see a couple of recently released screenshots from Dark Presence and a photo of its cabinet after the break, and find more information at Galloping Ghost's official site for the game.

2009 GDC Austin Announces First Subscription MMO-Centric Sessions

June 29, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Another announcement for September's GDC Austin, and a lot of the core MMO big guns are speaking at our colleagues' flagship online event, as you can see. Announcements on Indie, iPhone Games Summit @ GDC Austin line-ups (which I help run) are up v.soon!]

After debuting initial free-to-play online game lectures from Sony Online (Free Realms), Gaia Online and Rebel Monkey (CampFu), September's GDC Austin 2009 event has revealed subscription MMO-specific talks spanning Star Wars: The Old Republic, DC Universe Online, EVE Online, and more.

The first set of lectures announced for GDC Austin span the gamut of 'connected games', from traditional high-profile subscription MMOs through free-to-play online games, social network games, and even online components to console games.

The event, to be held September 15th-18th, 2009 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas, now includes six online-centric 'tracks' for the Main Conference, which takes place Wednesday 16th to Friday 18th.

These tracks, which span design, business & marketing, social networking & community, services, programming and production, have a number of lectures focused on the core, AAA subscription-MMO space. Initial highlights from these include:

- BioWare Austin's 'Come and See the Elephant - Challenges Encountered Growing an MMO' will talk about strategies "pertaining to process and technology" that the much-vaunted firm's technical director Bill Dalton utilized in helping to make the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The Path's Sisters Reimagined As Bears

June 29, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Ever imagined The Path's protagonists as adorable little bears instead of young, gothic girls untouched by the Sun? The controversial indie horror game would probably be a lot less creepy with cute bears humming a happy tune, rather than with the heroines' unsettling laughter and crying in the dark.

Artist Sarah Lomba drew all six of the Little Red Riding Hood-inspired playable characters from The Path -- Robin, Rose, Ginger, Ruby, Carmen, and Scarlet -- as the bears, managing to keep the girls' original designs, costumes, and personalities intact with the transformation. Rose (bottom left), with her smirk, is definitely my favorite.

[Via @thesimplicity]

In-Depth: Inside The Making Of Tomb Raider: Underworld

June 29, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Our colleagues at Game Developer magazine continue to provide high-quality printed content to 35,000+ professional game developers worldwide every month, yay, and here's some highlights from its latest postmortem, for the latest in the Tomb Raider franchise.]

The latest issue of sister publication Game Developer magazine includes a postmortem of Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider: Underworld, written by the game's creative director Eric Lindstrom.

As custodian of the Tomb Raider series since 2003, Redwood City-based developer Crystal Dynamics initially planned Underworld as "an 'easy' sequel" to Tomb Raider: Legend, but as Lindstrom points out, "it never quite works out that way."

The following excerpts from Game Developer magazine's recent postmortem, published in the June/July 2009 issue, illustrate how Crystal Dynamics overcome a number of significant obstacles along the way to realizing the dark adventure.

As Lindstrom explained, "Previews for Tomb Raider: Legend were very encouraging, and we felt that there was still plenty of unrealized potential to tap in the existing feature set. Enough so, the reasoning went, that we could focus on content and leveraging existing functionality to develop a bigger and better Lara Croft adventure in less time.

In many ways this is what the team accomplished, but as is always the case in game development, reality was more complex than we anticipated."

Street Fighter Competition Scene Documentary Streaming For Free

June 29, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

UfragTV began streaming the "short cut" of I Got Next, an engaging documentary on the Street Fighter competition scene (no relation to the KRS-One album), over the weekend, with director Ian Cofino planning to release a longer version this Winter.

The feature length film follows three of the U.S.'s top Street Fighter players -- Justin "Marvelous" Wong (best known for this 3rd Strike clip against Daigo Umehara), Ryan "gootecks" Gutierrez, and Joe "ILOVEU" Ciaremelli -- through several tournaments, mixing footage of Street Fighter IV matches with interviews conducted with the scene's notables.

I Got Next provides deeper insight to Wong/Gutierrez/Ciaramelli's motivations beyond just playing to be the best -- the three stars educate viewers on Street Fighter's East and West Cost rivalry, the challenges of playing games professionally for a living, the importance of being involved in the scene if you want to play competitively, and more. Not bad for a free movie!

GameSetLinks: The Magical Shakespeare Experience

June 29, 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.]

Thought we'd pick up the pace as we go into the pre-July 4th week, so this is the first of five GameSetLinks, each with special links from the world of video game writing - starting with Game Developer magazine humor columnist Matthew Wasteland's blog seeing what a video game preview of a Shakespeare play might end up like.

Also in this round-up - Manifesto Games closing down, the Dogface Show explored, fifteen awesome alt.iPhone games via Offworld, Assembly indie game lectures, sci-fi book store goodness, and more.

OK to play:

Elsinore Baby! New Hamlet Preview! (Magical Wasteland)
'Call him the Bard of Avon or England’s national poet or ShakeyP, there’s no doubt that William Shakespeare is one of the top contributors in the business today.' Oh Mr. Wasteland!

The Dogface Show - NeoGAF
'The Dogface Show is a unique pop culture show, that focuses on the Street Fighter community - the players, the scene, the lifestyle, and everything else that's made SRK what it is.' This GAF thread has the latest episodes on one handy place.

Play This Thing! | Shuttering Manifesto
Sorry to see Manifesto Games didn't work out for Greg Costikyan and cohorts - I do think its heart was in the right place, and its fierce championing of offbeat titles (to continue on PlayThisThing) is greatly appreciated.

The 15 Games You Need For Your New iPhone (pg. 01) | Offworld
Awesome list from Mr. Boyer at Offworld, a blog you should definitely be reading if you like GSW (or vice versa, hopefully!)

Bloggasm » Is Tor Books seeking to become the Amazon of science fiction and fantasy?
Interesting because it's a Steam-like move in the sci-fi/fantasy book space - comparisons with games are apt.

Sessions — Assembly 2009
The oldskool demoparty, nowadays more of a LAN party/demo thing, has neat indie game talks from Svedang, Eskil @ Love, Petri Purho - Scandinavians go!

Opinion: How To Tackle Work For Hire

June 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Should your studio take on work for hire? Sometimes -- in this opinion column, Divide By Zero's James Portnow tackles the deceptively complex issue and breaks down the whens and hows.]

One of the toughest questions for any startup developer is whether or not they should do work for hire. It provides revenue, which can look awfully appealing at times, but it can be a big distraction from the reason you started the company in the first place.

A little backstory: Ever since we opened up our iPhone division, we’ve been flooded with requests to do work for hire. Not just iPhone games, but everything. Up until recently, I had dismissed offers of work for hire out of hand: I tended to consider contract work a pernicious trap.

Of course, something strange started happening when such work came in in volume.We got work for hire offers that I actually thought were neat -- by which I mean we got work for hire offers that were interesting and compelling, independent of what they paid... work I’d be doing in house if I had thought of it first.

Eventually, the temptation was too great and I caved and started taking some of these offers. Below I’ll detail what we’ve done to make contract work as positive as possible for the company, what we’ve done wrong, and what I feel is unavoidable.

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

June 28, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

Finishing up the last seven days, it's time to recap the top full-length features of the past week on Gamasutra, plus extra features from sister edu site GameCareerGuide and a lot of smart bonus news interviews from Gamasutra.

Those bonuses are behind the cut, but in the main Gamasutra feature area this week, we have interviews with the APB lead designer and Peter Moore, plus some neat technical articles, a discussion among analysts about what was under-rated at this year's E3 Expo, an in-depth academikwak piece on narrative design, and rather more besides.

Harmonicas are nice:

Gamasutra Features

Leading The Design of APB
"Realtime Worlds' EJ Moreland talks in-depth to Gamasutra on designing All Points Bulletin's complex world, from customization to multiplayer combat to its larger vision."

Dramatic Play
"In a wide-ranging article, former Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts narrative designer Stephen Dinehart looks at the future of game story by examining narrative theory through the ages."

Managing Data Relationships
"How does your game data relate to each other? In this practical technical article, game development veteran Noel Llopis looks at how coders should structure and retrieve the intertwined world of game data in memory."

Planning For Fun In Game Programming - Part 2
"How do you legislate for fun from a game planning and programming perspective? Following on from his analysis of the problem, veteran game coder Tom Hammersley proposes a solution that includes 'apprenticing', use cases, storyboards, and more."

Analyze This: What Went Under-Reported at This Year's E3?
"What did the video game analysts think of this year's E3? Gamasutra quizzes notables from Cowen and Company, Lazard Capital and Wedbush Morgan on the event's importance, key announcements, under-noticed gems, and more."

Peter Moore on the Strategy of Sports
"Sega and Microsoft veteran Peter Moore now heads up Electronic Arts' EA Sports division, and talks in-depth to Gamasutra about the expansion into more casual titles, the status of the label's perennials, and lots more."

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