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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

Sound Current: 'An Indie VGM Roundtable - Night, Flower, Eden and Proud'

June 28, 2009 8:00 AM | jeriaska

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska debuts a really neat indie game music roundtable, talking to the musicians behind PixelJunk Eden, Flower, Night Game, and Jonathan Mak's next project about their attitudes to creating game soundtracks.]

Recently four composers met to share their thoughts on the subject of videogame music. Vincent Diamante wrote the scores to ThatGameCompany titles Cloud and Flower. Teaching at the University of Southern California, while also providing photography for GameSetWatch and Gamasutra during industry events, he displays the skills and interests of an interdisciplinary artist. In the music interview "A Beautiful Flight," he spoke on the subject of the layered, interactive nature of his music for Flower.

Earlier this year Chris Schlarb completed an East Coast tour with his group I Heart Lung. Currently he is serving as the composer of the WiiWare title Night Game, published by Nicalis. He spoke about the challenges underlying the game project, which is in collaboration with Nifflas of Knytt Stories, during the Sound Current series interview "Rolling with the Sounds of Night Game."

Shaw-Han Liem is the musician behind the I Am Robot and Proud album series. In the music interview "I Am Robot Makes Game," he spoke on the subject of his Uphill City tour in Japan, taking place late last year, along with the process of embarking upon his first official collaboration with game designer Jonathan Mak, creator of Everyday Shooter.

Finally, Baiyon is the music and art director of Q-Games' PixelJunk Eden. Speaking during the Game Developers Conference in a session titled Baiyon's CMYK Vision, he offered his perspectives on the creation of new songs and visual designs for the PixelJunk Eden Encore expansion pack.

In a reflection of the international accessibility of interactive audio, the text for the roundtable discussion is appearing online in several languages, including Italian, French, and Japanese courtesy of GAME Watch. English and Japanese interpretation is by musician and translator Ryojiro Sato.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 6/27/09

June 28, 2009 12:00 AM |

['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.]


There's a lot to discuss this week, including a new mag launch and another UK non-game-mag that US readers will be interested in pursuing anyway, but I have to start with the most humorous piece of game-media news to break this month: Ziff Davis Media selling Electronic Gaming Monthly's subscriber base to Maxim. Some loyal EGM readers started getting Maxim back in April, I guess, but my sub didn't begin until this July '09 issue.

Steve Harris wrote on the new EGM's Twitter last week that this deal "happened prior to my deal," so he didn't have a chance to score the old EGM's subscribers and move them to his mag. It's a bit of a shame, too. Thanks to all the game magazines Ziff has bought out and/or folded in their time, my subscription to EGM had been extended, and extended, and extended to dizzying levels over the years. This means that as of now, I am owed issues of something until March of 2012, according to my mailing sticker.

I would have much preferred that something to be the new EGM instead of Maxim. Not that I dislike Maxim. I subscribed to it for a while in the mid-aughts as part of a package deal I got off some clearinghouse website. I think boobies are great. Especially covered ones, because I'm from Texas and we don't believe in exposing ourselves down here. You know who likes seeing bare nipples? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that's who. Think about that.

This mag is, demographically, a decent enough fit for EGM readers, who (according to Ziff's still-active online sales kit) were 93% male and 86% over the age of 17. But Maxim ain't what it used to be.

Gamasutra Expert Blogs: From Engines To Improving AI

June 27, 2009 8:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In the latest highlights from big sister site Gamasutra's Expert Blogs, industry veterans write in depth about game engine use, routes to great indie marketing, improving AI, and IGDA memberships.]

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 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

The Zero-Budget Indie Marketing Guide
(Rodain Joubert)

There are more ways than ever for indie developers to distribute that games, but that also means there are more games than ever to compete with. Rodain Joubert passes on some helpful, effective -- and, most importantly, affordable -- tips on marketing lower-budget titles.

Analysis: Was Using Original IP The Best Idea For Sony's PS3 Strategy?

June 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Using U.S. sales data from the NPD Group, Matt Matthews examines the performance of new Sony properties like Resistance and others -- suggesting a focus on sequels might have been more profitable.]

Sony took a number of substantial risks with the design and launch of its PlayStation 3 console.

Sony bet that its new console would be a key part of winning the war for high-definition media formats. The company also expected that consumers would buy the new system at an extravagant price of $500 or $600. It counted on its momentum coming out of the last generation to overcome the challenges presented by its hardware in the new generation.

While Blu-Ray did win the HD format war, Sony continues to face headwinds with its pricing and developer relations.

On top of all these challenges, Sony added another. Instead of launching the PlayStation 3 with sequels to the franchises it owned – games like Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter – Sony worked with its closest development partners to create a portfolio of original and exclusive franchises.

Given recent third-party discontent with PlayStation 3 sales -- like Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's recent threat to reconsider his company's support of Sony's system, a collection of Sony-controlled properties seems a wise hedge.

What seems less sage in retrospect, given the sales of these titles, is the focus on brand-new properties over established franchises.

Round Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of June 26

June 27, 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 Crystal Dynamics, Trion 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:

GameSetInterview: 'Moved By Mod: Dear Esther's Dan Pinchbeck'

June 27, 2009 8:00 AM |

GSW%20DE%202.jpg[Continuing a series of GameSetWatch-exclusive interviews with alternative game developers, Phill Cameron Interviews Dan Pinchbeck, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth in England, and creator of Half-Life 2 interactive story-based mod Dear Esther, somewhat of a sleeper hit in the modding community.]

I've had Dear Esther on my radar for a while. It sounded incredibly interesting; you are left on an island in the Hebradian range, with a nameless narrator and what is supposedly a ghost story. I never really took the plunge though, waiting until the reports of invisible holes in the maps and ways to break the mod were all ironed out. It wasn't until Lewis Denby's piece on Rock, Paper, Shotgun arrived that I finally downloaded it and played through.

It's hard to describe Dear Esther without ruining it, and even then it's difficult to put it into words. I'm of the firm belief that it's a large step forward in game narration, finally moving beyond feeding us cutscenes and expository dialogue.

Before you read the interview, be aware that there are what could be considered small SPOILERS below, and so, I urge you very, very strongly to go download Dear Esther, play it (it required Half Life 2), then come back. It takes about 30 minutes to play through, and it is absolutely, entirely worth it. (You can get a brief view of what the mod looks and sounds like by checking out a YouTube gameplay video, but try not to spoil it for yourself.)

Best Of Indie Games: Space, The Unexplored Frontier

June 27, 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 goodies in this edition include an arcade shooter set in space, two puzzle platformers with cute graphics, an arena shooter where you play a deadly virus, and a challenging old-school style platform game that would give hardcore gamers a run for their money.

Game Pick: 'Polynomial' (Dmytry Lavrov, commercial indie - demo available)
"Polynomial is a 3D arcade shooter that features mathematically generated fractal scenery, where players can choose to either engage enemies in intense dogfights or explore the vast reaches of space at their own leisurely pace. The demo offers ten arenas to play in, and there is no time restrictions that hamper your gameplay experience in any way. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X."

Game Pick: 'Pace Maker' (Amidos, browser)
"Created for Gamejolt's 'Shocking' Game contest, Pace Maker is your standard blast-em-up with a few interesting twists. Controlling the Kathomee virus, the aim is to enter each pace maker and shock it into submission while small 'circuit breakers' whiz around trying to stop you in your tracks. The game can be 'quick played' so no download to hard drive is needed."

Game Pick: 'Use Boxmen' (Greg Sergeant, browser)
"Use Boxmen is a 2D puzzle platformer with cleverly-designed levels, where players are required to collect a cube in each level to progress. The trick is that certain areas can't be completed without the aid of your friends, who will mimic your moves when called upon to help. Half the fun to be had is by experimenting, and getting your master plan to execute perfectly can be extremely satisfying in this game."

Game Pick: 'G-e-n-e-r-i-c' (Arvi Teikari, freeware)
"G-e-n-e-r-i-c is an experimental project with a novel gameplay element, created by the developer of Flickerstrings and Jump on Mushrooms: The Game. The objective here is to collect gems, coins and money bags so that you'd have enough points to proceed to the next level. Enemies can be stomped on to gain extra jump height, keys can be collected to unlock doors, and you can bash special blocks with your head for a special surprise."

Game Pick: 'Raider: Episode 1' (Pseudolone Wolf, freeware)
"Raider: Episode 1 is an old-school style platformer which aims to be fun yet challenging. The first episode of a series of five, the story follows a character who looks a little like some alternate version of Sonic on his quest to explore a mysterious ship."

Personal Trainer: Walking Warlord

June 26, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

It seems as if we're seeing an influx of pedometer-based games, what with recent DS releases like Nintendo's Personal Trainer: Walking and Ubisoft's My Weight Loss Coach both bundling pedometer accessories.

Even Pokemon HeartGold And SoulSilver, sure to be two of the highest-selling titles in Japan this year (and in the U.S., where they will likely ship in 2010), comes with a PokeWalker that encourages players to walk with the accessory so they can gain XP for their creatures or earn in-game currency.

Bandai and SSD Company have their own standalone pedometer-based game coming out this July, Yuuhokei: Tenkatouitsu ~ Aruite Sengoku no Hasha to Nare, which loosely translates as Walking Meter: Unification ~ Become the Ruler of the Warring States by Walking.

As the title suggests, you can play as three different warlords from Japan's Warring States period (15th to 17th century) -- Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen, and Uesugi Kenshin. The game will also feature over 70 other warlords, such as Date Masumane and Akechi Mitsuhide. Though you might not recognize some of these names, these characters have experienced a surge of popularity recently in Japan with the Sengoku Basara games/anime.

Opinion/Round-Up: The State Of Social Gaming

June 26, 2009 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In a piece that's already caused a bit of a comments firestorm, Gamasutra's Christian Nutt returns from this week's Social Gaming Summit in San Francisco with a provocative, but I think reasonably fair, look at social network gaming's hardheaded business attitude, the iPhone, and what 'virality' really means.]

I was more optimistic going into the Social Gaming Summit this year -- which we've written two other in-depth write-ups from -- than I was heading out of it. Last year, it seemed young and hopeful.

This year, the mini-conference focused on Facebook and MySpace social network gaming -- led by firms like Playfish and Zynga and microtransaction-based games like Mafia Wars -- seemed a bit more dry. There was lots of emphasis on marketing, metrics, retention, and was constantly punctuated by what seemed to be an endless repetition of the terrible, made-up word "virality".

Okay: that's the cynical take on the conference. And I missed the last session featuring the quite un-cynical Daniel James from Three Rings who can't help but bring personality into any proceeding.

But for all last year's feeling of hope, after hearing about harnessing the power of social relationships to bring gaming to new heights, about collaboration with the established game industry to create something greater than either... this year's left me wondering what I was hoping for.

Sponsors of the conference included SuperRewards, Offerpal Media, Daopay, GlobalCollect, and Social Gold. If you don't know what these companies do, you can pretty much guess from their names.

GamersGate To Digitally Distribute Rockin' Android Shmups

June 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Digital distribution platform GamersGate announced a deal to sell PC games from indie publisher Rockin' Android. As I've noted previously, RA specializes in localized shoot'em ups brought over from the doujin scene (titles created by hobbyist developers in Japan like Fate/stay night and Cave Story for example).

The first title released under this deal is Suguri, which looks like a side-scrolling version of Zone of Enders' midair battles in the video above. I'm not sure if the digital download version includes all of the editions and the soundtracks that come with RA's Suguri Perfect Edition's DVD-ROM, but if so, this is a great deal at only half the price!

Other doujin titles from RA's catalog that are likely part of the agreement include Gundemonium Collection, Flying Red Barrel: Diary of a Little Aviator, and Qualia. (RA already signed a deal with separate digital download store Direct2Drive, where titles like Suguri are currently available.)

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