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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 July, 2009

Daring In Orange: Dragon's Lair Poster

July 28, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Dragon's Lair always seemed much better seen and not played (in my opinion), which is one of the benefits of this poster from illustrator Tom Whalen -- no need to sit through dozens of death scenes, and you get to keep your quarters. Also, the art, while distinct from Don Bluth's original animations, is marvelous.

"I had a chance to work out the sketches for this piece on my trip to LA last week," says Whalen, "and i think the finished piece has retained some of that sun drenched 80's West Coast vibe." Another awesome touch: the text in the bottom left corner fashioned into a sword.

This is one of several dozen works that will appear at The Autumn Society's "8-bit & Beyond" show opening at Philadelphia's Brave New Worlds comic shop on August 7th. I've included two more pieces from the video game art show below:

Krome's CEO On Running Australia's Largest Independent Studio

July 28, 2009 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In a super-long but, I think, super-interesting interview, Christian Nutt speaks in-depth with Robert Walsh, CEO of Australia's largest independent studio, Krome (Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes) about the company's vision, plans, education initiatives, and more.]

Founded in Brisbane, Australia in 1999, Krome Studios has become the largest independent game development studio in that country, as over the years, the company has grown to 400 employees through recruitment and acquisition.

The company, which has offices in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne, now includes teams once belonging to Midway (Ratbag) and Atari (Melbourne House, Australia's oldest studio) -- also hiring staffers who were let go after the dissolution of Pandemic's Australian arm by Electronic Arts.

The firm started out by making surfing games, apposite for an Australian studio, including Sunny Garcia Surfing in 2001, but is likely best known for its Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and its work on multiple Star Wars games for LucasArts, including the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes.

Here, we speak to CEO Robert Walsh about the company's growth, strategy, and perspectives on how it runs prototyping, outsourcing, and tech and tool development -- as well as how the company turned a personal tragedy into an educational legacy.

I'd like to get an overview of the studio and your history. When was the studio originally founded?

Robert Walsh: This is our 10th year anniversary, so we started in November, '99. We started with five of us, pretty small back then. Over the years, we have massively grown in size now.

Fig. 8: 'Control A Bicycle Through Technical Diagram Suburbia'

July 28, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Hoping to find a sponsor, Greg "aeiowu" Wohlwend of Intuition Games (Effing Hail) posted this trailer for Fig. 8, a simple Flash title that has players navigating a bicycle through a continuous scrolling world of technical diagrams.

Fig. 8 encourages players to finish the course with as many points as possible (riding through the entire field takes about 12 minutes, without any deaths). Avoiding sharp turns and keeping the lines from your wheels together increases your points multiplier, but crashing into one of the figures resets your score.

Hopefully the trailer will attract a sponsor, and we'll be able to play Fig. 8 soon!

GameSetLinks: That Top Hat Twitter Fantasy

July 28, 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.]

Actually, I'm struggling to get back on the GameSetLinks horse after a long weekend away (Yosemite National Park, not Comic-Con, oddly!), but luckily, there's a brace of decent links and great stories that I spontaneously bookmarked last week to pass along.

Again, these are reasonably eclectic, but what I think they show - yet again - is that, despite a tendency for a glass half-empty attitude from some, there's a heck of a lot of good video game writing out there. I hope to continue to bring it to you, or at least highlight those pieces that you might not otherwise blast out from the bedrock of Internet words. Or something.

Go go go:

Crispy Gamer | @TopHatProfessor Layton and the Curious Twitter Accounts
V.nice recounting of a cool fan-created Layton Twitter thing that a lot of people thought was Nintendo-run.

The Making Of: Repton | Edge Online
Wow, super-obscure UK gem's retrospective.

Epic's Mark Rein Interview - Page 1 // Xbox 360 /// Eurogamer
A lot of people on the Internets are digging this - as they should, because there are far too few lighthearted, humorous interviews about games. For whatever reason. Tres bon!

An Evening With Uematsu, Final Fantasy’s Music Man | GameLife | Wired.com
A really nicely written piece about Uematsu's recent San Francisco concert, which I actually saw very little coverage of in the game press. Bravo, Mr. Kohler.

Retro/Grade Coming to PS3! – PlayStation.Blog
Nice, another Independent Games Festival finalist gets a high-profile console berth, congrats to Matt Gilgenbach and friends.

GamesIndustry.com - Newzoo International | Home
Whoa, I know Dutch firm Newzoo, but I didn't know that they bought GamesIndustry.com and are spooling it up as a 'paid listings'-centric competitor to sites like, uhh, GamesIndustry.biz. Poor GI folks!

Crispy Gamer | Social Games: The Industry's New Wild West
Good piece by Goodfellow.

Sega's Take On Pitfall II

July 27, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

GameSetWatch contributor and Magweasel.com's Kevin Gifford recently reminded readers of an arcade rarity, Sega's take on Activision's classic Pitfall II: Lost Caverns for Atari 2600. The Japanese licensed adaptation replicated the first level from the original Pitfall and the caverns from Pitfall II, but the other stages and many other elements are completely new.

Kevin remarks, "Well, it’s sort of like Pitfall, but it plays like someone played [David Crane]’s original, told another programmer all about it in detail, and then that programmer created his own version based off that description. All the individual elements are there, but they come together to form something remarkably different."

Sega also ported its Pitfall II adaptation to the SG-1000 (which never launched in the U.S.). You can see that port in the video below:

Column: @Play: The Python Strikes! You Are Being Squeezed!

July 27, 2009 4:00 PM |

Roguelike column thumbnail ['@ Play' is a monthly column by John Harris which discusses the history, present and future of the Roguelike dungeon exploring genre. This time - a discussion of using Python to make Roguelike games.]

So let's talk a bit about Roguelike development languages.

Traditionally, the One True Roguelike Language has been C. All of the current "major roguelikes," Nethack, Angband, ADOM and Dungeon Crawl, are either written in it or in C++. (Nethack makes use of bison and lex, and Angband used to use Lua for scripting.)

The genre's origins on Unix systems, its ties with the curses console library, its reliance on a console in general, and the fact that when the genre got started C was basically it as far as serious programming languages go, all these things combined to identify the genre somewhat strongly with C.

This is not as much the case now. As this year's 7DRL competition demonstrated, new roguelikes are now written in all kinds of languages, ranging from Java to MOS6510 assembly. A few were even written in Python, a language that has historically been regarded as more of a scripting language. I mean, scoff scoff, what business does a "real game" have being written in something like Python?

Countdown To Virtua Hamster

July 27, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Not to be confused with other virtual pet games that simulate the Hamster owning experience (e.g. Ubisoft's Hamsterz Life and Petz: Hamsterz 2), Virtua Hamster was a Sega Genesis 32X game that had players guiding rocket-powered hamster test pilots on mini skateboards around a maze of tubes, collecting stolen blueprints in a mad scientist's laboratory.

According to pre-production design documents posted by former Sega game designer Eric Quakenbush, Virtua Hamster was meant to have "the look and fast paced action of Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter combined with an amusing puzzle strategy game and an unlikely group of heroes and enemies."

Unfortunately, the game was never released (planned for 1995), presumably due to the 32X add-on's unpopularity. Quakenbush said a British company picked up the title for a possible PC release after Sega cancelled the project, but that also never made it to market.

Spanish Sega community Sega Saturno, however, procured a Virtua Hamster prototype for around $250 recently, and plans to post the ROM for public download this Wednesday. The site even has a countdown timer for the ROM's release.

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos: 2009 Edition (Part 5)

July 27, 2009 1:00 PM | Mister Raroo

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos[GameSetWatch has sent GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo and his family to San Diego Comic-Con to report on their adventures there. We've been running daily updates from the Raroos as the convention progressed, and after the first, second, third, and fourth parts, the fifth and final segment is about Sunday.]

Sunday, July 26: Crossing the Finish Line

There can definitely be too much of a good thing, and Comic-Con is a prime example of that. After spending more of our waking hours at the San Diego Convention Center this past week than anywhere else, we are more than ready to bid it farewell until next year. Even though we really enjoy attending Comic-Con, it never fails that by the last day we are looking forward to its finish.

Sunday is always Kids Day at Comic-Con, and we got in the spirit by bringing along our 10-year-old nephew, Mario. Even though we were feeling completely wiped out, it was nice to spend the day with someone who was anxious about seeing what Comic-Con had to offer. Mario was definitely looking forward to whatever adventures awaited us at the convention.

When we first walked onto the main floor, we were right by the Bakugan booth, and Mario made a beeline for one of the demo station of the Wii game. There was already another boy playing a two-player session against himself, but he soon handed Mario the second controller and they fumbled their way through the rest of the battle. The Wii game was nothing memorable, but it was fun that at the booth you could pose for a Bakugan-themed snapshot and get a free photo printed out for each person in your group. Nice!

Next up was the Pokémon booth, where kids were given a cute Pokéball beach ball. Mario sat down at one of the many tables to get an introductory lesson on how to play the Pokémon card game. As the tutorial went on, it was clear Mario was starting to get bored, and by the time he was done playing a round with the instructor he was ready for something else. Perhaps learning to play the Pokémon card game was a little too much like being in school!

New Colecovision Game: Ghost N Zombies

July 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Homebrew developer AtomicFe announced a new release coming to the almost 27-year-old ColecoVision. Due this Fall, Ghost N Zombies shares more than just a similar title with Capcom's Ghosts 'n Goblins, its cover also features a familiar knight! That hero is actually Arthur's father, as AtomicFe's game is an unofficial prequel:

"Three years before Arthur defeated Astaroth in Ghost n Goblins [sic], his father Sir Raphael, returning from a trip around the world, discovered a village [with] people crying the loss of their magical "Rose". Listening only [to] his courage, Sir Raphael promised the villagers to fight Ghosts and Zombies, find the Rose, and get it back to the villagers. Thus the Quest for the Rose started."

Ghost N Zombies will come in a 32K cartridge and will include 17 screens, 11 different kinds of enemies, and more. AtomicFe plans to sell 25 boxed copies with manuals (with another 25 possible depending on demand) for $60, and is accepting preorder requests through email. You can see several screenshots below and at AtomicFe's forum:

Stream Shatter's Soundtrack For Free

July 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Shatter, Sidhe Interactive's Breakout/shoot'em-up PS3 game released last week, has received positive reviews not just for its well executed update of the 30-plus-year-old brick breaking formula, but also for its superb "electro rock and retro beats" soundtrack.

Local composer Jeramiah "Module" Ross worked closely with the studio for over a year to match the music with Shatter's visuals and themes, coming up with a sound reminiscent of "80’s new wave, stadium rock and intergalactic space rock opera."

Sidhe has posted the soundtrack on Bandcamp, where you can stream the 13-track release for free or purchase downloads for individual songs and the entire album. It should also hit iTunes and other digital outlets soon, and a physical CD version is also planned.

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