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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 August, 2009

Best Of Indie Games: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Scrap It

August 28, 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 a top-down zombie shooter from the rebranded Xbox Live Indie Games section, a colourful vertical-scrolling shmup, and a real-time strategy game created in under seven days for the latest Experimental Gameplay Project theme.

Other highlights include an experimental game by the developer of the Venture Games series and a challenging platformer that wouldn't look out of place on the screen of a Game Boy handheld console.

Game Pick: 'I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1' (Jamezila, commercial indie - demo available)
"Jamezila's I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1 is currently the Best Selling and Top Rated title in the entire XBLIG catalogue for a reason. The premise is simple: Zombies are advancing - take them down. The entire game revolves around a single music track which includes lyrics such as 'I made this game using XNA, it costs a dollar and I hope you'll pay'. For a dollar, you're getting an action-packed top-down shooter that you'll genuinely want to stick on every time your friends are round."

Game Pick: 'Broken Brothers' (Michael Todd, freeware)
"Broken Brothers is Michael Todd's entry for the latest Experimental Gameplay Project. It's an RTS title with the tagline 'Gather, Survive, Expand, Unlock'. Beginning with 'Malakai', who is basically your Headquarters, the idea is to gather 'hope' via Harvester units, then use this hope to build attacking units like tanks and bombers. Michael decided to go for the 'bare minimum' concerning the graphical style, as the game needed to be fully completed within seven days, but he's managed to create a world which is sparse yet striking."

Game Pick: 'Scrapp' (Andrew Brophy, freeware)
"Scrapp is Andrew Brophy's entry into the GameCOG Explosions competition, and it's a rather colourful shmup to say the least. Your objective is basically to destroy the constant stream of enemies with your rainbow lasers and rack up a high score. The art style here is simply gorgeous, from the blurred surroundings whilst firing to the enternal scrolling words in the background. Definite eye candy and a nice little shooter to boot."

Game Pick: 'Be My Bird' (Pocketwatch Games, browser)
"Be My Bird is an experimental game which delves into the realms of neural networks via a flower-gathering bird. It is possible to teach the bird how to gather the flowers and bring them back to his nest, so that eventually he does it all on his own. For those interested in how it all works, the neural networking paths are on display to the right of the action."

Game Pick: 'Tower of Heaven' (Askiisoft, freeware)
"Askiisoft's Tower of Heaven is a wonderful platformer which will have you tearing large chunks of hair - nay, SKIN - from your cranium. Your task is to ascend said tower, but a mysterious power which resides at the top is doing everything it can to make sure you don't succeed. The introduction of the 'Book of Laws' early on also ramps the difficulty up tenfold."

Watch Yoshitaka Amano Speed Draw 2ch ASCII Art

August 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

As you may have heard, acclaimed Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D artist appeared on Japanese streaming video site Nico Nico Douga earlier this week to draw popular ASCII art from popular bulletin board 2ch. Someone recorded the live stream, complete with scrolling Japanese comments, and posted the drawing session (starting around 03:55 in the video above).

I was already impressed with Amano's detailed re-imagination of 2ch's Yaruo figure, but I'm even more blown away by how quickly he sketched the piece! The artist also speed-sketched Final Fantasy IV's Kain, shown below:

Evony Threatens To Sue Over 'Defamatory' Articles

August 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

British video games marketer Bruce Everiss has enjoyed much attention lately for his criticisms of UMGE (United Multiplayer Gaming Entertainment), the developer behind browser-based MMO Evony.

In addition to critizing the game's online ads for displaying scantily clad women, Everiss has accused UMGE of a number of other more allegations that can be read on his website.

Everiss's attacks have attracted attention from more than just gamers fascinated by Evony's ads and alleged practices; Warren McKeon Dickson Lawyers, an Australian law firm representing UMGE, sent notice that it would sue the marketer for damages and defamation unless he removed the articles from his site, published a form apology, and offered to "pay compensation for loss suffered by Evony."

UK newspaper The Guardian has also put a note in its online posting "Has Evony become the most despised game on the web?" posted last July, disclosing that its article is also "the subject of a legal complaint from Evony LLC".

Interview: Game Music, According To Spencer Nilsen

August 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our old buddy and former Game Developer magazine columnist Alexander Brandon ended up doing this interview with notable Sega CD composer Spencer Nilsen, and it's fun to check out for a little nostalgia on the CD-ROM music boom in the '90s and the signature Sega soundtracks that ensued.]

Spencer Nilsen was one of the first musicians to work with CD-quality music in American game development -- most memorably on the soundtracks for Ecco the Dolphin and Sonic CD for the Sega CD system in the early '90s. Now, Nilsen is president and creative director of Ex'pression College for Digital Arts.

This interview, conducted by Heatwave Interactive creative director Alexander Brandon, takes a look at the evolution of Nilsen's career from early breakthroughs to game composer to film to educator, and offers a peek into the very first days of game music being driven by non-programming talents:

When and how did you get started with Sega?

Spencer Nilsen: That's a great story. I had moved back to the Bay Area. I had reconnected with a high school friend because she heard my music on the radio and told me, "Hey, my husband is in the music business, why not come work with him?"

And at first I was dubious because, you know, this guy could have played in a bar band, but her husband happened to be Walter Afanasieff, who had just signed this 18 year old girl named Mariah Carey.

So I come up and meet him, and his walls are covered with platinum, and he's working for Boyz II Men, and writing the theme for Aladdin. I figure it'd be a good idea to head back to the Bay Area and get back into the culture.

Walter and I get to know each other, and work together writing some commercial stuff. During this period I get a call from out of the blue with someone from a recruiting company asking me "Have you ever worked on video games?" My first response was, "Do video games have music?"

Two Classics, One Game: Tetripong

August 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

As part of his insane goal to produce a game a week for the next year, British coder Jayenkai produced this fusion of Tetris and Pong, Tetripong, which has you trying to clear lines of blocks as you would in a traditional Tetris game, except with the bouncing Pong balls threatening to knock out essential blocks from your game.

To add even more anxiety (underwater levels in anything put me on edge), there's a mechanic that slowly fills your screen with water, only draining when you clear a line in the game. The game would likely be more interesting if a second player could jump in and bat the balls around, tormenting the Tetris player, but don't forget that this was programmed in just a week!

You can download Tetripong for free from Jayenkai's site. Note that he was also the developer behind Centipong, which looks more fun than it has any right to be:

8BP's 100th Release: Two-Disc Blip Festival 2008 Album

August 27, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Chiptune record label 8bitpeoples and film crew 2 Player Productions announced a double-CD compilation album featuring 32 live performances from each of the artists that took the stage at last year's epic three-day Blip Festival concert in New York City.

Marking the 100th release from 8bitpeoples since the label's inception 10 years ago, the release includes "professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered" performances from many of the artists we've featured here before -- Starscream, Nullsleep, Minusbaby, Bit Shifter, Anamanaguchi, and more than two dozen others.

Nathaniel Adams summarized the album with this blurb in the liner notes:

"For a scene and a subculture not known to put a great emphasis on the physicality of an album or an EP, a scene which thrives and prides itself on the free exchange of digital music, this is the right record to make tangible. Milestones should be marked by monuments, and this is the second time 8bitpeoples have done so: with the 2xCD 8BP50 CD after the first Blip Festival, and now with this; 8BP100 — so you can see just how far it's all come.

Now take this artifact in your hands, press play on your system, inspect the pretty parcel it came in until you've unlocked its every secret, then turn up the volume, close your eyes, and picture yourself there."

You can purchase the Blip Festival 2008 album for $15 and see the full tracklist on 8bitpeoples's online shop. If you want an idea of just how wicked and high-quality these performances were, check out 2 Player Productions's videos from Blip Festival 2007.

[Via TCTD]

Mr. Bubbles: Penny Arcade's Take On BioShock 2

August 27, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Penny Arcade illustrator Mike "Gabe" Krahulik contributed this piece, the second installation for 2K Games's BioShock 2 artist series, a collection of works from renown artists inspired by the underwater city of Rapture and its inhabitants. You can see the first painting by Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez here.

If you want to adorn your walls with Krahulik's stylized Big Daddy and Little Sister, 2K Games will sell a limited number of prints for this "Mr. Bubbles" art at the Penny Arcade Expo from September 4th to 6th at its BioShock 2 booth (#152). Make sure you pick up a pass to the convention soon if you plan on going, as they're running out of tickets!

GameSetInterview: Dawn of the Dev with Doublebear

August 27, 2009 12:00 AM |

GSW%20DB.jpg[Continuing his set of interviews with the less explored regions of independent development, critic and writer Phill Cameron talks to the newly launched U.S. PC indie developer Doublebear.]

The new indie game studio Doublebear is made up primarily of designer/writer Brian Mitsoda of Black Isle and Troika (Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) fame, and Annie Carlson, best known for her writing on Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir.

They recently announced a game that's been given the temporary name of ZRPG, a roleplaying game set in the immediate aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. It's a PC RPG, featuring turn-based gameplay and 3rd person perspective, and using Iron Tower Studio’s Age of Decadence game engine.

Talking with Brian, we found out what he considers the interesting concepts in such an event, how he intends to approach it in a sprawling, open world setting, and why it's easier to shoot Beebo the Apple-Miser in the face rather than do a quest for him:

Being a newly formed studio, can you explain a little about yourselves and what sort of things you're intending to do?

Our primary goal is to finish games and continue to maintain the resources to finish more games, while remaining profitable. We would like to continue doing this as an independent company that funds our own properties and retains ownership of our IPs, to the end that over time our back catalogue continues to generate money for the studio until most of the team leaves and I begin work on the videogame equivalent of Chinese Democracy. There are many tales that start out this way, I know, but ours is more exciting because we’re working on a zombie RPG.

Sense Of Wonder Night Reveals Featured Indie Games

August 26, 2009 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Organizers for Japan's Sense of Wonder Night (SOWN) unveiled their tally of ten innovative indie games and prototypes appearing at this September's Tokyo Game Show presentation.

Now in its second year, SOWN seeks to champion experimental and creative game design ideas, heighten awareness of games that "give people a sense of wonder", create future opportunities for developers creating experimental games, and help birth new domains in the game industry.

Last year's inaugural event received over 67 entries, 11 of which were presented to an audience of more than 500 people from 22 countries and regions. Those featured independent titles included The Unfinished Swan, PixelJunk Eden, The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom, and Moon Stories.

Art.tech Festival Brings Together Experimental Games, Alcohol

August 26, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Next weekend, San Francisco's alternative art space The Lab will host art.tech, an interactive works festival looking to explore "the full range of possibilities available through gaming as a medium" and promising an attractive mix of digital art, experimental video games, and alcohol.

Hangar One Vodka will supply cocktails and drinks with three of the feature games at the event -- post-brunch mimosas (1PM) with wizard dueling title Fluxly and happy hour 2-for-1 Hangar One Vodka drinks (5PM) with outdoor Scrabble experience Seek 'n Spell on Saturday, and afternoon cocktails (4PM) with virtual space game Silhouettes on Sunday.

Running from September 4 to 6, art.tech will also feature performance, sound, workshops, demos, and lectures created with and related to technology, with experiments and discussions on digital culture, mixed reality, tangible interfaces, robotics, sonic sculpture, activated objects, physical computing, and more.

Both local and international artists look to celebrate "technological experimentation, open source methodologies, collaboration, accessibility, and interactivity". You can see art.tech's full artist lineup, schedule of events, and summaries for the featured games below.

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