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Archive For August, 2009

Quiet Works for Cello & Commodore 64

August 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Danish electronic musician Jonas R. Kirkegaard has released Quiet Works for Cello & Commodore 64, an experimental album offering twelve compositions using, naturally, a single cello and a Commodore 64 system as instruments.

You can watch the artist perform one of the songs here with cellist Roar Bye Blåsmo. Kirkegaard explains the concept behind the release:

"The cello and the Commodore 64 are old and significant instruments, each in their own tradition, and they carry a lot of historical and musical references and a great heritage with them.

In this project they are presented in slow, simple compositions, with a minimum of post editing and no spectacular performances by instrumentalists. Instead they are merely to be perceived together as very important, musical objects without specific regards to traditions, conventions and technical achievements."

Kirkegaard released Quiet Works for Cello & Commodore 64 as an SD Card with a USB adapter encased in a small beechwood block, with a limited run of only 100 copies. I'm not sure where you can purchase the album (other than this single copy), but perhaps you can request one from Kirkegaard when he returns from his trip to Uganda.

[Via Chipflip]

Analysis: Remembering the Video Game Console Demo Disc

August 26, 2009 12:00 PM |

PSXDemoDisc.jpg[In a new GameSetWatch-exclusive article, Zoran Iovanovici looks back with fondness on the era of the game console demo disc, examining the cultural and gaming biz trends that went along with on-disc game demos, and their gradual transitioning into digitally impelled obscurity.]

Getting an early gameplay demo of an upcoming game wasn't always as easy as turning on a gaming system and downloading it via an online service like Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.

Today, console game demos are distributed and acquired in a considerably different manner from years past. We won’t be examining the history of PC demos here (that’s another article altogether), but we will take a look at how console demos were distributed prior to the advent of online services like XBL and PSN.

Gamers from the 8-bit and 16-bit era can attest that the idea of a game demo was absolutely unheard of in the cartridge era. Unlike modern disc based mediums (CD, DVD, Blu-ray), cartridges were too expensive to produce for sake of a demo. The closest thing to a demo in back then was single game store kiosks that one might find on occasion at a toy or department store.

2009 IGF China Announces Judges, Reminds On Deadline

August 26, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

Since I'm helping to judge this Independent Games Festival add-on event, just a note for anyone in the Asia-Pacific region (including Japan, China, Asia in general and even Australia/New Zealand).

We've just posted new information, including judge specifics, on the first Independent Games Festival China event, taking place in Shanghai this October alongside the second GDC China event.

The deadline for IGF China is September 7th, and the smaller satellite event is free to enter, with winners being displayed at the October GDC China event. (There will also be a small Independent Games Summit with a mix of Western and Chinese speakers at the October 11th-13th event.)

Here's the English-language page and Chinese-language page on IGF China if you'd like to learn more.

Arcade Cabinets Have Turned: This Game Sucks Shirt

August 26, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

You might have seen this artwork from David Creighton-Pester elsewhere, but it's now being pitched at Threadless as a potential shirt. If you've ever wanted to espouse your love for Mega Man, Q*bert, and other famous game characters while sharing your disdain for working in cubicles, this is the tee for you!

Before you can buy it, though, you'll need to convince Threadless's staff that the design is worth printing and will sell by scoring the submission. As of this post, the shirt still has five days left for viewers to rate the artwork.

You can see a larger shot of the shirt design below:

TIGSource Community Releases Indie Brawl

August 26, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

The Independent Gaming Source's forumers have put out the first public release of their work-in-progress community project, Indie Brawl, a 2D "multiplayer fighting extravaganza".

As with similar games like the Super Smash Bros. and Jump Ultimate/Super Stars series, Indie Brawl features a diverse roster of fighters pulled from different sources, except from independent games instead of Nintendo title or popular manga.

This 0.1 build includes three "complete" fighters -- Naija (Aquaria), The Golden Knight (Bonesaw), and Liero (Liero) -- as well as several incomplete characters like Xoda Rap (Noitu Love 2) and Dwarf (Dwarf Fortress). Other slated appearances include Spelunker (Spelunky), Blue Knight (Castle Crashers), Gish (Gish), and many more.

The TIGSource developers plan to support battles for up to eight players in teams or as individuals, and several different modes, such as Tug of War, Team Frag, and Time Modes. Also like Super Smash Bros., power-ups and weapons will litter Indie Brawl's stages.

You can download the 0.1 build and find more information on the game at TIGSource forum's Indie Brawl thread.

Lego Complex

August 26, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Lego maniac Rod Gillies created this Shadow Complex scene after playing the XBLA "Metroidvania" and finding he "couldn't resist a build based on the architecture and gameplay".

I love all the details inspired by the game's gray, underground base -- scattered pipes and valves, the star logo on the door, and the little tunnels inviting uninvited guests to infiltrate the top secret complex. You can see a close-up shot of Gillies's creation after the break.

If you still have blocks from your childhood lying around, you can build your own Lego Complex and play this instead of the XBLA game, saving yourself $15 and totally skipping the controversy over whether or not you want your money supporting author Orson Scott Card.

GameSetLinks: The DDR USB Scramble

August 26, 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.]

Managed to dig out another set of GameSetLinks, sorta on demand, although don't expect them every day, and this time they're headed by Konami's latest Dance Dance Revolution arcade notion - a web-based step editor that you can plug into the arcade machine itself - fun times!

Also in this round-up: a look back at Dizzy, Tokyo's underground game bars, some slightly depressing comments on the Xmas quarter being overloaded for AAA games again, a look at the Virtual Boy, the AV Club rolls out the Sawbuck Club for indie style games, and more besides.

Zidane zidane zidane:

DanceDanceRevolution X Arcade WebEditor Live! - bemanistyle.com
This is interesting - I think they've done it before in variant form, but it's web-based step making software for DDR X's arcade version - you insert the data via USB key!

Virtual Boy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly « Desert Hat
'When most gamers hear about the Virtual Boy, they immediately deride it, saying what an awful piece of hardware it is and how it was the worst design Nintendo ever made (even worse than going with cartridges on the N64). However, none of these people have actually picked up and played a Virtual Boy (or at least one that actually works).'

A Tree Falling in the Forest: Games Sales Are Down: Pointing Out the Elephant in the Room Edition
'The publishers are sandbagging. They are holding back the best titles for the fourth quarter so they may dive full force into the blood bath.'

Tokyo's underground game bars | GamesRadar
'Scattered around Tokyo, lie six diverse videogame-themed bars. Popular amongst fans and game developers, these establishments allow customers to combine their love of games and alcohol. Most walk right past them, without even realizing they exist.'

encubed » News Archive » MangaGamer releases SHUFFLE!
Another super duper niche (but, yes, NSFW, though this link is fine) Japanese visual novel gets translated for the Western market. Just interesting to see these hyperniche markets in action.

August 24, 2009 | Games | A.V. Club - The Sawbuck Gamer
'The A.V. Club is pleased to introduce Sawbuck Gamer, a recurring feature where we’ll take a look at new games that you can get for $10 or (usually) less.' Nice!

The Making Of: Dizzy | Edge Online
Another excellent look back - the Oliver twins are running Blitz today, of course.

Reflection Team Describe Benefits Of Developing At School

August 25, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Developed by a team of students at University of Southern California, Reflection has attracted attention not just for its curious concept (two platformers simultaneously played across the DS's two screens), but also for its win as The Next Great Mobile Game at last March's IGF Mobile Awards -- it was actually the only non-iPhone title to take home an award from that show.

Konami has since picked up the project for release on DSiWare, the Nintendo DSi's digital download service. The Indie Game Dev Podcast Show recently talked with the team behind Reflection, and you can watch the first half of the interview above and the second half after the break.

The group shares a lot about Reflection's production in the videos, including the challenges of working on the game while everyone's on Summer vacation, the role of an effective team leader, and how they took advantage of prototypes and USC's resources to recruit roommates and classmates for the project:

Tower of Shadow Inspired By Miyazaki, Shadow Tag

August 25, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Most who've seen Hudson's Tower of Shadow can think of at least one existing game or property to compare the Wii platformer to -- several have pointed out the similarities in mechanics and concept to Shadow Physics, and I like to think it's based on the concept of Peter Pan's untethered shadow, but the most common comparison is with Team Ico's games.

Some fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus appreciate the similar character and environment designs, but others like Eastern Mind took offense, calling out Hudson for its "brazen willingness to copy, paste and viciously manipulate the aesthetics from both Team Ico games in what has to do with distorted shadows, the boyish character, locations and above all, lighting and color."

When naming his inspiration for the game's art style, however, Tower of Shadow's chief designer Osamu Tsuchihashi's didn't bring up Team Ico's Fumito Ueda, instead acknowledging renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and his work with late 70s anime Future Boy Conan. He describes the show as his "all time favorite classic animation".

He also told Nintendo Power that his ideas for Tower of Shadow partly came from his memories of playing Shadow Tag:

Column: 'Diamond in the Rough': All Aboard The Last (Narrative) Express

August 25, 2009 12:00 PM |

dincar.jpg['Diamond In The Rough' is a regularly scheduled GameSetWatch-exclusive opinion column by Tom Cross focusing on aspects of games that stand out, for reasons good and bad. This week, Tom continues his previous discussions of game narrative with a look at The Last Express's attitude to storytelling.]

If we want to explore the possibilities for branching, reactive, fluid narratives, we obviously need to explore possible ways to realize this goal. We can talk all we want about the potential for deep, almost procedurally generated stories, or emergent narratives, but it’s also important to examine the material we already have before us, be they video games or other.

The problem with video games, as I’ve mentioned previously, is that they so clearly start and end unto themselves. They do not take place in a world, they do not provide views onto separate lives. Even the ones that aim to do so fail in their ways. Grand Theft Auto creates a city that moves and lives around you, but in your absence, in your presence, during your inactive moments, it refuses to change.

When worlds do change, they do so only in the most perfunctory, ineffectual ways. Stalker: Clear Sky creates a set of factions that war for territory. Yet when one faction defeats another, the effects are only temporary. When you boot the game back up, the same mercenaries will have reoccupied their lost fortress. Tangible, permanent persistence is a lie or trick, regardless of the format or system.

Perhaps the answer is not, then, to create so massive and “realistic” a world, but to consider the ways in which a smaller, more detailed, more controllable world might work as a place for plotting to occur. It’s no secret that games that focus on fewer people and places often can imbue those things with more life, more character. Playing the most recent Prince of Persia, or Half Life 2, leads one to appreciate the controlled, directed method of world-creation and characterization.

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