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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 September, 2009

2010 IGF Mobile Announced, Calls For Submissions

September 28, 2009 7:00 AM | Simon Carless

[We're delighted to announce that Independent Games Festival sister event IGF Mobile -- which got special attention from Apple last year for its iPhone honorees, plus a lot of buzz -- is back again for 2010. Here's the info for handheld devs who want to enter.]

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) Mobile, the premiere venue that celebrates creativity and innovation on handheld platforms, has opened submissions for its third annual festival.

The overall IGF Mobile winner will be awarded at the IGF Awards Ceremony, which precedes the Game Developers Choice Awards on March 11th, 2010. Both the IGF Awards Ceremony and the Game Developers Choice Awards are part of the 2010 Game Developers Conference, which takes place in San Francisco's Moscone Center in March.

This year's competition -- the sister event to the main Independent Games Festival -- will again feature independently-developed handheld games for all mobile devices including Apple's iPhone, other cellphone and smartphone OSes, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and other handheld devices.

IGF Mobile submissions are now being accepted at the competition's official website through December 1, 2009; finalists will be announced in January 2010, and will each receive one pass to attend the 2010 Game Developers Conference.

Robot Recollections: New Machinarium Trailer

September 28, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

With less than a month to go before Machinarium's PC and Mac release, developer Amanita Design released another new trailer for the gorgeous adventure game. There isn't much puzzle-solving going on in the video, but you can see its robot star recounting old memories and a diligent automatic vacuum cleaner reminiscent of WALL-E's VAQ-M.

Machinarium will release through various digital download platforms like Impulse and Steam on October 16th (you can preorder the game now, though, for a $3 discount off the $20 price). Amanita's founder and designer Jakub Dvorský also sent over several pieces of concept art from the game, which you can see below:

GameSetLinks: Best Of The Week

September 28, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Back once more, it's time to go through the top full-length features of the past week on big sister site Gamasutra, in feature form, plus some GameCareerGuide features du jour.

And with the holiday gaming season kicking in, we had some high-profile interviews with the creators of the just-released Halo 3: ODST and the upcoming Forza 3.

Plus, there are good developer articles on global production models and game audio evolution, and the latest GCG Design Challenge cycle concluded.

Here's the stories:

Racing Evolution: Forza 3 And The Changing Driving Sim
"Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt talks Forza 3's development lessons on the evolution of the racing genre's baseline and its ever-blurring line between arcade and sim."

Dynamics of Narrative
"What can the well-established techniques of other media teach developers about game audio? Exploring structure, dynamic range and other ways to put the 'sound' back into sound design."

Globalizing Production for the Future
"Game developers must reassess outdated production processes and mature their business models -- true globalization goes beyond outsourcing, and here are the risks, realities and rewards."

Please Remain Calm: How Bungie Met The Challenges Of Halo 3: ODST
"From its first trailer that told gamers to "Please Remain Calm" to its release this week, Halo 3: ODST underwent substantial changes. Bungie executive producer Curtis Creamer told Gamasutra how the studio met technical, personnel, and time constraints, and came out the other end relatively unscathed."

Persuasive Games: Little Black Sambo
"Scribblenauts' vast dictionary accidentally includes an archaic racial slur. In this opinion piece, game designer and writer Ian Bogost analyzes the ethical quandary -- and, more importantly, the ensuing response."

Results from Game Design Challenge: Be the Hero!
"We present the results in the Game Design Challenge "Be the Hero!", which asked entrants to come up with a game concept starring a supporting cast member from an existing franchise."

Analysis: The Cultural Divide: Voice Acting’s Pacific Rift

September 27, 2009 12:00 PM |

chiaki_takahashi.jpg[In a new analysis for GameSetWatch, writer Zoran Iovanovici has a look at how the emphasis on video game voice actors differs from Japan to the West, including interviews with a Western voice actor on how she's perceived by fans and the industry.]

Pop quiz. How many gamers out there are familiar with the contributions that Nolan North, Terrence Carson, and John Di Maggio have made to the video game industry? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t the slightest clue. In the U.S., most people would be hard pressed to name the actors that voice some of the most prolific game characters. Few know the names behind the voices of Nathan Drake, Kratos, or Marcus Fenix.

Over in Japan it’s a completely different story. Voice actors (or seiyuu as they are known in their native land) are major celebrities, their names and faces often instantly recognizable by the general public. They appear on magazine covers, advertise clothing lines, and host their own internet radio shows.

In the video game industry, seiyuu have major roles in promoting the video games they work on. They’re often the focus of magazine preview interviews, they sometimes cosplay as the characters they voice, and they attend major launch parties and various promotional junkets. In Japan, there’s a whole culture of appreciation and awareness in regards to video game and anime voice actors. In the U.S. – not so much.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of September 25

September 27, 2009 6:00 AM | Simon Carless

In our latest employment-tastic 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 THQ, Neversoft 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 this week include:

Playdom: QA Automation Lead
"Do you possess exceptional knowledge and passion for games in all genres. Are you frequently recognized for exceptional delivery on short production schedules, creativity, innovation, project management, and brilliant documentation? Are you anything BUT ordinary? If this sounds like we are describing you, we just may be able to make some of your dreams come true. Keep reading and let us know…"

Neversoft: Audio Programmer
"Neversoft Entertainment is looking for an Audio Programmer whose focus will be the research, development and maintenance of cross-platform audio systems and tools for the next generation of games consoles. This is an ideal opportunity for someone with a solid audio software background and a strong desire to apply this knowledge to the games industry."

Opinion: Video Game Planning - Stay Frosty

September 27, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[It's a fact of game development that something will go wrong, but panic's not an inevitability. In this new editorial, Divide By Zero's James Portnow shares tips and tactics for keeping chill under pressure.]

We’re in the business of building video games. We haven’t gotten it down to a science yet.

Be it anything from a minor bump in the road -- such as when one of the engineers creeps into your office with his head down and mumbles, "Remember that thing we thought the animation system did? Well, it doesn’t do that" -- to the more major hurdles, like the 9am call from Mr. _____’s administrative assistant to let you know that "Due to present financial realities, we have regrettably been forced to cut your funding," the unexpected will happen. The only question is: how will you deal with it?


We’ve all heard the old platitude about "prepare for the unexpected." But you know what? Sometimes something will come up that you simply didn’t prepare for. When that happens, you have two options: Panic, or don't.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen even industry veterans get blindsided and panic, and when that happens, all hell breaks loose. Panic is infectious and destroys morale, eating through teams and sapping the strength of studios.

I won’t name any names here, but I’ve seen projects get delayed for years, studios fold, and 90-hour work week crunches all because someone panicked. In this article, I will try and lay out some basic tips and reminders that I use (and force on anyone who works with me who is in charge of other people) to stay frosty when the unexpected occurs.

Interview: Neotokyo's Ed Harrison And His Cyberpunk Soundtrack

September 26, 2009 12:00 PM |

edharrison.jpg[In a new interview, Game Developer staffer Jeff Fleming sits down with Half-Life 2 mod Neotokyo's soundtrack composer, Ed Harrison, to discuss making the music for the impressive-looking game mod.]

Studio Radi-8’s recently released Neotokyo mod for Half-Life 2 is getting attention for its fresh spin on team-based shooters. Set in a near-future urban Japan whose streets are ground zero in a covert civil war, Neotokyo is rich in tech noir ambience and cyberpunk gadgetry.

In addition to its carefully tuned game play and sharp art direction, the world of Neotokyo is given further depth by Ed Harrison’s haunting soundtrack -- which seems to oscillate between furtive dubstep and soaring elegy.

Based in Australia, Harrison spoke with us about creating Neotokyo’s unique music:

How far along was the Neotokyo project when you came on board?

It was in the very early stages. I read a post on a forum scouting for talent to work on an anime inspired mod, and my interest was perked. I was just starting to explore anime and thought it would be really interesting to write some music for a project like that. Neotokyo is not the kind of game that really relies on a soundtrack, but the level of creativity the team have put into it has made it an inspiring project to explore musically.

Best Of Indie Games: Now You're Thinking with Portals

September 26, 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 3D exploration game chock-full of puzzles, a 2D remake of Valve's Portal using ASCII characters, and a browser game that features a naked man on a bicycle.

Other highlights include a puzzle game about enlightenment through peaceful resolutions, a platform game where you play a the role of a treasure hunter, and a new release from the ever-prolific (and occasionally controversial) Edmund McMillen.

Mod Pick: 'Hazard - The Journey of Life' (Alexander Bruce, freeware)
"Hazard - The Journey of Life is a 3D exploration game that features a host of creative puzzles to solve, but contains no real danger or enemies in sight. The mod requires both Unreal Tournament 3 and the 2.0 patch installed before it can run properly, but it is definitely worth going through all the trouble just to play this one-of-a-kind experience. Alexander's creation was also recently selected as one of the ten finalists for the upcoming Sense of Wonder Night 2009 event."

Game Pick: 'ASCIIpOrtal' (Joe Larson, freeware)
"In ASCIIpOrtal (a 2D remake of Valve's Portal) you can fire up to two portals with your hand-held portal device, then enter through one before coming out of the other for some mind-bending teleportation effect. Some of the puzzles include manipulating switches using blocks, placing portals on the other side of chain links, dodging boulders before they crush you, and avoiding laser fields that will burn your flesh instantly on contact."

Game Pick: 'Icycle' (Damp Gnat, browser)
"The story of Icycle is set in a time when the entire world has been frozen solid, save for a man who was cryogenically preserved together with a bicycle and an unknown companion that flees the scene just before the game starts. The protagonist can only cycle forward and never move back, but he is still able to control his travel speed and time his jumps to avoid some of the dangers he will face during his adventure."

Game Pick: 'A Mazing Monk' (DADIU, browser)
"A Mazing Monk is a rotating puzzle game created by a team of students at DADIU. A monk is on the path to becoming a Buddha and it's your job to help him collect all the karma he needs while dodging the evil soldiers. It's a nice idea and really good fun, but is a little on the short side with only three levels to play."

Game Pick: 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' (Dot Zo Games, freeware)
"Journey to the Center of the Earth is an exploration platform game in which you play the role of a treasure hunter, out to retrieve forty pieces of relics from the ruins of an ancient civilization. There is no progress save feature, so you will have to spend about half an hour or more to complete the entire adventure in one go."

Game Pick: 'Time Fcuk' (Edmund McMillen and William Good, browser)
"Time Fcuk is a platformer that warns about the dangers of time travel, featuring puzzles centered around your character's ability to switch between layers in a level. The game comes with a comprehensive level editor that allows users to design and share their own obstacle courses with other players."

Konami Brings Back Road Fighter To Arcades

September 25, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

It's kind of unfortunate that Konami attached the Road Fighter name to this new arcade game; from what I remember of the original mid-80s arcade/MSX/NES game, the first Road Fighter was terrible! Even as a kid, I didn't appreciate the racer's boring tracks and simple mechanics. Now Bump N Jump, that was a fantastic top-down arcade and 8-bit driving game.

Anyway, this upcoming Road Fighters (with an added "s") arcade game differs much from the original, presenting the racer with 3D graphics and much more interesting courses and vehicles. As with the first game, though, you have to get to the head of the pack without running into others and damaging your own car too much.

Konami R&D brought a 30% complete version of the game out for a location test in Japan last week week, according to a report from Arcade Heroes. Road Fighters is slated to support online multiplayer, just like Taito's own upcoming arcade racer Top Speed. I wonder if the music in the above video is from the game's soundtrack? Probably not, but I hope so -- that song is sweet.

You can watch a video of the original Road Fighters's NES version below:

Isis Novel Pulls In 1.3 Million Players With Tie-in Game

September 25, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

In advance of next week's bookstore release for Isis, horror author Douglas Clegg's latest novel from his Harrow haunted mansion saga, Vanguard Press and FlashGameLicense.com put out promotional Flash game that has so far attracted more than 1.4 million plays from 1.3 million unique players.

Distributed through "major arcade portals and hundreds of other smaller gaming sites", the simple spot-the-difference game highlights colorized versions of the book's pen-and-ink illustrations from Glen Chadbourne, who also recently contributed artwork to Stephen King's graphic short story The Secretary of Dreams.

The game's success caught FlashGameLicense.com completely by surprise -- the company expected it to attract a million plays in the first two months, not after just ten days since it was posted online. The release is also doing its job of generating interest for the book, directing some 10 percent of players to Isis's site.

In fact, publisher Vanguard it so pleased with the game, it plans to put out an iPhone/iPod Touch-specific version this fall with the hope of attracting both more players and more Isis readers. This really is a multimedia production! There's even an Isis trailer -- it's not very informative, and you might want to turn down your volume for it, but it shows off some of Chadbourne's art:

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