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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

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Challenge and Storytelling

September 25, 2009 12:00 PM |

['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she looks at challenge as a story-telling device in general, and some specific issues raised by Jonathan Blow in his presentation on conflicts in game design.]

Jonathan Blow's November presentation on conflicts in game design raises a fundamental problem:

"For a story to occur, it has to keep proceeding... challenge is about preventing you from continuing in the game... Story and challenge work against each other. No matter how hard you work on a game, if you've got a story in the traditional way, and you've got challenge elements like we traditionally use them, they work against each other. -- Jonathan Blow"

Accepting the main theses of Blow's presentation -- that challenge is essential to the nature of games, and that challenge does not work with story -- might be enough to make me give up this column. And, unfortunately for me, there's a lot of what Blow says that I agree with, about the difficulty of designing dynamic stories, providing solid pacing, and giving a sense of importance to a constructed non-linear tale.

So here's the question: Can the challenge be part of the story instead? Can it lend value to the storytelling? How and where?

A Burst Of Darius PSP Video

September 25, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

While you won't see any in-game footage for Darius Burst in this Tokyo Game Show trailer until the 1:00 mark -- and those clips are brief -- this is the first new footage we've seen for not just the game but for the series in nearly a decade, and beggars can't be choosers. Where else are you going to get shoot'em up videos of a ship blasting away at giant mecha fish and space seahorses?

While there are still no announced plans for a U.S. release, Taito did recently set up a Japanese teaser site for Darius Burst. Again, there's not much there, but the music, composed by Zuntata, is aces.

[Via Shmups forum]

Eric Idle Dispenses Call of Duty Tips

September 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Monty Python alum Eric Idle took time this week to record a video response to (::shudder::) Youtube commenters who've left fatuous messages for and about him. As you'd expect from a comedian with his heritage, he rips apart his critics, breaking out the sort of wit many thought had long left the old man (according to Metafilter members, anyway).

And if you need help on activating Call of Duty: World at War's death cards, Idle has some words for you, too!

Test Your Love With An Alpha Client

September 25, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Developer Eskil Steenberg has brought Love, his procedurally-generated MMO with impressionist-style graphics, into the Alpha stage with a non-playable client. While you can't login and take control of the much anticipated game, you can preview how its engine will run on your machine.

"This will let me work out any compatibility issues," says Steenberg. "The client will contact my master server and send the name of your graphics card and if it supports the three OpenGL extensions I use (FBO, VBOs and GLSL), no other user data, ip addresses, or anything else is collected. This data will also let me count you in order to estimate how many servers I will need."

You can download the Alpha client from the programmer's site. He has also opened a new Twitter account that will dispense updates on future developments, perhaps also alerting Love fans when a playable build releases.

In-Depth: The State Of The Japanese Post-Recession Game Biz

September 25, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[We're in Tokyo this week for TGS and Sense Of Wonder Night, and you can find our coverage pretty easily on Gamasutra. But thought I'd reprint this high-level Japanese exec roundtable because it has some genuine, interesting insight from the top.]

Discussing the state of the game market at Tokyo Game Show, a panel of high-level Japanese executives concluded that the global recession has had little effect on their businesses, but that new business models are the key to understanding future growth.

The panel of notable execs comprised Haruhiro Tsujimoto - President of Capcom; Kazumi Kitaue - CEO of Konami; Shuhei Yoshida - President of SCE Worldwide Studios; Yoichi Wada - President of Square Enix; and Shin Unozawa - President of Namco Bandai.

Starting out by commenting on trends, Capcom's Tsujimoto suggested that "game lifestyles of users" have changed significantly in Japan, with the portable market (on PSP and DS) are particularly strong through the recession. Konami's Kitaue added that he felt that the recession was not that relevant to the market in Japan, and Square's Wada agreed, saying "people rarely borrow money to buy games", unlike buying houses.

However, Japanese game retailers are more conservative, and from Wada's perspective, "they want something that they are sure the customers will want". Nonetheless, Dragon Quest IX has been a major DS hit for Square Enix in the territory, and Wada said "on the whole, things have not changed that greatly".

Wada, ever a shrewd commentator, noted: "What's going to be important for the next 5 years is not the innovation in the specifications of the hardware or software, but rather the billing or the revenue model" for games, and how this can be "firmly rooted amongst the users".

Sea Battleground: Orioto's Worms Wallpaper

September 24, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

When we last featured Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre's work, the artist had just completed his fabulous desktop background for Eric Chahi's Out Of This World/Another World. Orioto has put up a new IGN-commissioned piece paying tribute to another game series from a European developer, Team17's Worms.

Definitely download the full 800x2700 wallpaper (the cropped image above only shows about a third of the painting) from his DeviantArt page to admire all the details -- just like in the strategy game, the worms are too busy rappelling off cliff-sides, avoiding landmines, and aiming their shots to notice the waves crashing and rockets exploding around them.

Play Games And Have Your Ears Cleaned At Akihabara's Cute Room

September 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Cute Room, an upcoming shop opening in Akihabara this October 4th, will soon offer customers a chance to spend time with one of its female employees and engage in a variety of non-sexual activities. Clients select a themed room -- maid room, school room, Monster Hunter room, etc. -- and pick out a costume for the girl they will spend time with.

You can watch a DVD or play video games on a number of consoles (Wii, PS3, PSP, Xbox, and DS) with her for around ¥1,000 ($11) every 30 minutes, or you can pay your companion to fake her affection for you by massaging your hand, giving you a love letter, reading a bedtime story, slapping you in the face (both sides), or just looking at you.

Even more strange than those activities, for ¥1,500 ($16.46), you can rest your head on a girl's lap and have her clear your ears for 20 minutes. Apparently, some guys are really into this! Last month, one customer at another shop became so smitten with the woman cleaning his ear, he spent around ¥300,00-400,000 ($3,291 - $4,388) per month, and ended up stabbing her when she refused to become his girlfriend.

Crazy and expensive, right? Might be better to just play your video games and clean your ears at home.

[Via Canned Dogs]

Column: 'Diamond in the Rough': On Lara Croft And "Relatable" Heroes

September 24, 2009 12:00 PM |

tr1.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 examines Lara Croft, her strengths and weaknesses, and looks to her future]

It's pretty obvious to most people that Lara Croft is not the "everyman" so many developers are mistakenly, humorously obsessed with. Never mind that this everyman is often a gravelly-voiced, shaven-headed, hugely muscled lout who kills lots of people. He is, after all, “relatable.” He cracks jokes while curb-stomping aliens! So Lara Croft is not a guy, right? That's one step in a different direction. That already sets her apart from an unpleasantly large number of video game heroes.

Game Developer Announces 2009 Front Line Awards Call For Submissions

September 24, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[If you work in the game biz, you know that tools are a big deal - so hopefully you can help us nominate for sister mag Game Developer's latest Front Line Awards, honoring the best tools, books, and other aids out there.]

The editors of Game Developer magazine have announced that nominations for the historic 12th Annual Front Line Awards are now open, continuing the magazine's tradition of honoring excellence and innovation in tools for game development.

The Front Line Awards are highly regarded in the industry as among the most important awards to honor the year's best development software for programming, art, audio, middleware, game engines, and books.

Nominations from the game development community are accepted during a fixed period of time. While a great many considerations go into determining a winner, innovation is the real name of the game.

Products are nominated in all categories by the readers of Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra. Once all nominations are in, the editors of Game Developer and Gamasutra will select finalists and the readers of Game Developer will ultimately determine the winners in each category.

Nominations are open from September 21st, 2009, through October 9th, 2009, to all new products and new versions of products related to game development released between September 1, 2008, and August 31, 2009 (betas are not eligible). Front Line Award finalists will be announced in the December 2009 issue and winners will be revealed in the January 2010 issue of Game Developer.

To nominate a product -- whether a satisfied user or a creator of that product -- please visit the 12th Annual Front Line Awards website and fill in the supplied form.

Exploring Colossal Cave Adventure With A Homemade Map

September 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Fondly recounting her trips through Colossal Cave Adventure, Mari Michaelis created a charming, nostalgic map for the classic adventure game's labyrinthine network of canyons and twisty passages. The guide is based on Will Crowther and Don Woods's 350 point version from 1976, so don't rely on it if you're playing through newer versions and variants!

Though Michaelis clearly put a lot of work into the diagram -- decorating it with dragons, bears, and other useful visual details -- she asks that players who haven't yet memorized the maze to and achieved Master Adventurer status to hold off on examining the spoiler-filled map, assuring them that they'll appreciate the game more without the map.

You can view the full Colossal Cave Adventure map and print out an 8 1/2 x 11 version on Michaelis' site.

[Via @textfiles]

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