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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 October, 2009

A-Psychonaut-A-Day

October 26, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Andy Helms' latest video-game-themed set for his Dude-a-Day project gives us six great sketches from Double Fine's Psychonauts, depicting the dark platformer's hero and other Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp characters in black and green marker.

Past the break, you'll find more a few more illustrations from the cult favorite game, including conspiracy theorist Boyd Cooper and certified dentist/villain Dr. Caligosto Loboto. And if you haven't seen them yet, treat yourselves to the Helms's previous Dude-a-Day sketches for Castle Crashers and Metal Gear Solid.

Say 'Happy Birthday' With Tetris

October 26, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

These Hallmark Innovations cards have been available for some time now, but I didn't come across them until just recently. This set wishes their lucky recipients "Happy Birthday" with a design from a classic arcade game, an appropriate corny joke (the Galaga one is borderline vulgar!), and a familiar tune from the classic title.

This video recorded by Hot Mess only shows the Tetris, Pac-Man, and Galaga pieces, but there are also cards for Dig Dug, Frogger, Centipede, and Kung Fu, the last of which plays a clip of "Kung Fu Fighting", of course. How long before technology brings us to the point when Hallmark sells us cheap greeting cards with the full playable game embedded inside?

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

October 26, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

It's the end of another week, so it's time to go through the top full-length features of the past week on big sister site Gamasutra, plus some GameCareerGuide features of the week.

There's some pretty neat stuff in here - including interviews with Rocksteady and the Runic Games folks, the latest detailed NPD U.S. game sales analysis, and some nuanced discussion on violent gameplay, as well as the latest Game Career Guide Challenge results (featuring the pictured Edgar Allen Poe!) and a new Challenge.

Blasting caps:

Working by Torchlight
"Runic Games' Travis Baldree and Max Schaefer talk to Gamasutra about next week's debut of PC action RPG Torchlight, plans for an MMO incarnation, launching into 2009's PC market, community empowerment, and essential design concepts for the action-RPG genre."

Kill Polygon, Kill: Violence, Psychology, and Video Games
"It's true, many video games have violent elements in them. But what does that mean? We talk to Silent Hill producers, abstract indie game creators and the Grand Theft Childhood book co-writer to look at the pluses and minuses of violence as a tool for expression in games."

NPD: Behind the Numbers, September 2009
"Gamasutra's latest comprehensive NPD analysis looks at the U.S. console retail figures for September 2009, with spotlights on the music game genre, hardware price cuts, Wii, console DLC and more."

Beyond The Button Press
"What opportunities are there for games that innovate using audio? LucasArts' Jesse Harlin takes a look at what new audio control possibilities technology has brought us, in this article originally published in Game Developer magazine recently."

Rocksteady's Sefton Hill Unmasks Batman: Arkham Asylum
"Director Sefton Hill of Rocksteady explains how his studio stayed true to Batman's "strict rules" when creating Batman: Arkham Asylum new immersive world."

Sponsored Feature: Who Moved the Goal Posts? The Rapidly Changing World of CPUs
"In this Sponsored Feature, part of Intel's Visual Computing microsite, Shrout and Davies examine the 'shift in processor architecture and design over the last few years' that has changed once simple rules regarding CPUs and computer chips in general into a 'much more complicated scenario'."

GCG: Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations
"Delivering a game based on a book is tricky, but that's just what we've asked GameCareerGuide readers to do in this latest challenge; see the results now!"

GCG: Is Modding Useful?
"Our latest feature discusses the relevance modding experience has to landing a job as a working developer -- checking in with developers with a modding background for their opinions."

GCG: Game Design Challenge: Photographic Interpretation
"In our latest challenge, we ask you to take a look at an interesting photo and turn it into a completely original game concept of your own choosing."

Note: Indie Game Trends/Sales - Autumn 2009 Update

October 25, 2009 6:00 PM | Simon Carless

Just a quick note about some slides (and a taped lecture) related to independent game trends and stats that I [Simon Carless, Independent Games Festival chairman and Gamasutra publisher] presented in recent weeks in Asia and Australia, and are now available to everyone thanks to the magic of the Interwebs and file/videosharing devices.

As some of you may know, earlier this year I presented a lecture called 'Independent Games & Sales: Stats 101' at the Independent Games Summit at GDC 2009 in San Francisco. I made info on it available via my Gamasutra Expert Blog. Rather pleasingly, the full IGS 2009 lecture slides, hosted on Slideshare.net, have now had more than 10,000 views, and it seems to be one of the few comprehensive overviews of the space.

The lecture was fairly well-received at GDC, especially in terms of its content, though I rather overstuffed things for a 30-minute talk, especially in terms of calculation minutiae. So when I was invited to speak at the Digital Distribution Summit in Melbourne, Australia (at the pictured BMW Edge conference hall) in September, followed by GDC China in Shanghai in October, I decided to simplify and update the metrics, while adding a section on trends/routes to success.

I've now put versions of two slide decks online. Firstly, there's 'Indie Game Metrics - October 2009' [Slideshare.net link.] This updates my March 2009 estimates for markets like Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, iPhone, and PC digital download, and ends with a couple of slides on important trends in the indie market - and it's fairly easy to understand without hearing the accompanying narration.

COLUMN: @Play: Item Design, Part 1: Potions and Scrolls

October 25, 2009 12:00 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 look at the art of item design in Roguelikes.]

It has been a little while.... This column is an in-depth examination of some of the most popular items within the two most-common categories: potions and scrolls, both of which we might term "one use" items for the fact that utilizing them consumes them.

Exploring a monster-filled dungeon is not what we might consider a healthy activity. If the game were just about looking around, mapping territory, and killing monsters until the player's inevitable demise, the game might be interesting in an simplistic kind of way, but it wouldn't have that roguelike spark. No, the player must get something out of the exploration. That something is treasure.

Treasure is the carrot held in front of the player's face, leading him on into ever-more dangerous situations. The majority of treasure in most roguelikes is found laying around the dungeon. Some of the treasure is food, and the need to find more is what prevents the player from building levels indefinitely on the easier levels, but the good stuff is what pushes him downward. Unlike the trend in most RPGs these days, equipment is often a larger component of player power than experience level in roguelikes, and it is randomly generated.

Interview: The Odd Gentlemen On Winterbottom Inspiration, Indie Moves

October 25, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[The Odd Gentlemen, the developers of time-twistin' XBLA platformer The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, talk to Game Developer and Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield on inspiration, the increasing artistic and commercial success of indie games, and just who their audience might really be.]

Next year, The Odd Gentlemen will release its debut game, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, on Xbox Live Arcade. To be published by 2K Games, it's an indie title that has its roots in the same University of Southern California interactive media program that birthed thatgamecompany, developers of flOw and Flower.

The pie-collecting puzzler's mechanics hinge significantly on a twist: players may record moves and then set a clone to consistently repeat that action, a new take on time-bending gameplay in a climate very favorable to it.

Here, co-founders Paul Bellezza (producer) and Matt Korba (creative director and lead designer) talk to us about inspiration, the increasing artistic and commercial success of indie games, and just who their audience might really be -- among other topics.

Why do you think there's been so much interest and use of time mechanics recently?

PB: I think there's just a time zeitgeist going on in the indie community. When we started this game, there was really nothing out. There was Prince of Persia and there's Blinx. And over the last few years, we've seen this other stuff come out and try different things in their own different way.

I think there are just cycles that everyone goes through. People realize, "Oh, we have the technology now to record these things and play them off in different way, and it's not too complex," so everyone plays with that. And I think with a lot of people working in Flash and stuff like that, it's pretty easy to sort of grab a concept, prototype it out, and put it on the web.

I think there's going to be whatever the next big thing is, and once people realize that's popular, everyone's going to want to try to jump in there and shape it their own way, too. It's been an interesting road watching all these time games come out and looking at our game and being like, "Okay, well I still think this is very different and moving in a different way." So, overall, it's been a good thing. But yeah, it's kind of crazy.

Column: 'The Magic Resolution': Hope Through Homelessness

October 24, 2009 12:00 PM |

aliceandkev.jpg['The Magic Resolution' is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch column by UK-based writer Lewis Denby, examining all facets of the experience of playing video games. This week, Lewis looks to another writer to showcase just how thought-provoking even mainstream games have become. Enter Robin Burkinshaw's 'Alice and Kev'...]

When I started my column earlier in the year, I had a solid idea of the sort of thing I wanted to write about. So often is the gaming press focused on picking apart and observing the mechanical specifics of a product that, frequently, the very nature of the experience gets lost in communication. And that's a shame because, at their very core, video games are about giving in to infinite possibilities, letting go and allowing yourself the pleasure of intense human reaction.

I assumed I'd be talking about plenty of games. I didn't expect to be talking in any great length about a piece of writing about games. But Robin Burkinshaw's Alice and Kev is one of the few accounts of a gaming experience that wholly captures that magic, and demonstrates just how intense people's reactions to video games can be.

Alice and Kev is Burkinshaw's online diary of his time playing The Sims 3, during which he guided a homeless man and his daughter through the various stages of their lives. It's at once poignant, hilarious and disturbing, and it just recently finished.

It was an ambitious project for Burkinshaw, who originally updated the blog daily but, by the end, simply couldn't keep up that momentum. Still, he didn't need to. By that point, the story already contained a vast number of chapters, and new readers were arriving every day.

Best Of Indie Games: Machines Doing the Robot Dance

October 24, 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 the long-awaited release of Amanita Design's award-winning adventure game, a new puzzler from prolific Flash game developer Skipmore, an 'asynchronously multiplayer' game (as the creator of the program calls it), a low-res remake of a seizure-rific arena shooter, and the freeware remake of an old platformer from the early '80s.

Game Pick: 'Machinarium' (Amanita Design, commercial indie - demo available)
"The setting: a world full of robots - some wise, some musical, some addicted to oil. Our hero: The underdog, kicked out of his home town by bullies, his girlfriend kidnapped. The plan: Save the town, rescue the girlfriend, have fun doing so. Machinarium is an adventure puzzle outing which is insanely beautiful. There's also plenty of humour abound, clever puzzles to decipher and situations to solve. This is a world you're going to want to visit."

Game Pick: 'Mamono Slayer' (Skipmore, browser)
"Though the hero in Skipmore's latest effort may wield a sword, the game is essentially a collection of lock and key puzzles designed to prevent the player from finding the legendary blade that will save the kingdom. The act of attacking an enemy only involves pointing your weapon at them as they walk towards the knight. Mamono Slayer is a short game that shouldn't take longer than ten or fifteen minutes to play from start to end."

Game Pick: 'Hell Is Other People' (George Buckenham, browser)
"It has an awesome name. It is an awesome concept. Hell Is Other People is an 'asynchronously multiplayer' according to creator George Buckenham. The path that each player takes is recorded and future players are then pitted against their recordings. This means that no two games are the same. It means you are technically playing against humans - albeit humans who aren't actually aiming at you. It's a beautiful idea which starts off pretty easy and soon develops into a full-on war."

Game Pick: 'Mouse No. Probably A Rat' (David Scatliffe, freeware)
"Mouse No. Probably a Rat is a remake of Oddbob's Squid Yes! Not So Octopus!, featuring similar squid controls and the same spread shot used to destroy the alien robots mushrooming out of everywhere. There are less epilepsy-inducing effects in David's creation, but it is just as difficult to survive for an extended period of time as some enemies will pursuit you relentlessly around the screen while others will continously spam the arena with bullets until they are obliterated by your patented electro beam."

Game Pick: 'Miner 2049er Again' (Danny Boyd, freeware)
"Miner 2049er Again is a remake of an old classic, where you play as a miner who has to clean up all the spilled chemicals on the floors of a mining area by simply walking over them. The game was never designed to be easy to play - even falls from moderate heights can hurt, but you must persist or the cave will never be safe for other miners to work in again.."

Sometimes Dead Is Better: Pet Sematary iPhone Game Released

October 23, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Paramount Digital Entertainment revealed another Stephen King game, Pet Sematary for iPhone/iPod touch, though this is based more on the 1989 film starring Dale Midkiff and Tasha Yar than the horror novel. I wonder what the reasoning was behind developing a mobile game for a 20-year-old movie that hardly anyone ever thinks about except for when TNT/Sci-Fi/Chiller airs it to fill up an afternoon block?

In the game's 15 stages, undead birds, cats, dogs, and humans are roaming your neighborhood, terrorizing your neighbors. Your off-screen character is perched on a roof with a rifle, picking off the zombie-fied pets with each tap on the handset. It looks like you'll have other weapons at your disposal, like a machine gun, too.

Unlike the planned The Dark Tower project, Pet Sematary is available now through the App Store for $.99. You can see more screenshots from the game below.

IGF 2010 Reminds On Deadline, Reveals Nuovo Award Specifics

October 23, 2009 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

The organizers of the 2010 Independent Games Festival are reminding entrants that there's one week left before the Nov. 1st main deadline, revealing over 100 entries and new specifics on the Nuovo prize.

Entries to the 12th Annual IGF's Main Competition are due by 11.59pm PST on November 1st, with submissions accepted for easy digital submission from game creators worldwide, in multiple PC, computer and console formats.

Games selected as finalists for the world's leading independent games competition will be available in playable form on the GDC 2010 show floor and will compete for nearly $50,000 in prizes, including awards for Excellence in Design, Art, the Audience Award and the coveted $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Winners will be announced on stage at the prestigious Independent Games Festival Awards on Thursday, March 11, 2010.

As well as the Main Competition entry deadline on the 1st, organizers are reminding that games are due for submission in the free to enter Student Showcase category by November 15th, 2009, and entries to the IGF Mobile competition -- encompassing iPhone, mobile phone, PSP, DS, Android and other handheld games -- are due by December 1st, 2009.

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