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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 November, 2009

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2009 12:00 PM |

fcthanksgiving.jpg

It's Thanksgiving weekend, and that means by the time you read this, I'll be concentrating a lot more on getting drunk than on old game magazines. I hope that your weekend gets along just as swimmingly!

If it's not, then perhaps you could type in the fine program listed above to the computer of your choice. No, not into Notepad. Sheesh.

Little holiday demonstration programs like this were the bread-and-butter for mags like Family Computing during the 8-bit PC era. In an age when parents bought Commodore 64s and the like for their kids then struggled to find something to do with the thing apart from pirate games, they at least let children show off the computer to their family right when it counted -- during the holidays, when all the relatives are at home. Brownie points galore, trust me, if your 8-year-old self typed this in.

The era of little BASIC demos like these ended once home users began to harness computers for...well, actual stuff. Sad, I know.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]

Sound Current: 'Aquaria Piano Jam - Alec Holowka's Watershed Soundtrack Release'

November 28, 2009 12:00 AM | jeriaska

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska catches up with Aquaria co-creator Alec Holowka to discuss the soundtrack he created for the IGF-winning indie game, centering on the new deluxe double CD of the game's musical score.]

Having recently been nominated for a German MTV Game Award for Paper Moon, Alec Holowka has been busy shipping copies of his two-disc original soundtrack album for Aquaria.

The game, created in collaboration with Derek Yu as part of Bit Blot, took the top prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival, an event Holowka describes as a personal watershed moment, "where timelines diverge." He celebrated the album release with a streaming piano jam coinciding with the first CDs being packaged and shipped.

The new album includes cover art by Katie de Sousa, an eight-page booklet, mini-poster containing composer's notes, and additional audio content not found in the game. Jenna Sharpe's work providing the voice of protagonist Naija is represented by a never before heard nine-minute track. Danny B even throws in a scintillating remix of the miniboss battle theme.

This interview with Holowka touches on the thematic continuity bridging the Aquaria soundtrack with the upcoming Infinite Ammo-developed game Marian. The discussion also offers a look at how the making of the soundtrack reflects the game creator's broader perspective on design.

Full House Plays Through The Never Released Montezano's Quest

November 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Following up the "TV Show Weirdness" item in yesterday's GameSetLinks round-up, here's another strange and fabricated video game that appeared on a television show but not on any real-life store shelves: Montezano's Quest (not to be confused with Montezuma's Revenge, which this might be based on).

TV programs make up video games all the time for the sake of fitting them into whatever plot they have planned, but this Full House episode goes into a surprising amount of detail on this SNES title's design. While you never actually see the game itself, the Tanner family narrates their progress as they solve puzzles and defeat different enemies.

Select Button has a thorough dissection of each Montezano's Quest element revealed or indicated in the episode, guessing that the "Enchanted Kayak minigame" is presented with a Mode 7 setup and that the Cosmic Cow Pie power-up is actually a palette swap of the Power Biscuit.

The most startling revelation comes later in the thread, though: "This comes from season eight, episode nine of Full House. Weirdly, season eight episode nine of The Cosby Show also has a b-plot about a highly detailed video game that adults eventually become obsessed with!" Could we have stumbled upon a dangerous conspiracy to feature fake games in sitcoms?

Plush Explosions: RE5-style Grenades

November 27, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Inspired by the explosives in Resident Evil 5, craftster Lynne Dhenson modeled this three-color set of life-size plush replica hand grenades, which would serve as perfect way to disperse and exterminate crowds of Dismember-Me Plush Zombies, green limbs flying in every direction.

Even if you don't have any undead shuffling around, they're soft enough to throw around your house -- like at a cat scratching your furniture or at a spouse across the room who isn't paying enough attention to you -- without damaging, blinding, or incinerating anything/anyone.

"Original plan was to use metal keyrings for the pull rings, but I wanted something I could safely hurl at the TV when stupid things come on," explains Dhenson. Now all we need is a plush Grenade Launcher (though a Hydra stuffed shotgun would do, too).

IGF Mobile 2010 Reminds On December 1st Entry Deadline

November 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Just a reminder that Tuesday is the last day to enter IGF Mobile for this year. The line-up is already looking pretty darn strong, but for those with indie handheld (iPhone, DSi, PSP Minis, Android, etc) games who want to get their name out there, enter now, if you haven't...]

Following record entries for IGF's Main and Student competition, IGF Mobile organizers are reminding of a December 1st deadline for the third annual festival honoring handheld indie games.

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.

Now in its third year, IGF Mobile (part of Think Services, as is this website) has blossomed into a major showcase of the handheld form. Apple's App Store created a special Store section just to highlight the IGF-nominated iPhone games from 2009's IGF Mobile competition, which included acclaimed titles such as Fieldrunners, Real Racing, Zen Bound and Galcon. In addition, last year's IGF Mobile 'Next Great Mobile Game' winner Reflection has been signed by Konami for Nintendo DSi.

Production Begins On Off-Road Velociraptor Safari

November 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Indie developer Flashhbang announced it's started development on a successor to Off-Road Velociraptor Safari, a much bigger project than its previous Blurst portal games developed in 8-week cycles like Time Donkey. Internally referred to as Raptor Safari 64, the game's expected to release in fall 2010 for around $15 to $20.

"We feel that launching another 8-week game won’t change the playing field for us," says Flashbang's Matthew Wegner, explaining Blurst's new direction away from shorter development cycles. "No new possibilities will open up with one more game."

He continues, "We’ll be roughly where we are now, except two months poorer and two months behind on doing something that could change things up. By contrast, we feel like a strong ORVS standalone version will open some doors and provide us with more flexibility and opportunities than we have now."

Flashbang says its first phase of the sequel's development is to improve the production quality, creating a "nicer-looking, faster-running, better-coded version of the original game" before expanding its scope with new environments, dinosaurs, and features. It's already uploaded a new video (above) sharing some of the follow-up's changes.

The studio is currently in talks with "the proper authorities" to possibly release Raptor Safari 64 as a downladable title for consoles. It will also make development builds of Safari 64 available to players that purchased the original PC title, hinting that a playable alpha might hit as soon as Christmas.

S.O.S.: PixelJunk Shooter's First Stage

November 27, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Though PixelJunk Shooter's PS3 release is still weeks away, you can watch 12 minutes of the puzzle shooter's first level right now thanks to this clip posted by VG247. Though the player takes a couple minutes to get a hang of the game, he does a better job showing off the stage later in the clip.

Developed by Q-Games, PixelJunk Shooter has you controlling a subterranean ship, rescuing survivors, upgrading your craft with new weapons, and solving magma/water puzzles while trying to keep your ship from burning up. You don't see one at the end of this first area, but the game also has bosses. You can see more of the game on PixelJunk Shooter's official site.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of November 27

November 27, 2009 7:00 AM | Simon Carless

In our latest employment-specific 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 Rockstar North, BioWare Austin, 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:

Rockstar North: Physics Programmer
"Rockstar North is seeking an experienced highly talented physics programmer to help breathe life, realism and fun into our next-generation games. This is an exciting opportunity to develop cutting-edge physics and collision systems and use them in creative and novel ways, working together with other departments to solve physics, animation and AI problems."

Digital Extremes: Level Designer
"Digital Extremes is always on the lookout for top-notch talent to join our team in London, Ontario, Canada. With a tight-knit team, a passion for best practices and an environment that fosters creativity not to mention fantastic perks - Digital Extremes is a great place to challenge and enhance your creative abilities. All you need to do is apply!"

Fighters A Day

November 27, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Artist Andy Helms posted yet another small collection of video-game character doodles as part of Dude-A-Day, his project to draw 365 figures taken from all sorts of media (movies, comics, television shows, etc.).

Here, he's drawn six fighters from Street Fighter's cast, giving E. Honda a much bigger spare tire belly than I remember and plumping Guile's sonic-boom-throwing arms to turkey proportions. I love his version of Sagat with the jagged mouth, missing neck, and crossed-arms pose.

Helms also illustrated several characters from SNK's Fatal Fury: King of Fighters franchise, depicting Terry Bogard with a somewhat disturbing expression while in mid-leap:

Best Of Indie Games: You're the Captain of This Ship

November 27, 2009 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days 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 winner of the first ever IGF China Best Game award, a new collaborative project from cactus and Arthur Lee, an adventure game from the prolific AGS developer Ben Chandler, and a first-person exploration game clouded in total darkness.

Other highlights include a puzzle game that resembles the Hoshi Saga series, a challenging platformer by the creator of the famed Karoshi games, and an arcade game that plays like a 3D version of Adam Atomic's Canabalt.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Captain Forever' (Farbs, browser)
"In Captain Forever, you're the captain of a ship named Nemesis, stranded in space without a single clue about your current whereabouts. By destroying enemy ships with your default laser weapon, you can cause them to drop ship parts that can be attached to your own ship. Additional ship plating, extra weapons and increased thruster power are just some of the benefits to be gained from salvaging intact modules."

Game Pick: 'Dungeon' (cactus and Arthur Lee, freeware)
"A short 2D platformer created for the 14th Mini Ludum Dare competition, where you are thrown into a dungeon with minimal instructions on how to play the game displayed at the top of the screen. Each area presents a different challenge for players to overcome, and a small piece of the story is revealed the further you venture into the castle. Some obstacles are certainly designed to be harder to beat than the others, so you might need a small amount of perseverance and patience before finally making it through."

Game Pick: 'Featherweight' (Ben Chandler, freeware)
"In Featherweight you play as Thadd, a scout for a rebel group fighting against robots who are out to capture all humanoids. Discovering that a fellow spy has been caught by the machines, he embarks on a mission to rescue her even with the knowledge that chances of succeeding is slim."

Game Pick: 'Devil's Tuning Fork' (DGE Team, freeware)
"An exploration game viewed from a first-person perspective, where you play as a child trapped in an alternate reality after catching a strange illness and falling into a coma. The unknown world is a dark one and has no illumination, but a tuning fork that you find at the start of your adventure can be used to feel your way around the maze of rooms and platforms."

Game Pick: 'ClickPLAY 2' (Tom Vencel, browser)
"The premise of ClickPLAY 2 is that a play button is hidden somewhere in every level, and you must figure out the correct method to make it appear so that you can click on it and progress to the next puzzle. It shouldn't be too difficult to complete all twenty-four stages in the game, although some arcade sections requiring quick reflexes could prove to be a bit of a challenge to beat."

Game Pick: 'Focus' (Jesse Venbrux, freeware)
"In Focus you find yourself trapped in a cave full of traps and robots that fire missiles at you on sight. You will learn a skill called 'focus mode' early in the game, which can be used to teleport yourself anywhere inside a blue circle. The focus field also causes everything inside the circle to move in slow motion."

Game Pick: 'rComplex' (Roger Hicks and Brian Brian Terwilliger, freeware)
"rComplex is a short demo created by two people in under eight days as a proof of concept, plays quite similarly to Canabalt, and features a strong narrative that tells the story while you attempt to outrun a giant squid-like creature. The objective of the game is basically to survive for as long as you can while trying to escape from a high-rise building."

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