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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 December, 2009

Ubi Released First Licensed DS Title Out Of India

December 28, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

French publisher Ubisoft has released the first officially licensed Nintendo DS title developed by a team in India, according to a report from SiliconIndia. The game, 100 All Time Favorites, was worked on by the company's studio in Pune, which Ubisoft bought in May 2008.

Before the acquisition, the studio functioned as a mobile developer for Gameloft, originally established in 2006. The group had a headcount of 120 programmers and testers when Ubisoft took over and has grown to 160 employees since -- its staff increased by 35 percent since January, adding artists and game designers.

"It was a very novel experience, we got a lot of help from our headquarters," says Ubisoft's HR manager Aurelie Busollo. "Three programmers went in for training as well to Quebec. We had a couple of expatriates, who came in from other Ubisoft studios to help us streamline the processes, and give guidelines."

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Neither Nor

December 28, 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 Zylom/GameHouse Studios Eindhoven's Delicious: Emily's Holiday Season, a Christmas-themed time management game with an unusual amount of story content.]

Ever since Miss Management, I've been hoping for another time management game with a decent narrative arc, memorable characters, and a connection between gameplay and story. Delicious: Emily's Holiday Season is the best I've yet seen in that line. (Disclaimer: I gather there are a number of previous Delicious games starring Emily. This is the first I've played through, though I did sample the demo of Emily's Taste of Fame.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Delicious: Emily's Holiday Season shares a number of features with Miss Management. It's briefer, but it has a similar structure: there are five major stages to the plot, each with its own mini-arc.

Many of the levels incorporate some small optional challenges, which knit the gameplay and the story together more tightly. There's a lot of dialogue, and Emily's Holiday Season skips having a single villain in favor of a number of sometimes-friendly NPCs who nonetheless impose on the protagonist in irritating ways.

Nifflas Selling Knytt, Knytt Stories Shirts

December 28, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I should've posted these weeks ago so you could buy them as presents for your independent game-loving friends/family, but I just noticed them! Developer Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren (NightSky) is selling two shirts with fantastic black and white artwork drawn by Sara Sandberg and depicting scenes from beloved indie platformers Knytt/Knytt Stories.

They're a bit expensive at 200 SEK each (around $28) before shipping, but they're printed on "fairwear" and 100 percent organic shirts at EarthPositive. There's also a limited amount available, as Nifflas ordered only 100 shirts. You can buy a tee from the developer site.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of December 28

December 28, 2009 9:00 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 5th Cell, Terminal Reality 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:

Robot Entertainment: Game Developer
"Robot Entertainment is a world-class independent game development studio owned and operated by many of the founders of Ensemble Studios. With a team that has proven experience and expertise in creating games that appeal to massive audiences, Robot Entertainment is focused on titles that set new standards for their respective genres as well as groundbreaking original IPs."

Terminal Reality: AI Programmer
"Terminal Reality Inc, is an independent Dallas-area developer devoted to developing top-quality games and technology. Since opening its doors in 1994 Terminal Reality has developed & shipped over 28 game titles including the recently released Ghostbusters: The Video Game on XBox 360, PS3 and PC. Terminal Reality is looking for a programmer who will be able to develop state of the art AI systems. This is your chance to be a part of a talented team working on an exciting AAA Natal Title!"

TIGRadio Launches Show For Indie Game Devs

December 28, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

TIGRadio, a new online radio show catering to independent game developers, broadcasted its inaugural episode last night. It's hosted by several notable indie figures, including Flashbang Games's (Off-Road Velociraptor Safari) CEO Matthew Wegner and art director Ben Ruiz, as well as Super Meat Boy co-developer Tommy Refenes.

"We decided to avoid the complication of producing content for people other than ourselves (Do we make the show for gamers interested in indie games, or actual developers of indie games?)." explains Wegner. "In the end we realized we're much better off just doing what we know best. I think the show will be of interest to non-developers, too, but essentially we're trying to do interesting stuff for all of you guys!"

For the first show, TIGRadio brought in several guests from the indie games space -- Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy, Time Fcuk), Brandon Boyer (Gamasutra alum, Boing Boing contributing editor), Danny Baronowsky (Canabalt composer), Colin Northway (Fantastic Contraption), and Adam Saltsman (Canabalt) -- to talk about 2009 titles and their 2010 predictions.

TIGRadio plans to broadcast a show via Ustream (audio from a Skype conference, video from a shared whiteboard) every week, accompanied with a live chat enabling listeners to interact with the guests and hosts. You can hear the first episode and see when the next show will air on TIGRadio's official site.

Soviet Arcade Game Posters

December 28, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Flickr user Dangerous Business has uploaded over a dozen photos of posters featured at The Museum of Soviet Arcade Games. The decades-old artwork, featured alongside a collection of 37 restored Soviet-era arcade machines (around 20 operational) originally built in military factories, advertise unfamiliar titles like Steep Turn and Well, Just You Wait!

You can see a couple posters below and the full set in this Flickr set. DB also uploaded a few videos showing what games like Tankodrome and Air Fight look like when played. I've included a clip of Winter Fight, which features a rifle controller, below:

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

December 28, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

We seem to have survived the holidays thus far, so it's time to go through the top full-length features of the past week on big sister 'art and business of gaming' site Gamasutra, plus our GameCareerGuide features for the week.

Anyhow, there's obviously our _gigantic_ compilation of best-ofs as one Gamasutra feature, but presumably you've seen much of that already. Luckily, as well as that, there's a neat Ron Gilbert interview, a new Ian Bogost column on puzzle games, a fun multi-interview piece on adding polish to games, and some new Game Design Challenge neatness. So there.

Go for the tipoff:

Gamasutra's Best Of 2009
"Ending out 2009, Gamasutra puts together the definitive compilation of our year-end lists, from disappointments through game of the year and beyond, with bonus reader feedback."

Persuasive Games: Puzzling the Sublime
"Good puzzle games are often described as addictive, elegant or deep, but in reality they can elicit deeper feelings of overwhelm, vastness and abundance, says designer Ian Bogost."

The Art Of Game Polish: Developers Speak
"Polishing a game can lead to vastly increased user satisfaction -- but how do you identify, execute, and allocate resources for the polish process? Developers from BioWare, Epic Games, and other studios weigh in."

Analysis: The Problem Of Timing

December 27, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[When's the right time to begin developing for a specific platform? Digital distribution consultant David Edery writes explaining factors like market behavior and platform qualities, offering essential guidelines.]

In my experience, one of the problems that most seems to bedevil game developers is the problem of timing; specifically, understanding when is the "right time" to begin developing for a specific platform.

To understand why this is such a challenge for developers, you need to understand how a games platform tends to evolve.

Here's the typical scenario: A platform -- for example, XBLA, or the iPhone App Store, or Facebook -- comes into existence. Most people regard the platform suspiciously, for a variety of reasons. It's an unproven market, for starters.

The platform owner's commitment to growing the platform may be unclear. The pros and cons of working with the platform owner in this context are unknown. There are lots of other platforms to choose from. Etc. Most developers take all this into account and decide to pass on the platform for the time being.

Best Of Gamasutra Blogs: From Prodding To Gifting

December 27, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[We haven't been highlighting these on GSW recently, but the Gamasutra Blogs section is still producing a lot of good writing, so here's a compilation of both Expert and Member best-ofs from last week for your delectation.]

In this new weekly round-up, we showcase notable pieces of writing from members of the game development community who maintain Expert Blogs and Member Blogs on Gamasutra.

Member Blogs can be maintained by any registered Gamasutra user, while the invitation-only Expert Blogs are written by development professionals with a wealth of experience to share.

In this latest round-up, Expert Bloggers write about multiplayer game matchmaking, forcing player progress, and the state of the Indian video game developer market, among other things, whereas Member Bloggers examine social game players, the PlayStation 3 game Demon's Souls, and slow disc loads.

Gamasutra Expert Blogs

- On The Practical Application of Multiplayer Matchmaking
(Nick Halme)
Relic's Nick Halme looks at some of the problems with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Windows PC matchmaking system Trueskill, presenting "not a complaint or a rant against Trueskill, but an attempt to point out what it's doing to players."

- The Cattle Prod
(Radek Koncewicz)
Consultant and Incubator Games creative lead Radek Koncewicz discusses ways to go beyond encouraging player progress with the "cattle prod," which he defines as "A mechanic based on diminishing resources that forces the player to advance in order to avoid game death."

- Game Development in India: The Road Ahead
(Pallav Nawani)
Designer, programmer and Dehradun-based IronCode co-founder Pallav Nawani looks at how "disruptive content" can help the Indian game market get up to speed -- and how "marketability" is even more important than innovation right now.

Interview: Level-5 On White Knight Chronicles And RPG Gamer Taste

December 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Christian Nutt talks to Level-5 (Professor Layton, Dragon Quest IX) manager Yoshiaki Kusuda on the dev's PS3 debut, designing RPGs in Japan, and the benefits of game creation outside of Tokyo. ]

What's up with the difference between Western and Japanese RPGs -- and their audiences -- anyway? Professor Layton and Dragon Quest IX creator Level-5 might be in a position to know.

The developer is finally planning to release its first current-gen game, White Knight Chronicles, for the PlayStation 3 in Europe and North America early next year, with Sony publishing.

White Knight Chronicles, which launched on PS3 in Japan on Christmas Day, 2008, has been through a long localization and improvement process -- what was primarily an offline RPG at launch has had its online mode boosted in quality and features and expanded through patches. The overseas version will include all changes made to the Japanese version over the last year.

The game has a uniquely Japanese conceit -- the player creates his or her own character who is not the hero of the story in the single-player mode, but, instead, is just a member of the hero's party -- the hero being a pre-set character, Leonard -- a typically brash, young Japanese RPG protagonist. However, when the player goes online, it's to form a party of these neglected create-a-heroes and play with others.

It's all a bit weird, isn't it? We spoke to Level-5 development manager Yoshiaki Kusuda about distinctly different RPG styles, the process of addressing two kinds of audiences, and the benefits of developing outside of Tokyo.

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