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Archive For January, 2010

Superbrothers, Capy Preview Projects At Hand Eye Society Social

January 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Toronto's indie games advocacy group The Hand Eye Society will show off two previously unseen projects during a get-together next Thursday on February 11th at Unit Bar hosted by Nathan Vella, president of indie studio Capy (Critter Crunch, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes). The presentations will being around 8PM and will last for about a half-hour total.

Craig "Superbrothers" Adams will debut IGF Mobile finalist Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, a collaborative iPhone/iPod Touch project between himself, Capy, and singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie. The game's concept is described as follows:

"With regards to the intended meaning of the project name, the following is presented for your consideration: SUPERBROTHERS = a safe and reliable cure for the eyes; SWORD & SWORCERY = a fantasy subgenre characterized by swashbuckling heroes; EP = aka Extended Play, a vinyl record or digital download containing up to 37 minutes of music."

Capy's creative director Kris Piotrowski will also demonstrate the developer's WiiWare project Heartbeat and also share lessons from the downloadable game's design process. Though the studio has never shown Heartbeat to the public, we do know it's meant to be an "experience of growing sound", and we have these details from its IGF submission:

Road To The IGF: Trauma's Krystian Majewski

January 26, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In the latest Road to the IGF interview with 2010 Independent Games Festival finalists, we speak with Krystian Majewski, the indie behind the triple-nominated adventure game Trauma]

Krystian Majewski's goal with his photographic adventure game Trauma was to be nominated for the Independent Games Festival. He reached his goal three times over, as Trauma has been nominated for Excellence in Visual Art, Excellence in Audio, and the coveted Seamus McNally Grand Prize in IGF 2010.

In the creation of intriguingly-navigated adventure title Trauma, Majewski analyzed the adventure game genre closely, paying attention to its trends over the years, finding out where they fall flat, and experimenting with new ideas.

In this interview, Majewski offers a bit of his personal background, how Trauma came to be, and why he thinks "big budget titles maneuvered themselves into a dead end" on a creative level.

What kind of background do you have making games?

I've been making computer games since I was 10 or so. The oldest game I still have is from 1993. I was 12 back then. It is a pretty unique 4X space colonization game made in Visual Basic.

After high school, I briefly worked for Neon Studios in Frankfurt but went on studying design very soon. During my studies, I realized that triple-A game production really isn't very promising to me right now. Instead I looked into other possibilities like Flash games and independent games.

Fami-Mode: All-Star Japanese Chiptune Show This Weekend

January 26, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

While not as big as New York City's Blip Fest, Tokyo's Fami-Mode is still a must-attend event for micromusic fans in the area, as it gathers some of the country's top chip talent for a big concert and dance party that kicks off at midnight and doesn't end until 5AM.

Organized by Satoshi Sakagami, owner of retro gaming and culture shop Meteor, Fami-Mode 2010 will return to the Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijouji, Tokyo this Saturday. The scheduled chip acts include several artists we've featured here before: Omodaka, Kplecraft, Consumers, and Sexy-Synthesizer.

In between each live performance, several DJs are slated to spin a set: DJ Smallest, DJ Sakagami (Satoshi), DJ PMKFA, and DJ Masskutt Daitouryou. There will also be some sort of Famicom competition and shops (e.g. The King Of Games, Takara Tomy Arts) trying to separate attendees from their money.

The above video shows clips of performances from last year's Fami-Mode performances. After the break, I've included another video with more highlights from Fami-Mode 2009 as well as Fami-Mode 2010's show poster:

Column: 'Diamond in the Rough': "Modern" Warfare

January 26, 2010 12:00 PM |

-['Diamond In The Rough' is a regularly scheduled GameSetWatch opinion column by Tom Cross focusing game narratives and the ways that play, gaming, and narrative mix. This week, Tom examines the pitfalls of an industry dominated by Modern Warfare.]

Infinity Ward's Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has come and gone, although it isn't really gone: it lives on, unstoppable, powered by XBL and the PSN. The game's release may have been highly lucrative (750 million dollars, the last time I checked), but it was also fraught with controversy. Most notable among them were the “F.A.G.S.” scandal (and Infinity Ward's response to such criticisms), the lack of dedicated servers, and, of course, the “No Russian” level.

As Michael Abbott points out, while a small slice of the hardcore demographic and gaming press took offense, a large portion of the game's potential customers were either unaware of or unmoved by any of those issues. For them, the game lives and dies by its multiplayer.

We may natter on about FPS narrative conceits, forced participation, and issues of player agency, but this game doesn't care. It doesn't need to. It's built as a multiplayer juggernaut, and its single player is like some kind of vestigial malformed appendage: it sticks around almost out of habit.

Takahashi Shows Off Noby Noby Boy iPhone At Tokyo Apple Store

January 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Though he's also busy designing a children's playground, Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi hasn't abandoned his game projects! Here, you can see the imaginative creative director demonstrating his team's progress on Noby Noby Boy's iPhone game at the Apple Store in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district.

Takahashi's presentation is entirely in Japanese, but he shows bits of the game prove that this mobile version will be just as weird as the PSN release and even stranger than initial screenshots indicated. He drops a variety of objects into space to bounce Boy off of (even shaking the handheld to rattle the on-screen objects), types messages on Boy's body, and superimposes Boy over some sort of map application.

You can see more videos from Takahashi's demonstration on Youtube user Noby829's profile.

[Via TUAW]

Man With X Head Drafted To Sell 360s In Japan

January 26, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Unsatisfied with hardware sales in Japan, Microsoft searched for a spokesman that could convert gamers into Xbox 360 fans and found itself a perfect mascot: Mr. Sanrokumaru (which translates as 3-6-0), a man with an X for a head. He joins two other salarymen from Microsoft's Xbox Mission Department in the company's latest commercials.

As Kotaku points out, the ads are reminiscent of Sega Dreamcast's self-deprecating Hidekazu Yukawa (Mr. Sega) commercials, which I'm totally alright with. In the above clip, the Mission Department members demonstrate that they're willing to risk life and limb to secure marquee titles for the Xbox 360.

The commercial after the break shows Mr. Sanrokumaru trying to convince a representative from Capcom's Monster Hunter Frontier to sign a contract, which evidently worked! Now I really want to see the Xbox 360 succeed in Japan, just so it will give the company enough reason go produce more of these ads.

DannyB Releases Canabalt's Mini Soundtrack

January 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Indie game composer Daniel "dannyB" Baranowsky has put out a downloadable soundtrack for Adam Atomic's break-out hit Canabalt, collecting every song he created for the game -- all two of them. Gamers that sent money to the project months ago might already have the "Run" track that was given to donators, but you can still buy "Daring Escape" (and any other individual song) for just $1.

The entire album sells for $3 and also includes ringtone versions of both themes, as well as an 8-minute megamix from another game DannyB and AdamAtomic collaborated on, Fathom. You can grab the songs or stream them all for free on the composer's Bandcamp page.

[Via Noobuooo]

2010 Independent Games Festival Mobile Reveals Finalists

January 26, 2010 3:00 AM | Simon Carless

The 2010 Independent Games Festival Mobile, an event that celebrates excellence in games for Apple's iPhone, other cellphone and smartphone operating systems (OS), Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation Portable, and other handheld devices, has named the finalists for its third annual competition, with a host of outstanding portable titles showcased this year.

This year's IGF Mobile marks a record number of entries with 170 titles submitted for the competition, up nearly 65 percent from last year's total, which itself was double over the previous year. The finalists for IGF Mobile will compete for $5,000 in prizes, including specialized awards for art, design, audio, technical prowess, and iPhone game creation, as well as the IGF Mobile Best Game award.

Some of the notable titles nominated for this year's IGF Mobile Awards include iPhone games such as double nominee, Tiger Style's Spider: The Secret Of Bryce Manor, downloadable games for Nintendo's DSi including Powerhead Games' Glow Artisan, and promising titles from a host of worldwide indie developers, from England's Studio FungFung through Finland's Secret Exit and beyond.

This year, overall winners in each category will be announced on Feb. 8, 2010, with the category winners receiving $500 in prizes, a place as an overall IGF Mobile Best Game finalist, and the opportunity to showcase their mobile game at the IGF Pavilion during Game Developers Conference 2010 in San Francisco this March.

In addition, all finalists for 2010's IGF Mobile competition -- whether category winners or not -- will receive one All-Access pass to attend GDC 2010 and attend the multiple mobile-specific Summits there, including the GDC Mobile/Handheld Summit and the iPhone Games Summit. (The IGF Mobile judges have also named three games in each category as 'honorable mentions' which - while not quite making it to become a finalist this year - are commended as some of the most intriguing and high quality independent mobile games of the year.)

The full list of finalists and honorable mentions for the 2010 IGF Mobile competition are:

GameSetLinks: That Earthbound Glory

January 26, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's semi-regular link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

So, while GameSetLinks isn't quite as ubiquitous as it used to be. (Can you believe we used to post it daily?) But there's still some good RSS-trawling results here, starting out with Games Can Teach taking a look at some of those lyrical titles like Daniel Benmergui's that use words and gameplay in intriguing ways.

Also in this round-up, David Edery on where Facebook currently is on the hype and reward curve, as well as Digital Foundry taking another look at OnLive, Emily Short on 'storytelling via roller coaster', and a number of other neat things besides.

Super vision:

Games as Poetry | Games Can Teach
'What do these games have to do with education? Each one is using gameplay, text and visuals to tell a story that has an emotional impact... Creating an interactive experience that sticks with a player should be the goal of any educational game designer.'

Game Tycoon»Blog Archive » Facebook’s Early Glory and Inevitable Misery
'All of these are classic signs that Facebook gaming’s “early glory” phase is in full swing. You may therefore conclude, with 99% certainty, that Facebook as a games platform is likely within a single year’s reach of the “inevitable misery” phase of its lifecycle.'

In Theory: Is this how OnLive works? | DigitalFoundry - Eurogamer
As some commenters note, there is some SLIGHT backtracking here in comments and article on OnLive's feasibility. It's still a tough sell, of course.

Critical Distance | EarthBound
'5 years later most of what is written about EarthBound comes from the same Gen Y, now adults. Their declarations of love often appear in forum threads, comments on blog posts, and other secondary channels.'

Storytelling via roller coaster « Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
'There are people who review theme park rides. Did you know this? I didn’t, until a recent trip to Universal Studios.'

Eurogamer 2009 Scores Analysis
Wow, a third-party did this, and it's got gorgeous graphs all over it.

Fire Hose Games » Words of Wisdom: Mia Consalvo on Western Otaku Culture
'In this talk Mia Consalvo, noted game academic and all around kick-ass individual, delves into why we love Japan when it comes to games.'

Bananas And Back-Flips: Monkey Kong

January 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

For last weekend's Mini Ludum 15 competition (theme: clones of favorite video games), indie developer Mike Meyer created Monkey Kong, an homage not to classic arcade game Donkey Kong but to the portable cult favorite Game Boy Donkey Kong (a.k.a. Donkey Kong '94).

As with the original Game Boy release, Monkey Kong plays within an arcade cabinet border. Other than that, there aren't many similarities between the two. Meyer's Flash game has you controlling a small monkey collecting bananas. There are no enemies to avoid or kidnapped damsels to rescue, and you can beat each stage ("half-stage" might be the more appropriate phrase) in 10-15 seconds.

After a minute or two, the half-stages cycle, so it's a brief diversion. I found, though, that the real fun in this simple game is mastering the back-flip and trying to collect bananas by pulling off as many back-flips as possible. Maybe I'm just easily amused! Anyway, you can watch a timelapse video of Meyers creating all of Monkey Kong's assets and programming the game after the break.

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