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Archive For March, 2010

Interview: Markus 'Notch' Persson On The Making Of Minecraft

March 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Swedish indie game developer Markus "Notch” Persson has been talking to GSW contributor Alex Handy about the creation of his "sandbox building game" Minecraft, inspiration from Roguelikes and growing up a programmer - neat stuff.]

Minecraft is an interesting case when it comes to indie games. Based on the ideas of another indie game, Infiminer, Minecraft is the product of Swedish developer, Markus "Notch” Persson. His game is currently available to play for free at www.minecraft.net and players have congregated to the multiplayer side of the game, where users can build and destroy cubes of varying colors.

But the core of Minecraft is its /indev/ version: the alpha form of the game that is currently only playable by those who pay the $13 early-bird fee. Notch’s plan is to introduce new ideas and features in /indev/ to those who have paid, then roll out previous versions for free.

Currently, /indev/ consists solely of a survival mode which requires players to mine ore, coal and stone, farm trees and food, and generally prepare their starting hovel for the dangerous zombies and skeletons that arrive at night. It’s a surprisingly deep experience that the folks at 4Chan have taken a liking to.

Today, Notch has over 6000 paying players and many more who play for free online. We caught up with him and administered a lengthy interview:

Free FightStick Keychains At PAX East, Mad Catz Sale

March 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

PAX East attendees will have a chance to receive a free Mad Catz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition keychain, which hides a 3mm hex key, perfect for modding one of Mad Catz's real Tournament Edition arcade stick.

All you need to do is locate Mark “MarkMan” Julio (pictured), Mad Catz's associate product manager and designer of the company's revered sticks, at the Boston expo. You'll like spot him showing off Mad Catz's new Super Street Fighter IV and Rock Band products. Keep in mind he only has 100 keychains, so find him quick!

Mad Catz is also running an online promotion this weekend where you can get 20% off Super Street Fighter IV FightStick Tournament Edition sticks and Fightpads (coupon code: "SUPERPAX"), and 30% off the company's Street Fighter IV, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, and Tatsunoko Vs Capcom Fightsticks and Fightpads (coupon code: "PAXEAST").

BlindGirl Finds Her Way To XBLIG

March 26, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

UK-based developer GLPeas (Carcophony) has put out BlindGirl, its latest Xbox Live Indie Games release, a puzzle adventure title with a wave propagation feature that promises to provide "unique, discovery and exploration-themed gameplay."

Players lead a blind girl through a dark maze; as she walks, she creates sounds, which create waves that reveal her surroundings. The wave propagation system is simulated with fluid simulation, using ideas like reflection, refraction, and interference to show what's around the girl with each sound she makes.

The game also offers a Color Blindness simulation mode designed to let players experience the game from the point of view of someone with color blindness. All three types of color blindness are represented in the mode: Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia.

You can purchase BlindGirl now for 80 MS points. GLPeas is also offering a free trial for download.

Rohrer's DSi-enhanced Diamond Trust Releasing This Summer

March 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Majesco announced that Diamond Trust of London, its Nintendo DS game designed by acclaimed indie designer Jason Rohrer (Passage, Between), will release this summer and will include a special feature for Nintendo DSi owners that uses the system's camera.

Looking to expose "the cutthroat nature of the diamond trade", Rohrer's title is an eight-round, two-player strategy title in which gamers take control of two underground companies and battle to strip Angola of is valuable diamonds before the United Nation begins regulating their sale.

Its a game full of deceit: "Players will engage in subversions such as bribery, salary wars and clandestine diamond bids to gain the upper hand. They must be wary, however, as agents can be bribed -- and counter-bribed -- to the point where no one can be trusted."

Diamond Trust of London allows gamers to play against an AI or another local player wirelessly (no online support). The DSi camera apparently "adds another layer to bribery as players snap pictures of opponents or engage in facial bluffing as they spy on competitors".

GameStop is currently taking preorders for Diamond Trust of London.

This Week In Video Game Criticism: The Kojima Konundrum

March 26, 2010 12:00 AM |

[We're partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance to present some of the week's most inspiring writing about the art and design of video games from commentators worldwide. This week, Ben Abraham checks out design and thematic discussions featuring Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 4, plus Heavy Rain and a Valve/Marvel comparison.]

Well, I’m back from my Game Developers Conference 2010 sojourn in San Francisco -- so let's see what the critical games blogosphere have been writing about this week.

Alec Meer writes about playing games as a lefty in ‘Southpaw Tales’. A left handed friend of mine once surprised me by, gasp, actually using his left hand on the mouse, and it was somewhat of a revelation at the time. Those of us relatively un-impacted by the right-ist hegemony would do well to pay attention to Meer’s tale.

Elsewhere, Annie Wright at Gamer Melodico writes about ‘The Zelda Method Revisited’ -- which is essentially applying a game-like imaginary goal structure to your day.

James Dilks at No Added Sugar says that Dante’s Inferno is actually a good example of how to do a game adaption of a literary work, noting: "Settings are the most immediately transferable part of written fiction, and Visceral show that perhaps they’re the most important factor when choosing a title to adapt."

The author of the Interactive Illuminatus blog has words about the Jesse Schell DICE lecture - of course, not the first we've featured in recent weeks. It’s the talk that keeps on talking.

Zombie Street Fighter IV

March 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

With the zombie virus spreading rapidly through nearly every video game genres -- first-person shooters, action games, puzzlers, typing trainers, etc. -- proving especially aggressive on Capcom franchises (Ghosts 'n Goblins, Resident Evil, and Dead Rising), it's unsurprising to find the cast of Super Street Fighter IV infected.

Artist Manuel "Hell Factory" Moura created zombie-fied versions of Cammy, Akuma, Ryu, Blanka, Sagat, and Ibuki as part of a mash-up series of pieces between Street Fighter and Resident Evil. The undead version of Blanka is particularly scary, as he now has one of those gruesome tongues you'll recognize from Left 4 Dead's Smokers.

Which Capcom video game series will fall victim to this dreadful plague next? Mega Man? Viewtiful Joe? Lost Planet? Oh God, has anyone seen Little Nemo around lately?

GDC Vault Debuts Free Videos, Slides From GDC 2010

March 25, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Continuing the post-GDC rush, here's info on the debut of GDC Vault, which we'll be using to roll out a tonne of free video recordings of GDC lectures throughout this year. The first set includes the super-neat Artgame Sessions alongside other handy slides and lectures.]

Game Developers Conference 2010 organizers have revealed plans for the GDC Vault, including free videos featuring Zynga, Ernest Adams and more, and regular free updates planned throughout the year.

The newly launched GDC Vault website is designed to hold free speaker slides from all GDC events, as well as specially synchronized video recordings of Game Developers Conference lectures and historical audio recordings.

The GDC Vault video technology allows users to simultaneously view a presenter's slides alongside video and audio of their presentation.

As an initial offering, the GDC Vault free videos section has made the 5 Expo Pass-included GDC 2010 sessions available for completely free viewing.

Free GDC 2010 Lecture Recordings

Free videos debuted thus far include the following notable hour-long GDC 2010 lectures, all available permanently online:

- 'Engineering Scalable Social Games' by Dr. Robert Zubek of Zynga, a programming talk in which the veteran developer "introduces best practices for building highly scalable infrastructure for social and web games" from the viewpoint of the Farmville creators.

Nigoro Updates La Mulana Progress With New Video

March 25, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Now that Cave Story's WiiWare remake is out (albeit with audio issues and other bugs), we have room in our hearts to get excited about Nicalis's other projects, like Nigoro's own WiiWare remake of cult favorite platformer La Mulana.

The small Japanese studio posted this new video of its progress on the game so far, which features new graphics, areas, gameplay modes, special effects, and other content not seen in the original 2005 PC game. All of that is built on top of a new custom engine built specifically for the game.

Though Nigoro isn't yet in the final stages of development for the La Mulana remake, the team says "the time to decide a launch date draws near." For now, the studio plans to increase the game's exposure with more interviews, releases of game assets, and updates to La Mulana's official site.

Special: Handicapping The 8th Annual Scene.org Awards

March 25, 2010 12:00 PM |

-[In the latest of an occasional series of demoscene-related posts on GameSetWatch, AteBit's Paul 'EvilPaul' Grenfell looks at the finalists for the Oscars of the demo-scene - this year's Scene.org Awards nominees.]

It's that time of year when the annual Scene.org awards nominees are announced. These awards will be presented to the winners at the prize-giving ceremony to be held during the German demoparty Breakpoint, in Apil. The winners will even get little bronze statues. Yes, that's right, this really is the demoscene's equivalent of the Oscars!

A lot of the nominees will already be familiar to keen GameSetWatch readers, because you'll have seen them mentioned in my "The Best of the 2009 Demoscene" series of articles. So I'm not going to waste your time by just giving you inline video links to all of the nominees again. Instead, I'm going to stick my neck out and make a few predictions!

Best Demo
I think we'll see Fairlight and ASD slogging it out a lot in this year's awards, and this category is their first battleground - I expect the award to go to either Fairlight's Frameranger or ASD's Rupture. Force me into a corner and I'll plump for Frameranger.

Best Demo on an Oldschool Platform
There's a really strong line-up in this particular category, and you could certainly argue the case for any of them to be the rightful winner. But I suspect this award will go to Booze Design and Instinct's C64 demo, Androplis because it's packed full of hardcore technical effects -- as well as great graphics and music. It's also worth pointing out that a C64 demo has won this award every single year since the category was first introduced in 2005.

A Peek At Platinum Games's Office

March 25, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In honor of Infinite Space's release in Europe tomorrow, Japanese studio Platinum Games (Bayonetta, MadWorld) has set up a live webcam in its office. Right now, the camera is focused on a print ad, but I suspect we'll see more interesting sights soon. The company's site has clips from previous captured updates marking other events, too.

Platinum Games's involvement in Infinite Space's development is minimal, from what I understand, as the company's co-founder and former Clover CEO Atsushi Inaba served as producer on the project, but Nude Maker (Steel Batallion) handled most of the sci-fi RPG's development.

I imagine that Sega, which is publishing Infinite Space across all territories (released in the U.S. last week), thought a Platinum Games livestream would be best, as announcing a Nude Maker webcam would probably attract the wrong kind of audience.

[Via Sega Europe]

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