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Archive For April, 2010

Interview: Revolution's Cecil On A Career Of Storytelling

April 29, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Charles Cecil, the adventure game legend behind the acclaimed Broken Sword and Beneath a Steel Sky, talks to GSW columnist Lewis Denby about his 30 years as a storyteller, his work on the new Doctor Who video game series, and how "point-and-click isn't broken."]

Charles Cecil's influence in the games industry as a storyteller is longstanding. He's the founder and managing director of UK-based Revolution Software, with credits that include Beneath a Steel Sky and the Broken Sword game series -- two highly admired and acclaimed properties in the adventure game genre.

He's also just announced that he's working with the BBC and Sumo Digital on a series of videogame adaptations of the TV series Doctor Who.

Cecil has been making games for 30 years, hugely acclaimed ones for 20. He's clearly confident in his abilities as a designer, and has a lot to be proud of -- but there are times when he sounds as if he can still barely believe he's actually doing this.

Here, we find out about his relationship with the adventure genre, as well as his new Doctor Who game series, the opportunities of independent development, and the Minesweeper-based game he revealed, then went silent about, last year.

What is it that's attracted you to the adventure genre? Because you've basically built a whole career out of it…

Charles Cecil: I think that the whole idea of interactive narrative from a creative perspective, from a theoretical perspective, is actually fascinating. What we are doing is obviously pioneering a totally new form of entertainment, in the way that, if you think of other entertainment media -- television has a lot more to do with film, and obviously books and plays -- we have something quite extraordinary. And what I find fascinating is that while there are clearly huge opportunities, there are also great constraints.

Noby Noby Boy OST Stretches Out To iTunes

April 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If the Noby Noby Boy app doesn't completely satisfy your need to carry Keita Takahashi's bizarre game with you wherever you go, Namco Bandai has come up with another way for the stretchy figure to live in your iPhone/iPod Touch; it's released a digital-only (for now, at least) soundtrack for the game on iTunes!

The OST offers 34 tracks, so you'll probably want to spend $11.99 buying the entire album instead of purchasing each song for $0.99 cents each. Plus, if you buy the full album, you'll also receive an extra song ("Noby Noby Machine Acid Eutron #000"), a promotion movie, and a digital booklet.

[Via Nobuooo]

Flashbang Kills Raptor Safari HD, Shifts Business Plans Again

April 29, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

After more than five months of work on the project, the release of a development build last February, and a recent reboot for the game's art style (see above image), indie developer Flashhbang Studios announced that it's suspended development on the HD sequel to Off-Road Velociraptor Safari, with no plans to resume in the forseeable future.

Revealed in November 2009, Off-Road Velociraptor Safari HD was meant to include new modes and missions, an art overhaul that promised to "push the game into the next-gen category", and more. The studio altered its "HD" plans shortly after GDC, though, as it hoped to "create a look that relied less on raw production man-hours and more on style."

As for why the company is stepping away from the game after investing nearly half a year into it, founder Matthew Wegner offers several reasons, like the project feeling "muddy": "It isn’t blindingly obvious where to take it yet. I can blame this on tactical errors I have made, in terms of where I placed our priorities and where I spent my time, but the end result is still a lack of clarity."

"And finding that clarity is a very taxing job; we’re just too burnt out to make it happen," he adds. "When I imagine a year of Raptor Safari development, I feel drained, and when I image a year of something else I feel energized. The rest of the team feels the same way, so our choice was clear."

Competition: Upload Your Resume To Gamasutra, Win A DSi

April 29, 2010 7:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Just a note for any GameSetWatch readers in the game biz who don't have their resume uploaded to our sister site Gamasutra - it's a fairly painless process, and you may now also get a Nintendo DSi out of it, as an ambient bonus. Info below...]

Gamasutra is announcing a new monthly competition for job-seekers, with a Nintendo DSi up for grabs to a randomly-chosen game creator who uploads their resume/CV into the site's market-leading resume database.

The leading site on the art and business of games already has hundred of advertised jobs monthly jobs in programming, art, design, production and more, from top industry companies.

But searching a database of video game job candidates -- already actively used on Gamasutra by major publishers and developers like Microsoft, Activision, Sony, Ubisoft, Gazillion, Blizzard, and THQ -- is becoming an equally way of finding new employees at top studios. becoming a much more popular way of finding new employees at top studios.

Now, any Gamasutra jobseeker who logs on to the Job Seeker part of Gamasutra's jobs section and fills in or updates a resume in the 'My Resume Manager' section will be eligible for a random drawing to be held monthly.

Starting on May 31st and occurring at the end of the calendar month thereafter, one random developer who has updated or uploaded their resume in either 'public to searchers' or 'anonymous' formats in the last competition period will win a new Nintendo DSi handheld, thanks to Gamasutra.

Along the way, entrants can sign up for a service that should significantly increase their chances of being called on by some of the game industry's leading companies.

[COMPETITION NOTES: One entry per person. Winner will be contacted privately via email. Monthly prize is one U.S.-purchased Nintendo DSi which will be sent to winner's location, whether inside or outside North America.]

Messhof Whips Out Raging Hadron For No Quarter

April 29, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Indie game designer Mark "messhof" Essen (Cream Wolf, Flywrench) last night revealed this trailer for Raging Hadron, a new two-player competitive game that "combines swashbuckling swordplay with 8-bit psychedelia".

The NYU Game Center commissioned Raging Hadron and will show it off, along with three other titles, at No Quarter, an upcoming exhibit featuring games that look to "explore the possibilities for social play in real-world environments" and "imagine a new arcade that generates complex, surprising, and playful interactions in the public setting of a gallery space".

No Quarter will kick off on May 6th with an opening reception, where attendees can play the commissioned games and meet their creators (and also partake in food/wine). The NYU Game center will leave the games on display in its Game Center lobby until June 4th.

Other projects to be featured at the exhibit include Deep Sea, an audio-only game about "the terrors of deep sea diving" by Robin Arnott; Recurse, a "manic game of twisting bodies, quick reactions, and physical feedback" by Matt Parker; and 16 tons, a four-player strategy and negotiation game by Eric Zimmerman and Nathalie Pozzi.

[Via @messhof]

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Darn Those Kick Ass Tumblin' MotorStorm Monkeys

April 29, 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 looks at the movie Kick Ass, those Tumblin' Monkeys, and MotorStorm's mud.]

First up, Daniel Floyd, he of the funny voice filter, presents part 8 of his video lecture series on games. This one is about ‘Video Games and Moral Choices’, apparently, and was co-written with game designer James Portnow.

Simon Cottee played a game of Sleep is Death. That in itself is not extraordinary, but he turned it into a short film called ‘Rule’, which is rather extraordinary.

BoingBoing ran a piece this week called ‘Chimerical Avatars and Other Identity Experiments from Prof. Fox Harrell’. The key point of the study being that, “Much more is at stake than just fun and games. Prejudice, bias, stereotyping, and stigma are built not only into many games, but other forms of identity representations in social networks, virtual worlds, and more. These have real world effects on how we see ourselves and each other.”

Elsewhere, Kirk Hamilton at Gamer Melodico wrote down some in-game quotes from Splinter Cell: Conviction this week and finds that quotes removed from their context can give one a very different impression of what kind of a game it is.

Tanner Higgin this week wrote about ‘Kick Ass and the Ethics of Gameplay’ for his blog Gaming the System: "This ethical confusion, wherein audiences misread a film by applying gamic logics to film, demonstrate the desperate need for better videogame literacies that teach viewers how to interpret and understand games."

Lucky Star x Street Fighter Nendoroid Figures

April 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Fans of both Street Fighter and popular Japanese manga/anime series Lucky Star can finally see their two loves combined in figure form with a new set of chibi Nendoroid toys for the comedy franchise, releasing this August courtesy of Good Smile Company (preorders already open at some import shops)

The set comes with four prepainted figures of the show's cast, each around 2-3 inches tall and represented with a Street Fighter outfit: Konata Izumi as Guile, Kagami Hiiragi as Ryu, Tsukasa Hiiragi as Ken, and Miyuki Takara Crimson Viper. All of the figures have some points of articulation that allow you to post them in special moves (e.g. Flash Kick, Dragon Punch)!

This might seem like a strange mix of brands to people unfamiliar with the show, but Lucky Star has a history with the fighting game. After the break, you can see an excerpt from the show about how two of the program's characters met, with a special cameo from a Street Fighter "foreigner":

RIP Squad: Midway's Last Coin-Op Project

April 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

When Midway closed its coin-op division back in 2001, the company cancelled several arcade projects it had in development, one of which was RIP Squad: Raids Against the Reich, an on-rails shooter with a 360 view and a mounted gun designed to simulate a .50 caliber machine gun.

While the game was far from complete -- needing 12-14 more months of development -- and mostly unknown to the general public, Arcade Heroes was able to shoot some footage of the last surviving RIP Squad prototype and interview former Midway Chicago employee Scott Pikulski (now at Play Mechanix) about his work on the arcade game.

He explains the RIP Squad's premise: "You are a member of RIP Squad. This was a small team of elite soldiers [whose] mission was to infiltrate the enemy and carry out specific missions. The weapon of choice was the 50 .cal machine gun. RIP squad stood for relentless independent and proud, it also meant these guys were on the edge with one foot in the grave."

You can watch more videos of the cancelled project and read excerpts from an interview with Pikulski at Arcade Heroes's site.

In-Depth: Inside The Eerie Fiction Of The Devil's Tuning Fork

April 28, 2010 12:00 PM |

[Checking out student game and IGF Student Showcase winner The Devil's Tuning Fork, Andrew Vanden Bossche examines its unique echolocation mechanic in conversation with the development team.]

After seeing videos of The Devil's Tuning Fork, I was worried that the floor of PAX East would be too noisy to check out the game. Fortunately, they were as far from Rockstar's hip hop blaring booth as possible and provided headphones. It was the same sort of circumstances I had watched the video in, which allowed its slow pace and moody atmosphere showed through.

The Devil's Tuning Fork is a first person puzzle game, not unlike Portal in genre. Gameplay consists of standard puzzle-platformy type things combined with a core mechanic that revolves around the fact that the world is completely dark until illuminated with sound waves.

Clicking the mouse creates a pulse that travels through the surfaces of the game world and lights them up. The solitary tones, dark world, and creepy background voices create a very eerie experience.

Glow Artisan, Fort90Zine #3 At Babycastles This Saturday

April 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

New York City's indie games arcade Babycastles, whose opening we covered in our Blip Fest 2009 report last December, is throwing another must-attend event for indie gaming/chiptimes enthusiasts this Saturday with developer talks, playable games, and musical performances.

Ramiro Corbetta, lead designer at NYC-based developer Powerhead, will deliver a talk about DSiWare gem Glow Artisan, which you might remember won the Best Mobile Game Design award at this year's Independent Games Festival. Even after taking home that prize, this puzzler still isn't receiving the attention it deserves, so download a copy of it for your DSi and make plans to congratulate Corbetta on creating such a sweet game!

GameSetWatch contributor and ex-Ubisoft Matthew "Fort90" Hawkins is scheduled to give a presentation and will bring copies of Fort90Zine #3, the latest issue of his video games zine with a foreword by Life Meter's Dave Roman, a pin-up by Hilary Florido, an article about an odd non-game import from yours truly, and more. Hawkins is also bringing his classic and very NSFW game JizzMoppa for attendees to play.

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