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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 April, 2010

Opinion: Be Wary Of The Innovation Bandwagon

April 27, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[The game industry tends to be so obsessed with latching onto the next big innovation that it fails to flesh out -- or improve -- existing game concepts and ideas that are still viable, says Gamasutra's Kris Graft in this new editorial.]

I remember a review back in 2007 that said something to the effect that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the best take yet on archaic gameplay.

It was a backhanded compliment that basically said "Yeah, this is a great game, but it's so linear, so minus one point." Grand Theft Auto taught us that open world is good, so if open world means good, linearity means bad, right?

When Modern Warfare came out, I think people were kind of confused -- "Why do I love this game so much? It's so linear!" Linear was supposed to be old hat, but look, someone did something amazing in a heavily scripted game.

What Modern Warfare did was avoid a pervasive tendency in the games industry to jump onto the next innovation bandwagon, a habit that sees game makers skimping on fleshing out existing concepts, ideas or gameplay styles that still have plenty of life left in them.

It wasn't too long ago when game companies seemed to believe that in order to make an older franchise relevant, they had to make the next installment an open world game.

A lot of these open world games just ended up with a lot of empty space for you to drive, skate or run around in between doing things that were actually fun. So it annoyed me slightly when Tony Hawk and Burnout, for example, got all sandbox on me instead of really focusing on expanding and improving the fun core gameplay. Thanks a lot, GTA.

Funtech Easter Egg In Super A'can Game

April 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Released only in Taiwan in 1995 by Funtech Entertainment Corp, the Super A'can is an obscure 16-bit console that looked very much like a Super NES/Famicom clone but featured its small selection of original titles (the most well known of which is Panda Software's Sango Fighter, a fighting game set during China's Three Kingdoms period, now available to download as a free PC and English release).

While playing one of the A'can's few games, an RPG titled Son of Evil, ASSEMblergames forumer Bramsworth stumbled on a neat Easter Egg that allows players to walk around the offices of Funtech Entertainment, talk to employees, and even learn about projects the team was developing at the time -- three of which never released!

The Easter Egg area shares preview screenshots, some details, and a single music track for each game. The four revealed projects include Journey to the Laugh/C.U.G. (the only game out of the group that made it to stores), a firefighting title called City Escape, a strategy title called Dinosaur Wars (pictured), and a mysterious, cartoonish project called Quick Fighting Attack.

This is one of the coolest video game Easter Eggs I've ever heard about! You can see screenshots for the games described above in this ASSEMblergames forum thread.

Finally, Tow Truck Simulator 2010

April 26, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If driving a tow truck in Grand Theft Auto left you wishing for a full tow truck game experience in an open 3D world, there's no need to use up your wish the next time you blow out your birthday cake candles; Astragon, the same German developer behind classic titles like Crane Simulator and Forklift Truck Simulator, has created Tow Truck Simulator 2010.

In Tow Truck Simulator 2010, you drive around the city in four different tow trucks, taking away improperly parked cars, abandoned vehicles, and automobiles damaged in accidents. In addition to offering a dynamic mission generator and a "modding-friendly" structure, the game allows you to play missions in Driving Simulator's world if you have a copy of that Astragon release.

While the game is already available in Europe (coming to the UK at the end of the month courtesy of Excalibur Publishing), no North American publisher has announced plans to bring the game Stateside. So, maybe you'll have to use that birthday wish after all.

Here's a funny clip of a towing mission gone wrong in the game:

2010 GDC Canada Adds Dragon Age, Entis, Other Notable Talks

April 26, 2010 1:00 PM | Simon Carless

[A near-final reminder to our friends in Canada that our colleagues' GDC Canada event is going off really rather soon now, if you want to go check it out - sounds like fun for the parties alone, actually.]

As GDC Canada nears, organizers have added key lectures for the May 6th-7th Vancouver event, including a BioWare duo on Dragon Age and former EA exec and current VC Glenn Entis on funding for game developers.

These confirmations come on the heels of already-announced emerging market lectures from Zynga and Diner Dash creator Nick Fortugno, and other recently debuted talks from Obsidian, Blizzard, Telltale, and Blue Castle Games execs and creators.

The new set of lectures round out a major program of events at the Vancouver, Canada-based show which include lectures on console and emerging markets. Some of the top new talks include:

- 'Bringing Dragon Age to Life - Digital Actors in an Epic RPG' features BioWare's lead animator Clove Roy and lead character artist Shane Hawco who will "provide an in-depth look in how to tell a huge complex story through an interactive narrative, complete with hundreds of emotionally engaging digital actors" for the Canadian-developed hit title Dragon Age: Origins.

- In 'Funding for Game Developers - Do's and Don'ts', Vanedge Capital co-founder Glenn Entis, formerly CTO of Electronic Arts and now running a game-focused VC fund, will give "an overview of what it takes to fund a young company or game development studio."

Interview: Loren Schmidt On Star Guard's Retro Charm

April 26, 2010 12:00 PM |

[In this interview for GameSetWatch conducted by Andrew Vanden Bossche, we talk to Loren Schmidt to satisfy our curiosity on his beautifully constructed, pixel-heavy PC/Mac freeware action game Star Guard, finding out just how its 1982-era lookalike retro charm was birthed.]

Loren Schmidt (Sparky) is the creator of Star Guard, an indie retro-style platformer for PC and Mac. It was released for freeware download in October 2009, and was a finalist for the 2010 Independent Games Festival in the category of Excellence In Design.

He is currently working on a turn based dungeon crawler called Tiny Crawl and a lighthearted side project called Tin Can Knight. In this interview, we caught up with Schmidt and quizzed him about the design and story of Star Guard, his future projects, and his childhood doodling monsters.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got into game design.

Let's see... I never had any consoles as a child, and my family didn't get a computer until I was 9 or so. Even then, my exposure to video games was limited. I spent much of my childhood making up board games. I also loved mazes. I remember that once in first grade my friends and I made a giant maze together. We taped together big sheets of butcher paper, and spent days' worth of recess in the library, filling them with little squiggly lines and drawing monsters in the dead ends.

You aren't allowed to back out of a dead end once you get there, you have to let the monster eat you :)

Best Of GamerBytes - It's Time To Make Some CRAZY Money, Are Ya Ready?

April 26, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

crazytaxilogo.png[We round up the week's top news and interviews from sister console digital download site GamerBytes, featuring new information about Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, DSiWare and PSN Minis.]

It's been a week of announcements and leaks here -- Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 and Unbound Saga are now coming to digital platforms, plus we also got our first under the radar looks at Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure coming to the Xbox Live Arcade.

We also released our monthly analysis of the PlayStation Network in North America -- we check the PSN Leaderboards to see what's selling and what's not catching on. It's more limited than our XBLA analysis, but it's the best we can do to help upcoming developers understand the platform, given available data.

GamerBytes Originals

In-Depth: North American Playstation Network Sales, March 2010

Store Updates

XBLA Update - After Burner: Climax, Puzzle Chronicles
NA PSN Store Update - Monkey Island SE, After Burner Climax, Puzzle Chronicles And More
EU PSN Store Update - Lead & Gold, After Burner Climax, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess! And More
NA Nintendo Update - Mega Man 4, Game & Watch Games And More
EU Nintendo Update - Earthworm Jim DSiWare, Flipper, Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures And More

Microsoft (Xbox Live Arcade, XBL Indies)

Leaked Footage - Sonic Adventure DX (Sega)
Watch out! You're gonna crash! Ahh!

Crazy Taxi Coming To XBLA?
Yo yo yo, you need a ride?

WarioWare D.I.Y. Demoscene

April 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Here's an unexpected but awesome use of WarioWare D.I.Y.'s create-your-own-microgame toolset: demoscene-style presentations! Anna "Auntie Pixelante" Anthropy (Redder, Mighty Jill Off), created this demo text scroll, complete with gradients, bouncing words, and a segmented snake as a shout-out to Klik of the Month Klub organizer Glorious Trainwrecks.

As for what other indie developers are doing with WarioWare D.I.Y., Team Meat's Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy) and Gaijin Games's Alex Neuse (Bit.Trip series) have both created microgames for the downloadable "Big Name Games" section, just like the D.I.Y. projects posted by Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya and 2D Boy's Ron Carmel. You can see the two microgames below:

Street Fighter IV iPhone Ad Concept

April 26, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Australian artist Kode Abdo created these slick "Take The Fight To The Street" concept ads for the iPhone edition of Street Fighter IV -- I wish he created versions for the fighting game's entire cast and not just for Ryu and Akuma!

The simple presentation of these pieces are very different from the busy ads Capcom used for Super Street Fighter IV, but something like this to promote the App Store release would have been great.

Abdo has a lot of other great artwork of Street Fighter IV characters like Sagat, Juri, and Crimson Viper in his online portfolio, which I've included after the break:

FiNCK: Nifflas Reveals Super Mario Bros. 2-inspired Game

April 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Knytt developer Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren revealed his next project over the weekend: FiNCK (Fire Nuclear Crocodile Killer), a 2D PC platformer inspired by Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo's peculiar redesign of Doki Doki Panic for the West. Nifflas says he loved the odd game as a child.

"Developed as an antithesis to all my previous ambitious projects that [means] a lot to me, FiNCK was developed quickly, contains no story, even its title makes no sense," explains Nifflas. "FiNCK was basically meant to be really fun to develop, as well as really fun to play."

He plans to release FiNCK on May 12th and an online level database about a month afterward. The database will allow gamers to upload levels for Knytt Stories, The Mushroom Engine, Saira, and FiNCK, as well as stages for his future titles.

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

April 26, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Putting together stories from the rest of the Gamasutra network, here's the top full-length features of the past week on big sister 'art and business of gaming' site Gamasutra, plus the new GameCareerGuide pieces that debuted last week.

There's a couple of neat interviews in here, including a rare chat to Metroid creator Yoshio Sakamoto and a look at progress on Deus Ex 3 with its art director, plus a smart design piece by Lara Croft creator Toby Gard, discussion on tutorials for social games, our regular in-depth NPD analysis, plus some new education-specific pieces.

Here we go:

The Elegance Of Metroid: Yoshio Sakamoto Speaks
"Nintendo's main man behind the Metroid series talks about what he feels is the core of its enduring popularity, the collaboration with Team Ninja on Other M, and how storytelling plays a role in games."

From Research To Games: Interacting With 3D Space
"While 3D interfaces are just taking off for consumers, years of research have been poured into the field. Dr. Joe LaViola of the University of Central Florida shares detailed academic findings about building useful and fun ways to interact with games."

First Five Minutes: How Tutorials Make or Break Your Social Game
"Digital Chocolate's lead social designer discusses the complexities of attracting social gamers with little patience -- and still teaching them to play your game both effectively and appealingly."

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