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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 May, 2010

Nifflas Releases FiNCK, Level Editor

May 25, 2010 12:00 AM | Eric Caoili

After a slight two week delay to further test and polish the game, indie developer Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren (Knytt) has released his Super Mario Bros. 2-inspired 2D puzzle-platformer FiNCK, short for Fire Nuclear Crocodile Killer.

In FiNCK, you control an unnamed hero who can pick up enemies and blocks, which you can then stack or slide to solve different puzzles. Grabbing different enemies will also give you special abilities, depending on their behavior.

When he first announced the title and posted its trailer last month, Nifflas described FiNCK as "an antithesis to all his previous ambitious projects", providing him a break from his traditional atmosphere-focused games like Knytt and Within A Deep Forest but still being fun to develop and play.

You can grab FiNCK and its level editor for free, and you have the option of buying custom level support for $4 (several levels created by beta testers are already available to download), as well as $3 soundtrack with music from the game that ends properly instead of looping.

[Via IndieGames.com]

Indie Chinese RPG Rainblood Released In English

May 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Three years after its release in China and about half a million downloads from the official site, indie RPG Rainblood: Town of Death is finally available in English! According to developer Soulframe, this release was translated and revised by "several dedicated professional English writers", and also adds new features -- though obviously the entire thing is new to most Western gamers.

Presented with gloomy and gray hand-drawn scenes, Rainblood seeks to tell a "short but complex plot and a dramatic love story with darkness, [set in a] traditional Chinese Martial world but with many weird stuff such as a strange [headless] samurai and machine-like killers." In this context, "Chinese Martial world", refers to a community of martial arts practitioners.

Soulframe describes Rainblood's battles and distinct combat system:

"A battle style in the influence of Gulong's (one of the two most popular martial [novelists] in China) martial arts novels, which describe the core spirit of Chinese martial art – always solo, kill in one slash, and dodge rather than defense. The game also includes many other elements, such as dark gothic style, Japanese samurai, and even B-movie monsters.

Fighting is unique in this game, you can only control one character but the strategies required are even more than usual, for you have to select the right skill in right order, and sometimes have to calculate the rounds a status lasts. But anyhow the balance has been adjusted for years, now it is easy enough for main story but challanging in side quests."

The game's creator is already working on a sequel titled Rainblood 2: City of Flame, which you can watch a trailer for over at our sister site IndieGames.com. You can download a 30-minute trial for the original Rainblood or purchase the PC game for $9.99 here.

Special: It's Demoscene Week at Rhizome!

May 24, 2010 12:00 PM |

[In the latest of an occasional series of demoscene-related posts on GameSetWatch, AteBit's Paul 'EvilPaul' Grenfell points out a noted digital art blog focusing its attentions on the demoscene over the past few days.]

Rhizome, the New Museum, New York affiliated art blog, dedicated last week as demoscene week and have been posting an article a day on the subject - a nice chance to see demos recognized alongside other more avant-garde examples of digital art.

Interestingly, they are not attempting to cover the whole of the scene. Rather, they are concentrating on a few of the less well known areas such as demoscene music and the MSX demoscene.

The articles are not only a nice introduction to the demoscene and its peculiar ways, but they also include the odd gem for old hands like me. I'm glad to say that I've now discovered the particularly bonkers art of "tracker animation", where musicians embed special commands into their tracked music files to produce ascii animations while the songs play.

An example of this completely pointless but ever-so-geek-cool music can be heard (and seen) in the YouTube clip below:

You can check out all of the demoscene tagged articles over at Rhizome right now.

Short Documentary About Pixel Art, Chip Music

May 24, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Animator Simon Cottee (Rule) posted this short but engaging 11-minute documentary examining pixel art and chip music, a must watch video if you have an interest in either fields. In Pixel, Cottee looks at three different aspects of the visual style from the perspectives of Jason Rohrer (Passage, Sleep is Death), animator Joe Brumm (Dan the Man), and chiptune artist Alex "Dot_AY" Yabsley.

As our sister blog IndieGames.com notes, among other points, the film argues that developers are giving players a "warped" version of the past when playing to their sense of nostalgia with clear, blocky images, as the graphics most of us played on blurry televisions were less defined.

"Nostalgia seems to be the initial driving force for many of these artists, the same way that childhood experience plays a large part in any traditional artist's work," says Cottee. "But there seems to be something more to the pixel, an alluring rawness and freedom in its simplicity."

Kenichi Nishi's Real-Time GPS Game

May 24, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Kenichi Nishi has returned to iPhone/iPod Touch development -- his last release on the platform was Newtonica2 in December 2008 -- and of course, his new game is really odd. What do else do you expect from the creative mind behind LOL, L.O.L.: Lack of Love, and Moon?

Geotrion uses the mobile's GPS feature to figure out your location, then challenges you to suck up nearby energy icons and "create triangles with people in worldwide scale in real time." To do that, you need to tap other users on a map and send them a call, then they'll call someone else, which creates a triangle on the map using your three locations.

The goal of the game is to create as big a triangle as possible, enclosing as many energy icons enclosed in that triangle as you can. By zooming out on the map to higher altitudes, you can increase your score with the triangles you form. You can also set up the game to send your triangle accomplishments to Twitter.

Like I said, it's a strange concept and probably not for most people! You can download Geotrion, which was released under a new GameComplex label, from the App Store for $2.99.

[Via Lovedelic Life]

Arkedo Moving To PSN/XBLA, Working On Secret Project

May 24, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Arkedo Studio, the Parisian developer behind such fine products as Big Bang Mini and 03 Pixel!, revealed the next release from its Arkedo Series line of downloadable games will move the brand from Xbox Live Indie Games to XBLA and PSN.

The indie studio previously said the next Arkedo Series release would be 04 Slash!, which was described as a cross between The Legend of Zelda and Geometry Wars. Arkedo has put that project on hold for now, though, as it's working on two other games.

"The only thing I can say is that we are working on 2 'big' things (for us), one of them being Arkedo Series 04 gone wild (it is not Slash! anymore, by the way; we will do it, but later, maybe as 05 or 06)," said CEO and co-founder Camille Guermonprez. "Our current 'former 04' is now going to be a full XBLA/PSN game."

"The other project I am really afraid but we are not allowed to discuss it. It took us years to earn the trust and confidence of such people, we are still amazed that they believe in us, so we will just shut our mouth," he added, according to a report from That VideoGame Blog.

Considering the unique ideas Arkedo tends to come up with, like Big Bang Mini and its cancelled Natal experiment 2-Finger Heroes, I can't wait to learn more about these two other projects.

iPad Arcade With A Cardboard Cabinet Spotted

May 24, 2010 12:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Remember the too-good-to-be-true iPad Arcade Cabinet, the ThinkGeek April Fools' Day prank that everyone desperately wanted to see made real? The concept seemed so simple -- slip the Apple tablet into a miniature cabinet housing, then play games using the machine's joystick and buttons instead of the device's touchscreen.

Something just like that idea popped up at Make: Tokyo Meeting 05, a DIY tech fair held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology last weekend. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to ferret out much information about the cardboard cabinet or the project other than this video shot by Brian Lockwood.

Lockwood explains, "[I] found this booth just before leaving Tokyo Make Meeting 05. Not sure how this was accomplished but the developer seems to have made a joy stick and button firing mechanism for a iPad turning it into a mini video game arcade."

Perhaps it's hooked into one of the nearby laptops somehow? Or maybe the creator has opened up and modified the hardware to make this happen? Again, I have no idea how this works, but it would be great if it's something we could all make at home with just some arcade parts, a bit of cardboard, and some light hacking.

Interview: Gaikai's CTO Talks Technology, Lag, 'Gaikai-Powered' iPad Apps

May 23, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Cloud gaming is starting to get interesting - and Andrew Gault, co-CTO of Gaikai, tells our own Kris Graft how the company's tech will work, why lag shouldn't be an issue, and why "Gaikai-powered" iPad apps would be a "win-win scenario" for Apple and game publishers.]

Gaming on the "cloud" is supposed to solve some of the major problems associated with traditional earthbound methods of gaming. Cloud-based technology is poised to greatly reduce the need for expensive high-end hardware, curb piracy, circumvent the middle-man known as retail and provide greater accessibility to a publisher's titles.

It will give gamers another viable option in how we play and obtain our games. At least that's what industry stalwart David Perry and his group at Gaikai hopes will happen. Along with OnLive, Gaikai is one of the two biggest hopes for cloud-based gaming in the industry today.

Unlike Steve Perlman's OnLive, which launches server-based games through an OnLive portal, Gaikai -- which recently raised $5 million in venture capital -- will launch directly in the user's browser.

A publisher can place an ad on a website for a game, and a user can click on that ad and start playing a game almost immediately, Gaikai says. Game publishers use Gaikai's streaming technology to allow users to play games directly from a publisher's site.

Here, Gaikai's founder and co-CTO Andrew Gault fills us in on that technology, giving a broad overview of how it works and its origins. He also explains how Gaikai could grab a piece of the App Store pie with "Gaikai-powered" apps for individual games that are streamed to an iPad, and how lag won't be an issue.

Gaikai will rely on datacenters -- at launch, how many data centers do you think Gaikai will need? How many would you anticipate having total?

Andrew Gault: Actually, we could launch from just a single server. Of course, that’s not going to happen, but our business model lets us.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 5/22/10

May 23, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day. This time -- an analytical look at the latest video game magazines released in the last couple of weeks.]

Summer is upon us. It's upon me, anyway, with nothing but searing heat and vengeful hurricanes in my future for the next four months, and it can put even the stoutest of men into a severe state of melancholy. It's fortunate that May's apparently the new November when it comes to massive game releases, and between covering all those titles and gassing up the E3 hype machine, game magazines are understandably having a tough time cramming it all into their 100-page books. Click on and watch as they try valiantly:

Edge June 2010


Cover: LittleBigPlanet 2

Game Informer had the first word on LBP2 in this month's issue, but I haven't received it yet (I have a suspicion my subscription expired and I didn't notice) and so I can't comment on it. Edge has always loved this series -- this is the third time LBP's been on the cover, if you count the subscriber edition of the 200th issue -- and the cover piece inside is a new chance for the editors to go all rah-rah on the British game development industry at a time when the general outlook's violently vacillated between rosy and wilted.

The Euro-love continues with preview pieces for games like Limbo and Bulletstorm, but the highlight for me this month lies in all the interviews. Shigeru Miyamoto, John Smedley, and some of the staff behind the original Halo all take fond looks back at their respective careers, and it's all fascinating (if not all that novel). The "remember when" theme of the issue reaches its climax toward the rear, which includes a deep look into -- of all things -- Ground Zero: Texas, a Sega CD full-motion video title that both epitomized the short FMV boom of the early '90s and marked its last hurrah before games like Doom killed it.

Study: Game Developers Increasingly Newcomers To Business

May 22, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Here's some interesting facts from Game Developer Research, as compiled by my colleague Chris Remo - seems like the make-up of the industry is changing, perhaps simply by influx, but nonetheless.]

On average, game industry employees are getting newer to the business, with nearly three quarters claiming six or fewer years of employment, putting a heavier premium on experience.

In data exclusively collected by Gamasutra sister group Game Developer Research, as part of the recently-published 2010 Game Developer Salary Report, it was revealed that 71 percent of game developers have been in the industry for up to six years.

Based on survey responses, 34 percent of developers have been in the industry for up to two years, and 12 percent joined within the last year.

Only 13 percent of developers can claim more than a decade of experience, and only 4 percent have more than 15 years. A mere 1 percent have racked up more than a quarter-century of game development experience.

Those figures correspond to age data collected by Game Developer Research. In this year's study, which is based on data for the calendar year 2009, the percentage of game industry employees 34 years of age or younger increased from 62 percent to 70 percent.

And the 25- to 30-year-old age group was already the biggest cross-section of the industry, but that was even more true this past year, as it grew from 33 percent to 37 percent of developers:

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