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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 June, 2010

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of June 25

June 25, 2010 1:25 PM | Chris Remo

In a notable week for new job postings, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles across the world and in every major discipline, including opportunities at 38 Studios, BioWare Austin, and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

38 Studios: Audio Engineer
"38 Studios, a media and entertainment company founded in 2006 by Curt Schilling, is in pre-production on an original fantasy IP driven by the creative and artistic visions of pop-culture icons R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane.

Entertainment products will include an immersive online entertainment experience that transcends the traditional MMO genre, novels, comics, toys, movies, TV, and more. Based in Maynard, Massachusetts, the studio is a fun, energetic place to work, where the company mantra, "How cool would it be if . . . ?" infuses the team with a commitment to passion, integrity, and innovation."

BioWare Austin: Director of Studio Operations
"BioWare’s games have continually achieved critical and commercial success. All of our published titles are in the top 5% highest rated at www.gamerankings.com; in fact we have 6 games in the top 1% highest rated games of all time! Today BioWare has more than 400 staff at its two locations and continues to grow. We have sold over 20 million games (including engine licenses) in the past ten years!

BioWare Austin is located in the vibrant city of Austin, Texas. What better balance can a city offer than being both the 'Best Place for Business and Careers' and the 'Live Music Capital of the World'? Austin pleases all in rankings ranging from 'Best City for Relocating Families' to 'Best Cities for Singles'. Other assessments consistently recognize the region as among the most inventive, creative, wired, rockin', educated, fit and loved."

Interview: Take-Two Aims For One New IP Per Year, But High Quality Needs 'Ample Time'

June 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Addressing common questions about its strategy, Take-Two VP Alan Lewis tells our own Leigh Alexander that Rockstar's much GSW-discussed Red Dead Redemption was worth its delay time, and explains the company's title diversification plans.]

At Take-Two, being asked continually by investors, analysts, media and fans alike when the next Grand Theft Auto game is coming out is a regular occurrence -- and corporate communications VP Alan Lewis says he can't blame them.

In fact, he tells us, he'd probably ask the same question, were he on the outside looking in. But so successful is the highly-valued franchise that it's driven what he says are "misconceptions" about the company -- chief among them is the idea that the publisher truly only has the potential to profit in a GTA year.

The company in fact has several strong properties -- according to Lewis, Take-Two publishes 17 franchises that have sold over 1 million units, and eight franchises that have sold over 5 million units.

Beyond GTA, the company's studios have made multiple titles that many critics agree have been groundbreaking, from the BioShock franchise to its latest success, Red Dead Redemption, which recently shipped 5 million units.

Nintendo Donates DSes For Super Chip Tune Samba Band

June 25, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Earlier this month, we spotlighted the efforts of chiptune artist Matthew "Pixelh8" Applegate as he brought kids together to play music on their Nintendo DSes with a touchscreen drum application he created for the handheld. Applegate hoped to involve more kids in a marching samba band, and asked others to donate their "half battered old Nintendo DSes" for the program.

Nintendo took notice of the "Super Chip Tune Samba Band" project and has agreed to provide the musician with systems, according to a report from GeekDad. With that contribution and an earlier donation of several Marshall MS-4 Micro Amps from Marshall Amplification, the band should soon have everything it needs to put on an impressive performance!

While Nintendo obviously wants to help kids get interested in music through its portable systems, it's interesting that they're supporting a program that likely uses flashcarts to run the custom drumming software -- devices that the company has previously called "illegal game copiers" and worked hard to prevent the sale of.

Applegate plans to hod the first Ipswich "Super Chip Tune Samba Band" performance at Ipswich Music Day (in Suffolk, England) on July 4th. He invites children aged over 7 years old and their families to gather for a workshop/rehearsal on July 2nd.

Tricktale Unleashing Vampire Rage On XBLIG

June 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

UK-based developed Tricktale plans release a new vertical-scrolling shoot'em up that has you on "a rage-fueled quest to seek vengeance for the death of a loved one". Slated for Xbox Live Indie Games, Vampire Rage features co-op play and a neat, Radiant Silvergun-esque sword system that lets you send shots back at enemies.

Though this trailer says Vampire Rage is already out, it isn't available just yet, as Tricktale found a few bugs it needs to address. The team plans to put out the game for only 80 Microsoft Points, and also intend to release Vampire Rage for PC sometime afterward.

With The Twilight Saga: Eclipse releasing to theaters soon, now seems like a great time for a vampire-themed shoot'em up! Well, it almost seems like a it would be a great tie-in, but I have a hard time imagining Twilight fans also having a weakness for shmups...

[Via Shmups.System11.org]

GDC Online Awards Remind On Call For Nominations

June 25, 2010 7:00 AM | Simon Carless

Organizers of the Game Developers Choice Online Awards at GDC Online in Austin this October are reminding that nominations for the awards -- honoring the best MMOs and social games -- are only open until June 30th.

The first-ever awards ceremony, being held at GDC Online (formerly GDC Austin), will honor the accomplishments of the sometimes overlooked creators and operators of persistent online video games -- from large-scale MMOs through free-to-play titles to social network games. The awards span excellence in live services, technology, game updates, online game design, and more.

In addition, two special awards will honor outstanding individuals and games in the space, with the Online Game Legend Award being given to a person who’s changed the world of online games forever, and one particular all-time classic online game being inducted into the GDC Online Awards’ Hall Of Fame.

After award finalists are announced, the worldwide community of online game players will also have the opportunity to designate their favorite online game in the Audience Award category.

Nominations are now open, and game professionals with free Gamasutra.com user accounts can put forward their favorite online games for the awards. The GDC Online Awards are a sister event to the Game Developers Choice Awards which take place at GDC San Francisco every year.

The award categories and this year’s Special Award winners will be determined by the GDC Online Advisory Board. This group includes notables like BioWare Austin’s Gordon Walton, Metaplace’s Raph Koster, Playfish’s Sebastien De Halleux, and Nexon’s Min Kim.

Winners for the Game Developers Choice Online Awards will be selected by a specially selected subset of the International Choice Awards Network (ICAN). This is the same group of over 500 handpicked leading industry creators that pick the Game Developers Choice Awards winners at GDC in San Francisco every year.

The full list of categories for the first annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards (part of the UBM Techweb Game Network, as is this website) include:

New Virtual-On MBV-04-G "Temjin" Figure Revealed

June 25, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Bandai and online shop Tamashii has revealed the next figure for its Composite Ver.Ka line of robot figures supervised by celebrated mecha designer Hajime Katoki: the iconic MBV-04-G "Temjin" from Sega's original Cyber Troopers Virtual-On, priced at ¥5,040 ($56) and scheduled to release in Japan this October.

From Wikipedia's description of the MBV-04-G "Temjin":

"The first of the two original Virtuaroids, the Temjin is a well-balanced VR that serves as the architecture basis of all Virtuaroids. It is well equipped for long-, mid-, and close-range combat; a pair of fold-out boosters installed underneath its V-converter aids in both speed and aerial combat.

When the Temjin was first designed, its concept included a railgun for combat, which proved to be too cumbersome, and ill-suited for melee combat. Eventually, it was retooled to use a Multipurpose Beam Launcher, or M.P.B.L., a weapon capable of acting both as a rifle and an energy sword."

Mecha Damashii points out that in addition to its M.P.B.L., this figure will also include the prototype rail gun mentioned above. You can check out more photos of the MBV-04-G "Temjin" model, along with a video of the mecha in action (PS2 Sega Ages port):

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Apocalypse When? Zelda Now!

June 25, 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 E3 'surprises', Apocalypse Now game thoughts, and where Zelda went wrong.]

The first piece from this week is Matthew Kaplan’s post on the Game In Mind blog asking ‘Who will stand for us?’ – the ‘us’ in question being a sophisticated audience that Kaplan sees existing for other media, and which he assumes is also present somewhere in gaming. He opines, “...mainstream games are letting down a sophisticated generation of gamers who are increasingly plugged into media that combines entertainment and cultural insight.”

Kyle Orland on his blog ‘The Game Beat’ examines the lies told to make E3 reveals ‘more of a surprise’, and asks whether it’s okay to lie to maintain said surprise. In a post called “David Jaffe is a liar. Do we care?” Orland sums up the issues quite nicely.

Paul Sztajerat at PDYXS wrote about ‘Signalling the intent of the player character’ in which he discusses the character of Shepherd in Mass Effect and what we are supposed to think about him or her. Sztajerat says, “at first, I thought the character was a shell, into which I could pour my conceptions of humanity; and later, I realised that the character was fully-developed, meant to act as a mirror to hold to the light my own ideals and values.”

Rodney Greenblat's PJ Berri, Sweety Bancha Plushies

June 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you've long hoped to turn your lifeless living room into Club Fun, you can pick up these new plushie of PaRappa the Rappa's furry deejay PJ Berri (and one of his friend Sweety Bancha), designed by the game's artist Rodney Alan Greenblat and constructed by Kidrobot.

The two 13-inch plushies are designed to look and veel like "vintage Steiff plush" toys, and feature low shag fur, embroidered features, plastic buttons on their shoulders and hips, and a jacquard ribbon on their feet bearing their names.

You can buy the plushies for $29.95 each and see more photos of them at Kidrobot's online shop.

[Via Fort90]

LeChuck’s Revenge SE Features MST3K-Style Commentary

June 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Looking to give Monkey Island fans an extra reason to pick up its upcoming Special Edition release for the series' second game LeChuck’s Revenge, LucasArts will include a commentary track styled after Mystery Science Theater 3000 and featuring creators Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer.

Much like MST3K, the three game designers are represented on-screen with silhouettes as they share their thoughts on the game's creation while players make their way through the adventure title (provided they've turned on the optional commentary track feature).

The Special Edition release will also offer re-recorded music, an enhanced hint system, the ability to directly control of protagonist Guybrush Threepwood, and more. LeChuck’s Revenge will be available to download through Xbox Live Arcade, PSN, and Steam starting July 7th.

[Via GameLife]

COLUMN: Design Diversions: Out Of My Hands

June 24, 2010 12:00 PM |

eleanor-lamb-bioshock-2-screenshot.jpg[‘Design Diversions’ is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Andrew Vanden Bossche. It looks at the unexpected moments when games take us behind the scenes, and the details of how game design engages us. Today, examining how the decisions of another made all the difference in 2K Marin's Bioshock 2.]

What I liked best about Bioshock 2 was that it ended before it ended.

In Mario, for instance, your Princess is in another castle until finally she isn't, and then you win. Rescuing the princess is the flag that lets players know they've won. Mario gets a smooch on the cheek and then the credits roll. It ends when it ends.

But in Bioshock 2, the game doesn't end when the player rescues Eleanor, the princess equivalent. Instead she decides to put on a diving suit and stomp monsters with the player for the last act of the game. During this short time, the player really gets to know Eleanor as a person, more than just a damsel in distress or a plot device.

Eleanor's daughterly affection and admiration of the protagonist is a rare thing when all other supporting cast members exist to nag the player. No matter how powerful the protagonist of Bioshock 2 gets, he's treated like a tool for Rapture's salvation or destruction by most of the cast, while Eleanor thinks of him as so important and good that she lives her life based on what he does. In doing so, she actually brings Delta--a faceless, voiceless, protagonist--to life.

Eleanor is the living embodiment of the player's choices. Despite the fact that Eleanor basically takes over the player's choices at this point in the game, I've never before felt like I had more control over a game than I did in this one, and it was because the choices I made came to define a person. That sort of power is almost frightening, and few games give it to you. I didn't find the choices in Bioshock 2 especially compelling on their own, but watching Eleanor come into her own was an incredible experience.

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