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Archive For August, 2010

Opinion: Fun Is Important, But So Is Your Business Model

August 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

["If a game is built around a business model, that’s a recipe for failure," Realtime Worlds co-founder Dave Jones said in 2009. But with online games that utilize untested price schemes, should building fun really come before establishing a business model? Our own Kris Graft investigates...]

When reading a recent analysis on Gamesbrief about the collapse of APB and Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds, one quote from studio creative director and industry veteran Dave Jones stood out:

"If a game is built around a business model, that’s a recipe for failure." -- Jones at GameHorizon 2009

There's a part of me that admires that mentality -- in a time where the game industry is becoming increasingly focused on blockbuster hits and monetization of Facebook users, it's kind of nice to hear someone say that if you focus primarily on making money, you will fail.

The implication is if the fun is there, everything will just work out, and it makes sense that the guy that created Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings would say such a thing. Those games became successful and memorable because they were, above all else, fun.

He told me as much in a meeting at E3 in June this year, which turned out to be just two months before Realtime entered administration. I asked if he had any overarching philosophy about game creation, and between sips of coffee the confident, affable red-haired designer answered, "I have very simple goals, and that is just make a game as much fun as possible. So that was our goal with APB."

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess Now On XBLIG

August 25, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Just a few months after the game debuted on PSP Minis, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess has also released on Xbox Live Indie Games, bringing with it a "full HD-resolution visual overhaul."

In the well-reviewed title, players follow an aristocratic demon known as "The Duke" in an upwards-scrolling platformer as he chases and beats up giant monsters that he believes have captured his princess.

Developed by British studio Mediatonic (Amateur Surgeon, Sonic Level Creatorr), the game features a full story mode, animated cutscenes, 24 levels, and more. You can grab Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess for 240 MS Points now on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

German Publisher Begat Browser-Based Bible Game

August 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

German online game publisher FIAA will release its beta for the first chapter of The Bible Online, a browser-based MMORPG allowing players to reenact and witness events from the Book of Genesis as Abraham and his descendants, in Europe on September 6th.

In The Bible Online: Chapter 1 – The Heroes, players must lead their tribe, help build their village, and manage resources and a budget. Players will also oversee their tribe's diplomacy and warfare, and lead their tribe to the Promised Land (Canaan).

The MMO features an integrated chat system, graphics based on "a historical investigation of the times of Abraham", and environments/quests inspired by the Book of Genesis -- hopefully, FIAA didn't add a circumcision quest in there.

"The Bible Online is developed for players of all ages to easily get closer to the Bible, while enjoying the game," says FIAA's president Dr. Alan Kim. "We plan to service the game in most of the European languages by the end of the year. We will also develop following chapters to cover all the stories of the Bible."

Unsettling Roguelike: Serial Killer

August 25, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

It usually sounds ridiculous when opponents to video game describe them as murder simulators, but that label is spot-on for this indie roguelike. Serial Killer started off as a fan project for Showtime's Dexter TV series, but developer Crimson King adapted the concept to allow you to play as a general (or famous) serial killer.

He's worked on the project on and off for almost five months, and has implemented a lot of features in that time: line of sight, stealth, weapons, targeted attacks, basic AI with victims and witnesses reacting to your actions, and the possibility of leaving behind evidence (e.g. bloody shoe prints, hand prints, body fluids, etc.).

Crimson King's also coded a crime tracking system that follows your criminal activities while you're committing them. If you kill without anyone noticing, the cops won't catch wind of it, but if a a witness spots you, they'll call the police. Cops will eventually be able to establish a profile on you and make carrying our your murders more challenging.

Serial Killer's material system and combat is "heavily inspired by Dwarf Fortress", and allows you to break bones, remove limbs from your victims, and kill characters by suffocating them or letting them bleed to death. Character stats are supported, too, like strength, agility, attractiveness, fatigue level, and mental state (influenced by alcohol/drug use).

The developer says his eventual goal is to create a large city filled with NPCs who adhere to a schedule and are clustered in factions like civilians, police, and criminals -- allowing you to play like Dexter and only kill violent criminals. He also wants to add day jobs for making money, and a real estate system.

Despite its disturbing subject matter, Crimson King of course doesn't want anyone acting out the virtual killings. "Keep in mind that this is merely a game, and that I am not advocating or condoning murder or any of the crimes that take place in this game," says Crimson King.

"I merely feel that the subject of serial killers, specifically the psychological conditions that drive them to do what they do, is one of interest and will hopefully translate into a unique game that has a vast number of potential options for play."

[Via @ferricide]

Analysis: What the Metal Gear Solid Series Teaches Us About Centralized Power

August 25, 2010 12:00 AM |

globalnetwork.jpg [Closing out his series of critical articles on the Metal Gear Solid series, writer Zoran Iovanovici looks at one of the major overarching themes of the series by exploring its criticism of centralized power and its promotion of decentralization.]

Fans of the Metal Gear Solid series can attest that there is no shortage of deep topics and criticism in their beloved games, many of which appear as recurring themes in each installment. One of the more overlooked recurring themes is the criticism of centralized power and its consistent push for decentralization. In each game the message is clear: centralized global power by one government or organization is a major threat to world peace, more so than terrorism, political unrest, or economic instability.

In the first MGS, Liquid hopes to acquire the remains and DNA of Big Boss in order to expose America’s genome army and prevent it from being used by the powers that be to maintain and extend global military power. In MGS2, Solidus recruits a collection of combat specialists to destroy Aresenal Gear and stop The Patriots’ intended goal of global information control.

Even MGS3, set in nearly forty years prior to the events of the first two installments, sends a clear message that global military superiority by one superpower (either the U.S.A. or U.S.S.R.) would tip the balance of power in complete disarray. MGS4 does a great job of combining the threats of the previous three games and addressing all three via it’s commentary on The System, PMC’s, and nanomachines.

Shank Released, Soundtrack Available For Free

August 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

EA Partners and Klei Entertainment's 2D side-scrolling action game Shank releases for PSN today (XBLA version hits tomorrow, PC edition comes out later this fall), so if you love violent brawlers or cinematic games with revenge themes, make sure to check out the M-rated title! Expect to pay around $15 for the downloadable title.

In honor of Shank's release, Klei uploaded this new trailer and posted the game's entire 13-track soundtrack, which was composed by Vince de Vera and Jason Garner. You can stream the video game album for free or download all of the songs in a convenient ZIP file at the official Shank blog.

Blip Fest Tokyo Sends Out ROM Invite

August 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Catering to its 8-bit fans, organizers for the inaugural Blip Festival Tokyo event have posted an NES ROM as a flyer for the two-day chiptune show next month. Look at that line-up: Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka (Metroid, Dr. Mario)! YMCK! Portalenz! Nullsleep! And lots of other Japanese/international acts!

The flyer features graphics by Alex "Enso" Bond, music by Chib-Tech, and code by Don" No Carrier" Miller and Batsly Adams. This video of the production gives you all the information you need -- except where to buy tickets -- but if you download the ROM and play it in an NES emulator, you can actually control those balls flying around, so it's not completely non-interactive.

COLUMN: 'Cinema Pixeldiso' – Scott Pilgrim Versus The World

August 24, 2010 12:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/scottpilgrim1.jpg['Cinema Pixeldiso' is a not-so-regular column by Matt 'Fort90' Hawkins that takes a look at movies that are either directly based upon or are related to video games. This latest entry takes a look at the recently released, much-heralded Scott Pilgrim Versus The World.]

To say that the Scott Pilgrim Versus The World is the biggest thing to happen to video game related cinema in a very long time is an understatement. Though what's taken center stage more so than the film itself has been the intense reaction; people either passionately adore the movie or vehemently loathe it.

Critics and viewers alike have characterized the film as either a love letter to all video gamers out there or a damning indictment of how YouTube is destroying the minds of our youth. And there appears to be no middle ground; the most vocal side has been the fans (at least the diehard contingent), who claim that you're either one of “us” (whom the movies was made for, though the criteria used to determine if one is part of the club or not is somewhat in question) or you're not, end of story.

And despite all the hyperbole (much of which has been a massive turnoff, personally speaking), I don't think it's misleading to state that this particular motion picture is indeed a watershed moment for the genre. After all, most examples, at least from tinsel town, are either big screen translations of some hit title, with all the perils and pitfalls that come with the such territory, or an original story that attempts to tap into the world of gaming itself, usually in a manner that the filmmakers believe to be clever, but often is not.

Sometimes there's an attempt to make some kind of deep insight or commentary, which again usually misses the mark completely. Whereas Scott Pilgrim Versus The World from very early on gave the impression that those helming the project truly understood the subject matter. And we all know that people who actually "get it" is far and few between in the world of major motion pictures, regardless of the topic or audience.

Scott Pilgrim Animated Backgrounds, Shmup Mock-Up

August 24, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Everyone seemed to love those Paul Robertson animated sprites we posted a couple weeks ago from Ubisoft's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (PSN/XBLA), so we thought you'd also like to see all the new game artwork posted by Stéphane Boutin, who worked on the backgrounds and supervised the graphics.

He's posted a ton of sketches, full level layouts. animated scenes for each of the 2D brawler's stages. He also put up the mock-up image above of a Scott Pilgrim shoot'em up, which he said was an option the studio considered when the project was put on hold due to time and budget reasons.

Boutin also shares some cool ideas for the game that didn't make it into the final release (e.g. a skateboard chase sequence, a mini-boss fight with Crash And The Boys), peeks at extra game modes, and honest thoughts on the challenges the team faced while developing Scott Pilgrim:

"We've worked on this project for a year, half of it in Montreal, [where] we were surrounded by incompetents that got the game nearly canceled and drove everybody on the core team near depression, and five crazy über intensive months in Chengdu's studio were we had no time left and were all going completely crazy trying to pull this off, now it's done, it's out there and it should kick ass pretty good!"

You can see a few of Boutin's backgrounds after the break. And while we're talking about Scott Pilgrim, don't forget that Anamanaguchi's chip-rock soundtrack for the game is now available on iTunes, courtesy of ABKCO records. You can download all 24 tracks for $11.99 here.

Oh, and for those of you wondering about the winners of our recent Scott Pilgrim GameSetContest, we're still waiting to hear back from a couple of our winners -- expect an announcement soon!

Giant Robot, Flying Saucers Invade Toy Soldiers

August 24, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Toy Soldiers already has a pitch that many kids who re-enacted tiny battles with whatever junk they had lying around will find immensely interesting -- it's an XBLA action-strategy game in which you command a troop of miniature WWI toy soldiers in an all-out war -- but Seattle-based indie developer Signal Studios has managed to improved on that concept.

Unlike the last Toy Soldiers downloadable content pack, which introduced units and a campaign for the French army, Signal's upcoming Invasion DLC release includes some non-traditional enemy waves, like Spacemen, Chivalrous Knights, Flying Knights, Bothell Fire Trucks, and a giant tin Mr. Roboto boss.

Invasion will also offer two new playable units (F17 Space Tanks, U.S. P51 Mustangs), new achievements, three single-player maps, two multiplayer stages, and one Survival level. There's no firm date or pricing for the DLC pack yet, but Signal's site seems to indicate that it will release next month.

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