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Archive For September, 2010

Katamari Damacy Fundraiser Artwork Up For Auction

September 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Last month, we featured a collection of works created for a Katamari Damacy-themed art show hosted by Portland's Floating World Comics. It was great to see so many artists' interpretations for the offbeat game, but it was also meant to raise money for Join PDX, a local non-profit looking to "support the efforts of homeless individuals and families to transition out of homelessness into permanent housing".

Though show is now over, you can see and even buy a lot of the Katamary Damacy artwork online. Floating World has posted auctions for dozens of original art and one-of-a-kind archival prints with a starting price of just $9.99 -- a lot of them are still very cheap due to the low number of bids, and many of the auctions close as soon as tomorrow.

Again, I've picked out a bunch of the Katamary Damacy I liked to feature here (artwork at the top of the post is by Rikki Barney). You can click the images to place a bid on that particular artwork:

GDC Online Reminds On Pass Deadline, Adds Parties, Summit Talks, Civ V Lecture

September 29, 2010 9:00 AM | Simon Carless

GDC Online organizers are reminding that this Friday is the final pre-show discount deadline for next week's Austin show, revealing a new Playboy/Bigpoint party and lectures from Civilization V creators along the way.

The Austin, Texas based conference -- formerly known as GDC Austin -- is sharply focused on the development of online games, including free-to-play titles, social network games, and traditional MMOs, with a veteran online game industry advisory board evaluating and selecting the lectures.

There are now more than 120 panels, lectures and tutorials currently scheduled for the October 5th-8th event. Highlights include the confirmation of a keynote from Zynga chief game designer Brian Reynolds (FrontierVille), and track keynotes from Blizzard's Greg Canessa (on Battle.net), Playdom's Raph Koster (on social mechanics), and Bigpoint's Heiko Hubertz (on the rise of Europe in online gaming).

Organizers are reminding that final registration discounts for the show, which kicks off next Tuesday, will run out this Friday, October 1st, with discounts of up to $200 still available for prospective attendees who register now, as opposed to doing so onsite.

At this late stage, several new announcements have debuted. Famed media brand Playboy, which recently announced a foray into digital gaming with partner Bigpoint, is co-hosting an official GDC party open to all GDC passholders at The Phoenix on Thursday, October 7th.

NyxQuest Flies From WiiWare To PC, Mac

September 29, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Spanish indie developer Over The Top Games has released NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits, its exceptional Kid Icarus-inspired platformer originally released for WiiWare in August 2009, to PC and Mac -- you can download it right now for $9.99 from Steam or the developer's website.

Set in Ancient Greece, the game follows a winged girl named Nyx as she searches for her missing friend Icarus. She has several powers passed down to her from the gods, such as the ability to cast rays, modify scenery, and control winds. NyxQuest features 12 stages in all, each one filled with relics and physics-based puzzles.

The PC/Mac edition doesn't feature co-op multiplayer like NyxQuest's WiiWare release, but it does offer new graphics and visual effects, Steam achievements, and mouse/keyboard controls.

Windows and Mac players use the Mouse as the reticule, and the keyboard to control Nyx, and does not feature a 2 player mode.

New Pokemon DS Game Teaches Typing, Includes Wireless Keyboard

September 29, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Along with all the 3DS news it finally shared with the public last night, Nintendo trotted out a few regular DS games, including an extremely curious title that blends its Pokemon series with The Typing of the Dead-style gameplay.

Scheduled to hit Japan some time in 2011 (no plans for a U.S. release announced yet), Pokemon Typing DS has players battling against "hundreds of different types of Pokemon" -- except instead of engaging in turn-based combat, players type out words to fight.

Of course, learning how to type with a touchscreen isn't very useful, so each copy of Pokemon Typing DS will include a "Nintendo Wireless Keyboard", according to a report from Andriasang. I wonder if other future games will ever use the accessory?

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': The Only Way to Win

September 29, 2010 12:00 AM |

NewWorld.jpg['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she looks at common rhetorical moves that redefine the meaning of a game mid-playing.]

My first encounter with the rhetorical power of games came in the early 90s. We had gotten a copy of Avalon Hill's New World, one of those massive games where it takes hours to learn the rules and punch out the cardboard pieces, and hours more to finish a single playthrough. My family played it exactly once.

The idea is that each player represents a European power exploring the new world. Your goal is to send home resources; you want to exert some power over regions of the New World so that you can continue to send them.

There are all sorts of problems to contend with, such as the loss of cargo at sea, but over the course of a single game it quickly became obvious that the dominant strategy was to exterminate the native population wherever you went. Attempts to live side-by-side with them rarely worked.

At the time this was a revelatory experience; I'd not run into a game before that was capable of raising moral issues just through its rules. There was Diplomacy, of course, but there the ethical issues were not simulated in the rules, exactly. Whereas New World seemed to be saying that the problem wasn't merely the method of the explorers, but their goal itself, which drew them more and more into unacceptable behavior.

Paul Robertson's Sprites On The Moon

September 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

We've had Paul Robertson's work on our minds a lot lately, mostly due to his awesome sprites in Ubisoft's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, and so has artist Aaron Meyers -- for the hell of it, he mapped NASA's topographical LIDAR data of the moon to frames from one of Paul Robertson animated gif.

You can see the results in the strange image above, though it's much more impressive when you examine this 7000x7000 image for a closer look at all the bumps and craters. And here's a link to the animated GIF, in case you're wondering at what these faces are (Pokeballs, Jigglypuffs, King Slimes, and other cute characters!).

[Thanks, Brandon!]

OSR: Unhinged To Offer A Cheaper Trials Experience

September 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If playing stunt racers like RedLynx's Trials HD and Hello Games' Joe Danger, you might want to try out Old School Racer: Unhinged when Riddlesoft releases the sidescrolling motorbike title to Xbox Live Indie Games.

One reason to check it out is it will probably be cheap as its predecessor, Old School Racer, which is available right not on XBLIG for 80 Points (with a free demo). It will also have a lot of elements/obstacles you'll recognize from Trials -- ramps that have you flipping across stages, spheres you can ride inside/on top of, and more.

There's no word on a release date for OSR: Unhinged, but Riddlesoft promises it's "coming soon" in the trailer.

[Via IndieNerds]

In-Depth: Building On BioShock 2 With Minerva's Den

September 28, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Leigh Alexander talks to 2K Marin's Steve Gaynor, who led writing and design on BioShock 2's story-driven Minerva's Den DLC, about the gameplay-narrative blend and the unique opportunities his small team had.]

Trailing major game releases with robust DLC has proven a viable avenue for extending a title's life and its relationship with audiences. Publisher Take-Two in particular has employed this strategy with gusto, regularly releasing significant DLC "episodes" for its studios' games -- like Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption.

But 2K Marin's Minerva's Den downloadable side-story for BioShock 2 had a particularly interesting mandate: Develop a stand-alone narrative-driven offshoot for a franchise that already has a strong story focus, without violating any of the intricate laws governing its world.

At 2K Marin, the mantle fell to Steve Gaynor to develop Minerva's Den's world and story: "We were mandated with 3-5 hours' worth of single-player story content," he explains.

"So I came up with the place, I was the writer of the plot and dialogue, I voice-directed the main characters... and I was the lead designer, I worked with our gameplay programmer on new weapons, plasmids and enemies, and I was the level designer of the first level of the DLC."

Soon To Be Mini: Pix'N Love Rush

September 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

While Halfbrick's Age of Zombies is jumping from Playstation Minis to iOS devices, Bulkpix/Pastagames' retro-themed platformer Pix'N Love Rush is leaping the opposite way from iPhone to Minis, courtesy of publisher Sanuk Games.

Pix'N Love Rush is similar to Pastagames' Xbox Live Indie Games collaboration with Arkedo Studio, 03 Pixel!, featuring the same visual style and feline hero, but the platformer is broken up into five-minute sessions and 125 randomly assorted levels.

The game offers seven different "skins", each themed after vintage gaming consoles like Virtual Boy and Game Boy, which players can unlock as rewards. It also has an infinite mode and likely other features from the App Store version (video above) like leaderboards and achievements.

Sanuk plans to announce a release date and pricing for Pix'N Love Rush soon.

Cleese, Kingsley, And Pegg On Voicing Fable III

September 28, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Lionhead Studios' latest episode for its Fable III video diaries is out, and it features almost seven minutes of interviews with the Xbox 360/PC RPG's celebrity cast: John Cleese, Sir Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Michael Fassbender, Zoƫ Wannamaker, Bernard Hill, Nicholas Hoult and more.

Here, the actors talk about their characters, the experience of recording lines for a video game, the importance of good voicework in this medium, advice for "winning" Fable III, and other topics. Kingsley even compares his character (Sabine) to a previous film role and apologizes in advance for his attempt at a Welsh accent.

If you missed Lionhead's last video diary, make sure you check that out after the break, too, as it features Monty Python's Cleese and designer/studio head Peter Molyneux talking more about Fable III. Expect the game to release for Xbox 360 on October 26th.

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