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Archive For October, 2010

One-button RPG Glorg Released

October 25, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Swedish indie developer Grapefrukt finally found a sponsor for its streamlined, one-button RPG Glorg that was created as a submission for GAMMA IV's showcase in March, and the Flash game is now available to play for free online at Armor Games (if that link doesn't work, try it here).

In the game, you walk around randomly generated dungeons, gather loot, hit enemies, and block attacks with a single mouseclick. It's all very approachable, and the cheery music (by DannyB), colorful artwork, and playful items really come together to make this simple experience addictive, pushing you to see what enemies or items you'll find next.

My only issue with Glorg with the checkpoint system -- you need to save up a lot of loot to buy teleporters that will let you start over at a harder dungeon if you die, and you don't get to keep your equipment! Bah!

Rockin' Android, SOE Bringing More Doujin Games To PSN

October 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Earlier this year, indie publisher Rockin' Android worked with Sony Online Entertainment to bring three doujin shoot'em ups to PlayStation Network: Gundemonium Recollection, GunDeadLiGne, and Hitogata Happa. Now it looks like the two companies are releasing three more titles to the service!

The ESRB recently put up listings for three Japanese titles that Rockin’ Android has the rights for: ClassiC-Shikoukairo's 2006 action game Crescent Pale Mist (pictured), and Shindenken's Geometry Wars-esque arena shooter Qlione and Qlione 2 (previously known as Qualia in Japan).

Rockin' Android previously localized and released the first Qlione for PC, which you can buy for $9.99 from Direct2Drive and GamersGate. You can also download a Japanese single-stage demo for Crescent Pale Mist here. I've embedded trailers and ESRB descriptions for the games below.

Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip Fate Releases Today

October 25, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Bit.Trip Fate, the fifth release in Gaijin Games' planned six-game series, releases on WiiWare today, this time dropping CommanderVideo into an side-scrolling shoot'em up with a twist: the game is played on-rails, and you'll need to ride back and forth on a predetermined line to dodge shots.

From Nintendo's description:

"CommanderVideo will need a little help from the friends he made in BIT.TRIP RUNNER to thwart the Mingrawn Timbletot, who has mutated the world into an ugly technological nightmare. Join forces with the Junior Melchkin, CommandgirlVideo and others to increase CommanderVideo's power and save the world.

Whether you play in single-player mode or team up with a co-pilot, you'll need a steady hand to navigate the vibe and aim your blasters at the twisted souls out to destroy you."

You can grab it for 800 points today on WiiWare. You don't need to play the past four titles -- Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Core, Bit.Trip Void, and Bit.Trip Runner -- to understand what's going on, but you should grab them anyway as they're all really fun games!

[Via GamerBytes]

Opinion: Design Diversions - The Games as Art Debate is Dead, Long Live the Games as Art Debate

October 25, 2010 12:00 AM |

Video-Games-Posters.jpg[‘Design Diversions’ is a biweekly new 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.]

I opened up a book on arts criticism the other day, "The New York Times Reader: Arts & Culture", and there I saw the end of the games as art debate. The first review in that book: Grand Theft Auto IV, preceded by a paragraph on the significance of video games in recent years.

I think that means we win.

I know this isn’t the ending we envisioned. I too hoped to be among those cheering while Mario and Master Chief led Roger Ebert up to the guillotine. But this might actually be more satisfying.

Video games were recognized so seamlessly as art that the video games press and community were the last to know. We’re still stuck thinking that video games won’t be art until all the nonbelievers recognize it as such. But we don’t need all of them, just The New York Times.

Interview: Roblox, The Little-Known, User-Generated Online LEGO Competitor

October 24, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Roblox founder David Baszucki tells our own Christian Nutt how the kids' online game naturally grew from observing play, and how it's earned millions of users and a Disney deal as a virtual unknown.]

Unlike most highly commercialized free-to-play kids' virtual worlds, Roblox started as an outgrowth of technology designed to simulate physics. It's a pure physics-based play space; kids arrange the blocks into LEGO-like structures, and others can access these spaces as they wish. Rather than a virtual world, it's a collection of user-generated spaces: in terms of how the site is set up, it's almost like a YouTube of play.

When its creators put it in front of kids as part of an educational package, they quickly noticed how much fun the kids were having with it, and moved to develop it into a product with that audience in mind. Now, Roblox has launched and found an organically growing audience, finally reaching the point where its first promotional deal, with Disney, has gotten off the ground.

We recently sat down with David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox to find out more about the project.

How long ago did you launch this? I guess it was more of like a soft launch.

David Baszucki: Completely soft launch, so no publicity. It was about three years ago when we turned it on. It was very crude and primitive. We really haven't made any hubbub or fanfare about the product since then.

It's primarily aimed at kids. You have a lot of kids playing this game, and you've gained enough of an audience so that things have basically started snowball a little bit for you.

DB: I'd say there's more than enough user-created content to fuel the game in kind of an interesting way. I would also say the focus has to be continuously on trying to acquire the majority of your customers virally as opposed through paying just for scalability, and we're doing that.

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Game Stories Deserve Better

October 24, 2010 6:00 AM | Simon Carless

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from guest contributor Eric Swain, including several pieces on both Medal of Honor and Demon's Souls, an evaluation of game stories, and a look at how Modern Warfare 2 sits between fiction and reality.]

Last week a few good pieces were submitted late and as a consequence weren't included. This includes Matthew Armstrong's a duo of posts examining Demon's Souls.

Also left over from last week, the blog ThinkFeelPlay continues its exploration into why we play. Margaret Robertson from Hide&Seek looks at the word gamification and why it doesn't mean what marketing people think it means. And Sinan Kubba looks at Nier as a caregiver.

Okay, onto this week. Robert Yang at The Escapist continues his series 'Philosophy of Game Design' with parts two and three.

In addition, Lauren Wainwright writes on her personal blog 'Sex Sells. But who's buying?' responding to a defensive argument on the nature of video game "journalism." Lewis Denby does the same looking at the same "news" blogs' need for 'Hits and Tits.'

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': A Bolt From Japan

October 24, 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.]

M04036161-01.jpg

I'm in Japan at the moment, and I'm starting to wish I had more time. I'm not touring the countryside or anything like that; I'm in Tokyo and for the most part I've been catching up with personal/business contacts and the like, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day for everything I want to do.

I've had a bit of a chance to go scoping around for old magazines, but so far things haven't been very cheery. The only place I've really found any is at the Super Potato in Akihabara, which had a pretty nice selection of issues from Beep and PC Engine Fan and the like.

Unfortunately, they were asking way too much for my liking -- something like 1500 to 2500 yen per issue, which would be far beyond my budget even if the yen-dollar exchange rate wasn't pushing 15-year lows right now.

I did finally get around to picking up a copy of Dengeki Games, though, and I'm browsing through it this morning as a way of forgetting about my jet lag. As I wrote a bit about in the past, Dengeki Games is a mag that originally started as a mature-oriented Nintendo publication, but eventually became publisher ASCII Media Works' big, fat montly multiplatform book -- spiritually speaking, the only real direct competition Weekly Famitsu has in Japan.

Opinion: Wal-mart Vs. The Mom And Pops - Do What You Do Best

October 23, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In this editorial, originally printed in the October 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, EIC Brandon Sheffield discusses the conundrum the Japanese game industry faces, examining how smaller stores' fightback against the might of Wal-mart could present lessons for Japanese developers.]

As I write this, I’m in Japan for the Tokyo Game Show, and as such I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of Japanese developers in the last few days.

One question on everyone’s lips is “how do we appeal to the Western market?” It’s understandable—the Western market is huge, and the hardcore HD gamer in Japan is becoming less and less common.

Though this is anecdotal rather than empirical, I would submit that part of the reason Japanese hardcore gamers are on the decline is that while Western gamers grew up loving games, and have continued to find them a viable means of entertainment, Japanese gamers that grew up with the NES/Famicom now find those old games to be “nostalgic,” but have moved on to other leisure activities. However, on this side of the pond we’ve stuck with games well into our adulthood.

Wal-mart: The Great Evil

In one particular discussion, I mentioned that Japanese game companies needn’t hide their cultural background and different nature when making games for the West, as they often try to. It’s similar to the debate about Wal-mart killing all the local businesses.

Best Of Indie Games: Divide, Conquer The Mind Dungeon?

October 23, 2010 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The delights in this edition include an multiplayer turn-based strategy game, a tricky bouncing ball game, a side-scrolling platform adventure game, an experimental one-button game, and a clever puzzle game involving symmetry and boxes.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Conquest: Divide and Conquer' (Proxy Studios, commercial indie - demo available)
"Conquest: Divide and Conquer is an online multiplayer turn-based strategy game that was just released for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Rather than supplying long, drawn-out battles against friends, Conquest aims to provide short bursts of strategy action, with randomly generated maps and plenty of destruction."

Game Pick: 'Super Mind Dungeon' (Jan Willem Nijman and Connor Kimbro, browser)
"Super Mind Dungeon is a tricky bouncing ball game, in which you click to fire a ball around each level and into the goal. The ball can only be manipulated after it has touched a non-metal surface. The first few levels give you the chance to get into the swing of it, then it's rather difficult from thereon in."

Game Pick: 'The Creature' (The Creature Team, freeware)
"In The Creature you begin life as a simple rolling ball, but through completing worlds gain eyes, then legs, then horns... and having some good solid fun all the while. The controls can be a little fiddly and you'll spot the occasional bug here and there, but in general the game is really well made and enjoyable."

Game Pick: 'Roulette' (Peter Lu, freeware)
"Roulette is a one-button game which sees you sat at a table playing a game of Russian Roulette. You and your opponent take it in turns to point the gun at your head and pull the trigger. It's really shocking stuff - I found myself gritting my teeth and watching out of the corner of my eye every time the trigger was pulled."

Game Pick: 'Box' (Stephen Lavelle, browser)
"Box is another clever puzzle game from increpare, where the objective here is to get all of the boxes to their designated locations before you are allowed to proceed to the next challenge. The gimmick here is that you can only move the boxes in pairs, and one box will always move in the opposite direction of the other."

Retro/Grade Dev's Indie Game, Marriage Proposal

October 22, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Matt Gilgenbach of 24 Caret Games, developer of Independent Games Festival 2009 finalist and PSN's upcoming time-manipulating shmup/rhythm game Retro/Grade, submitted another project for the IGF competition this year: A Mobius Proposal, a co-op puzzle platformer.

Entering Mobius Proposal into the IGF was secondary, though, as Gilgenbach created the game as a way to propose to his girlfriend, Joanne, when they played it together and reached the ending:

Players are on opposite sides of a Mobius band, and they must work together in order to overcome obstacles. I incorporated the proposal in the game by displaying a fake low battery message and hiding the ring inside the battery pack of the controller.

I used a registry hack to turn the light on my web cam off and asked her to get me a glass of water, so I could record her reaction without her knowing.

I usually find these indie/hacked video game marriage proposals unbearably corny, but this is pretty cute! Also, the game actually looks fun, though I'm not sure I'd want to marry any of my friend after beating Mobius Proposal with them.

Congrats, Matt!

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