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Archive For November, 2010

Percussivo Mundo Novo: Video Game Controllers Making Real Music

November 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Just as interesting as Percussivo Mundo Novo's unique, "reinvented" percussion instruments are the Brazilian group's use of modified video game controllers, like PC joysticks, guitar controllers, Wii Remotes with Nunchuks, and more -- the band believes it is "mixing the ancient with the digital" with this combination.

Percussivo Mundo Novo's lead vocalist Mikael Mutti developed the digital portion of the ensemble, and says he developed this style over the course of 15 years while working and touring with artists like Carlinhos Brown, The Scorpions, Carlos Santana, and many others. The group's MySpace page explains its music:

"Using computer keyboards, video game controllers, electronic sensors, samplers and digital sequences, it is possible to reproduce with fidelity the most varied percussion instruments: Djembe, Brazilian Berimbau, Brazilian Pandeiro, Drums, Timbau, Surdo Virado or even a complete escola de samba. ...

Percussivo Mundo Novo is formed by musicians from Bahia´s artists new generation, that believe that through the music and art in general, they can build a new world, without losing the roots."

You can watch clips of Mutti demonstrating how he uses his guitar controller, and a great performance by the full band (starting around the two-minute mark) in the video embedded after the break:

New Army Of Trolls Shoot'em Up Poster For A Good Cause

November 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Gary "Army of Trolls" Lucken, the artist behind many fine pixel pieces like Edge's subscriber poster last year, has created a new and awesome "Final Boss" print: a shoot'em up ship defending Japan and its game shops/arcades from drone bee enemies and a panda piloting some massive craft with heavy firepower.

The 12"x18" poster is limited to 100 prints and is part of the Poster Cause Project, meaning that all proceeds from your purchase will benefit SpecialEffect, a UK-based charity we've previously featured for its goal of helping children with disabilities play video games.

It should make a great gift for that special shoot'em up fan in your life!

Interview: TimeGate’s Chaveleh Takes Control Of His Publishing Destiny

November 26, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Big sister site Gamasutra's editor at large Chris Morris catches up with Timegate Studios (Section 8) head Adel Chaveleh as the veteran console game development house growss "tired" of the traditional publisher relationship and strikes out on its own.]

As production costs escalate and the market becomes tighter, independent developers are increasingly finding their options limited.

They can partner with large publishers on a per-game level – but if the publisher has an internally-built title competing in that genre, it often means their games receive a smaller marketing push. They can join the fold, agreeing to an acquisition. Or they can roll the dice and self-publish.

Sugar Land, TX-based TimeGate Studios is among the companies that have chosen door number three.

After working with publishers ranging from Vivendi Games and Take-Two to SouthPeak Games and Gamecock, the company has made the decision to largely eschew publishing partners moving forward and enter that segment of the business itself.

It kicked off last year with Section 8. After SouthPeak published the game on the PC and Xbox 360, TimeGate self-published it on PSN. That sparked the company’s interest in exploring the other side of the game-making fence. And it’s not planning to look back.

Right now, the focus is digital, but retail publishing is also in the plans -- thus far, the firm has announced follow-up Section 8: Prejudice for unspecified platforms. TimeGate CEO Adel Chaveleh thinks it’s a move that could put his company into more of a leadership position in the industry.

COLUMN: The Spoony Bard: Growing Up With Pokémon

November 25, 2010 12:00 PM |

[The Spoony Bard is a biweekly GameSetWatch column by writer James Bishop that probes the depths of the characters, dialogue and writing in video games. This week, it champions Pokémon as the ultimate coming-of-age story in gaming.]

In any coming-of-age novel, or bildungsroman, the story often begins with the hero or protagonist as a child. If not as a child, then it begins on the cusp of adulthood--a young adult transitioning from childhood and encountering all of the problems therein.

They set out just after their metaphorical transformation in order to prove themselves and, in a sense, show that they are worthy of inheriting the world before them. They embark on a journey.

Over the course of their journey or quest, they will face many obstacles, overcome them and win the day. Be it slaying a dragon, defeating the evil wizard or overthrowing the corrupt monarchy that has cast shadows over the land for so long, the hero eventually reaches the pinnacle of their abilities and showcases them for all to see. Often, this is done by achieving some kind of personal growth while also performing a previously unreachable feat.

Becoming the Pokémon master fits this mold nicely. It is, on no uncertain terms, the ultimate bildungsroman of gaming.

Defying Design: You Bet Your Life

November 25, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Defying Design' is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Jeffrey Matulef analyzing gaming conventions and the pros and cons of breaking them. This week's column explores the role of luck in action games.]

What do Clint Hocking and Shinji Mikami have in common? They both left companies they've long been associated with recently, and have both made shooters, but that's not the answer I was looking for. The common thread I see is that they both make heavily randomized action games encouraging improvisation rather than repetition.

In Clint Hocking's Far Cry 2 the player's weapon can jam, cars break down, and the player character has a case of malaria which can act up at the most inopportune moments. Furthermore, the game has a buggy AI, so enemies have a sixth sense for pinpointing your location. While this hinders the game's stealth elements it allows for a sense of anarchic randomness you rarely get in shooters.

Comparing it to his previous game, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Hocking said at a GDC talk on Improvisational Success Through Design Failure:

"...The consequences for getting kicked out of the execution phase in Chaos Theory has a huge impact -- the game is so reliant on the player executing his careful plan, and the game is so slow-paced, that it makes more sense simply to reload a saved game. But in Far Cry 2, that disruption ends up being part of the game, and there is such a level of chaos to begin with that players did not end up feeling the need to reload every time something went wrong; rather, they would adapt to the new factors."

Conversely, Shinji Mikami's latest couple outings God Hand and Vanquish are far more linear affairs, yet they also contain a crucial random component.

Sirlin Taking Preorders For Fighting Card Game Yoimi

November 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Game designer, Playing to Win author, and Gamasutra contributor David Sirlin, best known for his balancing contributions to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, is now taking preorders for Yomi, a competitive card game meant to simulate a fighting game.

Yomi offers 10 playable characters, each with their own deck (doubling as a deck of playing cards), abilities, and fighting styles. Sirlin says the game "tests your ability to predict how your opponents will act and your ability to judge the relative value of cards from one situation to the next. "

The game will be available with a variety of options, including five $25 packs that provide two decks, and a $100 Complete First Edition set that has all 10 decks, 10 copies of quick rules, two playmats with different art and integrated life counters, and sets of red and blue glass beads to track life totals.

He's even selling a cheap $15 "Full Game Print-and-play" kit, giving buyers PDFs for all 10 Yomi decks and the rulebook. Players are encouraged to print and cut out the cards, then stick them in plastic card sleeves with another CCG card (e.g. Magic: The Gathering) for extra thickness.

It's not clear when the $25 packs will begin shipping, but Sirlin will send out orders for Yomi's Complete First Edition in January. Those who buy the "Full Game Print-and-play" set will receive the PDFs immediately -- the kit will also be given for free with Complete First Edition reservations.

[Via Joystiq]

MonkeyPaw Brings Arc The Lad II, Arc Arena To PSN

November 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

The heroes at MonkeyPaw Games have added two more classic PlayStation titles to PSN, Arc the Lad II ($5.99) and Arc Arena: Monster Tournament ($3.99), both of which were originally brought to North America in 2002 by Working Designs' Arc the Lad Collection.

MonkeyPaw and Working Designs' Victor Ireland previously brought Alundra and Arc the Lad to PSN last month. The first Arc the Lad is a decent enough title, but it's much shorter than its sequel (around 10 hours of gameplay compared to 50+) and is seen by many as inferior to the follow-up.

Quick descriptions for the two PS One Classic releases:

  • Arc the Lad II: "The story that began in Arc the Lad expands into the legend that is Arc the Lad II by following the adventures of the Hunter Elc. The highly-rated Strategy-RPG features bigger battles, more characters, harder bosses, a deep and compelling story, and brain-wasting strategy that come together in a way that made what many call one of the best Strategy RPG games ever made"
  • Arc Arena: Monster Tournament: "Trade items, weapons, and monsters from Arc the Lad II between other players as you battle each other in tournament matches."

Oh, and while you're downloading games on PSN today, don't forget to pick up Auditorium HD, Spelunker HD, and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX!

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: Danielle Bunten Berry's Last GDC Speech

November 24, 2010 12:00 PM | Jason Scott

danielle.JPG[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott unearths the last ever speech at GDC from seminal M.U.L.E. designer Dan Bunten, aka Danielle Bunten Berry.]

A strong week of digitizing, with a bunch of hours of audio taken off the tapes. For people wondering, I use a USB cassette player connected to the open source program Audacity.

This lets me get the digitization in, clip off the parts where there's no sound or the cassette flips over, and then normalize the audio so the person who sounds like they forgot they were being recorded as clear and understandable as possible. It mostly consists of grabbing tape after tape from the pile (there's 64 in the batch I was sent), running them through, then rendering out to MP3s.

Let's be frank - a lot of the audio that is being saved doesn't just sizzle off the page when you read the titles. At least, it doesn't sizzle for me - I run towards talks where the game designers try to share the magic of their craft, or where we have someone who was at the center of an important event give their memories of that event, adding to our mosaic of knowledge with lines of thought or memory otherwise destined to be lost.

However, it's not my job to decide what is getting saved. My job is to save, to ensure that what people said and did on these tapes is there for a later audience to use and play when they find something that sizzles for them.

Among the tapes, I found one with the forthright title and byline 'Do Online Games Still Suck? by Berry' [GDC Vault audio link]. What I realized very quickly was that I was holding a presentation by none other than Danielle Bunten Berry.

Rockin' Android Hints At Xbox 360 Plans

November 24, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Rockin' Android has done a superb job so far of not just localizing Japanese doujin releases like Crescent Pale Mist and the Gundemonium Collection for North America, but also working with Sony Online Entertainment to bring those PC titles to the PlayStation Network. It turns out the studio might bring some games to Xbox 360, too!

Enrique Galvez, CEO of Rockin' Android, recently told Siliconera, "Now, we wouldn’t leave Xbox 360 fans in the cold, so yes, we’ve got some things brewing for the future. While I can’t get into specifics, we have several titles from Platine Dispositif [developer of Gundemonium and Hitogata Happa] planned for PC and Xbox 360."

It's unclear if those releases would come out through Xbox Live Arcade or Xbox Live Indie Games. We'll let you know if Rockin' Android reveals any more details or names any doujin shoot'em ups it plans to bring to box 360.

Lylian Trailer, Release Imminent

November 24, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Indie developer Pixelpickle Games posted this new trailer showing the intro animation and some gameplay portions for Lylian, its upcoming action-adventure title in which you control a young girl trapped in a psychiatric hospital, who can "spew forth figments of her mind into the real world" and attack with the sleeves of her straitjacket.

After working on the 2D side-scroller on and off for the past four years, the studio has almost completed Episode 1 of Lylian and expects to release it by the end of the week! Pixelpickle Games also intends to release a demo after the PC title's release, which will feature a level specifically designed for the trial.

[Via TIGForums]

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