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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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Ticket To Ride Coming to iPhone, Adding New Multiplayer Options

November 20, 2011 12:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Days of Wonder's popular board game Ticket to Ride is coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch for the first time in a new version that adds new options for local, multi-device multiplayer.

In Ticket to Ride, players use railway cards to build train routes across a zigzagging maps of famous locations, with the goal of connecting specific destinations and making the longest unbroken path possible. The board game won a number of international game design awards after its 2004 release.

Ticket To Ride Pocket follows on PC, Mac and Xbox Live Arcade versions of the game released in 2008, and an iPad edition released earlier this year. Those digital versions have played host to over 25 million individual matches so far, the company said.

The new version augments the familiar pass-and-play multiplayer of other digital versions by adding options for play between multiple iPads and iPhones in the same room over bluetooth or a local Wi-Fi connection.

The developers said they decided against adding internet play "to maintain a high quality of game experience," and to avoid the potential problem of iPhone players "receiv[ing] a phone call and interrupt[ing] the game flow."

The original board game version of Ticket To Ride has sold over two million copies, according to Days of Wonder.

Zach Gage Tackles A Genre He Hates With SpellTower

November 19, 2011 9:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Success on the App Store is far from a science. Even independent designers lauded by awards committees like the Independent Games Festival and experienced in developing for Apple's iPhone and iPad have plenty to learn in that changeable and high-stakes environment. Yet for indie designer Zach Gage, the challenge is what's appealing.

Today, Gage launches SpellTower, on iPad, his first-ever endeavor into word puzzle games on the App Store. Although he arrived at the title partially "by accident," as he tells Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander, he has learned a number of valuable lessons along the way.

"I'm trying to change the way I'm developing games," he tells us. "When I first started developing for the App Store, it was a very different period -- everyone was just making stuff and putting it out as fast as possible."

Although that was an exciting proving ground for game designers, many of whom got to enjoy the sense of participating in one another's prototypes, it "sucked for consumers," as Gage describes. "You'd buy something, and it'd be like, a beta."

"In retrospect, you really got to look into the sketchbooks of the developers you were interested in," he enthuses. "Back then, you got to see a lot of experiments. Now, you have to polish and polish on the App Store. The whole community has changed."

For Gage, this creates a complex proposition, as he feels there are a lot of ideas kicking around his mind at various stages of completion -- yet without the optimal polish time, he knows they have no shot on the App Store. Intuitively, his design mind migrated toward a potential solution to precisely this type of problem: How do you compete among the App Store's higher standards, yet develop a game at the same light-speed at which a concept formulates in the designer's mind?

Giana Sisters Now Cloning Mario On Android, Xperia Play

November 19, 2011 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you love Giana Sisters there's plenty of good news for the infamous Super Mario Bros. clone lately -- first there was the recent North American release of Giana Sisters DS finally, more than two years after the game debuted in Europe and Australia.

Now Spellbound Entertainment AG has announced another mobile adaptation (it's already available on the App Store), and has released the game onto Android platforms with 80 levels, including 32 remastered retro levels, and 10 expansion levels you can purchase separately.

And for those that prefer playing with physical buttons instead of touch controls, if you've got an Xperia Play smartphone, this release, titled Armin Gessart's Giana Sisters, is "optimized for the device", taking advantage of its control setup (see above video).

GDC China: Canabalt's Saltsman On Why PC, Mac Rules For Indies

November 19, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Talking at GDC China 2011's Indie Games Summit, Canabalt and Flixel creator Adam Saltsman took attendees through an in-depth tour of opportunities for independent game developers.

In particular, he highlighted PC and Mac development as, in his view, "the most indie-friendly platforms currently available", praising the platforms' openness and multiple revenue stream opportunities.

Of course, Saltsman noted at his lecture in Shanghai, Steam is an extremely dominant player in this space. In fact, he put up a joke photo 'elephant in the room' slide to discuss the service.

But Valve's download service wouldn't work if it wasn't so popular, and Saltsman recommended them since they aren't shy about promoting indies on the service.

He also highlighted that above all, Steam works because of "the fact that they have a huge audience", even if "there's still a gatekeeper" out there to get your game onto the service.

Interestingly, Saltsman suggested that a number of prominent indies are now seeing Steam/overall PC sales total more than 50% of their total revenue, even if they "also have their game on [other platforms like] Xbox Live Arcade."

Cave's Bringing Bug Princess Shoot'em Up iOS This Winter

November 19, 2011 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

iOS gamers got their first taste of Cave's Mushihimesama (Bug Princess) series with the release of spin-off action title Mushihimesama Bug Panic late last year. It was an interesting take on the bullet hell series but probably not what series fans were hoping for.

Cave, though, revealed that it's now bringing another Bug Princess title to iDevices this winter, and this time it more resembles the original Mushihimesama and Mushihimesama Futari games that released to Japanese arcades back in 2004 and 2006 (it's actually a port of the former).

While the company has had no problems in the past with keeping Japanese titles for its Western releases (e.g. DoDonPachi Resurrection, Espaluda), Cave says it's using Bug Princess this time because the title is easier to pronounce and actually fits as an app title on the iPhone home screen.

Top iPad Game Apps: Minecraft: Pocket Edition Leads App Store Sales Charts

November 19, 2011 9:00 AM | Danny Cowan

111118_minecraft.jpg[In this weekly column, Gamasutra rounds up the most popular paid and free iPad gaming applications on the App Store as of today, with Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Superman HD and Glass Tower 2 HD currently ranking among the platform's top downloads.]

This week's top paid titles are:

1. Minecraft: Pocket Edition ($6.99)
2. Angry Birds Seasons HD ($1.99)
3. Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove Collector's Edition HD ($4.99)
4. Where's My Water? ($0.99)
5. Angry Birds HD ($4.99)
6. Scribblenauts Remix ($0.99)
7. Fruit Ninja HD ($2.99)
8. Angry Birds Rio HD ($2.99)
9. Cut the Rope HD ($1.99)
10. Superman HD ($2.99)

Mojang's Minecraft: Pocket Edition leads as the App Store's biggest-selling iPad app in its debut week, overtaking Rovio's Angry Birds Seasons HD and Big Fish Games' recently released adventure title Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove.

Last week's chart winner WELDER drops out of the top ten, meanwhile, as Chillingo's Superman HD trails ZeptoLab's Cut the Rope HD at tenth place in its first week of release.

Long-Dormant Ultraman/Gundam The Great Battle Series Returns On PSP

November 18, 2011 11:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Namco Bandai announced the upcoming release of Great Battle FullBlast, a Japan-exclusive PSP action title that stars miniaturized characters from the Gundam, Ultraman, and Kamen Rider universes.

FullBlast serves as a follow-up in The Great Battle series, which originated in the early '90s and spawned numerous sequels for the Super Famicom. The Great Battle's last sequel was released for the Game Boy Color in 1999.

Each game in the series featured a mix of different gameplay styles, ranging from beat-em-up sequences to side-scrolling run-and-gun levels. SD The Great Battle V was even Western-themed! It should be interesting to see what sort of genre combinations developer Inti Creates (Mega Man 9) comes up with for the new PSP edition, if it chooses to stick with series tradition.

What's more, the deluxe Twin Battle Box edition of FullBlast is packaged with a second game: Battle Dodgeball 3, a new entry in another Ultraman-themed series that debuted during the 16-bit era. All sorts of retro revivals happening here! FullBlast will launch at retail in March of 2012.

[via NeoGAF, @sasuraiger, Famitsu]

Desert Bus For Hope 5 Is Underway

November 18, 2011 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

LoadingReadyRun has kicked off its fifth annual Desert Bus for Hope charity drive, sentencing its participants to many consecutive days of virtual bus-driving in the unreleased Sega CD game Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors.

The "Desert Bus" minigame in Smoke and Mirrors simulates a real-time, eight-hour bus drive across the featureless desert that spans Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Players score one point upon arriving at either destination. The bus veers slightly to the right at all times, requiring constant input; the game loops until the player's attention wanes and the bus crashes.

LoadingReadyRun calls it "the worst video game ever made," but it's helped to raise more than $400,000 for Penny Arcade's Child's Play charity since the event's inception in 2007. The group will auction and give away numerous one-of-a-kind prizes during this year's trip, including this excellent handmade Cooking Mama apron. I want that!

As of this writing, the group has raised more than $10,000 in charity donations -- and that's before the bussing has even started! A livestream playthrough can be seen at desertbus.org.

Keita Takahashi Wants To Dress You Up In Nice Hair

November 18, 2011 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili


I mentioned yesterday that art dealership Cook & Becker started up a new gallery featuring artwork from video game artists/studios like Masaya Matsuura, Guerilla Games, and others. Keita Takahashi was also mentioned as a contributor, but his works weren't posted until just recently!

The Katamari Damacy/Noby Noby Boy creator has produced a "Nice Hair" set of unusual shirts featuring illustrations of characters Charlie Brown-esque round heads, fancy hair styles photoshopped onto their noggins, and open-mouthed expressions, as if saying, "Wahhh. Check out this hairdo!"

"How silly design are!" says Takahashi in broken English. Cook & Becker is taking preorders for the tees, and intends to print only 250 of them. It is selling them in all sizes, with various colors, round/v-neck styles, and options for both men and women for $40 each. Put in your order here.

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of November 18

November 18, 2011 4:30 PM | Eric Caoili

In the latest postings over the last seven days, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles in every major discipline, including opportunities at Microsoft, Sucker Punch Productions, and Digital Extremes.

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 Gamasutra's network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused alternative gaming news, independent games, and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

Microsoft: Design Director:
"Microsoft Studios group is looking for a dynamic and experienced designer who has passion to create the world's greatest family focused gaming experiences. The Sr. Designer position focuses on partnering and supporting creative visionaries, solving creative issues, helping establish and emphasize core design pillars, and evangelizing published products from a game design perspective. Sr. Designers push innovation and partner with world class developers to launch new high quality titles worthy of 1st Party development."

Robotic Arm Software: Software Engineer:
"Robotic Arm Software brings a variety of tool development services to game companies. We focus on the asset pipeline, helping game companies create, build and manage their data. We are experts in areas of game development and tools technologies, including C++, C#, .NET, WPF, XML, VB, Maya, 3DS MAX, Photoshop, Perforce, Alienbrian, and much more."

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