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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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Column: HDR Knowledge

COLUMN: 'HDR Knowledge': Controls, Simplicity, Focal Interest, and Contextual Sensitivity

January 22, 2008 12:00 AM |

[HDR Knowledge is a bi-weekly column written by Nayan Ramachandran and chronicles his hopes and wishes for the future of the industry. This week, we dive back into controls and games, but this time, we talk about control design philosophy.]

In my column Controlling the Future, I talked about changes in controllers in our current generation, as well as future generations, from touch and gyroscopic control, to pressure sensitive buttons and analog sticks.

There are two parts to the equation, though. Once developers have controls in front of them, how do they utilize them for their games? It’s no surprise that every developer has its own design philosophy when it comes to how their games control. Nintendo is famous for creating their games to be as accessible as possible, while still allowing for complex moves and actions if the player is willing to invest the time.01.jpg

Companies like EA’s Tiburon studio steps farther and farther away from the line of accessibility in each installment of Madden, making use of every button on the controller in increasingly complex and complicated ways. Games like Sony’s Siren overused certain buttons for a variety of actions, making the controls clunky and frustrating, when they could have been intuitive and simple.

COLUMN: HDR Knowledge - Informing and Empowering Parents

December 13, 2007 4:08 AM |

[HDR Knowledge is a bi-weekly column written by Nayan Ramachandran and chronicles his hopes and wishes for the future of the industry. This week, we take a look how the gaming industry can better inform parents that buy games for their kids, and what is being done.]

While statistics continue to tell us that the average gamer is getting older, still lying within the umbrella of the 18-40 year old male, there are plenty of those who lie outside of that, including children. Any good parent that takes an interest in their child wants to know what their child enjoys. Instead of completely prohibiting its use, they want to help their kid by providing access to that media while still filtering out what they deem inappropriate.

hdrkdec0901.jpgThe problem, in the past, has largely been a lack of reliable sources for that kind of information. Specifically in the forum of American parenting, most parents only know what television and newspaper media tell them. There’s nothing wrong with that. Most people with common sense look to newspapers and daily news shows for trustworthy news on a variety of subjects. Those same people would assume that the information those programs provide on other subjects would be equally trustworthy.

COLUMN: HDR Knowledge - 'Common Threads: Series Loyalty and Straying from the Path'

November 15, 2007 12:01 AM |

[HDR Knowledge is a bi-weekly column written by Nayan Ramachandran and chronicles his hopes and wishes for the future of the industry. This week, we take a look at the root of series loyalty, and what it means to stray from the path of series continuity.]

All dedicated gamers have their favorite series: Final Fantasy, Halo, Dragon Quest, Ys, Metal Gear, Splinter Cell. No matter which one you pick to be your personal favorite, there are always elements that tie each entry in the series together to create a cohesive entity.

In the days of 8-bit gaming, series were the result of a continuing story, or the additional adventures of a well-loved character. Games like Super Mario Bros. and Rockman (Mega Man in North America and PAL territories) flourished through brand recognition has the years went on. Gamers came to feel comfortable with a series, usually for gameplay, and sometimes even aesthetics or story.

HDRKnov902.jpgAs time went on, developers started to become more inventive about how they approached the idea of a series iteration. Final Fantasy is an excellent early example. While Final Fantasy II for the Family Computer offered much of the same gameplay and atmosphere that fans of the first game had come to expect from a sequel, the game’s story was completely disconnected from the previous iteration, offering totally new characters, challenges, and even world. Final Fantasy may not have been the first series to change what gamers expect out of a series, but it was one of the best.

COLUMN: HDR Knowledge - Telling Stories and Realizing Worlds

November 4, 2007 12:02 AM |

[HDR Knowledge is a bi-weekly column written by Nayan Ramachandran and chronicles his hopes and wishes for the future of the industry. This week, we take a look at the past, present and future of storytelling in gaming, and how it should change in the future.]

As we progress through generation after generation of gaming history, we see a more prominent role for stories in our games. No question, some games require no story, especially those of an online nature. That does not mean that stories have no place in the genre. It’s actually quite the opposite. The more realised a game world becomes through technology and interaction, the more grounding and context a player needs.

HDRKoct1601.jpg The misnomer about story, of course, is that it must be told at the player, rather than with the player. Because of technological issues (as well as limited experience with a narrative medium), cut scenes became famous in the Super Famicom and Playstation 1 eras, because of their effective nature in telling a story.

Times have changed with technology, and we have more and more original ways of telling a story. The overt cutscene method has been thrown away by many developers in favor of more immersive (and sometimes completely optional) methods. Instead of the obstrusive and invasive cutscenes, games either feature story that presents itself while the player is running about the world, such as in Valve’s Half-Life series.

COLUMN: HDR Knowledge - 'Review Ratings Philosophy and Perfect Games'

October 26, 2007 12:04 AM |

['HDR Knowledge' is a regular column written by Japan-based Nayan Ramachandran that chronicles his thoughts and wishes for the future of the gaming industry. This week is a probing look at game reviews, and what truly makes a perfect 10.]

By now readers should not be confused that HDRL does not offer letter or number grades with its game reviews. Not only does it inherently carry with it the ability compare disparate titles, but it also forces some to skip the review entirely and check the score.

02.jpg This problem is two fold: not only do many then miss out on our exquisite writing, but often times, readers will never really know why a game received an 8, 9 or 10. One of NeoGAF's long running gags in review threads usually amounts to "So Game α is better than Game β?" or "It's still not as good as Jade Empire!"

IGN's review of Jade Empire is specifically very touchy, because the site, in recent years, has changed the scale by which they review games. The number system itself has not changed, but the level of scrutiny they apply to any game review has heightened, often to the point of rating a game too low to assuage accusations that the site's staff threw 8's and 9's at any game that was generally well built and fun. Now, their scoring makes little sense as staff and guard has changed. Game scores of the past mean very little after significant changes in rating protocol occur, which trivializes one of the most popular purposes of review scores.