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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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Interview: Tick, Tick, Boom - Nuclear Dawn Reborn

April 5, 2010 12:00 PM |

[Checking out one of the most professional-looking Half-Life 2 mods turned fullblown games out there, IndieGames.com co-editor Mike Rose sits down with the folks behind FPS/RTS hybrid Nuclear Dawn in an interview for GSW, with some of the first screenshots of the near-final military title included.]

Back in February 2006, a Half-Life 2 mod emerged and instantly began to gather big community support and press coverage. Nuclear Dawn, described as 'a first person shooter/real-time strategy hybrid', looked exciting enough to warrant over 15,000 unique visitors in the first hour after the initial announcement, and the promise of an upcoming beta build brought the masses in.

Led by Project Manager David Lyon, the Nuclear Dawn Team looked destined to create something special. Yet only half a year later, cracks in development were beginning to show. Updates were few and far between and concerns were voiced, leading to David stepping down as Project Lead just before 2007 broke. However, the team continued to grind away, picking up and losing team members all the while.

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Eventually at the start of 2008, development came to a standstill, backing up theories that Nuclear Dawn would end its life as vaporware. InterWave Studios approached the original Nuclear Dawn team in November 2008 and discussions regarding the fate of the mod were under way.

The following April saw not just a new lease of life for the game, but a whole new team and premise, as the handover was sealed. Nuclear Dawn would now be released as a full-blown commercial product, aimed at Windows PC (via Steam) and Xbox 360 releases. The InterWave Studios team and Michiel Beenen, its Managing Director, are currently working hard to hit their target of an October 2010 release. We talked to them about their product and plans:

Future Debuts WoW-Only Magazine, Possibly Redefines Print Media's Future

August 19, 2009 10:00 PM |

magazine%20logo.jpg

At BlizzCon 2009 -- taking place this weekend in Anaheim -- Future is doing a big advertising push for World of Warcraft: The Magazine, its latest project and one of the bigger game-media launches of the year in any territory.

The magazine, which is slated to debut later this year (editor-in-chief Dan Amrich told me they're aiming for WOW's fifth anniversary in November), will have a fairly big presence at BlizzCon, where Future will front a booth, give out mini-mags in attendees' goodie bags, sell subscriptions complete with free murloc plush, all that sort of thing.

The basic stats on WOW: The Magazine --

- It'll be launching simultaneously with editions in America, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain and is subscription-only, with zero newsstand distribution. The price: $39.95 (or £29.95 or €34.95) for four seasonal issues. There's a bit of a discount if you commit to two years.

- It's run by Amrich -- who left Official Xbox Magazine US to take up the EIC job -- with Tim Edwards (who also continues to edit PC Gamer's UK edition) serving as the European editor. Art design is led by Ryan Vulk, who worked on Ziff Davis's Official PlayStation Magazine long ago (more recently he's been designing Wired), and Julian Rignall, a man who needs no introduction among British gamers of a certain era, is editorial director.

- It'll use the same wide-body dimensions as Future's Edge, with similar paper quality and so forth, and every issue is set to be 148 pages long, with no third-party advertising. Being official, there are promises of all kinds of exclusive content from Blizzard's designers and art guys. The editors I talked to assured me that WOW will be the main thrust of the mag throughout; there will be very little coverage of other PC games, or other MMOs, or even Blizzard's other franchises. Pure WOW.

- Since there's no newsstand presence, Future will mainly advertise the mag through worldofwarcraft.com and the Blizzard Launcher. (Worldofwarcraftthemagazine.com will go live on noon Eastern time/5pm GMT Friday.)

I have a feeling many people will ask why anyone would dare to make a print mag devoted to a nearly five-year-old game, in 2009, and charge ten bucks an issue. But although I've never really played WOW, I'm excited for this project -- in fact, if it succeeds (and I hope it does), I think "boutique" titles like these are going to mark the future of print-based game media, or the part of it that survives.

Here's why.

IGF, Direct2Drive Announces $10,000 D2D Vision Award Finalists

March 19, 2009 12:00 PM |

[As well as the >$50,000 we're giving out at the IGF Awards next week, download partner Direct2Drive are kicking in another $10,000 for their own special award, which is nice of them.

Oh, and check out their indie games section if you haven't seen it, we helped A&R games for it and it has pretty decent stuff in it.]

IGN's digital retail store Direct2Drive announced the four finalists for the Independent Games Festival's D2D Vision Award, which seeks to celebrate independent developers exemplifying innovation in design coupled with excellence in game-play.

The sponsored award will be presented at 2009’s Independent Games Festival on March 25 in conjunction with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

The team behind the winning title will take home a $10,000 cash prize and will be recognized during the 11th Annual IGF Awards show taking place in conjunction with the Game Developers Choice Awards at GDC.

The Dobbs Challenge Contest Winners Announced

June 18, 2008 4:00 PM |

[GameSetWatch's sister programming mag/website Dr Dobb's Journal has been running the Dr. Dobb's Challenge game competition in association with Microsoft Visual Studio, with $10,000 in prizes for modding a Windows and Windows Mobile sample game. Here, contest organizer Mathew Kumar is kind enough to outline the winners - go check em out!]

It's been an intense few days of judging and we'd like to congratulate all of the entrants for their remarkable work in modding Dr. Dobbs Challenge into a variety of striking and very different games!

We'll be making our critic's choice of all the entrants available for download on the Dobbs Challenge website starting tomorrow, but we'd like to first announce the winners of the inaugural Dobbs Challenge, selected by our panel of judges.

Best One Button Game
Wobble Bob
(Lukasz Lesicki)

The one button category was a challenging category that entrants had to "give their all" to in the hope of winning, and although there were many amazing entries, Lukasz Lesicki's Wobble Bob came out of nowhere to win it by virtue of its unique game design. Though our judges are au fait with many different kinds of one-button game, they had never played one with a character who "wobbled" backwards and forwards allowing movement in two directions with a subtle, timing-based gameplay.

In addition, both graphics and level design offered a unified pleasant feel, and as a result Lukasz Lesicki walks away with the $1,000 prize. [Download Now!]

Ultima Gets Ultimate Ultima Guide, Guv'nor!

September 26, 2007 8:02 AM |

- So, as we reported on Gamasutra, it's the 10th anniversary of Ultima Online, the big bad voodoo daddy of graphical MMOs, and they're advertising "...a new amnesty program that invites former players back to try out the major game update, Ultima Online Kingdom Reborn, for free" - which is awesome, cos it sounds like one of those campaigns where you have to hand in guns and grenades at the police station!

And this Ultima-related celebration is good timing for The Artful Gamer's interview with Stephen Emond, who has written 'Ultima: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide', and is planning to release the book in the near future - thus far "...only three copies exist (mine, a copy I presented to Richard [Garriott] and the one auctioned off at the [recent Austin GDC] fundraiser)."

Judging by Stephen's rather amazing collection, it's going to be an essential tome for Ultima geeks, though, and as Emond notes, the Ultima series is well worth collecting: "Most game collectors would agree that Origin consistently went above and beyond when it came to packaging and contents, particularly with the Ultima series. Beautifully detailed booklets, cloth maps, and meaningful ‘trinkets’ from Ankhs to Moonstones were the norm. With most games (then and now) you’d be lucky to find that in a special collector’s edition."

Digital Eel Releases The Plasmaworm For Free!

September 24, 2007 12:06 AM |

- Got a note from Rich over at indie stalwarts Digital Eel revealing some very neat news: "Hot off the hyperwire: Digital Eel's very first game, Plasmaworm (quite possibly the coolest Snake game in the Five Galaxies), is now absolutely FREE! You get the FULL GAME plus level passwords with no strings attached."

Here's the system requirements/info for the game, which includes: "360 degree movement; in-game level, music and plasma editors; solo or 2-player co-op or deathmatch modes; guns; bosses; cosmic ducks; the works!" And here's the 2MB installer for the Windows title, yay.

There are Plasmaworm screenshots on the site, too - these are the trippy folks behind super-neat 'short' space combat game Weird Worlds, let's not forget. Oh, also, just spotted a teaser for Digital Eel's next game on their front page, 'Eat Electric Death', described as 'Tactical starship combat in your living room!' Whatever insanity that is.

When You Gotta Fret, You Gotta Fret Nice

September 22, 2007 8:02 AM |

- At JayIsGames, the lovely Lars Doucet has done an excellent interview with 'Fret Nice' creator Martin Bruggemann, that title that "...looks like a straightforward platforming game, but there's a big twist: instead of using the keyboard or a gamepad, you play Fret Nice with the Guitar Hero controller!"

The game (which has been out for a while, and mentioned on a few major websites) was done as part of a Scandinavian university thesis, and it really is impressive how such formality can bring rigor to the game design process, leading to smart moves like this:

"The control scheme was better fitted for a fast game play with lots of forward motion. It's sometime hard to build momentum in Fret Nice because of the clunkiness of the control scheme and therefore I tried to make it so that the player never has to stand still. This should be apparent in the level design."

Bruggemann also reveals: "I'm currently in the process of starting a game development studio with a couple of school mates. Fret Nice will be one of the games we will be working on. Visit our website for more information." All I have to say is - enough people have guitar controllers now, XBLA/PSN release for this, somebody?

Charting World Of Warcraft's Balance Changes

September 19, 2007 8:03 AM |

- Over at game metrics blog We Can Fix That With Data, Sara Jensen has been doing some fascinating World Of Warcraft balance analysis, examining which player classes have been fixed, buffed, nerfed, and various other odd MMO-specific titles.

But how can you begin to ennumerate the changes? As Jensen, who works at Spacetime Studios for her dayjob, explains, a particularly data-hungry World Of Warcraft forum-goers has "...listed every class change made since the beginning of recorded history (i.e. early beta), and he’s categorized it by buffs, nerfs, bug fixes, changes, new features, and overhauls." Jensen has crunched that all into a very interesting set of graphs, showing that, for example, the Warlock has the most changes, but the Druid has been buffed the most in Blizzard's gameplay tweaking.

In comments, 'Scott' provides some useful color: "So, the biggest problem is that there’s no relative weight to the buffs/nerfs, so the nerf to Dire Bear armor in 2.0 is assigned the same weight as no longer being able to teleport to Moonglade while in tree form. Of course then you start having to assign subjective weight", adding: "The real interesting data points you’re missing are of course class population overlaid on these figures." Good points all!

EVE Online: The Bears and the Rat

September 16, 2007 8:04 AM |

- Under the faithful editorial leadership of Chris Remo, veteran game site Shacknews has been positively resurgent of late, and I particularly liked the new feature 'EVE Online: The Bears and the Rat', written by Nick Breckon, and the second in a series of features analyzing the exquisite skullduggery at work in CCP's PC MMO.

It's allusive, positively Clancy-esque stuff: "In September of 2006, a historic meeting between officials of EVE Online's player-run corporations took place. Red Alliance, the notorious Russian organization, reached out to offer a partnership with the equally-infamous GoonSwarm. For the first time, the traditionally straightforward Russians were using the olive branch, actively seeking a major ally through diplomatic means--and Westerners at that."

Breckon continues: "Of course, it's not surprising that the American leadership of GoonSwarm rejected the initial offer. Separated by both practical and cultural divisions, the two organizations had never before spoken--and in a throwback to the Cold War, it would take some convincing before the Americans could trust an alliance known for being even more ruthless than they."

I do believe that EVE Online is the online world that has most accurately modeled real-life geopolitical machinations at this point - though feel free to disagree?

Eve Online's Economist Goes Mineral Mad

September 11, 2007 8:04 AM |

- You may recall that Icelandic space MMO EVE Online appointed an official in-world economist, Dr. Eyjo Gudmundsson, a few months back - here's his first post on their official site, promising he'll monitor inflation and trading and "...publish economic information to the EVE-Online community."

Well, earlier last week, Dr. Eyjo duly published his first in-world analysis, and it's stacked with the kind of complex graphs and charts that would make a lot of MMO developers/geeks drool. One notable thing upfront is that current subscription numbers for EVE are revealed: "EVE Online's population has increased by 0.9% per week since launch, currently residing at 190.000 paid subscriptions and nearly 40.000 active trial accounts which are disregarded from these economic studies."

The conclusion mentions that there will be an economic newsletter, the first of a quarterly series, published before Fanfest 2007 in November, and also reveals surprisingly real world-esque trends: "Overall trade quantity and volume has increased dramatically over the last 3 years and the price of minerals has fallen considerably due to increased mining efficiency through better tactics and improved technology. The price formation has also improved showing that price difference between regions is becoming minimal in Empire space and reflects only the time value of moving minerals in low sec. However, smaller population and the risk of piracy in zero-zero space results in less efficient markets with low volumes and great fluctuations in prices given an arbitrage trade opportunity for the brave entrepreneur." [Via Clickable Culture.]