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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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Professor Fizzwizzle At Center Of Molten Mystery

June 8, 2007 8:06 AM |

x.jpg A tiny indie that I sometimes think doesn't get enough play is Grubby Games, a two-man shop that's released two Independent Games Festival finalists (the Incredible Machine-like Professor Fizzwizzle and Breakout vs. Katamari concoction Fizzball) to date.

Anyhow, they've now mailed GSW to reveal the official launch of "...a logic puzzler of volcanic proportions: Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery" - for Windows, Mac, and Linux, to boot. It's explained: "While on a well deserved vacation, Professor Fizzwizzle's investigation of a strange volcano has landed him in a hot spot of trouble. Now it's up to you to master exciting new gadgets, outwit the Bat-Bots, and vanquish a truly cunning villain!"

This time there's over 210 levels in three different difficulty levels, and neat concepts to help the occasionally frustrating 'trial and error' gameplay of some of these logic puzzlers: "Stuck on a level? Just use the "Show Solution" option to watch a walk-through. Made a false move? The multiple-level "undo" feature will come to your rescue. Find the action too fast? Adjust the game speed and play at your own pace." There's also a full level editor with the ability to share levels online, and I personally appreciate any game with a socially awkward-looking, white-haired scientist as its protagonist - XBLA version, plz!

MMOG Data - Carrying On MMOG Chart's Flame?

June 7, 2007 9:58 PM |

x.jpg This has been floating around for a little while, but since they've now published their first update, thought it might be time to look further at MMOGData.com, a new website for tracked subscriber info on the MMO market, set up by ex-Codemasters Online exec Phil 'Vortal' White in the UK.

As Phil says: "Lots of people have used the awesome www.mmogchart.com for information on the MMOG market which was created and maintained by SirBruce for many years, however since 2006 SirBruce has not updated the site. I thought this was a great shame and I have tried to contact SirBruce many times over the last 2 months... but just could not get hold of [him] so I have decided to create a new site and continue his work."

I've had the same problem with SirBruce, unfortunately, who is a bit of a flighty chap - still hoping to do some work with this data for Game Developer Research, but the 'ownership' is even more confusing now. But hey, it's been dug out and there's been an attempt made to augment it, and whoa look at World Of Warcraft go! - which continues to be the main message! [Via Zenke, Koster.]

The Lord Of The Rings Online That Wasn't

June 5, 2007 8:54 AM |

x.jpg While most of us know about The Lord Of The Rings Online - at least, the version that just launched - Joe Ludwig, who is nowadays Director of Development at Flying Lab Software on the upcoming MMO Pirates Of The Burning Sea, has been talking about Sierra's attempt to do Middle Earth Online back in 1998-2000 or so.

That aborted version was actually the one that Puzzle Pirates creator Daniel James worked on at Yosemite Entertainment - one of the reasons his company is called Three Rings, of course, but I'm getting off on a tangent here. Anyhoo, Ludwig's latest Tolkien Online-related post discusses an absolutely bizarre twist on the whole thing, which happened during GDC 2001 and a random dinner meeting at Denny's.

Ludwig explains: "We got to talking about about games we had worked on, and when I mentioned Middle-Earth Online, one of these guys got an excited look on his face. His name was David Michael, and he was a founder at Samu Games. Samu had a game out called Artifact, which is a 2D online strategy game. It seems that about a year earlier, in the spring of 2000, Sierra had approached Samu Games about doing a version of Artifact [which people are still playing, blimey] with the Middle-Earth license. They paid for Samu to add a few new features to their game and reskin it with hobbits and elves so they could show it off as Middle-Earth Online."

Wha? "It seems that the licensing agreement between the Tolkien people and Sierra specified certain milestones at which Sierra had to show forward progress on Middle-Earth Online. One of these milestones was in 2000 and they needed to show something to Tolkien’s estate or they would lose the license. They laid off the entire Middle-Earth team in the fall of 1999, so they obviously had nothing internal to show, but by throwing a few hundred thousand dollars at Samu Games, they could get their hands on an online game set in Middle-Earth." Don't know if that figure is accurate, of course, but it's still an interesting claim in a tortuous history for Tolkien's property in the MMO space.

Putting The Agatha Christie Into Adventure Games

June 4, 2007 5:30 PM |

x.jpg Over at the Adventure Classic Gaming site, they've interviewed AWE Production's Scott Nixon on creating recent PC adventure games Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None and Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express.

Nixon, who recently wrote a Gamasutra article entitled 'Bring Out Your Dead! Can Nintendo Breathe New Life into Adventure Games?', is the definition of an adventure game developer, having worked on graphic adventures for a fair few years now, and is obviously enthusiastic about the material, talking here about the use of David Suchet as the voice of Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express:

"Everyone involved in the project had that question at the forefront of their minds from the word go. Suchet has become so intertwined with Poirot that it is, at this point, hard to imagine someone else taking over without being constantly compared to him. It was a Catch-22, because you worry about someone coming in and doing a Suchet impression instead of a unique rendition of Poirot, yet the more the voice strays from Suchet’s version, the more people will wish it was Suchet doing it! Mike Adams (Producer at The Adventure Company) was very keen on getting Suchet on board and really worked at it."

Kloonigames Strays Into Crayon Physics

June 4, 2007 12:21 PM |

x.jpg We've linked Petri Purho's 'made in a week' Kloonigames freeware titles before, most recently the politically-themed 'Daydreaming in the Oval Office', but his latest attempt is 'Crayon', a title in which "...you play with crayons and physics."

He explains of the downloadable title, simply enough: "The goal of the game is to move the red ball so that it collects the stars. You can cause the red ball to move by drawing physical objects... With left mouse button you can draw and with right you can remove objects."

The game appears to be a whole heap of fun, and has already received some notable praise in the comments from folks like EA's Rod Humble (creator of The Marriage, which Purho spoofed in The Divorce), and longtime experimental gameplay mainstay and horrifically smart guy Chris Hecker, who's currently working on Spore.

Actually, Hecker's comments are particularly notable for me because they're smart and analytical in a constructive way - something we try to get IGF judges to do (and sometimes succeed!): "I didn’t realize you could draw a single line at first, and I think it was slightly incrementally more fun that way, trying to draw thin boxes with the mouse. It added a little bit of a really subtle dexterity action component to the puzzles on some of the levels, trying to hurry but still draw a thin box. Not too much to be frustrating, but enough that it’s interesting, and it makes long thin boxes more difficult to make, which is a kinda cool feedback loop since they’re “more powerful” in some sense."

GameTap Blasts Free Games, Lite Player, Deluxe 3.0 Client

June 4, 2007 2:00 AM |

x.jpg So, this was the week that subscription gaming service GameTap rolled out a whole boatload of changes - as Angled Whiteboards explains: "Begin by launching GameTap and upgrading it to the Deluxe [Version 3.0] Player. You’ll obviously need it to access today’s superfun batch of games. But the update also introduces a number of anticipated new game discovery features, enhanced search, publishable playlists, AND the handy new Lite Player." (A Joystiq interview talks more about the changes and plans.)

So you can now play a number of games for free, using the Lite Player, over on GameTap.com, even if you're not a subscriber - these include Metal Slug, Tomb Raider Legend, Joust, and even Uru Live, though the website is still going through some teething trouble with slowish downloads and so on, last I checked.

It's a bit of a weird hybrid - sorta a website front end, but still using a PC downloadable with emulation to play the games - and is still pretty 'Beta' in many ways. Lots of new features, too - there's digital purchases now available for a whole bunch of games, along with lots of GameTap TV now viewable for free. Not sure if it's up there on the site, but I was watching (in the Deluxe Player) a GameTap TV mini-doc on the Sega SG-1000 that had unbelievably high production quality, and kinda epitomizes the GameTap experience for me right now - cool, but still rather random.

Still, a glance at the 'Coming Soon' tab in the Deluxe Player reveals confirmation of a bunch of interesting GSW-relevant stuff on the continuing GameTap monthly subscription service, including Clockwork Knight (undated) and Golden Axe: The Duel (6/14) for the Sega Saturn, the entire set of King Of Fighters games through KOF 2003 rolling up through August 23rd, Last Blade 1 and 2 appearing in July, and Twinkle Star Sprites with multiplayer capabilities arriving on June 5th. It may be scattershot, but it's enticingly so for game geeks like us, eh?

Metanet Lets Us Peek Behind Robotology Curtain

June 3, 2007 7:50 PM |

x.jpg Raigan and Mare from Metanet Software, creators of the IGF Audience Award-winning (and pictured) N, are some of the more interesting and sometimes outspoken indie creators around - check out Jim Munroe's 'Freeware Rebellion' mini-doc starring the duo if you want to know more - the N community is spectacularly large nowadays.

So, it's recently been revealed that N+ is coming to Xbox Live Arcade (with help from Eets creators Klei) and DS/PSP (via Atari and Silverbirch Studios) - and now Metanet has started an official blog to discuss their next game, the 'mysterious' Robotology.

There are two posts explaining 'the story thus far', in which it's explained that: "The high-level direction for the game was “Umihara Kawase + parkour”, in a world where the environment was not just static platforms, but moving, mechanized, segmented “robots”." There's even an old prototype shown - but apparently, the game has changed massively since then. Really looking forward to what's spat out of the Metanet maw.

[Also well worth reading on the Metablog - a somewhat spectacular rant about casual games: "This is an industry which openly acknowledges the fact that requiring the player to grasp the concept of right-clicking will alienate the majority of users. Is catering to such a market charitable, or is it exploitative?... Just because there’s money in it doesn’t mean that it’s morally or ethically right. If we continue to pander to the barely-game-literate, how will they ever become more literate?"]

The 50 Weirdest Moments In PC Gaming

June 3, 2007 9:30 AM |

x.jpg UK games and tech journo Richard Cobbett has posted to his blog pointing out some new self-penned goodness: "Time for a new addition to the Article Library - the Cirque du Strange (aka The 50 Weirdest Moments In PC Gaming). I actually wrote this one [for PC Gamer UK] about a year ago... and now it’s online, containing such stories as the time Lara Croft met a SWAT team in real life, the Unrighteous Bible of the gaming world, the naughtiest tattoo ever, some of the weirdest names in gaming, and a couple of its lamest puzzles."

A couple of highlights, perhaps: "There’s a big market for glitched Bibles, such as the Unrighteous Bible of 1653, which asked ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the Earth’. Not a million miles from the Caesar III manual, which on page 210 described the Medium Statue you can buy for your city as ‘Administration; Prosperity rating up to 75%.what the hell is this shit”. And you thought it was only you that got confused."

Also, and I think this write-up is phrased better than the actual event: "One of the many beautiful moments in Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines - picking the insane Malkavian clan for your character completely changes the game’s dialogue into a mix of psychotic dementia and lucid insight far beyond the other possible character choices. It even afflicts your pet ghoul, a college girl called Heather, who takes to your blood like the finest drug, until the two of you are nattering like true psychotics, and the world is that much crazier."

Blogging Ultima, Step By Step...

May 29, 2007 6:12 PM |

- Via all kinds of people, including GBGames, comes a link to the fairly new (well, it started in February 2007) 'Blogging Ultima' weblog, which explains itself as follows:

"The purpose is to blog the experience of playing the now-defunct Ultima series by Origin Systems (plus a few other names here and there) from beginning to end. I will be including all the non-remake spin-offs that I am aware of, under the theory of 'If I'm gonna do it, might as well go all the way.' I am not blogging as if I am a character in the game, or giving reviews. I'm going to write about the process of playing, the annoying things, the fun things, and the assorted mental musings that arise from any long-term activity." He's up to Ultima VII already, and there's all kinds of interesting commentary along the way.

Related to this very idea, GBGames comments of extending the concept: "The existence of Blogging Ultima led me to think about similar blogs. What about a blog for the Wizardry series? The Prince of Persia games? Even Leisure Suit Larry or King’s Quest games would probably make for an interesting story for someone to play today." Yesh, please make all of the above.

The State Of The Introversion, Probed Fully

May 28, 2007 2:09 PM |

- Over at Eurogamer, they've posted a new Kieron Gillen-penned interview with Introversion's Chris Delay, discussing the history and shape of the UK indie firm's 'bedroom programmer'-tastic titles.

And indeed, here's a good summing up from Delay on that very subject: "Comparing DEFCON to our other games is difficult. Uplink is rugged and buggy and ugly and still sells more than Darwinia every day. Darwinia is our oddball second album, our very own love letter to the Amiga and the soul of great videogames, and the game I'm most proud of. DEFCON is a relatively simple multiplayer game idea and I think that's probably the key to its success."

There's also some fun discussion on what the previously GSW-mentioned Subversion is - and the conclusion is that... nobody knows: "We can understand that everyone wants to know what it is, but we just can't say. If someone had access to all the source code and all the design documents for Subversion, and had listened in on the last month's telephone conversations between the directors, they still wouldn't know what the game was going to be about. It's experimentation. I think part of the problem is that people can't quite believe it still exists in the games industry, and no longer recognise it when they see it."