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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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The Right To Baer Games

March 25, 2007 2:09 PM |

- Over at sister site Gamasutra, Benj Edwards (himself a former GSW columnist) has written up 'The Right to Baer Games - An Interview with Ralph Baer, the Father of Video Games', one of the more deliciously cranky interviews we've collectively run in a while.

Talking about developing the first game hardware in the '60s (ahead of the Magnavox Odyssey, which debuted in 1972), Baer explained: ""Quit screwing around with that." That was the question that was asked by my boss, who was the executive VP for quite a few years. I was asked that question many times: "Are you still screwing around with that stuff, Baer?" And I'd smile and say nothing, right?"

Considering Baer's patents are probably a key part of his lasting fame/success, he's quite dismissive of the whole patent process, too: "...You look at the patents, and three out of four are garbage. Especially since it's so easy to do patent searches on the web; it's very easy. You look at that stuff: one piece of crap after another. How the hell did that ever get in there and clog up the system to where stuff that should have really been handled in an expeditious manner didn't make it through the damn office for three years or even longer? That's problem number one."

Dr Peter Favaro's Alter Ego Exposed

March 20, 2007 11:15 PM |

- Over at Gnome's Lair, they have a really interesting interview quizzing Dr. Peter Favaro, cited as "...the man behind the excellent Alter Ego life-sim and also one of the few psychologists deeply interested in the Internet... and video gaming."

Dr. Favaro explains of what happened after the '80s Activision title that made his name: "Well, Alter Ego was to be followed by a game called Child's Play -a humorous simulation about raising children, but Activision fell on financial hard times and [it] had to be scrapped. The project manager was someone named Brenda Laurel, whom everyone first referred to as "The Lizard Queen" in the early days of the Internet. Since then I have had some game ideas. One is finally coming to fruition. It's Internet based and code named K-OS."

He then explains this new wackiness called K-OS: "People purchase computer generated DNA. They feed, train and teach the creature that forms from it. The creatures meet in a virtual world on line, fight, consume each other's attributes until one becomes most superior. You know, the kind of touchy feely activities psychologists are known for." Sounds appropriately 'survival of the fittest',

PBS Explores The Making Of Imagic

March 17, 2007 2:49 PM |

- At AtariAge, they've been kind enough to point out some awesome retro TV additions to YouTube, in the form of a "...an episode of Enterprise (the 80s PBS business show, not the Star Trek spin-off) hosted by veteran CBS correspondant Eric Sevareid."

As is explained: "This particular episode (looks like it was aired in 1983 by my estimate) was all about Imagic. It featured the four founding members talking about the business, current and future projects, and in part follows the development and release cycle of Atlantis throughought 1982 -- from design, prototyping, playtesting, finishing, the CES '82 debut and the following months." Here's Part 1 - Atari Age has links to the other two parts.

What's more: "Some great inside shots of Imagic are shown, along with some great early and mid-stage Atlantis pre-prototype shots, scenes from the CES show, production line shots, financial stats on the company including the press conference announcing their plans to be the first video game company to issue an IPO, and so on. Really fascinating stuff and some rare glimpses into the inner world of a game company of the 80s." Great stuff.

Minter's Google Talk Grazes Onto Video

March 16, 2007 3:36 AM |

- When I managed to get Jeff Minter to come over to keynote the Independent Games Summit the other week, I was delighted to hear that he also got invited to speak at Google. Turns out the subsequent 'Google Tech Talk' has been posted on Google Video for free, and provides 61 minutes of Yak goodness.

There's a nice abstract: "Jeff "Yak" Minter has been developing video games from the Sinclair Spectrum era on up through the present day. If you were alive in the 8-bit years, you've probably played one of his games: Llamatron, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner and Idris Alpha were among the better-known ones. If you were one of the 30 people to buy an Atari Jaguar, you probably bought his "Tempest 2000" and "Defender 2000" cartridges." More than 30!

Finally: "And if you own an Xbox 360, you've also seen his work: the built-in music visualizer is his creation. His current project is an XBox Live Arcade game temporarily titled "Space Giraffe", which is an attempt to bring the classic Atari game Tempest into the next-gen era." The whole video is basically the same as his Independent Games Summit keynote, and also includes multiple camera angles and emulator demos as he wanders through his awesome back catalogue, so - unmissable! [Via Boyer.]

Okie Dokie It's Bill Kunkel!

March 14, 2007 4:37 PM |

- A final pre-GDC floater (ew!), Kyle Orland over at GameDaily's 'Media Coverage' column actually posted a neat interview with veteran video game mag editor Bill Kunkel a couple of weeks back, and it's well worth a trawl through.

The intro explains: "Bill Kunkel is unquestionably the grandfather of video game journalism. After writing the first regular game review column for Video magazine in the late '70s, he helped start the first American consumer magazine for gaming, Electronic Games, in 1981. Kunkel has meandered a bit since those days, writing for comics and wrestling magazines, and even working as a game developer and design consultant for a time. But he's always come back to game journalism, bouncing between a variety of print and online outlets before recently becoming the editor-in-chief of Tips & Tricks magazine starting with the January 2007 issue."

Anyhow, Kunkel has some good quotes all round (and I wonder if he can bring Tips & Tricks back from the brink?), but here's a particularly interesting one: "Once the Internet got established, basically magazines started dying because so much of game journalism had become about news – the signing, the specs for the next generation system that hasn't come out in Japan yet. That kind of obsession – everything here is kind of OK and boring, but everything that's coming is infinitely more exciting – when you get readers conditioned to think that's what it's all about, magazines don't stand a chance in hell against the Internet."

Mega64 Meets Their Maker, Kinda

March 12, 2007 3:22 PM |

- Currently spreading all over the Internet in quite short order, Internet video japesters Mega64 have posted their special Game Developers Conference-shot Super Mario Bros. skit, in which they jump around the Moscone Center in SF and meet... somebody special!

This skit was produced while Mega64 was at GDC last week, and appeared in the Game Developers Choice Awards, to some serious guffawing - if you look closer in that video, you'll also see clips from their Super Mario Bros 3, A Boy And His Blob (!) and Feel The Magic videos (iloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyou.)

I also got a chance to see Mega64's Rocco at the IGF Pavilion at some point last week, and I think I embarrassed him slightly by praising him in borderline fanboy fashion. Nonetheless, as can be seen from previous GSW entries going slightly nana over the unique blend of Jackass-ery and dumb fun, those guys rule. [Also, NeoGAF is making animated GIFs, which is a surefine sign that it's a hit.]

Way Of The Rodent Quizzes Owen Rubin

March 12, 2007 10:22 AM |

- My preternaturally sensitive RSS reader has discerned that there's a new Way Of The Rodent issue up, and the sometimes unfairly ignored, very British webmag has an excellent chat with Owen Rubin front and center of the issue.

Why have you heard of Owen Rubin, then? He explains of the classic titles he made for Nolan Bushnell at Atari: "There is a long list. Some made it, some did not. Ones you may have heard of include Major Havoc, Space Duel, Triple Hunt and Sky Diver. Oh and I wrote the routine for the volcano in Battlezone!"

Internal politics are also dealt with: "The biggest problem with Atari was their management. Keep in mind that Atari was a bunch of 20 something young engineers, some becoming managers with no training at all. It was full of college friends hiring friends who had these little cliques, and seldom did any of them know how to really manage, or care. Plus Atari offered no training, and had no role models really. I would not play the politics, so I was never given a higher management position even after 9 years, one of the reasons I left. Man, the stories I could tell about bad management at Atari." Interesting.

Let's Play Games, And Talk About Them

March 5, 2007 2:32 AM |

- Those creative reprobates at SomethingAwful have branched off some of their forum goings-on to its own 'walkthrough' website, Let's Play, and it's got some really fun stuff on it.

For example, there's a Mixed Up Mother Goose walkthrough in the style of Sin City, with grainy black and white screenshots: "She was mixed up. Mixed up in something she couldn't handle. Something serious. There was only one person who could help her. That person was me... I hadn't had any business in a long time. Not since my last case. Three died that night, and blood from two of them was on my hands."

A little less out there, but more informative, would be a Dungeon Explorer walkthrough, obviously written before the game debuted on Wii, but useful anyhow: "Oh yes, my fellow Hudson fans, the time has come for Dungeon Explorer to be released upon the world -- for real this time, not on a console that only myself and about 10 other people (7 of them Japanese) actually owned. That's right. Sometime in the coming weeks, Nintendo and Hudson will release this classic dungeon crawler on the Virtual Console. And it will be worth it." [Via Frank.]

Lost Levels Takes On Hard Driving, More!

March 4, 2007 2:38 AM |

- Co-worker Frank, who is doing a sterling job arranging our upcoming Gamasutra coverage of next week's GDC, has also been posting some new stories of unreleased games over at his v.fun site, Lost Levels.

The front page itself explains: "While browsing through the Mean Machines Archive today, I stumbled on something pretty unexpected: the first screenshots I’ve ever seen of Hard Drivin’ for the NES, Tengen’s unreleased port of Atari’s driving simulator-turned-arcade racing game!"

In addition, the forums have an overview of a guest review of Time Diver: Eon Man, which reveals: "Time Diver was an action platformer for the NES, scheduled to be released by Taito in February of 1993. I'm not saying the game is bad, mind you; just generic. It could easily be a dozen other games, and at least seven of those would be Ninja Gaiden. It's a simple five level sprint through every cliche of the NES era, and I can only assume that this sameness made Taito question the title's sales potential." Well-researched and wacky.

Bow Down To The C64 Messiah

March 2, 2007 4:15 PM |

- A note from GSW columnist James Dudley, who has a keen eye for what we would describe as 'wacky stuff', reads: "You might be interested in this, if you haven't picked up on him already - there's this dude called C64 Messiah, and he's crossed everything I like about rap with everything I like about vintage computer sounds."

You know what, we do like that stuff! He continues: "I'm playing "Ballcore (Dirty South Remix)" on repeat and I thoroughly recommend it. Check the videos for true Commodore 64 flavor. C64 Messiah is my new hero, and I was always an Amstrad kid so I can think of no higher praise." And I was a Spectrum kiddie, and I still like this, so somebody must be doing something right round here.

He concludes: "I want this guy to have a five billion dollar fold out mansion by the end of the year." On this very subject, a friend of a friend authored the excellent 'Mark VII'-pseudonym-ed C64 and hiphop cut-up stuff a few years back, and I'm glad to see that it's still online somewhere - I think I might have linked it before, but it still rocks my socks.