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About GameSetWatch

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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Retro

GameSetNetwork: Owls, PSP Comics, Extreeeme Programming

March 2, 2007 6:04 AM |

- This is the first in a regular series linking to neat articles from GSW's sister sites: Gamasutra, Game Career Guide, Serious Games Source, and a new addition that's launching on Monday - but more on that then! This time - THQ's MMO aspirations, a neato Playing Catch-Up, and a couple of interesting technical pieces:

- Gamasutra: Q&A: THQ's Kelly Flock Talks Warhammer 40,000 MMO
"The adoption by the mainstream public has just been exponential since Ultima Online and Everquest through World of Warcraft, but the cycles are still the same -- these are five to seven year runs they have."

- Game Career Guide: Student Postmortem: DigiPen’s Toblo
"We decided to grasp onto the one aspect of our game which we knew was enjoyable: knocking things down. Our game design underwent a complete overhaul, and our tower building game turned into destructive CTF mayhem. This move made the game easier to understand, and also allowed us to showcase our physics engine."

- Gamasutra: Playing Catch-Up: Skyfox's Ray Tobey
"Today's Playing Catch-Up speaks to Ray Tobey (pictured with owl!), designer of 1984 Apple II action flight sim Skyfox and co-designer of Budokan, about his storied career, from early '80s programmer stardom to his current political work for the Green Party."

- Serious Games Source: Serious Game Engine Shootout
"As an emerging market little has been written about the best engines for building serious games. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for publishers to choose development partners, and for developers to scope serious game projects and determine the best tools to use. In this article – and in a panel discussion on March 6th at the Serious Games Summit – we’ll begin to address this deficiency."

- Gamasutra: Embracing Fun: Why Extreme Programming is Great for Game Development
"Blue Fang Games' Bill Schofield advocates the usage of extreme programming - an Agile methodology designed to allow design iteration on the programming level - in this exclusive Gamasutra feature."

Exodus From Neversoft To Sad Cancellation

March 2, 2007 1:02 AM |

- We recently covered a 'lost' Neversoft game from early in the company's career, Ghost Rider, and now it turns out that PlayStation Museum has screenshots from another mythical Neversoft title, Exodus.

It's explained: "After the 1996 E3, Neversoft Entertainment focused their efforts on a new demo titled Big Guns. The Big Guns demo displayed a Mech walking down a canyon shooting various things... Neversoft took this demo to Shiny on June 1st 1996 to demonstrate their talent in hopes that Shiny would hire them for the MDK conversion; it was a success."

However, if this is to be believed, the design was, uhh, changed a lot: "Big Guns was renamed Exodus for trademark reasons - "Big Gun" was the name of motorbike exhausts. As with many games in development, the artistic designs were continuously being redesigned. With the aid of SCEA, the team decided to change the Mech into a girl who could morph into a big cat." OK! Finally: "In November 1997, Exodus was officially cancelled." Wow, a playable version of this would be neat.

Mascots Aging Gracefully? Not So Much

March 1, 2007 10:29 AM |

- Over at 1UP last week (yes, I know, behind) they posted a fun feature called 'Aging Gracefully', in which Nadia Oxford explains: "If you interview adults who have played games since the Atari 2600 and then talk to children born after the N64's debut, there is a marked difference in how the generations view the videogame mascots they grew up with."

How so? Oxford takes Mario as an example: "With the NES boom came the inevitable merchandise and cartoons. Mario's animated adventures included the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and later, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3. The cartoons were standard kiddy fare involving Mario and friends trying to bust up King Bowser's evil plans, but they're noteworthy for one particular reason: They gave Mario a voice, and oddly enough, a home in Brooklyn."

So what? "Although definitely Italian in ancestry (The Super Show made sure to supply a pasta joke every three minutes), he wasn't the hardcore stereotype he's become since we flicked on the power buttons of our N64s. He also wasn't the happy, chatty man he is now. The NES' hero was strong, silent, and almost mysterious." This is a fairly subtle and clever angle for a story (no 'Top 10 Gay Things' here), and I appreciate the careful thinking on how mascots evolve when technology gets in the way.

Oh My, Shmorky's Furious Famicom Faggot

February 24, 2007 11:34 AM |

- You may remember I was talking about neat game-related subcultures that don't get talked about much in the 'mainstream' of game blogging - citing Newgrounds.com as a prime example of youth gone wrong in the most adorable ways.

Well, another is the ever-vitriolic SomethingAwful, and I was alerted to the recent awesomeness going on at SA's 'The Flash Tub', courtesy of longtime SA goon (and at one point official GameSetWatch cartoonist) Dave 'Shmorky' Kelly.

What you should know - there's a tremendously 'popular' YouTube uploader who calls himself 'Angry Nintendo Nerd', and swigs from beer while swearing in a reasonably funny/unnecessary fashion about slightly borderline NES games - here's his take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for one.

Thus, in Shmorky's messed-up world, we have Furious Famicom Faggot (that link is for Part 1 of the 7-part series - the rest are viewable from the Flash Tub homepage.) According to various other notes I've seen hanging out online, there's also a bit of Seanbaby and GameLife referencing in there. There is also an AWESOME Charles Dickens / Dizzy joke in one of the episodes. No lie.

My personal favorite is Episode 4, dealing with Megaman II, and includes the line: "My doctor told me to stay away from playing Megaman, because it would give me FUN cancer", as well as massive amounts of incoherent, sarcastic rage, and a terrible improvised song over the end credits. Oh yeah, and swearing. Well, it works for me. More interestingly, the later episodes get more and more surreal, as somehow the FFF gets 'sucked into the game', with a bizarre denouement in Episode 7 - watch all the way through for the 'story', though, kids. [Ta for link, Mr. Cifaldi!]

Programming The 2600 With Batari Basic!

February 22, 2007 7:14 PM |

- Just to prove that the most ancient of game consoles never die, Atari Age has revealed that a new Basic-style programming language has been released... for the Atari 2600!

The front page of the site explains: "After 18 months of development, Fred Quimby has announced the official release of batari Basic! Aside from enhanced stability and flexibility, this release introduces many new features that should help programmers write better games. batari Basic (bB) is a BASIC-like language for creating Atari 2600 games."

What's more: "It is a compiled language and the compiler runs on a computer, but it creates a binary file that can be run on an Atari 2600 emulator or used to make a cartridge that will operate on a real Atari 2600. Versions are available for Windows/MS-DOS, Mac OS X, and Linux. To learn more please visit the new batari Basic website, and you can discuss this new version in our batari Basic Forum."

Retro Round-Up Courtmartials G.I. Joe

February 22, 2007 2:12 PM |

- Well, time to link to the latest Retro Round-Up at 1UP again, because it's just that time of the week and we're just that kind of retro-loving old nostalgia geeks. Sadly.

There's the obvious Virtual Console reviews and shenanigans, thumbs down-ing Legend Of Kage, and noting of Donkey Kong Country: "A shallow and derivative platformer that was bland a decade ago and hasn't improved with age... It's no Mario, but it's charming enough in its own clumsy way." My wife is a major, major fan of this game, incidentally, mainly for the nostalgia value, so we've downloaded it already and she's shaming me by pointing out things to do in the first level that I have no clue about.

[Oh, Lazyweb feature request, 1UP - one big page with all the Virtual Console reviews listed alphabetically? I needed that the other night when I was puzzling on how to spend my remaining Wii points, and sassy capsule reviews are a great way to Siskel and Ebert your way through download choices.]

But the highlight of Retro Round-Up for me is, once again, the Retronauts Bonus Stage video, in which the G.I. Joe series of games are deconstructed, and there's swearing, and knowledge of Cobra Strike for the 2600, and these are two things that I have very little damn knowledge of. So really - bring your Snake Eyes lust here, and worship at St. Joe's altar - 22,000 other people have, thus far.

We See Farther - A History Of Electronic Arts

February 17, 2007 7:31 AM |

- Another example of a GSW columnist stepping up and doing something rather wonderful for big sister site Gamasutra, our Game Collector's Melancholy columnist J.Fleming has just debuted the sumptuous 'We See Farther - A History Of Electronic Arts' feature for the site.

Lavishly illustrated by Gama features editor FrankC, and featuring interviews both with Trip Hawkins (we ran the outtakes on GSW a few days back) and current EVP Frank Gibeau, the feature was apparently so well-received that EA's HR department has already contacted us about using it to educate new hires about the history of the company - and it's not a puff piece in the slightest. Neat!

Needing to quote one bit in particular, this was the paragraph that tickled our Group Director Kathy Schoback, and it deals with EA's reaction to the post-Atari crash years of the mid-'80s: ""I made a conscious decision to ignore Atari and to focus on the next generation of technology," Hawkins said. "We had to operate like the Fremen of Dune, recycling our own saliva to live in the desert, to survive. We had to rebuild the industry brick by brick over a period of years."" Mm, recycling saliva!

Retro Art, Preying On Nintendo's Past Daily

February 16, 2007 11:27 AM |

- The guys at the slightly cheesily named UrbanRetroLifestyle.com have posted a link to a new art print by Van Beater, 'titled Crappy Cat NES Tank.'

It's explained: "Crappy Cat is a character by Van Beater, and this NES Tank complete with a light gun cannon is a perfect war machine for all gaming geeks." Neat. But elsewhere on UrbanRetroLifeStyle, I also spotted a very videogame-ish artist showcase from Marshall Alexander.

He comments: "I work as a graphic designer in The Netherlands. In my spare time I do illustration as a counterbalance for the more corporate briefs at work. My art is heavily inspired by the retro toys, videogames and movies I grew up with. I either make up my own toys (like the Retrobot pinball table) or draw existing toys and sometimes slightly modify them." The 'Nosy Neighbors' Game & Watch fake is pretty cute - more pics on his portfolio site.

Playing Catch-Up With Jon 'Head Over Heels' Ritman

February 16, 2007 6:24 AM |

- Another of Alistair Wallis' Gamasutra columns that's awfully GSW-suitable, this week's Playing Catch-Up talks to classic '80s UK developer Jon Ritman about the games he's made over the past 25 years or so.

It's a really nice piece, and here's a couple of choice bits: "On the day that Ritman handed the master copy of Match Day to Ward, he was offered a copy of Ultimate Play The Game’s isometric adventure Knight Lore, which was due for release by the publisher a few days later. “He told me I had to take a look,” says Ritman. “I did that night, and my jaw hit the floor. It was what I had always wanted: Disney cartoon quality that you could play.”" Then followed Batman and one of my all-time favorite games, Head Over Heels, of course.

Also: "When Ultimate Play The Game - by that time known as Rare - began advertising for new staff, Ritman approached them and found that they had been playing his games as much as he had been playing theirs. He started work with the company on an independent basis, and began working on their GLAM development tool-kit, along with Guy Stevens... Ritman reveals that there were a number of arcade games that he also worked on with the company, though all remain unreleased. “I think my style of game play is more suited to the long haul rather than the quick fix required in an arcade game,” he muses." Damn, how do we get hold of those games?

Vday Present? You Need 161 Joysticks!

February 14, 2007 7:16 PM |

- My occasional eBay trawling finds some classic auctions, and this must be one of the weirdest for a long time - a collection of 161 joysticks for Amiga, Atari, Commodore, and probably some other systems, too. I'm not sure if it's an industrial design lesson or just OCD at work, but here they are!

Starting bid is $999, but hey: "Shipping to Europe will be around $300... Shipping to USA/CANADA etc. will be around $400. They are all in very good condition and most of them should work. Add these beauties to your collection or start one yourself. There are joysticks in all the boxes." Thank God for that!

[While we're talking about Joysticks - Matt Hawkins was devastated to find out that Destructoid reviewed the '80s movie Joysticks ahead of him for his Cinema Pixeldiso column for GSW. Curse you, Destructoidies! We will get you back with an even more obscure movie review soon.]