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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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Wii

Inside The Fiendish Zelda Economy

September 23, 2007 8:01 AM |

- Game developer Brett Douville has updated his Brett's Footnotes blog with an intriguing chat/rant about Zelda's money system, particularly in Twilight Princess for Wii, which he thinks is, well, broken in terms of money management and its related fetch quests, to say the least.

Douville's overall argument starts by noting: "You are frequently maxed out on money, even when you go from the kiddie wallet to the adult wallet, even when you go from the adult wallet to the ultimate wallet", but then overflows to pure annoyance when he finally saved enough and did multiple rote tasks to grab the Magic Armor, the most powerful armor in the game.

And what happens then? "The Magic Armor converts damage to a loss of money, and slowly burns through money whenever you're wearing it besides... That's right, the whole exercise of spending something like 2600 rupees (easily found, slow to amass unless you're thinking about it) was to be able to convert money to health. Something that you could do basically the first time you got an empty bottle -- by buying red potions to fill that bottle from a local vendor."

Douville continues: "Now, I didn't feel gypped -- it more felt like some sort of cosmic joke, really. I had a bit of a laugh when I got the ultimate wallet and the magic armor, only to find myself quickly penniless (rupeeless?) whenever I wore it. It came in handy really only in one circumstance, in the Cave of Trials, a 50-level dungeon of increasingly difficult combatants where there was virtually no health to be found."

So what of this? Douville goes deep for his conclusion: "I can think of two explanations for the Zelda economy in Twilight Princess. The first, and the one I want to believe, is that the designers are trying to say, "Money isn't everything. Money just gives you means to do stuff. Doing stuff is more important." The other is that it's essentially the biggest shell game I've ever participated in. Come to think of it, it's probably both."

Hm - I vote for the latter alone, because I think repetitive leveling is such an ingrained part of many Japanese games that crazed money-centric shenanigans like this are considered legitimate gameplay-extending design concepts. Which is quite possibly a hoop-jumping shame.

From IGF Finalist 'The Blob' To THQ Wii Game 'De Blob'

June 30, 2007 8:04 AM |

- As you might have spotted from a multitude of reports, some of THQ's E3 line-up has 'arrived' early, and one I'm delighted to see is the leaked announcement of 'De Blob' for the Wii, since it's a conversion of 2007 IGF Student Showcase finalist The Blob - which was actually called 'De Blob' in its native Dutch, and avoids nasty Steve McQueen copyright suits, now I come to think of it.

It's awesome to see student and indie projects get picked up like this - hopefully the increased IGF publicity had something to do with this! [EDIT: Spoke to The Blob's creators - apparently the THQ deal was almost finalized by the time GDC came around, but lots of other publishers and even Alexei Pazhitnov praised the game in person, so now the makers have some great contacts to pitch their next title at, yay.]

The original PC freeware game, which was done by students in the Netherlands as some kind of municipal project for the city of Utrecht, I believe (?) is still available for download, and the expanded Wii version, being handled by Australian studio Blue Tongue, seems to be due out in 2008.

Plus, as 'WizarDru' notes in the GoNintendo comments, and I pretty much agree with: "OMFG. De Blob is PERFECT for the Wii. I played the free game on the PC, and it was a great Katamari-esque game. Short on gameplay, of course, but it was a University project. Expanding it into a full-fledged multi-level game would be excellent!" Also, I will point out that the game makes me just as motion-sick as Katamari, which is a spectacular achievement (and my problem, not the creators', heh.)

GameSetQ: What Do Wii Want From WiiWare?

June 30, 2007 12:01 AM |

- So you've seen that Nintendo has confirmed WiiWare downloadable digital content for the Wii, starting in 2008. And as our Gama story notes: "In a press statement, Nintendo suggests that WiiWare will pave the way for “smaller, more creative games” at lower prices and without any inventory risk to developer."

Now, there's still a little bit of controversy about how easy it is up to now for indies to get hold of Wii development kits - you may remember Ian Bogost's Serious Games Source feature on the subject late in 2006. But I've been chatting a little to some of the Nintendo folks in charge of their original downloadable efforts, and it's clear that they mean to do this right - and are starting, if a little late, with good intentions.

So - an open question. What is 'right', in this context? Do you want to see Nintendo going after great-looking Flash games or existing indies and getting them onto Wii? Do you want only to see titles that make unique use of the Wiimote, or are ones using the 'classic'-style controls perfectly acceptable?

Some other questions - is it better to have a more open playing-field, so that we get lots of content from all sizes of creator, and the users can pick and choose from a large amount of games?

Or should it be a little more highly selective, so that there aren't three flavors of block-shuffling puzzle game, for example? And how about first and second parties - should they be making WiiWare too, or should it be the one place where Mario doesn't hustle in to steal the spotlight? Opinions, please.

[UPDATE: A couple of blog reactions to this - A Link To The Future has a number of ideas, including: "Be careful leveraging Nintendo IP for new DLC. Nintendo’s biggest advantage over Microsoft is the fact that it has so many recognizable brands… but if it just churns out more crappy minigames, people are going to wonder why the hell they’re paying full price for more Mario Party."

Also, Tony @ Clickable Culture floats an interesting idea: "There's already a voting feature available for the Wii. It's called "Everybody Votes," and allows Wii users to weigh in on lightweight topics like "Sasquatch or Nessie?" What if Everybody Votes was mashed up with WiiWare? Voting could be limited to one vote per console per game, thus reducing or eliminating ballot-stacking. I'd rather have gamers tell me what's worth playing than Nintendo."]

Harvest Moon Is For The Young

April 20, 2007 11:25 AM |

- Always enjoy it when Eurogamer bust out an interview to break up the news and reviews, and there's a neat interview with Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada up there right now, answering some vital questions.

If nothing else, I enjoy the simple statement from Wada about why he created the series: "I wanted to convey the goodness of rural life - not urban life, but rural life - and farming was the easiest instrument to realise that feeling in a game. That's why I chose to make a farming game."

He also muses on the game franchise's success, and just why that might be: "I think it's very gentle and friendly. These days there are other games such as Animal Crossing that bear similarities, but before there wasn't such a game at all. Perhaps that's why people identified so much with Harvest Moon, originally."

Also, looks like Wada might be working on some interesting titles, to say the least. Though he still oversees Harvest Moon from a business point of view: "I'm working on something on the Wii platform, which is top-secret. I'm also working on No More Heroes on the Wii, which is headed up by [killer7 designer] Goichi Suda. It's a totally different world to Harvest Moon..."

So that's two more Wii titles worth at least a glance, then. Actually, while we're on this very subject, why hasn't one single major Western 'name' game designer announced that they're working on a Wii-only game? Am I just blanking on them? Is this because the Wii has been considered a family console, and edgy fare and cutting-edge graphical tech (not very likely on Wii) defines major Western creators better? Very vexing.

Kochalka Spawned A Monster In The Shape Of A Mii

April 5, 2007 7:53 AM |

- Uhoh, word from that crazy guy James Kochalka again: "Everyday, I draw a diary comic strip and post it at AmericanElf.com. Just a little strip about something that I did that day. Today's strip is about using the Nintendo Wii to create little monster creatures."

Hey, so it is! Go to AmericanElf.com if you want more in the way of wacky sketchiness. And go check the Kochalka wayback machine by searching GameSetWatch for the various other game-related stuff he's been up to recently, including my favorite, a picture of Zelda eating Cool Ranch Doritos.

BTW, I'd just like to make a random plea to the artistic community out there - why isn't there one good, single website that sells paintings loosely or wholly based on video games? I know I Am 8-Bit is totally awesome, but you can only buy most of that stuff in a gallery once a year. I know I'd pay money for paintings of Zelda eating Cool Ranch Doritos. And I'm sure all of you agree. There, my Lazyweb request for the day.

Wario Ware, At A Moment's Pose

March 19, 2007 12:08 PM |

- I try not to enter the debate about video game reviewing, since it tends to be long and messy, but I will say that, apart from Eurogamer's sophisticated and progressively interesting attitude to reviews, the other site I actually want to link to for reviews on GSW is The New Gamer, who just reviewed WarioWare: Smooth Moves for Wii.

I like the review's conclusion so much that I'm just going to excerpt is - but read the rest: "Smooth Moves is, moreso than the effervescent Wii Sports, a brilliant collection of ad spots for the Wii: It's a compendium of five-second-long vignettes showcasing the versatile and numerous control methods of the form baton/Wiimote. The eclectic series of Wiimote movements is a virtual showroom for just how ambitious developers can successfully work the hardware. Certainly, Smooth Moves leaves critics scratching their heads, wondering 'can developers recreate this level of fun for extended periods of time?' to which, the advertisers would obviously say "Who cares? Buy now! Supplies are limited!" and to which, I'm tempted to reply in the same manner."

"Smooth Moves is the best pitch-job for a console I've seen in some time, one that is infinitely re-playable simply because of its controller and the unique, expansive, experience it can provide, which is far more than we can say of prior WarioWare games and even most launch-window games. And while Smooth Moves can't answer whether future long-form Wii games can sustain the same amount of glee, it definitely shows that, in a gaming life where nuances, aggravations and story are excised, such boundless fun can be attained."

Suda 51 Has Lovechild With Eric Chahi

February 22, 2007 9:07 AM |

- There _are_ some useful interviews and features from time to time on IGN, but I tend to miss them due to the site's somewhat tortuous SKU-split design and cross-posting shenanigans. However, a recent IGN interview with Suda 51 about Wii title No More Heroes has some neat points that are worth looking into.

Firstly, it's extremely interesting that Suda's first-mentioned gaming influence (and I believe he's cited this before) is a Western developer and a Western game: "My favorite game is Out of this World [aka Another World]. I was shocked and impressed by the game by Erick [sic] Chahi. My favorite movie is Paris, Texas. I was very moved by this movie, and that feeling still remains today." Incidentally, IGN, it's Eric Chahi - no extra K.

Also worth noting is Suda's sign-off regarding 'No More Heroes', which stars a Johnny Knoxville-style Japanese anime okaku (!): "We are tuning up No More Heroes to be simple and comfortable, but exciting and refreshing as a game. The game has a unique sense of humor and I hope fans will be excited about and look forward to it. I'll also try my best to make No More Heroes as violent, or even more violent than Manhunt 2!" I see sarcasm in here somewhere!

The Wii Bowling Project

January 27, 2007 1:06 AM |

- In our continuing quest to link everything The New Gamer posts, ever, we present their latest idea, 'The Wii Bowling Project', a definitely endearing concept which promises "to see how our Wii Sports bowling performance rated against our league bowling performance."

Blogger G.Turner, whose significant other unitdaisy also belongs to their 'Thar She Bowls!' Chicago-area bowling team, comments: "With the league on my mind all this month, I couldn't help but think of my real-life bowling average while playing Wii Sports. I was quite surprised to see just how closely my Wii Sports bowling stance, curve and scores mirror my actual lane action."

But how? "What unitdaisy and I decided to do was to bowl two sets of games a week: the two games our normal league bowls on Sunday, and on Wednesdays we'll bowl two Wii Sports bowling games... At the end of the league's season on April 15th (as league seasons go, it's rather short, running a brief 14 weeks) we'll pick apart the scores and see just how well our Wii bowling improved (or declined) compared to our league bowling. Who knows, maybe we'll see some other interesting results too!" GSW promises to update daily with the latest stats.

Wii Developers - Do Not Simulate?

January 18, 2007 2:04 PM |

- Jane McGonigal of 4orty 2wo Entertainment/ARG 'fame' has a very interesting post on Nintendo's Wii on her blog, urging to game developers of all creeds and Cheeto-consumption levels : "I want to suggest that we ought NOT to be talking about the wonders of Wii in terms of "simulation.""

But to what is she referring? "Consider the latest issue of Game Developer Magazine [PLUG: available online as a free sample, go subscribe if you like it - ithangyou!]. There's a great post-mortem of a Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam skating game for the Wii console. In general, a really excellent read. But I was troubled by part of the article, in which the developer (Toby Schadt) discuss why the Wii is so great and how the game sought to take advantage of the new controller."

She then references Schadt's comment that "That's why the Wii is so compelling--the way you control your character in a game is a more realistic analog to what you would do in the real world, as opposed to pressing buttons", before suggesting: "I certainly get that the Wii controller is way more fun and cool because it's not just pushing abstract combinations of buttons. But you know what? I think it's way more fun and cool because MOVING VIGOROUSLY--shaking, waving, pumping, pointing, and so on--is more fun than pressing buttons."

Her conclusion: "Indeed, the fact that there is a real, live, embodied performance happening when a player engages the Wii games creates the kind of gameplay legibility that enables "non-gamers" to get in the game, and that creates a setting where you can really cheer on other players... So when you play Wii games, are you simulating? Or are you REALLY playing and performing? I say the Wii does not simulate. The Wii is real." This is a subtle but interesting point.

Game Developer Jan. Issue For Free Digital Viewing!

January 12, 2007 5:42 AM |

- Hey, good news for those who'd like to check out the latest issue of Game Developer magazine, the U.S.-based trade mag for game professionals that we run when we're not posting on GameSetWatch. The latest, January 2007 issue is now available for free online viewing, since it's our new digital sample issue!

A quick rundown from a Gamasutra story on the issue: "The cover feature for the January 2007 issue is 'Not Your Typical Grind: Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam for Wii' by Toys for Bob's Toby Schadt... The January issue also reveals Game Developer’s 2006 Front Line Awards, as announced in December, which "pays homage to the companies and products that make game development possible"... Another major feature is Chris Hind and Dan Bell's 'Setting The Bar' [about choosing your battles when fixing bugs in games!]"

Anyhow, there's also all the normal and very neat columns from our veteran columnists like Noah Falstein, Steve Theodore, Mick West and Jesse Harlin, and there's an opportunity to subscribe to either the physical or digital versions of the magazine over at the official website.

I won't put too much of a hard sell on you, but there's a lot of unique, practical content in Game Developer that you can't get anywhere else, if you're a developer, student, or wannabe developer - and the digital version comes with searchable access to back issues all the way to 2004, too. Though we like paper! [Oh, and in the immediate future, the February 2007 issue has an exclusive postmortem of Resistance: Fall Of Man by the Insomniac guys in it - yay.]