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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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Archive For May, 2006

VH1 Game Break Blasts Off Into BlogSpace

May 31, 2006 1:03 AM | Simon Carless

vh1games.jpg First spotted this a couple of days ago, but looks like cable channel VH-1 has started the VH1 Game Break weblog, yet another video game-themed weblog to add to a long list (including, ahem, GameSetWatch itself, which is obviously waay at the top of your list, right?)

One particularly notable thing about this blog, though - it just added Jay Bibby of Jay Is Games to its blogger list, joining Village Voice columnist Harold Goldberg, so it looks to be a fairly entertainingly diverting read for alt.games and intelligent linkage fans.

The latest item of interest is a review of Russian Flash title Warp Forest from Bibby, noting that it's " a rather odd combination of action and puzzle elements that will challenge both sides of your brain." Mm, both sides of the brain.

The Joy Of Oblivion... Book Jacket Modding?

May 30, 2006 10:17 PM | Simon Carless

obbook.jpg Over at the Guilded Lilies weblog, there's an an excellent post on the book modding project for The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, including an interview with modder Phoenix Amon.

The latest book mod, simply enough, is "to replace all of the 300+ in-game book jackets (that are a little ho-hum) with dynamic looking cover", and Amon, female herself, has some interesting comments about how gender may affect modding wants in games.

She suggests: "I don't think there's any type of mod that universally appeals to women rather than men, but there are probably some types that fill gaps more often noticed by women. For instance I think when NPCs in a game lack any form of personality, women will be more likely than men to be bothered by it. Mostly, though, I think mods make games more fun for individuals by allowing them to tailor their own experience."

Woah, Mama, It's Plaudits For Cooking Mama!

May 30, 2006 10:01 PM | Simon Carless

gth.jpg Publisher Majesco really hasn't had much to crow about recently, what with a financial meltdown precipitated by the financial flops of Psychonauts and Advent Rising - certainly nothing to justify having the company's NASDAQ symbol be 'COOL', haw.

But, on the way back to the budget bargain basement, the firm has struck a quirky chord, judging by its press release on DS game Cookin Mama's reception at E3: "Cooking Mama was awarded several honors including: "Most Innovative DS Design of E3 2006" from leading video game website IGN; and GameDaily's "Nod Award," which called Cooking Mama "a fun DS game that uses the stylus to near perfection."

The title, which was originally published by Taito in Japan, is ripe for an Iron Chef license, if you ask us: "Playing as a female chef, you have to prepare the food (slicing the vegetables, slicing the meat), then cook it on the stove. With touchscreen play, you can do things such as shake the skillet for an omelet and dip tempura in the oil." But those Alton Brown licensing fees are probably steep, so we'll settle for a decent translation, eh, Majesco?

The Fantabulous Story Of Tringo

May 30, 2006 8:49 PM | Simon Carless

tringo.jpg Something else we missed from last week - an excellent Clive Thompson column on Second Life/GBA's Tringo at Wired News, in which Thompson explains "the story of a game that became a hit -- inside another game."

You may have heard the story before - the game was created within Second Life, and was licensed by Donnerwood Media - it's now available for Game Boy Advance thanks to the reliably wacky budget publisher Crave Entertainment.

Thompson's conclusion contains the neatest comments,t hough: "Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Tringo's already-kooky history, though, is that it shows a new way for games to be born. Many of today's best online games are moddable, which means players can reshape reality into something new. So why don't we actively encourage them to create new casual games? An online environment is a terrific prototyping lab: You can quickly make something, hand out copies to other players, and discover immediately whether your invention is any good."

Of course, this depends if the people playing Second Life (or any other prototyping platform) are actually demographically accurate for your final target market - but it's conceptually smart.

Gam3r 7h30ry - L33t Book Alert?

May 30, 2006 6:45 PM | Simon Carless

gth.jpg From last week, we spotted a post on celebrity 'coolstuff' blog BoingBoing that deals with 'an open online book from Hacker Manifesto author McKenzie Wark entitled GAM3R 7H30RY (gamer theory).

Well, that's GR3AT (great), but how does it work? Apparently: "The Institute designed a web site that would enable McKenzie to engage with readers before the book is fully cooked, to see how a larger conversation might impact its development. Each individual paragraph has its own comment stream allowing for fine-grained response to the text."

Of course, with slightly insane hypertextish-wanderings comes an incredibly highbrow section on Katamari Damacy which starts: "Sisyphus, founder of Corinth, father of Odysseus, founder of the Ismithian Games, is best known for a most cruel and unusual punishment, meted out to him by the Gods." Can you see where he's going with this? Grumpy commenter Toad claims: "Any real editor would have sooner pointed out this manuscript’s ridiculous, hopelessly obtuse, faux pretensious pandering to the video game community."

Eh, we disagree - but we _are_ the video game community. And the walrus. Also - an entire section on State Of Emergency? We just ejected our false teeth right into our afternoon tea.

Escapist Looks Into Office Space

May 30, 2006 5:44 PM | Simon Carless

escplay.jpg Now we're running with our new 'fast and loose' GSW style (do you like it? More posts, less OCD linkage!), we figured we could link to the latest issue of The Escapist Magazine, which deals with the game/work nexus (see 'Office Mode' in Defcon for a great recent example!)

The site's PR explains: "Have you ever gotten in trouble for playing games at work? The Escapist staff knows all too well not only the life of those who play games at work, but also those who play games for work, and the sometimes fine line between. The Escapist takes a look at how games affect life in the workplace in issue 47: “Office Space.”"

All the articles seem fun, but Cat Rambo's piece on putting MUDs on your resume is the most sharply written: "Over the next few years, this overlapping of the game and business world would occur over and over. I'd apply lessons in conflict management or negotiation I learned in MUDs to resolve situations, and the next day find myself in a management class thinking how best to use the material on the flash cards in front of me to steer my coders down a particular path." We've all kickbanned our co-workers, so we know just how that works.

Jack Black Has Lost His PSP, Uhoh

May 30, 2006 4:43 PM | Simon Carless

jbds.jpg Thanks to some silly promotional people, we got links to the two latest videos from Jack Black's Nacho Libre 'confessionals' - both of which co-star director Jared Hess, and actually discuss video games - here's the links - Episode 16 - 'Search for the Missing PSP' (.MOV), and Episode 17 - 'Thanksgiving' (.MOV).

Specifically, it's explained to us: "Jack Black loves video games. He does NOT love losing his beloved PSP handheld... check out this behind the scenes footage from the set of Jack's new comedy "Nacho Libre," in theaters June 16. Jack Black and director Jared Hess (Nacho Libre, Napoleon Dynamite) discuss Jack's missing PSP, how the Nintendo DS compares to the PSP, Thanksgiving food, and the Neverending Story."

Check out the 'Thanksgiving' movie, in particular, for Black explaining that his DS does not make up for losing his PSP: "That's how spoiled I am - Nintendo DS, that's all I got?", expostulates Black, before hurling his DS across the room (see picture!), and then commenting woefully: "Yesterday I actually had to read some of a book." We know, it hurts.

Nintendo Announces New "Touch Generations" Game Branding

May 30, 2006 3:23 PM |

Nintendo's Touch Generations logoAccording to our sister site, Gamasutra, Nintendo has decided to brand and in some cases re-brand more "accessible" DS games with its new "Touch Generations" label.

The company explains that the brand "will include titles that anyone can pick up and play, even with little or no experience with video games", and that the move "represents one of the many ways that Nintendo is making it easy for new demographics of people to be introduced to video games." In addition to its newer titles such as the Brain Training series, the brand will also be applied to long-time favorites Nintendogs, Tetris DS, and True Swing Tennis.

While I can understand the drive to let consumers know which games are more family-friendly, I feel this move may end up muddling a market already saturated with ESRB ratings and other age-specific warnings. So this is a Touch Generations title, does that mean an 80 year old can play alongside her grandkids? Wouldn't the ESRB "E for Everyone" label pretty much cover this?

The idea has merit, but all we have from Nintendo so far are buzzwords about demographics and "pick up and play." Only time will tell if the Touch Generations branding takes off in the US.

Iranian Students Making Anti-American War Game

May 30, 2006 2:26 PM |

In an interesting twist on an old classic, Iranian students are developing a war game featuring American military forces as the antagonists.

The game is meant to be a protest of Western involvement in Iran's nuclear development program, and focuses on US troops in Iraq. The story will be based around a "Commander Bahman" infiltrating "enemy" territory to capture Iranian nuclear scientists who have been imprisoned by the US Army.

Play It, Ltd's America's 10 Most WantedWhile the 2007-slated game is making waves for being anti-American, it's also true that we've used a lot of middle-eastern and arabic archetypes to play the "bad guys" in our war games for some time. Heck, our Army unabashedly uses a video game as a recruitment tool, and very few people are talking trash about that. While I feel that the development team may be skewing current events a bit, this is no worse than, say, Atari's Terrorist Takedown or Play It Ltd's America's 10 Most Wanted.

The point, I suppose, is that you don't get to be where the US is today without pissing some people off. We end up casting our video game "bad guys" wherever they would historically fit; for example, no one would complain if the enemies in a game about the Vietnam War were, let's say Vietnamese. Somewhere, and sadly in an increasing number of places around the world, we're the "bad guys" to someone. This game is going to be a fictional account of what would happen if America kidnapped Iranian scientists and sparked a war; it's not telling people to grab a gun and kill the nearest US Marine. It's all about context, folks.

Neverwinter Nights, Meet... Marital Problems?

May 30, 2006 1:21 PM | Simon Carless

nwife.jpg While poking around the NeverWinter Nights official forums in search of commentary on the apparent cutting of support for the first NWN from struggling publisher Atari, we ran into something much better - a call for help!.

Specifically, 'syrath1001' asks his fellow forumgoers: "A few weeks ago, I started noticing some changes in my wife's behavior. She just doesn't seem to be that interested in me anymore. Sure, we go out and she holds my hand, but the warmth isn't there like it used to be. We live together, so I fear this breakup might be particularly hard for me. I'm not worried about her feelings since I'm convinced she's cheating on me."

He continues, in a distressed tone: "One day, she left her MSN on. While I was playing in the first chapter of SoU, she received a message from someone I haven't noticed on her list before, saying "hey sweetie! xoxo". By the time I was able to click the box closed, I was killed in 2 shots by a kobold."

But here's the crux of Syrath's issue: "My question is this: should I stick with my pure rogue or should I multiclass some fighter levels for more survivability?" Wow, tough call! [A few replies later, Syrath reveals his solution - an excellent one!]

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