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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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Archive For January, 2008

IGF Audience Award: A Reminder To Vote!

January 31, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

-[Wanted to remind everyone about the 2008 IGF Audience Award voting, which is still going on until February 20th or so. We've already had almost 2500 votes, which is actually more than last year, and there's still 3 weeks to go - but if you have a favorite IGF game with a public demo, go vote now, before you forget, eh?]

Organizers of the 2008 Independent Games Festival (IGF) have launched the IGF Audience Award voting website, allowing game fans everywhere to download, play, and choose a favorite all of the eligible Main Competition finalist indie games which submitted a publicly playable demo.

Online voting is open now and continues through the day of the IGF ceremony, taking place alongside the Game Developers Choice Awards at the 2008 Game Developers Conference February 20th. The games with eligible demos/versions are: Goo!, Snapshot Adventures: Secret Of Bird Island, Synaesthete, Gumboy Tournament, Iron Dukes, Clean Asia!, Fret Nice, Battleships Forever, Globulos.com, Audiosurf, and Tri-Achnid.

The winner of the Audience Award will be awarded a $2,500 prize, part of the $50,000 total in prizes being given as part of the IGF Main and Student Competitions. Downloads and web-playable versions of eligible Audience Award games are available at the official IGF Audience Award website; the full list of IGF finalists is available at the Independent Games Festival website.

In addition to those available to play via digital download, all finalist games will be playable at the IGF Pavilion, February 20-22, on the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Expo floor. Finalists were chosen from a record 173 entries and represent the growth of the independent games movement with innovative games of excellent quality, across various platforms. GDC, CMP Technology’s annual conference dedicated to the art, science and business of games, takes place Feb. 18-22, 2008 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

“The independent game movement is truly about giving everyone a voice, so it is always important to us to echo that sentiment by giving the public their chance to give out an IGF award,” said Matthew Wegner, IGF Content Director.

The IGF was established in 1998 by the CMP Game Group to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers, in the way that the Sundance Film Festival honors the independent film community. Wizards Of the Coast’s Gleemax.com is the 2008 Platinum Sponsor, alongside Microsoft’s XNA division and Sony as the Silver Sponsors, and DigiPen is the Platinum Student Showcase Sponsor.

For more information on the Independent Games Festival and to register for GDC, please visit the official Game Developers Conference website.

GameSetLinks: Women, Murder, Club

January 31, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Ah, yes, the fragrant melodies of GameSetLinks - wandering back into your general point of view, tweaking your nose, and just daring you to ignore us, you little scamps.

This time, we navigate fields as diverse and treacherous as casual murder club novel games, various wacky journos covering the Independent Games Festival (yay!), and, of course, some obligatory No More Heroes cosplay (pictured to the side).

Incidentally, I have to apologize that I'm not writing more original material on GameSetWatch. Since it's the run-up to the almighty GDC, I'm doing a lot of wrangling for that, as well as for Gamasutra/Game Developer, as publisher wallah.

And actually, I'm now biz managing the almighty Dr. Dobb's Journal/DDJ.com, which is 32 years into serving programmers their regular info oats. And there's something coming up in the March timeframe on Dobbs that you game folks _WILL_ like. More info on that soon. Onward, Christian soldiers:

Hollywood Reporter: Patterson pursues video game murders most casual
Jane Jensen working on the Women's Murder Club games. Neato!

Kotaku - Day Note: Roll With The Day Note
Interestingly, Kotaku were denied press passes for DICE. What's up with that?

Independent Games Festival Roundup Article // PC /// Eurogamer
A good trawl through the finalists by Mr. Gillen - appreciated.

Cosplay.com - No More Heroes cosplay
Yep, already - Sylvia Kristel ftw.

Gamepage :: The Great Tree - Review by Game Tunnel
Reflexive's distinctly unconventional casual title is worth a close look.

Jeremy Parish's 1UP Blog: Finally: 1 in '07
Seriously, Crackdown is one of the most under-rated games released in the last year or two.

MTV Multiplayer » Top 10 Under-the-Radar Games in 2008
I like this list.

psysal: Causal Chains and Snowfall
Raph Koster's 'Theory Of Design' methodology applied to soccer - via the Kostmeister!

Rock, Paper, Shotgun: 'The Wonderful End of the World'
Terribly, terribly Katamari - but the oldskool game tribute level is getting a lot of kudos, worth checking.

'Super Mario' Crossed With 'Guitar Hero,' In GameFile | Game News Story | Multiplayer Gaming | MTV News
Stephen Totilo talks about his experiences playing the IGF finalists - fun!

COLUMN: 'The Aberrant Gamer': No More Complaints

January 31, 2008 12:00 AM | Leigh Alexander

-[The Aberrant Gamer is a weekly, somewhat NSFW column by Leigh Alexander, dedicated to the kinks and quirks we gamers tend to keep under our hats – those predilections and peccadilloes less commonly discussed in conventional media.]

The core of the game market is its very own culture, and at times it can be a bit tricky to understand, a tangle of contradictions. We’re geeks – we don’t want to be cool by anyone’s standard, and yet we retain the right to judge nearly anything outside of our world as lame.

We’re often deemed as antisocial or isolationist, and in many cases embrace that judgment – but we want to find each other online, to play together, network and discuss en masse nearly constantly. We’re annoyed whenever the mainstream media misunderstands our pastime – and yet we love to brawl with them. We don’t want to be part of the mainstream – and yet, we often wish our non-gaming friends would just “get it.” Alone and yet in a crowd, immersed in fantasy and yet immediately reactionary to real-world events, craving challenge while longing for accessibility.

With that in mind, it’s no small challenge game developers face trying to produce something that will appeal to us. We want games to be fun, but when we’re not occasionally frustrated, we dismiss the lightweight, relegating the title to the realm of the casual. We want depth and engagement – but we’ll snooze through too much dialogue, cinematics and story. We want emotion, but characters being “emo” is something to be mocked.

We know we’re a reactionary bunch – even the best among us as individuals have been caught up in the mob psychology from time to time, with a little help from the internet. And for quite a while now, it’s seemed like the core of the gaming audience is impossible to please, continually frustrated on a real emotional level by games that try to pretend they “get it,” but are really just trying superficially to hit all the right notes.

But with No More Heroes, it’s finally happened – someone’s made a game that knows who we are.

Road To The IGF: Globulos.com Globs Things Out

January 30, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Continuing the ‘Road to the IGF’ feature reprinted from Gamasutra, Patrick Murphy talked to GlobZ's Alex Houdent about his IGF 2008 Best Web Browser Game finalist Globulos.com, the multiplayer, multi-game environment where 20 different titles share the same core mechanic.

This is actually a pretty neat title that has been relatively hidden, so it's nice to see the IGF bringing it to light - it's been around for quite a long time. Anyhow, I'll stop interjecting myself into the intro and let Patrick take it away:

What kind of background do you have in the game industry or in making games?

Alex Houdent: I started the company with Olivier Besson in the previous century (end of 1999). Before that, we were freelancers. I was more into doing websites, and Olivier was into educational stuff. Then in 2001 Fabien Riffaud arrived, who had been a developer in a startup company for a short time, and Laurent Fernandez, who was more a self-taught guy, and working with us was his first job.

Both Fabien and Laurent had been making games for years before as a hobby during their teenage years. In 2004, Jeremy Damon arrived and he is also the kind of person that has always had an interest in games, in addition to playing the drums while drawing comic books.

GameSetApparel: Spotlight On James Kochalka's 'Glorkian Warrior' Shirt

January 30, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

-[As previously mentioned, we now have all four GameSetApparel T-shirts available for individual order. We're going to highlight one tee per week here on GSW - though you can buy any/all of them now! Being highlighted this week - with a special bonus plea to game developers at the end of this article - is 'Glorkian Warrior' by James Kochalka (American Elf).]

GameSetApparel is the new, limited edition T-shirt store created by the editors of GameSetWatch, the alt.video game weblog run by the staff of the Webby award-winning Gamasutra.com and the Maggie award-winning Game Developer magazine.

The first series of four T-shirts are named 'Games That Never Were', with shirt numbers GSA101 through GSA104, and are limited to just 111 copies each - with the first shirt and pre-orders becoming available in December 2007, and all four T-shirts now available for individual purchase as of January 2008.

The high quality custom printed T-shirts feature noted artists interpreting the idea of imaginary, legendary, or fictional games in neat ways, and are created by Gamasutra collaborator Erin Mehlos (Hell's Corners), Dan Paladin (Alien Hominid), James Kochalka (American Elf), and Schadenfreude Interactive (Accordion Hero).

<GSA103 - 'Glorkian Warrior' - Also Available!

-Now available in GameSetApparel's limited-edition 'Games That Never Were' series, which is strictly limited to 111 copies of each tee, is 'Glorkian Warrior' by James Kochalka (American Elf).

For his design (GSA103) in the 'Games That Never Were' series, we are very kindly joined by writer, comic book artist and rock musician James Kochalka, who has been a GameSetWatch reader for a while now, and contributed the characters from his 'Glorkian Warrior' game concept, which has been designed but is yet to materialize in video game form - hence 'Games That Never Were' - but perhaps yet may be!

Kochalka is best known for his 'American Elf' diary comic, which appears daily on his website, but has also created comics like 'Superf*ckers', 'Monkey Vs. Robot', and albums ('Spread Your Evil Wings And Fly') on labels like Rykodisc - not to mention the insanely catchy 'Hockey Monkey' with The Zambonis, used as the theme tune for the Fox sitcom 'The Loop'.

- Quite the Renaissance man, then, and his blog recently commented on the Glorkian Warrior project:

"My videogame idea, Glorkian Warrior (aka Planet Vs. Planet) and will probably end up as a graphic novel as well. I’ve already drawn a three page comic using a kind of Glork invader and the purple guy from Glorkian Warrior, which will appear in the PopGun #2 anthology next summer."

The high-quality purple Kochalka-designed shirt (available in XL, L, or M, with only 111 in total over all three sizes) is the result, and interested parties can now order the GSA103 'Glorkian Warrior' T-shirt design in multiple sizes from the GameSetApparel store.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: Game creators out there - especially indie/casual developers - Mr. Kochalka really wants to make a Glorkian Warrior video game. Surely there's some enterprising coder/developer out there who wants to help him with it? Contact him via his website or ping us and we'll pass on your contact details to him.]

GameSetLinks: Bit Of A Cornucopia, Really

January 30, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- And the hits just keep on coming - if, by hits, you mean, 'various random links we pulled out of somewhere or other'. Which we do.

Some highlights this time - Zepy's look at the bestselling disturbing Japanese cartoon erotic visual novel games - a genre not to be sniffed at - as well as the top Aussie games of all time, Brenda Brathwaite on the H&R Block Facebook advergames (!), and some Endless Ocean music mixes to savor. Avanti:

The Age Blogs: Screen Play - The Top 10 Australian-Developed Games
An interesting regional list, actually.

the2bears.com » Screen Mock-up
'I’ve liked Dave Bollinger’s Pixel Spaceships idea for a long time now. The idea is that every integer has a unique Pixel Spaceship representation.'

Cutlack's customary (intentionally) creepy awkwardness plus lots of useful videos!

Canned Dogs » Blog Archive » Eroge sales rankings 2007
Top PC visual/erotic novel game sellers for 2007. Another fascinating, slightly scary microscene.

Amazon.com: Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-playing Games: Books: Matt Barton
Matt Barton is putting out a book via AK Peters which expands on his awesome Gamasutra articles on the same subject - don't miss it!

Facebook: The Advergames are Coming… and they are bad. « Applied Game Design
Good analysis of the H&R Block Facebook app 'games'.

The Exchange Student Episode 1: First Day in Sweden - Review - Adventure Classic Gaming
Very Leisure Suit Larry-esque (pictured) new PC indie adventure game - actually has social situations in it, in many ways - interesting.

Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars: Just remember this - in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road.
'That epic space game from EA is a new Wing Commander.' If you trust her, which I do vaguely.

Sexy Videogameland: SVGL's Official 'Metal Gear Solid' Drinking Game
Commenters say 'too complicated', I say conceptually fine. :P

Looky Touchy: Endless Ocean: Mini-Mixes
Some audio mixes for the Wii title, which I need to pick up.

COLUMN: 'Might Have Been' - Kickle Cubicle

January 29, 2008 4:00 PM |

[“Might Have Been” is a bi-weekly column by Todd Ciolek that explores the ways in which promising games, characters, concepts, and companies failed. This week’s edition looks at Irem's Kickle Cubicle, released in the arcade in 1988 and for the NES in 1990.]

What was the first block-shoving puzzle game? Does Sega’s Pengo count? Probably not, but its 1982 debut helped lay the foundation for an entire genre of block-shoving that quickly matured in arcades, on computers and, of course, in the NES library.

The leader of this movement was perhaps HAL’s The Adventures of Lolo. With its blinking blue ball of a hero and morbidly cute style, it earned several sequels, gathered a cult following, scored its main characters spots in Nintendo’s Kirby franchise and, most recently, showed up on the Wii's Virtual Console.

But there existed another NES block-shoving puzzle game that deserved fans perhaps even more than Lolo. That game, the true successor to Pengo, began in 1988 as a winter-themed Irem arcade puzzler called Meikyu Jima, but it wasn’t brought to the West until 1990, when Irem ported it to the NES and gave it a title guaranteed to scare off adolescents insecure about the games they were seen playing. That title? Kickle Cubicle.

Not that 'Boxxle' is better

If the name didn’t dissuade buyers between the ages of 12 and 20, Kickle himself probably did. A smiling, spear-bald albino midget in overalls and earmuffs, he resembles some breeding of Capcom’s Snow Bros. and Mr. Clean. His story’s just as cute: the Fantasy Kingdom is conquered by the Wicked Wizard King, leaving Kickle to make his way through four puzzle-heavy lands (provinces? fiefdoms?). Along the way, he’ll rescue the captive citizenry and several princesses, one of whom resembles The Guardian Legend’s Alyssa and wears surprisingly revealing clothing for a happy little puzzle game set in a world of ice and hypothermia.

Following along where Pengo left off, Kickle Cubicle revolves around punting blocks of ice, which Kickle creates by freezing enemies with his rapid-fire breath. The cubes can be kicked to create bridges across water or squash foes (and, if you’re not careful, Kickle as well). The most basic attackers are lumbering bloblike “Noggles,” but Kickle soon faces block-kicking chickens, roaming penguins, and some less cute obstacles, including flak cannons and bouncing ninja stars.

IndieGames.com's Best Freeware Platformers 2007

January 29, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Tim W. continues to crank out the goodness over on our sister IndieGames.com weblog, and this time he's focusing on 2007's top freeware platformers - including The Underside, and the rather hilariously cool but infringing GoldenEye 2D. Hurray.]

The fourth of the 2007 Best Of Features here on the IndieGames.com.blog, we're proud to present twenty of the best freeware platformers released in 2007.

Best Freeware Platformers 2007

  1. Knytt Stories
  2. The Underside
  3. Plasma Warrior
  4. Paroxysm
  5. Valdis Story
  6. Hurrican
  7. Kaipuu
  8. Deo Dorant
  9. Muon
10. Streambolt Desero
11. GoldenEye 2D
12. Once in Space
13. A Mini Falafel Adventure
14. Alex Adventure
15. Polarity
16. Punishment: The Punishing
17. Ninjah
18. Joe Gunn
19. Polychromatic Funk Monkey
20. Lost in the Static

Opinion: The Case In Favor Of Cross-Media Convergence

January 29, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- [The explosive growth of games mean more and more crossover with other media such as music (Guitar Hero/Rock Band) and movies (Brash Entertainment). But is it good for games? In a two-part opinion piece, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander starts with the case in favor.]

2007 saw many of the boundaries to which the industry has become accustomed begin to dissolve: the distinction between "casual" and "hardcore" gamers, the distinction between games and social media, the distinction between MMOs and virtual worlds, and perhaps most significantly, the line that has historically segregated games from other forms of entertainment.

Never were these malleable lines more evident than it seems they were at 2007's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Just some of the things we heard about: A licensed toy based on Guitar Hero. A robot dinosaur whose makers plan to solicit user-contributed behavior programming. Paul Otellini, CEO of chip giant Intel, gave his keynote address during a "virtual jam session" -- distinct overtones of the rock video game sensation there -- during which the members of the band were present virtually, as 3D avatars in a virtual garage.

The hot thing to do at CES this year was to make gadgets that can do anything -- like phones you can watch TV on, or tiny portable computers that let you text message and play games. That's not surprising, but the other hot thing to do at CES was to make an abundance of Guitar Hero peripherals. Bill Gates played GH on stage. Slash, who has gone from slightly dated rock guitarist to very current video game boss, was also there.

Microsoft announced a partnership with ABC and MGM so that people can watch more TV shows and popular films on their Xbox 360s. They're doing the same thing with BT in the UK. As for Sony, GPS devices were the best-selling gadget on Amazon this Christmas season (Wiis were also up there), and now the PSP will be a GPS, too. Sony also plans to add PSP support for Blu-ray, which recently enjoyed a decisive triumph in the hotly-contested format wars.

Enough links for you? It's been obvious for some time that games are going mainstream in a big way, which is necessarily bringing them squarely into the territory of other entertainment media that has enjoyed much more visibility, economic impact, widespread adoption and social acceptance for an entire generation.

But is it good for games?

The answer's maybe. Today, however, let's start with the case in favor.

GameSetLinks: Schizoid Across The Passage

January 28, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Some more GameSetLinks, then, and some of the notable new links include an excellent interview with Jamie Fristrom (co-creator of XNA-developed title Schizoid), as well as a Wall Street Journal piece on art-game The Passage.

The WSJ piece seems notable to me because it shows the value of games such as this in broadening the cultural acceptability of games - and I know that's not necessarily why The Passage was made, but it really helps people believe in games' redeeming factors as a medium. Which is nice. Onward:

insertcredit.com: Saturn Game Basic
'Madroms, who unveiled the Dezaemon 2 Saturn save system a while back also has a lot of info on Saturn Game Basic.'

Fullbright: Phrases
About game names: 'Lately I've been digging phrase titles. They're usually a few words or even a full sentence, somewhat abstract, and don't directly name a major component of the game.'

The Independent Gaming Source interviews Jamie Fristrom
Excellent chat with the Schizoid (pictured) co-creator, veteran developer.

game mod
Non-programmers modding Breakout, with video - via Waxy.

Time Waster - WSJ.com
The Wall Street Journal covers indie title 'The Passage'.

Shout! Factory Store - Sam & Max Freelance Police on DVD
The animated series on DVD from the awesome Shout Factory, who just got the rights to Mystery Science Theater.

Jonathan Coulton » Blog Archive » Haters: You are SO Boring
One of my 'Top 12 Portal Covers' picks makes the composer himself tell the trolls to calm down. With some effect, one would hope.

collision detection: The subtle pleasures of wasting time
Discussing '...how badly our culture understands the meaning of play and games.'

Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation » Patapon
'The game’s graphics are based on the work of French artist and toy designer Rolito,' Didn't know that.

ASCII by Jason Scott: On the Outset of Editing 'Get Lamp'
The technical/procedural side of making the upcoming text adventure documentary.

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