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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 March, 2008

Opinion: How Game Ads Can Be Done Right

March 31, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [Brothers In Arms developer Gearbox Software has announced a new partnership with in-game ad/branding firm Double Fusion - but what does this actually mean in terms of integrated content and authenticity for the developer's games? Gearbox co-founder and CEO Randy Pitchford (pictured) explains why he thinks in-game brands can be good from multiple perspectives - including authenticity, notice, and increased budgets - in this opinion piece.]

I'd like to take the time to shed more light on the announcement that Gearbox and Double Fusion are partnering to consider connecting advertising with our games.  Some gamers have voiced their concern, and I want to set the record straight about this announcement.

We respect any contempt for exploitive advertising that negatively effects the integrity or the quality of the game because we, as hardcore gamers, share that same contempt.  If anything, that's a big understatement.  I'll say it again:  We hate exploitive advertising that doesn't offer value to the gamer.

We partnered with Double Fusion because we believe they approach this kind of thing with the right attitude and because we wanted to be in control of these kinds of decisions for some of our games.  It is important for us to ensure that we're able to keep our artistic interests in mind and that our gamer customers' interests are cared for.

Seriously, GamesRadar, Are You Proud Of This?

March 31, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

- [Future Publishing puts out Edge, sure, and the official Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft magazines in the States and the UK. But their flagship U.S. website is GamesRadar, and I'd just like to reprint the media alert I just got from them without much further comment.]

Last week's "Week of Hate" on GamesRadar.com gave the videogame destination its best March traffic numbers ever.

GamesRadar.com's first ever "Week of Hate" had new programming every day, exploring just what ticks gamers off on every major platform, plus gamer stereotypes, why Japanese RPG's suck, game innovation flops, etc.

As expected, the contents got everybody taking sides, driving traffic to new heights.

1) Tuesday March 25th was the biggest day ever on GamesRadar (340,000 uniques & 3.2MM page views). That was the day GamesRadar.com posted "100 Reasons Fanboys Hate Playstation."

2) Year over year page view growth for the week was +57% (uniques and visits were up +33%).

3) March 08 page views will exceed March 07 by approximately 30%.

In case you missed any of The Week of Hate, here are a few highlights --




[Oh yes - the release didn't mention GamesRadar vs. Shirley Phelps-Roper, something they were trailing enthusiastically last week, and which is possibly even more trolltastic than this particular set of links. Someone hand me a shoesaw...]

Opinion: Is Spore 'For Everyone'?

March 31, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- [Writer and developer Ian Bogost got a chance to try Spore's Creature Editor in-depth, and view members of the public using it, at the ICE Conference in Canada - and he has some intriguing conclusions on Will Wright's game and the question of its universality.]

In the game industry, Will Wright's Spore is surely the most highly anticipated game in recent memory. Everyone knows about it -- we've been seeing previews and demos and hearing news and talk for years now. The same goes for hard-core game consumers. Games magazines and websites have covered Spore extensively, tracking every announcement and rumor obsessively.

I spent a considerable amount of time with the Spore Creature Editor at the ICE 2008 conference last week in Toronto. I'd seen it many times, and touched it a few, before now, but this was the first time I really got to dig in deep. The demo was shown by TransGaming Technologies, the Toronto company that's doing the Mac port of Spore, which will release simultaneously with the PC version.

Impressions of the Creature Editor

The Creature Editor is slick and easy to use. It makes smart decisions when the player drags and moves parts around. The procedural animations are compelling and credible, although they do start to break down if parts are pushed to their extremes, joints placed too closely or limbs stretched to incongruous positions. Gravity doesn't seem to exist for Spore creatures, which means that one need not worry about a creature's ability to balance; they'll do so automatically.

In test mode, the player can choose animation presets like Scared, Laugh, Punch, Ta-Da and so forth. These seem to be taken straight out of Ken Perlin's many procedural animation experiments, although they also resemble expressions in multiplayer games. They are fun to watch and very motivating because they are so credible; it's hard not to want to go back and tweak a critter to see how he cowers differently with new arms, or dances differently with shorter feet. The editor encourages tweaking and experimentation.

Analysis: Why The Novint Falcon Might Be The Most Underrated Game Peripheral

March 31, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[One of the most intriguing game add-ons of the last few years is the extremely unconventional - but extremely interesting Novint Falcon, a haptics-based PC controller that pulls against and responds to your touch. In this article, originally printed at his Nonpolynomial Labs research site, Kyle Machulis explains, analyzes and deconstructs the add-on, which perhaps deserves better game support (and overall interactive possibilities - not just for games) than it's thus far received.]

After my article on the Novint Falcon box got linked by GameSetWatch and Ars Technica, it seems like it might be time to do a nice, technical throwdown about what's going on, inside and out of the novint falcon, since everyone else seems hung up on games usage (I guess it's a game controller, but that's not the fun part!). I've been working with the Falcon since early August, and am actually getting fairly far with it.

If you didn't understand my box article, read on anyways. I'm gonna try to make this as understandable to everyone as possible, so you'll all learn C and inverse kinematics and algebraic geometry and come romp with me down the happy streets of writing a driver for a badly marketed piece of hardware no one is buying.

Come on, what other relaxing hobbies do you have that involve Jacobian Matrices, hmmmmm?

Please note: I have not used Novint's SDK. I do not plan on using Novint's SDK (That would be cheating). I don't know what their developer support is like (though Tom seems nice enough on the forums. Hi Tom!). What you see here is what I've gained from lots of web searching, talking to people that know what they're doing (I'm not a haptics engineer, in fact, this is my project to learn haptics engineering and programming), and randomly trying things while hoping I don't break the falcon. I'll wikify all of this information in time, but it's honestly much faster for me to brain dump in conversational blog mode than it is into a wiki.

So what the God Damn Hell is the Falcon anyways?!?!

It's everyone's favorite time of class, video time! *wheels in the TV with bad color and hissing, blinking 12:00 VCR*

COLUMN: 'The Aberrant Gamer - Material Girl'

March 30, 2008 4:00 PM | Leigh Alexander

-[The Aberrant Gamer is a weekly, sometimes 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.]

By now, just about everybody's heard of Miss Bimbo, the browser-based "game for girls" that's ruffling feathers with its anti-feminist gameplay. Girls adopt a glam-o-rama avatar and, spending virtual "bimbo dollars" on chocolate, fashion and some unspecified "medicines," complete various simplistic challenges with the stated goal of becoming "the finest, coolest bimbo that ever existed."

This is, of course, the perfect recipe for auto-cringe: it embraces superficial and arguably destructive ideals, is ostensibly aimed at "'tweens" (itself a cringe-inducingly trendy marketing buzzword), and the website itself is a car accident of cartoonish pink featuring some kind of skank with bunny ears. Aberrant Gamer is arriving fashionably late to this party, actually, with too many outlets to link already providing analysis and experiences with the dreaded Miss Bimbo (just Google it). As for me, the servers were so stressed I couldn't even play to any significant extent. The universal verdict? Disgusting.

Games like Miss Bimbo (created by a man, by the way) just can't win. Women find them disgusting and offensive, and gamers worry about the bad PR. But aren't we being a bit hypocritical?

GameSetLinks: Gotta Love The Noitu, Part Deux

March 30, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Yay, some good ol' GameSetLinks for you, this time round - and probably the highlight is sister site IndieGames.com posting up a link to the (pictured) Noitu Love 2, for which a demo is now available.

In other fun linkage, we see the Video Gaiden award trails, the art of Braid continues, some ideas for Rock Band hardware upgrades, and a whole cornucopia of other neatness. And here goes:

IndieGames.com - The Weblog - Indie Game Pick: Noitu Love 2 (Konjak)
Demo of the super-duper hand-drawn 2D sidescrolling IGF finalist now released!

Kotaku: 'Masahiro Kanagawa: Team Ninja Reacts to Kanagawa Rampage'
Japanese media attention on a game/violence connection.

anothercastle.com » I Attack the Darkness Lead Story » I Attack The Darkness: The God Complex, Part 1: J.C. and the Fun Time Band
'In a special three-part “Fun With Blasphemy” series, I will go one step further and compare different styles of Dungeon Mastering with the facets of the Christian Trinity.' More goth DM rantings plz!

Still Alive « Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction
Short takes on Portal, critique-wise.

Commercial Breaks - A documentary about the Imagine and Ocean Software
Wow, seminal UK game development from 1983/1984 - via Boyer.

David Hellman » Blog Archive » The Art of Braid, Part IV: Developer Mode
Yep, still linking these!

Game-ism: 'Peripheral Sequels'
Suggesting analog fret buttons for Rock Band 2 hardware would be a neat idea. Which it would!

GameSpot News: PressSpotting talks to Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Good to see Charlie Brooker namechecked in here - CASH PRIZE to anyone who can dig out the Brooker vs. Edge prank phone call.

Call of Jihadi Interview // PC /// Eurogamer
Games for political reasons, interpreting them, things getting banned, etc.

ScottishGames.biz: videoGaiden Game Awards 2008
The Consolevania folks have good taste, make interesting award categories.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 3/29/08

March 30, 2008 12:00 AM |

Can you solve the Mystery of the Video Game Scores? I know I can't. It's kind of a mystery to me why magazines care so much about their review score systems and score this and score that. Though, of course, the public's kind of at fault, too. Who remembers how many stars Roger Ebert gave Movie X?

You probably don't; if you remember anything, it's that he either said it's good or bad, along with maybe a couple zingers here and there. If game writing has produced text as memorable as Ebert's, then that's collectively our problem, isn't it?

And now that I've written enough text to (hopefully) clear this opening image, let's move right on to all the game magazines released within the past fortnight. This update may be a mite on the short side because I'm rapidly preparing for a trip to Japan, where I will be this time next week.

Hopefully I can visit all the secret places I know I can find old game mags for sale. (No, I won't tell you where they are. I can't have you go buying them all up before I get there!)

GameSetNetwork: The Valve In The Mountain

March 29, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

- Even though you'll see a fair amount of cross-posting between GameSetWatch and big sister site Gamasutra nowadays - at least on the non-link 'opinion' and quirkier stuff - there's still plenty of original content on Gamasutra and sister sites like Game Career Guide of interest to you good folks.

This time around - interviews with the Valve folks behind Portal, a fun look at Super Mario Galaxy's gravity system, Tom Buscaglia on the symbiotic relationship between game developer and his trusty lawyer, and lots more - as follows:

- Still Alive: Kim Swift And Erik Wolpaw Talk Portal
"Kim Swift and Erik Wolpaw are the lead designer and lead writer of Valve's Portal, a game you may have heard of - and in this Gamasutra interview, they go into detail on the game's creation, director's commentary, and, uh, 'time to crate'."

- Game Law: Man's Best Friend Sometimes Bites
"Buscaglia's latest 'Game Law' column sees him suggesting that "just like a kid and a dog, every game studio should have its pet lawyer to keep it safe and secure" - contributing key training tips for both canine and human sides."

- Q&A: Taito's Fujita On Mobile Consolidation, iPod Hopes
"Following up on a recent interview, Gamasutra catches up with Taito U.S. rep Keiji Fujita to discuss the consolidating cellphone game market, Taito games on Apple's iPod hardware, and Square Enix publishing Taito DS games in the West."

- Games Demystified: Super Mario Galaxy
"Want to see how Mario Galaxy created its unique gravity-based physics effects for the in-game planets? Developer Alessi analyzes and reproduces the same concepts with a playable game prototype and source code."

- Student Postmortem: The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
"An Edward Gorey-like, silent film-inspired art style and the looping of recorded game play mark the USC student game The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and, in the latest feature for GameCareerGuide, the team exposes how the distinctive title blossomed in a university setting."

- Resolve Your Resolves
"In this in-depth technical article, Gruen & Story examine anti-aliasing in games, explaining how you can reduce 'jaggies' in your PC title, and save frame-rate, by using many less post-processing passes."

- China Angle: 'China Games And The Troubles'
"In Gamasutra's latest China Angle column, Frank Yu says that while China's online population is booming, the games industry is growing increasingly nervous about government crackdowns following the shuttering of online video sites, and looks at recent controversy over the Beijing Olympics website's co-option of some casual games."

- Y Control: Joe Ybarra On Cheyenne Mountain's Massive Plans
"Cheyenne Mountain exec Joe Ybarra's career has evolved from The Bard's Tale to the Stargate Worlds MMO, and Gamasutra talks to him about the Arizona developer's surprising four teams and multiple MMOs in development."

- Educational Feature: The Fun Instinct
"Game designers need to have an intuitive sense of what is fun, and Spin Master lead designer Tim Lang says you don't have to be born with that trait -- it can be learned. In the latest feature for GameCareerGuide.com, Lang formulates a system for acquiring a fun instinct -- or nurturing ones that already exist."

Quiz Me Qwik: Forumwarz' Robin Ward On Launching A Net.Culture Game

March 29, 2008 8:00 AM |

forumwarz.jpg['Quiz Me Quik' is a new weekly GameSetWatch column by journalist Alistair Wallis, in which he picks offbeat subject in the game business and interviews them about their business, their perspective, and their unique view of life. This time - the wonderfully odd Web-based net.culture pastiche Forumwarz.]

Browser based game Forumwarz has done a pretty good job of drawing the attention of those who spend their time wallowing in Net culture. Small wonder, really: t's a sharp parody of the many negatives and positives out there, from furries to Boing Boing and 4chan, all wrapped up in a slick self-contained imitation of the web.

There's Sentrillion, the Google-alike search engine, sTalk and Tubmail, the Gmail and Gmail Chat equivalents. Kind of like a more sophisticated version of the front-end to PS2 RPG .hack, except that it's actually fun to play. Oh, and it's all rather funny too.

Then there's the gameplay, a sort of turn-based RPG style that sees players using various methods of annoyance to take down forums, depending on their class. It's bra shots and descriptions of sexual experiences for Camwhores, whining about parents and self-mutilation for Emo Kids and spoilers and “yo momma” jokes for Trolls. Maybe it's just an instilled obsession with level grinding, but it really is quite addictive.

GameSetWatch posted an interview with Robin “Evil Trout” Ward – developer Zombie Crotch Productions' only full time employee – a few weeks after the game's release.

With a little water under the bridge, and the second episode of story content on the way, we figured that now would be a good time to catch up with him and see what the reaction to the game has been like, and how it's affected the way the game's development is continuing:

GameSetLinks: Pinball To The Grave

March 29, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

- Now, let's start the weekend with some delightful GameSetLink-age, pwning the Internet and making esoteric links your friend since 2005, ish.

This time, Harvey Smith says nice things about Tale Of Tales' latest indie title, James Kochalka advocates for games and kids going well together, and all kinds of other awesomeness occurs. Like this:

witchboy.net » Blog Archive » stones flowers
Harvey Smith critiques Tale Of Tales' 'The Graveyard' (pictured), intriguingly.

Business Week: 'Gaming Trends: 2008'
With quotes from Leigh, even!

Subatomic Brainfreeze: KINGS OF POWER 4 BILLION %
'So yeah, you guys may or may not know about Paul Robertson, but either way, it is clear to me that you should.'

Manifesto Games seeks venture round for indie games » VentureBeat
I love Manifesto, but I think indie is still selective, and venture funding isn't well suited to that.

Oxygen Games - 'Powershot Pinball Constructor'
Nice, Pinball Construction Kit new-style for DS, though I wonder if it has true global sharing - via Packratshow.

Gamasutra - Post-GDC: Aonuma's Reflections On Zelda
Check out the comments for the super DUPER bizarre... fan fiction?

American Elf: 'Level Up!'
The awesome GSW-reading cartoonist/artist/musician James Kochalka on why games and kids mix in good, fantastical ways.

Conserve Our Ocean Legacy: Ocean Survivor Game
A pointed anti-overfishing message via a Flash game - bravo.

Feature Article: The Long Road To High-Def Gaming | High-Def Digest
The history of enhanced resolutions in games!

Yahoo Auctions Japan - a special Pokemon GB auction
Gotta catch em all!

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