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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 November, 2008

Inside GDC 2009: 'Content Is King'

November 27, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Ever wondered how talks get selected for GDC? Starting a series of articles from the event blog we'll also be posting on GSW for your informational delectation, Game Developers Conference event director Meggan Scavio reveals this year's GDC advisory board and submission process.]

Every summer, the GDC advisory board gathers to discuss the direction of the next event. The board is made up of 17 of the most dedicated, brilliant people in the industry. And I’m not just saying that because they might read this.

You may have heard of some of them, for example Blizzard’s Rob Pardo, Electronic Arts' Lou Castle, veteran creator Mark Cerny, Bungie's Chris Butcher, MGS's Laura Fryer, and Maxis’ Chris Hecker. See, it’s true. Smarties.

Anyhow, during this meeting they talk about everything from networking opportunities (“wouldn’t it be cool to have a roundtable follow a thought-provoking lecture so the attendees can discuss what they just heard?”) to session formats (“what if we gave speakers 3 minutes each to present their cool idea or technology”).

Best Of GamerBytes: Fighting In The Streets

November 27, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

cletcla.jpg[Every week, Gamasutra sister weblog GamerBytes' editor Ryan Langley will be summing up the top console digital download news tidbits from the past 7 days, including brand new game announcements and scoops through the world of Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare.]

This week, GamerBytes had a look back to pick out the best digital download titles released in October. It was quite a packed month for all, and we're here to help you in case you missed out on a few.

Along with that, we check out more Community Games on XNA, interview Nathan Fout on his game Weapon of Choice, see what the indie PC creator behind Platypus is up to, check out the new Punisher game for PSN, and see what High Voltage Software are up to next.

Here's the top stories:

Opinion: Why Blood and Guts Make Up For A Dead Story, Characters

November 27, 2008 8:00 AM |

ds11.jpg[In this new opinion piece, writer and commentator Tom Cross examines EA Redwood Shores' Dead Space, a title he believes that 'triumphed despite itself' - here's a look at its failings and strange accomplishments.]

I've recently been thinking that too many games operate in the shadow of Aliens, especially in the atmosphere created by that movie’s characters.

So, it's with bemusement that I encounter a game that derives everything else from Ripley's world: setting, plot, enemies (after a fashion), and lines of dialogue. When you hear somebody posit the notion that somebody might want to study or preserve the game's horrific monsters, you know exactly what the writers are thinking.

Taking after Cameron, Not Scott

Many people have of course pointed out this fact since the game shipped. However, most people are focusing on how the tempo of that movie is similar to Dead Space’s gameplay. They say that this game is like Aliens, with its frantic action and small scares, and less like Alien's slow creeping dread. What they don't mention is that the story, which mixes the aforementioned movies with The Thing and a bit of clichéd religious zeal, is hackneyed beyond belief.

The game sends you from one end of the deep-space mining vessel Ishimura to another, fixing leaks, restarting generators, and basically acting like the meanest, most badass space janitor/engineer in history. Let me say, right out of the gate, that I loved this game. I thought that it was beautiful, fun, tense, and occasionally scary. I never for once thought it was original or creative (except in its depiction of zero gravity and vacuum situations, which are absolutely brilliant).

GameSetLinks: Who Watches The Indies?

November 27, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Continuing to showcase some more thoughtful writing on the Interweb for GameSetLinks, allegedly, we start out with Kyle Orland's Crispy Gamer piece on how independent games actually get, well, noticed.

Also in this set of links - the latest GameTunnel indie reviews countdown (hey, one of the ways indies get noticed!), as well as gaming in India, the rise of video in game reviews/coverage, the 5 million raptor LED sign countdown, that awesome Zork manual, and more besides.

Super furry animals:

Crispy Gamer - Column: Press Pass: Going Indie
Kyle Orland takes a look at the issues in getting publicity for indie games, with quotes from myself, Russell Carroll, Kieron Gillen and others - some good points made on first-tier indies getting a heck of a lot of buzz, but a lot of others being off the radar.

November 2008 Indie game Round-Up by Game Tunnel
The intro description explains it just fine, so no retyping needed: 'Game Tunnel is proud to publish the November Independent Video Game round-up, the latest in our long-running Famitsu-styled panels that review all the latest Indie PC games. The 10 games reviewed for November include 2D Boy's World of Goo (pictured), Mount & Blade from Taleworlds and Project Aftermath from Games Faction.'

'Media Coverage: The Rise of Video' - GameDaily Biz
Another excellent, slightly buried Gus Mastrapa column: 'Most gamers still read their news and reviews and they do so, for the most part, on the Internet. The coming tidal wave of Internet video won't leave video games untouched.'

Blur.st Blog: '5,000,000 Raptors Killed!'
Matthew and Steve of Flashbang Studios/Blurst (also IGF co-organizers) are pure rock - who else has a special LED ticker in their office for how many velociraptors have been killed in their game?

Game recommendation - Black Rock/Disney's 'Pure' for 360/PS3.
For all those who've played a bunch of generic ATV games and got turned off them - repent! Perfect pacing and beautiful controls make this one of the most entertaining racing games I've played in the past couple of years - gorgeous graphics, too.

Kotaku: 'Feature: I, Gamer'
Leigh's regular column at her previous employer, Kotaku, gets into how we presume people know things about games, when the average game buyer, well, doesn't: 'In your average game store, customers do not read reviews. They do not post on forums, they have never been motivated to leave Amazon feedback just to "send a message," they do not blog.'

Zork Infocom PDP-11 First Edition Manual | PC Gaming | gameSniped.com
Wow, truly a piece of gaming history - the manual for the mainframe version of Zork - and it went for a suitably large chunk of change, too.

NetworkComputing.in on the Indian gaming market
A sister publication to us on the Indian game market: '“As per global estimates mobile gaming penetration in the Indian market is at 2 – 3 %." Thus far, it's been a bit anemic, but you never know...

In-Depth: Behind The Scenes Of Certain Affinity's Age of Booty

November 26, 2008 4:00 PM | Simon Carless

[How did the Bungie veterans at indie developer Certain Affinity construct its downloadable pirate-themed console RTS Age of Booty? We have some fun highlights from the Game Developer cover postmortem here - oh, and random extra fact, did you know that C64 music legend Martin Galway is Certain Affinity's audio director?]

The latest issue of GameSetWatch sister publication Game Developer magazine includes a creator-written postmortem on the making of Certain Affinity's Age of Booty, the pirate-themed RTS released via download on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

These extracts reveal how the Texas-based start-up studio behind the game faced the obstacles of succeeding as an independent development house while still keeping a hold on its game rights.

Certain Affinity president Max Hoberman, a Bungie Studios veteran, crafted the postmortem of the Capcom-published product, which was introduced in Game Developer as follows:

2009 IGF Announces Record Entries For Main, Student Competitions

November 26, 2008 8:00 AM | Simon Carless

The organizers of the 2009 Independent Games Festival have announced a record turnout for this year's IGF competition, with a total of 226 entries in the Main Competition (an increase of 30% on last year's 173 entries), and a total of 145 Student Showcase entries (up over 15% on last year's 125 entries).

Information on the 226 separate IGF Main Competition entries, including screenshots, descriptions, and links to official game websites, are now available to view on the official IGF website.

Examples of the entries span already announced indie titles, including Jason Rohrer's Between, alternate reality RPG Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, visually lush point and click adventure Machinarium, and art-game I Wish I Were The Moon, through previously little-discussed titles such as Pieces Interactive's "first walk'em up" Walkie Tonky, new Nifflas-designed title Night Game, and Lexaloffle's "ecological action game" Conflux.

In addition, the 145 IGF Student Showcase entries are also available for viewing on the official IGF website, with descriptions, screenshots, and official website information.

Again, a great diversity of student-made games with original concepts are showcased, with examples including GumBeat, in which you "...blow bubble gum and gather enough supporters to your cause to topple the anti-gum government", High Moon, a "abstract post-apocalyptic zombie western robot romance in 3 acts", and It's MimeTime, in which "you are a female mime artist in Paris, who must earn as much as possible, by miming your way through an invisible maze."

The IGF judges, which currently comprise notable journalists, indie and mainstream game creators, are now in the process of judging this year's titles. with almost $50,000 in prizes to be handed out, including the $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Finalists will be announced in early January 2009, and winners, as picked by the 2009 IGF judges, will be announced on stage at the prestigious Independent Games Festival Awards on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The Independent Games Festival Awards are held along the Game Developers Choice Awards, and both award shows are part of the 2009 Game Developers Conference, which also features a two-day Independent Games Summit, with lectures and panels from the best indie developers.

More information and a full list of entrants for this year's Independent Games Festival is available at its official website.

GameSetLinks: The Fixer Of The Dead

November 26, 2008 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Catching up on some GameSetLinks goodness, and there's some random fun in here, starting with some video footage from the relatively unseen (and canned) The Fixer for PS3, and carrying on with... a Raymond Chandler DS game?

Also notable - Valve listening to slightly unhinged (but wonderfully so) UK journos, Chris Remo's song about Call Of Duty infighting, Chasing Ghosts popping up on Showtime, and rather more things besides.

Crack a window:

superannuation finds a trailer for Climax/Sony's canned 'The Fixer' for PS3
He's digging up some neat stuff: 'I never thought anyone would be able to make Resident Evil 5 look sensitive, but Climax Action did with The Fixer, which was righteously nipped in the bud by SCEE.'

Siliconera » American Detective Novelist Raymond Chandler Gets A Japanese DS Game
'Next spring a DS game based on the 1940s novel Farewell, My Lovely will come out in Japan.' This is very odd, to say the last, but along the lines of some of the noir-ish visual novel-y stuff that you'll see in Japan, sometimes - via TinyCartridge.

Idle Thumbs: A Weekly Video Game Podcast
It's worth plugging the podcast again, because it co-stars our own Chris Remo and even has awesomely random songs about Infinity Ward and Treyarch infighting. But LOOK AT THE URL. If you're not telling GamerGrub, then I won't, hee. (Also, the actual pictures of the actual Strategy Chocolate snacks, hidden behind the logo - look terrible.)

Peter Hirschberg's Journal: "Chasing Ghosts" on Showtime!
The _other_ classic Pac-Man documentary finally gets released - and it's on the Showtime pay-TV channel (home of Dexter), interestingly enough.

on iPhone app pricing - z a c k h i w i l l e r
Zack makes some great points (and links to better ones still) on iPhone pricing - I think that the super-elastic, low pricing is definitely making it much more difficult for iPhone game developers to make a living at it in the long run. Which is a major shame, but I guess market forces at work can't be beat unless Apple artificially does something?

Game/app recommendation: KORG DS-10 for Nintendo DS
XSeed sent me over a copy of the DS synth software, and I must say I'm impressed. It's real-time tweaking/performance heaven for electronic music freaks - I'm sure you've seen the demos - but it's available in the States now, so there's no excuse for not checking it out.

World Of Stuart: 'Valve: Excellent'
Email-documented examples of the Valve folks responding directly to Dr. Stuart Campbell's customarily ranty requests for legacy controls in TF2 and now Left 4 Dead on consoles - this kind of thoughtful user response can't be faked.

Raph’s Website » Game Informer on “Impostor” games
Raph Koster on games that aren't games, maybe: 'if we can orient the brain around real world models instead of the synthetic game ones, the logic goes, we can then use the strong feedback capabilities of software to help elucidate the model more, and thus encourage us to take the right actions.'

Column: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Mag Roundup 11/25/08

November 25, 2008 4:00 PM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


Many game outlets on the web reported -- a little gloatingly, perhaps -- on comments that Ziff Davis Media chief Jason Young made to the New York Times on Wednesday.

In case you zoned out on it, the report (mainly about PC Magazine's move to an online-only distribution format starting January) mentions that Young is entertaining the idea of taking EGM online-only as well, though no decision on the print mag's ultimate fate will be made before the end of the year.

To most gamers, the reaction was probably "Well, duh, I get all my news and reviews from forums." (That or "Oh nooo my bathroom reading!!", which I never quite understood. Quit spending so much time in the bathroom, people!) My reaction, though, is a bit more nuanced.

If I had to spout it out in one sentence, I'd take a deep breath and say: "Well, duh, EGM's ad pages have plummeted over even last year when they were already getting pretty sparse, and it's published by a company still recovering from bankruptcy, and given that EGM is the only remaining print magazine in the brands they own, it's plain that dead trees aren't anything like priority one over there any longer." Then I'd breathe again.

Sad, but true: Ad pages are down for every rag in the video-game market, and out of all the US mags coming out this month, only Game Informer and Play (who prints some anime and Geek Monthly-runoff ads the rest don't) have book sizes over 100 pages.

A distressingly interesting 2009 in store, eh?

Best Of FingerGaming: From Aurora Feint to Dr. Awesome

November 25, 2008 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Every week, we sum up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor Matt Burris and guest editor Eric Caoili.]

This week's notable items in the iPhone gaming space include the highly anticipated sequel to puzzle/RPG Aurora Feint, two newly announced titles from ngmoco, and Newtonica2 from Skip Ltd. co-founder Kenichi Nishi.

Here are the top stories:

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Trouble and Danger

November 25, 2008 8:00 AM |

DHSSmall.jpg['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch column by Emily Short. It looks at storytelling and narrative in games of all flavors, including the casual, indie, and obscurely hobbyist. This week she looks at Mousechief's unique social indie PC/Mac RPG, Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble.]

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble is a game about prejudice, repression, and parochial thinking, in which your avatars are spunky teenagers determined to discover everything that's going wrong around their (apparently) sleepy 1920s town. In order to reveal secrets and find clues, your gang of girls challenges the other characters to mini-games that represent lying, flirting, teasing, and other forms of social engagement.

That description on its own ought to be enough to attract some curiosity: DHSGiT takes on aspects of human interaction that just don't appear very often in computer games. It does so in metaphorical terms (exposing secrets relies on a kind of word puzzle; lying is a bluffing game using card suits) rather than through direct conversation -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and there is plenty of written dialogue to accompany the more abstract interaction.

The game-play does manage to take some advantage of characterization, too, in that some of the mini-games need to be approached with different strategies depending on the personality of your opponent -- a strength I would have liked to see taken further.

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