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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 August, 2009

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Week

August 30, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

Ah yes - time to go through the top full-length features of the past week on big sister site Gamasutra, plus extra features and Game Design Challenge goodness from fellow edu site GameCareerGuide.

Some of the highlights include an rather smart Shadow Complex interview with the Chair folks, a discussion on building buzz for indie games, a GCG narrative analysis for Lost Odyssey, great ways to navigate game levels, and other neatness besides.

Time to fly:

- Making Shadow Complex: Donald Mustard Speaks
"Though it's quickly proving to be one of the biggest buzz games of 2009, Shadow Complex was not a sure bet for Chair Entertainment when the project began. Gamasutra talks to creative director Donald Mustard about the creation of the Xbox Live Arcade downloadable hit."

- Ludus Florentis: The Flowering of Games
"The video game industry is going through a massive sea change, and Divide By Zero's James Portnow sits down to examine just what's going on, from tool simplification to distribution network changes, and what it means for games as a creative medium."

- Building Buzz for Indie Games
"In this in-depth feature, Mode 7 Games (Determinance, Frozen Synapse) co-head Paul Taylor discusses key steps to getting your independent game known, from careful initial announcements to pre-orders and talking to bloggers."

- No More Wrong Turns
"How do you navigate complex video game levels easily? Designer Nerurkar looks at examples from Fallout 3 through Shadow Of The Colossus to examine the top tools for aiding level navigation for players."

- Playfish: The Social Gaming Provocateurs
"Facebook game creator Playfish (Pet Society) has created some of the more sophisticated games for social networks, and Gamasutra speaks to them about why they believe quality eventually wins for social gaming, despite the noise."

- GCG: Game Narrative Review - Lost Odyssey
"In the first of a series of student examinations of game story, we take a look at the narrative of Xbox 360 RPG Lost Odyssey, examine its characters, and see where it goes right and goes wrong."

- GCG: Coursework vs. The Real World
"Wondering what value your college coursework will have for you in your gaming career? Graduate Matt Baxter explores the synergies between what you learn in the classroom and what you'll need in real life."

The Littlemaths RetroPerspective 02: Square's Secret of Mana

August 29, 2009 12:00 PM |

somgswheader.jpg[We're delighted to welcome back veteran GameSetWatch writer Alistair Wallis, who started his new 'RetroPerspective' series with a look at The Secret Of Monkey Island. Next up -- an insanely mammoth personal analysis of Square's classic SNES RPG Secret Of Mana.]

I transitioned into 16-bit gaming pretty late, by most standards. I didn't actually buy a SNES until the end of 1994, just before the release of Donkey Kong Country. Before that, it was all PC and Game Gear for me. And I was almost going to continue down the Sega route for my 16-bit purchase, too, until Donkey Kong Country started appearing in magazines. Suddenly, I decided that there was a lot more life in the SNES than there was in the Mega Drive/Genesis.

I'd have to say that I was pretty console neutral though, even at the age of 12. A couple of my really good friends owned Mega Drives, and I was pretty into my Game Gear, to the point where I bought a Sega magazine called MegaZone every month. But I'd gone through primary school playing NES games at friends' places, and then moved onto SNES games when the lucky ones amongst them did. I rented both consoles a number of times and really didn’t see that one was overtly superior to the other.

Hell, even MegaZone didn't really have the kind of snipe and sneer that a lot of the other platform exclusive magazines had at the time - and continued to have, right through to the end of the '90s. In fact, it turned considerably worse, probably because magazines started to skew younger with their content. Some of the Nintendo 64 magazines in the late '90s especially were just revolting; a real case of fans getting their defenses up when everything seemed to be heading downhill for Nintendo.

GameSetLinks: Turning Japanese, I Really Think So

August 29, 2009 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

As the weekend (and the GDC 2010 Advisory Board meeting) looms, time to start cracking on with some 'back on the ball' GameSetLinks goodness, starting out with those ever-sage Elder Game chaps on how psychology can help you design games. Who'd have thunk it, eh?

Also in this particular set of links - a look at how Westerns might get jobs in the Japanese game biz, Game Informer comes in for a bit of stick, the Pinball World Championships explored, and the majestic return of (not) Brian Crecente, thanks to the weird Eegra weirdos.

In cun abula:

Elder Game: MMO game development » Reinforcement Concepts for Designers
'Game design is an application of psychology: the goal of a game is typically to entertain and/or engage the human being playing the game, and studying psychology helps explain how we entertain and engage people.'

Eegra: The Internet's Premier Source of Scrunchie Softcore : The Terrifying Return of Brian Crecente
Not actually a game-related video, but I enjoy that the Crecente as revealed in the Super Smash Bros review makes a triumphant return about halfway through the vid anyhow.

Loyd Case on Technology - The Future Of PC Gaming
'I like to think of PC gaming as a beam of light passing through a diffraction grating.' Fair enough! Good piece.

Insult Swordfighting: Game Informer works for Gamestop, not for you -- Video Game Reviews and Rants
I actually do like GI - its editorial quality has come on quite a lot, and from its position of power it can run a lot more freeranging stuff - so I don't think there was any mega conspiracy here, least of all at the behest of GameStop, but the referenced Metacritic piece was a bit of an odd article.

Want To Work In The Japanese Gaming Industry? Here's How - Japan - Kotaku
Good piece with some quotes from some long-time JP game industry folks.

Crispy Gamer | Pinball Wizards: A Visual Tour of the Pinball World Championships
'Pinball is far from dead for the roughly 2,000 people that invaded a remote warehouse to enjoy four straight days of the game.'

Diablo III's Sandwasp Shoot'em Up

August 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

During its Diablo III panel at BlizzCon 2009 last weekend, Blizzard took some time to talk about the game's Sandwasp enemy, which isn't very dangerous when you encounter just one but can deliver a lot of hurt in swarms.

"When you get a bunch of them together, you get what you call the 'bullet hell' effect, which is a slow moving wall of damage or death," explains lead world designer Leonard Boyarsky.

The development team initially found it difficult to envision this bullet hell concept the designers had in mind, which called for the Sandwasp to birth mini-wasps that attack players. To better get across the "old-timey arcade action" feel he was going for, lead technical artist Julian Love came up with the demonstration you see above (fast-forward to 9:04 if the video doesn't start at the appropriate segment).

Rumor has it that you can play the shoot'em up on an arcade cabinet hidden in Diablo III's secret cow level. True story.

[Via Shmups Forum]

2009 GDC Austin Indie, iPhone Summits Get Final Speakers, Limited-Time Discount

August 28, 2009 2:00 PM | Simon Carless

Aha, my colleagues at GDC Austin 2009 have just tipped me the wink that they're doing a special discount for latecomers who _just_ want to attend the various Summits on September 15th-16th in beautiful Austin, Texas.

Simultaneously, we've actually completed the line-up for the Indie Game Summit at GDC Austin with a neat latecomer - 2D Boy's Ron Carmel is speaking on 'Beyond the Finish Line of Shipping an Indie Game', discussing "World of Goo's post-release surprises, how they were dealt with, and how they could be better addressed in the future."

The full IGS @ Austin line-up also includes a whole heap of neat local, national, and international indies, including some of the guys behind Bit.Trip Beat, Aquaria, And Yet It Moves, Fantastic Contraption, Age Of Booty, 'Splosion Man, and many more.

There's also an iPhone Games Summit at Austin which the same pass lets you get into, and which I also co-programmed. As well as Randy Smith discussing the making of App Store hit Spider, there's a lot of neat lectures here, too, including accomplished game creators from Booyah, Pangea (Enigmo), Playfirst (Diner Dash), Snappy Touch (Flower Garden), and Newtoy (Chess/Words With Friends), with a day of design/marketing lectures and a day of technical talks.

And, of course, there's the Game Writers Summit, with a keynote starring all the Valve writers and notable lectures from Eidos Montreal, Sony Online, Red Storm, and Vicarious Visions folks, plus the Game Audio Summit, with a host of notable high-end audio folks discussing making sound for games - you can also flit back and forth between these Summits and the aforementioned ones.

Anyhow, to redeem this offer, go register for the Summits Pass and use the code GDCASUMMIT when checking out. It'll give you access to all Tue-Wed Summits and tutorial sessions, plus the main GDC Austin show floor and official GDC Parties for $299 - which is approx. half of the price you'd pay otherwise - if you register between now and midnight on September 4th.

[OBLIGATORY FINE PRINT: This offer only applies to new Summits and Tutorial pass purchases made between 8/28-9/4/09. This offer cannot be combined with other offers and cannot be applied retroactively. Thanks!]

Column: @Play: A Date With Asuka

August 28, 2009 12:00 PM |

Roguelike column thumbnail ['@ Play' is a monthly column by John Harris which discusses the history, present and future of the Roguelike dungeon exploring genre. This month, impressions of the Japan-only Mystery Dungeon game Fushigi no Dungeon: Furai no Shiren Gaiden: Jokenji Asuka Kenzan!]

There are quite a few Mystery Dungeon games, but they can generally be divided into two categories, being the licensed ones, and the unlicensed ones. While there are more licensed games, and in fact the first game in the series starred Torneko/Taloon from Dragon Quest IV, the more interesting ones from a roguelike enthusiast's perspective are the unlicensed games, which for whatever reason tend to have more challenging gameplay, harder consequences for losing, and are just more fun in all ways.

asukatitle.JPGThe unlicensed Mystery Dungeon games are also called the Shiren games, after the starring character, a wanderer in a straw hat with a talking weasel named Kappa and a distinctive striped cape.

Off the top of my head, and I am open to correction on this,I believe there to be nine games in this series: one for the Super Famicom, two for the Gameboy, one starring a younger Shiren and Kappa for the N64 (which I like to call Jim Henson's Dungeon Babies), one for the Sega Dreamcast, one for Windows, one for the Wii, and two DS remakes, of the SNES and first Game Boy games.

Of them all, only one has been officially released in the U.S., the first DS remake. Atlus, I would think in order to make up for the lackluster Izuna games, plans on releasing the Wii version. Time will tell if they do their usual sterling localization job or decide the game needs "fixing" in some way.

But this is off the subject, which is the Dreamcast game. This is essentially a roguelike with 3D models for all the monsters. And some of the artwork is among the best seen in the series. Of course, our focus is more on the gameplay than the visuals, so I leave it to the screenshots (taken off an actual television!) to show off the look of the game. It actually doesn't star Shiren at all, but a young woman named Asuka. Despite being unable to read Japanese I've been playing this game for a couple of days, with the aid of the handful of item translation FAQs available on GameFAQs:

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of August 28

August 28, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

In our latest employment-tastic round-up, we highlight some of the notable jobs posted in big sister site Gamasutra's industry-leading game jobs section this week, including positions from Rockstar North, Grasshopper Manufacture and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

SCUMM Fan Fiction: Han Solo Adventures

August 28, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Writer and director Stacy Davidson showed off this clip for the Star Wars Uncut project last week, but it turns out he's developing an actual SCUMM adventure game featuring Han Solo, though it won't have voice acting or the same tongue-in-cheek tone in the video above.

Titled Han Solo Adventures, this LucasArts-inspired project will feature "a relatively mature style along the lines of Fate of Atlantis and Full Throttle. It will focus on the smuggler's hijinks prior to A New Hope, so don't expect any trips to the Death Star or Endor. Davidson plans to split up Han's adventures into chapters, though, so you should still be able to explore a variety of Star Wars locales in the planned releases.

"This game was born out of my frustration that LucasArts seemed to throw everything but the kitchen sink into their adventure game lineup, with the exception of their flagship property: Star Wars," he explains.

"As awesome as Fate of Atlantis was, it always rubbed salt into the wound for me. I felt like, 'OK, Indy’s awesome... now where’s Han?!?' For me, that’s what it’s all about, so if I am going to properly bring one of my life dreams into reality."

You can see a couple screenshots from the unofficial freeware PC game below, and follow Davidson's progress on his Han Solo Adventures site.

Monkey Island Production Paintings

August 28, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell has been posting Monkey Island production paintings from his time at LucasArts, including this familiar-looking reimagining of series villain LeChuck created some time around 2000, described as "depicting a moment in a speculative piratey piece of potential film entertainment".

Below, you'll find another painting of LeChuck about to suffer one of his many deaths, as well as a scene with Guybrush and Elaine battling a Leviathan. You can find bigger versions of the paintings on Purcell's blog.

First-Person Forklifting

August 28, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Looking for the perfect Birthday or Christmas gift to wow that nephew aspiring to work in a warehouse when he grows up? Present him with a copy of Forklift Truck Simulator 2009 and watch his eyes go wild with mad glee right before he rushes to the family computer to install the software!

Developed by German developer Astragon, which specializes in PC simulators, Forklift Truck Simulator 2009 challenges you to navigate lift trucks around the emptiest warehouse I"ve ever seen, completing missions by loading/unloading trucks and trains against a time limit and by storing goods.

The software includes a training mode to introduce you to the different vehicles and get you the licenses required for different missions. There's also a free mode in which you can do whatever you want with the forklifts and transport boxes willy-nilly.

[Via NeoGAF]

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