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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, 2010

BioShock Pixelart: 'Gore Can Be Retro'

May 31, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Created as part of his "Abra.Macabra" series, this BioShock digital art piece by Patricio Betteo reduces a Big Daddy and Little Sister to squares and rectangles that still manage to capture the game's dark and foreboding tone (and even some of the art deco elements!).

Betteo admits that this isn't pure "pixel art", as he added textures, glowing effects, and color adjustments, and also rounded the pixels, but I don't think that takes much away from this scene. The artist comments, "BioShock deserves the phrase: 'Gore can be retro. Gore can be beautiful.'"

[Via Rampaged Reality]

GDC Vault Adds Acclaimed Lectures From Amy Jo Kim, Bob Bates

May 31, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[We're delighted to continue to put out free video streams of GDC 2010 lectures via GDC Vault, and here's the latest two, both intelligent, well thought-out, and - particularly in the case of Bob Bates' piece - truly heartfelt, which is to be appreciated. Check them out...]

Continuing their Game Developers Conference 2010 free video lecture series, organizers have debuted well-received lectures from Amy Jo Kim (on meta-game design) and Bob Bates (on 'living a creative life' in games.)

The two new lectures, both highly rated by GDC attendees, are part of a free update published at the GDC Vault website, and feature video technology that allows users to simultaneously view a presenter's slides alongside video and audio of their presentation.

The first talk to be made freely available in this set is 'Meta-Game Design: Reward Systems that Drive Engagement', originally presented at the Social & Online Games Summit by Shufflebrain co-founder and veteran social game/community designer Amy Jo Kim.

Kim, whose clients have included Electronic Arts, Sony, Disney, eBay, MTV, Square Enix and Harmonix, presents an in-depth look at 'metagame design', that is, "the practice of applying game-like reward and feedback systems to non-game applications for the purpose of driving loyalty and engagement".

In the 30 minute talk, the designer and consultant examines games like FarmVille and websites like Stack Overflow to see how clever incentivizing can make -- or break -- your product, whether it sits in the game space, web space, or somewhere in between.

An Illustrated Guide To LARPing

May 31, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Artist Nick Edwards has posted a wonderful illustrated guide to LARPing, or live-action role-playing, that oft-mocked practice of dressing up and physically playing/acting out fantasy campaigns and battles in the real world.

This introduction covers the basics of LARPing, such as the different genres, reasons why someone would take an interest in this kind of role-playing, and tips on costumes. It also discusses some of the dangers of LARPing and how it can affect real-world relationships.

The best part of the short guide, though, is Edwards' art, brimming with muscly minotaurs, burning cyclopes, and a green cube thing. I've included a couple more pages below, but you can see the entire thing online at the artist's LiveJournal.

Starcraft II Mod Features Turn-based Final Fantasy Battles

May 31, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Further demonstrating the versatility of Starcraft II's Galaxy Map Editor is (check out this Touhou-style shoot'em up clone!), YouTube user SkriK posted this video from his Final Fantasy mod project, showing a typical turn-based JRPG battle played out with the Starcraft II engine.

SkriK says he plans to post the mod for others to download once he's completed the project, which will feature a story unrelated to the Final Fantasy universe despite its gameplay similarities. Right now, he's working on adding summons, inventory, quests, a world map, and more!

[Via Exophase]

GameSetNetwork: Best Of The Fortnight

May 31, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

We actually missed a week due to technical problems - so here's a megalength story putting together the top full-length features of the last fortnight on big sister 'art and business of gaming' site Gamasutra, plus some other GameCareerGuide pieces we haven't mentioned.

Some of the notable pieces from the last fortnight include a great retrospective on a decade of PopCap Games, a paean to EVE Online from spymaster The Mittani, a look at how indie developers can exhibit at events, a discussion of ethics in games with some smart interviewees, talks with Sony, Ubisoft Toronto and Capy, and rather more besides.

Ten Years Of PopCap: The Interview
"Two of PopCap's founders look back on the early days of the company through the present, taking in the circumstances behind its founding and its development philosophy -- casual and beyond."

Action Adventure Level Design: Pacing, Content, and Mood
"Toby Gard continues with his case study of fictional game Ken Kong Zombie Killer, looking at how the game's pacing ties into its content and mood -- tying development processes together."

Ethics 101: Designing Morality in Games
"Bethesda's Emil Pagliarulo and 2K Marin's Jordan Thomas discuss the importance of building challenging, satisfying ethical gameplay -- both in their games and in the work of others."

GCG: 'Inappropriate Title' Design Challenge Results, 'Time For Change' Revealed

May 30, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

GameSetWatch sister site GameCareerGuide has published the results of its latest Game Design Challenge on inappropriate titles, revealing its next contest: explore the implications of a gender change to a video game character.

Inappropriate Title

GCG's most recent, completed challenge asked readers to deliver a new games for existing game titles, with designs that fit existing game titles better than their actual games do:

Best Entries

Ryan George, Game Design Student at Columbia College Chicago, Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
Ryan George takes a promising but misleading game title and realizes its full potential. Fighting Golf challenges players to stay under par while duking it out with competing golfers.

Tania Anta, UPC's Master in Video Game Creation and Development, Braid
Anta's take on Braid bears no resemblance whatsoever to the indie hit that shares its title, but instead suggests a compelling pick-up-and-play hairdressing experience.

Aniol Alcaraz, Master en Disseny i Creacio de Videojocs UPC, Syphon Filter
Sony's Syphon Filter is a third-person shooter with a seemingly nonsensical title. Aniol Alcaraz presents a puzzle game based on the concept of filtering fluids using the syphon principle.

Interview: Anti-Teen Violence Group Reveals Game Design Contest Winners

May 30, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Here's an interview by our own Leigh Alexander with Drew Crecente on the very worthy Jennifer Ann's Group, which just announced its competition winners for this year's 'serious games' contest on teen dating violence.]

A unique game design competition aimed at teen violence prevention has announced its winners, revealing that Grace's Diary is taking home the top prize.

The annual contest is sponsored by Jennifer Ann's Group, a non-profit organization focused on teen violence education and prevention since its founding in 2006. The game design competition, the "Life. Love. Game Design Contest," challenges entrants to design a game about the issue -- without using violence itself.

This year's competition saw 12 entrants, and it was Bangkok-based Hima's Grace's Diary, an animated interactive story-format title with beautiful watercolor pencil art, that took home the $2500 grand prize.

In second place was Thomas Liu's A Decision Of Paramount Importance, a sidescrolling and well-animated pixel adventure game, and in third, Batty Media's Jellia's Friends, a cute action title starring cartoon jellybeans. Both the second and third prize winners receive a $100 prize.

Judges included Judges included Dr. Ian Bogost (Co-Founder, Persuasive Games), Simon Carless (former IGF chairman and publisher of this website), Brian Crecente (Managing Editor, Kotaku), Dr. Elizabeth Richeson (Advisory Board Director, Jennifer Ann's Group), and me, Leigh Alexander, news director of Gamasutra.

I found the opportunity to be a judge both educational and touching, and decided to speak to Drew Crecente, founder of Jennifer Ann's Group, to learn more about the group's goals with the contest and the use of game design in social issues:

Analysis: M.I.A.'s Born Free, And Violence As A Tool

May 29, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Inspired by British songwriter M.I.A.'s explicit video for the song Born Free, Gamasutra senior news editor Kris Graft says violence is a powerful tool that is typically taken for granted in video games.]

A small S.W.A.T.-styled tactical team, sporting riot gear and sleeve patches of the American flag, breaches an apartment building. This death squad ransacks the building room by room, at one point interrupting a naked, overweight couples' lovemaking session. They're frightened.

The tactical unit wrangles up young red-haired males from the building, forces them onto a bus at gunpoint, drives them out to a desert covered with mines and makes them run across the minefield.

Beatings with nightsticks precede slow-motion depictions of one young boy getting his brains blown out at point blank range, and a short time later, another boy is vaporized as he steps on a mine.

The scenes are from UK artist M.I.A.'s recent video for the song Born Free. Now I'm thinking, "Why can't video games be more like this?"

The images from Born Free shock the viewer, but as violent as the images are, I don't consider them gratuitous. Watching the video reminded me of the power of violent depictions and how they can make a lasting impression.

But violence has become so comfortably ingrained in video games that game designers often don't leverage it as the powerful tool that it is -- it's a commodity now. Meanwhile, gamers absolutely don't expect violence to be anything but gratuitous, or for it to carry any meaning or purpose beyond shallow spectacle.

COLUMN: @Play: Chocobo's Dungeon for Wii

May 29, 2010 12:00 AM |

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 time - a look at Square Enix's chocobo-starring, Rogue-ish Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon for Nintendo's Wii.]

We looked at Shiren the Wanderer for the Wii a little while ago. Interestingly, that is only one of three roguelike or quasi-roguelike games for the system. The other two are Baroque, which we'll be looking at shortly (so everyone in the comments can be patient a little while longer) and Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon.

cdchocobo.jpgChocobo's Dungeon is a sorta-sequel to Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon, a Playstation roguelike originally developed by Chunsoft, the Mystery Dungeon people who also made the Torneko games and Shiren the Wanderer. Chunsoft has made many roguelikes and quasi-roguelikes licensed to other companies using their properties.

This is what brought us the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, which are breathtakingly boring but still, among their audience, remarkably popular. Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon was a similar kind of thing. While the Chocobo's Dungeon games have been developed by Square (and later instalments by h.a.n.d.), the first two at least were supervised by the president of Chunsoft, so at least some know-how is behind them.

Alone In The Dark Scriptwriter Pens Comic For WiiWare Game

May 28, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

To promote Racers’ Islands: Crazy Racers (not to be confused with Konami's Krazy Racers), an upcoming WiiWare game from France's Artefacts Studio, publisher Zallag is producing a comic book set in the same universe and written by Hubert Chardot, scriptwriter of landmark survival horror PC series Alone in the Dark.

The comic book is a prequel to the WiiWare title, exploring the recruiting process and the histories of the racers featured in the game. Zallag explains the storyline:

"Dieta Von Nietzsche is the tyrannical and sexy CEO of GRINK (Global Real Intermedia Network Korporation). Her flagship TV broadcast has just lsot its first rank in global audience: this is clearly an unbeadable thing for her ego and for her shareholders.

Thus Dieta decides to launch a brand new and excessive reality show called Racers' Islands. She'll have to enroll 'hotheads' amateur race drivers from all over the world and turn them into 'TV Stars'. Then she can launch them in non-stop action races!"

You can see artwork and some panels from the comic after the break. The text is in French so far, and it's unclear if the comic book will have an English edition. The action looks pretty easy to follow so long as you have a basic understanding of the plot, though!

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