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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 May, 2010

Survival Of The Dead, Zombie Panic Cross-Promotion Wallpapers

May 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

I thought Akaoni Studio missed out on a great chance to somehow promote Zombie Panic in Wonderland, its on-rails WiiWare shooter (think Sin & Punishment) featuring fairy tale characters and settings, with the recent release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie, but the game has found another movie cross-promotion opportunity in Japan.

Marvelous Entertainment, which published the game in Japan (it's also available in North America and Europe), managed to negotiate a wallpaper exchange with the Japanese film release of George Romero's Survival of the Dead. It's a really trivial tie-in, but it's interesting that a game developed in Spain and a movie filmed in Canada have formed a thin partnership in Japan.

As part of the cross-promotion, the Japanese sites for Zombie Panic in Wonderland and Survival of the Dead both feature desktop backgrounds mixing art from the game and movie. The sites will release more wallpapers in the next couple of weeks, too.

COLUMN: 'Game Mag Weaseling': A New Age for Industry Mags

May 28, 2010 12:00 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.]

gin01.jpg   interactiveage1.jpg

N. Evan Van Zelfden, editor of the brand-new Interactive Age magazine, was kind enough to send a copy of the first issue to me in the mail earlier. The title made its debut at DICE in February and then the Game Developers Conference in March, where it was included in the attendee swag bag.

Interactive Age describes itself on the website as "a peer-journal printed twice-yearly for an audience of executives, creatives, and decision-makers in the video game industry." That verbiage immediately reminded me of Ziff Davis Media's long-forgotten Gaming Industry News, a monthly newsletter-sized publication that promised to "feature up to-date news, inside analysis, business and technology trends, opinions and commentary on the business of electronic videogames." It folded after five issues, thanks to an executive-class subscription cost ($695 per year -- no, I'm not forgetting a decimal point) and a news-oriented beat that was exciting but not unique enough to merit the price. (You can read all five issues of the newsletter on editor Jimmy Guterman's personal website if you're curious.)

After reading Interactive Age, I'm confident that the two publications are absolutely nothing alike. For one, Interactive Age's content is truly unique -- a surprisingly wide selection of features, roundtables and columns, written by people know what they're talking about.

The first issue of IA is themed around the topic of globalization, with articles on the move to internationalize game development and the studio scenes in a wealth of different nations. Gaming Industry News was straight-on Bay Area-centric news and rumors, but IA's beat is all really thought-provoking stuff -- 30 full-length articles, in fact, each of them worth reading.

Tetravalanche: Tetris Platforming

May 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

You might have seen Tuper Tario Bros., the Tetris and Super Mario Bros. hybrid, so maybe you're used to the idea of a Tetris platformer, but Tetravalanche takes a different approach. In this game, you control Upman as he tries to ascend a well and escape a "Monster From The Deep", jumping onto falling Tetris blocks as platforms.

This trailer for the Flash game might seem slow and not too terribly interesting until halfway through, when the pace is sped up, the blocks become more difficult to dodge, the timing of jumps becomes more important, and the purple monster shows itself.

This isn't out yet, but Tetravalanche's developers -- Piotr Iwanicki, Piotr Kądziołka and Piotr Pięta -- hope to find a sponsor through Flash Game License soon and release it to Flash portal.

[Via Piotr Iwanicki]

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

May 28, 2010 9:33 AM | Chris Remo

In an exciting week for new job postings, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles across the world and in every major discipline, including opportunities at Insomniac, Sledgehammer, Relic, and many 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:

Insomniac Games: SFX Artist
"Insomniac Games is an independent videogame developer with award-winning hits for the PS, PS2 and PS3. We created the first three Spyro the Dragon games, and the Ratchet and Clank franchise. We are also the team behind Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Resistance 2, and most recently - Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time! If that's not enough, we've also have been named one of the Best Small Companies to work for, and have two fantastic studios - one in Burbank, CA and one in Durham, North Carolina. Come check us out!"

Relic Entertainment: Senior Artist/Lighter
"At Relic Entertainment we are developing an original game for PS3 and Xbox 360 and continue to build on our history of award winning games - games like Company of Heroes, Dawn of War, and Homeworld. Experience freedom of creativity and know your contribution is valued and recognized by the Relic team and also by gamers and industry experts around the globe.

"Life outside of Relic? You bet. We know, it's a novel idea, but one we not only embrace, we enforce. If you are going to live in Vancouver, you better have time away from work to take advantage of all this city has to offer. Vancouver is consistently ranked in the top most livable cities in the world. Where else can you get up and choose between beach volleyball, city nightlife, or boarding the glacier, all within 90 minutes? We've got mountains. We've got ocean. We've got a chill studio in the heart of downtown. And... We've got donuts every Friday. What more could you ask for?"

iPhone's 100 Rogues Brings Roguelikes To The Masses

May 28, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Of all the different game genres available on the iPhone, the last one I expected to find popularity on the iPhone was roguelikes! It's such a hardcore/niche game type (which our @Play column covers very well), and the mainstream gaming press typically doesn't understand the appeal of turn-based, tactical RPGs and ignores them for the most part.

Dinofarm Games and Fusion Reactions, however, have released an iPhone roguelike that's received rave reviews -- our sister site FingerGaming gave the title 4.5 stars out of 5, and called it "the best roguelike game on the iPhone". Titled 100 Rogues, the game presents itself as an approachable, arcade-style RPG with appealing graphics and easy-to-pick-up mechanics.

100 Rogues doesn't stray far from the roguelike formula, though. It still features randomly generated dungeons, player classes (each with different stats/abilities and a unique skill tree), lots of loot/equipment, a variety of monsters with different powers and weaknesses, and more.

In the game, you take on the role of either a Crusader (holy magic and balanced offensive/defensive skills) or a Fairy Wizard (Crystal magic and ranged fighting skills), both tasked with battling their way through dungeons on their quest to slay Satan.

Dinofarm and Fusion plan to release more content for the game, including two more playable classes, two more worlds, an item shop, new game modes, and more. The two developers, which have worked on the game since December 2008, say they hope that 100 Rogues will be "the kind of game you can play for years."

You can download 100 Rogues on the App Store for $4.99, and find more information about the title in our @Play interview with the game's creators.

The Origins Of Canabalt: Typing Tutor

May 28, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

A few weeks ago, Adam "Atomic" Saltsman revealed a Typing Tutor edition of his popular Flash/iPhone game Canabalt, adapting its one-button controls so that a random letter is assigned as the jump button after one or two hops. He didn't give much explanation for the release, so I assumed it was produced for a local school interested in an educational version of the title.

It turns out that the educational game came at the request of Charles Watson, who runs a computer project dedicated to providing computers with low power consumption parts to schools in developing counties. Dealing with students, he noticed that many of them enjoyed Flash games, but most of those games were violent and generally devoid of any educational content.

Watson sought to find an educational Flash game that could be used for his compute project:

"I realized that the concept of Canabalt, itself containing a degree of violence and no real propensity towards education, could be slightly modified to have a large educational component: rather than just pressing the space bar to jump, the program could be modified with a few simple changes that would teach students concepts such as the double click and touch typing.

After contacting the developer (who was kind enough to modify his game per my request, even providing a large level of creative input himself), he produced Canabalt: Typing Tutor Edition. It removed the level of violence in the original, and added two new game modes.

After a demo at the Kasu basic school [in Ghana], I was amazed at how quickly students learned to play the game (and how close the students came to beating my high score after just fifteen minutes)."

You can read more about Watson's computer project on his website, Charles' Gap Year in Ghana. Canabalt: Typing Tutor Edition is available to play for free here.

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Pastoral Anticipatory Personal Attack Bees

May 28, 2010 12:00 AM |

[We're partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance to present some of the week's most inspiring writing about the art and design of video games from commentators worldwide. This week, Ben Abraham examines pastoral games, JRPG complexities, and why attack bees should be available to all.]

At the Ada Play blog Emily Bembenck writes about ‘social games and the pastoral’ which is an interesting aspect present in many social games: “In the US where agriculture as a profession has fallen ~70% in the last 140 years, is it no wonder that so many idealize the life of their forebears? Surely, one may think, it was better in those times when one simply hoed, and planted, and watered, and harvested.

Christian Nutt at Gamasutra has an opinion about characters in games, asserting that they’re ‘The Building Blocks Of Your Reality’. Nutt says about video games that "So few have characters that you can even imagine having any sort of meaningful inner life", which seems like an idea with implications for every in-game character, including those of the silent protagonist type.

Elsewhere, David Wildgoose of Kotaku Australia answers the question ‘What do I look for in a video game?’ It’s not a question that often gets answered in so direct a manner, perhaps partly because our tastes can be quite fickle and often change with mood as well as over the natural course of a lifetime.

Pandora Handheld Finally Shipping

May 27, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

The Pandora open-source portable video game console, which claims to be "the most powerful gaming handheld there is", finally began shipping this week, slightly delayed from its initial estimated 2007 release date. The OpenPandora team has already sent out some of its units, and have around 4,000 preorders to fulfill.

If you haven't followed development on the Pandora, it's almost like a subnotebook computer with its ARM Cortex-A8 processor, IVA2+ audio and video processor , 256MB of DDR RAM, 512MB of on-board NAND memory, two SDHC slots, almost-full QWERTY keyboard, integrated Bluetooth, and TV-out, all squeezed into a shell that's only a little larger than a DS Lite.

Like the DS, the lid flips closed, and it has a touchscreen display (800x480, 4.3" widescreen). The Pandora also offers a directional pad, two analog pads,, two shoulder buttons, four standard face buttons, and three function buttons (Start/Select/Home). You can charge it with an AC Adapter or via USB (battery life is around 10 hours for a "reasonable load").

All that hardware makes the system perfect for running homebrew titles or emulators. The portable has already been shown running emulators like MAME4ALL, DOSBox, PSX4Pandora (PlayStation), PicoDrive (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive), PandaSNES, and many others. You can see a full list of projects under development for the system at Pandora Wiki.

It also features a lot of non-gaming functions. It runs a Linux distribution that's "basically Ångström-Linux with some Pandora-specific changes", and allows you to access the internet through FireFox, listen to MP3s (up to 100 hours of battery life when just playing MP3s), and more.

Unless you put in a preorder for this first run of handhelds, you'll likely have to wait until OpenPandora starts focusing on producing its second run before you can order one for yourself. Expect to pay around $339, and keep an eye on this page to see where and when you buy a Pandora.

Guitar Hero Clone Releases On Amiga

May 27, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

After seeing D-Pad Hero and its sequel running on an NES, seeing other Guitar Hero-style games running on old consoles/microcomputers shouldn't surprise you as much, but this Amiga release from Carlos Peris actually uses a guitar controller!

Tracker Hero uses MOD song files (such as "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals, as shown in this video) and can be played with a standard keyboard, a joystick, or a music controller if you have Paul Willingham's PS2 to Amiga adapter. You can even play the game with a dance mat if you have the adapter!

Peris notes that this is a beta release, so you might see a few bugs if you try to load Tracker Hero on your system. You can download the Amiga game and try it out yourself here.

[Via TCTD]

Interview: Counter-Strike Co-Creator Minh's Tactical Intervention

May 27, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Kris Graft catches up with Counter-Strike co-creator Minh "Gooseman" Le -- talking about his long in development new online FPS Tactical Intervention, his time at Valve Software, and his view on the biggest problem with today's team-based FPS games.]

Like most big successes, Counter-Strike turned out to be a much bigger phenomenon than Minh "Gooseman" Le could have ever expected.

While in college, Le co-created the humble Half-Life mod Counter-Strike with Jess Cliffe and released the title under Sierra Entertainment in 1999. The initial release spawned a series that has sold millions of units for Valve Software (officially around 10 million at the end of 2008), which bought the series in 2000. It’s still easy to find active Counter-Strike servers.

But for Le, who worked for Valve for a period of time, Counter-Strike is the past. For the past six years, he has been working on Tactical Intervention, a new team-based FPS from Le and FIX Korea. It's based on Valve’s Source engine and is expected for a 2010 launch.

With Tactical Intervention’s closed beta due in the coming weeks, we spoke with Le about his work with Valve on Counter-Strike, the shelved sequel, why TI has taken so long to create and what’s wrong with team-based shooters today.

You've been working on Tactical Intervention for the past six years. Tell me about how you moved from Valve and the development of the Counter-Strike series onto the development of Tactical Intervention.

Minh Le: I started working at Valve immediately after CS beta 5. I worked mostly on CS-related projects and I was doing a lot of preparation work for CS2. A lot of my time was spent just learning the new Source Engine. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to come up with a clear game design on what I wanted CS2 to be, so the senior executives at Valve and myself came to the conclusion that I was better off working on my own without the burden of having to develop a product that would surpass CS.

I really enjoyed working at Valve, as they gave me a great deal of creative freedom and they really had faith in me to develop something worthwhile, so I'm disappointed I couldn't do that while I was there. I felt more relaxed when I left because I was able to just start from scratch and not have to deal with pleasing the fervent CS crowd. When I started Tactical Intervention, I initially planned on it being a small indie project that would take me less than three years to complete. I guess I really overshot that estimate.

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