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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 June, 2010

Distant Relative Of Gish Pops Up On iPhone

June 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If you wish there were more games with characters that looked like Gish's adorable black ball of tar, have a look at Oddy Smog, another environmentally unfriendly hero with special powers that let him stick to objects and climb up walls.

Unlike Gish, a puzzle platformer that had you exploring dozens of story levels, though, Oddy Smog's Misadventures is a high-scoring game that challenges you to climb up a tall smokestack with randomly generated elements and gears that will help you ascend.

Its story is quite charming, too:

"Meet Oddy Smog, nothing but a tiny bit of the Smog that Engulfes Everything. He used to be part of the System, but his desire for freedom pushes him to run away from everything he once knew.

Help him in his quest for a new life! Climb the entrails of the same machine from which the Smog erupts and free those who are still enslaved. Rumor says that there is a blue sky up there where the Smog is white..."

You can download Medusa's Oddy Smog's Misadventures for iPhone and iPod Touch for just $0.99.

Cryptic CCO, Blizzard Veteran Bill Roper To Keynote GDC China

June 30, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

Bill Roper, the former Blizzard executive who now serves as chief creative officer for MMO developer Cryptic Studios, will deliver a keynote address at the 2010 Game Developers Conference China in Shanghai this December, event organizers announced today.

In his keynote presentation, Roper will "speak to the future of game development" in a wide-ranging speech on his career and views on the industry, according to an official statement.

Best known for the decade he spent at Blizzard, Roper was heavily involved in all of the studio's franchises starting with its first PC game, WarCraft: Orcs & Humans, on which he served as producer. Over his time with Blizzard, he contributed in a variety of roles to StarCraft and Diablo as well, and became most associated with Diablo after becoming a VP at that series' creator, Blizzard North.

After leaving Blizzard in 2003, Roper co-founded Flagship Studios, which produced the online action-RPG Hellgate: London before the company folded. Since late 2008 he has been the CCO at Cryptic Studios, the original developer of City of Heroes and now the company behind Champions Online and Star Trek Online.

"We are delighted to host such a luminary as Bill Roper for the keynote address," said event director Meggan Scavio in a statement. "Bill's expertise helps cement GDC China's place as the essential event for learning, networking, and inspiration for the Chinese game development community."

This year marks the third GDC China event, to be held from December 5 to 7 in Shanghai -- more information on the event, which is created by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website, is available on the official event website.

Celebrate Chrono Trigger Fan Fest 2010

June 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Chrono Trigger Fanfest 2010, a month-long online festival inviting fans of the classic Square RPG to "play through the game together while creatively expressing their CT admiration", kicked off last weekend, hosted by gaming merchandise shop Fangamer.

Along with live nightly playthroughs of Chrono Trigger by the Fangamer staff and community, the CT Fanfest 2010 site features walkthroughs and challenges for specific sections, fan-submitted work (e.g. art, comics, music, etc.), and other bonuses (wallpapers, posters, instructions for making Marle's Pendant, etc.).

If you're a Chrono Trigger superfan, or if you've always meant to finish the SNES RPG, don't miss out on this celebration!

[Via Good Game Get!]

Interview: Valcon's Gordon On Why Game Boxes Matter, And 'Odd' Japanese Titles

June 30, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Colin Gordon of U.S. budget publisher Valcon (Raiden Fighters Aces) talks in-depth to our own Brandon Sheffield, saying that the box art is the most important part of a budget game, and that the import space is 'crowded.']

Redmond, Washington-headquartered Valcon Games is a U.S. publisher of budget retail console games, from Wal-Mart impulse buys to Japanese imports like Raiden Fighters Aces to games with peripherals such as Easy Piano.

Co-founders Colin Gordon and Glen Halseth met while working for Kemco’s US division, which briefly localized content for the American market back in the early 2000s. Besides its retail focus, Valcon has also recently started releasing Xbox Live Arcade digital titles such as Polar Panic and Greed Corp.

Valcon COO Gordon is a longtime veteran of the industry, who started out programming computer games in Ireland, including Mario Bros. for the Spectrum. In this extensive interview, Gamasutra spoke with Gordon about the company’s future plans, the difficulty of assessing the value market, and the changing world of import games.

How did Valcon get started? And what's your own background?

Colin Gordon: I've been involved in video games since maybe 1984. I started a development company back in the UK, in Northern Ireland. We made Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum, and Amstrad games back in 8-bit days. I've since moved around, and I ended up in the U.S. working for a Japanese publisher called Kemco up in Seattle.

That's where I met my current business partner, a guy called Glen Halseth. Glen's also been involved in the games business but on the American side for quite some time. Glen's focused on the sales and marketing. We both worked at Kemco, and as things kind of transpired there, we decided that it was time to use our skills and set up our own publishing company. So, we created Valcon Games.

Best of FingerGaming: From FarmVille to iOS 4

June 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Every week, we sum up sister iPhone and iPad site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Tucker Dean, Jason Johnson, Ryan Hibbeler, and Mike Rose.]

This week, FingerGaming examines some of the major stories happening in the iPhone and iPad games space, covering an App Store adaptation of Zynga's FarmVille and the release of the iOS 4 firmware update.

Also within are the lists for top-grossing, most-downloaded free and paid Apps from Apple's store, as well as reviews for eBoy FixPix, Carcassonne, and Pix'n Love Rush.

Here are the top stories from the last seven days:

- Review: Carcassonne
"Carcassonne is really quite wonderful, and deserves a place on every gamer's iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. You're guaranteed to have a blast with it, and you may just find yourself completely hooked."

- Top-Grossing Game Apps: EA Takes Over Charts During Catalog Sale
"Several Electronic Arts-published titles are featured among today's top sellers, thanks to an ongoing sale that drops the price of many of the company's popular iPhone and iPod Touch games."

- iOS 4 Software Update Released, Now Available as Free Download
"Apple's free iOS 4 software update adds over 100 new features, including much-requested multitasking functionality for iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod Touch devices."

A New Twist For Puzzle Platformers

June 30, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

As if puzzle platformers from indie developers weren't complicated enough -- what with all the time-manipulating games (Braid), gravity-flipping releases (VVVVVV), and other creative, gimmick-heavy titles out there -- Michael Fruendt has what looks like a new mechanic to experiment with in his new unnamed project.

The game's primary mechanic is difficult to even describe, as Bytejacker points out -- it's kind of like those platformers in which you're controlling two characters in two different worlds at once (e.g. Reflection, Chronos Twins), but significantly different. It's pretty self-explanatory, though, if you watch the video.

Fruendt, who is building the project with Chevy Ray Johnson’s FlashPunk and Matt Thorson’s OgmoEditor, looks to still be in the early phases of the game's development, but he recently posted another video demonstrating the puzzle possibilities of this gimmick:

Sell Vectrex Games With Your Own Rare Prototype Display Stand

June 30, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

I've never felt the attraction to them myself, but there's a portion of video game collectors -- probably those with far more room than I have to store this stuff -- that love to acquire store kiosks. This auction for one such display is especially rare, as its from a limited run of prototype Vectrex stands.

According to seller Celprints, only a handful of Vectrex stands were produced, and this unit is possibly one of only three prototype versions that are still around. He proclaims, "If you want the rarest Vectrex item on planet Earth, now is the time to jump on this opportunity."

The seller notes a couples differences between the prototype and other Vectrex displays he's seen: the images of games have been laminated or plasticized; and the body of the stand appears to be around three times thicker than normal production Vectrex kiosks, which he says makes this "far stronger and also much heavier."

As of this posting, bidding for the stand is at $405.00 with more than four days to go. Make sure to also check out Celprints' prototype Sega game display stands!

[Via GameSniped ]

World-Changing Puzzler: LandFormer

June 30, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Ontario-based indie developer Streaming Colour Studios (Dapple, Monkeys In Space) have released LandFormer, a new puzzler that has you raising and lowering square sections of terrain until the entire grid is at an even height.

It's a really simple but addictive concept you should be able to pick up quick, and you can download the game's first 10 levels, a level editor, and the level-sharing with your friends for free -- you won't be able to save your levels with those latter two features.

A $1.99 in-app purchase will net you 50 more levels available in four different difficulties, as well as the ability to save levels you've created or received from others. You can also purchase special themes, like the Discotheque Theme, to change the look of LandFormer.

[Via FingerGaming]

Column: 'Homer In Silicon': Observation

June 30, 2010 12:00 AM |

['Homer in Silicon' is a biweekly GameSetWatch-exclusive 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 Love and Death: Bitten, a hidden object game from Playfirst.]

According to some branches of non-Stoker lore, vampires have an obsession with tidiness: they can't pass by a knot without untying it, or a spill of dried peas without picking them up. A ball of twine and a bag of rice are almost as good against a vamp as a stake and holy water.

Some such rationale might half explain Love and Death: Bitten, a vampire love story/hidden object game. In between plot events (and sometimes even when gripped by the urgency of the hunt) the vampire protagonist will stop to collect, say, six match sticks, five plates, and a pair of stockings from a messy room. This doesn't explain why his human love interest does the same.

I am not a great fan of hidden object gameplay. I played Love and Death: Bitten for two reasons: it was getting strong reviews as a casual game with a lot of story content, and it also contains a number of other types of puzzle.

The reviews don't lie: if we set aside the essential implausibility that the protagonists stop at the most inopportune times to search for trinkets, this is a pretty decent story/gameplay mesh for a hidden object game.

FarmVille Bug Helps Prompt Firefox Update

June 29, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Open source web browser Mozilla Firefox released a new update over the weekend specifically aimed at resolving a bug that prevented users from playing popular Facebook game FarmVille.

While FarmVille's audience has decreased significantly in recent months due to changes made to Facebook's application notifications, the Zynga-developed game is still the most popular app on the social network, attracting more than 63.7 million monthly active users, according to figures from AppData.

A portion of those users likely use Firefox v3.6.4 to play the farming simulator, and some reported that the game "hangs the browser long enough for [a] timeout to trigger and kill it". The latest version of Firefox, v3.6.6, uses an interim solution that increases the timeout, as developers look for a more ideal fix.

The FarmVille issue is the only listed bug in the new update. Though no other games or apps are listed on Mozilla's site as having issues with the previous v3.6.4 release, several Firefox users have reported that the bug occurs on other Flash sites.

So, the anonymous poster who commented on the update, "I can't believe FarmVille is solely responsible for a Firefox update *facepalm*", can find solace in the fact that non-FarmVille users will benefit from installing v3.6.6, too.

[Via The Ludologist]

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