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Archive For October, 2010

Q&A: Patapon 3 Director On Avoiding 'Needless Complexity' In Sequels

October 31, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Brandon Sheffield speaks with Patapon 3 director Hiroyuki Kotani to discuss how the team tried to avoid overly complex design, the game's visual evolution, and how music can help attract a worldwide audience.]

The next entry in the eccentric Patapon franchise for the PlayStation Portable hopes to retain the franchise's casual appeal while adding new features to expand on its simple mechanics.

The Sony published Patapon series allows players to control a squad of creatures using rhythm based commands. Well-timed inputs reward the player with bonuses, while incorrect ones confuse the player's troops and throw battles into disarray.

Patapon 3 -- due out in early 2011 in the West -- will introduce new Superhero Patapon units, which build off of the Hero units from the previous title, which posses special abilities and level up to gain more power. While these units add depth to the game's simple mechanics, Patapon 3 director Hiroyuki Kotani aims to retain the franchise's accessibility for players of all types.

We spoke with Kotani to discuss how the team tried to avoid overly complex design, the game's visual evolution, and how music can help attract a worldwide audience.

Since the first Patapon came out, there have been a lot more games that take that kind of simple visual style. Do you have any opinion on why this might have gotten more popular recently?

Hiroyuki Kotani: You think it has changed?

I do. It's not that Patapon itself is a different game; it just seems like consumers have taken to this more simple look, compared to previously. And so other games have taken up that simple style. Or maybe you disagree?

HK: Well, I'm very glad to hear people say such things about the game, first off. When we first started development work on Patapon, we figured it'd appeal to a very refined, high-sense kind of market. However, between the release of Patapon 1 and Patapon 2, I later realized that I was inherently limiting the potential audience for the game before.

Analysis: Consoles And Kids - The Generation Gap

October 31, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[In this analysis, our own Chris Morris discusses the potential resurgence of 'edutainment' games, talking to Southpeak and examining Warner Bros' moves into the relatively neglected category.]

There is, I will admit up front, absolutely nothing sexy about edutainment titles. Hell, even the name is dull – and sounds like it belongs in a boardroom, alongside words like ”synergy” and “paradigm”.

Core gamers won’t look at ‘em. Kids like ‘em fine until someone spills the beans about them being educational. And, since so many are targeted at toddlers and young kids (a very niche audience), they’re not exactly barnburners when it comes to a publisher’s bottom line.

So it makes sense that the industry has basically moved away from them, right?


Despite their dorky name, edutainment games (particularly those made for toddlers) are gateways into the game industry. They’re an investment in the future, of sorts.

For years, they were a rather unnecessary one, since kids were likely to gravitate towards handhelds and consoles anyway, as there weren’t many other choices.

But as the industry evolves, they could become more critical to long-term growth.

Interview: Red Redemption Divines The Fate Of The World

October 30, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Our own Tom Curtis speaks with indie developer Red Redemption to discuss Fate of the World, a strategy game that tasks players with saving or destroying the world using systems based on real world scientific data.]

Using real world data, indie developer Red Redemption hopes to combine science and fantasy in its climate change-based strategy game Fate of the World.

The game puts players in charge of the world's political and scientific policies affecting global warming, and players must accomplish specific goals while keeping the scientific consequences of their actions in check.

The game asks players to accomplish a variety of goals, from beneficial tasks such as saving the Amazon or building Africa into the world's most advanced region, to malicious tasks such as strategically exterminating all human life from the planet.

Red Redemption worked with a team of scientific advisors on the project, who supplied scientific data to help craft a game environment that would accurately represent the effects of various policies in the real world.

The company previously took on the concept of using scientific data to examine global warming in Climate Challenge, a BBC published Flash game that has seen over a million players since its launch in 2006.

We spoke with Red Redemption chairman Gobion Rowlands to discuss Fate of the World's unusual concept, how the game balances realism with gameplay, and the studio's atypical approach to independent development.

Can you provide a bit of background for Fate of the World?

Gobion Rowlands: The BBC sponsored us to make a game called Climate Challenge, and we had a million people play that, and we asked, "Well, what else can we do with this? Where can we take it?"

Richard Jacques is doing the soundtrack; he did music for Mass Effect and the new James Bond game, and David Bishop, who is one of the writers for Doctor Who, is doing all the writing in the game. We've been really fortunate getting all this talent involved.

Best Of Indie Games: The Game Development Shuffle

October 30, 2010 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog co-editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The goodies in this edition include a game development company simulator, a puzzle platformer in the style of the old Prince of Persia games, a collection of minigames that tests your quick reflexes and puzzle-solving skills, plus a platformer in which you have to build the platforms by yourself.

Here's the highlights from the last seven days:

Game Pick: 'Game Dev Story' (Kairosoft, commercial indie)
"In Game Dev Story you play as an owner of a startup company, just about to get your feet wet in the risky business of game development. The adventure begins with your secretary advising you to add a couple of designers, artists and coders to the payroll, then assigning them to a game project where the genre, budget and targeted platform will all be decided by you."

Game Pick: 'Boondog' (Matthew Hart and Miroslav Malesevic, browser)
"Boondog is a platforming puzzler in which you press switches and push objects to reach the portal at the end. Control-wise, it plays a little like Flashback or Prince of Persia, in that it leans more towards a puzzle game with ledges to grab and edges to step right up to."

Game Pick: 'Chase Goose 2' (Hideous, browser)
"Chase Goose 2 is a Canabalt-style side-scrolling runner in which you control a goose that is running and flapping away from a giant snake monster. Tap left and right one after the other to run, then hit whatever key is displayed at each ledge. It's a simple idea, but plenty of fun and very difficult to master - your fingers will be all over your keyboard."

Game Pick: 'Bustabrain' (Tom Vencel, browser)
"Bustabrain throws a collection of puzzles and minigames at you, with the objective being to finish them all off in as few clicks as possible. You've got rebuses, simple clicking games, match removal, memory games, the works. It's nothing amazing, but if you've got a bit of time to kill, it does a good job of filling the void."

Game Pick: 'Leap 4 Blue' (Noel Berry, browser)
"Leap 4 Blue is a platformer in which you place the platforms yourself. The objective is to stand on the blue block in each level, but you'll need to position a series of platforms to help you reach the goal. It's really simple yet addictive stuff - I just lost a good portion of an hour to it, and I'm sure you will too."

Tale Of Tales Selling 'Day Of The Dead' Bundle For However Much You Want To Pay

October 29, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Experimental game developer Tale of Tales is celebrating Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day by packing together three of its morbid titles for Windows/Mac into a Day of the Dead bundle, inviting consumers to pay what they want to download The Graveyard, The Path, and Fatale (normally priced at a total of $22).

The Graveyard (pictured), which was a finalist for the Independent Games Festival's Innovation award in 2009, is a short but affective interactive experience in which players follow an old woman's visit to the cemetery, possibly even witnessing her last moments of life.

In The Path, gamers play through a modern interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, "[guiding] six sisters through a dark forest where they will find their end." And in Fatale, players take on the role of John the Baptist, who "who loses his head because he did not return the love of biblical princess Salome."

Tale of Tales says that all proceeds from this Day of the Dead bundle will go directly into the production of its next game, codenamed The Book of 8, a re-imagining of the studio's first unfinished project 8. The sale will run until November 2nd.

"It's ironic that Halloween has become such a joyful holiday," says Tale of Tales' directors Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn. "On the eve of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, humans try their best to forget their fear of death.

"But why? Death is a fascinating phenomenon that we have explored in the three videogames offered in the Day of the Dead bundle. We hope our games allow players a moment of silent contemplation, away from the cheap scares and the rubber monsters. We all know people who have died. We will all die ourselves."

The duo adds, "This is the time of year to remember that. As the days get shorter, and nature around us withers, let's be quiet for a little while, and connect to the darkness and the cold. Maybe we will find it's not so frightening after all."

Reminder: Student IGF Submissions End November 1st

October 29, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In a brief reminder, IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer notes to all prospective entrants that 2011 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase entries have a final deadline of Monday, November 1st.]

If you've been planning to enter, the time is now! Submissions for the Student Showcase portion of the 13th annual Independent Games Festival are due in just a few short days, at 11:59 PM PDT on Monday, November 1st.

After breaking last year's record for the number of Main Competition entries, we're also rapidly approaching potential all-time high numbers for this year's Student Competition submissions.

If you'd like to have your own voice as part of that chorus, submit your student game to the competition -- part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website -- by clicking this link.

In the meantime, we're currently technically and compatibility checking 2011 IGF Main Competition games, and are in the process of opening up voting to judges.

For mobile and iPhone/iPad entrants, we will be sending you key information that you require soon, including unique judge UDIDs!

As we said before, we're all looking forward to spending more time with your game in the coming months -- good luck to everyone involved!

Bohm: Procedural, Zen-Like Tree Growing

October 29, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Monobanda, a Dutch indie studio aiming to develop titles presenting "situations that are about the digital experience itself, and not about achieving a goal", is working on an artistic game experiment called Bohm, in which you oversee the growth of a tree.

Submitted for this year's Independent Games Festival competition, Bohm is meant to offer a "slow, contemplative and zen-like experience". The tree's growth is procedurally generated, encouraging players to discover how to control/manipulate it as they create branches and push the tree into strange shapes.

The music is adaptive, changing and evolving with the tree over time, influenced by players' decisions. Monobanda says its ultimate goal for Bohm is to "increase the library and/or acceptance of games with artistic gameplay."

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of October 29

October 29, 2010 1:45 PM | Tom Curtis

In the latest postings over the last seven days, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles across the world and in every major discipline, including opportunities at Raven Software, Relic Entertainment, Rockstar, 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:

Raven Software: UI Software Engineer:
"Raven Software is an award-winning computer game software developer based in Madison, Wisconsin. With a focus on graphic excellence and high-level, intense playability, Raven has produced hit games including the Soldier of Fortune series, various Star Wars titles and X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

EA Games Label: Director, EAGL Online Operations:
"Electronic Arts Inc., headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. In fiscal 2010, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.7 billion and had 27 titles that sold more than one million units."

Column: The Blue Key: Gaming with your Significant Other Pt. 2

October 29, 2010 12:00 PM |

left4dead_zoeyandluis.jpg[“The Blue Key” is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch exclusive column from Connor Cleary that explores the wide arena of gamer culture – where it's been, where it is now, and where it might be going. This week, the second of a two part series exploring the potentially difficult and potentially rewarding act of gaming with a romantic partner.]

In the first part of this piece we took a look at some of the joys and challenges of gaming with our romantic partners, and how we should probably watch what we say in both cooperative and competitive gaming.

We also saw one example of how developers can address the issue of multiplayer gaming with a skill disparity by designing mechanics that help foster a fun experience for all the players involved.

In the next case study, we will look at the difficulties and delayed gratification of introducing a partner to not only a new game, but to an entirely new type of gaming, and see how online gaming can make a couple feel closer when they live far apart.

Case 3:
Long Distance Left 4 Dead

My friend – who we'll call Tara – is a big fan of Left 4 Dead, so we played together fairly often over Steam. Both Tara and her girlfriend – who we'll call Jaymie – were trying to balance school and work while living over an hour's drive away from each other and attending different colleges. They didn't get to spend a lot of time together in person.

So Jaymie, who you could call a casual gamer, decided to get her own copy of Left 4 Dead so they could play together even when they didn't have time to visit. Tara was excited and set Jaymie up with a new mouse and a headset, and before long they were trying to survive the zombie apocalypse side by side.

F.E.A.R. 3 Releasing March 22 With Three Preorder Bonus Options

October 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

With the debut of this new Halloween trailer, Day 1 Studios and WB Games revealed that its first-person shooter F.E.A.R. 3 will release for Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows on March 22nd. Before you put in your reservation for the horror game, though, you might want to decide which of the three preorder bonuses you want to snatch.

Amazon will give away a 12-page F.E.A.R. 3 comic written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Stefano Raffaele, and produced by DC Comics. The comic is a prequel to the game in which its hero has "escaped an explosive blast he set in motion to eliminate Alma and is confronted with a brand new threat and a new escape mission."

For its preorder bonus, Best Buy will give away exclusive access to an in-game weapon, The Shredder, which shoots heavy metal shot rounds mixed with nitrates. "Perfect for knocking extremely fast targets, there's nothing better when you're between a rock and a hard place with multiple hostiles rapidly advancing," the developer comments.

GameStop will reward early reservations with exclusive access to another in-game weapon, the Hammer, which is designed to have a greater stopping power than the standard issue sidearm, what with its .50 caliber rounds. Day 1 Studios says this gun will be particularly valuable in F.E.A.R. 3 multiplayer sessions.

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