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Archive For December, 2010

NaturalMotion Explains Physics In Video Games

December 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Picnic Films, which produces short documentaries and educational/corporate films, recently posted this video that takes viewers to NaturalMotion's Oxford office and introduces them to how knowledge and manipulation of physics, gravity, and momentum play into video game development.

NaturalMotion's Euphoria software for animating 3D characters is used in a number of popular titles, like Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption, and you can see it in action here to show how physics plays into Back Breaker -- there's a fun bit that shows what playing football on the moon might look like, too.

According to Picnic Films, NaturalMotion's CEO Torsten Reil agreed to take part in this film because he was "fed up with young graduates applying to his company for jobs with the wrong qualifications" and wanted to stress that programmers "need a degree in maths or physics" to work in the gaming industry.

Or, as mentioned earlier, $0.99 should be enough to get you started.

One-Day Sale For Game Dev Story

December 29, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

If you've not purchased Game Dev Story for your favorite iOS/Android device since we last features the Kairosoft management sim, here's your chance to download the game for super cheap, as it's on sale for $0.99 at the App Store and $1.20 on Android Market (75% off) -- that deal ends today, though, so pick it up soon if you want so save a few bucks.

In Game Dev Story, players run a development studio, hiring/training/firing staff, shipping games for different platforms and genres (players get to title them), see how their releases are reviewed and how many copies sell, and more. It's an addictive title that almost anyone interested in game history or the game industry can appreciate.

Our sister site Gamasutra ranked the game as not only one of its top 5 cult games for 2010, buts its top iOS game for the year! You can check out a clip of Game Dev Story after the break:

In-Depth: 10 Indie Games To Watch Out For In 2011

December 29, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

spypartysmall.jpg[Originally run over on our sister site IndieGames.com, our very own Michael Rose casts his eye across the feast of independent games coming at you in 2011, and picks some personal favorites to watch out for in the New Year and beyond.]

Have you heard the news? Apparently there's a new year coming soon, and it's going to look a bit like the one we have now, except slightly upgraded by one measure.

These developers, huh - releasing things that aren't fully complete, and then expecting us to pay for the latest version even though it's barely different to the one we already have!

Anyway, there are quite a few indie games coming out for this new update, so I've had a crack at choosing just ten of them. These are the indie games I'm the most excited about, and you should be too.

Note that if any of the games on my 'Coming in 2010' list were pushed back to 2011, I've not featured them again here - that includes Fez, Vessel, Gemini Rue, Tuning and Saturated Dreamers. Which is kinda embarrassing, when you consider that was half of my list.

Note that while I've chosen just ten, I'm also very much aware that there are plenty of other great indie games launching in 2011. Feel free to berate me in the comments for not having the same list as you - it's how the internet works, don't you know!

Astroman Crashes Onto XBLIG

December 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Independent developer StarQuail (a name I love, probably because it reminds me of Quailman) has announced the launch of Astroman, its 2D platformer for Xbox Live Indie Games. When we last mentioned this title, one of our readers described it as "Super Metroid meets Star Control, with the aesthetics of a modern Math Blasters" after seeing the trailer, which sounds like an amazing premise.

Here's StarQuail's set up for Astroman:

"The greatest of space cliches has befallen our unfortunate hero--crash landed on an unknown planet, his space ship in pieces, and nothing but his space suit and a gun that doesn't seem to have enough ammo in it.

Luckily, he can find suit upgrades scattered around enormous levels to make finding the ship pieces easier, ship pieces will expand the range of his ship to search other worlds for more parts and upgrades, and it turns out that the worlds in this system have plenty of extra ammunition lying around, because he'll need all the ammunition he can find in order to zorch the many varieties of hostile alien life he'll encounter along the way."

The game features hand-drawn graphics presented in 720p, alternate paths, three difficulty settings (with "a couple extra surprises" in Normal and Hard), and more. You can download Astroman now from Xbox Live Indie Games for 240 MS Points or grab a free demo.

The Best Of 2010: Top 5 Unexpected Gaming Events

December 28, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In a light-hearted post-Christmas countdown, big sister site Gamasutra's editor-at-large Chris Morris examines the unexpected moments of 2010 in gaming, from Justice Kagan on Mortal Kombat to Panasonic's Jungle.]

Talk about a topsy-turvy year. The video game industry has weathered its share of good and bad in 2010, but what made things really interesting were the completely unexpected moments – things we could never have predicted, no matter how many clues we were given.

From THQ’s decision to launch an experimental pricing strategy that could lob $20 off the price of games if it’s successful, to the return of a circus-like E3 environment (topped by Activision’s Lollapalooza-like concert), there were plenty of shocking moments in 2010.

We’ve tried to narrow things down to the five biggest surprises – but we suspect you’ve got a few ideas that didn’t occur to us. Sound off in the comments below.

5. Justice Kagan Shocks The Court

The November U.S. Supreme Court hearing centering on whether the sale of violent video games to children should be regulated was serious business. A ruling in the wrong direction could have significant financial and creative effects on game publishers and developers.

The scariest part for gamers, though, was that none of the Justices seemed to fit the gamer demographic – and many seemed to think that Postal 2 was representative of the entire industry.

Starship Titanic And Its 'Accidental Community'

December 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Last week, Metafilter featured an informative and intriguing post on The Digital Village's Starship Titanic, a 1988 adventure game designed by Douglas Adams and based on the doomed craft briefly alluded to in the third Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, Life, the Universe and Everything.

The post is already an excellent resource for anyone wanting to play the abandonware game or check out the stuff that that was included with original copies (a fictional newspaper, bot profiles, and more), but it gets even more fascinating when Yoz Grahame, one of the developers who worked on Startship Titanic, stops by.

He shares some fun trivia about Adams and the game's development, as well as insight on a Starship Titanic promotional site that featured a cute easter egg that's since taken a life of its own:

"When we created the initial fake-brochure site, we thought it'd be a fantastic laugh if the fictional shipbuilders had their own intranet. If you filled in the form on the brochure site (specifying your name, email address and favourite species of frog), we followed the occasional mail about the game.

Then, one day, folks got a mail from the intranet admin, 'Chris Stevedave', giving folks the link to the intranet and the current password, which was hurriedly followed by a second mail apologising for the accidental mail leakage and urging customers not to click the link, then a third email noting that Chris Stevedave had been demoted to Bilge Emptier Third-Class.

Gunboy: Colorful, Mega Man-Style 2D Platformer

December 28, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

While there's not a lot of information on this project yet, indie developer "Tennis" has been working off and on for at least a year to build this Gunboy sidescrolling platformer, which features some great artwork (love the background/environment in this clip!) and music. I'm not sure what the bouncing watermelons are about other than easy points, but those are neat, too.

The real interesting part about this project and gameplay video, though, is the hero's switching between different "outfits"/powers, similar to Mega Man. The blue/water outfit seems to be the protagonist's default state, the orange/fire costume shoots exploding balls, and the green/earth one spits out temporary platforms that also crash down on enemies below.

Tennis hasn't revealed what platform Gunboy is for -- or much else about the project, really -- but I suspect it's for PC. Hopefully we'll hear more about his progress on the game soon!

The Best Of 2010: The Top 10 Games Of The Year

December 28, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Big sister site Gamasutra's look back on 2010 continues with our staff's list of the top 10 games of the year, from a small PC gem to a great big Western and beyond -- plus personal choices from each of our writers.]

We've been on a major retrospective trip here at Gamasutra, but ultimately it's the games that define a year, right? Together, the Gamasutra staff discussed the games that made the greatest impressions on us, and decided on a list we feel represents the greatest 2010 has to offer -- the games that will remain in our memories as having defined the year for technical sophistication, storytelling, innovation, and pure intangible experience value.

Of course, each of us have titles we individually love, too, and as a "top 10" only allows us to collectively agree on 10 games, each of us herein individually gives special recognition to games we felt strongly about this year.

In an exciting year for major new releases, the staff of Gamasutra is excited to present to you our top 10 games of 2010.

10. Civilization V (Firaxis/2K Games, PC)

It's somewhat ironic that Take-Two developer Firaxis delivered such a thorough re-freshening of the classic Civilization franchise by employing a decades-old strategy game concept: the hex map.

Civilization V is the first time that the franchise has used a hex map, but the changes and improvements to the series went far beyond that fundamental shift. As a whole, Firaxis managed to accomplish a supremely difficult task, which is streamlining a complex strategy game to make it more accessible without dumbing it down.

How The Troll Stole Hothead's Christmas

December 27, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

We're a couple days late on this, but Hothead Games (DeathSpank, Swarm) recently uploaded a Christmas-themed entry for its video diary series. Apparently they went into crunch mode to release another one of these so soon after its last video diary, so we'd feel remiss if we didn't feature it.

It's also a pretty funny and almost heartwarming clip -- though vulgar at times -- re-creating Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas with an updated rhyme that tells the tale of how the forum troll tried to spoil gamers' holidays by sabotaging the Hothead development team.

While we're talking about Hothead, the Vancouver-baed indie studio recently released the DeathSpank's soundtrack for free! You can grab it as a direct download or via BitTorrent here.

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Best Mobile Game Jury

December 27, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are pleased to announce the jury panel that will determine the finalists and winner of its Best Mobile Game award, a category which seeks to highlight the innovation and quality of games for the new wave of mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, PSP, DS, and Android.

Prior finalists and winners of the IGF Best Mobile Game Award -- previously celebrated in the IGF Mobile sister competition but now part of the IGF Main Competition itself -- include Capy's original puzzler Critter Crunch, Hassey Enterprises' abstract strategy game Galcon, and Tiger Style's insect-snaring adventure Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor.

This year, the jury will receive recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners, finalists and indie game notables including Damien Di Fede, Amanda Williams, Thomas Bedenk and Scott Anderson) as they consider the merits of each of the five finalists and eventual award winner.

The jury consists of the following:

- Colin Anderson (co-founder of Denki, creators of Quarrel, Denki Blocks, Juggle.)
- Eddy Boxerman (founder of Hemisphere Games, creators of the IGF award winning Osmos.)
- Kevin Cancienne (game designer & developer at Area/Code, creators of Drop7.)
- Ramiro Corbetta (game designer at Powerhead Games, creators of the IGF award winning Glow Artisan.)
- Omar Cornut (programmer at Q-Games, co-designer and programmer on Mekensleep's Soul Bubbles.)
- Phil Hassey (creator of the IGF award winning Galcon)
- David Kalina (Former AI programmer behind Splinter Cell, Deus Ex: Invisible War & Thief: Deadly Shadows; owner & engineer of Tiger Style, behind IGF award winning Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor.)
- Olivier Lejade (founder of Mekensleep, creative director of Soul Bubbles.)
- Adam Saltsman (co-founder of Semi Secret Software, creators of Wurdle, Gravity Hook HD & Canabalt.)
- Nathan Vella (co-founder & president of Capy, creators of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes and IGF award winners Critter Crunch & Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.)

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