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About GameSetWatch is the game weblog and sister site of 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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In-Depth: 24 Hours On A LittleBigPlanet

September 25, 2008 4:00 PM |

[GameSetWatch correspondent Matt Hawkins was at the recently held LittleBigPlanet game jam at NY's Parsons School of Design, and he discovered what one of Sony's flagship holiday titles can do in the care of some inventive students.]

Once again, New York City's famed Parsons School of Design played host to another game creation competition. Their 24-hour game jams have become a staple in recent years, with this latest one, which went down this past weekend, being their fourth.

The first game jam saw student groups racing against the clock to produce a working, playable game that could theoretically run on the Atari 2600 platform, via Game Maker. The second was geared towards cell phones, with Flash being the primary toolkit, while the the third was focused on The Sims.

As in the past, it was a game publisher, not the school itself, that got the ball rolling. This time around, Sony offered the ball.

With the release of LittleBigPlanet, arguably its highest profile PlayStation 3 product this upcoming holiday season, the company was curious to see how its level editing toolset -- which was designed with novice game creators in mind -- would fare.

Thus, a student contest was conceived, allowing the game to be played and designed in the presence of somewhat knowledgable students who were still squarely in their target demographic, and Parsons was approached to provide the court.

Game Informer Salutes 'Everyday Developer'

September 25, 2007 4:02 PM |

- Our very own Kevin 'Magweasel' Gifford already checked out Game Informer's October issue in his column at the weekend, but I wanted to highlight the two-page feature they have on multi-IGF prize winner Everyday Shooter, because there's a couple of points in it that are think are important for the indie scene.

The article (which is illustrated by Jon Mak holding a PC Engine controller up to a fire hydrant!) comments: "Everyday Shooter first appeared publicly at the 2006 Game Developers Conference in the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. The game garnered significant buzz and by December of that year it was nominated for the Independent Games Festival Awards and accepted as a finalist at the Slamdance festival..."

It continues: "'I went to the Independent Games Festival there [since I] always make a point of swinging by and checking out the games', recalls John Hight, director of external development at Sony Computer Entertainment America and a primary decision maker on what makes it onto the PlayStation Network. Hight tried the first stage and was struck by the artistic style of the game and the way gameplay interlaced with the music."

Negotiations ensued and, lo and behold, Everyday Shooter is a flagship PlayStation Network title now. This is important (to my mind, as IGF Chairman) because there's been plenty of indie titles identified with the IGF and other indie game festivals - but rarely is there such direct causation in the game world between a public showing of an unreleased game, and a bigger publisher/distribution mechanism picking it up. Hopefully there will be more and more indie fests where this happens.

[In other v.interesting indie news, elsewhere in the piece (and let's not forget the reach of this article - Game Informer has a rate base of 2.3 million readers nowadays), Hight reveals that 120,000 people have bought ThatGameCompany's art-game fl0w on PlayStation 3 so far - not bad for a title that's as abstract as anything sold on a console thus far.]

Spotlight: PixelJunk Racers, Q-Games, And PixelJunk Sequels

September 13, 2007 12:01 PM |

So, you may have spotted that Q-Games' indie title PixelJunk Racers, which appears to be something along the lines of slot-car racing for the 21st century (woo!), debuts on the PlayStation Network today. But something you may not have spotted (and I just did, thanks to Brandon Boyer!) is that there are teaser images for their next two downloadable PlayStation 3 games in the series on the website.

The site acts a bit strangely, and sometimes doesn't show the teaser images when you click on them (maybe it's still loading?), so I thought it would be handy to extract and label them for you, dear GSW readers:

Teaser for the second PixelJunk game - apparently somewhat Tower Defense-ish?.

The third PixelJunk game has a plant leaf as the icon - what's going on here?

Going back to PixelJunk Racers itself briefly, there's a good intro to both PixelJunk and Q-Games on the official PlayStation.Blog, written by company co-founder Dylan Cuthbert, who explains himself handily: "I decided I wanted to try and return to 2D games and use this HD clarity and resolution to re-energize the classic game play of my youth, not just Nintendo-style 2D games, but ZX Spectrum and Commodore-64 style games which were much more quirky. "

When I was at Tokyo Game Show last year, I also sat down with Cuthbert and his co-workers, discussing the small Kyoto-based indie developer's history and attitude (not to be confused with Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment, btw!) - Q-Games has previously shipped "...Starfox Command for Nintendo's DS handheld and Game Boy Advance title Digidrive, part of Nintendo's unique 'Bit Generations' retro-styled original game series", and Cuthbert was one of the creators of the original SNES Starfox in association with Nintendo while working at Argonaut Software in the UK.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that Dylan and the Q-Games folks have entered the self-funded PixelJunk Racers into the Independent Games Festival this year, making it the first-ever PSN game to enter. This also means that there will be some fierce PSN vs. XBLA vs. PC indie competition in this year's contest (not that target platform really matters, but hey, it makes everything a bit more exciting, right?) More on the full IGF entry list after the October 1st deadline...

Takahashi's New Game Stretches Into View

July 20, 2007 8:02 AM |

- I believe I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean when this was announced, so excuse the slowness, but Keita Takahashi's new PS3 game, Nobi Nobi Boy, has been revealed, and... well, we know almost nothing about the new one from the Katamari Damacy dapper don, hurrah!

As Kotaku's [EDIT: Michael McWhertor, woops!] notes: "The game, which is loosely translated at "Stretchy Stretchy Boy" or machine translated as "Unrestricted Boy", doesn't have a release date, nor did Namco Bandai reveal the game's genre. Given Takahashi's creativity, I'm going to assume that Nobi Nobi Boy will probably not adhere to any currently known genre."

Another report on the title, which was revealed at Sony's PlayStation Premiere event, comes from GameSpot, which notes: "The game is apparently still in its early stages of development, but the audience was shown a concept video where a very long and squiggly, green caterpillar-like character wriggled around very naturally through the screen for 30 seconds. [Namco Bandai exec] Unozawa explained that Takahashi has been thinking about the Nobinobi Boy game concept for the past two years, but it couldn't have become a reality without the physics calculation capabilities of the PS3." I'm intrigued already - though I wish they'd stop flogging the 'physics only possible with the Cell!' angle just a tad.

Everyday Shooter Signed By Sony, Springs To PSN

July 11, 2007 4:01 PM |

- Now this is worth picking out of the E3 insanity - N'Gai Croal has the scoop that Jon Mak's IGF multi-award winning Everyday Shooter has been picked up by Sony for the PlayStation 3, and a Playstation Network release later in 2007.

Croal also has an email interview with Mak which is plenty of fun - hardly hyping PS3's tech on its own terms, for one: "The technology in EveryDay Shooter is old. The collision systems are based on algorithms from the 90s, and the graphics/sound technology is based on techniques from years ago. But those technologies/techniques are still incredibly powerful/expressive!"

Anyhow, it's probably not an understatement to say that the Independent Games Festival is one of the reasons why Everyday Shooter became relatively well-known, and I've chatted to Jon quite a bit about the game and his game making, so it's wonderful to see it picked up for a big stage. 1080p and widescreen, to boot!

[Oh, and also IGF-related - Australian newspaper The Age did an IGF-related article recently, coinciding with the ACMI show, and while I'm not sure the writer is totally on board with today's admittedly hardcore-ish indie scene, he's reassuringly Kent Brockman-like - 'This reporter remembers when...' etc, and that's pretty fun.]

Kohler Sez: PlayStation 3 Meets Digital Future, Drops Ball?

April 28, 2007 1:15 PM |

- We don't normally link to much 'mainstream' next-gen video game coverage here, but over at Game | Life, Chris Kohler's recent editorial on Sony's online infrastructure is too important to pass up.

He particularly references the 'playing PS1 games on PS3' debacle, commenting: "In short, everything's screwed up everywhere. The thing that would make me actually want to download more PSone games arrives four months late -- and, surprise, only applies to one-fifth of the content. The catalog is embarrassingly poor."

Even worse than that: "In Japan, Sony actually seems to be embracing Long Tail to a greater extent than Nintendo, loading the service up with niche games from small publishers... But in the US, they have added one (1) third-party game despite the fact that third-party games were inarguably the primary reason to own a PSone in the first place."

I agree completely, and it's emblematic of a larger issue - Sony's lack of third-party relations/infrastructure in the West for both PS1-style 'classic' digital downloads and for XBLA-style indie games is a travesty, with closely held partners and an only _just_ emerging set of Sony-funded digital-download titles lagging far behind their competitors (Nintendo on the retro side, and the much more 'free' Xbox Live Arcade on the indie side).

In fact, the May 2007 issue of Game Developer magazine (out soon, cover postmortem is Konami's Elebits for Wii) finds me talking about this exact issue, compared to XBLA's relative success - how Sony and Nintendo not making contemporary indie game digital downloads easy/possible is messing things up for indie console developers, who can then only address fractions of the potential market. And it's the consumer who ultimately ends up with the short straw.

Nucleus, Bringing Bogdan Raczynski To Your PS3

April 18, 2007 1:50 PM |

- This announcement seems to have got lost behind the couch cushions, but 1UP has a preview of new PlayStation 3 downloadable title Nucleus, dated late last week, and developed by Kuju's Surrey studio (where-in I used to work in the late '90s).

Overall: "The game looks a bit different from your typical Geometry Wars clone", though it sounds like it might, uhm, play a bit like one - difficult to tell. Anyhow: "For instance, Nucleus doesn't take place in outer space, but in "Inner Space" (no relation to the film, as far as we know). And instead of shooting aliens, you fight bacteria while swimming around blood cells and collecting proteins."

But here's a particularly neat bit: "Beyond the setting, Nucleus has a different vibe compared to other shooters out there. The graphics are minimalist and dark, but the real distinction comes from the soundscape provided by Rephlex's Bogdan Raczynski. The very Aphex-Twin-like music shifts between ambient noise and fast paced oddness." It's all about the Braindance!

[Actually, I'm wondering whether my old Kuju colleague Chris Williams had anything to do with this - he's such a big fan of Bogdan's music label Rephlex Records that he had its logo put in Tank Racer, the odd PS1 title we worked on ages ago. Wacksome.]

Il Corriere Della Sera On The PS3's Soccer Snafu

March 27, 2007 1:19 AM |

- This is kinda just a sideline to the current PlayStation 3 launch kerfuffle, but I'm fascinated by the provincial European reaction to the launch - and Matteo Bittanti has a good round-up of the Italian issues - which, it turns out, revolve almost entirely around video game soccer!

The titanically large, important Italian newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera has apparently weighed in as follows: "Italy's best selling national newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, published a story about a frustrated PS3 buyer (also, a journalist) who decided to immediately sell the console after realizing that it would not run Pro Evolution Soccer 6 and Fifa 2007 (both currently available on the PS2)."

He continues: "Titled "Ieri ho comprato la PS3. Oggi la rivendo" (= "Yesterday I bought a PS3. Today, I'm selling it") the story is interesting because this consumer's disappointment is apparently shared by thousands of other players: in a country where electronic gaming and soccer games are synonomous, a long term lack of compatibility with PES6 (aka Winning Eleven in the US and Japan) and FIFA07 would be considered simply unacceptable." Apparently it's being addressed (maybe!), but let's not forget what apps are killer apps outside the States, mm?

Packaging The East For The West

March 24, 2007 6:05 PM |

- The HDR Lying blog has another interesting, if a little meandering piece, named 'The Essential Worldwide Success: Packaging the East for the West', and it talks specifically about the suitability (or not) of Koei and Bandai's Gundam Musou for PlayStation 3 for launch outside Japan.

In the way of an intro, it's noted: "In a time where games are becoming more and more expensive to produce, and profit margins are shrinking, more and more companies are starting to look at creating a global product. Ryan Payton’s hire at Kojima Productions was a step to get a more global perspective on their series, including the ever popular Metal Gear Solid." But how does Gundam Musou fit in?

As noted: "For the Japanese gaming market, the amalgamation of Gundam and Musou is a no brainer. The game is a mix of the most popular action series in Japan, and the biggest animated franchise phenomenon in Japanese history, on a single Bluray disc." But in the States, as Dynasty Warriors, it's just not such a big deal. So, it's asked: "With no Musou name in the West, how does Namco Bandai name Gundam Musou?"

Hm? "Does Namco Bandai make their connection to Koei public, and call the game Gundam Warriors? They could sever the connection entirely, and instead ride on the Gundam alone, going with something close to, but likely more original than, Gundam Battlefront. With a change like that, they lose the cache that the Musou name would give them, but in the United States, that might not matter at all." This is one example, of course, of a continuing cultural battle to get universally popular video games across multiple regions - but it's an interesting one.

Ozymandias Muses On PS3 Memory Use

March 23, 2007 6:45 AM |

- You've got to hand it to Microsoft's gaming platform strategy guy Andre 'Ozymandias' Vrignaud - he's certainly been getting into the PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360 conflict on his weblog recently - and he's asking some interesting, if Microsoft-centric questions, such as how much memory is reserved for OS on PlayStation 3.

So, apparently, all of the Xbox 360 system information (dashboard/online) fits into 32mb, resident at all times. Pete Isensee at Microsoft comments of the alternative: "For comparison, PS3 developers have to deal with a system that has memory split into two 256MB banks, one of which is reserved for graphics only. A large portion of both the memory banks are reserved for the system. On top of that, games that want to support other features, like friends lists or in-game commerce, take an additional memory hit."

He continues: "[An Ars Technica postl indicates that a total of 96MB is reserved for the system on PS3. [An Innerbits post indicates that 9MB is required for friends lists (and 60MB for in-game commerce!). If those numbers are correct, a PS3 title using friends lists functionality has 512-96-9 = 407MB available, 73MB less than an Xbox 360 title using the same features."

However, more than one commenter is skeptical about how this is presented - Parveen Kaler comments: "That is very one-sided analysis. There is a space vs. speed trade-off here. The PS3 doesn't require as much memory for certain tasks. For example, progressive meshes are a viable technique on the [PlayStation 3's] SPUs, whereas it is not very viable on the 360's cores." Later on, apparently blocked from commenting more by NDAs, he comments: "My final point is that this argument is all overblown fanboy fodder. This particular issue is a speed bump not an iceberg. Both systems have pros and cons. Developers will exploit the pros of both systems and mitigate the cons of both systems."