Last Build Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2011 19:00:20 -0500Copyright: Copyright 2013
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 19:00:20 -0500Simon Carless: OK, if you're reading GameSetWatch, prepare for some bad news. I'm afraid we're putting the site on semi-permanent hiatus, as of, uhm, this very post, after 6 years (wow!) of reporting the best, brightest and weirdest in alt.games news. I'll let current editors Eric Caoili and Danny Cowan have their say after I contribute a few words, but first, I'mma let myself end things out with a brief eulogy to the site, which I founded back in November 2005. And here's the kickoff post, revealing launch contributors including current IGF chairman Brandon Boyer, Kotaku/MeatBun and now GameTrailers stalwart Michael McWhertor, Gamasutra news director Frank Cifaldi, and the ever-awesome Alice Taylor, as well as Game Developer mag EIC Brandon Sheffield (and yep, Insert Credit, which I also contributed to sporadically, was def. an inspiration for GSW.) Although that initial line-up was kinda awesome, and they certainly contributed _some_, a look through the early years revealed mainly boundless OCD-like enthusiasm for me in terms of finding _weird video game stuff_, including Lil Jon's crunk golf game and lots more. Did I really check 500+ RSS feeds _daily_ for GSW? Apparently... In the first few months, you'll also find awesomeness like a LimeLife press kit unboxing from Frank (we have a bug with old author names not being displayed right, sorry about lack of crediting there!). We also started up a bunch of columns, one of the signature parts of GSW in its early and mid-life.Probably this would be a good time for me to say thanks to everyone who submitted columns over the years we ran them. Some of the standouts include John Harris' @Play, which is practically the Roguelike bible, as well as Kevin Gifford's Game Mag Weaseling and, of course, Game Time With Mr. Raroo. But there are LOTS more - feel free to link to others in comments if you have some you'd like to highlight. We also ran some odd meta-posts out of our Gamasutra coverage from time to time, such as this poignant anecdote: "Just before the press conference itself started, there was a call over the PA for a Lexus with the numberplate 'Factor5' to be moved by the owner, because it was blocking something and would be towed otherwise. Just because you make neat-looking PS3 dragon games like Lair, it doesn't mean you can flaunt the rules of parking, Julian Eggebrecht." Then things started to get a bit busier with my fulltime job (running Gamasutra, Game Developer, and eventually overseeing all of our products, including the GDC shows). So through into 2008 you'll see there are just daily links roundup posts, and the majority of the rest of the content was 'best of' original material from Gamasutra, with GSW columns included as well. (Oh man, and I just remembered the rather awesome comics column by Skullgirls artist Jonathan 'Persona' Kim we ran.) The story of 2009 and 2010 is of further transition, after we poached the excellent Eric Caoili, who co-edits Tiny Cartridge and has an excellent mind for alt.links, to co-edit and eventually lead the site, and as we gradually dialed down the amount of columns (the only thing I was managing regularly for GSW at that point!). We eventually phased the columns out this year in favor of all original posts by Eric and the awesome Danny Cowan. A greater amount of all-original posts (also including the memetastic Matt 'FortNinety' Hawkins for a few months!) was our preferred method of delivery, and everyone was having a lot of fun doing it. So, why are we stopping? Well mainly, we're seeing an increasing overlap with sister site IndieGames.com, just in terms of some of the best material out there being indie-related. So Danny is going to go and blog over there, while Eric comes back to help us a bit more on mothership site Gamasutra. But we also think that mainstream game blogs are doing a much better job nowadays of including the weirder and alt.links in amongst their gaming news. So it's not like GSW is _irrelevant_ as such. But it's never really been that relevant to start with - it's always been an entertaining[...]
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 18:00:08 -0500
After having an absolute blast playing several Stern tables (e.g. The Sopranos, Nascar, Family Guy) for hours with friends over the holiday weekend, I really wish I had spent more time talking about recent pinball machines at GameSetWatch, especially since so few other video game blogs mention them. Regrets!
I'll try to make up for it a little with this post -- let's start with the above image for the "beginning stages" of the first prototype for the Emerald City Limited Edition Wizard of Oz machine, the first table coming from recently founded company Jersey Jack Pinball. Please follow ECLEWOZ's development here, and support Jersey Jack!
You can't talk about modern pinball without mentioning Stern, which just debuted three cabinet designs and improvements for LE Transformers Pinball. It has also been putting out a mini-documentary series for Transformers Pinball, which you can watch here.
And speaking of Pinball-themed documentaries, Brett Sullivan's award-winning film Special When Lit: A Pinball Documentary is now streaming on Netflix and worth a watch. And of course, I must point you to Pinball Donut Girl, another documentary about this fine co-op tradition, which is in production and needs your attention.
Upcoming virtual pinball games to look out for!: Farsight Studios' Pinball Arcade (iOS, Android, Xbox 360, PS 3, PS Vita, and 3DS), and Zen Studio's Zen Pinball (iOS) and Zen Pinball 3D (3DS eShop), and Game Prom's Da Vinci Pinball (iOS and Mac, DLC for the company's previously released Pinball HD).
They don't capture half the experience of playing on a real table, but they're wayyy cheaper to buy and maintain. If you'd like to keep up with the latest going-ons in the pinball world, Pinball News and Arcade Heroes are both excellent places to start.
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 15:00:10 -0500
I've talked much before about Katsuya Terada, the super talented Japanese illustrator who's contributed artwork to games and game guides like Jake Hunter, Final Fantasy, Wizardry, Tekken, Culdcept, and many other series.
He's also worked on concept art and character designs for films like Blodd: The Last Vampire, Hell Boy, and Sucker Punch. You probably know his work best from his amazing pieces for the Legend of Zelda guides.
For those who want to follow his work, Terada has started a new Tumblr blog for his illustrations, Terra's Sketchbook, which already has 20+ updates. It's mostly from his non-game related pieces, but there's still lots of great stuff there.
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 12:00:15 -0500
Ever since the group behind stealth puzzler Gunpoint replaced the project's placeholder graphics with a dark and detailed look that actually seem to do the game's concept justice, I've hoped that a video would come out to show the new graphics in motion.
Indie developer Tom Francis (John Roberts and Fabian Van Dommelen helped with the art) has finally released that clip I've been waiting for two months later -- watch this walkthrough video in full-screen to see hot great this looks all animated and whatnot.
Here Francis takes us through a few stages, explaining the premise, missions, upgrades, and most importantly the Crosslink system that allows you to hack into light switches, elevators, and other electronics to manipulate the stages and their security guards.
Gunpoint is expected to release for Windows first around "probably Christmas". Francis also hopes to create a version for Linux systems, but he admits he doesn't know how to port this Game Maker title yet.
Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:00:32 -0500Movie posters are notorious for overusing orange/blue contrast, but video game covers are even worse. It's gotten especially bad over the last year, as I noted in a previous feature. It's the lack of imagination that gets me, I suppose. These covers almost always follow a strict formula: a vertical line down the middle of the package divides orange and blue, often as a lazy way to distinguish opposing factions. Effectively, game publishers are saying, "There are good guys and bad guys in this game. There will be conflict. You like conflict. Buy our game, idiot." Publishers also think that some regions are stupider than others, as demonstrated by the difference between the North American and European boxart for Tron: Evolution: Battle Grids. Gamers in the United States are dumb, make no mistake, but at least they're able to grasp the cover art's creativity and subtlety without needing additional color to drive the point home. (The point, by the way, is that two guys are fighting.) The phenomenon isn't exclusive to western territories, either; it creeped over to Japan in recent months. It's a good thing, too, because otherwise, you might never know that Nurarihyon no Mago: Hyakki Ryouran Taisen and Sengoku Basara 3: Utage are games in which people solve disagreements with violence. Namco's a fan, too. You may not realize this, but did you know that fighting games involve people fighting? The red and blue colors say so! Namco produces appropriately colored accessories as well. Ideally, when you're playing a competitive fighting game, your left hand should be stuffed in a bucket of ice (to keep you cool under pressure), while your other hand should be on fire (to help you push the buttons faster). It's also great if you want a fight stick that looks like a variety pack of Doritos. Mobile games are also catching on. In Life Is Crime, the red side represents crime, while the blue side is also crime. Granted, the color scheme actually makes sense with superhero games, even if these covers look like they took all of five seconds to design. "Cyclops is blue! And, uh...crap, who's a bad mutant that wears red? Oh, Magneto!" So when does the color scheme not make sense? Well if it can apply to an 8-bit demake of a Japanese visual novel, I think it's safe to say that you can use it with anything. ...including dancing games. I'm having trouble seeing the conflict here. Does the orange side represent Stop Diabetes? Maybe we should be teaming up with Stop Diabetes instead of fighting them. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which is the good side and which is the evil side. I don't care, either. I'm siding with Cookie Monster. [...]
Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:00:24 -0500
It's easy to see something like this U.S. commercial for the Nintendo 3DS's upcoming Mario Kart 7 game, and assume all the neat stuff here is done in post-production, with everything but the actors themselves CG-d.
While that's true for the effects and objects floating around the course (e.g. Cheep-Cheeps, item boxes), the carts themselves and the stunts were in the original film, according to these clips I came across in Drivers Inc.'s Vimeo account.
The videos below show that the stunt driving team worked with the wacky drivable carts that look just like what you see in the commercials, and set up a scary double-crane and ramp setup to shoot a vehicle grabbing some air.
I wish there were more of these clips -- really, I'd love to see a real race of the carts without all the fancy effects added in.
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Mon, 28 Nov 2011 15:00:56 -0500
I'm unsure what would posses someone to create a profile for Ezio Auditore da Firenze, protagonist of Ubisoft's recent Assassin's Creed games, on a dating site, but someone did, and, the fictional character appeared to generate a lot more interest from women than some real-life dudes I know who've experimented with these services.
Maybe it's that exotic name? His tall frame and athletic body type? Or his exciting bio: "I was a seducer of women and a playful man, I possessed acrobatic skills far beyond those of my peers, barring my brother. I came from an affluent background and had many friends until the deaths of my father and brothers drove me out of Florence for many years."
Whatever it was, it fooled several women into believing the image above is a real photo, and some contacted the assassin to learn more about him. Reddit user Bombadil posted screenshots of their exchanges with Ezio for our entertainment:
Mon, 28 Nov 2011 12:00:38 -0500
Zen Studios is bringing more of its downloadable pinball games to portable platforms this week, starting with Zen Pinball for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, which will feature a mix of the studio's original designs as well as Marvel-licensed ones.
The developer will offer three tables at launch, one of those being "Sorcerer's Lair", which will be available completely for free -- you'll have to purchase the other tables. The game will have achievements, leaderboards, and hot seat multiplayer.
It sounds similar, if not nearly identical, to Zen Pinball THD (trailer above), which was also a port of PSN's Zen Pinball and released to Tegra 2-powered Android devices earlier this year with Sorceror's Lair and other tables.
And in Europe at least (no word yet on whether the same is true for the U.S.), Zen Pinball 3D is releasing to the Nintendo 3DS's eShop this week with four diferent tables: "Shaman", "El Dorado", "Earth Defense", and "Excalibur".
Mon, 28 Nov 2011 09:00:33 -0500
The folks at game-themed apparel shop Game Paused relaunched their site recently and added three new tees to its line, paying homage to beloved titles old and new, including The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and L.A. Noire.
Game Paused's Super Mario design is especially nice, riffing off the four-color lineart that was on the Super Famicom's Japanese packaging. The Zelda 25th anniversary shirt is neat, too, featuring dozens of familiar icons from the series.
You can pick them up for around £22-24 ($34-37) each, with free shipping, on Game Paused's site. Make sure to admire the exploded Game Boy and Genesis/Mega Drive, Sack Boy, Link cosplay, and Halo designs there, too.
Sun, 27 Nov 2011 18:00:56 -0500
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If Studio Ghibli made licensed games for its films instead of collaborating on original titles (e.g. Magic Pengel, Ni no Kuni), this is what one of them woud sort of look and sound like! That's presuming the famed animation house would create a game for a 2008 film like Ponyo on a 1998 handheld like the Game Boy Color.
Feegrita Sinclair and Mee-lin created this short video for a school project, animating Hayao Miyazakis' charming goldfish-becomes-a-human-girl movie as an 8-bit title, throwing in some Super Mario Bros. sound effects and a chiptune-style arrangement of Joe Hisaishi's score. I would be down for this.
Sun, 27 Nov 2011 15:00:39 -0500Seven years ago today, Blizzard Entertainment launched World of Warcraft, the company's most successful game to date and one of the most influential online games of all time. The MMORPG, with 10.3 million current global subscribers, has seen tremendous success since its launch in late 2004, and still serves as the gold standard by which the industry judges the commercial success of an MMORPG. Of course, the game has gone through quite a bit over the last few years. It has seen three major expansions, broken numerous sales and activity records, and has certainly been the focus of its fair share of controversies. Yet despite how the game or the industry may have changed since 2004, World of Warcraft remains a highly relevant force in the games business. To celebrate the game's latest anniversary, Gamasutra's Tom Curtis took a look back at the history of World of Warcraft, recalling its most pertinent developments, its significant milestones, and the most memorable moments from throughout its development. The story starts to take root even further than seven years ago, as it was in 1994 when Blizzard introduced us to the world of Warcraft with the real-time strategy game Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. The company officially announced World of Warcraft in 2001 at the European Computer Trade Show in London. Shortly after that announcement, DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole, years before the game's launch, was quoted as saying, "I expect World of Warcraft to reach 300,000 to 400,000 users very quickly--three to six months would not be unreasonable. The question will probably be: Can it keep those subscribers?" The analyst's comment exemplifies just how no one could have expected Blizzard's first MMORPG to become such a worldwide phenomenon. Here are the past seven years of World of Warcraft:-November 23, 2004 - World of Warcraft Launches in North America, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. -December 2, 2004 - World of Warcraft becomes the fastest selling U.S. PC game in history. It begins. World of Warcraft sells 240,000 units in one day, selling faster than any previously-released PC game in the U.S. -December 13, 2004 - Blizzard cracks down on World of Warcraft item sellers. Just shortly after launch, the studio threatened strict penalties against those who broke terms of service, including deletion of characters and accounts, and even legal action. Blizzard's bouts with virtual item sellers won't end here. -February 11, 2005 - World of Warcraft Launches in Europe. -March 14, 2005 - Blizzard bans more than 1,000 accounts for gold farming. -March 17, 2005 - World of Warcraft reaches 1.5 million subscribers worldwide. By this point, World of Warcraft was available in North America, Europe, and Korea. Along with this record subscriber number, the game also broke the record for the most concurrent users, surpassing 500,000 players simultaneously. -June 7, 2005 - World of Warcraft debuts in China. Several months after the initial U.S. launch, Blizzard goes after China, whose internet cafes and time-based subscriptions will add substantially to the MMORPG's user base. -June 14, 2005 - World of Warcraft hits 2 million subscribers. -June 29, 2005 - Blizzard announces its first BlizzCon convention will be held in October in Orange County, California. -July 21, 2005 - World of Warcraft accumulates more than 1.5 million paying customers in China, pushing the worldwide consumer total over 3.5 million. -August 1, 2005 - Blizzard North merges into Blizzard South. With World of Warcraft quickly gaining steam, Blizzard decided to consolidate its North and South branches into its Southern California headquarters. With this move, the Diablo team at Blizzard North now shared a roof with the StarCraft and Warcraft te[...]
Sun, 27 Nov 2011 12:00:32 -0500
Battletoads ruined many promising young lives during the franchise's brief reign of terror in the early '90s. Scores of children suffered untold frustration at the hands of the nigh-impossible original NES game, and still more were scarred by sequels like Battlemaniacs and Battletoads & Double Dragon.
Thankfully, the toads were stopped, but in a moment of cartoonish villainy, Rare later sought to revive the series for the Game Boy Advance. As a recently released prototype ROM image demonstrates, the project didn't get far.
Former Rare developer "Jens" recalls working on the reboot alongside a proposed Xbox Battletoads game:
"I think we agreed on the team that the ultra-hard NES version would be difficult to sell nowadays, and many sections look very dated by now. We looked at all the other Battletoads games and I think we even had the arcade board running. We wanted to keep many of the features that people remembered positively of the games, while trying to focus the gameplay on some consistent mechanics to avoid frustration."
Jens continues: "Overall it was a big relief for me when it was cancelled. Developing on GameBoy while Rare was still owned by Nintendo was hard enough and I often felt like a second class citizen. Getting any resources to make a good GameBoy title would've been even harder as a 3rd party developer for a competing platform."
Sat, 26 Nov 2011 21:00:57 -0500
Import retailer NCSX is selling a set of Japan-exclusive The Legend of Zelda pins that depict cover art from all sixteen entries in the series.
Every main-series Zelda game is represented in the set, from the original Famicom Disk System release to the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time. Even lower-profile titles like Four Swords Adventures and the Oracle games made the cut...though for some reason, manufacturer Tomy has neglected the CD-i Zelda games. For shame!
NCSX notes that the pins are only available via capsule toy machines in Japan, and argues that purchasing the complete set is much easier than attempting to complete the series at 200 yen a pop. The convenience comes at a price, however -- the full set of 16 pins will cost you $78.90, plus shipping.
Sat, 26 Nov 2011 18:00:06 -0500
(image) Organizers for IFComp 2011, the annual competition devoted to short and original interactive fiction games, announced the community-submitted scores from this year's contest, with Ryan Veeder's Taco Fiction ranking the highest out of the nearly 40 entries.
According to GameSetWatch columnist and interactive fiction developer/maven Emily Short, who wrote up reviews for the IFComp 2011 submissions, Taco Fiction is "a comedy about crime and being in the wrong part of town", with a distinctive voice and an enjoyable flow:
"[It's] not a deep work, not a work with important social issues to reflect on, not a work of penetrating characterization; but a very well crafted, light-hearted, and entertaining bit of IF, somewhat reminiscent of Gourmet in the way it builds increasingly ludicrous problems out of its initial premise. "
Veeder and Clarke won $500 and $100, respectively, for their top scores. You can see how all of the IFComp 2011 games fared, and play them all for free here -- most of them are playable in your browser, but you may need to download an interpreter for a few of them.
Sat, 26 Nov 2011 15:00:49 -0500
(image) Codemasters announced today that it is set to launch a HD version of the classic 1991 release Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk next month for smartphone and tablet devices.
Due for release on December 9, the remake will be available to download for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
The original Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk was released by Codemaster in December 1991, for a variety of platforms. This new version is being developed by DNA Interactive, while Paul Ranson, the original game's project director, is heading development.
Said Ranson, "20 years on and Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk remains one of the most memorable games in the series for its puzzles and humour and it's an absolute pleasure to return to the director's role for this HD edition."
Dizzy co-creator Philip Oliver added, "It always astounds us what a loyal fan base Dizzy still has."
"Even after all these years people remember Dizzy fondly and it's great to see him return for his older fans and introduce him to a new generation of gamers."