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About GameSetWatch

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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An Overview Of Croatian Game Mags, Devs

November 21, 2011 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If Game Mag Weaseling's hiatus has left your heart wanting, here's a link about unusual (and foreign -- a bonus!) video game magazines that might help fill that gap in your life: HG101 has a piece covering the history of such publications in Croatia.

The article discusses Croatia's first video game magazine Hacker, which debuted in 1994 and managed to stay alive for a little over a decade, as well as periodicals like Chaos, PlayZone, the recently shuttered GamePlay, and its successor Next Level.

HG101 also talks a bit about Croatian developers that have sprung up, like Croteam (Serious Sam), Cateia Games (Star Trek - The Neutral Zone), , and others. It's all very interesting stuff if you're unfamiliar with the region and its game community.

It's Finally Happened: The Oregon Trail Is Now An iOS Social Game

November 21, 2011 9:00 AM | Danny Cowan

In the 1800s, American frontier families suffered heavy losses from broken limbs, dysentery, and rivers that were a little too deep to ford. Today, many people willingly play games that involve paying real money to get rid of virtual inconveniences.

At long last, the classic Apple II computer game The Oregon Trail -- ostensibly, an educational 19th-century trek across the American west; in practice, a hunting sim for bored middle-schoolers -- has been turned into a social game in Gameloft's The Oregon Trail: American Settler, a free-to-play simulation title for iOS devices.

American Settler abandons the original game's trailblazing narrative in favor of city-building gameplay in the vein of contemporaries like Smurfs' Village and My Country. The hunting element remains, but players have to contend with a dwindling energy meter and constant reminders to buy sacks of in-game cash that range in price from $1.99 to $99.99.

Top-Grossing iOS Games: Mafia Wars: Shakedown Emerges As Top Earner

November 21, 2011 6:00 AM | Danny Cowan

111116_mafiawars.jpgEvery week, Gamasutra rounds up the top-grossing iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad applications, as current that day in the iTunes App Store. This week's U.S. revenue charts see Flick Home Run and Mafia Wars: Shakedown earning top iPhone sales, while DragonVale and Gangstar Rio remain big sellers on the iPad.

These charts allow end users to see who is making the most money on the App Store that day. It differs significantly from the Top 10 Games chart, which is ranked by sales, and therefore is dominated by lower-priced titles that sell more copies.

Data comes courtesy of Apple's public sales information. All titles in the App Store's "Games" category are considered in chart rankings.

This week's top-grossing iPhone titles are:

1. Poker by Zynga (Free)
2. Flick Home Run ($0.99)
3. DragonVale (Free)
4. Texas Poker (Free)
5. Card Ace: Casino (Free)
6. Scribblenauts Remix ($0.99)
7. Angry Birds ($0.99)
8. Crime City (Free)
9. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz ($0.99)
10. Mafia Wars: Shakedown (Free)

Last week's highest-grossing app Flick Home Run drops to second place in today's results, as Poker by Zynga reclaims the top chart spot.

Backflip Studios' DragonVale and Kamagames' Texas Poker continue to report strong microtransaction sales, while Zynga's recently released Mafia Wars spinoff Mafia Wars: Shakedown makes its chart debut at tenth place.

Skyrim Without Textures Looks...Pretty Cool, Actually

November 21, 2011 3:00 AM | Danny Cowan

Some call it "Team Fortress 2 mode." Others describe it as looking like a sequel to RuneScape. Tweak the video options in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim enough, and you end up with the textureless marvel you see above.

I like it a lot, actually. It sort of reminds me of the "Commodore 64" version of Assassin's Creed shown at this year's E3, minus Mr. Caffeine. The village sequence at 1:10 is especially striking.

And since it's a Skyrim video, you can expect to see a bucket being placed over somebody's head at some point. It's basically a requirement now.

Will Wright Reveals 'Personal Gaming' Project Hivemind

November 21, 2011 12:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Stupid Fun Club founder Will Wright has revealed his next game, along with a new California-based start-up that will work on the title.

Hivemind is both the name of the new game and the name of the start-up, according to VentureBeat, and aims to create a new genre of games called "personal gaming."

The idea is that the game will be designed to provide a personal experience to each individual player by taking into account aspects from the player's real life.

Wright is looking to expand the idea and turn the Hivemind company into a large operation, with multiple apps available on mobile devices at the least.

"Rather than craft a game like FarmVille for players to learn and play, we learn about you and your routines and incorporate that into a form of game play," he explained.

"It blurs entertainment, lifestyle, and personal tools. With that data, the world and the opportunities for entertainment within it become more visible to you."

He continued, "If we can learn enough about the player, we can create games about their real life. How do we get you more engaged in reality rather than distract you from it?"

A Decade Of Xbox

November 20, 2011 9:00 PM | Eric Caoili

["The fact that the Xbox was even able to survive in such a competitive environment was a victory in itself," says Gamasutra EIC Kris Graft in this retrospective on Xbox's 10th birthday.]

"Xbox is our next-generation video game console that is going to produce games that people have never seen before."

"It'll have the most intense graphics, the most amazing audio, and it'll take the WWF and The Rock and make them look absolutely awesome."

That was Robbie Bach, one of the masterminds behind the original Xbox, speaking from the Consumer Electronics Show, 2001, where pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson participated in some scripted on-stage banter with then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates about his company's much-scrutinized entry into the video game console business.

Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of the original Xbox, which hit North American shelves on November 15, 2001 for $299. It was a complicated time of transition for the games industry, and the fact that the Xbox was even able to survive in such a competitive environment was a victory in itself.

Scrutiny In An Uncertain Time

In late 2001, Sony's PlayStation 2, its successor to the massively-popular PlayStation, had already been on shelves for a year in the United States. It was enjoying a nice head start, established developer support and an audience loyal to the PlayStation brand.

Constellation Games Serial: Alien Game Localization, Gov't Conspiracies, And More

November 20, 2011 6:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Originally written for serialization on GameSetWatch but now set to be published through a subscription package and a physical trade paperback, Constellation Games is a story with a crazy concept that I had no idea my heart wanted until now.

Here's a blurb on Constellation Games by author Leonard Richardson (Robotfindskitten):

"Ariel Blum is pushing thirty and doesn't have much to show for it. His computer programming skills are producing nothing but pony-themed video games for little girls. His love life is a slow-motion train wreck, and whenever he tries to make something of his life, he finds himself back on the couch, replaying the games of his youth.

Then the aliens show up.

Out of the sky comes the Constellation: a swarm of anarchist anthropologists, exploring our seas, cataloguing our plants, editing our wikis and eating our Twinkies. No one knows how to respond--except for nerds like Ariel who've been reading, role-playing and wargaming first-contact scenarios their entire lives. Ariel sees the aliens' computers, and he knows that wherever there are computers, there are video games.

Ariel just wants to start a business translating alien games so they can be played on human computers. But a simple cultural exchange turns up ancient secrets, government conspiracies, and unconventional anthropology techniques that threaten humanity as we know it. If Ariel wants his species to have a future, he's going to have to take the step that nothing on Earth could make him take."

Why did it take until now for someone to write about localizing alien games? Reading the free sample chapters that are available online, there's other fun stuff like chat logs with alien subminds, and reviews of fictional games within games.

You can purchase a subscription for the web serial here for as low as $5 (include a collected eBook for when Richardson completes Constellation), but there are also packages that include extra short stories, physical copies, and an Alien phrasebook.

GDC China: Capy's Vella To Indies: 'Risk Is A Critical Step To Making Money'

November 20, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Sword and Sworcery EP was a massive success on iOS, especially by indie standards, selling over 300,000 units in the first 6 months, almost all at full price. But on the face of it, one might not have expected it to succeed, said Nathan Vella, president of Capy Games.

"This was an extremely risky project," he said during his talk at the Independent Games Summit during GDC China 2011 in Shanghai. "What we did was do exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do when you make an iOS game."

The game is long-form, took over a year, targets a very specific niche, and "the budget was around $200,000, which when dealing with an iOS project is nothing to sneeze at." But at the same time, Vella says the risks helped Sworcery stand out, and "had everything to do with the success of our game."

"When you're making a risky game, a game that sets out to do something different, you need to know it, accept it, and embrace it throughout the project," he adds. You should target that niche directly, and go for it aggressively. "I believe that iOS development, and specifically the scariest component of the massive success of iOS, is that it's taught everyone, especially independent developers, that you should target everyone," says Vella.

"I believe that when you're targeting everyone, you're really targeting no-one. You're not making it for anyone specific, so your target group is no-one." In this case, you're targeting a lottery, not a group of people, he argues.

It's A Street Fighter World, After All

November 20, 2011 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

I see probably a dozen Street Fighter mash-ups with other pop culture junk every day before lunchtime -- that's just the nature of gaming fanart trends, I guess -- but I don't think I've ever seen the fighting series mixed with a Disney ride.

Combining Street Fighter and Fantasyland's international unity ride It's A Small World makes sense, though, when you remember that the Capcom game's characters represent countries all over the world (never mind that they're all out to beat each other up).

Illustrator Andrew Kolb explains "[The posters are] inspired by two of my great loves: games and rides. Super Street Fighter 2 and It’s a Small World have such an international vibe that I couldn’t NOT put them together."

These are just the first three of what Kolb promises will be a lengthy series of posters. You can currently buy this initial batch as limited edition prints for $60 each on his online shop.

Top-Grossing Android Games: Defender Challenges Tap Fish

November 20, 2011 9:00 AM | Danny Cowan

111116_defender2.jpgEvery week, Gamasutra rounds up the top-grossing Android gaming applications, as current that day in the Android Market. This week's U.S. revenue charts see Tap Fish and Defender leading today's rankings, as Life is Crime and My Country also report fast sales.

These charts allow end users to see who is making the most money in the Android Market that day. It differs significantly from the Top Paid Games chart, which is ranked by sales, and therefore is dominated by lower-priced titles that sell more copies.

Data comes courtesy of Google's public sales information. All titles in the Android Market's "Games" category are considered in chart rankings.

This week's top-grossing Android titles are:

1. Tap Fish (Free)
2. Live Holdem Poker Pro (Free)
3. Defender (Free)
4. Smurfs' Village (Free)
5. Zynga Poker (Free)
6. Life is Crime (Free)
7. My Country (Free)
8. Texas Poker (Free)
9. Paradise Island (Free)
10. Drag Racing (Free)

Gameview's Tap Fish spends its seventh week atop the Android Market's revenue charts, while DroidHen's recently updated defense title Defender ranks in behind Dragonplay's Live Holdem Poker Pro at third place.

Capcom's Smurfs' Village rises to fourth place after dropping to seventh last week, while recent favorites like Life is Crime and My Country also report increased microtransaction sales.

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