GS's 8 Bits

Go Back
  • Publisher Profile: Iceberg Interactive

    This is the second post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer publishers and independent developers.

     

    Iceberg Interactive focuses on PC gaming with an emphasis on simulators, adventure and MMO/action games. Although the company is just two years old, its leadership has a combined 70 years in the game publishing business. Staff members have been involved in all aspects of the industry, from public relations and sales to producing and development. They’re also avid gamers themselves.

    Because of their experience in the industry and love of gaming, Iceberg treats every release as a ‘flagship’ title. They understand the amount of time and effort that goes into a game and they invest the same passion and dedication to bringing games to a worldwide audience. Iceberg has more than 30 titles, which are promoted through community contests on the corporate site. GameStreamer carries several of the games, including Craft of Gods and the new title Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok.

     

    Craft of Gods Iceberg Interactive

     

    We talked to Iceberg Interactive’s Project Manager Lex Suurland to get the inside scoop on the company’s name, game selection and Suurland’s favorite games past and present.

     

    GameStreamer: How did Iceberg get its name?
    Lex Suurland: The name Iceberg is actually representing the human mind which is much like an iceberg. Ninety percent is under water / the subconscious. Our CEO came up with that stuff. We also have a catchy company tag line: Play it cool.

    GS: What was the first game Iceberg published?
    LS: Iceberg has formed a big catalogue of games fast but the first game we published (in retail) was Restaurant Empire 2.

    GS: Do you remember the first game you ever played? What was it?
    LS: My first game, that's hard! It must be Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega or Duck Hunt on the Nintendo. Loved both games when I was a kid and still think about the old days when you where playing a single level for more than two hours.

    GS: Describe your favorite aspect of working at Iceberg.
    LS: The favorite part is constantly working with new games. We release about 12 games a year and every single game is different. Iceberg Interactive is a real retail publisher. It is up to me that Iceberg will also have a great digital catalog.

    GS: How do you select which games to publish?
    LS: Our Senior Development Manager is the big catalyst in this area. He is just very involved in the development community and always on the prowl. We also get offered plenty games from developers or third parties. Once we spot quality games that are affordable, we will chase them.

    GS: What do you think sets Iceberg apart from other publishers?
    LS: Through years of experience, Iceberg really has developed an eye for quality. And because we are gamers ourselves first and foremost, we have a good idea of what gamers want. We are also a force now in several niche genres such as adventure games and simulation games. I guess we have a reputation for that and for indie-developed games. We also focus on PC. That's pretty rare, too.

    GS: Can you give us a sneak peek at new games on the horizon?
    LS: We have several launches in the coming months; some of them retail only, some of them via GameStreamer as well. We recommend keeping an eye out for the space sim / RPG Starpoint Gemini and the Cornwall-developed horror adventure Bracken Tor.

    GS: If you could be any game character, who would you be and why?
    LS: That must be Master Chief from the Halo series. Have played Halo 2 and 3 for a great amount of time. Loved the online gameplay.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Game Store Partner Profile: Digital Download Game World

    This is the second post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer game store partners.

     

    A recent GameStreamer game store partner, Digital Download Game World Inc. was created in 2008 as a group of like-minded video game enthusiasts, developers and retailers to observe and report on the growth of the digital distribution sector of the video game industry. Marketed globally, the website sees the majority of its traffic coming, in order of volume, from the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

     

    Digital Download Game World 

     

    Digital Download Game World likes to work directly with indie game developers to show the world that digital distribution is allowing for great game design concepts from even the smallest of studios to make it in this competitive marketplace.

     

    The site also communicates with developers, retailers and readers about the continual growth and change in the digital distribution sector of the video game industry.

     

    We wanted to get to know DD Game World even better, so we asked CEO Dan Awadalla to tell us more about his site and his gaming habits.

     

    GameStreamer: What are your goals with DD Game World? Future plans or news?

     

    Dan Awadalla: With significant growth since we started with our small forum site a few years ago, we have discovered that this new branch of the video game industry is filled with opportunity and pitfalls. At Digital Download Game World Inc., we are discovering our niche in consultation, design and industry reporting.  

     

    In the near future, we will continue to provide indie developers with the advice they need to succeed and will continue to select and report our favorite stories from this exciting industry. Don't be surprised to see some of our own titles launching in the mobile arena, as well. 

     

    GS: Your site is known for its Toronto-area events. Do you have any coming up? What has been your favorite event?

    DA: The Toronto geek and gaming scene is as good as it gets anywhere, and we are lucky to have so many friends who are very active in keeping it that way.  I would have to say FanExpo and GamerCamp are two of my favorite events. Microsoft Canada and Sony Entertainment Canada are both well known for their great Toronto-based preview and launch parties.

     

    GS: What’s your favorite video game or franchise?

    DA: Personally, I have been playing video games since 1976, my first game, of course, being the ATARI PONG home console. So I always find this question difficult. My fondest memory is playing Kareteka on the Commodore 64 and Karate Champ in the Arcade. More recently, my favorite franchises seem to come from Ubisoft Montreal and include Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell as both still have the capability to produce immersive single-player experiences in a continually saturated market. For multiplayer gaming, it's gotta be a shooter. I prefer the Call of Duty and Battlefield series depending on my mood.

     

    GS: If you could have a superpower for one day, what would it be?

    DA: Without a doubt, Time Shifting. I'd start my day in a coin-op arcade and end it on a HoloDeck!  

     

    Full story

    Comments (7531)

  • The Importance of Archiving Gaming History

    If you’re anything like me, you sometimes get nostalgic for the games you played as a child. More importantly than preserving classic games for our own enjoyment, archiving them teaches later generations and honors the industry’s pioneers.

     

    We can be grateful for people who invest in creating museums and exhibits, such as Berlin, Germany’s new Computer Game Museum (Computerspielemuseum) and the Art of Video Games exhibit, coming to the Smithsonian American Art Museum next year.

     

    The Computer Game Museum has archived 14,000 games, from the first arcade game to current-day e-sports that are popular in South Korea. Computer hardware up to 2001 is on display chronologically, including the first home video game console, whose inventor is the museum’s patron.

     

    Smithsonian's Art of Video Games exhibit 

     

    Taking a slightly different look at video game history, the Smithsonian exhibition “will show the development of visual effects and aesthetics by highlighting influential artists during five eras of technology.” Four game types — combat/strategy, target, adventure and action — will demonstrate video games’ eventual role as a storytelling medium, pop culture’s and international events’ impact on games and games’ reciprocal influence on society.

     

    The description on the exhibit developer’s site perhaps best sums up the exhibit and the importance of archiving the industry’s intellectual property: “A medium that is still in its infancy, video games have, none the less, cemented their place in society as one of the most expressive, dynamic and powerful canvases of expression in the past century.”

     

    Similar to movies, which have the American Film Institute in the U.S. to catalog and preserve the classics, video games deserve a counterpart organization, in my opinion. But how should it be done? With vintage consoles hard to come by, what’s the best way to let the public interact with the classic video games? Are museums the only answer? I would love to read your ideas for preserving our industry’s history, which could help shape its future.

    Full story

    Comments (50)

  • How Young Is Too Young to Start Gaming?

    Children ages 2 to 5 are more likely to be able to play a video game than swim or tie their shoes, if you believe a recent poll of Internet-enabled mothers. The poll questioned 2,200 women internationally. A whopping 58 percent of their offspring can play a video game, 59 percent if you look at girls alone. That’s compared to just 9 percent (of both genders) who can tie their shoes and 43 percent who can ride a bicycle.

     child on computer
     

     

    In another new statistical analysis of video games, almost 10 percent of children are at risk for a gaming addiction, according to a study that looked at gaming habits of 3,000 Singaporean schoolchildren ages 8 and 9 and 12 and 13. Researchers defined study participants who spent an average of 31-plus hours per week playing as "obsessive" and more apt to become seriously mentally ill. Pediatrics journal published this study.

     

    The combined information in these two completely separate study yields thought-provoking questions about video games and their potential long-term effects on today’s youth.

     

    Are parents contributing to this potential addiction by exposing their kids to computers, smartphones and games before reading age? Or will such early computer gaming become a life skill in itself? Only time will tell the final results, but we want to hear your opinion.

    Full story

    Comments (4018)

  • Game Store Partner Profile: Rock the LAN

    This is the first post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer partner game stores.

     

    What started two years ago as a local gaming tournament site has evolved into a full-fledged resource for geeks and gamers alike. Rock The LAN’s mission now is to create a hub for writers who have their own blogs, or small business crafts people or artists where they could come and have small marketing support and get the views that they deserved so that the Internet could be fun for them again. RTL covers games/tech, movies and comic books and sells geekified T-shirts and comic books. The site also has its own GameStreamer-powered game store.

     

      

     

    To get to know RTL better, we asked founder Justin Hurst about his website and his personal experiences as a gamer.

     

    GameStreamer: What are your goals for the site?

    Justin Hurst: The main goal is just to keep up the growth. We have so many fun and exciting things planned for this year that we just can’t wait to see the reactions. With over 3 million views a month now, we have a lot of impressing to do and I don’t think that we are going to disappoint.

     

    GS: What was the first video game you remember playing?

    JH: The first video game I remember playing would be the Pong console, with the tethered controllers, but the first video game that really captured my imagination was Pit Fall on the Atari 2600, I just couldn’t get enough of that game (until the NES, of course).

     

    GS: What’s your favorite shirt in your online store?

    JH: I think my favorite shirt thus far has got to be Blur’s shirt from Smallville. I have such a weak spot for that show and its fans.

     

    GS: If you could time travel, what era/time period, past or future, would you want to visit?

    JH: I’m really not a time-traveling guy. I enjoy living in the here and now and doing whatever I can to make these moments rock. That is not to say that if The Doctor [Doctor Who] were to offer a ride in the Tardis that I wouldn’t comply.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Publisher Profile: FRONTLINE Studios

    This is the first post in a new series of profiles of GameStreamer publishers and independent developers.

     

    Modestly sized independent developer FRONTLINE Studios derived its name from the company’s commitment to pushing the technology and design to the limit. Established in 1998, the company develops games for next-generation entertainment devices (Nintendo Wii, PS3, XB360, PC and Mac), as well as handhelds (DS, PSP, and iPhone). FRONTLINE Studios' technology consists of dozens of platform-independent components integrated into scalable and flexible object-oriented architecture. NetVigil software keeps the company's projects efficient and provides real-time reporting and monitoring.

     

    Company offices are in Florida and California, and the main studio is located in Poland (Bydgoszcz). FRONTLINE games include Gene Labs and Christmas Chicken and upcoming titles Life Savers and Mech Wars.

     

    To learn more about FRONTLINE Studios, we asked CEO Marcin Michel a few questions about his company and his personal experiences as a gamer.

     

    GameStreamer: How did FRONTLINE get its name?

    Marcin Michel: Since the very beginning we have had a mission to become a prestigious, well recognizable and creative game developer, so one day we could get a chance to get on the front line of the videogame industry. At FRONTLINE we always try to stay ahead with the proprietary technology and development tools, always trying to deliver top-of-the-line, quality products. That is, we thought FRONTLINE Studios is a great name that reflects our business strategy.

     


    GS: What was the first game FRONTLINE self-published?

    MM: The first self-published title is Gene Labs. Due to limited internal funds, we have selected this simple and fun arcade game, so we could afford to bring this game to many platforms simultaneously and at low cost. In the past we have delivered over 30 titles on many different platforms developed for retail game publishers, and currently we do have 12 titles that we are going to self-publish within a few upcoming months.

     

     

    GS: Can you give us a sneak peek of some of your upcoming titles?

    MM: Sure. Valet Maniacs (screenshot below) is an arcade-strategy game where you are a valet parking supervisor. Galactic Siege puts you in the middle of a space-shooting adventure, and Red Prison gives hidden object games a new twist. If you love to fish, Salt Life: Ocean Hunter offers a first-person fishing experience.   

     

    Valet Maniacs, FRONTLINE Studios

     

    GS: What was the first video game you ever played?

    MM: I can't really remember what was the very first game I've played. There was a bunch of cool games I've played on my first fun machine - Commodore 64. I had been basically buying all games I could get in Poland those days, and I think I've collected at least 30 best games on my Commodore.

     

     

    GS: What is your favorite aspect of working at FRONTLINE?

    MM: There are many aspects for sure, including the possibility to be a part of creative process, however I must say that our company's culture and its people are the most important aspects that keep me going.

     

     

    GS: If you could be any game character, who would you be and why?

    MM: One of my favorite is definitely Drake from Uncharted, as I would love to try my luck in treasure hunting one day!

     

    If you would like to be featured in our next publisher profile, contact us at info@gamestreamer.net.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Liability Lawsuits Against Information Content Providers: Could You Be Liable for Users' Comments and Ads?

    This is a guest blog post by Emma Enriquez, Esq. This post is meant for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. 

     

    Are you an information content provider? This is a question web developers should know the answer to when working with content providers on their sites. The right answer could save a developer from lengthy lawsuits and damages.

     

    In early November 2010, a federal district court denied Zynga Game Network’s motion to dismiss a complaint brought against it by a consumer. In Swift v. Zynga Game Network, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117355 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 3, 2010), a consumer claims that misleading advertisements displayed while she was playing Zynga games enticed her to sign up for “trial” products that she didn’t want in exchange for virtual currency. When she later tried to cancel the products, she was either unable to do so or unduly hassled. Zynga argued that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) immunizes it from any liability for misleading advertisements because Zynga didn’t create them. The court did not agree and, for now, Zynga remains a defendant. The case is still in its early stages and Zynga could very well prevail in its defense as the facts of the case further develop. This case, and others that have recently sprouted up concerning liability for site content, are worth watching.

     

    In a case involving Yelp!, a “defamed” dentist sued the consumer review website and a disgruntled consumer for a derogatory posting. The dentist voluntarily dismissed Yelp! after deciding that the CDA probably shielded Yelp! from liability for any untruthful statements posted by the consumer. This case, Wong v. Jing, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1354 (Nov. 9, 2010), continues between the dentist and consumer in a California state courtroom while Yelp! is now free from this litigation. Zynga was probably seeking a similar result with its recent motion. 

     

    At what point does a web developer face liability? Here’s the short answer: when the developer “materially” contributes to content. So far, sites like Yelp! have been legally described as “interactive computer service” providers. They create the site and leave the content to others. These content “neutrals” can maintain the site and delete posted content without liability for illegal content by third parties. But if Yelp! decided to help consumers in writing reviews, then it could be relabeled an “information content provider” which could open it up to liability.

     

    This seems easy enough, but the line between “service provider” and “content provider” can quickly become hazy. In a 2008 federal Ninth circuit case involving a housing match site, Roommates.com, the Ninth Circuit found that the online forms Roommates provided to subscribers for posting information opened it up to liability for discriminatory housing violations. And in the recent Zynga hearing, the court found the following allegations to be important: (1) Zynga’s virtual currency offers were part of the controversial advertising and (2) Zynga was responsible for the “design, layout, and format of the special offers.” It will be interesting to see how things ultimately play out.

     

    About Emma D. Enriquez, Esq.: She is a litigator with a passionate interest in the developing web and social media marketplace and a member of the IP litigation team for the California-based firm, Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden, APC. She can be followed on Twitter at @cyberlaw12.

    Full story

    Comments (20463)

  • How the Gaming Industry Should Talk to Women

    In this guest blog post, Sugar Gamers coordinating producer and editor Rebecca “Bonks” Rothschild shares her perspective on the game industry’s relationship with women.

     

     

    Sugar Gamers was founded in Chicago based on our founder’s desire to meet more women who enjoyed video games. I joined the company in its early stages as a coordinating producer and editor and watched our female following grow. The first thing I noticed was the incredible diversity. All sizes, races and walks of life are represented in these women. Even better, these women LOVE to game, and their gaming palate is as diverse as they are. This is clear evidence that the videogame industry has the potential to bring in a much larger female audience. 

     

     

    The truth is the industry has been male-dominated for a long time, and not really on purpose. Male gaming enthusiasts don’t always have the easiest time meeting women and I feel that like them, the industry just needs to work on its approach. Nowadays little hints of estrogen have been popping everywhere from developers to pro gamers. Not to mention female characters have taken on more interesting and empowering roles. And while this is all fantastic, I feel that the industry’s marketing has a little catching up to do. I have been aching to run into more ladies on my favorite shooters. Cute and cuddly is fine, but give us ladies some options. Some of us love shooting up evil aliens as much as the next gamer.    

     

     

    Women are multifaceted, as their gaming tastes will reflect. Don’t put us in one genre. Three games our female members constantly gush about are Gears of War, Soul Calibur and Final Fantasy. Three different genres with similarities that have incredible appeal to women, and all three are pretty light on the cute and cuddly.

     

     

    Male or female, anyone can appreciate a beautifully crafted game of any kind. Lucky for the industry, women have flocked to gaming without much attention from marketers. The industry may want to consider a little conversation with its female fans. Every woman loves good conversation, and we’re notoriously loyal to good listeners.          

     

     

    About Rebecca Rothschild: A sci-fi and gaming junkie who was working in corporate America as an IT and not feeling fulfilled, Rotschild is currently the coordinating producer and editor for Sugar Gamers in Chicago, a local female-oriented gaming community. Her biggest project on the side is her graphic novel still in the works. She loves comic books, anime and, of course, video games, first-person shooters being her specialty.

    Full story

    Comments (1)

  • Is The Zombie Trend Dead?

    Zombie games have been around for at least two decades, but the trend has become more invasive over the past couple of years. It seems the undead show up in mash-ups and star in new titles every other week, from Plants vs. Zombies to Zombie Driver. They’ve re-entered pop culture in TV shows and movies, too. GameStreamer asked our Twitter followers and Facebook fans if they think the zombies’ end is near and what the next big thing might be.

     Plants vs. Zombies  Fort Zombie 

    Press A to Continue, a new gaming magazine based in Hawaii, says “don’t think we can count out the zombies, it's always something that will continue.” David Nguyen agrees, “Not dead-it's still being milked for all it's got with shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ and zombie mods and such.” Joseph Snodgrass cleverly adds “zombies will never die.”

     

    Kimberly Unger, game designer and CEO of video game startup Bushi-go, believes “Zombies still have some legs :D We haven't yet hit the critical ‘me too’ mass needed to kill it off. Next up? Lycanthropes/shapeshifters.”

     

    Blake Howard offers his stab at the next trend, “I expect alien invasion games to go back on the rise.”

     

    What do you think the next trend will be? Developers, do you take the latest trends into account when creating your games? Share your thoughts with us.

    Full story

    Comments (0)

  • Slaying the Dragon: Think Small

    This is the third post by independent game developer Dan Felder, who has his own indie studio and consults other game developers in his spare time.

     

    The dragon rears its head, roaring loud enough to shake the stony walls of its mountain home - fire shrieking through the air to blast in at you. You duck, you dodge, your desperately roll - heat searing your cheek red. And now the dragon itself is barreling toward you, its long serpentine neck, each shining scale a tiny reflection of your imminent death, rushing out with its longsword-sized teeth eager to rip and tear through your screaming flesh.

    There is a sickening, shattering crunch...

    And its teeth taste stone.

    Welcome, Indie Game Company, and congratulations on your quick thinking. You managed to survive by ducking into a tiny passage in the cavern's side - enough for you to fit inside but nowhere near large enough for the massive beast to follow you through.

    There are times when it pays to be small.

    Now, you probably hear this all the time - people saying that being small is an advantage to an indie company... But usually their reasons ring a little hollow, and you're left feeling that they themselves don't quite believe it. The best reasons they can offer up are that being small makes you quicker, faster, more agile and more able to explore. If they say more, it's hard to hear over the silent cries of 'bulls@!#' echoing in everyone's mind. After all, bigger companies have far more resources to explore new projects with. They can power titles to market much faster due to their manpower and while they might be less agile at times, agility doesn't do you much good when you're so cramped for resources that you can barely stand up, much less turn a somersault.

    However, there is one way that you can leverage being small and turn it into a fearsome weapon indeed in your battle against the dragon... And it just so happens that that's what this article is all about.

    Isn't it nice when things work out?

    So, grab your adventurer's pack and your trusty longsword because we've got a dragon to slay.

    First, a shortage of resources is nothing more or less than a creative limitation. You don't have the budget to make glorious AAA graphics or a millennium of fully scripted content. It's easy to bemoan our losses and just accept that our graphics and such will be worse than our competitors... But 'worse' is a very tangled term. Our graphics might not be as fancy or lifelike as our competitors... But does that make them worse?

     

    Only if you allow it.

     

    For example, take a look at Calvin and Hobbes. No, it's not a game - it's a comic strip by Bill Watterson that was featured in newspapers once upon a time. It was pure comedic gold as well as being exceptionally meaningful and wise... And look at the art style. It's simple, cartoonish and absolutely perfect for the strip.

    Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
     

    Would Calvin and Hobbes have been more enjoyable if it were drawn in a much more difficult, hyper-realistic style? No, not at all. The comic strip's creator was an eminently talented artist and was very capable of creating much more 'high-end' illustrations, but he wisely chose not to. The cartoonish style served Calvin and Hobbes far, far better. Even though he had the resources to produce highly realistic and fancy drawings, he stuck with a much simpler style that suited the strip better.

    See a parallel here?

    If not, then let's set sail to Tales of Monkey Island, Telltale Games' most successful title to date. The game has garnered high praise for its art style, one that suits the game absolutely perfectly... And yet, it's nothing near what something Square Enix might spin into being. Ask yourself, would Tales of Monkey Island be better off for having FFXIV's graphics at their disposal? Hardly! The game is meant to be silly and fun, something the graphics provide with grace. If the game used the fanciest of high-end graphics, it might well hurt the title and be vastly more expensive overall. That's something that no game company should want.

     Tales of Monkey Island by Telltale Games

    Limitations on resources are a little like street signs. Just because you can't cross the street on red doesn't mean that it's a bad thing! If you can figure out a way to get where you want to go on time, by following the proper street signs, you'll still be there and you won't get nailed by passing cars on the way. If you can figure out how to make your limitations work FOR you... You're way ahead of the lumbering dragons still trying to chew their way through a stone wall.

     

    A title that I'm currently working on has been conceived from the ground up by this principle. Directly going into the earliest design stages I was planning the title to use the least expensive resources to its advantage. I knew I didn't want to worry about a high art budget, so I decided to create a lost-in-wonderland style based on creating a sense of childlike wonder in the player. Even now the main line in the design document for art style still reads, "The graphics should look like something out of a seven-year-old's sketchbook." By adopting such a simple style and tying it to a strong theme, we can make the most out of our limited resources. If someone came to me today and offered me a hundred million dollars to give this title the best graphics money could buy, I'd turn them down in a heartbeat. And that is a wonderful place to be in.

     

    There is a catch, though. If you're a tiny game company who wants to make a title in the style of Mass Effect... You're in trouble. Mass Effect benefits enormously from a sense of hyperrealism. The more lifelike the aliens look, the more plausible the technology, the more a sense of belief in its universe is created - something needed for a serious Sci-Fi title. Less realistic art styles aren't always better, you need to find ways to make them the best choice in your particular situation. Give Monkey Island's graphics to Mass Effect and you'll end up with a lot of disappointed gamers. You'll be fighting fire with a much smaller fire... And we all know how inefficient that is, right? If not, take a look at the second installment in this series for a little reminder.

     Mass Effect 2 by BioWare

    But when you scope the battle with your size in mind, you can make extraordinary use of it - diving into tiny caves, tunnels and holes the dragon cannot follow you through, running between the dragon's legs to hack at its ankles and remembering, always, the simple truth:

     

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

     

    Dan Felder

     

    About Dan Felder: A student at Babson College in Massachusetts, Felder is studying entrepreneurship while building his own indie game studio. He has a passion for storytelling and theater, which is playing out in his studio by giving it a creative vision to advance the conversation about what games can be and how games can touch us, move us, embolden us and strengthen us. He also blogs for Gamasutra, a leading game industry news site.

     

    Full story

    Comments (2)

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. Next page

The opinions expressed here and by those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of GameStreamer.