PS2J 330 News – Modern Gaming Art

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter followup to the Battlefront reboot of 2015 that has you fighting on the ground and among the stars across a variety of maps in the Star Wars universe, with both the multiplayer Battlefield-style gameplay we’re used to in the series as well as a single-player campaign
      • The Celebration Edition bundles it along with a large collection of aesthetic customization content that was available through in-game purchase, all the way from launch up to and including The Rise of Skywalker

CES 2021 highlights

  • Razer showed off Project Hazel, clear futuristic face masks that qualify as N95 respirators, have a good silicone liner to prevent leakage or foggy glasses, and amplify your voice to help keep speech from sounding muffled
  • They also have the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, a bucket seat with an integrated keyboard tray and 60” curved display for more immersion
  • Panasonic has an AR HUD system for vehicles that use eye tracking and projected images on the windshield to show an intelligent overlay including alerts and directions lined up with real-world objects
  • LG showcased their new rollable display tech, leading to scroll-like devices with a thick rounded edge and an adjustable display size
  • Brink Bionics has the Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove that can detect your intention to click your mouse 80ms before your finger moves
  • ColdSnap wants to be the Keurig of ice cream, aiming to provide pod-based soft-serve made to order in under 120 seconds
  • Petpuls is an AI driven smart dog collar that will decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, relaxed) and track your pet’s activity and sleep
  • And Vuzix has some microLED smart glasses that actually look like something humans would wear, with the added benefit of cellular connectivity, noise-cancelling microphones, stereo audio, and a 3D HUD shown across both lenses

Lucasfilm Games is shifting their entire development strategy, opening the doors to more studios and ending EA’s monopoly on the Star Wars IP

  • The first big news to come from this is that they’re collaborating with Ubisoft on a story-driven open-world Star Wars game, which will be led by Massive Entertainment
    • You might have seen their name on things like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Far Cry 3, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 1/2
  • They went on to say that their relationship with EA isn’t completely ending though, which makes sense after the great success of Star Wars: Squadrons, and the middling success of Fallen Order
    • This is some good news for Reddit commenters who brought up a great point- why hasn’t Respawn taken their Titanfall chops and made a Republic Commando title?
    • Though that just reminds me how the Clone Wars TV show put a hard stop on the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando books, and makes me a little sad
  • But on to more hope- apparently Lucasfilm Games will also be working with Todd Howard, MachineGames (the team behind the new Wolfenstein titles), and Bethesda on an upcoming Indiana Jones title as well!
  • I’m really looking forward to what Lucasfilm kicking their gaming division into gear will mean for the next few years of releases

CD Projekt’s co-founder released an explanation this week of exactly what happened with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and release

  • In the video statement he defended the development teams and said that the decisions lay solely on his and the board’s shoulders, and promised they would work to regain the trust of gamers
  • Apparently the game was initially developed for PC and then ported to consoles, which led to many of the issues running on PS4 and Xbox One as they underestimated the difficulty of the port
    • And the big reason why review keys for console weren’t sent out until right before release was just because they were still working hard trying to iron out all the issues that they had found
  • The path forward
    • More updates are coming with bug fixes, updates and improvements
    • Once the biggest fixes are out they’ll be releasing free DLC packs aimed at the first half of the year, and the PS5 and Xbox Series optimization updates in the second half
  • So all told we should have the Cyberpunk we were hoping for before the end of 2021, which is something at least. Whether people will start trusting the developers again will remain to be seen

Citing concerns over censorship, a North Idaho internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter this week

  • For anyone who isn’t aware, Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms due to violations of their terms of service after he incited a riot that invaded the US capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results
    • Keep in mind that this is completely legal, and that the First Amendment only protects speech from being limited by the government
  • According to emails sent by “Your T1 WIFI” to its customers the ISP determined that this was censorship of their customers and information, so they decided to block access to the sites as of Wednesday
    • Your T1 WIFI stated that about 2/3 of its customers had called in asking the sites to be blocked because of these concerns, so the next logical step was to censor block the sites from all customers
  • They’ve since walked back the decision and made it an opt-in process instead, but the damage may already be done- a spokesperson for the Washington Governor’s office said that the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division would be looking in to the matter because of Net Neutrality violations, which forbid broadband internet providers from blocking lawful content and services

In related news, the right-wing social media site Parler has gone dark after being pulled from not only the Apple and Google app stores but also the Amazon web hosting services that the site was running on

  • Apparently Parler was basically chock full of nazis, radical extremists, and terrorists, with much of the content focused on inciting and coordinating violence or other illegal activity
    • Daring Fireball described it as “4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements”
    • For example Parler investor Dan Bongino, a Fox News commentator and former NYPD police officer, said in a Parler post that the company was “not done with Apple and Google” and encouraged users to “Stay tuned to hear what’s coming.” One user replied: “It would be a pity if someone with explosives training were to pay a visit to some AWS Data Centers – the location of which are public knowledge.”
  • All of this went against the terms of service of the various platforms it was connected to, so therefore it was kicked out even after being given warnings and deadlines in which to implement some kind of moderation plan
    • As it turns out, Parler was actually even in direct violation of its own terms of service
  • Some have taken to screaming first amendment and censorship, but I cannot stress this enough- freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences
  • And those consequences will be coming- apparently in the wake of the US Capitol riot a researcher began archiving every Parler post to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through
    • Hacker @donk_enby pulled dozens of terabytes of content, including raw unprocessed photos and videos that include metadata like the exact GPS coordinates at which they were recorded

This Week In Gaming History

January 9 – 2000 – Mario Party 2 – N64 (North America)

  • Mario and a range of well known Nintendo characters, including Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and Wario return for some more party action.
  • The second edition includes 5 new boards, each with a specific theme, such as Space Land, Western Land, Horror Land, and Mystery Land.
    • Each board includes unique attributes in relation to the theme, but the main goal is the same: complete the board game over a certain amount of moves and be the player to have the most coins and/or stars at the end.
  • The single player story mode allows one person and 3 CPU controlled players to play each board.
    • Once you play a specific mini-game (64 in all), they become available to purchase using the coins you collected in your games to play anytime.
    • Multiplayer allows 2 to 4 people to play the game.

January 10 – 1997 – Obsidian – Windows

  • The plot of this Myst-influenced 5 CD adventure game involves issues such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
    • Fortunately, the bundled strategy guide explains the basics of these subjects.
    • Gameplay is linear and largely based around puzzles.
  • Obsidian’s had an imaginative advertisement campaign.
    • Combining both printed ads as well as television spots, the campaign was unusual as it portrayed several common situations twisted in a way that defied all laws of physics, nature and logic followed by the tagline “Your rules do not apply here”.
      • For example: a printed ad showing an empty room lit by an overhead lamp, only the lamp produces darkness instead of light.
    • Yet the most impressive ad was the famed “egg” TV spot, which featured a guy dropping an egg to the floor with unexpected results.
    • This commercial became a particular object of cult among publicity buffs and won 3 Gold Clio awards and became a permanent feature on the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as being a regular on TV commercial specials, and a runner-up for a Cannes Golden Lion award.

January 11 – 2005 – Resident Evil 4 – GameCube

  • Plot:m
    • Picking up six years after Resident Evil 2, the fourth game in the series follows former cop (now US agent) Leon S. Kennedy to Europe on a top secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president’s daughter Ashley.
    • As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.
    • Old friends…and enemies…lurk around every corner as Leon attempts to find out who is truly behind the kidnapping of the president’s daughter.
  • Resident Evil 4 is a major change from the previous installments.
    • Instead of a fixed third person perspective, the game features a new “behind the back” movement camera angle and an “over the shoulder” aiming feature that allows players to control their gun movement for specific body part hits.
    • It features a brand new AI system and more open environments that allow enemies to work together to capture and corner Leon.
    • Enemies are now humans, which allows them to climb up ladders, open doors, and use weapons throughout the game.
  • The entire item system has also been revamped, so that smaller items no longer require an entire item space to hold.
    • Instead, items take up blocks of space in a briefcase according to their real life size, to allow for many more items and weapons.
    • Leon can collect treasure from enemies or from the surrounding area, and visit the infamous “merchant” to purchase bigger briefcases, treasure maps, weapons upgrades, and powerful weapons such as the one-shot RPG.
    • There is also the Mercenaries from Resident Evil 3, which allows the player to play survival scenarios as character such as Hunk and even Albert Wesker himself.
  • Development:
    • The earliest version of the game was announced for the PS2 under Resident Evil 2 with director Hideki Kamiya.
    • This build was eventually cancelled as a Resident Evil installment and became the title known as Devil May Cry.
    • Eventually, development was moved to the Gamecube console and another build emerged.
    • This was the first version to feature Leon from RE2. The game’s main menace was to sport a hook on one of its hands, and the logo for the game reflected this (this can still be seen in the final logo).
    • More versions were created and cancelled before Shinji Mikami took over and transformed the title into what it is today.
    • Of all the builds developed, only one of them was never unveiled to the public (it was the one that was being worked on right before Mikami took over).
    • Early in the development stages the game’s setting was Japan, not Europe.

January 12 – 2016 – That Dragon, Cancer – Windows, Mac, Ouya

  • That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical and crowd-funded game created with a small team and based on the experience of the couple Ryan Green and Amy Green, who lost their son Joel Evan Green to cancer.
    • The game consists of fourteen interactive sequences that chronicle their time with Joel, incorporating their thoughts and experiences, and voiced by themselves and their other children.
    • It represents a love letter to their son and a way to immortalize him.
    • Joel was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor when he was twelve months old, leading to terminal cancer, but he went on to live for four more years until he passed away in 2014.
  • Each scene shows a different moment of their time together with Joel, both the highs and the lows.
    • Scenes are often abstract or involve metaphorical interpretations of situations and are played from a first-person or a third-person perspective with small amounts of interaction and exploration.
    • Sometimes there are choices for the player or optional parts that can be explored or examined.
    • There are scenes at the pond, playing with a duck, in the playground, the hospital and so on.
    • Scenes show both the positive moments such as Joel playing or the conversations with the other children, but also the couple when they argue, the moment of the first diagnosis, the conflict between science and faith and so on.
    • A part of the crowd-funded contributions also involves messages and art incorporated in the game.
  • Along with the game, a documentary called Thank You for Playing was filmed, documenting the game’s development and the last years of Joel’s life.
    • It was released in 2016. The game was released on what would have been Joel’s seventh birthday.

January 13 – 2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel – Xbox, PS2

  • Setting:
    • In a post-apocalyptic future, a society known as the Brotherhood of Steel is born, wielding powerful weapons and armor from the time before the war, they seek to bring some form of order to the wastelands of what used to be the United States.
    • As a new member(s) to the Brotherhood, you’ll soon find yourself separated from your comrades and forced to contend with a variety of missions and challenges alone.
    • Radscorpions, Super-Mutants and Deathclaws are all in the Brotherhood’s way, and bringing an end to their tyranny will certainly make the wasteland a safer place.
  • Brotherhood of Steel is an action game set in the Fallout universe.
    • The Brotherhood members are well armed and carry full clips of ammo (which does run out).
    • New weapons of various nature can be found and equipped to bring new tactics.
    • Shooting down enemies earns experience points and these points are used to improve the attributes of various individual skills.
    • Additionally, your character will have to contend with finding keys and other objects, protecting NPCs and jumping over bottomless pits.
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel features a product placement for the real life Bawls energy drink.
    • This may be jarring to fans of the Fallout series, who are used to having Nuka-Cola as the post-apocalyptic drink of choice.
  • Fan response to this game was so overwhelmingly negative that Interplay actually shut down the official Brotherhood of Steel message board.
    • It is so hated by the Fallout fanbase, the game’s section on the No Mutants Allowed forums (one of the biggest Fallout forum) is called: “Fallout: Piece of Shit (PS2, XBOX, My Lower Intestine)”.

January 14 – 1999 – EA pulls Tiger Woods 99 on Playstation for bootlegging South Park

  • Company recalls PSX version of Tiger Woods 99.
  • A bootleg episode of Southpark was found on the CD in normally unused space.
  • The file was only readable via a PC, and was invisible to the PSX console.
  • Recall was issued since Southpark is offensive to some people.
  • Roughly 100,000 copies were affected.

January 15 – 2002 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – PS2

  • Based on the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
    • Ride with the bad guys as you battle Earth Federation forces for independence.
    • Take control of three mobile suit teams. Use strategy tactics to infiltrate federation bases.
    • Use a wide variety of Mobile suits equipped to kill.
    • Strategically set your route to carry out mission objectives successfully

Tidbits

  • Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S21 series of phones with edge-to-edge display, 120hz refresh rate, and 8K video recording
    • The Ultra model also brings a larger display and S Pen functionality for people that miss the Note series
    • Unfortunately it looks like not even Samsung staff are that into their hardware, with tweets promoting the release being marked from “Twitter for iPhone”
  • WhatsApp is now in a rush to reassure people that some of their data is still safe after changing its terms and privacy policy to include significant data sharing with Facebook
    • Backlash from those changes saw Signal and Telegram hitting the top of the free app charts on iPhone as people found other options for messaging
    • They went out of their way to list the things they don’t share like private messages, call logs, and your location, but doesn’t mention what they do share like device usage, IP address, and unspecified “other information”
  • Apple announced a set of new major projects this week as part of its $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of colour
    • This includes an innovation and learning hub both in Atlanta and online, an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and venture capital funding for entrepreneur POC’s
  • Roku has purchased Quibi’s old content library of about 75 shows and documentaries for well under $100M according to the Wall Street Journal, giving them exclusive rights through to the end of the year and shared streaming rights through 2027
    • Roku will be offering the content for free with ads, which likely means that a lot more people will see these shows now than would have otherwise

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Killing Floor 2

      • 2016
      • First person wave-based shooter than can be played solo or with up to 6 players cooperatively, it has you descending into continental Europe after it’s been overrun by murderous clones called Zeds
      • They also added an asymmetrical PVP mode that has one or more players taking on the role of the Zeds to kill the mercenaries
    • Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition

      • 2014
      • Adventure puzzle platformer that has you exploring an alien planet where you stumble upon a derelict Soviet Union science outpost and try to piece together how they got there and where they’ve gone now
      • The Premier Edition brings new content, improved graphics, new original music, and additional voice-acting
    • The Escapists 2

      • 2017
      • Top-down strategy RPG that has you playing an inmate in a prison, following daily routines, completing quests for fellow inmates, and seeking opportunities to escape
      • It also includes local and online multiplayer, either cooperative where two players help eachother break out or competitive where two teams see who can break out the fastest
  • Ubisoft is hosting their first all-digital conference streaming live on July 12, and if you log on to ubisoft.com/forward during the event you can get a free copy of Watch Dogs 2

Surprising completely no one, Google-backed groups are criticizing Apple’s warnings about user tracking

  • The next batch of updates coming to Apple software this fall have a lot to do with user tracking- specifically, giving you prompts when websites or apps are trying to track you across multiple services
  • Well a group of 16 marketing associations, many backed by Facebook and Google, are getting mad at Apple for not sticking to the existing ad-industry standard for getting user consent under European privacy rules, complaining that between the current adding a second layer of permissions increases the risk that users will refuse
  • Apple defended the move, and I believe rightfully so, by saying that the new feature is aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their info is being used and monetized
  • And really, if the best argument against giving users more opportunities to say no is that they might take them, you might have some predatory practices that need to be looked at

After allegations have been made about wildly inappropriate, unethical, and immoral behaviour in competitive Smash Bros communities, Nintendo has made a statement saying that they “condemn all acts of violence, harassment, and exploitation against anyone and that we stand with the victims.”

  • Apparently dozens of high-profile figures in the community have been accused of sexual misconduct, like harassment, assault, and grooming minors

In the latest of what I’m sure will be a long line of ass-coverings, LinkedIn says that their app reading iPhone clipboards after every keystroke is a bug and will be fixed soon

  • They’re blaming it on code that compares your clipboard contents with what has been typed in a textbox, which seems weird even on its own
  • iOS 14, now in beta, alerts users every time data they’ve copied is read by an app, and we’ve seen this catch out apps like TikTok, Twitter, Starbucks, and many more reading this information for no good reason
  • The Weather Network, also caught out by this, says that they only used the info if a user wished to share diagnostic information for troubleshooting and that they’ve reached out to Apple for guidance

Infinity Ward has quietly removed the OK gesture from Modern Warfare and Warzone

  • There hasn’t been any official statement about why, but this was likely in continuing support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • A while back 4Chan decided to help white supremacists appropriate the symbol (some claimed as a joke), saying that the three upraised fingers made a W and the circle made a P when you take the forearm into account
  • Regardless of their possible intentions, they have actually succeeded to the point that racists and terrorists have been sincerely using the symbol in dog-whistling photos and acts of terror against minorities and people of colour
  • The Anti-Defamation League even had to add it to their list of hate symbols in September of last year

SUPERHOT – MIND, CONTROL, DELETE is leaving Early access on July 16th after four years of development, and being given away free to anyone that purchased the original beforehand (free giveaways don’t count, though Kickstarter does)

  • The third game in the franchise, it’s bringing more immersion, more story, more characters, and more gameplay to the original SUPERHOT ‘first person shooter where time only moves when you do’ formula
  • The original is currently 60% off at get.superhotgame.com, so it’s a great time to get into it

Randonautica

  • Choose Your Own Adventure

  • Creepy findings

  • Randonaut Responsibly!

    • #1 Never, ever trespass onto private property.
      • We. Are. SERIOUS. Get as close to the point as you are comfortable without trespassing onto private property. Never enter someone’s backyard without permission. Never enter privately marked wooded or commercial areas. Trespassing onto private property is a direct violation of the user agreement for Randonautica. Owners and law enforcement will see the user as liable for trespassing or damages, not Randonautica. DO NOT TRESPASS.
    • #2 Stay totally clear of dangerous areas.
      • Never go near train tracks, railways or restricted electrical/power zones. Additionally, old structures, houses and buildings should be avoided entirely. The structural integrity could be jeopardized due to deterioration.
    • #3 Only adventure during the day.
      • The human mind is not trained for uncertainty and traveling to a totally randomized set of coordinates requires you to over-observe your surroundings and practice situational awareness. This is much easier to do while it is light outside. Randonauting at night is highly discouraged.
    • #4 Leave the environment better off than when you arrived.
      • Since the very beginning of the Randonaut community we’ve always said, Bring A Trashbag! Not only will you help mother nature by picking up litter, sometimes the trash can have unique and meaningful information to you!
    • #5 Always Randonaut with a charged phone.
      • Be smart and charge your phone or bring a car charger. GPS can drain your battery and you are very likely to be in an unfamiliar area.
    • #6 Keep a positive mindset!
      • What you think, you observe! Negative intentions are HIGHLY discouraged. The Randonautica app was created to bring joy, peace and love to curious explorers all over the world.
    • #7 Go on the journey with a friend or small group.
      • While Randonauting alone is entirely acceptable, beginners should start in a small group or with a friend. Uncertainty of where you are going (the randomness!) can cause a fear factor response and having a buddy helps!
    • #8 Do not venture into areas outside your comfort zone.
      • Only make the trip to areas and places you are comfortable exploring. If you feel unsafe, do not leave your vehicle or retreat from the point. Randonautica does not know anything about the area you live in. Use common sense.
    • #9 Always use common sense when it comes to your personal physical limitations.
      • Sometimes a point might be in an area that is inaccessible without climbing, hiking, etc. Know your limits. Always hydrate and do not overextend yourself.
    • #10 Enjoy the whole journey, not just the point!
      • Get as close to the point as you are comfortable with but know the journey is sometimes the more meaningful experience!

99% Invisible

Freedom House Ambulance Service

Tidbits

  • Twitch has managed to put their collective foot in their mouth twice, first with a video that included the line “The G in LGBTQIA+ also stands for gamer”, and then with a Black Lives Matter video that barely featured any non-white creators
    • Both videos have since been pulled down and Twitch has stated that though their goal was to demonstrate the importance of allyship, they didn’t make it clear.
  • Ireland has launched their contact tracing app this week, taking advantage of the Apple/Google exposure notification API
    • The app downloads a list of anonymous IDs every two hours from those who have tested positive for COVID, letting users get alerts a lot faster than with a manual phone interview system
    • It also have features for those that have tested positive to track their symptoms and how they’re feeling, and for those that aren’t it shows facts and figures for the virus inside Ireland
  • iPhone users have taken to support forums and reddit to report battery drain issues related to the Music app, citing large amounts of background activity even on new devices that haven’t launched the Music app before
    • People have reported things like the app using 95% of their device’s battery across 18 hours of background activity when they weren’t even listening to music
    • The only consistent fix has been to remove the Music app, but for many that’s not really an option
  • Epic Games has launched their new Live Link Face app that lets game developers using the Unreal Engine use their iPhones’ TrueDepth camera for facial motion capture
    • I’ve tried it out and it’s pretty slick from a recording and facial mesh perspective, but to actually see it in action and applying the movements to a 3D model you need to connect it to a computer or full motion capture rig
    • It will definitely open up motion capture prospects to many who wouldn’t otherwise have the tech for it
  • Halo 3 is finally coming to the Master Chief Collection for PC on July 14th, and with it many redditors are excited for all the custom game types they know and love from the Xbox

Homework

 

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