PS2J 325 News – Shadow of Servers

Security PSA: Update your Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software

  • There have been a bunch of new security threats patched recently, open up Reader or Acrobat and go to Help > Check Updates to make sure you have the latest version

Free games

  • PlayStation

    • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (free 4K Cinematic Pack is also available)

      • 2017
      • Assassin’s Creed-style action RPG set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that has you continuing the story from Shadow of Mordor to forge a new ring of power and amass an army to fight Sauron, including an improved nemesis system that has you gathering followers and making lasting enemies
      • It initially had microtransactions and lootboxes, but they were removed about a year later.
      • There’s also a free 4k cinematic pack, and the DLC season pass is 80% off until the 21st
    • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

      • 2017 Metroidvania with some influences from the Soulsborne games, where you traverse an ancient plague-infested kingdom, fighting bosses and unlocking new abilities. It’s got great atmosphere and tight controls, and deaths aren’t overly punishing
      • Voidheart Edition is the 2018 port of the game to PS4 and Xbox One, including the four DLC packs
    • Bugsnax (PS5)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
  • Xbox

    • Aragami: Shadow Edition

      • 2016
      • Action adventure stealth game with solid reviews where you take the role of Aragami, an assassin with supernatural abilities like teleporting between shadows
      • Shadow Edition includes the prequel Nightfall DLC
    • Maid of Sker

      • 2020
      • First person survival horror based on Welsh and British folklore, where it’s 1898 and you’ve been invited by your lover to uncover the mysteries of the Sker Hotel after she notices her family’s strange behaviour
    • Swimsanity

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shooter with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play
    • Lego Indiana Jones

      • 2008
      • Lego-themed action adventure game that loosely follows the first three Indiana Jones films with the same kind of tweaks, humour, and classic drop in/out co-op play that characterizes Lego games
    • Full Spectrum Warrior

      • 2004
      • Squad-based real-time military tactics game where you’re commanding two fireteams to cover eachother and complete objectives
      • It was initially developed to be a simulator for the United States military in an experiment to leverage the original Xbox for training simulations, and then was retrofitted into a retail release with improved graphics and sound
  • Twitch

    • A Knight’s Quest

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game that puts you in the role of Rusty, a clumsy adventurer who accidentally sets about the end of the world. Solve mind-bending puzzles, fight challenging enemies, defeat huge bosses and platform your way through a fantastic open world.
    • Smoke and Sacrifice

      • 2018
      • Open-world narrative-driven RPG with hand-painted graphics that has you playing a mother forced to give up her son, adventuring into a grotesque underworld on a quest that will lead her to a darker truth
    • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and is based on African mythology, it has you playing a prince betrayed by your future brother-in-law and forging alliances to bring him down, with real-time brawler-style combat that has an emphasis on making combos to defeat enemies
    • Victor Vran Overkill Edition

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC release
      • Action RPG resembling a Gothic-fantasy fairy tale where both magic and science have a place in the world, and it’s up to you to help the city of Zagoravia fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin
    • Lethis – Path of Progress

      • 2015
      • Old school 2D city builder set in a Victorian Steampunk universe called Lethis, that has you building and managing cities to provide resources for the inhabitants and make your citizens happy
    • Extreme Exorcism

      • 2015
      • “A paranormal platformer where every move you make comes back to haunt you”
      • 2D pixel platformer that has you jumping around and taking down ghosts with a deadly arsenal from rocket launchers to boomerangs, but at the end of each round a ghost appears and mimics your every move from the round before. The longer you survive the more extreme the game becomes
  • Epic Games

    • Dungeons 3

      • 2017
      • A combination dungeon builder and RTS, you’re tasked with creating an underground dungeon for creatures to live in as well as defending it against invading heroes from the world above. You can also send units out of the dungeon and take over areas of the world map, RTS style

Epic slApple fight

  • Plans are in place to get Fortnite back on iOS and iPadOS using Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service
    • Apparently Nvidia has developed a version of GeForce Now that works in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices, likely similar to what Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming services are aiming to use
  • Though there’s been no official announcement of the Safari launch, if this is true then GeForce Now will be the one and only way to play Fortnite on iPhones and iPads
    • I’d be curious to see what the details of this deal are, if Nvidia is getting the 30% cut now or if they’re just happy with the subscription cost for the service

Apple’s released a bunch of software this week

  • iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 are here with new emoji, wallpapers, bug fixes, and more
    • There’s a fantastic new accessibility feature included specifically for people with impaired vision, and it sounds like an amazing idea
      • The feature is called People Detection, in your accessibility settings under the Magnifier, and it uses augmented reality and machine learning to detect where people and objects are around you
      • Particularly well-suited for the LiDAR sensor in the 12 Pro, it can help blind or low vision users understand their surroundings better, such as knowing how many people are in line at a grocery store or where the end of a subway platform is
        • It can even tell you if you’re within six feet of another person
      • Users can set up a minimum distance for alerts, and receive feedback though vibrations or through their AirPods
        • People Detection is fully compatible with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen-reader tech
      • This seems really useful on the iPhone, but with rumours continuing to mount of eventual AR glasses from Apple this could be a gamechanger for people with vision problems
    • Intercom is here, letting you send and receive messages between HomePods
    • HomePods can now be connected to the Apple TV 4K for wireless surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio
    • Built-in Shazam music recognition can be launched from the Control Center
  • WatchOS 7.1 is out now, with improvements and fixes like notifications if your headphone volume could permanently affect your hearing, and a fix for issues some people were having with their watch not unlocking their Max as expected
    • They’ve also added ECG support for the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • macOS 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is available for download, improving the security of your Mac

Cloud gaming on the Nintendo Switch has come west with two new games for the device

  • Previously the Switch saw games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Resident Evil 7, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playable through the cloud, but only in Japan
    • They were using the Taiwan-based Ubitus GameCloud service so they could run the technically demanding titles on the portable hardware of the Switch
  • Now they’re releasing Control and Hitman 3 on the service as well, this time including the rest of the world in the fun
    • The games need a <100MB install on the Switch, then they stream gameplay to and from the cloud using checkpoint saves in case you lose connectivity
    • Control Ultimate Edition – Cloud Version is out now and includes the base game and the first two expansions, The Foundation and AWE. It also includes the Expeditions end game mode, photo mode, and all of the additional updates since the release of the original.
      • According to early reports, thanks to the cloud infrastructure it can get up to 30fps with ray tracing and 60fps without
    • Hitman 3 – Cloud Version is the conclusion of the World of Assassination Trilogy. The game is expected to be released on Windows PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive in January 2021. No launch date for the Switch version was offered. Expect the final product to include plenty of sandbox locations to explore, and creative ways to bring down your assassination targets.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be losing online features, and thus the access to come achievements, on December 31st

  • The 2014 title will be losing:
    • The Nemesis Forge, which means players won’t be able to transfer their nemeses from Shadow of Mordor to Shadow of War
    • Vendetta missions and leaderboard
    • And WBPay will no longer be available, but the epic runs “Orc Hunter” and “Gravewalker” will automatically be given to all players
  • Those vendetta missions being removed means that there will be some achievements that it’s no longer possible to get, so if you want to 100% Shadow of Mordor you have till the end of the year

Apple has launched a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which had many users hearing static or crackling noises as well as problems with Active Noise Cancellation

  • I experienced this myself multiple times in a row, with replacements thankfully being smooth and relatively painless through the mail
    • The biggest issue I saw was when I had the AirPods in my ears and then anything somewhat loud happened, either me clearing my throat or listening to loud audio
  • The issue may affect AirPods manufactured before October 2020 (so, basically all of them), so if you’re having issues it’s definitely worth reaching out to Apple Support and having them replaced

This Day In Gaming History

October 31 – 1997 – Diddy Kong Racing – N64

  • It’s an island takeover when the evil space wizard, Wizpig, discovers Tiger Island!
    • After the islands prized racetracks become sealed up, Timber Tiger contacts his friend Diddy Kong to help him reclaim the racetracks and save the island before his parents return.
    • Along for the ride are the Kremling spy Krunch, Bumper Badger, Banjo (prior to meeting Kazooie in Banjo-Kazooie), pre-sweary Conker, Tiptup Turtle, and Pipsy Mouse.
  • Diddy Kong Racing is a racing game with similarities to Mario Kart 64, in that you race with a variety of cheery racers while using weapons.
    • However, the similarities end there.
    • DKR includes an adventure mode, which features bosses, an overworld to explore, many hidden secrets, the addition of hovercrafts and planes, and a unique way of racing called the “Silver Coin Challenge”. In this mode, in addition to coming first, you must also find the eight Silver Coins deviously hidden throughout the courses (some in alternate paths).
  • The game also features a strategic method of using weapons.
    • Each colored balloon on the track matches a specific weapon, and collecting the same type of balloon multiple times in a row powers it up (to a maximum of three times).
    • This gives the player the choice of snatching every balloon available and using it immediately, or storing the existing weapon, and using a more powerful version of it later.
  • Up to four players can compete in the races, but in order to play new tracks, they must first be unlocked in the single player game.
    • There are also four battle modes of play – two standard deathmatch maps, a capture-the-flag style battle where you must nab eggs and hatch three of them in your home nest, and another where you must be the first to return ten bananas to your treasure chest (with the limitation of only being able to hold two at any one time).

November 1 – 1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES

  • King K. Rool has stolen Donkey Kong’s banana stash, and Donkey Kong needs your help to get them back.
    • In search of K. Rool, the Kremling horde impedes your progress. Kremlings, crocodile-like creatures, include Kritters (they succumb to a simple jump on the head), Krushas (they are virtually indestructible), and others.
    • There are also other enemies that block your path, such as beavers, snakes, vultures.
    • Leading them are dastardly bosses, including Very Gnawty, Necky, Queen B., and Dumb Drum, and they all bar the way with their own special blend of villainy.
  • Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong: these two primates differ significantly.
    • For example, Donkey Kong is generally stronger; he can destroy most enemies with a single jump and can lift barrels straight over his head to throw them farther.
    • On the other hand, Diddy is faster and not as strong as Donkey; he can run really fast and do cartwheels. Diddy carries barrels in front of him, creating a shield against frontal attacks.
  • The original Super Nintendo game was later released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
    • The Game Boy Color version has an exclusive level (Necky Nutmare) and additional bonus games, Funky’s Fishing and five Crosshair Cranky minigames.
    • There was also the addition of collectible DK sticker packs scattered throughout the levels.
    • These sticker packs could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer.
    • The game also has two more difficulty options that become available after beating the game.
    • Beating the game once lets the player turn off DK barrels and beating the game a second time will let the player turn off checkpoint barrels.
  • The Game Boy Advance version also had additional bonus games.
    • It to has a version of Funky’s Fishing but instead of the crosshair themed games, there is now Candy’s Dance Studio, which hosts six dance games.
    • There is also the additions of a time attack mode called DK Attack, a harder difficulty mode called Hero Mode (can only play as Diddy Kong and the game no longer offers Donkey Kong barrels and checkpoints throughout the levels), and the sticker book idea from the Gameboy Color version was replaced with collecting scrapbook pictures instead.

November 2 – 2001 – Burnout – PS2, Later on Xbox

  • Burnout is an arcade style racing game in the mold of the Test Drive or Need For Speed series.
    • In this game, you are racing on realistic streets with real traffic to contend with.
  • There are 6 courses on which to race, 3 of which are reminiscent of Europe, and 3 from the USA.
    • There are several vehicles to choose from, ranging from compact cars to pickups.
    • However, they are not based on real makes and models.
  • One notable feature of Burnout is the “Burn Meter.”
    • The Burn Meter is a gauge that is filled by performing reckless stunts, like racing into oncoming traffic or power-drifting through corners.
    • Once the Burn Meter is filled, your car gets a super speed boost.
    • If you crash, the Burn Meter is reset and must be filled again to achieve a boost.

November 3 – 2006 – Nacho Libre – Nintendo DS

  • Based on the upcoming feature film starring Jack Black, Nacho Libre offers fans comedic wrestling mayhem–exaggerated moves, wacky props and lots of pratfalls delivered with a unique photo puppetry look.
    • Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him “Nacho”), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage, who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans.
  • Six play modes:
    • Story Mode (single player, tied to the movie plot)
    • Vs. Mode, Team Mode (2 vs. 2)
    • Battle Jam (2-4 player wireless brawls)
    • Quick Match
    • Championship Match (multiplayer only)
  • Wrestle in four different arenas from the movie
    • Play as 20 different luchadors based on characters from the movie.
    • Each has his/her own wrestling moves and special attacks.
    • Take on your opponents with headlocks, grapples, holds and pin moves or create combos for devastating, and comical, results
    • Use the Touch Screen to play eight themed mini games including Nachoball, Footrace, Bee Swat, Bullrun, Cliff Climber, Chariot Jump and more
    • Unique “photo puppetry” art style lends the game a distinctive, humorous look
    • Includes recreated cut scenes from the movie in between the action
    • Unlock bonus material after playing through Story Mode

November 4 – 2010 – Kinect – Xbox 360

  • The origins of the Kinect started around 2005, at a point where technology vendors were starting to develop depth-sensing cameras.
    • Microsoft had been interested in a 3D camera for the Xbox line earlier but because the technology had not been refined, had placed it in the “Boneyard”, a collection of possible technology they could not immediately work on.
  • In 2005, PrimeSense was founded by tech-savvy mathematicians and engineers from Israel to develop the “next big thing” for video games, incorporating cameras that were capable of mapping a human body in front of them and sensing hand motions.
    • They showed off their system at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, the general manager of hardware incubation, saw the potential in PrimeSense’s technology for the Xbox system.
    • Microsoft began discussions with PrimeSense about improvements in the capabilities of depth-sensing cameras, a reduction in size and cost, and a means to manufacturer the units at scale was required.
  • Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, where motion control was the focus.
    • Microsoft felt pressure from the Wii, and began looking into depth-sensing in more detail with PrimeSense’s hardware, but at that time, could not get to the level of motion tracking they desired.
    • Microsoft also looked to create an equivalent of the Wii Remote, but it was discarded as it was still ultimately Microsoft’s goal to remove any device between the player and the Xbox.
  • Nearing the planned release, the problem of widespread testing of Kinect in various room types and different bodies accounting for age, gender, and race among other factors, while keeping the details of the unit confidential. Microsoft engaged in a company-wide program offering employees to take home Kinect units to test them.
    • Microsoft also brought other non-gaming divisions, including its Microsoft Research, Microsoft Windows, and Bing teams to help complete the system.
    • Microsoft established its own large-scale manufacturing facility to bulk product Kinect units and test them.
  • Somewhat recent Kinect news!
    • On May 7, 2018, Microsoft announced a new iteration of Kinect technology designed primarily for enterprise software and artificial intelligence usage.
    • It is designed around the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and is meant to “leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations”.
    • It has a smaller form factor than the Xbox iterations of Kinect, and features a 12-megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth sensor also used on the HoloLens 2, and seven microphones.
    • A development kit was announced in February 2019.

November 5 – 1998 – Hey You, Pikachu! – N64

  • Hey You, Pikachu! is a Pokémon adventure game.
    • The game allows you to speak directly to Pikachu via the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) included with the game, in order to tell Pikachu what to do and help direct the adventures the two of you embark on.
  • The game features 20 different minigames which you and Pikachu play together.
    • Some involve you catching water Pokémon, while another might send you search for ingredients for stew.
    • When the minigame is over, you go back home and sleep, waking up the next day to play another game.
    • As the game progresses more of the features and minigames are unlocked, and Pikachu’s friendship meter will grow.
  • Pikachu will understand around 200 different words or simple phrases like “come here”, “stop that”, and “eat it”. Voice communication is the primary method of interacting with the game, though the analog stick is used for navigation.

November 6 – 2012 – Halo 4 – XBox 360

  • The game sets the stage for a new story in which Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient awakened evil that threatens all life in the universe.
    • The main campaign also heavily explores the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana.
    • Cortana is nearing the end of her life, before devolving into a state called Rampancy in which an AI begins to think itself to death.
    • The campaign features both first-person shooter and driving elements, and can be played either single player or co-cooperatively (either over Xbox Live or split-screen).
    • It features new weapons and an entirely new class of enemy characters called Prometheans.
  • And for some PS2J History
    • We did our first Live episode on Alan’s phone
    • I made the link ps2jshow.com/halo4 for anyone interested in some of our podcasting history

Tidbits

  • Development on Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to an end, with its last patch releasing sometime this month
    • The dedicated multiplayer servers will be shut down, but online play will continue with peer-to-peer hosting
  • The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo is now up on the Switch eShop, and it looks pretty cool
    • It includes the first chapter of the game, and progress will carry over to the full release on November 20th
    • Without getting in to spoilers, they may be settings things up so that the story doesn’t end how we’re all expecting after seeing Breath of the Wild
  • There’s yet another Apple Event going on this year, scheduled for November 10th
    • Titled “One more thing”, there aren’t many clues about its focus but people are expecting AirTags (Apple’s new lost item tracking devices) and new computers with Apple’s fancy custom processors
    • We may also see more information on macOS 11, Big Sur
  • The new Apple One subscription bundles went live this week, offering a few different plans to save money if you subscribe to services like Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage
  • Apple’s also spinning up their new “nutritional labels” for apps, giving people a breakdown on each app’s product page for what data types they may collect, what data may be used to track you, and what data isn’t linked to you at all
  • 2K Games and EA are under fire for misleading info when it comes to NBA2K card packs
    • Apparently one of the players, James Harden, was completely missing from the gatcha packs that he was supposed to be included in for the first 23 minutes of release, and enough whales were trying to get him right away that thousands of dollars were wasted
  • The source code for Watch Dogs Legion has already leaked, leading the way for mods and cracks ahead of its November 10th release
  • Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the case that Apple’s ad tracking blocks will damage economic recovery from COVID-19
    • He specifically pointed the out mandatory notification when an app or website wants to track users, saying that letting people know they can opt out will hurt “small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond”, though I’m guessing this is just a redirect for how hard Facebook itself will be hit by the changes

iPhone 12 Pro mini review

  • The Pacific Blue is very pretty, and makes me want to use my phone without a case
    • The frosted glass back feels very nice, but I worry about drops and scratches
  • The extra RAM (6GB instead of 4GB) is actually noticeable when resuming games
  • The overall performance has been great too, and according to PhoneBuff tests have it out performing the Samsung Note 20 Ultra (that actually has double the RAM)
  • The camera is a huge upgrade over the X, especially night mode
    • It automatically runs long exposures if needed, and if the gyroscope detects it’s attached to a tripod it offers even longer options
  • The extra size isn’t really noticeable
  • Magsafe is slick for chargers, especially if you already use a lot of wireless charging, but from what I’ve seen online accessories like the leather wallet don’t really seem to stick in day-to-day use

Dead by Daylight mini mini review

  • Asynchronous 1v4 slasher game
  • Bit of a cash grab with its DLC, but on GamePass it’s a lot of fun
  • Wraith is my boy!

 

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Horace

      • 2019
      • 2D pixel platformer with a surprisingly long single player narrative that includes puzzles and minigames, touted as a contender for Indie Game of 2019

Things are continuing to heat up between the FBI and Apple over the latest iPhone unlock demands related to the Pensacola shooting have gained more publicity

  • Every time this hits the public eye government institutions and anti-encryption advocates use these examples as reasons for installing backdoors, while at the same time claiming that’s not the exact thing they’re asking for
    • They say they’re not trying to weaken encryption, and that they come up against this problem frequently, but there’s no magic way to let law enforcement in without allowing everyone else to use the same path. Daring Fireball put it really well: “Mathematics doesn’t discern between “good guys” and “bad guys””
    • We’ve even seen classic Trump rant-tweets on the subject, saying ‘they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements’, and the US Attorney General claims that Apple has provided no substantive assistance
    • This is even after they’ve successfully used devices like the GrayKey box we’ve talked about previously to access locked devices regardless of their passcodes, and the phones in question are even older, less-secure models (a 5 and a 7), so it really begs the question why are they so bound and determined to weaken encryption for everyone else
      • The iPhone 5 doesn’t even have the extra encryption hardware, called the Secure Enclave, of newer devices!
  • Law enforcement is even slowly shifting the language from “terrorism” to “pedophiles” in an attempt to work from the moral high-ground
    • It’s not that these aren’t serious crimes, but strong encryption is necessary for personal and national security.
    • Not only that, but law enforcement has other avenues for investigation than eavesdropping on communications and poring through stored devices. There’s a great example where people unravelled a dark-web site and arrested hundreds by analyzing Bitcoin transactions. Or another involving the arrests of members of a WhatsApp group.
      • But then we get people like New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance testifying before Congress with: “In fact, we were never able to view the contents of his phone because of this gift to sex traffickers that came, not from God, but from Apple. As a result, our investigation of sex trafficking was blocked by encryption.”
  • Apple’s stance remains clear- in a statement released this week they’ve said that they responded to each request from the FBI, often within hours, resulting in many gigabytes of information turned over. They’re giving everything they can
    • This hasn’t stopped people from demanding that Apple unlock the iPhone itself, but that just isn’t possible
      • It also doesn’t help that the FBI didn’t even request the device be unlocked until almost a month into the investigation, well after anything other than the full passcode could be used to unlock it
    • By design, if you use a passcode on your iPhone it should keep everything private from everyone. That’s the security and peace of mind that every single person should have.

Players Are Pushing Their Bodies to the Limit Speedrunning Nintendo’s Fitness Game

Article by Patrick Klepek, Published on VICE

  • On December 15, a player in Tokyo, Japan calling themselves Sakinyan turned on their Switch and started playing Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo’s terrific exercise game hybrid from last year.
    • For most people, a session with Ring Fit Adventure lasts somewhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on when you collapse into a pool of sweat.
    • Sakinyan was not engaging in some light exercise, however, but attempting to pull off the first world record run for playing through all of Ring Fit Adventure’s surprisingly long story mode.
  • Ring Fit Adventure asks if you want to stop every few minutes. This staggering feat took Sakinyan a little over 18 hours, nearly a complete day of nonstop exercise.
    • At times, they took a moment to snack. Other times, they sipped water. There was even time for a bathroom break, though so far as I could tell while scrubbing through the speedrun, Sakinyan only headed to the bathroom once during the marathon.
    • And because Ring Fit Adventure can’t take a hint, they’re also forced to tell the game they don’t want to take a break over and over.
  • At 18 hours and 55 seconds, Sakinyan defeated the game’s final boss, walked over to their timer, and clicked stop.
    • After dabbing their face with no doubt a completely soaked t-shirt, they performed a few stretches as the game’s credits rolled. There was no big celebration, no fist pump.
    • Instead, Sakinyan sat on the ground and started scrolling through their phone.
  • Most of us play games in chunks at a time, a few hours at most.
    • Though the term “speedrun” suggests one is going fast, lots of games take a long time to speedrun, requiring dozens of hours of careful and deliberate play.
    • Speedrunning is a test of skill and endurance, and while tapping buttons and analog sticks is physically draining in its own right, it’s hardly on the same level as, say, having to perform a plank over and over again.
  • It’s what makes the slowly growing world of Ring Fit Adventure speedrunning so fascinating. In its early days, it’s not one defined by glitching through in the world in weird ways because no one’s discovered anything like that yet.
    • The only “shortcuts” are to scroll the menus faster—a staple of speedrunning JRPGs—and to manage your stamina.
    • A workout that might be more effective at taking out a group of enemies might be more personally draining, forcing you to take a costly break while your energy returns. It’s a very different way to play.

Indie game dev sees big boost in sales after he uploads it to The Pirate Bay

Article By Andy Chalk, Published on PC Gamer

  • My default position on piracy is that it’s bad and you shouldn’t do it.
    • Entertainment has value, and if you are entertained then you should be willing to pay for it.
    • That said, I also acknowledge that it’s not always a simple, black-and-white situation.
    • Which brings us to the story of Danger Gazers, “a post-apocalyptic roguelite top-down shooter” released earlier this month that saw a big boost in sales after its developer uploaded it to The Pirate Bay.
  • Danger Gazers is $10 on Steam, but if you don’t feel like dropping a tenner, that’s okay too. “This torrent was officially brought to you by ShotX.
    • This is the latest DRM-free version of Danger Gazers (1.1.0), there’s no catch here, no Steam only features, just the fully functional game,” the torrent description says.
    • “As a developer, my only request would be to consider supporting and buying in case you like Danger Gazers and want more indie games in the future.”
  • The developer, Shota Bobokhidze, went deeper into his reasons for sharing the game on TPB last week on Reddit.
    • “There are people who can’t afford the game, some want to play the game before buying, some that never buy games. Just trying to help those people out and make the best of the situation,” he wrote.
    • “There are a lot of ways to show support if you want to without buying the game, such as spreading the word about DG, sharing the torrent, feedback, whatever it is you can come up with. And finally, I hope you have fun and enjoy the game!”
  • The TPB release wasn’t a “planned PR move,” Shota told TorrentFreak, and he didn’t promote it on social media or his studio website, as he wanted to reach out to the pirate community specifically.
    • Nonetheless, the response so far has been “amazing,” There’s also been “a noticeable boost in sales,” which he specified to Polygon as a 400 percent increase in sales over launch day.
    • “And it didn’t stop there, some kind individuals went out of their way to donate more than twice as much (as the $10 purchase price) and I received countless emails from all the people who showed their support,” he said. “I’m thankful that my message was clear and thankful for all the support.”
  • The Steam numbers are still dire: Steam Charts indicates that Danger Gazers’ all-time peak concurrent player count is 7, which isn’t great. But it’s also available (and currently on sale) on Itch.io, which is apparently where supporters ponied up extra cash. (Itch.io enables purchasers to pay more than the list price for games if they want to.)
  • Shota said in his Discord server that he’s also planning on setting up a Patreon so fans can support ShotX’s work more easily.

SpaceX is nearing the next milestone towards sending a human crew up to the International Space Station, by blowing up one of their rockets

  • As part of the safety requirements from NASA, they need run an in-flight abort test to prove that they’re prepared in the case of a rocket malfunction during launch
  • What will happen is partway through the test launch the crew module will fire a set of escape engines and separate from the booster, going off to land in the ocean
  • The Falcon 9 booster will fall back to Earth, being torn apart as it descends into the water
  • It should be a pretty interesting show for anyone watching at 8AM ET on January 18th

 

Overwatch Lunar New Year starts!

The Year of the Rat hits Overwatch from day of recording, January 16th, and goes all the way to February 5th.
The announcement was followed by a clip of the Sombra skin. It is called Face Changer Sombra. She has a headdress an the mask changes periodically. It is based on someone performing Bian Lian, which translated to ‘Face-Changing’, an ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the more general Chinese opera. Performers wear brightly colored costumes and move to quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.
Doomfist’s Epic skin is called Monk, and his Doom Fist is gold with purple highlights. It also has the chinese character, Jingang, which is a Buddhist monastery in Kangding, Sichuan, China. He has a shaved head, white eyes, and his clothes have the style of being held on with bindings.
Winston’s Epic skin is called Ancient Bronze. The metal looks like an old patinaed bronze with Jade decoration in it.
Hammond’s Epic skin is called paper cutting. It looks as if the red paint was cut away to reveal a white floral pattern. Paper-cutting is an old art form that has roots all over the world, but is popular decoration during Chinese New Year.
Brigitte has a Legendary skin called Opera. She appears to be dressed as if she were performing in a Chinese Opera. Her shield is very ornate, with a fine China like border, and a large flower in the center.
Lucio’s Legendary skin is called Samul Nori. Samul nori is a traditional Korean style of music. Samul means for objects, and nori is To Play. It involves performers playing music on: a kkwaenggwari which is small gong; a Jing which is a larger gong;  Janggu which is an hourglass-shaped drum; and a Buk, and a barrel drum similar to the bass drum. This music is commonly played for traditional festivals, which Lucio looks dressed for. And his gun, looks like a drum.
Moira has a Legendary Skin called Mask Dancer. It is in the same vein as Orisa’s skin last year, where they are both Mask Dancer performers. Her belt has a mask look at the buckle. And she wears a red mask that has a yellow fire effect coming from the eyes.
Other event unlocks:
  • Bastion Emote: Kite Flying
    • Bastion flies a rectangular Korean style kite, and it flies away on him
  • Hanzo Emote: Sky Lantern
    • Hanzo pulls out and lights a paper lantern that flies gently into the sky
  • Bastion Victory Pose: Hot Soup
  • Pharah Victory Pose: Lion Mask
  • Torbjorn Vistory Pose: Fire Work
  • And a Junkrat gets a new Highlight Intro: Feast
    • It is Junkrat, suffed full of dumplings, and is a mirror of Road Hog’s Highlight Intro where he eats all the steam buns.
  • And a handful of sprays and voice lines

Jeff Kaplan talked about Role Queue changes they have been testing

On the Overwatch Forums, Jeff dropped a huge comment about changes they have tested internally. These are his words.
  • In early December, we were brainstorming ways to shorten DPS queue times and the idea was proposed to try changing the role queue team composition to be 1 Tank, 3 Damage, and 2 Support.
    • Our matchmaking engineers did some modeling around queue times, expected behaviors etc. and all indications pointed to an overall positive improvement to all queue times under a scenario like that.
  • From a design perspective we were reluctant for a number of reasons. Before implementing 2/2/2 role queue, we had done experiments with the team compositions being 1 Tank, 1 Support and 4 damage.
    • The playtests under a 4-1-1 comp were terrible. The problem was the solo support.
    • As a solo support, you felt unable to keep the rest of the team alive.
    • Added to that, at all times, you had 5 very aggressive players prioritizing you as the target every time.
    • As soon as the support player on one side died, the entire team would fall like a house of cards.
  • So when the idea of trying 3-2-1 came up, we were hesitant because of our poor playtests with 4-1-1. But we did something interesting in December and I am really proud of the team for sticking with it.
  • Internally, for the past two months, we changed the game to be based on 3-2-1 composition.
    • When we queue for our playtests, we only get 1 Tank per team for each match. We decided to “live with it” for December and January because we felt like the easy and natural thing for us all to do, is just say, “hey this is different and here are all the problems with it” and dismiss the system.
    • But by forcing the team to try it out and live with it for so long, it’s challenged us to try to solve some of the problems that have surfaced.
  • And there are a number of challenges.
    • First, there is the issue of what players have come to call “off tanks”. The biggest issues center around D.Va, Zarya and Roadhog. The current playstyle of those tanks (if you’re adhering to various metas that have existed) is to pair them with other “main tanks”.
    • Roadhog is a great example.
      • Is the correct thing to do for Roadhog under that design to try to make him more “main tanky” or is the correct thing to do to simply move him to the Damage role and balance him as a damage character?
      • We’ve tried both in our months of testing.
      • If you were to come and play Roadhog today with us in our 3-2-1 experiment, he’s moved from the Tank to the Damage category, he only has 400 health, Take a Breather only heals and does not do damage reduction and there were a bunch of DPS changes to his scrap gun.
      • Now, don’t freak out. We’re not doing this for 2-2-2… I am only sharing the design experiment that’s going on here. Maybe a better direction for Roadhog under 3-2-1 is some sort of team damage reduction ability?
      • How do you take what is essentially an “off tank” and make him a “main tank”? That is what we would have to explore with any of these tank characters.
      • Since the Tank roster is already one of the more limited character selections, we’re obviously not crazy about removing choice from Tank players. And if our stated goal is to improve queue times, did going to 1 tank actually remove a bunch of otherwise tank players from the queue?
      • Or were some of these “tank” players actually damage players who wanted a faster queue time so they picked Roadhog? Obviously, complicated questions and it is even more complicated to be confident in an answer.
  • The other fear around a 3-2-1 comp is the importance it places on the Tank player.
    • In our playtesting, this has manifested itself in two notable ways.
      • 1) Some players feel a lot of pressure to choose the “correct” tank. If there is only one tank, the team has a very strong opinion about who that tank should be. Another fear around this issue is that metas will be even more limited as players tend to take the “path of least resistance” towards their hero choices. If Reinhardt is deemed meta, do we only see Rein from now on? Are we all mad at our tank player if they play the hamster?
      • 2) Some tank players felt a tremendous anxiety about their performance in the match. They felt like being the lone tank put a lot of pressure on them and if they died, it was a really big deal.
    • Some of our tank/support players who would occasionally play tank stopped playing tank during 3-2-1 and only gravitated toward support because they felt intimidated to be “the main tank” and have so much focus on their play. Conversely, there are a number of main tank players on the team who actually enjoy the added spotlight.
    • Traditionally in video games there are different personas that are attracted to roles in games: Tank, Support, Damage etc. We saw this in WoW and we see it in OW.
    • While these are stereotypes (and you have to be really careful assuming too much here), there are many Tank players who love being the “lone tank” and carrying the team to glory. Watching this play out in our weird, internal experiment has been fascinating.
  • Our support players have given mixed feedback on the experiment as well.
    • On the negative side, people feel bad when the lone tank dies.
    • On the positive side, many support mains have commented that they feel like they have more freedom to focus on other players and not just “try to keep the big bags of hitpoints alive all match”.
    • In general, these matches are more chaotic and (I’ll touch on this later) feel “more FPS-y”.
    • The result is good or bad, depending on the type of player you are. For some of our support players, this makes matches more exciting.
    • EVERYONE is taking a lot more damage under 3-2-1. for some support players, the chaos causes negative anxiety and they prefer just healing tanks.
  • Speaking of Teamplay, one of our testers who did not like the experiment made a comment that he felt like 3-2-1 detracted from teamplay too much.
    • I found this fascinating because in 2013/2014 every decision we made was to embrace/encourage/force teamplay at all costs. We put so much effort into putting the focus on team victory/defeat rather than individual performance.
    • But in 2020, I feel like the over-emphasis on teamplay (while great for hyper competitive players and situations such as OWL), causes a lot of psychological pressure for your average player just looking to blow off steam in a video game.
    • I guess what I am saying is, that in 2020, feeling like you can deviate from teamplay a little bit in OW and have some success feels like a good thing, not a bad thing to me. The other analogy I’ve used (and I know you all hate my sports analogies) is that OW – in it’s current evolved form – feels like a football game (American) to me where every match is 4th down on the goal line.
    • The amount of team synergy and execution required to pull off a victory is exciting… but also a little intense.
    • There is something nice about a more loose/skirmishy version of the game – but again, it’s all opinion and perspective. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and that’s a good thing.

 

Tidbits

  • It sounds like Apple’s latest AirPods Pro firmware has improved audio performance, but at the cost of noise cancelling quality
    • It’s so bad that Apple has since pulled the update, but many users likely already have it installed as the update is automatic with no way to opt out or even be notified
    • If you go to Settings > General > About > AirPods Pro, and see firmware 2C54, then you’re unfortunately already affected and there’s no way to roll back- you’re stuck until Apple releases a fixed version
  • Apple has launched a replacement program for their iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smart Battery Cases
    • Apparently cases manufactured between January and October 2019 are experiencing charging issues, including problems with the case itself charging or it not charging the iPhone properly, so if you’re seeing similar issues you should go to an Apple Store for a free replacement
  • Lawmakers in the EU are debating standardized portable device ports this week, after their relatively weak encouragement toward micro-USB back in 2014
    • This might even be a good time for it as well, with USB-C becoming the de-facto standard for a lot of phones, tablets, and even laptops already
  • Cyberpunk 2077, originally slated to be released on April 16th, has been pushed back to the 17th. Of September.
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement saying the game is playable but needs more testing and polish

Smash Bros Update

  • Smash director Masahiro Sakurai has announced that Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses will be the 5th DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros Ultimate!
  • Both male and female versions will be in the game. Byleth wields 4 weapons from the game including the Sword of the Creator.
  • Byleth comes with the Garreg Mach Monastery stage and several Fire Emblem: Three Houses tracks.

Who is Byleth?

  • Byleth is a playable character and the main protagonist in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
  • As an Avatar, their name, gender, and birthday are customizable.
  • Byleth serves as a professor at Garreg Mach Monastery.
  • They possess the mysterious Crest of Flames and can wield the Sword of the Creator.

With Fighter Pack 2 on the horizon

Who would you love to see in Smash Ultimate?
Both realistically and fantasy?

 

 

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