Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Academy: First Riddle

      • 2020
      • Adventure puzzle game along the lines of the Professor Layton series, with modernized Harry Potter style aesthetics
  • Epic Games

    • Sunless Sea

      • 2015
      • Survival / exploration RPG with roguelike elements that has you piloting an underwater steamship as a captain whose background, ambitions, and victory conditions are customizable, but you have to contend with procedurally generated maps and permadeath
  • Bonus round: Sony’s announced the return of their Play At Home program, kicking off four months of Playstation offers on March 1st

    • First introduced last April when they gave away Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey to everyone, not just PS+ members
    • This time around we’ll see Ratchet and Clank (PS4) for free during the month of March
      • 2016
      • Reimagining of the original PS2 game, a third person science fiction action adventure shooter with a lot of weird, over the top weapons, solid writing, and great gameplay
    • And then on March 25th they’ll be offering an extended free trial of the Funimation and Wakanim anime streaming services
    • Those are just the first couple of perks, so we’ll make sure to give you updates as we see them

Australia’s working on a law that would require any site linking to a news publication to pay for the privilege

  • Going pretty hard against the principles of the open internet, from what I understand the proposed law would require sites like Google and Facebook to pay news sites for the ability to host links to them
    • Keep in mind, this is just linking. Google’s AMP pages and other ways of getting around ad revenue aside, vanilla links are the backbone of the internet
  • The most bonkers part of this law is that news sites could create their own Facebook pages, link to their news sites, and then charge Facebook for the link
  • I can’t imagine this law getting passed in its current form, but Google has already started making deals to pay for the links and though Facebook initially fought back (yay Facebook, is a phrase I never thought I’d say), they walked their position back and started quietly making deals too

There’s a proposed class action lawsuit in play alleging that Google lied about Stadia’s capabilities in order to lock in subscribers

  • The suit claims that, when it was first announced in 2019 Google, Bungie, and id Software misled gamers by claiming that the cloud-based gaming service was more powerful than the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro combined, and that every game on Stadia would be playable at 4k resolutions
  • Directly prior to launch Google apparently quietly walked back those claims, particularly for people with slower internet connections
    • Apparently there was even a Twitter announcement about Red Dead Redemption 2 specifying that users didn’t need high speed internet for 4k/60fps, which was later deleted
    • The suit says that because of the earlier inflated specs Google was able to lock in a large customer base through preorders for its subscription service, essentially hooking gamers into being beta testers before the later free release in 2020
  • The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for current and former Stadia subscribers, as well as a court order requiring Google to publicly display the resolution and FPS of each game they sell on Stadia

Sony’s announced some details on their next-generation VR headset, and it sounds pretty slick

  • They’ll be bringing features from their excellent DualSense controller to the new motion controllers
  • It will apparently connect to the PS5 using a single cord
  • They say it will have an enhanced field of view, tracking, input, and resolution
  • But it won’t be out any time this year
  • My thoughts
    • Haptic triggers would be really cool in VR, and better tracking would be a godsend for the platform after they used the old PS3 technology in the first gen, but the freedom of wireless VR is a hard perk to give up. They’re going to have to work hard to make it worthwhile

Everyone hoping for Anthem to join the ranks of No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV and rise from its ashes can now stop holding their breath- it’s officially cancelled

  • Bioware released a statement this week letting everyone know that they’ve stopped development work on Anthem NEXT, citing the additional pressures of 2020 impacting their productivity and preventing them from doing everything they had planned
    • Honestly though, it just seems like they bit off more than they could chew and they’re cutting their losses on Anthem. It had a ton of potential, but I’m sure their other titles are just a higher priority based on the amount of money they can pull in.
  • Anthem’s current live service is still up and running, but the improvements that have been teased won’t be released to the general public while the developers focus instead on the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles

This Week In Gaming History

February 20 – 2003 – Train Tracking – Windows

  • Train Tracking is a game about one of Britain’s more bizarre past-times, Trainspotting.
    • You start the game with only an overhead view of the station and a list of serial numbers.
    • The point of the game is to check them off as the matching train passes through.
    • For each Day (Day is the name for a level in this game, there’s totally 29) you play the number of serials and tracks to view increase.
    • There is a time limit for this and if you fail three times it’s game over.
  • There’s over 2500 random train stations, with five settings (Country, Town and City Stations, Industrial Depots and Express Bonus Rounds) meaning that each round will different from the other.
    • The game has the typical British weather condition of rain, snow and lightning.

February 21 – 2017 – Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One, Windows

  • Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game based on the Halo universe and it is the sequel to the 2009 Halo Wars.
    • Players use Spartans, Warthogs and other classic Halo units in order to battle the enemy.
    • A single-player campaign and online multiplayer battles are available.
    • The campaign consists of twelve missions and can also be played cooperatively.
    • Typical mission objectives include surviving waves of enemies, defending structuring and capturing specific targets.
    • There are also various side objectives.
    • Many missions involve leading Spartan supersoldier units as well.
  • The game once again relies on two factions and is now set in the year 2559.
    • On the one hand there is the human faction United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and on the other a new alien faction called the Banished, replacing the Covenant from the first game.
    • Both factions have leader units with special abilities tied to a cooldown period.
    • These abilities can mass heal or do a lot of damage in a short time.
    • In multiplayer there are multiple game modes for up to six players online or bots.

February 22 – 1996 – Johnny Bazookatone – PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 3DO, DOS

  • The original guitar hero with the Elvis attitude and purple hair pompadour, Johnny Bazookatone, has been imprisoned in the year 2050 in Sin Sin Prison by El Diablo, the Lord of the Underworld, who is jealous of his talent and kidnaps other musical legends as well in this 3D side-scrolling platformer.
    • Johnny’s guitar Anita has been taken from him and he sets out to escape and vanquish foes on his way to be reunited with Anita.
  • He can perform moves such as 360-degree spin jumps, and hover jumps among others, while using his bazooka guitar as a weapon.
    • When powered up, it can emit a special sonic blast that fries anything within hearing range.
    • As you make your way through the demonic levels such as Hotel Demonique, Hell’s Kitchen, and Mr. Diablo’s fiery Penthouse, you can acquire more weapons, power-ups and find secret passages that lead to bonus levels.
    • The game’s soundtrack includes the title track contributed by Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and Tico Torres.

February 23 – 1995 – Mario’s Game Gallery – DOS, Macintosh, Windows

  • The game is a collection of board games, in which you play with Mario.
    • The Mario, of Super Mario fame.
    • He talks to you, playing Checkers, Go Fish, Dominoes, Backgammon, Yacht.
    • Most of games can be played for Yoshis or Koopas – tribes of animals.

February 24 – 2015 – Dragon Ball: Xenoverse – PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE revisits famous battles from the series through your custom Avatar, who fights alongside Trunks and many other characters.
    • Will the strength of this partnership be enough to intervene in fights and restore the Dragon Ball timeline we know?
    • New features include the mysterious Toki Toki City, new gameplay mechanics, new character animations and many other amazing features to be unveiled soon!

February 25 – 2002 – Circus Maximus – PS2, Xbox

  • Circus Maximus is a racing game that takes place in ancient Rome, and as such you’ll be racing chariots around various tracks, including the famed Colliseum.
  • You’ll be in control of both the driver and your partner, the warrior, whose job is to attack the other racers to make them fall over.
  • Chariots are controlled by whipping horses and trying to balance an on-screen meter that keeps your chariot balanced while taking turns fast.
  • There are four different race modes available; Training, which gives you the basics on how to play, Arcade, which is your standard race, Multiplayer, which lets you face off against three friends (or foes), and Career, which tracks your progress over a period of time.
  • There are seven different environments and 19 tracks, all set throughout the Roman Empire.
  • Each course is littered with obstacles, power ups, weapons, and special moves, designed to give you an edge in combat.

February 26 – 2008 – Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Winston Churchill was struck by a taxicab in 1931.
    • What if he had died and without his leadership, Britain fell to the Nazis along with the rest of Europe?
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is an alternate-history first-person shooter in which the player takes the role of a New York construction worker named Dan Carson in 1953, when the German Reich invades and occupies the American East Coast.
    • He joins the National Guard troops trying to put up a defensive perimeter around subway and railway systems so civilians can escape.
  • Many advanced WWII weapons appear, including some that were under research, and some that never appeared.
    • There are super-heavy tanks such as the Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus and Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte, and also the Nachteule troop-transport zeppelin, the Flugzeugträger aircraft-carrier zeppelin, as well as various advanced jet fighters and bombers, all used by the German invasion force.
    • Multiplayer is available in standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes on 4 maps, with Nazi soldiers versus the American Resistance to a maximum of 8 players.

Tidbits

  • No Man’s Sky: Companions is yet another free update for the game, bringing us the ability to adopt, train, and breed creatures, on top of improvements to the UI and load times
  • Google’s finally started updating their iOS apps, updating the App Store listings with the new required privacy information
    • There aren’t any real surprises, but when you see in writing that your email client is gathering information about your purchases and location I can see people starting to look for alternatives
  • CD Projekt Red has officially delayed the release of the anticipated patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077, after the cyber attack we reported on a couple weeks ago wreaked havoc on their infrastructure
    • The patch, set to include numerous fixes and quality improvements, is now being aimed at the second half of March

Mini-review

  • If you’re not watching WandaVision already, you should be
    • Starring Scarlet Witch and Vision from the MCU
  • Completely unexpected but the pilot was charming and the plot got its hooks into me early
  • If you like the MCU at all you need to be watching

 

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PS2J 328 News – Year in Review

This is our last episode of the year before we take our traditional December vacation, but we’ll be running feed drops through to the end of the year of some other great episodes from the Alberta Podcast Network. Hope you enjoy them, have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in January!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Battlefield 3 (on Origin)

      • 2011
      • First person military shooter set during the fictional War of 2014, taking place in the Iran-Iraq region, with missions framed as flashbacks during your interrogation
    • HyperDot

      • 2020
      • Minimalist action arcade bullet hell with one rule- dodge everything
    • The Spectrum Retreat

      • 2018
      • First person narrative driven puzzle game set in the near future that has you exploring the peaceful yet unsettling Penrose Hotel, trying to unearth the truth
    • Wizard of Legend

      • 2018
      • Indie top down 2D roguelike where players take control of a wizard travelling a procedurally generated dungeon, killing monsters and collecting spells to become the Wizard of Legend
    • Lost Horizon

      • 2010
      • Historical point and click adventure game in 1936 where you have to travel the world protecting powerful relics while staying one step ahead of the Third Reich
    • Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

      • 2019
      • Turn-based strategy game in a futuristic cold war where you have to run an intelligence agency to secure control of the singularity
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Indie strategy and management sim inspired by the 19th century oil rush, that has you drilling for oil to become North America’s next big entrepreneur
    • Close to the Sun

      • 2019
      • First person horror adventure game set in an alternate 1897 that has the journalist Rose Archer setting out to save her sister
  • Epic Games

    • Cave Story+

      • The enhanced 2011 release of the 2004 title
      • Metroidvania style game that has you playing Quote, a robot who has suffered amnesia and must blast his way through cavernous areas to find his backstory. Often considered the quintessential indie game because of its one-man dev team and influence on gaming

2020 year in review

  • 290 free games across PC, Xbox, and Playstation platforms
    • Some highlights I’ve personally enjoyed are:
      • Gato Roboto (Xbox) – Streamlined Metroid-style game where you play a cat in an armoured mech trying to save your stranded captain and his crashed ship
      • Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation) – Gorgeous remake of the action adventure game that has you taking down a series of monolithic enemies
      • A Short Hike (PC) – One part Animal Crossing and one part Breath of the Wild, it’s a small exploration game that has you exploring an island and (eventually) climbing a mountain
      • The Stanley Parable (PC) – An exploration game with many endings, that starts with you exploring an office building and going along with the narrator, then can get pretty surreal
      • Hollow Knight (PlayStation) – Metroidvania by way of Soulsborne, with tight controls and a nice art style
  • January

    • Quibi was introduced at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but unfortunately its dynamic portrait/landscape video player couldn’t keep it afloat among so many other streaming services and it was shut down in October
    • The Xbox Series X was unveiled, the PS5’s logo was shown off, and the FBI kept trying to convince the world that encryption is bad because the only way to stop a bad guy with a lock is a (hopefully) good guy with omniscient, unblinking access to everyone’s data
    • CD Projekt Red pushed back Cyberpunk 2077 for the first time, saying it’s done but just needs more polish
      • Despite that and even though they went ahead with crunch time development, it was delayed two more times but should hopefully be here in another week
  • Feburary

    • Simon Weckert managed to simulate a traffic jam in Google Maps by carting a wagon with 99 smartphones around, causing vehicles using the service to avoid his route
    • E-cigarette maker Juul was sued for predatory advertising, including ads on sites like Cartoon Network and Nick Jr
    • Bioware announced that they would halt Anthem’s seasonal updates in favour of an overhaul, and if they pull it off we could see another No Man’s Sky style rebirth
    • Sonic the Hedgehog achieved the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie at $57M in the US, dethroning Detective Pikachu’s $54M
  • March

    • Apple settled with the US class action lawsuit regarding performance throttling on devices with older batteries
    • A Nintendo PlayStation prototype, the planned CD system for the Super Nintendo, sold at auction for $380,000
    • allthestreams.fm launched in a weird experiment, playing content from the six major streaming services but not letting you choose what each of them played
      • The site is still up, but all the streams have been replaced with the old VHS FBI warning
  • April

    • Zoom’s video conferencing app had a lot of shady practices come to light, including Facebook data harvesting, bypassing normal installation procedures on Mac, not properly encrypting chats, and exposing thousands of videos online thanks to easily-predicted file names
    • The Internet Archive shifted its online Open Library to allow two-week book checkouts of any ebooks, regardless of how many copies were purchased by the library or how many are checked out
    • Sony’s DualSense controllers were first unveiled, and it turns out the haptics and triggers are even nicer to use than we were expecting
    • Apple and Google first announced their joint exposure notification effort to make reliable, meaningful contact tracing easier for the COVID-19 pandemic. This has seen decent adoption, but some jurisdictions are still adamant on using their own home-rolled solutions regardless of efficacy or efficiency
  • May

    • We started to see spam and phishing attacks related to fake COVID exposure notifications, cementing why it’s important to have this kind of thing standardized
    • Wink, a smart home hub manufacturer went from a buy-once system to a subscription model requiring $5/month or your smart home would no longer work with less than a month’s notice
      • Based on the winkhub subreddit, this marked the beginning of the end and had many users migrate to alternatives that don’t rely on the cloud
    • Reports found a new piece of keylogging malware used by law enforcement to trick people into revealing their phone passcode, hidden behind nondisclosure agreements and protective orders
    • Conspiracy theorists began attacking 5G cell phone towers under the impression that the new frequency was somehow causing the coronavirus outbreak
  • June

    • George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who spent almost nine minutes kneeling on Floyd’s neck asphyxiating him while Floyd did not resist, sparking protests and reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement
      • We can’t forget how law enforcement evolved from oppressive practices in white societies, be it union busting, slave catching, or the relocation and elimination of indigenous people, and we need to do better
      • The tech world tried to show respect by delaying events, posting supportive messages, making donations, and even shutting down online services during the memorial
      • There has also been a push to include underrepresented and marginalized people in corporate leadership, with the SEC considering regulations forcing diversity
      • And Juneteenth has become a more widely recognized holiday milestone in the US, celebrating the federal order declaring that all slaves were to be set free and marking a true independence day for the country
    • Star Citizen became the most expensive game in history, reaching $350M invested and still no release date in sight
    • And we got our first taste of Apple’s new processors, which have since proven to be a radical jump in computing
  • July

    • A reboot of the cult classic series Clone High was announced, but we still have yet to hear many details about what it will look like
    • Nintendo’s president officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues
    • Apple’s iOS 14 beta began highlighting just how common it was for apps to access your phone’s copy/pasted data without permission, or even use your camera and microphone when you’re not expecting it, leading to many updates and “fixes”
    • High profile Twitter accounts were hacked as part of a bitcoin scam, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and Apple
  • August

    • Trump first announced his planned TikTok ban / forced sale, citing security concerns, which has been pretty messy with the US and Chinese governments trying to affect who it’s sold to and if the sale will even go through
      • The original deadline was September 15th, but there’s still no end in sight
    • Epic threw down the gauntlet, violating Apple’s App Store guidelines with the iOS version of Fortnite in a seemingly calculated move to look like the little guys getting smacked down but really it looks like they just got greedy and wanted to stop paying the industry-standard 30% on in-app purchases
      • Their lawsuit against Apple for removing the game from the App Store is slated to move forward in the Spring, but with Apple recently announcing that developers making <$1M a year only need to pay 15% their case doesn’t look good
    • Republicans in the US tried yet again to pass laws against proper digital encryption, trying to make the case for adding backdoors that magically only good guys can use
  • September

    • Microsoft and Sony released all the details on their new consoles, with Xbox All Access looking like a solid choice for a good console with no money down, and the PS5 Digital Edition competing with the Series S on Price but the Series X on performance
    • Apple announced that they were delaying the cross app tracking prevention features originally slated to be part of iOS 14, much to the relief of advertising companies like Facebook and Google, but we should be seeing them early next year
    • Facebook announced the Oculus Quest 2, a very, very shiny piece of hardware luring many into the clutches of the social network
      • There’s a reason it’s the cheapest VR out there
    • Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media for $7.5B, one of the largest purchases in gaming history, and brought a whole slew of IP under their control, including everything from id and Bethesda
  • October

    • Google announced a new standalone ChromeCast model that doesn’t need your phone to control it, but were suspiciously silent about Stadia support
    • The quintessential Facebook game, FarmVille, announced that they would be shutting down at the end of 2020
    • LA Comic Con announced that they would be hosting their full in-person event in December, but then two weeks later completely cancelled any events for 2020
    • The UK started closing the loophole in their distracted driving laws that allowed people to play mobile games or record video while driving
    • NASA announced plans to install a 4G cellular network on the Moon
  • November

    • Cloud gaming on the Switch came to North America, with triple-A titles Control and Hitman 3 announced for the console through a <100MB download
    • Google revamped their Google Pay app, highlighting peer-to-peer payments, and including a bunch of data-scraping features if you want it to show nearby deals and discounts
    • The UK set up a ban on misleading mobile game ads, like those pull-the-pin ones that don’t actually show the real gameplay of the app
And hey.com gave us all the ability to email a literal dumpster fire

A comment on YouTube summed up what happened since Cyberpunks announcement

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – Teaser Trailer
    • 10 Jan 2013
  • Fiii Rahman 3 weeks ago (edited)
  • Things that have happened since Cyberpunk was announced:
    • 2 Resident Evil Remakes
    • 2 The Last of Us
    • 2 Rockstar open world games
    • 2 Dark Souls
    • 3 Gears of War
    • 11 Call of Duty’s
    • 9 Assassins Creeds
    • 2 God of wars
    • 3 Miyazaki games
    • 2 Uncharteds
    • 2 Devil May Crys
    • 3 Watch Dogs
    • 2 games and 1 Kojima demo
    • 2 Nomura games
    • 1 The Last Guardian
    • Announcement that Final Fantasy Versus 13 became FFXV and launch
    • Baldurs Gate 3 launched
    • Diablo 4 has been announced
    • Kingdoms hearts and a prologue
    • Announcement and launch of Shenmue 3
    • Announcement and launch of FF VII Remake
    • 2 Fallouts
    • 4 Battlefields
    • Ouya was born and died
    • 2 World Cups
    • 1 entire Star Wars trilogy
    • Crash came back with a remastered trilogy, won a racing spin off and a mainline sequel.
    • 6 Yakuzas
    • 5 JOJO animations
    • 2 Popes
    • 2 Spider-man reboots in theaters
    • 3 Avengers movies
    • Death of the Wii U and birth of the Switch
    • Launch of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
    • Xbox One and Xbox Series launch
    • Stadia’s birth and his future death
    • Shingeki no Kyojin was in its first season and now Cyberpunk will launch 3 days after its last season
    • Skyrim in the Fridge

This Week in Gaming History

November 28 – 2005 – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time – Nintendo DS

  • The famous Mario Brothers return in this sequel to the humorous Superstar Saga. In this adventure, Princess Peach takes a trip in a time machine, but when it returns, there’s only a monster inside!
    • The heroic brothers travel back in time only to discover that evil alien life forms known as the Shroobs have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and no-one is safe!
    • They soon meet up with their younger selves, and set out to stop the alien menace, not to mention rescue the Princess!
  • Although the game has turn-based battles, it follows the tradition of the previous Mario RPG games, in that button commands can be pressed during battle to increase your attack, defend, and counterattack, to give the impression of a more interactive battle.
  • Battling can also become quite hectic, as players now have to control the each of the four brothers with the four different face buttons.
    • This can make for some very tricky situations when using special power-ups that randomize the brothers’ turns.

November 29 – 1975 – Square – Mainframe

  • Square is a game for two players. Players take turns claiming free points in a grid.
  • The first player to have four points that together make a square wins the game.
  • The game allows for multiple grid sizes and an expert mode where the centre position is unavailable to both players.

November 30 – 2010 – Disney Epic Mickey – Wii

  • Disney Epic Mickey is an action-adventure platforming game for the Wii console that sends Mickey Mouse on an epic journey of creativity and discovery.
    • As Mickey, the player is propelled into Wasteland, an alternate world made up of Disney’s long forgotten characters and attractions, and is given the power to wield paint and paint thinner to dynamically change the world while determining Mickey’s path to becoming an epic hero.
  • Features:
    • Use paint and paint thinner to change the world, interact with friends and enemies and solve challenges
    • Choose the best path to become an epic hero because “Playstyle Matters” and choices will change the outcome of the game
    • Explore and solve challenges in an alternate Disney world ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star
    • Travel between lands in Wasteland through classic platforming levels inspired by animated films and shorts
    • Experience an innovative mix of platforming, action-adventure and light role playing game elements
    • Collect over 75 virtual Disney pins in the game by completing specific challenges, quests and discovering hidden collectibles
  • Josh says:
    • “This game was released right when the rights to a bunch of Disney properties were about to enter public domain. And the new original use of these characters put a reset on everything going free. Disney may have the lawyers to keep him theirs though”

December 1 – 1995 – Virtual Boy Wario Land – Virtual Boy

  • On a vacation in the Awazon river, Wario stumbles across a hidden cave filled with treasure.
    • Of course, being Wario, he wants it all to himself.
    • But the treasure is guarded and soon he finds himself deep within the Earth as the floor crumbles underneath his feet.
    • Now Wario must find his way back to the surface, all the while collecting the treasure he believes rightly belongs to him.
  • This 3D style platform game, following the tradition of the Mario and Wario platform games of the Game Boy, will have you using Wario’s unique abilities (butt stomping for one) to crash his way through the earth to the surface.
    • His other abilities depend upon the hard hat he wears, and different ones are available that can come as an advantage.

December 2 – 2001 – Super Smash Bros.: Melee – GameCube

  • The hit sequel to the N64 smash hit party fighting game.
    • Made such an impact, people still play it as their preferred Smash Bros.
  • The game is a Nintendo fighting game with different rules to it. Instead of knocking your opponent’s health down, you knock him or her out of the battle field.
    • You choose from the wealth of Nintendo characters like Mario, Bowser, Yoshi, different Pokémon, and even Link and then either fight through the single-player portion, featuring modes like Classic, Adventure, and Event Mode or battle it out with your friends in a four-player frenzy.
    • More characters and stages are unlocked as hidden objectives are met, and coins rewarded for playing in all modes can be spent on a capsule toy machine.
    • The toys in the machine represent games from Nintendo’s entire video game history, and each can be viewed in 3D with a brief description.
    • Also, with the simplified fighting controls, it’s pretty easy for even your non-gaming friends to just pick-up and play.
  • Default characters
    • Mario
    • Donkey Kong
    • Link
    • Samus Aran
    • Yoshi
    • Kirby
    • Fox McCloud
    • Pikachu
    • Ness
    • Captain Falcon
    • Bowser
    • Princess Peach
    • Ice Climbers
    • Princess Zelda
    • Sheik
  • Unlockable characters
    • Luigi
    • Jigglypuff
    • Mewtwo
    • Marth
    • Mr. Game & Watch
    • Dr. Mario
    • Ganondorf
    • Falco Lombardi
    • Young Link
    • Pichu
    • Roy

December 3 – 1996 – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – N64, Windows

  • Set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire tells the story of Prince Xizor’s quest to replace Darth Vader as the leader of the Sith, and wipe out the Rebels’ chances of victory.
    • The only man that can stop him is the interstellar bounty hunter Dash Rendar.
    • The game is based on the novel of the same name, with locations including ice planet Hoth, Mos Eisley and the sewers of Imperial City, all in full 3D.
  • Levels each have very different objectives, ranging from piloting snowspeeders on Hoth and racing speeder bikes on Tatooine to shooting stormtroopers and droids on foot throughout the galaxy.
    • Dash primarily uses a blaster with unlimited ammo, but can also find more powerful weapons with limited ammunition.
    • Each level has optional “challenge points” that are hidden throughout the level, and finding all of them will unlock a cheat dependent on which difficulty setting the save file is on.

December 4 – 2008 – Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars – Wii

  • In Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is a 3D platform game.
    • After a comet passes Earth, narrowly missing it, but leaving a trail of green dust that enters earth’s atmosphere.
    • The dust causes plants and fungi to become sentient and forming tribes in order to survive the harsh human world.
  • After a period of peace however, a war begins between four mushrooms tribes, the Boletes, Amanitas, Leopiota and the Morels.
    • The player takes control of a Bolete Mushroom named Pax who travels out into the giant human world in order to find a new meteorite for a mushroom village who’s meteorite he absorbed, but soon realizes there is more at stake.
  • The gameplay includes a platforming, exploring levels, defeating enemies, complete certain objectives and collect normal household items.
    • Some of these Items can be fashioned into weapons, while others like the green meteorite chunks make the player stronger.
    • Along the way Players must also avoid obstacles and defeat smaller and boss enemies such as insects, animals and other mushrooms that can easily crush and kill the character.
    • A telekinetic ability can be used to pick up items and throw them at enemies or to activate switches.
    • The game can also be played in co-op mode and a number of mini games is included under options.
  • Josh says:
    • “I remember this game getting advertised really hard, like it was the next big franchise.”

December 5 – 2006 – Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – PSP

  • The two previous Metal Gear Solid games for PSP, were not the MGS experience people expected like in this game.
    • Portable Ops was the tactical espionage action, people wanted
    • While Ac!d was a turnbased card strategy game
  • It’s been six years since the events in Snake Eater.
    • Snake has been captured and imprisoned in an abandoned missile silo in Colombia, and with no support this time. At least, not at first.
    • With the help of a fellow prisoner, Snake escapes and the game truly begins.
  • Portable Ops is a classic Metal Gear game in almost every sense.
    • The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played previous console entries in the series.
    • Snake can peek around corners, sneak up behind guards… they even carried over CQC (Close Quarters Combat) from Snake Eater.
  • Gathering supplies is also essential due to the main new mechanic found in Portable Ops: recruiting.
    • While Snake starts out on his own, he can enlist disgruntled guards, frustrated technicians, stubborn doctors and more.
    • These soldiers can be used in your “Sneaking Unit” (the team you take into battle for each mission), or in one of the many support units, with certain soldiers having a more natural talent for certain areas.
    • If you put someone who has medical bonuses in your Medical unit, they can produce rations, help your troops recover faster between missions and more.
    • Technicians can create new items for your team, and Spies can steal ammo and give you intel on specific maps, which can open up new side missions or allow you to grab some heavy weaponry.
  • Missions themselves range from recon to rescue to demolitions and beyond.
    • You can only take four troops into a mission, and usually one of them has to be Snake.
    • However, you don’t have to always use Snake during the mission, he just has to be present.
    • You can only control one character at a time, while the rest of the team hides safely inside boxes (usually right by the entry point).
    • On the field, the soldier you use can make a big difference.
    • Many times you can totally bypass a building’s defenses just by playing as a guard.
    • If you do not do anything to draw attention to yourself, you can oftentimes walk right past the enemy, plant some TNT, and walk away.
  • The game supports multiplayer for up to six player simultaneously, over WiFi Ad Hoc and Infrastructure, with game modes such as Team Death Match, Death Match and Capture Mission.

Tidbits

  • With so many shopping online this year, apparently it’s reached the point where UPS told its drivers to stop picking up packages at some major retailers including Nike and the Gap to maintain performance standards
    • Amazon is even offering small rebates on some products if you select a “No-Rush Shipping” option, to reduce strain
  • Reuters is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy Note series may be discontinued as early as next year, with styluses coming to the S21 and next foldable phone instead
  • More than 8.5 months later, Doom Eternal is finally launching on the Switch next week
    • It will be a 19GB digital-only release, and if you get it before December 23rd it includes the early purchase bonus Rip & Tear Pack, as well as a playable copy of Doom 64

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PS2J 322 News – Anarchy! Only If I Run It

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Kona

      • 2017
      • Adventure game set in the 1970 centred around a private investigator who arrives at a snowy town in northern Quebec only to find it deserted, except for some thing that’s lurking
    • Deadlight: Director’s Cut (previously free in October 2019)

      • 2016 rerelease of the 2012 title
      • Side-scrolling cinematic platforming survival horror game that has you attempting to traverse a zombie-infested Seattle to rejoin your family
  • Epic Games

    • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

      • 2016
      • Survival horror game originally meant to be a mod of The Dark Descent, it instead became an indirect sequel set in the same universe with a new cast and in a new time. It has you exploring eerie locations and solving puzzles while trying to maintain a grip on your own sanity
      • Amnesia: Rebirth is out on October 20th
    • Kingdom: New Lands (previously free in June 2019)

      • 2016
      • 2D pixel survival game that has you playing as a shipwrecked monarch trying to establish a long-lasting kingdom while being attacked by otherworldly monsters
  • Sega

    • As part of their 60th anniversary they’re giving away NiGHTS into Dreams if you sign up for their newsletter on sega60th.com
      • 1996
      • Action game that has you flying through a fever-dream acid trip to stop the evil ruler Wizeman from destroying the dream world and consequently the real world too
      • The development team conducted research on dreaming and REM sleep, and was influenced by Freud and Jung
      • The HD remaster is playable on Steam, and even includes the original Sega Saturn version

Apple: Hi Speed

  • HomePod Mini
    • Little ball with a flat touch surface on top
    • Lots of fancy tech to support better audio in a smaller package
      • It’ll also automatically keep in sync with other HomePods and play stereo audio if two are in the same room
    • Siri has voice recognition to personalize responses according to who’s asking
    • New Intercom features let you send messages to HomePods in other rooms
    • $99 USD, preorder on November 6 and ships on November 16
  • iPhone
    • 5G is here, for what that’s worth with the infrastructure not fully rolled out
      • We also get Smart Data Mode, so if you don’t need the 5G speed it saves battery by switching back to 4G
      • Unfortunately mmWave 5G, the tech that they were really talking up with Verizon on stage, isn’t available outside of the US so we just get sub-6GHz 5G (a boost over the old 4G LTE and with better range than mmWave, but not as fast)
    • iPhone 12
      • Design is similar to the iPhone 5, or the iPad Pro, with flat edges and curved corners
      • Same screen size as the iPhone 11, but still 15% smaller and 11% thinner
      • Screens are made of a new ceramic shield material to improve toughness (4x better drop performance)
      • Blazing new A14 Bionic processor that enables console-quality games
        • Showed off League of Legends: Wild Rift quickly, which could become the next Fortnite if Epic doesn’t get their situation sorted
      • Better camera lenses, and improved computational photography
      • MagSafe is back (kind of)
        • Similar to the Apple Watch, the iPhone now has a magnet array in its back to automatically line up with supported wireless chargers and cases
      • They’re now no longer including wired headphones or power adaptors with new iPhones, ostensibly to reduce waste and minimize packaging
        • Apparently the changes cut the equivalent of 450,000 cars worth of carbon emissions annually
        • Unfortunately the phones are coming with Lightning to USBC cables, whereas most people probably have a ton of USBA bricks laying around
        • On the plus side, the wall adapters and EarPods both went down by about $10 each
    • iPhone 12 Mini
      • Smaller and lighter than the iPhone 8, but with a bigger screen and all the same features as the full-sized 12
      • Reportedly the smallest, thinnest, lightest 5G phone in the world
      • Mini starts at $699USD $979CAD, 12 starts at $799USD $1129CAD
      • One big asterisk on those prices, in the United States at least, is that those prices are if you buy the phone through AT&T or Verizon. Any other carrier, or an unlocked phone direct from Apple, costs $30 more
    • iPhone 12 Pro
      • Stainless steel edge instead of aluminum
      • 6.1” Pro, 6.7” Pro Max (slightly bigger screen than the 11 Pro Max)
      • Even better cameras than the 12, with an additional telephoto lens
      • They’ve combined RAW photo formats with their special sauce to make Apple ProRAW, which can be edited directly in Photos and other pro tools
      • First phone camera to record in Dolby Vision HDR
      • LiDAR
        • 3D sensing tech we’ve seen in the iPad Pro, which adds a lot of features for computational photography and augmented reality
        • And it improves the focus and light quality in low-light conditions
      • Pro starts at $999USD, $1399CAD with 128GB, Max starts at $1099USD, $1549CAD
    • 12 and Pro preorder on October 16, shipping October 23
    • Mini and Max preorder on November 6, shipping November 13
  • Unfortunately there was no mention at all of putting TouchID in the power button, which would have been a killer feature right now

Epic slApple fight

  • A federal judge in the United States has officially ruled that Apple can continue to block Fortnite from its app store as they fight Epic’s antitrust lawsuit
  • Judge Gonzalez also ruled that Apple must not punish Unreal Engine or Epic’s affiliates though, so the fight remains focused on Fortnite and Epic’s decision to bypass Apple’s App Store payment system
  • The suit is expected to go to trial in May 2021

The United States Department of Justice has officially issued a statement asking tech companies for back door access to encrypted systems

  • Ringing the gong of “exploited children”, multiple governments are now demanding that tech companies “embed the safety of the public in system designs”
    • Translation: add even more surveillance of all your users and give us access
  • In effect, the group is asking for access to encrypted data via some form of backdoor meant just for law enforcement, while still keeping it secure to prevent access by hackers and other online criminals.
  • It boils down to the same fight that’s been happening for years- technology has given people a locked box that the government can’t access and some people have used that box to do bad things, so they want to take that box and drill a hole in the side labelled “Hackers keep out plz”
  • That would be adding a hell of a weak link to the kind of chains people use not just to message their loved ones, but also do their banking and keep their homes secure

Spotify, while they bang the freedom drum and crusade against Apple for allegedly tyrannical practices, has decided to threaten third party services built to transfer playlists between streaming services

  • SongShift is a slick little utility you can use to move your playlists and library between Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more, but Spotify has decided that unless they remove the ability to transfer out of Spotify they’ll be completely blocked from the service
    • Transferring in to Spotify is, shockingly, unaffected

With the release of the Quest 2 VR headset, more reports are coming in of seemingly random Facebook bans bricking devices

  • The worst instance I’ve read about was a reddit user creating a brand new Facebook account after never using the service before
    • They then merged it with their 4 year old Oculus account
    • 10 minutes later, they were banned
    • After sending in their drivers license, which is an absurd requirement for any gaming service, the ban was updated to say “We have already reviewed this decision and it can’t be reversed.”
    • And just like that, all previous Oculus purchases were locked away by Facebook with little to no recourse
  • Another redditor in the comments reported that they had something similar, where they created a Facebook account for the first time to play with their new headset but didn’t add a phone number
    • 10 minutes later their account was disabled and required a phone number to verify
    • Then Facebook demanded a video of the user so they could verify that they’re a real person
  • Facebook’s invasive data requirements have really snuck up on a lot of people, but when you have to send your passport to a social network in order to play games you’ve already paid for it just highlights the absurdity of their data gathering

Sony’s released more specs for the upcoming PS5, and the new solid state drives look amazing

  • Load times in next-gen games will likely be all but eliminated now, with their specs showing double the data loading in about 1/8th the time
  • Footage posted from the PS5 version of Spider-Man: Miles Morales shows what used to be a loading screen between areas now just throwing you in immediately
  • And since they didn’t go the proprietary route like Microsoft, you can use any M2 drive that hits at least 5.5GB/s
    • Granted that’s not a lot at the moment, but as the market catches up they’ll get much more common and Sony will be releasing a list of specifically supported models
    • And a little extra salt for the console wars, the Xbox Series X is quoted as running at 2.4GB/s

This Week in Gaming History

October 10 – 1994 – DOOM II – DOS

  • In this sequel to the original DOOM, the protagonist is still the same hero – the last remaining space marine.
  • DOOM II looks and plays very similarly to its predecessor, utilizing the same 3D graphical engine with 2D sprites for enemies.
    • The gameplay once again consists entirely of navigating the hero from first-person view through 3D environments and shooting at the demons while attempting to find the way out by flipping switches and looking for keys.
    • Unlike in DOOM, which is divided into three episodes, the 30 levels of this game (plus the 2 secret levels) form one long episode.
  • It took 24 years for someone to find the final secret for the first 100% completion, confirmed by series creator John Romero.
    • August 31st, 2018, Romero Tweeted:
    • CONGRATS, Zero Master! Finally, after 24 years! “To win the game you must get 100% on level 15 by John Romero.” Great trick getting to that secret!
    • and a follow up Tweet:
    • Secret explained: A secret teleporter is marked as a discoverable “secret”, but when you touch it, you never enter the sector. So you would never get inside the teleporter sector to trigger the secret. The only way to trigger this secret is to be pushed by an enemy into it!

October 11 – 2004 – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – GameCube

  • A thousand years ago there was a city.
    • One day the city was buried.
    • Another city was built on top, and all that remains of the previous city is a door.
    • This is where the title “the thousand-year door” comes from. It’s not known what could be behind this door, but everyone has different theories.
  • Mario can jump, run, hammer, talk to people, etc..
    • Mario finds many partners on his quest.
    • Battles play out on a stage in front of an audience.
    • In battle, Mario must keep his fans happy by executing action commands (hitting buttons at the right time during his attacks).
    • Occasionally, in battle, the crowd will throw things at Mario.
    • The player can attack the crowd at this time.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
  • It also has rave reviews, from 4.5 to 5 out of 5.
    • From gamer’s I know of, this is the best of all the Paper Mario games.
    • Out of the 6 that have been released.

October 12 – 1999 – Jet Force Gemini – N64

  • Twins Juno and Vela, and their dog Lupus, are Jet Force Gemini, intergalactic police.
    • Their mission? Stop the evil space bug, Mizar, from his goal of galactic conquest with his seemingly-infinite army of Drones.
    • They’ll have to stop along multiple planets along the way, and assisting King Jeff and rescuing his subjects, the Tribals.
  • Jet Force Gemini is a third-person shooter which revels in making gigantic creepy bugs explode into dribbly mucousy bits.
    • The Jet Force team are given progressively more powerful weapons, from the Machine Gun, which rips through both enemies and ammo, the Plasma Shotgun, which you can charge up for some explosive fireworks, and the Tri-Rocket Launcher, which fires three rockets with every shot, sending explosive doom in the direction of your target.
    • There’s also the Fish Food, which, as the name implies, is used to feed fish.
  • Each member of the team has their own special abilities – Juno can walk through lava without any trouble, Vela can swim underwater, and Lupus can hover for short distances and travel through tight spaces.
    • These abilities are required to fully access areas that they previously couldn’t reach.
    • The team also get the help of Floyd the Droid, a hovering robot that can be controlled by player two as a floating gun with infinite ammo when he joins your team.
  • The game also includes three different multiplayer modes: Battle – featuring most options of an average First Person Shooter but with a third-person perspective, Target Shoot – a shooting gallery with a first-person view, and Racing, which includes some kart-like racing as well as old-school top down racing games.
  • I feel like this game gets forgotten a lot.
    • When people make lists of Rare Ware Titles for the N64, it rarely includes this bug stomping adventure.

October 13 – 2009 – Ju-on: The Grudge – Wii

  • When someone dies with a powerful grudge, a curse is born.
    • A series of Ju-On horror movies all by the same director have been popular since 2000 first in Japan and then remade in Hollywood first in 2004 as The Grudge.
    • This is a “haunted house simulator” adventure game where Erika Yamada comes into contact with a curse when looking for her dog in an abandoned warehouse.
    • Then when she returns home, all her family members who she meets also become cursed.
    • You play as each in first-person view encountering their own challenging episode.
  • The locations vary from a rundown factory to an empty hospital, an apartment building, a mannequin factory, and the cursed house from the movie.
    • The game is basically an interactive horror movie which tries to scare you as you explore the locations and attempt to survive against the supernatural forces.
    • The Wii remote controls the player’s flashlight and movement through the game.
    • If the player flinches at scare moments with the remote, their score goes down.
    • A person with a second remote can also trigger scary events for the main player.
    • The player must keep moving while finding keys to open doors and also find batteries to replenish the flashlight or else you will be attacked and die.

October 14 – 2014 – Duck Dynasty – PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • Because
  • Hunt, race and prank to become a Robertson!
  • Take on the role of Willie’s son John Luke as he learns how to become one of the Robertson men!
    • Interact with Willie, Uncle Si, Jase and the rest of the family from the hit TV show Duck Dynasty®. Go duck hunting, varmint shooting, off-roading and play office pranks in the Robertson’s hometown of West Monroe, LA. Will you learn the way of the beards?
  • Call in ducks to your blind using a variety of calls and then fire away.
  • Hunt Louisiana wildlife including squirrels, frogs and fish for Miss Kay to cook her famous dishes.
  • Join Jase in duck call room antics as you sneak around the warehouse to trick Willie.
  • Race against Willie in an airboat as you drive across the Robertson family swampland.
  • Uncover Uncle Si’s bizarre “treasures” with a metal detector.
  • Track down pesky beavers with Phil to stop their damns from ruining the duck ponds.
  • Play through 3 game modes including the main story, duck shooting galleries and airboat racing.

October 15 – 2000 – Pokemon Gold and Silver – Gameboy Color

  • Pokémon Gold takes place several years after Red, Blue and Yellow, and puts the user into a brand new world, Johto.
    • The gameplay is very similar to the previous games, but with several improvements.
    • These include new functions for the player’s PokéGear, a Pokédex that can now be sorted by evolution type, and, of course, new Pokémon.
    • Once again, the objective of the game is to become the champion trainer, and try to complete the Pokédex.
    • To become the champion, the player battles Gym Leaders to obtain various badges.
    • Completing the Pokédex requires a different set of actions, and involves capturing wild Pokémon, battling various trainers to obtain money, and trading Pokémon with NPC’s and other owners of Pokémon games.
  • As many people our age, Pokemon was a big deal.
    • Pokemon Yellow was my first Pokemon game, but I would say Gold is my formative Pokemon game.
    • The IR mystery gift had me meeting with kids I barely knew, and forming new relationships.
    • And it was huge, literally having the new region Johto, to explore, while being able to revisit the previous region of Kanto.
    • This game has set me up for disappointment, as more powerful consoles have had Pokemon games, but never the ability to return to an old region.

October 16 – 1982 – Computer Operator – DOS

  • This BASIC game simulates the experience of running a large, multi-user mainframe system of its day.
    • As the operator, you first configure the system by choosing the memory size, the number of disk and tape drives, the maximum number of concurrent users, and the overall game speed.
    • These factors determine the difficulty of your job – which is to cope with user demands and keep the system running. If too many problems pile up, the system crashes and you lose.
  • After the system is booted, users begin to log in and do their work; you monitor the system’s status in real time, and carry out your maintenance tasks using text commands.
    • User jobs place demands on CPU time, on storage devices, and on the printer; you’ll need to balance the load, repair failed equipment, bring devices offline and online as needed, and meet the users’ storage requirements.
    • You can also force users offline, and even communicate back when they complain at you through the messaging system.

Tidbits

  • If you have an Apple TV+ subscription set to end or renew in November through January, Apple is reportedly extending them for free through February 2021 instead
  • Microsoft is working on a browser-based solution to bring xCloud to iOS early 2021, which could also mean it would run on macOS as well
  • People looking for Google alternatives will be happy to hear that DuckDuckGo, a popular privacy-first search engine, now has walking and driving directions through a partnership with Apple Maps
  • Sony announced that they’re revamping their web and mobile offerings with a brand new PlayStation Store
    • October 21st-28th we’ll no longer be able to use those systems to buy
      • PS3 games
      • PSP games
      • PS Vita games
      • Apps
      • Themes
      • Avatars
      • And the Wishlist feature is going away too
    • You can still access everything you already own, and you can buy new things through the PS Store directly on each device

Homework

  • Microsoft’s new “10 principles for the Microsoft Store on Windows”, with translation provided by the Daring Fireball
    • John Gruber: “Nothing is changing on Windows, which remains every bit as open as it always has been. Nothing is changing on Xbox, which remains every bit as closed as it always has been (which is actually quite a bit more closed than even iOS). But we’re sure hoping government regulators will force Apple to open up iOS and treat it more like a PC platform where third-party developers are free to do what they want, because we know Apple won’t do it of their own volition because we wouldn’t either if we were them.”

 

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PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

      • 2018
      • Co-op puzzle platformer where you team up and use your phone as your controller to guide your characters through challenging, intricate levels
    • Kunai

      • 2020
      • Billed as a quirky, fast-paced action platformer, you play as Tabby, a tablet who joins the fight against a robot uprising using his kunai and ninja-parkour
    • Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

      • 2017 remaster first released in 2008 as a free-to-play mod for the Source engine, then later redeveloped into a commercial release in 2012
      • First person exploration and adventure game that is considered to have started the “walking simulator” genre, it has you exploring an unnamed island in Scotland, listening to a troubled man read a series of letters to his deceased wife
    • Dark Devotion

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game where you explore the secrets of a mysterious fallen temple and put your Templar’s faith to the test
    • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

      • 1998
      • First person shooter originally released on the N64, it follows Turok’s efforts to stop a powerful alien entity from escaping the confines of his Lightship
    • Reus

      • 2013
      • God game where you control giants that can modify the nature of the planet through terraforming, creating life, and altering genes
    • GRIP: Combat Racing

      • 2018
      • Originally a Kickstarter campaign that I backed in 2015, it raised $154K of its $657K goal before it was taken down, but it was still announced to be pushed into early access
      • High octane hardcore combat racer inspired by Rollcage, Wipeout, Motostorm, and Podracer with gravity-defying twists and heavy weaponry
  • Xbox

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

      • 2019
      • The official game of the 2019 World Rally Championship, it’s a simulation rally racing game with new physics for all surfaces and a redesigned career mode
    • Saints Row 2

      • 2008
      • Sandbox action-adventure game that has you leading the Third Street Saints gang against three rivals and the corrupt Ultor Corporation, with a more comedic tone to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto
  • PS4

    • NBA 2k20

      • 2019
      • Basketball simulation game featuring current and past players and teams, along with up to six custom expansion teams and the ability to relocate and rebrand any time
      • It also included, for the first time, all 12 teams from the WNBA, though they can only be played in one-game exhibition and single-season modes, and the game drew criticism for its gambling-based minigames that overshadowed the basketball in early trailers
    • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration

      • 2016 update to the 2015 release, with updates including coop play and classic outfits as well as combat-free exploration and zombie modes
      • Action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, it has standard ruins exploration and bowplay but this time set in Siberia
    • Erica

      • Bonus for the 10th anniversary of PS Plus
      • 2019
      • Live-action interactive adventure thriller with multiple endings that feels Heavy Rain-esque, putting you in the role of Erica, a brave young lady who is plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder and has to unearth the truth behind the tragedy
  • Epic Games

    • Hue

      • 2016
      • Puzzle platformer where you explore a grey land while searching for your missing mother, and along the way you uncover coloured pieces that reveal new puzzles. The more colours you find, the more complex the puzzles become

Co-Founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin has stepped down following accusations of racist and sexist office culture (courtesy of Polygon)

  • For anyone unaware, it’s like a lewd version of Apples to Apples with references to politics, pop culture, sex, and so on
  • It started as a DIY print your own game distributed for free, but after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign it became the focus of a multi-million dollar game company
  • In the past few weeks multiple former employees have shared stories of racist and sexist behaviours that largely affected Black employees, as well as some accusations of sexual assault by Temkin
  • Many people reporting these behaviours remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and that seems to have been well founded after several employees described being fired for confusing or unexpected reasons after raising concerns about discrimination at work
  • Cards Against Humanity’s official response is that “some of these accounts are true, others are not, and a few we are continuing to investigate”
  • It seems almost inevitable that a company trading on humour powered by shock and racial stereotypes, like all the variations on “A big, black dick” that exist in the game, would have some problems, but though they’ve tried to increase sensitivity and remove some cards deemed offensive, there are still many packs being sold today that include cards that marginalize vulnerable groups of people
  • There have also been stories shared from the writer’s room about how the head writers like Temkin would push for the inclusion of cards like “Saying the N-word”, despite the protests of the one Black employee on the team
  • A spokesperson pointed Polygon to 14 cards, out of the hundreds available for the game, that “reflect Black culture, history, and perspectives”. In a follow-up they clarified that the game has “well over 100” cards that do that, and the examples were merely a favourite sampling, but the gesture reeks of “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend”
  • Many former employees described their departure from the company as “escaping”, and since there was no real HR department to speak of they felt unheard and powerless even after leaving, for fear of lawsuits and reprisals. The Chief Operating Officer was the sole HR department, and was also in charge of finance, operations, and legal. His close working relationship with Temkin led to concerns about bringing issues forward.
  • Apparently Cards Against Humanity is hiring an independent third-party HR consultant to audit and improve its practices, but from the sounds of it a lot of damage has been done to a lot of lives
  • Former employees also spoke of Temkin yelling at employees, and said that people on staff often spoke on Slack about the most private places to cry after encounters with him, and that he exerted undue influence over not only people’s livelihood but also their personal lives- in one case, Temkin decided that an employee would have to stop seeing someone or they would get “kicked out”
  • And all of this from a company that has opposed Trump, donated money to charity, and given scholarships to women in STEM programs has left many with whiplash after experiencing what the company culture was like internally
  • As of June 9th Temkin has stepped down from the company and will have no staff interactions, and though he maintains 1/8th of the company’s shares he will not receive a salary.
  • With these reports becoming public and the employees gaining courage and support they’ve established the Cards Against Humanity Workers United union and begun to demand recognition from the company’s owners, looking to establish better collaboration and transparency between workers and management after the trust has been eroded so thoroughly already
  • In a statement provided to Polygon, the company’s leadership says that it intends to recognize the union, and that if the majority of their employees want a union they’re all for it

Reddit has officially, finally, banned the “The_Donald” subreddit

  • The ban was part of the site’s overhaul of its hate speech policies, and will affect the more than 790,000 users that used it to post memes, videos, and messages supportive of Trump
  • This came down because of the group’s consistent breaking of its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech
  • Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman said “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that”
  • At the same time, Twitch temporarily banned Trump from the service for hateful conduct, for things like video of his kickoff rally where he claimed that Mexico was sending rapists to the US
    • Twitch has apparently begun issuing permanent bans to other streamers because of hate speech, with long-time popular streamer Dr Disrespect receiving one without specific details on why
    • It sounds like Twitch is taking moderation a lot more seriously, and not just allowing racist or hateful language just because it’s newsworthy due to its source
  • In the words of the Daring Fireball, “It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.”

Warning to all pirates running macOS, there’s a new ransomware making the rounds

  • The new EvilQuest ransomware variant is being spread through pirated Mac apps, according to Malwarebytes, and was initially found in a download for Little Snitch found on a Russion forum
  • The infected installation does install Little Snitch, a tool for monitoring network traffic on your computer, but also moves and installs files throughout your system to encrypt both system and personal files on your computer before prompting for a $50USD ransom
    • The malware apparently doesn’t work very well though, as the ransom instructions are often not displayed properly and you don’t actually get your files back if you pay it
  • Malwarebytes says their software can remove the infection, but any encrypted files will need to be restored from backups

Clone High is coming back!?!

  • For the multitude that missed it the first time around, it was an animated series about the teenage clones of historical figures going to high school together, that worked as an out-loud parody of teen soaps like Dawson’s Creek with things like every episode opening with “Tonight, on a very special episode of Clone High…”
  • It was cancelled after one season due in part to its depiction of the clone of Mahatma Ghandi and controversy outside of North America. Even the DVD release never made it outside of Canada
  • Well apparently Clone High’s creators went on to make a few films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Verse
  • So it seems like now that they’ve got some pull after a few hits, they’re bringing the show into the era of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and 13 Reasons Why, so maybe we’ll finally get some closure to the first season’s cliffhanger two decades later. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this

Tidbits

  • Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issue, saying “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologize for any trouble caused to our customers. We are continuing to aim to improve our products, but as the Joy-Con is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States and this is still a pending issue, we would like to refrain from responding about any specific actions.”
    • Nintendo began offering free repairs for controllers afflicted with drift shortly after the lawsuit was filed, but with its built-in controllers the Switch Lite was also added to the class action suit a week after its September launch
  • Microsoft has updated their enforcement guidlelines for Forza Motorsport, banning players using the custom design feature to put confederate flags or swastikas on their cars
    • Some have raised issues with this, complaining that iconic cars like the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee had nothing to do with race and featured a large depiction of the flag on its back, but just because an unproblematic show used the flag doesn’t mean it’s not a problematic symbol itself
    • Even the General Lee car itself, owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson, had its flags removed in 2015
  • According to rumours, Apple may be removing the charger and EarPods from new iPhone boxes, leaving just the phone and a USB cord
    • The switch would allow them to reduce packaging and waste, and for many long-time iPhone users it wouldn’t be a large issue, but it seems like the option should still be there to make sure you have everything you need if you’re buying for the first time
    • One idea I’ve seem on reddit is to either have two different versions, which could get confusing, or include a coupon for the value of the charger inside the box. Then you can get one for free or use the savings on another Apple device, though it’s still an additional step
  • Now through July 10th Apple is giving you an extra 10% bonus when adding funds to your AppleID
    • On your phone you can go to Settings, tap on your name, iTunes & App Store, tap on your AppleID, View AppleID, then tap Add Funds to Apple ID
  • After taking fire for reading iPhone clipboards every time users type a single character into the app, TikTok has promised to release an update to stop reading that information from devices
    • iOS 14 beta shows a notification each time an app reads your clipboard and so this was really highlighted in TikTok, but it’s also behaviour being seen in other apps like AccuWeather, Overstock, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Patreon, and Google News
    • TikTok claims it’s part of an anti-spam feature and they don’t actually read what you may have copied from another app, but there’s no way to verify that. With it being a Chinese company whose algorithm is a complete black box, you can assume that they’ve stored copies of whatever you had on your clipboard while using the app
  • Microsoft is officially shutting down their physical stores worldwide, except for four specific locations in the US, England, and Australia that will become “experience centers” that no longer sell products
    • The stores were originally inspired by Apple Stores both in concept and execution, but failed to really get a foothold in the market
    • verynicewebsite.net put it well – “I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.”

 

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PS2J 291 News – Boring School Stuff Folder

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • GoNNER

      • 2016
      • A roguelike game often described as a shooter version of Spelunky- a procedurally generated 2D platformer that has you journeying in deep and dark places for a trinket to cheer up a giant landbound whale named Sally
    • Offworld Trading Company

      • 2016
      • A sci-fi RTS from the publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire that has you waging economic warfare on Mars, using anything from corporate takeovers to sabotage
  • Twitch

    • Bomber Crew

      • 2017
      • Strategic simulation game that has you picking the right crew to keep your Avro Lancaster bomber in tip top shape and complete your World War II era missions
    • Whispers of a Machine

      • 2019
      • A point and click sci-fi nordic noir that tells the story of a cybernetically augmented detective investigating a string of murders in a post-AI world
    • Mugsters

      • 2018
      • A physics-based sandbox puzzle game that has you outrunning, outmanoeuvring, and outsmarting the aliens that have taken over Earth and enslaved humanity
    • Furi

      • 2016
      • A twin-stick hack and slash shoot ’em up bullet hell consisting entirely of boss fights. The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
    • Epistory – Typing Chronicles

      • 2016
      • An atmospheric action-adventure typing game following a girl riding a giant fox fighting insectile corruption in an origami world

With the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in full swing, Google has cancelled their annual I/O developer conference and many are speculating that Apple may at the very least modify their own WWDC this spring

  • Other events like this year’s Game Developer’s Conference and Mobile World Congress events were previously postponed or cancelled due to concerns about the virus
  • With supply chains in China certainly being affected, it might just make sense to delay the product announcements as well and keep the developer portions of the presentations limited to online sessions
    • It’s gotten to the point where Apple Stores have been warned that replacement devices will be facing supply constraints for the next 2-4 weeks, so be warned if your phone needs a repair you might be caught with a loaner device in the meantime
  • Apple’s even sent care packages, called CareKits, to staff they have currently stranded overseas, that include things like coffee, tea, cookies, facemasks, and an iPad
  • If you’re interested in helping fight COVID-19, you can donate your unused computer resources by downloading the Folding@home client. That will add your computer to a pool that lets researchers farm out processing tasks to see how the virus attaches itself to human lungs, which they need to understand if they’re going to stop it
    • Similar efforts have contributed to research on diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
    • Check out the full details at foldingathome.org
  • There’s also a similar piece of software available called Foldit, but instead of just using your extra processing power it’s actually a puzzle game that has you changing a protein’s shape to block how the virus infects people. According to PCGamer, Foldit helped researchers decode the AIDS virus back in 2011
    • If you want to take a crack at it, with no medical degree required, you can go to fold.it and give it a go

What do US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Best Buy, Walmart, the RCMP, and a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Well according to Buzzfeed News they, along with thousands of other organizations, have been using a controversial facial recognition startup that’s facing legal threats and violating App Store regulations left and right

  • Clearview AI is apparently on a quest to create a global biometric identification system by scraping social media and the internet at large, and it’s for sale to anyone who wants it
    • They have paid contracts with organizations like ICE, US Attorney’s offices, and Macy’s, and have users at the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Interpol, and the NBA
  • The New York based startup has claimed it’s tech is meant as a tool for North American law enforcement, but it’s been used by more than 2,200 government agencies and companies across 27 countries
    • So we have this product featuring a treasure trove of identifying information on a ton of people, accessible to anyone that can pay, oh and also they’ve been breached at least once so presumably a few people that haven’t paid as well
  • The hardest part here is that the US just doesn’t have any laws or regulatory framework for this kind of biometric tracking- there’s literally no accountability for their ability to gather up this information and sell it, leading to government agencies running literally thousands searches and most likely acting on the information received
    • We could have ICE agents walking into a supermarket, scanning people, and immediately deporting them without due process or investigation
    • And this is all based on the tech of a company that can’t even keep their client list confidential
    • It’s one thing to have a database of internally gathered mugshots, or even shared between agencies, but when you outsource it to a third party whose interests are purely monetary and scrapes the internet at large for information it gets really scary
  • All in all there’s a complete lack of transparency here- Clearview is providing free trials to anyone who wants them, even officers in police departments that have explicitly banned the app, and provided its software to private and public institutions all over the world
  • This stuff is so shady that they didn’t even want their iOS app distributed through Apple’s App Store- they abused the developer program, similar to Facebook’s Research app that paid users to spy on their information early last year, so that users could sideload the app without it being reviewed by Apple
    • In a response to Buzzfeed’s inquiry Apple investigated and suspended their developer account, effectively preventing the app from running

Overwatch Competitive Play Hero Rotation

  • To make competetive Overwatch more dynamic, Blizzard has implemented a Hero Rotation
  • First banned characters are
    • Orisa
    • Hanzo
    • Mei
    • Baptiste

Cool looking game: Nocturne

  • For free on Steam, try Nocturne: Prelude
  • The game caught my eye with a bright colour pallette
    • Cool high quality pixel graphics
    • and rhythm based combat
  • Here is the copy thy have on their Steam page:
    • Rich Narrative
      • The digital afterlife survived humanity’s extinction.
    • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of a story-driven RPG set within a digital afterlife. Millennia have passed since humanity’s extinction; but somehow you’ve only just arrived.
    • Your conscience was uploaded to a world where a sentient AI has taken control, twisted creatures roam the land, and a vast corruption spreads.
    • Rhythm Combat
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat with fierce battles and unexpected challenges. With multiple difficulty options, Nocturne: Prelude is a game suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Find equipment to unlock powerful combat buffs or special abilities. Defeat enemies to unlock them in Arcade mode, where you can challenge them again for highscores.
    • Classic RPG
    • Make friends, battle enemies, and traverse a beautiful world as it falls apart around you. The perfect balance of heart-pumping musical combat, magnificent worldbuilding and deep story.
    • Nocturne: Prelude was inspired by decades of traditional RPG’s that immerse you in fantasy worlds.
    • FEATURES
    • Meet a cast of unique characters who’ll challenge what it means to be alive.
    • Explore a vast and beautiful pixel art world.
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat system.
    • Fierce battles with unexpected twists.
    • Challenge your highscores in Arcade mode.
    • Multiple difficulty modes suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Original soundtrack composed with a mix of digital and live performances.
    • Befriend a giant orange fish.
  • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of Nocturne, released for free. The main story contains about 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Tidbits

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s demo of officially available now, ahead of its April 10th release
    • I specify ‘officially’ available, because there was already a sizeable leak at the end of last year, with many getting their hands on the full playable demo at the time
  • Apple has agreed to pay up to $500M to settle the class action lawsuit over throttling the performance of older phones
    • The whole issue came about when iOS 11 hit, when it had an undocumented feature that managed the battery life of older phones to prevent unexpected shutdowns- benchmarks took a hit, but the devices stayed reliable
    • The problem was that they didn’t give any feedback or options for this feature until iOS 13 came out late last year, so while they’re not admitting any wrongdoing they’re still willing to pay each affected user $25 if the settlement is approved
      • As MrMcLargeHuge said in the arstechnica comments section, “They were correct from a technical standpoint, but wrong from a PR standpoint.”
  • The director of MI5, Britain’s Security Service has called on tech companies to find a way to allow spy agencies “exceptional access” to encrypted messages, and that he finds it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies aren’t able to easily read secret messages of suspects they’re monitoring
    • While he refers to cyberspace as an unregulated “Wild West” that is largely inaccessible to authorities, it kind of seems like they’ve gotten lazy with how easy it’s been to spy on users up to this point. Now that we’re putting locks on our messages they want a copy of the keys

 

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Marvel Villainous – August 2020

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Faeria

      • 2017
      • A turn based collectible card strategy game that takes place on a dynamic hexagon-based board set in a fantasy universe
    • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

      • 2015
      • The ninth instalment in the open world action adventure Assassin’s Creed series that introduced new traveling systems, and refined combat and stealth mechanics, it was seen as a large step forward after the previous game, Unity

Update: GeForce Now seems to have lost access to its library of Activision Blizzard games due to a misunderstanding

  • According to an investor conference call Stadia isn’t part of Blizzard’s Overwatch deal with Google after all, as we speculated last week
  • From the sounds of it there was some confusion about whether they had permission to continue offering them post-beta, and they do hope to negotiate a new agreement and get the games back online in the future

In a cautionary tale, a journalist for the Guardian was stranded this week when her internet-connected rental car lost connection

  • The car sharing service, Gig Car Share, is marketed as something you can just sign up for on your phone and instantly rent a car
  • Unfortunately when Kari Paul and her partner, on a long-weekend road trip outside of the city, decided to pull over and take a quick hike, they found that they could no longer start the car
    • A customer service rep told them that there was an issue with the car’s software that couldn’t be fixed because there wasn’t enough cell service for a reset that the vehicles require every few hours, so they needed to be towed- they had found a 40-mile stretch of highway with no cell service, and phone support couldn’t restart the car’s systems remotely
      • Initially they were just taken back into cell range and told to wait, but after another rep said they should sleep in the car and try again in the morning they gave up and paid out of pocket for a tow back to their bed and breakfast
  • Five hours, two tow trucks, and more than 20 calls to customer service later, they finally got the car to start again
    • Once they did get it going, the rep on the phone said “Can I give you one more piece of advice? Get the hell out of there – now.”
  • So what can be done? Well buried in the company’s website is mention of the Gig Card, an RFID card you can use to lock or unlock the cars in areas of poor cell service. It won’t prevent the software issue Kari saw, but it could help in other cases
    • The downside is that the cards are a little antithetical to Gig’s “sign up and go” idea- it takes two weeks to receive them, and there’s very little marketing to let people know about how necessary they could get on long drives
  • Ultimately she was refunded, given an additional credit, and she’s being sent a Gig Card for long trips in the future. And hopefully this story can help save others the same trouble she went though

The reviews are starting to come in for the new Motorola Razr, and they’re not looking good

  • The look and feel seem pretty cool, and they’ve definitely nailed the nostalgia factor
  • Unfortunately there are some pretty serious trade-offs involved, especially with the screen
    • First off it’s made of plastic, compared to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip which is using a similar form-factor with a folding glass screen, so that’s some tough timing
      • And because it’s a flexible plastic you can feel the dips and bumps of components underneath, instead of a solid surface as we’ve grown accustomed to with our phones
        • It’s even to the point where, in their Caring for the Razr video, they mention that bumps and lumps are normal
    • Input has also been seeing many issues with the device, having a large air bubble appear at the fold where the display seems to be peeling away from the lamination
      • After a week of use it looked like the flexible display stopped unfolding completely, even though the protective plastic front did, leaving a gap between the two along the hinge
      • The damage isn’t just cosmetic, either- there’s a strip of broken pixels where the screen started peeling away, and touch and taps are virtually unresponsive
      • Their theory is that it had something to do with temperature- the device was used in just below freezing temperatures and brought back into warm rooms a couple of times, so that could be something, but it’s not exactly unreasonable behaviour
        • Speaking of temperature, that’s also the theory behind an issue with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip- one customer reported receiving the device, unpacking it, and flipping it open only to be treated to a loud cracking noise and a series of fractures in the glass along the hinge
      • Motorola responded to the story by saying they don’t recommend storing it in temperatures below -20C and above 60C, but in this case we’re talking about -1 so it should be covered under their standard warranty
    • It also seems to be the norm with these flexible displays that, even when they’re working perfectly they just can’t hit the same quality as their stationary brethren- everything looks washed out and dim compared to flagship Android and iOS devices
  • There are also reports of Motorola’s fancy hinge regularly having an embarrassingly obnoxious creaking noise, which they say is “intrinsic to the mechanical movement of the phone”
  • On top of that, the camera can be compared to phones that cost a fraction of the price years ago- it has a 16-megapixel sensor, but movement, shadow, or low light all seem to be too much for it. The Verge even had trouble getting it to focus on faces
  • The battery power has also been reported to be underwhelming, even with the midrange hardware running the phone
  • The $1500 device seems to be mainly defined by its gimmick, when all of its compromises are outshined by the just announced Moto G Power that goes for $250

We skipped the question for a Valentines theme segment, so picking up from a couple weeks ago…

If you’re life had a video game soundtrack, what game would it be from?

Anita B on Twitter
  • Bastion
Thanks for all the shares! But this question didn’t pan out to get many answers.

Josh really enjoyed the Sonic Movie

Josh is still hooked on Slay the Spire

Tidbits

  • The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch is getting a pretty slick update, adding new graphical options and cross-save support for the PC version
    • CD Projekt Red has confirmed to Polygon that they’ve added touch control support, save integration with GOG and Steam, more languages, and the ability to adjust video options like depth of field, anti-aliasing, motion blur, and chromatic aberration
    • Modders had actually already found a way to tweak those settings to increase The Witcher’s framerate on the Switch, so official support is a nice bonus
  • Apple was officially smacked down this week by the California Supreme Court in a bag search case, so they’re now forced to pay employees kept waiting for bag checks before they’re allowed to leave work
    • The case dates back to 2013, and had employees saying they were kept up to 45 minutes after their shifts, off the clock waiting for managers during busy times
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has officially achieved the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie, sitting at $57M in the US
    • The previous record holder, Detective Pikachu, only made $54M

We want to know,

If you could have any video game weapon Nerf’d, what would you like to see?

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Layers of Fear Masterpiece Edition

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Qube 2

      • 2018
      • Sequel to the original Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, and a physics-based puzzle game, interacting with specific blocks in the world to solve puzzles and make it to the end of each level

Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission and owner of one of the most punchable faces in the world, seems to be making a case for the very same net neutrality regulations that he himself repealed

  • In an attempt to preempt state laws on net neutrality, Pai stated that each state having their own regulations could discourage companies or entrepreneurs from dealing with multiple layers of permissions and regulations as opposed to a uniform, well-established set of consistent regulations
  • What he didn’t mention is that the US had a uniform, well-established set of regulations before he eliminated those rules from the Obama admin and deregulated the broadband industry
  • On the plus side the US Court of Appeals ruled that Pai and the FCC lost the power to stop state laws when they deregulated it in the first place
  • So at this point things are at a stalemate- Pai seems to want to give more power to his corporate overlords, but in doing so he gave the power to the individual states that are actually interested in keeping the internet an open, neutral resource

Gamers excited for Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service launch this November 19th might be left out in the cold, even if they’ve pre-ordered

  • Initially Google said that the only way to play on day one would be to shell out $130 USD for a Founder’s Edition console, and while that’s kind of true it turns out that isn’t the whole story
  • Now that it’s sold out they’re now selling a new Premiere Edition, and it looks like neither package now guarantees the ability to play first thing on release day
  • Google now says that Founder’s Editions will only start arriving on the 19th, so if you were one of the first to pre-order yours may arrive but otherwise they’re all shipping first come, first served
    • Both the Founder’s and Premiere Editions are officially expected to be delivered within the first two weeks of launch, so unless you were quick on the draw it might be a lot closer to the end of the month before you’re up and running

The new Google Pixel 4 phone is taking heat this week for their facial authentication system unlocking even if the user’s eyes are closed or pointed elsewhere

  • Early leaks showed a “require eyes to be open” setting for face unlock, similar to Apple’s “Attention Aware” feature, but the released version can be unlocked by anyone that can hold the phone up to your sleeping face
  • In a statement to the BBC, Google said it would “continue to improve Face Unlock over time”, though the fix could be months away

We finally have conclusive evidence that the new Dark Mode on iPhones with OLED displays saves a decent amount of battery life

  • Tests run by YouTube channel PhoneBuff, using robotic arms to interact with two iPhone XS Maxes, had the device using light mode dying when the dark mode iPhone had 30% battery still remaining
  • This only applies to OLED phones, meaning the X, XS, and 11 Pro phones, and can depend on your brightness settings, but it’s still a measurable benefit
    • OLED phones actually completely turn off any pixels that are showing solid black, while LCD displays are uniformly lit and still send power to every pixel regardless of what’s being shown
  • This also works as a proof-of-concept for saving battery on OLED Android phones, though that would need another batch of testing to confirm

HARP 3D printer is one step closer to getting the Replicator

  • Researchers at Northwestern University have overcome issues around overheating
    • They have developed HARP, a 3D printer claimed to produce an object the size of an adult human in two hours.
  • Northwestern’s Chad Mirkin, who led the product’s development saidA limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds, leading to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts.
    • 3D printing is conceptually powerful but has been limited practically
    • If we could print fast without limitations on materials and size, we could revolutionise manufacturing. HARP is poised to do that.”
  • Mirkin predicts HARP, will be available commercially in the next 18 months
  • How does it print this fast?
    • HARP prints vertically and uses projected ultraviolet light to cure the liquid resins into hardened plastic
    • This process can print pieces that are hard, elastic or ceramic
    • These continually printed parts are said to be mechanically robust and can be used in a wide range of products that include cars and aircraft.
  • This is similar to the Form Labs 3D printer I looked into when I thought I was going to buy a 3D printer
    • The benefit versus other types of printing
      • You can make translucent objects
      • And you can achieve higher detail
  • However, a limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds
    • which leads to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts
    • “When these printers run at high speeds, a great deal of heat is generated from the polymerisation of the resin,” Walker said in a statement. “They have no way to dissipate it.”
  • HARP bypasses this problem with a non-stick liquid that behaves like liquid Teflon
    • It projects light through a window to solidify resin on top of a vertically moving plate
    • The liquid Teflon flows over the window to remove heat and then circulates it through a cooling unit.
  • “The interface is also non-stick, which keeps the resin from adhering to the printer itself,” Hedrick added.
    • “This increases the printer’s speed by a hundredfold because the parts do not have to be repeatedly cleaved from the bottom of the print-vat.”
  • Although 3D printing is transitioning from prototyping to manufacturing,
    • Current 3D printers’ size and speed have limited them to small-batch production
    • HARP is claimed to be the first printer that can handle large batches and large parts in addition to small parts.
  • “When you can print fast and large, it can really change the way we think about manufacturing,” Mirkin said.
    • “With HARP, you can build anything you want without moulds and without a warehouse full of parts. You can print anything you can imagine on-demand.”
    • While other print technologies have slowed down or reduced their resolution in order to print large parts, HARP does not make such concessions.
  • “Obviously there are many types of 3D printers out there – you see printers making buildings, bridges and car bodies, and conversely you see printers that can make small parts at very high resolutions,” Walker said.
    • “We’re excited because this is the largest and highest throughput printer in its class.”
  • HARP uses high-resolution light-patterning to achieve ready-to-use parts without extensive post-processing
    • The result, the university claims, is a commercially viable route to the manufacturing of consumer goods.

Fallout 76 Subscription?

  • Fallout 1st is a $100-a-year subscription-based service
    • Gives its members access to several benefits not available to others
      • Play on a private world with only your friends
      • unlimited storage space in the Scrapbox
      • a Survival Tent for fast traveling
      • Monthly Atoms, an exclusive outfit
      • Extra icons and emotes
      • And special sales not available to other players will also appear periodically.
  • This gives players what they have been asking for
    • But at a cost $12.99 a month, its $3 more than XBox Game Pass
      • And Gamepass has Fallout New Vegas, which seems to be most fans favorite
      • And it has Outerwords, a new open world game with far more options than Fallout 76
    • This is a bad sign from Bethesda
      • It shows that they are hearing what players want
      • But are out of touch, or too greedy to implement them fairly

Tidbits

  • Good news for anyone jumping on the 5G bandwagon- Verizon has managed to deploy coverage to certain seating areas in three different NBA arenas!
    • The coverage is far from complete, and there’s no word on the speeds being offered, but if you’re one of the people that Verizon has convinced to pay extra money then you might potentially see a benefit in parts of those arenas
  • Facebook may be forced to pay up to $35B in a class action lawsuit for users in Illinois, arguing that Facebook’s collection of users’ faces for tagging purposes violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act
    • The law requires that businesses gather consent from state residents before their biometric data is collected or used, and involves fines up to $5,000 for each of the 7M violations
  • In some awkward timing with tensions between China and Hong Kong, and the HKMap.Live app mess, Tim Cook has been named chairman of a Chinese university’s school of economics and management
  • Lastly some good news for gamers- Activision and Infinity Ward have announced that there will be no loot box system in the upcoming Modern Warfare game, and all weapons and functional attachments will be unlocked strictly through gameplay
    • There will be a battle pass system for aesthetics, with both free and premium streams, but that will let players see the content they’re earning or buying beforehand

Alan recommends silicone stretch lids

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts (Kubo and the Two Strings)

This Week:

Thanks to reddit user – MissBarker93
Movie – Man Survives thanks to his own feces

 

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Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Epic

    • Limbo

      • 2010
      • Black and white stylized puzzle platformer with a wonderful dark, eerie atmosphere, praised as an excellent example of video games as an art form
 

Update to last week’s story about the Zoom video conferencing vulnerability

  • It looks like many of Zoom’s partner apps, like RingCentral and Zhumu, have similar problems that allow attackers easy access to laptop cameras and microphones, so this week Apple released another silent security patch to block the vulnerability
  • Also, I’ve done a bit of research and if you’re concerned about Apple’s ability to run these kind of security updates you can block them in System Preferences > Software Update > Advanced by unchecking “Install system data files and security updates”
  • Right now I’m happy that Apple notifies the press when they release these patches, but in a perfect world they’d be visibly included in your updates list
 

Lifehacker is urging users to update their Logitech wireless dongles immediately

  • A few years ago, hackers discovered they could take control of computers by exploiting a vulnerability in Logitech wireless dongles- the piece you plug in to your computer to connect to wireless mice and keyboards
  • Patches were released to fix this all the way back in 2016, but there was no recall and even new devices rolling out of the factory today may be at risk
  • If you use any wireless Logitech devices, make sure you visit the Logitech support website and download/run the latest firmware update files as soon as possible to fix the loopholes
    • You’ll need to re-sync your devices to the dongle afterward, but the added (or, you know, extant) security is well worth the time
 

Facebook is apparently being fined $5B by the FTC for their role in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal

  • The original scandal is related to the 2016 US election, where Cambridge Analytica collected info on tens of millions of Facebook users without consent to create targeted political ads
  • The data collection came from an app that claimed to be a survey for academic use, but in reality it gathered information on not just the people taking the survey but also their friends
  • The problem here is that the fine is laughable when it comes to Facebook’s revenue
    • It’s the largest fine in FTC history, but they had $15B in revenue in the last 3 months, and $22B in profit last year
    • Facebook’s stock price actually went up after this fine was announced
  • End of the day it’s a start, but slap a zero on the end of it and then we’ll talk
 

In somewhat related news, Facebook is vigorously over-defending itself against a lawsuit brought by the attorney general of the District of Colombia

  • The lawsuit is related to the same Cambridge Analytica scandal and says that is was a violation of DC consumer protection law
  • Facebook’s response to it denies “each and every allegation” in the lawsuit, including pieces that aren’t so much allegations as they are just basic statements of fact.
  • For example, paragraph 11 says “To begin using the Facebook website, a consumer first creates a Facebook account. The consumer can then add other Facebook consumers as “friends” and by accumulating Facebook friends, the consumer builds a social network on the Facebook website.”
    • Facebook’s response was that they deny the allegations in paragraph 11
  • They’ve also denied pieces that they’ve publicly admitted to in the past, leaving many people wondering just what’s going on with this defense strategy
 

Police are warning the public about a new scam targeting iPhone users

  • Scammers are using social media to recruit victims by promising payments in exchange for becoming a game tester
  • Users are asked to log in to a particular Apple ID on their iPhone, then the scammers will activate Lost Mode on the device, locking the victim’s phone and extorting payments before promising to unlock it afterward
  • The worst part is that you need the Apple ID’s password to remove it from your device, so if they changed it after locking your phone then you remain at their mercy
  • Anyone that’s been hit by this scam should get help from Apple at getsupport.apple.com
 

Space fact of the day, featuring the male ego, bought to you by Mary Robinette Kowal

  • Author of the Lady Astronaut books Alan, recommended back in 242
  • To facilitate going to the bathroom, NASA developed a sheath kind of like a condom that came in small, medium, and large.
  • Every man said they needed a large, even when they didn’t which led to some messy situations
  • So they re-branded the sheaths to Extra-large, Immense, and Unbelievable
 

Tidbits

  • A US law firm is looking at opening a class action lawsuit regarding the Nintendo Switch and Joy-Con controller drift
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man is officially now the best-selling superhero video game of all time, beating both Arkham Knight and Arkham City
    • It’s doubly impressive considering the Batman games were on multiple platforms, whereas Spider-Man was a PS4 exclusive
  • Nintendo’s announced an invisible upgrade to the Switch coming this August, offering up to 2.5 hours longer battery life
    • The gains are likely achieved using a similar processing upgrade that is included in the Switch Lite
  • There was a cool announcement made at the Comic-Con 20th anniversary Batman Beyond panel
    • They’re releasing a blu ray HD remaster of the full series, including the Return of the Joker movie, coming this October
  • Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has officially been signed for a fourth Thor movie
    • No details yet, but I’m excited
 

Alan recommends Spinderella

  • A solid board game for ages 6+ that I’ve only ever played with a group of 20 or 30-somethings
  • You try to get your three ants to the end of the board, but depending on dice rolls other players can move the hanging spiders around to try and grab your pieces and send them back to the start

 

Literally Misleading

Game – Small business owner deals with the sins of his father while his life is becoming a living hell!
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

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