Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Escape Machine City: Airborne

      • 2021
      • Point-and-click adventure puzzle game that has you exploring the once-vibrant Air City that has gone completely silent and now seems to be flying on its own
  • Epic Games

    • Creature in the Well

      • 2019
      • Pinball-inspired top-down hack-and-slash dungeon crawler where you need to venture deep into a desert mountain to restore power to an ancient facility

Apple has officially bent its rules for Russia, which could lead to a slippery slope as other countries take note

  • Way back in episode 283 we talked about legislation passed by Vladimir Putin that will ban the sale of devices that don’t have a list of Russian apps pre-installed
  • We didn’t hear much about it after the deadline passed in 2020, but starting in April iOS devices sold in Russia will include an extra setup step
    • While you set up your language preferences and enable Siri, you’ll also see a prompt to install a list of apps from Russian developers
      • The apps include browsers, messenger platforms, and even antivirus (which is kind of absurd when it comes to iPhones)
  • On the plus side the apps aren’t pre-installed, and users can choose not to install them, but this has opened the doors for preinstalls that Apple has until now kept closed since the iPhone was first introduced
    • Sure, it’s good to promote developers within your own country, but the apps on offer could also be compromised in specific ways to further the agenda of the Kremlin and the government
    • With this in place we’ll be relying more and more on the privacy and security protections and prompts built in to iOS, and hoping that the apps in question haven’t been compromised
  • Overall the situation is better than it could have been, since Apple could have completely folded and allowed Russia to preinstall whatever they wanted, but their middle-ground stance is disappointing and potentially dangerous when it comes to the free internet

Proton was making headlines this week as they accused Apple of blocking an important update to ProtonVPN, citing the internet crackdown in Myanmar

  • On March 17th the UN advised people to document the ongoing situation and protests in Myanmar as evidence for “crimes against humanity”, recommending services like ProtonMail and Signal
  • A few days later Proton released a blog post saying Apple was blocking updates for another of their privacy products, ProtonVPN
    • Apparently Apple took exception with part of ProtonVPN’s description, which included language about challenging governments, and said that apps can’t be promoted as workaround or violations of local laws
    • Proton claims that the description in question had been in place for months though, and continued to claim that this was directly related to the ongoing military coup
  • Odds are, though, that the cause is likely a lot less nefarious- App Store reviewers are human, and each apply policy according to their own judgement
  • Apple’s released a timeline of the update in question, saying that they requested the change in wording on March 18th (the day after the UN’s recommendation) and then approved it on the 19th. Proton then released the update on March 21st, and published the accusatory blog post on the 23rd
  • Unless there’s more information here yet to come out, it looks like Proton took a non-issue that could have delayed their oh-so-important update by two days and made it into a week-long debacle to hit the headlines and rack up the clickbait
  • Granted the App Store reviewer in question may have gotten overzealous, but to directly link that action with these kind of world events is a bit of a leap

Microsoft has decided to rebrand Xbox Live to the “Xbox network”

  • First seen in beta software updates, the change has been confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson saying it’s “intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships”
  • Part of this includes plans to drop the subscription requirement from free-to-play games, so that games like Fortnite will no longer require a Gold membership to play online

This Week In Gaming History

March 20 – 2006 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • A lowly prisoner has been cast into the depths of the dungeon in the Imperial capital of the province Cyrodiil.
      • The fate of this prisoner suddenly changed when the Emperor Uriel Septim descended into the prison with his guards, fleeing from unknown assassins who have already slaughtered his children.
      • But even an emperor cannot escape his destiny.
      • Before the last assassin delivered the lethal strike, the old emperor entrusted the prisoner with the Amulet of Kings and asked him to find his illegitimate son, the last of the Septim bloodline.
      • The Septims and the Amulet are the last barrier between the continent Tamriel and the dark dimension of Oblivion, and the delicate balance is threatened by the Daedra Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon, the prisoner being Tamriel’s only hope.
  • Oblivion is the fourth title in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series.
    • The game sticks to the style of its predecessors featuring action-based combat, first-person and third-person views, and vast free-roaming environments.
    • The player’s chosen race and class determine the abilities the protagonist has in the beginning.
    • The game allows the player to develop multiple types of characters without being limited to a specific role.
  • The advancement system, as was the case in previous games, is based on skill usage.
    • When the player repeatedly use one of the skills, it improves.
    • NPCs offer training (for a price) to help in advancing to the next stage.
    • In time the protagonist can become an Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert and Master and gain certain bonuses for the skill.
    • The skills of the foes are “leveled” to be approximately equal to or slightly above those of the main character.
  • There are numerous side quests which help the hero advance thier abilities as well as gain fame.
    • The player is free to roam the world without a particular goal, exploring towns, forts, caves, mines, and old temple ruins.
    • Visiting shrines scattered around Tamriel grants the protagonist specialized skills, some permanent and some temporary.
  • Weapons and armor wear out with use and need to be repaired either with the help of special non-playable characters or by using an appropriately trained Armorer skill.
    • Enhanced items (weapons, armor, clothing, rings, amulets) abound in the game for protection, resistance, reflection and special activities like walking on water, exploring underwater, becoming invisible or lightening the load.
    • It is possible to open the gates to the Oblivion realm to grab their sigil stones, which can be used to make enhanced items.
    • Higher-level mages can create their own spells, and enchant weapons, armor and clothing using filled soul gems in addition to sigil stones.
  • As opposed to Morrowind, mana points gradually regenerate over time, without the need to rest to replenish them.
    • Active blocking has been added to melee combat.
    • The game features full voice acting for all the NPCs.
    • Dialogues typically contain less topics than in Morrowind, but more responses unique to different characters.
    • In addition, the so-called “radiant AI” system makes characters follow their own schedules, engage in various activities or talk to each other regardless of the player’s input.
    • The game features fast traveling, allowing the player to instantly visit Cyrodiil’s major cities or previously explored areas.
  • Extras:
    • A PSP version was in development and planned for release in the Spring of 2007, but it was eventually cancelled with no official word.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

March 21 – 2005 – TimeSplitters: Future Perfect – GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox

  • Plot:
    • In the year 2401 the space marine Sergeant Cortez is leaving the space station that he visited in the end of his previous journey.
    • He soon discovers that the crystals he has found can power up a time machine.
    • After having located traces of TimeSplitter activities in various time periods on the Earth, Cortez boards the time machine and travels to these periods, hoping to aid various characters in their battles against evil.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is a first-person shooter in which players battle their way through thirteen story missions spread across six time periods, either alone or cooperatively.
    • The protagonist’s arsenal varies depending on the time period he travels to: for example, traveling to 1924 will allow Cortez to wield World War I weapons; a Soviet setting in the 1960’s contains various local firearms of that time period; stages that take place in the future feature corresponding futuristic weaponry, etc.
    • In addition to fast-paced shooting gameplay there are also some stealth and vehicle-driving segments.
  • Like in the previous installments of the series, various multiplayer modes are included.
    • Players can take on computer-controlled opponents on any of the fifteen arcade maps, or make their own ones.
    • Players can also compete for awards in dozens of arcade league matches and challenges.
    • It is possible to choose from between 150 characters and challenge other players to a head-to-head battle, either with up to four-player split screen or online and LAN play.
  • Extras:
    • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
    • In Shaun of the Dead, the character Ed, is playing Time Splitters 2, which featured a zombie mode.

March 22 – 1996 – 3D Tetris – Virtual Boy

  • A 3D Tetris game with a supply of three modes:
    • A. A three dimensional well appears, large enough to hold five layers of Tetris blocks.
      • Every time you complete a layer with you falling blocks it will vanish and you will be rewarded by a hefty dose of points.
      • If you ever stack over the five layers you will lose one of your layers, once all five are lost your game is over.
    • B. In this mode you place blocks around the center of the well, any blocks placed in the center will vanish, unless the block completes a layer in which case it will vanish.
    • C. In this mode a shape will be shown before the game begins.
      • You will have to replicate this shape perfectly, even one block out of place and your game is over.
      • Succeed and after a short animation a new shape will be given.
  • 3-D Tetris was the last officially licensed game released on the Virtual Boy.

March 23 – 2010 – Just Cause 2 – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • Rico Rodriguez is back!
      • After liberating the small Island of San Esperito, the CIA-agent is on his way to the island paradise Panau to find a former colleague: Agent Tom Sheldon.
      • During an undercover-investigation, he vanishes and with him two million dollars.
      • Money, the Agency desperately wants back, especially as they believe that Tom changed sides.
      • So Rico has to infiltrate the criminal organisations of Panau as Scorpio to flush out Tom Sheldon and bring him to justice while plunging the country into chaos – but that’s more of a bonus than a real objective…
  • Like its predecessor Just Cause, the game drops the player on a huge island.
    • From the start, the whole island is open to be explored by the player in a third-person-shooter-fashion either on foot, by using several dozen different cars or even by using heavily armed helicopters and fast planes.
    • The player is totally free to do what he wants, although that mostly breaks down to wreaking havoc and causing chaos by destroying statues, fuel tanks and other military-owned stuff.
    • This way the player earns points which in turn progresses the story, unlocks missions and gives him access to additional stuff from the black market.
    • In addition all over the island crates are hidden containing both money and upgrade parts.
    • Once the black market helicopter has been called via a beacon, the player can order weapons, vehicles and even request a transfer to another location on the island for free.
    • Weapons and vehicles on the other hand cost money and are dropped right on the spot where Rico called.
    • They can also be improved using the upgrade parts the player collected.
  • In addition to his weapons, Rico’s two most useful tools are his parachute and his grappling hook.
    • The parachute can be activated at almost anytime, even if the player is driving at high speed along the road, and is very useful to make combo-stunts.
    • And this is where the grappling hook comes in: with it, the player can either pull enemies towards him, or pull himself towards a target – which can either be a house two streets away, or a moving car.
    • The latter allows for example high-speed carjacks which in some cases result in one of the two types of simple Quick-Time-Events in the game.
    • The other type pops up when Rico tries to unlock a gate or disarm a bomb or such.
    • Although the grappling hock was already featured in the first game, this time around it’s a dual-hook.
    • If the player has hit something with his hook, he can put the other end on another object – again no matter if it’s a solid or moving object or a random human who had the bad luck of being nearby.
    • This allows the player for example to hook a car to a helicopter, fly over an enemy base and drop the car onto the poor soldiers.
  • To keep the action focused even outside the main storyline, challenges like checkpoint-races and optional missions are scattered around the map and each settlement on the island can be cleared 100% by destroying all worthy targets and collecting all crates in the vicinity.

March 24 – 1998 – Die By The Sword – Windows

  • Die by the Sword is a third-person action game set a medieval fantasy world.
    • The player controls Enric, a knight whose sweetheart Maya was kidnapped by kobolds and who swears to bring her back.
    • The game’s distinguishing feature is its sword-fighting system, which allows detailed and precise control of the player character’s moves, giving it a fighting game flavor.
    • The game features a fairly complex and elaborate control system, with separate keys and button combinations assigned to moves such as running, jumping, slashing, stabbing, parrying, etc., which allows the player to execute these moves simultaneously in a variety of combinations.
  • A somewhat simpler control system, dubbed “arcade mode”, is also available.
    • This system limits the amount of combinations to three kinds of slashes and blocks – low, medium, and high.
    • The game also incorporates local damage system, in which wounding specific body parts will inflict different conditions on the enemies, including severing their limbs and even decapitation.
    • The game’s levels include, beside enemies, many hazardous traps that Enric will have to avoid.
  • In addition to the story mode, the game also features arena and tournament modes, which allow up to four players participate in free-for-all battles using the game’s sword-fighting system.
    • The player is also given the opportunity to create his own custom moves with a built-in editor.

March 25 – 2014 – Smite: Battleground of the Gods – Windows

  • SMITE is a free-to-play MOBA with gameplay very similar to games like Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and Dota 2.
    • In Smite, players control gods from all kinds of religions: Greek, Roman, Chinese, Egyptian, Norse, Hindu, Mayan, Japanese and Celtic gods.
  • SMITE is a typical MOBA where in the main mode Conquest, there are two teams of five players, both having a base on the corners of the map.
    • Each base has three paths leading to it, which must all be defended in order to halt the approaching enemies.
    • After a very short time, AI-controlled minions start spawning and following all three paths.
    • These minions serve as support for the players, mainly used as cannon fodder for pushing the enemy towers.
  • All three paths are defended by two towers and a phoenix, which must be destroyed in order to advance to the enemy base and let ally minions through.
    • After a team has pushed through one of more lanes, the enemy titan has to be killed in order to win the game.
    • Between these set paths is a so called jungle, where visibility is a lot lower and several buff camps are located.
    • These jungles can be used to quickly switch lanes and flank enemies.
    • Or help out teammates where needed.
  • Aside from Conquest, SMITE also has the modes: Arena, which features no lanes; Siege, which features two lanes; Clash, which features two lanes but with a much smaller jungle than Siege; Assault, which features one lane with randomly selected gods; Joust, with one lane but being able to choose a god yourself; and a Match of the Day which switches game type, gods and conditions daily.
    • Aside from this multiplayer modes, there’s also the tutorials, a practice mode with other players against bots, and the ability to start custom games.
    • In-game events called adventures mostly feature a new temporary mode.
    • In the past these were Mario-style racing with carts, Capture the Flag, an RPG like PVE mode, and a Corrupted Arena, the Arena game mode but with the map gradually changing during the game.
  • All players start with a base pool of gold, of which the amount varies per game mode.
    • This gold can be used for buying items for the current battle.
    • More gold is earned over time, and by killing enemies and enemy minions.
    • Players also gain exp with kills and destroying towers and phoenixes.
    • This exp is used to upgrade the four skills of the god.
    • As with all other MOBA’s, skill progression and bought items reset upon the end of the game.
    • So every new game you’d have to start from scratch.
  • Unlike most MOBA’s with their isometric views, this game uses a third-person view.
    • Also, instead of using the mouse to move the character, this game features the WASD keys for moving the character.
  • Extra:
    • Since Apple released their Catalina update on 7 October 2019 and dropped 32-bit support, Smite has been unplayable on Macintosh for Mac users that had updated their system.
      • In January 2020 (before Season 7) Hi-Rez decided to completely drop support for Smite on Macintosh and remove the platform from Steam.
      • Refunds for in-game purchases (not on Steam) were given, with restrictions, up until 18 February 2020.

March 26 – 1996 – Jumpstart 2nd Grade – Macintosh, Windows…

Or…

March 26 – 2013 – BioShock: Infinite – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • In BioShock Infinite the player becomes detective Booker DeWitt who is forced to find a young woman Elizabeth to pay off his debts.
    • She is held captive in the floating city of Columbia in alternate version of 1912.
    • During his travels Booker encounters different factions within the city who are battling one another.
    • The Founders want Columbia to remain a city only for pure Americans while the Vox Populi think the city should be available to anyone.
    • The setting is built around the idea of exceptionalism with a strong religious doctrine and open racism.
    • Elizabeth is a key piece within this conflict and has a mysterious origin including her powers to cause tears in the fabric of space-time, exposing parallel universes. Booker and Elizabeth remain together most of the game and she acts on her own.
    • She does not need to be defended, tosses ammo and silver eagle coins to Booker and can be asked to pick locks.
    • They are hunted down by the spiritual leader Comstock and his troops, along with the giant mechanical Songbird.
  • The game uses similar gameplay styles and mechanics found in previous BioShock games.
    • Vigors give the player super powers to do a variety of things such as sending a murder of crows to peck away enemies or charming enemies to defend you.
    • Another one is possession used to take over humans or machines to temporarily turn them into allies.
      • Once the effect wears off, the possessed humans will commit suicide.
    • Most vigors have multiple uses either as a direct attack or as a much stronger trap awaiting to be triggered.
    • Booker can also be upgraded through four types of gear with permanent bonuses similar to the gene tonics in the previous games.
    • Different types can be equipped according to the situation.
    • The typical FPS array of weapons can be found throughout the game like pistols, shotguns, and rifles.
    • One of the more notable weapons is the Sky Hook which can be used as a melee weapon to take down an enemy.
    • Money can be exchanged at vending machines for upgrades and consumables.
    • Items are found by looting barrels, desks and enemies.
    • Vigors can only be executed when a sufficient amount of salt has been collected.
    • The three main bars visible on the screen (health, salt and shield) can be extended by locating and using infusions.
    • The story is also furthered through optional voxophones (audio logs) and kinetoscopes (film projectors).
  • Skylines provide a unique way to move throughout the world.
    • Using the Sky Hook, the player can attached to these lines and quickly slide in one direction or another.
    • These can be used to escape overwhelming situations or used to reach higher ground to gain a combat edge.

Tidbits

  • After campaigning heavily against Apple’s new tracking transparency rules, Mark Zuckerberg is now saying that Facebook could actually benefit from the change
    • He claims that it could drive more commerce to the Facebook platform by making it harder to track users without those tools, which honestly just makes me suspicious that they’ve got some kind of loophole in the works
  • Facebook is reportedly working on an Instagram for kids under 13
    • It’s a whole new demographic for them to monetize, but it sounds like a terrible idea for your children’s privacy and sanity, not to mention it could expose them to a ton of predators and danger
  • Apple’s already pushing back against the “China Advertising ID” we talked about in the last episode, sending warnings to at least two Chinese app developers using methods to track app usage without permissions
    • Many developers from independents to large companies, were experimenting with the tracking workaround but it sounds like Apple’s threats of removal from the App Store may stop this additional fingerprinting in its tracks (or at least begin a cat-and-mouse game of hacks and patches)
  • Niantic is apparently working with Nintendo on a new AR Pikmin game for mobile
  • The lead gameplay designer of Cyberpunk 2077 has left CD Projekt Red after nearly 8 years with the studio
    • Time will tell how this affects the game going forward, but considering the state the game is in currently I feel like it may not necessarily be a bad thing

Doug Hallett Graduate Scholarship in Medicine

 

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Free games

  • Microsoft

    • Hitman: The Complete First Season

      • 2016
      • Third person stealth assassination game in episodic form, taking Agent 47 all around the world to prove he is the ultimate silent assassin
    • We Were Here

      • 2017
      • Co-op puzzle game where you team up with a friend or stranger online to escape an abandoned castle, but the twist is you’re split up only able to communicate with and help eachother via walkie talkie
    • Earth Defense Force 2025

      • 2013
      • Arcade-style third person shooter that has you taking on gigantic alien insects with infinite ammo and often-ridiculous weaponry
      • More details in PS2J 238, the history of Earth Defence Force
    • Tekken Tag Tournament 2

      • 2011
      • Tournament fighting game with solid gameplay and a massive cast
  • Sony

    • Batman: Arkham Knight

      • 2015
      • Solid third-person stealth action game in the Batman universe with great combat, fun stealth takedowns, and the addition of a drivable Batmobile, all brought together by Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice
    • Darksiders 3
      • 2018
      • Action-adventure Metroidvania style game that will be familiar to fans of the first two, Darksiders 3 has you taking control of Fury, the sister to War and Death and another of the four horsemen of the apocalypse
  • Epic
    • Celeste
      • 2018
      • Platform adventure game where you have to jump, climb, and dash through each area to climb a mountain and collect strawberries
    • Inside
      • 2016
      • The spiritual successor to Limbo, Inside is another deceptively simple platformer where you control a small boy in a big, very dangerous world
 

Security warning- it’s time to delete the CamScanner app immediately

  • Security researchers at Kaspersky discovered malware in various versions of the Android app, and the iOS app has a history of not being much better despite the protections Apple has built in to their App Store process
    • The malware is set up to extract and run another piece of software that downloads more malware for whatever its creators are up to at the moment, like showing intrusive ads or signing users up for paid subscriptions
  • Lifehacker is recommending Android users switch to a better, more secure app like Adobe Scan or Microsoft Office Lens, or use the built-in scanner in the Google Drive app
    • iOS users can also use the document scanning function built in to the Notes app
 

Speaking of security, after the Siri privacy concerns we reported on back in episode 265, Apple has officially apologized and put a halt to the Siri grading program pending some serious changes

  • It looks like concerns were more founded than I thought, with Apple laying off the contractors they’d hired to review selected Siri conversations to improve the service and completely revamping the whole program later this fall
  • The changes include defaulting everyone to opt out of the recordings, allowing an optional opt-in with the ability to turn it back off at any time, and only allowing Apple employees access to the audio samples instead of using contractors
  • They’ve also released a new Siri Privacy and Grading FAQ that you can check out for more details on the upcoming program: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210558
 

The Apex Legends subreddit became an interesting place this month, with developers logging on to insult players reacting to microtransactions

  • About two weeks ago Respawn posted an apology regarding the Iron Crown event and how they locked some of their cooler skins and items behind paid lootboxes
    • For context, one event item called the Heirloom Axe costs over $200 CAD to get
    • In the future they say they’ll provide more ways to obtain items, and in the meantime they’ve made some tweaks to how the event items are being distributed
  • The comments thread then got pretty heated, as a Respawn employee started engaging with people pretty angry about the situation calling them dicks, ass-hats, and freeloaders
    • The downvotes are currently sitting at -5300, -3500, and -1000 respectively, so they’re going to have to try a lot harder to beat the Battlefront 2 “sense of pride and accomplishment” microtransaction comment with a whopping -670000
    • I’m not sure what’s going on over at EA, but it really seems like they should tone it down with both the lootboxes and the social media responses
  • This time it was handled with a lot more class though- instead of EA’s strategy of “ignore the masses”, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella publicly apologized for the discussion, saying
    • “Some of our folks crossed a line with their comments, and that’s not how we want Respawn to be represented. I apologize to any of our fans that were offended.”
    • “I will always stand behind the team here at Respawn and support them on speaking out against some of the toxic and nasty comments aimed at their families and loved ones,” he continued. “But we shouldn’t contribute to it when we do comment, and add to the very thing we want to prevent. Last week we didn’t do that, going forward we will be better. Having an open, healthy relationship with our community is incredibly important to all of us at Respawn.”
  • All in all it’s a pretty classy response to a bad situation, taking responsibility without throwing anyone under the bus
 

An attempt is being made to bring Telltale Games back from the dead, though with very few of its original parts

  • All the assets were purchased by LCG Entertainment, and the new Telltale will sell some of the back catalog as well as work on new games based on some old associated properties as well as new licenses
  • Apparently some workers from Telltale Classic will be offered freelance roles with a possibility for full-time in the future, but it looks like LCG wants to make a fairly clear distinction between that company and New Telltale
  • It’s been confirmed that New Telltale has the rights to continue The Wolf Among Us and Batman, as well as some original properties, and there are some expired licenses that they’re currently reviewing
    • Unfortunately the rights to release a game based on Stranger Things have already reverted back to Netflix, but there’s still a lot there to work with
  • Fingers crossed they can recapture the magic of early Telltale, before they overreached and started pumping out poorly managed games in a dated, hard to work with engine
 
Good news everyone, the final additions to Shovel Knight, King of Cards and a multiplayer fighting mode called Showdown, are officially coming in December
  • The game is also getting features like new body types, a they/them pronoun option, accessibility features, co-op feats, new language support, and additional cheats that apparently add whole new ways to play
    • It’s been so long since the main campaign released I’ll have to dust off my Vita and check it out this Christmas
  • There’s also a new spinoff coming called Shovel Knight Dig, following Shovel Knight in a Spelunky-type adventure through semi-randomized levels as you pursue Drill Knight and his dastardly crew to the centre of the earth
    • It’s being developed in collaboration with Nitrome, makers of games like Redungeon and Rust Bucket
    • There’s no word on a release date for Dig quite yet
 

More than a year after Zuckerberg promised a Clear History tool for Facebook it’s finally here, and it kind of works?

  • Rather than the previous claims of it deleting tracking information from your account, it just slightly limits data that is collected about you when you’re not on Facebook
    • For instance, how Facebook would present ads based on things you shopped for online
  • It doesn’t even stop the tracking, but rather disconnects it from a specific user- everything is still gathered to build a profile, it just may not be used on you in particular
    • And keep in mind, this only applies to behind-the-scenes tracking- they can still identify you if they have your email or phone number
  • And it only limits data gathering one way, from third parties into Facebook. Nothing stops Facebook from reporting back to advertisers when users purchase a product after seeing a targeted ad
  • All in all it’s kind of a garbage attempt, especially when it was first touted as working the same as as your browser’s Clear History feature- flushing the data entirely
 

In response to WebKit’s announcement that tracking cookies will be treated as a security risk, Google’s now trying to make the argument that blocking them is actually bad for privacy…?

  • For anyone not aware, a cookie is a little piece of info that websites can read and write in your web browser, to do things like keep you logged in when you leave a website, that can also be used like breadcrumbs to see what websites you visit
  • Their first point seems to be that if you block cookies then developers will find other, more secret ways to track users, like building a fingerprint based on things like what device they’re using or what fonts they have installed. Since users can’t manually clear that, it’s apparently worse
    • freedom-to-tinker.comsaid it well: “We see that our town has a pickpocketing problem. But if we crack down on pickpocketing, the pickpocketers will just switch to muggings. That would be even worse. Surely you don’t want that, do you?”
  • And their second point is that blocking cookies that target ads causes content publishers to lose ad revenue because the ads become less relevant. This was, of course, backed up by a study (read, single paragraph in a blog post) run by Google. Who I’m sure is a completely third party wait it’s the same company
    • As long as we’re comparing anecdotes, the international edition of the New York Times recently switched from tracking-based ads to contextual and geographic ads—and it didn’t experience any decrease in advertising revenue.
  • So their strategy is to block fingerprinting (which is good) and improve the classification of cookies to be more transparent about what’s being used to track you (which is kind of neutral? Because in theory any cookie could be used to track you)
 

Creature in the Well

  • A top down dungeon crawler
    • With elements of pinball
  • You play as Bot-C
    • The last of engineer of a robot collective
    • You have to save the town of Mirage from a huge sandstorm by repairing an ancient weather machine
    • But there is a strange creature that is watching you from the shadows
  • The gameplay is hack and slash
    • With puzzles influenced by pinball, breakout and other ball based games
    • You explore rooms rooms to gather energy, which you spend to open doors and upgrade your character
    • Lots of secrets, with different weapons and cosmetic items
    • The town also has citizens that can help you
    • And they coined the phrase Pin-Brawler
  • September 6 for Switch, Xbox One and Steam.
 

Indies for Switch that Josh has

  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
  • Stardew Valley
  • The Messenger
 

Josh is interested In getting

  • Cuphead
    • StudioMDHR’s astonishing Cuphead has made the jump from Xbox One/PC to Switch. The port runs wonderfully both in console and handheld mode, retaining all the glory of the 1930s cartoon art style and animations.
    • Cuphead is a challenging game, but it never comes across as unfair. Minimalistic mechanics let you focus on the task at hand — the multi-phase bosses — while enjoying all of the excellent animations and sounds.
    • Cuphead is worth playing for the art style alone, which is as impressive now as it was upon its original launch in 2017. The engaging boss fights and crisp mechanics make it a pleasure to work through, even when the going gets exceedingly tough.
  • Hyper Light Drifter
    • Hyper Light Drifter is an ode to 8-bit and 16-bit adventure games, set in a distinct world reduced to shambles. This top-down adventure features extremely challenging gameplay with a neat gimmick.
    • Your main weapon, an energy sword, has to strike enemies in order to charge your supplementary, ranged weapons. This means you have to master melee combat to have a chance against the onslaught of enemies.
    • Rounded out by a beautiful soundtrack and fantastic animations, Hyper Light Drifter is a moving experience with an understated, but powerful story.
  • Down Well
    • Downwell, a game about a man falling down a well in a park, has been available since 2015 on mobile devices. Rendered in black and white, the premise is simple: Make it to the bottom. Since you’re falling at a rapid pace, you would think you’re already ahead of the game, right? Not so fast. Avoiding obstacles, enemies, and projectiles is an arduous endeavor that forces you to think and move on the fly.
    • As a rogue-like, each time you make your descent, the layout of the well changes. With guns attached to your boots that only recharge when you touch the ground safely, it’s a constant battle between the offensive and defensive. Power-ups are rewarded at the bottom of each stage, but each level ups the challenge. Basically, no matter what you have in your arsenal, you’re always facing an uphill battle (ironic, huh?).
    • A round of Downwell can last anywhere from seconds to a handful of minutes, depending on your skill level. On Switch, it’s a perfect game for quick bursts in handheld mode. The $3 price makes Downwell a steal, but you should splurge for the Flip Grip to play Downwell comfortably with a vertical orientation.
  • Into The Breach
    • From the makers of the excellent FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breachsomehow manages to be Subset Games’ best outing. A turn-based tactics game, Into the Breach takes place on small grids filled with only a few units. The name of the game is survival, as losing all your units restarts the game.
    • It’s an interesting approach to the relatively well-trodden grid-based tactics genre. You can, if you choose, take out enemy units, but you must focus on protecting your power grids. Since you only have a limited number of turns, choosing where to place your units at the start of each round is key.
    • Into the Breach has so many surprising layers to it that you’ll learn new strategies even after you’ve cleared the game multiple times. It’s a near perfect turn-based strategy game that should not be missed by any fans of the genre.
 
 

Tidbits

  • A new trailer for The Mandalorian dropped this week, and it looks just fantastic
    • Strikes me as Firefly but Star Wars, and has the titular Mandalorian teaming up with IG-11 in a lot of very cool settings and situations
  • The 2015 MacBook Pro battery trouble is now having some negative effects on travellers, with many airlines banning all 15″ MacBook Pros from checked luggage regardless of the year and warning they must stay off for the duration of the flight
  • Dutch brand ZENS unveiled a wireless charging mat that can charge two devices at a time anywhere on the mat, bringing us one step closer to the cancelled Apple AirPower
    • The mat uses 16 overlapping coils to deliver the power, compared to Apple’s planned 32 coils to charge three devices, and doesn’t have the same kind of software integration, but if it sounds like something you want I hope you have $140 USD to burn. $180 USD gets you a glass version so you can see the coils and circuitry
  • A short-lived Amazon listing for an Overwatch-themed Nintendo Switch case, marked as “officially licensed by Nintendo and Blizzard Entertainment”, is fuelling speculation that the team shooter is coming to the Switch sometime soon
    • Between an upcoming Nintendo Direct and Blizzcon this November, the time is definitely ripe
 

Alan recommends Archero

  • You play the Lone Archer in this roguelike dungeon crawl, choosing from randomly assorted skills each time you level up to take on bigger and more daunting challenges
  • It got some interesting gameplay, where each room has a variety of enemies either shooting or charging at you, and you have to take them down while keeping your health bar up
    • The interesting part comes in with your attack- it automatically aims and shoots but only while you aren’t moving, so you have to choose between attack and dodging at any given moment
    • And it has my favourite roguelike mechanic, where there are permanent upgrades you can unlock and level up between sessions, so that even if you’re having trouble at the moment you’re still making progress
  • It’s got some annoying F2P bits to it, but it’s been pretty easy to not drop any money on it so far and I’m about halfway through the campaign
    • They also don’t have any mandatory ads, only putting them in when you choose to continue after dying or keep playing when you’re out of energy
  • Over all I’ve been enjoying it, and it looks like there are some cool updates coming in the near future with unlockable heroes and a battlepass feature that increases the rewards you can get
 

Literally Misleading

MOVIE – After being mistaken for terrorists, protecting intellectual property is now the least of the hero’s problems.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

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