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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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Pathway

      • 2020
      • Isometric strategy adventure game set in the wilderness in the 1930’s that has you exploring the strange unknown. Unravel long-forgotten mysteries of the occult, raid ancient tombs and outwit your foes in turn-based squad combat
  • GOG

    • The Witcher 3, if you own it on a connected account like PS4, Xbox, Steam, etc

      • 2015
      • Action RPG that focuses on narrative and worldbuilding as you go through the land taking on quests and slaying monsters, all the while searching for your missing adoptive daughter before she’s caught by the Wild Hunt
      • The free edition will match what you own on the connected service, either base game or GOTY edition. Players that bought the DLC separately unfortunately don’t get any consideration

The Supreme Court of the US issued a historic decision on workplace protections, ruling 6-3 that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under an existing Civil Rights era law

  • The existing law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, bars discrimination on the basis of sex. The justices has determined that it extends beyond just the gender you were assigned at birth to your orientation and identity as well
  • Before this, LGBTQ+ workers in more than half of the US had no legal protection against discrimination, and could be fired, demoted, or paid less because of who they are
  • Even multiple educators lauded as Teacher of the Year in different states were discriminated against, bullied, threatened, and fired because of their identity and what they do in their spare time, like counselling LGBTQ+ youth or other non-heteronormative community outreach
    • One was even placed on administrative leave for mentioning her same-gender fiance during a welcome-back presentation to returning students

A new company called OpenCore Computer, with no official affiliation with the OpenCore Bootloader, has launched a commercial Hackintosh computer that has Apple’s lawyers salivating

  • The OpenCore Bootloader is a piece of software developed by enthusiasts that, in theory, would allow you to run macOS on standard PC hardware
  • Apparently a group has taken advantage of that free software to create OpenCore Computer, who claims that they hope to make Mac Pro style workstations more accessible. And you can get a pretty solid system for a bit over $2G USD
  • The problem is that Apple’s licensing agreement, since macOS is completely free, is that it should only run on official Apple hardware. Building your own Hackintosh is a grey area at best, and doing it professionally is solidly illegal
  • They seem to know that their work is fishy right from the get-go too, with payments only accepted in Bitcoin to try and get around the licensing in regards to accepting payments, and using an escrow service so that they get your coins through a middle-man after shipping
  • At the end of the day, if you want a Hackintosh you’re probably better off going on Reddit and following a pre-existing guide. It’s not terribly hard, especially for a hobbyist. And someone who needs the full performance of a Mac Pro would be better off either buying the real deal or switching to Windows, since I doubt the after-market support is up to snuff

EA revealed the upcoming Star Wars: Squadrons, and the details they’ve let loose so far are a radical departure for the company

  • There’s not a lot about gameplay yet, but the trailer looks really cool
  • The biggest shocks are that it’s cross-platform, has a single-player campaign, supports VR, will sell for $40 USD with no microtransactions, and is releasing on Steam rather than Origin
    • If they throw in stick and throttle support this could be a legitimate competitor with the likes of Elite: Dangerous
  • The news, unfortunately, has left many people that were still hoping for a Titanfall 3 disappointed that the “Where Pilots come to play” promo material was completely unrelated

Reddit user RobertAPetersen has set up a really slick shortcut for iOS for if you get stopped by the police

  • Triggered by telling Siri “I’m being pulled over”, it pauses your music, turns down screen brightness, turns on Do Not Disturb, sends a text to the contacts of your choosing with your location letting them know you’re being pulled over, then starts recording video with the front-facing camera
  • And after you’re done recording it will send the video to any contacts you specify and give you the option to upload it to the cloud
  • This is a really good idea even for just my low-level paranoia about police, and I’m white. For people of colour these kinds of tools are a godsend for accountability that clearly just isn’t there in law enforcement

8 years after its successful Kickstarter campaign and still with no release in sight, Star Citizen has now become the most expensive game in history

  • With them still pre-selling copies of the game and different in-game rewards like ships and skins, they’ve managed to surpass the development costs of both GTA V and The Old Republic with a whopping $350M invested to date
  • At this point with all that money and still just sitting at Alpha 3.9 they really have no incentive to ever release, and I’m beginning to think that my $30 pledge for a ship and lifetime insurance might just amount to the JPEGS they already emailed me
    • On the plus side, since I backed it so early they gave me a bunch of extra stuff like a BB-12 Manned Maneuvering Unit and a Preacher Armament Inquisition XXII Gatling. So that’s something, whatever those are
  • In the time since Star Citizen was first funded, Elite Dangerous was Kickstarted, developed, released, given DLC, and is now considered to be an older game

Mei added to Heroes of the Storm

  • The louder people in the Heroes of the Storm fan-base cries out
    • Very similar to the complaining of Fire Emblem characters being added to Smashm
    • I am happy for any character added to either game, more the merrier
  • She is a Tank character, which is different from her Overwatch role of DPS
    • Strong with Crowd Control, Mobility and Survivability
    • Weak against Siege and Burst Damage
  • Her active trait is Cryo-Freeze
    • Mei encases herself in ice gaining a temporary decaying shield and heals up to 35% max health
  • Q is Snow Blind
    • Throws a snowball that hits enemies in an area
    • Deals damage, slows by 35% and Blinds for 1.5 seconds
  • W is Blizzard
    • Snowball creates a blizzard at target location for 2 seconds
    • Enemies take damage every .25 seconds, are slowed by 7% and stacks up to 35%
    • When the Blizzard ends, enemies take extra damage and  and are stunned for 1.25 seconds
  • E is Icing
    • Mei slides quickly in the targeted direction
    • When the effect ends enemies at Mei’s location are knocked back
    • They also take damage and are slowed by 80%, decaying over 1.5 seconds
  • Mei’s first Ultimate is Avalanche
    • After a .5 seconds, a massive snowball rolls forward and consumes enemy heroes in its path
    • At the end of its path it deals huge damage to enemies and stuns them for .5 seconds per hero
  • Mei’s second Ultimate is Ice Wall
    • After a .75 delay an impassible wall emerges and traps enemy heroes in it
    • After 2.5 seconds, the wall crumbles and trapped heroes are freed and slowed by 75% decaying over 3 seconds

Pokemon Snap 2

  • From the Pokemon Twitter
    • We got a minute teaser
  • Shows it will be similar to the original
      • Taking pictures from a safe capsule on a track
        • The one in the trailer uses a invisible tack seen through augmented reality for the character inside
      • Apples are going to be used as bait again
      • Digital camera upgrade
        • Tracks subjects like newer smartphones can
  • New Pokemon featured
    • Seems like an Alola area with all kinds of pokemon
    • The first game did not feature all original 151
      • It will be interesting to see all that are actively in the game
        • And those referenced, like Mewtwo was a constellation
      • Also a pidgeotto swoop on a magikarp

Tidbits

  • Google has committed $175M toward supporting black businesses, and announced plans to increase underrepresented people in its leadership by 30% by 2025
    • It’s a start, but with black employees accounting for less than 4% of their workforce Google still has some work to do with diversity
  • The European Union has opened anti-trust investigations against Apple this week, following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten over Apple’s 30% cut on subscriptions and ebook sales through apps on its platform
  • Slay the Spire has released on iOS, and it’s a ton of fun with a bunch of asterisks
    • It’s a roguelike deckbuilding card game and not bad for $14 CAD, and I’ve been playing it a lot, but the mobile port is missing a lot of polish
    • It’s very faithful to the original, which is great in some ways for people who want a familiar experience but not so great in others- simple things like trying to read your cards is a bit of a mess, since they magnet directly under your fingertip, and on an iPhone without a home button if I’m trying to swipe the game close there’s a good change it will accidentally play a random card while I try
    • Also, it might work a bit better on an iPad but on my phone the text is pretty dang small. The resolution and controls seem pretty much unchanged from when I played it on PC, which is unfortunate because it’s a lot of fun
    • It initially launched at a full 5* rating, but while it’s maintained the top spot in card games on the app store it’s already slipped down to a 3.8 because of these issues

 

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