Free games

  • Twitch

    • Yoku’s Island Express

      • 2018
      • Side-scrolling Metroidvania platformer where you can only jump by using pinball paddles to push a ball that drags your character behind, in an open world with many bumpers, tracks, and ramps for different pinball mechanics
    • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones

      • 2015
      • 2D puzzle platform stealth game that has you taking control of multiple clones to explore the facility in which you were born
    • Chicken Assassin: Reloaded

      • 2016
      • An RPG beat-em-up that plays like a clicker- you can upgrade your stats, weaponry, and equipment, then mash buttons to beat up the bad guys and get your girl back
    • Manual Samuel

      • 2016
      • 2D adventure sidescroller where you try to make it through a normal day performing all your bodily functions completely manually, a la QWOP
  • Epic

    • Conarium

      • 2017
      • Lovecraftian horror adventure game inspired by At The Mountains of Madness, that has you exploring an Antarctic base to discover the fate of your expedition through notes, journals, and and strange visions

Apple’s By Innovation Only event was this week, and here are some of the highlights:

  • Apple Arcade looks fairly solid and will only cost $5 a month with full family sharing. None of the games will include in-app purchases, and they’re all exclusive to Apple Arcade on mobile
    • The big standout for me was Sayonara Wild Hearts, a neon rhythm racing game with a ton of style, that’s also coming to Switch and PS4
  • Apple TV+ is also hitting for $5 a month, which makes competing services look pretty expensive by comparison, but the content is slowly coming together
    • Netflix and Amazon Prime are a fair bit more with a ton of back catalog, and Disney+ is only slightly more expensive with their huge vault of works
    • One interesting note though, every Apple device sold from now on will come with a free year of Apple TV+. Whether that means only the first time or every single purchase remains to be seen
  • There’s a new entry-level iPad model that works as an updated alternative to the fancy iPad Pro
  • The Apple Watch Series 5 will officially have an always-on display, with the screen staying dim until you raise it, and apparently the exact same battery life as current models
    • They’re also bringing in more case materials like ceramic and titanium
    • And the Series 3 seems to be the new budget model, with the Series 4 being completely replaced
  • And, of course, the iPhone
    • We’ve got three new iPhones:
      • iPhone 11, which is the updated iPhone XR, has the same liquid retina display with a ton of new guts to make it even faster than before
        • They’ve also tweaked the dual camera system on the back to use a standard and ultra-wide angle lens, instead of the old telephoto, so they can use their computational photography to work with even more information
          • It also allows them to finally have a Night Mode, which Google’s been rocking for about a year now
          • The new camera system does come with a gigantic square camera bump, which leaves many wondering why not make the whole device the same thickness and add more battery life (though they did manage to add an additional hour, which is nothing to sneeze at)
      • Then the iPhone 11 Pro, the new OLED model replacing the XS, with a very fancy super duper crazy bright and accurate fancy display ™
        • It also comes in a new color, midnight green, that feels Boba Fett-esque. Pretty slick
        • For the most part it’s got the same new fancy guts as the iPhone 11, but in addition it’s got a third lens to keep the telephoto in play with the other two.
          • Apparently it will use a feature called Deep Fusion to fuse 9 separate exposures with the combined lenses into a single image
        • It’s also got slightly faster cellular data, which is kind of whatever at this point. It gets to a point where the speed gains become less and less noticeable
        • Unfortunately this model is also killing my baby- 3D touch is dead, replaced by haptic touch
          • 3D touch was brilliant, where you could press slightly harder on the screen to do things like get shortcuts or move your cursor around with your thumb on the keyboard, but required an extra suite of sensors under the display
          • Instead all the Pro models have the same Haptic touch brought to us originally in the XR because the display just didn’t work with the tech- you just do a long press, and the haptics give you a light tap on the thumb. So it’s a glorified long press, which we’ve had pretty much the whole time anyway
        • All this comes alongside 4-5 more hours of battery life for the base and Max models, respectively, which is bonkers year-over-year improvement while adding more tech
      • This year’s iPhones also bring a new chip for ultra wideband technology, leading many to think that their Tile competitor is coming soon since that would allow for much more accurate location tracking of devices
        • One demo found inside the new iOS files has the ability to look around your room for a red balloon, then follow the string to the missing device
 

Awesome looking game that’s got about a month left on Kickstarter, called Savior.

Story
Savior is an open-world, action-adventure platformer, centered on rebuilding the divided planet of Arcadia. You’ll be empowered to save the people you discover from problems like hunger, superstition, tyranny and destruction. As you help the Arcadians regain their lives and thrive, you’ll earn experience, abilities, powerful tools and allies to aid you in your quest.
You play as Sam, a stranger with no possessions or memory.  As you explore, you’ll learn of your origin and place among the characters you encounter. Battle, evade and persuade your enemies to join you in rebuilding a broken world.
Combat
We wanted combat to feel as real and engaging as possible. To that end, every block, dodge and strike is clean and reactive. NPCs have attack patterns that you’ll learn over time, so fights are quick as you come to anticipate your opponent’s reactions.
  • Strike 6-Directions – Strike up, high (standing), low (crouched), down (when airborne), or behind you high and low. Hit targets all around you with ease.
  • Block – Auto-block most attacks with one button. Blocks will cost you ground and stamina. If you block exactly on the strike timing, you’ll instantly counter-attack.
  • Dodge – By crouching before a high strike or jumping just before a low strike you’ll open up a window of vulnerability in your opponent. Strike fast for a guaranteed hit!
  • Be Unconventional – When encountering an aggressor, you’ll have options. Douse them with water, intimidate them with staff spins or impress them with epic dance moves!
Parkour
Savior is an open-world game where you’re free to cover the same ground multiple times. So we’ve made simple travel as fun as possible. We’ve added a flurry of movement enhancements to make running and jumping more thrilling and varied.
  • Context-Sensitive Jumps – Jumps to walls, ledges, high targets, low targets, water, off cliffs etc. will get their own animations that flow together.
  • Wall Jump – Special gear will let you cling to walls and climb ravines like a spider monkey that sweats crazy glue.
  • Slide/Roll – Explore every crevice of Arcadia by learning to get small and round. Push down at a run and you’ll slide through your opponents legs!
  • Dash/Double Jump – Add a second boost to your jump or your run. Blast up or forward to reach new areas, just get around faster, or knock over foes.
Diplomacy
You can win opponents to your cause with your words and actions. They’ll remember encounters and build a positive or negative relationship with you. Over time you can convince them to abandon hostility and help you rebuild Arcadia.
  • Complete Quests –  Quest to gain favor, secrets, and powerful items. Plus you’ll change your surroundings in lasting ways that will make your way forward easier.
  • Choose Your Style – Talk people into joining your cause. Fight them until they relent. Or make their favorite meal or douse them in water. Get creative!
  • Debate – Part of your arsenal will be solid arguments. Only some will respond to a good argument right away, but you can plant seeds of doubt that grow over time.
  • Build Reputation – As you become known, NPCs will treat you differently. Get discounts at shops, help with quests and access to secret areas and equipment.
  You can back the project until October 10th, 2019. Then as Kickstarter does, they get the funds to work on it, or pledges are not taken.
  • They will release on Steam, but they have added Xbox One, PS4 and Switch as stretch goals. My speculation, is that those goals are to pay for the license for those platforms.

Tidbits

  • Facebook’s released their new dating service in the US, and as usual it had a ton of security and personal information pitfalls
    • If you really want to check it out, Lifehacker has a great breakdown of what information is visible to whom
  • Apparently the Galaxy Fold, that $2000 terrible phone tablet thing, is rolling out slowly around the world this month after an announcement on the 5th
    • Unfortunately it looks like Samsung is cancelling everyone’s preorders dating all the way back to April
    • They’re saying they’re revamping the entire purchase experience, along with the slow rollout, so everyone that did preorder gets $250 in store credit
  • Ironically, after Google went on about needing tracking cookies to prevent users being fingerprinted by things like fonts (we discussed in 269), Google-owned app Crashlytics has started installing fonts with a custom identifier embedded that any app can use to identify users
  • New legislation is coming to California forcing independent contractors in gig-worker roles to be treated as employees, and Uber is trying to say it doesn’t apply because drivers aren’t a core part of their business, which seems like a bold choice

Alan Recommends Philips Sonicare

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Free games
  • Epic Games
    • Thimbleweed Park
      • 2017
      • A haunted hotel, an abandoned circus, a burnt-out pillow factory, a dead body pixelating under the bridge, toilets that run on vacuum tubes… you’ve never visited a place like this before.
      • In Thimbleweed Park, a dead body is the least of your problems. Switch between five playable characters to uncover the surreal secrets of this strange town in a modern mystery adventure game from the creators of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. The deeper you go, the weirder it gets.
Top story this week, Reggie Fils-Aime is stepping down as president of Nintendo of America effective this April
  • After being with the company for 16 years, and leading it for 13 of them, he’s moving on to spend more time with family and friends
  • The reins will be passed to Doug Bowser, the current head of sales and marketing, who has been working with Reggie for the past four years
    • They’re already leaning into the memes, with Bowser posting a photo thanking everyone for the warm welcome that has plushes of Mario and Luigi tied up together on a shelf
  • Reggie’s posted a heart-felt goodbye on the Nintendo of America Twitter account, thanking fans for their never-ending support and passion
In a bit of a roller coaster, some large Pokemon Go YouTube channels were deleted, then restored, this week
  • Apparently they had some innocuous videos flagged, and according to YouTube they were reviewed and given strikes for sexual content, specifically involving minors
    • This process even had one user’s GMail account completely disabled, leaving them unable to contact YouTube through normal means
  • Once the channels got in touch with YouTube to argue their case though, they were reinstated before the end of the day, saying that the YouTubers were taken down mistakenly
  • The root of the mistake seems to be the titles of the videos, referring to combat power as CP
    • It’s a common term in the Pokemon Go community, but it’s also unfortunately used as shorthand for child pornography
  • In the end it’s good that YouTube is making these kinds of efforts, but considering Google’s pockets I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a human to look at cases once they’ve been flagged for review
Niantic is bringing some quality of life improvements for everyone not playing Pokemon Go, to settle the class-action lawsuit from annoyed homeowners
  • The app will delivery courtesy reminders whenever 10 or more people are playing in the same location
  • They’ll also work with public parks to remind users of a location’s hours and make the associated stops inaccessible when closed, open a complaints reporting site, and grant removals for Pokestops within 40m of a single-family property
  • The named plaintiffs are also getting $1000 each, while the lawyers are requesting over $8M in fees and expenses
Samsung unveiled a bunch of new tech at their Unpacked event this week, and we’ve got a quick overview
  • Folding phones are finally here, and they’re absurdly expensive and unnecessary!
    • Samsung has announced the Galaxy Fold, launching April 26th and starting at $1980 USD
    • It strikes me as the worst of both worlds- when unfolded it looks like a typical Android tablet, which have generally been lacking, and when folded it’s a really thick phone with gigantic bezels (seems like almost a full inch each on the top and bottom)
    • It feels like this is basically a folding tablet, with the exterior screen kind of tacked on to make it also a phone
    • If nothing else it will bring the foldable display technology some more popularity and inspire others to innovate further with the tech
  • They announced the new Galaxy S10 with an interesting ultrasonic fingerprint scanner hidden behind the somewhat excessive 6.7” edge-to-edge display
  • It’s also 5G ready, which is jumping the gun a bit because the networks sure aren’t
  • Samsung also announced Galaxy Buds, an Airpods competitor that can wirelessly charge from the S10 using PowerShare, and a fancy new batch of smartwatches to complete their matching set
Samsung Washer Video  *Josh referenced this
Facebook may be facing multi-billion dollar fines after their role on the Cambridge Analytica user information scandal
  • The root of the investigation is whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 settlement with the FTC, prohibiting Facebook from misrepresenting the privacy or security of user info and requiring consent before overriding privacy settings, after they were found to have “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.”
  • The current investigation started in March of last year, after 87 million users’ info was given to a political consulting firm that did work with the Trump campaign
    • I’d be surprised if they weren’t also taking into account some of the more recent revelations, like making the posts of 14 million users public despite privacy settings set otherwise and giving away private information and photos left and right
  • If they fight the fines, which is sounds like they may based on their usual denials and non-statements, they could face a massive privacy lawsuit from the FTC and the US Government
Speaking of Facebook and bad data policies, a bunch of apps have come under fire for sending personal information to Facebook without user consent or controls
  • Among some of the worst offenders tested by the Wall Street Journal are
    • Realtor.com sends info on the listings that a user views, including location, price, and if they’re marked as a favourite
      Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on iOS, sends a user’s heart rate to Facebook immediately after it’s recorded
    • Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker tells Facebook when a user is having their period, or if they’re trying to get pregnant
Tidbits
  • Razer is closing down their game store after being open only 10 months
    • They were just reselling Steam and Uplay games, so as long as you make sure to activate your codes before Feb 28 you’ll be safe
    • They’ll also apparently still honour any existing preorders
  • Pokemon Go is now allowing players to switch teams, with a couple asterisks
    • It costs 1000 coins (earnable in gyms or by spending money), and can only be done once per year
  • The Netflix/Marvel partnership is officially over, with no more seasons of The Punisher and Jessica Jones, the last two Marvel series being made on the platform, being produced
    • The third season of Jessica Jones will still air sometime this year, but that’ll be the end
    • Time will tell if the eventual Marvel streaming service will continue the existing Netflix stories, or if they’ll need to reboot things
  • The final pieces of Shovel Knight, initially set to release on April 9th, have been delayed by “several months”
    • Originally revealed with a 2018 launch date, Shovel Knight: King of Cards, Shovel Knight Showdown, and the physical release of Treasure Trove have all been pushed back to an unspecified date this year, along with the associated amiibo three-pack
Recommend the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
  • It’s an urban fantasy series that feels like a blend of The Dresden Files and American Gods, creating a world with people, monsters, gods, and goddesses from a wide array of mythologies and pantheons
  • It all comes together really well and sucks you in, with the books feeding in to eachother pretty directly
  • Including novellas I’ve devoured 17 books in the last three weeks, and I can’t wait to read the last few and see how it ends

Bad Description of Movies and Games

War veteran trys to radicalize a young man to assassinate key members of the government. (Movie)

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