PS2J 318 News – OOPS! All Events

Free games

  • Twitch Prime

    • Q.U.B.E. 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
    • Bridge Constructor

      • 2011
      • Physics-based simulation puzzle game that has you working with different gaps, materials, and cost limitations to make bridges that can support different combinations of traffic
  • Epic Games

    • Football Manager 2020

      • 2019
      • European football-management simulation game offering playable teams in 53 different countries across 5 continents
    • Stick It To The Man!

      • 2013
      • Indie adventure platformer that puts you in the role of Ray, a hard hat tester that suffered a bizarre accident and woke up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain. With his awesome new powers he can read minds and change the world with stickers but he’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.
    • Watch Dogs 2

      • 2016
      • Action adventure open world game where you play a hacker trying to take down the city’s advanced surveillance system, completing missions in a variety of ways in increase the follower count of your group DedSec

Apple- Time Flies event

  • No iPhone announcement after all, so we can likely look forward to that in October

  • Apple Watch

    • New initiative from Mount Sinai health system, where researchers are using Watch data to research COVID
    • WatchOS 7 will track VO2 Max, the volume of oxygen you consume when exercising at max capacity, a good indicator of fitness and overall health
      • Notification if it drops to low levels
    • Series 6
      • Blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and PRODUCT(RED)
      • Blood oxygen
        • 15 seconds to measure, takes periodic readings including while you sleep
        • Helpful indicator of respiratory and cardiac health
      • Fancy dual-core processor
      • Improved always-on display
      • New always-on altimeter
      • New watchfaces
        • GMT shows multiple timezones
        • Count-up lets you track elapsed time
        • Chronograph pro has multiple time scales
        • Typograph give you custom styles focusing on large numbers
      • New stretchable one-piece loop band, in both solid and an attractive braided silicon
    • Family Setup
      • One iphone can set up multiple watches, for kids or other people without their own phone
      • Includes location notifications and movement tracking
    • Apple Watch SE
      • Uses slightly older chips (still twice as fast as the series 3) along with the fancy new display
      • Same accelerometer, gyro, compass, and altimeter as the 6, but no ECG or blood oxygen
    • New lineup starts at:
      • Series 3 $199
      • SE $279
      • Series 6 $399
  • Officially removing the USB wall adapter from the Apple Watch, marketing it as an environmental initiative

  • Apple Fitness +

    • Fitness service with trainers and music (integrated with Apple Music if you want to save a playlist)
    • Workout videos shown on your TV along with biometrics from your watch
    • Launching with yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill, strength, core, hiit, rowing, and meditation
    • New workouts every week, with different levels and recommended workouts
    • Three month free trial, and will be available before the end of the year
    • $9.99/month, $79.99/year
  • Apple One

    • iCloud storage
    • Music
    • TV+
    • Arcade
    • News+
    • Fitness+
    • Individual plan- $14.95
      • Includes Music, TV+, Arcade, 50GB storage
      • $19.95 for family access
    • Premier- $29.95
      • Adds News+ and Fitness+, along with 2TB storage
  • iPadOS 14

    • Better Pencil integration with automatic writing-to-text
    • Scribble lets you handwrite in any text field
  • iPad

    • New 8th gen base model is getting the A12 chip from the XS and the iPad Air
      • Also works with Apple Pencil
      • Smart connector for the fancy Apple smart and magic keyboards
      • Starts at $329 ($299 for education)
    • Air
      • Redesigned, more similar to the iPad Pro
      • USB-C, rounded corners, smaller bezels, and the smart connector
      • New colours including rose gold, green, and sky blue
      • TouchID integrated into the power button
      • No FaceID or TrueDepth camera
      • Brand new 6 core processor, 40% faster than the previous model
      • This all brings the Air ($599) close to parity with the Pro ($799), especially if you don’t want FaceID
  • New software for iPads, iPhones, Watches, and AppleTV’s all hit this week, with no mention of macOS

    • All kinds of fanciness that we’ve talked about previously including home screen widgets and better sleep tracking, along with picture-in-picture video
      • They’ve added an App Library, so iPhone users don’t need to have every app installed available on one of their homescreen pages
      • Not to mention additional options with Shortcuts and Automations that Reddit immediately took to to make their iPhones moan when power cords are plugged in
    • They’ve also released a new firmware for AirPods Pro that adds spatial audio and dynamic head tracking, so when paired with iOS14 supported audio will always sound like it’s anchored to your device

Sony’s announced more details on the PS5, and we’ve got some highlights

  • Pricing of the disk-version of the PS5 matches the Xbox Series X at $499USD, and the diskless model is $399
    • That’s a good chunk more than the Series S’s $299, but considering you get the same specs rather than a pared down version it makes sense- the PS5 blows the Series S out of the water, spec-wise
    • You could even look at it like they’re coming in at $100 less than the Series X, with an optional upgrade to include a disk drive
  • Demon’s Souls Remake looks amazing, with everything rebuilt from the original art, sound, music, and feel along with fancy new haptic feedback
    • You can still see the trailer mirrored on other sites like IGN, but Sony had to pull the original because it mistakenly said it was coming to other consoles and PC
    • This alone might sell me a PS5
  • Spider-Man Miles Morales looks pretty solid
  • Hogwarts Legacy could be the open world Harry Potter game we’ve been waiting for
  • Deathloop looks like a lot of fun, especially for fans of the Groundhog Day genre
  • God of War Ragnarok was revealed, and after the last title in the series is yet another reason to buy a PS5
  • Playstation Plus Collection
    • It feels like conceptually they’re trying to compete with GamePass, and they might get there eventually, but right now it’s mainly a selection of excellent PS4 games that all PS+ subscribers can play on the PS5 at launch for no additional cost
      • God of War
      • Bloodborne
      • Monster Hunter World
      • Final Fantasy XV
      • Mortal Kombat X
      • Fallout 4
      • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
      • Ratchet & Clank
      • Days Gone
      • Until Dawn
      • Detroit: Become Human
      • Battlefield 1
      • Infamous: Second Son
      • Batman: Arkham Knight
      • The Last Guardian
      • The Last of Us: Remastered
      • Persona 5
      • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • Pre-orders are available now, with launch on November 12th in North America, Japan, Australia, NZ, and SK, and the 19th everywhere else

Facebook has announced the Oculus Quest 2- the new king of VR, if you don’t mind Zuckerberg’s ever-tightening fist

  • It’s kind of ridiculous how good the headset is, especially for its price and the fact that it’s wireless
  • $299USD gets you a thinner, lighter Quest with higher resolution with 50% more pixels per eye
    • And for $100 more you can get 256GB of storage, which you might end up needing if games start really using the increased pixel-count. The base model only getting 64GB of storage is nearly criminal nowadays
    • It actually just edges out the Valve Index when it comes to resolution, and that one goes for $1000
    • It’s using LCD instead of OLED though, so expect blacks to look less black, and the field of view is a fair bit narrower than the Index so you’re locked to only 90 degrees
    • They’ve also increased the framerate from 72hz to 90hz, but currently that’s only supported on the main menus
  • Another change is the IPD adjustment, to set the distance between your eyes
    • The Quest had a slider for a range of measurements, but the Quest 2 only has three set positions that Facebook says accommodates between 68mm and 58mm
  • The base head strap is even more basic than the Quest’s, more matching the Oculus Go, but they’re handling it a lot better with first party peripherals
    • You can get alternate face linings, protective lenses, a higher-quality Elite Strap, and even better an amped up Elite Strap with an additional battery to help counterbalance
  • Facebook definitely hasn’t skimped on the processor though, going from one that was midrange even at launch to a top of the line Snapdragon XR2 that is more than twice as fast
  • They’ve also improved the battery life on the slightly redesigned controllers, while at the same time making them a little bigger to be almost a hybrid between the original Oculus controllers and the first gen Quest
  • But now where it gets ugly
    • The Quest 2 will be the first piece of Oculus hardware that requires a Facebook account to run
      • This combined with the low price reminds me of the adage “If you get something for free, you might be the product being sold”
    • And on top of that, Facebook has said that if you link your Oculus account to a Facebook account that violates their rules, like not using your real name or birthdate, your account could be completely disabled and you might lose access to any games or content you’ve already paid for
      • In many cases Facebook has asked for an unredacted picture of a user’s driver’s license to be sent in to verify that information, but it seems ridiculous that they have any business getting all that information just so I can play VR games. Beyond billing info they have no use for my personal info, besides to sell it to someone else
  • All that said, if you’re okay with what Facebook does and want what is unfortunately one of the best VR headsets available, you can pick yours up on October 13

The App Store slapfight continues

  • Court documents in the Epic vs Apple lawsuit show Apple saying that Epic Games can’t re-apply to their developer program for at least one year
    • Epic is trying to overturn that ban, but assuming no changes it’s unlikely we’ll see Fortnite back on iOS before summer 2021
  • Apple also seems to be accusing Epic of using this whole situation as a publicity stunt
    • Apparently compared to October 2019, July 2020 had seen interest in Fortnite decrease by nearly 70%, and this mess that Epic Games has invented for themselves is an attempt to boost their own reputation
    • They also deny that Epic is losing huge amounts of money, saying that though Epic says iOS is their biggest platform based on number of users only 10% of consumers play regularly on iPhone, and that according to Epic’s own disclosures Apple is the smallest piece of the pie when it comes to revenue
    • An excellent quote from Apple’s filing:
      • Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out, even though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years. This Court was right when it previously ruled that “‘self-inflicted wounds are not irreparable injury.’”
  • In addition to that, a new filing today from Mark Grimm, a Game Developer Manager at Apple, highlighted the lengths to which Apple went to accommodate Epic in recent years
    • Apparently engineers on both sides remained in near-constant contact for the last two years to make sure Fortnite could run smoothly at all times and across a variety of devices, including substantial engineering support to help it to run on older iPhones
    • Grimm also wrote about the amount of hardware and software resources shared, saying that they’ve even coached Epic about unreleased iOS tech and even sent engineers to their HQ to help get them up to speed, on top of Apple optimizing their iOS and Mac systems to improve the performance of Unreal Engine
  • A separate filing from Mike Schmid, Apple’s Head of Games Business Development, added even more background
    • Apparently Epic threatened on multiple occasions to essentially hold Fortnite hostage, threatening to release updates on competing platforms first and even in some cases said they would terminate their relationship with Apple and remove their games from the App Store, if Apple didn’t comply with demands
    • This reportedly got to the point where Apple staff in Australia were brought in to the Epic relationship team, to provide 24 hour coverage
    • On top of all that, Schmid says they even worked closely with Epic to allow in-game features that were not previously allowed, such as gifting within apps, by amending App Store Guidelines
    • “This example,” Schmid writes, “demonstrates Apple’s attentiveness to the developer community, including the needs of developers like Epic, which in this instance made a request that Apple could accommodate on terms that would apply equally to all developers, large and small, and that would at the same time adequately ensure user safety and security.”
  • It almost seems like Epic got so used to Apple giving them whatever they demanded that they threw a tantrum when told they couldn’t have their own App Store on iPhone, but we’ll have to see how the Epic Games team responds to the latest filings
  • I agree that the App Store has some room to evolve, but Epic really shot themselves in the foot repeatedly here

In a new interview with IGN, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald gave some more detail on the differences between the Series S and X

  • Apparently the core capabilities between the two consoles are basically the same, so the primary difference will be resolution- 1440p on the S and 4k on the X
    • Even though theoretically the Series S could have performance somewhat comparable to the One X, it will not apply any of the One X specific enhancements for better framerates or 4k resolutions
    • Backwards-compatible titles could benefit from improved texture filtering and other bits and bobs though, so the Series S isn’t completely left out in the cold
  • They’re leaving a lot up to developers though, like whether to allow ray tracing, increase the framerate, or even try for 4k on the S
  • The goal is apparently not to have exclusive titles on the X, but rather to get lower-res options for the S
  • And as an added bonus, game file sizes could be around 30% smaller for the S if developers stick to 1440p textures
  • It will likely still lead to some fragmentation but hopefully not as much as previously thought

Apple’s made some changes that are kind of good news for game streaming services, but with a BIIG asterisk

  • They’ve announced updates to their App Store review guidelines introducing new rules for things like Microsoft xCloud
    • They’re allowed, which is great, but apparently all of the games included in the subscription need to be downloaded directly from the App Store…?
    • From the looks of it, all 150+ xCloud games would need to hit the App Store separately, with updates going through the full review process and all in-app purchases going through Apple
    • They’re allowed to have a catalog app to help users sign up and find games, but all games must have their own App Store product page
  • All said and done, this feels like a PR move so Apple can say they’re not blocking streaming game services while at the same time making the way forward as torturous as possible, when really it should work as smoothly as Netflix or YouTube

Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake leaked, and it looked rough, so they released the reveal trailer, which also looks rough

  • With a high nostalgia factor you’d think this would be a priority, but it was seemingly shunted off to Ubisoft India
    • While I can understand that studio being excited to sink their teeth into potentially one of the biggest AAA games developed in the country, doing it for the first time with a remake of something this high-profile could have been a misstep
  • Honestly, I think they would have been better off just upscaling the original assets. It definitely doesn’t look like a game from 2020
    • Reddit user Bolt_995 put it well: “This is a PS2 game remade to look like a PS3 game on a PS4 and the release date is set during the launch window of the PS5”

The saga of TikTok continues, with Beijing opposing the sale that the US is dead set on forcing

  • According to Reuters the Chinese government would rather see the video app shut down in the US instead
  • Oracle is trying to get around that by becoming their “trusted tech partner”, not their owner, but the exact details have yet to be hashed out
    • From the sounds of it Oracle would house data from US TikTok users on its own servers, to hopefully alleviate security concerns
  • The US Treasury Secretary also floated the idea of them opening a TikTok Global HQ in the US and creating 20,000 jobs, but who knows what kind of basis that has in reality if any
  • Yet to be seen is:
    • If this deal will satisfy Trump’s government
    • If it will satisfy the Chinese government
    • What will happen to TikTok’s fancy algorithm, likely the driving force behind any offer, with China saying it’s off the table

This Week In Gaming History

September 12 – 2002 – Battlefield 1942 – Windows

  • Battlefield 1942 is a massive online multiplayer shooter roughly based on World War II, but with emphasis on balance and fun.
    • Join armed forces of United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany or Russia, and battle up to 63 of your friends online.
    • Have access to up to twenty different authentic weapons. Control any of the 30+ vehicles over land, on water, or in air.
    • Combat takes place in four theaters; South Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern and Western Europe.
    • Have epic battles with up to 64 players on the same map, or hone your skills in single-player mode against AI bots.

September 13 – 2003 – Star Trek: The Neutral Zone – Windows

  • Star Trek: The Neutral Zone is a free, simple deathmatch game where players (and bots, named after characters from the Star Trek series, but unlicensed) choose a ship to destroy others in order to reach the frag limit.
    • There is a variety of ships available with their graphics taken from Star Trek: Bridge Commander and possibly a few of its mods.
    • But apart from the visuals, they do not differ in any way. All of them are armed with phasers and photon torpedoes, with the colour of phasers chosen by the player in the options menu.
    • Occasionally, certain power-ups appear on the map.
  • Up to two players can play on the same computer, and a TCP/IP multiplayer mode is available.
  • On Moby Games, the site I reference, this was the only game released this day on 2003.

September 14 – 1994 – Math Blaster: In Search of Spot – Genesis

  • The Genesis release was the one release that was confirmed to a firm date
  • A follow-up to the original Math Blaster! games, Math Blaster: In Search of Spot is an educational title with arcade elements designed to help students learn maths while having fun.
  • The game allows students to practice basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills in addition to fractions, decimals, percents, estimation, and number patterns.
    • The subjects can be practiced separately or together in review. Six levels of difficulty are provided.
    • Like the previous titles, the game also includes an editor to create new problem sets (present in the PC version only).
  • Math Blaster’s friend and assistant, Spot, is kidnapped by the evil Trash Alien at the beginning of the game.
    • The Galactic Commander gives Math Blaster the mission to follow the Trash Alien to his home planet and rescue Spot.
  • The game starts with a complete mission (story mode).
    • The mission consists of a series of four (three in the console versions) math activities (mini-games) strung together with cut-scenes. The activities can also be played separately, for practice or for score.
  • The activities you can do are:
    • Trash Zapper – Solve equations to gain tractor beam power, then use the tractor beam to collect space trash.
    • Number Recycler (PC version only) – Create equations by pushing around columns of numbers and operators. Correct equations allow you to turn the trash you collected into fuel.
    • Cave Runner – Use Math Blaster’s jet pack to fly through a cave. He has a number on his chest, and it must be arithmetically between the numbers on each side of an opening in order for him to pass through. Droplets of water falling from above can change this number by performing an operation on it. There are also gems which can be collected for bonus points, and in higher levels, monsters appear that can knock Math Blaster down.
    • Math Blaster – The Trash Alien’s spaceship displays an equation, and the four portholes serve as multiple-choice answers. Use the jet pack to fly into the correct portholes while avoiding floating trash and energy blasts from the ship. Bonus gems also appear at random, and after five problems a bonus round occurs where players get a chance to collect as many gems as they can within a time limit.
  • Upon finishing the complete mission, the player is presented with a certificate that can be printed out (PC version only). Their final score is also added to a high score board for their account.

September 15 – 1990 – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – DOS

  • A good example of the difference a little multimedia can do, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes plays like a textmode proof-of-concept of the better-known Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
    • The basic investigative elements remain the same: managing time dashing to various locations around Olde London Towne in search of clues, but here instead of successfully receiving them as video clips you often get cryptic encoded messages in “fill-in-the-blank” form, intended in total to spell out, some directly and some through phonetic wordplay, the name of the killer, the method they used, and their motive for committing the crime.
    • Characters from the original tales including Dr. Watson, Mrs. Baker and Inspector Lestrade help to establish the flavour of literary canon as you investigate all-new crimes (some user-contributed!)

September 16 – 1998 – Fuck Quest – DOS

  • This is a parody of the Sierra-style games like Space Quest, King’s Quest, etc. Similar interface, sounds, and graphics.
  • This is a small game that’ll make people who have played the Sierra games laugh, although I don’t think anybody else will understand the point.
    • Probably R-Rated because of not-so-subtle sexual content. Can be finished quickly.
  • The art appears to be done in a single pass on MS Paint
    • Includes level design, like The House Of Porn, which is a pair of breasts.
  • Has an average score of 1.4 out of 5

September 17 – 2002 – Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer – GameCube, PS2, XBox

  • You know Tony Hawk, Matt Hoffman but now it’s Kelly Slater’s Pro sport game
  • Do you like to surf? Have you ever imagined surfing at different remote locations around the world? Well, Kelly Slater takes you around the world on his boat to surf some of the more famous beaches. With a control scheme similar to all the other Activision O2 brand games, it’s easy to jump into the game and surf.
  • Game Play Modes:
    • Infinite Time – With no clock, no objectives, and nobody around, this gives you the best opportunity to just enjoy the surf.
    • High Score – With 3 minutes, how high of a score can you get?
    • Icon Challenge – See how many icons you can collect and how high of a score you can get before time runs out.
    • Career Mode – Select a surfer and journey around the world to surf the best waves on the best beaches. As you progress you will unlock new beaches, new surf boards, and new tricks which will be usable in all the other modes of play.
    • Multiplayer Modes:
    • Push – Two players surf simultaneously in an attempt to “push” the split screen towards their opponent’s half of the screen. As you score points the screen gets pushed more. The winner is decided once one player is pushed from the screen.
    • Head to Head – Similar to Push but the screen is stationary and the winner is the person with the highest points when the time runs out.
    • Time Attack – Players take turns to achieve the most points possible. The more points you get the less time is alloted to your opponent.
  • The Pros in the game: Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Tom Carroll, Tom Curren, Nathan Fletcher, Donavon Frankenreiter, Bruce Irons, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, and some other secret characters.
    • Secret characters which I looked up!
      • Tony Hawk
      • Travis Pastrana – A extreme Motorsport athlete
      • “Tiki God”
      • “Surfreak”
  • The beaches in the game: Sebastian, Trestles, Mavericks, Antarctica, Jaws, Pipeline, Teahupoo, Bells, Curren’s Point, Kirra, G-Land, J-Bay, Mundaka, Cortez Bank, and perhaps some other tucked-away hide-aways.
  • The PS2 version of the game also includes a playable demo of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4.

September 18 – 2018 – Nintendo Switch Online service – Switch

  • The Nintendo Switch was formally announced in January 2017, with its release on March 3, 2017.
    • Nintendo stated in its pre-release announcements that the system would eventually require purchase of a paid “online service”, but that they would be available to all users at no charge until the service launched.
    • Features announced included a companion smartphone app, as well as access to a free Nintendo Entertainment System game per-month. The service was initially planned for late 2017.
    • By June 2017, Nintendo pushed back the service’s release until 2018, but did establish the pricing plans for the service, with an average annual price of US$20, depending on region.
    • Then-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé explained that the delays were to ensure that the service was “world-class”, and had enough of its announced functionality available on-launch to justify its cost.
    • Nintendo aimed for a lower price point in comparison to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, as the service does not include the same range of features as these subscription services provide.
    • Then-Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that the price point was a subject of importance in designing the Switch’s online services, and that regardless of what competitors were doing, “it’s a matter of getting our content to the consumer at a price point that would make them happy, and then we’re willing to look at what else we can do going forward.”
  • A Nintendo Direct two days before the release detailed the full set of features that would be part of the Online service, including a larger and persistent library of NES games for subscribers, as well as cloud save support.
  • The 20 games at launch were:
    • Balloon Fight
    • Baseball
    • Donkey Kong
    • Double Dragon
    • Dr. Mario
    • Excitebike
    • Ghosts’n Goblins
    • Gradius
    • Ice Climber
    • Ice Hockey
    • The Legend of Zelda
    • Mario Bros.
    • Pro Wrestling
    • River City Ransom
    • Soccer
    • Super Mario Bros.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3
    • Tecmo Bowl
    • Tennis
    • Yoshi, A puzzle game

Tidbits

  • Borderlands 3 has joined the growing number of games that are releasing free updates to next-gen consoles for anyone playing it on the current generation
    • They’re also adding 3 and 4 player split screen, as well as 4k 60fps single player
  • Super Mario 3D All Stars has leaked onto the internet, showing that all the games are just emulated and upsampled versions with no real tweaks
    • On the plus side, the fact that there are now internal Nintendo emulators for Wii, GameCube, and N64 games on the Switch could mean there are more classics coming
  • Fall Guys has released a mid-season update increasing the chaos and the fun
    • They’ve amped up the anti-cheat, added extra random obstacles to familiar levels, and thrown in Big Yeetus- a large hammer that can launch you to victory or hilarious defeat

 

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PS2J 316 News – Super Money Printing Bros

Free Games

  • Xbox One

    • Override: Mech City Brawl

      • 2018
      • Gigantic robot mech brawler with single player and Voltron-style 2-4 player co-op, where every mech has special moves and skills, and you can fight in arenas around the world
    • Tom Clancy’s The Division

      • 2016
      • Online-only action RPG / third person shooter where you play a special agent tasked with helping rebuild Manhattan and combat criminal activity after a viral outbreak. It has a combination of shared and instanced areas that have co-op and pvp multiplayer, in addition to missions and a story that you can run on your own
    • de Blob 2

      • 2014
      • Platform puzzle game originally for the Xbox 360 that has you jumping around, mixing colours and bringing life to the cityscape. There’s also a basic two-player mode similar to Super Mario Galaxy
    • Gamepass

      • We don’t normally mention new games on Gamepass, but this month some new highlights include Resident Evil 7, Crusader Kings 3, and Destiny 2 with the Shadowkeep and Forsaken expansions
      • Unfortunately Red Dead Redemption 2 is leaving on September 7th
  • PS4

    • Street Fighter V

      • 2016
      • Fighting game similar to the other 2D style Street Fighter titles, it initially released without a story mode and only had a basic roster meant for tournament style gameplay until updates in 2018 and 2020 added in single-player modes and additional fighters
    • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

      • 2017
      • One of the original battle royale titles, it started life as a mod for ARMA 2 but evolved into a standalone title where you and 99 other players are dropped on to an island with the clothes on your back, and need to gather resources and take down the other players on a shrinking map
  • Epic Games

    • Into the Breach

      • 2018
      • Control powerful mechs from the future to defeat an alien threat. Each attempt to save the world presents a new randomly generated challenge in this isometric turn-based strategy game from the makers of FTL.
  • Twitch

    • Pumped BMX Pro

      • 2019
      • Promoted as a BMX trickathon, it has you mastering 60 different levels and over 200 challenges while pulling off as many stunts as possible
    • Effie

      • 2020
      • 3D action adventure game that combines combat, platforming, and puzzles with the exploration of a large, expanded world where you live a unique fantasy adventure in the style of Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank
    • Impulsion

      • 2018
      • First person platformer designed to play with your nerves and reflexes, that has you making your way through 25 levels by manipulating physics and shooting forcefields to speed up or slow down
    • Outcast – Second Contact

      • 2017 remake of the 1999 adventure game of the year and cult classic, Outcast
      • Third or first person open world shooter where you play an ex Navy SEAL stranded on an alien world trying to get home
    • Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops

      • 2014
      • Arcade-style twin stick shooter that has your tiny troopers battling evil adversaries from around the world with a multitude of weapons and specialties
    • Autonauts

      • 2019
        • Travel the universe and colonize uninhabited planets, starting with sticks and stones and going all the way up to art, space travel, and intergalactic export

Updates

  • Apple has officially terminated Epic Games’ account on its App Store, a move that won’t affect Unreal Engine but it does mean that users can no longer download Fortnite or other Epic titles for their iDevices
    • Anyone that’s already downloaded the app can still play, but can no longer make ingame purchases
    • This comes down as, despite the court’s recommendation that Epic comply with App Store guidelines while the case moves forward, they’ve instead repeatedly submitted Fortnite updates with the direct payment option in question intact
  • While Epic continues to cry foul to its users about updates now being blocked, Apple has been promoting another big battle royale title PUBG Mobile for iOS users, which is great timing as the game is also free this month on PS+
  • It seems like Facebook is trying to get their foot in the door when it comes to the Epic vs Apple payment fees conversation
    • Facebook has a new feature that lets users buy tickets for online events. Unfortunately since online events count as digital content, they’re subject to the standard 30% fee
    • Facebook tried to include wording on these purchases to say “Apple takes 30% of this purchase”, but according to Apple that’s irrelevant information and they blocked the update that would have added that wording
      • It probably falls under the usual terms and conditions that prevent developers from talking about other payment options from within iOS apps
    • Google devices were reportedly supposed to get a message saying “Facebook doesn’t take a fee from this purchase”, which makes the warning on iPhones seem really targeted, but that message doesn’t show up on the Android version either
    • Between showing the planned screens then publicizing the difference, it seems like Facebook is playing the same blame game as Epic in trying to get attention by breaking the rules and crying foul when they’re enforced

Cryptic Studios is under fire this week for “mis-advertising” content packs for Star Trek Online, something that Reddit users are saying is a common trend for the publisher

  • Apparently on multiple occasions they’ve announced content bundles that include ships, modules, and keys for lootchests, but then when the actual pack is released people purchase it to find things like the keys completely missing
  • The worst part of that is all of the blogs and advertising material have been stealth-updated to remove any mention of the missing rewards, leaving only services like the Internet Wayback Machine with proof of the change
    • Once they were called out loudly enough they honoured the missing content for people that had purchased prior to the revision, but anyone working off of old information is left out in the cold
  • According to some users, they’ve historically done the very same thing in free to play titles like Neverwinter, and each time they just apologized and moved on
  • This is apparently the same studio working on the Magic: The Gathering MMO slated for a 2021 release, but with this kind of track record it’s hard not to be worried

The US government is getting even more involved with the forced sale of TikTok, now forcing some companies to back down in their offers

  • Apparently Walmart was set to make an offer to be the majority owner, teamed with with Alphabet and Softbank to invest in minority stakes, but the United States government apparently said they wanted a tech company to buy it instead
    • Why they get a say is beyond me, but I guess they could move forward with the ban anyway if people don’t listen?
  • From the sounds of it Walmart is interested in getting into TikTok’s e-commerce and payments business, so since they were blocked they instead are teaming up as a minority shareholder with Microsoft taking the lead
    • Alphabet couldn’t take the lead of Walmart’s original plans because of a potential antitrust investigation due to its ownership of YouTube
  • It looks like now the two options for TikTok are Microsoft/Walmart or Oracle, but though a deal was set to be made already China has now made a change to its export controls list to cover TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, which means that thanks to TikTok’s “For You” page the Chinese government will now get a say in whether the sale goes through

Apple’s release the new iOS 13.7, and once you’ve got that installed you’ll be able to easily see if your area supports COVID-19 exposure notifications

  • The update has new options under Settings > Exposure Notifications (just below Emergency SOS), which include showing you if your area has an official contact tracing app and, if not, gives you a switch to be alerted once one is available
  • Just a reminder that these apps are secure, battery-friendly, and become a lot more effective in keeping people safe if everyone’s using them

Mario 35th Anniversary Direct

Game and Watch: Super Mario Bros.

  • A throwback to the old Game and Watch handhelds that Nintendo used to make
    • This version has a bright colour screen
    • You can play the entirety of Super Mario Bros
    • There are also mini games that put Mario in the place of Mr. Game And Watch
    • The clock function is very animated, more than just a static clock to watch
    • Limited Production, Available November 13th

Super Mario World + Bowser’s Fury

  • Super Mario 3D World and all the fun and frustration it included is coming to Switch
  • As well as new content titled Bowser’s Fury
    • Only shown in a brief teaser with a dark giant spiky cat bell powerup, on a rainy beach in a storm with purple lightning
  • Slated to release February 12th, 2021

Super Mario Bros. 35

  • In the vein of Tetris 99, this is Super Mario Battle Royal!
    • Exclusive and free for Switch Online Members
  • You play original Super Mario Bros in the center of the screen
    • In the UI around you, are 34 other people, racing to play Mario Bros faster than you
  • To attack other players, you defeat enemies as normal, and it sends them off to another player’s queue
    • In your queue, you see that as you progress in the level, desaturated enemies are waiting to spawn in your path
    • Everyone is racing against the clock, which you get more time by defeating enemies
    • And like Tetris 99, you can target opponents by Lowest time, Most Coins, people attacking you and random
    • And it seems like coins, not sure if they are acquired the same as in game, or some sort of bonus
      • And it appears you can buy a power-up for 20 of these coins.
  • Available October 1st
    • Will be playable until March 31st, 2021

Mario Kart Live: Home Tour

  • OMG Mario Kart in real life!
  • This is an augmented reality game
    • You purchase a Mario Kart RC Kart
      • Mario and Luigi seem available first
      • Looks like a traditional Kart, but if it had a large scoop for the engine, behind the racer, that has a camera
    • These karts must come with a kit to make 4 arches
      • You start by driving your kart through the arches, painting the track behind you
      • When you connect to the track, it paints the width of the arches to make a race track
  • The commercial shows 2 kids playing on the same track
    • On the Switch, an augmented reality race shows other digital characters racing with the 2 RC karts
  • October 16th, 2020

Nintendo Rewards for limited pins!

  • Everyone with a My Nintendo Account can complete Super Mario related missions
  • You may recieve cool rewards
    • Including a Pin set of 10 Mario’s from games ranging from 1985 to 2020
    • Will release in 2 waves, US and Canada Only
    • September 3rd to March 31st 2021

Mario Kart Tour Event!

  • Special appearances of Mario and Donkey Kong Junior from the original Super Mario Kart for SNES
    • September 8th, 2020,  11PM PST

Limited merchandise

  • Historical Super Mario items and special 35th Anniversary items
    • Only at the Nintendo New York store
    • And store.nintendo.com
    • Starting in October

Mario Maker 2 Course

  • A special 35th Anniversary Ninji’s Speed Run course
    • November 2020

Super Smash Bros Online Tournament

  • Limited to Super Mario franchise characters
    • Stages and Items
  • Later this year

Splatoon Splat Fest

  • Which Power-up would you prefer?
    • Super Size from a Mushroom
    • Invincibility from a Super Star
    • A My Nintendo reward item of a Mushroom and Super Star that got inked
      • To release closer to the SplatFest
      • Physical SplatFest shirts available online, now
  • January 2021

Animal Crossing

  • Super Mario themed furniture
    • March 2021

And Licensed Super Mario products!

  • Puma Sneakers
    • September 4th
  • BlackMilk Clothing
    • October 5th
  • Mario Monopoly and Jenga
    • Now
  • Mario Doll
    • Now
  • Lego
    • Lego Mario course
    • Lego NES with Retro TV

Super Mario All Stars

  • Coming to the Super NES collection on Switch
    • Updated to fit Widescreen tvs!

Super Mario 3D All Stars

  • Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy in one game
    • Also has a music player, like Smash Ultimate
  • Limited physical release
    • September 18th

This Day in Gaming History

August 29 – 2013 – Game Dev Tycoon – Windows

  • ”Game Dev Tycoon” is a business simulator game where you control a game company.
    • The game starts in the garage as many single video games developer did in the 80s.
    • As you release successful games, more genres, employees and options are unlocked.
    • As time progresses consoles and home computers are unlocked, but often using silly fictional names like PlaySystem and grPhone.
    • The game is inspired by Game Dev Story in both name and gameplay.
  • This is a game I really enjoy and like to go back to from time to time
    • Some of the achievements are for naming your Studio or Games based on real companies or releases.
    • And some powerful characters you can hire are references to big game developers

August 30 – 2002 – Go! Go! Beckham! Adventure On Soccer Island – Game Boy Advance – United Kingdom Only

  • It’s football with a unique twist.
    • David Beckham is called on to save Soccer Island from the evil Mister Woe, who has taken over the island by turning all of the animals into monsters.
    • Not only that, he’s stealing all of the important items for himself.
  • Using David Beckham’s football skills, you must guide your hero through each level, kicking enemies and doors down with your football to the end of each level.
    • Knock down the locks during the game to unlock the exit door and kick your ball through to complete it.
    • Boss characters then require special attacks with your football to defeat them.

August 31 – 1997 – Final Fantasy 7 – Playstation

  • The seventh installment of the Final Fantasy series takes place in a post-modern, steampunk, sci-fi world where high technology reigns and where robots and bio-engineered mutants co-exist with humans and dragons.
  • To my surprise, the site I source for a lot of these games, Moby Games, had Final Fantasy 7’s North American release as the only game for August 31st, 1997

September 1 – 1984 – Klondike Solitare – DOS

  • A mouse-only game for DOS, Klondike Solitaire is a simulation of its namesake.
    • Using the mouse to click cards, you move cards of alternate suits onto each other in an effort to move them off the tableau.
    • Cheating is technically allowed, but doing so will get you “yelled at” by the program.
  • Felt this would be appropriate, as basically anyone to be stuck on a computer without an internet connection, has played solitaire
    • And this may the first Klondike Solitare

September 2 – 2014 – The Sims 4 – Origin Windows

  • The Sims 4 is the fourth main game in the real-time life simulation / management series. Just like the previous games one or more custom characters are created through Create-a-Sim to live in a house designed by the player.
    • As their lives unfold based on the environment, relationships and specific traits, the player gets to manage the life, needs to organize activities, attend to needs, and react to moods, with non-linear gameplay and no direct control.
  • I’ve been way into it again, as I bought Get Famous on a sale, before the latest expansion Eco Lifestyle came out.
    • I reviewed that I really like the social media, and fame meter. As well as the Acting career
    • And Eco Lifestyle added Ladders, as well as ways to produce your own water and power.
      • Which you can sell back to the grid for a profit.
  • If the fanily found it interesting, I was considering making Alan and I, and doing a Twitch stream.

September 3 – 1998 – Hong Pong – DOS

  • Hong Pong is a Pong variant set in five different war zones (including one hidden) and with tanks instead of paddles.
    • Played with two tanks, one on each side of the screen, players need to prevent a spinning nuke from touching their side of the screen, while shooting missiles at the opponent or forcing the nuke to hit his side.
    • In the middle of the screen different kinds of vehicles pass and these hurt the player when touched. It is also possible to activate a shield to block the incoming missiles, but while it is up firing is disabled.

September 4 – 1998 – Dune 2000 – Windows

  • Dune 2000 is a remake of the classic Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty, updated for Windows.
    • In this real-time strategy game, you can play one of the three houses: the noble Atreides, the insidious Ordos, or the evil Harkonnen.
    • Each has different sets of units and tactics while maintaining an overall balance.
    • The Atreides have air superiority and rely on their honor and alliance with planet natives, the Fremen.
    • The Ordos rely on guerrilla tactics and superior technology, as well as mercenaries.
    • The Harkonnen just go brutal, with no care for lives of their own troops or destruction, as long as they are victorious.
  • This game made me fall in love with the Dune franchise
    • If you are interested in playing it again, I recommend OpenRA
    • OpenRA is a project that recreates and modernizes the classic Command & Conquer real time strategy games.
    • Relive the original Command and Conquer, C&C: Red Alert, and Dune 2000

Tidbits

  • Shout out to Bullfrog, thanks for saying you’ll give us a shot after our ad on Remember the Game.
    • We really like Adams podcast, and we are blown away by his glowing review of us!
    • Thanks to all our fanily, and welcome to anyone joining us from Remember the Game!
  • Good news for Rocket League players, once the game hits their free to play launch (we covered all the details in episode 310) you’ll no longer need PS+ or Nintendo Switch Online to play multiplayer
    • Unfortunately it looks like Xbox Live Gold is still needed if you want to play on Xbox One
  • If you’re about to buy a new graphics card you’ll want to press pause until you check out nVidia’s new RTX 30 series
    • The new hardware includes all sorts of fanciness like a brand new faster kind of memory (GDDR6X), low latency and high framerates even at 4k and 8k resolutions, and all kinds of ray-tracing beauty
    • According to the specs released so far, even the entry level model 3070 beats the two year old 2080ti at less than half its current price
  • Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game, subtitled Kill The Justice League, looks like it could be pretty good
    • Featuring Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark in a Metropolis being menaced by Brainiac and a presumably mind-controlled Justice League, set in the Arkham game universe
  • Call of Duty Warzone players will be happy to hear that Activision is suing one of the top websites where players can purchase cheats and hacks for the game, like aimbots and wallhacks (xray vision)
    • The lawsuit has forced the site in question to remove all Call of Duty content, leaving people that have previously paid for the cheats with nothing to show for it
      • Some are hoping for refunds, but the fact that people actively cheating at games are now out actual money is kind of delicious

Mini-reviews

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
    • Perspective change threw me at first, but I was glad I recently re-read the other books because this takes place at the same time as The Fated Sky
    • Another great addition to the Lady Astronaut of Mars series, and as well written as it was well studied
  • Bill and Ted Face the Music
    • It felt like a lot of what we need right now in the world- a story about people coming together and celebrating eachother, with great acting from a lot of fantastic people, and a subtle reminder about how multicultural music has always been with so many roots in black culture, along with an ending that had me in tears
    • After serious movies from The Matrix to John Wick, it’s always good to see what a goofball Keanu Reeves can be

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you Zane, a powerful man and a super hero dad. He’s one of the best #BeLikeZane

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Truberbrook

      • 2019
      • A point-and-click sci-fi mystery adventure game with hand-made scenery and stop-motion elements married with 3D animation
  • Epic Games

    • Remnant: From the Ashes

      • 2019
      • Third person action RPG shooter that borrows mechanics from the Soulsborne games with the addition of more gunplay on top of melee combat, where the earth has been decimated and overrun by an interdimensional evil called the Root
    • The Alto Collection

      • Alto’s Adventure
        • Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey across the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.
      • Alto’s Odyssey
        • Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless sandboarding journey to discover its secrets. Soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples in a fantastical place far from home.

Trump has apparently issued executive orders that will ban not only TikTok but also WeChat from operating in the US if they aren’t sold by their Chinese-owned companies by the end of September

  • As we’ve reported Microsoft is already looking at buying TikTok from its parent company ByteDance, but this is the first we’re hearing about anything to do with WeChat
    • WeChat started life as a popular chat platform, especially for communicating with people in China as other US messaging apps are banned by the Chinese government, but has grown with abilities like transferring money and shopping online
  • Trump’s order alleges that TikTok “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” such as location data and browsing and search histories, which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
    • There’s some basis to these worries, since a Wall Street Journal report found that the app tracked Android users’ MAC addresses for over a year, as recently as November 2019
      • A MAC address is a globally-unique identifier for any device that connects to a network, and is normally blocked so they had to build a workaround to even get the information
    • The order also claims that the platform censors or disseminates content in keeping with the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda, citing “when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
  • And the one for WeChat is pretty similar, but also includes a ban on financial transactions with its owner Tencent
  • I can see where this is all coming from, but as TikTok said in a statement it sets a dangerous precedent in forcing foreign companies to sell to American ones if they want to operate in the US
  • And you have to wonder how much of this is fuelled by the stunt organized by many TikTok users which had them registering for thousands of tickets to the Trump campaign rally in Tulsa but not showing up, which likely contributed to the sparse attendance
    • As we’ve seen before, when something hits Trump’s ego he’s likely to lash out in toddlerific fashion
  • It’s gotten to the point where TikTok is apparently planning to sue the Trump administration, challenging the executive order and arguing that the action is unconstitutional as it does not give the company a chance to respond
    • They also state that the national security justification is baseless, according to a source talking to NPR, and that it’s built on pure speculation and conjecture

Epic Games has decided to take on Apple and their App Store in a calculated move regarding in-app purchases

  • Earlier this week, Epic introduced a new direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, allowing players to purchase in-game currency at a discount by bypassing Apple’s in-app payment framework and giving the money directly to Epic Games
  • The problem with that is Apple’s App Store guidelines are specifically against that, saying that not only do purchases of in-game currencies need to go through the App Store, but also that you’re not even allowed to tell someone about other purchasing options
    • This makes sense to a point, because Apple generally gets 30% of App Store sales and if someone could say “Hey, pay on our website and it’s cheaper!” then that revenue would drop significantly
  • Epic Games knows exactly what they’re doing in flouting these regulations though, and in an FAQ they described not only Apple’s but also Google’s 30% commission as “exorbitant”, leading them to introduce an alternate payment system to offer 20% discounts
    • If you’re doing the math at home, I guess they’re grabbing that extra 10% for themselves
  • So just hours after the new payment option was brought online, Apple pulled the Fortnite app from the App Store
    • In a statement provided to MacRumors, Apple said that Epic Games knowingly violated the App Store guidelines, and just because they want to push for a special arrangement doesn’t change the fact that the same set of rules should apply to everyone
    • One thing to note, this doesn’t stop anyone from playing the game if they’ve already downloaded it, it just stops new downloads
  • Shortly afterward, Epic announced a new Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite short riffing on Apple’s 1984 ad and likening Apple to Big Brother
    • The fact that they had this ready in the chamber shows they knew exactly what they were doing when breaking those rules and how Apple would react
    • And they’re definitely going guns-blazing, claiming at the end of the video that “Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices”, even though as we previously said anyone that already downloaded it can still play
  • Then Epic Games filed a pre-prepared lawsuit against Apple for pulling Fortnite, accusing Apple of being “the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation”, imposing “anti-competitive restraints” and using “monopolistic practices in markets” against developers
    • It’s a little hard to justify this though, since Apple basically built a walled garden and made it attractive enough for people to want to play in it. Just because you break the rules and get kicked out doesn’t mean they owe you a spot inside.
  • Epic says it’s not looking for a cash payout, but instead wants to secure relief in the iOS app distribution and payment processing market for consumers and developers
    • Digging in to the lawsuit, it looks like they’re using this situation as a wedge to argue that iOS should be as open to third-party software as the Mac is. In fact, they’re almost saying it’s illegal not to be
  • At this point is feels like Epic Games is jumping on the antitrust bandwagon, protesting that Apple’s not making enough space for them to thrive, but I wonder how it would feel if this kind of thing was applied globally.
    • Look at Fortnite- it has a huge audience and I have no way of making money off of it. If I draw a gun skin and want to sell it inside of Fortnite there’s no way for me to do so. Because Epic is stifling my innovation and imposing anti-competitive restraints by forcing people to use its own currency inside the game instead of giving players a chance to give me money for my work.

Microsoft’s rumoured Xbox Series S has been confirmed by leaked controller packaging, and the controller’s pretty nice too

  • The new Xbox controller has slight design tweaks all over the place, with a redesigned d-pad, textured triggers, a new share button, and a slightly smoothed out shape
    • It reportedly even works on the current generation Xbox One, with onscreen graphics matching the updated controller
  • The packaging specifies that the controller works with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. The Series X has already been announced, but this is the first official word we’re hearing of the Series S
    • The S is expected to run the same CPU as the Series X, but with less RAM and a slower GPU
  • Twitter user @zakk_exe managed to buy the controller from someone on the online classifieds app OfferUp who “got it from a homie”

Facebook is facing yet another lawsuit over how the company uses the personal information of its users, this time because of Instagram

  • Last month Facebook offered a $650M settlement for illegally collecting biometric data via its photo tagging feature
    • If approved, affected users could be paid up to $400 each
  • Now a new case has been filed in California, accusing Facebook of collecting, storing, and profiting from the biometric data of over 100M Instagram users.
    • The biggest problem is that there was no consent involved, and users weren’t even made away of the data harvesting.
    • Instagram apparently let people know at the start of this year, but it’s believed to have occurred for some time before that
    • The lawsuit states that the unauthorized collection of this info would be a violation of Illinois privacy law, in which case Facebook could be forced to pay up to $5000 per violation

This Week In Gaming History

August 8 – 2013 – Cookie Clicker – Browser

  • Cookie Clicker is an endless game where the entire point is to gather cookies, then use them to buy items and upgrades which do nothing but gather cookies even faster.
  • It is highly regarded as the first, at least, the most influential incremental clicker game.

August 9 – 2018 – Discord Nitro Beta Releases

  • On the Discord Blog, this was posted “Today, we’re slowly rolling out a beta test to about 50,000 of our Canadian players and will be expanding to more over time. These players will see an upgraded version of Discord Nitro that has access to a curated selection of games along with the current subscription perks. They’ll also see a new Discord Store tab in the home screen with individual games for purchase.”
  • Released on the Beta, the following games for Windows:
    • Bridge Constructor
    • Dandara
    • Darksiders: Warmastered Collection
    • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition
    • GoNNER
    • Kathy Rain
    • Kingdom: New Lands
    • Metro: Last Night – Redux
    • Slime-san: Superslime Edition
    • Super Meat Boy
    • System Shock: Enhanced Edition
    • Tormentor X Punisher
    • de Blob

August 10 – 2004 – Ben’s Game – Windows

  • A special 3d game designed by Ben Duskin and LucasArts. Ben is a 9 year old with Leukemia. Ben worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation to find a developer for Ben’s game. Ben wanted to make a game that would help kids battle cancer.
  • The game involves a changeable character riding a skateboard over an imaginary playing field, made of red blood cells and cartoon representations of viral infections. The character collects innoculents to shoot at his enemies. The player pivots his character in order to steer around objects and collect bonus shots.

August 11 – 1993 – Samurai Shodown – Neo Geo

  • In early feudal Japan, a man named Shiro Tokisada Amakusa preaches a heretic religion. Little does anyone know that Amakusa is really a servant of the evil Ambrosia, who had possessed and taken over Amakusa’s body, as Ambrosia wishes to shroud the world into eternal darkness. Now, the player must select from out of 12 fierce warriors and plus 3 bonus characters in order to fight for the honor of defeating Amakusa once and for all, while fulfilling a specific mission for each and every warrior in the game.
  • The Genesis version of the game does not however include the Earthquake which has been removed due to its 16-bit memory capacity and technical size limitations.

August 12 – 1981 – PC-DOS Included Game – DOS

  • Included with IBM’s PC-DOS was Microsoft’s BASICA (Advanced BASIC) interpreter and several programs, one of which was a game and hence is of interest to us: DONKEY.BAS.
  • Directing a sports car on a stretch of rural road, the player must beware of donkeys roaming its picturesque lanes. Spot a donkey ahead and the player must quickly determine whether to switch lanes with the space bar before the car’s course brings it into a messy head-on collision. With each burro successfully traversed, the car moves a little higher on the road — closer to earning a point for the player (after passing eleven mules) but also giving less response time between the appearance of the titular donkey and its potential impact.
  • The game credits two people for coding the game
    • Neil Kozen, whose other credit is for designing Forza Motorsport
    • Bill Gates

August 13 – 2013 – Papers, Please – Steam

  • Papers Please is a simulation game based on the life of a immigration inspector charged with checking passports at the border of a fictional communist state, Arztoska.
    • The game is set after the conclusion of a six year war with neighboring Kolechia, the war has moved the combatants boarded and left the city of Greznin split.
    • Kolechia controls the west and Arztoska the east. The game begins with the player being selected for border duty in Arztoska’s monthly labor lottery. He (the player character is unnamed) and his family are relocated to the city of Greznin.
  • A powerful game paralleling the Cold War in Europe.

August 14 – 1989 – Altered Beast – Sega Genesis, North America

  • You are a hero raised from the dead by the god Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena.
    • With scenery inspired by Ancient Greece, you have to fight hordes of undead and demons, with a boss at the end of each level until you meet the god Neff, who holds the girl captive.
  • Made by Team Shinobi, creators of the first Shinobi game, as well as Golden Axe
  • Fun podcast fact, the bit crushed audio from this game “Rise From Your Grave” is used as a bumper on the Last Podcast On The Left.

Tidbits

  • Researchers are rejoicing over changes to the names of human genetics, all because of Excel
    • Apparently there were genes with names like “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1”, which was abbreviated to MARCH1. The problem was that Excel would automatically format that as the date 1-Mar and confuse data with no way to turn the feature off
    • There are manual options to prevent this, but they need to be applied to each spreadsheet and for many people that aren’t necessarily power users the data would just end up corrupted each time it was exported
  • Control is taking fire for how it’s unveiling the new Ultimate edition as part of the release of its second expansion
    • The Ultimate Edition will come with all updates and content, including both expansions, and see a Steam release for the first time
    • The problem is that only people who buy the Ultimate Edition will get an upgrade to the next-gen version when it comes out for the Series X and PS5
      • People who bought the game day one, or even those who purchased the season pass, will not get the free upgrade on next-gen consoles and would need to buy the game all over again
  • MIcrosoft’s new Surface Duo Android tablet finally answers the burning question “Hey, how much would it cost to slap a hinge on two 6” tablets?”.
    • The answer is apparently $1400 USD
  • Halo Infinite has officially been delayed until 2021, citing COVID-related impacts and other development challenges and saying the extra time will help them deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever
    • I’d quote Miyamoto about this, but as we’ve seen over the years with No Man’s Sky and Duke Nukem Forever development time doesn’t necessarily equate to quality

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you Renée, and check out her podcast that Josh works on, Ravage Love.

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 312 News – Domestic Spying Only

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • NeuroVoider

      • 2016
      • Twin-stick shooter RPG set in a futuristic world about brains shooting around evil robots with nuclear rocket launchers, where you can customize your brain with the smoking remains of your victims
    • Dead in Vinland

      • 2018
      • Survival management game mixed with RPG and adventure elements, about a viking family trying to survive after being exiled on a mysterious island
    • Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn

      • 2018
      • Fighting game featuring Shaquille O’Neal that has you fighting your way around the world, beating outlandish celebrity bosses, and listening to a new rap track from Shaq himself
    • WARSAW

      • 2019
      • Turn-based historical role playing game where you need to use everything at your disposal to help a team of accidental heroes survive on the streets of Warsaw in 1944
    • Treachery in Beatdown City

      • 2020
      • Retro-style beat ’em up with RPG tactics and wrestling mechanics that lets you build a custom character and go save the president
    • Blazing Chrome

      • 2019
      • Side-scrolling action run and gun that has you freeing human kind from a machine-ruled world with fast-paced single player or co-op gameplay
    • Chroma Squad

      • 2015
      • Turn based tactical RPG about five stunt actors who decide to quit their jobs and start their own Power Rangers inspired TV show, where you customize your studio, craft your giant cardboard mechas, and combine your heroes’ abilities with teamwork maneuvers
    • Baseball Stars 2

      • 1992
      • Two player sports arcade game for the Neo-Geo that also saw a home release on the NES, it was lauded as having unparalleled gameplay and “the best graphics, sound, and gameplay this side of ESPN”
    • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad

      • 1998
      • Top-down military themed action shooter arcade game on the Neo-Geo that actually has no connection to the first Shock Troopers game, you choose from four mercenaries with different abilities to take down a terrorist organization
    • Ironclad

      • 1996
      • Side-scrolling shoot ’em up that has you manoeuvring a warship and teaming up with the mighty Iron Clad in order to fight the Iron Mask Republic and save the Kingdom of Chop
    • King of the Monsters

      • 1990
      • Isometric fighting game that pits pits kaiju against eachother and humanity to discover who is the strongest Super Monster of all
    • Sengoku 3

      • 2001
      • Side-scrolling beat ’em up that has you adventuring around the world to destroy evil spirits awoken by the red moon, with armed and unarmed combos and massive Ninja Art attacks
    • Metal Slug 2

      • 1998
      • Iconic run and gun action shooting game where you fight your way through a hail of bullets to thwart General Morden’s evil ambitions and uncover the secret of his new coup
    • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

      • Video game compilation consisting of 24 different arcade and console games published by SNK between 1979 and 1990, from Ozma Wars to Crystalis
  • Epic Games

    • Wilmot’s Warehouse

      • 2019
      • Top-down puzzle game about keeping a warehouse running in tip-top shape. You’ll need to flex your organizational muscles in arranging and grouping items so you can retrieve requests as quickly as possible
    • 3 out of 10, Ep 1: Welcome To Shovelworks

      • 2020
      • Billed as the world’s first playable sitcom, it’s a fully animated and voiced free episodic series based in the world’s worst game studio, with narratively driven mini games taking you behind the scenes in a satirical look at game development

Health Canada has released a national COVID-19 contact tracing app, and it actually uses the proper exposure notification API

  • COVID Alert is available on iOS and Android, and takes full advantage of the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API
    • One thing to note here is that because the API is only available in iOS 13, you’ll need an iPhone from the last five years or so (6s or newer)
    • That lets your phone silently record randomized identifiers for anyone that comes within range of you for 15 minutes or more
    • Then, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they just have to enter a code given to them by health care workers and it will upload a list of everyone that was in range in the last 14 days
    • At set intervals your phone will check the uploaded lists and, if your identifier was included in one, let you know that you may have been exposed
    • No personal information is asked for or collected by the app- you’ll see a prompt asking to enable COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications, and then another asking to enable notifications for the app. Other than that it just asks what province you live in
  • A lot of other apps, even some local ones like ABTraceTogether, have attempted something similar, but because they wanted to use their own systems they hit walls like your iPhone screen needing to be on and unlocked at all times
    • These apps are not only battery hogs, but also less secure as they could be accessing other identifying information while they run
  • There is a caveat here in that reporting is currently limited to a pilot program running in Ontario, but you can still download and run the app anywhere in Canada so that your contact tracing records are kept up to date. Then even on day one of reporting in your province you’ll be able to see if you came into contact with someone days or weeks ago
  • Estimates show that these apps become really effective after they reach 60% of an area’s population, and there’s literally no downside to running it, so I’d heartily recommend everyone take a moment and get that going on your smartphone

Xbox Game Streaming is going full Stadia on September 15th, but they might actually do it right

  • Based on Project xCloud, the new tech will allow Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play more than 100 games from the cloud on their Android devices
  • You’ll be able to play things like Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Gears 5, and Yakuza Kiwami 2, and they’ve announced they’ll be providing day-one access to new titles from Xbox Game Studios
  • Mobile users will have full access to the console experience, including friends lists, achievements, and saved game progress
  • And one of the best parts is that this isn’t limited to the States- September 15th will see the launch across 22 countries across North America and Europe
  • Unfortunately this is Android exclusive- Microsoft was running tests with iOS devices, but Apple’s App Store policies smacked the whole idea down
    • An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that streaming services like these can’t be on the App Store because the company can’t review every single game included in the apps
    • They say that because games are interactive, unlike movies and music, they must be reviewed before being allowed to reach iPhone and iPad users
    • I think if that’s their concern they should just put the highest age-rating on the app and let it loose. There are a lot of interactive things on iPhones, like web browsers, where it’s just not feasible to review every single interaction

Samsung introduced a bunch of new tech with their Unpacked digital event this week

  • They introduced a fancy new Galaxy Z Fold 2 with a faster processor and redesigned hinge
    • The gap between the screens has been shrunk and the device is thinner than the first Fold, but the hinge also boasts improved dust elimination. We’ll see more details on September 1st when preorders open
  • The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are the next flagships of the Galaxy line with 5G support
    • They’ve improved the S Pen and, for the Ultra model, set up a 120Hz screen for less latency when gaming
    • They’ve also partnered with Microsoft for three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Xbox Game Streaming, as well as a free controller to play with
  • New tablets are coming in the form of the Tab S7 and S7+, and are the first tablets that support 5G in the US (for what it’s worth)
    • Apparently they’ll have a lot of Microsoft integrations, including the ability to use it as a second screen with your Windows computer
  • Taking a note from Apple’s iPhone X, Samsung skipped right from the Galaxy Watch to the Galaxy Watch3, with a smaller, thinner, and lighter body that still houses a larger screen
    • The new model has a cool feature that can measure your blood oxygen levels, too, which is pretty handy when we have a lung-attacking pandemic on our hands
    • Recent rumours are saying that the next Apple watch will also include this feature
  • Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung’s latest wirefree earbuds, now with active noise cancelling
  • And they’ve announced the followup to their original folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
    • This one goes back to the book-style body of the Fold, but now when it’s closed you get a full 6.2” screen instead of the giant bezels and 4.6” screen of the original
    • They’ve also switched the display from using plastic to “ultra thin glass”, to improve strength and scratch-resistance, and improved the hinge to be not only stronger but also offer more varied angles
      • It still has a slight gap in the hinge, but Samsung says they’ve added bristles to keep dirt out

It’s been a weird week when it comes to TikTok

  • With such a popular app being owned by a Chinese company, many are concerned about the data that so many are willingly uploading to the service (along with whatever it may be grabbing behind our backs) ending up in the hands of a foreign government
    • Some are also concerned about how it could pave the road for some low-grade propoganda, given how the way videos are promoted to users is a complete mystery
  • Last Friday Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he would be banning the Chinese social media service from the United states, though given his track record who knows what he actually meant
    • He said he’d be signing the document the next day, but whether that was supposed to be an executive order or something else it never materialized
  • Then two days later Microsoft confirmed its intent to acquire TikTok in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealond, saying they got a window from the president to have a deal in place by September 15th but is still threatening a ban if they can’t hash it out
  • On the political side, China’s communist party tabloid Global Times called a forced sale the “hunting and looting” of TikTok, and with Trump saying the US Government should get a “substantial portion” of the sale for “making it possible for this deal to happen”, you can start to wonder if they may be on to something

This Week In Gaming History:

August 1 – 1991 – F-Zero – SNES

  • The series is known for its high-speed racing, characters and settings, difficult gameplay, and original music, as well as for pushing technological limits to be one of the fastest racing games.
  • The original title inspired the creation of games such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
  • And selfishly, I love this game for putting Captain Falcon into Smash bros, so he could be cloned to be my main Ganondorf.

August 2 – 1992 – Mortal Kombat – Arcades

  • Mortal Kombat was considered as one of the greatest video games of all time by critics and audiences in 21st century and became a best-selling game and remains one of the most popular fighting games in the genre’s history, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the following years and decades, beginning with Mortal Kombat II in 1993, and together with the first sequel was the subject of a successful film adaptation in 1995.
  • However, it also sparked much controversy for its depiction of extreme violence and gore using realistic digitized graphics, and, along with the home release of Night Trap, prompted the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a U.S. government-backed organization that set descriptor ratings for video games.

August 3 – 2008 – The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast – PC

  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast, you play the Angry Video Game Nerd from the web video series.
    • You are flying along wielding your NES Zapper, shooting NES cartridges that have been features on the Angry Video Game Nerd videos.
    • Do not touch a cartridge or get hit with a shot as this drains your life meter. If your life meter drops to zero, you lose a life. Hitting a spiked wall instantly loses you a life.
    • If you see a couple bottles of Rolling Rock beer, these will restore some of your life meter.
    • A six-pack is an extra life.
    • You can press a second fire button to call forth Shit Pickle, who will clear all enemies from the screen.
    • After a couple of levels, your progress will be saved so you don’t need to restart from the beginning, if you don’t want to.

August 4 – 2013 – Pikmin 3 – WiiU

  • The game centers around controlling three new characters: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. They travel to PNF-404 (the planet featured in the first two games) to save their home planet Koppai from famine by harvesting seeds from the planet’s fruit. Upon reaching the planet, they discover the Pikmin, a servile species that’s both plant and animal, which they use to collect the fruit and battle the planet’s many fierce creatures.
  • Pikmin are super cute, and I love Pikmin 2, but the loss of control in this was devastating to my enjoyment of the game.
    • You used to be able to control Pikmin with the right analog stick, but in this game it is a camera control, and the Pikmin mindlessly follow you to me devoured, stomped or somehow caught by anything that follows you.

August 5 – 2000 – Hot Chix ‘n’ Gear Stix – PC

  • Caught my eye with the ridiculous title
  • Behind the wheels of one of the 6 mid-70s American muscle cars your only aim is to show yourself as the hottest chix around in this arcade-style racing game.
  • Tried to get more info off the developers website, but their website looks like its no longer hosted

August 6 – 2001 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo – PS2

  • An action game based directly on the Mobile Suit Gundam films and series. The game begins at the start of the series and ends at the ending of the second film.
  • The game plays in an action game format with a standard third-person view. It features newly hand animated cutscenes that depict events from the original television series as well as a CGI opening depicting a space battle from the One Year War and then a scene of the Gundam destroying several Zaku IIs before being attacked by Char Aznable.
  • A sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, was released in 2003.
    • Which has hard to learn controls that reflect space combat well.
  • The English dub of the video game features the voices of the actors who were cast for the Mobile Suit Gundam television series as with most games subsequent to the series’ dubbing, rather than the English cast of the films.

August 7 – 2018 – Dead Cells – XBox One/PS4

  • Dead Cells is a roguelike action platformer video game inspired by Metroidvania-style games
  • Absolutely love the art style, I have no idea how to play the game. And feel like I’m bad at it.

Tidbits

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has officially sold more than double what New Leaf did, beating out Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate to reach the number 2 spot for Switch game sales just under Mario Kart 8
  • Bethesda has announced that Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls Online will both be free on the PS5 or Xbox Series X for players that have them on PS4 or Xbone, respectively
  • A new brushing scam saw people in dozens of US states receive mystery seeds in the mail that they didn’t order
    • Governments are urging people not to plant them or throw them out, as they could introduce invasive species, but to contact your state plant regulatory official instead
    • Brushing scams, I learned this week, are a e-commerce trick where scammers will get ahold of people’s names and addresses and then send them some random, low-value item.
      • The idea is that once there’s a record of some kind of shipment, they can use that to legitimize fake positive product reviews that they attach your name to
  • Three teenagers were arrested this week for last month’s massive Twitter hack that had prominent users like Bill Gates and Elon Musk promoting a Bitcoin scam that earned over $100K
    • According to federal agents, they’d used their own driver’s licenses to open Bitcoin wallets that received some of the loot
    • The suspected leader is being charged with more than 30 felonies, including communications fraud and identity theft, but the hack could have been a lot worse if the goal had been to affect global policy rather than make a quick buck

 

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PS2J 303 News – Screws Not Included

Security alert

  • Microsoft Security is tracking a massive campaign that installs remote access tools on your computer using malicious Excel macros, embedded in a spreadsheet purporting to show COVID-19 stats
    • The emails in question pretend to be from Johns Hopkins Center about the “WHO COVID-19 SITUATION REPORT”
    • Steps to avoid:
      • Don’t open random emails
      • Don’t open unexpected attachments
      • And most importantly, definitely don’t run Excel macros on anything you don’t know the full provenance of

Free Games

  • PS4

    • Star Wars Battlefront II

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter that, as you can tell from its name, is the fourth major release in the series and seventh overall, it caught a lot of flack early on for its predatory microtransactions to the point that EA completely revamped the system to avoid gameplay advantages
      • Content based on the Star Wars movies up to and including The Rise of Skywalker
    • Call of Duty: WWII

      • 2017
      • First-person shooter following a squad in the 1st infantry division and their battles during the events of the Battle of Normandy
  • Xbox One

    • Destroy all Humans!

      • 2005
      • Action adventure game set in the 1959 United States that has you playing an alien harvesting DNA from humans to continue the cloning process of his species
      • A remake is due for release in July
    • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

      • 2016
      • Metroidvania-style adventure platformer that has you playing the half-genie Shantae out to save Sequin Land from the Pirate Master
    • Sine Mora

      • 2012
      • 2.5D bullet hell shoot ’em up in a diesel punk inspired world filled with anthropomorphic characters
    • Coffee Talk

      • 2020
      • Visual novel that follows a barista working in a coffee shop in a fantasy version of Seattle, as they listen to the concerns of the shop’s patrons and prepare drinks
  • Epic Games

    • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

      • 2015
      • Improved versions of Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel, the popular action RPG sci-fi loot shooters with a good sense of humor, with all their DLC, enhanced local multiplayer, and the ability to transfer save data from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions
  • Twitch

    • The Last Tinker: City of Colors

      • 2014
      • Indie developer Mimimi’s take on action adventure like Jack and Daxter or Banjo-Kazooie, minus the jump button
    • Pulstar

      • 1995
      • Horizontal-scrolling shooter, similar to R-Type, that has you defeating a hostile race of aliens threatening mankind
    • Blazing Star

      • 1998
      • Shoot ’em up sequel to Pulstar with improved graphics and less challenging difficulty
    • Fighting games

      • Samurai Shodown II

        • 1994
        • One of the first games to incorporate parrying, where you can block at the last second to deflect the attack and leave your opponent vulnerable
      • The King of Fighters 2000

        • 2000
        • 7th entry in the KoF series for the NeoGeo and the last one produced by SNK before their bankruptcy
      • The King of Fighters 2002

        • 2002
        • Ninth game in the KoF series that discarded the previous titles’ 4-on-4 striker match format and returned to the 3-on-3 battles that KoF used until ’98
      • Fatal Fury Special

        • 1993
        • An updated version of Fatal Fury 2 with tweaks to the gameplay system and an expanded roster
      • Art of Fighting 2

        • 1994
        • Set as a prequel to the Fatal Fury series, it was the first fighting series to allow players to perform a “super attack”

Trump is up in arms after Twitter decided to flag some of his misinformation as false, though the rest of his bull is still coming through strong

  • With the current COVID-19 situation, Twitter has decided to make some improvements to their platform so that incorrect information gets flagged
    • So when Trump tweeted about mail-in voting, claiming that there’s no way that they’ll be anything less than substantially fraudulent, Twitter threw a link at the bottom so that readers could “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”, and directs them to articles about his unsubstantiated claim
    • Trump’s response was to claim that they’re interfering in the 2020 election, and that Twitter is now stifling free speech. Even though that really only applies to the government, and companies are not required to give you a platform to say whatever you want
    • Then the Trump administration took to Fox News to single out Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, after digging up some tweets he had posted that were critical of the current US government
      • Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway called on listeners to go after him, causing a flood of abuse, harassment, and death threats online
    • So this is the government of a world power having a tantrum against a social media website because the president posted verifiably false information online
  • Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Twitter is enforcing these policies strongly enough
    • Another of Trump’s tweets has invented a conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murder
      • Trump basically said that the former congressman killed a staff member in 2001 even though he was 800 miles away at the time and her death was ruled an accident (she suffered a heart condition that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk)
      • Trump then doubled down on the accusation even after her widower pleaded unsuccessfully with Twitter to take down the posts about his late wife in an open letter, saying that they’re causing her family a lot of emotional pain
        • He went on to say that the president is perverting the memory of his dead wife for perceived political gain, and if an ordinary user was throwing around these kinds of lies they would get banned from Twitter altogether
      • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s usual insistence that they’re sticking to the letter of their terms of use, commonly gamed by internet trolls and the president of the US, can’t even be used as armour in this case because they’re so solidly in the wrong- even by their own terms of use these posts should be removed and the account should be flagged if not banned altogether
    • This isn’t even new behaviour, after Trump used deluded conspiracy theories in 2016 against Ted Cruz, saying his father was involved in the JFK assassination, when going for the republican nomination in the presidential election

According to US courts, just turning on your phone’s lock screen may count as a search by law enforcement and require a warrant

  • While police can run a search without a warrant under special circumstances, if the phone is currently in police custody the device cannot be turned on even to take a screenshot of the lock screen. As soon as a physical intrusion is made, even just to press a button to wake up the screen, even though the lock screen is something somewhat publicly accessible, it counts as a intruding on a constitutionally protected area

Fans rejoice, you’re finally getting the Snyder Cut of Justice League

  • Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film after Zack Snyder left the film’s production due to family tragedy, but he drastically changed the tone of Snyder’s unfinished version
  • Synder’s personal cut of the Justice League will be a long-form series coming to HBO Max in 2021, and is expected to cost over $30M in development and reshoots

More than half of Apple Stores worldwide have reopened now, and their precautions are pretty solid

  • Multiple staff are stationed around the store’s entrance to direct people to different lineups either for shopping, walk-in repair work, or genius bar appointments
  • They also have guards doing screening, temperature checks, handing out masks, and directing the use of hand sanitizer
  • In store they’re keeping physical distancing in effect by helping people across tables and continually cleaning things with sanitizing wipes
  • All in it was quite a good experience, and I felt like the store was really taking the pandemic seriously while still taking care of my laptop repair
    • If you have a MacBook with USB-C ports that just aren’t holding on to cords like it used to, you should definitely get it checked out. Just make sure they put the screws back in
    • Anecdotally, keep in mind that the Apple Store isn’t a free mask dispensary. I saw one argument while in line with a couple maintaining that, because they bought an iPad yesterday, they should get a free mask from Apple even though they weren’t entering the store at all

Fallout 76 Tips and Tricks from Foam Forge Cosplay

  • Some lessons I’ve learned about FO76 in the past 2 weeks for anyone looking to optimize their end game.
  • Start building early.
    • Pick what weapon kit out you want and start engineering yourself towards it.
    • An endgame respec right now can cost up to 50 levels of points. (ask me how I know.)
  • Auto Rifles are still viable but you need a good back pack.
    • You won’t be using power armor.
    • Charisma is a dump stat.
    • Get ready to abandon it down to 3 points once you hit 50.
    • It’s only useful for dialogue checks.
    • Grape mentats help with that.
    • The perk Glow Sight is a must have.
      • At max rank it gives +60% damage to glowing enemies.
  • A good 1  Legendary > Decent 3  Anything with armor piercing is a god send.
    • Enemies in FO4 and FO76 don’t get more health.
    • They stack “armor”.
    • This is Bethesda’s way of dealing with game balancing.
      • IE: it’s broken too.
    • VATS kills fusion cores so build your Power armor build to avoid Vats.
    • Getting a targeting hud makes enemies glow in the dark
      • Much easier to kill them when you can see them without having to “ping” them with VATS
      • Physical Damage Resistance > Any Other Kind.
  • Best end game armor is T-51B or the much coveted Ultracite armor for base game.
    • The Strangler Heart is better than both but you gotta run Vault 94 for that.
    • The total difference is almost negligible so if you want (Like me) the X-01 is still a solid set of armor to run around in.
  • Staggering opponents makes them useless and unable to fight you.
    • If you hit hard enough and frequently enough they sort of just stun lock.
    • Heavy guns and shotguns are great for that.
    • Best end game guns come from Wastelanders.
  • Farm lots of rep for both factions to get you one of the new Gauss weapon types.
    • Shotgun or Minigun. They melt enemies.
    • If you’re heavy weapon specced Becket just gives you a fantastic .50 CAL at the end of his quest chain.
    • No spoilers for his quests though. Enjoy them.

Tidbits

  • It looks like Apple has been re-issuing many app updates this week, with some users reporting 100+ apps flagged for updates over the course of a couple days
    • There’s no solid info on why, but this may have been the fix to a problem causing some apps to stop opening properly, showing an error saying “This app is no longer shared with you”
  • macOS 10.15.5 is out now, including new battery health management features to extend the overall lifespan of a Mac’s battery, especially when you keep a laptop plugged in all the time
    • It also brings options to turn off Facetime video resizing to show the active speaker, issues with Finder freezing during large file transfers and a bunch of other bugs
  • With the iOS 13.5 release last week Alberta’s ABTraceTogether contact tracing app is apparently getting an update to support the secure Apple/Google exposure notification API, but there’s still no solid word on when that’s happening
    • Unfortunately many can’t even use it in its current state, with some devices purchased brand-new even three years ago unable to run the version of Android it requires
      • The app requires Android 8 or newer, leaving about 2/5 of Android phones unable to download it
      • To contrast, more than 95% of all active iPhones support the minimum iOS 11 required
  • The new Unc0ver jailbreak for iPhones is now available, and can hack anything from iOS 11 to the latest 13.5 that was just released
    • Apparently this is the first time a jailbreak has worked on all devices on launch day since iOS 10, according to the security researcher who discovered the vulnerability
  • Facebook is reportedly planning to allow its staff to work from home on a permanent basis even after the current crisis is over
    • Zuckerberg is expecting about half of his workforce to take advantage of the new program, though salaries will be adjusted according to living costs in their location
    • Apparently they’ll be verifying employee home addresses by monitoring their access to company systems
  • Due to pandemic concerns, Blizzcon 2020 has officially been cancelled
    • The convention’s executive producer, Saralyn Smith, released a statement saying that they still want to connect with fans online but, because this is new-ish territory with a lot of factors involved like their esports competitions, rather than having anything this fall it will likely be sometime early next year

Alan finished Network Effect, the first full-length Murderbot Diaries novel, this week, and it was damn good

  • Martha Wells does a fantastic job of showing a future that is equal parts exciting, promising, and bleak, with a very realistic balance of utopian and dystopian worlds
  • For not being interested in being at all human, Murderbot is such a good example of our foibles and fallacies while also being basically super-human at times
  • If you liked the novellas you’ll love this book, and if you’re interested in solid sci-fi you’ll be in for a good time

 

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PS2J 302 News – Aztec and Japanese

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Silence: The Whispered World 2

      • 2016
      • Point and click adventure game that won awards for its visuals and sound design, following a young girl lost in the magical realm between life and death, and her brother trying to bring her home
  • Epic Games

    • Civilization VI

      • 2016
      • Turn-based 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) strategy game in the Sid Meier’s Civilization series, where you develop a civilization from an early settlement through millennia to become a world power and achieve military domination, technological superiority, or cultural influence against human or computer-controlled opponents

Apple software updates

  • watchOS 6.2.5 has brought ECG functionality to Saudi Arabia, as well some new Pride watch faces to go with Apple’s new Pride-themed watchbands
  • iOS 13.5 has brought the ability to share your medical ID information during an emergency call, security fixes for Mail, mask-detection for FaceID so the password prompt appears more quickly, and most important the exposure notification API
    • Exposure notification settings are available under Settings, Privacy, Health once your region has been set up, including options to enable/disable it on demand, a list of active tracing apps on your phone, records of all requests to check your exposure log, and the ability to delete your exposure log altogether
    • Apple’s reported that several US States and 22 countries around the world have requested and received access to date, with more expected to join in the coming weeks
    • Now that this is available to the public I’m looking forward to contact tracing apps that handle privacy and device performance well, alongside giving people more tools to see if they may have been exposed to COVID-19
    • In the ABTraceTogether’s FAQ for the Alberta-based contact tracing app they mention updating once the API is released, so as soon as I see that I’ll definitely be installing it

The latest battle in iPhone encryption is already here, hidden behind NDA’s for the last year

  • Among more news of the FBI claiming Apple is willfully not decrypting the phones of suspected criminals and accusing them of aiding terrorists, and Apple replying that they seriously can’t decrypt those devices because they’re secure by design but they provided literally everything they have access to, we’re hearing more talk of the secret hacking tools that government agencies and law enforcement are spending tens of thousands of dollars on. Each.
  • Grayshift, the company behind the GrayKey iPhone brute-force cracking device we’ve talked about more than a few times over the years, apparently has an additional tool for passcodes that are too long to crack
    • Four to six digit pins can be cracked in less than a day, but adding the alphabet and increasing length can easily stretch that time to years
  • It’s a piece of software called Hide UI, and it’s basically spyware that the GrayKey box can install on devices to record passcodes as they are entered into the device
    • The idea is that basically law enforcement can try to crack the phone, then instead install the Hide UI spyware and give the phone back under the pretence of allowing a phonecall or other access to the data on the phone.
    • Then, even if the phone is locked again, the passcode will have been stored in a file that can be extracted the next time it’s plugged back in to the GrayKey device
      • According to a screenshot posted online, the GrayKey even snapshots the phone’s file system to prevent the deletion of any data, disables Airplane mode, and blocks attempts to wipe the phone
      • So now not only do we need to have long, alphanumeric passcodes for any semblance of security, but if your phone has been in the hand of law enforcement you can’t trust it enough to use it
  • One of the biggest problems with this is it’s another tool used by law enforcement, which needs to be accountable to the public in a democratic society
    • So far though GrayKey has been mentioned in court documents we haven’t seen any search warrants outlining the capabilities of Hide UI, and if it’s been in use that could be a problem when it comes to our rights and freedoms
    • Some civil liberties groups including the ACLU are concerned that, rather than disclose how the tech works and subjecting it to public scrutiny, prosecutors may be dropping cases when it comes up.
      • This previously happened with the use of stingray devices, which spoof a cell phone tower to intercept nearby phonecalls and text messages
  • And even though law enforcement sources say a warrant is required, it’s not clear whether the prosecutor or judge are aware of subterfuge and malware involved. It feels like this is moving from the territory of a search warrant and into surveillance or wire tapping
  • On top of all that, because Grayshift is using these NDA’s to prevent law enforcement from being transparent, defence attorneys may not get the same access to exculpatory data
    • One NDA from 2018 requires law enforcement to notify Grayshift if details of the tech are likely to be disclosed through something like a subpoena or court order, so that Grayshift has the opportunity to “obtain a protective order or otherwise oppose the disclosure”, so we officially have a company that could interfere with the courts and due process because they don’t want people to find out about the hacking tools they’re selling

id Software caught a lot of flak this week for the May 14th update of Doom Eternal, which added in anti-cheat software with dangerous implications

  • Separate from the Denuvo Anti-Tamper software, which is built to make it harder for pirates to crack the software through reverse-engineering, the new piece is Denuvo Anti-Cheat
    • DAC is a PC-only piece added to Doom for its multiplayer game modes, to ensure everyone’s on an even playing field, but the way it was added after the fact even for players not going in to multiplayer has many up in arms
  • The big problems with DAC?
    • It completely ruined Linux compatibility
    • It seems to have been causing blue-screen errors, performance degradation, as well as issues launching the game at all
    • It can be updated silently in the background, giving it even more access and control
    • And, because of the level of access it is set up with, it can collect information on everything your computer is doing and transmit/affect it however it pleases
      • Any security vulnerabilities found in DAC would immediately affect everyone with Doom Eternal installed, whether they wanted DAC or not
  • Things got so bad so quickly that, after a campaign of review-bombing on Steam, id has already announced plans to remove DAC in the next patch
    • They’re saying that, at the very minimum, they will consider giving campaign-only players a way to avoid anti-cheat software altogether while also re-evaluating what they use to prevent cheating in multiplayer
    • They’ve also stated that the performance issues are unrelated, and that other fixes are coming in the patch to address them, but with the way they worded it (“It’s also worth noting that our decision to remove the anti-cheat software is not based on the quality of the Denuvo Anti-Cheat solution.”) it almost seems like they’re trying to avoid a liability/defamation problem with Denuvo
  • Either way, anyone playing Doom Eternal on PC may want to uninstall the game while we wait for the next patch. Or at the very least, check your Uninstall Programs app on Windows and remove Denuvo Anti-Cheat and Denuvo Anti-Cheat Updater

Users of the popular email app Edison Mail had a major privacy breach this week, with many reporting that they suddenly had access to other peoples’ email accounts

  • A new sync feature was recently rolled out to allow connected email accounts to show up across all your devices, but there are a lot of reports from users on sites like Twitter saying that they now had full access to complete strangers’ email accounts
    • They could also see in their settings that other peoples’ devices had access to their accounts as well
  • Edison has been replying to users saying they’re “urgently working to resolve this technical problem” and that they’ve reverted the change that introduced the problem for a “small percent of our users”
    • A followup blog post says that it exclusively affected iOS users, totalling about 6,500 accounts, and was fixed 30 hours after first being reported
    • They’re also saying that your credentials weren’t exposed, but that you should change your password just in case
  • Either way, this will likely lead many to reconsider using Edison Mail going forward

The BBC has launched a new online service to let users watch or listen to programs, podcasts, and radio together remotely

  • BBC Together is available now on Taster, the BBC’s experimental platform, and can be accessed with any web browser.
  • Once one user finds a link to something they want to watch with others, from iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News, or Sports, and pastes it into BBC Together it creates a new group session with a link that can be sent to friends and family
  • Each session can be watched by up to 50 people, with the host able to control the content or choose something new to watch
  • Overall it seems pretty similar to Netflix Party, the Chrome extension that lets you watch Netflix shows simultaneously online, and it couldn’t have come at a better time

Dumb news item of the week- The US Department of Homeland Security has had to issue alerts to wireless telecom providers and law enforcement agencies about potential attacks on cell towers and telecom workers

  • Apparently coronavirus conspiracy theorists have decided that COVID-19 can be spread by the new 5G cellular frequency (it can’t), and that has led to dozens of cell tower burnings in the UK and mainland Europe

Overwatch Anniversary

  • May 19 to June 9th

    • Log in for a free Legendary Lootbox!
  • Each day features a seasonal brawl

    • It runs through this list, one a day and repeats when it ends:
    • Lucioball
    • Junkenstein’s Revenge
    • Mai’s Snowball Offensive
    • Yeti Hunter
    • Capture the Flag
    • Uprising
    • Retribution
    • Storm Rising
    • Archive Challenges
      • The harder effects added to Uprising, Retribution and Storm Rising
  • During the anniversary you are able to use your in game currency and purchase any cosmetic from events that you may have missed
  • This event brings 5 new legendary skins

    • Dragoon Mercy

      • Mercy’s armour is styles like a green dragon
    • Huitzilopotchli Zenyatta

      • Pronounced Weetsee-low-potched-li (Josh’s pronunciation breakdown)
      • Huitzilopotchli is a the Mesoamerican deity of war, sun, human sacrifice and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. (Ten-o-cheetch-lon) Which is now in Mexico City.
      • His body looks like ancient Aztec stone, has a statuesque face, some omnic flare for joints and lighting, and he is wearing a ceremonial headdress and skirt
    • Little Red Ashe

      • Ashe is dressed like an armed Little Red Riding Hood
      • And Bob is the bag bad wolf, dressed like granny
    • Masquerade Reaper

      • It is very similar to the masquerade outfit in the comic, big exceptions are:
        • the lack of fluffy collar
        • his mask is not a full skull, but a gold masquerade mask with a top jaw of a skull
        • and unlike the comic, he has a full cape
        • and his shotguns are styled like handcannons with writing on the bottom
          • “Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men!”
          • Which is a quote from The Phantom of the Opera
    • Submarine Wrecking Ball

      • The mech is nautical themed like an old diving suit
      • Hammond has a captains outfit and a big moustache
  • And again, they are giving away Epic skins with a player icon and spray with 9 wins in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or the Arcade

    • Week 1

      • May 19th to 26th
      • Carbon Fiber Sigma
      • His armour is black carbon fiber
      • With extra details and visor that are yellow hexagonal glass or hardlight
    • Week 2

      • May 26th to June 2nd
      • Fleur de Lis Widowmaker
      • Her clothing is purple and gold
      • Parts look somewhat like armour, like shoulders and boots
    • Week 3

      • June 2nd to June 9th
      • Masked Man McCree
      • A recolour of McCree making him a teal with white trim and white hat
      • His poncho reads Ranger
      • His belt buckle is HYSA
        • Given the Lone Ranger flair its probably “Hi-Yo Silver Away!”

Tidbits

  • Chrome is taking aim at bad ads with new features to block advertisements that affect your computer’s performance through either bad or malicious code
    • The idea is that they’ll block ads that use more resources or network data than the other 99.9% of overall ads, to prevent things like surreptitious bitcoin mining
    • They’ll be experimenting with it over the next few months with an expected release by the end of August
  • Spotify is continuing their slow but hostile takeover of the podcast ecosystem, with Joe Rogan hitting the service in September and going Spotify-exclusive this January
    • I understand that the money is attractive, but at the end of the day podcasting is supposed to be an open standard. Once you start limiting things to specific apps and services you’re going to lose people, especially if you go to a service with as much user tracking as Spotify
  • Twitter has started testing new conversation options, letting people limit replies to their tweets to either everyone, people you follow, or only people you mention
    • It’s not a bad idea, but it will definitely increase the echo-chamber effect that Twitter already has issues with
  • HTC is working on their new U Ear earbuds that, according to photos in regulatory documents, took some design cues from the original AirPods
    • And by “took some design cues”, I mean “they took AirPods and spray-painted them black”
  • Facebook has acquired the GIF sharing website Giphy for $400M, and has announced plans to further integrate it into Instagram and other Facebook apps
    • This is really going to highlight which companies with Giphy integration care about your data- some, like Signal or Slack, will outright tell you how they protect your data and disassociate your information from the Giphy images you use, while others are going to be conspicuously silent
  • Apple Stores have begun reopening in Canada and the US this week, with safety precautions like required face coverings, temperature checks and screening questions at the door, and limited occupancy of the stores
    • I’ll have a first-hand account of their new safety precautions after I take my computer in on Saturday

 

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PS2J 301 News – The Boy Who Cired YouTube

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Anna’s Quest

      • 2015
      • Point-and-click adventure game following Anna as she attempts to escape an evil witch and save her dying grandfather by solving puzzles, collecting items, and talking to characters throughout the game
  • Epic Games

    • Grand Theft Auto 5

      • 2013
      • Action-adventure sandbox game by Rockstar following three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency and powerful crime figures
      • It quickly became the highest selling entertainment product in history, earning $1B in its first three days, and still consistently sits on Steam’s list of most popular games
      • So popular that it’s singlehandedly taken down the Epic Games Store website, even causing issues with the Epic Games launcher and Fortnite
        • As of recording the site is still down

Utah’s joined the contact tracing game with their new Healthy Together app, aimed at letting people know if they’ve come into contact with someone later diagnosed with COVID-19

  • Unfortunately they decided not to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API, and instead opted for a less private GPS and Bluetooth option
  • According to the Utah state website, they opted to use their own framework because they say Bluetooth alone “gives a less accurate picture” than the combination of Bluetooth and GPS
    • I can get how the extra location information could assist in identifying transmission areas, but at the end of the day this is a government app that logs not only who you’re in contact with but also everywhere you go
    • It’s also another case of needing to have the app open and active at all times on a iPhone in order to fully function, which can not only affect battery performance but also the overall longevity of your device
  • At the moment about 45,000 people have signed up for Healthy Together, amounting to about 2% of the state’s population, and some estimates have shown that in order to be effective the apps will need to be used by 60%.
    • Hopefully once the more secure and efficient apps come onto the market we’ll start to see the numbers rise

We’re seeing another dark side to the wild west that is exposure notification- spam and phishing attacks

  • Police in Maine are warning cell phone users of a text message scam in which people are sending things like
    • “Someone who came into contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at <link>”
    • These are not official messages and are doing nothing but spread panic and, depending on where the link is pointed, could give hackers a way in to get your personal information
  • The Better Business Bureau has also said that scammers are targeting seniors with messages posing as the US Department of Health and telling them they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test to receive their recently approved government stimulus payment
  • It’s tough to say exactly how to tell the scam messages from real ones, but one giveaway is if you aren’t running a contact tracing app then the government has no way to identify that you’ve been exposed, never mind text you about it
  • Once tracing apps start using the Apple/Google exposure notification features I think we’ll be in much better shape, as you’ll see proper system notifications from trusted government apps rather than a hodgepodge of whatever your area has put together themselves

Epic Games has unveiled the new Unreal Engine 5, and it’s very pretty

  • Unreal Engine is a game engine used by the developers of a lot of high-profile games from Yoshi’s Crafted World to the Batman: Arkham titles and Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • The new engine focuses on photorealism on par with movie CG and live-action video, and there’s a very pretty demo video online of it running on developer PS5 hardware
  • The coolest thing is that it’s not just for next-gen- the engine will support current consoles, computers, and even iOS and Android
  • As part of the same announcement Epic has also changed how its royalties work regarding use of the engine, retroactively taking 5% of sales only after a game has earned its first $1M in sales. And that 5% is waived for games published on the Epic Games Store
    • On top of that, any Oculus-exclusive games made with Unreal don’t start paying until they hit $5M in sales
    • So you can get access to triple-A game development tools for free and only start paying royalties if your game is a big success. Pretty solid deal!

Wink, a company that makes a smart home hub that links different smart home devices together, has decided to switch from a purchase model to subscriptions and completely screw over their current users

  • Previously Wink would work like most other smart home devices, you buy it once, set it up, and it works with no additional costs
  • Now, 5 years in, they’ve decided that hardware sales don’t cover their costs and you need to pay $5/month to continue using hardware you own
    • Even if you don’t use their cloud services, your access to the app, voice control, API, and automations all get deactivated if you don’t pay their ransom
    • Part of their justification is that they don’t make any extra money by selling your information, like other platforms might, but that’s less of a bonus and more of an essential feature
  • In response to backlash they went from a one-week notice period to two weeks, allowing an extra 7 days before users start being charged the monthly fee
  • I could see it if they introduced new devices reliant on a subscription, or maybe if they had a buy-back program for people that don’t want to subscribe and therefore no longer have any use for the product, but nothing like that has been announced
  • This seems like a fairly customer-hostile move, and I’ll be surprised if Wink manages to move forward without introducing something to justify the added cost

Apple has started reopening its retail stores and some of the safety measures it’s taking may violate EU privacy rules

  • One of the measures Apple’s taking to protect everyone includes temperature checks before customers are allowed to enter, using a non-contact forehead thermometer
  • However a data protection agency in Germany is concerned those checks violate EU privacy and data protection rules and has launched a probe, according to Bloomberg Law
  • Assuming they’re not storing the data or linking it to people in any way, I’m guessing this won’t amount to anything. It sounds comparable to nightclubs checking ID before allowing people to enter

New Paper Mario on Switch!

  • Paper Mario: The Origami King
    • Coming out July 17th!
  • Nintendo’s page is letting you know you can pre-order it now
    • If you pre-order it will install the data now
    • And at midnight for on the 17th you can play the game
  • A beautiful paper world to unfold
    • The devious King Olly has transformed Princess Peach into origami, uprooted her castle and sealed it shut with magical paper streamers.
    • Join Mario and his new companion Olivia on a comedic adventure that will take you to the far corners of a papercraft world
      • With the help of Olivia’s paper-folding powers, use the far-reaching 1,000 Fold Arms and other paper transformations to save those imprisoned by the Origami King’s henchmen, and help restore peace to the world.
    • Face off against the Origami King and his army of paper invaders, team up with some extraordinary companions and master magical powers on your quest to save the world.
    • Journey across the land – from scorching deserts to sailing the high seas – and recruit a revolving cast of wacky travel buddies, as you seek to sever these sinister streamers and save your paper pals from being turned into one of the Folded Soldiers!
    • Repair the damage done by the Folded Soldiers and rescue Toads trapped in all manner of wacky scrapes!
    • Put a stop to King Olly’s plans by engaging in battles which will put both your tactical thinking and puzzle solving skills to the test – against his origami army, as well as humongous bosses under his command!
  • From what I could tell from the video and screen shots
    • Paper Mario is teamed up with the origami Olivia for special powers
      • One featured has him with extended origami arms
      • It looks like the arms will be using joycon motions to work
      • Like pulling a cardboard tab along a perforated edge
    • It also looks like all the paper denizens are teamed up with Mario
      • Enemies pictured behind him facing the origami threat
      • Bowser looks like he got folded down to just his face to diminish his power
    • Game play looks very familiar
      • Traversing crafted 3D enviroments
      • RPG combat with bonuses for timing
      • Might have an over-world where travel is done not to scale
    • And it looks like some things are 3D papermache
      • Perhaps its different from the 2D paper but weaker than Origami?
        • The ending has a silly clip of Paper Mario with a giant papermache Samus helmet
          • He is running back and forth making a fist pretending his arm is a blaster
        • The scene also has a papermache DK head, adding more questions to how Paper Mario ties into the Nintendo franchises

Tidbits

  • The latest rumours for the expected over-ear AirPods Studio look very interesting with technology expected for head/neck detection (similar to ear detection in AirPods that pauses your media when you take one out), and automatic left-right side assignment
    • Analysts say that instead of having a specific left or right speaker, the headphones will detect which way they’re being worn and adjust accordingly
    • They’re expected to retail for about $349 USD
  • A remastered version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 was announced this week in text messages from the man himself
    • Apparently Tony has a text message service you can sign up for to receive messages from him throughout the year, and he took to it to announce that every skating level from the two PlayStation 1 games would return, along with every pro skater in the original games, and the custom skate park feature from Pro Skater 5
    • Activision says it will be coming to the Xbox One, PS4, and PC (via Epic Games) this September for $40 USD, $60 CAD
  • To promote learning from home, Ubisoft is making their Discovery Tour series completely free for anyone with a Uplay account
    • Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece and DT: Ancient Egypt are versions of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and AC: Origins that strip out the combat in favour of education
    • You can explore multiple regions, learn about daily life in the period, and hear about myths, legends, and philosophies of the cultures
  • In an effort to get around Trump’s ban on American companies from doing business with them, Huawei is re-releasing old phones that still support Google apps
    • Apparently the ban has worked is that any devices launched before the ban, and even some slightly afterward, can still be sold with Google apps installed
    • Since then though it’s been expected that Huawei will have a 20% drop is sales this year, and that may only be the initial impact as the Google-enabled Huawei phones become de-supported and fall off the market
    • So Huawei’s solution is to release “New Edition” versions of last year’s phones- new software and more memory, but otherwise the exact same phone
    • These can’t really take the place of their flagship line of devices, but it’s something they can put out there and see if people will buy, at least

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you to Breanne, for being so kind and helpful!

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 275 News – Bushel of Apple

Security alert

  • Google’s October 2019 Android security fix is here for the majority of Android devices and has a fix for a major vulnerability present on a bunch of different phones
    • The bug allows a hacker to remotely root and take complete control of the device if an infected app has been installed or if a Chrome-based loophole is used
    • If you have an Android device you should go into your Settings app and search for System Update to download and install it as soon as possible

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

      • 2018
      • City building simulation from the developers of the Tropico series modeled after real Martian data that has you building a colony on Mars by manufacturing resources and constructing buildings to ensure the survival of the colonists

Apple’s under fire this week for their wishy-washy capitulation to the Chinese government during the Hong Kong protests

  • Most of the controversy, involving Apple at least, revolves around an app called HKMap.Live that allows users to flag locations on a map. It’s being used to warn the public about things like concentrations of riot police, tear gas, and zones that are currently being locked down
    • According to people within Hong Kong, tear gas is routinely being deployed without warning in densely populated neighbourhoods just because the cops were being verbally taunted, and the police are firing bean bag rounds without warning at people that, for example, walk out of a subway station in a locked-down area
  • It originally hit headlines because Apple rejected the app, saying that it facilitates, enables, and encourages the evasion of law enforcement. Which is no more true that being able to flag speedtraps on Waze- it’s not like the app has GPS on every cop in the region
  • The app eventually did get approved and released, so people chalked it up to an overzealous App Store reviewer and left it at that
  • Then Apple came under fire in the Chinese state media, being accused of protecting “rioters” and enabling illegal behaviour
    • Interestingly enough, the same story made no mention of the fact that it’s also a web app and available on the Google Play store- it completely targeted Apple
  • In response to those stories, and presumably pressure from Chinese officials, Apple then removed the app from the App Store citing claims that it was used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and that criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.
    • They went on to say that the app violates Apple guidlines and local laws, but despite many inquiries neither Apple nor Chinese officials seem to be able to point those laws out
      • The Secretary for Transport and Housing laid the decision solely at Apple’s feet, saying to ask them for the reasons why
      • Tim Cook released a company-wide email talking about the situation, but still didn’t or couldn’t back up the claims that it was used to target individual officers for violence, or to victimize people or property where no police were present. And no one at any point has said what local laws in Hong Kong this app is violating.
  • At this point the app remains available Google Play and its webapp, and anyone that already installed it on their iDevices can still use it, but it’s not available for purchase or download any longer
  • For all Tim Cook’s talk of free speech and human rights, this really seems like a failure to stand up for what’s right. They’re just 100% buckling under the pressure of the Chinese government

In related news, Blizzard is in a similar situation but they’ve 100% embraced their Chinese overlords

  • After a professional Hearthstone player declared his support for the Hong Kong protest movement Blizzard handed him a one year suspension and rescinded his $10,000 tournament prize
  • This has even caught the attention of American senators, with Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden both calling Blizzard out for the censorship
  • This is a really bad look for a company with supposed values like “Think globally” and “Every voice matters”
  • Many are boycotting Blizzard games in protest, to the point where they have basically crashed the account deletion part of the Blizzard site
    • Early reports were suspicious of them trying to prevent a mass exodus by changing the requirements (ie needing photo ID to close the account, instead of the usual authenticator, sms, email, or secret question), but further testing has shown that they’ve either backpedaled on that strategy or, more likely, gotten a little-used part of their website some more resources
      • Interesting part there is that you don’t need to send in your id to make the account in the first place, so what exactly would they be verifying?

The latest iOS may be a bit of a mess, but it at least has a couple of new privacy features to go with it

  • If you’ve already updated you might have noticed a new security prompt when using some apps, asking if you want to allow them to use Bluetooth
  • It mentions that it’s used to connect to Bluetooth accessories, which makes sense, but also says apps can use it to know when you’re nearby
  • Apparently some retailers were using bluetooth beacons to track customers that had their app open, since they previously by default had the ability to see nearby Bluetooth devices without a prompt
  • They could also learn your location if you were near a public WiFi hotspot, but Apple now has things locked down so that’s no longer possible
  • The worst part about that tracking was that it wasn’t limited to apps you might expect like Best Buy, but also things like games, flashlights, or other one-off apps from sketchy developers
  • So now with the additional prompts users can basically deny everything that doesn’t make sense, and then if they notice that actual functions within the app are affected they can look at allowing the needed access
  • The next challenge will be apps from companies like X-Mode, which get permission to collect location data by plugging in to apps that actually do need your location
    • For instance they have an earthquake alert app, which would make sense to let track your location, but buried in the ToS is language that says they can use that location data for other means
  • End of the day it looks like we still need to be conscious of what apps we’re installing, but at least now iOS lets us know if that wallpaper app you downloaded is secretly trying to get your location data

macOS Catalina is here, and because I haven’t learned my lesson from installing iOS 13 on day 1 yet we’ve got the full scoop

  • One thing to note is that they’ve drawn a line in the sand and you can no longer run 32 bit apps. That should be limited to older software, but even some newer 64 bit apps may rely on 32 bit plugins
    • There’s a free download available called Go64 that will flag the applications on your system that won’t work after the update, as well as let you know when they were last used, and it was a handy way to make sure I was ready
      • I actually found you need to delete/reinstall Steam to get the new 64 bit version, even though the Blizzard launcher updated itself smoothly
  • iTunes has been split into three separate apps- Music, TV, and Podcasts. Gone are the days of a single bloated hub for all your media, but it’s shifted iPhone and iPad syncing to an unlikely new home- Finder
    • Once your device is plugged in you should see your phone near the bottom of the navigation bar on the left side of Finder. You can click on that to see the familiar sync and update options that used to live in iTunes
    • You’ll also see an option for “Show this device when on Wi-Fi”, which you’ll need to manually enable to get WiFi sync back the way it’s been for the last few years
    • Apple notes in their support documentation that things set to sync with the cloud, like Apple Music, may not be available through the new Finder sync, possibly in a move to push more people into the iCloud and away from local syncing and backups
    • Also, despite its name, TV is the new home for all the video content including movies
  • They’ve also released Mac Catalyst, allowing developers to port iPad apps directly to macOS with the addition of multiple windows, drag/drop, and keyboard shortcuts
  • Photos has been updated with more sorting/filtering options and some automatic curation similar to Facebook, highlighting important moments like birthdays and vacations
  • Notes and Reminders have also been updated with the new iOS 13 features and finally sync properly across all your updated devices! And there was much rejoicing
  • Apple Arcade is now up on Mac in addition to iOS and AppleTV, meaning you can really take your game subscription anywhere
    • I’ve been itching to give it all a try, so expect my impressions in the coming weeks
  • Sidecar is brand new in Catalina, letting you use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. You can even use your Apple Pencil to control things, giving you a solid tablet interface for your computer for things like Adobe Creative Cloud, Maya, ZBrush, and more
  • Screen Time has come to the Mac, giving you insight into how you’re spending your time and allowing you to monitor usage, schedule downtime, and set limits for apps and websites across all your devices for yourself or your family
    • You’ll even be able to set communication limits as of this spring, if you want to limit who your kids can contact at certain times of the day (or night) without blocking their ability to contact you if they need to
  • On top of all that we also got a bunch of new security features, like better encryption, activation lock for lost or stolen hardware so only you can erase and reactivate your Mac, better controls to prevent accidental overwrites of system files (I’m looking at you, Chrome update we discussed in 273), and permissions prompts before apps get access to your files, keyboard activity, or images of your screen.
    • They’ve also set up the new Find My app with a couple tweaks to help locate a missing Mac, even if it’s offline and sleeping, by sending out Bluetooth signals that can be detected by Apple devices in use nearby so they can then relay the location so you can find it. And it’s all encrypted end-to-end so not even Apple knows the identity of the reporting device or the location of your hardware
  • Plus some great new accessibility features that let users control their Mac, iPhone, or iPad entirely with their voice, and tools to let users with low vision adjust magnification or visiblity on the fly
  • All that is available now, free, for most Mac hardware from 2012 or later.

The internet has found a way to get official Google apps back on Huawei phones, and you definitely shouldn’t do it

  • Recently the Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Huawei as part of the trade war between the US and China
  • This has made their latest phone, the Mate 30 Pro, the first to launch without Google apps even though it uses the Android operating system
    • So it can’t access apps like the Play Store, YouTube, Chrome, Google Assistant, and more
  • Generally this wouldn’t be a big deal- gray market distribution of Google apps is something the modding community has been doing for years, but the Mate 30 has locked down the loopholes that are normally used for devices like the Kindle Fire
  • Instead the new method is to install them through a website called Lzplay.net, which has been promoted by many major Android news sites and is very easily searchable
    • It’s easy to see why it’s so popular too- you just go to the website, install the app, hit ‘next’ a few times, and it installs a batch of Google system apps in the blink of an eye
  • Unfortunately the method it uses to do so is suspect at best and a security nightmare at worst
    • The website plugs in the Android’s Mobile Device Management framework, usually meant to give your IT department full control over a company-issued device. The goal there being that they have as much control remotely as you do physically- they can install/uninstall apps, change passwords, wipe lost or stolen devices, and all kinds of other things
    • These are permissions that should only ever be given to someone you 100% trust- I don’t even like giving that access to my employer, even though they pay my phone bill
  • The big problem here is that no one knows who or what owns Lzplay.net, so you’re essentially giving full ownership of your phone and its data to a random website registered somewhere in mainland China, which historically doesn’t sound like a great idea
  • On top of that, a lot of the write-ups and video guides out there really gloss over how it works and just how many permissions you’re granting. Almost none of them mention the fact that you’re left with this massive backdoor to your phone, and removing the app as your device administrator requires digging through a lot of settings
  • Lzplay might not do anything malicious today, but tomorrow it could fill your phone with bitcoin miners, install ransomware, or brick your phone
  • If you want more details on just how suspicious the site’s background is, like how it uses secret Huawei code and launched three days before the phone even came out, check out ArsTechnica’s article on the whole debacle

Watch out, there’s a new sneaky phone scam making the rounds that looks like one of the most credible phishing attempts out there at the moment

  • Twitter user Pieter Gunst reported that he got a call from someone claiming to be his bank, asking if he’d used his card in another city. When he said no, the caller apparently blocked the transaction and asked for his customer number to verify his identity (red flag number 1)
  • Not realizing things weren’t on the up and up quite yet Gunst gave it, and the person on the phone then said they were sending a verification PIN for him to read back (red flag number 2). He later realized the scammer was resetting his online banking password through the Forgotten Password link, and used that verification number to do so
  • The scammer then read off a few other charges to sound legitimate, now that they’d gotten access to his online statements, and after he’d confirmed he made them the scammer said they then wanted “to block the PIN on your account, so you get a fraud alert when it is used again.”, and asked for his current PIN (at this point dozens of red flags were raining from the heavens and luckily Gunst realized something was up)
  • He hung up on the scammer and called his bank’s actual fraud department, as well as his local police department to file a report on the number that called
  • Based on my experience, as well as common sense if you think about it, if the bank is calling you then they know who you are. When my card was compromised the fraud department called me, verified which charges were legit, and then cancelled/reissued my credit card without ever asking me for passwords, or my PIN
    • If you ever do get a call and they start asking weird questions or you’re at all worried about its legitimacy, let them know you want to call them back and then get the number either from the back of your card or your bank’s website (don’t use any phone numbers they give you). That way you can be sure who you’re talking to, even if you have to jump through a couple extra hoops to do so

The LEGO Group is putting old bricks to use

  • The LEGO Group announced the start of LEGO Replay.
    • This pilot program will accept old bricks, wash them and donate them to children’s non-profit charities
    • its a collaboration with Give Back Box, Teach for America, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
  • They made it easy to donate as well
    • collect any bricks, sets, lego figures you’re not using in a cardboard box
    • Vist Lego.com/replay to get a free UPS shipping label
    • Ship it, Lego takes care of the rest!
  • Your package is sent to the Give Back Box facility
    • They will sort the Lego
    • Inspect for damage
    • And clean it thouroughly
  • Tim Brooks, Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the Lego Group had this to say:
    • We know people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks
    • The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren.
    • But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks
    • With replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful
  • The founder of Give Back Box, Monika Wiela, also said:
    • I am excited to join the LEGO group in this pilot program
    • Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me
    • What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?
    • For us, the number of donations we receive is critical to a successful campaign, so we’ve made it as easy as possible for folks at home to send in their idle bricks
  • Among the bricks sent out
    • There is a portion going to Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for thier after-school programs
    • First shipments in November 2019.
    • Once the pilot is complete in Spring 2020, the LEGO group will evaluate a possible expansion of the program
  • LEGO replay is one of the many sustainable and philanthropic efforts the LEGO group has announced in the past year
    • Recent efforts include bricks made from plants, braille bricks and audio & braille instructions.

Josh wants to get into Streaming

Trying XSplit Gamecaster
They have a camera app that can capture just you with, I dunno, machine learning?
I want to stream Overwatch, HotS, and whatever I play. Like Sims 4, Rollercoaster Tycoon, any whatever free game I get from Alan’s free games list.

Tidbits

  • Bose has discontinued their noise-masking Sleepbuds earbuds due to battery and charging issues, and are offering full refunds as long as you put in your request by the end of the year
    • They also note that if you want to keep using them their newer Sleepbuds are less likely to see problems, and they’ll continue replacing them while supplies last
  • PS4 remote play has gotten amped up on iOS with the ability to connect your Dualshock 4 controller to iPhones and iPads
    • Previously we were stuck with on-screen controls, which aren’t great for the sheer number of buttons involved, but with an actual controller it makes remote place a lot more useful
  • Spotify has been updated on iPhone to include Siri support, and it works almost exactly how I’d hoped- you just ask it to play a song, artist, or playlist followed by “with Spotify” or “on Spotify” and it picks up the command easily
    • One annoying nitpick though, it doesn’t play nice with Siri on my watch so changing music while driving continues to be slightly more awkward than it needs to be
  • Steam has announced their Remote Play Together feature coming near the end of this month, giving a couch-coop experience online
    • The idea is that the host computer runs as if it was a local multiplayer session, split screen and all, then streams the video to your remote friends while they stream their controller inputs back

Recommend The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad from 1949

  • Especially the second half, where it does a full Disney take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow narrated and voiced by Bing Crosby
  • It’s charming and just a real treat in the fall season to hear more of Bing not limited to Christmas carols, and it’s a solid delivery of the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman
  • Plus as a bonus you also get The Wind in the Willows, narrated by Basil Rathbone, which is another excellent example of Disney animation at its finest
  • Each segment is about half an hour, which leaves neither of them feeling padded or cut short. Just the right amount of two great Disney films

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – A typical cowboy saves the princess tale.  (Shanghai Noon, Movie)

This Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety.

 

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The Internet Archive is trying to catalogue what it can of Soundcloud. Apple is in another battle for your privacy, but this time… its down unda’. Josh recommends a free to watch wrestling series, Alan has a classic book you may want to check out.

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