Marvel Villainous – August 2020

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Faeria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh really enjoyed the Sonic Movie

Josh is still hooked on Slay the Spire

Tidbits

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

We want to know,

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

 

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Moonlighter

      • 2018
      • Action RPG that has you managing your shop by day, working with inventory and making money to expand your town, and exploring dungeons and fighting hordes of enemies by night to earn loot
    • This War of Mine

      • 2014
      • War survival game inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, it focuses on the civilian experience of making difficult decisions and trying to keep your people alive by gathering and crafting resources while avoiding snipers and hostile scavengers
 

Security warning

  • there are eight different browser extensions out there that are stealing data from millions of customers and a long list of companies including Apple, Walmart, Amazon, 23AndMe, SpaceX, Skype, and many more
  • The extensions are
    • Branded Surveys (Chrome)
    • FairShare Unlock (Chrome and Firefox)
    • HoverZoom (Chrome)
    • Panel Community Surveys (Chrome)
    • PanelMeasurement (Chrome
    • SaveFrom.netHelper (Firefox)
    • SpeakIt! (Chrome)
    • SuperZoom (Chrome and Firefox)
  • The tracking activity has been reported to Chrome and Mozilla, who have disabled the add-ons and removed them from their marketplaces, but even after being disabled they continue to track and send user data
    • The only way to stop them is to completely uninstall the extensions involved
  • Leaked data includes user names, addresses, credit card info, passwords, files stored in the cloud, tax returns, genetic information, medical history… the list goes on
  • It just goes to show that we need to be careful about what browser extensions we download and use, since even though they’re on an official storefront doesn’t mean they’re safe
 

Nintendo has officially responded to the Joy-Con drift controversy

  • An American law firm is investigating a potential class action lawsuit
  • Their official stance is that affected players should visit support.nintendo.comand open a ticket to get your controllers repaired
    • This ticketing system seems to be a new development, since as recently as July 19th they just had basic troubleshooting steps like updating your system and recalibrating your Joy-Cons
  • Even with Nintendo offering repairs many people aren’t satisfied, citing high repair costs ($50 CAD out of warranty), slow turnaround, and the drift issues coming back very quickly (in some cases within days)
    • Systems carry a 12 month warranty, but controllers bought separately are only covered for 3 months
    • There are also a few unsubstantiated reports of Nintendo offering free out-of-warranty repairs, and refunds to people that already paid out of pocket, but it hasn’t been consistent so far.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the Switch Lite fares, with its built-in controllers
 

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is now slated to launch this September

  • They’ve apparently extended the plastic layer reviewers were peeling off to sit under the bezels, making it clear that it’s not supposed to be removed, and added reinforcements to protect the display from dirt and debris getting under it
  • End of the day this is still a $2000 USD concept tablet that folds into a phone with a surprisingly small screen, but we’ll see what people think of it this fall
 

FaceApp is under fire for processing photos and device-related data in Russia

  • A new warning tells users that photos will be uploaded to servers and not processed on their devices, but that was just added last week
  • Another piece to note is that you’re granting them a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use your data
 

Google Stadia’s director was on a Reddit AMA recently trying to reassure people that paying money for games that exist only in their service is completely safe

  • He went on to compare it to Gmail, Docs, Music, etc that have persisted for years
  • He declined to mention things like Nest, Google+, Inbox, and Reader, which have all been shut down. In many cases with little notice and no replacement on offer
  • If you want to see their track record you can check out killedbygoogle.com
 

Overwatch’s new Tank Sigma

 

ROLE

Sigma occupies the tank role. He is a full tank and uses a barrier to prevent damage.
 

SIGMA ABILITIES

Primary Fire – Hyperspheres

  • Fires limited ranged projectiles that can bounce off of walls. The orbs explode after a certain range and do area damage. This does 120 damage if you direct hit both of the orbs.
 

Experimental Barrier

Hold to propel a floating barrier; release to stop. Press again to recall the barrier to you.
  • This is Sigma’s main shield and what he will use to prevent damage for your team. It starts with 1,500 HP and can be placed on the map in front of you. It moves forward until you release the shield button. You press the button again to bring the shield back to you. The shield is just like Reinhardt’s shield where it needs to be recharged, and doesn’t have a separate health pool like Orisa’s shield.
 

Accretion

Gather a mass of debris and throw it at an enemy to knock them down.
  • Gathers rocks and throws them. Hitting a target at close range will only deal damage, further away targets will be hit by a knock-back and CC.
 

Kinetic Grasp

Absorb projectiles in front of you and convert them into shields.
  • Absorbs in coming damage and converts the damage up to 400 shield for Sigma.
 

Ultimate Ability – Gravitic Flux

Manipulate gravity to lift enemies into the air and slam them back down.
  • Sigma’s ultimate ability floats Sigma into the air (you can kind of fly around slowly) and allows you to place a black hole like ability on the ground. Any enemy within this area gets floated up into the air, and eventually they are slammed down onto the ground for 50% of their hp. You can fire Hyperspheres immeddiately after you’ve set the black hole.
 
Also they added Role Queue
  • For Quick play and Ranked
 

Tidbits

  • This week has brought new updates to iOS and watchOS, including releasing ECG and irregular heart rhythm notification functionality in Canada and Singapore
    • The walkie-talkie feature has also been re-enabled, and you can now migrate to a new iPhone by wirelessly connecting it to your old one; no computer required!
  • Amazon is apparently using police departments in the US to advertise their Ring seurveillance cameras in exchange for free products and access to an interactive map of active cameras where they can request footage stored in the cloud
    • The access is without a warrant, which is pretty damning, and Amazon’s agreement requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential”, which means they clearly know it’s shady
  • Stjepan Sejic (styapun shayitch), the Croatian artist known as Nebezial online and behind the very popular Sunstone comic, is officially bringing his Harley Quinn origin story concept to DC
    • Harleen will be a 3 book series with oversized, 60 page volumes, and follow Dr Quinzel’s descent into madness as she grows more and more attached to the Joker
 

Alan recommends the Pokemon Go Team Rocket event

 

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And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
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Updates
  • Huawei has also introduced a folding tablet, but this one has the screen on the outside
    • On the plus side, that means they don’t need to bother with a second tiny screen like Samsung
    • On the downside, that means that when it’s closed there’s no way to put it down that can’t scratch the plastic screen
    • Also, this one costs about $2600 USD
 
Free games
  • Sony PS4
    • The Witness
      • 2016
      • First person puzzle exploration game, a la Myst, developed by the creator of Braid
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
      • 2016 remaster of the 2007 FPS
      • Classic first person military shooter with a somewhat dated story, but it’s the multiplayer that I feel really kicked off the multiplayer military shooter craze
      • In addition to the old game types they’ve also added modes like one called Prop Hunt, where players have to hide as inanimate objects from the opposing team
    • It looks like Sony isn’t increasing the number of PS4 games they’re handing out to make up for the PS3 and Vita titles they’re no longer offering
  • Microsoft
    • XBone
      • Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion
        • 2018
        • In this open world turn-based RPG, the Land of Ooo has been flooded and you have to find out what happened while saving all your favourite characters from the TV show
      • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
        • 2016
        • Third person class-based shooter based on the old Plants vs Zombies tower defence mobile game
    • 360
      • Metal Gear Rising Revengance
        • 2013
        • Action hack and slash title from Platinum Games with the usual batshit Kojima plot and a Blade Mode mechanic that lets you slice up pretty much anything in slow motion
        • Still on of my favourite titles we played back when we did Let’s Play videos
    • Original
      • Star Wars: Republic Commando
        • 2005
        • Tactical FPS set in the Star Wars universe during the Clone Wars, where you play as the leader of a squad of clone commandos completing missions for the Republic
        • I’ve heard good things about this one, but the closest I’ve come is reading the excellent Karen Traviss series of the same name
    • And just a reminder that all Games with Gold are playable on the XBone via backward compatibility
  • No Twitch games so far this month, but BONUS ROUND
    • FFXIV – R4WU GJYD 886Z LPW4 SSN3
 
Nintendo released a Pokemon Direct this week, introducing Pokemon Sword and Shield coming to the Switch later this year
  • Looks like the games have a full 3D setting in a new region called Galar, described as a more modern world with factories, trains, and steelworks in addition to idyllic countryside and contemporary cities
    • It looks like the new region may be based on the UK, with many features on the map appearing to match landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye.
    • Even some of the characters’ clothing looks fairly British
  • And some good news for fans of previous generations- they showed that older Pokemon like Pikachu, Tyranitar, and Munchlax will all be making appearances along with the new gen
  • The newest trio of starters are grass-type Grookey, fire-type Scorbunny, and water-type Sobble
 
Facebook is launching a platform to compete with Patreon that’s worse in every conceivable way (which should be more of a challenge, considering some of the stuff that Patreon’s pulled in the past)
  • The most obvious problem is that compared to Patreon’s 5% cut of supporter dollars, Facebook wants up to 30%
  • They also reserve the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators
  • And they demand a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use creator content, and “this license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions”
    • So they have rights to use your content. And give it away. And sell it. Anywhere in the world. Without paying you a dime. Forever.
  • This is straight-up abusive, and the worst part is Facebook knows it- they’ve run trials, and when creators asked questions or pointed out problems in the terms their invites were revoked and they were summarily banned from the platform
 
Microsoft workers are calling on the company to cancel their new contract with the US military
  • The $479M contract would see HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, used by the army in what workers are calling a corruption of designers’ and engineers’ earlier work and an affront to those opposed to designing weapons for war
    • HoloLens was announced in 2015, but just this last November Microsoft reached an agreement to develop an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” based on the tech
    • The technology is explicitly meant to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”
  • While Microsoft has offered to accommodate employees opposed to developing tech for the military by moving them to other projects or teams, employees say that ignores the problem that they’re not properly informed of the uses of their work
    • A letter to Microsoft noted that “many engineers contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed” on the assumption that it would be applied to fields like architecture, surgery, and space exploration, not helping people kill
    • Instead they argue that they’re now implicated as war profiteers
  • A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian, didn’t respond to the criticisms but said the company “always appreciated feedback from employees”
 
THQ Nordic held an AMA this week on a website created because 4chan was too strict
  • For some reason they decided to host the Q&A session on 8chan- the website involved in incidents regarding child pornography, swatting, GamerGate, and more
    • 8chan is a spinoff of 4chan, a site already notorious for racist, sexist, and inflammatory rhetoric, created out of a belief that 4chan was too limiting
  • Many thought that someone had hacked THQ Nordic’s social media, but were shocked when the session actually started and had two higher-level staff answering questions on that internet hellscape
    • PR and marketing director Philipp Brock responded to things like asking them not to appeal to the “SocJUs crowd” with “thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”, and when one person asked “where the big tiddie lolis at?” with a picture of a many groping two girls, he replied “you got them already we’d say”
  • While this seems like a massive hacker stunt, with no way that a company would actually do this kind of thing, Vice contacted THQ Nordic and received this reply from Philipp Brock
    • “I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” he said in a statement. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”
  • And while they’re backpedaling and looking for excuses, it’s not like 8chan is ever sneaky about what it’s doing. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
    • That, combined with the responses posted and the fact that their Twitter account is liking tweets supporting the AMA after the fact, makes the apology even weaker than it already is
 
Josh found a PC childhood favorite made for modern operating systems
  • I’ll just read the about us section from their site
    • OpenRA is a project that recreates and modernizes the classic Command & Conquer real time strategy games. We have developed a flexible open source game engine (the OpenRA engine) that provides a common platform for rebuilding and reimagining classic 2D and 2.5D RTS games (the OpenRA mods).
    • This means that OpenRA is not restricted by the technical limitations of the original closed-source games: it includes native support for modern operating systems and screen resolutions (including Windows 10, Mac OS X, and most Linux distros) without relying on emulation or binary hacks, and features integrated online multiplayer.
    • While we love the classic RTS gameplay, multiplayer game design has evolved significantly since the early 1990’s. The OpenRA mods include new features and gameplay improvements that bring them into the modern era:
      • A choice between “right click” and classic “left click” control schemes
      • Overhauled sidebar interfaces for managing production
      • Support for game replays and an observer interface designed for streaming games online
      • The “fog of war” that obscures the battlefield outside your units’ line of sight
      • Civilian structures that can be captured for strategic advantage
      • Units gain experience as they fight and improve when they earn new ranks
    • OpenRA is 100% free, and comes bundled with three distinct mods. When you run a mod for the first time the game can automatically download the original game assets, or you can use the original game disks.
  • They have Tibetan Dawn the original Command and Conquer, Red Alert the alternate history to WWII, and Dune 2000, possibly my favourite out of these 3.
 
 
1TB mini SD cards coming
  • At Mobile World Congress 
    • UHS-I microSDXC
    • For me and others UHS stands for Ultra High Speed and the 1 denotes its interface speed. Where 1 is 104 MB/s
  • SanDisk
    • 1 Tb available April
      • $449.99 USD
    • 512 GB of the same line
      • $199.99 USD
 
 
 
 
Harley Quinn
  • Life-Size Figure by DC Collectibles
    • $5,200
      • $668.57/mo payment plan
  • DC Collectibles has created the ultimate Harley Quinn collectible- a full sized, 1:1 ratio statue of the Cupid of Crime herself.  This stylish life-size statue is packed with larger-than-life personality, featuring Gotham’s very own Maid of Mischief decked out in her iconic red, black, and white costume.
 
 
Tidbits
  • If you’ve been saving your Scene points, you might want to redeem them soon- Cineplex is updating their rewards structure and raising the points cost of tickets as of April 17th
    • It’ll still take 10 movies to earn enough points for a free ticket, but that’s just because you’ll also be earning them more quickly as well. They’re being de-valued across the board
  • The popular disease simulation game Plague Inc is adding anti-vaxxers after receiving a player petition with over 21,000 signatures
    • The petition simply reads “Anti-vaxxers are stupid”
    • They’ll be joining the array of potential health risks in the game including science deniers, xenophobes, and reality TV induced apathy
  • In a somewhat controversial move, annual eSports fighting event Evo is replacing their usual Smash Bros Melee event with Smash Ultimate
    • From a casual player’s perspective it seems like an easy choice, but as always there are some vocal opinions against it online
  • According to EA’s Twitter, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 13th
    • I’m looking forward to a Star Wars game that isn’t cancelled for once
 
Alan Recommends Russian Doll
  • Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She’s trapped in a surreal time loop — and staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
  • More like a video game than Groundhog Day
  • If you like complicated characters gorgeously performed in a richly realized setting shot through with dark veins & drum-tight storytelling, then this is for you

Bad Description of Movies and Games

Gangs fight for control of the city with graffiti, problem is they appear to be kids. (Game)

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