PS2J 325 News – Shadow of Servers

Security PSA: Update your Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software

  • There have been a bunch of new security threats patched recently, open up Reader or Acrobat and go to Help > Check Updates to make sure you have the latest version

Free games

  • PlayStation

    • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (free 4K Cinematic Pack is also available)

      • 2017
      • Assassin’s Creed-style action RPG set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that has you continuing the story from Shadow of Mordor to forge a new ring of power and amass an army to fight Sauron, including an improved nemesis system that has you gathering followers and making lasting enemies
      • It initially had microtransactions and lootboxes, but they were removed about a year later.
      • There’s also a free 4k cinematic pack, and the DLC season pass is 80% off until the 21st
    • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

      • 2017 Metroidvania with some influences from the Soulsborne games, where you traverse an ancient plague-infested kingdom, fighting bosses and unlocking new abilities. It’s got great atmosphere and tight controls, and deaths aren’t overly punishing
      • Voidheart Edition is the 2018 port of the game to PS4 and Xbox One, including the four DLC packs
    • Bugsnax (PS5)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
  • Xbox

    • Aragami: Shadow Edition

      • 2016
      • Action adventure stealth game with solid reviews where you take the role of Aragami, an assassin with supernatural abilities like teleporting between shadows
      • Shadow Edition includes the prequel Nightfall DLC
    • Maid of Sker

      • 2020
      • First person survival horror based on Welsh and British folklore, where it’s 1898 and you’ve been invited by your lover to uncover the mysteries of the Sker Hotel after she notices her family’s strange behaviour
    • Swimsanity

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shooter with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play
    • Lego Indiana Jones

      • 2008
      • Lego-themed action adventure game that loosely follows the first three Indiana Jones films with the same kind of tweaks, humour, and classic drop in/out co-op play that characterizes Lego games
    • Full Spectrum Warrior

      • 2004
      • Squad-based real-time military tactics game where you’re commanding two fireteams to cover eachother and complete objectives
      • It was initially developed to be a simulator for the United States military in an experiment to leverage the original Xbox for training simulations, and then was retrofitted into a retail release with improved graphics and sound
  • Twitch

    • A Knight’s Quest

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game that puts you in the role of Rusty, a clumsy adventurer who accidentally sets about the end of the world. Solve mind-bending puzzles, fight challenging enemies, defeat huge bosses and platform your way through a fantastic open world.
    • Smoke and Sacrifice

      • 2018
      • Open-world narrative-driven RPG with hand-painted graphics that has you playing a mother forced to give up her son, adventuring into a grotesque underworld on a quest that will lead her to a darker truth
    • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and is based on African mythology, it has you playing a prince betrayed by your future brother-in-law and forging alliances to bring him down, with real-time brawler-style combat that has an emphasis on making combos to defeat enemies
    • Victor Vran Overkill Edition

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC release
      • Action RPG resembling a Gothic-fantasy fairy tale where both magic and science have a place in the world, and it’s up to you to help the city of Zagoravia fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin
    • Lethis – Path of Progress

      • 2015
      • Old school 2D city builder set in a Victorian Steampunk universe called Lethis, that has you building and managing cities to provide resources for the inhabitants and make your citizens happy
    • Extreme Exorcism

      • 2015
      • “A paranormal platformer where every move you make comes back to haunt you”
      • 2D pixel platformer that has you jumping around and taking down ghosts with a deadly arsenal from rocket launchers to boomerangs, but at the end of each round a ghost appears and mimics your every move from the round before. The longer you survive the more extreme the game becomes
  • Epic Games

    • Dungeons 3

      • 2017
      • A combination dungeon builder and RTS, you’re tasked with creating an underground dungeon for creatures to live in as well as defending it against invading heroes from the world above. You can also send units out of the dungeon and take over areas of the world map, RTS style

Epic slApple fight

  • Plans are in place to get Fortnite back on iOS and iPadOS using Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service
    • Apparently Nvidia has developed a version of GeForce Now that works in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices, likely similar to what Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming services are aiming to use
  • Though there’s been no official announcement of the Safari launch, if this is true then GeForce Now will be the one and only way to play Fortnite on iPhones and iPads
    • I’d be curious to see what the details of this deal are, if Nvidia is getting the 30% cut now or if they’re just happy with the subscription cost for the service

Apple’s released a bunch of software this week

  • iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 are here with new emoji, wallpapers, bug fixes, and more
    • There’s a fantastic new accessibility feature included specifically for people with impaired vision, and it sounds like an amazing idea
      • The feature is called People Detection, in your accessibility settings under the Magnifier, and it uses augmented reality and machine learning to detect where people and objects are around you
      • Particularly well-suited for the LiDAR sensor in the 12 Pro, it can help blind or low vision users understand their surroundings better, such as knowing how many people are in line at a grocery store or where the end of a subway platform is
        • It can even tell you if you’re within six feet of another person
      • Users can set up a minimum distance for alerts, and receive feedback though vibrations or through their AirPods
        • People Detection is fully compatible with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen-reader tech
      • This seems really useful on the iPhone, but with rumours continuing to mount of eventual AR glasses from Apple this could be a gamechanger for people with vision problems
    • Intercom is here, letting you send and receive messages between HomePods
    • HomePods can now be connected to the Apple TV 4K for wireless surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio
    • Built-in Shazam music recognition can be launched from the Control Center
  • WatchOS 7.1 is out now, with improvements and fixes like notifications if your headphone volume could permanently affect your hearing, and a fix for issues some people were having with their watch not unlocking their Max as expected
    • They’ve also added ECG support for the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • macOS 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is available for download, improving the security of your Mac

Cloud gaming on the Nintendo Switch has come west with two new games for the device

  • Previously the Switch saw games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Resident Evil 7, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playable through the cloud, but only in Japan
    • They were using the Taiwan-based Ubitus GameCloud service so they could run the technically demanding titles on the portable hardware of the Switch
  • Now they’re releasing Control and Hitman 3 on the service as well, this time including the rest of the world in the fun
    • The games need a <100MB install on the Switch, then they stream gameplay to and from the cloud using checkpoint saves in case you lose connectivity
    • Control Ultimate Edition – Cloud Version is out now and includes the base game and the first two expansions, The Foundation and AWE. It also includes the Expeditions end game mode, photo mode, and all of the additional updates since the release of the original.
      • According to early reports, thanks to the cloud infrastructure it can get up to 30fps with ray tracing and 60fps without
    • Hitman 3 – Cloud Version is the conclusion of the World of Assassination Trilogy. The game is expected to be released on Windows PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive in January 2021. No launch date for the Switch version was offered. Expect the final product to include plenty of sandbox locations to explore, and creative ways to bring down your assassination targets.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be losing online features, and thus the access to come achievements, on December 31st

  • The 2014 title will be losing:
    • The Nemesis Forge, which means players won’t be able to transfer their nemeses from Shadow of Mordor to Shadow of War
    • Vendetta missions and leaderboard
    • And WBPay will no longer be available, but the epic runs “Orc Hunter” and “Gravewalker” will automatically be given to all players
  • Those vendetta missions being removed means that there will be some achievements that it’s no longer possible to get, so if you want to 100% Shadow of Mordor you have till the end of the year

Apple has launched a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which had many users hearing static or crackling noises as well as problems with Active Noise Cancellation

  • I experienced this myself multiple times in a row, with replacements thankfully being smooth and relatively painless through the mail
    • The biggest issue I saw was when I had the AirPods in my ears and then anything somewhat loud happened, either me clearing my throat or listening to loud audio
  • The issue may affect AirPods manufactured before October 2020 (so, basically all of them), so if you’re having issues it’s definitely worth reaching out to Apple Support and having them replaced

This Day In Gaming History

October 31 – 1997 – Diddy Kong Racing – N64

  • It’s an island takeover when the evil space wizard, Wizpig, discovers Tiger Island!
    • After the islands prized racetracks become sealed up, Timber Tiger contacts his friend Diddy Kong to help him reclaim the racetracks and save the island before his parents return.
    • Along for the ride are the Kremling spy Krunch, Bumper Badger, Banjo (prior to meeting Kazooie in Banjo-Kazooie), pre-sweary Conker, Tiptup Turtle, and Pipsy Mouse.
  • Diddy Kong Racing is a racing game with similarities to Mario Kart 64, in that you race with a variety of cheery racers while using weapons.
    • However, the similarities end there.
    • DKR includes an adventure mode, which features bosses, an overworld to explore, many hidden secrets, the addition of hovercrafts and planes, and a unique way of racing called the “Silver Coin Challenge”. In this mode, in addition to coming first, you must also find the eight Silver Coins deviously hidden throughout the courses (some in alternate paths).
  • The game also features a strategic method of using weapons.
    • Each colored balloon on the track matches a specific weapon, and collecting the same type of balloon multiple times in a row powers it up (to a maximum of three times).
    • This gives the player the choice of snatching every balloon available and using it immediately, or storing the existing weapon, and using a more powerful version of it later.
  • Up to four players can compete in the races, but in order to play new tracks, they must first be unlocked in the single player game.
    • There are also four battle modes of play – two standard deathmatch maps, a capture-the-flag style battle where you must nab eggs and hatch three of them in your home nest, and another where you must be the first to return ten bananas to your treasure chest (with the limitation of only being able to hold two at any one time).

November 1 – 1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES

  • King K. Rool has stolen Donkey Kong’s banana stash, and Donkey Kong needs your help to get them back.
    • In search of K. Rool, the Kremling horde impedes your progress. Kremlings, crocodile-like creatures, include Kritters (they succumb to a simple jump on the head), Krushas (they are virtually indestructible), and others.
    • There are also other enemies that block your path, such as beavers, snakes, vultures.
    • Leading them are dastardly bosses, including Very Gnawty, Necky, Queen B., and Dumb Drum, and they all bar the way with their own special blend of villainy.
  • Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong: these two primates differ significantly.
    • For example, Donkey Kong is generally stronger; he can destroy most enemies with a single jump and can lift barrels straight over his head to throw them farther.
    • On the other hand, Diddy is faster and not as strong as Donkey; he can run really fast and do cartwheels. Diddy carries barrels in front of him, creating a shield against frontal attacks.
  • The original Super Nintendo game was later released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
    • The Game Boy Color version has an exclusive level (Necky Nutmare) and additional bonus games, Funky’s Fishing and five Crosshair Cranky minigames.
    • There was also the addition of collectible DK sticker packs scattered throughout the levels.
    • These sticker packs could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer.
    • The game also has two more difficulty options that become available after beating the game.
    • Beating the game once lets the player turn off DK barrels and beating the game a second time will let the player turn off checkpoint barrels.
  • The Game Boy Advance version also had additional bonus games.
    • It to has a version of Funky’s Fishing but instead of the crosshair themed games, there is now Candy’s Dance Studio, which hosts six dance games.
    • There is also the additions of a time attack mode called DK Attack, a harder difficulty mode called Hero Mode (can only play as Diddy Kong and the game no longer offers Donkey Kong barrels and checkpoints throughout the levels), and the sticker book idea from the Gameboy Color version was replaced with collecting scrapbook pictures instead.

November 2 – 2001 – Burnout – PS2, Later on Xbox

  • Burnout is an arcade style racing game in the mold of the Test Drive or Need For Speed series.
    • In this game, you are racing on realistic streets with real traffic to contend with.
  • There are 6 courses on which to race, 3 of which are reminiscent of Europe, and 3 from the USA.
    • There are several vehicles to choose from, ranging from compact cars to pickups.
    • However, they are not based on real makes and models.
  • One notable feature of Burnout is the “Burn Meter.”
    • The Burn Meter is a gauge that is filled by performing reckless stunts, like racing into oncoming traffic or power-drifting through corners.
    • Once the Burn Meter is filled, your car gets a super speed boost.
    • If you crash, the Burn Meter is reset and must be filled again to achieve a boost.

November 3 – 2006 – Nacho Libre – Nintendo DS

  • Based on the upcoming feature film starring Jack Black, Nacho Libre offers fans comedic wrestling mayhem–exaggerated moves, wacky props and lots of pratfalls delivered with a unique photo puppetry look.
    • Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him “Nacho”), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage, who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans.
  • Six play modes:
    • Story Mode (single player, tied to the movie plot)
    • Vs. Mode, Team Mode (2 vs. 2)
    • Battle Jam (2-4 player wireless brawls)
    • Quick Match
    • Championship Match (multiplayer only)
  • Wrestle in four different arenas from the movie
    • Play as 20 different luchadors based on characters from the movie.
    • Each has his/her own wrestling moves and special attacks.
    • Take on your opponents with headlocks, grapples, holds and pin moves or create combos for devastating, and comical, results
    • Use the Touch Screen to play eight themed mini games including Nachoball, Footrace, Bee Swat, Bullrun, Cliff Climber, Chariot Jump and more
    • Unique “photo puppetry” art style lends the game a distinctive, humorous look
    • Includes recreated cut scenes from the movie in between the action
    • Unlock bonus material after playing through Story Mode

November 4 – 2010 – Kinect – Xbox 360

  • The origins of the Kinect started around 2005, at a point where technology vendors were starting to develop depth-sensing cameras.
    • Microsoft had been interested in a 3D camera for the Xbox line earlier but because the technology had not been refined, had placed it in the “Boneyard”, a collection of possible technology they could not immediately work on.
  • In 2005, PrimeSense was founded by tech-savvy mathematicians and engineers from Israel to develop the “next big thing” for video games, incorporating cameras that were capable of mapping a human body in front of them and sensing hand motions.
    • They showed off their system at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, the general manager of hardware incubation, saw the potential in PrimeSense’s technology for the Xbox system.
    • Microsoft began discussions with PrimeSense about improvements in the capabilities of depth-sensing cameras, a reduction in size and cost, and a means to manufacturer the units at scale was required.
  • Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, where motion control was the focus.
    • Microsoft felt pressure from the Wii, and began looking into depth-sensing in more detail with PrimeSense’s hardware, but at that time, could not get to the level of motion tracking they desired.
    • Microsoft also looked to create an equivalent of the Wii Remote, but it was discarded as it was still ultimately Microsoft’s goal to remove any device between the player and the Xbox.
  • Nearing the planned release, the problem of widespread testing of Kinect in various room types and different bodies accounting for age, gender, and race among other factors, while keeping the details of the unit confidential. Microsoft engaged in a company-wide program offering employees to take home Kinect units to test them.
    • Microsoft also brought other non-gaming divisions, including its Microsoft Research, Microsoft Windows, and Bing teams to help complete the system.
    • Microsoft established its own large-scale manufacturing facility to bulk product Kinect units and test them.
  • Somewhat recent Kinect news!
    • On May 7, 2018, Microsoft announced a new iteration of Kinect technology designed primarily for enterprise software and artificial intelligence usage.
    • It is designed around the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and is meant to “leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations”.
    • It has a smaller form factor than the Xbox iterations of Kinect, and features a 12-megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth sensor also used on the HoloLens 2, and seven microphones.
    • A development kit was announced in February 2019.

November 5 – 1998 – Hey You, Pikachu! – N64

  • Hey You, Pikachu! is a Pokémon adventure game.
    • The game allows you to speak directly to Pikachu via the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) included with the game, in order to tell Pikachu what to do and help direct the adventures the two of you embark on.
  • The game features 20 different minigames which you and Pikachu play together.
    • Some involve you catching water Pokémon, while another might send you search for ingredients for stew.
    • When the minigame is over, you go back home and sleep, waking up the next day to play another game.
    • As the game progresses more of the features and minigames are unlocked, and Pikachu’s friendship meter will grow.
  • Pikachu will understand around 200 different words or simple phrases like “come here”, “stop that”, and “eat it”. Voice communication is the primary method of interacting with the game, though the analog stick is used for navigation.

November 6 – 2012 – Halo 4 – XBox 360

  • The game sets the stage for a new story in which Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient awakened evil that threatens all life in the universe.
    • The main campaign also heavily explores the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana.
    • Cortana is nearing the end of her life, before devolving into a state called Rampancy in which an AI begins to think itself to death.
    • The campaign features both first-person shooter and driving elements, and can be played either single player or co-cooperatively (either over Xbox Live or split-screen).
    • It features new weapons and an entirely new class of enemy characters called Prometheans.
  • And for some PS2J History
    • We did our first Live episode on Alan’s phone
    • I made the link ps2jshow.com/halo4 for anyone interested in some of our podcasting history

Tidbits

  • Development on Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to an end, with its last patch releasing sometime this month
    • The dedicated multiplayer servers will be shut down, but online play will continue with peer-to-peer hosting
  • The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo is now up on the Switch eShop, and it looks pretty cool
    • It includes the first chapter of the game, and progress will carry over to the full release on November 20th
    • Without getting in to spoilers, they may be settings things up so that the story doesn’t end how we’re all expecting after seeing Breath of the Wild
  • There’s yet another Apple Event going on this year, scheduled for November 10th
    • Titled “One more thing”, there aren’t many clues about its focus but people are expecting AirTags (Apple’s new lost item tracking devices) and new computers with Apple’s fancy custom processors
    • We may also see more information on macOS 11, Big Sur
  • The new Apple One subscription bundles went live this week, offering a few different plans to save money if you subscribe to services like Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage
  • Apple’s also spinning up their new “nutritional labels” for apps, giving people a breakdown on each app’s product page for what data types they may collect, what data may be used to track you, and what data isn’t linked to you at all
  • 2K Games and EA are under fire for misleading info when it comes to NBA2K card packs
    • Apparently one of the players, James Harden, was completely missing from the gatcha packs that he was supposed to be included in for the first 23 minutes of release, and enough whales were trying to get him right away that thousands of dollars were wasted
  • The source code for Watch Dogs Legion has already leaked, leading the way for mods and cracks ahead of its November 10th release
  • Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the case that Apple’s ad tracking blocks will damage economic recovery from COVID-19
    • He specifically pointed the out mandatory notification when an app or website wants to track users, saying that letting people know they can opt out will hurt “small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond”, though I’m guessing this is just a redirect for how hard Facebook itself will be hit by the changes

iPhone 12 Pro mini review

  • The Pacific Blue is very pretty, and makes me want to use my phone without a case
    • The frosted glass back feels very nice, but I worry about drops and scratches
  • The extra RAM (6GB instead of 4GB) is actually noticeable when resuming games
  • The overall performance has been great too, and according to PhoneBuff tests have it out performing the Samsung Note 20 Ultra (that actually has double the RAM)
  • The camera is a huge upgrade over the X, especially night mode
    • It automatically runs long exposures if needed, and if the gyroscope detects it’s attached to a tripod it offers even longer options
  • The extra size isn’t really noticeable
  • Magsafe is slick for chargers, especially if you already use a lot of wireless charging, but from what I’ve seen online accessories like the leather wallet don’t really seem to stick in day-to-day use

Dead by Daylight mini mini review

  • Asynchronous 1v4 slasher game
  • Bit of a cash grab with its DLC, but on GamePass it’s a lot of fun
  • Wraith is my boy!

 

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PS2J 273 News – My Glasses Are Vibrating

Free games

  • Xbox

    • Tembo the Badass Elephant

      • 2015
      • 2D side-scrolling platformer that has Tembo smashing and stomping his way through enemy structures and vehicles, and solve puzzles using his trunk to progress
    • Friday the 13th: The Game

      • 2017
      • Asymmetric survival horror game based on the film franchise, pitting up to seven counsellors at Camp Crystal Lake against Jason Voorhees in a semi open world fight to escape
    • Disney’s Bolt

      • 2008
      • Based on the movie of the same name, you play as Bolt the superdog going on various missions using your powers to take down enemies and make it through the levels
    • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge

      • 2013 re-release of the 2012 WiiU title
      • Punishingly difficult action-adventure game from Team Ninja that has you jumping, climbing, fighting, and assassinating
      • Razor’s Edge is an enhanced release of the original NG3, in line with the Sigma games, taking a lot of cues from Ninja Gaiden 2
  • PS4

    • MLB: The Show 19

      • 2019
      • Baseball sim that’s the 14th in the The Show franchise, bringing new features to let players relive and recreate famous moments in MLB history
    • The Last Of Us Remastered

      • 2014 remaster of the 2013 title
      • Action adventure third person shooter by Naughty Dog that has you escorting a teenage girl across a post-zombie apocalypse United States where survivors have managed to make ends meet, it’s earned a lot of praise for not just its gameplay but also its characterization and storytelling
      • The remaster brings graphical improvements, a higher framerate, and some new features to take advantage of the PS4’s controller’s touchpad and lights
  • Epic

    • Everything

      • 2017
      • A simulation game where you have the ability to explore a procedurally generated universe and control various objects within it, exploring and changing while quotes from philosopher Alan Watts are played
    • Metro 2033 Redux

      • 2014
      • Post-apocalyptic first person shooter that turned the Earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland, and has the survivors living in a new dark age, populating the depths of the Moscow underground

Google managed to push a Chrome update recently that could make your Mac completely unbootable

  • Apparently the automatic update was released including a bug that damaged the file system on macOS machines that have the built-in System Integrity Protection disabled (or any versions before 10.11 El Capitan, where SIP was first introduced), deleting an important file at the root of the startup drive
  • Google has since paused the release until they address the problem, but this raises a bigger question- why is a web browser’s software updater doing anything at the root level?
    • Daring Fireball put it nicely- “This is like hiring someone to wash your windows and finding out they damaged the foundation of your house.”
  • End of the day unless you have a really good reason you should probably leave SIP turned on, since this is the exact kind of problem it was introduced to prevent
  • If you’re a Chrome user on Mac you should check out the blogpost on MrMacintosh.com (https://mrmacintosh.com/google-chrome-keystone-is-modifying-var-symlink-on-non-sip-macs-causing-boot-issues/) for steps on how to see if you’re affected and how to fix it.
    • Above all, do not logout, shutdown, or restart your Mac before running the repair if you’re affected. You’ll have to boot into recovery to fix the problem introduced by Chrome

Sony’s Nintendo Direct-style State Of Play livestream hit again this week, so here’s some of the highlights courtesy of Kotaku:

  • The Last Of Us Part II is coming February 21st
  • A demo of the MediEvil remake is available today, and you can get a special item in the full game by playing it
  • A limited-edition Death Stranding PS4 Pro bundle is hitting November 8th, with a pretty cool dripping-handprint design
  • Wattam, the next game from the creator of Katamari Damacy, is coming this December
  • L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files is available now for PSVR
  • Civilization 6 is coming to the console on November 22nd

iOS 13.1 is here! Already! Because for some reason we needed a new version 5 days after the previous release!

  • Before we get into the new features, it comes with a BIG security warning for everyone: the new iOS has a flaw that enables third-party keyboards to get full access to your device even if you haven’t approved it
    • Full access means that they keyboard isn’t just a standalone piece of software and can provide additional features through network access, meaning that they could theoretically send what you type over the internet to another system
    • The problem apparently doesn’t affect the official built-in keyboard, but the exploit is currently public and Apple has yet to find a fix so be very, very careful when using iOS keyboard replacement apps
    • On the plus side, iOS 13 added some new features like swipe-typing that users previously needed third-party apps for, so fewer people will need those keyboards going forward
    • You can check out Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards to see what you currently have installed. If in doubt, it’s definitely worth deleting them
  • So, on to the new stuff!
    • iPadOS is officially here, bringing more multitasking abilities like having the same app open twice, improved browsing in Safari, and a bunch of other tablet-exclusive features to the iPad
      • It also has an updated home screen to take advantage of the extra space, instead of just showing a big grid of apps
    • We’ve also got tvOS 13, updating the home screen to make it easier to discover new content, a new picture-in-picture mode to let you watch videos while using a different app or adjusting settings, and supporting multiple users for the first time
      • It also supports Xbox One and PS4 controllers, alongside the new Apple Arcade service which gives you unlimited gaming for $5-6 /month
    • Share ETA is now more powerful, automatically updating selected contacts if your travel time changes
    • There’s a new lyrics view in Apple Music that follows along with your music, turning your iPhone into a karaoke machine
    • You can now temporarily pair two sets of Airpods or Beats headphones (anything with an H1 or W1 chip) to your phone to share audio with a friend
    • And the Shortcuts app is getting even more powerful, with automatic triggers based on things like location or time of day now available
  • Overall it’s a solid improvement over iOS 13, also fixing a bunch of things like the email issue I mentioned in the last episode, with the only caveat being “be careful with third party keyboard apps”

Amazon has announced a whole bunch of new hardware including Echo devices and more

  • Among the announced devices are an Echo Dot with a built-in digital clock, and a high-end Echo Studio set to compete with the HomePod for giving you audio optimized to whatever room it’s located in
  • They also updated their line of Echo Show devices, including screens with HD resolutions, and announced the Echo Glow, a multicolour smart lamp that works with your Alexa devices
  • And now Alexa can live in your glasses with the Echo Frames, that has directional microphones and vibration motors on your face meant to connect to your phone on the go. This is a weird one, since it doesn’t really do anything that headphones don’t already while being more limited in other ways
  • Finally, Amazon’s released their Airpod-competing Echo Buds- truly wireless earbuds with 5 hour battery life and up to 20 hours with the included charging case
  • One funny part of the whole announcement came with Amazon executive Dave Limp being interviewed by Bloomberg about the new products while clearly wearing an AirPod instead of the new Echo Buds
    • It’s right up there with Samsung promotional tweets marked with “via Twitter for iPhone”

Google Assistant coming to Xbox

Currently in Beta, I was not able to get it working between getting home and starting the show

Tidbits

  • Google launched their Apple Arcade competitor, Play Pass, this week; a subscription app service for $5-6 /month
    • Contrary to Apple’s strategy of being the only mobile source for their games and providing brand new content, Play Pass includes many existing apps like Stardew Valley, KOTOR, and AccuWeather, so though they get to launch with a larger library it somewhat seems like more of a subscription ad removal system than something really comparable to Apple Arcade
  • Activision is under fire this week after a leak came out saying that Modern Warfare lootboxes won’t be just cosmetic
    • Supply drops will apparently include weapon unlocks alongside filler content like emotes and sprays
    • They’ve also announced that PS4 players will have exclusive access to Survival Mode until October 2020, which has a lot of people cancelling their preorders
  • Bandai Namco is holding a blood drive with the American Red Cross during Twitchcon this week, gifting a free copy of Code Vein and a “promo blood kit” for everyone that donates
  • Continuing the mess that is Fallout 76’s merchandising (the terrible collector’s edition bag, the disappointing Nuka rum), the Nuka Cola branded power armour helmet is being recalled due to the lining containing dangerous levels of mold, posing a risk of respiratory or other infections
    • Good news, apparently though there were 20,000 produced for sale in GameStop stores, the manufacturer has stated that only 32 were sold

Alan recommends Mario Kart Tour

  • Nintendo’s latest mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, released this week on iPhone and it’s pretty fun!
  • There are definitely some freemium aspects to it, with a couple different currencies and gatchapon-mechanics to get new drivers and karts (spend the freemium currency to launch a random thing out of a pipe)
    • One extra piece to file under “bold choice” is their $5 monthly subscription, which nets you access to exclusive characters, extra bonuses, and the 200cc mode (the fastest in the game)
    • Considering that costs more than Nintendo Switch Online, which gets you access to a bunch of free games, it’s a hard piece to justify
  • The steering is also a little strange, with the two main options being either swipe to steer or swipe to drift
    • There’s also an option for gyroscope steering, but in practice I found that it just messed me up
    • Swipe to drift seems to be the pro option, and you just need to hold your drift and adjust your swipe to get around different angles and corners
  • On the plus side of things it looks like the gatchapon mechanics aren’t a core pay-to-win feature, with different courses giving bonuses to different drivers each time
  • They also didn’t put in an energy system, so you can race as much as you like.
  • Overall it’s a fun game that I wish didn’t have microtransactions, but it seems like they’ll be easy to avoid going forward

Literally Misleading

Last week:
Game – A hard working lady is stuck going back and forth to clean up the trash. (Super Metroid)
This week:
Movie – A man led astray by his employer takes out his frustration on his family.

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Rime
      • 2017
      • Play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. You see wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower that beckons you to come closer. Armed with your wits and a will to overcome—and the guidance of a helpful fox—you must explore the enigmatic island, reach the tower’s peak, and unlock its closely guarded secrets.
 

SUPERHOT is tempting me over to the dark side of VR

  • The Oculus Quest, a standalone 360 room-scale wireless VR headset that uses the fancy Oculus Touch controllers, had a brand new version of SUPERHOT VR release this week
  • Developers say the gameflow has been completely rebuilt into what it was originally meant to be, letting you move through levels naturally instead of breaking them up into pieces that don’t require walking
    • SUPERHOT VR on PSVR uses “pyramids” to split up the action, so that you don’t have to move around
  • Best part is, any backers of the original SUPERHOT kickstarter are getting this version for free as well!
    • Backers should already have received an email prompting them to link their backer email to their Oculus account email, but if you haven’t you can send that information to: pleasecanihavethequestgame@superhotgame.com
    • Even if you don’t have a Quest headset, it might be worth getting the accounts linked now so that you have the game on your account for the future
 

Microsoft is joining the open world AR business With Minecraft Earth

  • ME is an upcoming free to play mobile game that’s looking to use AR to bring your Minecraft creations to the rest of the world
  • It’s all built on the existing Bedrock engine, so everything from Redstone machines to how physics affect water and sand will all work the same as the usual Minecraft experience
  • The big difference is that, using AR and GPS, your creations can be visible and modifiable by other people that you invite into your session
    • They’re not permanent, but you can temporarily share the structures with friends and even save a copy of what you built and send out links for people to play with on a table or in giant scale in an open space
    • The idea is to eventually have persistent structures around the world, but that will need a few more advancements in tech and especially in content moderation
  • Resources are gathered via “tapables”, randomly placed pickups that appear around you, in addition to gathering points linked to real-world locations
    • According to game director Tori Olafsson, “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees”
  • There will also be dynamically spawning adventures designed for multiple people to get involved in, ranging from peaceful and friendly to riskier dungeon delves
  • One thing to note here is that there’s no PVP- all blocks spawned drop for all players, so there’s no competition for resources
  • And with Microsoft’s computer wizardry they’re bragging that you can see everyone’s avatars walking, including the tools they’re using at the moment, and do things like stand in front of your friends to block them from attacking a virtual sheep
    • You’re essentially in the game, and your camera works as a lens you can see it through
  • All said and done this seems pretty cool and very ambitious, though from the sounds of Microsoft’s plans for the tech they may end up harvesting your location and camera data to ostensibly improve the product in the future
    • This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always good to be aware of what you’re sharing with these companies and what they’re using it for
  • And this could relate to a tidbit I found, where Microsoft and Sony are apparently teaming up for some future projects leveraging Microsoft’s cloud computing and Sony’s game and image sensor expertise
  • Minecraft Earth will hit beta on iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

The American beta for Mario Kart Tour on Android kicked off this week, and thanks to the internet we’ve got a good idea of what you can expect on release

  • It looks like they’ve taken a normal Mario Kart game and changed the controls to make it similar to Super Mario Run- acceleration is automatic, and you just swipe your thumb or tilt your phone to steer
    • The default controls take care of drifting automatically as well, but there’s also a manual option
  • The tracks are all taken from previous games, and only run two laps instead of three
  • Then we get to the money-making part of the game
    • It seems to be using a gacha system similar to Fire Emblem Heroes, where you use in-game currency to get random drivers, karts, and gliders
    • The big problem is that, unless Nintendo changes it before release, rare drivers actually have advantages like special items or track-specific bonuses
    • There’s also a stamina system to limit how many races you can do each hour
  • Those pieces are even more controversial than usual now that Belgium has legally categorized video game loot boxes as gambling- Nintendo has announced they’ll be shutting down both Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Belgium as of August 27th.
    • Compared to what Blizzard did with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm last year, simply disabling paid lootboxes in Belgium but allowing users to still earn them in game, that move seems like overkill
    • Presumably that also means they won’t be seeing this game any time soon
  • The beta is planned to continue through June 4th, and we’ll see what the payment situation is like when the final release of Mario Kart Tour hits iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

Nintendo’s also released a bunch more details on the upcoming Super Mario Maker 2

  • The game will launch on June 28th, and there will be a standalone version as well as a bundle that includes a year of Nintendo Switch Online
    • The bundle will be pretty handy, since there are more than a few features locked behind an online requirement- including uploading your levels and searching/downloading other users’ creations
    • They’re apparently supporting an offline mode once you’ve downloaded levels, but there’s no word on if you’ll need to connect and run a check-in to keep them available
  • On the plus side, there are officially versus and co-op modes that have up to four players competing or teaming up to beat the objective, be it reaching the goal, picking up coins, or a certain number of 1-UPs
    • Both modes have players shoving and bouncing off eachother, so really they’re all versus
    • They also work via local network, so you can get multiple Switches going, but with a big caveat- apparently at least one system has to be online to confirm a paid NSO account.
      • This is a first for Nintendo, and it could put a damper on pick-up games really taking off in weird places like convention lineups
  • They’ve also shown off the new tools that level creators will have at their mercy, like some really granular controls on slopes, animated snake platforms, on-off switches, varying water levels, and a completely separate Super Mario 3D World palette that has so many unique pieces that it can’t be applied as a re-skin
  • There will also be a campaign mode with 100+ levels designed by Nintendo staff
  • And we’ll be seeing a lot more of this on June 8th, when Nintendo runs their invitational SMM2 competition at E3
 

After an ambitious and tumultuous go at gaming, the Ouya is officially shutting down

  • The Ouya itself was an aggressive product, originally launching on Kickstarter back in 2012
    • The idea was that it would be a completely open game console for your living room where every title was free to play, with the intention that it would offer AAA gaming without licensing or publishing fees
    • The reality was a disappointing box that arrived late and mainly ported mobile Android games to your TV
  • So the Ouya as a device was discontinued three years later in 2015 after Razer bought the founders and merged the content into their Forge microconsole ecosystem
    • So Ouya was technically still around, but mainly as a brand name and publisher for Android games. Everything was done through the Forge TV hardware
  • Now Razer is shutting down the whole works at the end of June- as of June 25 2019 you won’t be able to download any more games through the online service
    • Downloaded games may still function if they don’t have an online check-in at launch, but that will be up to developers
  • Owners of the Forge TV and MadCatz Mojo consoles that used these services should still be able to connect to Google Play, but it’ll be up to developers to migrate their games from the Ouya storefront
 

Sony’s given us a couple sneak-peeks at the next generation of Playstation, and they look solid

  • In an investor demo they show the PS5 running tech demos based on Spider-Man about 10x faster than the PS4 Pro
  • It will apparently also support resolutions up to 8K, come standard with an SSD, and will be compatible with both the existing PSVR and PS4 games

 

China’s Social Credit system is right out of Orwell’s 1984

  • Social Credit is tied to many things, like travel options
    • You can be denied flights, and forced to travel by train with a low social credit score
  • Things that lower your score
    • defaulting on a loan
    • criticizing government policy
    • too much time playing online games
  • Punishments for a low score are varied
    • setting an embarrassing ringtone to on your phone
    • you can be denied loans
    • lose job opportunities
    • limit the quality of hotel you can stay at
    • throttle your internet connection
    • ban your children from private schools
    • put you on a public black list
  • ABC Australia reports the deadbeat map
    • via China’s populat WeChat
    • People of a low score can be tracked on a radar style map
    • “Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.
  • In the style of Minority Report
    • People with a low enough score can be detained and put in re-education camps
    • not because of a crime they committed
    • because the have the high likelihood of committing a crime
  • Your score can be increased
    • You can report the misdeeds of others
    • Its creating a paranoid nation of informants
      • the government claims they are creating a “culture of sincerity” that will “restore social trust.”
    • reportable offences include violating their new religious restrictions
      • Christians praying illegally in their homes
      • Muslims growing beards or fasting during Ramadan
  • Human Rights Watch describes the system as chilling
    • In response the Chinese Communist Party responds
      • Westerners are simply too unsophisticated to understand the wonders of the new system
    • The China’s Global Times printed
      • “The hypothetical theories of the West are based on their ignorance.” The massive social credit system, it goes on to say, is simply “beyond the understanding of Western countries.”
  • The State has already been using other concerning techniques to watch their population
    • “Big Data” – extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.
    • Machine Learning
    • Facial Recognition
  • They have their people in a virtual prison 
    • They are selling this infrastructure to likeminded dictatorships
    • Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela, is their first customer
 

Slay the Spire launches for Switch on June 6

Here’s an overview from the listing, along with a trailer:
We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could. Craft a unique deck, encounter bizarre creatures, discover relics of immense power, and Slay the Spire!
Features
  • Dynamic Deck Building: Choose your cards wisely! Discover hundreds of cards to add to your deck with each attempt at climbing the Spire. Select cards that work together to efficiently dispatch foes and reach the top.
  • An Ever-changing Spire: Whenever you embark on a journey up the Spire, the layout differs each time. Choose a risky or safe path, face different enemies, choose different cards, discover different relics, and even fight different bosses!
  • Powerful Relics to Discover: Powerful items known as relics can be found throughout the Spire. The effects of these relics can greatly enhance your deck through powerful interactions. But beware, obtaining a relic may cost you more than just gold…
  • Slay the Spire will cost $24.99 on the Switch eShop. It’ll take up 419MB of space.

 

Tidbits

  • Anyone with a Macbook that has the butterfly keyboard switches (2015 and newer) will be happy to hear that if you’re having any keyboard issues (stuck keys, multiple letters appearing with one key press, etc) you should be eligible for their free keyboard repair program
  • Health Canada has officially cleared the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch Series 4, so we could be seeing an update enabling them in the near future
    • This comes with a classification marking the watch as a Class II medical device, in a “low to medium risk” category alongside things like contact lenses
  • Psychonauts 2 backers received another production update this week, with some cool news: The first gameplay segment will be shown at E3 in Los Angeles next month!
  • Lenovo showed off a Moto Razr phone reboot with a folding display at a press event this week, but with one problem- it was a fan-made concept video downloaded and edited without permission
    • It looks like some of the watermarks were removed, with a Lenovo bumper added at the end, but you can pretty clearly see some watermarks they missed on the phone’s screens with the creator, Waqar Khan’s, Twitter handle
    • Technically Lenovo didn’t actually announce anything like it, but showing the video at a press event when they clearly don’t have anything concrete to show is pretty skeezy to say the least
 

Alan Recommends The ‘Burbs

  • It’s a comedy horror thriller from 1989 starring Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, and a bunch of other solid actors
  • Pokes fun at suburbia and the weird people that live there, with some really smart writing that keeps you on your toes

 

Literally Misleading

Another one from Family member Scott. Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!
 
MOVIE – “A man must send his father to protect his mother, when his enemies target her for assassination.”
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

 

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