PS2J 299 News – Virtual Cataracts

Free Games

  • Cross-platform

    • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is available for free until May 10 on PS4, PC, and Xbox One
  • Twitch

    • Old School Musical

      • 2015
      • A rhythm game that takes you through 50 different chiptune tracks on a tour of old favourite retro games to teach you where all the bugs in those classic games come from
  • Epic Games

    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent

      • 2010
      • Survival horror adventure game that has you exploring a dark, foreboding castle while trying to avoid monsters and maintain your sanity
    • Crashlands

      • 2016
      • Action-adventure RPG originally built for iOS and Android described as a story-driven crafting game comparable to Don’t Starve, wherein you need to collect items in order to make weapon and armour
  • PS4

    • Cities: Skylines

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC game
      • Open-ended city building simulation in the spirit of SimCity after the critical failure of EA’s 2013 franchise reboot
    • Farming Simulator 19

      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
      • This entry brought in horse farming as well as oat and cotton crops
  • Xbox

    • V-Rally 4

      • 2018
      • Rally racing game with 51 different cars that takes you from through Monument Valley, Niger, Romania, Malaysia, and more
    • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr

      • 2017
      • Action RPG with a top-down view and a focus on melee and ranged combat set in the Warhammer 40K universe, frequently compared to Diablo
    • Overlord 2

      • 2009
      • Action RPG that has you destroying or conquering the land by commanding your hordes of minions and taking down the Roman-styled “Glorious Empire”
    • Sensible World of Soccer

      • 2007 HD enhanced version of the 1996 Amiga classic
      • 2D European football game with a comprehensive manager mode, with data on 1,500 teams and 27,000 players. This game is notable as the only sports game included on the list of “the ten most important video games of all time”, as compiled by the curator for the History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford along with notable game designers and researchers

Apple and Google’s new exposure notification framework, previously referred to as contact tracing, is continuing to evolve and and develop

  • They’ve settled on the different name because of what it is- a framework for notifying people if they’ve been exposed. It’s a tool that can be used in conjunction with contact tracing, but because they’re focused on privacy as a top priority that’s not a part of the developing specifications
    • More details have been coming out with the framework’s introduction into the iOS 13.5 beta, and it sounds like notifications will be handled by phones  downloading a new list of identifiers for positive tests regularly and then notifying you if any of them match ones you’ve come into contact with
    • Users will be able to opt out of exposure notifications under Settings, Privacy, Health
  • Germany, originally set on developing a home-grown contact tracing app with centralized data available to health authorities, has changed course and now is working with the Apple-Google approach
    • Also running with the decentralized plan is Switzerland, Estonia, and Austria
  • The UK, unfortunately, is dead set on having their National Health Service manage all the data and not working within those parameters
    • The NHS says it has a way to make the software work “sufficiently well” without users needing to keep it active and on-screen, without “excessively affecting battery life”, but that “excessively” has me concerned
      • Apparently it will work by having the app wake up in the background every time another device running the same software is detected. Then it runs some code to log the contact before going to sleep again
      • Australia said they also had a workaround, but they’ve since acknowledged power consumption problems as well as interference if users have other Bluetooth and location-tracking apps open
    • Not to mention the fact that they’re so set on taking all this data in that I worry they’re not giving full weight to the privacy argument- if you’re going to expect your citizens to use this app, you can’t treat it like an ankle-bracelet on a felon.
    • I get that having all the data kept in-house seems like a good idea, but Apple and Google are pretty smart and they’re building a seemingly solid platform that allows for notifications and battery performance without compromising integrity and privacy

Good news, Google Stadia has now launched PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds! Bad news, it’s filled with terrible bots!

  • Everyone with a Gmail account still has a free two-month trial of Stadia Pro, which now includes the ability to play PUBG on the service
  • Unfortunately it looks like they’re filling matches with bots- players with underscores in their names that don’t actually jump out of the plane, but appear randomly through the world with pre-filled inventories
    • The game normally drops 100 players on an island to fight it out for supremacy, but ArsTechnica had matches with 98 or even 99 bots
  • I can get why they have bots, to ease new players in without throwing them to the wolves that have been playing religiously for years, but this really seems like a terrible way to do it

Oculus Quest Follow-up

  • Knuckle grips are great and really help with Beat Saber
    • AMVR
  • Battery pack counterweight works well, but hampers the pick-up-and-play a bit
    • Anker, Aukey
  • Prescription lenses are really comfortable
    • WidmoVR
  • The Room VR is a creepy escape room that’s a lot of fun
    • Casting to my phone turned it into a co-op game, but the visibility is a little rough with fast movements causing lag and text not being very readable
  • Oculus store really needs a way to gift games to someone

Josh’s day was ruined very early

VSGO professional lens pen, the buffing pad scratched my left lens on my Oculus Quest
  • Now its like I have cataracts in my left eye playing VR
  • I tried a rubbing alcohol and water solution and it helped a LITTLE bit
Hope is on the horizon
  • a redditor had a family member clean their quest with a shirt or something abrasive.
  • polyWatch is a product that fixes surface scratches
    • polyWatch Plastic Polish offers a simple and reliable solution for removing scratches from plastic watch crystal.
Some people have been using watch glass protectors for their lenses
  • I’m nervouse about adding anything like that to the lenses

Josh guested on Podzilla 1985’s Mr 100 and the 5 Star man

Mr. 100 (or should we say the PHOENIX) and the 5 Star Man are finally back after a TWO MONTH hiatus with a special guest from up north – Josh from PS2J! Come for the Canadian politeness, stay for the talk about American Horror Story, Final Fantasy, Buffy, and more!

Assassins Creed Valhalla

The history of the Assassins versus the Templar travels to Norhtern Europe
Settlements play a big part in the game
  • Trailer opens up on a viking village in Norway.
  • The trailer follows the protagonist Eivor
  • It seems that the viking religion plays a part in the game
    • Unsure of it being supernaturally or just spirtually
Eivor
  • A viking raider from Norway, leaving to the shores of England
  • Eivor is able to be male or female as the player prefers
The story is trying to show a full culture of people
  • The English are shown as terrified of Viking settlers and trying to show them in a bad light
  • At the time of the game 870 AD, England is not united, and is run by many kings
  • The game seems to be about Viking trying to settle on England
    • And fighting for the territory already held by the Saxons.
Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex
  • He is the main antagonist to the vikings in the game and history
There is a lot of viking tactics in the game
  • Longships are used to strike and retreat quickly
  • Some battles of soldier to soldier combat on fortifications
  • Raiding, where the objective is to steal resources rather than fight an enemy
Combat is quite a focus
  • You will be able to dual-wield any one handed weapons
    • Even dual-wield shields
  • And I feel there will be the ability to steal the weapons from the enemy
  • There is a face-off where Eivor is tossed around by a very large opponent
    • Heavily armored and seems to wield a claymore as a long sword
    • Avor wins with the “surprising” reveal of a hidden blade gauntlet
      • It is strapped to the top of his arm, rather then concealed below
      • It doesn’t mean Eivor is a born an raised assassin, but it is confirmed that they are working together
There will also be RPG elements
  • The usual skill trees and gear collecting to fit your playstyle
  • You will also be forming strategic alliances
  • Wins in combat and conversation both pave your path the greatness.
  • You get to grow and customize your settlement
    • recruit clan members
    • upgrade structures
    • make a barracks to get better recruits
    • have your blacksmith improve your weapons
    • new customization options at the tattoo parlor
    • and they promise more
  • Seems like in Blackflag, you will be able to send your recruits on missions for your friends
    • create and customize your own viking mercenaries
    • share them online
    • share in the spoils when they help your friends in their own sagas
    • all while recruiting your own player made mercenaries
  • There are also side quest activities
    • hunting
    • fishing
    • dice
    • drinking games
    • and the traditional Norse competition of flyting
      • basically Viking rap battles
Will be a launch title for Xbox Series X and PS5, and coming to current generation consoles this holiday season.

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part 2, originally slated for release back in February and then pushed to May 29th, has been delayed once more to June 19th of this year
    • This latest delay is due to the COVID situation, but has some really bad timing considering there was a massive story leak purporting to show the entire game just a few days ago. People wanting to avoid spoilers will need to be careful for the next couple months
  • Google has launched its second-gen Pixel Buds this week, bringing a couple of my favourite AirPods features to Android
    • They use a pairing process Google calls Fast Pair- you just hold the case near your phone and open it, then a screen pops up to automatically pair them and link them to your Google account
    • They’ve also brought the wireless earbuds into their Find My Device app, similar to Apple’s Find My app that lets you ring them and see the last location they were connected
  • The latest iOS beta software will now detect if you’re wearing a mask and skip from FaceID to the passcode prompt faster
    • You can also speed up the passcode prompt before this releases if you tap on the text saying “Face ID” on your screen while it tries to identify you
  • Huawei, for the fourth time, is taking heat for advertising campaigns that make it look like photos are being taken with their phones but in reality the photos are being taken with professional Nikon or Canon DSLR cameras and lenses
    • Their excuse is that they never actually say the photos are taken with the phones they’re advertising, but when you have you model hold their hand out toward the camera as if they were holding it you’re definitely setting some expectations on purpose

 

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PS2J 286 News – One Click Debt, No Refunds

Free Games

  • PS4

    • BioShock: The Collection

      • 2016
      • Remastered, 1080p ports of all three plot-driven first-person shooter games (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite), taking you from the depths of Rapture to the skies of Columbia in some great stories in dystopias freed of “petty morality” summed up by “No gods or kings, only man”
    • The Sims 4

      • 2017
      • A reportedly decent port of the classic life simulation series that has you creating characters and households, then living their lives
    • Firewall Zero Hour

      • 2018
      • 4v4 tactical VR shooter developed exclusively for the PSVR that has you seizing or protecting sensitive information from opposing teams
  • Xbox One

    • TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge

      • 2018
      • Motorcycle racing game that has you challenging the deadly Snaefell Mountain course that has you taking on 38 miles of roads at over 180 mph
    • Call of Cthulhu

      • 2018
      • A role-playing psychological horror game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, while also being an adaptation of the 1981 RPG of the same title
    • Fable Heroes

      • 2012
      • A beat ’em up spinoff of the Fable series, with a toy-like aesthetic and mixed reviews, it’s at least the first family friendly Fable title
    • Star Wars Battlefront

      • 2004
      • The original Battlefront game for the first Xbox, it’s a first and third person shooter that primarily plays as a conquest game with limited respawns for each team and also has a Galactic Conquest mode with some strategy elements
  • Epic Games

    • Farming Simulator 19

      • 2018
      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
    • Next week we can look forward to PC ports of some popular board games

Apparently Ring isn’t just a product that lets people surveil their neighbours and gives police access to a network of cameras, it also tracks its customers through its app

  • We talked about the Ring camera doorbells and Amazon’s shady agreements with local police to promote the products and get access to recorded footage last summer back in episodes 263 and 268
  • Well now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put together an investigation of the associated Android app and found it packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of personally identifiable information on its customers
    • This stuff includes names, IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data from the devices themselves
  • All of that info comes together to form a detailed fingerprint of the user that can be sold or used to see what people are doing in their digital lives, and most damning of all is that there is no notification, consent, or ways to mitigate the damage done
  • Ring is taking this information and delivering it to organizations like:
    • Facebook
    • Branch
      • a “deep linking” platform that builds those exact kind of digital fingerprints and associates them with other marketing and analytics data
    • AppsFlyer
      • another marketing data firm that’s now getting their hands on sensor data from all those devices
    • And Mixpanel
      • yet another business analytics service, but this one deserves special mention since Ring is sending them people’s full names, email address, details on your phone’s OS and hardware model, bluetooth settings, and how many locations you have Ring devices installed in
    • Of those services only Mixpanel is on Ring’s list of third-party services they say they work with, but they don’t make it clear just how much information they share
  • All that is to say, for being a company based around securing your home they sure don’t seem to have any consideration for your personal information. If you use a Ring device, it may be time to rethink that

Tesla’s taking heat this week because of their fairly predatory practices when it comes to buying upgrades

  • In a pretty suspicious move, about a week and a half before the end of their financial year Tesla rolled out a new feature in their phone app allowing people to buy software upgrades for their cars to enable full autopilot
  • Shortly afterward, they were hit with a lot of users complaining about unintended purchases and a terrible refund policy
    • In one case someone broke down exactly what happened- they essentially butt dialled the purchase, contacted support as soon as they could afterward and then a week later were told that there are no refunds for software purchases.
      • The support staff even compared it to “paying for an addition to a house, deciding you don’t like it, then requesting a refund from the contractor”
      • There are even some staff claiming that the upgrade can’t be removed from the car, when it’s basically just an enable/disable flag with no major download or installation involved
    • Eventually someone high-profile enough complained on Twitter and Elon Musk said that the refund situation would be addressed, but who knows if that will roll out to all the little people affected
  • The kicker here is how easy Tesla made it to accidentally make the purchase- it’s harder to download a free app
    • If you’re logged in to the Tesla app and go to the upgrades screen, the $4000 autopilot upgrade is automatically selected, added to your cart, and the payment prompt is immediately displayed
    • You then have two buttons- ApplePay, which would prompt for TouchID, FaceID, or your password, or Pay With Credit Card
      • One thing to note here is that they do have their refund denial policy shown at this point. On a black or very dark grey screen, below those buttons in slightly lighter grey text. All the other text is bright white.
      • Another interesting tidbit is that the refund policy was actually photoshopped off of the screen when it was shown in an investor presentation
    • If you do hit Pay With Credit Card it takes you to a confirmation screen with everything filled out- they don’t even ask for your card’s security code to verify, you just tap Pay at the bottom.
    • So if you’re in the Tesla app and put your phone in your pocket without locking it, whether by mistake or not, you’re three taps away from dropping $4000 without even knowing it
    • There are even some reports that the confirmation screen is new- some users last year just wanted to see the total with tax and were immediately charged
  • In investigating this I also stumbled upon some of the skeezy strategies Tesla has used on their website- when you look at the price of a car they default to showing it adjusted for “potential savings”
    • You might see that and expect some kind of rebates or sales, but in fact they bundle in the estimated savings from not buying gas for the life of the car, making a difference of thousands of dollars between the expected price and what Tesla actually charges for their vehicles.
  • All of this just really goes to show how Tesla seems to be trying to trick people into spending money, and the fact that it’s right before their fiscal year end makes it even more suspicious

The Wawa chain of American convenience stores was targeted by credit card skimming malware last month, resulting in as many as 30M cards going up for sale on the dark web this week

  • Apparently the malware began rolling out on March 4th and wasn’t discovered until December 10th, so it had gathered about nine full months worth of numbers, names, and expiration dates
  • Anyone who used a payment card at a Wawa location last year should definitely check your bills closely. Wawa is reportedly offering affected customers one year of credit monitoring but those services may not be very effective, so if you’re concerned you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your file instead

Tidbits

  • Activision Blizzard makes exclusive streaming deal with YouTube, Overwatch League and Call of Duty will be streaming on YouTube
  • 343 Industries is looking to ban Halo: Reach players abusing the experience system by frequently joining games and not actually playing
    • Apparently the new release of Reach involves a new experience progression system to unlock customizations, rather than the old system where you could just buy whatever you have enough credits for, and going AFK is one strategy players are using to grind for more experience
    • Another has been dubbed “sword lining”, where two Griffball teams line up and take turns killing each other with swords
  • Bethesda has finally fully addressed the inventory hack in Fallout 76 that we talked about last year, wherein hackers could use your inventory like a lootable chest to steal everything from your character in seconds
    • Reportedly the company is creating clones of the affected characters with their entire inventory as of December 20th, as well as about $66 worth of their premium ‘atoms’ currency.
    • Players can then make a secure trade from the clone to their original character via a private server, and Bethesda is providing support agents to help with that process
  • Zuckerberg has gone on record that Facebook’s goal for the next decade “isn’t to be liked, but to be understood”, saying they didn’t always communicate their views clearly because they worried about offending people
    • The Daring Fireball says it best: “The more you understand Facebook, the less you like or trust them. So: mission accomplished.”
  • Nintendo’s Switch has officially become their third best-selling home console of all time, behind the Wii and the NES (and almost quadrupling the WiiU)
    • Fun fact, estimates show they surpassed the Xbox One during the 2019 holiday season despite the XBone being out for more than three years before the Switch’s release
    • And just to tack on to the end of this, The Outer Worlds is officially coming to the Switch on March 6th
  • Lastly, in a little bit of heartwarming news to close things out, professional Fortnite player and streamer Aydan Conrad went on Twitch last week to stream himself calling his mom and paying off her student debt
    • He gave full credit to his viewers, saying that everyone watching made the whole thing possible

Based on this tweet, I want to know what ten games our Fanily like. See how much crossover we all have.

And I can see some cool games to check out as well
I like top tens with no order, it all depends on mood.

Josh’s Top 10

  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Psyconauts
  • Overwatch
  • Slay The Spire
  • Fallout 4
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  • Stardew Valley
  • Minecraft
  • The Sims

Alan’s Top 10

  • Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
  • Kirby Superstar (honourable mention to Planet Robobot)
  • Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • God of War (2019)
  • Beat Saber
  • Titanfall 2
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (honourable mention to A Link to the Past)
  • Superhot
  • Black Mesa

 

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Thank you to Renee, thank you for believing in us!

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And talk to us in the comments!