Free Games

  • Microsoft

    • Batman: The Enemy Within

      • 2017
      • Episodic adventure game in classic Telltale Games fashion, and a sequel to 2016’s Batman: The Telltale Series, it features the usual branching narrative and choices carrying over from the previous title
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

      • 2016
      • The fourth game in the Shantae series, and the first full HD title, it’s a cute platformer with metroidvania elements that has you transforming into different animals to access new areas
    • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

      • 2014
      • An action-adventure sequel to the 2010 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, you play a weakened Dracula on a quest through medieval and modern worlds to defeat Satan
    • Sonic Generations

      • 2011
      • Produced for the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, and featuring both classic sidescrolling and full 3D levels, it follows Sonic and Tails as they team up with their past selves to stop an evil entity from erasing time itself
  • Sony

    • Shadow of the Colossus

      • 2018 remake of the 2005 PS2 game
      • Beautiful action-adventure game that has you exploring a vast expanse on horseback to defeat the 16 colossi to restore the life of a girl, it’s minimalist in that there are no towns to explore, characters to interact with, or enemies to defeat other than the colossi
    • Sonic Forces

      • 2017
      • Platformer published for Sonic’s 25th anniversary, it features both classic side-scrolling and modern 3D Sonic gameplay, as well as a mode featuring custom characters inspired by fanart over the years
      • This one caught some flack for being released after the success of Sonic Mania
  • Epic

    • InnerSpace

      • 2018
      • Adventure game inspired by Journey and Grow Home that has you soaring through the sky and diving into the ocean in search of the ancient gods of the Inverse, a realm of inside-out planets

Google’s strange stance on the ToTok messaging app malware is making a lot of people suspicious

  • ToTok first hit as a popular social messaging app receiving millions of downloads from the Play and App Stores combined, with the iOS app alone having more than 32,000 reviews
  • Then late last year both Google and Apple removed the app from their app stores after US intelligence officials found it was a tool for spying by the United Arab Emirates government
    • They told the New York times that the UAE was trying to track “every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones.”
    • An independent analysis of the iOS and macOS apps confirmed that, if you gave it permission to access your contacts, it did in fact collect entire address books and send them back to head office
    • Not to mention the fact that all in-app communications would be readily accessible to the developers if they so choose
  • Then a week later, Google put it right back with no explanation
  • And then this week they removed it from the Play Store a second time, again with no explanation
  • Finally, over the last few days Google’s Play Protect app scanning service started showing the warning “This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history. Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the app could harm your device.”
    • The message then gives you two options, either Uninstall or Keep App (Unsafe)
  • That back-and-forth, especially with them not telling users exactly what they know about the app, has people scratching their heads
    • Some are even speculating there may have been some insider on the app approval team that tried to sneak it back in

Slickwraps customers were treated some conflicting information about their privacy this week, but the bullet point here is that the company has been breached

  • Earlier this week the whitehat hacker and cybersecurity consultant known as Lynx posted a full breakdown of exactly how they hacked Slickwraps’ website and, by extension, their internal systems
    • Basically it looks like the case customization feature, that lets you upload a photo to make a custom decal, allowed users to upload any file to any location on the webserver
    • That allowed access to the full contents of the server, including employee resumes and 9GB of customer photos (which, of course, included nudes)
    • From there Lynx got into configuration files, leading to their entire database including customer addresses, emails, phone numbers, and transaction histories
      • As a bonus they also got access to Slickwraps’ admin accounts and credentials for their payment partners, admin accounts, social media, and help desk
    • Basically, at this point Lynx owned Slickwraps’ entire digital infrastructure
    • Now you might ask, why did they post this info publicly? Well apparently they tried to contact support subtly on Twitter, directly through the support portal, and then no subtly by adding a page to their website saying “Lynx was here” and tweeting it to their support account
      • The company’s response, apparently, was to block Lynx on Twitter and, according to Lync, try to erase the data breach from their logs and reset passwords, even reinstalling their whole eCommerce platform, without actually closing the hole in their security
    • Days afterward they continued to ignore Lynx, even after other unscrupulous activity could be seen going on as other hackers caught wind of the vulnerability
    • Eventually the company messaged Lynx asking if they were looking for a bounty. Lynx replied, saying they didn’t want anything but for Slickwraps to notify their users of the breach as they’re required to do as part of European data privacy laws, which they were already in breach of since it took them so long after first contact to do anything
      • Then things got a little dark, with Lynx threatening that if Slickwraps didn’t contact customers they would do it themselves and potentially leak the entire database of information
      • The response? “Why are you doing this?”, followed up by “Are you able to help?” and “We are just the social team, btw and done via a 3rd party”
      • So Lynx did what they perhaps should have done in the first place- they found the CEO’s email in the Slickwraps database and emailed him, telling him to check the messages
      • Shortly afterward, Lynx was once more blocked. So days after first contact they gave up and published their findings
  • Eventually Slickwraps did sent out a notification on February 21st, 6 days after the initial hack, saying “On February 22nd, we discovered information in some of our non-production databases was mistakenly made public via an exploit. During this time, the databases were accessed by an unauthorized party.” and claiming to have closed the databases in question
    • The timeline here is a little suspect, as well as the claim that it was non-production databases accessed rather than their entire infrastructure
    • It was also sent to a lot fewer users than were actually exposed- other whitehats sent out emails to the entire database details what happened, including each customer’s name and physical address as evidence, and there are many reports online of people receiving this email and not the official one
  • There’s also the fact that at this point, depending on how far Slickwraps has come in actually addressing the issue, I would avoid their website since who knows what malware or other surprises people have snuck into place
  • But there is good news here- no passwords or financial data were leaked, and if you checked out as Guest instead of creating an account you’re completely safe
  • People that have been affected will need to be on the lookout for more targeted phishing attacks though, as a lot of identifying information is out in the wild now
  • If you want to see if you’re affected you can punch your email address into haveibeenpwned.com to see a list of data breaches that include your information

Having fun with MTG Commander again

  • Thanks to my friend Cam for inviting me to his MTG night
  • Cam helped pick out some mean cards for my Mogis Commander deck
    • Here are some Highlights:
    • Mogis, God of Slaughter
      • For reference my commander, when on the field causes my opponent to sacrifice a creature or take 2 damage every upkeep
    • Dictate of the Twin Gods, 5 mana Enchantment
      • If a source would deal damage to a permanent or player, it deals double dame to that permanent or player instead.
    • Painful Quandry, 5 mana Enchantment
      • Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player loses 5 life unless he or she discards a card
    • Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, 6 mana Legendary Creature, 4/4
      • Flying, Trample
      • Whenever an opponent searches his or her library, that player sacrifices a creature and loses 10 life.
      • Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 on this creature
    • God-Pharoh’s Statue, 6 mana Legendary Artifact
      • Spells your opponents cast cost 2 more to cast
      • At the beginning of your end step, each opponent loses 1 life
    • Hour of Devastation, 5 mana Sorcery
      • All creatures lose indestructible until end of turn.
      • Hour of Devastation deals 5 damage to each creature and non-Bolas planeswalker
    • Fraying Omnipotence, 5 mana Sorcery
      • Each player loses half their life, then discards half the cards in their hand, then sacrifices half the creatures they control.
      • Round up.
    • Dingus Staff, 4 mana Artifact
      • Whenever a creature is put into any graveyard from play, Dingus Staff deals 2 damage to that creatures contoller

Overwatch Experimental 1-3-2

  • There is a new tab when selecting your game called Experimental.
    • It is reserved for radically different tests, that are not meant to roll into the game, which is why they aren’t seen exclusively on the Public Test Realm.
  • The first is a test to change the dynamic of team play to have one tank, three damage and two support.
    • To make one tank more viable, here are the interesting changes made to the Tank Heroes.
  • D.Va

    • Health
      • Still 600, but adjusted to have 200 more armor
    • Defense Matrix
      • Lasts twice as long, now 4 seconds
    • Fusion Cannons, primary fire
      • Now only reduce movement speed by 30% instead of 50%
  • Orisa

    • Protective Barrier
      • Cooldown reduced from 10 seconds to 8
      • Barrier health increased to 900
  • Reinhardt

    • Health
      • Still 500, adjusted to have 100 more armor
    • Rocket Hammer, primary fire
      • Damage increased from 75 to 90
    • Barrier Field
      • Regeneration increased from 200 to 250 per second
  • Roadhog

    • Take A Breather
      • In addition to regular effect, leaves a cloud when used.
      • The cloud heals all allies for 25 health per second and provides 25% damage reduction
    • Chain Hook
      • Reduced from 8 to 6 seconds
    • Scrap Gun, primary fire
      • Damage per pellet reduced from 6 to 5 (150 damage per shot down to 125 damage)
    • Whole Hog
      • Cost increased by 15%
  • Sigma

    • Experimental Barrier
      • Regeneration rate increased from 120 to 200 per second
      • Barrier health increased from 900 to 1200
  • Winston

    • Health
      • Armor health pool increased from 100 to 200 (Total health is now 600)
    • Barrier Projector
      • Cooldown reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds
  • Zarya

    • Health and Energy
      • Shields health pool increased from 200 to 300. (Total health is now 500)
      • Maximum energy gain per barrier decreased from 40 to 30
    • Particle Cannon, primary fire
      • Maximum primary fire damage per second reduced from 170 to 140
    • Particle Cannon, secondary fire
      • Maximum secondary fire damage reduced from 95 to 80
    • Particle Barrier (Self)
      • Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds
    • Particle Barrier (Ally)
      • Now creates barriers on all allies within 8 meters of your target
      • Duration increased from 2 seconds to 3 seconds

Tidbits

  • Apple’s taking some heat this week for their Mac Pro option that changes its solid feet to a set of wheels
    • The $400 upgrade doesn’t offer any way to lock the wheels, so while it could be decent on the floor it would be a terrible idea to put it on a table or desk
  • In a pretty confusing turn of events, the popular mobile game Plague Inc has been pulled from the iOS App Store in China because authorities say it “includes content that is illegal in China”
    • The strangest part is that it’s been available for years, so the best guess is that it has something to do with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but that still doesn’t really map
  • The United States FTC has announced that it’s sending out refund cheques to people who fell victim to tech support scams
    • The agency will be sending out a total of $1.7M, averaging $30 each, to users tricked into paying for fake tech support from companies like Click4Support
  • Samsung users got a surprise last week, receiving Find My Phone notifications that just said “1”
    • Apparently the alert was an accident- basically someone pressed a button they didn’t mean to and set out the mass notification during an internal test
    • Some users also noticed an odd spike in the app’s battery usage, with no explanation
  • Director Rian Johnson shared some interesting info in a Vanity Fair interview this week- Apple lets you use iPhone in movies, but the bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games – Ends June 13

    • Kingdom New Lands

      • Kingdom is a minimalistic micro strategy game with modern retro aesthetics and an ambient soundtrack. Players take control of a monarch struggling to build their kingdom from nothing by exploring the world, recruit loyal subjects and defend from the nightly Greed attacks.
  • Twitch Prime – Ends July 2nd

    • Aegis Defenders

      • Humanity Has Been Brought Back Into the Dark Ages, but Remnants of a Once Highly Advanced Civilization Still Exist. In a world where control over ancient technologies means power, a ruthless Empire has arisen. You play as a team of Ruinhunters searching for the one thing that can save their village – a legendary weapon known as Aegis.
      • Explore, build, & defend in this 2D platformer that blends Metroidvania style combat with Tower Defense strategy.
    • Stikbold!

      • Stikbold is a glorious and intense sport which will put your friendships to the test with fast-paced, hard-hitting and occasionally hilariously unfair action! Or play the co-op story mode to unlock the full roster of quirky sporting heroes and earn achievements.
    • 10 Second Ninja X

      • A hardcore sidescroller. You’re a ninja, there are robots, you’ve got ten seconds to destroy them all. Get three star ratings, climb leaderboards, discover secrets and stop Captain Greatbeard.
    • Metronomicon

      • Rhythm Role Playing Game; fight the weirdest monsters with the power of music! Level your party and upgrade your gear while dancing to the beat.

Apple Keynote

  • The new Mac Pro that will be available to buy in the fall
    • Its design is being referred to as a “cheese grater”
    • $5,999 for the computer itself
    • another $4,999 for the new 32-inch Pro Display XDR Apple introduced to go with the Mac Pro.
    • And that new display doesn’t come with a stand
    • Another $999 to get the Pro Stand that offers tilt, height, and rotation adjustments.
  • iPadOS is a version of iOS specifically for the iPad and its larger display
    • More multi-tasking features
    • the ability to show widgets on the home screen
    • enhanced text editing
    • and more
    • With macOS Catalina, a new Sidecar app will enable the use of an iPad as a wired or wireless second display to a Mac.
  • Betas of iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6, and tvOS 13 are available to registered developers now and there are already some threads discussing their features and issues.

Google’s Stadia game service is coming 2019

What is Stadia again?
  • Stadia is a cloud gaming service operated by Google,
  • capable of streaming video games up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with support for high-dynamic-range
    • Done with numerous data centers across the globe, provided users have a sufficiently high-speed Internet connection
  • It will be accessible through the Google Chrome web browser
    • Also works on phones and tablets including the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a phones.
  • The service is integrated with YouTube and its “state share” feature allows viewers of a Stadia stream to launch a game on the service on the same save state as the streamer.

Google Stadia internet connection speeds and game resolution

Launching in November
  • 14 different territories including the US, UK and Canada
  • At least 31 games from 21 different publishers
    • An initial “Founder’s Edition” price of $130 for a hardware starter kit with three months of premium service, and $10 a month afterwards
    • There’s a separate free tier coming in 2020.
  • Google intends to eventually have a back catalog of free games included for your $10 monthly fee
    • Stadia is not primarily a subscription service. The subscription only includes a single game as of today — Destiny 2.
  • Google says you should expect to buy, not rent cloud games for the same retail prices you’d find on other platforms like PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Steam.
  • Here are some companies that are on board with this service:
    • Bandai Namco
    • Bethesda
    • Bungie
    • Capcom
    • Deep Silver
    • EA
    • Giants Software
    • Rockstar Games
    • Sega
    • Square Enix
    • 2K Games
    • Warner Brothers
    • THQ
    • Ubisoft

Blizzard had a Starcraft First Person Shooter Canceled

  • This game has been in development for the last 2 years
  • Rumors are it would feel like Battlefield in space
    • An anonymous game dev said they had built prototypes in which a Terran Marine was fighting off Zerglings
    • And that there were plans for a playable Zerg prototype
    • Development was slow on the project while other said it looked quite good
  • The cancelation of the project did not cause any Blizzard layoffs
    • The developers were moved
    • Some to a Diablo project codenamed Fenris
    • Others to an Overwatch project rumored to have a large PvP element
  • The project, with the codename Ares, was an experiment of what StarCraft could be in the Overwatch engine
    • Which makes sense as multiple projects on the same game engine is cost effective
    • This project was lead by Dustin Browder
      • Who formerly led Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II
  • This is another disappointment to long time StarCraft fans
    • Long time fans will be reminded of StarCraft Ghost
      • A 3rd Person shooter-stealth project that would have players take the role as the Terran Ghost Nova
      • It went through many changes from its 2002 announcement and eventually its cancellation in 2006

Microsoft quietly wiped a massive facial recognition database

  • Microsoft has been very clear about how they feel facial recognition technology needs strict regulation
    • The president, Brad Smith, has appealed Congress directly, to take steps to manage the technology
    • He has said it has “broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse”
    • The company has even blocked the sales of the technology to California police forces
    • So they have deleted its MS Celeb Database
      • Which includes 10 million images of some 100,000 people
  • The database was published in 2016
    • It was the largest publicly available facial recognition data set in the world
    • It has been used to train facial recognition systems by global tech firms and military researchers
    • The people in the data set were not asked for consent
      • Since the people were considered celebrities, the images were taken from the internet under a Creative Commons license
  • FT.com calls some images in the dataset of “arguably private individuals”
    • Such as security journalists and authors
    • The deletion comes after FT.com ran an in-depth investigation on facial recognition technology
    • Microsoft said the deletion of the data was a matter of protocol
      • They said, “The site was intended for academic purposes, It was run by an employee that is no longer with Microsoft.”
    • Being protocol takes away the gesture of goodwill
      • Although, it does demonstrate their commitment to the law

Tid Bits

  • Playable at E3 is a demo of Luigi’s Manson 3
  • Watch Dogs Legion is set in London, and you will be able to play as any NPC you recruit
  • The Obamas have made a deal with Spotify, to produce and host podcasts
  • Destiny 2 will have cross save, across all platforms, even Playstation 4
  • Double XP on Overwatch through June 10th, on all consoles
  • Spongebob Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated is up for preorder on Amazon for $30

Josh Recommends Just Cause 4

  • I got it on sale, huge bonus
  • All the fun I had from Just Cause 3
  • Added new tethers, Balloons
  • The villain is making weather altering super weapons
    • Sandstorms
    • Lightning Storms
    • And even Tornados
 

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