PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

      • 2018
      • Co-op puzzle platformer where you team up and use your phone as your controller to guide your characters through challenging, intricate levels
    • Kunai

      • 2020
      • Billed as a quirky, fast-paced action platformer, you play as Tabby, a tablet who joins the fight against a robot uprising using his kunai and ninja-parkour
    • Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

      • 2017 remaster first released in 2008 as a free-to-play mod for the Source engine, then later redeveloped into a commercial release in 2012
      • First person exploration and adventure game that is considered to have started the “walking simulator” genre, it has you exploring an unnamed island in Scotland, listening to a troubled man read a series of letters to his deceased wife
    • Dark Devotion

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game where you explore the secrets of a mysterious fallen temple and put your Templar’s faith to the test
    • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

      • 1998
      • First person shooter originally released on the N64, it follows Turok’s efforts to stop a powerful alien entity from escaping the confines of his Lightship
    • Reus

      • 2013
      • God game where you control giants that can modify the nature of the planet through terraforming, creating life, and altering genes
    • GRIP: Combat Racing

      • 2018
      • Originally a Kickstarter campaign that I backed in 2015, it raised $154K of its $657K goal before it was taken down, but it was still announced to be pushed into early access
      • High octane hardcore combat racer inspired by Rollcage, Wipeout, Motostorm, and Podracer with gravity-defying twists and heavy weaponry
  • Xbox

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

      • 2019
      • The official game of the 2019 World Rally Championship, it’s a simulation rally racing game with new physics for all surfaces and a redesigned career mode
    • Saints Row 2

      • 2008
      • Sandbox action-adventure game that has you leading the Third Street Saints gang against three rivals and the corrupt Ultor Corporation, with a more comedic tone to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto
  • PS4

    • NBA 2k20

      • 2019
      • Basketball simulation game featuring current and past players and teams, along with up to six custom expansion teams and the ability to relocate and rebrand any time
      • It also included, for the first time, all 12 teams from the WNBA, though they can only be played in one-game exhibition and single-season modes, and the game drew criticism for its gambling-based minigames that overshadowed the basketball in early trailers
    • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration

      • 2016 update to the 2015 release, with updates including coop play and classic outfits as well as combat-free exploration and zombie modes
      • Action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, it has standard ruins exploration and bowplay but this time set in Siberia
    • Erica

      • Bonus for the 10th anniversary of PS Plus
      • 2019
      • Live-action interactive adventure thriller with multiple endings that feels Heavy Rain-esque, putting you in the role of Erica, a brave young lady who is plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder and has to unearth the truth behind the tragedy
  • Epic Games

    • Hue

      • 2016
      • Puzzle platformer where you explore a grey land while searching for your missing mother, and along the way you uncover coloured pieces that reveal new puzzles. The more colours you find, the more complex the puzzles become

Co-Founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin has stepped down following accusations of racist and sexist office culture (courtesy of Polygon)

  • For anyone unaware, it’s like a lewd version of Apples to Apples with references to politics, pop culture, sex, and so on
  • It started as a DIY print your own game distributed for free, but after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign it became the focus of a multi-million dollar game company
  • In the past few weeks multiple former employees have shared stories of racist and sexist behaviours that largely affected Black employees, as well as some accusations of sexual assault by Temkin
  • Many people reporting these behaviours remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and that seems to have been well founded after several employees described being fired for confusing or unexpected reasons after raising concerns about discrimination at work
  • Cards Against Humanity’s official response is that “some of these accounts are true, others are not, and a few we are continuing to investigate”
  • It seems almost inevitable that a company trading on humour powered by shock and racial stereotypes, like all the variations on “A big, black dick” that exist in the game, would have some problems, but though they’ve tried to increase sensitivity and remove some cards deemed offensive, there are still many packs being sold today that include cards that marginalize vulnerable groups of people
  • There have also been stories shared from the writer’s room about how the head writers like Temkin would push for the inclusion of cards like “Saying the N-word”, despite the protests of the one Black employee on the team
  • A spokesperson pointed Polygon to 14 cards, out of the hundreds available for the game, that “reflect Black culture, history, and perspectives”. In a follow-up they clarified that the game has “well over 100” cards that do that, and the examples were merely a favourite sampling, but the gesture reeks of “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend”
  • Many former employees described their departure from the company as “escaping”, and since there was no real HR department to speak of they felt unheard and powerless even after leaving, for fear of lawsuits and reprisals. The Chief Operating Officer was the sole HR department, and was also in charge of finance, operations, and legal. His close working relationship with Temkin led to concerns about bringing issues forward.
  • Apparently Cards Against Humanity is hiring an independent third-party HR consultant to audit and improve its practices, but from the sounds of it a lot of damage has been done to a lot of lives
  • Former employees also spoke of Temkin yelling at employees, and said that people on staff often spoke on Slack about the most private places to cry after encounters with him, and that he exerted undue influence over not only people’s livelihood but also their personal lives- in one case, Temkin decided that an employee would have to stop seeing someone or they would get “kicked out”
  • And all of this from a company that has opposed Trump, donated money to charity, and given scholarships to women in STEM programs has left many with whiplash after experiencing what the company culture was like internally
  • As of June 9th Temkin has stepped down from the company and will have no staff interactions, and though he maintains 1/8th of the company’s shares he will not receive a salary.
  • With these reports becoming public and the employees gaining courage and support they’ve established the Cards Against Humanity Workers United union and begun to demand recognition from the company’s owners, looking to establish better collaboration and transparency between workers and management after the trust has been eroded so thoroughly already
  • In a statement provided to Polygon, the company’s leadership says that it intends to recognize the union, and that if the majority of their employees want a union they’re all for it

Reddit has officially, finally, banned the “The_Donald” subreddit

  • The ban was part of the site’s overhaul of its hate speech policies, and will affect the more than 790,000 users that used it to post memes, videos, and messages supportive of Trump
  • This came down because of the group’s consistent breaking of its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech
  • Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman said “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that”
  • At the same time, Twitch temporarily banned Trump from the service for hateful conduct, for things like video of his kickoff rally where he claimed that Mexico was sending rapists to the US
    • Twitch has apparently begun issuing permanent bans to other streamers because of hate speech, with long-time popular streamer Dr Disrespect receiving one without specific details on why
    • It sounds like Twitch is taking moderation a lot more seriously, and not just allowing racist or hateful language just because it’s newsworthy due to its source
  • In the words of the Daring Fireball, “It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.”

Warning to all pirates running macOS, there’s a new ransomware making the rounds

  • The new EvilQuest ransomware variant is being spread through pirated Mac apps, according to Malwarebytes, and was initially found in a download for Little Snitch found on a Russion forum
  • The infected installation does install Little Snitch, a tool for monitoring network traffic on your computer, but also moves and installs files throughout your system to encrypt both system and personal files on your computer before prompting for a $50USD ransom
    • The malware apparently doesn’t work very well though, as the ransom instructions are often not displayed properly and you don’t actually get your files back if you pay it
  • Malwarebytes says their software can remove the infection, but any encrypted files will need to be restored from backups

Clone High is coming back!?!

  • For the multitude that missed it the first time around, it was an animated series about the teenage clones of historical figures going to high school together, that worked as an out-loud parody of teen soaps like Dawson’s Creek with things like every episode opening with “Tonight, on a very special episode of Clone High…”
  • It was cancelled after one season due in part to its depiction of the clone of Mahatma Ghandi and controversy outside of North America. Even the DVD release never made it outside of Canada
  • Well apparently Clone High’s creators went on to make a few films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Verse
  • So it seems like now that they’ve got some pull after a few hits, they’re bringing the show into the era of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and 13 Reasons Why, so maybe we’ll finally get some closure to the first season’s cliffhanger two decades later. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this

Tidbits

  • Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issue, saying “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologize for any trouble caused to our customers. We are continuing to aim to improve our products, but as the Joy-Con is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States and this is still a pending issue, we would like to refrain from responding about any specific actions.”
    • Nintendo began offering free repairs for controllers afflicted with drift shortly after the lawsuit was filed, but with its built-in controllers the Switch Lite was also added to the class action suit a week after its September launch
  • Microsoft has updated their enforcement guidlelines for Forza Motorsport, banning players using the custom design feature to put confederate flags or swastikas on their cars
    • Some have raised issues with this, complaining that iconic cars like the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee had nothing to do with race and featured a large depiction of the flag on its back, but just because an unproblematic show used the flag doesn’t mean it’s not a problematic symbol itself
    • Even the General Lee car itself, owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson, had its flags removed in 2015
  • According to rumours, Apple may be removing the charger and EarPods from new iPhone boxes, leaving just the phone and a USB cord
    • The switch would allow them to reduce packaging and waste, and for many long-time iPhone users it wouldn’t be a large issue, but it seems like the option should still be there to make sure you have everything you need if you’re buying for the first time
    • One idea I’ve seem on reddit is to either have two different versions, which could get confusing, or include a coupon for the value of the charger inside the box. Then you can get one for free or use the savings on another Apple device, though it’s still an additional step
  • Now through July 10th Apple is giving you an extra 10% bonus when adding funds to your AppleID
    • On your phone you can go to Settings, tap on your name, iTunes & App Store, tap on your AppleID, View AppleID, then tap Add Funds to Apple ID
  • After taking fire for reading iPhone clipboards every time users type a single character into the app, TikTok has promised to release an update to stop reading that information from devices
    • iOS 14 beta shows a notification each time an app reads your clipboard and so this was really highlighted in TikTok, but it’s also behaviour being seen in other apps like AccuWeather, Overstock, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Patreon, and Google News
    • TikTok claims it’s part of an anti-spam feature and they don’t actually read what you may have copied from another app, but there’s no way to verify that. With it being a Chinese company whose algorithm is a complete black box, you can assume that they’ve stored copies of whatever you had on your clipboard while using the app
  • Microsoft is officially shutting down their physical stores worldwide, except for four specific locations in the US, England, and Australia that will become “experience centers” that no longer sell products
    • The stores were originally inspired by Apple Stores both in concept and execution, but failed to really get a foothold in the market
    • verynicewebsite.net put it well – “I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.”

 

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Huge development in medical tech this week

  • A group of researchers in Mexico have found a cure for the Human Papillomavirus infection, the primary cause of cervical cancer
  • Apparently it’s non-invasive, using a drug to photosensitize the infection and then light of specific wavelengths
  • The treatment, which has been 20 years in the making, is shown to cure 100% of HPV patients without cancer and has been successful in over half the cases when patients already have cervical cancer- even if they don’t have HPV

Activision Blizzard has laid off 800 employees after “weaker than anticipated retail demand” though they made $7.26B in 2018, a $100M increase over 2017 and the best in Activision history

  • Who knows what things will look like next year after their CFO Dennis Durkin announced that they aren’t releasing any titles beyond Diablo Mobile in 2019
  • The worst part is how this is exclusively affecting lower-level employees- all the high-paid executives continue to make money hand over fist
    • Compare this to when Nintendo was operating at a loss for months after the release of the WiiU and then-president Satoru Iwata cut his salary in half, along with other executives taking 20-30% pay cuts
    • Accountability needs to start at the top, and that is so rarely seen in large corporations nowadays

Apple is being sued this month because, in the class action filing, people claim 2FA takes too long

  • The suit complains that it takes too much time out of a users day, and says its abusive because it can’t be removed after it’s been on for two weeks
  • It goes on to say that the login process pops up randomly (it doesn’t), that it takes 2-5 minutes (more like 20 seconds), that it’s a violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act (how?)
  • It demands, among other things, “all funds, revenues, and benefits” that Apple has “unjustly received”, but doesn’t list exactly what those might be

Respawn’s new game is here, and it’s definitely not Titanfall 3

  • Called Apex Legends, it’s a class-based free-to-play battle royale on PC, XBone, and PS4 with some polarized reviews
    • Fans of the Battle Royale genre think it’s great, with a lot of quality of life improvements that make it more friendly to new players than competitors, while people who were waiting for Titanfall 3 miss core gameplay like wall-running, slide-hopping, and of course Titans
    • It even includes features that allow you to avoid the voice chat- characters are chosen via round-robin, your drop point is set by a random teammate, and you can ping pretty much anything to alert your team about it or suggest an alternate route with “smart comms” in-game dialogue
      • According to their twitter, they tested the game for a month with no mics and randomized names to refine how it feels
  • Many people are impressed with the representation shown, with a range of races, genders, and sexual preferences included among the 8 characters
    • If nothing else, they’ve definitely knocked the playable characters out of the park. The trailer looks great, with solid personalities, and you can even play a Marvin!
  • Though many were expecting news about Titanfall 3 when this was announced, and Respawn CEO Vince Zampella has tweeted that there will be more Titanfall later this year, developers have gone on record saying that Titanfall 3 is not in development
    • Apparently they’re focusing on Apex Legends and the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
      • Maybe EA will let their studios finish a SW game this time?
  • Not to mention, EA is also releasing Anthem later this month. Time will tell if the games will cannibalize each other’s audiences
  • Either way it looks like a solid competitor in the Battle Royale arena, and if nothing else has sparked a ton of renewed interest in Titanfall 2

Nintendo Direct

  • Super Mario Maker 2 is coming to the Switch this June
    • This one really seems like a layup, in the usual Nintendo “It prints money!” style
    • It’ll be cool to see what fresh new hells people come up with, and with some art showing Luigi in a construction outfit maybe co-op is in our future?
  • BoxBoy and BoxGirl is coming April 26th
    • Followup to the acclaimed 3DS puzzle platform series BoxBoy, it brings co-op and a total of 270 levels to the Switch
  • Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition hits this fall
    • Remaster of 2017’s PS4 and 3DS JRPG, it’s adding some new character-specific stories and a 16-bit-inspired graphics mode, alongside an optional fully orchestrated soundtrack that you can switch to on the fly
  • We’ll also see Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on the Switch this summer
    • Team Ninja is bringing us the latest instalment of the ensemble action RPG series, featuring online and local play with up to four Switches
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World is getting a demo release today ahead of its March 29 release
  • We’re also getting a brand-new Fire Emblem on July 26th
    • Called Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it stars a customizable mercenary you can name and customize
    • It’ll also be the first Fire Emblem for over a decade that isn’t exclusive to handheld systems, technically
  • Square Enix is bringing a brand new action-RPG to the Switch this summer as well, called Oninaki
    • It has you traveling between the realms of life and death to save lost souls from turning into monsters
  • Deltarune: Chapter 1, the follow-up to Undertale, will be available for free on Feb 28th
  • Platinum Games is back at it again this August with a new title called Astral Chain, which looks like if Warframe and anime had a pretty badass lovechild
    • And of course it’s Platinum, so expect glorious over the top action fights
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is hitting the Switch this spring
    • This is a pretty crazy one I’ve had my eye on- originally released in 2017, it’s the story of a Celtic warrior with a severe mental illness who travels to Viking hell to rescue her lost lover
    • Apparently it was developed with a group of neural scientists to get a blend of psychological terror and an enlightening experience
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is getting a full 3D reimagining on the Switch this year
    • It looks like they’re using an entirely new toy-like art style, instead of repurposing the recent Zelda games for the 3DS
    • Apparently it’s one of the few Zelda games set outside of Hyrule, and actually has links to the Mario universe
    • It looks pretty cool, and if my Twitter is any indication people love it, so I might have to check it out
  • Final Fantasy 9 is out on Switch today, and 7 will be here on March 26th
    • Final Fantasy 10 and 10-2 are coming on April 16th, and later this year we’ll also see 12: The Zodiac Age
    • Considering this week was the 20th anniversary of FF8, I’m kind bummed it didn’t get a mention
  • Tetris Battle Royale is apparently a thing, and available today for free
    • Just like most other battle royale games, this is a competitive online multiplayer game pitting 99 people against eachother in a fight to be the last player standing
  • And Dragon Quest Builders 2 is coming to Switch and PS4 on July 12th
    • This one adds online multiplayer to the 2016 Builders formula, as well as larger structures, improved travel, and farming

Tidbits

  • Upcoming Amiibo Releases
  • Feb 15
    • King K Rool
    • Ice Climbers
    • Piranha Plant
  • April 4
    • Specter Knight
    • Plague Knight
    • King Knight
  • April 12
    • Young Link
    • Daisy
    • Ken
  • TBD 2019
    • Snake
    • Simon
    • Isabelle
    • PKMN Trainer
    • Squirtle
    • Ivysaur
  • Sprint is officially suing AT&T over their deceptive 5G E rebranding of existing 4G cell networks
    • Sprint says it’s false advertising, and AT&T says that their rivals are just frustrated and they “have now occupied beachfront real estate in [their] competitors’ heads”
  • The sixth Terminator movie is now officially called Terminator: Dark Fate
    • Apparently it’ll be a partial reboot, ignoring pretty much everything after T2: Judgement Day, calling it a bad dream or an alternate timeline
  • Apple has released updates for iOS and macOS addressing the FaceTime spy bug, and group FaceTime will remain disabled for the previous versions

Recommend Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios

  • Billed as a series that marries the magical realism and folklore of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher
  • It’s a fantastic story with lush, beautiful visuals
  • Might be a little challenging to follow if you try to rush through, but it’s 100% worth taking your time and savouring every last panel

Bad Description of Movies and Games

With the aid of narcotics, a man viciously assaults anyone in his way to make it to his abducted girlfriend.

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