PS2J 330 News – Modern Gaming Art

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter followup to the Battlefront reboot of 2015 that has you fighting on the ground and among the stars across a variety of maps in the Star Wars universe, with both the multiplayer Battlefield-style gameplay we’re used to in the series as well as a single-player campaign
      • The Celebration Edition bundles it along with a large collection of aesthetic customization content that was available through in-game purchase, all the way from launch up to and including The Rise of Skywalker

CES 2021 highlights

  • Razer showed off Project Hazel, clear futuristic face masks that qualify as N95 respirators, have a good silicone liner to prevent leakage or foggy glasses, and amplify your voice to help keep speech from sounding muffled
  • They also have the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, a bucket seat with an integrated keyboard tray and 60” curved display for more immersion
  • Panasonic has an AR HUD system for vehicles that use eye tracking and projected images on the windshield to show an intelligent overlay including alerts and directions lined up with real-world objects
  • LG showcased their new rollable display tech, leading to scroll-like devices with a thick rounded edge and an adjustable display size
  • Brink Bionics has the Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove that can detect your intention to click your mouse 80ms before your finger moves
  • ColdSnap wants to be the Keurig of ice cream, aiming to provide pod-based soft-serve made to order in under 120 seconds
  • Petpuls is an AI driven smart dog collar that will decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, relaxed) and track your pet’s activity and sleep
  • And Vuzix has some microLED smart glasses that actually look like something humans would wear, with the added benefit of cellular connectivity, noise-cancelling microphones, stereo audio, and a 3D HUD shown across both lenses

Lucasfilm Games is shifting their entire development strategy, opening the doors to more studios and ending EA’s monopoly on the Star Wars IP

  • The first big news to come from this is that they’re collaborating with Ubisoft on a story-driven open-world Star Wars game, which will be led by Massive Entertainment
    • You might have seen their name on things like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Far Cry 3, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 1/2
  • They went on to say that their relationship with EA isn’t completely ending though, which makes sense after the great success of Star Wars: Squadrons, and the middling success of Fallen Order
    • This is some good news for Reddit commenters who brought up a great point- why hasn’t Respawn taken their Titanfall chops and made a Republic Commando title?
    • Though that just reminds me how the Clone Wars TV show put a hard stop on the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando books, and makes me a little sad
  • But on to more hope- apparently Lucasfilm Games will also be working with Todd Howard, MachineGames (the team behind the new Wolfenstein titles), and Bethesda on an upcoming Indiana Jones title as well!
  • I’m really looking forward to what Lucasfilm kicking their gaming division into gear will mean for the next few years of releases

CD Projekt’s co-founder released an explanation this week of exactly what happened with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and release

  • In the video statement he defended the development teams and said that the decisions lay solely on his and the board’s shoulders, and promised they would work to regain the trust of gamers
  • Apparently the game was initially developed for PC and then ported to consoles, which led to many of the issues running on PS4 and Xbox One as they underestimated the difficulty of the port
    • And the big reason why review keys for console weren’t sent out until right before release was just because they were still working hard trying to iron out all the issues that they had found
  • The path forward
    • More updates are coming with bug fixes, updates and improvements
    • Once the biggest fixes are out they’ll be releasing free DLC packs aimed at the first half of the year, and the PS5 and Xbox Series optimization updates in the second half
  • So all told we should have the Cyberpunk we were hoping for before the end of 2021, which is something at least. Whether people will start trusting the developers again will remain to be seen

Citing concerns over censorship, a North Idaho internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter this week

  • For anyone who isn’t aware, Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms due to violations of their terms of service after he incited a riot that invaded the US capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results
    • Keep in mind that this is completely legal, and that the First Amendment only protects speech from being limited by the government
  • According to emails sent by “Your T1 WIFI” to its customers the ISP determined that this was censorship of their customers and information, so they decided to block access to the sites as of Wednesday
    • Your T1 WIFI stated that about 2/3 of its customers had called in asking the sites to be blocked because of these concerns, so the next logical step was to censor block the sites from all customers
  • They’ve since walked back the decision and made it an opt-in process instead, but the damage may already be done- a spokesperson for the Washington Governor’s office said that the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division would be looking in to the matter because of Net Neutrality violations, which forbid broadband internet providers from blocking lawful content and services

In related news, the right-wing social media site Parler has gone dark after being pulled from not only the Apple and Google app stores but also the Amazon web hosting services that the site was running on

  • Apparently Parler was basically chock full of nazis, radical extremists, and terrorists, with much of the content focused on inciting and coordinating violence or other illegal activity
    • Daring Fireball described it as “4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements”
    • For example Parler investor Dan Bongino, a Fox News commentator and former NYPD police officer, said in a Parler post that the company was “not done with Apple and Google” and encouraged users to “Stay tuned to hear what’s coming.” One user replied: “It would be a pity if someone with explosives training were to pay a visit to some AWS Data Centers – the location of which are public knowledge.”
  • All of this went against the terms of service of the various platforms it was connected to, so therefore it was kicked out even after being given warnings and deadlines in which to implement some kind of moderation plan
    • As it turns out, Parler was actually even in direct violation of its own terms of service
  • Some have taken to screaming first amendment and censorship, but I cannot stress this enough- freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences
  • And those consequences will be coming- apparently in the wake of the US Capitol riot a researcher began archiving every Parler post to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through
    • Hacker @donk_enby pulled dozens of terabytes of content, including raw unprocessed photos and videos that include metadata like the exact GPS coordinates at which they were recorded

This Week In Gaming History

January 9 – 2000 – Mario Party 2 – N64 (North America)

  • Mario and a range of well known Nintendo characters, including Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and Wario return for some more party action.
  • The second edition includes 5 new boards, each with a specific theme, such as Space Land, Western Land, Horror Land, and Mystery Land.
    • Each board includes unique attributes in relation to the theme, but the main goal is the same: complete the board game over a certain amount of moves and be the player to have the most coins and/or stars at the end.
  • The single player story mode allows one person and 3 CPU controlled players to play each board.
    • Once you play a specific mini-game (64 in all), they become available to purchase using the coins you collected in your games to play anytime.
    • Multiplayer allows 2 to 4 people to play the game.

January 10 – 1997 – Obsidian – Windows

  • The plot of this Myst-influenced 5 CD adventure game involves issues such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
    • Fortunately, the bundled strategy guide explains the basics of these subjects.
    • Gameplay is linear and largely based around puzzles.
  • Obsidian’s had an imaginative advertisement campaign.
    • Combining both printed ads as well as television spots, the campaign was unusual as it portrayed several common situations twisted in a way that defied all laws of physics, nature and logic followed by the tagline “Your rules do not apply here”.
      • For example: a printed ad showing an empty room lit by an overhead lamp, only the lamp produces darkness instead of light.
    • Yet the most impressive ad was the famed “egg” TV spot, which featured a guy dropping an egg to the floor with unexpected results.
    • This commercial became a particular object of cult among publicity buffs and won 3 Gold Clio awards and became a permanent feature on the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as being a regular on TV commercial specials, and a runner-up for a Cannes Golden Lion award.

January 11 – 2005 – Resident Evil 4 – GameCube

  • Plot:m
    • Picking up six years after Resident Evil 2, the fourth game in the series follows former cop (now US agent) Leon S. Kennedy to Europe on a top secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president’s daughter Ashley.
    • As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.
    • Old friends…and enemies…lurk around every corner as Leon attempts to find out who is truly behind the kidnapping of the president’s daughter.
  • Resident Evil 4 is a major change from the previous installments.
    • Instead of a fixed third person perspective, the game features a new “behind the back” movement camera angle and an “over the shoulder” aiming feature that allows players to control their gun movement for specific body part hits.
    • It features a brand new AI system and more open environments that allow enemies to work together to capture and corner Leon.
    • Enemies are now humans, which allows them to climb up ladders, open doors, and use weapons throughout the game.
  • The entire item system has also been revamped, so that smaller items no longer require an entire item space to hold.
    • Instead, items take up blocks of space in a briefcase according to their real life size, to allow for many more items and weapons.
    • Leon can collect treasure from enemies or from the surrounding area, and visit the infamous “merchant” to purchase bigger briefcases, treasure maps, weapons upgrades, and powerful weapons such as the one-shot RPG.
    • There is also the Mercenaries from Resident Evil 3, which allows the player to play survival scenarios as character such as Hunk and even Albert Wesker himself.
  • Development:
    • The earliest version of the game was announced for the PS2 under Resident Evil 2 with director Hideki Kamiya.
    • This build was eventually cancelled as a Resident Evil installment and became the title known as Devil May Cry.
    • Eventually, development was moved to the Gamecube console and another build emerged.
    • This was the first version to feature Leon from RE2. The game’s main menace was to sport a hook on one of its hands, and the logo for the game reflected this (this can still be seen in the final logo).
    • More versions were created and cancelled before Shinji Mikami took over and transformed the title into what it is today.
    • Of all the builds developed, only one of them was never unveiled to the public (it was the one that was being worked on right before Mikami took over).
    • Early in the development stages the game’s setting was Japan, not Europe.

January 12 – 2016 – That Dragon, Cancer – Windows, Mac, Ouya

  • That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical and crowd-funded game created with a small team and based on the experience of the couple Ryan Green and Amy Green, who lost their son Joel Evan Green to cancer.
    • The game consists of fourteen interactive sequences that chronicle their time with Joel, incorporating their thoughts and experiences, and voiced by themselves and their other children.
    • It represents a love letter to their son and a way to immortalize him.
    • Joel was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor when he was twelve months old, leading to terminal cancer, but he went on to live for four more years until he passed away in 2014.
  • Each scene shows a different moment of their time together with Joel, both the highs and the lows.
    • Scenes are often abstract or involve metaphorical interpretations of situations and are played from a first-person or a third-person perspective with small amounts of interaction and exploration.
    • Sometimes there are choices for the player or optional parts that can be explored or examined.
    • There are scenes at the pond, playing with a duck, in the playground, the hospital and so on.
    • Scenes show both the positive moments such as Joel playing or the conversations with the other children, but also the couple when they argue, the moment of the first diagnosis, the conflict between science and faith and so on.
    • A part of the crowd-funded contributions also involves messages and art incorporated in the game.
  • Along with the game, a documentary called Thank You for Playing was filmed, documenting the game’s development and the last years of Joel’s life.
    • It was released in 2016. The game was released on what would have been Joel’s seventh birthday.

January 13 – 2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel – Xbox, PS2

  • Setting:
    • In a post-apocalyptic future, a society known as the Brotherhood of Steel is born, wielding powerful weapons and armor from the time before the war, they seek to bring some form of order to the wastelands of what used to be the United States.
    • As a new member(s) to the Brotherhood, you’ll soon find yourself separated from your comrades and forced to contend with a variety of missions and challenges alone.
    • Radscorpions, Super-Mutants and Deathclaws are all in the Brotherhood’s way, and bringing an end to their tyranny will certainly make the wasteland a safer place.
  • Brotherhood of Steel is an action game set in the Fallout universe.
    • The Brotherhood members are well armed and carry full clips of ammo (which does run out).
    • New weapons of various nature can be found and equipped to bring new tactics.
    • Shooting down enemies earns experience points and these points are used to improve the attributes of various individual skills.
    • Additionally, your character will have to contend with finding keys and other objects, protecting NPCs and jumping over bottomless pits.
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel features a product placement for the real life Bawls energy drink.
    • This may be jarring to fans of the Fallout series, who are used to having Nuka-Cola as the post-apocalyptic drink of choice.
  • Fan response to this game was so overwhelmingly negative that Interplay actually shut down the official Brotherhood of Steel message board.
    • It is so hated by the Fallout fanbase, the game’s section on the No Mutants Allowed forums (one of the biggest Fallout forum) is called: “Fallout: Piece of Shit (PS2, XBOX, My Lower Intestine)”.

January 14 – 1999 – EA pulls Tiger Woods 99 on Playstation for bootlegging South Park

  • Company recalls PSX version of Tiger Woods 99.
  • A bootleg episode of Southpark was found on the CD in normally unused space.
  • The file was only readable via a PC, and was invisible to the PSX console.
  • Recall was issued since Southpark is offensive to some people.
  • Roughly 100,000 copies were affected.

January 15 – 2002 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – PS2

  • Based on the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
    • Ride with the bad guys as you battle Earth Federation forces for independence.
    • Take control of three mobile suit teams. Use strategy tactics to infiltrate federation bases.
    • Use a wide variety of Mobile suits equipped to kill.
    • Strategically set your route to carry out mission objectives successfully

Tidbits

  • Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S21 series of phones with edge-to-edge display, 120hz refresh rate, and 8K video recording
    • The Ultra model also brings a larger display and S Pen functionality for people that miss the Note series
    • Unfortunately it looks like not even Samsung staff are that into their hardware, with tweets promoting the release being marked from “Twitter for iPhone”
  • WhatsApp is now in a rush to reassure people that some of their data is still safe after changing its terms and privacy policy to include significant data sharing with Facebook
    • Backlash from those changes saw Signal and Telegram hitting the top of the free app charts on iPhone as people found other options for messaging
    • They went out of their way to list the things they don’t share like private messages, call logs, and your location, but doesn’t mention what they do share like device usage, IP address, and unspecified “other information”
  • Apple announced a set of new major projects this week as part of its $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of colour
    • This includes an innovation and learning hub both in Atlanta and online, an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and venture capital funding for entrepreneur POC’s
  • Roku has purchased Quibi’s old content library of about 75 shows and documentaries for well under $100M according to the Wall Street Journal, giving them exclusive rights through to the end of the year and shared streaming rights through 2027
    • Roku will be offering the content for free with ads, which likely means that a lot more people will see these shows now than would have otherwise

 

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Free games

– Epic Games

    – Close to the Sun

        – 2019
        – First-person horror adventure similar to Bioshock that puts you in the role of Rose Archer, trying to save her sister Ada in an alternate 1897 that has Tesla and Edison fighting for technological dominance around the world

    – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

        – 2014
        – Adventure mystery game in the same series as The Devil’s Daughter, that has you exploring crime scenes and examining clues to link deductions and attempt to find the culprit in six different mysteries

Update to last week’s PSA- Apple has released iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates that fix the issue with FaceTiming older devices, so if you’re using FaceTime to keep in touch with people still using systems that don’t support the latest software you’ll want to prioritize updating

Continuing their past security and privacy shenanigans, Zoom is really cementing why they shouldn’t be used if you can avoid it
– Their latest mistakes include “accidentally” routing calls through China, which is the last place on earth you’d want your poorly encrypted video chats routed through, and exposing thousands of videos online because the file names are easily accessible
    – The Washington Post found that, because Zoom names every video recording with the same format, a simple online search can reveal a long stream of videos that anyone can download and watch.
    – Reporters found things like one-on-one therapy sessions, training orientation for healthcare that included private names and phone numbers, meetings including financial information, and elementary school classes in which children’s faces and personal details were exposed
– Zoom has really been playing fast and loose with security and privacy, and it’s time that we let them know that’s not okay

Researchers are now calling on people to wear cloth masks when leaving their homes for essential reasons

– One big thing to note is that they’re not saying physical interaction is okay if you wear a mask, but that if you have to go out anyway a cloth mask has a chance to improve risks of transmission
– Using cloth masks will free up stock of medical-grade equipment for those who need it on the frontline of healthcare (seriously, if you have any paper or N95 masks please donate them to a hospital. Medical professionals need them more than you do), and professors at Yale say that even if cloth masks reduce transmission by 10% (and that’s likely a very conservative number) each one could have a value of $3000-$6000 due to their impact in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
    – Best estimates say that their protective value is even closer to 40-50%
– You can find plenty of cloth masks online nowadays, and if you’re feeling crafty the CDC has released guidelines on how to make your own with a few different methods suggested for all skill levels, from sewing a fancy one to cutting one out of a t-shirt to just folding a bandana around a coffee filter- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
– The biggest thing though is to make sure you’re practising good hand hygiene, washing them frequently, and not touching your face.
    – Be conscious of your mask and hands, because you may end up wanting to touch your face more to adjust and position your mask while wearing it
    – Make sure you have one that fits comfortably, don’t touch it, and if you do make sure to immediately wash your hands
    – Also note that once you’ve worn your mask it’s contaminated- don’t just throw it in your pocket for later use. Make sure to wash it frequently and be aware that it can contaminate whatever it comes into contact with before you do so

Sony has unveiled their new DualSense controllers for the upcoming PS5, and they’re very pretty

– It looks like they’ve taken cues from the Xbox One and Switch Pro controllers in making things a little more rounded and smooth, continuing the evolution of the classic Playstation controller mold that the PS4 revamped
– They’ve also added haptic feedback for more meaningful vibration, similar to Nintendo’s Joy-cons, and adaptive triggers so that they can dynamically change the resistance of the pull depending on context (like drawing a bowstring)
– The controller also has a built-in microphone array for quick conversations so you don’t need a headset
– All in all this seems like a great improvement of the DualShock 4, and I’m really looking forward to using one

In a move with some great timing, Google’s Stadia is now free for anyone with a Gmail address

– And the cherry on top is that Stadia Pro, including access to nine games, is free for the next two months
    – Destiny 2: The Collection
    – Grid
    – Gylt
    – SteamWorld Dig 2
    – SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
    – Serious Sam Collection
    – Spitlings
    – Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
    – and Thumper
– You’ll be able to play games on a computer, Chrome tablet, Pixel phone, and other supported Android devices including the Chromecast Ultra
    – You can also play with any supported USB or Bluetooth controller, or your mouse and keyboard
– After the two month free trial you’ll be charged $9.99/month, but you can cancel your subscription online if you choose

Tidbits

– Apple has purchased the popular weather app Dark Sky this week, announcing that while there will be no changes to the app itself they will be ending Android support this July. They’ll also be shutting down the API at the end of 2021, affecting other popular apps like Carrot Weather that use them as a data source
– Users of the digital wallet app Key Ring will want to update as soon as possible due to a large security breach
    – Security researchers have found that the app accidentally exposed personal info for over 44M users due to misconfigured cloud servers
        – The potentially compromised data includes names, birthdates, emails, addresses, and loyalty card info
    – Key Ring hasn’t made a public statement so we don’t know how long the data’s been out there, so anyone using it will want to update the security settings for anything linked to it and perhaps rethink continuing to use it at all
– Apple’s had a tough time with AirPod replacements, with many individual AirPods being shipped to customers with an unreleased firmware preventing them from being used
    – In order to have both AirPods synced to your phone at once they need to have matching firmware. The problem here is that they can’t be downgraded to the current version, and the newer firmware hasn’t been released to the public, so users are having to work back and forth with Apple trying to get AirPods that will actually work together with varying amounts of success
    – The hardest part is that this all has to occur through the mail, since Apple Stores are now slated to be closed until at least May

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