This is our second last episode of the year before we take our traditional December vacation, but we’ll be running feed drops through to the end of the year of some other great episodes from the Alberta Podcast Network. Hope you enjoy them, have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in January!

Free Games

  • Xbox

    • The Raven Remastered

      • 2018 remaster from 2014
      • Episodic point and click adventure game incorporating elements of stealth and detective work, it’s a noir mystery story that has you playing a bumbling Swiss police constable on the hunt of a notorious jewel thief
    • Bleed 2

      • 2017
      • Side-scrolling arcade action platformer featuring air-dodging, bullet-reflecting, and tons of bosses, like a 2D Bayonetta bullet-hell
    • Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

      • 2015
      • Action-adventure open world game that serves as an epilogue to Saints Row IV and is a standalone expansion, featuring the same kind of over-the-top third-person shooter action and superhuman abilities that Saints Row became known for in later entries
    • Stacking

      • 2011
      • Adventure puzzle game developed by Double Fine Productions, created during the development period of Brütal Legend, and based on the Russian stacking matryoshka dolls where you can stack and unstack into other characters to use their abilities and solve puzzles
  • PlayStation

    • Worms Rumble

      • 2020
      • A twist on the classic Worms blueprint, where instead of turn-by-turn strategic combat it’s real-time with up to 32 players in battle royale or deathmatch modes
      • Launching simultaneously on the PS4, PS5, and Steam with full crossplay and planned ongoing content updates including arenas, customizations, game modes, and more
    • Just Cause 4

      • 2018
      • Open world action adventure game where you work to take down The Black Hand, the world’s biggest private military, with your wingsuit, grappling hook, rocket boosters, and a variety of weaponry. The game uses a new version of the game engine of Just Cause 3, featuring diverse and extreme weather including blizzards, sandstorms, tornadoes, and more
    • Rocket Arena

      • 2020
      • Online third-person 3v3 shooter where each character has unique abilities and signature rockets, and when you get blasted out of the arena you fly your rocket right back in to the action. Polygon called it a blend of Quake-style combat with Smash Bros violence
    • Bugsnax (still free this month, too)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
    • And if you’re lucky enough to get a PS5, you’ll get access to the PS Plus Collection

      • 20 great games from the PS4 era that can help you catch up if you missed out
  • Epic Games

    • MudRunner

      • 2017
      • Off-road driving sim that advertises itself as the ultimate off-road experience, putting players in the driver seat across extreme Siberian landscapes with only a map and compass as guides

Security alert: Go SMS Pro, a popular Android messaging app, exposed millions of users’ private photos and files

  • Security researchers found a flaw in the app back in August and contacted the developer with a 90-day deadline for a fix before they disclosed the issue, but after no communication back at all for the three month period they went public
  • Apparently when Go SMS Pro sends a photo, video, or other file to someone without the app, it gets uploaded to the app’s servers and lets the user share a web address, so that the recipient can see the file
  • Unfortunately the web addresses are sequential- any time a file is shared, a web address is generated that lets people browse through all the different files uploaded by other users
    • Once you know the predictable web address, you can just edit the number and view anyone else’s files
  • And this problem is pretty widespread- Go SMS Pro has more than 100M installs, according to the Google Play Store
  • TechCrunch even verified the findings, viewing a person’s phone number, a bank transfer, an order confirmation, an arrest record, and many explicit photos
  • While it’s not possible to target a specific user, an attacker could create scripts to just grab anything and everything to filter through at a later date
  • In investigating the story TechCrunch emailed two different addresses associated with the app- one bounced back due to a full inbox, and the other opened the email but did not reply
  • This definitely isn’t what you want in a messaging app, so if you’re using Go SMS Pro you might want to consider an alternative

Updates have officially been released for Spider-Man on the PS4 and PS5 to allow game-saves to be brought in to the next-gen remaster

  • You’ll need to load up your PS4 copy first and upload your save from the main menu before you can import it on the PS5, so if you don’t have access to your old copy you might need to recruit a friend to help out
  • Luckily even though I already gave away my PS4 I could still boot up my old digital copy of Spider-Man to upload my save, ahead of buying Miles Morales

6 Years ago, the Apple subreddit thought of what a Phone in 2020 would be like

  • We browsed the comments for highlights live on the show

This Day In Gaming History

November 21 – 2014 – The Amazing Frog? – Linux, Mac, Ouya

  • Amazing Frog? is a Hardcore Parkour openworld buffet of bonkers physics sandbox gameplay.
    • Welcome to the town of Swindon, UK. Home to flatulant super hero, Amazing Frog?
  • Enter Swindon where you can drive cars, buses and mobility scooters, jump on trampolines, fire yourself out of cannons, into explosions, search for trophies and Tvs and reach the heights and a whole lot more.
    • Its your Swindon do as you please.
  • Take a quiet trip to the Swindon fArt Gallery if it pleases you….
    • Feeling aggressive ? find a crossbow, machine gun or laser and shoot the hell out of each other.
    • Visit the Fart Gyms for a workout or discover the Zombie filled underground Sewers.
  • Key Features:
    • a 20Km Landscape
    • A whole bunch of vehicles
    • 4 player split screen
    • Oculus VR support.
    • Pigging backs… and pigs
    • ridiculous ragdolls, trampolines, cannons and explosions
    • Weapons like crossbows lasers and machine-guns
    • Vicious Sharks
    • Swimmming ish and Boats in the ocean
    • Fully fitted Fart Gym
    • Underground Zombie Frogs in the Sewers
    • A Giant chessboard
    • A bunch of test rooms
    • and a whole lot of mystery…

November 22 – 1996 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Windows, DOS

  • What if Hitler never existed?
    • Einstein pondered the question and created a time-machine to eliminate Hitler as a young man, thus preventing World War II as history remembers it. However, Einstein stopped one evil only to create another – because Stalin’s Soviet Union is now poised to conquer Europe… and Allies must stop them!
  • Josh says
    • “This was one game I played a hell of a lot of, I remember making custom maps for my Dad to try out in the skirmish mode.”
  • The German version removes Hitler from the intro and replaces all the soldiers with cyborgs.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 23 – 1998 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – N64

  • A game that needs no introduction, I have some trivia to talk about
    • Ocarina of Time started life in development for Nintendo’s 64DD add-on for the Nintendo 64 (which was a disk drive that was only released in Japan with little fanfare).
      • The 64DD flopped in Japan and it wasn’t even released in the USA.
      • As a result, instead of being released in disks, the game was crammed into a cartridge (which was the biggest N64 pre-Expansion Pak cartridge released, in terms of space).
      • Even though it was originally developed and planned for the 64DD, it was announced to much surprise that Zelda would release in cartridge form for the N64 first; further indicating that the disk drive platform was not gaining the traction Nintendo had hoped for.
    • Due to overwhelming fan requests, Nintendo decided to release the original production releases of the game as a gold-colored cartridge, restoring the ‘golden cartridge’ lineage that had previously been broken by the SNES version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Game Boy.
    • There are at least three different versions of the game: 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2. The golden (limited edition) carts, as well as some gray carts, are all 1.0.
      • The majority of the ordinary gray carts are 1.1, and many of the later produced ones are 1.2.
      • The only notable change between 1.0 and 1.1 is that the Fire Temple music was changed a little bit.
        • It had a chant from an Islamic prayer looped in the background which offended some members of the Islamic community.
      • 1.1 also fixed some bugs, the most famous of them being the sword-losing bug.
        • In 1.0, if the player saves the game in the end battle after losing the Master Sword, and restart the game, they don’t have the sword anymore, but they can use all items while riding Epona.
        • Also the final boss originally had red blood which was changed to green in a later version.
    • Link has always been left-handed, but it is particularly noticeable starting with this game. In the original title, this wasn’t always noticeable due to sprite-flipping techniques.
      • The reason for Link’s left-handedness is that his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, is also left-handed.
  • The N64 version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 24 – 1992 – Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – Genesis

  • Widely regarded as the best classic Sonic games
    • 10 Zones, most with 2 acts, you can play alone or with a friend
    • Tail was introduced and made playable, the player can also select what combination of Sonic and Tails to play.
      • Unfortunately, I though it would be cute to have a big brother mode where the player is Tails being followed by Sonic.
  • When Sonic collects all seven Chaos Emeralds and transforms from a blue rodent into a fiery yellow powerhouse with insane speed.
    • It may be a parody of Dragon Ball, the insanely popular flagship work of manga artist Akira Toriyama.
    • The hero Goku is able to eventually transform into a “Super Saiyan”, a form in which he gains immense power along with spiky golden hair.
    • The first Super Sayin appearance was in Dragon Ball 318, Also known as DBZ 124, which was released in Shonen Jump, March 26, 1991.
  • The Mega Drive version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

November 25 – 2000 – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Dreamcast

  • This is a compilation of the arcade titles: JoJo’s Venture and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
    • This game adapts Part 4 of the series, Stardust Crusaders.
    • The game is a one-on-one fighter, similar in gameplay to most of Capcom’s other fighting games.
    • In this game, however, you can call upon your Stand to access an entirely different set of normal attacks and gain additional defense and offensive bonuses.
    • Your Stand’s power is not infinite, however – if you take enough damage, it’ll break, leaving you open to a devastating counter attack.
    • Every character’s Stand has their own special powers which can be used to your advantage.
    • Jojo’s Venture has less characters than Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has a special Challenge mode that lets you unlock playable characters when you complete it with certain characters.

November 26 – 2010 – Michael Jackson: The Experience – Wii

  • Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Wii is rhythm and dance game based on concepts previously introduced in Ubisoft’s Just Dance series.
    • Unlike most dance games, Michael Jackson: The Experience does not require the Wii Balance Board or other peripherals.
    • The game is played with a single Wii Remote which tracks the player as they try and perform the onscreen dance moves in-sync with the game.
    • The Wii version features a training mode with video guides, four player multiplayer, and a Career mode that spans Jackson’s career from the 80’s onward.
    • Each stage is inspired by the song’s music video and are created in 3D with live action dancers inserted.
  • This game released 17 months after the passing of Micheal Jackson

November 27 – 2017 – Desert Bus VR – Windows

  • Desert Bus is back and better than ever!
    • The 1998 Penn and Teller cult hit mini-game is coming to virtual reality, so you can fully immerse yourself in the thrilling eight-hour trip from Arizona to Nevada.
    • It’s almost like you’re driving the “wheel” thing!
    • Desert Bus VR can also be played in standard digital reality if you don’t own a VR headset.
  • Features
    • Put the Pedal to the Metal
      • Show everyone who rules the road as you take the wheel of a commercial passenger bus. With blistering speeds of up to 45mph and a prominent passenger side misalignment, only the hardest drivers can make it to Nevada and back!
    • Getting Towed Has Never Been More Fun
      • Experience the realistic consequences of driving off the road with a tow service that takes you back to the start in real time!
    • Play Non-Stop for Hours of Amusement
      • Enjoy the action-packed eight-hour road trip from Tuscon to Las Vegas. When you make it to Nevada, turn around and do it all again!
    • Fill the Crushing, Oppressive Silence
      • Tune in to a variety of engaging radio programs, including one featuring the dulcet tones of Penn Jillette himself. You can even turn the radio on and off!
    • Get the Authentic Bus Driving Experience
      • Learn what it’s like to be a REAL bus driver with exciting gameplay that allows you to honk the horn and open the bus door! Tap the fully-interactive air freshener for some hardcore, pine-scented* action!
      • *Purchase of air freshener required for full effect.
    • Join Your Friends on This Road Trip
      • Play with up to four friends in Desert Bus VR’s groundbreaking new multiplayer mode. Passengers can sit, wave, and even throw wads of paper at the driver!
  • Desert Bus VR was made in-part to support Desert Bus for Hope, a volunteer organization that holds the eponymous annual event to raise money for game industry charity Child’s Play.
    • Participants play Desert Bus in a telethon-style stream, with others pledging donations in exchange for incentives that can include everything from prizes to increasing the length of the Desert Bus play time.
  • Desert Bus VR does not appear in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

Tidbits

  • If you’re a Chrome user moving to one of Apple’s new M1 Macs, you’ll want to get rid of your old copy and manually download the right version
    • In a weird move they’re offering two different downloads- one that just works on Intel Macs, and another that works on both Intel and Apple processors
    • The universal installer is a larger download, but with it running much faster on the M1 chip you’ll want to make sure you grab the correct one
  • Super Mario Maker 1 will officially be removed from the Nintendo eShop on January 12, 2021, and course uploads will be disabled as of March 31st
    • Owners will be able to re-download the title after removal, and previously uploaded courses can still be played
  • If you need a little bit of email catharsis, check out hey.science/dumpster-fire where you can send an email to a literal physical dumpster fire
    • Emails to dumpsterfire@hey.com will be printed off and carried into the flames via conveyor belt on a Twitch stream running 9am to 8pm Central

 

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PS2J 291 News – Boring School Stuff Folder

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • GoNNER

      • 2016
      • A roguelike game often described as a shooter version of Spelunky- a procedurally generated 2D platformer that has you journeying in deep and dark places for a trinket to cheer up a giant landbound whale named Sally
    • Offworld Trading Company

      • 2016
      • A sci-fi RTS from the publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire that has you waging economic warfare on Mars, using anything from corporate takeovers to sabotage
  • Twitch

    • Bomber Crew

      • 2017
      • Strategic simulation game that has you picking the right crew to keep your Avro Lancaster bomber in tip top shape and complete your World War II era missions
    • Whispers of a Machine

      • 2019
      • A point and click sci-fi nordic noir that tells the story of a cybernetically augmented detective investigating a string of murders in a post-AI world
    • Mugsters

      • 2018
      • A physics-based sandbox puzzle game that has you outrunning, outmanoeuvring, and outsmarting the aliens that have taken over Earth and enslaved humanity
    • Furi

      • 2016
      • A twin-stick hack and slash shoot ’em up bullet hell consisting entirely of boss fights. The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
    • Epistory – Typing Chronicles

      • 2016
      • An atmospheric action-adventure typing game following a girl riding a giant fox fighting insectile corruption in an origami world

With the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in full swing, Google has cancelled their annual I/O developer conference and many are speculating that Apple may at the very least modify their own WWDC this spring

  • Other events like this year’s Game Developer’s Conference and Mobile World Congress events were previously postponed or cancelled due to concerns about the virus
  • With supply chains in China certainly being affected, it might just make sense to delay the product announcements as well and keep the developer portions of the presentations limited to online sessions
    • It’s gotten to the point where Apple Stores have been warned that replacement devices will be facing supply constraints for the next 2-4 weeks, so be warned if your phone needs a repair you might be caught with a loaner device in the meantime
  • Apple’s even sent care packages, called CareKits, to staff they have currently stranded overseas, that include things like coffee, tea, cookies, facemasks, and an iPad
  • If you’re interested in helping fight COVID-19, you can donate your unused computer resources by downloading the Folding@home client. That will add your computer to a pool that lets researchers farm out processing tasks to see how the virus attaches itself to human lungs, which they need to understand if they’re going to stop it
    • Similar efforts have contributed to research on diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
    • Check out the full details at foldingathome.org
  • There’s also a similar piece of software available called Foldit, but instead of just using your extra processing power it’s actually a puzzle game that has you changing a protein’s shape to block how the virus infects people. According to PCGamer, Foldit helped researchers decode the AIDS virus back in 2011
    • If you want to take a crack at it, with no medical degree required, you can go to fold.it and give it a go

What do US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Best Buy, Walmart, the RCMP, and a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Well according to Buzzfeed News they, along with thousands of other organizations, have been using a controversial facial recognition startup that’s facing legal threats and violating App Store regulations left and right

  • Clearview AI is apparently on a quest to create a global biometric identification system by scraping social media and the internet at large, and it’s for sale to anyone who wants it
    • They have paid contracts with organizations like ICE, US Attorney’s offices, and Macy’s, and have users at the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Interpol, and the NBA
  • The New York based startup has claimed it’s tech is meant as a tool for North American law enforcement, but it’s been used by more than 2,200 government agencies and companies across 27 countries
    • So we have this product featuring a treasure trove of identifying information on a ton of people, accessible to anyone that can pay, oh and also they’ve been breached at least once so presumably a few people that haven’t paid as well
  • The hardest part here is that the US just doesn’t have any laws or regulatory framework for this kind of biometric tracking- there’s literally no accountability for their ability to gather up this information and sell it, leading to government agencies running literally thousands searches and most likely acting on the information received
    • We could have ICE agents walking into a supermarket, scanning people, and immediately deporting them without due process or investigation
    • And this is all based on the tech of a company that can’t even keep their client list confidential
    • It’s one thing to have a database of internally gathered mugshots, or even shared between agencies, but when you outsource it to a third party whose interests are purely monetary and scrapes the internet at large for information it gets really scary
  • All in all there’s a complete lack of transparency here- Clearview is providing free trials to anyone who wants them, even officers in police departments that have explicitly banned the app, and provided its software to private and public institutions all over the world
  • This stuff is so shady that they didn’t even want their iOS app distributed through Apple’s App Store- they abused the developer program, similar to Facebook’s Research app that paid users to spy on their information early last year, so that users could sideload the app without it being reviewed by Apple
    • In a response to Buzzfeed’s inquiry Apple investigated and suspended their developer account, effectively preventing the app from running

Overwatch Competitive Play Hero Rotation

  • To make competetive Overwatch more dynamic, Blizzard has implemented a Hero Rotation
  • First banned characters are
    • Orisa
    • Hanzo
    • Mei
    • Baptiste

Cool looking game: Nocturne

  • For free on Steam, try Nocturne: Prelude
  • The game caught my eye with a bright colour pallette
    • Cool high quality pixel graphics
    • and rhythm based combat
  • Here is the copy thy have on their Steam page:
    • Rich Narrative
      • The digital afterlife survived humanity’s extinction.
    • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of a story-driven RPG set within a digital afterlife. Millennia have passed since humanity’s extinction; but somehow you’ve only just arrived.
    • Your conscience was uploaded to a world where a sentient AI has taken control, twisted creatures roam the land, and a vast corruption spreads.
    • Rhythm Combat
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat with fierce battles and unexpected challenges. With multiple difficulty options, Nocturne: Prelude is a game suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Find equipment to unlock powerful combat buffs or special abilities. Defeat enemies to unlock them in Arcade mode, where you can challenge them again for highscores.
    • Classic RPG
    • Make friends, battle enemies, and traverse a beautiful world as it falls apart around you. The perfect balance of heart-pumping musical combat, magnificent worldbuilding and deep story.
    • Nocturne: Prelude was inspired by decades of traditional RPG’s that immerse you in fantasy worlds.
    • FEATURES
    • Meet a cast of unique characters who’ll challenge what it means to be alive.
    • Explore a vast and beautiful pixel art world.
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat system.
    • Fierce battles with unexpected twists.
    • Challenge your highscores in Arcade mode.
    • Multiple difficulty modes suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Original soundtrack composed with a mix of digital and live performances.
    • Befriend a giant orange fish.
  • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of Nocturne, released for free. The main story contains about 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Tidbits

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s demo of officially available now, ahead of its April 10th release
    • I specify ‘officially’ available, because there was already a sizeable leak at the end of last year, with many getting their hands on the full playable demo at the time
  • Apple has agreed to pay up to $500M to settle the class action lawsuit over throttling the performance of older phones
    • The whole issue came about when iOS 11 hit, when it had an undocumented feature that managed the battery life of older phones to prevent unexpected shutdowns- benchmarks took a hit, but the devices stayed reliable
    • The problem was that they didn’t give any feedback or options for this feature until iOS 13 came out late last year, so while they’re not admitting any wrongdoing they’re still willing to pay each affected user $25 if the settlement is approved
      • As MrMcLargeHuge said in the arstechnica comments section, “They were correct from a technical standpoint, but wrong from a PR standpoint.”
  • The director of MI5, Britain’s Security Service has called on tech companies to find a way to allow spy agencies “exceptional access” to encrypted messages, and that he finds it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies aren’t able to easily read secret messages of suspects they’re monitoring
    • While he refers to cyberspace as an unregulated “Wild West” that is largely inaccessible to authorities, it kind of seems like they’ve gotten lazy with how easy it’s been to spy on users up to this point. Now that we’re putting locks on our messages they want a copy of the keys

 

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