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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Updates
  • Huawei has also introduced a folding tablet, but this one has the screen on the outside
    • On the plus side, that means they don’t need to bother with a second tiny screen like Samsung
    • On the downside, that means that when it’s closed there’s no way to put it down that can’t scratch the plastic screen
    • Also, this one costs about $2600 USD
 
Free games
  • Sony PS4
    • The Witness
      • 2016
      • First person puzzle exploration game, a la Myst, developed by the creator of Braid
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
      • 2016 remaster of the 2007 FPS
      • Classic first person military shooter with a somewhat dated story, but it’s the multiplayer that I feel really kicked off the multiplayer military shooter craze
      • In addition to the old game types they’ve also added modes like one called Prop Hunt, where players have to hide as inanimate objects from the opposing team
    • It looks like Sony isn’t increasing the number of PS4 games they’re handing out to make up for the PS3 and Vita titles they’re no longer offering
  • Microsoft
    • XBone
      • Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion
        • 2018
        • In this open world turn-based RPG, the Land of Ooo has been flooded and you have to find out what happened while saving all your favourite characters from the TV show
      • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
        • 2016
        • Third person class-based shooter based on the old Plants vs Zombies tower defence mobile game
    • 360
      • Metal Gear Rising Revengance
        • 2013
        • Action hack and slash title from Platinum Games with the usual batshit Kojima plot and a Blade Mode mechanic that lets you slice up pretty much anything in slow motion
        • Still on of my favourite titles we played back when we did Let’s Play videos
    • Original
      • Star Wars: Republic Commando
        • 2005
        • Tactical FPS set in the Star Wars universe during the Clone Wars, where you play as the leader of a squad of clone commandos completing missions for the Republic
        • I’ve heard good things about this one, but the closest I’ve come is reading the excellent Karen Traviss series of the same name
    • And just a reminder that all Games with Gold are playable on the XBone via backward compatibility
  • No Twitch games so far this month, but BONUS ROUND
    • FFXIV – R4WU GJYD 886Z LPW4 SSN3
 
Nintendo released a Pokemon Direct this week, introducing Pokemon Sword and Shield coming to the Switch later this year
  • Looks like the games have a full 3D setting in a new region called Galar, described as a more modern world with factories, trains, and steelworks in addition to idyllic countryside and contemporary cities
    • It looks like the new region may be based on the UK, with many features on the map appearing to match landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye.
    • Even some of the characters’ clothing looks fairly British
  • And some good news for fans of previous generations- they showed that older Pokemon like Pikachu, Tyranitar, and Munchlax will all be making appearances along with the new gen
  • The newest trio of starters are grass-type Grookey, fire-type Scorbunny, and water-type Sobble
 
Facebook is launching a platform to compete with Patreon that’s worse in every conceivable way (which should be more of a challenge, considering some of the stuff that Patreon’s pulled in the past)
  • The most obvious problem is that compared to Patreon’s 5% cut of supporter dollars, Facebook wants up to 30%
  • They also reserve the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators
  • And they demand a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use creator content, and “this license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions”
    • So they have rights to use your content. And give it away. And sell it. Anywhere in the world. Without paying you a dime. Forever.
  • This is straight-up abusive, and the worst part is Facebook knows it- they’ve run trials, and when creators asked questions or pointed out problems in the terms their invites were revoked and they were summarily banned from the platform
 
Microsoft workers are calling on the company to cancel their new contract with the US military
  • The $479M contract would see HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, used by the army in what workers are calling a corruption of designers’ and engineers’ earlier work and an affront to those opposed to designing weapons for war
    • HoloLens was announced in 2015, but just this last November Microsoft reached an agreement to develop an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” based on the tech
    • The technology is explicitly meant to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”
  • While Microsoft has offered to accommodate employees opposed to developing tech for the military by moving them to other projects or teams, employees say that ignores the problem that they’re not properly informed of the uses of their work
    • A letter to Microsoft noted that “many engineers contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed” on the assumption that it would be applied to fields like architecture, surgery, and space exploration, not helping people kill
    • Instead they argue that they’re now implicated as war profiteers
  • A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian, didn’t respond to the criticisms but said the company “always appreciated feedback from employees”
 
THQ Nordic held an AMA this week on a website created because 4chan was too strict
  • For some reason they decided to host the Q&A session on 8chan- the website involved in incidents regarding child pornography, swatting, GamerGate, and more
    • 8chan is a spinoff of 4chan, a site already notorious for racist, sexist, and inflammatory rhetoric, created out of a belief that 4chan was too limiting
  • Many thought that someone had hacked THQ Nordic’s social media, but were shocked when the session actually started and had two higher-level staff answering questions on that internet hellscape
    • PR and marketing director Philipp Brock responded to things like asking them not to appeal to the “SocJUs crowd” with “thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”, and when one person asked “where the big tiddie lolis at?” with a picture of a many groping two girls, he replied “you got them already we’d say”
  • While this seems like a massive hacker stunt, with no way that a company would actually do this kind of thing, Vice contacted THQ Nordic and received this reply from Philipp Brock
    • “I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” he said in a statement. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”
  • And while they’re backpedaling and looking for excuses, it’s not like 8chan is ever sneaky about what it’s doing. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
    • That, combined with the responses posted and the fact that their Twitter account is liking tweets supporting the AMA after the fact, makes the apology even weaker than it already is
 
Josh found a PC childhood favorite made for modern operating systems
  • I’ll just read the about us section from their site
    • OpenRA is a project that recreates and modernizes the classic Command & Conquer real time strategy games. We have developed a flexible open source game engine (the OpenRA engine) that provides a common platform for rebuilding and reimagining classic 2D and 2.5D RTS games (the OpenRA mods).
    • This means that OpenRA is not restricted by the technical limitations of the original closed-source games: it includes native support for modern operating systems and screen resolutions (including Windows 10, Mac OS X, and most Linux distros) without relying on emulation or binary hacks, and features integrated online multiplayer.
    • While we love the classic RTS gameplay, multiplayer game design has evolved significantly since the early 1990’s. The OpenRA mods include new features and gameplay improvements that bring them into the modern era:
      • A choice between “right click” and classic “left click” control schemes
      • Overhauled sidebar interfaces for managing production
      • Support for game replays and an observer interface designed for streaming games online
      • The “fog of war” that obscures the battlefield outside your units’ line of sight
      • Civilian structures that can be captured for strategic advantage
      • Units gain experience as they fight and improve when they earn new ranks
    • OpenRA is 100% free, and comes bundled with three distinct mods. When you run a mod for the first time the game can automatically download the original game assets, or you can use the original game disks.
  • They have Tibetan Dawn the original Command and Conquer, Red Alert the alternate history to WWII, and Dune 2000, possibly my favourite out of these 3.
 
 
1TB mini SD cards coming
  • At Mobile World Congress 
    • UHS-I microSDXC
    • For me and others UHS stands for Ultra High Speed and the 1 denotes its interface speed. Where 1 is 104 MB/s
  • SanDisk
    • 1 Tb available April
      • $449.99 USD
    • 512 GB of the same line
      • $199.99 USD
 
 
 
 
Harley Quinn
  • Life-Size Figure by DC Collectibles
    • $5,200
      • $668.57/mo payment plan
  • DC Collectibles has created the ultimate Harley Quinn collectible- a full sized, 1:1 ratio statue of the Cupid of Crime herself.  This stylish life-size statue is packed with larger-than-life personality, featuring Gotham’s very own Maid of Mischief decked out in her iconic red, black, and white costume.
 
 
Tidbits
  • If you’ve been saving your Scene points, you might want to redeem them soon- Cineplex is updating their rewards structure and raising the points cost of tickets as of April 17th
    • It’ll still take 10 movies to earn enough points for a free ticket, but that’s just because you’ll also be earning them more quickly as well. They’re being de-valued across the board
  • The popular disease simulation game Plague Inc is adding anti-vaxxers after receiving a player petition with over 21,000 signatures
    • The petition simply reads “Anti-vaxxers are stupid”
    • They’ll be joining the array of potential health risks in the game including science deniers, xenophobes, and reality TV induced apathy
  • In a somewhat controversial move, annual eSports fighting event Evo is replacing their usual Smash Bros Melee event with Smash Ultimate
    • From a casual player’s perspective it seems like an easy choice, but as always there are some vocal opinions against it online
  • According to EA’s Twitter, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 13th
    • I’m looking forward to a Star Wars game that isn’t cancelled for once
 
Alan Recommends Russian Doll
  • Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She’s trapped in a surreal time loop — and staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
  • More like a video game than Groundhog Day
  • If you like complicated characters gorgeously performed in a richly realized setting shot through with dark veins & drum-tight storytelling, then this is for you

Bad Description of Movies and Games

Gangs fight for control of the city with graffiti, problem is they appear to be kids. (Game)

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