Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Academy: First Riddle

      • 2020
      • Adventure puzzle game along the lines of the Professor Layton series, with modernized Harry Potter style aesthetics
  • Epic Games

    • Sunless Sea

      • 2015
      • Survival / exploration RPG with roguelike elements that has you piloting an underwater steamship as a captain whose background, ambitions, and victory conditions are customizable, but you have to contend with procedurally generated maps and permadeath
  • Bonus round: Sony’s announced the return of their Play At Home program, kicking off four months of Playstation offers on March 1st

    • First introduced last April when they gave away Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey to everyone, not just PS+ members
    • This time around we’ll see Ratchet and Clank (PS4) for free during the month of March
      • 2016
      • Reimagining of the original PS2 game, a third person science fiction action adventure shooter with a lot of weird, over the top weapons, solid writing, and great gameplay
    • And then on March 25th they’ll be offering an extended free trial of the Funimation and Wakanim anime streaming services
    • Those are just the first couple of perks, so we’ll make sure to give you updates as we see them

Australia’s working on a law that would require any site linking to a news publication to pay for the privilege

  • Going pretty hard against the principles of the open internet, from what I understand the proposed law would require sites like Google and Facebook to pay news sites for the ability to host links to them
    • Keep in mind, this is just linking. Google’s AMP pages and other ways of getting around ad revenue aside, vanilla links are the backbone of the internet
  • The most bonkers part of this law is that news sites could create their own Facebook pages, link to their news sites, and then charge Facebook for the link
  • I can’t imagine this law getting passed in its current form, but Google has already started making deals to pay for the links and though Facebook initially fought back (yay Facebook, is a phrase I never thought I’d say), they walked their position back and started quietly making deals too

There’s a proposed class action lawsuit in play alleging that Google lied about Stadia’s capabilities in order to lock in subscribers

  • The suit claims that, when it was first announced in 2019 Google, Bungie, and id Software misled gamers by claiming that the cloud-based gaming service was more powerful than the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro combined, and that every game on Stadia would be playable at 4k resolutions
  • Directly prior to launch Google apparently quietly walked back those claims, particularly for people with slower internet connections
    • Apparently there was even a Twitter announcement about Red Dead Redemption 2 specifying that users didn’t need high speed internet for 4k/60fps, which was later deleted
    • The suit says that because of the earlier inflated specs Google was able to lock in a large customer base through preorders for its subscription service, essentially hooking gamers into being beta testers before the later free release in 2020
  • The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for current and former Stadia subscribers, as well as a court order requiring Google to publicly display the resolution and FPS of each game they sell on Stadia

Sony’s announced some details on their next-generation VR headset, and it sounds pretty slick

  • They’ll be bringing features from their excellent DualSense controller to the new motion controllers
  • It will apparently connect to the PS5 using a single cord
  • They say it will have an enhanced field of view, tracking, input, and resolution
  • But it won’t be out any time this year
  • My thoughts
    • Haptic triggers would be really cool in VR, and better tracking would be a godsend for the platform after they used the old PS3 technology in the first gen, but the freedom of wireless VR is a hard perk to give up. They’re going to have to work hard to make it worthwhile

Everyone hoping for Anthem to join the ranks of No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV and rise from its ashes can now stop holding their breath- it’s officially cancelled

  • Bioware released a statement this week letting everyone know that they’ve stopped development work on Anthem NEXT, citing the additional pressures of 2020 impacting their productivity and preventing them from doing everything they had planned
    • Honestly though, it just seems like they bit off more than they could chew and they’re cutting their losses on Anthem. It had a ton of potential, but I’m sure their other titles are just a higher priority based on the amount of money they can pull in.
  • Anthem’s current live service is still up and running, but the improvements that have been teased won’t be released to the general public while the developers focus instead on the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles

This Week In Gaming History

February 20 – 2003 – Train Tracking – Windows

  • Train Tracking is a game about one of Britain’s more bizarre past-times, Trainspotting.
    • You start the game with only an overhead view of the station and a list of serial numbers.
    • The point of the game is to check them off as the matching train passes through.
    • For each Day (Day is the name for a level in this game, there’s totally 29) you play the number of serials and tracks to view increase.
    • There is a time limit for this and if you fail three times it’s game over.
  • There’s over 2500 random train stations, with five settings (Country, Town and City Stations, Industrial Depots and Express Bonus Rounds) meaning that each round will different from the other.
    • The game has the typical British weather condition of rain, snow and lightning.

February 21 – 2017 – Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One, Windows

  • Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game based on the Halo universe and it is the sequel to the 2009 Halo Wars.
    • Players use Spartans, Warthogs and other classic Halo units in order to battle the enemy.
    • A single-player campaign and online multiplayer battles are available.
    • The campaign consists of twelve missions and can also be played cooperatively.
    • Typical mission objectives include surviving waves of enemies, defending structuring and capturing specific targets.
    • There are also various side objectives.
    • Many missions involve leading Spartan supersoldier units as well.
  • The game once again relies on two factions and is now set in the year 2559.
    • On the one hand there is the human faction United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and on the other a new alien faction called the Banished, replacing the Covenant from the first game.
    • Both factions have leader units with special abilities tied to a cooldown period.
    • These abilities can mass heal or do a lot of damage in a short time.
    • In multiplayer there are multiple game modes for up to six players online or bots.

February 22 – 1996 – Johnny Bazookatone – PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 3DO, DOS

  • The original guitar hero with the Elvis attitude and purple hair pompadour, Johnny Bazookatone, has been imprisoned in the year 2050 in Sin Sin Prison by El Diablo, the Lord of the Underworld, who is jealous of his talent and kidnaps other musical legends as well in this 3D side-scrolling platformer.
    • Johnny’s guitar Anita has been taken from him and he sets out to escape and vanquish foes on his way to be reunited with Anita.
  • He can perform moves such as 360-degree spin jumps, and hover jumps among others, while using his bazooka guitar as a weapon.
    • When powered up, it can emit a special sonic blast that fries anything within hearing range.
    • As you make your way through the demonic levels such as Hotel Demonique, Hell’s Kitchen, and Mr. Diablo’s fiery Penthouse, you can acquire more weapons, power-ups and find secret passages that lead to bonus levels.
    • The game’s soundtrack includes the title track contributed by Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and Tico Torres.

February 23 – 1995 – Mario’s Game Gallery – DOS, Macintosh, Windows

  • The game is a collection of board games, in which you play with Mario.
    • The Mario, of Super Mario fame.
    • He talks to you, playing Checkers, Go Fish, Dominoes, Backgammon, Yacht.
    • Most of games can be played for Yoshis or Koopas – tribes of animals.

February 24 – 2015 – Dragon Ball: Xenoverse – PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE revisits famous battles from the series through your custom Avatar, who fights alongside Trunks and many other characters.
    • Will the strength of this partnership be enough to intervene in fights and restore the Dragon Ball timeline we know?
    • New features include the mysterious Toki Toki City, new gameplay mechanics, new character animations and many other amazing features to be unveiled soon!

February 25 – 2002 – Circus Maximus – PS2, Xbox

  • Circus Maximus is a racing game that takes place in ancient Rome, and as such you’ll be racing chariots around various tracks, including the famed Colliseum.
  • You’ll be in control of both the driver and your partner, the warrior, whose job is to attack the other racers to make them fall over.
  • Chariots are controlled by whipping horses and trying to balance an on-screen meter that keeps your chariot balanced while taking turns fast.
  • There are four different race modes available; Training, which gives you the basics on how to play, Arcade, which is your standard race, Multiplayer, which lets you face off against three friends (or foes), and Career, which tracks your progress over a period of time.
  • There are seven different environments and 19 tracks, all set throughout the Roman Empire.
  • Each course is littered with obstacles, power ups, weapons, and special moves, designed to give you an edge in combat.

February 26 – 2008 – Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Winston Churchill was struck by a taxicab in 1931.
    • What if he had died and without his leadership, Britain fell to the Nazis along with the rest of Europe?
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is an alternate-history first-person shooter in which the player takes the role of a New York construction worker named Dan Carson in 1953, when the German Reich invades and occupies the American East Coast.
    • He joins the National Guard troops trying to put up a defensive perimeter around subway and railway systems so civilians can escape.
  • Many advanced WWII weapons appear, including some that were under research, and some that never appeared.
    • There are super-heavy tanks such as the Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus and Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte, and also the Nachteule troop-transport zeppelin, the Flugzeugträger aircraft-carrier zeppelin, as well as various advanced jet fighters and bombers, all used by the German invasion force.
    • Multiplayer is available in standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes on 4 maps, with Nazi soldiers versus the American Resistance to a maximum of 8 players.

Tidbits

  • No Man’s Sky: Companions is yet another free update for the game, bringing us the ability to adopt, train, and breed creatures, on top of improvements to the UI and load times
  • Google’s finally started updating their iOS apps, updating the App Store listings with the new required privacy information
    • There aren’t any real surprises, but when you see in writing that your email client is gathering information about your purchases and location I can see people starting to look for alternatives
  • CD Projekt Red has officially delayed the release of the anticipated patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077, after the cyber attack we reported on a couple weeks ago wreaked havoc on their infrastructure
    • The patch, set to include numerous fixes and quality improvements, is now being aimed at the second half of March

Mini-review

  • If you’re not watching WandaVision already, you should be
    • Starring Scarlet Witch and Vision from the MCU
  • Completely unexpected but the pilot was charming and the plot got its hooks into me early
  • If you like the MCU at all you need to be watching

 

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PS2J 325 News – Shadow of Servers

Security PSA: Update your Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software

  • There have been a bunch of new security threats patched recently, open up Reader or Acrobat and go to Help > Check Updates to make sure you have the latest version

Free games

  • PlayStation

    • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (free 4K Cinematic Pack is also available)

      • 2017
      • Assassin’s Creed-style action RPG set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that has you continuing the story from Shadow of Mordor to forge a new ring of power and amass an army to fight Sauron, including an improved nemesis system that has you gathering followers and making lasting enemies
      • It initially had microtransactions and lootboxes, but they were removed about a year later.
      • There’s also a free 4k cinematic pack, and the DLC season pass is 80% off until the 21st
    • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

      • 2017 Metroidvania with some influences from the Soulsborne games, where you traverse an ancient plague-infested kingdom, fighting bosses and unlocking new abilities. It’s got great atmosphere and tight controls, and deaths aren’t overly punishing
      • Voidheart Edition is the 2018 port of the game to PS4 and Xbox One, including the four DLC packs
    • Bugsnax (PS5)

      • 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
  • Xbox

    • Aragami: Shadow Edition

      • 2016
      • Action adventure stealth game with solid reviews where you take the role of Aragami, an assassin with supernatural abilities like teleporting between shadows
      • Shadow Edition includes the prequel Nightfall DLC
    • Maid of Sker

      • 2020
      • First person survival horror based on Welsh and British folklore, where it’s 1898 and you’ve been invited by your lover to uncover the mysteries of the Sker Hotel after she notices her family’s strange behaviour
    • Swimsanity

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shooter with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play
    • Lego Indiana Jones

      • 2008
      • Lego-themed action adventure game that loosely follows the first three Indiana Jones films with the same kind of tweaks, humour, and classic drop in/out co-op play that characterizes Lego games
    • Full Spectrum Warrior

      • 2004
      • Squad-based real-time military tactics game where you’re commanding two fireteams to cover eachother and complete objectives
      • It was initially developed to be a simulator for the United States military in an experiment to leverage the original Xbox for training simulations, and then was retrofitted into a retail release with improved graphics and sound
  • Twitch

    • A Knight’s Quest

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game that puts you in the role of Rusty, a clumsy adventurer who accidentally sets about the end of the world. Solve mind-bending puzzles, fight challenging enemies, defeat huge bosses and platform your way through a fantastic open world.
    • Smoke and Sacrifice

      • 2018
      • Open-world narrative-driven RPG with hand-painted graphics that has you playing a mother forced to give up her son, adventuring into a grotesque underworld on a quest that will lead her to a darker truth
    • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and is based on African mythology, it has you playing a prince betrayed by your future brother-in-law and forging alliances to bring him down, with real-time brawler-style combat that has an emphasis on making combos to defeat enemies
    • Victor Vran Overkill Edition

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC release
      • Action RPG resembling a Gothic-fantasy fairy tale where both magic and science have a place in the world, and it’s up to you to help the city of Zagoravia fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin
    • Lethis – Path of Progress

      • 2015
      • Old school 2D city builder set in a Victorian Steampunk universe called Lethis, that has you building and managing cities to provide resources for the inhabitants and make your citizens happy
    • Extreme Exorcism

      • 2015
      • “A paranormal platformer where every move you make comes back to haunt you”
      • 2D pixel platformer that has you jumping around and taking down ghosts with a deadly arsenal from rocket launchers to boomerangs, but at the end of each round a ghost appears and mimics your every move from the round before. The longer you survive the more extreme the game becomes
  • Epic Games

    • Dungeons 3

      • 2017
      • A combination dungeon builder and RTS, you’re tasked with creating an underground dungeon for creatures to live in as well as defending it against invading heroes from the world above. You can also send units out of the dungeon and take over areas of the world map, RTS style

Epic slApple fight

  • Plans are in place to get Fortnite back on iOS and iPadOS using Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service
    • Apparently Nvidia has developed a version of GeForce Now that works in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices, likely similar to what Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming services are aiming to use
  • Though there’s been no official announcement of the Safari launch, if this is true then GeForce Now will be the one and only way to play Fortnite on iPhones and iPads
    • I’d be curious to see what the details of this deal are, if Nvidia is getting the 30% cut now or if they’re just happy with the subscription cost for the service

Apple’s released a bunch of software this week

  • iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 are here with new emoji, wallpapers, bug fixes, and more
    • There’s a fantastic new accessibility feature included specifically for people with impaired vision, and it sounds like an amazing idea
      • The feature is called People Detection, in your accessibility settings under the Magnifier, and it uses augmented reality and machine learning to detect where people and objects are around you
      • Particularly well-suited for the LiDAR sensor in the 12 Pro, it can help blind or low vision users understand their surroundings better, such as knowing how many people are in line at a grocery store or where the end of a subway platform is
        • It can even tell you if you’re within six feet of another person
      • Users can set up a minimum distance for alerts, and receive feedback though vibrations or through their AirPods
        • People Detection is fully compatible with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen-reader tech
      • This seems really useful on the iPhone, but with rumours continuing to mount of eventual AR glasses from Apple this could be a gamechanger for people with vision problems
    • Intercom is here, letting you send and receive messages between HomePods
    • HomePods can now be connected to the Apple TV 4K for wireless surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio
    • Built-in Shazam music recognition can be launched from the Control Center
  • WatchOS 7.1 is out now, with improvements and fixes like notifications if your headphone volume could permanently affect your hearing, and a fix for issues some people were having with their watch not unlocking their Max as expected
    • They’ve also added ECG support for the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • macOS 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is available for download, improving the security of your Mac

Cloud gaming on the Nintendo Switch has come west with two new games for the device

  • Previously the Switch saw games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Resident Evil 7, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playable through the cloud, but only in Japan
    • They were using the Taiwan-based Ubitus GameCloud service so they could run the technically demanding titles on the portable hardware of the Switch
  • Now they’re releasing Control and Hitman 3 on the service as well, this time including the rest of the world in the fun
    • The games need a <100MB install on the Switch, then they stream gameplay to and from the cloud using checkpoint saves in case you lose connectivity
    • Control Ultimate Edition – Cloud Version is out now and includes the base game and the first two expansions, The Foundation and AWE. It also includes the Expeditions end game mode, photo mode, and all of the additional updates since the release of the original.
      • According to early reports, thanks to the cloud infrastructure it can get up to 30fps with ray tracing and 60fps without
    • Hitman 3 – Cloud Version is the conclusion of the World of Assassination Trilogy. The game is expected to be released on Windows PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive in January 2021. No launch date for the Switch version was offered. Expect the final product to include plenty of sandbox locations to explore, and creative ways to bring down your assassination targets.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be losing online features, and thus the access to come achievements, on December 31st

  • The 2014 title will be losing:
    • The Nemesis Forge, which means players won’t be able to transfer their nemeses from Shadow of Mordor to Shadow of War
    • Vendetta missions and leaderboard
    • And WBPay will no longer be available, but the epic runs “Orc Hunter” and “Gravewalker” will automatically be given to all players
  • Those vendetta missions being removed means that there will be some achievements that it’s no longer possible to get, so if you want to 100% Shadow of Mordor you have till the end of the year

Apple has launched a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which had many users hearing static or crackling noises as well as problems with Active Noise Cancellation

  • I experienced this myself multiple times in a row, with replacements thankfully being smooth and relatively painless through the mail
    • The biggest issue I saw was when I had the AirPods in my ears and then anything somewhat loud happened, either me clearing my throat or listening to loud audio
  • The issue may affect AirPods manufactured before October 2020 (so, basically all of them), so if you’re having issues it’s definitely worth reaching out to Apple Support and having them replaced

This Day In Gaming History

October 31 – 1997 – Diddy Kong Racing – N64

  • It’s an island takeover when the evil space wizard, Wizpig, discovers Tiger Island!
    • After the islands prized racetracks become sealed up, Timber Tiger contacts his friend Diddy Kong to help him reclaim the racetracks and save the island before his parents return.
    • Along for the ride are the Kremling spy Krunch, Bumper Badger, Banjo (prior to meeting Kazooie in Banjo-Kazooie), pre-sweary Conker, Tiptup Turtle, and Pipsy Mouse.
  • Diddy Kong Racing is a racing game with similarities to Mario Kart 64, in that you race with a variety of cheery racers while using weapons.
    • However, the similarities end there.
    • DKR includes an adventure mode, which features bosses, an overworld to explore, many hidden secrets, the addition of hovercrafts and planes, and a unique way of racing called the “Silver Coin Challenge”. In this mode, in addition to coming first, you must also find the eight Silver Coins deviously hidden throughout the courses (some in alternate paths).
  • The game also features a strategic method of using weapons.
    • Each colored balloon on the track matches a specific weapon, and collecting the same type of balloon multiple times in a row powers it up (to a maximum of three times).
    • This gives the player the choice of snatching every balloon available and using it immediately, or storing the existing weapon, and using a more powerful version of it later.
  • Up to four players can compete in the races, but in order to play new tracks, they must first be unlocked in the single player game.
    • There are also four battle modes of play – two standard deathmatch maps, a capture-the-flag style battle where you must nab eggs and hatch three of them in your home nest, and another where you must be the first to return ten bananas to your treasure chest (with the limitation of only being able to hold two at any one time).

November 1 – 1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES

  • King K. Rool has stolen Donkey Kong’s banana stash, and Donkey Kong needs your help to get them back.
    • In search of K. Rool, the Kremling horde impedes your progress. Kremlings, crocodile-like creatures, include Kritters (they succumb to a simple jump on the head), Krushas (they are virtually indestructible), and others.
    • There are also other enemies that block your path, such as beavers, snakes, vultures.
    • Leading them are dastardly bosses, including Very Gnawty, Necky, Queen B., and Dumb Drum, and they all bar the way with their own special blend of villainy.
  • Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong: these two primates differ significantly.
    • For example, Donkey Kong is generally stronger; he can destroy most enemies with a single jump and can lift barrels straight over his head to throw them farther.
    • On the other hand, Diddy is faster and not as strong as Donkey; he can run really fast and do cartwheels. Diddy carries barrels in front of him, creating a shield against frontal attacks.
  • The original Super Nintendo game was later released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
    • The Game Boy Color version has an exclusive level (Necky Nutmare) and additional bonus games, Funky’s Fishing and five Crosshair Cranky minigames.
    • There was also the addition of collectible DK sticker packs scattered throughout the levels.
    • These sticker packs could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer.
    • The game also has two more difficulty options that become available after beating the game.
    • Beating the game once lets the player turn off DK barrels and beating the game a second time will let the player turn off checkpoint barrels.
  • The Game Boy Advance version also had additional bonus games.
    • It to has a version of Funky’s Fishing but instead of the crosshair themed games, there is now Candy’s Dance Studio, which hosts six dance games.
    • There is also the additions of a time attack mode called DK Attack, a harder difficulty mode called Hero Mode (can only play as Diddy Kong and the game no longer offers Donkey Kong barrels and checkpoints throughout the levels), and the sticker book idea from the Gameboy Color version was replaced with collecting scrapbook pictures instead.

November 2 – 2001 – Burnout – PS2, Later on Xbox

  • Burnout is an arcade style racing game in the mold of the Test Drive or Need For Speed series.
    • In this game, you are racing on realistic streets with real traffic to contend with.
  • There are 6 courses on which to race, 3 of which are reminiscent of Europe, and 3 from the USA.
    • There are several vehicles to choose from, ranging from compact cars to pickups.
    • However, they are not based on real makes and models.
  • One notable feature of Burnout is the “Burn Meter.”
    • The Burn Meter is a gauge that is filled by performing reckless stunts, like racing into oncoming traffic or power-drifting through corners.
    • Once the Burn Meter is filled, your car gets a super speed boost.
    • If you crash, the Burn Meter is reset and must be filled again to achieve a boost.

November 3 – 2006 – Nacho Libre – Nintendo DS

  • Based on the upcoming feature film starring Jack Black, Nacho Libre offers fans comedic wrestling mayhem–exaggerated moves, wacky props and lots of pratfalls delivered with a unique photo puppetry look.
    • Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him “Nacho”), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage, who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans.
  • Six play modes:
    • Story Mode (single player, tied to the movie plot)
    • Vs. Mode, Team Mode (2 vs. 2)
    • Battle Jam (2-4 player wireless brawls)
    • Quick Match
    • Championship Match (multiplayer only)
  • Wrestle in four different arenas from the movie
    • Play as 20 different luchadors based on characters from the movie.
    • Each has his/her own wrestling moves and special attacks.
    • Take on your opponents with headlocks, grapples, holds and pin moves or create combos for devastating, and comical, results
    • Use the Touch Screen to play eight themed mini games including Nachoball, Footrace, Bee Swat, Bullrun, Cliff Climber, Chariot Jump and more
    • Unique “photo puppetry” art style lends the game a distinctive, humorous look
    • Includes recreated cut scenes from the movie in between the action
    • Unlock bonus material after playing through Story Mode

November 4 – 2010 – Kinect – Xbox 360

  • The origins of the Kinect started around 2005, at a point where technology vendors were starting to develop depth-sensing cameras.
    • Microsoft had been interested in a 3D camera for the Xbox line earlier but because the technology had not been refined, had placed it in the “Boneyard”, a collection of possible technology they could not immediately work on.
  • In 2005, PrimeSense was founded by tech-savvy mathematicians and engineers from Israel to develop the “next big thing” for video games, incorporating cameras that were capable of mapping a human body in front of them and sensing hand motions.
    • They showed off their system at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, the general manager of hardware incubation, saw the potential in PrimeSense’s technology for the Xbox system.
    • Microsoft began discussions with PrimeSense about improvements in the capabilities of depth-sensing cameras, a reduction in size and cost, and a means to manufacturer the units at scale was required.
  • Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, where motion control was the focus.
    • Microsoft felt pressure from the Wii, and began looking into depth-sensing in more detail with PrimeSense’s hardware, but at that time, could not get to the level of motion tracking they desired.
    • Microsoft also looked to create an equivalent of the Wii Remote, but it was discarded as it was still ultimately Microsoft’s goal to remove any device between the player and the Xbox.
  • Nearing the planned release, the problem of widespread testing of Kinect in various room types and different bodies accounting for age, gender, and race among other factors, while keeping the details of the unit confidential. Microsoft engaged in a company-wide program offering employees to take home Kinect units to test them.
    • Microsoft also brought other non-gaming divisions, including its Microsoft Research, Microsoft Windows, and Bing teams to help complete the system.
    • Microsoft established its own large-scale manufacturing facility to bulk product Kinect units and test them.
  • Somewhat recent Kinect news!
    • On May 7, 2018, Microsoft announced a new iteration of Kinect technology designed primarily for enterprise software and artificial intelligence usage.
    • It is designed around the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and is meant to “leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations”.
    • It has a smaller form factor than the Xbox iterations of Kinect, and features a 12-megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth sensor also used on the HoloLens 2, and seven microphones.
    • A development kit was announced in February 2019.

November 5 – 1998 – Hey You, Pikachu! – N64

  • Hey You, Pikachu! is a Pokémon adventure game.
    • The game allows you to speak directly to Pikachu via the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) included with the game, in order to tell Pikachu what to do and help direct the adventures the two of you embark on.
  • The game features 20 different minigames which you and Pikachu play together.
    • Some involve you catching water Pokémon, while another might send you search for ingredients for stew.
    • When the minigame is over, you go back home and sleep, waking up the next day to play another game.
    • As the game progresses more of the features and minigames are unlocked, and Pikachu’s friendship meter will grow.
  • Pikachu will understand around 200 different words or simple phrases like “come here”, “stop that”, and “eat it”. Voice communication is the primary method of interacting with the game, though the analog stick is used for navigation.

November 6 – 2012 – Halo 4 – XBox 360

  • The game sets the stage for a new story in which Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient awakened evil that threatens all life in the universe.
    • The main campaign also heavily explores the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana.
    • Cortana is nearing the end of her life, before devolving into a state called Rampancy in which an AI begins to think itself to death.
    • The campaign features both first-person shooter and driving elements, and can be played either single player or co-cooperatively (either over Xbox Live or split-screen).
    • It features new weapons and an entirely new class of enemy characters called Prometheans.
  • And for some PS2J History
    • We did our first Live episode on Alan’s phone
    • I made the link ps2jshow.com/halo4 for anyone interested in some of our podcasting history

Tidbits

  • Development on Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to an end, with its last patch releasing sometime this month
    • The dedicated multiplayer servers will be shut down, but online play will continue with peer-to-peer hosting
  • The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo is now up on the Switch eShop, and it looks pretty cool
    • It includes the first chapter of the game, and progress will carry over to the full release on November 20th
    • Without getting in to spoilers, they may be settings things up so that the story doesn’t end how we’re all expecting after seeing Breath of the Wild
  • There’s yet another Apple Event going on this year, scheduled for November 10th
    • Titled “One more thing”, there aren’t many clues about its focus but people are expecting AirTags (Apple’s new lost item tracking devices) and new computers with Apple’s fancy custom processors
    • We may also see more information on macOS 11, Big Sur
  • The new Apple One subscription bundles went live this week, offering a few different plans to save money if you subscribe to services like Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage
  • Apple’s also spinning up their new “nutritional labels” for apps, giving people a breakdown on each app’s product page for what data types they may collect, what data may be used to track you, and what data isn’t linked to you at all
  • 2K Games and EA are under fire for misleading info when it comes to NBA2K card packs
    • Apparently one of the players, James Harden, was completely missing from the gatcha packs that he was supposed to be included in for the first 23 minutes of release, and enough whales were trying to get him right away that thousands of dollars were wasted
  • The source code for Watch Dogs Legion has already leaked, leading the way for mods and cracks ahead of its November 10th release
  • Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the case that Apple’s ad tracking blocks will damage economic recovery from COVID-19
    • He specifically pointed the out mandatory notification when an app or website wants to track users, saying that letting people know they can opt out will hurt “small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond”, though I’m guessing this is just a redirect for how hard Facebook itself will be hit by the changes

iPhone 12 Pro mini review

  • The Pacific Blue is very pretty, and makes me want to use my phone without a case
    • The frosted glass back feels very nice, but I worry about drops and scratches
  • The extra RAM (6GB instead of 4GB) is actually noticeable when resuming games
  • The overall performance has been great too, and according to PhoneBuff tests have it out performing the Samsung Note 20 Ultra (that actually has double the RAM)
  • The camera is a huge upgrade over the X, especially night mode
    • It automatically runs long exposures if needed, and if the gyroscope detects it’s attached to a tripod it offers even longer options
  • The extra size isn’t really noticeable
  • Magsafe is slick for chargers, especially if you already use a lot of wireless charging, but from what I’ve seen online accessories like the leather wallet don’t really seem to stick in day-to-day use

Dead by Daylight mini mini review

  • Asynchronous 1v4 slasher game
  • Bit of a cash grab with its DLC, but on GamePass it’s a lot of fun
  • Wraith is my boy!

 

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Free games

  • Epic games

    • Bad North: Jotunn Edition

      • 2018
      • A real-time roguelite strategy game where you must defend the kingdom from the Viking invaders who killed the king, and guide the procedurally generated island’s people to evacuate

Motorola’s bringing their Razr back, and as an Apple user I’m kinda envious

  • The resurrected Razr is what I’ve been dreaming of for over a decade- a modern smart flip-phone
  • At its core it’s an Android phone with a 6.2″ screen that folds down like the flip-phones of old, and the media they’ve released so far is gorgeous
  • Apparently they’ve got a special hinge that allows the display to expand into a round curve instead of folding into a crease, allowing the full display to stay completely smooth while it’s open
  • On the downside it looks like there have been some compromises to get us there- the processor is a bit slower than what you’ll find on most flagship phones nowadays, but you get a lot of RAM and 128GB of storage.
    • It also only runs Android 9 at the moment, instead of the current version 10
  • The front of the phone also has a smaller 2.7″ OLED for notifications, music controls, selfies, and such
  • The device is expected to launch sometime this January for $1500 USD, which is pretty steep for a smartphone though damn economical for the folding devices we’ve seen thusfar
  • It’s also launching in the States as a Verizon exclusive, with no unlocked version available at release, so the potential user-base is cut down a fair bit
  • Still, it’s another step forward with tech that I’d love to see Apple’s take on
  • If it catches your fancy, preorders open on December 26th

A weird bug hit households this week with the release of Pokemon Sword and Shield causing Roku devices to crash

  • The streaming content set-top boxes and, in some cases, TV’s themselves would hit a hard shutdown if the new Pokemon games were played while connected to the same network
  • Apparently the problem was caused by the games continuously sending out wireless signals looking for other Switches playing the games, which Roku attempts to interpret. When it couldn’t process the info the software would then crash
    • From the sounds of it the problem is that Pokemon is communicating on the same port that Roku uses to share update information with other local devices
  • If you’re seeing this issue Roku released a patch yesterday that should fix the issue, so you should go to Settings, System, and Update to pull the latest version
    • Though please don’t be tempted to continue your Pokemon adventure while the device is updating, or at least put the Switch in airplane mode first

Apple has replaced the controversial 15” MacBook Pro, with its problematic butterfly keyboard and tricky to get used to Touch Bar, with a fancy 16” version that fixes pretty much everything

  • The recent versions of the MacBook Pro have had a lot of vocal people complain about the low-travel keyboard that seems to get jammed up or break fairly easily (it’s so bad that there’s a free repair program at Apple Stores) and the Touch Bar, which replaced the F and Escape keys with a touchscreen
  • Enter the new 16” Macbook Pro: it replaces the 15” pretty much dollar for dollar with a larger Retina display, while also bringing back the more familiar keyboard switches from the Magic Keyboard and a physical escape key to the left of the Touch Bar, and adding in some impressively improved speakers with an extra hour of battery life
  • It can be maxed out with a ridiculous processor, 64GB of RAM, an 8TB SSD, and an 8GB AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card

Stanford Medicine has published further results from the Apple Heart Study that kicked off in 2017, confirming that the Apple Watch accurately notify users of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) 84% of the time

  • It also showed that it detected some problems in early stages of development that didn’t happen frequently enough for medical ECG patches to detect, specifically in younger participants
  • Two of the coolest parts of this is that a) since the study started before Apple Watches came equipped with ECG technology this just relied on the basic heart rate monitor, and b) it was all done completely remotely through an iPhone app

In accordance with new App Store guidlines, Apple has removed 181 vape-related apps and is outright banning them from its platform

  • This change seems to have been brought on by CDC reports that vaping as resulted in at least 2,172 cases of respiratory illness/injury, though many of these cases may have been related to the inclusion of vitamin E acetate in the oils used in some third-party or black market cartridges
  • One manufacturer, PAX, who relies heavily on their app to add features and change settings on their devices, is now calling on Apple to rethink its decision, saying that the ban prevents consumers from having access to important info and the ability to better control their cannabis experience
    • Apparently though the temperature can be set using the device alone, the app includes information on branded vape pods including strain information and access to state-regulated test results

Disney+ is taking fire for not providing the first 20 seasons of Simpsons in their original 4:3 “fullscreen” format until 2020

  • All the episodes currently on the service are only shown in their “remastered” state, with colours tweaked and the top and bottom of the screen chopped off
  • In some cases this might not make a big difference, but many of the 429 affected episodes including visual gags that are just gone, like when Homer takes a tour of the Duff factory and it shows Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff Dry all coming out of the same pipe
  • On the plus side, they’re finally fixing it- weeks after the launch of Disney+, they finally released a statement saying that the episodes will be made available in their original format sometime in early 2020

And lastly some great news for people looking at the Xbox Accessibility Controller- Logitech is now selling their Adaptive Gaming Kit with special buttons to take advantage of the flexibility of the controller

  • Retailing for $100 USD, It includes 12 individual buttons
    • 3 2.6” and 3 1.4” buttons with mechanical switches, four “light touch” buttons that require low force to operate, and two variable triggers similar to modern controllers
      • The kit also includes full-colour sticker labels for the buttons in all the sizes, so that you can get a full controller experience with the different customized options
      • The triggers are a big win, since pressure-sensitive controls are apparently rare when it comes to this kind of accessibility
    • It also includes two velcro-style boards you can mount them all on in different configurations, whatever is most comfortable to you

Tidbits

  • Just in case you thought capitalism wasn’t completely broken, Amazon is apparently paying $0 in taxes in the US for 2018 after reporting more than $11.2B in profits
  • Heliogen, a clean energy company backed by Bill Gates, has apparently found a way to use AI and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that they generate heats over 1000 degrees C
    • This means that, for the first time, solar energy can be used for high-energy industrial applications like manufacturing cement, steel, and glass
  • Continuing the constant update train, Apple’s released iOS and iPadOS 13.2.3 this week, including fixes for Mail, Files, and Notes search, viewing attachments in Messages, and downloading new emails and content from Exchange accounts
  • Good news for Origin launcher users, your account wasn’t (probably) hacked this week
    • Many people online received an email saying they’ve redeemed an Origin Access membership code, even if they haven’t, but apparently that was just EA’s way of gifting a month of Origin Access Basic to users opted in to its two-factor authentication
  • Half-Life is back! (kind of)
    • Valve went to Twitter this week to announce Half-Life: Alyx, their flagship VR game, that’ll be unveiled later this week.
    • So far it looks like this is a prequel set between Half-Lifes 1 and 2, further confirming Valve can’t count to three
    • We’ll have all the details in our next episode once they’ve been released

Alan recommends Evolution – Learning Creatures

  • More of a simulation than game, conceptually it kind of strikes me like Kerbal Space Program
  • Use joints, bones, and muscles to build any kind of 2D creature you can imagine
  • Machine learning and neural network fuel adaptation to different scenarios
  • You can even look at the source code and see how the actions are being determine

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Reddit User – WyngZero
A goat teaches the progeny of incest to kill things effectively
Hecules

This Week:

Reddit User – red_4
An ex-con makes it big.

 

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And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
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And talk to us in the comments!