PS2J 322 News – Anarchy! Only If I Run It

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Kona

      • 2017
      • Adventure game set in the 1970 centred around a private investigator who arrives at a snowy town in northern Quebec only to find it deserted, except for some thing that’s lurking
    • Deadlight: Director’s Cut (previously free in October 2019)

      • 2016 rerelease of the 2012 title
      • Side-scrolling cinematic platforming survival horror game that has you attempting to traverse a zombie-infested Seattle to rejoin your family
  • Epic Games

    • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

      • 2016
      • Survival horror game originally meant to be a mod of The Dark Descent, it instead became an indirect sequel set in the same universe with a new cast and in a new time. It has you exploring eerie locations and solving puzzles while trying to maintain a grip on your own sanity
      • Amnesia: Rebirth is out on October 20th
    • Kingdom: New Lands (previously free in June 2019)

      • 2016
      • 2D pixel survival game that has you playing as a shipwrecked monarch trying to establish a long-lasting kingdom while being attacked by otherworldly monsters
  • Sega

    • As part of their 60th anniversary they’re giving away NiGHTS into Dreams if you sign up for their newsletter on sega60th.com
      • 1996
      • Action game that has you flying through a fever-dream acid trip to stop the evil ruler Wizeman from destroying the dream world and consequently the real world too
      • The development team conducted research on dreaming and REM sleep, and was influenced by Freud and Jung
      • The HD remaster is playable on Steam, and even includes the original Sega Saturn version

Apple: Hi Speed

  • HomePod Mini
    • Little ball with a flat touch surface on top
    • Lots of fancy tech to support better audio in a smaller package
      • It’ll also automatically keep in sync with other HomePods and play stereo audio if two are in the same room
    • Siri has voice recognition to personalize responses according to who’s asking
    • New Intercom features let you send messages to HomePods in other rooms
    • $99 USD, preorder on November 6 and ships on November 16
  • iPhone
    • 5G is here, for what that’s worth with the infrastructure not fully rolled out
      • We also get Smart Data Mode, so if you don’t need the 5G speed it saves battery by switching back to 4G
      • Unfortunately mmWave 5G, the tech that they were really talking up with Verizon on stage, isn’t available outside of the US so we just get sub-6GHz 5G (a boost over the old 4G LTE and with better range than mmWave, but not as fast)
    • iPhone 12
      • Design is similar to the iPhone 5, or the iPad Pro, with flat edges and curved corners
      • Same screen size as the iPhone 11, but still 15% smaller and 11% thinner
      • Screens are made of a new ceramic shield material to improve toughness (4x better drop performance)
      • Blazing new A14 Bionic processor that enables console-quality games
        • Showed off League of Legends: Wild Rift quickly, which could become the next Fortnite if Epic doesn’t get their situation sorted
      • Better camera lenses, and improved computational photography
      • MagSafe is back (kind of)
        • Similar to the Apple Watch, the iPhone now has a magnet array in its back to automatically line up with supported wireless chargers and cases
      • They’re now no longer including wired headphones or power adaptors with new iPhones, ostensibly to reduce waste and minimize packaging
        • Apparently the changes cut the equivalent of 450,000 cars worth of carbon emissions annually
        • Unfortunately the phones are coming with Lightning to USBC cables, whereas most people probably have a ton of USBA bricks laying around
        • On the plus side, the wall adapters and EarPods both went down by about $10 each
    • iPhone 12 Mini
      • Smaller and lighter than the iPhone 8, but with a bigger screen and all the same features as the full-sized 12
      • Reportedly the smallest, thinnest, lightest 5G phone in the world
      • Mini starts at $699USD $979CAD, 12 starts at $799USD $1129CAD
      • One big asterisk on those prices, in the United States at least, is that those prices are if you buy the phone through AT&T or Verizon. Any other carrier, or an unlocked phone direct from Apple, costs $30 more
    • iPhone 12 Pro
      • Stainless steel edge instead of aluminum
      • 6.1” Pro, 6.7” Pro Max (slightly bigger screen than the 11 Pro Max)
      • Even better cameras than the 12, with an additional telephoto lens
      • They’ve combined RAW photo formats with their special sauce to make Apple ProRAW, which can be edited directly in Photos and other pro tools
      • First phone camera to record in Dolby Vision HDR
      • LiDAR
        • 3D sensing tech we’ve seen in the iPad Pro, which adds a lot of features for computational photography and augmented reality
        • And it improves the focus and light quality in low-light conditions
      • Pro starts at $999USD, $1399CAD with 128GB, Max starts at $1099USD, $1549CAD
    • 12 and Pro preorder on October 16, shipping October 23
    • Mini and Max preorder on November 6, shipping November 13
  • Unfortunately there was no mention at all of putting TouchID in the power button, which would have been a killer feature right now

Epic slApple fight

  • A federal judge in the United States has officially ruled that Apple can continue to block Fortnite from its app store as they fight Epic’s antitrust lawsuit
  • Judge Gonzalez also ruled that Apple must not punish Unreal Engine or Epic’s affiliates though, so the fight remains focused on Fortnite and Epic’s decision to bypass Apple’s App Store payment system
  • The suit is expected to go to trial in May 2021

The United States Department of Justice has officially issued a statement asking tech companies for back door access to encrypted systems

  • Ringing the gong of “exploited children”, multiple governments are now demanding that tech companies “embed the safety of the public in system designs”
    • Translation: add even more surveillance of all your users and give us access
  • In effect, the group is asking for access to encrypted data via some form of backdoor meant just for law enforcement, while still keeping it secure to prevent access by hackers and other online criminals.
  • It boils down to the same fight that’s been happening for years- technology has given people a locked box that the government can’t access and some people have used that box to do bad things, so they want to take that box and drill a hole in the side labelled “Hackers keep out plz”
  • That would be adding a hell of a weak link to the kind of chains people use not just to message their loved ones, but also do their banking and keep their homes secure

Spotify, while they bang the freedom drum and crusade against Apple for allegedly tyrannical practices, has decided to threaten third party services built to transfer playlists between streaming services

  • SongShift is a slick little utility you can use to move your playlists and library between Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more, but Spotify has decided that unless they remove the ability to transfer out of Spotify they’ll be completely blocked from the service
    • Transferring in to Spotify is, shockingly, unaffected

With the release of the Quest 2 VR headset, more reports are coming in of seemingly random Facebook bans bricking devices

  • The worst instance I’ve read about was a reddit user creating a brand new Facebook account after never using the service before
    • They then merged it with their 4 year old Oculus account
    • 10 minutes later, they were banned
    • After sending in their drivers license, which is an absurd requirement for any gaming service, the ban was updated to say “We have already reviewed this decision and it can’t be reversed.”
    • And just like that, all previous Oculus purchases were locked away by Facebook with little to no recourse
  • Another redditor in the comments reported that they had something similar, where they created a Facebook account for the first time to play with their new headset but didn’t add a phone number
    • 10 minutes later their account was disabled and required a phone number to verify
    • Then Facebook demanded a video of the user so they could verify that they’re a real person
  • Facebook’s invasive data requirements have really snuck up on a lot of people, but when you have to send your passport to a social network in order to play games you’ve already paid for it just highlights the absurdity of their data gathering

Sony’s released more specs for the upcoming PS5, and the new solid state drives look amazing

  • Load times in next-gen games will likely be all but eliminated now, with their specs showing double the data loading in about 1/8th the time
  • Footage posted from the PS5 version of Spider-Man: Miles Morales shows what used to be a loading screen between areas now just throwing you in immediately
  • And since they didn’t go the proprietary route like Microsoft, you can use any M2 drive that hits at least 5.5GB/s
    • Granted that’s not a lot at the moment, but as the market catches up they’ll get much more common and Sony will be releasing a list of specifically supported models
    • And a little extra salt for the console wars, the Xbox Series X is quoted as running at 2.4GB/s

This Week in Gaming History

October 10 – 1994 – DOOM II – DOS

  • In this sequel to the original DOOM, the protagonist is still the same hero – the last remaining space marine.
  • DOOM II looks and plays very similarly to its predecessor, utilizing the same 3D graphical engine with 2D sprites for enemies.
    • The gameplay once again consists entirely of navigating the hero from first-person view through 3D environments and shooting at the demons while attempting to find the way out by flipping switches and looking for keys.
    • Unlike in DOOM, which is divided into three episodes, the 30 levels of this game (plus the 2 secret levels) form one long episode.
  • It took 24 years for someone to find the final secret for the first 100% completion, confirmed by series creator John Romero.
    • August 31st, 2018, Romero Tweeted:
    • CONGRATS, Zero Master! Finally, after 24 years! “To win the game you must get 100% on level 15 by John Romero.” Great trick getting to that secret!
    • and a follow up Tweet:
    • Secret explained: A secret teleporter is marked as a discoverable “secret”, but when you touch it, you never enter the sector. So you would never get inside the teleporter sector to trigger the secret. The only way to trigger this secret is to be pushed by an enemy into it!

October 11 – 2004 – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – GameCube

  • A thousand years ago there was a city.
    • One day the city was buried.
    • Another city was built on top, and all that remains of the previous city is a door.
    • This is where the title “the thousand-year door” comes from. It’s not known what could be behind this door, but everyone has different theories.
  • Mario can jump, run, hammer, talk to people, etc..
    • Mario finds many partners on his quest.
    • Battles play out on a stage in front of an audience.
    • In battle, Mario must keep his fans happy by executing action commands (hitting buttons at the right time during his attacks).
    • Occasionally, in battle, the crowd will throw things at Mario.
    • The player can attack the crowd at this time.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
  • It also has rave reviews, from 4.5 to 5 out of 5.
    • From gamer’s I know of, this is the best of all the Paper Mario games.
    • Out of the 6 that have been released.

October 12 – 1999 – Jet Force Gemini – N64

  • Twins Juno and Vela, and their dog Lupus, are Jet Force Gemini, intergalactic police.
    • Their mission? Stop the evil space bug, Mizar, from his goal of galactic conquest with his seemingly-infinite army of Drones.
    • They’ll have to stop along multiple planets along the way, and assisting King Jeff and rescuing his subjects, the Tribals.
  • Jet Force Gemini is a third-person shooter which revels in making gigantic creepy bugs explode into dribbly mucousy bits.
    • The Jet Force team are given progressively more powerful weapons, from the Machine Gun, which rips through both enemies and ammo, the Plasma Shotgun, which you can charge up for some explosive fireworks, and the Tri-Rocket Launcher, which fires three rockets with every shot, sending explosive doom in the direction of your target.
    • There’s also the Fish Food, which, as the name implies, is used to feed fish.
  • Each member of the team has their own special abilities – Juno can walk through lava without any trouble, Vela can swim underwater, and Lupus can hover for short distances and travel through tight spaces.
    • These abilities are required to fully access areas that they previously couldn’t reach.
    • The team also get the help of Floyd the Droid, a hovering robot that can be controlled by player two as a floating gun with infinite ammo when he joins your team.
  • The game also includes three different multiplayer modes: Battle – featuring most options of an average First Person Shooter but with a third-person perspective, Target Shoot – a shooting gallery with a first-person view, and Racing, which includes some kart-like racing as well as old-school top down racing games.
  • I feel like this game gets forgotten a lot.
    • When people make lists of Rare Ware Titles for the N64, it rarely includes this bug stomping adventure.

October 13 – 2009 – Ju-on: The Grudge – Wii

  • When someone dies with a powerful grudge, a curse is born.
    • A series of Ju-On horror movies all by the same director have been popular since 2000 first in Japan and then remade in Hollywood first in 2004 as The Grudge.
    • This is a “haunted house simulator” adventure game where Erika Yamada comes into contact with a curse when looking for her dog in an abandoned warehouse.
    • Then when she returns home, all her family members who she meets also become cursed.
    • You play as each in first-person view encountering their own challenging episode.
  • The locations vary from a rundown factory to an empty hospital, an apartment building, a mannequin factory, and the cursed house from the movie.
    • The game is basically an interactive horror movie which tries to scare you as you explore the locations and attempt to survive against the supernatural forces.
    • The Wii remote controls the player’s flashlight and movement through the game.
    • If the player flinches at scare moments with the remote, their score goes down.
    • A person with a second remote can also trigger scary events for the main player.
    • The player must keep moving while finding keys to open doors and also find batteries to replenish the flashlight or else you will be attacked and die.

October 14 – 2014 – Duck Dynasty – PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • Because
  • Hunt, race and prank to become a Robertson!
  • Take on the role of Willie’s son John Luke as he learns how to become one of the Robertson men!
    • Interact with Willie, Uncle Si, Jase and the rest of the family from the hit TV show Duck Dynasty®. Go duck hunting, varmint shooting, off-roading and play office pranks in the Robertson’s hometown of West Monroe, LA. Will you learn the way of the beards?
  • Call in ducks to your blind using a variety of calls and then fire away.
  • Hunt Louisiana wildlife including squirrels, frogs and fish for Miss Kay to cook her famous dishes.
  • Join Jase in duck call room antics as you sneak around the warehouse to trick Willie.
  • Race against Willie in an airboat as you drive across the Robertson family swampland.
  • Uncover Uncle Si’s bizarre “treasures” with a metal detector.
  • Track down pesky beavers with Phil to stop their damns from ruining the duck ponds.
  • Play through 3 game modes including the main story, duck shooting galleries and airboat racing.

October 15 – 2000 – Pokemon Gold and Silver – Gameboy Color

  • Pokémon Gold takes place several years after Red, Blue and Yellow, and puts the user into a brand new world, Johto.
    • The gameplay is very similar to the previous games, but with several improvements.
    • These include new functions for the player’s PokéGear, a Pokédex that can now be sorted by evolution type, and, of course, new Pokémon.
    • Once again, the objective of the game is to become the champion trainer, and try to complete the Pokédex.
    • To become the champion, the player battles Gym Leaders to obtain various badges.
    • Completing the Pokédex requires a different set of actions, and involves capturing wild Pokémon, battling various trainers to obtain money, and trading Pokémon with NPC’s and other owners of Pokémon games.
  • As many people our age, Pokemon was a big deal.
    • Pokemon Yellow was my first Pokemon game, but I would say Gold is my formative Pokemon game.
    • The IR mystery gift had me meeting with kids I barely knew, and forming new relationships.
    • And it was huge, literally having the new region Johto, to explore, while being able to revisit the previous region of Kanto.
    • This game has set me up for disappointment, as more powerful consoles have had Pokemon games, but never the ability to return to an old region.

October 16 – 1982 – Computer Operator – DOS

  • This BASIC game simulates the experience of running a large, multi-user mainframe system of its day.
    • As the operator, you first configure the system by choosing the memory size, the number of disk and tape drives, the maximum number of concurrent users, and the overall game speed.
    • These factors determine the difficulty of your job – which is to cope with user demands and keep the system running. If too many problems pile up, the system crashes and you lose.
  • After the system is booted, users begin to log in and do their work; you monitor the system’s status in real time, and carry out your maintenance tasks using text commands.
    • User jobs place demands on CPU time, on storage devices, and on the printer; you’ll need to balance the load, repair failed equipment, bring devices offline and online as needed, and meet the users’ storage requirements.
    • You can also force users offline, and even communicate back when they complain at you through the messaging system.

Tidbits

  • If you have an Apple TV+ subscription set to end or renew in November through January, Apple is reportedly extending them for free through February 2021 instead
  • Microsoft is working on a browser-based solution to bring xCloud to iOS early 2021, which could also mean it would run on macOS as well
  • People looking for Google alternatives will be happy to hear that DuckDuckGo, a popular privacy-first search engine, now has walking and driving directions through a partnership with Apple Maps
  • Sony announced that they’re revamping their web and mobile offerings with a brand new PlayStation Store
    • October 21st-28th we’ll no longer be able to use those systems to buy
      • PS3 games
      • PSP games
      • PS Vita games
      • Apps
      • Themes
      • Avatars
      • And the Wishlist feature is going away too
    • You can still access everything you already own, and you can buy new things through the PS Store directly on each device

Homework

  • Microsoft’s new “10 principles for the Microsoft Store on Windows”, with translation provided by the Daring Fireball
    • John Gruber: “Nothing is changing on Windows, which remains every bit as open as it always has been. Nothing is changing on Xbox, which remains every bit as closed as it always has been (which is actually quite a bit more closed than even iOS). But we’re sure hoping government regulators will force Apple to open up iOS and treat it more like a PC platform where third-party developers are free to do what they want, because we know Apple won’t do it of their own volition because we wouldn’t either if we were them.”

 

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PS2J 286 News – One Click Debt, No Refunds

Free Games

  • PS4

    • BioShock: The Collection

      • 2016
      • Remastered, 1080p ports of all three plot-driven first-person shooter games (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite), taking you from the depths of Rapture to the skies of Columbia in some great stories in dystopias freed of “petty morality” summed up by “No gods or kings, only man”
    • The Sims 4

      • 2017
      • A reportedly decent port of the classic life simulation series that has you creating characters and households, then living their lives
    • Firewall Zero Hour

      • 2018
      • 4v4 tactical VR shooter developed exclusively for the PSVR that has you seizing or protecting sensitive information from opposing teams
  • Xbox One

    • TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge

      • 2018
      • Motorcycle racing game that has you challenging the deadly Snaefell Mountain course that has you taking on 38 miles of roads at over 180 mph
    • Call of Cthulhu

      • 2018
      • A role-playing psychological horror game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, while also being an adaptation of the 1981 RPG of the same title
    • Fable Heroes

      • 2012
      • A beat ’em up spinoff of the Fable series, with a toy-like aesthetic and mixed reviews, it’s at least the first family friendly Fable title
    • Star Wars Battlefront

      • 2004
      • The original Battlefront game for the first Xbox, it’s a first and third person shooter that primarily plays as a conquest game with limited respawns for each team and also has a Galactic Conquest mode with some strategy elements
  • Epic Games

    • Farming Simulator 19

      • 2018
      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
    • Next week we can look forward to PC ports of some popular board games

Apparently Ring isn’t just a product that lets people surveil their neighbours and gives police access to a network of cameras, it also tracks its customers through its app

  • We talked about the Ring camera doorbells and Amazon’s shady agreements with local police to promote the products and get access to recorded footage last summer back in episodes 263 and 268
  • Well now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put together an investigation of the associated Android app and found it packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of personally identifiable information on its customers
    • This stuff includes names, IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data from the devices themselves
  • All of that info comes together to form a detailed fingerprint of the user that can be sold or used to see what people are doing in their digital lives, and most damning of all is that there is no notification, consent, or ways to mitigate the damage done
  • Ring is taking this information and delivering it to organizations like:
    • Facebook
    • Branch
      • a “deep linking” platform that builds those exact kind of digital fingerprints and associates them with other marketing and analytics data
    • AppsFlyer
      • another marketing data firm that’s now getting their hands on sensor data from all those devices
    • And Mixpanel
      • yet another business analytics service, but this one deserves special mention since Ring is sending them people’s full names, email address, details on your phone’s OS and hardware model, bluetooth settings, and how many locations you have Ring devices installed in
    • Of those services only Mixpanel is on Ring’s list of third-party services they say they work with, but they don’t make it clear just how much information they share
  • All that is to say, for being a company based around securing your home they sure don’t seem to have any consideration for your personal information. If you use a Ring device, it may be time to rethink that

Tesla’s taking heat this week because of their fairly predatory practices when it comes to buying upgrades

  • In a pretty suspicious move, about a week and a half before the end of their financial year Tesla rolled out a new feature in their phone app allowing people to buy software upgrades for their cars to enable full autopilot
  • Shortly afterward, they were hit with a lot of users complaining about unintended purchases and a terrible refund policy
    • In one case someone broke down exactly what happened- they essentially butt dialled the purchase, contacted support as soon as they could afterward and then a week later were told that there are no refunds for software purchases.
      • The support staff even compared it to “paying for an addition to a house, deciding you don’t like it, then requesting a refund from the contractor”
      • There are even some staff claiming that the upgrade can’t be removed from the car, when it’s basically just an enable/disable flag with no major download or installation involved
    • Eventually someone high-profile enough complained on Twitter and Elon Musk said that the refund situation would be addressed, but who knows if that will roll out to all the little people affected
  • The kicker here is how easy Tesla made it to accidentally make the purchase- it’s harder to download a free app
    • If you’re logged in to the Tesla app and go to the upgrades screen, the $4000 autopilot upgrade is automatically selected, added to your cart, and the payment prompt is immediately displayed
    • You then have two buttons- ApplePay, which would prompt for TouchID, FaceID, or your password, or Pay With Credit Card
      • One thing to note here is that they do have their refund denial policy shown at this point. On a black or very dark grey screen, below those buttons in slightly lighter grey text. All the other text is bright white.
      • Another interesting tidbit is that the refund policy was actually photoshopped off of the screen when it was shown in an investor presentation
    • If you do hit Pay With Credit Card it takes you to a confirmation screen with everything filled out- they don’t even ask for your card’s security code to verify, you just tap Pay at the bottom.
    • So if you’re in the Tesla app and put your phone in your pocket without locking it, whether by mistake or not, you’re three taps away from dropping $4000 without even knowing it
    • There are even some reports that the confirmation screen is new- some users last year just wanted to see the total with tax and were immediately charged
  • In investigating this I also stumbled upon some of the skeezy strategies Tesla has used on their website- when you look at the price of a car they default to showing it adjusted for “potential savings”
    • You might see that and expect some kind of rebates or sales, but in fact they bundle in the estimated savings from not buying gas for the life of the car, making a difference of thousands of dollars between the expected price and what Tesla actually charges for their vehicles.
  • All of this just really goes to show how Tesla seems to be trying to trick people into spending money, and the fact that it’s right before their fiscal year end makes it even more suspicious

The Wawa chain of American convenience stores was targeted by credit card skimming malware last month, resulting in as many as 30M cards going up for sale on the dark web this week

  • Apparently the malware began rolling out on March 4th and wasn’t discovered until December 10th, so it had gathered about nine full months worth of numbers, names, and expiration dates
  • Anyone who used a payment card at a Wawa location last year should definitely check your bills closely. Wawa is reportedly offering affected customers one year of credit monitoring but those services may not be very effective, so if you’re concerned you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your file instead

Tidbits

  • Activision Blizzard makes exclusive streaming deal with YouTube, Overwatch League and Call of Duty will be streaming on YouTube
  • 343 Industries is looking to ban Halo: Reach players abusing the experience system by frequently joining games and not actually playing
    • Apparently the new release of Reach involves a new experience progression system to unlock customizations, rather than the old system where you could just buy whatever you have enough credits for, and going AFK is one strategy players are using to grind for more experience
    • Another has been dubbed “sword lining”, where two Griffball teams line up and take turns killing each other with swords
  • Bethesda has finally fully addressed the inventory hack in Fallout 76 that we talked about last year, wherein hackers could use your inventory like a lootable chest to steal everything from your character in seconds
    • Reportedly the company is creating clones of the affected characters with their entire inventory as of December 20th, as well as about $66 worth of their premium ‘atoms’ currency.
    • Players can then make a secure trade from the clone to their original character via a private server, and Bethesda is providing support agents to help with that process
  • Zuckerberg has gone on record that Facebook’s goal for the next decade “isn’t to be liked, but to be understood”, saying they didn’t always communicate their views clearly because they worried about offending people
    • The Daring Fireball says it best: “The more you understand Facebook, the less you like or trust them. So: mission accomplished.”
  • Nintendo’s Switch has officially become their third best-selling home console of all time, behind the Wii and the NES (and almost quadrupling the WiiU)
    • Fun fact, estimates show they surpassed the Xbox One during the 2019 holiday season despite the XBone being out for more than three years before the Switch’s release
    • And just to tack on to the end of this, The Outer Worlds is officially coming to the Switch on March 6th
  • Lastly, in a little bit of heartwarming news to close things out, professional Fortnite player and streamer Aydan Conrad went on Twitch last week to stream himself calling his mom and paying off her student debt
    • He gave full credit to his viewers, saying that everyone watching made the whole thing possible

Based on this tweet, I want to know what ten games our Fanily like. See how much crossover we all have.

And I can see some cool games to check out as well
I like top tens with no order, it all depends on mood.

Josh’s Top 10

  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Psyconauts
  • Overwatch
  • Slay The Spire
  • Fallout 4
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  • Stardew Valley
  • Minecraft
  • The Sims

Alan’s Top 10

  • Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
  • Kirby Superstar (honourable mention to Planet Robobot)
  • Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • God of War (2019)
  • Beat Saber
  • Titanfall 2
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (honourable mention to A Link to the Past)
  • Superhot
  • Black Mesa

 

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And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
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We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Rime
      • 2017
      • Play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. You see wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower that beckons you to come closer. Armed with your wits and a will to overcome—and the guidance of a helpful fox—you must explore the enigmatic island, reach the tower’s peak, and unlock its closely guarded secrets.
 

SUPERHOT is tempting me over to the dark side of VR

  • The Oculus Quest, a standalone 360 room-scale wireless VR headset that uses the fancy Oculus Touch controllers, had a brand new version of SUPERHOT VR release this week
  • Developers say the gameflow has been completely rebuilt into what it was originally meant to be, letting you move through levels naturally instead of breaking them up into pieces that don’t require walking
    • SUPERHOT VR on PSVR uses “pyramids” to split up the action, so that you don’t have to move around
  • Best part is, any backers of the original SUPERHOT kickstarter are getting this version for free as well!
    • Backers should already have received an email prompting them to link their backer email to their Oculus account email, but if you haven’t you can send that information to: pleasecanihavethequestgame@superhotgame.com
    • Even if you don’t have a Quest headset, it might be worth getting the accounts linked now so that you have the game on your account for the future
 

Microsoft is joining the open world AR business With Minecraft Earth

  • ME is an upcoming free to play mobile game that’s looking to use AR to bring your Minecraft creations to the rest of the world
  • It’s all built on the existing Bedrock engine, so everything from Redstone machines to how physics affect water and sand will all work the same as the usual Minecraft experience
  • The big difference is that, using AR and GPS, your creations can be visible and modifiable by other people that you invite into your session
    • They’re not permanent, but you can temporarily share the structures with friends and even save a copy of what you built and send out links for people to play with on a table or in giant scale in an open space
    • The idea is to eventually have persistent structures around the world, but that will need a few more advancements in tech and especially in content moderation
  • Resources are gathered via “tapables”, randomly placed pickups that appear around you, in addition to gathering points linked to real-world locations
    • According to game director Tori Olafsson, “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees”
  • There will also be dynamically spawning adventures designed for multiple people to get involved in, ranging from peaceful and friendly to riskier dungeon delves
  • One thing to note here is that there’s no PVP- all blocks spawned drop for all players, so there’s no competition for resources
  • And with Microsoft’s computer wizardry they’re bragging that you can see everyone’s avatars walking, including the tools they’re using at the moment, and do things like stand in front of your friends to block them from attacking a virtual sheep
    • You’re essentially in the game, and your camera works as a lens you can see it through
  • All said and done this seems pretty cool and very ambitious, though from the sounds of Microsoft’s plans for the tech they may end up harvesting your location and camera data to ostensibly improve the product in the future
    • This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always good to be aware of what you’re sharing with these companies and what they’re using it for
  • And this could relate to a tidbit I found, where Microsoft and Sony are apparently teaming up for some future projects leveraging Microsoft’s cloud computing and Sony’s game and image sensor expertise
  • Minecraft Earth will hit beta on iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

The American beta for Mario Kart Tour on Android kicked off this week, and thanks to the internet we’ve got a good idea of what you can expect on release

  • It looks like they’ve taken a normal Mario Kart game and changed the controls to make it similar to Super Mario Run- acceleration is automatic, and you just swipe your thumb or tilt your phone to steer
    • The default controls take care of drifting automatically as well, but there’s also a manual option
  • The tracks are all taken from previous games, and only run two laps instead of three
  • Then we get to the money-making part of the game
    • It seems to be using a gacha system similar to Fire Emblem Heroes, where you use in-game currency to get random drivers, karts, and gliders
    • The big problem is that, unless Nintendo changes it before release, rare drivers actually have advantages like special items or track-specific bonuses
    • There’s also a stamina system to limit how many races you can do each hour
  • Those pieces are even more controversial than usual now that Belgium has legally categorized video game loot boxes as gambling- Nintendo has announced they’ll be shutting down both Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Belgium as of August 27th.
    • Compared to what Blizzard did with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm last year, simply disabling paid lootboxes in Belgium but allowing users to still earn them in game, that move seems like overkill
    • Presumably that also means they won’t be seeing this game any time soon
  • The beta is planned to continue through June 4th, and we’ll see what the payment situation is like when the final release of Mario Kart Tour hits iOS and Android sometime this summer
 

Nintendo’s also released a bunch more details on the upcoming Super Mario Maker 2

  • The game will launch on June 28th, and there will be a standalone version as well as a bundle that includes a year of Nintendo Switch Online
    • The bundle will be pretty handy, since there are more than a few features locked behind an online requirement- including uploading your levels and searching/downloading other users’ creations
    • They’re apparently supporting an offline mode once you’ve downloaded levels, but there’s no word on if you’ll need to connect and run a check-in to keep them available
  • On the plus side, there are officially versus and co-op modes that have up to four players competing or teaming up to beat the objective, be it reaching the goal, picking up coins, or a certain number of 1-UPs
    • Both modes have players shoving and bouncing off eachother, so really they’re all versus
    • They also work via local network, so you can get multiple Switches going, but with a big caveat- apparently at least one system has to be online to confirm a paid NSO account.
      • This is a first for Nintendo, and it could put a damper on pick-up games really taking off in weird places like convention lineups
  • They’ve also shown off the new tools that level creators will have at their mercy, like some really granular controls on slopes, animated snake platforms, on-off switches, varying water levels, and a completely separate Super Mario 3D World palette that has so many unique pieces that it can’t be applied as a re-skin
  • There will also be a campaign mode with 100+ levels designed by Nintendo staff
  • And we’ll be seeing a lot more of this on June 8th, when Nintendo runs their invitational SMM2 competition at E3
 

After an ambitious and tumultuous go at gaming, the Ouya is officially shutting down

  • The Ouya itself was an aggressive product, originally launching on Kickstarter back in 2012
    • The idea was that it would be a completely open game console for your living room where every title was free to play, with the intention that it would offer AAA gaming without licensing or publishing fees
    • The reality was a disappointing box that arrived late and mainly ported mobile Android games to your TV
  • So the Ouya as a device was discontinued three years later in 2015 after Razer bought the founders and merged the content into their Forge microconsole ecosystem
    • So Ouya was technically still around, but mainly as a brand name and publisher for Android games. Everything was done through the Forge TV hardware
  • Now Razer is shutting down the whole works at the end of June- as of June 25 2019 you won’t be able to download any more games through the online service
    • Downloaded games may still function if they don’t have an online check-in at launch, but that will be up to developers
  • Owners of the Forge TV and MadCatz Mojo consoles that used these services should still be able to connect to Google Play, but it’ll be up to developers to migrate their games from the Ouya storefront
 

Sony’s given us a couple sneak-peeks at the next generation of Playstation, and they look solid

  • In an investor demo they show the PS5 running tech demos based on Spider-Man about 10x faster than the PS4 Pro
  • It will apparently also support resolutions up to 8K, come standard with an SSD, and will be compatible with both the existing PSVR and PS4 games

 

China’s Social Credit system is right out of Orwell’s 1984

  • Social Credit is tied to many things, like travel options
    • You can be denied flights, and forced to travel by train with a low social credit score
  • Things that lower your score
    • defaulting on a loan
    • criticizing government policy
    • too much time playing online games
  • Punishments for a low score are varied
    • setting an embarrassing ringtone to on your phone
    • you can be denied loans
    • lose job opportunities
    • limit the quality of hotel you can stay at
    • throttle your internet connection
    • ban your children from private schools
    • put you on a public black list
  • ABC Australia reports the deadbeat map
    • via China’s populat WeChat
    • People of a low score can be tracked on a radar style map
    • “Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.
  • In the style of Minority Report
    • People with a low enough score can be detained and put in re-education camps
    • not because of a crime they committed
    • because the have the high likelihood of committing a crime
  • Your score can be increased
    • You can report the misdeeds of others
    • Its creating a paranoid nation of informants
      • the government claims they are creating a “culture of sincerity” that will “restore social trust.”
    • reportable offences include violating their new religious restrictions
      • Christians praying illegally in their homes
      • Muslims growing beards or fasting during Ramadan
  • Human Rights Watch describes the system as chilling
    • In response the Chinese Communist Party responds
      • Westerners are simply too unsophisticated to understand the wonders of the new system
    • The China’s Global Times printed
      • “The hypothetical theories of the West are based on their ignorance.” The massive social credit system, it goes on to say, is simply “beyond the understanding of Western countries.”
  • The State has already been using other concerning techniques to watch their population
    • “Big Data” – extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.
    • Machine Learning
    • Facial Recognition
  • They have their people in a virtual prison 
    • They are selling this infrastructure to likeminded dictatorships
    • Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela, is their first customer
 

Slay the Spire launches for Switch on June 6

Here’s an overview from the listing, along with a trailer:
We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could. Craft a unique deck, encounter bizarre creatures, discover relics of immense power, and Slay the Spire!
Features
  • Dynamic Deck Building: Choose your cards wisely! Discover hundreds of cards to add to your deck with each attempt at climbing the Spire. Select cards that work together to efficiently dispatch foes and reach the top.
  • An Ever-changing Spire: Whenever you embark on a journey up the Spire, the layout differs each time. Choose a risky or safe path, face different enemies, choose different cards, discover different relics, and even fight different bosses!
  • Powerful Relics to Discover: Powerful items known as relics can be found throughout the Spire. The effects of these relics can greatly enhance your deck through powerful interactions. But beware, obtaining a relic may cost you more than just gold…
  • Slay the Spire will cost $24.99 on the Switch eShop. It’ll take up 419MB of space.

 

Tidbits

  • Anyone with a Macbook that has the butterfly keyboard switches (2015 and newer) will be happy to hear that if you’re having any keyboard issues (stuck keys, multiple letters appearing with one key press, etc) you should be eligible for their free keyboard repair program
  • Health Canada has officially cleared the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch Series 4, so we could be seeing an update enabling them in the near future
    • This comes with a classification marking the watch as a Class II medical device, in a “low to medium risk” category alongside things like contact lenses
  • Psychonauts 2 backers received another production update this week, with some cool news: The first gameplay segment will be shown at E3 in Los Angeles next month!
  • Lenovo showed off a Moto Razr phone reboot with a folding display at a press event this week, but with one problem- it was a fan-made concept video downloaded and edited without permission
    • It looks like some of the watermarks were removed, with a Lenovo bumper added at the end, but you can pretty clearly see some watermarks they missed on the phone’s screens with the creator, Waqar Khan’s, Twitter handle
    • Technically Lenovo didn’t actually announce anything like it, but showing the video at a press event when they clearly don’t have anything concrete to show is pretty skeezy to say the least
 

Alan Recommends The ‘Burbs

  • It’s a comedy horror thriller from 1989 starring Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, and a bunch of other solid actors
  • Pokes fun at suburbia and the weird people that live there, with some really smart writing that keeps you on your toes

 

Literally Misleading

Another one from Family member Scott. Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!
 
MOVIE – “A man must send his father to protect his mother, when his enemies target her for assassination.”
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

 

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