PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

      • 2018
      • Co-op puzzle platformer where you team up and use your phone as your controller to guide your characters through challenging, intricate levels
    • Kunai

      • 2020
      • Billed as a quirky, fast-paced action platformer, you play as Tabby, a tablet who joins the fight against a robot uprising using his kunai and ninja-parkour
    • Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

      • 2017 remaster first released in 2008 as a free-to-play mod for the Source engine, then later redeveloped into a commercial release in 2012
      • First person exploration and adventure game that is considered to have started the “walking simulator” genre, it has you exploring an unnamed island in Scotland, listening to a troubled man read a series of letters to his deceased wife
    • Dark Devotion

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game where you explore the secrets of a mysterious fallen temple and put your Templar’s faith to the test
    • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

      • 1998
      • First person shooter originally released on the N64, it follows Turok’s efforts to stop a powerful alien entity from escaping the confines of his Lightship
    • Reus

      • 2013
      • God game where you control giants that can modify the nature of the planet through terraforming, creating life, and altering genes
    • GRIP: Combat Racing

      • 2018
      • Originally a Kickstarter campaign that I backed in 2015, it raised $154K of its $657K goal before it was taken down, but it was still announced to be pushed into early access
      • High octane hardcore combat racer inspired by Rollcage, Wipeout, Motostorm, and Podracer with gravity-defying twists and heavy weaponry
  • Xbox

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

      • 2019
      • The official game of the 2019 World Rally Championship, it’s a simulation rally racing game with new physics for all surfaces and a redesigned career mode
    • Saints Row 2

      • 2008
      • Sandbox action-adventure game that has you leading the Third Street Saints gang against three rivals and the corrupt Ultor Corporation, with a more comedic tone to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto
  • PS4

    • NBA 2k20

      • 2019
      • Basketball simulation game featuring current and past players and teams, along with up to six custom expansion teams and the ability to relocate and rebrand any time
      • It also included, for the first time, all 12 teams from the WNBA, though they can only be played in one-game exhibition and single-season modes, and the game drew criticism for its gambling-based minigames that overshadowed the basketball in early trailers
    • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration

      • 2016 update to the 2015 release, with updates including coop play and classic outfits as well as combat-free exploration and zombie modes
      • Action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, it has standard ruins exploration and bowplay but this time set in Siberia
    • Erica

      • Bonus for the 10th anniversary of PS Plus
      • 2019
      • Live-action interactive adventure thriller with multiple endings that feels Heavy Rain-esque, putting you in the role of Erica, a brave young lady who is plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder and has to unearth the truth behind the tragedy
  • Epic Games

    • Hue

      • 2016
      • Puzzle platformer where you explore a grey land while searching for your missing mother, and along the way you uncover coloured pieces that reveal new puzzles. The more colours you find, the more complex the puzzles become

Co-Founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin has stepped down following accusations of racist and sexist office culture (courtesy of Polygon)

  • For anyone unaware, it’s like a lewd version of Apples to Apples with references to politics, pop culture, sex, and so on
  • It started as a DIY print your own game distributed for free, but after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign it became the focus of a multi-million dollar game company
  • In the past few weeks multiple former employees have shared stories of racist and sexist behaviours that largely affected Black employees, as well as some accusations of sexual assault by Temkin
  • Many people reporting these behaviours remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and that seems to have been well founded after several employees described being fired for confusing or unexpected reasons after raising concerns about discrimination at work
  • Cards Against Humanity’s official response is that “some of these accounts are true, others are not, and a few we are continuing to investigate”
  • It seems almost inevitable that a company trading on humour powered by shock and racial stereotypes, like all the variations on “A big, black dick” that exist in the game, would have some problems, but though they’ve tried to increase sensitivity and remove some cards deemed offensive, there are still many packs being sold today that include cards that marginalize vulnerable groups of people
  • There have also been stories shared from the writer’s room about how the head writers like Temkin would push for the inclusion of cards like “Saying the N-word”, despite the protests of the one Black employee on the team
  • A spokesperson pointed Polygon to 14 cards, out of the hundreds available for the game, that “reflect Black culture, history, and perspectives”. In a follow-up they clarified that the game has “well over 100” cards that do that, and the examples were merely a favourite sampling, but the gesture reeks of “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend”
  • Many former employees described their departure from the company as “escaping”, and since there was no real HR department to speak of they felt unheard and powerless even after leaving, for fear of lawsuits and reprisals. The Chief Operating Officer was the sole HR department, and was also in charge of finance, operations, and legal. His close working relationship with Temkin led to concerns about bringing issues forward.
  • Apparently Cards Against Humanity is hiring an independent third-party HR consultant to audit and improve its practices, but from the sounds of it a lot of damage has been done to a lot of lives
  • Former employees also spoke of Temkin yelling at employees, and said that people on staff often spoke on Slack about the most private places to cry after encounters with him, and that he exerted undue influence over not only people’s livelihood but also their personal lives- in one case, Temkin decided that an employee would have to stop seeing someone or they would get “kicked out”
  • And all of this from a company that has opposed Trump, donated money to charity, and given scholarships to women in STEM programs has left many with whiplash after experiencing what the company culture was like internally
  • As of June 9th Temkin has stepped down from the company and will have no staff interactions, and though he maintains 1/8th of the company’s shares he will not receive a salary.
  • With these reports becoming public and the employees gaining courage and support they’ve established the Cards Against Humanity Workers United union and begun to demand recognition from the company’s owners, looking to establish better collaboration and transparency between workers and management after the trust has been eroded so thoroughly already
  • In a statement provided to Polygon, the company’s leadership says that it intends to recognize the union, and that if the majority of their employees want a union they’re all for it

Reddit has officially, finally, banned the “The_Donald” subreddit

  • The ban was part of the site’s overhaul of its hate speech policies, and will affect the more than 790,000 users that used it to post memes, videos, and messages supportive of Trump
  • This came down because of the group’s consistent breaking of its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech
  • Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman said “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that”
  • At the same time, Twitch temporarily banned Trump from the service for hateful conduct, for things like video of his kickoff rally where he claimed that Mexico was sending rapists to the US
    • Twitch has apparently begun issuing permanent bans to other streamers because of hate speech, with long-time popular streamer Dr Disrespect receiving one without specific details on why
    • It sounds like Twitch is taking moderation a lot more seriously, and not just allowing racist or hateful language just because it’s newsworthy due to its source
  • In the words of the Daring Fireball, “It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.”

Warning to all pirates running macOS, there’s a new ransomware making the rounds

  • The new EvilQuest ransomware variant is being spread through pirated Mac apps, according to Malwarebytes, and was initially found in a download for Little Snitch found on a Russion forum
  • The infected installation does install Little Snitch, a tool for monitoring network traffic on your computer, but also moves and installs files throughout your system to encrypt both system and personal files on your computer before prompting for a $50USD ransom
    • The malware apparently doesn’t work very well though, as the ransom instructions are often not displayed properly and you don’t actually get your files back if you pay it
  • Malwarebytes says their software can remove the infection, but any encrypted files will need to be restored from backups

Clone High is coming back!?!

  • For the multitude that missed it the first time around, it was an animated series about the teenage clones of historical figures going to high school together, that worked as an out-loud parody of teen soaps like Dawson’s Creek with things like every episode opening with “Tonight, on a very special episode of Clone High…”
  • It was cancelled after one season due in part to its depiction of the clone of Mahatma Ghandi and controversy outside of North America. Even the DVD release never made it outside of Canada
  • Well apparently Clone High’s creators went on to make a few films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Verse
  • So it seems like now that they’ve got some pull after a few hits, they’re bringing the show into the era of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and 13 Reasons Why, so maybe we’ll finally get some closure to the first season’s cliffhanger two decades later. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this

Tidbits

  • Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issue, saying “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologize for any trouble caused to our customers. We are continuing to aim to improve our products, but as the Joy-Con is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States and this is still a pending issue, we would like to refrain from responding about any specific actions.”
    • Nintendo began offering free repairs for controllers afflicted with drift shortly after the lawsuit was filed, but with its built-in controllers the Switch Lite was also added to the class action suit a week after its September launch
  • Microsoft has updated their enforcement guidlelines for Forza Motorsport, banning players using the custom design feature to put confederate flags or swastikas on their cars
    • Some have raised issues with this, complaining that iconic cars like the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee had nothing to do with race and featured a large depiction of the flag on its back, but just because an unproblematic show used the flag doesn’t mean it’s not a problematic symbol itself
    • Even the General Lee car itself, owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson, had its flags removed in 2015
  • According to rumours, Apple may be removing the charger and EarPods from new iPhone boxes, leaving just the phone and a USB cord
    • The switch would allow them to reduce packaging and waste, and for many long-time iPhone users it wouldn’t be a large issue, but it seems like the option should still be there to make sure you have everything you need if you’re buying for the first time
    • One idea I’ve seem on reddit is to either have two different versions, which could get confusing, or include a coupon for the value of the charger inside the box. Then you can get one for free or use the savings on another Apple device, though it’s still an additional step
  • Now through July 10th Apple is giving you an extra 10% bonus when adding funds to your AppleID
    • On your phone you can go to Settings, tap on your name, iTunes & App Store, tap on your AppleID, View AppleID, then tap Add Funds to Apple ID
  • After taking fire for reading iPhone clipboards every time users type a single character into the app, TikTok has promised to release an update to stop reading that information from devices
    • iOS 14 beta shows a notification each time an app reads your clipboard and so this was really highlighted in TikTok, but it’s also behaviour being seen in other apps like AccuWeather, Overstock, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Patreon, and Google News
    • TikTok claims it’s part of an anti-spam feature and they don’t actually read what you may have copied from another app, but there’s no way to verify that. With it being a Chinese company whose algorithm is a complete black box, you can assume that they’ve stored copies of whatever you had on your clipboard while using the app
  • Microsoft is officially shutting down their physical stores worldwide, except for four specific locations in the US, England, and Australia that will become “experience centers” that no longer sell products
    • The stores were originally inspired by Apple Stores both in concept and execution, but failed to really get a foothold in the market
    • verynicewebsite.net put it well – “I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.”

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Pathway

      • 2020
      • Isometric strategy adventure game set in the wilderness in the 1930’s that has you exploring the strange unknown. Unravel long-forgotten mysteries of the occult, raid ancient tombs and outwit your foes in turn-based squad combat
  • GOG

    • The Witcher 3, if you own it on a connected account like PS4, Xbox, Steam, etc

      • 2015
      • Action RPG that focuses on narrative and worldbuilding as you go through the land taking on quests and slaying monsters, all the while searching for your missing adoptive daughter before she’s caught by the Wild Hunt
      • The free edition will match what you own on the connected service, either base game or GOTY edition. Players that bought the DLC separately unfortunately don’t get any consideration

The Supreme Court of the US issued a historic decision on workplace protections, ruling 6-3 that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under an existing Civil Rights era law

  • The existing law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, bars discrimination on the basis of sex. The justices has determined that it extends beyond just the gender you were assigned at birth to your orientation and identity as well
  • Before this, LGBTQ+ workers in more than half of the US had no legal protection against discrimination, and could be fired, demoted, or paid less because of who they are
  • Even multiple educators lauded as Teacher of the Year in different states were discriminated against, bullied, threatened, and fired because of their identity and what they do in their spare time, like counselling LGBTQ+ youth or other non-heteronormative community outreach
    • One was even placed on administrative leave for mentioning her same-gender fiance during a welcome-back presentation to returning students

A new company called OpenCore Computer, with no official affiliation with the OpenCore Bootloader, has launched a commercial Hackintosh computer that has Apple’s lawyers salivating

  • The OpenCore Bootloader is a piece of software developed by enthusiasts that, in theory, would allow you to run macOS on standard PC hardware
  • Apparently a group has taken advantage of that free software to create OpenCore Computer, who claims that they hope to make Mac Pro style workstations more accessible. And you can get a pretty solid system for a bit over $2G USD
  • The problem is that Apple’s licensing agreement, since macOS is completely free, is that it should only run on official Apple hardware. Building your own Hackintosh is a grey area at best, and doing it professionally is solidly illegal
  • They seem to know that their work is fishy right from the get-go too, with payments only accepted in Bitcoin to try and get around the licensing in regards to accepting payments, and using an escrow service so that they get your coins through a middle-man after shipping
  • At the end of the day, if you want a Hackintosh you’re probably better off going on Reddit and following a pre-existing guide. It’s not terribly hard, especially for a hobbyist. And someone who needs the full performance of a Mac Pro would be better off either buying the real deal or switching to Windows, since I doubt the after-market support is up to snuff

EA revealed the upcoming Star Wars: Squadrons, and the details they’ve let loose so far are a radical departure for the company

  • There’s not a lot about gameplay yet, but the trailer looks really cool
  • The biggest shocks are that it’s cross-platform, has a single-player campaign, supports VR, will sell for $40 USD with no microtransactions, and is releasing on Steam rather than Origin
    • If they throw in stick and throttle support this could be a legitimate competitor with the likes of Elite: Dangerous
  • The news, unfortunately, has left many people that were still hoping for a Titanfall 3 disappointed that the “Where Pilots come to play” promo material was completely unrelated

Reddit user RobertAPetersen has set up a really slick shortcut for iOS for if you get stopped by the police

  • Triggered by telling Siri “I’m being pulled over”, it pauses your music, turns down screen brightness, turns on Do Not Disturb, sends a text to the contacts of your choosing with your location letting them know you’re being pulled over, then starts recording video with the front-facing camera
  • And after you’re done recording it will send the video to any contacts you specify and give you the option to upload it to the cloud
  • This is a really good idea even for just my low-level paranoia about police, and I’m white. For people of colour these kinds of tools are a godsend for accountability that clearly just isn’t there in law enforcement

8 years after its successful Kickstarter campaign and still with no release in sight, Star Citizen has now become the most expensive game in history

  • With them still pre-selling copies of the game and different in-game rewards like ships and skins, they’ve managed to surpass the development costs of both GTA V and The Old Republic with a whopping $350M invested to date
  • At this point with all that money and still just sitting at Alpha 3.9 they really have no incentive to ever release, and I’m beginning to think that my $30 pledge for a ship and lifetime insurance might just amount to the JPEGS they already emailed me
    • On the plus side, since I backed it so early they gave me a bunch of extra stuff like a BB-12 Manned Maneuvering Unit and a Preacher Armament Inquisition XXII Gatling. So that’s something, whatever those are
  • In the time since Star Citizen was first funded, Elite Dangerous was Kickstarted, developed, released, given DLC, and is now considered to be an older game

Mei added to Heroes of the Storm

  • The louder people in the Heroes of the Storm fan-base cries out
    • Very similar to the complaining of Fire Emblem characters being added to Smashm
    • I am happy for any character added to either game, more the merrier
  • She is a Tank character, which is different from her Overwatch role of DPS
    • Strong with Crowd Control, Mobility and Survivability
    • Weak against Siege and Burst Damage
  • Her active trait is Cryo-Freeze
    • Mei encases herself in ice gaining a temporary decaying shield and heals up to 35% max health
  • Q is Snow Blind
    • Throws a snowball that hits enemies in an area
    • Deals damage, slows by 35% and Blinds for 1.5 seconds
  • W is Blizzard
    • Snowball creates a blizzard at target location for 2 seconds
    • Enemies take damage every .25 seconds, are slowed by 7% and stacks up to 35%
    • When the Blizzard ends, enemies take extra damage and  and are stunned for 1.25 seconds
  • E is Icing
    • Mei slides quickly in the targeted direction
    • When the effect ends enemies at Mei’s location are knocked back
    • They also take damage and are slowed by 80%, decaying over 1.5 seconds
  • Mei’s first Ultimate is Avalanche
    • After a .5 seconds, a massive snowball rolls forward and consumes enemy heroes in its path
    • At the end of its path it deals huge damage to enemies and stuns them for .5 seconds per hero
  • Mei’s second Ultimate is Ice Wall
    • After a .75 delay an impassible wall emerges and traps enemy heroes in it
    • After 2.5 seconds, the wall crumbles and trapped heroes are freed and slowed by 75% decaying over 3 seconds

Pokemon Snap 2

  • From the Pokemon Twitter
    • We got a minute teaser
  • Shows it will be similar to the original
      • Taking pictures from a safe capsule on a track
        • The one in the trailer uses a invisible tack seen through augmented reality for the character inside
      • Apples are going to be used as bait again
      • Digital camera upgrade
        • Tracks subjects like newer smartphones can
  • New Pokemon featured
    • Seems like an Alola area with all kinds of pokemon
    • The first game did not feature all original 151
      • It will be interesting to see all that are actively in the game
        • And those referenced, like Mewtwo was a constellation
      • Also a pidgeotto swoop on a magikarp

Tidbits

  • Google has committed $175M toward supporting black businesses, and announced plans to increase underrepresented people in its leadership by 30% by 2025
    • It’s a start, but with black employees accounting for less than 4% of their workforce Google still has some work to do with diversity
  • The European Union has opened anti-trust investigations against Apple this week, following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten over Apple’s 30% cut on subscriptions and ebook sales through apps on its platform
  • Slay the Spire has released on iOS, and it’s a ton of fun with a bunch of asterisks
    • It’s a roguelike deckbuilding card game and not bad for $14 CAD, and I’ve been playing it a lot, but the mobile port is missing a lot of polish
    • It’s very faithful to the original, which is great in some ways for people who want a familiar experience but not so great in others- simple things like trying to read your cards is a bit of a mess, since they magnet directly under your fingertip, and on an iPhone without a home button if I’m trying to swipe the game close there’s a good change it will accidentally play a random card while I try
    • Also, it might work a bit better on an iPad but on my phone the text is pretty dang small. The resolution and controls seem pretty much unchanged from when I played it on PC, which is unfortunate because it’s a lot of fun
    • It initially launched at a full 5* rating, but while it’s maintained the top spot in card games on the app store it’s already slipped down to a 3.8 because of these issues

 

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PS2J 299 News – Virtual Cataracts

Free Games

  • Cross-platform

    • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is available for free until May 10 on PS4, PC, and Xbox One
  • Twitch

    • Old School Musical

      • 2015
      • A rhythm game that takes you through 50 different chiptune tracks on a tour of old favourite retro games to teach you where all the bugs in those classic games come from
  • Epic Games

    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent

      • 2010
      • Survival horror adventure game that has you exploring a dark, foreboding castle while trying to avoid monsters and maintain your sanity
    • Crashlands

      • 2016
      • Action-adventure RPG originally built for iOS and Android described as a story-driven crafting game comparable to Don’t Starve, wherein you need to collect items in order to make weapon and armour
  • PS4

    • Cities: Skylines

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC game
      • Open-ended city building simulation in the spirit of SimCity after the critical failure of EA’s 2013 franchise reboot
    • Farming Simulator 19

      • 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
      • This entry brought in horse farming as well as oat and cotton crops
  • Xbox

    • V-Rally 4

      • 2018
      • Rally racing game with 51 different cars that takes you from through Monument Valley, Niger, Romania, Malaysia, and more
    • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr

      • 2017
      • Action RPG with a top-down view and a focus on melee and ranged combat set in the Warhammer 40K universe, frequently compared to Diablo
    • Overlord 2

      • 2009
      • Action RPG that has you destroying or conquering the land by commanding your hordes of minions and taking down the Roman-styled “Glorious Empire”
    • Sensible World of Soccer

      • 2007 HD enhanced version of the 1996 Amiga classic
      • 2D European football game with a comprehensive manager mode, with data on 1,500 teams and 27,000 players. This game is notable as the only sports game included on the list of “the ten most important video games of all time”, as compiled by the curator for the History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford along with notable game designers and researchers

Apple and Google’s new exposure notification framework, previously referred to as contact tracing, is continuing to evolve and and develop

  • They’ve settled on the different name because of what it is- a framework for notifying people if they’ve been exposed. It’s a tool that can be used in conjunction with contact tracing, but because they’re focused on privacy as a top priority that’s not a part of the developing specifications
    • More details have been coming out with the framework’s introduction into the iOS 13.5 beta, and it sounds like notifications will be handled by phones  downloading a new list of identifiers for positive tests regularly and then notifying you if any of them match ones you’ve come into contact with
    • Users will be able to opt out of exposure notifications under Settings, Privacy, Health
  • Germany, originally set on developing a home-grown contact tracing app with centralized data available to health authorities, has changed course and now is working with the Apple-Google approach
    • Also running with the decentralized plan is Switzerland, Estonia, and Austria
  • The UK, unfortunately, is dead set on having their National Health Service manage all the data and not working within those parameters
    • The NHS says it has a way to make the software work “sufficiently well” without users needing to keep it active and on-screen, without “excessively affecting battery life”, but that “excessively” has me concerned
      • Apparently it will work by having the app wake up in the background every time another device running the same software is detected. Then it runs some code to log the contact before going to sleep again
      • Australia said they also had a workaround, but they’ve since acknowledged power consumption problems as well as interference if users have other Bluetooth and location-tracking apps open
    • Not to mention the fact that they’re so set on taking all this data in that I worry they’re not giving full weight to the privacy argument- if you’re going to expect your citizens to use this app, you can’t treat it like an ankle-bracelet on a felon.
    • I get that having all the data kept in-house seems like a good idea, but Apple and Google are pretty smart and they’re building a seemingly solid platform that allows for notifications and battery performance without compromising integrity and privacy

Good news, Google Stadia has now launched PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds! Bad news, it’s filled with terrible bots!

  • Everyone with a Gmail account still has a free two-month trial of Stadia Pro, which now includes the ability to play PUBG on the service
  • Unfortunately it looks like they’re filling matches with bots- players with underscores in their names that don’t actually jump out of the plane, but appear randomly through the world with pre-filled inventories
    • The game normally drops 100 players on an island to fight it out for supremacy, but ArsTechnica had matches with 98 or even 99 bots
  • I can get why they have bots, to ease new players in without throwing them to the wolves that have been playing religiously for years, but this really seems like a terrible way to do it

Oculus Quest Follow-up

  • Knuckle grips are great and really help with Beat Saber
    • AMVR
  • Battery pack counterweight works well, but hampers the pick-up-and-play a bit
    • Anker, Aukey
  • Prescription lenses are really comfortable
    • WidmoVR
  • The Room VR is a creepy escape room that’s a lot of fun
    • Casting to my phone turned it into a co-op game, but the visibility is a little rough with fast movements causing lag and text not being very readable
  • Oculus store really needs a way to gift games to someone

Josh’s day was ruined very early

VSGO professional lens pen, the buffing pad scratched my left lens on my Oculus Quest
  • Now its like I have cataracts in my left eye playing VR
  • I tried a rubbing alcohol and water solution and it helped a LITTLE bit
Hope is on the horizon
  • a redditor had a family member clean their quest with a shirt or something abrasive.
  • polyWatch is a product that fixes surface scratches
    • polyWatch Plastic Polish offers a simple and reliable solution for removing scratches from plastic watch crystal.
Some people have been using watch glass protectors for their lenses
  • I’m nervouse about adding anything like that to the lenses

Josh guested on Podzilla 1985’s Mr 100 and the 5 Star man

Mr. 100 (or should we say the PHOENIX) and the 5 Star Man are finally back after a TWO MONTH hiatus with a special guest from up north – Josh from PS2J! Come for the Canadian politeness, stay for the talk about American Horror Story, Final Fantasy, Buffy, and more!

Assassins Creed Valhalla

The history of the Assassins versus the Templar travels to Norhtern Europe
Settlements play a big part in the game
  • Trailer opens up on a viking village in Norway.
  • The trailer follows the protagonist Eivor
  • It seems that the viking religion plays a part in the game
    • Unsure of it being supernaturally or just spirtually
Eivor
  • A viking raider from Norway, leaving to the shores of England
  • Eivor is able to be male or female as the player prefers
The story is trying to show a full culture of people
  • The English are shown as terrified of Viking settlers and trying to show them in a bad light
  • At the time of the game 870 AD, England is not united, and is run by many kings
  • The game seems to be about Viking trying to settle on England
    • And fighting for the territory already held by the Saxons.
Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex
  • He is the main antagonist to the vikings in the game and history
There is a lot of viking tactics in the game
  • Longships are used to strike and retreat quickly
  • Some battles of soldier to soldier combat on fortifications
  • Raiding, where the objective is to steal resources rather than fight an enemy
Combat is quite a focus
  • You will be able to dual-wield any one handed weapons
    • Even dual-wield shields
  • And I feel there will be the ability to steal the weapons from the enemy
  • There is a face-off where Eivor is tossed around by a very large opponent
    • Heavily armored and seems to wield a claymore as a long sword
    • Avor wins with the “surprising” reveal of a hidden blade gauntlet
      • It is strapped to the top of his arm, rather then concealed below
      • It doesn’t mean Eivor is a born an raised assassin, but it is confirmed that they are working together
There will also be RPG elements
  • The usual skill trees and gear collecting to fit your playstyle
  • You will also be forming strategic alliances
  • Wins in combat and conversation both pave your path the greatness.
  • You get to grow and customize your settlement
    • recruit clan members
    • upgrade structures
    • make a barracks to get better recruits
    • have your blacksmith improve your weapons
    • new customization options at the tattoo parlor
    • and they promise more
  • Seems like in Blackflag, you will be able to send your recruits on missions for your friends
    • create and customize your own viking mercenaries
    • share them online
    • share in the spoils when they help your friends in their own sagas
    • all while recruiting your own player made mercenaries
  • There are also side quest activities
    • hunting
    • fishing
    • dice
    • drinking games
    • and the traditional Norse competition of flyting
      • basically Viking rap battles
Will be a launch title for Xbox Series X and PS5, and coming to current generation consoles this holiday season.

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part 2, originally slated for release back in February and then pushed to May 29th, has been delayed once more to June 19th of this year
    • This latest delay is due to the COVID situation, but has some really bad timing considering there was a massive story leak purporting to show the entire game just a few days ago. People wanting to avoid spoilers will need to be careful for the next couple months
  • Google has launched its second-gen Pixel Buds this week, bringing a couple of my favourite AirPods features to Android
    • They use a pairing process Google calls Fast Pair- you just hold the case near your phone and open it, then a screen pops up to automatically pair them and link them to your Google account
    • They’ve also brought the wireless earbuds into their Find My Device app, similar to Apple’s Find My app that lets you ring them and see the last location they were connected
  • The latest iOS beta software will now detect if you’re wearing a mask and skip from FaceID to the passcode prompt faster
    • You can also speed up the passcode prompt before this releases if you tap on the text saying “Face ID” on your screen while it tries to identify you
  • Huawei, for the fourth time, is taking heat for advertising campaigns that make it look like photos are being taken with their phones but in reality the photos are being taken with professional Nikon or Canon DSLR cameras and lenses
    • Their excuse is that they never actually say the photos are taken with the phones they’re advertising, but when you have you model hold their hand out toward the camera as if they were holding it you’re definitely setting some expectations on purpose

 

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Thank you to Breanne, for being so kind and helpful!

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PS2J 293 News – Ctrl Alt Leak All Your Data

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • The Stanley Parable

      • Started life as a Half-Life 2 mod in 2011, it became a standalone game in 2013
      • You play as the titular Stanley, and going through an office building in first person perspective, with everything that happens being narrated by the lovely British voice actor Kevan Brighting. You end up finding a bunch of diverging pathways, with options to disobey the narrator, that all get incorporated into the story with many different endings.
    • Watch Dogs

      • 2014
      • Third-person action-adventure game that follows hacker Aiden Pearce’s search for revenge after the killing of his niece, set in an open-world version of Chicago that has you going through different puzzles to hack a ton of different technology. There are also RPG mechanics with a reputation system and skill trees for hacking, crafting, combat, and driving
  • App Store

    • Alto’s Adventure

      • Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey across the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.
    • Alto’s Odyssey

      • Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless sandboarding journey to discover its secrets. Soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples in a fantastical place far from home.
    • Kingdom Rush

      • Original, Frontiers, and Origins
      • Highly rated tower defence games
      • Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command!

COVID-19

  • According to the CDC, water temperature doesn’t matter at all when washing your hands
    • Hot or cold, the important factors are to use soap for at least 20 seconds and to use clean, running water. Standing water in a basin could be contaminated
    • They also mention turning off the faucet after wetting your hands to save water while you soap up, saying there is little data to prove significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet
    • And also remember that while hand sanitizer also does the job, you’ll want to use soap and water if there is any visible dirt or grime to clean off. The best approach is to use both tools frequently
  • In some solid marketing spin, Apple is kicking off WWDC 2020 in June with an all new online format
    • Though it’s clearly a cancellation of the in-person sessions due to COVID-19, the way they’ve phrased it, and indeed the way it will exist this year, is an online format equally accessible to all developers no matter their location
    • They gave brief mention to the “current health situation”, but never actually mentioned COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Many internet companies like TekSavvy and Shaw are making changes to remove data caps, offer flexible billing, and open up access points like Shaw Go WiFi to the general public
    • The FCC in the US is left scrambling to protect consumers though, after aggressively deregulating and removing their own power
      • They’ve convinced many ISP’s to waive late fees and not terminate services due to unpaid bill during this crisis, but glaringly omitted is any mention of removing data caps and overage fees
      • Ajit Pai arguing that ISP’s shouldn’t disconnect people in a time of emergency is making many wonder- isn’t this an admission that the internet is a utility, a basic service nowadays like power and water, and thus should be regulated as such?
  • The vast majority of business are either closing down completely or transitioning to online-only or limited delivery/takeout options to limit personal contact
    • Apple is even offering returns up to 14 days after they re-open their retail stores, as long as it’s not a phone bought on contract
    • Gamestop, though, has made the controversial decision to stay open in the US. They’re limiting the number of customers allowed in and cancelling midnight releases, but it’s still not a great situation
      • Many staff have reported on reddit that they haven’t even received disinfectant cleaners from corporate, instead being expected to provide their own and request reimbursement
      • Gamestop also still appears to be accepting trade-ins. Workers have apparently been told they can use gloves when accepting them, but they again have to buy their own
  • With movie theatres closing to keep up social distancing, Universal is releasing new movies as 48-hour rentals on the same day as their planned theatrical release. Current options include Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, which cost $20 to rent (about two movie tickets)
    • I can see a lot of other studios doing the same, if they haven’t already, to try and keep up their revenue on new releases
  • Conan O’Brien is taking an interesting route in sorting this out, allowing his crew to work from home while he shoots his show from his house on his iPhone
  • The WWE is still going strong, performing their hearts out to completely empty stadiums and arenas in some entertaining and somewhat surreal Twitter videos I’ve seen
  • The European Union is calling on Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to temporarily reduce video quality to ease the strain on broadband networks while many work from home
    • Italy, one of the countries hit worst by the pandemic, saw a 75% rise in broadband and mobile network traffic over the weekend
  • Israel has passed an emergency law allowing them to track the smartphone data of people with suspected COVID-19 and others they come into contact with to make sure they follow quarantine rules, which is kind of terrifying when you think of the ramifications

Apple has announced a bunch of new hardware coming down the pipe, and DaringFireball has a solid breakdown of what we can expect

  • New iPad Pro models are coming with faster CPUs and GPUs
    • They also come with more storage, with the base model up to 128GB from 64GB, all for the same prices
    • They’ve also added a LiDAR sensor (basically a laser range-finder) which could mean much faster and more effective augmented reality apps
  • iPadOS 13.4 is coming this Tuesday and will include full system-wide pointer support for mice and trackpads
    • This looks pretty slick, being a round cursor when mousing around and then disappearing and highlighting buttons and controls when hovering over them
  • There will be a new Magic Keyboard iPad case coming in May with an integrated trackpad and backlit keys
    • It looks pretty powerful with no kickstand and adjustable angles, converting the iPad Pro into an actual , albeit topheavy, clamshell laptop
  • And the new MacBook Air has double the storage, greatly improved performance, and the prices have dropped significantly
    • With the price drops and storage increases, you can compare the previous generation’s slower 256GB model costing $1299USD to the brand new faster equivalent at $999
      • If you do want to spend $1299, you end up with a much beefier processor and double the storage
    • And as a bonus, they now have the new scissor-switch keyboard that solves many of the issues with Apple’s butterfly mechanism

China deploys a ton of ‘No touch’ Hologram elevator buttons

http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/demand-china-surges-no-touch-hologram-buttons/
  • A technology company in the city of Hefei, west of Shanghai, has attracted more than 100 orders for its holographic lift buttons as Chinese look for ways to avoid touching surfaces that may harbour the Covid-19 virus.
  • The device works by projecting an image of buttons in the air, and allowing users to “touch” them. The maker, Easpeed, says it can be fitted to all elevators, and has a response time of less than 30 milliseconds.
  • The system is relatively expensive, at about $2,000, prompting some building owners to opt for retrofitted voice controls, at a cost of around $500.
  • This has been done in hospitals in Yichang, Hubei Province, and Beijing’s Xiaotangshan Hospital.
  • Zhu Yongzhi, vice president Easpeed, told Global Times that the accuracy of voice control varied depending on noise levels, and the languages and dialects of the speaker.
  • He added that his company had received orders from Shanghai, Beijing, and Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang Province, and that the price may fall once Easpeed begins mass production.
  • Another approach has been taken by Huawei, which has developed an app that allows users to use a mobile phone to call elevators and select levels.
  • Meanwhile, those Chinese citizens who find themselves in unimproved lifts have taken their own measures, by using pens, toothpicks and keys to call their transport. Some may even have taken the stairs …

Watch Netflix with friends all from the comfort of you own homes!

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/netflix-party-lets-you-watch-movies-online-togethe/1100-6474858/
  • Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online.
    • Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.
  • How it works.
    • Install Netflix Party
    • Clicking the “Install Netflix Party” button on this page. Once you are redirected to the Chrome Web Store, click “Add to Chrome” to finish installing Netflix Party.
  • Open a Video in Netflix
    • Go to Netflix’s website. Choose any show you would like to watch and start playing the video.
  • Create your party
    • To create your party, click on the red “NP” icon located next to the address bar. Then click “Start Party” to get the party started, and share the party URL to invite friends.
  • Join a Netflix Party
    • To join a party click on the party URL, which will redirect to Netflix’s website. Then click on the “NP” button next to the address bar, and you should automatically join the party.
  • Has some customization options
    • User icon and nickname
    • Upload screenshots, emojis and GIFs
  • Netflix Party claims they have over 500 thousand users already
    • Is is not clear is they are affiliated with Netflix
    • Since they have a Patreon of $5 a month, I feel they are not
    • And with all participants needing their own access to Netflix
      • I doubt this will be taken down
      • But we never know

Tidbits

  • Microsoft’s been confirming the nuts and bolts of the Xbox Series X this last week, including a fancy solid-state drive, but they’ve made a bit of a misstep when it comes to expansion
    • They’re going to be selling the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary mcguffin developed with Seagate that you’ll need if you want to install more games than the internal storage allows. USB is allowed for backup, but not for gameplay
      • The cards will apparently offer some portability though, letting players bring a card loaded with games to a friend’s Xbox and play them there
    • Almost in response, Sony announced that the PS5 will have an expansion bay for an off-the-shelf solid-state drive, though they will be certifying specific drives to meet the new PCI Express 4.0 standard
  • After founding Microsoft in 1975, Bill Gates has left the its board entirely last week to dedicate more time to his philanthropic endeavours
    • It was a surprisingly quiet announcement, snuck in on a Friday under the headline “Microsoft announces change to its board of directors”
  • Apple has been fined a record $1.23B in France for price-fixing with their Apple Premium Reseller program
    • The French competition agency said that under the program, Apple published recommended prices and tightly restricted promotional materials distributors could use. One distributor said that if it ran a promotion Apple didn’t like, the company would retaliate by limiting product supply
    • The agency also found that Apple limited supplies to partners during moments of heavy demand around new product launches, to steer customers to its own stores
    • All in all some pretty nasty business practices that don’t sound very legal at all
  • Comcast has mistakenly published the names, phone numbers, and addresses of nearly 200,000 customers that pay monthly fees to remain unlisted
    • The information was made available on Ecolisting, a directory run by Comcast, and shortly thereafter picked up by third party directories
    • Comcast has shut that directory down, paid each customer $100 in credits, and offered free number changes, but the last time something like this happened in 2015 it resulted in a $33M settlement
    • This could be a very big deal for people that need to stay anonymous online for things like personal safety reasons, as even though they can change their phone numbers their names and addresses are out there now

New Overwatch Character #32, Echo

Backstory

  • Dr Mina Liao, Expert in robotics and artificial intelligence
    • Joined the Omnica Corporation and helped create the omnic race
    • During the Omnic Crisis, she was enlisted by Commander Morrison to join Overwatch
    • Mina created the Echo Project, to create an adaptive AI highly advanced robot to help with her vision of the future

Abilities

  • Primary attack
    • Tri-Shot – 15 shots before relead
    • Shoots 3 projectiles in a triangle pattern
  • Secondary Attack
    • Sticky Bombs – 5 second cooldown
    • Shoots a volley of bombs that stick to enemies and detonates after a short time
    • can be combined with Primary attack
      • Unlike Zenyatta’s charge attack
  • Primary Ability
    • Flight
    • Initial boost forward
    • Followed by a short time of free flight
    • She can also glide
      • Faster falling than Mercy’s similar ability, but more maneuverability
  • Alternate Ability
    • Focusing Beam
    • Deals significantly more damage to characters that are under 50% health
    • Also deals more damage to Barriers that are below 50%
      • Funfact – The first cracks on a barrier are when it falls to 50%
  • Ultimate
    • Duplicate
    • Echo will duplicate an enemy character for 15 seconds
    • Echo replicates the appearance of the hero and gains all their abilities
    • Damage done or healed, in this transformed state will accumulate more Ult charge than in regular gameplay
    • If you are defeated, you lose your transformation, and become Echo again
    • Quality of life enhancement added to confirm the character selected before transforming
      • It is also added to Ana’s Ultimate, to confirm the character you will be boosting
  • She is a very advanced character and will have a long time on the PTR

 

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Free game

  • Epic Games

    • The Bridge

      • 2013
      • Winner of the 2012 Indie Game Challenge awards for Achievement in Art Direction and Achievement in Gameplay
      • Billed as Isaac Newton meets M.C. Escher, The Bridge is a logic puzzle game that has you manipulating gravity and exploring impossible architectures

More details on the FBI/Apple encryption argument, courtesy of Daring Fireball

  • The GrayKey device doesn’t actually break an iPhone’s encryption, it just exploits software flaws to remove the password attempt limit and then brute-forces it
  • That does mean that it will depend on the passcode used on the devices
    • A four digit passcode would take about 7 minutes
    • Six digits takes on average 11 hours
    • Eight is 46 days
    • Ten would take 12.5 years
    • If the passcode uses numbers and letters, then a six character passcode would take about 72 years to guess
  • So it’s a little unfair of us to say that the FBI can definitely crack the devices involved in crimes. On the plus side, that means if you use a passcode with both numbers and letters your data remains safe while Apple refuses to hand over a back door

Early adopters of Google’s Stadia platform, that paid $170 plus a monthly subscription for the privilege of testing the service, are starting to get chapped with the lack of updates

  • The service has been out for two months and still falls short of many of Google’s promises
  • The idea was that you could pay a subscription to play triple-A games in your browser, but at the moment the only access is available by buying the Premiere Edition which uses a special controller and a Chromecast Ultra
  • Meanwhile Google has gone largely silent, giving no word on when people can expect some of the promised features or highly anticipated releases
    • The Stadia doesn’t have voice chat, which even the Switch has an attempt at
    • Games promising 4K resolutions still aren’t hitting that target
    • Integration with YouTube doesn’t have a date for release
    • No word on when players can expect cross-platform gaming, either
    • And the big one, the promised free base version of the service, is still completely uncertain
      • This is the big sore spot, with a lot of people saying that the service could work really well for demo or trial versions if they didn’t have to pay a premium for access
  • So far it’s a subscription-based digital storefront with 26 games, only one of which is an exclusive- the other 25 are already available for other consoles, in many cases for less money
  • It really hammers home the Google philosophy- release services in beta, let them simmer for a few years, and then see if you still have a userbase. Then flip a coin on whether or not to shut it down anyway

Sony’s quietly launched a $40 controller attachment that turns any Dualshock 4 into a pro controller

  • The DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment plugs in to the bottom of the controller and, adding only a little weight, gives you two paddles on the back sitting naturally under your middle or ring fingers, so that you can press buttons without having your thumbs leave the analog sticks
  • One really nice thing about the added device is it works with no extra configuration or drivers- on your PS4, PC, wherever, the controller just now has two extra programmable buttons that can act as any of the other buttons on the controller
  • And the easiest part is that it actually has an OLED touchscreen on the back of the device where you can assign the buttons and save up to three profiles, all configurable on the device itself
  • Unfortunately it’s proven to be very popular- it was released the day of recording and it’s already sold out at multiple stores, with Amazon’s only remaining offering being sold at an extra $10 premium
  • All in all it sounds like a pretty slick device, and though it’s coming kind of late in the PS4’s lifespan there’s speculation that the DualShock 5 will have extra buttons and Sony has said the PS5 will be backward-compatible with all the PS4’s accessories

According to their latest app updates, EA is fully retiring their Tetris apps for iOS and Android

  • As of April 21, 2020, they’re shutting things down so that, from the sounds of it, even people who have kept the apps installed won’t be able to run them
  • People looking for their Tetris fix won’t have to look far though- The Tetris Co. announced that they have a new version available as a free download on both the App Store and Google Play
    • It’s pretty bare bones, with one game mode and control scheme compared to EA’s three modes and two methods of control, but they promise that this is just a foundation for much more to come
    • They also have plans to bring Tetris Royale, a mobile adaptation of the Switch’s Tetris 99, out of beta and into full release
    • Unfortunately at the moment the new core game developed by N3twork is pretty choked with ads, and the in-app purchase to remove them is $7, so with all that working against it the reviews are looking grim- 1 star in the app store, and the Google Play store has reviews complaining of bad controls and required internet connectivity.
      • It sounds playable, but a large step back from EA’s mobile Tetris games

Last week we asked:

With Byleth, being the final character to the first DLC Fighters Pack, who do you want to see in the next one?
Looking for a realistic answer, and a fantasy pick.
Let us guess which is which!
Listening to Remember The Game, Adam Blank’s retro gaming podcast
  • Dovahkiin
    • The Dragonborn from Skyrim
    • Would made a neat level and great soundtrack addition
  • With the addition of the Altair costume for Mii Fighters, is Ezio on the horizon?

Tidbits

  • Designers of the Jaws Board Game and Disney’s Villainous are working on a horror board game based on The Shining
  • Adobe Flash’s days continue to be numbered, with the latest Safari browser beta explicitly ending support for the web plugin
    • At the moment it’s disabled by default, but can still be installed and manually activated. Soon that won’t be the case for the built-in macOS browser and you may need to download Firefox or Chrome to do so
  • Beginning this February, new installs and updates of Office365 Pro Plus will include a Chrome extension that forcibly changes the default search engine from Google to Bing
    • The worst part is how purpose-built that extension is- if you already use Bing, it won’t even be installed.
    • If you want to change it back you’ll need to either find a new toggle that the extension adds to Chrome or remove the whole extension itself
    • From users to sysadmins, many are calling the change invasive and uncalled for. And I’m hard-pressed to disagree
  • Black Mesa, the glorious remaster/remix/love letter from fans to the original Half Life, has officially released their reimagined Xen chapters and is due for a full release early this year
    • Black Mesa has been around for years now but didn’t include the Xen portion of the game due to the sheer amount of work the developers wanted to put into it- the original chapters didn’t really feel like the same game, and they wanted to put even more polish into them than they did with the improved and expanded Earth chapters
    • In related news, in the ramp up to Half Life: Alyx Valve has made every previous official Half-Life game free to play until it comes out this March

We want to know:

With all these games being remastered and released on modern consoles, is there something you feel slipped through the cracks and could use a remaster?

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

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PS2J 282 News – Hot Mario

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Rayman Legends

      • 2013
      • Action platformer in classic Rayman fashion that has up to four players simultaneously making their way through levels, collecting Lums, and defeating enemies
  • Sony

    • Titanfall 2

      • 2016
      • First person shooter that prioritizes fluid movement and adaptable tactics, and then you drop a gigantic robot in the arena and wreck shop
      • The sequel also introduced a single-player campaign with a buddy-cop / Half-Life feel
    • Monster Energy Supercross

      • 2018
      • Arcade motocross racing game that lets you customize your rider and bike for single-player or against racers all over the world
  • Microsoft

    • Insane Robots

      • 2018
      • Roguelike turn-based card battle game that has you leading a robot rebellion through randomly generated survival arenas
    • Jurassic World Evolution

      • 2018
      • Business simulation game based on 2015’s Jurassic World, where you build a dinosaur park on the Las Cinco Muertes Archipelago
    • Toy Story 3

      • 2010
      • A platformer loosely based on the film of the same name that also includes a free-roam Toy Box mode set within the fictional Woody’s Roundup television series
    • Castlevania: Lord of Shadow – Mirror of Fate HD

      • 2013
      • Side-scrolling action-adventure game that reveals the story of the Belmonts as they battle across generations against the forces of darkness

Google’s Stadia launch is making waves with its underwhelming performance in the wild

  • Apparently despite Google’s insistence that games will run in 4K resolutions at 60 fps, Bungie has stated that the Stadia’s version of Destiny 2 renders at 1080P and then upscales to improve the quality
    • This appears to be a common strategy, with Red Dead Redemption 2 also rendering at 1440p and upscaling after the fact
  • Google’s released a statement basically saying that they support 4K and 60fps, and they give developers “the freedom of how to achieve the best image quality and frame rate”
    • They went on to say that they expect developers will be continually improving gameplay and graphics as time goes on
  • Still, after Google’s vice president announced that all games at launch would support 4K, this is a bitter pill to swallow for many who spent almost $200 on the platform and signed up for the $10/month service in addition to the cost of the games themselves
  • In an effort to ease the pain of new users Google’s given a couple of free games to early adopters- Farming Simulator 19: Platinum Edition and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, and refunds for both for people who recently purchased them at full price

Valve revealed more details about Half-Life: Alyx, and it looks gorgeous

  • The graphics are just beautiful, and gameplay seems to be the familiar mix of shooting and problem solving that Half-Life fans are used to
    • They’ve also brought gravity gun-like mechanics with the gravity gloves, which seem to allow for full-scale gameplay in smaller rooms by letting you catch and bring stuff towards you that you can’t otherwise reach
  • The game can apparently be played either sitting, standing, or with roomscale movement, and players can use finger-tracking or trigger-based controllers to either teleport around or walk smoothly with an analog stick
  • It’ll officially support the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and Oculus Rift headsets. The Oculus Quest will also work when connected to a PC
  • That PC is going to need some beefy specs though, with Alyx’s minimum requirements including mid-high range processors and graphics cards, as well as 12GB of RAM
  • It will apparently be a “full-length” game, hitting Steam in March 2020, and preorders are available for $60USD. Owners of the Index will get it for free

Facebook has acquired Beat Games, the developers of Beat Saber, and I’m not sure how to feel about it

  • On one hand, Beat Saber is an amazing game and the team behind it deserves all the money and recognition
  • On the other, Facebook is my least favourite company and I can’t help but think there’s going to be a combination of nickel-and-diming and privacy invasion coming soon
    • They’ve already announced Facebook support incoming with “social features, new modes, music, and more”
  • Apparently the dev team will join Oculus Studios to continue work on all currently supported platforms, and current plans for 360 degree levels and more music remain unchanged

And last we have a blast from the past for you- contaminated romaine lettuce has hit once more, causing 67 cases of E. coli across the US

  • You might remember this from way back in episode 191, 193, and 226
  • This time the outbreak has been linked to romaine grown in Salinas, California, and the CDC is advising consumers and retailers not to eat, sell, or serve any romaine grown in the region
  • If you’re not sure where your romaine came from it’s best to just toss it to be safe

Deathwing crashes Heroes of the Storm

Deathwing breaks many conventions of what people are used to with a hero in Heroes of the Storm.
He is the largest playable character in the game, making him a massive target. Even larger than when Alexstraza, uses her dragon form, but Deathwing will always be in his dragon form.
He is a melee bruiser, with energy instead of mana. He has huge advantages, and its balanced by extreme weaknesses.

His strengths

  • Deathwing is permanently Unstoppable. He is immune to all crowd control effects
  • He does area damage
  • All his abilities are not only strong, but cannot be interrupted
  • He has a high health pool, and a ton of armour
  • He has global mobility
  • And Crowd Control abilites

His weaknesses

  • He is unaffected by allied abilities, that’s no buffs or heals
  • Poke damage can’t be healed easily, so its quite dangerous
  • With a massive health pool, percentage-damage attacks do quite a lot
  • His abilities have a obvious wind-up, all his attacks are telegraphed
  • Once he uses Dragonflight, his options are limited

His abilities

Passive

  • Aspect of Death

    • Deathwing has 4 armour plates which grant 10 armor each. Each quarter portion of his health lost, loses a plate. And health gained does not restore armor plates. Only Dragonflight will heal are restore armor plates.
    • Deathwing is unstoppable and deals 100% additional damage to heroes.
    • And his contempt for even his allies prevent them from using friendly effects on him.

Mount

  • Dragonflight

    • 45 Second cooldown
    • After 3 seconds, fly into the sky, becoming immune to all effects and gaining 2.5% Health per second.
    • Taking or dealing damage puts this ability on a 5 second cooldown.

1 Key

  • Form Switch

    • Switches Deathwing between Destroyer and World Breaker forms, each granting access to two unique Basic Abilities.

Q

  • Molten Flame

    • After 1.5 seconds, Deathwing breathes stream of flame. Drains 30 Energy per second.
  • Destroyer – During Dragonflight

    • Slam down to the ground, dealing damage to enemies in the area and gaining access to Destroyer form
    • Can be in air however long you want.
    • Can land on any point with vision.
    • Other abilities have a 3 seconds cooldown after landing.

W

  • Incinerate – Destroyer Form

    • After 0.75 seconds, Deathwing flaps his wings, dealing damage to nearby enemies.
  • Lava Burst – World Breaker Form

    • After a 1 second delay, deal damage to all enemies in the area and create a pool of magma that deals damage and slows enemies. Lasts 6 seconds.
  • World Breaker – During Dragonflight

    •  Slam down to the ground, dealing damage to enemies in the area and gaining access to World Breaker form

E

  • Onslaught – Destroyer Form

    • After 0.5 seconds, Deathwing lunges in a direction dealing damage to enemies and slowing them by 35% for 2 seconds. Deathwing bites enemies at the end of the lunge, dealing additional damage.
  • Earth Shatter – World Breaker Form

    • Create a fissure of earth that deals damage to enemies hit and stuns them for 0.75 seconds.
    • Attack comes out in a cone, only effecting the edges

R

  • Cataclysm

    • After 2 seconds, Deathwing flies in the targeted direction, dealing damage on impact and leaving scortched ground that deals damage over time. Lasts 6 seconds.
    • Deathwing starts with his epic ability, but it starts on a 270 second cooldown at the beginning of a match.

Amiibo releases while we’re gone!

  • Good news for Canadians, Best Buy pre-orders have been really good for amiibo lately
    • In my experience at least
  • Shovel Knight
    • 3 Pack!
      • Plauge Knight
      • Specter Knight
      • King Knight!
    • Golden Shovel Knight
  • Smash Bros
    • Ricter
    • Dark Samus

 

Be safe holiday shopping with BBB 

  • Holiday shopping is fun, but be safe
    • It’s black Friday sales the weekend of this episodes release
    • and Christmas shopping is up while we are taking our December break
  • When sales are on, so are the scammers
    • If a sale looks too good to be true, it probably is
    • The Better Business Bureau is here to help!
    • You can search by keyword
    • Scam Type
    • Country
    • And even Date Reported
  • Make sure you talk to your less techsavvy family and friends
    • Don’t click links in unexpected emails
    • Don’t use links provided
      • Navigate to the site yourself
      • Use caution when using a link that is required for a promotion

 

Tidbits

  • Apparently Apple will be revamping their software development processes after the buggy launch of iOS 13, implementing “flags” to allow software engineers to selectively enable or disable unfinished or buggy features in testing
  • According to Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, VR support is not in the cards for the next Xbox (currently known as Project Scarlett)
    • In a statement to gaming site Stevivor, Spencer said that he thinks VR is isolation and games are a communal, kind of together experience
  • No Man’s Sky is getting yet another huge, free update- this time letting you upgrade your favourite ships all the way up to S-Class
    • The new upgrade system is being introduced alongside a lot of other pieces like a ship salvage system, inventory upgrades, the ability to have multiple multitools, and a ton of other quality-of-life improvements

Alan’s Top Recommendations of the Year!

  • Movie
    • Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (ep 230)
  • Netflix series
    • Russian Doll (ep 239)
  • Book and series
    • The Calculating Stars (ep 242)

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

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

 

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Free games

  • Microsoft

    • Hitman: The Complete First Season

      • 2016
      • Third person stealth assassination game in episodic form, taking Agent 47 all around the world to prove he is the ultimate silent assassin
    • We Were Here

      • 2017
      • Co-op puzzle game where you team up with a friend or stranger online to escape an abandoned castle, but the twist is you’re split up only able to communicate with and help eachother via walkie talkie
    • Earth Defense Force 2025

      • 2013
      • Arcade-style third person shooter that has you taking on gigantic alien insects with infinite ammo and often-ridiculous weaponry
      • More details in PS2J 238, the history of Earth Defence Force
    • Tekken Tag Tournament 2

      • 2011
      • Tournament fighting game with solid gameplay and a massive cast
  • Sony

    • Batman: Arkham Knight

      • 2015
      • Solid third-person stealth action game in the Batman universe with great combat, fun stealth takedowns, and the addition of a drivable Batmobile, all brought together by Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice
    • Darksiders 3
      • 2018
      • Action-adventure Metroidvania style game that will be familiar to fans of the first two, Darksiders 3 has you taking control of Fury, the sister to War and Death and another of the four horsemen of the apocalypse
  • Epic
    • Celeste
      • 2018
      • Platform adventure game where you have to jump, climb, and dash through each area to climb a mountain and collect strawberries
    • Inside
      • 2016
      • The spiritual successor to Limbo, Inside is another deceptively simple platformer where you control a small boy in a big, very dangerous world
 

Security warning- it’s time to delete the CamScanner app immediately

  • Security researchers at Kaspersky discovered malware in various versions of the Android app, and the iOS app has a history of not being much better despite the protections Apple has built in to their App Store process
    • The malware is set up to extract and run another piece of software that downloads more malware for whatever its creators are up to at the moment, like showing intrusive ads or signing users up for paid subscriptions
  • Lifehacker is recommending Android users switch to a better, more secure app like Adobe Scan or Microsoft Office Lens, or use the built-in scanner in the Google Drive app
    • iOS users can also use the document scanning function built in to the Notes app
 

Speaking of security, after the Siri privacy concerns we reported on back in episode 265, Apple has officially apologized and put a halt to the Siri grading program pending some serious changes

  • It looks like concerns were more founded than I thought, with Apple laying off the contractors they’d hired to review selected Siri conversations to improve the service and completely revamping the whole program later this fall
  • The changes include defaulting everyone to opt out of the recordings, allowing an optional opt-in with the ability to turn it back off at any time, and only allowing Apple employees access to the audio samples instead of using contractors
  • They’ve also released a new Siri Privacy and Grading FAQ that you can check out for more details on the upcoming program: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210558
 

The Apex Legends subreddit became an interesting place this month, with developers logging on to insult players reacting to microtransactions

  • About two weeks ago Respawn posted an apology regarding the Iron Crown event and how they locked some of their cooler skins and items behind paid lootboxes
    • For context, one event item called the Heirloom Axe costs over $200 CAD to get
    • In the future they say they’ll provide more ways to obtain items, and in the meantime they’ve made some tweaks to how the event items are being distributed
  • The comments thread then got pretty heated, as a Respawn employee started engaging with people pretty angry about the situation calling them dicks, ass-hats, and freeloaders
    • The downvotes are currently sitting at -5300, -3500, and -1000 respectively, so they’re going to have to try a lot harder to beat the Battlefront 2 “sense of pride and accomplishment” microtransaction comment with a whopping -670000
    • I’m not sure what’s going on over at EA, but it really seems like they should tone it down with both the lootboxes and the social media responses
  • This time it was handled with a lot more class though- instead of EA’s strategy of “ignore the masses”, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella publicly apologized for the discussion, saying
    • “Some of our folks crossed a line with their comments, and that’s not how we want Respawn to be represented. I apologize to any of our fans that were offended.”
    • “I will always stand behind the team here at Respawn and support them on speaking out against some of the toxic and nasty comments aimed at their families and loved ones,” he continued. “But we shouldn’t contribute to it when we do comment, and add to the very thing we want to prevent. Last week we didn’t do that, going forward we will be better. Having an open, healthy relationship with our community is incredibly important to all of us at Respawn.”
  • All in all it’s a pretty classy response to a bad situation, taking responsibility without throwing anyone under the bus
 

An attempt is being made to bring Telltale Games back from the dead, though with very few of its original parts

  • All the assets were purchased by LCG Entertainment, and the new Telltale will sell some of the back catalog as well as work on new games based on some old associated properties as well as new licenses
  • Apparently some workers from Telltale Classic will be offered freelance roles with a possibility for full-time in the future, but it looks like LCG wants to make a fairly clear distinction between that company and New Telltale
  • It’s been confirmed that New Telltale has the rights to continue The Wolf Among Us and Batman, as well as some original properties, and there are some expired licenses that they’re currently reviewing
    • Unfortunately the rights to release a game based on Stranger Things have already reverted back to Netflix, but there’s still a lot there to work with
  • Fingers crossed they can recapture the magic of early Telltale, before they overreached and started pumping out poorly managed games in a dated, hard to work with engine
 
Good news everyone, the final additions to Shovel Knight, King of Cards and a multiplayer fighting mode called Showdown, are officially coming in December
  • The game is also getting features like new body types, a they/them pronoun option, accessibility features, co-op feats, new language support, and additional cheats that apparently add whole new ways to play
    • It’s been so long since the main campaign released I’ll have to dust off my Vita and check it out this Christmas
  • There’s also a new spinoff coming called Shovel Knight Dig, following Shovel Knight in a Spelunky-type adventure through semi-randomized levels as you pursue Drill Knight and his dastardly crew to the centre of the earth
    • It’s being developed in collaboration with Nitrome, makers of games like Redungeon and Rust Bucket
    • There’s no word on a release date for Dig quite yet
 

More than a year after Zuckerberg promised a Clear History tool for Facebook it’s finally here, and it kind of works?

  • Rather than the previous claims of it deleting tracking information from your account, it just slightly limits data that is collected about you when you’re not on Facebook
    • For instance, how Facebook would present ads based on things you shopped for online
  • It doesn’t even stop the tracking, but rather disconnects it from a specific user- everything is still gathered to build a profile, it just may not be used on you in particular
    • And keep in mind, this only applies to behind-the-scenes tracking- they can still identify you if they have your email or phone number
  • And it only limits data gathering one way, from third parties into Facebook. Nothing stops Facebook from reporting back to advertisers when users purchase a product after seeing a targeted ad
  • All in all it’s kind of a garbage attempt, especially when it was first touted as working the same as as your browser’s Clear History feature- flushing the data entirely
 

In response to WebKit’s announcement that tracking cookies will be treated as a security risk, Google’s now trying to make the argument that blocking them is actually bad for privacy…?

  • For anyone not aware, a cookie is a little piece of info that websites can read and write in your web browser, to do things like keep you logged in when you leave a website, that can also be used like breadcrumbs to see what websites you visit
  • Their first point seems to be that if you block cookies then developers will find other, more secret ways to track users, like building a fingerprint based on things like what device they’re using or what fonts they have installed. Since users can’t manually clear that, it’s apparently worse
    • freedom-to-tinker.comsaid it well: “We see that our town has a pickpocketing problem. But if we crack down on pickpocketing, the pickpocketers will just switch to muggings. That would be even worse. Surely you don’t want that, do you?”
  • And their second point is that blocking cookies that target ads causes content publishers to lose ad revenue because the ads become less relevant. This was, of course, backed up by a study (read, single paragraph in a blog post) run by Google. Who I’m sure is a completely third party wait it’s the same company
    • As long as we’re comparing anecdotes, the international edition of the New York Times recently switched from tracking-based ads to contextual and geographic ads—and it didn’t experience any decrease in advertising revenue.
  • So their strategy is to block fingerprinting (which is good) and improve the classification of cookies to be more transparent about what’s being used to track you (which is kind of neutral? Because in theory any cookie could be used to track you)
 

Creature in the Well

  • A top down dungeon crawler
    • With elements of pinball
  • You play as Bot-C
    • The last of engineer of a robot collective
    • You have to save the town of Mirage from a huge sandstorm by repairing an ancient weather machine