Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

New trailer for Disney’s live-action Dumbo captures magic of original

November 15th, 2018
Tears of a clown: Everyone's favorite misfit baby elephant with the big floppy ears is back.

Enlarge / Tears of a clown: Everyone's favorite misfit baby elephant with the big floppy ears is back. (credit: Disney)

When Disney first announced a live-action version of its 1941 animated classic, Dumbo, plenty of people were skeptical. The original was well-nigh perfect. Why mess with perfection? Reactions were decidedly more positive when the first teaser dropped earlier this year. Now there's a new trailer that should dispel any lingering doubts. The live-action Dumbo promises to be just as magically transporting as the original.

In the 1941 film, the newborn Dumbo becomes the butt of jokes because of his enormous ears. When some boys taunt him, his enraged mother loses her temper and attacks them. She is declared mad and locked in a cage, leaving Dumbo alone. Too clumsy to be featured in the circus elephant act, he is made into a clown instead. Dumbo's only friend in this miserable existence is a mouse named Timothy, who discovers Dumbo can fly and stages an elaborate stunt at a circus performance one night to prove it. Dumbo becomes the star of the circus and is reunited with his mother.

Director Tim Burton's version appears to follow the same general outline, with a few updates. Here, Dumbo is befriended by two young children, whose father has been hired by the circus to care for the baby elephant. Dumbo's flying ability draws the attention of an evil entrepreneur (played by Michael Keaton), who buys out the circus, the better to exploit its star attraction. The circus moves to Dreamland, a place somewhat reminiscent of Disneyland. This being a Disney film, it's safe to assume that Dumbo and his friends triumph over those who would exploit them for profit, and live happily ever after.

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Posted in Disney, Dumbo, Entertainment, film, Gaming & Culture, Tim Burton, Trailers | Comments (0)

Microsoft wants Azure to be the multiplayer server solution for every platform

November 14th, 2018
<em>Sea of Thieves</em> is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling.

Enlarge / Sea of Thieves is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling. (credit: Rare)

Microsoft today launched a preview of PlayFab Multiplayer Servers, a new Azure-based service giving game developers dynamic, on-demand scaling of multiplayer servers.

Microsoft bought Seattle-based PlayFab earlier this year with a view to using it to expand Azure's reach in the gaming world. PlayFab is building all the cloud-based infrastructure needed for today's games: matchmaking (using the same algorithms as Xbox Live to try to group players of similar skill together), leaderboards, server hosting, player identity/profile management, commerce, and so on. Broadly speaking, the intent of PlayFab is to let games developers focus on their games, taking care of the server-side work for them. PlayFab's services are platform agnostic, and Microsoft has preserved this aspect: there are SDKs for Xbox, Windows, PlayStation, Switch, iOS, and Android.

At the time of the purchase, PlayFab ran atop Amazon's AWS. Some parts still do, but others have moved to Microsoft's own Azure. The Multiplayer Server feature, released in preview today, is one of the services on Azure. Microsoft has more Azure data centers in more parts of the world than Amazon or Google, which in turn means that Azure servers should generally be closer to where the players are. This should ensure lower latency and a better gaming experience for games on those servers.

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Posted in azure, cloud, development, Games, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, Multiplayer, Nintendo, playfab, PlayStation, servers, Sony, Switch, Tech, XBox | Comments (0)

Original Command & Conquer devs will remaster series’ first games in one package

November 14th, 2018
No gameplay yet—just familiar logos (which we slapped onto a sweet, fiery explosion).

Enlarge / No gameplay yet—just familiar logos (which we slapped onto a sweet, fiery explosion). (credit: EA / Getty)

After soft-announcing a new Command & Conquer project last month, EA has taken the wraps off a plan that will (hopefully) satisfy that '90s real-time strategy series' biggest fans. Production has officially begun on a full remaster of the first two Command & Conquer RTS games—the 1995 original and the 1996 sequel Red Alert—with all the games' expansion packs included as part of the complete package.

What's more, development is being spearheaded by Petroglyph Games, a studio formed from the ashes of original C&C development studio Westwood.

"This is getting the band back together," Petroglyph Audio Director Frank Klepacki said in an announcement video on Wednesday. "This is how it should be. We were all there from the inception of it."

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Posted in Command & Conquer, Command and Conquer, EA, Gaming & Culture, Red Alert | Comments (0)

We unbox the $200 “power armor” Fallout ’76 version so you don’t have to

November 13th, 2018

Sam Machkovech

A surprise showed up at my doorstep last night: the Fallout '76 "power armor" edition, arriving ahead of the game's official launch at 12:01am tomorrow morning (Wednesday, November 14). This $200 special edition has been sold out for quite some time, as it was announced well before the game began receiving more public scrutiny.

But even though its sticker price includes a DLC-loaded version of the retail game, most of its cost is made up of Fallout series swag. Even if you're wary about the game's buggy beta period, is there still enough here to justify the insane cost for a series diehard?

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Posted in bethesda, Fallout, fallout 76, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Here’s the first teaser for the final season of Game of Thrones

November 13th, 2018
The survivors of the first eight seasons of <em>Game of Thrones</em> will face the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights in the final season.

Enlarge / The survivors of the first eight seasons of Game of Thrones will face the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights in the final season. (credit: HBO)

It has been a long wait for the final season of Game of Thrones, and sadly, the wait is not quite over yet. But HBO has thrown hungry fans a bone with a shiny new teaser trailer. There's no new footage from the upcoming episodes, but we do get one full minute featuring some of our favorite moments from seasons past.

(Some spoilers from prior seasons below.)

Game of Thrones is the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin's best-selling Song of Ice and Fire series of novels—for those of you who've been living under a rock since the show debuted in 2011 and turned into a bona fide global phenomenon. It's a ratings blockbuster for HBO that has won multiple Emmys and may be one of the most expensive TV series ever made, thanks to numerous film-quality battle scenes, CGI dragons, and a simply massive all-star cast of characters. Bonus: it's got a killer theme song and opening title sequence.

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Posted in Entertainment, Game of Thrones, Gaming & Culture, George R.R. Martin, HBO, Song of Ice and Fire, teasers, televisions, Trailers | Comments (0)

A new “fuzzy Pikachu” debate headlines a trailer-filled Monday

November 13th, 2018

Three film and TV studios elected to dump their latest trailers online on Monday, as opposed to spreading the love out over the week. Alone, each trailer is each intriguing, but their combined nerd power lets us glimpse what's to come from three world premieres.

The highlight of this year's Veterans Day trailer explosion is Detective Pikachu, a live-action (and decidedly Western) take on the odd video game of the same name. That title means a few things. First, like the game, this fork of the Pokemon universe appears to exist outside the collect-'em-all series' game and anime entries. That means there's no sign of familiar human characters like Ash, Daisy, Brock, or Team Rocket.

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Posted in detective pikachu, Gaming & Culture, MST3K, Pixar, pokemon, toy story 4 | Comments (0)

Legendary Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee has died

November 12th, 2018

Evan Hurd/Sygma/Corbis via Getty Images

Stan Lee—the Marvel Comics legend responsible for cultural icons from Spider-Man and Iron Man to X-Men and Black Panther—has died according to multiple reports from places like TMZ and The Hollywood Reporter.

THR spoke with a source that said Lee died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. TMZ spoke to Lee's daughter, J.C., who said an ambulance rushed to Lee's Hollywood Hills home early Monday morning to take him to Cedars-Sinai. That outlet noted Lee had suffered several illnesses over the last year or so, including dealing with pneumonia. Lee was 95 years old.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Marvel, Stan Lee | Comments (0)

Hitman 2’s Denuvo DRM cracked days before the game’s release

November 12th, 2018
Agent 47 represents <em>Hitman 2</em>. The boxes represent Denuvo's DRM protection. The attackers in purple represent crackers to bust through that protection.

Enlarge / Agent 47 represents Hitman 2. The boxes represent Denuvo's DRM protection. The attackers in purple represent crackers to bust through that protection.

Over the years, we at Ars have watched with interest as anti-piracy technology Denuvo has progressed from the seemingly unbeatable scourge of the cracking scene to a trivial security measure routinely defeated within a day of a game's release. But Denuvo protection wasn't even able to provide a few hours of security for this week's official launch of Hitman 2, which has seen its DRM cracked days before the official release.

The early crack, released on November 10, was made possible by publisher Warner Bros.'s decision to make Hitman 2 available on November 9 to those who preordered the game—four days before the official street date of November 13. The quick crack also comes despite Hitman 2's use of a brand-new "version 5.3" variant of Denuvo, the latest in a long line of changes intended to thwart the cracking community.

Hitman 2's DRM situation mirrors that of Final Fantasy XV's March release on PC. In that case, the preloading of unencrypted game executable via Origin let crackers remove Denuvo protection four days before the game's launch date.

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Posted in Cracking, denuvo, DRM, fckdrm, Gaming & Culture, piracy | Comments (0)

Attenborough’s calming narration comes to Netflix in 2019 doc Our Planet

November 12th, 2018
Coming in 2019 to a Netflix near you.

Enlarge / Coming in 2019 to a Netflix near you. (credit: Netflix)

Two of the main people behind the BBC's modern wave of nature documentary series, including their iconic narrator, have signed on to make their next documentary project with Netflix.

The soothing, British-accented tones of narrator Sir David Attenborough, along with Blue Planet and Planet Earth creator, director, and executive producer Alastair Fothergill, are the headline names for a new project, dubbed Our Planet. Netflix says this eight-part "natural history" documentary series will debut exclusively on its service on April 5, 2019.

The series includes a partnership with the World Wildlife Federation, along with statements from Attenborough about the "beauty and fragility" of our planet and the claim that humanity is "the greatest threat to the health of our home," but this all merely implies that Our Planet will heavily focus on conservation. The series' released teaser trailer instead largely resembles recent BBC docuseries—meaning, dramatic, crystal-clear shots of wildlife in its natural habitat. We'll always take more of those, and Netflix is advertising 4K-ready video content for this one.

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Posted in blue planet, Gaming & Culture, Netflix, planet earth, sir david attenborough | Comments (0)

Keyboard and mouse controls finally hit Xbox One this week

November 12th, 2018
Lap-based keyboard-and-mouse solutions like the Razer Turret will soon be fully compatible with the Xbox One.

Enlarge / Lap-based keyboard-and-mouse solutions like the Razer Turret will soon be fully compatible with the Xbox One. (credit: Razer)

It has now been two years and four months since Microsoft's Phil Spencer first told PCGames that keyboard-and-mouse support for the Xbox One was "not years away, it’s more like months away." In any case, the feature is now just two days away, as Microsoft announced this weekend that support for the traditionally PC-based control scheme would be rolling out to Xbox One players on Wednesday, November 14.

In addition to Fortnite and Warframe, which should receive the new control options this week, Microsoft said the following Xbox One games would receive mouse-and-keyboard support in November:

  • Bomber Crew
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Strange Brigade
  • Vermintide 2
  • War Thunder
  • X-Morph Defense

Seven more titles will add mouse-and-keyboard support "in the future," according to Microsoft:

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Keyboard, microsoft, Mouse, Xbox One | Comments (0)