Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

Star Trek: Discovery’s second season may boldly go where the first did not

January 18th, 2019
Michael Burnham is all of us.

Enlarge / Michael Burnham is all of us. (credit: CBS)

In many ways, this season felt very much like a much-needed reset from the previous one. The Klingon war is over, and the Federation is consumed by a new scientific pursuit: mysterious red bursts of light that have appeared across 30,000 light years.

The scene that really drove home the reset was the formal roll call, where our bridge characters say their names—really, directly to the audience.

It’s still baffling that we went an entire season without knowing most of the bridge crew’s names! Yes, we sort of got to know a handful of characters, but there are regular faces that we’ve seen many times on the bridge. If like the other shows, where the bulk of each episode happens in the nerve center of the ship, it would help to know who we’re interacting with.

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Posted in burnham, Discovery, Gaming & Culture, sarek, spock, Star Trek | Comments (0)

Mortal Kombat 11 gameplay as seen by a ‘90s arcade rat

January 17th, 2019
Scorpion has come a long way in <em>Mortal Kombat 11</em>, but he's still a golden ninja with flaming powers, so it works for me.

Enlarge / Scorpion has come a long way in Mortal Kombat 11, but he's still a golden ninja with flaming powers, so it works for me.

I was 15 when Mortal Kombat first hit the arcades in 1992. It was a different era then—no social media, no modern Internet to speak of, and we didn't have year-long teaser campaigns for new games. You would just walk into the arcade one day and there was a new cabinet sitting there, maybe back in a corner, like a secret, or maybe in the center of the floor, already gathering a crowd.

Being nostalgic for your teenage years is easy, and I don't want to over-mythologize the arcade of my youth. But there was something special about getting those surprises, and we've lost that. It seems rare now to be hit with the unexpected—dodging spoilers is practically a contact sport. Here was this game like nothing else we'd seen before, and it just appeared.

We were already fighting-game players. Street Fighter II, Fatal Fury, World Heroes—we dropped our quarters into every game we could get our hands on. But Mortal Kombat was different.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Mortal Kombat | Comments (0)

Ars community gives more than $20,000 in annual charity drive

January 17th, 2019
Ars community gives more than $20,000 in annual charity drive

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A month ago, I asked readers to donate to our 2018 Charity Drive sweepstakes. All told, Ars Technica readers donated $20,210.66 to Child's Play and the EFF through the charity drive. That brings our total donations over 12 years of charity driving over the $300,000 mark! Well done, Arsians!

Thanks to everyone who gave whatever they could. We're still early in the process of selecting and notifying winners of our swag giveaway, so don't fret if you haven't heard if you're a winner yet. In the meantime, enjoy these quick stats from the 2018 drive.

  • 2018 Fundraising total: $20,210.66
    • Total given to Child's Play: $6,739.69
    • Total given to the EFF: $13,470.97
  • Number of individual donations: 305
    • Child's Play donations: 145
    • EFF donations: 160
  • Average donation: $66.26
    • Child's Play average donation: $52.37
    • EFF average donation: $84.19
  • Median donation: $25 (even)
    • Median Child's Play donation: $25
    • Median EFF donation: $37.50 (even)
  • Top single donation: $1,500 (to EFF)
  • Donations of $1,000 or more: 3
  • Donations of $100 or more: 65
  • $1 donations: 3 (every little bit helps!)
  • Total charity donations from Ars Technica drives since 2007 (approximate): $302,925.90
    • 2017: $36,012.37
    • 2016: $38,738.11
    • 2015: $38,861.06
    • 2014: $25,094.31
    • 2013: $23,570.13
    • 2012: $28,713.52
    • 2011: ~$26,000
    • 2010: ~$24,000
    • 2009: ~$17,000
    • 2008: ~$12,000
    • 2007: ~$10,000

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Here’s the action-packed first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum

January 17th, 2019

Keanu Reeves is on the run with his trusty canine companion in first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum.

Everyone's favorite reluctant assassin is on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head, and few allies, in the action-packed first trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum.

(Spoilers for first two movies below.)

For those who missed the first two movies in the trilogy, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a legendary hitman (known as "Baba Yaga") who tried to retire when he fell in love and got married. Unfortunately, he's drawn back into the dark underground world by an act of senseless violence after her death. As Wick mourns Helen's passing, Iosef Tarasov, the son of a Russian crime syndicate, breaks in, kicks him unconscious, and steals his classic 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. On top of all that, Tarasov kills the little dog, Daisy, that Helen gave to John to comfort him. From there, there's really no hope for Iosef. Nothing will stop John Wick from seeking retribution.

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Posted in Entertainment, film, Gaming & Culture, John Wick, Keanu Reeves, sequels, Trailers | Comments (0)

Bethesda confirms bans for visiting hidden Fallout 76 “developer room”

January 17th, 2019

Video showing the contents of the hidden "developer room" in Fallout 76.

Fallout 76 developer Bethesda has confirmed it is issuing temporary bans to players who access a hidden "developer room" full of lucrative and unreleased items for the online game.

News of the room's existence on Fallout 76 servers started leaking out publicly last week, with videos showing an area filled with boxes containing every legitimate item in the game, as well as a few cosmetics and weapons that have yet to be officially released (and a curious human-like NPC named "Wooby.") Details of the apparent teleport hack being used to access the room in the PC version of the game were harder to come by without lurking in private Discord channels and hacking forums, though.

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Posted in bans, bethesda, developer room, fallout 76, Gaming & Culture, hack, moderation | Comments (0)

Unity clarifies ToS changes, welcomes back “unsupported” SpatialOS

January 16th, 2019
Unity clarifies ToS changes, welcomes back “unsupported” SpatialOS

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Days after a nasty public split with cloud gaming developer Improbable, Unity has reinstated the company's license and updated its own terms of service to offer what it is calling a "commitment to being an open platform."

"When you make a game with Unity, you own the content and you should have the right to put it wherever you want," Unity wrote in a blog post explaining the move. "Our TOS didn’t reflect this principle—something that is not in line with who we are."

The new terms of service allow Unity developers to integrate any third-party service into their projects, no questions asked. As a caveat, though, Unity will now distinguish between "supported" third-party services—those Unity ensures will "always [run] well on the latest version of our software"—and "unsupported" third-party services, which developers use at their own risk.

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Netflix reveals Space Force comedy series before Trump gets real thing approved

January 16th, 2019

Netflix took the wraps off its latest comedy series on Wednesday, and while that may sound humdrum for a company with roughly 7,000 series in the works, this one has set its sights on something huge: the outer reaches of space. Er, sorry, we misread that. The Space Force.

Indeed, before President Trump's proposal for a sixth military branch can become an official item in the United States' 2020 budget, Netflix has jumped on the idea of making a show about this branch's day-to-day ops—and it has three major vets of TV's The Office on board, including Steve Carell as both a co-creator and a star.

The resulting TV series, currently named Space Force, was unveiled in the form of a teaser trailer on Wednesday morning. This mostly text trailer, set to Strauss' "Zarathustra," brings viewers up to speed about how the branch began life in a June 2018 speech. "The goal of the new branch is 'to defend satellites from attack' and 'perform other space-related tasks'... or something," it reads. "This is the story of the men and women who have to figure it out."

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Netflix, space force, The Office | Comments (0)

We’ll send postcards—pinball museums, CERN, and more favorite Ars trips of all time

January 16th, 2019

By default, life at Ars involves a lot of day-to-day work from a home office. But putting together two-decades-and-counting of high-quality journalism has opened opportunities over the years that may not have existed in 1999. Looking back through the archives recently in light of our 20th anniversary, we couldn't help but notice all the unbelievable places we've been and seen previously. Maybe things started with looking at Mac OS X DP2 from the confines of the Siracusa house, but work here has pretty quickly evolved to require occasional dinosaur riding and NASA booties wearing, too.

Ars will never say no to an on-the-nose museum exhibit (thank you again, Smithsonian's Art of the Video Game), but some of our most memorable tours have leveraged journalism privilege into some amazing behind-the-scenes experiences to share with readers. We've seen particle accelerators across continents and followed the forum's lead into hallowed ground like Mission Control (editor's note: we really need to do the same with the National Air Force Museum, too). Our former Navy man got to visit his old ship and see the quarters on a newly restored WWII PT-boat. Ars has seen old space and new space up close, and we even spent quality time with George, the early supercomputer.

Luckily, the future looks like it will have more of the same—if recent trips to the set of The Orville or to the Boring Company's LA tunnel are any indication, at least. We'll try to be better about postcards (and certainly remain open to invitations), but for now it's time to reminiscence and look back at snapshots from some of Ars' greatest trips.

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Posted in Ars at 20, Ars gallery, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Microsoft removes Forza dances amid Fortnite lawsuits

January 16th, 2019
Actor Alfonso Ribeiro shows off "The Carlton" during a <em>Dancing with the Stars</em> performance.

Enlarge / Actor Alfonso Ribeiro shows off "The Carlton" during a Dancing with the Stars performance.

Forza Horizon 4 no longer features two dance emotes—the Carlton and the Floss—which were previously available for use by in-game avatars. The removal is listed under the "Other Improvements" section in the notes for the game's Series 5 update, which launched yesterday with a new online adventure playlist and new Mitsubishi cars for the game, among other changes.

Microsoft has not offered a public explanation for the removal, though a spokesperson told Kotaku "Forza Horizon 4 features a large portfolio of content and is continuously updated." The move comes, though, after both dances became the subject of lawsuits regarding their similar inclusion in Epic's Fortnite.

The Carlton—popularized by actor Alfonso Ribeiro on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air—and the Floss—popularized by Russell "Backpack Kid" Horning in a Saturday Night Live performance—are the apparent inspiration for two Fortnite emotes that can be purchased as part of various Battle Pass DLC packages. Lawsuits filed against Epic by those dancers accuse the Fortnite maker of illegally profiting from their copyrighted dance creations.

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Posted in copyright, dance, emotes, forza, Gaming & Culture, Legal, microsoft | Comments (0)

Video: Inside the artistic mind of Dead Space designer Glen Schofield

January 16th, 2019

Video directed by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript.

Our recent visit to Dead Space designer Glen Schofield's home to discuss the challenges of developing the horror classic left us with an enormous amount of footage to sort through. Glen was very generous with his time and allowed us more than simply a peek behind the curtain—we got a full tour through the man's artistic mind and processes.

This video is perhaps not as directly game-focused as our previous one, but Glen was brimming with words of wisdom for aspiring game artists—and aspiring artists in general. He tells of his professional beginnings, dutifully toiling away in the Barbie mines at Absolute Entertainment and getting the last laugh when he was promoted over other Barbie-eschewing coworkers. He discusses the artist's eye and how immersing oneself in art alters the way one perceives the world—an engineer might look at a machine and see in their mind the way the parts mesh and the gears turn, while an artist sees the machine and thinks of how to represent it on a canvas in terms of light and shadow. Both disciplines see things that are hidden or non-obvious to everyone else, and both require a blend of talent and training.

My mother is a painter and illustrator, and I hear many of the things she told me growing up echoed in Glen's advice. Artists see the world in a way that other disciplines do not, and the best artists—artists like Schofield—are able to create compelling images that draw the viewer in and allow them to experience some of the artist's own emotions.

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Posted in Ars Technica Videos, console gaming, Dead Space, Gaming & Culture, Glen Schofield, PC gaming, war stories | Comments (0)