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Volition finds long-lost Saints Row 2 source code, pledges to fix notoriously wonky PC port

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 13:45

Developer Volition has pledged to fix the notoriously broken PC version of Saints Row 2 over a decade after its original release, having found the game's long thought lost source code.

Speaking during a special announcement livestream (which also marked Saints Row 2's 11th birthday in the US), Volition's general manager Mike Kulas explained that the studio, when faced with having to create three versions of the game for its original 2008 release, opted to outsource the PC port. And as both Volition, and countless users on the game's Steam page will attest, the results were less than stellar.

For a long time, the only way to enjoy Saints Row 2 on PC in anything like a satisfactory manner has been to rely on community created mods. Volition's Mike Watson, himself a modder and now senior community manager at the company, has lead the charge to improve the game internally for years, but plans were scuppered when the studio was unable to find the original PC source code. Now however, after much searching, that code has been found.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite Chapter 2 overhauls the game's map, mechanics, items and more

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 13:40

Log in to Fortnite now and you'll be treated to a masterful opening for the game's Chapter 2 reboot. We won't spoil exactly what happens - but you'll soon be playing on its new island.

Many new locations feature across the map (yes, the ones previously spotted in an earlier leak) such as Craggy Cliffs, Steamy Stacks, Sweaty Sands, Frenzy Farm, Dirty Docks, Misty Meadows, Weeping Woods, Holly Hedges, Lazy Lake and Slurpy Swamp.

But some old points of interest have returned: Pleasant Park, Salty Springs and Retail Row will be immediately familiar. Risky Reels is also back after a long absence.

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Categories: Video Games

Here are Nintendo's official Christmas jumpers

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 13:40

Step aside Xbox, there's a new festive jumper in town, as Nintendo has revealed its official Christmas sweater collection.

Available to buy from the Geek Store, there are three (three!) festive designs to choose from featuring beloved Nintendo characters like Mario, Princess Peach and Pikachu.

The jumpers are unisex fit from sizes 2XS to 4XL, is 100 per cent knitted, and according to Geek Store "can be worn all year round".

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Categories: Video Games

Final Fantasy 7 Remake playable at EGX this week

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 13:01

Hello! With just two days to go to EGX, the UK gaming expo run by the folks here at Gamer Network, a playable title has just been announced - and it's an exciting one.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake will be available at the show in a hands-on demo ahead of its 3rd March 2020 release for PlayStation 4.

Craved by fans for what feels like decades, in development for years and announced back at E3 2015, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is one of those games that you can't quite believe is real now (see also: Shenmue 3). But real it is, and even more surprisingly, it looks great. It repackages the PSone epic with a new episodic format, real-time action gameplay and sumptuous graphical presentation, yet seems entirely faithful to the tone.

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Categories: Video Games

My nan taught me how to play Baldur's Gate

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 13:00

My nans are the reason I got into gaming. Travelling to see my nan on my mother's side meant I'd get to spend the day playing Jak & Daxter while my parents gossiped over coffee. Sometimes she'd let me borrow a game to take home and play, and I'd always race to complete it before we visited again. I find myself with a strange muscle memory for those games now: I could probably recite off the top of my head where every collectible is hidden in Ratchet & Clank. (If only I retained knowledge from my degree as easily as I did those games.) The Jak & Daxter nan is still around - her most frequented game these days is Skyrim, which is a popular one amongst gaming grandmas it seems.

But this piece isn't really about her. As awesome as she is, it was my nan on my father's side who spent hours and hours of her time entertaining me with the PlayStation 2 as a kid. She looked after me a lot while my parents worked, and a lot of that looking after involved teaching me how to play my very first RPG.

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 came out in 2004, when I was eight years old. It wasn't my first game by a long shot (that honour belongs to the first SSX title for PS2), but it was my first experience with any sort of role-playing hack-and-slash game, and it's inspired a lot of my interest in games since. You can imagine my surprise when I got into Mass Effect and Dragon Age later in life, only to discover that Baldur's Gate had essentially come from BioWare itself. There's a large part of me that wishes my nan was still around to play those games - she would've bloody loved Dragon Age: Origins.

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Categories: Video Games

Big FIFA 20 patch is packed with bug fixes, Career Mode improvements and more

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 12:48

EA Sports has released a significant patch for FIFA 20 that makes much-needed improvements to the Career Mode, among other things.

Career Mode launched in a bit of a state - and the hashtag FixCareerMode found itself trending on Twitter.

EA Sports released a title update for the PC version of FIFA 20 today, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One patches coming out soon. The patch notes are over at EA's website, but it's worth picking out some highlights.

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Categories: Video Games

PG&E Should Compensate Customers For Power Shutoffs, California Governor Says

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 12:00
Pacific Gas & Electric should give rebates or credits to each of its nearly 800,000 customers affected by last week's power shutoffs, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, demanding that the utility "be held accountable." CNN reports: The utility intentionally cut power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California last week in an effort to prevent downed utility lines and equipment from causing wildfires amid dry and windy conditions. Some customers were without power for days. Newsom is urging PG&E to give credits or rebates of $100 to each residential customer and $250 to small businesses as "some compensation for their hardships," a release from the governor's office said Monday. "Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E's greed and neglect," Newsom said in the release. "PG&E's mismanagement of the power shutoffs experienced last week was unacceptable." PG&E CEO Bill Johnson responded by saying it had carried out the shutoffs in accordance with a plan that the California Public Utilities Commission had approved, under the commission's guidelines, and pointed to the fact that no wildfires were started. "While we recognize this was a hardship for millions of people throughout Northern and Central California, we made that decision to keep customers and communities safe," Johnson said in a statement. "That was the right decision." Californians blasted the utility for the move. While PG&E has been blamed for deadly wildfires in the past, critics said it should have invested in improving its infrastructure instead of just cutting off power for days.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Nintendo's New York Overwatch Switch launch event cancelled in wake of Blizzard boycott

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 11:29

Blizzard has cancelled its New York event meant to celebrate the release of Overwatch on Switch tomorrow at Nintendo's New York store.

Fans were able to sign up for the event for free using their Nintendo accounts, with the first 150 people able to meet some of the game's voice actors. Nintendo has apologised for any inconvenience caused, despite them stating the cancellation was Blizzard's decision.

Blizzard has yet to offer a statement as to why the cancellation has taken place, but if you've been keeping up with news on the company over the last week, it's not hard to imagine why.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite Chapter 2 patch released, map shown

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 10:20

UPDATE 11.00am: And it's live! Fortnite Chapter 2 has been released.

You'll see the following video when you boot up the game and then... we won't spoil what happens next.

ORIGINAL STORY 9.20am: Fortnite looks ready to emerge in its new Chapter 2 guise. The game's update is now downloading for PC and console platforms.

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Categories: Video Games

The writing of The Witcher 3

Eurogamer - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 09:00

Think back to the first moments of Witcher 3, just after the tutorial section in the witcher keep. Geralt and Vesemir, talking naturally together on the road to Vizima, subtly lay out the backstory, reiterate the mission to find Yennefer and indulge in some playful repartee - the writing feels seamless and uncomplicated, as though it arrived fully formed onto the pages of a performance capture script. According to lead writer Jakub Szamalek, however, it did not.

"I actually checked how many times I edited the dialogue in that scene," he recalls during our interview at Spanish sci-fi festival Celsius232. "I think it was over 120. Sometimes these were minor edits, changing one sentence, but sometimes it was rewriting the whole thing. We did a lot of that: writing something, playing it, tweaking it, scrapping everything then re-doing it. It is just inherent to the process. There are so many moving parts when you're working on a video game, it's unavoidable." It turns out, constructing the narrative behind Witcher 3 - one of the most ambitious and enormous open-world games ever made - was not easy.

Szamalek joined the writing team at CD Projekt Red in May 2012, a few months after pre-production on Witcher 3 had begun. At this point writers Sebastian Stępień, Marcin Blacha and Arkadiusz Borowik had already started to create a master document, a 60-page manual which contained a story synopsis, descriptions of the parts of the Witcher world the story was set to explore as well as background information on the key characters and concepts. The next step was transforming the treatment into a game script. This involved dividing it into smaller parts focusing on the three main hubs - Novigrad, No Man's Land and Skelligeand - then subdividing into quests, writing the dialogue and detail, and linking to other quest and character documents. "It was like a set of Russian nesting dolls," jokes Szamalek.

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Categories: Video Games

NASA Engineer's 'Helical Engine' May Violate Laws of Physics

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 09:00
NASA engineer David Burns posted a paper describing the concept of his "helical engine," which could take humans to the stars by exploiting mass-altering effects known to occur at near-light speed. Unfortunately, it's been met with skepticism from those who say it violates the conservation of momentum, a core physical law. New Scientist explains: To get to grips with the principle of Burns's engine, picture a box on a frictionless surface. Inside that box is a rod, along which a ring can slide. If a spring inside the box gives the ring a push, the ring will slide along the rod one way while the box will recoil in the other. When the ring reaches the end of the box, it will bounce backwards, and the box's recoil direction will switch too. This is action-reaction -- also known as Newton's third law of motion -- and in normal circumstances, it restricts the box to wiggling back and forth. But, Burns asks, what if the ring's mass is much greater when it slides in one direction than the other? Then it would give the box a greater kick at one end than the other. Action would exceed reaction and the box would accelerate forwards. Martin Tajmar at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany, who has performed tests on the EM Drive, believes the helical engine will probably suffer the same problem. "All inertial propulsion systems -- to my knowledge -- never worked in a friction-free environment," he says. This machine makes use of special relativity, unlike the others, which complicates the picture, he says, but "unfortunately there is always action-reaction." Burns has worked on his design in private, without any sponsorship from NASA, and he admits his concept is massively inefficient. However, he says there is potential to harvest much of the energy that the accelerator loses in heat and radiation. He also suggests ways that momentum could be conserved, such as in the spin of the accelerated ions. "I know that it risks being right up there with the EM drive and cold fusion," he says. "But you have to be prepared to be embarrassed. It is very difficult to invent something that is new under the sun and actually works."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

A Prenup Is the Latest Must-Have For Tech Startup Founders In Love

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: In Silicon Valley, where penniless programmers fervently believe their ideas are worth billions, getting rich can take priority over getting married. California law assumes that any wealth created during a marriage is community property, which should be split equally in a divorce. That's alarming not just for young entrepreneurs but also their investors. Fortunately, a well-written prenup is a safeguard against post-divorce havoc, which is why more and more young couples are insisting on the agreements, according to more than half-a-dozen lawyers in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Long popular with older wealthy couples who re-marry, prenups are also being demanded by entrepreneurs who want to keep future windfalls to themselves. In a 2016 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 3 in 5 divorce attorneys said more clients were seeking prenups in the past three years. "People's concepts and notions of fairness when it comes to privately held businesses are changing," said Sideman Bancroft partner Monica Mazzei, adding she's seen "a tremendous increase" in prenups in the past eight years. "They feel that even if they're married, this is their passion. The agreement should be reflective of that." Still, the report cautions, "a prenup hardly guarantees a smooth divorce. Judges can and do throw out the agreements, especially if they're drafted poorly." "If you don't put in the right language, a lot of prenups don't do the job," said Lowell Sucherman, a divorce attorney at Sucherman Insalaco in San Francisco.

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Internet Archive Releases 2,500 MS-DOS Games

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 04:10
The latest update from Internet Archive brings thousands of MS-DOS games from the '90s like 3D Bomber, Zool and Alien Rampage. CNET reports: On Sunday, Internet Archive released 2,500 MS-DOS games that includes action, strategy and adventure titles. Some of the games are Vor Terra, Spooky Kooky Monster Maker, Princess Maker 2 and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. "This will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago," Internet Archive software curator Jason Scott wrote on the site's blog. One game that might trigger a few memories is the 1992 action-adventure horror game Alone in the Dark, published by Infogrames. In the game, you can play private investigator Edward Carnby or family member Emily Hartwood, who's investigating the suspicious death of Jeremy Hartwood in his Louisiana mansion called Derceto, which is now supposedly haunted. Fighting against rats, zombies and giant worms, you have to solve a number of puzzles to escape. Another retro game included by Internet Archive is a 1994 title played on PCs and Amiga computers called Mr. Blobby (a remake of the SNES game Super Troll Islands). Players can choose from three different characters -- Mr. Blobby, Mrs. Blobby and Baby Blobby. The goal of the game is to color in the computer screen by walking over it. Levels include climbing ladders, avoiding spikes and bouncing on springs.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

China Has Gained the Ability To Spy On More Than 100 Million Citizens Via a Heavily Promoted Official App, Report Suggests

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 03:30
Security researchers believe the Chinese Communist Party's official "Study the Great Nation" app has a backdoor that could help monitor use and copy data from those who have it installed on their devices. The BBC reports: Released in February, Study the Great Nation has become the most downloaded free program in China, thanks to persuasive demands by Chinese authorities that citizens download and install it. The app pushes out official news and images and encourages people to earn points by reading articles, commenting on them and playing quizzes about China and its leader, Xi Jinping. Use of the app is mandatory among party officials and civil servants and it is tied to wages in some workplaces. Starting this month, native journalists must pass a test on the life of President Xi, delivered via the app, in order to obtain a press card which enables them to do their jobs. On behalf of the Open Technology Fund, which campaigns on human rights issues, Germany cyber-security firm Cure 53 took apart the Android version of the app and said it found many undocumented and hidden features. In its lengthy report, Cure 53 said Study the Great Nation had "extensive logging" abilities and seemed to try to build up a list of the popular apps an individual had installed on their phone. It was "evident and undeniable that the examined application is capable of collecting and managing vast amounts of very specific data," said the report. The app also weakened encryption used to scramble data and messages, making it easy for a government to crack security. Adam Lynn, research director at the Open Technology Fund, told the Washington Post, which broke the story: "It's very, very uncommon for an application to require that level of access to the device, and there's no reason to have these privileges unless you're doing something you're not supposed to be." The security company didn't find evidence that this high-level access was being used, but said it's not clear why an educational app would need such access to a phone.

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Harley-Davidson Stops Electric Motorcycle Production Due To Charging Problem

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 02:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Harley-Davidson has temporarily stopped making and shipping its first electric motorcycle, LiveWire, due to a problem with the bike's charging equipment, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The company told the Journal that LiveWire bikes are still safe to ride, but it's asking the first few customers to only charge the $30,000 electric motorcycle at dealerships, indicating that there may be a problem with plugging them into lower-voltage outlets, such as the ones found in their homes. LiveWire motorcycles only just started shipping in September. The LiveWire was first introduced as a concept motorcycle back in 2014. The project then disappeared from the spotlight for a few years before Harley-Davidson reintroduced the LiveWire in production-ready form in November 2018. Reached for comment, the publicly traded motorcycle manufacturer only issued an opaque statement about the charging issue: "As we lead in the electrification of motorcycles, we have delivered our first LiveWire motorcycles to authorized LiveWire dealers. We recently discovered a non-standard condition during a final quality check; stopped production and deliveries; and began additional testing and analysis, which is progressing well. We are in close contact with our LiveWire dealers and customers and have assured them they can continue to ride LiveWire motorcycles. As usual, we're keeping high quality as our top priority."

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Project xCloud Public Preview Is Now Live

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 02:30
Microsoft has started the public preview for the Project xCloud game streaming service that it first announced in late 2018. Thurrott reports: "The Project xCloud Preview is now officially live in the US, UK and Korea," a Microsoft representative told me today. "This preview serves as our opportunity to test, improve and garner feedback. It's critical we bring gamers with us on this journey so we can learn more from them and their experiences in a wide variety of real-world environments and use-case scenarios. That way we can deliver a product that fits the needs of all types of gamers." The initial public preview is only on Android, but it's expected to come to iOS, Windows, and elsewhere in the coming months as well. I'm on the preview, so I'll report back on the experience as soon as I can.

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Erin Valenti, CEO of Tinker Ventures, Found Dead In Trunk of Her Rental Car

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 02:10
McGruber shares a report from Deseret News, a newspaper published in Salt Lake City: The body of Erin Valenti, a tech entrepreneur who had been missing since Monday, was found Saturday in the trunk of her rental car. The 33-year-old Valenti was the CEO of Utah-based Tinker Ventures, a company that develops web and smartphone applications. In a Wednesday Facebook post, Valenti's husband, Harrison Weinstein, wrote that she had been missing since Monday night and was last seen in Palo Alto Monday afternoon and was wearing "torn jeans and a white T-shirt." Valenti was scheduled to receive an award at an event Wednesday hosted by Utah-based Women Tech Council but never appeared at the event in Salt Lake City, according to organizers. Police said the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office will determine the manner and cause of death and have not released any further details on the incident.

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Flaw In Sudo Enables Non-Privileged Users To Run Commands As Root

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 01:30
exomondo shares a report from The Hacker News: A vulnerability has been discovered in Sudo -- one of the most important, powerful, and commonly used utilities that comes as a core command installed on almost every UNIX and Linux-based operating system. The vulnerability in question is a sudo security policy bypass issue that could allow a malicious user or a program to execute arbitrary commands as root on a targeted Linux system even when the "sudoers configuration" explicitly disallows the root access. Sudo, stands for "superuser do," is a system command that allows a user to run applications or commands with the privileges of a different user without switching environments -- most often, for running commands as the root user. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-14287 and discovered by Joe Vennix of Apple Information Security, is more concerning because the sudo utility has been designed to let users use their own login password to execute commands as a different user without requiring their password. What's more interesting is that this flaw can be exploited by an attacker to run commands as root just by specifying the user ID "-1" or "4294967295." That's because the function which converts user id into its username incorrectly treats -1, or its unsigned equivalent 4294967295, as 0, which is always the user ID of root user. The vulnerability affects all Sudo versions prior to the latest released version 1.8.28, which has been released today.

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Microsoft Wants To Use AI To Bleep Out Bad Words In Xbox Live Party Chat

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Today, Microsoft announced that it's rolling out filters that will let Xbox Live players automatically limit the text-based messages they receive to four maturity tiers: "Friendly, Medium, Mature, and Unfiltered." That's a long-overdue feature for a major communication platform that's well over a decade old now, but not really anything new in terms of online content moderation writ large. What's more interesting is a "looking ahead" promise Microsoft made at the end of the announcement (emphasis added): "Ultimately our vision is to supplement our existing efforts and leverage our company efforts in AI and machine learning technology to provide filtration across all types of content on Xbox Live, delivering control to each and every individual player. Your feedback is more important than ever as we continue to evolve this experience and make Xbox a safe, welcome and inclusive place to game." Microsoft told The Verge that the ultimate goal is a system "similar to what you'd expect on broadcast TV where people are having a conversation, and in real-time, we're able to detect a bad phrase and beep it out for users who don't want to see that." However, instead of live engineers that are doing the censoring, Microsoft is employing machine learning.

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Founder of 'Tesla Killer' Faraday Future Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Slashdot - Tue, 15/10/2019 - 00:10
Faraday Future's founder and former CEO Jia Yueting has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware court in a bid to satisfy his myriad debts in China. From a report: The Chinese tycoon claims he still owes around $3.6 billion to more than 100 creditors, thanks, in large part, to the collapse of LeEco, the tech conglomerate he founded there. The bankruptcy filing marks a major turn in the story of Jia's prolific history of taking on debt, which led to him being named to a national debtor blacklist in China and sparked his move to the United States in 2017. Before proceeding in court with Chapter 11, though, Jia is offering to satisfy those debts through a trust backed by the value of his ownership stake in Faraday Future. This trust will only pay out to creditors if and when the startup goes public. (This resembles but is separate from the plan Faraday Future laid out earlier this year for suppliers who are owed money, which was put together by Birch Lake Associates, a Chicago-based restructuring firm.)

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