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Out now on PC and PS Plus, Fall Guys seems to be having a real moment

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 16:46

Fall Guys, the colourful battle royale version of It's a Knockout, has "skyrocketed past" the number of players developer Mediatonic expected to turn up on day one.

Looking like a cross between Minions and Fortnite, Fall Guys launched today on Steam and PlayStation 4, where it's available at no extra charge through PlayStation Plus.

Writing on Twitter, the official Fall Guys account recorded more than 120,000 people online at lunchtime today - and an hour later, that the developer would now need to switch off matchmaking for 30 minutes to "beef up servers".

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Categories: Video Games

Gamers Will Be Able To Stream Microsoft's Xbox Games Pass Titles Starting Sept. 15

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 16:42
Microsoft plans to make its Project xCloud streaming service for its Xbox Games Pass subscription service available to the public starting Sept. 15, following nearly a year of public testing. From a report: The company said the service, which allows people to play games over the internet in a similar way we stream Netflix movies today, will be included in its $14.99 per month Xbox Games Pass Ultimate service. That subscription, which launched last year, gives players access to more than 100 games on the Xbox and PC, as well as access to Microsoft's Xbox Live social network. Microsoft plans to offer the accompanying app for its service for tablets and phones powered by Google's Android software, using a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. The company also teased a partnership with Samsung, which will likely be announced at that tech giant's big Unpacked event on Aug. 5. The company declined to say when a version of its app will be made available for Apple iPhones and iPads powered by that company's iOS software. "It's our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices," a Microsoft spokesman added.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Windows 10: HOSTS File Blocking Telemetry Is Now Flagged As a Risk

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 16:03
AmiMoJo writes: Starting at the end of July, Microsoft has begun detecting HOSTS files that block Windows 10 telemetry servers as a 'Severe' security risk. Windows 10 users are reporting that Windows Defender had started detectingmodified HOSTS files as a 'SettingsModifier:Win32/HostsFileHijack' threat. So it seems that Microsoft had recently updated their Microsoft Defender definitions to detect when their servers were added to the HOSTS file. Users who utilize HOSTS files to block Windows 10 telemetry suddenly caused them to see the HOSTS file hijack detection. Users who intentionally modify their HOSTS file can allow this 'threat,' but it may enable all HOSTS modifications, even malicious ones, going forward.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Frog Fractions 3 has been found

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 15:59

A fresh helping of the bizarre Flash game turned internet meme Frog Fractions is now available - and fans of the series will be unsurprised to hear this latest chapter has been released in a unconventional way.

After a labyrinthine ARG and stealth release for Frog Fractions 2, this new instalment is at least a little easier to track down. Download the Frog Fractions: Game of the Decade Edition (it's free) from Steam and you'll see an option to install a £5.75 DLC for a cosmetic item - a hat.

Of course, this DLC is not just a hat. Three years on from Frog Fractions 2, this is an entirely new dollop of Frog Fractions big enough to be a Frog Fractions 3 - although series creator Jim Crawford has since argued this is more like a Frog Fractions 4. Because he would say that.

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Categories: Video Games

xCloud is joining Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on 15th September

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 15:00

Microsoft's xCloud game streaming service will be made available as part of the company's Game Pass Ultimate on 15th September.

Game Pass Ultimate is Microsoft's top-tier Game Pass offering, bundling together subscription access to a sizeable range of PC and console games, as well as Xbox Live Gold, special member discounts, and perks. Come 15th September, however, that will be expanded to include over 100 games that can be streamed via xCloud to Android phones and tablets.

Additionally, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will have to access their Xbox friends list, achievements, controller settings, and saved progress once they've downloaded the official Xbox Game Pass app to their mobile devices.

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Categories: Video Games

Blizzard Workers Share Salaries In Revolt Over Wage Disparities

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Employees at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc., began circulating a spreadsheet on Friday to anonymously share salaries and recent pay increases, the latest example of rising tension in the video game industry over wage disparities and executive compensation. Blizzard, based in Irvine, California, makes popular games including Diablo and World of Warcraft. In 2019, after an internal survey revealed that more than half of Blizzard workers were unhappy with their compensation, the company told staff it would perform a study to ensure fair pay, according to people familiar with the situation. Blizzard implemented the results of that study last month, which led to an outcry on the company's internal Slack messaging boards. One employee then created a spreadsheet and encouraged staff to share their compensation information. The anonymous document, reviewed by Bloomberg News, contains dozens of purported Blizzard salaries and pay bumps. Most of the raises are below 10%, significantly less than Blizzard employees said they expected following the study. "Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively," Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Jessica Taylor said. "We are constantly reviewing compensation philosophies to better recognize the talent of our highest performers and keep us competitive in the industry, all with the aim of rewarding and investing more in top employees." This year, Blizzard top performers received a salary increase that was 20% more than in prior years, and more people got promotions, Taylor added. "Our overall salary investment is consistent with prior years," she also said.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

NBA 2K21 next-gen price hike reflects "quality of the experience"

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 13:00

NBA 2K21 publisher Take-Two Interactive has defended its decision to charge $10/£10 more for the game on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick told GamesIndustry.biz that the rise was designed to "reflect the quality of the experience" and that it was "an extremely modest price change given that prices haven't changed for a very long time".

Zelnick later added in an investor call that next-gen game pricing would still be decided on a "title-by-title basis", suggesting not every Take-Two release would see the same increase.

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Categories: Video Games

Fall Guys is pure Saturday evening television

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 13:00

Forget the military mod origins and the Lost-style island lore. Deep down, Battle Royale belongs on TV at 7pm on a Saturday. In between a Simon Cowell putdown and the revelation that there's nothing in the fridge except chicken dippers of unknown provenance. Battle Royale belongs to the Expanded Cheggers Universe, and finally here is a game that knows it. Fall Guys wraps you up in foam and padding and then sends you across a bunch of soft play hellscapes (tautology?) in a fight to find the last Tic-Tac person standing. If this game was a building it would be on the edge of an industrial estate and they would give you grippy socks before you went in. And even then it would still smell of feet.

None of this is a criticism. Fall Guys made my daughter laugh so much and so quickly that it must be a kind of magic - snort-laughing, where giggles get backed up and then come out through the nose. You're dropped into a game with 59 other peanut people and you have to make it to the finish line, or stay out of the slime, or work together in groups to get a ball down an incline or something like that. Complicating things are rotor blades, see-saw platforms, huge plastic fruit tumbling towards you, or something like that.

People are knocked out of the competition after each round and by the end of it a single person, generally dressed as a pigeon or a carton of French fries, is the winner. You can spectate when you get iced, and in between games you can level up and spend in-game points on costumes and unlock stuff on a sort of Battle Pass. The shop rotates stock pretty regularly. It's all rather slick.

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Categories: Video Games

Prosecutors Are Investigating Amazon's Treatment of Third-Party Sellers

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 12:00
According to Bloomberg, attorneys general from New York and California are partnering with the FTC to investigate Amazon's online marketplace, in what may be the beginnings of a formal antitrust enforcement action. From a report: The agencies are going to interview witnesses jointly on conference calls over the next few weeks. The news comes after intense questioning over Amazon's Marketplace practices during [last week's landmark Big Tech antitrust hearing]. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) asked CEO Jeff Bezos whether its actions toward Marketplace sellers was a pattern of behavior. She played testimony from a third-party bookseller who believed Amazon had blocked their store, without providing an explanation why, effectively destroying her business. Bezos responded that "third-party sellers in aggregate are doing extremely well on Amazon." The Marketplace platform allows third-party sellers to peddle their wares to Amazon's massive online customer base, accounting for more than half of all of the company's e-commerce sales. Marketplace products are often less expensive -- and sometimes of lower quality -- than other products sold on Amazon. But consumers don't always understand the difference between buying something from a third-party seller versus buying directly from Amazon or one of the company's private-label brands. Amazon's Marketplace has been in the spotlight over the past few months, following a bombshell report in The Wall Street Journal exposing how the e-commerce giant secretly used data it gathered from third-party sellers to launch its own branded products, a practice Amazon executives have denied in the past. At the hearing, Bezos said the company maintains a policy against using seller-specific data but said he could not guarantee that the policy had never been broken.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fortnite's delayed cars update finally fuels up tomorrow

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 11:51

This Fortnite season has been about two things: flood waters, and cars. Now, finally, with the map as dried out as it'll get and its new Atlantis-esque area revealed, it's time for those vehicles.

Fortnite doesn't usually name its updates, but has termed tomorrow's as "Fortnite Joyride". The introduction of drivable cars and trucks certainly feels big enough to warrant a title.

The game has had plenty of vehicles in the past, of course - hoverboards, golf karts, planes, helicopters - but has shied away from letting you get behind the wheel of the more realistic-looking cars which have sat stationary on its map.

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Categories: Video Games

You can pre-download Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone's massive 36GB Season 5 update - on PS4 only

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 11:27

Another Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone season, another massive update - but this time you can pre-download... on PlayStation 4 only.

I grabbed the 36.182GB update last night, and this morning it was sat on my PS4 with a 7am 5th August install lock - that's the date Season 5 of Warzone and Modern Warfare goes live.

Pre-downloading is welcome, of course, but unfortunately you can't do it on PC and Xbox One. Why? According to Activision: "Xbox does not support the ability to pre-download. Similarly, Battle.net does not currently support pre-downloads for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Warzone."

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Categories: Video Games

QuakeCon sale live on GOG and Xbox stores

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 10:43

Just like everything else this year, QuakeCon has also become an online event, probably not what Bethesda would have wanted for its 25th anniversary. But the show goes on as QuakeCon at Home kicks off from 7th to 9th August with a global 60-hour Super Stream from featuring developer panels, live concerts, influencer streams and much more. Coinciding with this are huge QuakeCon sales running on both GOG and the Xbox Games Store.

Running until 17th August, the GOG QuakeCon Sale offers up DRM-free versions of some of Bethesda's best FPS games and RPGs on PC. While it's missing a few of the more recent releases, there's still a lot of great deals there especially if you want to catch up on some classics. Some of our picks include the following:

The Xbox QuakeCon Sale only runs until 11th August, but among the bargains is Doom Eternal for just £27.49 while deals apply to both Xbox One and Xbox 360, the latter naturally backwards compatible. Here's what caught our eye:

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Categories: Video Games

Grindstone's horrors are perfect for a daily challenge mode

Eurogamer - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 09:13

This weekend I've been playing Grindstone, the wonderfully bloodthirsty puzzle game from Capy that just got an update on Apple Arcade. And the update is a doozy. A daily mode! Daily Grind! Four levels each day, slice your way through them and then compete on the leaderboards. It's thrilling - a game that is perfect for the daily challenge now has one.

I've been wondering why a daily mode matters so much here, and I think it's down to why Grindstone is not only a very compulsive puzzle game but a fiendish and sometimes devastating one.

Very basic gist: Grindstone is a colour matching game. You have a grid filled with different baddies of a handful of different colours, and you move around slicing them down as you go. You can only chain baddies of the same colour together, though, unless you pass through a jewel which allows you to switch - pink to yellow, say; green to blue.

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Categories: Video Games

Astronauts Made Prank Calls From SpaceX Crew Dragon

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 09:00
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from CNET: NASA's Doug Hurley and his crewmate Bob Behnken had a satellite phone at their disposal after splashdown on Sunday. At a press conference later that day, Hurley filled us in on what they did with their spare time as they floated around. "Five hours ago we were in a spaceship bobbing around making prank satellite phone calls to whoever we could get ahold of," Hurley said. "Which was kind of fun, by the way." Hurley suggested the satellite phone bill should go to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who was sitting nearby. Hurley and Behnken didn't elaborate on the content of the prank calls, but here's hoping they tried to order a pizza for delivery to GO Navigator, the SpaceX recovery ship that fished them out of the water.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

In Wake of Apple Acquisition, Dark Sky Ends Android Support

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: As promised, popular weather app Dark Sky ended support for Android and Wear OS over the weekend. Android Dark Sky users report that the app is no longer working and that it presents the user with a message saying that the "app has shut down." The impending shutdown was first announced when Apple acquired the company in March of this year. Despite the end of support for the world's most popular mobile operating system, Dark Sky's developers wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition that joining Apple means they could "reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone." The Dark Sky Android app is not the only popular service on the chopping block as a result of the acquisition. Several app developers on both iOS and Android have used Dark Sky's API for weather data for a while now, but like Android support, that's going away. There's a little more time in that case, though: developers have until the end of next year to find and implement alternative data sources. When the acquisition was first announced, Dark Sky was slated to stop working on Android on July 1. That deadline was extended by one month, but it went into effect as planned on August 1. The Web version of Dark Sky was scheduled to end today, but Apple has extended that deadline, though embeds have been disabled. A new date for the Web shutdown has not been specified. That version will remain an option for Android users for now until it, too, stops working.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

FAA Proposes Requiring Four Key Boeing 737 MAX Design Changes

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 04:02
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday that it is proposing requiring four key Boeing 737 MAX design changes to address safety issues seen in two crashes that killed 346 people and led to the plane's grounding in March 2019. Al Jazeera reports: The agency is issuing a proposed airworthiness directive to require updated flight-control software, revised display-processing software to generate alerts, revising certain flight-crew operating procedures, and changing the routing of some wiring bundles. The announcement is significant, but there are still other major steps, including finalizing pilot-training procedures, that must be completed before the 737 MAX can resume flights. The public has 45 days to comment on the changes, and it is still unclear if flights will resume before the end of 2020. The FAA said in a separate 96-page report released on Monday that it "has preliminarily determined that Boeing's proposed changes to the 737 MAX design, flight crew procedures and maintenance procedures effectively mitigate the airplane-related safety issues" in the two fatal crashes. The airworthiness directive seeks to require Boeing changes. The FAA said the changes minimize "dependence on pilot action and the effect of any potential single failure."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

'Wakaresaseya': Private Agents Hired To End Relationships

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 03:25
Christine Ro from the BBC writes about the private agents in Japan, called "wakaresaseya," that you can hire to seduce your spouse or their partner. From the report: The industry is still serving a niche market. One survey showed around 270 wakaresaseya agencies advertising online. Many are attached to private-detective firms, similar to private investigators in other countries (who can also become entangled in relationship dissolution). "Wakaresaseya service costs quite a lot of money," acknowledges [Yusuke Mochizuki, an agent of the "farewell shop" First Group], so clients tend to be well-off. Mochizuki, a former musician who has turned his lifelong interest in detective work into a career, says that he might charge 400,000 yen for a relatively straightforward case in which there's plenty of information about the target's activities, but more if the target is, for example, a recluse. Fees can go as high as 20 million yen if a client is a politician or a celebrity, requiring the highest level of secrecy. (While Mochizuki says that his firm has a high success rate, a consultancy that provides advice on the industry points out that potential clients should be sceptical of such claims, and prepared for possible failure.) Although some features of the wakaresaseya industry are unique to Japan, similar services exist around the world. They may be less formalized honeytrap or con-artist arrangements, or they may be part of the private-investigations industry. Conventionally "the Western perspective was to sensationalize the industry and almost exoticise it. There's this false exoticisation of Japan that occurs in the West quite frequently." It's difficult to gain a full understanding of the people affected by the wakaresaseya industry, because according to Scott, "people are very reluctant to be seen as associated with it, let alone a victim of it." The industry has a seedy reputation. As TV and radio producer Mai Nishiyama comments; "There's a market for everything in Japan." This includes a variety of relationship-based services like renting faux family members and the additional services offered by wakaresaseya firms, such as assistance with romantic reconciliation, separating a child from an unsuitable girlfriend or boyfriend or preventing revenge porn. Agents can also be hired to gather evidence that will help a wronged spouse collect consolation money, which is compensation for the dissolution of a relationship. Although the Yamagami International Law Office hasn't worked with wakaresaseya agents, lawyer Shogo Yamagami notes that some clients do work with private agents more generally to obtain evidence of adultery. The consolation payment system means that hiring wakaresaseya agents can be beneficial not just emotionally, but also in practical monetary terms.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Trump Fires TVA Chair, Cites Hiring of Foreign Workers

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 02:45
schwit1 writes: President Trump announced the removal of Tennessee Valley Authority's chair James Thompson and board member Richard Howoth and called for the removal of their CEO Bill Johnson. This was in response to the company laying off employees and hiring H1-B visa holders. [TVA announced it would outsource 20% of its technology jobs to companies based in foreign countries, which could cause more than 200 highly skilled American tech workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to foreign workers, according to the White House.] During the round table discussion, it was announced the company is willing to reverse course and rehire previously laid off employees. The president also said he would not ban the TikTok app if Microsoft or another company bought it before September 15th. "The TVA is a federally owned corporation created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hard hit by the Great Depression," reports The Associated Press. "The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia." Trump said the new chief executive officer must "[put] the interests of Americans first," adding: "The new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year. We want the TVA to take action on this immediately. [...] Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: 'You're fired.'" The announcement was made as Trump signed an executive order to require all federal agencies to complete an internal audit to prove they are not replacing qualified American workers with people from other countries. According to the White House, the order will help prevent federal agencies from unfairly replacing American workers with lower cost foreign labor.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

PS4 Gamepads Won't Work For PS5 Games, Sony Says

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 02:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: You won't be able to use Sony's DualShock 4 or other third-party PS4 gamepads to play PlayStation 5 games, Sony confirmed in a blog post today. Those older gamepads will still work with "supported PS4 games" running on the PS5, Sony said, and PS5 software will work with "specialty peripherals" designed for the PS4 -- including "officially licensed racing wheels, arcade sticks, and flight sticks." Those caveats highlight the fact that there's no technical limitation or communication protocol mismatch stopping the upcoming hardware from communicating with legacy controllers. But Sony says it "believe[s] that PS5 games should take advantage of the new capabilities and features we're bringing to the platform, including the features of DualSense wireless controller." Those features include what Sony is calling "haptic feedback and dynamic trigger effects" and a built-in microphone (last month, Geoff Keighley hosted what is, thus far, the only public hands-on impressions of these new controller features). The DualSense compatibility decision casts Sony in contrast to Microsoft, which is promising that "your Xbox One gaming accessories come into the future with you, too" with the coming Xbox Series X. While that promise doesn't extend to the defunct Kinect camera, it does include specialty pads like the Xbox Elite Controller and Xbox Adaptive Controller. "We believe that your investments in gaming should move with you into the next generation," Microsoft wrote in a blog post last month. PlayStation Move controllers -- first released in 2010 for use with the PS3—will continue to work with PlayStation VR games on the PS5, Sony said. The PS4's existing PlayStation Camera accessory will also work on the PS5, though it will require an adaptor that Sony says it will be providing to users for free.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

AI-Generated Text Is the Scariest Deepfake of All

Slashdot - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 01:25
An anonymous reader shares a report: In the future, deepfake videos and audiofakes may well be used to create distinct, sensational moments that commandeer a press cycle, or to distract from some other, more organic scandal. But undetectable textfakes -- masked as regular chatter on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and the like -- have the potential to be far more subtle, far more prevalent, and far more sinister. The ability to manufacture a majority opinion, or create a fake-commenter arms race -- with minimal potential for detection -- would enable sophisticated, extensive influence campaigns. Pervasive generated text has the potential to warp our social communication ecosystem: algorithmically generated content receives algorithmically generated responses, which feeds into algorithmically mediated curation systems that surface information based on engagement. Our trust in each other is fragmenting, and polarization is increasingly prevalent. As synthetic media of all types -- text, video, photo, and audio -- increases in prevalence, and as detection becomes more of a challenge, we will find it increasingly difficult to trust the content that we see. It may not be so simple to adapt, as we did to Photoshop, by using social pressure to moderate the extent of these tools' use and accepting that the media surrounding us is not quite as it seems. This time around, we'll also have to learn to be much more critical consumers of online content, evaluating the substance on its merits rather than its prevalence.

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