’Days Gone’ will need a stellar story to save its stale gameplay

av - Posted On:2018-05-22 09:15:00 Source: engadget

Me, I love beating the un-living daylights out of zombies. Whether it's the ecchi cartoonishness of Lollipop Chainsaw, the clever weapons crafting of Dead Rising, or the heart-pounding intensity of Left 4 Dead, if it's an unholy abomination risen from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living, I'm more than happy to de-brain it for you. So yeah, I've been more than a little excited to get my hands on Days Gone, the post-apocalyptic open-world zombie survival game from developer Bend Studios since it first debuted at E3 in 2016. That is, until I actually got my hands on it. This game is Far Cry but with zombies. It's the same mission-driven narrative that studios have been leveraging since the release of Vice City and, quite honestly, I'm getting rather over it.\n\nYou play as Deacon St. John, a biker living in the American Northwest with a name that the Sons of Anarchy writers would have rejected for being too on the nose. As the survivor of a pandemic that has transformed a large portion of the US population into undead killing machines, St. John must undertake a number of Sisyphean tasks to not only survive but also slowly unravel the mysteries of the outbreak. You know, just like Horizon Zero Dawn.\n\n\n\nAlso similar to HZD is the game's scrap collection mechanic wherein you collect detritus from the environment, using it to repair or upgrade your weapons and motorcycle. The motorcycle is an interesting choice for a primary vehicle. While it proved useful for navigating narrow tracks in the Oregon wilderness and roads clogged with disabled vehicles, it is far less than adequate when attempting to splatter zombies while on the move. There's the whole lack of doors thing, sure, but during my demo I found the bike to be rather delicate and in need of regular repair. Combined with a limited fuel range, you can be sure you'll be continually scrounging for gas and spare parts as you play. Which is always fun and not an unnecessary hassle at all.\n\nThe game progression is really straightforward. You talk to various characters to unlock missions, you complete said missions for monetary and XP rewards, you use that money and experience to unlock new skills, upgrade stats, get bigger and badder weapons. Rinse and repeat.\n\nDuring my demo I played through a pair of missions: One to raid a mobile hospital for supplies to revive an ailing friend, the other to clear out a nest of human saboteurs who kept fiddling with the region's radio towers. Since the action takes place only an hour into the storyline, these missions were pretty easy.\n\nIn the first one, I simply had to find a can of gas to restart the hospital's generator and gain access to loot the supplies. Thankfully quest items in the game are generally where you'd expect to find them in real life. The gas can, for example, can be found at a nearby gas station or on the back of abandoned tow trucks. This mission also served as an introduction to the game's melee combat system, which in my case involved beating a trio of shamblers (zombies) to re-death with a broken table leg. Not going to lie, it was extremely cathartic.\n\nThe assault mission was a bit more challenging since my opponents A) were fully functional humans B) outnumbered me 7 to 1 and C) were armed with assault rifles. I'm going to assume you could sneak through, quietly assassinating the saboteurs to thin their ranks as you go. My tactic of running full speed through the camp while wildly firing a handgun at them proved less than effective.\n\n\n\nI did notice a troubling issue with the frame rate while playing, specifically that it would jitter and freeze if too many things were happening on-screen. It's irritating when I'm just panning the camera around as I run through a field, but it's infuriating when I'm trying to pry a zombie off my shoulder or line up a shot on a moving target. It detracts from what is otherwise a really visually appealing game. Granted, the game is still in development and isn't scheduled to be released until 2019 so there's still plenty of time to work out the performance issues, but all those scenic vistas and clever character details are useless if they overload the system and impede gameplay.\n\nThe well-tread gameplay mechanics and story progression structure might not innovate, but the game was still pretty enjoyable. I really dug that the undead are attracted to noise, requiring a degree of stealth when moving near them -- something that is surprisingly difficult to maintain when you're blasting through the woods on a flippin' Harley and starting up electric generators that rattle like jet turbines.\n\n\n\nHowever, that alone isn't enough to make Days End stand out from the increasingly crowded zombie survival genre. It needs an emotional hook, something that will get players to empathize with the characters. Dead Rising had its gallows humor, for example, The Last of Us tugged at our heart strings, and Lollipop Chainsaw combined joyous, gratuitous violence with heavy doses of pop culture references.\n\nDon't get me wrong, Days Gone looks to be a perfectly entertaining open-world adventure game. It just didn't immediately capture my imagination like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Dead Rising or God of War did. That's not to say that I won't pick it up when it comes out because, again, killing zombies is kinda my jam -- just that it'd better have one heck of a compelling storyline to help carry the otherwise unremarkable gameplay.\n\nAll images: Bend Studios

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Mark Zuckerberg will apologize to EU for not taking 'broad enough view'

apology - Posted On:2018-05-22 09:15:00 Source: engadget

You won't have to wonder much about what Mark Zuckerberg will say when he meets with the European Parliament later on May 22nd. Business Insider has obtained the Facebook chief's introductory speech, and contrition is clearly the order of the day. Zuckerberg is expect to apologize for his company not taking a \

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Email client Spark becomes collaborative

Apps - Posted On:2018-05-22 09:14:58 Source: techcrunch

Readdle, the company behind popular email client Spark, is releasing a major new version of Spark on iOS and macOS. Spark is expanding beyond a personal email client. You can now work on emails with your team. While some of the features made me think about Front, the company says that it wasn’t the inspiration […]

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Days Gone world premiere hands-on: Have you played a zombie game before?

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2018-05-22 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

SANTA MONICA, California—Twenty minutes behind the motorcycle handlebars of Days Gone was long enough to determine one thing: 20 minutes isn't nearly enough to get us excited.

Greatness may very well hide within this upcoming PS4 exclusive from Sony Bend, but I got nowhere near excavating that during a pre-E3 hands-on event. Instead, I found an experience that sounds as standard and predictable as this description: an open-world, side-quest-filled, post-apocalyptic battle against zombies and survivors alike through which you must scavenge and craft to get ahead.

There's clearly a bigger story going on in Days Gone, and Sony Bend appears to leverage some incredible motion-capture and lip-sync technologies to bring its stories and actors to life in attractive fashion. But that's not what I got to experience.

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3D Headphone Startup 'Ossic' Closes Abruptly, Leaving Crowdfunders Hanging

news - Posted On:2018-05-22 09:14:57 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Ossic raised more than $3.2 million in crowdfunding for its Ossic X, which it touted as the "first 3D audio headphones calibrated to you." But after delivering devices to only about 80 investors who'd paid at least $999 to for the "Developer/Innovator" rewards level on Kickstarter, Ossic announced Saturday it had run out of money -- leaving the more than 10,000 other backers with nothing but lighter wallets. Ossic, which The San Diego Union-Tribune notes was founded by former Logitech engineers Jason Riggs and Joy Lyons, had excited gamers, audiophiles and other sound consumers by creating headphones that used advanced 3D audio algorithms, head-tracking technology and individual anatomy calibration to "deliver incredibly accurate 3D sound to your ears," according to its funding campaign on Kickstarter. In less than two months in 2016, it was able to raise $2.7 million from more than 10,000 backers on Kickstarter. It raised another $515,970 on Indiegogo. "This was obviously not our desired outcome," the company said in a statement. "To fail at the five-yard line is a tragedy. We are extremely sorry that we cannot deliver your product and want you to know that the team has done everything possible including investing our own savings and working without salary to exhaust all possibilities." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The SpaceX rocket used for the ill-fated Zuma mission to fly again today

Science - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:59:57 Source: arstechnica

SpaceX will attempt its 10th launch of the year on Tuesday, a mission serving two different customers. The Falcon 9 rocket will carry five communications satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation, along with two gravity-measuring satellites for NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences.

This first stage booster has flown once before, a little more than four months ago when it launched the Zuma mission for the U.S government—a satellite or spacecraft that was apparently lost in space after it failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX appears to have been absolved from blame for this mishap, and certainly the first stage booster performed nominally during that mission.

SpaceX will not attempt to recover this core, as it is a Block 4 variant of the booster. Each Block 4 core will fly just two times as the company seeks to move all of its launches onto the newer Block 5 version of the rocket, which has slightly increased performance and numerous upgrades to optimize the first stage for reusability.

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Has Amazon stepped up to save The Expanse from cancellation?

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:59:57 Source: arstechnica

A couple of weeks ago we got some terrible news. The Expanse, the critically acclaimed adaptation of the James SA Corey space opera novels now in its third season, was cancelled by Syfy.

Although the US-based cable channel was responsible for broadcasting the science fiction show, it wasn't responsible for the production—that's all down to Alcon Entertainment. Syfy only bought the first-run linear rights, meaning that it only really cared about viewers watching the show live in the US on Wednesday evenings. Streaming rights after each season was complete went to Amazon here in the US, with Netflix carrying the show internationally.

But it looks like the day may have been saved. On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Amazon appears set to step into the breach for season four. By all accounts, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos was a big Expanse fan and wasn't happy that Syfy had the broadcast rights for the show in the first place.

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NVIDIA's budget GTX 1050 3GB is for gamers, not crypto-miners

gaming - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:45:00 Source: engadget

Despite the looming arrival of its next-gen graphics cards, NVIDIA quietly unveiled a new budget model, the GeForce GTX 1050 3GB. It's positioned between the regular 2GB GTX 1050 and the 4GB 1050 Ti, with a faster base clock but lower memory bandwidth of 84 GB\/second compared to 112 GB\/s for the other two models. The 3GB of memory makes it suitable for modern games, but less desirable for crypto-mining, which (in the case of Ethereum) requires graphics cards with 3GB of VRAM at a minimum. It has 768 CUDA cores like the Ti card, and NVIDIA said that all told, the GTX 1050 3GB should run games about 10 percent faster than the regular 1050 2GB model. The company also told PC World that it will \

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Elon Musk-funded XPRIZE expands education software testing

educationsoftware - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:15:00 Source: engadget

Back in 2014, XPRIZE announced a new \

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The US will help save ZTE even though it broke international laws

business - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:15:00 Source: engadget

Last year the US imposed a trade ban on American companies supplying equipment to Chinese telecoms giant ZTE Corp. Now, it appears the two countries are trying to work things out. According to sources briefed on the confidential negotiations, there has been a \

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HTC leaks the flagship U12+ on its own website

gadgetry - Posted On:2018-05-22 08:00:00 Source: engadget

Although HTC's U12+ will be officially unveiled tomorrow, the company has accidentally jumped the gun by revealing a bunch of expected features on one of its own websites. On a Chinese test domain visible to the public -- which has since been killed -- WinFuture.de writer Roland Quandt noticed previously rumored specs detailing the device's processor, display, RAM size and some undisclosed extras.\n\n\n\n The images suggest the U12+ will sport a notchless design, similar to the Galaxy S9's infinity display. If you were expecting an OLED display, think again -- HTC has opted for a 6-inch QHD+ Super LCD6 screen. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM and there's 128GB of internal storage. However, a microSD card slot will let you top up your storage to a comfortable 2TB.\n\nOn the battery front, HTC rises to the challenge with a 3,500mAh option. That's an improvement on the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, but isn't enough to topple the Galaxy S9+. With an IP68-rating for both water and dust resistance, the U12+ can be dunked at depths of around 1.5 meters.\n\nFlagship specs normally mean a flagship price (OnePlus 6 excluded) -- the HTC U12+ will set you back 5,888 yuan, which is roughly $924.\n\nThings haven't been so rosy for HTC from a financial standpoint. The company's sales took a beating in 2016, and in 2017, it chained ten quarterly losses in a row. To correct that slump, former HTC President Chialin Chang said the company will release five to six smartphone models in 2018, some of which we've already had the chance to take a look at.

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HTC leaks the flagship U12 Plus on its own website

gadgetry - Posted On:2018-05-22 07:29:59 Source: engadget

Although HTC's U12 Plus will be officially unveiled tomorrow, the company has accidentally jumped the gun by revealing a bunch of expected features on one of its own websites. On a Chinese test domain visible to the public -- which has since been killed -- WinFuture.de writer Roland Quandt noticed previously rumored specs detailing the the U12 Plus' processor, display, RAM size and some undisclosed extras.\n\n\n\n The images suggest the U12 Plus will sport a notchless design, similar to the Galaxy S9's infinity display. If you were expecting an OLED display, think again -- HTC has opted for a 6-inch QHD+ Super LCD6 screen. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM and there's 128GB of internal storage. However, a microSD card slot will let you top up your storage to a comfortable 2TB.\n\nOn the battery front, HTC rises to the challenge with a 3,500mAh option. That's an improvement on the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, but isn't enough to topple the Galaxy S9+. With an IP68-rating for both water and dust resistance, the U12 Plus can be dunked in depths of around 1.5 meters.\n\nFlagship specs normally mean a flagship price (OnePlus 6 excluded) -- the HTC U12 Plus will set you back 5,888 yuan, which is roughly $924.\n\nThings haven't been so rosy for HTC from a financial standpoint. The company's sales took a beating in 2016, and in 2017, it chained ten quarterly losses in a row. To correct that slump, former HTC President Chialin Chang said the company will release five to six smartphone models in 2018, some of which we've already had the chance to take a look at.

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RED is building an 8K 3D camera for its holographic phone

3d - Posted On:2018-05-22 07:14:59 Source: engadget

RED is partnering with a company called Lucid on an 8K, 3D prosumer camera that will work with its incoming Hydrogen One smartphone, Lucid announced. The device -- shown above in prototype form at RED's Hydrogen One party -- has two synced 4K cameras that capture and convert video and images to 8K 4V (.h4v) files. Those can then be displayed in 3D on the Hydrogen One's \

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The Morning After: 'The Expanse' may live again

entertainment - Posted On:2018-05-22 06:45:00 Source: engadget

Hey, good morning!\n\nWake up! The Expanse might live again. Razer reinvents its Blade gaming laptops to battle a new generation of slim, powerful games machines. And if you don't like bleeding-edge gaming, we also reviewed a new game for the decades-old Atari Lynx. Something for everyone? \n\n\nWithin a protomolecule of closing the deal.\nAmazon is in talks to resurrect 'The Expanse'\n\n\n\nSources talking to Deadline, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have all claimed that Amazon is in discussions to resurrect The Expanse for a fourth season after it was canceled by Syfy.\n\n\nIf you can think it, you can create it.\n'Dreams' makes imagination manifest on the PS4\n\n\n\n\n\nLike Little Big Planet before it, the premise behind Dreams has long confused and infuriated me. Why on Earth would you pay good money for a game in which you work to create smaller games? But after puttering around in what is essentially a console-based development platform during a demo in Santa Monica last week, Andrew Tarantola realized that this game isn't built for gamers -- it's built for artists.\n\nWith Dreams, you get an unprecedented level of control over the content you can draw on in creations, or dreams. Literally every aspect of the in-game experience is editable -- the color of the sky, the land's distance from the sun, the background music, sound effects, all the way down to the frame-by-frame animation of the sprites -- you can control it.\n\n\n\n\nIt's built to compete with other NVIDIA Max-Q notebooks.\nRazer's revamped Blade gaming laptop is an upgrade in every way\n\n\n\nThe Razer Blade is back, with a refined design centered around a 15.6-inch display with incredibly thin borders. With that, the new Razer Blade is ready to face off with the plethora of lighting gaming laptops this year. The company has paced in a six-core eighth-generation Core i7-8750H CPU, and your choice of NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070 Max-Q GPUs. That 15.6-inch screen is available with either a 1080p 60Hz or 144Hz panel, or a 4K multi-touch offering. For the first time, Razer is also color calibrating its displays as they leave the factory. Given the larger screen, the new Blade is also a bit heavier than before, weighing in at 4.56 pounds for the 1080p version and 4.73 pounds for the 4K.\n\n\nCompeting against Tesla is foolish. Why not build an electric truck instead?\nInside the automotive startup taking EVs off-road\n\n\n\n\n\nThe Tesla Model X is the \

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Microsoft to Block Flash in Office 365

Security - Posted On:2018-05-22 06:44:58 Source: bleepingcomputer

Microsoft announced plans last week to block Flash, Shockwave, and Silverlight content from activating in Office 365. The block will only apply to Office 365 subscription clients, but not to Office 2016, Office 2013, or Office 2010 distributions, the company said. [...]

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Senators ask the FCC to investigate fake net neutrality comments

fakecomments - Posted On:2018-05-22 06:14:59 Source: engadget

Two Senators from opposing parties have put aside their differences to demand an investigation into the stolen identities that led to millions of fake net neutrality comments on the FCC's website. In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) said they were \

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Asteroid From Another Star System Found Orbiting Wrong Way Near Jupiter

science - Posted On:2018-05-22 06:14:57 Source: slashdot

Astronomers have spotted an asteroid orbiting our sun in the opposite (retrograde) direction to the planets. The 2-mile-wide asteroid, known as 2015 BZ509, is the first "interstellar immigrant" from beyond our solar system to remain, according to the study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Guardian reports: Further work on the asteroid revealed it takes the same length of time to orbit the sun as the planet Jupiter at a similar average distance, although in the opposite direction and with a different shaped path, suggesting the two have gravitational interactions. But unpicking quite where the asteroid came from was challenging. Asteroids that orbit the sun on paths that take them between the giant planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- are known as centaurs, and it is thought that many might come from distant bands of material within the solar system such as the scattered disk or the Oort cloud. Several, like BZ509, are known to have retrograde paths, although how they ended up on such orbits is unclear. But there was a clue there was something unusual about BZ509: while previous studies suggested retrograde centaurs stay gravitationally "tied" to planets for 10,000 years at most, recent work had suggested this asteroid's orbit had been linked to Jupiter for far longer, probably as a result of the planet's mass and the way both take the same time to orbit the sun. The discovery provides vital clues as to the asteroid's origins. [Dr Fathi Namouni from the Observatory de la Cote d'Azur said] that the model suggests the most likely explanation is that the asteroid was captured by Jupiter as it hurtled through the solar system from interstellar space. "It means it is an alien to the solar system," he said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Sony makes moves to dominate image sensors and music

av - Posted On:2018-05-22 05:45:00 Source: engadget

Sony's turnaround was started by its former chief, Kaz Hirai, who insisted that the business kill off weaker businesses to focus on its strengths. His replacement, Kenichiro Yoshida, has unveiled his own, three-year plan to help continue the work that his predecessor began. The biggest is likely to be the $9 billion investment in image sensors, an area where Sony is arguably king of the hill. Its hardware is used in pretty much every smartphone worth talking about, and since many now use dual cameras, Sony's profitability has increased.\n\nThe other is that Sony will spend $2.3 billion buying the largest chunk of EMI Music Publishing that it didn't already own. Once the sale is complete, the Japanese giant will own 90 percent of the publisher, not to mention that it already has its own music publishing arm.\n\nBut wait, there's more, since Sony is also hoping to get people to spend more time with their PlayStations by getting more folks onto PlayStation Plus. In addition, it'll invest more of its cash into building first-party games and \

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Twitter opts for its own emoji to ease frustration for Android users

android - Posted On:2018-05-22 04:45:00 Source: engadget

Twitter users on Android might be a little less frustrated that they can't see every emoji if they can't (or won't) upgrade to Android Oreo. That's because Twitter has dropped Android's native emoji and is using its own, open-source Twemoji to display the colorful icons in its app, Emojipedia reports. The switch does a few things off the bat -- it unifies how emoji look for many Twitter users on Android whether you use the app, Twitter's website or TweetDeck. It also helps more people see every single emoji on Twitter on more Android devices despite their firmware version.\n\nOnly six percent of Android users have installed Oreo, the latest edition of the OS, while over a third are working with a version from 2014 or before. Many phones are unable to upgrade to Oreo, and some owners simply don't bother updating the OS on their devices. Since older versions of Android can't display some newer emoji (or phone manufacturers take forever to release updates), many users see crossed-out black boxes in their places.\n\nTo roll out Twemoji on Android, Twitter used EmojiCompat, Android's compatibility library that has a feature which absolves developers of the need to use Google's own emoji. More than half of those using Twitter's app on Android 4.4 or newer should now see all emoji, with support for more users on the way this week. If ever there were a time for a chef's kiss emoji, this is it.\n\n\n\nI just designed *kisses fingers like an Italian chef* the perfect emoji pic.twitter.com\/3ngx2ytWRz\n— Jen Lewis (@thisjenlewis) April 12, 2017

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Adobe to Acquire Magento E-Commerce Platform for $1.68 Billion

Security - Posted On:2018-05-22 04:44:58 Source: bleepingcomputer

Adobe announced yesterday plans to buy the Magento e-commerce platform for $1.68 billion. While the Magento brand is mostly known for the open source online store CMS of the same name, Adobe was mostly interested in Magento Commerce, an online-store-as-a-service platform. [...]

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