News of the Week – 1 June 2020

000 Half-Life Ravenholm - Arkane

New Noclip documentary shows off cancelled Half-Life game:

Noclip has released yet another great documentary, but this one’s a bit different to the others in that a small portion of it made it to some of the big game news sites. The thing that caught people’s attention in this documentary about Arkane Studios, a French dev team most known for the Dishonored  franchise and the recent Prey game, was the fact that there was footage of an unknown and long ago cancelled Half-Life spin-off set in the Half-Life 2 location Ravenholm.

This cancelled game, which was just called Ravenholm by the devs seeing as it didn’t have an official title, took place in the zombie-infested Ravenholm and had you play as Lieutenant Shepard from Half-Life: Opposing Force (the Half-Life 1 spin-off developed by Gearbox) and it even featured the crazed Father Grigori from Half-Life 2. It looks very rough by today’s standards, but with proper polish it probably could have made for a great game, and it also had a special “magnet gun”, which appears somewhat similar to the gravity gun from the second game.

Sadly, it is just a blip in gaming history, but if you’re interesting in checking out the tiny bit of the game that was created, go have a look at the documentary. The entire thing is fascinating and explores the history of Arkane Studios. Definitely worth the watch.

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Formula E driver caught cheating at esports:

Sports are cancelled, and they’ve been cancelled for some time seeing as the coronavirus isn’t planning on leaving us anytime soon, but that hasn’t stopped all them sports people from doing something sporty. Enter esports! Various video games have been played by professional athletes over the last few months in place of the real-life sport because people might die, and one such sport is professional driving.

Formula E has been hosting a Race at Home Challenge esports series as a charity event for UNICEF. The series throws real racers behind the virtual wheel of rFactor 2 (a realistic racing game) and has them compete against each other. It’s all good fun and it’s all for charity, and so that’s why it was somewhat jarring that German driver Daniel Abt, who drives for Audi, decided to bring in a professional simulation racer, Lorenz Hoerzing, and had him play the game instead.

So he brought in a pro gamer for a charity event. Kind of a weird time to cheat, and while he did put out a video explaining things (apparently it was meant to be a fun thing he’d come clean on later), the Formula E veteran, who’s been there since Formula E started in 2014, got fired by Audi, kicked out of the series and fined ten grand. So quite a steep price to pay for something he claims was all in good fun. Probably not what he was expecting.

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000 BlizzCon

BlizzCon 2020 is officially cancelled:

The cancellations keep a coming, but that’s to be expected. Some probably thought that seeing as BlizzCon is all the way in November that it wouldn’t be affected by the coronavirus, but it ultimately has been affected. Blizzard spent quite some time deliberating on whether or not to cancel the major fan event, and those who care about the lives of human beings are probably quite happy that Blizzard decided against endangering people’s lives.

The event was originally meant to be in Anaheim, California all the way in November, but the event has been shifted to an online event early next year. So people will still get some form of a BlizzCon but it just won’t be this year or in-person. The company will no doubt return to normal once everything else has returned to normal, but until then there’s just gonna have to be no big events.

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Skyrim Grandma is taking a break:

Shirley Curry, the “Skyrim Grandma”, is a wonderfully sweet Skyrim streamer who likes to tell stories and play around in the famous open-world fantasy RPG. However, despite having incredible support in terms of subscriber numbers (nearly 900k at time of writing), she typically gets around 5k views. So people subscribe but they don’t really watch all that much, and that’s a shame because she’s quite a delightful lady.

But because of all this, and because many of the people who do watch don’t watch that much of the video itself, she’s decided to take a backseat for a while and focus on her health. This hasn’t been helped by the fact that she constantly gets comments telling her that she should play differently or other games, that she should min/max, play optimally. All the things horrible people demand all gamers do. So she eventually got fed up with it.

She will be back, but for now she’s going to be taking some time off and then returning with a less gruelling upload schedule. The story here is ultimately that the internet can’t have nice things because whenever nice things come along they get destroyed by horrible people who can’t help but be twats. Well done, internet, you break all your toys and then whine when the toys are gone. Naughty internet!

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000 skyrim

Cate Blanchett will be in the Borderlands movie:

Cate Blanchett, the Oscar winning actor from films like The Aviator, Blue Jasmine and The Lord of the Rings, is the first person to be officially signed to the Borderlands movie directed by Eli Roth. It’s a rather strange choice considering the fact that she’s an Oscar winner and everything, but that’s a pretty great thing for the movie to get someone so competent right out the gate. She’ll be playing the Siren Lilith, but that’s about all we know so far. It’ll be a leading role in the adaptation of a silly game series, maybe adaptations of games are finally growing up. Who knows?

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May 2020 Tech News

000 Twitter

Zoom introduced new end-to-end encryption:

In a blogpost, Zoom announced that it has a new company’s tech under its own belt. This company is Keystone, an end-to-end encryption company that allows for great security in video conferencing seeing as loads of people are now forced to do that if they want a job. This new Keystone system works by creating temporary network keys for individual meetings that are entirely controlled by the host of the meeting.

This means that the host gets to choose who receives invitation keys and therefore stops people from snooping around inside someone else’s call because everyone in the call must be listed in a participant list. Zoom added Keystone because it’s believed that the encryption will allow current streaming quality while upgrading the security behind the system itself. Always good to get some more security especially when everyone’s forced to have their webcams on almost constantly.

CRISPR-based COVID-19 test approved by FDA:

Sherlock Biosciences, a biological engineering company, stated via its blog that it has successfully managed to get FDA approval on a new form of coronavirus testing that will detect the genetic signature of COVID-19 and produce a trace signal that can be picked up. The thing about this particular test that makes it so interesting is that it’s the first time the FDA has approved the gene editing technology of CRISPR.

For those unfamiliar with gene editing or CRISPR, John Oliver did a great video on the topic (and you here’s the link to that), but if you’re familiar then you’d know that this is still considered pretty cutting edge technology that is often approached cautiously. However, “in these uncertain times” the process for testing stuff like this has become significantly more streamlined.

This new test is called Sherlock, and that’s a really, really stretched acronym for Specific High-Intensity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking. This technology will help with faster testing and the company is even attempting to create a handheld version that works like a pregnancy test. So a new age of gene editing may be approaching, and for those who aren’t afraid of playing god a bit it’s a rather fascinating time to be alive.

WHO is designing a coronavirus app for nations that aren’t making their own:

In an interview with Bernardo Mariano, the chief information officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO), it was announced that the WHO is producing its own coronavirus tracking app for use by countries that are not willing or able to create their own app.

This app will be open-source and any nation can modify it for its own specifications, but at its core it allows users to put in their symptoms, keep track of their status and then it dishes out advice. It will also personalise according to your individual data. The purpose being that it will aid in contact tracing, the way in which coronavirus is tracked, and so help these countries to formulate responses to the pandemic.

All of these tracing apps come with baggage because of the inherent issue with giving away your personal information, but this is an extraordinary circumstance and so the desire for it is likely at an all-time high. Once the virus has passed though, such apps should be immediately removed and rendered inactive.

Steam introduces Play Next:

In a brief blogpost on Steam, Valve have stated that a new feature has been added to the Steam Library. This new feature uses an AI-assisted algorithm to recommend the next game for you to play. However, it isn’t an ordinary recommendation system. This system doesn’t detect games you may like and recommend them for purchase, it instead recommends games you already own but haven’t played.

The idea is that some people have large Steam libraries that they never get around to playing, and this new algorithm watches what you play and then detects games in your library that have either hardly been played or haven’t been played at all. It then brings them up as a possible next thing to play. You can obviously ignore these things if you want to, but for those wracked with indecision over what to play, at least you get a little bit of a nudge in a potentially worthwhile direction.

Sony’s new cameras use machine learning:

Sony has some new cameras that are soon gonna be on the market. These new cameras have the delightful names IMX500 and IMX501, and the thing that makes them tick is that they are outfitted with rudimentary AI software that helps them do a bit of simple machine learning. That means we’re going to have cameras that can do at least a little bit of their own thinking.

The idea is the camera is able to perform machine learning tasks without the need for external software, which is something that, for instance, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has some new regulations on. The camera will be able to do things like detecting if a stray animal entered your backyard (and therefore not triggering the alarm) or it could help in shops with stocktaking or detecting whether people are wearing a mask. It also does all this in real-time and so it’s a great way to keep track of everything.

This new tech will be available in high-end products from the end of the year and throughout 2021. However, it likely won’t be available for residential usage just yet as tech like this is typically expensive for some time before it reaches ordinary consumers. But one day you too can have machine learning in your personal security systems to monitor your backyards!

Tesla has some new, cheaper batteries in the works:

In a report from Reuters, it appears that Tesla has some new batteries in the works. These batteries are intended to bring the price of electric vehicles down to the price of gasoline vehicles and thereby increase the affordability and availability of such vehicles for people who aren’t incredibly rich. These batteries are also supposed to be reusable in the electric power grid.

By doing this, Tesla is further entering into the electricity production industry and is aiming to become a major competitor in this space. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, has been teasing this for some time but there hasn’t been any follow-through until now. However, regardless of their plans to produce reusable batteries that can last a million miles, this technology is probably still a long way from global adoption.

The new batteries will be tested in China and then likely migrate to European and American markets, but it’ll be some time before they come to developing nations (like my own), and so the electric car revolution is likely a relatively long way off for the rest of the world, but at least the rich countries get to have better toys in the meantime.

NASA lays out the Artemis Accords:

The desire to return to space has been increasing over the last few years, and now that space exploration is becoming a bigger and bigger deal, NASA has released the Artemis Accords to lay out a few guidelines for future space exploration. This new Artemis program plans to land a woman and man on the moon by 2024 and seeing as NASA is leading this new program it has a few things it wants its international partners to keep in mind.

A quick overview of the things the accords request: all international space exploration must be for peaceful purposes, it must be transparent, everything must be nice and open for everyone to cooperate, nations must help out when emergency assistance is needed, all “space objects” must be registered, all scientific data must be freely accessible, heritage sites must be protected, there must be avoidance of conflict and trash must be properly disposed of!

These things are mostly pretty obvious but seeing as there’s always been conflict between various nations over space exploration, maybe it’s necessary for this to be a thing that needs to be explicitly stated. Then no one can claim to be ignorant of the facts once they get into a fight. But hopefully we aren’t going to have any star wars just yet.

Twitter is testing some new reply features:

According to Twitter’s blog section, the social media network has rolled out a new feature aimed squarely at replies. This new feature is still in the test phases, so it isn’t necessarily going to stick around, but if it’s a success then it will. The feature is quite simple. Whenever you tweet something you can choose to allow any replies (meaning from any person who reads it), only replies from people you follow (and so therefore your “friends”) or only replies from those specifically tagged in the tweet itself.

The immediate reasoning is probably obvious: to keep trolls from replying. However, it does feel like Twitter’s implementing a feature to finally allow people to have private conversations that… other people can see. It’s a bit strange, but is likely useful for people/organisations that are often attacked by hate groups and for announcements that you don’t want any replies to. Regardless of which one you choose, users can still retweet or like the tweets regardless of their relationship to the sender.

More options are generally a good thing and so this is probably a good, or at least neutral, thing. If you don’t want replies then you don’t want replies. It’s that simple, but there will probably be at least some backlash to this because it is, you know, Twitter.

A new iPhone hack can jailbreak every iPhone:

Via a report from TechCrunch, a group of hackers who go by the name unc0ver have uncovered an exploit for the iPhone that allows one to jailbreak any iPhone from iOS 11 to iOS 13.5 (which is the latest release). Jailbreaking software for iPhones has been around for as long as Apple decided to gate its little software away from the world the way it does, but as soon as an exploit like this is discovered Apple is hot on the tail of attempting to stop it from happening. It’ll probably keep happening though, but cracking the system so shortly after it was updated is probably a bit worrying to Apple.

Twitter clamps down on misinformation:

Twitter is full of misinformation, but at the moment there’s a need for someone to step in and stop some of that spread of misinformation, but seeing as one of the biggest contributors to said misinformation is the current President of the United States, Twitter has always been in a bit of a tight spot. However, the company has started throwing fact-checking labels onto Trump’s false claims. The first of which was about voting fraud.

The company claims it is working within its own misinformation parameters by putting the warning label there, but the label angered the president (obviously). This may be a step in the right direction though, provided the company doesn’t back down, because stopping the spread of misinformation is ultimately an important thing, especially at the moment.


Opinion: And just what’s wrong with sex games?

There’s always been pushback against media that openly portrays sexual acts. We tolerate nudity, especially when it’s used in an “artsy” way, but sex is still more of a taboo subject even though, you know, everyone does it (or could theoretically do it). So it’s something natural, something we all engage in, and yet it’s something that we think should be locked away and buried. This perspective is obviously changing, especially amongst sex positive degenerates like myself, but there’s still a long way to go, and the recent aversion to allowing sex games on digital storefronts is a pretty good example of that.

Steam has officially allowed sex games to exist on its platform, and that’s a great thing, but there will always be those who are averse to it. People who claim it’s some kind of a societal moral failing if we allow these kinds of things to exist in spaces where “the kids might see it”, although this is often a mostly nonsense claim because it’s actually just a way of trying to stop all those degenerate adults from engaging in the kind of activity they want to engage in.

Sex games, regardless of your thoughts on them (I personally don’t much care for them unless it’s an erotic narrative that actually has a narrative, such as Christine Love’s fantastic Ladykiller in a Bind), if you believe in the things that many conservatives thinkers pretend they believe in, like freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the free market, then you should be all on board with sex games. If you’re going at it from a moral perspective? Well then you’re trying to enforce your highly subjective moral feelings so you can project them onto people who should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves.

So let’s look at a few of those things conservatives apparently believe in and how they relate to allowing sex games to be sold. Because sure, I could say that we should just allow them because who cares about the values of prudes, but that’s also my moral leaning. I believe in freedom of expression, I believe in doing what you like in terms of sexual preferences. But that doesn’t jive with some people, so let’s go at this from their perspective.

It’s a freedom of choice issue. You want the right to live your life the way you want to live it, and if you wanna do it without sex games then you don’t have to touch stuff like that. In addition, services like Steam don’t advertise sex games and you have to actively search for them. This means that they won’t just “appear before your children’s eyes”. I mean, not unless your kids are actively looking for them of course.

So freedom of choice would allow it. Well what about freedom of speech? Well artistic creations are instances of free speech, and unless someone is producing hate speech you don’t really have any recourse to stop them. If someone was trying to create sexual material and pushing it in places where it doesn’t belong, such as a specifically child-friendly area, then that is a problem. Otherwise, wanting to play or make sex games is entirely up to you. It has nothing to do with anyone else. It would be censorship to try to stop them from being made or consumed.

Now, services like Steam have the right to refuse freedom of speech on their platform. They are a business and have no obligation to allow you to put sexual content on their platform, but by the same standard, they have no obligation to take it off Steam just because prudes don’t like it. They are not beholden to public free speech because they are not a public platform, they are a private platform. Very different.

Then there’s the whole free market thing. So if you’re a capitalist you probably believe in what’s called the “free marketplace”. There’s no real point in debating whether it actually exists, but let’s just presume it does. Let’s presume so for the sake of the conservative we’re discussing this with. If you believe in the free market then you must believe in sex games. If there’s an audience that wants it, a demand, then people should be free to create and sell it, the supply. It’s pretty basic in terms of economic structure, really.

You let things sell because there are people who want them. If no one wanted these products then they wouldn’t exist. There’s an audience for them and so someone is gonna take advantage of that. This is worth keeping in mind because sex games are here to stay, and if they’re not gonna be on Steam they’ll be somewhere else. If push comes to shove, people will find somewhere else to sell. So regardless of your moral beliefs on the matter, you might as well just let it be. Let us be degenerates. We can choose hell if we want to, after all.


News of the Week – 25 May 2020

000 Rainbow Six Siege

Ubisoft was gonna sue over a Rainbow Six Siege copy:

Ubisoft got a bit annoyed last week when a game surfaced on the App and Google Play Store. This game is called Area F2 and, according to Ubisoft, it’s pretty much a carbon copy of Rainbow Six Siege but for mobile devices. Not wanting its copyright to be under threat, the publisher decided to file a lawsuit against Apple, Google and Ejob (the game’s developer) for the infringement.

There was no news for a while and then the game suddenly got pulled from the stores a few days after the 15 May filing without much fanfare. The devs released a statement about it being pulled from the storefronts but didn’t really address the accusations. So Ubisoft won this one, and it really didn’t take much for it to win.

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Minecraft passes 200m sales:

Minecraft is eleven years old, and over the course of that decade plus a year the game has managed to accrue quite a large following. In a recent blogpost, Microsoft revealed that those eleven years have led to a whopping 200 million copies sold. A rather insane number considering the fact that a game selling a million copies can be considered a success (well unless you’re a triple-A studio and want a few million), so 200 million is a pretty good number to reach.

In addition, the game has 126 million active monthly users, which is also rather insane considering that’s more than half the number of people who bought the game. No game, other than like GTA V or the MOBAs, are able to maintain such a ludicrously high player rate. So it’s rather impressive. The whole coronavirus thing is probably helping Microsoft with that too seeing as people are trapped indoors and might as well just play something.

Microsoft has also taken this opportunity to get its game into a whole load of households by making itself an educational tool. So the company’s pretty clever there because once it’s in the household it’s not gonna get out as easily. The power of Minecraft is far from dwindling and if that isn’t a gaming success story, I don’t know what is.

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000 Mafia

2K officially unveils Mafia remakes and remasters:

This was revealed last week but for some reason 2K never actually acknowledged it until now! You see, 2K’s remaking the Mafia games. Well, it’s remaking the first game, because it was released back in 2002 and definitely needs a new coat of paint. It was kinda released during the old days and things were still pretty ugly back then, but the same can’t exactly be said of the other two games in the franchise.

The second and third games were released in the post-2010 era, and so there isn’t much to “remake”, and so the other two games are just getting remasters and being rereleased as the “definitive editions” of each respective game. Now, you might think that seeing as 2K is making a big thing about the Mafia Trilogy that these games are going to be released as a bundle, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The remasters of the second and third games have been released at time of writing, and are available on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC, but the first game is getting it’s complete overhaul with new graphics and rerecorded dialogue; the whole thing. So that’s gonna take longer to release and will be available in August, provided dates don’t get shifted around thanks to the ever-present coronavirus. So you can now get the second two games as separate products as you always could. Yay!

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System Shock 3 now belongs to Tencent:

After a rather tumultuous time dealing with a financially crippled publisher in Starbreeze, OtherSide Entertainment, the devs behind the promising System Shock 3 have announced that it will be shifting its development of the sequel to the classic franchise to Tencent. The Chinese conglomerate will handle the game’s development from here on out, although we still don’t actually know whether OtherSide will still be involved in the project.

This all started back in 2018 when Starbreeze started having financial troubles and OtherSide ended up buying the rights to the game back from them, but working alone has been difficult for them. So the team announced it via Twitter and now we wait to see whether anything more will come of it. And for those scared for the remake of the original game, there’s no need to worry. NightDive Studios, the company that owns the System Shock IP, have reassured fans that it still owns the overall license and that only System Shock 3 is affected.

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000 Tuca and Bertie

Tuca and Bertie has been saved by Adult Swim:

The surreal adventures of the anthropomorphised birds Tuca and Bertie was officially killed off by Netflix after only one season, but good news everyone! Adult Swim has rescued the series and will be producing a second season in 2021 with ten new episodes. Adult Swim also has the ability to create more, but that will likely be based on whether the new season manages to do well on its new platform. So for all those who loved the series, let’s hope it lasts.

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Opinion: A pointless game for pointless time wasting

000 Serious Sam

Have you ever just played a game to pass the time? You don’t particularly enjoy it but you need to waste some time or you need a few minutes break between work sessions? Well I’ve been “enjoying” such a game during my time in lockdown because I need something to break the monotony between the otherwise endless work behind the screen. And what game have I been… enjoying? Serious Sam!

I had one of these Serious Sam games back on the PS2 and I found it a bit boring. You’re just running around with no real purpose and shooting at things. It was much like the PS3 release of Painkiller. It just felt dull and intensely repetitive. So while sitting in lockdown with limited internet I decided to buy the first two Serious Sam games while they were on sale and check them out. I’ve finished the first one at time of writing and recently started on the second. And uh… it’s just really boring.

While playing and listening to podcasts (because there’s no way I’m playing this thing without additional stimulation of some kind) I found myself wondering why it was so boring. I figured the console port had just been fumbled, like the Painkiller one (because the original is fantastic) and so I was disappointed to find that the PC releases of these games are also incredibly dull. So at least the console version didn’t sully the original’s name!

I didn’t go in wanting a narrative of any kind and I actually just wanted to play a mindless shooter, so I suppose I got my wish, but I was expecting something more along the lines of Unreal Tournament, Painkiller and Quake, but instead it’s just wide open spaces with waves upon waves of enemies that you shoot at with boring weapons.

The weapons in those other games are a lot more satisfying to use. They’re unique and inventive. Many of them are entirely unique to their games and nothing quite like it has ever been seen before, but everything in Serious Sam is very standard. You get pistols, shotguns, machine guns, a laser thing, a gattling gun… it’s all very bog-standard. None of it inspires you at all. It’s not the lightning gun from Painkiller or the impact hammer from Unreal Tournament. None of it has any weight behind it and you feel like you’re just running around, clicking at things until they fall over.

But then I got to thinking more about it and I just couldn’t figure out what else was so dull about it? The weapons were boring, but what else? Why was it just not as enjoyable as Painkiller? The uninspired environments? The kind of thing that’s been done so many times before? Samey, repetitive environments that are just so big yet filled with absolutely nothing?

That could be another thing. Painkiller didn’t have a story worth mentioning so it couldn’t have been that. The art style? Basic, boring. But that has nothing to do with game flow. The game is just a drag to play. It’s a drag to play, it’s a drag to look at and its attempts to turn the eponymous Sam into Duke Nukem are mostly just boring and sad. The game gives me no urges to play it, but I don’t want to get into another game just yet. I want a break, and so I wanted a pointless in-between game to do that for me, and because of that, you could actually say that maybe Serious Sam was a success.

Not a success in terms of good game design, but a success in terms of helping me kill time while locked inside my house because of a deadly virus in the outside world. So thanks Serious Sam for helping kill time for me. I will finish the second one, because I have lots of time to be trapped indoors, but I don’t think I’ll be getting any of the sequels. I don’t think it’d be worth it.


News of the Week – 18 May 2020

000 PlayStation Studios

Sony unveils PlayStation Studios:

Sony has a new umbrella brand! Yay! The publisher has decided that it’s time for a new label under which all PS5 exclusives can be placed as soon as the console releases. This new brand will be called PlayStation Studios and will encompass everything that Sony has complete control over. So that means a whole bunch of games will be placed under this label; all games from companies like Naughty Dog (The Last of Us and Uncharted), Insomniac (Ratchet and Clank), Media Molecule (Little Big Planet and Dreams), and a bunch of others.

This new umbrella brand comes with its own intro animation, and the various news outlets have been making a bigger deal about that than one might expect, but I guess it looks nice. So Sony is trying to bring everything under a singular branding for internal consistency, and that’s nice for them. This will also carry over to whatever the company releases on PC, and let’s hope that’s more evidence that more Sony exclusives will be heading to PC.

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Ubisoft Forward is Ubisoft’s E3 replacement:

E3 is dead! For the year. And because it’s gone publishers decided that they all needed to figure out some other way of doing things, and so of course the immediate response was to move to an all-digital setup. Some companies have already stated that they won’t be doing such a thing, but Ubisoft has announced, via tweet, its new version of an E3 conference.

This new thing will be a digital only event, but in all other ways it’ll just be a regular old E3 showcase. It’ll show off new games, new updates and adverts. You know, the usual E3 stuff. It’ll also still be round about the same time: 12 July. So E3, for the vast majority of us, is pretty much still gonna happen, it just won’t be in a big conference hall in Los Angeles.

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000 Mafia

There’s a Mafia remake on the way:

The Mafia series has a rather strange history. It was a cult-ish classic from back before games were able to render anything realistic in terms of graphics and then many, many years passed by. Then the second one came out and a few years after that a third. And they’re all somewhat disconnected from one another, but apparently 2K feels it’s time for this “trilogy” to get the remaster/remake treatment.

The first game in the series is being remade from the ground up, ala Spyro Reignited Trilogy or Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and the others are just getting remasters. It’s gonna be called the Mafia Definitive Edition and even though we so far only have a few screenshots to check out, in the next few months we may be getting some more Mafiosi action.

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Tony’s Hawk Pro Skater remakes officially on the way:

Vicarious Visions, the company behind the fantastic remakes of Crash Bandicoot (Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing) has unveiled it’s next thing to remaster/remake and it’s going to be a classic from the nineties: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Vicarious Visions will be remaking the first two games, from the ground up (as it did with the Crash Bandicoot games) and joining them together in a single package.

This remake will also, reportedly, have some original content in it too. Some new levels and music and all that jazz. It’ll also be arriving 4 September 2020 provided the coronavirus doesn’t decide to swing up harder than before and force another delay, but it’s a safe bet that things will have calmed down by then. So expect some skating fun in September! From back before the Tony Hawk games got bad.

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000 gta

GTA V is free on Epic Games Store and it crashed the system:

Epic Games decided to launch a nice big sale and they threw a new free game in along with it, and that free game was Grand Theft Auto V. Problem was, Epic apparently underestimated the draw of a free GTA game because the entire Epic Games Store service went down thanks to the strain on the system. Which is kind of hilarious, and rather amazing considering GTA V was released back in 2013 and it’s still a consistent bestseller. At least some people got to walk away with a nice free copy of Rockstar’s most successful game.

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Opinion: Why do they always have Zippo lighters in movies

000 Supernatural

So… this is a mostly pointless question but one I find myself constantly asking. The question is exactly what’s in the title: why do they always have Zippo lighters in movies. I ask this question because Zippo lighters, those fancy metal flick up lighters, seem to be used by characters in every movie I’ve ever seen (aside from one I can think of), and the reason this is so weird to me is that, well, those lighters are really expensive and I don’t believe that everyone has one.

Zippo lighters are pretty pricey things, and they last a hell of a long time if they’re looked after. I’ve only actually encountered one person in my life, at time of writing, who has one of those lighters and he’s had it for over twenty years. That thing still works all these years later, but every smoker I know has a regular lighter. It’s generally colourful or has some kind of a picture on it, and the mechanism often breaks before the lighter fluid runs out. They’re cheap, disposable lighters, and they are by far the most common I’ve seen.

I briefly mentioned that I only know one movie where the character doesn’t have a Zippo lighter, and that movie is Stranger Than Fiction, in which there’s a rather strange writer character who uses a regular lighter. That’s it. That’s the only non-Zippo lighter I can recall seeing. I don’t know why I pay so much attention to this, but as soon as I noticed it I could never un-notice it. The knowledge of it is now ingrained in my brain and I will forever notice the use of Zippo lighters.

What really gets me about those lighters is when they’re used in more crime-oriented media. A character has a trail of petrol or kerosene or something, and so they’re going to burn something or someone, and they throw a lit Zippo lighter onto that flammable liquid. That means that lighter is gone. You’ve just wasted a really expensive lighter. In my country, at time of writing, those things cost like a thousand bucks. For a thousand bucks you can buy quite a few groceries. And for perspective, a PS4, at time of writing, will run you about R6000. So a Zippo lighter is a sixth the cost of a gaming console.

Why would you throw one of those away?! I see this every time I watch one of my favourite shows: Supernatural. The protagonists are monster hunters, and whenever they burn the bones of someone they throw a Zippo lighter into the grave. They throw them away multiple times a season! Just get a box of matches! They’re so much cheaper!

This isn’t something important, but it’s something that “grinds my gears”, as they say, and so I think it’s worthwhile to just rant about it a bit. Also, if I get more people to notice this and maybe complaining about it then we can effect change and slowly push Zippo lighters out of film altogether! Not really, I mostly just hope that other people feel my pain and will now forever notice those Zippo lighters in every piece of media they consume. Forever tainting you! Mwa ha ha!

Anyway, have a good day further, and thanks for putting up with a pointless rant. Next time it’ll be something more serious again… maybe.