News Hightech

Nikon working on next-gen D850 DSLR for its 100th anniversary

Nikon has become a bit set in its ways, failing to compete with Sony, Fujifilm and others in the profitable mirrorless and high-end compact realm. For its 100th anniversary, it has no intention of ceding the high-end professional market, however: It...

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Bounce's Brown Sugar streaming service arrives on Apple TV

The Apple TV's selection of culture-specific streaming services just got a little larger. Bounce has launched its subscription video service on Apple's fourth-generation media hub, bringing a large collection of movies and TV shows that star or or a...

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It's the beginning of the end for Microsoft Paint (update)

Windows' Fall Creators Update will add a pack of new features to the platform, but it could also mark the beginning of the end for MS Paint. Microsoft has revealed in a list of removed and deprecated features that it will stop actively developing the...

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What's on TV: 'Shark Week,' 'HarmonQuest' and 'Ghost in the Shell'

It's summer, and that means it's time for Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Along with the usual specials, it also has Shark After Dark talks set up hosted by Chris Hardwick. In non-shark related news, there's the second season of Community creator Dan...

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Facebook's latest acquisition is all about fighting video piracy

Facebook might be rolling out even more tools for video creators, but it still has a pressing problem: Folks passing off other people's video content as their own. To fight that piracy, the social giant has acquired Source3, a startup that will turn...

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Nikon working on next-gen D850 DSLR for its 100th anniversary

Nikon has become a bit set in its ways, failing to compete with Sony, Fujifilm and others in the profitable mirrorless and high-end compact realm. For its 100th anniversary, it has no intention of ceding the high-end professional market, however: It...

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Video games

Telltale's Next Guardians Of The Galaxy Episode To Release In August

During San Diego Comic Con, Telltale Games revealed the release date of the latest episode. The episode, entitled "More Than A Feeling" (A reference to the Boston song) will be out on August 22. "More Than Feeling" will be the third episode of five in the series. For more on Telltale's Guardians Of The Galaxy, you can read Miller's reviews of episode one and episode two.

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Fans Explore Multiplayer Mod for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Despite its critical and commercial success (or perhaps, because of it), many fans are eager to extend the possibilities of playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Today, news filtered out about an emerging mod for the game, which is promising the possibility of cooperative play.  From a post on Reddit, we got a brief glimpse of the potential for the mod, which uses a Wii U emulator to run on PC, and currently allows for two players to explore the game in a local couch-play style.  Previously, Nintendo has been quick to squash the plans of modders and other creators who attempt to alter or redesign existing Nintendo games, such as a 2D Zelda project as well as a remake of Metroid 2.  [Source: Reddit, via GameSpot]   Our TakeIt’s fascinating to see all the ways that fans explore ways to further stretch out Nintendo’s properties, but I wouldn’t get too excited about this fan-made project seeing a public release. Beyond the fact that its creators confess that they are many months from finalizing, it seems very unlikely that Nintendo would allow the mod to be released online without legal intervention. 

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Final Fantasy XIII Characters Show Up In Chinese Car Commercial

We’re not entirely sure what to make of this new Nissan commercial, which is apparently something that can be seen by actual potential Chinese car buyers. In a video that makes one’s head hurt if you think about it too hard, a girl dons a VR headset while sitting in the passenger seat, and sees Final Fantasy XIII’s Snow has suddenly overtaken her male driver. Snow proceeds to take the car (and accompanying passenger) through a Hot Wheels-esque rollercoaster of a virtual ride. And when they’re done, they change seats, he puts on the headset, and this time it’s Lightning behind the wheel.  Feel free to create your own backstory to what is going on here, and check out the full commercial below.  (Please visit the site to view this media) [Source: YouTube: Awesome Gamer Compilation, via Kotaku]

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The Sports Desk – The Allure Of 3-On-3 Co-Op In The PES 2018 Beta

Konami has started a Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 online beta for the game's 3-on-3 online co-op play (anyone can join via the PSN and Xbox stores), and after having played a bit of it, I'm impressed with this feature's chances in the fall game. Online hasn't been the series' forte, but with the success of MyClub, building out PES' online suite of modes is important as it's an area the franchise has trailed competitor FIFA in. As it stands in the beta, I have questions of how deep the feature is (more on that later), but the experience on the pitch is a lot of fun. Apart from how much I enjoy the gameplay itself (Konami says the online beta uses an older game build, so there's only so many conclusions you can draw from it) one of the mode's core aspects – how it handles player switching among three teammates – is done well. Each human player on the pitch (you can also play locally with friends by your side and against the computer) is given their own color. Pay attention to which one you are (everyone's name and color are also shown at the bottom of the screen) and you'll be just fine. I played enough games in the beta with enough strangers that even when everyone's constantly switching, it wasn't like I was confused or out of place. Granted, when all hell breaks loose down in front of the net, things get hairy, but again – pay attention to your color and you'll be fine. I say this even though the game auto-switches you at times. In my experience, this happened when a crucial clearance or attempt on goal needed to be made. One of the tools the game gives you to help with the player switching is that there is a clear icon (versus the colored one for your player) above a crucial non-human player. Pay attention to these, as this is the A.I. player you will control once you switch players. Apart from the visual cues, perhaps one of the biggest things that makes co-op easy to play in PES 2018 in the beta is the behavior of your A.I. teammates. They are in good positions to support the ball, defend, and to initiate attacks, so it's easy to take control of a player and find yourself ready to help out the team. This isn't a small factor considering that there are only ever three humans on your team that can keep things ticking. And I'll be honest – there were definitely games where the A.I. was doing a much better job keeping my team's shape and discipline than my human teammates were! Of course, some of the best pieces of advice I can give about having a good co-op experience are fundamental anyway: know your position's responsibility, pass the damn ball, use the radar, and have some patience. As much fun as I had in the online beta, my one big question is an important one: How deep is the mode? Throughout the game you're given feedback whenever you do well or otherwise, such as when you make a good pass or attempt on goal, or if on the other hand, you make a mistake that leads to a goal. This is all added up and tabulated for an end-of-the-game screen (above, top shot) listing your overall performance and how it stacks up against everyone else. After that there's a screen for the overall profile of your player (above, bottom shot) featuring co-op playing skills and styles. At the moment I'm not sure where all this leads. Are the skills and styles listed merely showing you what you're good at and what kind of player you are? Or do these skills and styles help you somehow? Are there rewards for your performance? The co-op match screen shows that there are co-op clans, but these weren't available during the beta. How deep and well-supported the game's co-op options are will go a long way to how successful it is, beyond the fact that it's flat-out fun. The online beta for PES 2018 runs until July 31 and is free on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Here's a clip of some 3-on-2 action. The mode scales the player numbers up/down according to who's available. You can also play co-op locally and against the CPU. (Please visit the site to view this media) Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below. Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.   INTERVIEW – SABER INTERACTIVE (NBA PLAYGROUNDS) CEO MATTHEW KARCH  This spring Saber Interactive released NBA Playgrounds, an arcadey title featuring two-on-two gameplay with current and legendary NBA players. The game was the studio's first sports title, and the team is pleased that it has currently sold more than 500,000 units across four platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC), with more than a million units sold expected in the game's first year. It hasn't all been dunks and celebratory champagne, however. There was a problem rolling out the online portion for the Switch version, which was only recently implemented (fans are getting a free copy of Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn when that game comes). I talked to Saber CEO Matthew Karch about NBA Playgrounds, the difficulties with the Switch, and what's next for NBA and beyond – inside and outside of the realm of sports. What were the challenges in developing NBA Playgrounds as your studio's first sports game? The primary challenge was in getting the feel right, and I think we did a solid job of it. We struggled with certain issues that clearly were reflected in the initial launch, such as shot timing, which we addressed in a patch, and rebounding, which is being addressed in the next update [see below for more - ed]. Overall I think we made the game accessible and fun! The challenge for us was to make a game that wasn't as easy as Jam or as realistic as the 2K titles. We tried to hit that balance and judging from the response we did a pretty solid job for our first try. We've learned so much from how the community plays the game; they've helped us refine NBA Playgrounds as fast as possible and guide our direction for future titles. Will any future updates cut down on the number of player duplicates gamers get in opening packs? Will any future content include new NBA players? Yes, one of the fixes we are making is to guarantee new players in packs and we will also include a lot of new players moving forward, including rookies, as well as mascots. We have also gotten a lot of requests for a one-time "pay-to-unlock everybody" feature. While I am not the biggest fan of that mechanic on a personal level – I like earning things in games – it is something we are probably going to do since there have been so many requests for it and it'll always be strictly optional. Do you expect NBA Playgrounds to be an annualized franchise or more of a perpetual platform that is added onto over time in lieu of a new game? Will microtransactions be added to the game? We are considering the best way to do this. We think our best move is likely a new game that takes all the feedback we have received and significantly improves the experience beyond even the updates we're already putting in to NBA Playgrounds. From there we can figure out whether to annualize or to monetize in another fashion, but the game really isn't set up well for microtransactions in its current format, and we've had great success delivering value at a fair price. Could the Switch version of the game have been released with the online components from day one and not needed a post-release patch at all? We did everything we could to get NBA Playgrounds out simultaneously on all platforms and that required certain compromises. The game could not have launched day-one with online play functioning at the right level, no. It was an impossibility due to various factors – many outside our immediate control. Sadly, we only realized this very, very late into the release process. I regret that Switch players had to wait so long for the patch. It just absolutely killed us hearing the community's complaints every day when it wasn't something we could totally control and remedy for them. Nintendo, the whole time, has been a real pleasure to work with and they are supportive and extremely protective of the Switch, which is a huge success, of course. We needed to navigate some issues with them – it's a brand-new system, so that is understandable – and they were very receptive to us and the particular challenges that our game faces. I doubt very many developers will face these same kinds of issues going forward. Did Nintendo communicate to Saber that the file size would be a problem before the game came out and the patch was submitted? In submission and during the publishing process, there are a great many documented guidelines and policies for developers that are clear, but sometimes waivers for certain of these can be granted. This is ultimately what happened in our case. Nintendo has been extremely gracious and great to deal with, but we simply have a game with a lot of content that was designed to be multi-platform – where different guidelines and policies may exist. We spent a ridiculous amount of time making sure the Switch port felt right on the platform – the potential here was so clear! But we started cross-platform development far in advance of having any access to Nintendo's Switch development resources since the console is so new. What do you think of Nintendo's online strategy for the Switch in general? I am very bullish on the Switch and their online strategy. Nintendo has been making very smart moves and you can tell developers are learning to optimize the system quickly. Here at Saber we have a very substantial shooter in the works – to be announced soon – based on a major license that runs on our own engine (the same one behind Quake Champions, actually). We have plans to bring that game over to Switch and we feel totally confident about it. How much of a monetary loss do you expect to take by offering Shaq Fu free to Switch players? We expect to take a significant loss since we're giving the game away for free to those qualifying Switch players. But it's a loss that is absolutely worth it – a loss that helps prove Saber is in it to make fun games and make fans happy and that we're willing to go the extra mile and do whatever we can (however crazy it might be) to take care of our customers and fans. Are there other sports you'd like to try your hand at? Yes. Absolutely. We want the Playgrounds brand to make its way to other sports. More on that soon!   Finally, here's a quick look at the upcoming free Hot Update for NBA Playgrounds (sometime later this summer) introducing a 3-point contest, 33 new players, friend invites, and more. (Please visit the site to view this media)   GOING MORE IN-DEPTH INTO MADDEN 18'S GAMEPLAY  Madden developer EA Tiburon has released a quick teaser video of some new gameplay mechanics in Madden 18 and followed up with some more in-depth blogs on a few specific features. I'm very intrigued at the possibilities of the target passing and DB/WR interactions, and want to get some more hands-on time with them. A few key questions come to mind, however... Target Passing: As a QB, will you have to throw the ball earlier to give your receiver time to react to the kind of ball you're throwing or where you throwing the ball to? Mostly, I'm excited to be able to target soft-spots in between zones – particularly those instances where you want to lead the receiver up the field. In past games, when I pressed up on the stick for a throw, I was never sure if I was leading the receiver up the field or just throwing a high pass, which is different. Also, I'm curious how players react to balls thrown into space. Will magnet catches apply for both receivers and defensive backs for passes which should otherwise fall harmlessly out of reach? DB/WR Interaction Mechanics: While supremely important for MUT Squads, these also apply to the gameplay of other modes, which is sweet. While most people don't play as a defensive back because it's too risky, this adds a nice chess game within the chess game. Since the blog specifically states that even the A.I. uses these interactions when you're not controlling a WR or DB directly, I'm very curious how much these are surfaced from play to play. Because if you really see different outcomes for each receiver route when you're a QB, that's going to be huge. Game Styles: I didn't think much of this feature when it was announced, but the more I read about it the more I'm intrigued. Personally, I'm more of a sim game-style player, but the inclusion of the competitive style brings up a good point – during a game how much do I expect my play to be rewarded versus seeing the game stick to more realistic outcomes based on player ratings and real-life stats? It's not a question that Madden 18 or any game for that matter can really answer, but it's good that players now have a choice to skew it toward their own preference.   RELEASE LIST Madden NFL 18 (PS4, Xbox One) - August 25F1 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - August 25Everybody's Golf (PS4) - August 29Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, 360) - September 12NASCAR Heat 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 12NHL 18 (PS4, Xbox One) - September 15NBA 2K18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 19Project Cars 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 22FIFA 18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 29   THE TICKERA quick rundown of some of the sports news from the weekNBA 2K18 First Screens   More Information On NHL 18's Offensive Dekes, Defensive Skills & 3-On-3 EASHL  F1 2017 Includes McLarens In Its Classic Car Roster The classic lineup also includes Renault, Ferrari, and more. PES 2018 Partners With the International Champions Cup Konami's soccer franchise hooks up with the pre-season tour (currently in America, China, and Singapore right now) featuring top club teams like Barcelona, PSG, and A.C. Milan. The deal, however, seems limited to onsite-promotions and MyClub agents for some of the players and teams competing in the ICC. As of the time of this writing, it does not seem to mean the game has the official license to include teams like Manchester City, for example, in PES 2018. I'm not even sure it means the ICC is included in the game (such as a part of the Master League career mode). If I find out otherwise, I'll let you know. R.B.I. Baseball 17 Going to Switch on September 5  The 32-Driver Camping World Truck Series Lineup & Eldora Trailer 

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Report: The Sims 4 Headed To Xbox One

A listing on the Microsoft store page that recently posted seems to say that The Sims 4 is on its way to Xbox One, and that players won’t have long to wait to check it out. The page also lists a release date of November 16, 2017. The game’s full name is listed as The Sims 4 Deluxe Party Edition. The listing also includes pre-order bonus info, explaining that a pre-order on the Microsoft store will get you a “Perfect Patio Stuff” set, which we can presume should make your Sims have a much nicer yard experience.  We reached out to EA for comment on the listing, and they responded to let us know that there is no official statement at this time.   Our TakeThe listing has the look of authenticity about it. It’s a good bet that the game is really coming to Xbox One. The listing on Microsoft’s page doesn’t necessarily mean that Xbox One is the only console getting a release – I’ll be curious if we hear about other forthcoming launches for platforms like PS4 or Switch. 

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Telltale's Next Guardians Of The Galaxy Episode To Release In August

During San Diego Comic Con, Telltale Games revealed the release date of the latest episode. The episode, entitled "More Than A Feeling" (A reference to the Boston song) will be out on August 22. "More Than Feeling" will be the third episode of five in the series. For more on Telltale's Guardians Of The Galaxy, you can read Miller's reviews of episode one and episode two.

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News in brief

Israel scraps metal detectors at holy site after deadly unrest

Israel began removing metal detectors from entrances to a major Jerusalem shrine early Tuesday morning to defuse a crisis over the site that angered the Muslim world and triggered some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years.

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Can Macron’s Libya talks deliver anything more than a photo op?

French President Emmanuel Macron will host talks on Tuesday between Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his main rival, General Khalifa Haftar, in a landmark meeting all three are hoping to benefit from.

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Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner denies colluding with Russia

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, told Senate investigators on Monday he had met with Russian officials four times last year but said he did not collude with Moscow to influence the 2016 election.

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Firefighters struggle to battle blazes across southern France

Hundreds of firefighters were battling blazes across southern France on Monday, with one inferno spreading across 900 hectares of forest and threatening homes on the island of Corsica, emergency services said.

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Can French football clubs finally break into the elite?

“If we want to compete with the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid and win the Champions League, then we will need someone from the top five” players in the world.

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Israel scraps metal detectors at holy site after deadly unrest

Israel began removing metal detectors from entrances to a major Jerusalem shrine early Tuesday morning to defuse a crisis over the site that angered the Muslim world and triggered some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years.

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