Self-driving cars are safer when they talk to each other

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University of Michigan

Most current self-driving technology relies on cameras, radar and lidar. These sensory devices serve as eyes for the car, mimicking what a human driver can see. But a University of Michigan public-private partnership called Mcity is testing V2V, or vehicle to vehicle communication, and has found that it makes their autonomous prototypes even safer.

V2V works by wirelessly sharing data such as location, speed and direction. Using DSRC, or Dedicated Short Range Communication, V2V can send up to 10 messages per second. This communication allows cars to see beyond what is immediately in front of them — sensing a red light around a blind curve, or automatically braking for a car that runs a stop sign.

Mcity is also using a new augmented reality system to test their cars equipped with V2V. They’ve created virtual vehicles equipped with the technology that can communicate with their actual prototypes. This allows them to test scenarios that are cost-prohibitive or too dangerous for real-world trials.

The catch of V2V? It has to be installed in the majority of cars and infrastructure (such as traffic lights) to function adequately. Regardless, anything that gets us closer to safe, reliable autonomous cars is a win, so it will be interesting to see how this tech develops.



Windows 10 source code leak is an embarrassment for Microsoft

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Earlier this week, Beta Archive posted Windows 10 source code related to USB, storage and WiFi drivers on its free FTP site. Now, a spokesperson for Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that this code, from the Shared Source Kit, is genuine.

The breach was initially thought to be massive; The Register reported that the leak consisted of around 32TB of files. They claimed it included builds of Windows that haven’t yet been released. However, it later became clear that the leak was smaller than originally reported, and what’s more, much of this data had been made available. The Shared Source Kit has already been distributed to Microsoft’s partners and licensees through the Shared Source initiative.

That doesn’t mean this data leak isn’t serious, though. It’s an embarrassing black mark for Microsoft at a time that more and more people are paying attention to and concerned about computer security. While the source code has been removed voluntarily by Beta Archive, it’s unclear how many people had already downloaded it. It’s possible that it still could be distributed via other methods and used to create exploits for Windows 10.



Hackers target UK parliament email accounts

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Marko Djurica / Reuters

After a report from The London TImes that the email addresses and passwords of British cabinet members and other government officials were being traded by Russian hackers, it looks like the inevitable next step has occurred: a cyberattack on the UK parliament.

According to Bloomberg, the Parliament along with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre are investigating an attack that started on Friday evening. To reduce the chances of being breached, remote access to email accounts has been disabled. In a statement, a parliament spokesperson said it was investigating “unauthorised attempts to access accounts of parliamentary networks users.”

Parliament members took to Twitter to report on the removal of remote access and asked fellow members to text any urgent messages.

So far it looks like the attack has been largely unsuccessful at penetrating the government’s servers. Still, the UK has had a rough couple of months. In May, UK hospitals were crippled by the WannaCry ransom attack.

As hackers become more sophisticated, are backed by nations and continue to get access to leaked government-held exploits, attacks like this will unfortunately become more common.



In 2017, tweets are official presidential statements

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Getty Images

Does a tweet count as an official response to a federal inquiry? Unsurprisingly, the White House thinks so. As reported by Reuters, the White House sent a letter to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee claiming that a pair of Trump tweets on Thursday were the president’s official response to an inquiry from the committee. At question is the existence of any recordings or memos of Trump’s conversations with fired FBI director James Comey, and Trump’s latest tweets claim that he “did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

It’s hard to keep up with all the back-and-forth, but after Trump unexpectedly fired Comey in early May, he then tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” In his early June testimony, Comey essentially said he’d welcome the existence of those tapes, indicating that they’d exonerate him and show that he’s been telling the truth about his accounts of his interactions with the president.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the extent of Russian hacking and influence on the 2016 election, asked the White House counsel on June 9th about the existence of any such tapes and said the White House had until June 23rd to respond. Trump’s tweets went out on the 22nd, and the White House says they’re sufficient response to the inquiry, calling them a “statement” from the president.

Of course, Trump could delete the tweets at any time — he’s already deleted a handful of tweets during his presidency. Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, the leading republican and democrat on the committee, don’t agree. Conaway said that the tweet wasn’t a sufficient response, while Schiff noted that Trump’s tweet stopped short of denying that the White House had recordings and said he wanted a response in writing.

Given the fleeting nature of Twitter, it’s not surprising that the committee wants a more traditional response. The question is whether or not the White House will provide it — and if they don’t, how these tweets will hold up to legal scrutiny in the ongoing investigation. That’s not to mention the fact that Trump has since indicated that his original tapes tweet was meant to essentially influence Comey’s public comments and testimony, something some believe could qualify as witness intimidation or obstruction of justice — something the president is already believed to be under investigation for.

“If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey?” Schiff said on Friday. “And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?” While it’s almost impossible for charges to actually be brought against Trump, these developments could certainly feed into the obstruction case and eventual potential punishment from Congress.



Recommended Reading: Apple's original television aspirations

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Michael Kovac via Getty Images

Apple Is a Step
Closer to Making
Its Own TV Shows

David Sims,
The Atlantic

While the company’s television aspirations remain largely a mystery, Apple hired two big names this week to help build its slate of original shows. Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, presidents of Sony Pictures Television, will make the move to Cupertino this summer with experience making hits like Damages, Breaking Bad, Justified and other series. The Atlantic offers a look at what this means for Apple and what we can expect from Eddy Cue & Co. in the months to come.

The 50 Best Good Bad Movies
The Ringer

Just trust me: You need to read this roundup.

Sorry, Han Solo, Star Wars Don’t Need No Stinking Directors
Peter Rubin, Wired

Lucasfilm parted ways with the director duo of the upcoming Hans Solo movie this week, but quickly replaced them with Ron Howard.

The Secret Lives of Playlists
Liz Pelly, Watt

An interesting look at who’s really behind some of those Spotify playlists and what you need to know about how it all works.

Welcome to the Wikipedia of the Alt-Right
Alexis Sobel Fitts, Wired

What do you do when you think Wikipedia is run “by the left-wing thought police who administer it?” You make your own alt-right version.



'Rocket League' will die without cross-console multiplayer

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All online games eventually die. But the difference between the original version of World of Warcraft and, say, Call of Duty: Ghosts is that WoW was more of a service on an open system (PC). Players were able to gradually migrate to its annual expansions while remaining a part of the overall population.

Comparatively, CoD is a franchise with annual sequels on several different pieces of hardware, each with cordoned-off players who jump from one game to the next. But sometimes you don’t want to stop playing a game just because seemingly everyone has moved on after 14 months. Rocket League developer Psyonix’s Jeremy Dunham has an idea for how to fix these fractured player bases: opening up cross-platform multiplayer.

“We’re not trying to build six Rocket Leagues,” he said. “We’re not looking forward to when Rocket League 2 and 3 and 4 are coming out. Rocket League is the game we’re gonna keep updating. It’s important to us to keep that going, cross-generation, across multiple platforms without sacrificing anything.”

He made the analogy of “connective tissue:” something is needed to maintain a healthy player-base for any game, not just his. Once the next round of consoles is out, the chances of not being able to play something with the friends you used to because they either haven’t upgraded to new hardware, or they switched from Xbox to PlayStation could become a real problem. Especially when a game is essentially multiplayer and nothing else.

“That’s eventually gonna happen if we can never have true cross-network play as the systems get more and more complex,” he said.

It’s a matter of course that players will move on to the next big game and that companies will shut down servers because there isn’t enough of a community for a given title. For example, Team Fortress 2 was a part of The Orange Box compilation from Valve on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game had a short window of popularity when it was released in late 2007, but finding other players on consoles was difficult after that. Fast forward ten years and it’s still one of the most popular shooters on PC. Same goes for Counter-Strike, or to a lesser extent, Left 4 Dead.

Of course, Dunham and his studio have a vested interest in cross-network play. Last spring the team announced that it’d figured out how to connect players on different brands of hardware and that all that was standing in the way was the platform holders. Since then, Psyonix has added PlayStation 4-to-PC competition, Xbox One to PC, Switch to Xbox One-and-Switch to PC cross-network play.

Sony is the only hold out for connecting its PS4 players to folks on other consoles. Dunham said that since Rocket League‘s launch, at least one person from his team has been in contact with PlayStation “every single day” since. The topic of cross-network multiplayer has come up several times, but the response rarely changes.

“There have been slight variations on how it’s been presented to us, but essentially it’s the same answer,” he said. “It’s ‘not right now” or ‘It’s something we’ll consider.’ That’s paraphrasing, but there hasn’t been any movement.”

In contrast, when Psyonix approached Nintendo about cross-network play, the studio had a positive response the same day. Microsoft took a bit longer.

“I think it was only about a month after our release, maybe less, that [Microsoft] said, ‘Okay we’re gonna go ahead and do it. You guys are gonna be the first [to have cross-network play].'”

Dunham said that once cross-network play is available for every game — not just his own — that games with shorter lifespans (think: the yearly turnover of CoD) will naturally reverse the attrition.

He gave the example of a family where one cousin could only afford a $299 Nintendo Switch and another had the $500 Xbox One X. Both will be able to play Rocket League and Minecraft together this fall despite being wildly different pieces of hardware and technology. “That means a lot to that family. Imagine how many friends and families that’d mean a lot to.”

Warm sentiments aside, cross-network play makes a lot of sense for other reasons. Having access to more players would result in faster matchmaking, better matches and access to better opponents, according to Dunham. In fact, Sony has already allowed it for games that have a dismal player count. Early last year DC Universe Online (a PS4 launch title) opened up cross-platform play between PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4. Last autumn, Eve: Valkyrie for PlayStation VR could connect to players on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift for online space dogfights. Knowing that the company can do it, Sony only looks stubborn for not playing nicely with competitor’s consoles more broadly.

Seemingly in response to Sony’s recent comments that cross-network play wouldn’t be appropriate for players of all ages, Dunham said that his team already has safeguards in place.

You can’t use voice to communicate via cross-platform, for instance. All you can do is use pre-written quick chat messages. If a Steam user has an off-color name, there’s a filter in place to block it out. Essentially, you can’t even tell if someone you’re playing against is on a different piece of hardware than you.

“We have all these protections in place to ensure your experience isn’t terrible,” he said. “There’s always gonna be trolls that can find a way to do anything, but that’s not platform agnostic — that’s universal.”

Psyonix has tested cross-network play extensively in closed environments to make sure that Xbox-to-PlayStation play is actually possible, and Dunham said that it works seamlessly. It’s just a matter of matching network protocols and requirements from the disparate systems.

“I don’t view it as a competitive loss to allow cross-network play,” he said. “I view it as a competitive disadvantage not to have it. Especially if you’re the only one [holding out].” With Sony being the odd company out, if there’s enough public demand for the feature hopefully the leading console seller will reconsider.

“I don’t think anything is ever a done deal,” Sony’s Jim Ryan recently told Eurogamer. “Anybody who is dogmatic in that manner is typically a fool.

“That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.” So much for that idea, then.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!



Sony is losing its grip on the indie market

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Here we go again.

In 2011, Microsoft was the indie king. The industry was just blossoming thanks to services like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade, which introduced independent games to huge, hungry audiences. Indie Game: The Movie was about to debut, giving fans a deep, behind-the-scenes look at the perils and triumphs of small-scale development. The Xbox 360 served as the foundational platform for the film’s major projects, Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid.

And then, the pendulum swung — in 2012, Journey landed exclusively on the PS3. It served as a lightning rod for discussions about emotion and art in video games, and it gave Sony the momentum to transform its indie ecosystem. By July 2013, Sony had opened up its processes, allowing indie developers to self-publish their games on the company’s next console, the PlayStation 4. Even Microsoft still required indies to partner with established publishers, at this point.

Microsoft attempted to regain its indie dominance with the ID@Xbox program, though that turned out to be more complicated than most developers would have liked. The launch of the Xbox One was a low-key disaster, while Sony continually dropped the mic, showcasing indie games at E3 to widespread acclaim while Microsoft played catch-up. As recently as E3 2015, Sony’s head hung heavy with indie jewels.

Which brings us to today. Just one week after E3 2017, Sony’s reign as indie king doesn’t feel stable any longer. It showed zero indie games during its E3 press conference (excluding some VR options), and developers on the show floor whispered about the company’s increasing silence. Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive’s head of global marketing, said in an interview just days ago that indie games were “less relevant now.”

When it comes to indies, the air around Sony is thick. It feels like the pendulum is about to swing back, indie-crown in tow.

“A few years ago, Sony was the champion of indies and I think it made their platform much stronger, honestly,” says Johnneman Nordhagen, the co-creator of Gone Home who’s currently building Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. “It gave them a whole group of devs that were coming up on the PlayStation platform that would then go on to do bigger and better things, and I think it’s a mistake for them not to keep that farm team growing, in a way.”

Sony’s indie operations haven’t halted entirely, of course, but they have changed in a tangible way. Two pivotal indie evangelists and outreach specialists, Adam Boyes and Nick Suttner, left Sony in 2016. Boyes headed to Divekick studio Iron Galaxy, while Suttner landed at Oculus.

Around the same time, Shawn Layden’s role grew: He transitioned from president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America to president of SIE America and chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios. Layden has hosted the past two PlayStation E3 press conferences, both of which were short on indies, by recent standards.

“There was a specific person at Sony who’s not at Sony anymore, but I know for a fact that he cared so deeply and passionately about [indie games],” Ben Ruiz, the creator of Aztez, says. “And he was this big mover and shaker, and I think when he finally moved on he took a lot of the passion with him. The weird thing about Microsoft is that they’ve had people who it always seems like they’ve been assigned to indie games, as opposed to like, ‘I love them so give them to me.'”

The people at each of these major companies make all the difference for Ruiz. A few years back, Sony felt like an approachable space with people who were excited about indie games, while it seemed Microsoft was simply going through the motions. Erin Robinson Swink, designer of Gravity Ghost and creative director of the Games and Playable Media master’s program at UC Santa Cruz, agrees with Ruiz.

“Sony was very good about approaching indies and finding us at PAX, and going to our booths and just talking to us, playing the games and really getting to know us,” she says. “Microsoft kind of came in with a business card and said, ‘OK. Thank you.'”

This was back in 2013 and 2014, but today, many developers say they don’t see much difference between Microsoft and Sony. Microsoft is ramping up its indie-outreach efforts, sending folks to the IndieCade booth at E3 to make deals with new developers, and lining up a few high-profile launch exclusives, including Tacoma, Cuphead and The Last Night. Meanwhile, Sony is pulling back. This puts both companies solidly in the middle of the road.

“Our contacts at Sony are not as reliable as those at Microsoft, to be honest,” says Roy van der Schilden, business director of indie studio Wispfire. He was showing off Herald at the E3 IndieCade booth. “I don’t know them as well, they’re less engaged with what’s going on here at IndieCade — I’ve seen the Xbox people all over here all the time. I see, definitely, a difference.”

Microsoft and Sony aren’t the only two players in the indie world. Nintendo is ramping up its own outreach efforts (“They have opened up with their new Switch portal,” van der Schilden says. “It’s amazing how well they’ve learned from past experiences.”) and new companies, like Raw Fury, Finji and even Iron Galaxy, are diving into indie publishing from a grassroots angle. These are independent developers who found their audience, saw success, and are now helping newcomers get started.

And then there’s Devolver Digital, a company that represents the largest threat to Sony’s — and Microsoft’s, and Nintendo’s — tenuous hold on the indie market.

Devolver doesn’t do paperwork

The history of Devolver is intricately entwined with that of Hotline Miami. It’s a symboitic relationship — Devolver gave Hotline Miami the support it needed to become one of the most successful indie games in history, while Hotline Miami cemented Devolver’s reputation as a one-stop shop for all of the neon-tinged, blood-splattered, pixel-specked titles about to burst onto the scene. Either would be able to exist without the other, but they certainly wouldn’t be the same.

“I was almost finishing up school to become a kindergarten teacher,” Wedin begins. Before he continues, let’s pause and really consider that statement. The co-creator of Hotline Miami was going to be a kindergarten teacher if his whole “ridiculously violent slaughter-fest of a video game” idea didn’t work out. Talk about irony.

Wedin carries on:

“So, we kind of just decided to make the game that we couldn’t play, the game that we really wanted to play ourselves. And that became Hotline Miami. We didn’t care if anybody was going to play it or any of that. It was just us putting all the cool stuff we that wanted to see in a game, in there. And then Devolver got their hands on it, and it wasn’t our choice — we sent it to some friends who worked on the Serious Sam indie games, Vlambeer, and they just gave them the demo.”

Vlambeer, the studio behind Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne, was already working with Devolver on a trio of games set in the Serious Sam universe but made by established, independent studios. This was in 2011, and the indie-focused marketing move put Devolver’s name on the wider gaming industry’s radar. It also shifted Devolver’s own plans, pushing the company toward indie publishing and, luckily, Wedin’s last-ditch demo.

Devolver’s Nigel Lowrie got his hands on the tiny, arcade-style demo of Hotline Miami, he made a deal with Wedin and Dennaton co-founder Jonatan Söderström, and the rest is history. Wedin says a lot of developers are afraid of signing on with publishers, worried they’ll lose control over their creative visions or be buried in weeks of mind-numbing paperwork. He didn’t have those concerns with Devolver.

“Devolver was very simple,” Wedin says. “The contract was one page. It just said, like, ‘We get a certain percentage because we did marketing, but you own the game.'”

The paperwork problem cannot be overstated. Independent developers are generally not legal experts or communications majors — they don’t want to accidentally sign their rights away or waste time haggling over contractual details. Paperwork was (and perhaps still is) one of Microsoft’s biggest hurdles as it tried to snap up independent developers at the height of Sony’s indie reign.

Vlambeer, the studio that introduced Hotline Miami to Devolver, actually made its hotly anticipated survival game Nuclear Throne exclusive to the PS4 at launch because it didn’t want to deal with Microsoft’s restrictions.

“They had so many weird rules,” Wedin says. “Like, Microsoft is all about paperwork. … I’m sorry, I’m making video games. I’m not doing this.”

A cacophony of curious circumstances led to Devolver’s success as an indie publisher, but much of its appeal comes from its no-bullshit, anti-corporate approach to the industry. If indie developers are afraid of working with major publishers, it makes sense to position your company as a small-fry, easy-going, no-rules kind of establishment.

It makes sense to hold a satirical, anti-E3 press conference during E3, complete with lots of fake blood. It makes sense to buy out the parking lot directly across the street from E3 every year to host a three-day mini festival filled with games, food and beer.

The independent gaming industry is now large and stable enough to support publishers like Devolver, Raw Fury and Finji, which are focused on innovative titles from small teams. Indie games are their own genre and the market is shifting to accommodate more experiences, more developers and more publishing opportunities. The community itself is also established, allowing veteran developers to support newcomers, offering advice on publishing, marketing and, yes, paperwork.

This is Sony’s competition now — other indie developers and companies like Devolver, the anarchist, neon-tinged publisher who does E3 out of an Airstream trailer parked next to the Hooters in downtown Los Angeles. Microsoft may be making moves in the indie space, but many developers are bypassing the big names altogether, choosing to exist in Devolver’s new kind of AA limbo. Hey, at least, they have beer.

“I think indie publishers are really becoming a thing,” says Ben Wander, a former BioWare developer currently working on A Case of Distrust. “Devolver, we know a few people at Raw Fury who really want to help us out.”

What could have been

If this were the Sony of years past, a highlight of the company’s E3 2017 showcase could have easily been Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. It comes from Nordhagen, who worked on the BioShock franchise before creating Gone Home, a breakout indie hit that defined the modern genre of non-violent, narrative-driven, first-person games.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine would have been a fitting, powerful breath of fresh air at Sony’s E3 press conference, too. It’s a stunning independent game from an established developer, and it generated sizable buzz when it debuted at The Game Awards in 2015. A follow-up presentation at Sony’s E3 2017 showcase — complete with a new trailer backed by original folk music dripping with the sweet humidity of the American South — would have swept through the audience with a piercing kind of familiarity. As gorgeous, rolling plains and mystical creatures filled the screen, Sony would have subtly prompted the audience, Remember this game? Yeah — we thought it looked incredible, too.

It would have been a chance for Sony to show it’s still on the same page as its audience — the same audience that devoured every advertisement, trailer debut, late-night talk show appearance and pre-order bonus for No Man’s Sky, an indie title that premiered at the 2013 VGX award show, was featured in a huge way on Sony’s stage for two consecutive E3 conferences, and promptly became one of the most infamous games of the current generation. Infamous, but still furiously popular.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine — or any number of eye-catching, prominent independent titles in development right now — could have been Sony’s chance to prove it still believes in indie games. Attention on any indie title would have bolstered its E3 press conference and helped cement its reputation as a creative, supportive community for independent developers — a reputation it seemed to relish in building over the past few years. Instead, Sony didn’t bring a single developer on-stage, and its show centered on big-name, AAA experiences and VR.

Of course, it isn’t 2014 any more. Selling indie games becomes more difficult every day, as the market is saturated with new experiences. The folks at Sony might be onto something here: Let the indie industry curate itself and form its own publishing ecosystem, and then work with these companies in a more traditional third-party structure.

More traditional, perhaps — but less independent.

“It really seems like there’s a lot less support from the big console manufacturers out there,” Nordhagen says. “I don’t know why that is — whether that’s a reflection of changing market dynamics or things like that. Selling indie games right now is really hard for everybody.”

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!



Google Home and Assistant can speak Canadian French now

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Getty Images

The first of several new languages for Google’s Assistant AI is here, as users have noticed Canadian French as a language option. I was able to switch it on for my Google Home by looking for Assistant Language under device settings in its control app, while The Android Soul reports they could turn it on simply by saying “Ok Google, speak to me in French Canadian,” however I could not get that to work.

The new language is obviously there to get ready for the Google Home launch in Canada on the 26th, making it the first one Assistant supports outside of English. At Google’s I/O event in May, the company announced that German, Brazilian-Portuguese and Japanese will be added this summer, followed by Italian, Spanish and Korean later in the year.



Sharp will reportedly start building OLED TV panels next year

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A boy looks at a prototype model of the world’s largest 108-inch sized LCD TV, produced by Japan’s electronics giant Sharp at Asia’s largest electronics trade show CEATEC in Chiba 04 October 2007. AFP/Getty Images

Now that Sharp is under new ownership by Foxconn, it may have big plans for a return to TV prominence. In a move that could explain a sudden push to recover the use of its name from Hisense, the Japanese company apparently has a plan to add OLED TV production lines at one of its plants next year. The Japan Times reports that at a cost of 57.4 billion yen ($515 million US), it could have production operation at two plants in the spring of 2018. While one would work on small and medium screens for phones (like, maybe a new iPhone?) and laptops, the other would focus on TVs, where LG dominates the segment, producing OLED panels for its own TVs as well as other brands.



Rockstar Games, Take Two seem to back off of PC game modders

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Earlier this month, Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two angered the PC gaming community after sending a cease and desist letter to the developers of the OpenIV modding tool. OpenIV allowed people to create modifications for GTA IV and GTA V single player, but according to its creators, the letter said their tool could “allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two’s rights.” Facing the threat of legal action, they announced on June 14th that they would stop distributing OpenIV.

Now, after revolt by players including a campaign of bad ratings for the GTA games on Steam and a petition with over 77,000 signatures, Rockstar Games may have worked out a solution. A post on its support forum today said that Take Two has agreed that it will “generally” not take legal action against third party projects as long as they meet certain guidelines.

After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project.

While it went out of its way to say that this is not a waiver, and “is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization,” it may be enough for modders to breathe easy. Rockstar representatives have told PC Gamer and Motherboard that it is in contact with the makers of OpenIV, apparently to try to prevent people from using it to affect the GTA Online multiplayer. There’s no word from the team yet, but today the tool received an updated build.



Report: Obama authorized a secret cyber operation against Russia

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Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

President Barack Obama learned of Russia’s attempts to hack US election systems in early August 2016, and as intelligence mounted over the following months, the White House deployed secrecy protocols it hadn’t used since the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, according to a report by The Washington Post. Apparently, one of the covert programs Obama, the CIA, NSA and other intelligence groups eventually put together was a new kind of cyber operation that places remotely triggered “implants” in critical Russian networks, ready for the US to deploy in the event of a pre-emptive attack. The downed Russian networks “would cause them pain and discomfort,” a former US official told The Post.

The report says CIA director John Brennan, Obama and other officials had at least four “blunt” conversations with Russian officials about its cyber intrusions beginning August 4th. Obama confronted Vladimir Putin in person during a meeting of world leaders in China this past September, the report says, and his administration even sent Russia a warning through a secure channel originally designed to help the two countries avoid a nuclear strike. Moscow apparently responded one week later — after the US election — denying the accusation.

Trump’s win on November 8th came as a shock to the White House, The Post reports, and the investigation into Russia’s hacking campaign stalled until December.

That’s when Obama ordered a comprehensive review of Russia’s influence on US election systems, dating back to 2008. Later that month, he took a firm stance against Russia during a press conference, saying, “The Russians can’t change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country. They are a weaker country. Their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy, except oil and gas and arms.”

At this point, the investigation was picking up steam and uncovering a broader tapestry of Russian election meddling than the intelligence community originally realized, The Post writes. On December 29th, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia, ejected 35 Russian intelligence officials from the US and shut down two American compounds used by Russian intelligence authorities. The FBI compiled the list of officials to kick out of the country, and it had long lobbied to close those two US-based compounds, according to the report.

Even then, people involved in designing the sanctions told The Post they weren’t meant to be particularly punitive — they were more of a symbolic attack on Russia’s intelligence infrastructure.

Around this time, Obama authorized a secret cyber operation under the NSA, CIA and US Cyber Command, The Post says. The program reportedly involves NSA-designed “implants” hidden in important Russian networks: These implants can be remotely triggered to disrupt crucial Russian systems, ostensibly as a response to a pre-emptive cyber attack, the report says.

This wouldn’t be the US’ first brush with covert hacking operations: Stuxnet, the bug that took down portions of Iran’s nuclear ecosystem in 2009, is probably the most famous example.

The Post says Obama didn’t have enough time in office to see the secret program through, as it would take months just to position the implants. With his signature, though, security officials were cleared to implement such an operation and would only have to stop if Trump issued a direct order — which he hasn’t done, authorities told The Post.



'Titanfall 2' DLC adds another weapon slot and new maps on June 27th

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Respawn Entertainment

It might be hard to top Titanfall 2‘s last DLC release that dropped the first new playable titan since the game launched. But the mech-filled multiplayer shooter’s next free content block will add something back that fans have been wanting for months: Another weapon slot allowing players to carry both anti-titan weaponry and a sidearm in addition to their main gun.

Fans of the original game will smugly note that studio Respawn is returning to the three-slot setup from the first Titanfall, which they reduced to two in the transition to the sequel. But the War Games DLC has another throwback: The titular map returns from the original game, a TRON-esque simulated battlezone with plenty of elevated panels and surfaces to wallrun around. There’s also the new map Traffic for the intense small-area pilots-only Life Fire mode, a new pilot execution and an undefined new mode, Free Agent. (The only hint for the latter comes from Redditor Varixai, who plucked out this description from the game’s code: “You’re running solo. Kill enemies and collect 3 batteries for a Titanfall.”)

War Games is available to download on June 27th, and the other five DLC packs Respawn has released for the game, is completely free.



Facebook’s latest app is designed just for video creators

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In a bid to keep its creator community happy, Facebook announced that it’s planning a whole new app just for them later this year. It’s essentially a video creation app made just for its star broadcasters, who are also the same folks who are deemed worthy enough to use Facebook Mentions, an app only available to verified accounts owned by journalists, celebrities and other online influencers.

Just like Mentions, the new video creation app is said to feature access to Facebook Live plus a new “creative kit” that includes tools like special intros and outros to videos, custom stickers, custom frames and more. Since the app is geared towards celebs, it’ll also have a Community tab, where the rich and famous can interact with their fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

The video creation app was announced at VidCon, a place where video creators from all over the world flock to promote their show as well as to meet their fanbase and get new ideas. It’s also a chance for video platforms to showcase their wares to attract more creators. For example, Periscope announced its Super Hearts program this week, and Instagram made it so that live videos can be replayed 24 hours later. YouTube, however, is still the online video destination to beat, with YouTube Red getting nearly 250 million views and a healthy roster of upcoming shows.



Nike’s SNKRS app uses AR to help you buy limited-edition shoes

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Nike is the latest company to join the augmented reality craze. The sportswear giant has started using the tech to sell limited-edition kicks through its SNRKS app, with the system’s first drop being the Nike SB Dunk High Pro “Momofuku,” a model designed in collaboration with renowned chef David Chang. To unlock these sneakers in the application, all you have to do is go to the product page, tap on a GIF and then point your camera at a menu of Chang’s Fuku restaurant in New York City. (It doesn’t have to be a physical one, so don’t worry about having to make the trip if you’re not in The Big Apple.)

Once you do that, a 3D model of the Dunks will pop up and you’ll have the chance to buy a pair for yourself. There are also posters, like the one above, outside of Momofuku restaurants in NYC which can trigger the app’s AR feature — in case you’re looking for a more adventurous experience. This seems to be yet another effort by Nike to combat bots, a powerful tool for resellers that’s become a major problem in sneaker culture. Last month, the company introduce Stash, a way for people to unlock exclusive products in the SNRKS app based on their location.

The SNKRS AR functionality only works for iOS users at the moment, though Nike says Android support is coming soon.



‘Modern Warfare Remastered’ heads to PS4 without the bundle

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If you were disappointed that you had to keep the $80 disc for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in your gaming rig to be able to play the better-reviewed Modern Warfare remaster, you’re in luck. Publisher Activision has announced that it will reverse the classic bait and switch tactic it employed with Infinite Warfare by putting out Modern Warfare Remastered as a standalone title on June 27th. Of course, it’s not all straightforward, as the title will only be available for PS4 as a disc or digital download (at first). We’ve reached out to Activision for more specific information on other platform release dates.

This fourth installment in the Call of Duty series was a hit with both critics and players, so this new release could see quite a few sales for those of us interested in reliving the game’s single- and multiplayer events, including missions like “All Ghillied Up,” “Charlie Don’t Surf” and “Crew Expendable.” The new standalone title will include the full campaign and 16 multiplayer maps from the original, remastered with “full HD visuals and remastered audio,” according to a statement from Activision’s Brian Raffel. To celebrate the release, Activision is holding a special Call of Duty event called “Days of Summer.” It will last for five weeks stargint June 27th and will include in-game giveaways, XP events and new playlists across multiple Call of Duty titles, one of which will be a summer-themed map for Modern Warfare Remastered.