John McAfee’s Building $100 Gadget To Block NSA (Mashable.com)

I guess it was only a matter of time before a top tier name tossed their hat into the recently energized privacy arena. At least with a big name behind it (and the fact that it’s just now being created), confidence will probably be high that the device will be as secure as they say.


Johnmcafee

John McAfee — the controversial founder of the anti-virus software company McAfee and has been under investigation for the shooting death of his neighbor in South America — wants to create a gadget called “D-Central” that would theoretically block the National Security Agency (NSA) from accessing your information.

During a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center this weekend — and as reported by The Verge — McAfee detailed how he aims to build a $100 device that works with smartphones and other devices, so personal data can’t be accessed by the government. It would work on a small private network that others wouldn’t be able to infiltrate. “There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are,” McAfee said.

The device would be localized and the network only covers a distance about three blocks long. Although there isn’t a prototype just yet, McAfee said it should be done in about six months and as of right now, it’s round in shape with no screens, the report said.

“We have the design in place, we’re looking for partners for development of the hardware,” he added.

The “D-Central” concept isn’t entirely new. Occupy.here, which was developed as a part of the Occupy movement, offers a distributed network of Wi-Fi locations for people to communicate — and in its case, especially activists and supporters.

Meanwhile, FredomBox has built a secure system for connected devices and offers free and private chatting. The device, funded via Kickstarter, is priced at $50 and plugs into the wall.

Reddit’s Top 25 Android Games (Official List)

The Top 25 Android Games official list has been posted over on Reddit by pixel-freak. For those of you who love mobile gaming, and aren’t an iPhone junkie, read on!


Reddit’s Top 25 Android Games

Below is the full top 25 list we have voted for. It’s a pretty good list that I believe adequately represents the sentiment on both /r/androidgaming and /r/android. I’ve also created a full video presenting this list with some descriptions and praises, as well as some Redditor quotes, for each of these games which I’ve linked below.

A number of devs/PR reps/community managers etc are going to be popping in over time to give a wave here in this post. Let me start by giving a big thanks to all those that helped nominate and vote these games up, and to all the devs that made such excellent games. I learned a few lessons in gathering all this data and hope to do it again in the future over subcategories etc with a few tweaks based on those lessons. Without further adieu…..

25 – Rayman Jungle Run [Paid – $2.99]
24 – Asphalt 8 [Paid – $.99]
23 – Battleheart [Paid – $2.99]
22 – Triple Town [Free]
21 – Ingress [Free]
20 – Angry Birds [Free – ads]
19 – Kingdom Rush [Paid – $.99]
18 – Dots [Free]
17 – Bloons TD 5 Humble Bundle Sale [Paid – $2.99]
16 – Quadropus Rampage [Free]
15 – Jetpack Joyride [Free]
14 – The Bard’s Tale [Paid – $2.99] ON SALE
13 – The Room [Paid – $.99] ON SALE
12 – Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery [Paid – $4.99]
11 – GTA: Vice City [Paid – $4.99]
10 – Plague Inc. [Free]
09 – Terraria [Free demo, Paid Unlock $4.99]
08 – Knights of Pen & Paper [Paid – $2.99]
07 – Osmos [Paid – $.99] ON SALE
06 – Super Hexagon [Paid – $2.99]
05 – Plants Vs. Zombies [Paid – $.99]
04 – Emulators
03 – Pixel Dungeon [Free]
02 – Game Dev Story [Paid – $2.50] ON SALE
01 – World of Goo [Paid – $2.99] [Demo – Free]

I’m on my way out of town in a couple days, but I promise I’ll release the full data set for those interested (we even have country data for part of it) and for transparency. In the future, any list I aggregate with have the transparency released the same day.

(*Edit: Fixed numbering. Reddit was auto-correcting my numbering backwards)

IKEA Begins Selling Residential Solar Panels In The UK (Engadget.com)

I wonder how quickly I’d recoup the $9K here in Seattle? Our energy costs are already highly reliant on efficient, cheap hydro power, and my energy bill year ’round is quite inexpensive. I think the efforts of such a well-known worldwide brand to promulgate solar energy could be exactly what’s needed for greener forms of energy to become accessible for most everyone. I think they’d find a pretty hearty market in the US as we have twice as many stores as the UK.


…Because when you think of Britain, you think of sunny skies.

Ikea has started selling solar panels for residential rooftops at its stores in the United Kingdom. The furniture outfit’s move into home solar systems (as opposed to sun-powered lighting) was apparently made attractive due the the drop in cost for solar panels, and Ikea’s initial offering will set you back £5,700 (about $9,300).

For your money, you get a 3.36 kW system, in-store consultation, installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service. Ikea’s got plans to sell solar panels in other locales, but according to Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, such expansion will be done market by market (so don’t expect a worldwide rollout). Hey Steve, might we suggest your next store to start selling solar be someplace with more than two weeks of sunshine per year?

The Secret World: Free Hoodie & Trial Keys Giveaway (Curse.com)

Curse is giving away free trial keys and a free hoodie (for everyone) in celebration of the latest content update for The Secret World. Details below! (Once you have your key, simply apply it to your Funcom account or begin a new trial account.)


To celebrate the in-game event “The Whisper Tide” in The Secret World, we in Curse are proud to be the first partner of Funcom to give away both trial keys and unique Curse branded clothing.

Go here for the key.

By using one of these keys you can either append the very cool Curse hoodie to your wardrobe in The Secret World, OR start up a fully new trial account which also includes the stylish hoodie. Now, there is no reason not to try one of the most popular MMOs around. Please go to http://register.thesecretworld.com to use your key!

Be sure to check out the details of The Whisper Tide here!

BLESS: 9 New Videos Prepare for KGC 2013

Pmang has done it again. Not content to release just one video, they launched nine new videos this week in preparation for the Korean Games Conference 2013. The videos cover everything from the seamless world to character design, wind effects to time of day, and even how inanimate objects can be set to motion using positional offsets.


Art Direction

Visual Effects

Forge: The Personality of the Character Design Process

Seamless World Explored Over A Few Hours

Time of Day Changes

Cloud Density, Changes in the Sky

World Position Offset (causes inanimate environmental animation)

Pivot Painter (causes environmental animation)

Wind Patterns in Grass

Guild Wars 2: Major League Gaming Invitational Tournament

Not to have their international competitions end at PAX Prime 2013, GW2 is now part of MLG and the next tournament begins today.


MLG Guild Wars 2 Invitational Tournament on September 27

Our friends at Major League Gaming are hosting an invitational tournament on September 27, 2013 at 2:00pm PDT. Eight of the top Guild Wars 2 teams will be battling for prizes and fame! For complete details, head over to the MLG tournament page today!

PVP-Screen

The Importance of MMO History And Why Developer Hand-Holding Is Killing It (Penny-Arcade.com)

Looking back at the start of my MMO career, Asheron’s Call has game elements I still have yet to see other MMOs implement well – or at all. It was as sandboxy as any game since, yet offered satisfying, intense combat, with rules meant to be bent or even broken.

Fast forward over 15 years later, every new MMO that launches excites me at first. After a month (and in some cases, just a couple weeks), my excitement has drastically diminished. Mostly that’s due to missing a strong, core social stickiness. Of course, having a brand new AAA MMORPG to play every four or six months only exacerbates that. However, I also believe it’s due to the extensive player hand-holding that’s now become an expected staple of a new launch. If every second of your time in game is guided, how can you expect to find any magic?

There’s no real discovery anymore. Everything’s in a wiki or cleanly mapped out in a YouTube video. I’m really not sure the MMOs of the past can really exist inside the society we have today and that’s truly a major loss.


The importance of MMO history, and why developer hand-holding is killing it

Every MMO player has their story. No matter what game they play, every person who has played MMOs for an appreciable amount of time has a tale of emergent gameplay, those moments when the rules of the game broke down and the personality of its players was laid bare.

These moments happen in every MMO, not just EVE Online, but they may be dying out and, ironically, it’s because MMOs are getting too “good.”

For Scott Andrews, writer of the WoW Archivist column at WoWinsider.com which catalogs the history of the game, his story begins at the Crossroads.

Damned Alliance

The Crossroads is a small city on the Horde side of World of Warcraft’s world that is easily accessible to Alliance players, as it shares a border with a neutral territory. In years past, it was a popular target for Alliance players looking for a fight; the NPC guards in the town weren’t nearly strong enough to stop a few level-capped characters.

Andrews told me about the day when, just a month after release, half a dozen max-level characters showed up to shut down the entire zone.

“At the time, this meant that people could no longer level in the Crossroads,” said Andrews. The Crossroads was the main hub of the area where players would get quests, and the Alliance players had killed all the NPCs that gave those out.

“The towns were not defended by NPCs remotely as well as they are now,” he said. “So the Alliance could literally occupy towns for hours at a time. And it was this key leveling area and the Alliance knew they could basically just shut down half of the entire server leveling.”

For a time, these Alliance characters were successful in griefing the Horde, but it wouldn’t last.

“We all banded together. Dozens and dozens of level 20 characters showed up and battled these 6-7 max-level characters and we could barely make a dent in them, but more and more people kept showing up until 50, 60, a hundred people were there all trying to get these Alliance characters out of our town so we can go back to leveling. Eventually there were enough of us that we basically drove them into the sea in this pitched battle at [the city of] Ratchet as they sprinted down the dock to catch the boat as it was pulling away,” said Andrews with a hearty laugh, still cherishing the memory nearly ten years later.

It’s moments like these that made WoW great. It established a hatred between the Alliance and the Horde which still exists today, and built the mythology and culture of the world.

Stories like this are extraordinary, if not uncommon. In the older days of MMOs, player experimentation was high, and there were lots of opportunities for excited players to experiment with the game. The Crossroads, for instance, may never have been intended to be able to be shut down by Alliance players, but the geography of the game world combined with the inevitability of the human desire to screw with each other in such a way that it was inevitable.

These are the moments that truly make the MMO experience exceptional. It’s not about the long level grinds or the weekly raids. The true magic of the MMO is when the rules break down and the players create their own game.

No more explorers

“It’s really hard for those things to happen in the game anymore, people are pretty jaded,” said Andrews. “There isn’t that same excitement about just playing and seeing what happens. The sort of organic nature of players seeing what can happen in the game is just less prevalent. And now the way MMOs are designed is to keep you flowing from one place to the next with no gaps.”

In many ways it’s boredom that coerces people into experimenting. It’s probably no coincidence that the Alliance characters who raided Andrews’ city were level-capped. They were probably bored and looking for someone to screw with to pass the time.

These days, MMOs are designed so that nobody ever gets bored and it may be siphoning the creativity and passion from the player base.

“When WoW was in its infancy, MMOs were brand new to so many people,” said Andrews. “For so many people WoW was their first MMO, and their first experience where there were a lot of people online. Now it takes something special to get people excited again.”

In a weird quirk, it may be the sloppiness and poor design of earlier MMOs like WoW which helped band people together. There are no shortage of in-jokes and great stories in WoW which extend from terrible voice acting or bugs.

The famous Blood Plague Incident, for instance all stemmed from a silly coding bug. It was one of the most famous and fondly remembered events in WoW’s history and it wouldn’t have been possible if the game was better made. Instead, it became an event which tied the community together and gave the WoW culture yet another common thread to hold together the community quilt.

“A lot of these games have a tendancy to hold your hand too much, and they lose that sense of adventure and exploration and cooperating with other people because you’re in a dangerous environment,” Andrews said. “A lot of the early MMOs had that and I’d like to see that come back.”

History in the making

The neverending attempts by developers to streamline their MMOs, to keep players on a steady progression track, may actually be killing the common bond that the community has by removing opportunities for history to be made.

“If nothing ever happens that’s remarkable then has history actually happened,” asked Andrews. “Or is it just a bunch of people going about routine things? When you look at human history, the moments that stick out in your mind are remarkable events, whether good or bad. You can always study what the average person lived like in the year 1000, but it’s not history unless something remarkable happens. And these MMO memes always spring up around something remarkable. The subculture depends very much on these individual incidents.”

MMOs are still the most fascinating genre in video gaming. They represent the first time in human history where we started living portions of our lives, forming social bonds, in virtual spaces. But without the ability to make history they’re not living spaces, just theme parks. Which has dire consequences for both the health of the genre, its communities, and the beauty of online worlds.

In 100 years, nobody will care about the games we played in these theme park worlds, but they will care about the moments when humanity expressed itself in online worlds for the first time.

The chance to play in a theme park is boring. The chance to make history, on the other hand, is exciting.

Spaceship Sizes From Across The Galaxy (Massively.com)

This chart is a massive undertaking. I’m not even sure how he found “specs” for the majority of these, but major kudos to Dirk (and Dan Carlson) on this effort! Super nerdy in the best way possible.


Sci-fi ship chart compares size of ships from EVE, Star Wars, and more

Have you ever been curious about the size comparisons between an Amarr Avatar-Class Titan from EVE Online and a Universe-Class Mass Conveyor from Warhammer 40K? You have?! Well, you’re in luck because DeviantArt user ~DirkLoechel has been assembling one of the largest and most comprehensive size-comparison charts for sci-fi ships.

The chart, which is still an ongoing project, spotlights the ship sizes from many of the most popular sci-fi universes out there, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and more than a dozen more. Heck, it even has the Red Dwarf on there.

Head over the ~DirkLoechel’s page to see more from this monstrous chart.

[Massively Editor’s note: Dirk Loechel has expanded on the original done by Dan Carlson.]

WildStar: Shiphand Missions Explained

This sounds like an interesting addition to overall game mechanics for WildStar. Basically, they’re repeatable, progressive, instanced quests (like a mini dungeon) that scale from 1-5 players so you can solo or bring friends. Definitely great that you’ll get to revisit these quests as your friends enjoy content for the first time and meet a harder challenge the more folks you bring to the party.


WILDSTAR WEDNESDAY: ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR SHIPHAND MISSIONS!

Hey, everyone!

I’m Kristen “Caydiem” DeMeza, Content Designer and a Zone Lead on WildStar. For this WildStar Wednesday, I’m here to talk to you about a special type of mission you’ll find throughout Nexus during your leveling experience: Shiphand Missions!

Throughout the sci-fi genre, one thing is plain: terrible things happen aboard spaceships. Alien invasions, rogue technologies, strange illnesses, rowsdowers stuck in the exhaust – whatever the crisis, flying through space is bound to get you in trouble. Now, we here at Carbine are huge sci-fi nerds ourselves, and since we’re putting together a sci-fi game, we wanted to bring those crazy ship experiences into play. When it’s time to make a shiphand, we get together to talk about major themes and particular moments that stood out in the sci-fi we know and love. Movies, TV shows, books, games, comics… we look at all sorts of things to find common threads among them all to draw upon. From there, we design out the mission, do a little story wranglin’, and end up with something uniquely WildStar.

You’ll find shiphands occasionally as you work your way across Nexus. A concerned pilot will be milling about by their away ship, seeking out pioneers to help them with some disaster that’s happened offworld. Take the quest, board their ship, and you’ll be whisked away to somewhere completely different to troubleshoot – which probably means literally shooting the trouble. Shiphands play like extended, sequential quests. You uncover the problems as you move through the ship and fix ‘em up. Shiphands have optional objectives if you want to go above and beyond, too – and that grateful Ekose captain at the end of the road will definitely take note of your efforts.

Leveling with friends? No problem! Shiphand missions are scalable from one to five players. Go it alone or bring in your posse; you can play it either way! And if you have a friend who hasn’t done it yet who wants a little company, you’re in luck – shiphands are repeatable. Some have random elements to spice up the experience of going back through, too. Shiphands are ideal for doing something a little more involved than a normal quest with a few friends. They’re not as challenging as dungeons or adventures; they’re just a fun vacation from Nexus for about 15-45 minutes of your time.

And those experiences vary wildly. You could end up on an asteroid, exploring the mystery behind the mining operation’s sudden silence. Another ship might take you to a space station where the whole crew has started hallucinating due to a laboratory accident – and it looks like they’re fresh out of gas masks. You may even find yourself an unwilling contestant on the Darkspur Cartel’s infamous bloodsport reality show, The Gauntlet!

It’s the goal of a shiphand mission to put you right in the thick of a classic sci-fi dilemma. If WildStar were a TV show, these shiphands would fit right in as episodes… but this time, you’re the star!

If you want to try out shiphands before WildStar’s released to the masses, sign up for beta and look for your friendly neighborhood Ekose captain and his ship – it’s patched and spaceworthy!

WildStar: Devspeak – Ability Mechanics

WildStar launches a new video aimed at showing players can expect for skill mechanics. (I added a transcript of the video as well.)


CHECK OUT WILDSTAR’S LATEST DEVSPEAK: ABILITY MECHANICS!

Come check out the latest episode of DevSpeak, where we tell you how you, the player, control what your character can do. You will learn more about how WildStar deals with the traditional Instant, Cast time and Channel abilities.

You’ll discover what we mean by “needing our players to interact with their abilities in a much more reactive way”, so be sure to watch this new episode of Devspeak!

Come check out the latest episode of DevSpeak, where we tell you how you, the player, control what your character can do. You will learn more about how WildStar deals with the traditional Instant, Cast time and Channel abilities.
You’ll discover what we mean by “needing our players to interact with their abilities in a much more reactive way”, so be sure to watch this new episode of Devspeak!

Transcript:

Welcome to WildStar, this is DevSpeak. [Disclaimerthon].

In previous episodes, we talked about how moving and aiming combat is in WildStar. After all, combat is what you will be doing most often, so we want to make sure you are having fun out there.

We showed you Crowd Control, how breakout gameplay gives you a way to fight back when disabled. But before we start talking about Classes – and we can’t wait – we need to have a little chat about the special sauce in our combat sandwich. It’s the way you, as the player, control what your character can do. I’m talking about Ability Mechanics. In other words, how you interact with the game in order to use your abilities.

Now, in most MMOs, you’ve got your standard set: instant abilities, cast time, and channel. Instant, cast time, channel. Instant, cast time, channel. Hit the button, wait for it to do its thing, make a chicken sandwich.

In WildStar, we needed players to interact with their abilities in a much more reactive way because circumstances can change, quickly. That’s why, in addition to instant abilities, we’ve made the vast majority of our cast time and channel spells mobile. Whether you’re channeling and chasing or charging and fleeing. On top of that, we’ve added a whole suite of cast methods designed to be reactive. Like rapid tap. Wait until an enemy is vulnerable and *tap* *tap* *tap*. Once you activate it, you’ve only got a short window to get your hits in, so tap it while it counts.

Ability charges have multiple uses, but no time limit. So, fire off some steady damage and keep one in reserve. Or stun this poor chum and dump all your characters…yer dead!

Charge and Release has a more reactive take on cast time. You can hold the button to charge up, but if homie pulls a fast one, fire it off and change tactics. Might not do as much damage, but it won’t go to waste.

Press and Hold is a reactive channel and feels supremely gratifying. Hold the button, people start dying. Need to react to something Just let go and do your thing.

What this approach to ability mechanics does is take a combat system built on movement and aiming and adds reactive mobile casting and variety. ‘Cos being a healer, tank, or dps, we think everyone deserves to feel like a spider monkey ninja. If they want.

Now, we’ve covered almost all aspects of the WildStar combat sandwich. We’re almost ready to take a bite and get into classes. Until then, reach out to us. Let us know what you want to see in our combat system. As always, the devs are listening.

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