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The man who left behind $78 million to revamp a classic space shooter

Eric Peterson has dedicated 20 years of his life to the video game industry, handling development and production in startups and large studios alike. He has a passion for space games, and in April 2012, he helped found Cloud Imperium Games, the studio building Chris Roberts’ massive interstellar simulator Star Citizen. Cloud Imperium has since raised $78.6 million from nearly 900,000 dedicated fans, with more adding to the pot every day; it’s the largest and most ridiculous crowdfunding campaign in gaming history. Late last year, Peterson walked away from Cloud Imperium, Star Citizen and that pile of cash. Not because he wasn’t into the game anymore; he just didn’t want to leave his home in Austin, Texas.

“I loved working on the project; I just didn’t want to move to Los Angeles,” Peterson says. “They’re my friends. Look, I built that company with them. … It’s just that, I’ve made sacrifices before in this industry for games that almost cost me personally with my family. So I’m just not willing to do that anymore. The priorities for me are family first.”

Family may come first, but it’s followed closely by his new passion project, Descent: Underground. It’s a new take on the classic space shooter, Descent, and Peterson is trying out his crowdfunding luck once again. His new company, Descendent Studios, is looking to raise $600,000 on Kickstarter to make the game a reality. The campaign ends on Friday, April 10th, and as Peterson and I talk, it’s about $120,000 shy of that final goal. Still, he’s “cautiously optimistic” that things will work out. He’s done the research: Kickstarter projects that are 60 percent funded by their final two days receive a 40 percent boost in donations right at the end.

“We don’t go into anything planning to fail,” Peterson says. “There are other options that we’ve discussed, but right now we’re totally focused on getting the Kickstarter to the finish line. … Kickstarters are kind of a weird deal, where you have to capture that imagination in the timeframe that you’re given, or else you don’t get anything. We are in the final days. We’ve done pretty well so far.”

Peterson witnessed the miraculous nature of Kickstarter first-hand with Star Citizen, a campaign that asked for $500,000 and ended up with more than $2 million. Funding for Star Citizen continues on its own website, and Peterson will use this same model for Descent: Underground.

“If we came out and said we wanted to do the whole big experience with single-player and everything, we’d be between $1.5 and $2 million.”

The Descent: Underground Kickstarter is step one: $600,000 is a lot of dough, but it’s only enough to fund the main multiplayer portion of the game. Descendent Studios plans to add a robust single-player campaign and user-created content (with revenue share for successful creators), but the initial game will not contain every aspect on Peterson’s production list. The Kickstarter campaign promises an introductory single-player mission, cooperative play and multiplayer modes, with a variety of ships and maps. After that, the full Descent: Underground will essentially be released in phases.

“If we came out and said we wanted to do the whole big experience with single-player and everything, we’d be between $1.5 and $2 million,” Peterson says. “I think that’s probably too high for Kickstarter today, at least for us as developers.”

The team didn’t even set out to build a new Descent game. After all, Peterson notes, anyone who wants to boot up Interplay’s original Descent can do so now. Peterson did want to build a space shooter with six degrees of freedom, meaning the ships can move in ways that mimic real space shuttles or planes, and he was a longtime fan of Descent‘s mazelike corridors and tight-quarters battles.

“We were building a six-degrees-of-freedom game called Ships That Fight Underground, or STFU for short as a working title,” Peterson says. “And we were approached by Interplay, who said, ‘Would you guys like to do Descent?’ Of course the obvious answer is, ‘Heck yeah.’”

Building something in the Descent universe brings its own set of issues. Nostalgia is a driving force for many backers, though the game is something different in every player’s memory. To some players, it’s a maze-solving kind of game, while others loved it for the co-op and still more fondly recall the competitive multiplayer experience.

“The one thing we didn’t see or didn’t understand was how fractured or how different everybody views what Descent was,” Peterson says. “Descent, to each individual person, is a different thing. … As we’re going through this, we have to make sure that we are satisfying all of those people with what we’re developing and giving those people something that scratches that itch.”

Of course Descendent Studios can’t rely on the nostalgia market alone.

“My kids are 16 and 12,” Peterson says. “They’ve never played the original and they look at it now and say, ‘Well, those graphics look bad.’ It probably wouldn’t hold their attention as much as some of the games that are out there today that have all of these other, richer experiences. We want to make sure that we get both. Most people on Kickstarter, honestly, have never played Descent.”

The new Descent: Underground will feature all of the modern bells and whistles that Peterson’s kids expect, including achievements, unlocks, modding and a class system that makes each ship powerful in its own way. The goal is to create a fun, arcade-like experience, where players can load up a game and play for just 20 minutes at a time, if they want.

First, Descent: Underground needs to raise $600,000. Peterson isn’t planning on failing, but this is a potential reality he has to consider: If the Kickstarter doesn’t make it, Descendent Studios may not exist anymore.

“You can scream in the wind and publishers are not going to listen.”

“We’re all working right now for free,” he says. “Essentially this is a passion project. I put in quite a bit of money out of my own pocket to make this work, so that we have lights, an office, all this other stuff.”

Kickstarter is Peterson’s opportunity to turn passion into a product. He loves Kickstarter, he says. It gives people the ability to create cool and innovative stuff, if the project picks up speed, if enough people back it, if it looks fun to a large enough audience with deep enough pockets.

“People have a voice, but you can scream in the wind and publishers are not going to listen,” Peterson says. “They’ve got their numbers; they’ve got their bottom line. ‘We’re going to make another Call of Duty,’ whatever, right? So, what Kickstarter allows people to do is to create cool and innovative stuff.”

If enough people support those cool projects. If enough people support Descent: Underground.

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Leaked change log and screenshots appear for Windows 10 build 10056

Windows Insiders may still be toying around with build 10049 of the Windows 10 technical preview, but a change log and screenshots have leaked today from a newer build, 10056.


Sprint rolling out Android 5.0 to Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note Edge

The last few weeks have been pretty big for carriers here in the US. Seems every time I turn around Android 5.0 Lollipop updates are heading to one device or another. It is a nice thing to see when compared to previous updates where we could only HOPE that an update would even be considered. […]

The post Sprint rolling out Android 5.0 to Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note Edge appeared first on AndroidSPIN.


Apple’s Second Retail Store in Brazil Opening in São Paulo on April 18 [Mac Blog]

Apple announced on Thursday that its second retail store in Brazil will open in São Paulo, the most populous city in the country, on April 18 at 10:00 AM local time. The new store will be located in the Morumbi shopping center at 1089 Roque Petroni Junior Avenue in the neighborhood of Vila Gertrude, joining Apple’s first retail store in Brazil that opened at the Village Mall in Rio de Janeiro in February 2014.

Apple Store Sao Paulo Opening
Apple’s upcoming São Paulo location rounds off a trio of new store openings in April that includes a second store in Hangzhou, China and a larger, relocated store in Miami on Lincoln Road that is being commemorated by renowned artist HENSE. Apple has been hiring retail staff for this São Paulo location and recently put up a decorative barricade in front of the store ahead of its opening.


iOS 8.3 Maps Update Allows Business Owners to Claim POI Listings [iOS Blog]

With the introduction of iOS 8.3 on Apple’s mobile devices yesterday, business owners now have the opportunity to claim a point of interest in Apple Maps as their own, thanks to a few additions to the Report a Problem prompt that can be found on each point of interest in Maps (via AppleMapsMarketing).

apple maps
Located at the bottommost section of a business’ Map page, the Report a Problem button leads business owners to another section that, along with basic troubleshooting, allows them to claim their business for their own. Following a redirection to Apple Maps Connect and a series of questions, Apple reviews the user’s answers to confirm ownership, eventually allowing business owners control over their Map’s point of interest and letting them “manage its information.”

Apple has been giving Maps heavy attention lately, in attempts to steer away from the initial backlash against the app, with the company allowing TripAdvisor and reviews to join the service alongside the long-instated Yelp reviews. Apple even introduced a small but noteworthy feature back in February when it began animating popular landmarks within the Maps app itself. Aside from Maps’ new features, iOS 8.3 brought about a bunch of new bug fixes and updates, from small tweaks to Passbook and Photos to the introduction of entirely new emojis.


Many Users Reporting Touch ID Not Working in App Store on iOS 8.3

iPhone 6 Touch IDFollowing the release of iOS 8.3 for iPhone and iPad on Wednesday, many users have turned to the Apple Support Communities, Reddit and MacRumors discussion forums about Touch ID not working in the App Store on the latest software version. The issue affects multiple iPhone and iPad models, including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2, although the bug does not appear to affect all users.

“I just updated to iOS 8.3 and it completely removed my ability to use Touch ID in the App Store on my iPhone 6,” a post on Reddit reads. “It asks for my password for each and every purchase. Is anyone else seeing this? The option to use Touch ID in the App Store is on. I have already tried turning it off and on again to re-enter my password.”

The bug persists for many regardless of whether Touch ID is listed as enabled for purchases under Settings > iTunes & App Store, and there does not appear to be a proper solution for the problem yet. Apple may be forced to resolve the bug through a minor point update such as iOS 8.3.1, as it has done in the past with iOS 8.0.2 when the original iOS 8.0.1 update broke Touch ID and Wi-Fi entirely.

Fortunately, the lack of Touch ID within the App Store is mainly an inconvenience at this point for affected users, rather than a serious security issue. iPhone and iPad users will still be prompted to enter their Apple ID password when purchasing apps from the App Store, which was standard functionality before Touch ID was released on the iPhone 5s. Apple has yet to provide comment on the matter.


Product Hunt for iOS Gains New Tool for Creating Curated Collections, Bookmarking Products [iOS Blog]

Product Hunt, the popular site that specializes in surfacing new products, is today launching an updated iOS app that adds several features to the existing Product Hunt app for iOS, including access to community-curated collections, the ability to follow other users, improved search capabilities for finding people, collections, and products, and a revamped look that makes it easier to read about new products.

Since its initial introduction in August of 2014, the Product Hunt app has received only minor updates, and was largely created as a mobile version of the website, where users could view a list of products and upvote or comment. Today’s update will be a welcome change for Product Hunt users, as it will let them follow other users, see what friends are posting, and explore curated collections.

Curated collections let users find collections of products related to a central theme. For example, some of the available topics include “Great apps for travels,” “Rad GIF Apps,” and “Prank Products.” There are hundreds of different product collections available, which can be browsed through using the new “Collections” tab or searched for using the built-in search.

It’s also possible for users to create new Collections directly within the iOS app, which is a useful way to bookmark content for later viewing or to create lists of favorite products. On the detail page of any product, there’s a button that will add it to a Collection. Product Hunt received a lot of feedback from iOS users asking for a way to bookmark products on the iPhone to view later, a request Collections address.

Searching has been expanded in the new version of the Product Hunt app, so users can tap the search bar at the top of the “Products” page to locate specific products, collections, or people in the Product Hunt community. The ability to search for Collections lets iOS users find a wealth of new products, all of which have been aggregated by other Product Hunt users.

When viewing a product’s detail page, there’s a new “Related” tab next to the “Comments” tab that will display similar products. For example, a product listing for a site that offers 3D printed jewelry lists other 3D printed jewelry sites available under the Related tab.

Product Hunt CEO Ryan Hoover hopes that the newly updated iOS app will make exploring Product Hunt more of a social experience, bringing it into conversations away from the computer. Users can add favorite products to a Collection to show to friends, or pull out their iPhones and search for products when having a discussion about something discovered within the app.

The new version of Product Hunt for iOS also makes it possible to download other iOS apps from within the Product Hunt app and it includes several performance improvements.

Product Hunt can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


MacBook Review Roundup: Major Design Appeal, but Too Many Key Compromises

Apple’s upcoming ultra thin 12-inch MacBook with a Retina display has been overshadowed by all of the Apple Watch news that’s been surfacing over the course of the last week, but the super slim device is set to launch online and in-stores on Friday, April 10, alongside the Apple Watch.

Ahead of the MacBook’s launch, Apple has given select sites MacBook review units to test out, and those early MacBook reviews are coming out today. We’re gathering up tidbits from some of the best reviews below, which give us our first look at how the MacBook performs with its low power Core M processor and a look at how users feel about the new keyboard and the new trackpad.

Many of the reviewers loved the extremely thin size of the MacBook, its impressive Retina display, and its Force Touch Trackpad, but were unhappy with some of the compromises that are made with the machine — lack of ports, the keyboard, the processing speed, and the high price. Almost all of the reviews pointed out some of the shortcomings in the Core M processor, noting that it’s much slower than Apple’s other notebook offerings and suitable for lighter use, much like a Chromebook. It was, however, able to run Photoshop and Logic Pro, just slower.

Several of the reviewers disliked the new keyboard when first trying it due to its thin keys with little travel, but most were able to adjust to the different feel of typing on it after a short period of time. The increased size of the keys was also hard to adjust to for touch typists. Battery life in general ranged from seven hours up, but most of the reviews saw shorter battery life than the promised nine hours of web browsing. Overall, the consensus between reviewers seemed to be that while this is a great MacBook, it’s not a solution for everyone and is going to appeal to a niche set of people due to its high price and the performance compromises.

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

Basically, if you do anything that’s going to really tax the processor, this laptop probably isn’t going to cut it for you. In that sense it’s actually kind of like a Chromebook. It’s fast enough for 70 percent of what I do, but a little slower than what I’m used to. For about 20 percent of what I do — mostly photo editing — it works but requires patience. But it’s the last 10 percent that’s hard: video editing, really big iPhoto libraries, basically anything processor-intensive can get rough.

Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica:

The port situation is the biggest problem. The question isn’t whether people can live with only one port, but whether they’ll want to put up with it when there are so many other options available. Using the MacBook as a primary computer requires you to subscribe to a mostly wireless lifestyle that not everyone is going to be ready for, and even if you already use Macs switching to a MacBook means throwing your dongle and cable arsenal out and starting over. […]

Ultimately the new MacBook feels like a first-generation product–a very good first-generation product, but a first-generation product nevertheless. It’s got some promise and a couple of major shortcomings and you don’t need to be the first person who takes the leap into the Brave New Future it represents.

Jason Snell, Macworld:

The MacBook keyboard’s better than I expected it to be–I was able to score 118 words per minute on TypeRacer using it–but it never felt particularly comfortable. If you’re not a keyboard snob, you may not even notice the difference, but if there’s any single feature that would make me reluctant to buy a MacBook, it would be the keyboard. […]

I never found using the MacBook sluggish. Then again, I didn’t try to play games on it. But again, if you’re trying to play games on the MacBook, you may be missing the point. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300 processor is more than enough to drive the Retina display with no lag, and I found Apple’s various interface animations ran smoothly.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch:

I came to the MacBook with certain expectations; specifically, that it would not be able to meet my more “pro” level needs, in terms of Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. Luckily, the MacBook defied those expectations and performed well with each of the above applications.

Which isn’t to say performance is on par with, say, the brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro — it isn’t. But pre-launch concerns of this machine being seriously hampered by its low-power Intel M processor were, in my experience, very premature. The new MacBook handled the tasks I threw at it so well that I am no seriously considering whether or not I can adopt one full-time, as a replacement to my original 2012 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro road warrior.

Dana Wollman, Engadget:

That’s the thing, though: While USB Type-C ports will one day become industry standard, they’re still uncommon enough that you will need a dongle to plug in any of your peripherals that use a full-sized USB Type-A connector. In my case, that meant I couldn’t charge my phone off my laptop. I also couldn’t use the USB headset I normally wear while podcasting and making voice recordings. If I did want to use my USB gadgets, I would have had to plug in a $79 adapter — that’s right, it’s not even included in the box. Again, I expect USB Type-C will one day be the norm, and it’s possible that your needs are simple enough that you can already live without the full-sized USB ports.

Joanna Stern, The Wall Street Journal:

I expect the new MacBook to follow the same path as the Air. Over the next few years, it will improve, and become an affordable, indispensable tool for life in the future. But here, now, in the present day, there are more practical slim, everyday laptop choices. The MacBook Air is the best option all around, the MacBook Pro Retina 13 is a great step up, and PC users can do no better than Dell’s latest XPS 13.

Christina Warren, Mashable:

The MacBook’s Retina screen is joy to behold. As someone who has grown addicted to high-res displays, having such crisp visuals on a notebook this small is fantastic. In fact, I’m not sure how I’m going to return to my 13-inch MacBook Air.

Colors pop, text is crisp, and everything is visible from all angles. Using it outdoors or in low light was no problem — the screen is great.

Other reviews: CNET, Wired, Slashgear, USA Today, The Loop, Bloomberg, and Six Colors.

The Retina MacBook will be available for purchase online and in stores on Friday, April 10. Prices start at $1,299 for the entry-level model with a 1.1GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. A 1.2GHz model with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD is also available for purchase, and both models can be upgraded with a 1.3GHz processor.


Apple Releases iTunes 12.1.2 With Improved Support for New Photos App [Mac Blog]

Apple today released iTunes 12.1.2, a minor update that primarily improves support for syncing photos from iOS devices to the new Photos app for Mac released yesterday as part of OS X 10.10.3.


This update improves support for syncing photos to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch from the new Photos app for OS X. In addition, this update also adds several refinements to the Get Info window and improves overall stability.

iTunes 12.1.2 is a free download through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.


Samsung now rolling out Lollipop OTA for the Galaxy Note 4 in India


If you own a Galaxy Note 4 and reside in India, you may want to listen up as Samsung has just started pushing out the much-anticipated Android 5.0 Lollipop update to all unlocked variants of the handset located in the region.

All the changes you’d expect to find in Lollipop are bundled into this upgrade, including support for multiple accounts, improved notifications, a smoother multitasking experience and the recently-announced Material Design guidelines.

As is customary with all manufacturer updates, the upgrade is being rolled out in stages, but if you don’t feel like waiting for a notification confirming that it’s ready for your device to hit yours handset, you can search for the update manually. To do so simply follow the four steps below:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap on “About Device”
  3. Hit “System Updates”
  4. Tap on “Check for update”

If you own a Galaxy Note 4 and you’re situated in India, why not drop us a line in the comments section below letting us know as and when you receive the update?

Come comment on this article: Samsung now rolling out Lollipop OTA for the Galaxy Note 4 in India

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