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HTC is working on its own VR game for Vive

HTC is cooking up a game of its own for the Vive virtual reality headset. Little is known about the title, other than its name — Front Defense — and that it’ll be shown at the Computex conference in Taiwan next week. A quick translation of HTC’s announcement describes a military shooter with “fierce fighting on the battlefield” and “classic” weaponry spanning pistols, rifles and anti-tank rockets. HTC has little experience as a game developer, so the announcement comes as a surprise. Given the Vive’s competition — which will soon include PlayStation VR and Google Daydream — a new, exclusive title could help it to sway people still sitting on the fence.

Via: The Verge

Source: HTC


The artist making physics and a conspiracy theory into music

Peaches is her aunt. Jared Leto’s a fan and so is Jean-Michel Jarre, who sent her to live with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon. She’s modeled for Diesel and composed for German theater. She’s conducted magnetic resonance imaging studies on mutated HIV cells and had paintings featured in galleries in New York. She taught herself the piano at age 10. At 15, she successfully petitioned the Los Angeles courts to be home-schooled; one year later, she enrolled at the University of Maryland. Her upcoming album incorporates the synthesized sounds of actual stars, physics themes and pitch-shifting conspiracies linked to Bob Marley and Hitler. Her list of professional accomplishments puts other so-called pop culture multihyphenates to shame. She is Simonne Jones, and you will know her name.

Gravity, her forthcoming EP (due out May 27th on Universal Germany) and moody first single, explores a familiar theme: the push and pull of an irresistible lover. But this being a Simonne Jones’ joint, that heartache is wrapped in a blanket of industrial beats and physics-based metaphor. “You’ve set me in motion / The stars are blurs around the sun / The push and pull, the force of your body / Closer you get, I’m overcome / Bound by attraction / Floating on axis / Around your atlas / You’re holding me like gravity, all around.”

In less skilled hands, this scientific approach to lyrical matters of the heart could’ve come off as ham-handed, and run the risk of alienating listeners from the song’s emotional content by shoehorning it within dense concepts. Yet, it succeeds, lending to the seductive timbre of Jones’ soft voice, because this is how her mind works. As her resume can attest, Jones is equal parts creative and analytical; right- and left-brained.

“The problem-solving processes around math and music are really similar in terms of pattern recognition and the type of out of the box thinking,” says Jones, 29, speaking to me over Skype from her adopted home of Berlin. “And for me, I’m really scientific about the way that I write songs. And then I’m really artistic about my approach to science … and just understanding the philosophical concepts behind science. It’s like why are we exploring the unknown and why are we looking for patterns in the universe to make predictions and what it all means. And when you like art, thinking really hard about that, it becomes this creative process.”

Photo by Till Janz

Though it’s tempting to believe all pop stars-in-the-making are contrivances borne of the music industry, Jones’ tendency to wax philosophical is not a calculated quirk designed to make her more marketable. Nor is her scientific knowledge base merely some gimmick she leverages for dramatic effect. In fact, it pervades her forthcoming EP. One song in particular, Spooky Action, is inspired by Einstein’s theory of quantum entanglement.

“It’s the most romantic idea in the whole world,” says Jones. “That you have two particles and they’re combined on the nuclear level. And you get separated, even if it’s by an entire universe. But mysteriously and instantaneously, whatever you do to one, will happen to the other. They remain connected forever. I love that idea.”

Given the themes threading through her work, it’s clear that Jones, whose own life has defied convention and been guided by extraordinary serendipity, is enamoured with and inspired by the greater mysteries surrounding our universe.

Take, for example, the conspiracy theory Jones latched onto and, alongside producer Liam Howe, experimented with in the creation of many of Gravity’s tracks: pitch shifting to 432Hz. In the Western musical scale, the note ‘A’ above middle ‘C’ is designated as 440Hz, an arbitrary standard set by the International Organization for Standardization in the mid-1950s. But that frequency, so the conspiracy theory goes, is unharmonious to the human body and environment — and it’s rumored that Hitler even used this as a means to provoke feelings of anger and aggression by playing it for crowds during his speeches. Tuning to 432Hz, however, supposedly makes for a more natural and comforting sound. Bob Marley, Beethoven and Prince are said to have dabbled with composing works tuned at 432Hz, though no concrete evidence of this exists.

“432Hz… it just feels more therapeutic and just relaxing, calm. And then that 440Hz is a little bit more tension. It doesn’t ride into you like a summer wave,” says Jones.

Born in Hollywood and raised around LA, Jones, who has mostly Cherokee and Caribbean roots along with Italian, French and Irish ancestry, is an entirely self-made creature. She does not come from a musical background and, her recent Peaches tutelage excepted, owes her virtuosity to a well-trained ear and the sort of color-coded, teach yourself to play books found in the library. At age 11, Jones quickly progressed from playing very basic songs on the piano to mastering Beethoven and Chopin, writing her own compositions, and developing an appreciation for classical music along the way.

As if that musical rearing wasn’t prodigious enough, Jones leapfrogged past her peers in high school, successfully petitioning the courts to be homeschooled at age 15; a fast track that led to early college admission at the University of Maryland. It was there that she solidified her foothold in the worlds of art and science with a double major in biomedical research and visual arts and a double minor in biology and art history. That education led to a brief stint at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a biomedical engineering lab based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

But as with most of Jones’ career twists and turns, fate intervened to indulge her artistic leanings: In 2012, having left Baltimore to pursue music in LA, Jones got a call from Peaches asking her to sub for a tech that had fallen ill. Soon after, she found herself touring Europe and trading LA’s celebrity-adjacent glitz for Berlin’s hipsterized Bohemia.

“I like to say that she threw me in a sack and kidnapped me and brought me to Berlin,” says Jones. “She’s been like a really influential mentor keeping me from signing bad contracts.”

Image: Yamaha Synths

More than that, Jones credits Peaches for encouraging her to ditch modeling, which she’d undertaken on and off since the age of 16, and pursue music production.

“She kind of locked me in her studio and made me make beats and play on her analog synthesizers and get on her drum machines.”

With Peaches as her guardian angel and Berlin’s DIY music scene as her backdrop, Jones began merging her creative inclinations with that of technology and science, eventually securing an artist residency at Platoon Kunsthalle.

“I’m really scientific about the way that I write songs. And then I’m really artistic about my approach to science and just understanding the philosophical concepts behind science.”

Simonne Jones

“I had no idea how to do this when I started,” says Jones. “But I’m like, okay, I’m a really good researcher and I’m going to figure this out. Everything is on the internet. … Then it just exploded into this thing where I built midi controllers and synthesizers, and on / off switches. … And then really building complex loop machines that were highly customized. And then I did this art installation in Berlin that was about different topics in physics and creating a little painting LED universe about the Big Bang all the way to thermodynamic laws. And then it just became this explosion of I guess just who I am — this mashup of both worlds.”

A stint modeling and performing at a Diesel runway show led to more gigs at various fashion events and art galleries, all of which culminated in Jones landing the cover of Germany’s feminist-focused Missy Magazine. It was an achievement that, while it opened the door to many new opportunities, baffled Jones considering she hadn’t released any music.

“You couldn’t even find a song of mine on Spotify, or Soundcloud or iTunes, or anything like that. So it kind of like was the running joke: You haven’t released any material and you’re boring,” she says of that early press attention.

Photo by Robin Thomson

But it was precisely thanks to that bevy of premature coverage that Jones caught famed French composer and electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre’s attention. Jarre, who at the time was partnering with UNESCO on a documentary designed to follow four artists to four different countries, had read an interview with Jones on music software production company Ableton’s site, and selected her as one of the four.

“I was like, I’m going to Brazil and then talk to an indigenous tribe there. I want to go and live with them and sleep in the jungle in one of their jungle huts. And that was a really intense experience,” she says of the Amazonian visit that saw her inducted into the Guarani tribe via a sacred music ritual. While there, Jones busied herself with recording ambient sounds, which were then turned into a “Simonne Jones” drum kit plug-in created by Native Instruments.

Her musical meanderings — which included a job composing music for the play Jedermann (Everyman in English) at the Thalia theatre and a gig opening for the Italian leg of Thirty Seconds to Mars’ tour (better known as Jared Leto’s band) — eventually snagged her a recording contract with Universal Germany. She’s since recorded with a wishlist of producers who’ve worked with the likes of Madonna, Adele, Florence Welch, RuPaul, Lana del Rey, Esthero, Kelis and Bat for Lashes.

Image: Platoon Kunsthalle

Of that bunch of producers, Jones seems to have formed a close bond with Howe, better known as one of the founding members of mid-90s trip hop band Sneaker Pimps. It was Howe who alerted Jones to the existence of recorded star frequencies, carried out by an observatory in Paris, and suggested she use them in the production of her debut album. After Howe successfully obtained the samples from a UK-based researcher, Jones began experimenting with these cosmic sounds. She describes the net effect as “pads that are barely visible and very subliminal underneath the tracks, but definitely add this layer of atmosphere that’s really spooky and kind of weird.”

“They sound like if a star could hum,” she says.

Ultimately, listeners will have to decide for themselves whether that celestial presence, in combination with the 432Hz frequency change, has any subtle effect on how positively they perceive the music on Jones’ EP. But, regardless, it’s further evidence of how she’s striving to unite the seemingly disparate worlds of art and science that intermingle within her, rather than merely crafting an earworm song of the summer pop hook we’ll be glad to forget come fall.


FDA OKs first implant treatment for opioid addiction

That small stick in the image above might look like a fat toothpick or a part of a toy that broke off, but its much, much more than that. It’s called Probuphine, and it’s the first implant treatment for opioid addiction that got the FDA’s blessing. Opioid dependence is a huge problem today, especially since opioids encompass not just illegal substances like heroin, but also legal pain killers, such as those prescribed after surgery.

If you choose to stop taking opioids after some time of using them regularly, you experience withdrawals. Probuphine was designed to release small doses of buprenorphine — a medication used to combat addiction to opioids — for six months to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Since buprenorphine itself is an opioid derivative, it targets the same parts of the brain that pain killers and heroin do, thereby stopping you from craving them.

The full Probuphine treatment involves implanting four of these small rods under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. But in exchange, you won’t have to take pills anymore. The downside? Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, its creator, admitted that it won’t be cheap. When the company announced the treatment’s successful phase 3 trial, it said that it will cost around $1,500 per procedure upon launch. If you still need its help after six months, you can a get new set of implants, though that will obviously cost more money.

Since this treatment option involves some form of surgery, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals will have to train doctors for the procedure. According to Business Insider, some doctors will begin their training as soon as this Memorial Day weekend, while Probuphine itself will be available on June 21st.

Via: Business Insider

Source: FDA


Backpack PCs will help you avoid VR cable catastrophe

HP revealed an arsenal of new gaming gear yesterday, but it had one more device up it’s sleeve. Another PC that’s part of the recently announced Omen line is a backpack machine that’s VR-ready. It’s still in development, so details are a bit scarce at this point, but the mobile setup packs a Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 32GB RAM and everything else you’ll need to power an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. There’s no word on the graphics card just yet, but a belt holds two batteries — one for the CPU and one for the graphics card.

As you might expect, battery life is pretty limited. In fact, HP says those batteries will only last for about an hour. However, you’ll be able replace those packs without having to shut the system down thanks to a smaller third battery. In terms of heft, the Omen VR backpack weighs under 10 pounds and offers a wireless display, mouse and keyboard for setup and troubleshooting. Since this device is still in the works, there’s no word on pricing or availability. If we had to guess, you’ll need to tap into your savings account when the time comes.

HP isn’t the only one with a VR backback though, as MSI also announced one as part of its Computex lineup. The Backpack PC (yes, that’s the name) carries an Intel Core i7 alongside a Nvidia GTX 980 graphics card. MSI is touting the benefits of “big movements and total immersion,” but it too is light on the finer details, especially pricing and availability. Back in April, Zotac put one of its mini PCs in a backpack to offer a VR-ready setup with Nvidia GTX 970, 980 or 980i graphics. There’s no word on price here either, unfortunately, but we could hear more at the event in Taiwan this week.

The goal with all of these machines is for users to be able to use a tethered VR headset without being anchored to a desktop machine. In theory, you can plug into one of these backpacks and walk around during the game or other VR experience. Of course, you likely don’t have a lot of room to roam in your living room, but places like the VR theme park The Void could be a spot where these devices see the most use. Either way, it beats cramming a computer into a regular backpack that will quite literally get you hot under the collar.

Source: MSI, The Verge


Samsung’s Batman Galaxy S7 Edge has Alfred on speed dial

What better way to celebrate the third anniversary of the popular mobile game Injustice: Gods Among Us than with a Batman-themed phone. Samsung created the Galaxy S7 Edge Justice Edition for the occasion (rather than the release of a certain movie), mixing black and gold accents for the new version. This special model “enhanced hardware and software capability” alongside larger battery capacity which should make the mobile gaming experience a bit better.

This isn’t the first time Samsung has gone full superhero. When The Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted a year ago, the company crafted an Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge. In certain locales, the Batman handset will come bundled with a Gear VR headset for more immersive views. The phone will be available next month in China, Singapore, Korea, Latin America and Russia, but Samsung says more locations will be announced in the future.

Via: The Verge

Source: Samsung


The best PC gaming controller

By Kimber Streams

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

After putting in 15 hours of research and testing—in addition to hundreds of hours gaming on controllers in years past—and enlisting the help of an experienced panel of gamers, we found that the Sony DualShock 4 Wireless Controller (yes, the one that comes with the PlayStation 4) is the best gaming controller to use with your computer. In fact, we concluded that all the best PC controllers are console controllers. But a gaming controller is a highly personal object, and your preferences may differ based on your hand size, gaming style, and operating system. If you already own a controller that you love, you probably don’t need to buy a new one.

Who should get this

Not every PC game is best played with a keyboard and mouse. If you’d rather sit back and play some of your games with a controller instead, you should consider one of our picks. But if you already own an Xbox 360, an Xbox One, or a PlayStation 4, and you’re happy with the controller that came with it, you probably don’t need to buy a different one.

How we picked

All the gaming controllers we tested for this guide. Photo: Kimber Streams

A great controller must be comfortable to hold for long periods of time, have a good grip to prevent your hands from sliding off even if they get sweaty, and it ought to be a reasonable weight. Although people have individual preferences, a controller’s buttons and triggers all need to be responsive and accurate: They need to do what you tell them to do, when you tell them to do it. But comfort and ergonomics aren’t everything; a controller also needs to play nice with your computer.

We looked at 22 controllers from major manufacturers such as Logitech, Mad Catz, Microsoft, Nvidia, Razer, Sony, SteelSeries, and Valve, plus a few other controllers from lesser-known manufacturers that are popular on Amazon. We ruled out those with poor user reviews and others that cost way more than controllers with similar features. That left us with 11 controllers to test with the help of five people with varying hand sizes and comfort preferences.

Our pick

The Sony DualShock 4 is the most comfortable controller for most hands. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The Sony DualShock 4 Wireless Controller is the most comfortable controller for average-size hands. All of its analog sticks, buttons, and triggers are easy to reach and work well, which isn’t the case for several other models, including the Xbox One controller and Steam Controller. The DualShock 4 works over Bluetooth or with a Micro-USB cable (not included; you can get a great Micro-USB for about a dollar). Plus, its touchpad can simulate a mouse cursor, a feature no other good controller has.

Currently priced less than $50, the DualShock 4 can work both wired and wirelessly—unlike the Xbox One controller, which needs a dongle to work wirelessly on a PC, making it more expensive than the DualShock 4. But the DualShock 4 requires a bit of effort (and software like DS4Windows) to set up on Windows, it won’t work for most games on OS X, and it’s a bit small for large hands.

Runner-up with an easier setup

If you have large hands (unlike me), the Xbox One controller might be more comfortable than the DualShock 4. Photo: Kevin Purdy

If you want a controller that’s easier to set up on Windows and will also work on OS X, or if you have large hands, or if you simply prefer Xbox-style controllers, you should get the Xbox One controller bundled with a wireless adapter. The Xbox One’s greatest advantage over the DualShock 4 is ease of setup. In Windows, the drivers automatically install when you plug in the controller. On OS X, the process is about as complicated as setting up the DualShock 4 on Windows—you just need the 360Controller software.

This controller lacks a touchpad, though, and the shoulder buttons are awkwardly placed. Many people prefer the DualShock 4’s triggers and analog sticks, too. The Xbox One controller also costs more to use wirelessly. If you don’t need wireless and want to save some money, buy it bundled with a Micro-USB cable instead.

Inexpensive and well-loved

The Xbox 360 controller’s body is narrower than the Xbox One controller’s, so it’s easier for small and medium-size hands to grip. Photo: Kevin Purdy

If you don’t want to spend more than $35 on a controller, you should get the wired Xbox 360 Controller for Windows, the go-to controller for PC gamers for many years. The Xbox 360 controller is a bit smaller and lighter than the Xbox One controller, and its more compact size makes the buttons and analog sticks a little easier to reach for people with smaller hands and shorter thumbs.

All the buttons (including the shoulder bumpers) are well-placed and easy for hands of all sizes to reach, but this controller isn’t without its flaws. It can’t work wirelessly—Microsoft sells a wireless version, but that controller plus the required adapter cost about the same as the wireless Xbox One controller and adapter. And the D-pad is horrendous.

Fancy but pricey

The Elite is about the same size as the Xbox One controller, but its soft surface and textured grip make it more comfortable to hold. Photo: Kevin Purdy

If you play a lot of games on your PC that require a controller and you don’t mind spending $150 for a fantastic one, the Xbox Elite is the best option available. The Elite is an upgrade over our other picks in just about every way, with better, customizable controls, four additional paddles on the back, and easier setup than the DualShock 4. Every single member of our testing panel loved it—and I bought one myself—but for most people it isn’t worth three times the price of the DualShock 4.

About the Steam Controller

The Steam Controller feels hollow and cheap, and it’s large and awkward to hold. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The Steam Controller is the only controller that bridges the gap between games with controller support and games better played on a mouse and keyboard. It has touchpads in place of a D-pad and right analog stick; these components offer haptic feedback that you can configure to mimic the movement and feeling of either a mouse or an analog stick. Its dual-stage triggers and back buttons are designed to give you more control and customization than traditional console controllers provide.

Despite this, the Steam Controller isn’t a great controller. Its plasticky body feels cheap and hollow; it has an awkward, large shape, with difficult-to-reach buttons and controls; and because it’s so different from standard gaming controllers, it requires a substantial learning curve. Until Valve releases better hardware, we can’t recommend it for most people.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.


Blue Origin’s next flight will end in a crash-landing

While Blue Origin has shown it can successfully land a reusable rocket multiple times, the space tourism company will hit the ground a little harder on the next test. As Jeff Bezos announced this week, his space venture will intentionally crash the empty crew compartment to see what happens when the parachutes fail.

On previous missions, the empty crew compartment detached from Blue Origin’s flagship New Shepherd rocket and drifted back to Earth while the rocket stage landed. That’ll change on the next flight.

“On this upcoming mission we also plan to stress the crew capsule by landing with an intentionally failed parachute, demonstrating our ability to safely handle that failure scenario,” Bezos wrote in an email announcement yesterday. “It promises to be an exciting demonstration.”

There’s no announced date for the flight yet, but Bezos did say the test launch will include “additional maneuvers on both the crew capsule and the booster” to better understand how the New Shepherd flies. All of this, of course, is working towards the larger goal of launching manned test flights by next year and providing tourist flights to space by 2018.. When those tourist flights take off, Blue Origin plans to carry up to six passengers at a time beyond the Karman line 62 miles above the Earth where they’ll get about four minutes of weightlessness before returning home.


Report: A major developer is working on a VR game for Xbox One

Ars Technica reports that a “well-known European studio” is currently working on a VR game for “set in the universe of an established, long-running franchise” the Xbox One console. The unnamed game is slated for a 2017 release. Ars received the news as part of its E3 pre-briefings and was able to confirm it with the developer’s PR rep. A PC and PS4 version are both also supposedly in the works. This news lends significant credence to rumors that the upgraded Xbox One models that are expected to debut at the expo will be VR capable and compatible with the Oculus Rift headset.

Source: ArsTechnica


‘Battleborn’ turned gaming cinematics into high art

The best part of Battleborn is its prologue cinematic. That’s not to say the game itself isn’t any good — in fact, it’s a wonderful single- and multiplayer experience for the fantastical first-person-shooter crowd. However, the opening video is divine. It’s evocative, rich and effortlessly cool, built on a base of smooth hip hop and anime-inspired, neon-coated illustrations. When I think of Battleborn, my mind is immediately saturated in the cinematic’s soulful rhythm.

This is a new brand of video game artistry. As a game, Battleborn doesn’t feature cartoon characters; it’s a fully realized 3D experience from Gearbox, the creators of Borderlands. In the same vein as Borderlands, Battleborn is highly stylized, but it looks nothing like the opening cinematic.

That was on purpose.

“I wanted to come with something fresh in a sea of CG cinematics and openers,” Gearbox art director Scott Kester says. “We just figured players would appreciate something a bit different. I wanted a vibe to it that was fresh, but also kind of piggybacked off the feel of Samurai Champloo’s opening, with a healthy mix of Aeon Flux for good measure.”

Kester was inspired by cartoons from the ’80s and early ’90s, and he wanted the prologue to get players pumped for the actual game. He secured the cinematic of his dreams by working with animation studio Secret Sauce and hip hop group Deltron 3030, which includes Dan the Automator (Daniel Nakamura) and Del The Funky Homosapien (Teren Jones).

The cinematic’s energetic animations and its mellow soundtrack balance each other perfectly; they feel as if they were produced by the same mind. In reality, they were completely separate projects. Secret Sauce CEO Sanford Greene and animation director LD Walker didn’t even hear the song until their work on the animation was finished, Greene says.

“During the production of the animation we didn’t have any soundtrack to go by so LD did his best to keep the shot pacing tight in the middle and open on the ends,” he says. “Seems it just magically worked out after Del’s track was recorded and laid down.”

As he wrote the lyrics for “Countdown,” the prologue song, Del took inspiration from Battleborn’s storyline, interpreting its main points in his own way. He didn’t want the track to feel like an advertisement for the game.

“I just took the subject matter of the game and I went with that, but without directly following it note for note,” Del says. “Tried to make it more universal in feel so it could stand outside of the game as well.”

One reason these pieces came together so seamlessly was the creators’ shared love of video games. Walker in particular is a fan of action role-playing titles, platformers, fighters and shoot-em-ups. Del is a huge gaming fan and he’s been making music for the industry since 2000. His work has appeared in Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX, a handful of Tony Hawk titles, NBA 2K5 and 2K7, Skate 3, and, more recently, Street Fighter V.

“I was a crazy player when it was the vidiot era — ’80s, you know, arcades and stuff,” Del says. “I used to be stuck at the arcade, I used to buy every mag…. I had every system, still have emulators of most of the classic systems with every game, I got every arcade emu for every game I ever played in the arcade — so, uh, yeah, I’m kinda a video game fan, a little.”

It also helped that Secret Sauce and Gearbox go way back. Sanford and Kester have known each other for a long time; they actually started out working together in the comics industry. Secret Sauce is a small and relatively new team, but Kester says he respects their work. Plus, working with Deltron 3030 was “a dream” of Kester’s, partially because he’s a fan of Dan the Automator and Del, and partially because this project gave him a chance to amplify their voices.

Sure, Del has created music for video games, but that doesn’t mean he’s a household name in the gaming universe.

“Del tells such vivid sci-fi stories in his lyrics and was just a perfect fit for us,” Kester says. “I was specifically interested in Deltron and Secret Sauce due to the fact they aren’t super widely known in the game community. I think any time you can draw more attention to different artists across different disciplines is, well, like a duty we have as creators, honestly. To expose people to new cool things.”

Secret Sauce was definitely on-board with Kester’s preferred animation style, too: a Japanese-inspired, anime look.

“They avoid correcting every single drawing to look perfectly homogeneous,” Walker says. “Instead, they let that animator cut loose and belt out the equivalent of a guitar solo.”

That’s what Kester wanted with the Battleborn introduction video; something raw yet intriguing to long-time FPS fans. Something different. The AAA industry is largely focused on creating realistic 3D animations, Kester notes, and he hopes the cinematic is part of video games’ growth as an artistic medium. He’d love to play an entire game that looks like the prologue, for instance.

“I’m interested in seeing game art styles evolve and take us to new places visually,” Kester says. “We have an obsession in the gaming world to keep trying to replicate reality, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m more interested personally in making things that let me escape this world. Let’s show people styles and places I could never visit in real life.”

Video games are art and experiences like the Battleborn prologue help demonstrate this aspect to the wider world. Del, for his part, has always viewed games as artistic expressions.

“Maybe people just didn’t believe or see it, but I did,” Del says. “Matter of fact, the earlier games had to have art invested in it because the graphics weren’t that great.” Today, the potential for wild artistic experimentation exists within gaming, Del says, but large studios are mostly focused on creating lifelike worlds. “I lean toward more fanciful-type games, personally,” he says.

Now that Secret Sauce has dipped its toes into the world of gaming animation, Walker and Greene are hungry for more — and they’re not just dreaming any longer. Or, as Greene puts it:

“We have plans. Let’s just say that.”


AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Out of Stock at U.S. Apple Stores [Updated]

Following a rare firmware update for the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule earlier this week, a few readers have contacted us about the Wi-Fi base stations being out of stock at their local Apple retail stores in the United States.

Specifically, the tipsters informed us that the AirPort Extreme was out of stock at the Apple Store, Sagemore location in Marlton, New Jersey, an outer suburb of Philadelphia, and the Apple Store, Beverly Center location in Los Angeles, California.

“I was trying to buy an AirPort Extreme today from the Beverly Hills Apple Store and an employee told me that Apple had asked for all of them back from all the stores,” wrote one anonymous tipster.

To verify the tipster’s claim, we contacted an Apple support representative who confirmed that Apple has pulled AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule stock from all U.S. stores. The base stations remain available to order online, while it appears the smaller AirPort Express can still be purchased both online and in stores at present time.

Apple’s web-based Personal Pickup tool has also been removed from the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule product pages on its U.S. storefront.

Even though Apple has pulled all AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule stock from U.S. stores, it is possible that select locations may still some units available. The base stations also remain on sale through authorized resellers such as Best Buy.

A retail source informed us that the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule remain in stock at stores in the U.K., as confirmed by Personal Pickup, and the Wi-Fi base stations are also currently available at most stores in Australia, Canada, and Europe, so the in-store outage appears to be limited to U.S. stores for now.

With WWDC 2016 around the corner, scarce availability of the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule in the U.S. will naturally stir speculation about a possible refresh to its Wi-Fi base station lineup. However, the stock outage could be related to the recent firmware update, Apple Store renovations, or regular fluctuations within Apple’s inventory channels. There are also no rumors about an impending AirPort refresh.

Apple last updated the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule at WWDC 2013 with faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, new designs, and other internal changes. The slimmer AirPort Express was last updated in June 2012, drawing on the design of the Apple TV and gaining simultaneous dual-band 802.11n connectivity.

Given the lack of rumors, it is unknown what features a next-generation AirPort Extreme could have, but 802.11ac wave 2 Wi-Fi is a possibility. Some readers also speculate that Apple could integrate Siri features into the AirPort Extreme amid rumors it is working on an Amazon Echo competitor — which could also be a new Apple TV.

Apple’s AirPort base stations are designed to create or expand Wi-Fi networks, providing dual-band connectivity in addition to other features like music playback, wireless printing, and wireless backups. Read our AirPort roundup to learn more.

Update: Apple may be complying with an FCC deadline of June 2, 2016 related to router software security rules gradually phased in since 2014, which would explain why the stock outage is limited to U.S. stores.

“Starting June 2, 2016, permissive changes will not be permitted for devices approved under the old rules, unless they meet the requirements of the new rules,” the FCC writes. “All devices partially or completely approved under the old rules cannot be marketed starting June 2, 2016 unless they meet the requirements of the new rules in all the bands of operation.”

(Thanks, Cole, Justin, and Corrode!)

Related Roundup: AirPort
Tags: Apple retail, AirPort Extreme, AirPort Time Capsule
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