Arma Reforger is a stopgap testing ground for Arma 4

Bohemia Interactive revealed the future of the Arma franchise today. Powered by the new Enfusion Engine, the Czech developer has started work on Arma 4, the next mainline title in the series. That isn’t the next Arma title releasing, though, as Bohemia Interactive also announced and launched Arma Reforger into early access on PC and Xbox Series X today.

Arma Reforger is a military sim set in a reimagined version of 1980s Everon, a fictional country from Arma: Cold War Assault based on Czechoslovakia. It’s surprising that Bohemia Interactive isn’t diving right into Arma 4 as its next release. Still, it’s clear the studio wants to show Arma players and modders just what Bohemia Interactive’s new Enfusion Engine can do as soon as possible.

Bohemia CEO Marek Spanel gave some insight into why that’s the case during a presentation I attended. “Arma Reforger offers our community the opportunity to test our approach, the gameplay, and the operation of our infrastructure, while also being able to shape the future development of the Enfusion technology and of Arma 4,” he explained.

While this might not be the grand follow-up to Arma 3 that series fans may have expected, my early hands-off look at Arma Reforger shows that a promising new era for the franchise is about to begin. And with Arma Reforger, Bohemia Interactive wants its modding community and Xbox players to come along for the ride.

Reimagining Arma

Arma Reforger is a pseudo-reimagining of the first Arma game, although it’s primarily focused on multiplayer and user-created content. Arma Reforger’s two primary modes at launch are Conflict and Game Master. Conflict is a PvP mode where two teams deploy onto Everon as Americans and Soviets and fight each other and build bases to defeat the enemy.

Conflict is the straightforward military sim part of the package and what casual console players should check out first if they’re unfamiliar with Arma. That said, the series has always been just as much about the community creations as the game itself. Without Arma and its community, we would’ve never had games like the highly influential DayZ. For players looking to create, Game Master is the mode to try.

In Game Master, players can create modes and experiences within Arma Reforger. It should get players acquainted with making content on this new engine, even on Xbox. After that, hardcore modders with programming knowledge can dive into the Enfusion Engine and create modded content for Arma Reforger via Enfusion’s Workbench development tools.

While PC players are the only ones that can make mods on the Enfusion Enginr, Bohemia plans to help players bring the best mods to Xbox. By releasing Arma Reforger, the studio can ensure its community of modders are familiar with the Enufsion Engine ahead of Arma 4.

“We are building a new ecosystem on a completely different game, so for our users, it will take some to accommodate to it,” Spanel said. “We really need users to be using it because it’s extremely complex. It’s magnitudes more complex than Arma. It’s not just the new engine; it’s also new tools and online system.”

Forging early access

Arma Reforger might seem light on content to players not as interested in making modes or mods, but Spaniel made it clear that this limited scope is intentional. “At this point, our aim is more towards the fidelity, so we do not try to overcome the scale and scope of Arma 3,” Spanel explained. “Arma Reforger is smaller in scope.”

Spanel also said this would be reflected in the amount of post-launch support the game gets. It will get some new updates over the next 12 months, such as the addition of helicopters, but it won’t have the long-term tail that Arma 3 had.

Hummers with mounted guns drive through a field in Arma 4.

“We have a quite different plan for Arma Reforger, and our plan is not to make it another DayZ or Arma 3 in terms of growing the game,” Spaniel revealed. “We do have some features and new assets we plan to add, but mostly we want to focus on the core of the platform and its robustness, performance, and stability throughout early access.”

Bohemia Interactive plans to keep the game in early access and support it for one year, but will leave the game alone after that as it moves on to Arma 4.

Before Arma 4

Right now, Bohemia Interactive isn’t sharing a timeline for when it’ll reveal more about or launch Arma 4, but Spanel made it very clear that Reforger is the best proof-of-concept for Arma 4 that players can find.

“For Arma 4, we’re targeting the same scale and scope as Arma 3, but we want to do it with better fidelity in all aspects of the simulation,” he teased. “On top of the same technology and platform [as Reforger], we are already creating data for Arma 4, and these titles are very closely connected.”

The transition from Reforger to Arma 4, especially for user content, will be much easier.

Those statements highlight just what Arma Reforger is — a stopgap Arma release that will help Bohemia Interactive and its fans test the new Enfusion Engine while Arma 4 is in the early stages of development. We’ve seen some developers try out a new engine with smaller games before, like Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue or The Matrix Awakens.

Still, we’ve never really seen this happen with a game where community content creation is critically important. Both hardcore Arma fans and players on new platforms like Xbox should be intrigued by what Arma Reforger offers. It’s the start of a new era for the franchise, and Reforger’s existence will help ensure that Bohemia Interactive gets Arma 4 right.

Arma 4 is going to be a completely new release, but will still rely on the same technology bases, Spanel explained. “The transition from Reforger to Arma 4, especially for user content, will be much easier.”

Arma Reforger is available now for PC and Xbox Series X/S.

Editors’ Choice

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GitHub’s automatic coding tool rests on untested legal ground

Just days after GitHub announced its new Copilot tool, which generates complementary code for programmers’ projects, web developer Kyle Peacock tweeted an oddity he had noticed.

“I love to learn new things and build things,” the algorithm wrote, when asked to generate an About Me page. “I have a <a href=“”> Github</a> account.”

While the About Me page was supposedly generated for a fake person, that link goes to the GitHub profile of David Celis, who The Verge can confirm is not a figment of Copilot’s imagination. Celis is a coder and GitHub user with popular repositories, and even formerly worked at the company.

“I’m not surprised that my public repositories are a part of the training data for Copilot,” Celis told The Verge, adding that he was amused by the algorithm reciting his name. But while he doesn’t mind his name being spit out by an algorithm that parrots its training data, Celis is concerned at the copyright implications of GitHub scooping up any code it can find to better its AI.

When GitHub announced Copilot on June 29, the company said that the algorithm had been trained on publicly available code posted to GitHub. Nat Friedman, GitHub’s CEO, has written on forums like Hacker News and Twitter that the company is legally in the clear. “Training machine learning models on publicly available data is considered fair use across the machine learning community,” the Copilot page says.

But the legal question isn’t as settled as Friedman makes it sound — and the confusion reaches far beyond just GitHub. Artificial intelligence algorithms only function due to massive amounts of data they analyze, and much of that data comes from the open internet. An easy example would be ImageNet, perhaps the most influential AI training dataset, which is entirely made up of publicly available images that ImageNet creators do not own. If a court were to say that using this easily accessible data isn’t legal, it could make training AI systems vastly more expensive and less transparent.

Despite GitHub’s assertion, there is no direct legal precedent in the US that upholds publicly available training data as fair use, according to Mark Lemley and Bryan Casey of Stanford Law School, who published a paper last year about AI datasets and fair use in the Texas Law Review.

That doesn’t mean they are against it: Lemley and Casey write that publicly available data should be considered fair use, for the betterment of algorithms and to conform to the norms of the machine learning community.

And there are past cases to support that opinion, they say. They consider the Google Books case, in which Google downloaded and indexed more than 20 million books to create a literary search database, to be similar to training an algorithm. The Supreme Court upheld Google’s fair use claim, on the grounds that the new tool was transformative of the original work and broadly beneficial to readers and authors.

“There is not controversy around the ability to put all that copyrighted material into a database for a machine to read it,” Casey says about the Google Books case. “What a machine then outputs is still blurry and going to be figured out.”

This means the details change when the algorithm then generates media of its own. Lemley and Casey argue in their paper that if an algorithm begins to generate songs in the style of Ariana Grande, or directly rip off a coder’s novel solution to a problem, the fair use designation gets much murkier.

Since this hasn’t been directly tested in a court, a judge hasn’t been forced to decide how extractive the technology really is: If an AI algorithm turns the copyrighted work into a profitable technology, then it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for a judge to decide that its creator should pay or otherwise credit for what they take.

But on the other hand, if a judge were to decide that GitHub’s style of training on publicly available code was fair use, it would squash the need for GitHub and OpenAI to cite the licenses of the coders that wrote its training data. For instance, Celis, whose GitHub profile was generated by Copilot, says he uses the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which requires attribution for derivative works.

“And I fall in the camp that believes Copilot’s generated code is absolutely derivative work,” he told The Verge.

Until this is decided in a court, however, there’s no clear ruling on whether this practice is legal.

“My hope is that people would be happy to have their code used for training,” Lemley says. “Not for it to show up verbatim in someone else’s work necessarily, but we’re all better off if we have better-trained AIs.”

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Ground freight logistics startup Flock Freight closes $215M funding round

Digital freight logistics company Flock Freight today announced that it raised $215 million in series D funding led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, increasing the startup’s valuation to $1.3 billion. The round also included participation from Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, LLLP, Eden Global Partners, SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners, and GV (formerly Google Ventures), and will be used to support the development of Flock Freight’s technology and to expand the company’s talent and operations, according to CEO Oren Zaslansky.

Pandemic-related demand and disruptions have put an immense strain on the supply chain. DAT Solutions found that shippers’ requests for moving goods increased by 577% from April 2020 to April 2021, while postings of trucks available to move goods were down 17%. Meanwhile, ecommerce sales continue to experience outsized growth, with online penetration remaining approximately 35% above pre-pandemic levels, according to McKinsey.

Founded in 2015 by Zaslansky, Flock Freight hosts a marketplace that pools less-than-truckload (LTL) and partial-truckload (PTL) freight shipments so that they can be shipped via a full truckload service. For LTL, Flock Freight facilitates the travel of shipments on trucks to their intended destinations, eschewing the traditional hub-and-spoke freight transit model. In the case of PTL, the platform finds as many as ten trucks along a single route and pools them into a single truckload to maximize savings.

“I’ve been in the trucking and logistics industry for more than 20 years since I founded E&H Transport Network in 1996. I built E&H from the ground up, including the recruitment and onboarding of over 1,000 truck drivers,” Zaslansky told VentureBeat via email. “In 2001, I founded SolSource Logistics, a third-party logistics company serving international Fortune 1000 clients such as Whole Foods, Wegmans Grocery, and Sprouts Market. In serving a diverse customer base in the transportation industry, I identified an unmet need to reduce the significant waste and antiquated approach to transportation. Too often, assets are underutilized and freight moves through intermediary depots when otherwise technology could facilitate those solutions without the waste of brick and mortar.”

Flock Freight also offers instant “prebates” that lower contracted truckload rates when shippers have freight that measures 44 feet or less. With this program, Flock Freight automatically moves eligible freight with shared truckload shipping, ostensibly delivering same-quality truckload service at more palatable prices.

Flock Freight

“Flock Freight’s machine learning-based product, FlockDirect, pools less-than-truckload freight consisting of a few pallets together to create full truckloads. It optimizes routes by pooling freight heading in the same direction so that trucks only stop at each drop-off, avoiding traditional terminals,” Zaslansky explained. “To create shared truckloads, Flock’s pooling algorithms sift through an enormous number of possible shipment permutations to find only those which are feasible to execute and economically advantageous for all parties. A ‘combinatorics explosion’ takes place when Flock Freight takes the hundreds of partial size freight shipments it receives per day and uses its complex algorithm to pool them together onto single trucks — combining three to five partial loads and taking into account numerous variables such as destination, timing, product type (food vs. chemicals), and more. For 500 shipments, the possible pooling combinations exceed 62 billion, to put numbers in to show the scale.”

Disrupting competition in the freight industry

Flock Freight claims its driver network in the U.S. and Canada numbers are in the thousands, and each individual driver can be tracked in real time via a dashboard or email notifications. The company says its damage claim rate is a low 0.001% and its on-time delivery rate is 97.5%. It also says it is able to reduce fuel emissions by up to 40% by eliminating the need to switch trucks or stop at warehouses.

“Flock Freight has pooled close to 20,000 shipments … Additionally, Flock Freight’s hubless pooling product has attracted new customers in 2020, including mid-market and enterprise companies such as Berlin Packaging, Blue Diamond Almonds, Mueller Industries, Nature’s Bounty, and Tuft & Needle,” Zaslansky said. “The company has tripled its workforce in 2021 and plans to add even more talent to its Encinitas headquarters and new Chicago location this year, and additional plans to hire more than people in 2022.”

Zaslansky argues that those stats set it apart from competitors in the freight logistics space. Uber offers a service called Uber Freight, to which it recently committed another $200 million as part of a major expansion. San Francisco-based startup KeepTruckin has secured hundreds of millions to further develop its shipment marketplace. Next Trucking last year closed a $97 million investment. Meanwhile, Convoy raised $400 million at a $2.75 billion valuation for a platform that it asserts makes freight trucking more efficient.

“Flock Freight is disrupting the $2 trillion freight industry because it is doing something that no other company has been able to do: fundamentally change the way the industry operates. While digital freight brokerages, such as Convoy, Uber Freight, and Transfix, automate and streamline the connection between shippers and carriers, Flock Freight is the only company changing the way freight gets transported with a whole new mode of shipping,” Zaslansky said. “Our business has grown in spite of the pandemic, not because of it. Because we offer faster shipping times all while protecting shipments from damage, our customers are recognizing and experiencing the power of our shared truckload technology.”

Solana Beach, California-based Flock Freight — which has raised $399 million to date and is on track to hit 325% year-to-date revenue growth — plans for an initial public offering in the next 18 to 36 months.


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Tech News

GE and Safran’s hybrid engine plans could ground the guilt over air travel

A new aircraft engine design that could potentially cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20-percent is being developed, with GE Aviation and Safran suggesting the CFM RISE program could result in more frugal transportation by the mid-2030s. The new “Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines” program is also aiming to develop powertrain options for aircraft that support alternative fuels, as well as hybrid-electric operation.

The two companies are no strangers. The CFM collaboration began back in 1974, a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran. It’s now been extended to 2050, and credited with already cutting emissions by 15-percent in the existing LEAP engine compared to previous-generation aircraft engines.

RISE, though, will take things even further. It’ll form the basis of a new CFM engine design which the two companies hope to have ready for commercial deployment by the mid-2030s. As well as cutting fuel consumption and trimming CO2 emissions, it’ll have to be completely compatible with hydrogen and Sustainable Aviation Fuels.

“Central to the program is state-of-the-art propulsive efficiency for the engine, including developing an open fan architecture,” GE said today of the agreement. “This is a key enabler to achieving significantly improved fuel efficiency while delivering the same speed and cabin experience as current single-aisle aircraft. The program will also use hybrid electric capability to optimize engine efficiency while enabling electrification of many aircraft systems.”

There won’t be any one, individual component responsible for that sort of overall improvement and flexibility, of course. Instead, the joint GE/Safran engineering team is looking to everything from composite fan blades, heat resistant metal alloys, ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), hybrid electric capability, and additive manufacturing. In total, there’ll be more than 300 different component, module, and full engine builds.

It won’t be until the middle of the decade, or thereabouts, before a demonstrator engine is ready for testing. Flight testing, though, should come soon after that.

The aviation industry is targeting a 50-percent reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, relative to the levels in 2005. It’s not just about the engines’ inherent fuel consumption, mind, with GE also focusing on things like easier ways to clean engines and thus make them more efficient, as well as 3D printing key components. The GE9X engine in the Boeing 777X, for example, already includes more than 300 3D printed components using additive manufacturing.

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Tech News

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Startup Stock Photos/Pexels

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Game+’s real-money esports platform launches on shaky ground

Game+ comes to the Android and iOS app stores today, offering a platform for users to win (and lose) real money by playing popular video games against friends and strangers. It’s not a new idea, but it represents a collision of heavily regulated markets: video game intellectual property rights, banking, online privacy and something that looks a lot like gambling. 

Game+ co-founders Adam Frank and Karim Sanford have an answer for most of these concerns. They say the app is secure because it uses existing financial systems to verify users and encryption to protect card data. They distance Game+ from gambling by calling it a skill-based competition platform, and only offering it in 38 US states where head-to-head gaming for money is permitted. The app geolocates users at sign-up and every time they enter a challenge with another player.

However, when it comes to securing the rights to Call of Duty, Madden, Fortnite, Mortal Kombat, Apex Legends, Halo, Mario Kart or any of the video game franchises advertised by Game+, Frank and Sanford don’t have a clean answer.

“We didn’t go to the companies, no,” Frank said.



The Game+ website features more than 50 games, plus the Xbox, PlayStation and Switch logos. A disclaimer at the bottom of the main page says the app isn’t affiliated with (deep breath) Apple, Android, Microsoft, Xbox, Sony, PlayStation, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Valve, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Capcom, Infinity Ward, Gameloft, Epic Games, “or any other company that markets a computer or mobile game.” In the eyes of Frank and Sanford, this disclaimer is enough legal protection to continue advertising Game+ on the backs of mainstream video game franchises.

“We’ve obviously looked at these issues and we’re confident that what we’re doing here is completely permissible,” Frank said.

By and large, the publishers disagree.

“The app and service as described would be a clear violation of Epic’s policies and intellectual property rights,” a spokesperson for Fortnite studio Epic Games told Engadget. “We have no involvement in anything similar to what you’re describing and if it is launched Epic will take appropriate steps to stop this exploitation of our players and abuse of our IP.”



Multiple other publishers responded with surprise and concern at the description of Game+, and made it clear that the app is unauthorized to use their franchises. Publishers including Activision, Nintendo, EA, Microsoft and Sony are historically quick to defend their IP, pulling top titles even from established gaming services when they don’t like how they’re being used.

Not to mention, the video game industry is allergic to the term “gambling” and publishers are eager to stay off regulators’ radar. Game+ is presented as a skill-based competition app, thereby avoiding a gambling label on its face. At the same time, Frank and Sanford had the app certified under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which outlines regulations for online gambling. 

As proof of concept, a Game+ spokesperson pointed to the existence of services like Players’ Lounge and GamerSaloon, which also advertise one-on-one, for-cash competitions using the iconography of popular games. The spokesperson is correct that these programs exist. And, as demonstrated by the iOS app Play One Up, they’re raising millions.

One Up

One Up

These services seem to be on dicey legal ground, too.

In response to a question specifically about Players’ Lounge and One Up, both of which include Fortnite in their marketing materials, Epic’s spokesperson said the rules remain the same: “Any organization of wager matches for Fortnite violates our policies.”

Game+ differentiates itself through an integrated Discover card enrollment process. In order to fund challenges, Game+ requires players to sign up for a prepaid Discover card, which is then issued by MetaBank. This is the same financial institution that recently distributed coronavirus-related Economic Impact Payments via prepaid debit cards in the US. Players load the card with their own money and challenge other users to matches in more than 50 console titles, setting their own rules and betting between $2 and $250 on the outcome. Game+ makes its money by taking 10 percent of each challenge, capped at $5.

It’ll also make some money through fees, apparently. The prepaid Game+ Discover card requires a minimum of $20 each time it’s loaded, and there are charges related to funding and keeping the account active. If a user doesn’t participate in a challenge for the month, Game+ will charge an inactivity fee of $1.50. After six months of no activity — and presumably $9 in fees — users will be charged an additional $2.95 per month until their account is drained. Game+ reserves the right to collect these fees “by any other permitted means if the payment attempt is declined.” Additionally, ATM withdrawals using the Game+ card cost $2.50. 



“There are some fees associated with putting money on the card,” Frank said. “For example, there’s a $0.50 fee to load the card and that sort of thing. As far as using the card, it functions as a prepaid card. If you went to spend money with it at a store or online or that sort of thing, there are not fees associated with that, but there are some fees that are disclosed in a schedule.”

In contrast, One Up acts as an escrow and allows users to upload and withdraw cash through PayPal, Venmo, Cash App and other online banking programs. The app charges a 15 percent booking fee for tournaments, and it raised upwards of $4 million from investors last year.

The One Up review section might just be a living prophecy for Game+. Scattered among the positive judgements are dozens of complaints of missing funds, an inability to make withdrawals, broken customer service trees, surprise limitations and cheating players. Some posts call the app a scam outright. 



In Game+, Frank and Sanford have a conflict-resolution scheme that involves players uploading photos of their disputed end-game screens, or re-playing matches that are too tough to call. They’re relying on the Discover card sign-up process to vet players and prevent cheating.

Game+, One Up, Players’ Lounge and other skill-based tournament services are taking advantage of recent legal changes around gambling and sports-betting apps to try to establish a new breed of head-to-head video game competition. And they might do it, if the folks who own the video games will let them.

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Tech News

Fintech may end up the real buzzword of 2021. Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor


TLDR: The Ultimate Fintech and Blockchain Bootcamp Bundle explains the revolution in financial services happening around the globe right now — and how you can join in.

If you aren’t all that familiar with the term Fintech yet, you might want to address that deficiency. Because after a mostly stellar year for many companies applying new technology to financial businesses, even in the teeth of the pandemic, investors are dumping millions into growing and developing more tech-driven financial services operations in 2021.

It’s a booming industry. And with the training found in The Ultimate Fintech and Blockchain Bootcamp Bundle ($39.99, over 90 percent off, from TNW Deals), you’ll not only understand how tech is changing how the world does finance, but how you can also make some serious cash for yourself as well.

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