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Game

Sonic Frontiers targets Breath of the Wild fans with late 2022 release

As recent leaks had claimed, Sega is gearing up to release another Sonic the Hedgehog game and it’ll be called Sonic Frontiers. The name refers to the nature of the upcoming title, which will be unlike any past installment in the Sonic universe. Put simply, it sure looks like Sega is hoping to draw in Breath of the Wild fans with its next Sonic game.

Image: SEGA

Sonic Frontiers was introduced alongside a teaser trailer at The Game Awards 2021, giving fans their first look at the next installment in the lengthy Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. The upcoming titles will differ from the existing games in one big way, however, by bringing the hedgehogs to their first open-world environment.

Players will be free to explore a vast open world filled with a variety of landscapes, including forests, open fields, waterfalls, deserts, and other regions. In addition to the teaser trailer, Sega has released a handful of screenshots showing the kinds of environments players can expect.

SEGA

Sonic will, Sega says, still have his ultra-fast running ability and players will be tasked with battling enemies spread throughout the open-world environment (Starfall Islands). We see a cinematic version of those kinds of battles in the launch trailer, but Sega hasn’t yet shared any gameplay footage.

Stone structures in flower field

SEGA

Though additional details aren’t yet available — the Holiday 2022 release date aside — it is pretty clear Sega is targeting fans of existing massively popular open-world games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo raked in tens of millions of sales with its hit Zelda title, with Breath of the Wild proving to be the most popular installment in the game franchise (via Wikipedia).

An open-world environment was one of the rumors that had been circulating since Sega teased a 2022 Sonic game earlier this year. The big question, though, is whether the company can manage to pull off something as excellent as Breath of the Wild. Some early commentary from players points out that while the idea of an open world is great, the actual environment revealed by Sega seems out of place with the cartoon hedgehogs.

Shallow lake with trees

SEGA

We’ve only seen a few screenshots from this world, so it’s unclear how robust it may be and what kind of buildings it may feature. It is possible that Sega plans to bring the classic landscapes from its side-scrolling titles to the upcoming 3D world, but whether it’ll pull off a style that complements — rather than contrasts — the animated characters is another matter.

Sonic’s modern design history has already been filled with some questionable choices, namely the movie version of the character that somehow managed to reach the promotional stage despite looking like, well, this. Hopefully, Sega took notes amid that design debacle and will be extra careful to give players the kind of world they want, not just cartoon hedgehogs in awkwardly realistic biomes.

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Game

Controversial Iraq War game ‘Six Days in Fallujah’ delayed until late 2022

The long and messy development of the controversial Six Days in Fallujah is set to last for at least another year. Publisher Victura has confirmed the first-person shooter will be delayed until the last quarter of 2022. Previously, it targeted a 2021 launch window.

Victura and Highwire Games, which counts former Destiny and Halo developers among its team, announced in February that they are reviving the game. Six Days in Fallujah first emerged in 2009, but following a backlash, publisher Konami backed out and developer Atomic Games wasn’t able to secure funding to finish the game. The studio shut down in 2011 and the project, then a third-person shooter, was shelved.

The game features true stories shared by dozens of marines, soldiers and Iraqi civilians who were involved in Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq in November 2004. Missions take place from the perspective of a person who was there, and they’ll provide narration about what happened, from their point of view.

As was the case the first time around, critics rallied against Six Days in Fallujah. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a prominent Muslim advocacy group in the US, urged Sony, Microsoft and Valve to block it from their gaming platforms.

Victura CEO Peter Tamte, formerly of Atomic and Destiny studio Bungie, was widely denounced for suggesting the game would not make a political statement regarding why American soldiers were in Fallujah. The publisher later clarified that “we understand the events recreated in Six Days in Fallujah are inseparable from politics.”

Despite the black cloud hanging over the game, Victura and Highwire are forging ahead. They plan to almost double the size of the development team. “It became clear that recreating these true stories at a high quality was going to require more people, capital and time than we had,” Tamte said. “Doubling our team is just one of many things we’re doing to make sure Six Days in Fallujah brings new kinds of tactical and emotional depth to military shooters.”

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Game

Among Us physical game editions release dates tragically late for gifts

If you know someone who loves Among Us and you’re looking FAR in advance for the perfect holiday gift this year, InnerSloth has your back. They’ve created several versions of the game Among Us with discs and physical boxes and everything that’ll make the entire situation a much more physically gift-friendly experience. The products are called “Among Us – Ejected Edition”, “Among Us – Imposter Edition”, and “Among Us – Crewmate Edition.”

The most expensive of the packages is “Among Us – Ejected Edition.” This version is available in four different sorts – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. This version includes a bunch of gear from designer Hannako Lambert, including: Crewmate fleece blanket, Red Imposter beanie, “1 of 12 special Mira HQ Holographic Access Cards”, Crewmate vs Imposter lanyard, Purple Crewmate with Crown plush, and retail exclusive steelbook (to hold the Among Us base game disk (plus DLC).

This package also includes an Imposter Syndrome Sticker Sheet and Spinning Into Space enamel pin, both by Cynthia Her. This package also includes a Folded Skeld Map poster designed by Cannon Kissane. You’ll get approximately 6 downloadable PC/phone wallpapers designed by Amy Liu with this package. The Among Us – Ejected Edition will cost you approximately $90 USD!

The Imposter Edition has just SOME of the stuff included with the more expensive package. Here you get the wallpapers, the holographic access card, enamel pin, lanyard, Purple Crewmate with Crown plush, Imposter Syndrome sticker sheet, and Folded Skeld Map Poster. You’ll also get the Among Us base game plus DLC, but this time in a 3D lenticular case as designed by Hannako Lambert, and it’ll all cost you around $50 USD.

The most basic packaged version will cost you $30 – that’s for the Among Us – Crewmate Edition. This version of the game includes the holographic access card, the Folded Skeld Map Poster, the wallpapers, the sticker sheet, and the Among Us base game with DLC and 3D lenticular case.

All of these versions of Among Us appeared in imagery at the Maximum Games store this week. The expected Release Date for these Among Us physical editions is fairly unfortunate, if you’re the sort of person that gives gifts to friends and family before the end of the year – December 31, 2021.

The good news there is THAT date generally indicates that the release date isn’t 100% set just yet – it’s just an indicator that we’ll see the release happen before the end of the year. It might be earlier, it might be later – we’ll just have to wait and see!

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Tech News

Web’s daddy jumps aboard NFT hype train — but is he already too late?

The NFT bandwagon attracts a curious mix of passengers, from celebrity robots to convicted animal abusers.

The latest luminary to grab a ticket is British inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who’s auctioning off his original source code for the web as a non-fungible token.

[Read: Why entrepreneurship in emerging markets matters]

For those of you lucky enough to have missed the hype train, NFTs are unique digital tokens secured by blockchain tech.

They’re used to authenticate claims of ownership to digital and physical assets that can be sold or traded, such as digital artworks. The strange part (to me, at least), is they’re often verifying ownership of works that can be screengrabbed or downloaded in seconds.

They’ve nonetheless helped sellers rake in fortunes for their digital collectables — and Berners-Lee will hope to join them.

The NFT he’s auctioning includes his original time-stamped files for the WorldWideWeb browser; an animation of the code being written, a letter by Berners-Lee about his creation; and a digital poster of the code.

It’s a more attractive package than, say, a tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and that bagged an eye-watering $2.9 million. Unfortunately for Berners-Lee, he may be jumping on the hype train a few stops too late.

A recent report by Protos suggests the NFT market has already imploded. According to data analyzed by the crypto news site, NFTs peaked on May 3, when $102 million worth of them were sold in just a day. But by June, the market had plunged by almost 90%.

New data analyzed by Nonfungible further substantiates claims that the bubble is bursting. The market tracker found that overall sales collapsed from a seven-day peak of $176 million on May 9 to $8.6 million on June 15.

Still, Berners-Lee has some grounds for optimism. His digital asset is a genuine historical artefact that’s eminently suited to the format.

As Berners-Lee puts it, NFTs are the “ideal way to package the origins behind the web.”

His “digital-native artefact” could attract some hefty bids from the tech-savvy community of NFT collectors — and he wouldn’t be the only one defying the market’s doomsayers.

Just last week, an NFT of Doge the dog sold for a cool $4 million. Surely the source code of the world wide web is worth more than a meme? We’ll find out when the bidding ends on June 30.

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Tech News

Billionaire clown Elon Musk drags the late Chris Farley into Tesla’s feud with Ford

There’s never a dull moment in tech. Elon Musk and Ford CEO Jim Farley got into it on Twitter yesterday after a new Ford advertisement seemingly tossed shade at Tesla’s Autopilot.

Heads up: The real lead here is that Ford’s new BlueCruise kit, a driverless car system, will launch on certain Mustang and F-150 models. Can we all take a moment to recognize how awesome the idea of an autonomous Mustang in the future is?

But: Elon being Elon, there was no way the news was ever going to be about anything other than him.

Ford CEO Jim Farley apparently couldn’t resist trolling Tesla a bit when he tweeted that his company tested BlueCruise “in the real world, so our customers don’t have to.” This has been interpreted to be a jab at Tesla’s simulation-based training methods.

Musk responded (to a tweet featuring the quote) by invoking Farley’s cousin, the late Chris Farley. Yes, that Chris Farley:

Many on Twitter found the reply innocuous and good-natured, others saw it as over-the-top and disrespectful. It’s generally considered impolite to use a clip of someone’s deceased relative to troll them on social media.

Here’s the thing: It’s macabre for Musk and Farley to joke about training driverless cars. Autopilot failures have been a contributing factor in numerous accidents involving Tesla vehicles, some of which were fatal.

There is currently no production vehicle on the market that can drive itself safely and/or legally. We’ve seen the videos and the fact remains: level two autonomy is not self-driving.

Tesla’s “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” systems are not capable of auto-piloting or self-driving. Full stop.

[Read: The biggest tech trends of 2021, according to 3 founders]

This kind of rhetoric, two childish CEOs bantering about the abilities of their vehicles, gives consumers a bloated view of what these cars are capable of. Whether consumers think Ford’s built something that’s better than “Autopilot,” or that Tesla already has things figured out – it seems the reality of level two autonomy is getting lost in the hype.

The bottom line: The technology powering these vehicles is amazing but, at the end of the day it’s just glorified cruise control. Drivers are meant to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road at all times when operating any current production vehicle, whether its so-called self-driving features are engaged or not.

When these companies and their CEOs engage in back-and-forth on Twitter, they’re taking a calculated risk that consumers will buy into the rivalry and enjoy the capitalist competition as it plays out for their amusement.

They take the same kind of calculated risk when they continue marketing their products as “self-driving” features even after customers keep overestimating their abilities and dying.



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Categories
AI

5 jobs that you should apply for this week (before it’s too late)

Join Transform 2021 for the most important themes in enterprise AI & Data. Learn more.


Looking for a new job can be a pretty daunting experience that we all have to go through. It can be hard to know where to even begin — especially when you throw a global pandemic into the mix. Tricky, to say the least. Here at Venture Beat, we want to help, and try to get as many of you into jobs you love.

So, we’ve done a round-up of some pretty amazing roles that are taking applications at the moment. Check them out and start applying!

Office Administrator, Reynolds and Reynolds

The Office Administrator plays an active role in supporting the field sales organization. As the Office Administrator, you will be assigned multiple sales regions to support sales directors and representatives with their day to day responsibilities. These tasks include generating reports, coordinating meetings and travel, scheduling conference calls, and managing calendars. Other responsibilities will include assisting with the distribution of company-issued equipment and office supplies, updating or adding customer and vendor information, and other special projects as assigned. If you are detail oriented, organized, and enjoy working with people, this is the position for you!

Associate Engineer Software, Northrop Grumman

The Associate Software Engineer position supports the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) programs. The candidate should have experience with structured software development methodologies and modern software test tools and techniques. The candidate will work within a cross-functional Scrum team, and will be responsible for developing software, participating in acceptance criteria development, creating scripts and utilizing COTS tools to automate testing, documenting instructions within the wiki, and participating in integration activities. The successful candidate will need a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related field in the Software / information technology industry.

Strategic Sales Executive, Finastra

The Strategic Sales Executive will generate revenue by selling Finastra software solutions and services to new prospects within assigned territory. The successful candidate will provide specific product focus from a sales perspective through the acquisition of new clients by positioning the value Finastra products and services can bring to clients. Specifically, knowledge of capital markets and treasury operations and/or commercial lending will be a plus. Experience dealing with complex sales with multiple stakeholders within enterprise and cloud based solution delivery will also be valued. Responsibilities will include creating and managing strategic territory planass that will include activities for quota attainment.

Salesforce Business Analyst, Moody’s Corporation

This individual will serve as the primary contact with business clients to elicit requirements and validate requirements and designs-developing and maintaining strong relationships, and keeping these clients informed and engaged throughout the entire project lifecycle. This individual will work as a liaison between Moody Analytics’ business groups, product management, senior internal personnel, and with the application development teams-to provide support for their work products and to act as an informed customer advocate within the development team. 

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Categories
Tech News

Netflix is testing a sleep timer for your late night binges

Have you ever binged on a TV show so much that you fell asleep mid-episode? The last you want is for the show to keep on playing indefinitely, potentially exposing you to spoilers once you wake up and resume the show later (yes, this has happened to me before, and it sucked).

Fret no more: Netflix is testing a timer feature on Android that will let you pause a show after a certain time has elapsed. As reported by the Verge —Netflix confirmed the feature to the publication — the timer function allows you to choose to stop playback after 15, 30, or 45 minutes — or until the end of your current episode. The feature can be accessed from a timer button on the upper right of video playback.

Credit: The Verge

This seems like a useful feature for people who like to fall asleep to a TV show on in the background. While that’s not something I regularly do with Netflix, I do often sleep while listening to audiobooks and find the ability to set a sleep timer to be a godsend.

The test is currently limited to a few users globally on Android, but if it’s popular enough, Netflix will presumably bring it to TVs and other devices. That said, there’s no word on when we might see a wider rollout quite yet.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
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Published January 30, 2021 — 01:46 UTC



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Tech News

The Google Pixel 4a is a great phone at a great price, but is it too late to matter?

At long last and longer rumor, the Google Pixel 4a has arrived, adding another strong entry to a very crowded mid-range market. As premium phone sales continue to plummet due to the coronavirus, the Pixel 4a should be the 2020 value phone to beat, with surprisingly good looks and an aggressive $349 price tag.

But while the Pixel 4a brings all the things you’d expect from a Google phone—namely an optimized UI and an excellent camera—it might be too little, too late. Google has built an excellent phone for an excellent price, but so have so many others. In just the time since it was originally rumored to launch at Google I/O in May, the Samsung Galaxy A51, OnePlus Nord, and TCL 10 Pro—not to mention the iPhone SE— have brought extreme value to the non-premium smartphone market.

oneplus nord OnePlus

The OnePlus Nord is a compelling release with 5G for not much more than the Pixel 4a.

Since the Pixel 3a launched in May, 2019, mid-range smartphones have gained bigger screens, better cameras, and more premium features, making it easier for customers to resist the call of the four-figure titans. Android phone makers have also gotten much better at pushing updates. So while there’s enough about the Pixel 4a to make it a very intriguing addition to the Pixel family, it might need to offer a little more to lure buyers. Namely, a months-ago release. 

Cheap price and cheap plastic

The Pixel 4a the first Pixel phone to feature a hole-punch camera. It certainly looks better than the bezel-heavy Pixel 3a. The camera is located in the upper-left corner rather than the center, so it’ll mess with the status icons, but it’s still a huge step forward for the Pixel aesthetic.

But the Pixel 4a is basically playing catch-up. Even in the $400 price range, hole-punch displays are old hat. Had the Pixel 4a released in May 2020, that might have been a different story. But after the A71 and the Nord and a slew of other Chinese handsets, buyers expect the slimmest possible bezels thanks to cameras built into the screen, even for $400. Plus, the Pixel 4a sports a long-in-the-tooth fingerprint scanner, one of the few remaining phones among its peers that haven’t gone the optical route. 

google pixel 4a 1 Chris Martin/IDG

The Pixel 4a easily picks up scratches and smudges.

The Pixel 4a’s plastic back makes it feel more like a budget phone than a mid-range one, thanks to its newer competitors. Even if it didn’t come in just one bland color (black), Google hasn’t done anything to dress it up like Samsung’s glossy patterns or Motorola’s shimmer. Based on the pictures I’ve seen it’s extremely prone to smudges and scratches, which isn’t ideal, and it pales in comparison to the luscious glass on the iPhone SE or OnePlus Nord. Altogether, the Pixel 4a looks and feels cheaper than it should.

One is the loneliest camera

Google has decided to go with just a single camera on the Pixel 4a, which probably won’t matter in practice. Google works wonders with its processing and on-device AI, so portraits and zooming will be impressive even with the lack of dedicated hardware.

google pixel 4a 9 Chris Martin/IDG

The Pixel 4a has a great camera—but there’s only one of them.

But there could be a perception issue. Last year’s Pixel 3a was a standout in a sea of single-camera phones and high-priced multi-camera arrays, but now dual- and triple-camera are the norm across the spectrum of Android tiers. The Galaxy A51 and the Oneplus Nord each have four cameras with dedicated macro and depth lenses. Even the $200 Doogee N21 Pro has a triple-camera setup, as does the upcoming Mototola One Fusion Plus, which also has a Snapdragon 730 processor and a 5,000mAh battery for $399.

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