GamesRead : Titanfall is coming to Android and iOS in 2016

You might remember Titanfall as the highly anticipated first-person shooter that was super-popular for about 10 minutes last year. It’s not gone by any means, though, and the developers are looking to get into the mobile gaming space in 2016. A Titanfall spinoff is planned for next year, but it’s probably going to be a freemium game with lots of microtransactions.

Titanfall is an all-online arena-based first-person shooter with a sci-fi twist. In addition to running around with a gun to take out the other team, you can  also call down heavy support mechs called Titans to pilot around the map. These heavily armed behemoths can turn the tide of battle and are really what made Titanfall special. The Titan gameplay was a bit slower, which could make more sense on a mobile device. Twitch-based FPS games are hard to pull off on phones and tablets.

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment is working with game developer Nexon, which is known for free-to-play titles like MapleStory and Legion of Heroes. Respawn has been vague about what sort of gameplay we can expect from the mobile Titanfall spin-offs, but based on job listings, they will include PvP gameplay, social integration, and guilds.

Titanfall

This wouldn’t be the first time a complex mobile game was adapted for a mobile device. Batman Arkham Origins is a sprawling open world experience on consoles and PC, but the mobile version is a vastly simplified swipe-based fighter. Some attempts to bring full shooters to mobile devices have been messy, like 2K Games’ port of Bioshock to iOS. It eventually had to pull the game due to compatibility issues.

More details are expected as we get closer to the release. Even if you’re not a fan of free-to-play games, they’re hugely popular and could attract people to Titanfall that would never touch the full version on a console or PC.

GamesRead : Motobot is an autonomous motorcycle-racing robot

The main focus of autonomous transport right now is cars, but not all vehicle manufacturers make cars. Some make motorcycles. Yamaha is one of those manufacturers, and it has decided to develop its own, autonomous humanoid motorcycle robot called the Motobot.

The end goal of the Motobot project is to create a robot that can ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at over 200km/h (124mph). Such a project offers many more challenges than getting a car to do the same thing.

The extra challenge comes from the fact a motorcycle requires balance in order to function at all times. Where as a car will happily sit on the road at any speed, a motorcycle needs to be controlled by someone, or something that understands balance and can adjust their position and that of the bike to ensure it does not fall over. That problem gets harder the faster the bike is traveling.

As the video above shows, they’ve already got a working prototype on an unmodified Yamaha YZF-R1M. Now it’s a case of getting multiple control systems working together so as to increase the speed of the motorcycle on the track. Seeing a robot leaning into the corners at 100mph and not crashing is something I look forward to watching.

Regardless of how successful the Motobot project is, the research is important for Yamaha’s core business of selling motorcycles to real humans. It’s thought Motobot development will lead to more advanced rider safety and support systems. In other words, Motobot is going to result in more intelligent motorcycles being sold that are a lot harder to crash.

GamesRead : Microsoft tweaks Windows 10 upgrade process to snag more users

Microsoft is gunning for a billion devices running Windows 10. Things have been going well so far, but to keep that momentum going Microsoft is changing the way the Windows 10 Upgrade process works.

For starters, there’s no longer a waiting period after a reservation is made. The upgrade process will begin right away. Another big change is that Windows 10 is going to become a recommended update. Not only will the installation files automatically be pushed to your system (Microsoft has already been doing that in some cases), but the upgrade installer will start automatically, too.

Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, who is the executive VP of the Windows and Devices Group, didn’t mention a specific date that this would happen in his blog post — only that the change would happen “early next year.” The actual date will actually be rather important, because Microsoft had only promised to keep the Windows 10 upgrade free for the first year of availability.

That first year will wind down at the end of July 2016. After that, folks that have received Windows 10 as a recommended update may very well find themselves having to cough up a hundred bucks or so in order to “Get Genuine.”

There’s always the possibility that Microsoft will choose to extend the free upgrade period. Even if they don’t, they’re at least making some tweaks to the installation process to make sure that users have the opportunity to opt out before the actual installation begins.

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As hard as they’re pushing to get folks to upgrade, Microsoft is also making it easier to stick with the Windows version you’re already running. You can now choose to silence the update notification nag on Windows 8.1/8/7, and Myerson actually mentions that users can disable Windows Update if they really don’t want the upgrade. He qualifies that by saying it’s a really, really bad idea — but it’s still kind of crazy that someone from Microsoft even mentioned shutting them off as a possibility.

They’ve also redesigned the installer itself so that it’s clear that you have the opportunity to cancel before any changes are made. Even if you do happen to miss it, you’ll still be able to roll back to your previous version of Windows. After the 31-day downgrade window closes, though, you’ll either have to learn to love Windows 10 or do a clean install to get rid of it.

GamesRead : 21 years of Tribes and Earthsiege games now free to download and play

There’s now just over a week left until Fallout 4 launches and gamers around the world forget that other games exist for a while. But that still gives you 10 days to play something else, so how about every single Tribes and Earthsiege game released over the last 21 years? And how about for free?

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That’s possible as of today because Hi-Rez Studios has made all 7 games released between 1994 and 2012 available to download. The reason? A celebration of over 20 years of the Tribes universe.

The games on offer include:

  • Earthsiege (1994)
  • Earthsiege 2 (1996)
  • Starsiege: Tribes (1998)
  • Tribes 2 (2001)
  • Tribes: Aerial Assault (2002)
  • Tribes Vengeance (2004)
  • Tribes Ascend (2012)

Any one or more of these games will bring back fond memories for a lot of the gamers among you, and the fact they are all now free is the perfect excuse to start playing again. The last release, Tribes Ascend, is a free game anyway in the form of a free-to-play title.

You may be surprised to hear that although it’s Hi-Rez Studios being kind enough to offer all these games for free, they are the most recent of 6 companies involved in Tribes games development. Dynamic, Inevitable Entertainment, Irrational Games, InstantAction, and GarageGames came before them. Hi-Rez acquired the Tribes IP in 2010.

I suspect the Hi-Rez servers are going to be hit pretty hard today as news of the free games spreads. However, there’s no need to rush as this looks to be a permanent switch to offering them for free, not a limited time offer.

GamesRead : 11 of the scariest stories to tell in the dark

Ask anyone who grew up in the 1980s and 90s what their favorite scary story to tell in the dark is, and most of them will have an answer. That’s how powerful Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy of terror tales, featuring the incredibly disturbing artwork of Stephen Gammell, truly were.

A collector of urban legends, folklore, and campfire stories, Schwartz traveled the country and dug through books of all kinds to bring his compilations together with the intent of passing them on to children who would then scare their friends with them. The first book, published in 1981, set the tone with briefly told narratives — usually just a few pages long, if that — accompanied by one of Gammell’s nightmarish drawings. The next two installments came out in 1984 and 1991, adding more missives on ghosts, monsters, and worse that continue to resonate to this day.

We dug out our original copies of all three books — the ones currently in book stores have toned down artwork for today’s far more delicate children — and gave them another read to properly get in the Halloween spirit. These are the 11 that spooked us the most this time around.

11 - The Big Toe

11. “The Big Toe” (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

Schwartz kicked off the very first book with a story featuring rotting corpses, cannibalism, and the walking dead. In other words, “The Big Toe” is a pretty great representation of the rest of the series complete with an unforgettable image by Gammell.

A boy discovers a toe in his yard, digs it up, and gives it to his mom, who decides to make soup out of it before his pops cuts it into thirds for supper. That night, the nine-digit ghoul demands to know, “Where is my to-o-o-o-o-e?” The story ends with advice on how to scare your friends while telling it, plus an alternate ending. According to the notes in the back of the book, this one comes from the south where it’s apparently okay to eat parts of dead human feet.

10 - is something wrong

10. “Is Something Wrong?” (Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones)

A guy breaks into a house to stay the night after his car breaks down, encounters a ghost, and runs like hell, but eventually stops, turns, and gets asked by his pursuer “Pardon me, is something wrong?” On the page, it’s actually not that scary of a story. Sure, it’s a bit spooky, but there’s plenty of other insanity in these tomes. What earns this one a place on the list? That drawing. Much like the ghost in the retelling, this image will follow you around, though we’re guessing it won’t be so polite as the specter in the story.

9 - the wolf girl

9. “The Wolf Girl” (Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones)

Kids love to imagine what life would be like if they could run free without parental constraints. “The Wolf Girl,” one of the longest stories in the third volume, takes that to a whole new level, with a variety of Texas-based yarns all about a blond girl who was spotted over the years running with, hunting with, and even mothering wolves.

Making this story even more creepy is how the lupine kid came to be. Her mother died giving birth to her while her dad was out trying to get help from a neighbors. A bunch of wolves then snuck in and brought her into the pack, apparently not looking for such a small, slimy snack.

8 - cold as clay

8. “Cold As Clay” (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

Many a Scary Story revolves around unrequited love that doesn’t give up even after death. That’s the case with “Cold As Clay,” which features a farmhand named Jim who falls for his boss’ daughter. Wanting someone better for his child, the farmer sends his daughter away, but the separation destroys Jim and he dies, unbeknownst to the young woman.

So, she doesn’t think it strange when he appears at her door telling her that her dad wants to see her. They ride back on a horse, she gives him a handkerchief, and they make it back to her dad’s place. However, Jim disappears and the woman’s father explained what happened to his former employee. They look in on the horse, who was covered in clay, and then dig up the corpse which looks as you might expect, except clutching her handkerchief in his cold, dead hand!

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7. “Something Was Wrong” (More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

We’ve all woken up a little confused and unsure of what’s going on, but John Sullivan took that to the next level in “Something Was Wrong,” the first story in the second volume. After asking a few passersby what time it was and receiving screams and evasion in response, John calls home to get a ride only to find out that his wife is at his funeral!

Like many of the other iconic Scary Stories, this one comes at you fast and furious, told in just one page and accompanied by one of Gammell’s more understated and eerie images, with the shadowy man reaching for the phone as the very atmosphere around him seems to drawing him into darkness.

6 - may i carry your basket

6. “May I Carry Your Basket?” (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

All Sam wanted to do was help a woman he saw while walking in “May I Carry Your Basket?” What did he get for his troubles? A decapitated walking corpse handing over her head in said basket. When he runs away, understandably freaked out, the body and the head chase after him separately, with the latter catching up first and chomping on his legs before vanishing, most likely along with Sam’s desire to play Good Samaritan ever again.

This one’s interesting because, instead of reveling in the grotesque as with many of the other entries, Gammell decided to go the subtle route when composing this image, choosing to show only the basket with a few strands of hair hanging over the edge. Still, it’s enough to get the old imagination working overtime!

5 - The hook

5. “The Hook” (Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark)

One of the all-time best urban legends, “The Hook” continues to thrill and terrify audiences in all manner of incarnations. The one in Scary Stories is probably the simplest, given that it’s about a page-and-a-quarter long. Donald and Sarah are out on a date when they hear that an escaped madman with a hook hand is on the loose. She wants to head back home, but he wants to stay parked. Sarah wins out and when Donald goes to open her door, there’s a bloody hook hanging from the handle.

In the book’s notes, Schwartz reveals that this tale made the rounds on college campuses and many see it as a way to keep promiscuous teenagers from getting down to business in their cars. For a generation of readers, though, it was Schwartz and Gammell’s version — complete with dangling hook image — that burned its way into their memories.

4 - sam's new pet

4. “Sam’s New Pet” (Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones)

You just knew that something wasn’t right with the title animal in “Sam’s New Pet.” Sam’s folks are hanging out in Mexico where they throw some scraps to a batch of stray animals. One stuck out. “It was a small, gray creature with short hair, short legs, and and a long tail.” Sam’s mom — probably super buzzed — thinks it adorable so they sneak it through customs on the way back home where the thing starts foaming at the mouth.

You can see where this is going, right? Yeah, of course. It’s a rat with rabies. This is what happens when mom and dad head down to the land of tequila and decide to flaunt international laws just to bring little Sam a pet. While many think that the mind can be left to its own devices when it comes to dreaming up the worst horrors imaginable, one look at Gammell’s version of the title animal blows that theory out of the water.

3 - the wreck

3. “The Wreck” (More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

More than a few of these tales put an unsuspecting individual directly in the path of a ghost or ghoul only to discover the truth much later. That’s what happens in “The Wreck,” about a high school kid who meets a girl at a Christmas dance and drives her home the long way, only to find out that she died in a car crash on the way to the event. However, the Christmas tinsel he gave her is still in the dead girl’s hair.

This one is echoed in the third book’s “The Bus Stop,” in which a man gives a woman a ride home. Upon returning later, he discovers that she’s actually been dead for 20 years. In the notes of that volume, Schwartz relays that “ghost hitchhiker” stories like this actually have roots in an ancient Roman myth about a woman named Philinnion whose ghost came back to hang out with the man she loved because he didn’t know she was dead. The moral of all of these stories seems pretty simple: never meet anyone new without comparing them to the obituary section. Ever.

2 - high beams

2. “High Beams” (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)

Another widespread urban legend from the 80s and 90s, “High Beams” follows the misadventures of a young woman who seems to be in danger from the man driving the truck behind her car. He keeps flashing his brights at her no matter how fast she goes or which side road she heads down. By the time she arrives at her house, she’s understandably freaked out, especially when the truck driver exits his vehicle with a gun pointed in her general direction.

But, it’s not her he’s after, it’s the murderer hiding in the back of her car! Each time the killer tried to ply his nefarious craft, the truck driver flashed his high beams to blow up the madman’s spot. If you don’t glance in your back seat every time you see brights on the highway, we envy you.

1- the red spot

1. “The Red Spot” (Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones)

“The Red Spot” is told in less than 200 words and yet it’s one of the most memorable narratives in all three books. Ruth’s face gets bitten by a spider. It hurts and gets worse over a few days. While sitting in the bath, the bump bursts, bringing forth a bevy of arachnids crawling all over her face.

Even though we’re fairly certain that that’s not how a spider actually lays eggs — and by now something along these lines would have been reported if it was possible — an entire generation of grown-ups imagines this very scenario and Gammell’s skin-exploding drawing whenever they see an eight-legged monster crawling around.

To check out the full, original line-up of Scary Stories books, you can dig around used book stores for the originals, check out the Scary Stories Treasury, which collects all three together. Do keep in mind, though, that the new versions do have different artwork, which we’re sure is great, but not what we remember from our childhood (and the accompanying nightmares).

GamesRead : Apple software is now a bigger risk than Java and Flash

Apple just reported another massively successful quarter, but not all the Apple-related news circulating right now is worthy of a high-five. Apple also just had a massive quarter in terms of software vulnerabilities.

The security researchers at Secunia put out a quarterly report that details the most problematic software on Windows PCs around the world. For the past several months, two Apple products have been topping the chart: Quicktime and iTunes.

61% of the Quicktime 7 installs on Windows aren’t up-to-date, and that’s quite a problem when it’s running on more than half the computers Secunia monitors and there are 18 vulnerabilities waiting to be addressed. iTunes was a big trouble spot, too, with a presence on 40% of Windows computers and 47% of those installs still susceptible to a whopping 106 vulnerabilities.

Now, the problem isn’t entirely Apple’s fault. Secunia’s report looks at two things when they determine their rankings. The first is a program’s market share. The other is the percentage of that program’s installs that haven’t been patched.

Users of Quicktime and iTunes have to accept their fair share of the blame; by default, the Apple Updater tries to keep things current. The same goes for other apps on Secunia’s list, like Adobe Reader, Java, and Firefox — all of which, interestingly enough, either nag you to install updates or try to install them automatically.

Unless you’re a security researcher who’s specifically trying to find out what the impact of running unpatched software on it, ignoring updates is one of the worst things you can do to your computer. The rest of us, on the other hand, should be rolling these patches as soon as they’re offered to us.

GamesRead : NASA seeks programmer fluent in 60-year-old languages to work on Voyager

After decades with the Voyager program, NASA engineer Larry Zottarelli is retiring. That means there’s a job opening at the storied Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but it won’t be the right fit for just any engineer. Applicants should have a can-do attitude, good communication skills, and extensive knowledge of 60-year-old programming languages.

We’re talking about the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft here, which were launched in the 1970s. That’s before the personal computer revolution sent programming languages into overdrive. There was no C, Java, or Python in those days. Instead, Voyager runs on assembly language (about as low level coding as you can get),  as well as higher level languages including Fortran and COBOL, which were created in the late 1950s. You need to understand these archaic programming languages to work on the Voyager spacecrafts as they leave the solar system.

Both COBOL and Fortran are still in use today, but they aren’t exactly popular choices with the younger generations of programmers. They sit at positions 21 and 22 according to the TIOBE index. Assembly language also isn’t something many younger developers would focus on today unless specifically asked to as part of their job, and even if they did, assembly language is different for every computer architecture with each having its quirks.

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The core software running the Voyager probes was last overhauled in 1990, shortly after the Neptune flyby. JPL introduced a number of looping protocols that lets the spacecraft operate more or less autonomously. NASA continues to send up new sequences every three months or so, but it’s getting harder to communicate with the Voyager probes 12 billion miles away. Only the massive Canberra antenna of the Deep Space Network is able to send data to the Voyager probes these days.

Whoever takes over the programming duties on Voyager will have to work on tightening up its energy usage. Both spacecrafts are getting old, but have enough power to run for at least another decade. After that, it will depend on what systems can be optimized and what can be shut down to save power. JPL managers aren’t expecting a young college grad to show up with intimate knowledge of programming languages from 60 years ago, but finding an engineer in their 50s (rather than 70s) who understands assembly languages would be great.

GamesRead : Watch the first live horror film ever to exist, while you still can

In case you haven’t noticed, horror cinema is going through one of its culturally relevant periods. A lot of the forward-facing horror blitz of the recent years can be attributed to the Blumhouse Films structure of making movies: make them on the cheap and make a lot of them. Because so many horror movies end up turning a profit, the genre has seen something of a revival with many different types of movies making it to the cinema (or to Video On Demand) as “horror.” The horror experience has also risen in popularity with virtual reality headsets bringing horror gaming and short films into your safe space while haunted houses, both extreme and traditional, pop up in the fall months.

This week, Blumhouse Films went further than just finding new and viable ways to produce horror, putting on the first live-stream horror short on the video-streaming app Periscope. On Thursday night, the Blumhouse twitter account tweeted a link to a live broadcast from Periscope titled “Watch me kill.”

GamesRead : World’s first look at AMC’s Preacher: the best comic ever made, now on TV

In just two days, on November 1 during an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, the first trailer for the television adaptation of what many consider to be the best comic book of all time, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, will be shown. To whet our appetites (and also remind us that this is still a thing), AMC released a 12-second teaser for the upcoming trailer. Check it out:

For AMC fans unaware of the comic book, the above 12 seconds likely don’t do very much: “Oh great, another seemingly gritty show except now with religion?” Fans of the comic, though, will quickly point out: “Omg Preacher.” The teaser is 12 seconds long, but the actual footage only runs about a third of that time. In those four seconds, we see vampire and fan-favorite Cassidy burning up a little in the sun, main character Jesse Custer’s congregation getting destroyed by the godly power that will soon inhabit him, and Jesse getting into a bar fight, which is not only a pretty common theme for Preacher, but a common theme for the works of creator Garth Ennis — dudes being rough-and-tumble dudes.

The comic is focused on Jesse Custer, a wayward preacher with a shady, extremely traumatizing youth, who receives the word of god when said word flies into his church and blows everyone up. The power allows Jesse to make people do whatever he says, but he only uses it for extreme purposes. He gets wind that God quit — as if being God is a regular nine-to-five job — and decides he’s going to use his newfound power to search for God and make him own up to his crap. It’s great.

The comic, and most of Ennis’ works, are known for being very graphic and filled with extremely dark humor. If any network that isn’t HBO can handle it, AMC probably can, but the monster gore you see on The Walking Dead is nothing compared to, say, that time Jesse used his godly power to tell an enemy to go f**k himself. If you’re wondering: the words of the godly power are performed literally. There’s also that one time a crazy meat-processing businessman (and KKK member) of a backwater town built a female body out beef corpses so he can have sex with it on the regular in a barn.

Despite the above sounding gross, Ennis’ Preacher is excellent, from the deep character development to the wholly interesting, unique plot. Fans have been waiting for an on-screen adaptation for a long, long time, and AMC might finally do our favorite vampire, preacher, and guy-whose-face-looks-like-a-butt-that-was-set-on-fire proud.

GamesRead : Bits You Missed: Raging pumpkins, flying monkeys, and a penny saved

You never know what you’ll miss if you look too quick, which was the case for one man today. We’ve got your weekly round up of the weird, what, and super spoopy news for this Halloween edition of Bits You Missed!

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One rich penny

When is a penny not a penny? When it’s worth over 17,000 American dollars. Come on, you knew I had to go there. An auctioneer at Duke’s in Dorset, England found the US coin when he was going through a bag of change for any interesting and rare bits. The penny, which was wedged in the bottom of the bag, almost went overlooked, but by hook and by crook, he managed to pull it out. It was dated from 1794, one of the earliest ones printed in the United States (which started minting pennies in 1793). The coin ultimately sold for $17,338.67.

megatooth

Mega tooth versus beach man

This isn’t the next SyFy original movie, and no, it isn’t Shark Week. But a man in North Carolina found a giant, prehistoric shark tooth on the beach one day. And this isn’t even the first one to wash up in the last few weeks. After some recent heavy storms and high tides, several of these mega teeth have been coming ashore. The teeth can range from 6 inches to the size of an adult hand, and belong to the largest sharks that have ever lived. Just don’t expect to see the sharks themselves washing up any time soon, they went extinct some 2.6 million years ago.

flighty-pumpkin

The great pumpkin caper

Trick or treat! Drivers in AZ had an early Halloween surprise when a giant pumpkin went on a rampage in Peoria Thursday afternoon. The massive 25-foot-tall, 350-pound jack-o-lantern left surprisingly little devastation as it bounced across roads, between traffic lights, ultimately getting caught up under a street light. But the pole couldn’t keep the menacing pumpkin at bay forever, it eventually broke free and tumbled down into a park, presumably sending small school children into a frenzy. The company who owns the demonic inflatable claim strong winds set the pumpkin assail, but anyone who ready Scary Stories growing up know how these really start out.

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Aaaaappppesss in Spaaaaaccceeee

It looks like the first people to set foot on Mars wont be humans, but those damn dirty apes. Or at least some pretty cute monkeys, if Russia beats us in this new generational space race. Following the old standard, Russian scientists have been training monkeys for a potential manned mission to the red planet that could launch as early as 2017. The monkeys chosen are rhesus macaques, known for their cognitive thinking and high learning abilities. So when humans plan to make their own Mars landing in 2030, they may be greeted by a Planet of the Apes of their own making.

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Siiiingeeeeers in Spaaaaaccceeee

And because it’s about time he got back to doing something awesome, director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon the Professional, Taken) is working on a new sci-fi film and it sounds awesome in the title alone: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. But the recent news is that he’s cast singer and actress Rhianna in an unknown role. Rhianna hasn’t done a lot of big budget film work, but if it plays out anything like the Diva in Fifth Element — as in, a really amazing character with a set of vocal chords that stirs the soul — I’m 100% behind it. Valerian, based on a French graphic novel of the same name, is set to come out July 21, 2017.

Hopefully Valerian will be more Fifth Element and less Lucy, but we can’t have it all. Enjoy your spooky celebrations this weekend, everyone! We’ll see you next week for more Bits You Missed!