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Trend Micro recently discovered a new malware family, classified as PE_VIRLOCK and designed as a combination of two different types of malicious code. The first type is related to a past when we still talked about computer “viruses” and not cyber-crime, while the second one is one of the most successful malware-based businesses of the past years. VIRLOCK is a ransomware which is capable of spreading through file virus techniques, and the worst part is that its evolution isn’t complete yet.
Since coming back on-line after the raid in a Swedish data center/nuclear bunker at the end of 2014, The Pirate Bay (TPB) has to endure a sailing by sight ridden with perils, dangerous waves and the usual zealots of the content industry ready to do anything to eradicate the most known symbol of BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) from the Internet forever. Anyway not all the efforts against “piracy” are focused on TPB, and not all the news coming from the P2P frontline are bad news.
Recently I said that the modern gaming world is horrible, however a more balanced view should sound like “half of today’s gaming market is horrible”. The things that aren’t so horrible for me include the relentless technology evolution - the new DirectX 12 should bring really great performance improvements - and the classic games continuously remixed or kept alive by fans. The worst (ie Electronic Arts) is anyway always lurking, besides the always-true warning about the inability of the big software houses to properly manage their most valuable treasures.
Who is winning and who is losing, more than a year after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debut, the commercial, technological and gaming challenge of the eighth generation home consoles? The market seems to confirm the trend already set the past year, with the Sony console as the leading platform and the Microsoft machine desperately trying to get back on the top. Nintendo, at last, is really this generation’s Cinderella. But the future could be surprising for everyone, even for users thinking they have purchased a hardware device made to be forever unchanged.
Cloud computing is a scam, an endless progression of lies, technically impossible to honor pledges and outages that routinely shut down services the marketing sells as always-on and always available for users and companies’ needs. And yet the Internet herds are still drinking the toxic water of the cloud, and the corporations never get tired of making more and more amazing promises about the mythical features of remote-controlled systems.
Updated snapshots from the endless war of the copyright industry against file sharing over peer-to-peer networks: the so called “graduated responses” for reeducating pirates don’t work, are good for nothing and rather expensive? Better spend even more money; The Pirate Bay (TPB) is the ultimate evil and must be put down whatever it takes? The Swedish Bay rises again and again from its ashes despite the police raids, the controversy and the trouble in managing traffic. This and more in the new episode of the series tracking the lobbies’ unsuccessful attempts to erase something no one has ever been able to control.
Single users mean nothing, it’s the crowd that makes a difference. Bullshit: the video games market needs more users thinking with their own head, people that don’t rush pre-ordering awaited masterpieces always turning out to be worthless crap, amateur creators capable of bringing an alternative point of view on a game with a messy design, developers firstly interested in creating new gaming experiences beyond the idiotic talks about piracy and the like. More thinking heads, less sheep purchasing Call of Duty: this is my wish for 2015.
Video games are one of the most democratic contemporary activities, meaning that almost anyone, with the lowest hardware and software combination at hand, can experience the noble art of computer gaming. Then I am unable to explain the thriving of ventures like Livesteaming, the new Steam service competing with Twitch to broadcast one’s own games to the world or to watch the others play. Which is a bit like watching others get laid, from my standpoint, and maybe someone will find this enjoyable. But a service for an entire population of gamers? I don’t understand, you are all crazy in the head. Or maybe the stupid one is me, because I still enjoy playing rather than watching.
One of the small, frankly surprising news brought by the beginning of 2015 is the return of Ninjai, a historical Flash animated web series released on-line during the first years of the second millennium. The Ninjai Gang, a small group of authors, animators and martial arts fans that created the series, has recently updated the official site with a short sneak peek of what will be the feature animation film featuring Ninjai, his world and above all his enemies. Starting with the mad clan lord Takagawa.
2015 started well for fans of old-school graphic adventures, thanks to a new official release of ResidualVM and the addition of a couple new titles to the always-growing list of games supported by ScummVM. The two gaming virtual machines are related, seeing that ResidualVM was created by the same developers of ScummVM, and they both are projects defined by a steady advancement process devouring new games like a Grue devours players lost in the Zork underground world.
Yeah, it’s 2015 and I am still here talking about feed readers, the ideal service to replace the never too much bemoaned Google Reader and about the unreliability of big corporations when it’s a matter of trusting them with something so important, so intimate like your personal slice of Web you browse every day, many times a day, one post at a time. This is an update post about my personal “quest” to hunt the perfect feed reader, a quest that already ended months ago with the permanent adoption of Inoreader.
This new gaming world completely tied to Internet servers is horrible, and the number of players realizing (they MUST realize it) how wrong the on-line only setup is grows as the accidents arising from the intrinsic unreliability of the Net increase: the outcomes of the preannounced shutdown of Games For Windows Live are affecting games released years ago, Steam automatic updates remove contents from the games users have already paid for and crowdfundend projects don’t keep the pledge for including a working off-line mode. An exemption to the DMCA for lawfully removing Internet DRM is a good thing yet it isn’t enough, to avoid this abomination.
According to Ubisoft, games running at 30 frames per second are more “cinematic” compared to those running at 60 fps. Obviously this is utter bullshit, in 1980 Pac-Man ran at 60 Hz and these clowns are still trying to sell one nonsense after another in the attempt to hide their inability to produce next-gen gaming crap. Lies are legion mostly on PC, the most ill-treated gaming platform ever despite the enormous user base and the positive trends in sales. Luckily there are modders out there, in this case.
The uncertainties of the videogame world: on-line servers and services are shut down and the studios must reprogram their games quickly to let them continue to work, crowdfunding projects are always facing a fiasco - and now supporters can also sue their creators. The certainties of the videogame world: modding freaks keep on building remakes and new contents for games that are perfectly good in their original edition already, the fools that really think they can persuade someone that wearing a VR helmet is a healthy practice are legion. Since 1960 or so. Good for them.
Let’s be clear, I love old games, so much that I spent a good part of the (little) time I played during these months on arcade emulators, pixelated indie titles and the Solitaire (which is so Windows 95). What I cannot really like is this new trend of abusing the past (which is never over for good) to develop new “incarnations” of an alleged spirit of bygone times, stuff like Drift Stage for instance. Yeah, it’s always better than rubbish like the “new” Sierra and the rape of old and new video games as a business model by that disgusting filth known as Zynga. Which is dying, yet too slowly.
Waiting for the live broadcasting of the first astronauts that will land, a few years from now, on the Red Planet, we poor mortals loving space and wallpapers have to be satisfied with the stuff coming from NASA’s robotic rovers wandering on Mars. Curiosity aka Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the latest and greatest automotive research lab sent up there by the USA space agency is, in that regard, a treasure trove of new photo shots from the Martian desert immensities.
The technology industry is full of idiots which are persistently babbling about the death of PCs, about the PC as an inferior gaming platform and bullshit like this. Well, let’s put some numbers up then: Jon Peddie Research states that the computer games market is worth twice as the console one (21.5 billion dollars), Intel continues to pump up tens of billions in revenues every quarter with its x86 processors and the sales of PCs are growing again. Sure, there is the thorny issue of piracy, technology evolution doesn’t let the wallet rest and publishers are treating the PC gamers master race like shit as always, yet all things considered who talks about the death of PCs is just a brainless idiot. Really, go bet on horse racing or something.
The month of June means E3, the gaming fair that this year focused on proper games after the fireworks of the new console war between Sony and Microsoft in 2013. Actually, other than for the E3, June was noteworthy because of the welcomed return of a LucasArts classic like Grim Fandango, the horrible return of movie tie-ins based on video games characters with a film on Sonic and because of Capcom’s surrender to the harsh laws of the market. If I had the money, I would buy the Japanese corporation by myself and then I would prevent any other worthless exploit of the classic series from the past (see GnG on the iPhone, the horror made of bits).
Good news are coming for ResidualVM and PCSX2, two virtual machines that in the near future should improve considerably (in the PCSX2 case) and add support for new games beyond the software’s original mission (ResidualVM). Both cases are a useful reminder for the fact that, unlike someone’s opinion, emulation is a world that doesn’t stop moving forward and it’s far from having reached saturation as for ideas, techniques and new old things to replicate on modern PCs.
Things I hate about the video game industry, part II: the fucking “HD remakes” of everything, even of games that are perfectly fine being dead and that shouldn’t have been made in the first place; stores of virtual contents pretending to be free games, which are just a bit less revolting than the ones soiled by the toxic disease of microtransactions; games tied to remote servers that don’t work on day-one and then die forever when the aforementioned servers are closed down, except for when they start working again thanks to the developers’ good will in making update patches again and again and again. The hope to avoid the total conversion of a hobby into a commercial pile of shit comes for indie games, and that’s why they make a good part of the following highlights.