Gaming

Step into androids’ shoes in Detroit: Become Human

How ready are we for a world filled with androids?

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The year is 2038. Androids — machines with human-like features, not the mobile operating system — walk among us. If it sounds familiar, that’s because this kind of story has been told and retold countless times in books, movies,and television shows like a sci-fi cliché.

However, what makes Quantic Dream’s interactive drama game Detroit: Become Human an outlier, as opposed to its many thematic brethren, is when it is set. In most iterations of the androids and/or robots narrative, they’re set in a distant future. This game takes place in 2038, a time that doesn’t seem too far off (that’s 20 years from now!).

So, think about it: Can a real-life Cyber Life — the company responsible for making these androids — rise up between now and then? It’s not too far-fetched of an idea. As early as now, we’re already worried about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over human jobs, not to mention stories tackling how AI-powered humanoids can take our place in the sack.

Androids line up on a shed to recharge

It’s a future that is both fascinating and terrifying. Sure, we might be ready for the logistical challenges it might pose, but how prepared are we as a society to take on the psychological, moral, and ethical issues that may arise when this future comes?

These potential realities are precisely what the people at Quantic Dream want us to face in this game. At nearly every turn, what you decide to do will lead to a different outcome. This component of the game could have you playing for hours on end. During the briefing, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Quantic Dream and Executive Producer of Detroit: Become Human, Guillaume de Fondaumiére, mentioned that the opening scene “The Hostage” alone already has six potential endings — all of which you can opt to go through.

Flowchart of the opening scene “The Hostage”

Multiple narratives

Another thing that makes Detroit: Become Human, in Fondaumiére’s words, “rather unique,” is that it’s not bogged down by a short running time because it’s a game. This allowed them and allows us to explore the many aspects of this potential reality.

“The great thing about Detroit is it can tell a story for 30 to 40 hours. That lets you explore a great number of themes,” said Fondaumiére. “And the other thing is that it’s a game. We give the player the possibility to tell his or her own story.”

This story is told through three perspectives, albeit all through android lenses. First, there’s Kara, a house help android, designed and programmed primarily for housekeeping chores. Then there’s Connor, a Cyber Life agent whose tasks involve helping solve the mystery of why and how certain androids appear to be breaking their programming. Lastly, there’s Markus whose owner is an accomplished but old and ill artist who encourages him to think for himself.

Kara with her light indicator turning yellow which means the situation could be escalating

How did they end up with three characters? Fondaumiére shares that as the story was being written, the game’s director and writer David Cage had more questions about this world that they were building, and it led them to the conclusion that “it didn’t make sense” for all these questions to be asked only through a single perspective.

“Using different characters gave [David] the possibility to get different perspectives and to be able to create the bedrock for these questions to emerge,” said Fondaumiére.

Connor and Lt. Anderson in the car right before examining a crime scene

Fondaumiére broke down the perspectives for each character: “Kara, I guess, we’re touching upon the emotional and social sides of these questions. With Connor, we’re investigating androids. What happens? What makes them become emotional? Sentient? And with Markus we’re centered around the question of freedom. What if, all of a sudden, these androids no longer want to be our slaves? What if they start to question their place in our society? What will they do?”

Markus administers medicine for his old and ill owner

Markus lives with an old, accomplished artist that influenced his views on freedom

Gripping story, stunning visuals

The idea is great and the execution, perhaps, even better. Playing Detroit: Become Human feels like binge-watching a Netflix series but with you at the helm. The cinematography in each shot feels well thought-out, the visuals are so captivating that some moments feel like you’re seeing live action actors. The best part is you’re involved. Every decision you make with each character affects how the people these androids are surrounded by react to you, therefore affecting the events that will transpire next.

Kara’s emotional bond with Alice pushes her to do things beyond her programming

There’s so much emotion that is effectively communicated through the combination of great camera work and fantastic acting. The game hooks you in as effectively as a TV series does and quickly makes you emotionally invested in the plight of the three main characters.

Markus administers medicine for his owner

What Fondaumiére repeatedly emphasized is how Detroit: Become Human is the player’s story, more than anyone else’s.

“Through gameplay, you’re going to ask yourself many questions, and it could change your attitude and how you decide. We give the player the possibility to tell his or her own story.”

Their role, he says, is to “show you the logical consequences.”

Connor is constantly in crime scenes caused by defiant androids

Fondaumiére hopes that after one playthrough, players go back and play again and really track how their initial decisions and the outcome that those produced affected how they played the rest of the game. He wants the players to be able to form their opinion on this potential reality so that when it comes — and he strongly believes that it will — we will all be ready.

Asked if he’s open to owning his own android, Fondaumiére set his answer up by saying how he’s a geek and is constantly fascinated by the advancement in technology, so in two words: “Why not,” adding that getting a few extra hours for himself because he can have someone else run his errands is an idea he can entertain.

Would you want to own an android?

Detroit: Become Human will be released on May 25, 2018. Pricing are as follows:

Standard Edition:

Philippines — PhP 2,799
Singapore — SG$ 72.90
Malaysia — MYR 229
Indonesia — IDR 729,000
Thailand — THB 1,890

Collector’s Edition: (Includes the full game, digital soundtrack, dynamic theme, and a physical art book)

Philippines — PhP 3,199
Singapore — SG$ 84.90
Malaysia — MYR 259
Indonesia — IDR 849,000
Thailand — THB 2,190

SEE ALSO: God of War: A must-play for 2018

Gaming

Epic Games just destroyed Fortnite with a literal black hole

There’s an in-game reason, though (maybe)

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Are you currently wondering if (and why) Fortnite is down? If you’re trying to play the world’s biggest battle royale game, you’ll drop in on a strange sight — a black hole. To answer your first question, the game is currently down. However, Fortnite’s curious status is not because of server maintenance or a glitch. Instead, Epic Games has purposely shut its most profitable game down for the day.

Hours ago, Fortnite ended its tenth competitive season. Like most online multiplayer games today, Fortnite creates months-long periods — called Seasons — wherein gamers can rank up and subsequently gain prizes at the end of the period. However, unlike most games, Fortnite holds in-game events that significantly change the gameplay experience. For example, one of the earliest in-game events was a meteor that destroyed part of Fortnite’s map.

That said, Fortnite’s tenth season ended in a literal black hole that sucked up the entire map. Currently, the game will not start in the same lobby or map. Instead, the game only drops gamers into a front-seat view of the black hole. Fortnite is down. (Epic Games has also shut down the game’s official channels.)

For what it’s worth, the game is still churning out “some” content for viewers. Throughout its existence, the black hole has been broadcasting strange numbers for people patient enough to watch. The first set of numbers — 11, 146, 15, 62 — led viewers to a beach full of crabs when put into Google Maps. It’s a direct reference to crab raves, a meme popularized by the game’s popular Twitch streamers. Since then, the black hole released more numbers — 87, 14, 106, 2, 150. Currently, the new set doesn’t mean anything.

Further, gamers can also input the infamous Konami Code — Up, Up, Down, Down, B/O, A/X, Start/Enter — to access a Galaga minigame featuring a pizza and enemy burgers.

For now, Fortnite fans are stuck with this until Epic Games releases a more definitive conclusion. Most likely, the black hole will usher in a new era for the popular game. This might include an entirely new map or new gameplay elements.

Regardless, Fornite’s black hole is a huge gamble on Epic Games’ part. The developer has purposely shut down its biggest revenue stream for an event. It’s currently unheard of for an industry that values maximum efficiency.

SEE ALSO: Sony finally opens cross-play for Fortnite for the PS4

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Enterprise

Blizzard in deep trouble for supporting China

Update: Blizzard eases sanctions against Blitzchung

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Image source: Overwatch

The American corporate world is in a state of crisis caused by the tension between China and America. In the middle of this heightened Sino-American corporate war, Hong Kong lies in the middle, eagerly awaiting its democratic victory against Chinese authoritarianism. Because of the immensity of the geopolitical issue, individuals have inevitably expressed their opinions on the matter through public avenues.

Recently, individual opinions are getting in the way of corporate profits, especially for the companies that these individuals represent. From slaps on the wrist to outlandish punitive measures, American companies are putting a clamp on anti-China sentiments. The US is discovering where their favorite companies’ loyalties really lie — with the American people or with the Chinese government.

Blizzard: too cool for Hong Kong

Among these controversial companies, Blizzard Entertainment is fueling a significant portion of the dispute. Last weekend, the company held a Hearthstone tournament in Taiwan. The winner, Blitzchung (real name: Chung Ng Wai), expressed pro-HK opinions during his victory speech: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.”

Days later, Blizzard Entertainment issued steep punishments against Blitzchung: stripping him of his prize money and banning him from competitive play for a year. The company has also fired the two broadcasters involved in the interview. Blizzard has deleted the official interview from their accounts.

“I don’t regret saying that stuff. And even now, I don’t regret it at all.” In defense of his actions, Blitzchung has expressed the necessity of his opinions. “I shouldn’t be scared. I hope my act can inspire other gamers like me, to continue to support the movement in Hong Kong,” he told AFP.

According to Blizzard, Blitzchung’s voiced opinion “offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] images,” warranting the fine and the ban. Curiously, the company did not say if the ban results from any Chinese intervention.

#BoycottBlizzard

Since then, Blizzard’s actions have sparked global outrage, accusing the company of political favoritism rather than supporting its customers or representatives. Many individual personalities have boycotted the company’s products including the highly popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the competitive shooter Overwatch.

Some Overwatch players have even started using the game’s Chinese character, Mei, as a pro-HK icon. In the game, Mei — and the other characters — are largely apolitical regarding real-world politics. The game is set in a futuristic world with anthropomorphic gorillas and conscious robots. In creating a pro-HK icon, players hope to cause a larger boycott of Blizzard’s products.

Notably, Blizzard’s employees have also expressed dismay over their company’s actions. After the incident, several employees have walked out of their offices in protest. Also, an employee has supposedly taped over Blizzard’s forward-thing motto displayed on the company’s campus: “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”

The global outrage has already earned the attention of American lawmakers. Floridian Senator Marco Rubio has tweeted his support against Blizzard. “China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally,” he said.

Another senator, Ron Wyden from Oregon, has expressed the same sentiments. “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck,” he said.

Meanwhile, rivaling game companies have shown support for Blitzchung. Gods Unchained, a card game similar to Hearthstone, has promised to pay the tournament winner the full winnings stripped by Blizzard. Fortnite’s Epic Games has proclaimed that it will never penalize players for expressing their right to free speech.

Companies for China

Besides Blizzard, the NBA is also embroiled in a similar controversy. China has recently blacklisted the Houston Rockets because of a tweet from general manager Daryl Morey. Apple is also in trouble for supporting a pro-HK app and censoring the Taiwanese flag.

Slowly, the world is unraveling the curtain draping over the biggest companies today. Underneath, people are discovering a cruel truth: the persistence of money versus integral values.

Update [10/11/19]: At the end of the day on Friday (US time), Blizzard issued a statement in response to the recent controversies. In the lengthy post, the company has decided to ease up on the penalties issued to both Blitzchung and the shoutcasters. For one, Blitzchung will finally receive his full winnings. Further, Blizzard has reduced the bans to only six months.

Explaining their side, Blizzard has reiterated that the decision was made without Chinese intervention. According to the statement, Blizzard acted to ensure the tournament’s status as an inclusive environment for all gamers.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

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Gaming

PlayStation 5 will launch on Holiday 2020

Featuring a new controller

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The next generation console PlayStation 5 will launch on Holiday 2020.

Sony PlayStation published a statement today announcing the time of the launch. Another major announcement is that it will come with a new controller – one that has haptic technology and adaptive triggers.

The haptic feedback will replace the “rumble” tech found in earlier versions of the the DualShock controller. PlayStation says haptic should provide a broader range of feedback. This means a different feeling when you crash a race car to the wall, tackle on the football field, or even ” sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.”

There’s also the new adaptive triggers which Sony says they incorporated into the L2 and R2 trigger buttons. The new tech will allow developers to “program the resistance of the triggers.” This means having a tactile sensation depending on the action you’re executing.

Game creators have already been given and early version of the new controller so they can incorporate it in upcoming titles.

SEE MORE: PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

 

 

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